Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Idol Recap :: The Twain Shall Meet

“A paint salesman. A high school student. A glass blower. A mother. A father. A construction worker.” No, it’s not the all-new Village People. It’s Seacrest introducing our final six.

Flashback to last Wednesday, where “Idol Gives Back” managed to take… from me. 144 precious minutes, to be exact. So if it’s still taking up precious space on your DVR, allow me to recap:

Barack Obama said “you’re all my dawgs” without a trace of irony; The Idolers, dressed in the visual aftermath of the Second Coming, sang the under-rated “Keeping The Dream Alive” by Freiheit; David Cook visited Ethiopia and sang because … Pop music is nourishment for the soul?; Todd Bridges was in the audience, likely looking for someone to give back to him; Russell Brand and Jonah Hill performed some painfully unfunny shtick, that was actually a precursor to a movie I’ll never see; And Annie Lennox once again provided the classiest and most poignant moment of the show.

Also, Teflon Tim’s shields went down, and he was sent home, still smiling all the way. We shall all miss this clueless bastard, who provided unintentional entertainment on a weekly basis.

This week’s mentor is Shania Twain, who Ryan refers to as a “country pioneer.” You mean, like Laura Ingalls Wilder? OK, so Shania Twain is a country artist who crossed over into pop. Also, she all but devoured John Park like a Tasty Cake 100 years ago during auditions in Chicago.

Lee Dewyze: “You’re Still the One”

No, it’s not the 70s original co-opted by ABC’s gloriously cheesy promotional ads. It’s the overplayed Shania Twain opus. It starts off a little rough, but once we get to the chorus, s’all good, although there’s pitch problems throughout. Lee also makes the Kris Allen memorial triangle mouth while singing. The Judges all like it, and Jedi mind trick us be failing to mention any pitch problems, because aren’t we all pulling for the Dewylsox finale?

Michael Lynche: “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”

Big Mike starts off sitting on the stairs. It’s Idol shorthand for “take me seriously, bitches.” He gets the soft magenta lights and the swaybots in fully synchronized accompaniment. It’s a technically solid performance, but honestly, it puts me to sleep. A Luthor Vandross Lullaby. The Judges like it, although Simon found it “wet”, which is British for “sucks a little.”

Casey James: “Don’t”

OK, so I’ve knocked Casey in the past as a typical Bar Band Singer. But I honestly have to give him some props tonight. It’s actually a nice, quiet performance, with just a hint of Blues. It’s a million times better than that Bob Segar lite we’ve seen from him. Well done, say I. The Judges agree, and Simon and Randy both think it’s his best performance. Then Simon has Casey molest Shania Twain on national television.

Crystal Bowersox: “No One Needs to Know”

Crystal, on the pimp stool, notes that Shania is “supersweet.” And Ryan drops this useful bit of nothing, “and she has really white teeth.” And Crystal was all like, “teeth are supposed to be white?” Crystal mentions that this song is an ode to her boyfriend, who she hopes will “step up someday.” Tabloids, commence dumpster diving.

It’s a typical Crystal performance: laid back, comfortable and pitch-perfect… And country, even. Not her greatest, but even her worst is better than most Top Twelvers best this season, let’s be serious. The Judges didn’t like it too much, but that’s only judging it on the Bowersoxscale. Or, conspiracy theory: perhaps they are trying to get fingers texting to prevent Crystal from being ousted early, a la Chris Daughtry?

Aaron Kelly: “You’ve Got a Way”

It’s all good and vocally sound, but just kinda boring. It’s a step up, because he’s at least believable singing the lyrics. Kara mentions that Aaron changed the line of the song. “when we made love,” because, Aaron is still sleeping in Power Rangers bed sheets. And also, he sang this song to his mom, apparently. Is there a way to combine “awww” and “ewww” in one word? Because I would like to do that at this juncture. The Judges, they all love it to pieces. They also decide he should be a country artist, because, why not? And also, no.

Siobhan Magnus: “Any Man of Mine”

Honestly, this performance is a little all over the place, much like Siobhan’s “hooker cowgirl meets Lillian August swatch catalog” outfit. Parts of it are good, parts of it are silly, and then she shrieks. Again. And, y’know, enough with that. The Judges all loved it, but Simon thought the scream sounded like she was “giving birth.”

So who’s going home? Hmm, really tough to guess based on tonight’s vocals. I’m actually guessing Big Mike will not be singing, “looks like we made it…”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Idol Recap :: "Alicia And The Off-Keys"

Reality Blurred provides an awesome recap of the Past 7 Days of Idol: "Last week, Ryan Seacrest had a long day and went insane, and then threw Crystal under the bus to recover. Adam Lambert showed up to help out, or to get help, if you believe the producer’s bullshit. And as the show’s musical director quit, a rumor appeared that Paula Abdul might return, though that was quickly denied, thankfully. In the meantime, Kara DioGuardi stripped naked. "

If only the actual show were half as interesting this season. Two Idols were sent packing, as Andrew went back to fulfill his custodial destiny (hey, his father said it, not me!) and Muppet Katie shuffled off to find the rainbow connection.

Tonight's theme is "Songs of Inspiration" with guest mentor, Alicia Keys. The show is finally back to an hour (thank you, Jesus), and it moves like a freight train. So off we go....

Casey James: Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”

Casey kinda shout-speak-sings the song. It's a lazy performance that you might see at your local Six Flaggs, sung by an animatronic jug band. And with that, Casey has downgraded himself from "Good Bar Band Singer" to "Theme Park Act." The Judges are underwhelmed, and Simon thought it was "unoriginal" and a "lazy song choice."

Lee DeWyze: Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”

Lee's in the pimp chair. Seacrest, in some sort of Barbara-Walters-lite interview, tries to wring pathos out of Andrew's departure; The bromance is over and there's no baby Gokeys for these two. Lee is singing Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”, looking like something from "The CW's Presents: A Streetcar Named Desire." Lee gives the song some genuine pathos, and his voice actually gives the song a unique quality unlike the Simon & Garfunklel classic. The swaybots waft their arms in silent agreement.

Randy says his season is different because "it's about artists this year." Artists with broken crayons that can't stay within the lines and color people purple. And by "artists", Randy means "people we never should have chosen in the top 24." The Judges all like it, and Simon thought it was "sincere, emotional" and "brilliant" even.

Tim Urban: Goo Goo Dolls’ “Better Days”

Alicia coaches Tim on singing the excellent pop ballad "Better Days," which has weathered well through the years. In practice, Tim is singing this by way of Peter, Paul & Mary. Y'know, all those better days in that land called Honah Lee?

Note: Teflon Tim's past songs have all included the word "love." This week, Tim flirts with danger, in a song that doesn't allow him to camera rape the tweeners. The performance? I'm inspired.... to turn off my TV. It's crazy erratic and off-key. Really bad, easily the worst of the night. The Judges didn't like it, but they just pat him on the head and basically say, "That was good on the Tim Urban scale of what is good."

Aaron Kelly: R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”

It's like they tried to rebuild David Archeletta but ran out of parts. Aaron is talented, but in a bland-boring sort of way. The Judges like, except Simon thinks it wouldn't work very well "in the real world." Shhh, Simon, we don't talk about "the real world" on this show.

Siobhan Magnus: Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s “When You Believe”

You call upon the wrath of The Judges when you invoke the holy trinity of divas (Mariah, Whitney and Celine). Crazy-pants Siobhan invokes two at once. She also takes bubble baths with the toaster on the very edge of the tub.

Although, arguably, Whitney doesn't even sing like Whitney anymore judging from her recent concerts. And the lesson, kids, is this: Crack is whack. OK, so Siobhan actually sings it pretty well, from a technical perspective. The Judges throw out some mini-hate, because they are apparently done with her and the money's on the dresser. And Simon even hates on her Poison Ivy inspired costume. "I was distracted by the... leaves," he sniffs. Thanks for that.... thoughtful critique of her singing?

Michael Lynche: Chad Kroeger’s “Hero”

Big Mike gets some time on the pimp chair, barely fitting his large frame onto the tiny seat. Mike does his usual over-emoting. To be fair, it's good vocally, but I'm so over Big Mike's pompous attitude and preening faux-sincere performances. The Judges half-like; Kara didn't care for it and Simon thought it was "a little artificial." On Simon's scale, Heidi Montag would also qualify as "a little artificial."

Crystal Bowersox: The Impressions’ “People Get Ready

Crystal takes the stage without an instrument tonight - and she does just fine. What is there to say anymore? Crystal is in a completely different league from the rest of the contestants. She flubs the last line as she actually cries! Nobody can say this gal is phony, that's for sure. The Judges love and Simon sums it up, "That was inspirational."

We only had to wait 54 minutes into our "inspirational" episode for an inspirational moment. Bravo, Show.

Ryan lends Crystal a tissue, and high fives her with both hands. I half-expect the screen to freeze with a producer credit, like some cornball 80s sitcom. I guess being thrown under a bus is fairly easily forgiven.

So who's going home? I'm guessing Tim will find the vote results... less than inspiring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Idol Recap :: Ain't Nothin' But Hound Dawgs

Last week, The Show doubled down on cheese and used "The Judge's Save" to spare Michael Lynche. The good news? Wednesday night is a double drive-by, where we'll say goodbye to two Idolers.

Even though we were promised a reduction in Swaybotitude, the show opens with Ryan high-fiving them while saying "'sup, 'sup, 'sup." Dear Ryan, you are not "street" and hair highlights do not count as "colors."

Tonight's songbook theme is Elvis hits. Which makes sense, because Elvis once shot his TV. Sort of like I feel like doing every Tuesday during Idol's ponderous ninth season.

And the guest mentor is Hot Tranny Elvis impersonator, Adam Lambert. You remember Adam from last year; The Show loved him to pieces and pushed him so hard, that everyone revolted and voted for Kris Allen. Adam brings his deep and meaningful eight-and-and-half months experience to the Remedial Idols. Imagine Ashlee Simpson imparting acting tips. It's something like that, with music and guyliner.

Ryan chats with Glambert, who rightfully notes that the contestants need to "wake up." And with that, part of me doesn't care that he looks like K.D. Lang and Bea Arthur's long-lost butch daughter. Ryan also mentions that Adam gained two inches (... with his hair) and compliments the Glam One on the length of his tongue. OK, Seacrest, it's gone from subtext to text at this point.

Crystal Bowersox, “Saved”
Adam hopes Crystal can "let her hair down and toss those dreads around a bit." Yes, PETA would thank you for freeing those poor fleas. Crystal brings a big bluesy energy to the song in a pitch-perfect performance, once again separating herself from the pack. The Judges rightfully love.

Andrew Garcia, “Hound Dog”
Adam tells Andrew his version of "Hound Dog" was boring, and urges him to "make it yours." Careful, Adam, in such advice lies madness. And yup, Andrew sings the song like a 45 record played at 33 speed (look it up, my millennial bitches). It's weird and slow, and devoid of any energy or swagger. In other words, Epic Fail (look it up, my Gen X bitches). The Judges found it lacking, and Simon thinks all of Andrew's "coolness has been sucked out of him."

Tim Urban, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Although Kara thinks Tim "doesn't understand," I think he understands plenty. Case in point: picking a song with the title, "Can't Help Falling in Love," once again locking the tween vote, and hypnotizing Glambert into thinking he's hitting all the right notes. And suddenly, the Glam One is mooning over Teflon Tim like Marcia Brady at a Davy Jones concert. Boy, look what you've done to him.

Tim actually does a pretty good job with the song overall, almost giving it a quiet James Taylor guitar vibe. Or, in Idol terms, a Jason Castro vibe. Probably his best performance. The Judges agree, and Simon says that Tim has "gone from zero to hero."

Lee DeWyze, “A Little Less Conversation
Adam tells Lee to smile a little. An unsmiling Lee agrees. The performance is overall good, as each week Lee figures his shit out before a national audience. Per usual, he doesn't hit 100% of the notes, but it's original and cool and contemporary. So once again, the sum of these slightly disjointed parts works. The Judges like it, and Simon notes it was "on the money, full stop." Do they say things like that in Britain? Sometimes I think Simon makes up phrases to toy with the lowly Yanks.

Aaron Kelly, “Blue Suede Shoes”
Adam wants Aaron to growl and and "grab it." And then he counsels him on his song, too.

I have to give Aaron some credit this week. He takes the stage in a turned up collar and swaggers around, growling and giving the song some bluesy energy. But ultimately, it's still just a Star Search kid performance. Aaron is this season's 'lil Idol. Vocally sound, but nothing unique. The Judges like, except Simon, who thought it was "unoriginal" and "karaoke."

Siobhan Magnus, “Suspicious Minds”
Adam wants Siobhan to give the song more "ooomph." Let's hope "ooomph" isn't Siobhanese for "shriek." Siobhan can sing, but the song is sorta a mish-mosh or showy scream-notes and normal singing. The Judges are mixed, and Simon thinks it was "erratic" and "shrieky."

Back from commercial, Ryan mentions that forgotten first season co-host Brian Dunkleman will be hosting part of "Idol Gives Back." But, guffaw, he's only kidding. And in some KFC breakroom, the human trivia note known as Dunkleman shakes his fist at the television ruefully.

Michael Lynche, “In the Ghetto”
Big Mike looks like he mugged Jason Mraz and Elvis Costello on the way to practice, sporting thick-rimmed glasses and a jaunty hat. Big Mike over-emotes the song, and slows it down to a crawl. The Judges, however, liked it.

Katie Stevens, “Baby What Do You Want Me to Do”
Katie practices the song dressed like a Bratz doll, bringing the same amount of raw energy to her performance. Katie takes the stage looking like a Persian cabbie's dashboard threw up on her dress. It's all fake baby-doll attitude, like B.B. King by way of Vanessa Hudgens. The Judges sort laugh through some soft critiques and Simon adds, "I found it loud and kind of annoying."

Casey James, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Holding court in the Land Of The Swaybots, Casey towers above them as Mayor of Bland. It's an OK performance, like all of Casey's lite-Blues bar-band forget-me-yeses. The Judges are all like "meh" and "shrug", but they use actual words.

Now we get to watch "Glee," where young people can actually sing well and be interesting at the same time, a multi-tasking feat lost on Idol's ninth season.

So which two are going home? I'm guessing that Andrew and Katie are Returned To Sender.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Idol Recap :: Abbey Road To Hell

Last week's one hour commercial for "Clash of the Titans" also contained some American Idol eliminations business. Also, Usher sang something and P. Diddy emerged with a troubling third personality. Oh, and the beleaguered Didi Benami was sent packing, while Teflon Tim emerged unscathed. And Sam Worthington looks to be as bored with this season as the rest of us.

Speaking of which, Seacrest brought up Tim Urban’s smiling in the face of criticism, and asked Kara DioGuardi what she thought. “I don’t think he understands what we’re saying,” she said, basically calling him dumb as a stump. I'd feel bad, except, Tim didn’t understand what she was saying.

In other news, Entertainment Weekly confirms that Adam Lambert will serve as guest mentor on the April 13 episode. No doubt imparting his intense and meaningful advice on how to properly apply black nail polish. Who's the next mentor, Show? Ke$ha? Ashley Simpson? The surviving member of Villi Vanilli?

This week, The Lennon-McCartney songbook is back to take a beating. There's a video message from Paul McCartney, who obviously hasn't seen Season Nine's crop of singers. And somewhere, in John Lennon's grave, there's more spinning than three seasons of Lynda Carter's "Wonder Woman."

Also tonight, each individual’s taped package involves getting a character assessment from the other eight. Which are about as insightful as Mario Lopez "reporting" for EXTRA.

Aaron Kelly, “The Long and Winding Road”
All the Idolers joke that Aaron is like Yoda, or something, and it's as non-hilarious as it sounds. The performance? It's all fine and good vocally, I suppose, but in presentation.... boring. Sleepy. Snooze-worthy. Like, tonight Aaron is human Ambien. The Judges are all like "zzzzzzzz" with words.

Katie Stevens, “Let It Be”
Katie's in the pimp chair talking about her 5 prom offers - and it's like a really bad issue of "Betty & Veronica." Hmmm, Aaron was everyone's little brother and Katie is like everyone's little sister, so say the fellow Idolers. The insights I've gleaned here are incomparable. Katie sings "Let It Be", and it's like another dose of Ambien. The judges all think it was awesome and Katie's blossoming. Blossoming like a weed.

Andrew Garcia, “Can’t Buy Me Love”
The Idolers say Andrew is a big goofball and always makes us laugh. Yup, I howled when he sang "Genie In A Bottle" and chuckled all through his "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." That dude is hi-larious. Andrew sings "Can't Buy Me Love." I'm not sure what to make of this; In spots, it almost approaches something that might have been interesting in a parallel universe... but other parts, it's like a bad carnival cruise version. The result? A bit of a muddled mess with a couple of good parts.

Michael Lynche, “Eleanor Rigby”
The huge insights about Big Mike? He's big and snores. Oh, the things we learn. He was also part of a black family band called "The Lynche Mob." Isn't that like Sharon Tate's family forming "The Helter Skleter Goodtime Music Crew"?

Mike sings "Eleanor Rigby." He's telling this melancholy story, but he's pointing and posing like a pimp playa. Imagine Ving Rhames singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider." It's something like that. The arrangement is overwrought. Way too showy and broad for this song. The whole thing is overcooked and left in the oven for a hour. Sidenote: David Cook sang this much better two seasons ago.

The judges are once again grading on a curve, loving it to pieces. Only Simon brings the smelling salts, citing it as "something from a musical" and "over the top." Then Big Mike challenges Simon to a "pecs contests," and suddenly, I have nightmare visions of four man boobs. Also, Big Mike tends to deflect criticism by saying "Look, muscles." Your muscles don't do the singing, asshat. Seriously, I've had enough of the Jolly Black Giant.

Crystal Bowesox, “Come Together”
Crystal has a cold. Every week, there's a new illness this season. What's next on this show, the Black Plague? Or, please, the "28 Days Later" zombie disease? Because then I'd totally be into this season.

Mamasox sings "Come Together" quite nicely, and once again proves she's the only consistently good thing about this season. She switches the song up, but in a way that suits her style. And accompanied by a didgeridoo, no less.

Tim Urban, “All My Loving”
Everyone talks about Tim's frozen Joker perma-grin. It's so endearing. And by endearing, I mean creepy. Tim's not as dumb as he looks, picking another love song so all the tweens swoon and vote-dial on their Hello Kitty phones until their little fingers bleed. The Judges try a new strategy: Tim gets good marks. Conspiracy Theory: decent reviews make voters complacent. Vote For The Worst warns us to keep voting.

Back from commercial. Ryan walks over to audience members David Boreanez and Emily Deschenal to plug "Bones." This season's Lacey Brown - who was first voted off - is sitting right next to Deschenal, but gets no mention whatsoever. You are dead to us, whore.

Casey James, “Jealous Guy”
Casey is alike a soap opera star and has blond, flowing hair, they tell us. The revelations tonight, I tell you. Casey sings "Jealous Guy." In the original, John Lennon made the song a painful but sweet ode to the green eyed monster. Casey's version removes those soft melodies and turns it into something akin to White Lion's "Jealous Guy." It's vocally competent, but misguided. Come to think of it, that kinda describes Casey, too.

Truth time. If you went to a bar, and Casey was singing some of this lite-Blues, you would think it sounded like a pretty good cover band. But the second Casey is trying to hawk his CD in said bar, you'd think, "Well, I'm not buying this stuff." And that's Casey. Good-enough cover song singer, and that's about it.

The Judges all love it to pieces. It's like they all recalibrated their expectations to compensate for this sucky season.

Siobhan Magnus, “Across the Universe”
Everyone reveals that Siobhan is weird. Y'know, for the benefit of those of us without eyes. Siobhan sings "Across The Universe" quite nicely -- although also evokes the extreme theme of narcolepsy tonight. It's sorta puts me to sleep. A theme of this season, actually. I am amused that Siobhan is swathed in the remainder of Bjork's Swan dress. The Judges like, but only sort of.

Lee Dewyze, “Hey Jude”
Lee always thinks he's going home and has apparently started a bromance with Andrew. Crystal gets the line of the night with, "I’m Glad Those Two Can Be Together, Get Married, and Have Lots of Little Danny Gokey Babies." Oh Crystal, I love you a little bit for that, even if you are a flea-bitten, dreadlocked creature that looks like your address reads "under a bridge."

Lee's "Hey Jude" is sorta OK in spots, and a little pitchy (ahem) and off-kilter in other spots. But look: Bagpipes! And just like that, they disappear into the Scottish Mist. Random much? Kara sorta sums it up, "there was some bad moments, but overall, I'm still a fan."

So who's going home? I'm actually guessing Teflon Tim's Song-Massacre Mystery Tour is over.