Thursday, March 31, 2011

Idol Recap :: Someone Maimed My Songs Tonight

For those lamenting the end of LOST, this weeks show starts with a flash-back-forward-sideways recap of last Thursday's (actually) exciting elimination episode. Casey almost eliminated! Flashback to pre-show prep, where Casey hauntingly asserts they will not use the save! (Oooh, after-the-fact foreshadowing!) Hulk Hogan struts on stage looking like a radiation-burned Stretch Armstrong! Wrestling fans James Durbin and Paul McDonald plotz on stage! Ryan gets faux-punched and thrown into the pseudo-mosh-pit! Jennifer Hudson performs, after her healthy stay in the regeneration chamber!

And then the smoke monster ate everyone.

OK, not really... but hope springs eternal.

Then the Judges decide to keep Casey. And he crumbles on stage, visibly shaken and trembling. And I was desperately hoping that he would either faint or vomit, because that's why God made live TV. I think when Ryan said "Casey, you need to sing for you life," he took it for realsies. Because, honestly, bitchcakes, this is just a reality show.

Steven Tyler Fashion Look of the Week:
Corporate Shaman

This week is Elton John week. Because when The Show said no more themes, they lied.

Scotty McCreery "Country Comfort"
Scooty googled "Elton John" and "Country" and actually found something! Some nonsense country song, and factories are closing down. Of course they are! Howzabout learning an actual skills, you silly rednecks? Our resident Conway Twit(ty) smirk-smiles through it all, country style, y'all. The Judges all like, despite the last note sounding like a factory horn at quittin' time.

Naima Adedapo "I'm Still Standing"
Naima is doing "I'm Still Standing" with a reggae-swag. She sounds vaguely like a lyrical vodoo priestress, and honestly the vocals are a bit swagless. But the arrangement is actually kinda cool. The Judges, however, aren't smokin' what Naima is passing.

Paul McDonald "Rocket Man"
Paul is wearing Mr. Furley's jacket again. Like all of Paul's performances, it's a so-so affair. The Judges want him to push his performances more, but honestly I think this is as good as Paul gets.

Pia Toscano "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
Ballad-lovin' Pia sings the IDOL-favorite, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Like everything, Pia nails this one with a pitch-perfect rendition, backed by the choir sponsored by Banana Republic. The Judges love it, despite the balladness.

Stefano Langone "Tiny Dancer"
Producer Jimmy cracks the whip at bottom-threer Stafano. Someone page the splendiferous Peggi Blu, stat! Stafano gives a somewhat fromage-based performance, as he slips the camera an eye-roofie and bends it over the bathroom sink. Jlo believes this qualifies as "connecting with the audience." Meanwhile, "the audience" is busy hugging their knees and rocking back and forth in a shame shower.

Lauren Alaina "Candle In the Wind"
Lauren sings Elton John's opus to dead pop culture goddesses. Lauren does a great job with this one, and the Judges like. Steven, perhaps a bit too much, as he creeps on Lauren mightily.

James Durbin "Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting"
James is a rocker. Did you know he's a rocker? We keep telling you, dammit. And he's wearing the costume. So believe it, bitches, or we'll flash lights during all his performances! As much as I'm not a James-fan, usually I cop to the fact that his singing is mostly good. But this week, it's sorta a lame wannabe cornball affair - like a warmed-over Def Leppard video. But omigod, the piano is now on fire and his hair is spiked, so you better believe he rawks! The Judges have been hypnotized into believing this is, so they liked it fine.

Thia Megia "Daniel"
Producer Jimmy wants Thia to understand what the lyrics say. In other words, "This ain't HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, bee-yotch." Thia does a better job connecting with the song, but it's all rather dull.

Casey Abrams "Your Song"
Producer Jimmy says "everything" was wrong with Casey's performance last week, and wants a return of "humble Casey" of old. Cue corny shave and a haircut montage, as only IDOL can deliver. Let's be thankful it wasn't in grainy sped-up black and white with silent-movie title cards. It's a quiet, small performance. It's ok and all, but rather lackluster. The Judges reaffirm their belief in keeping Casey.

Jacob Lusk "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word"
Producer Jimmy says, "this is a song you can easily over-dramatize and that's where Jacob gets in trouble." With a capital T and that rhymnes with G which stands for Gaga. "If Jacob goes for over-dramatizing, he could kill the whole thing," Producer Jimmy ominously forewarns.

Next image: a backlight Jacob bathed in a smoke machine's tender embrace. Because nothing says subtle like a fog machine. It's like a Heart video mated with Phantom of the Opera. So much for under-dramatizing. By the time Jacob is done going into musical labor, his afterbirth lines the stage. The Judges still loved it.

Haley Reinhart "Bennie and the Jets"
Haley tries to Scarnato us again with a sexy-ish chatuessey version of the song. She gives the song a bluesy edge that plays to her vocal strengths. It's probably her best performance to date. Aaaand, the Judges agree. Haley's g-string can be kept in storage for another week.

So who's going home? I think Thursday Night's All Right For Packing for Stefano and Naima.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Idol Recap :: Blowtown

Last week, Karen Rodriguez said "goodbye." Or, as she might sing, " Hasta luego." But she's not just Spanish.

This week is Motown week, so get ready for some soul crushing of a different variety.

Steven Tyler Fashion Look of the Week:
Gay Leopard

Casey Abrams, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"
After Casey's CharlesManson-y Nirvana performance, the ProducersCabal hide the sharp objects and tell him to reign it in a bit. Casey wafts through the crowd like a hispter Tom Jones, and manages to give the song a cool, gruff spin. The Judges find him a "true original" and they like it muchly.

Quick shout out to the Aeromosith guitarist, who looks like a hyper-aged Willy Wonka. Kids: Don't do drugs.

Thia Megia, "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave"
Continuing Thia's trend of boppy-teen fluffitude, she picks the up-tempo "Heat Wave." It's a limp performance, lacking the passion and urgency of Martha and the Vandellas' original. Less heat wave, more like a hot flash. The Judges are soft on Thia and feel that she "took a chance."

Jacob Lusk, "You're All I Need to Get By"
Motown week is right up Jacob's alley, so he should do well. ProducerJimmy wants to see "more restraint." Let me put that through my Idolese translator[TM]: "Dial back the runs, bitch." Jacob's performance is entirely "Dreamgirls", with sassy arm waves and dramatic hand flourishes. Bitch is like a refugee from the Island Of Misfit Pips. But honestly, it's his best performance to date, as he totally keeps his theatrical side mostly in check. Steven calls him "baby Luthor" as the Judges give him the coveted standing O.

Lauren Alaina, "You Keep Me Hanging On"
The strangely zebra-pelted Lauren vamps around the stage like a white girl doing her best sassy-black-neighbor impression. There's more neck weaving in this song than the five season run of "227." Sandra would be moved to say, "Oh, Mawy." Vocally, it's pretty good, and the Judges like it fine.

Stefano Langone, "Hello"
Remember when music teech Lionel Ritchie inappropriately stalked his poor blind student, but it was OK because she made an monstrous sculpture of him? I guess it was a fine practice to creep on the handicapped during the Reagan Era. Also, the difficulty factor in stalking the blind in pleasingly low. Oh, 80s!

David Cook kicked out a great version of this song in season six, but Stefano's version is rather lame. Imagine the cruise ship reunion tour of Menudo, and you begin to get the idea. Jlo wants more of a connection and more intensity from Stefano. Then she critiqued his music, too.

Haley Reinhart, "You Really Got a Hold on Me"
Haley Reinhart is taking wardrobe tips from previous perennial season six bottom-three-er Haley Scarnato, who wore hot pants and a washcloth on stage. Skin wins votes, peeps. For a while anyway. The Judges liked the bluesy-edge, so maybe Haley can save her g-string for another week or so.

Scotty McCreery, "For Once In My Life"
This week, Scotty is smirk-singing his way through "For Once In My Life" by way of Merle Haggard. Dipped in Red State ooey-gooey-ness, Scotty is sure to be safe this week.

Pia Toscano, "All In Love Is Fair"
Beautiful pitch-perfect performance, if a little sleepy. The Judges love it, but want more star power and less ballads. I co-sign that. Ryan then proceeds to model Pia's dress because he wants us to "see the couture." Seacrest, it's not even "subtext" at this point, it's just "text."

Paul McDonald, "Tracks of My Tears"
Paul provides a mellow-pop version of the famous song, giving his restless leg syndrome a rest behind his guitar. Everyone characterizes Paul's voice as "distinct" and "unique" and "different." You know, kinda like the description of every nightmare blind date you've ever had. Show will awkwardly break up with him mid-season.

Naima Adedapo, "Dancing in the Street"
Naima threatens to dance again, causing small terrified children to cower in fear. Naima rocks the stage wearing grandma's drapes as bellbottoms and every friendship bracelet in the Western Hemisphere. She gives a solid performanace, and even injects some rasta-beatdown in it, while having a grand mal seizure on stage. Jlo got goosebumps while Steven feels she's the "full package."

James Durbin, "Living for the City"
Once again, James is wearing his rocker costume and telling us to "Come on!" James, I am not going anywhere with you in that get-up. Visually, it's indulgently showboaty... But vocally, it's solid stuff. Thankfully, James doesn't overdo the screechy power-notes this week. Randy found the beginning a little rough, but the rest is all love.

So who's going home tonight? I think Haley will be making tracks... followed by tears.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Idol Recap :: Born To Be Mild

Last week Karen Rodriguez practiced Santeria and spared herself from eliminations. Meanwhile, Ashton Johns did the "Dance Monkey!" sing-for-her-life and was answered with J Lo's stinging, "Not this time, baby."

Steven Tyler Fashion Look of the Week:
Rainbow Brite Does Woodstock

They’re singing Birth Year Songs tonight. Remember what I said about "Everything is different this season, but nothing has changed?"? Yeah.

Naima Adedapo, "What's Love Got to Do With It" (1984)
Naima's mom comes on the screen looking tres Navi. Then Naima takes the stage like a Rasta Predator, but gives a middling performance. It's disappointing, because she's one of the more-talented girls this season. Tyler says she has a "sorceror's grasp of melody", J Lo's concerned about pitch problems and Randy finds the "vocals all over the place."

Paul McDonald, "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (1984)
Producer dude tells Paul he "sounds a little hoarse today," and I'm all like, "how can you tell"? Paul continues his odd stage persona of squatting and twitching, like a Meth head with bowel issues. It's far from great, as Paul struggles through some throaty cold issues. The Judges give him a semi-pass, and they still enjoy his distinctive voice. For this week, anyway.

Thia Megia, "Colors of the Wind" (1995)
Thia goes full-tilt Disney Princess on this one. It's nice and pretty but a little boring. The Judges, also bored. Ryan assigns Thia’s weak performance to post traumatic stress at the hands of the awesomely aggressive vocal coach from hell, Peggi Blu, who’s in the audience looking splendiferous. During Hollywood week, she played Granny Goodness to little teen furies with such encouragement as, "You’re going to die onstage in front of all those people. I’m going to be laying in my bed watching you just croak” and “No! What is that? Sing, dammit! Do it from the top one more time, and don’t make a mistake.” That bitch needs her own show.

James Durbin, ”I'll Be There for You” (1989)
Is it me, or is James Durbin looking more and more like Adam Lambert each passing week? I suppose as the annointed “rocker”, he must “fit the suit.” You know, like Johnny Bravo. It’s an OK performance, but seems waaaay too fast and pop-lite, almost like a Kidz Bop version of the Jovi classic. Tyler cautions the “poppy-ness” but there’s love all around, cuz Show wants James in the finale.

Haley Reinhart, ”I'm Your Baby Tonight” (1990)
Producer dudes still sporting indoor sunglasses. What did I tell you last week? It’s the look de douche. Haley invokes one of the diva goddesses, often resulting in Idol banishment. To her credit, she sings it better than Whitney can these days, but that’s crack-is-whack faint praise. It’s a boring, middling performance. J Lo starts off with the “you look beautiful tonight” and we know where this is going. It’s Idol-code for “you sucked the big one, girl.”

Ryan then awkwardly wipes lipstick off Haley’s chin, and Randy comments, “Ryan’s doing make-up now.” Now, Randy? Where you been, dawg? Ryan's probably been doing make-up since middle school.

Stefano Langone, ”If You Don't Know Me by Now” (1989)
Stafano sings the overplayed Simply Red classic, foregoing News Kids on the Block and Milli Vanili. J Lo mouths the words like a lovesick school girl. It's a solid performance, with the Judges noting the "hot vocals." J Lo thinks Stefano can "take this" if he "stays rights there" and "connects to her eyes." And by "this," she means her vagina.

Pia Toscano, ”Where Do Broken Hearts Go” (1988)
Adorable lil' Pia singing her heart out via video. Aw. So Pia's performance... I don't love this arrangement, but it almost doesn't matter -- Pia just nails the whole thing vocally. The Judges nod stoicly, with their "seriously awesome" eyebrow knitting - then give verbal loves.

Scotty McCreery, ”Can I Trust You With My Heart” (1993)
The Travis Tritt, um, classic (?). Arsed if I know. This is Country Music. Scotty continues to serve up Hazzard County style music, a little too Boars Nest for this city slicker. Fine for what it is, and Scott sings it classic country and all.

Karen Rodriguez, ”Love Will Lead You Back” (1989)
Karen rocks the Coke seat pimp slot, looking like a Space Age Hooker Bratz Doll, with hoop earrings the size of hula hoops. (Note: Is the phrase "Hooker Bratz Doll" redundant?) Karen wants to prove she's not just a Spanish singer, so she sings Taylor Dane and drops her now-trademark espaƱol. I don't think Karen knows what the word "prove" means. The Judges are like, "better than last week, but also rife with some meh."

Casey Abrams, ”Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)
First time Nirvana is ever sung on Idol. I'm actually a Casey fan, but this is a bit of a mess for me -- off-key and shouty. There's some flashing yellow rocker lights that only serve to make Casey resemble a slightly musical member of the Sinestro Corps . Tyler enjoyed, J Lo found it a little screechy, and Randy liked the fearlessness.

Lauren Alaina, ”I'm the Only One” (1994)
Lauren rocks the Melissa Etheridge tune, and starts off a bit rough. She eventually finds her way. The Judges like it, and even believe her cold may have helped the song out.

Jacob Lusk, ”Alone” (1987)
Jacob insisting his mother can't sing, while she insist she can. Cute. His performance? Not so cute. It's overcooked Meatloaf in a "I'd Do Anything For Love" way. We even get cascading finger action and fade to black drama. "Mommy Dearest" was subtle filmaking compared to this. The Judges, meanwhile, liked this quite nicely. Whatevs.

So who's going home? I'm guessing America won't consider Haley their baby tonight.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Idol Recap :: Left Idoling

New judges. New opening. New band. New stage. It's the season where everything is different – but nothing has changed. Despite the new trappings, it’s the same old Idol, with bad auditions, the back-biting of Hollywood week and the extra-drama fake-out eliminations.

Plus, kids pursuing music careers that never heard a Beatles song; Such crimes should be punishable with a 24-hour non-stop
Ke-dollarsign-ha album on repeat. But please, do sing that Aerosmith song from that bad meteor movie again. In Idol’s unintentional anti-bully campaign, haughty divas Clint Jun Gamboa and Jordan Dorsey werekarmicly eliminated, despite their vocal prowess. Clint, for ousting chubsy-ubsy fav Jaycee, and Jordan for dissing country crooner Scotty McCreery. That’s justice, bitches, served up Idol style.

All in all though, the talent seems much better this year compared to last year’s dreadful season. And the show’s focus seems to be on the contestants, instead of the Judges nonsense.

And then there’s the Judges. Now, I had my doubts about this season going in, imaging a detached J Lo, a lump in the shape of Randy Jackson, and an annoyingly narcissistic Steven Tyler,. Especially the promo images of Tyler where he
resembled one of those Tranny-Looking Housewives of Self-Important County. But J Lo and Tyler seem invested. And when Chris Medina auditioned, the Judges met his disabled-by-a-car-crashgirlfriend, and they were very sweet, with Tyler whispering to her, “that’s why he sings so good because he sings to you.” Damn you, Steven Tyler, for making me like you. I may even buy you another Hot Topic necklace.

Additionally, Tyler provides some bizarre
bon mots and inappropriate leering of teenaged contestants. And that, my friends, makes for good TV. Meanwhile, J Lo has emerged as a more-lucid Paula Abdul, offering carefully-couched critiques as to not crush souls. Randy, remains a lump. Occasionally, The Show will cattle-prod him into giving harsh Simonesque critiques, but in mere minutes he’s back to grazing listlessly over his Coke cup.

Tyler also provides unintentional entertainment with his “Rock Superstar” costumes from Party City, each one a slight variation on a theme. Honoring his fashion (non)sense, I will be providing a 5-word-or-less description of his weekly look.

Steven Tyler Fashion Look of the Week:
Merchant Ivory's Pimp

This week, Ryan
Seacrest emerges on the Tron-like stage announcing the top thirteen. There’s a quasi-theme of the night, as the contestants sing songs from their personal Idols. Or, alternately, sing stuff the Judges liked in Hollywood week.Also, there’s various music producers doling out advice and guidance. And lots of red headphones.

Lauren Alaina - Any Man of Mine (Shania Twain)
Lauren is one of the front-runners, noted a Carrie Underwood/Kelly
Clarkson mash-up. This week, her performance is OK enough, but slightly Country-karaoke. The Judges deem this "Meh."

Casey Abrams - With a Little Help from My Friends (Joe Cocker)
Casey - despite
looking like Jim Kuback from Mission Hill - is another front-runner, and my personal pick for the win. His performances have been surprising and original. The producer dude tells Casey to spasm on stage a la JoeCocker. Casey manages a few kicks and a little stomping. It’s competent, but not one of his best performances. The Judges all love, as Steven rates him a “rainnbow of talent” and a “plethora of passion.” Randy reaches for a dictionary.

Ashthon Jones - When You Tell Me That You Love Me (Diana Ross)
The Judges once told Ashton she’s like Diana Ross, so she feels safe in evoking the diva card. She does it justice, but honestly, it’s a little
pageanty and snoozish. Judges like, but don’t love.

Paul McDonald - Come Pick Me Up (Ryan Adams)
Or, as I like to think of him,
Steven Keaton’s hip younger brother. Paul chooses a song from Ryan Adams, but really, he’d kill doing something from James Morrison. Paul uses his low rasp-singing to his advantage. But the stage presence is a disturbing thing. Dressed like something from Sgt Pepper's Valentine's Day Band, he works the stage like a drunk speed-walker in need of urinating. The Judges like the idea of Paul moreso than the actual performance.

Pia Toscano - All By Myself (Celine Dion)
Pia’s one the Judge’s favorites, given a manipulative totally
pre-planned pimp-slot standing O last week. This week, she sings the treacly-awesome “All By Myself.” It’s actually a great song choice to show off her vocals. She kills it. The Judges find her “dope, hot, cool” and things of this nature.

James Durbin - Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney)
James is Adam
Lambert 2.0. Awesomely talented with super-big sometimes screechy notes. And the Judges are already picking out China patterns for the finale. Not my cuppa tea, but a very talented fellow. At least he cut off his white-trash hair tail. Because, it’s not 1992. This week is actually my favorite performance from him so far – he really nails this pretty effortlessly, without screeching out notes that make every dog in a three mile radius run around in circles. The Judges are all smoochy about it.

Haley Reinhart - Blue (LeAnn Rimes)
Practice sessions: Everyone is wearing sunglasses indoors. Note to everyone: that’s a
douchey look that no one pulls off, ‘kay? Haley’s a little pitchy and even droning. Like I set my alarm clock to “Patsy Cline.” Tyler believes the country-western part of the country is “roaring.” Of course they are. Randy is the surprising voice of reason (!), and found it “a little boring” and “sleepy.”

Jacob Lusk - I Believe I Can Fly (R. Kelly)
Jacob is the greatest singer I kinda want to slap sometimes. Maybe it’s the ridiculous runs. Maybe it’s his high-drama quotient. Like, if you told him you liked his jacket, he’d jump up and down and shakes his hands wildly. But if you told him you hated his jacket, bitch would cry til Tuesday.
Anyhoo, he’s a wickedly talented gospel-crooning bore. He sings well, flanked by the supporting singers of “Amen.”The Judges love.

Thia Megia - Smile (Michael Jackson)
The producers reference Charlie Chaplin, and 15-year old Thia is like “I know nothing of these things in the black and the white.” Thia sings it well, but it feels like a Disney-On-Ice opus.

Stefano Langone - Lately (Stevie Wonder)
Ah, Stefano, the contestant J Lo would like to
Corey Clark. Choosing Stevie Wonder is a bit of a miscalculation, and Stefano isn’t quite up to the task. It’s OK, but it pales to the original. The Judges feel he “pulled it off.”

Karen Rodriguez - I Could Fall in Love (Selena)
Karen chooses a Selena song (angling the J Lo sympathy vote?) She even enters the stage in her “Single White
Jlo” costume, with pulled-back ponytail and sparkly red-carpet dress. The judges found it a little “lacking.” Watch out, J Lo, this bitch might blackswan your ass.

Scotty McCreery - The River (Garth Brooks)
Scotty’s singing is like a B-side from K-Tel’s Greatest Country Hits of the 70s. Country Music, to me, is the foreign language I never wanted to study. So here is Scotty singing traditional country, if you enjoy tales of truck stops and daily travails... Have at it.

Naima Adedapo - Umbrella (Rihanna)
Naima is one of of the more talented girls, methinks. She does a good job with “Umbrella”, and in addition to giving her the pimp slot, Show activates its holodeckfeature with flashing lightning that whisper, “love this, bitches.” The reggae bridge is actually kind hot. The Judges are ok with it, but you can tell they wanted to love it more... y'know, with the pimp slot and all.

So who's going home? Haley Reinhart might be feeling blue, but I actually think Karen Rodriguez will fall out of love with The Show.