Wednesday, March 24, 2010

American Idol -- Top 11

There is a note at the bottom of the screen at the beginning of the episode here. Five ugly, ugly words: Recorded from an earlier telecast. Blecch.

So, the other difference tonight is that I’m working without a net (No access to the performances while writing the post).

[Aside: That reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Mad About You, which was popular the first time I lived in San Diego. Jamie (Helen Hunt) is talking to her sister Lisa about Lisa’s irresponsibility:
Jamie: That’s the problem. You’re out having fun and I’m running all over town with a net.
Lisa: Who’s Annette?]

I am not happy that they are continuing this “grand entrance” intro from the judges and Ryan. Even if this year’s crop of contestants is the weakest since season 2, the show is still supposed to be about them. Ryan introduced them almost as an afterthought when he was done shooting the shit with Simon and Co. for way longer than was interesting or necessary. And it was good that Simon went back to the gay baiting with Ryan. God knows we can never get enough of that. Just to be clear. I don’t find it offensive. It’s just the 2010 equivalent of throwing a pie in someone’s face. There’s nothing clever or inventive about it at all.

Is “Miley Cyrus as mentor on American Idol” the definition when you look up “Jumping the Shark”? To be fair, this group can’t really look down their noses at her. Maybe the producers felt that it would be too revealing if they had someone with talent mentoring these people.

Just a little foreshadowing (even though I don’t usually): They basically got the exact level of quality you would expect from singers coached by Hannah Montana.

Lee Dewyze (The Letter) -- When he was with Miley, he reminded me of a better-looking Elliot Yamin. I never really connected with Elliot, but I’m in touch with my shallowness enough to say if he looked like Lee I’d have been on board. The arrangement of this song is a little cheesy for me. I think overall he sounds as good or better than usual though. I can’t say I love this performance, but it’s solid enough and he’s popular enough that he should be fine. 7.4

I love Simon – Kara liking it is a good reason to do the opposite. Holla!

Paige Miles (Against All Odds) -- This one is just a disaster. What’s the thought process here? Let me see if I can find a song that’s been done to death on this show, AND just about ruined the contestant that sang it every time. Just in case you think I’m exaggerating, let me give you the list of the people who’ve performed this song on the show (season in parentheses): Corey Clark (2), George Huff (3), Scott Savol (4), Katharine McPhee (5) and Ramiele Malubay (7). Not exactly an all-star cast (save Kat McPhee – but even she was dreadful when she did it).

So, back to Paige, although I’m sure we’d all like to forget. First of all, why would you wear heels so high on national television when you’ve never worn them before? Here’s what I wrote when the first three words came out of her mouth: No, honey. No. And then it got worse. I’m not sure she hit even one of the notes in that song. I feel like dreadful doesn’t begin to cover it here. This rivals any of the five worst performances I included in the post about the best/worst in Idol history. 2.5

Ellen went with the Paula approach here (you look beautiful, you didn’t fall, brava!)

Here’s the first of what became a recurring theme tonight. Ryan: What happened? Paige: I just had fun with it. Petr: How could singing like that be fun?

Tim Urban (Crazy Little Thing Called Love) -- Best line of the night from Miley Cyrus – “I don’t think you are boring at all.” And this is everything you need to know about Tim Urban: hearing that brightened his day. I’ll say this for him. He’s figured out who is voting for him and why, and he’s trying to exploit it. So, props for trying to distract everyone from the vocal. However, my father always said it only takes one “aw shit” to wipe out a hundred “atta boys”. And the aw shit here is singing a song by Freddie Mercury (even one of his frivolous ditties) when you can’t sing.4.4

High School Musical. Hairspray. This wasn’t even close to being that good.

Aaron Kelly (I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing) -- Here’s another song that’s been beaten into the Idol ground, but with more mixed (and slightly better) results. I loved that he looked like he was ready to faint meeting Miley Cyrus. I keep forgetting that for some of these kids, she’s their role model. I have to admit to being skeptical about his ability to do Aerosmith, but there is obviously something about laryngitis that produces better than usual vocals. His voice being a little scratchy tonight worked in his favor because it gave his vocal character that it’s been lacking up to now. And since he has all the teenage girls in his pocket, he’s going to be here a while. 7.3

Memo to Ryan – Aaron’s not nearly David Archuleta.

Crystal Bowersox (Me and Bobby McGee) -- Here’s just one small thing that makes Crystal lightyears ahead of most of the other contestants: this song had never been performed on Idol before tonight. There are thousands of number one songs to choose from and the three contestants before her each picked songs that had been done at least three times previously. Where’s the originality? Right here. The last two weeks she has really relaxed and let it fly up there and it’s working. This is what the judges mean when they tell people to have fun. They mean find a song that you can get lost in and just be yourself while singing the hell out of it. And that’s what she did here. I got chills at one point toward the end. The only thing that worries me about her is Chris Daughtry Syndrome. That is, being so good so many weeks in a row can make voters complacent. It would suck if she went home during top four week (because they can’t use the judges’ save that week). 9.8

I’ve noticed that she gets really uncomfortable when Simon uses something negative about another contestant to praise her. That’s another way she reminds me of Daughtry because he never really liked, or even engaged in, the competition part of the process.

Michael Lynche (When a Man Loves a Woman) -- I feel like if he could play the piano he’d be better off. It would give him something to do with his hands other that what he’s doing with them. If you close your eyes and get rid of all the distracting theatrics, he’s not a bad singer. But it’s so hard to take him seriously when he throws his arms out on every big note. Plus, even though he kept the arrangement in his vocal comfort zone, I felt like this song was out of his league. I’m not sure if it was the technical aspect that was beyond him or just the emotional connection. But something was a hair off. And just to keep going with the theme of songs having been done before, this one was done three times before. Two of the people got eliminated and the other ended up in the bottom three. 7.25

I liked Simon’s analogy about the ice cream (wanting one scoop and getting eleven). Even when he’s not performing, he comes off so posed and theatrical. He’s as pageanty as Katie Stevens.

Andrew Garcia (I Heard It Through the Grapevine) -- Putting aside the fact that there was no way Andrew could have outsung Marvin Gaye here, he chose a song where he almost certainly couldn’t even be compared favorably with two of the previous Idol contestants that did it -- Kimberley Locke and Fantasia – although he had a shot at outdoing Kevin Covais (the guy Simon nicknamed Chicken Little). At least he did until he opened his mouth. When he put his finger to his ear as he sang the title lyric, part of me died. How do you make the top 12 when you think miming the song is appropriate? His moves were so ridiculous he made Michael Lynche look smooth. I think Miley Cyrus got this one wrong – he should have kept the guitar and got rid of the song choice. 4.8

Kara, enough with the Straight Up references. The horse is dead, decomposing, almost completely biodegraded and you are still beating it. Stop. Please.

And here’s another one that had fun. How. How could it be fun to make an ass of yourself in front of 30 million people?

Katie Stevens (Big Girls Don’t Cry) -- Here’s how nervous this group makes me. When she said what she was singing, for a split second I worried that it was going to be the Frankie Valle/Four Seasons song instead of Fergie. And then she pulled the mic off the mic stand and transformed into a teenager that can sing. This is her best performance by a country mile (they always used that phrase during baseball games – I have no idea what a country mile is). Here’s another example of how real fun happens. You pick a song that you can relate to that is in your range and you let it rip. There were definitely some missed notes here, but this is the eighth performance of the night and there has only been one that was definitely better (to this point). 8.3

They need to stop kicking her back and forth like a soccer ball. If she knew what kind of singer she wanted to be when she got here, she’d damn sure be confused by now.

Casey James (The Power of Love) -- I thought he told Ryan he was planning on getting out and moving around the stage. I’m digging the song choice though. He sounds a lot like Huey Lewis, in a good way. I’m sure I’ve said this every week, but I literally (I’m using that word figuratively) get butterflies in my stomach when I look at him. It’s possible that I’ve never found anyone on earth as attractive as I find him. I don’t really even understand it. It defies explanation. 8.0

Simon is just jealous because Kara stops throwing herself at him when Casey is around. And I loved the look Casey gave Simon before they quickly cut away from him. I’ve used that look myself many a time.

Didi Benami (You’re No Good) -- The beginning was super rough, but she pulled it together a little bit later on in the song. It’s not nearly as good as last week, but it’s definitely good enough for tonight. 7.2

How can some of these people still not understand that they do themselves no good by “explaining” themselves to the judges. Especially when she says things like, “I understand what you said, I was pitchy, whatever.” Whatever? Yeah, hitting the notes is so irrelevant. And again, I think maybe they don’t know the real definition of fun, because if they did they would not be claiming to have had it tonight. I know I certainly haven’t had much.

Siobhan Magnus (Superstition) -- It sounds like they auto-tuned her. I haven’t heard her hit this many notes in one song all season. Sure, she’s good for that big one, but tonight she’s even getting some of the more mundane ones. How workmanlike of her. I didn’t love it. I didn’t dislike it either, but I think it says something about the overall quality of the performances tonight that this was what they decided to end the show on. And I will leave the hair without comment. 8.1

Who else feels like it should be a bottom eight this week? It’s almost impossible to figure out who people will actually like enough to pick up the phone for. But since I have to choose, I think it will be Andrew Garcia, Paige Miles and Tim Urban. I would just like to add that I would swap out anyone one of them and put in Lee Dewyze simply because he went first and did a fairly forgettable song. I don’t think he should be there, I just think it’s possible that he will be. Regardless, I think it is time to say goodbye to Andrew Garcia. Paige was so bad I’m expecting her to get the sympathy vote and I just don’t see Tim Urban going home until the top 7 or 8. I’ll be happy to be wrong on either count though.

So, what was your reaction? Did anyone get song poisoning tonight?


  1. oh petr, yes! i'm suffering from a severe case of "song poisoning!" dear god in heaven, why are these children picking songs that even i (a 48-year old) wouldn't sing in a karaoke bar?? funny that the two youngest contestants were the only ones who picked songs from this century. and my ears will never recover from the noises that paige emitted (i can't in good conscience use the term "sang"). i believe she made jesus cry.

    i think idol may have already jumped the shark by bringing on ellen; if not, miley as mentor definitely did it.

    i wasn't impressed with most of these performances. i like your idea of a bottom 8. let's just get it over with now. i'm tired of watching...

  2. I'm not watching this season however I did go check out Casey based on your description... :) Agreed that he is very adorable. (Gosh I'm shallow) I can't stand Miley Cyrus so am especially glad I have skipped this season!

  3. janet here -- i am stunned that we have never discussed in this forum the "i just had fun with it" thing until now. it has certainly been on my mind for the past two seasons or so. the contestants figured out that somewhere along the way contestants who get skewered need only utter those magical six words to get a big whooping holler from the audience. it's become the knee-jerk reaction to a disembowelment from the judges. next up, we will have to dissect ryan's use of the word "journey." onto the performances -- andrew and tim will survive by the skin of their teeth tonight thanks to the milk-curdling performance of paige. i thought crystal was wonderful as usual but with one tiny criticism. as soon as they announced it was #1 night, randy said, "crystal will be singing 'me and bobby mcgee.'" myself, i would've loved to see her do something unexpected, like "midnight train to georgia." she is going to have to surprise us as some point.