Perhaps the secret to Idol success is… pre-taping? Because it sure seemed like we were back to square one tonight, what with so many missteps and dashed hopes and expectations. No real standouts tonight, a night where merely staying in key for 100 seconds was enough to be considered one of the best.
The judges were really aggressive tonight about going after lackluster performances. Compared to last week’s lovefest, Steven and J.Lo were unflinching in their criticism tonight, and coupled with Randy’s new Simon-lite schtick, tears were more prevalent this week.
Jimmy Iovine and his producing crew started the new mentoring segments. I would have liked these segments more if it weren’t for the fact that Jimmy said everyone was awesome and would do great while the producers were all in sync with the Idols. If you’re going to do this, be a little less boilerplate. Otherwise, it’s just a time waster.
Lauren kicked off the night with a low energy, low wattage version of Any Man of Mine that impressed neither the judges nor myself. The vocals were rather lackluster, and Lauren didn’t work the stage like she did last week, and she frequently sounded like she was out of breath.
Lauren reacted to Steven’s “constructive criticism” by rolling her eyes at him, this after all these weeks of batting her eyes and making goo goo eyes.
Lauren didn’t use the Idol “F” word, but she did say that she “had a good time”. This is very close to saying, “I had fun”, but I doubt this will affect her standing with the voters.
New to Idol this year are the creepy twin backup singers.
Maybe they’re not twins. They’re still very Village of the Damned.
If I had to compare any of this year’s contestants to Adam Lambert, I would skip the obvious and pick Casey as the closest thing to Adam Lambert this year. The voice, of course, isn’t the reason — but if there is anyone this year who is very carefully cultivating his image and crafting performances from start to finish, it’s Casey.
Tonight’s rendition of With A Little Help From My Friends lacked the guttural oomph of the Joe Cocker original, and I wasn’t sure if he chickened out on the primal scream in the middle or if he decided to switch it around by not going for it. The performance was okay, but Casey’s voice wasn’t all that strong, and he sounded a lot like John C. Reilly tonight, both singing and speaking.
We got our first gospel choir backup of the season, a sure sign of pimpage. It seemed Lee got a gospel choir every week last season to buoy his mediocre performances.
Casey has been wearing the same dingy brown hoodie since his first audition. Maybe he thinks it gives him Jedi powers or something.
BTW, if anyone has a better caption for the Casey’s Family Circus cartoon, leave a comment.
First off, Ashthon should have taken a cue from Syesha and worn her hair straight. Back in season 7, it was noticed that Syesha with straight hair was safe, while Syesha with big, curly hair was in the bottom three. If Ashthon wants to stay in the competition, she’s got to wear it straight.
But it doesn’t even really matter anyway, since a variety of factors are causing a perfect storm of first boot. Singing in the third spot is pretty deadly at this point in the competition, and since the first two spots are front runners anyway, you can’t like the view from where she’s sitting.
Having a relatively obscure song doesn’t help at all. Say you’re like most people and you don’t know the song. Did you remember her performance at all? Do you even remember how the song goes? Do you think anyone is going to pick up the phone for her?
And of course, she wasn’t very good. It wasn’t a Ta-Tynisa caterwaul, but there were too many off-notes. Jennifer spent time talking about what Ashthon needs to do for the future. Uh, Jennifer, do you think Ashthon really has a shot at making back next week?
Oh, and she later referred to herself in the third person. Whatever goodwill I had for Ashthon evaporated tonight.
Here where everything I was thinking about the top 13 starting blowing up in my face. Before Paul started, I told my wife that he was my pick to win Idol this year. The smile, the voice, the guitar thing — it was all coming together with Paul.
And then he takes a dump on stage, singing a semi-obscure song while ratcheting up the spazzy stage presence with drunken, palsied meandering that looked like it came from the Ministry of Silly Walks. I liked bits and pieces of the singing, but he wavered off pitch too many times and he basically looked and sounded like a drunk guy doing karaoke. He’s likely safe this week, but he really gave his front runner status a real kick in the nuts tonight.
Paul is going to have to come back very strong next week if he has any shot to even make the top 10. He’s already the Vote For the Worst pick, which puts him in Tim Urban territory.
Pia’s idol is Celine Dion, in part because of her “good family values”. Because nothing says “good family values” like marrying your 26 years senior manager whom you met when you were 12. Pia also busted out her Danny Gokey glasses tonight, which makes two questionable decisions on Pia’s part. Now, you may ask, “just because Danny Gokey wore similar glasses, does that mean anyone who wears them is tainted by association?” Yes. Yes they are. If you own glasses like that, you should burn them.
I didn’t go as gaga over Pia’s performance last week as many other people did, and I found All By Myself to be even weaker. Pia was straining for notes all over the place, and there was a screechy quality to her voice tonight that was unpleasant to listen to. Also unpleasant to listen to? Any Celine song. I know it’s technically a cover, but Pia’s version was in the style of, and if there’s anyone whose style I can’t stand, it’s Celine Dion.
Pia wore a glittery bronze colored dress tonight with a sheer cape. You know, to fight crime and stuff. You usually don’t see people wearing capes in Idol — this might be a first. But could you imagine fighting crime in heels like that? If she’s serious about this, she should contact the Real Life Superheroes group for pointers.
Oh, and how did you like Pia’s New Yawk accent that kept slipping through? She sounded like one of those Goodfellas wives. When she pulls her hair back, she looks a bit like Stephenie from Survivor. But before she hits the Idol stage, she transforms into the other Kardashian sister.
Yet another questionable decision on Pia’s part.
James came off as a douchey cry-baby poseur in the auditions, and it’s taking some effort for me to warm up to him. He did a pretty good job with Maybe I’m Amazed, showing some good vocal control but still not immune to the pitch problems that were plaguing everyone tonight. The thing is, his voice doesn’t really sound right on this song, or at least, the arrangement for this song. The mismatch between the arrangement and James’ vocals gave it a karaoke vibe.
The biggest laugh of the night was a moment during the ooh-oohs when James tossed off a little gayface. Kind of incongruous when the self-professed metal guy gets all cabaret on the audience. Then again, the whole concept of “Contestants’ Idols” is pretty stupid — I’m sure Durbin would have put Dio over McCartney in his idol list, but they don’t have a Ronnie James Dio song cleared nor do they want Durbin to sing more metal after singing Judas Priest last week. So a lot of the contestants had to pick a song and then pretend that the artist who performed it was their idol.
It’s deja vu all over again! Back in season 6, there was a mediocre singer named Haley who inexplicably made it to the finals, stuck around for weeks as better singers got cut, and used a ham-fisted version of “sexuality” (short skirts and short shorts) to get votes.
She’s back! Only she changed her last name from Scarnato to Reinhart and added yodeling to her repertoire. I know that Blue was a LeAnn Rimes yodeling song, but this was just a yodeling monstrosity, an exercise in tedium that was enjoyed only by people living in the Alps. There was so much yodeling it was a wonder Haley wore a boob gown instead of lederhosen.
And because yodeling itself isn’t annoying enough to listen to, Haley decided that you should be annoyed while watching it as well by inexplicably doing hula moves while singing.
Randy Jackson has become this season’s Unlikely Voice of Reason, and even though Steven and J. Lo weren’t exactly glowing over Haley’s performance, Randy kept it real and said, it was “very boring, would have fallen asleep if it weren’t for the yodeling”. This made Haley sad.
Cheer up Haley, penchant for showing side-boob will probably get you to the top ten.
BTW, the whole producer mentor thing wasn’t working as smoothly for Haley as the others (including Haley) claimed it was. Haley looked visibly distressed as she chatted with her producers. I don’t know if they told her not to yodel or not to wear a boob dress, but Haley was like, “step off yo!” She’s so hood.
The producers were giving Jacob the full pimp treatment, not only dragging out the gospel choir from Casey’s performance back out, but then upping the ante by dressing them in robes. Clearly, gospel choir in robes is more important than gospel choir in street clothes. And so of course, Jacob came crashing back to earth, delivering a pitchy, overwrought mess of I Believe I Can Fly. The overwrought part is practically embedded in Jacob’s DNA. But pitchy? I really didn’t think he’d have this many pitch problems in one performance. I was also surprised that he had so many problems with the lower register in the beginning of the song.
Now, I have no idea who Jacob’s idol really is (you know, other than Jesus Christ), but is it still too soon to embrace R. Kelly like that? It’s been inside three years that he was defending himself against charges that he slept with a 14 year old girl. Does this mean that next year someone will tell everyone that Chris Brown is their idol? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that R Kelly isn’t really Jacob’s idol, but he had to say that to stick with the stupid theme. But Jesus, what a price to pay to sing this song. And to top it all off, it was terrible. All in all, not worth the cost.
So after all the lackluster and flat out awful performances, I turned to my wife and said, “if Thia nails this one, she could become the front runner”.
And Smile started out well enough — one thing I like about Thia over Pia is that Thia doesn’t feel the need to beat every note into a bloody pulp, and that penchant for modulation and subtlety really helps differentiate her from the pack.
And then the beat kicked in and she whiffed on the glory note. Hard. It was actually painful to listen to. And the rest of the performance was littered with more bum notes. There was some good stuff in there to be sure, but it’s like eating a bluegill — it’s delicious, but only when you’re not spitting out the bones.
But you know what? It got worse. Was it when Steven called her Pia? Nah, that’s a little blip. How about when she said “Charlie Chapman” in the intro piece? She’s a teenager. That’s no big deal.
No, the bad moment happened when Ryan asked Thia what she thought of her performance, Thia said that she wanted to do “more better” for next time.
Okay, so she’s 15 or 16 and she was raised in a Phillipino household. Still — “more better” sounds like something you hear at a Chinese takeout place. For some reason, I just found it embarrassing. Maybe I’m being picky, but it made her sound kind of ignorant. Next thing you know, she’ll tell us she’s from “Chan Jiago”.
Oh, and then she said “more better” again when they came back from the break.
“More better” is less good.
Is it me or is Stefano basically the male version of Pia? All of his songs, like Lately, are the same — they start off low and then turn into a bunch of runs and strained glory notes. It’s all very shrug-worthy to me. Perhaps if he could actually nail a song one day and not get all pitchy I’d be more interested in what he’s doing, but he’s just average to me.
Steven told Stefano that he was “soaring like a volcano”. I know Steven is known for his odd syntax and weird turns of phrase, but I’m pretty sure this is a very Paula thing where they script things for him to say, but in whatever haze he’s in, he jumbles up the words in his brain and they come out of his mouth in an idiosyncratic manner. Like when he told Scotty, “hellfire, save matches, f*ck a duck and see what hatches”. But there should be an “and” in there — hellfire and save matches. It sounds awkward rhythmically to replace that with a stop. So I think they gave him that line to use and he simply screwed it up. It reminds me of a Honeymooners episode where Jackie Gleason, who was notorious for not rehearsing, kept repeating the phrase, “pins and needles, needles and pins, it’s a happy man that grins” as an anger management technique for Ralph. But it sounds wrong like that — it wasn’t until the end of the episode that Alice repeats the phrase correctly — “pins and needles, needles and pins, a happy man is a man that grins”.
My, that Stefano has big eyes, no?
I wouldn’t disagree that, out of context, Karen has a good voice. The problem is entirely the context — even though she said that Selena was her idol (so she could sing I Could Fall in Love), we all know her real idol is Celine Dion — Karen performs as if she’s watched every Celine performance frame by frame to capture the all the cheese she can get her hands on. And as it turns out, she was doing the same reaching out to the camera move when she was 12. It just makes it hard for me to watch Karen because of it.
She also studied Celine’s fashion sense, which is to say she has none. Of course it’s spangled. Of course they’re culottes. Of course the top criss crosses and makes her chest look like Hilary Swank’s in Boys Don’t Cry. Of course this all looks like total shit. Just because it’s glittering doesn’t make it beautiful. The whole thing is hideous and formless and should be burned with Danny Gokey’s glasses.
Karen isn’t the most attractive contestant this year. Want proof? She looks like Carly Smithson.
I don’t have much to say — he sang The River well, hit all his notes, and remembered all the lyrics. Shit, it might be the best performance of the night by that criteria. I just don’t quite care enough about the songs he sings to care about Scotty. When he sings, it’s like I’m watching some other singing show, which confuses me because a) I don’t watch any other singing shows, and b) why am I watching some kid sing country music anyway?
When it comes to performing, Scotty has this one move — he tilts one shoulder up,tilts his head in that direction, and then smirks. It’s already gotten old.
What a waste of a pimp spot. Naima was a case of overdoing it — everything. The krunking, the outfit, the shouting — instead of being the cool, jazzy songbird we were expecting (and wanted), Naima turned into a high school talent show contestant, singing Umbrella by her “idol” Rhianna (yeah, that’s real plausible) and delivering a complete mess. It’s the worst performance of the night because not only was it bad, but it was completely someone else up there, and it’s someone no one wants to see. We want Naima singing, not running around the stage and shouting breathlessly.
Well, I guess there’s at least one person who’s worse to look like than Carly Smithson.
But at least Sheeva knows how to dress. This outfit is a goddamned travesty. Not even Celine Dion would be caught dead in that.