Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TONIGHT, (DON'T) LET IT BE LOEWENSTERN:  What's noteworthy to me about tonight's Idol semifinals is what didn't change -- same lame backdrops and Muzak-leaning orchestrations, same Seacrest, same overall feeling that we're watching a variety show and not a legitimate search for the next contemporary pop superstar.  Same show, same type of songs and performances, only with different judges -- this was not the reinvention of Idol.

But what did change was mostly nice: fewer judges means more time for each to speak (Randy: critical! helpful!), and a 90 minute running time for twelve performers meant a briskly-paced, largely bullshit-free show.  Thanks, Nigel!  What I didn't like, though, was that immediately putting the performers on the big stage and not the comfier semifinals-in-the-round may have prevented some of them from finding their stagecraft sea legs, and some of them seemed a bit lost up there.  So, then, some initial tiers:

My Favorite Tonight:  The pimp-slotted Casey Abrams. Do I believe he should be America's Next Pop Superstar?  No.  But would I like to see him on my tv for a while?  Yes. Because his "I Put A Spell On You" was a bit raw, and a bit nuts. And I like nuts.

Booked for the Finals: Freaky-Voiced Scotty McCreery, James Durbin (hmm, Judas Priest? That's a signifier for ... something), and Jacob Lusk.  On Lusk, the vocals were great-but-pageanty, and the amount of self-conscious posing and the corner-of-the-eye look are going to feel tiresome by April, much like Anwar Robinson began to feel like camp. (Also, "A House Is Not A Home" was done better by Tamyra Gray in season one.)

I Hope The Judges Save Him, Because I Don't Trust America To Do So:  Twitchy Paul McDonald. That was different, and he's clearly talented. He's definitely someone who can have an arc on this show, given the chance.

Non-Threatening Young Hebrews, Only One Of Whom Can Survive:  I preferred Robbie Rosen to Simply Red and the Flames of Idol.  Brett, Brett, you're way too short and adorable to sing a song of sexual menace like "Light My Fire."

Sucked Tonight, But At Least One Gets A Wild Card:  Jordan Dorsey ("OMG") is almost guaranteed to get one more chance to figure out who he is, and Stefano was close enough on the Bruno Mars song that I think he may get another chance.

Thoroughly Unmemorable: Clint (because Stevie's hard, yo, and after nine years we've heard enough), Jovanny ("I'll Be"? Really? You're going to distinguish yourself with that?), and Tim Halperin with that stinkin' Rob Thomas song.  From tonight's performers there are 5-6 we'll never see again, and these seem pretty clearly like three of them.

Tomorrow night: Opera Girl tries to show us she's all grow'd up.


  1. Shortly after Brett's performance, "Jim Morrison" was trending on Twitter, at least in part because of the popularity of tweeting that he was "rolling in his grave."

  2. You know what gets me to care more about things that I would normally only give half a crap about?  Joining a fantasy league.  As usual, I didn't start watching Idol until semi-finals, but because I've joined Alan's Hitfix league, all of a sudden I'm paying attention a lot more.  Cripes, I've even got a SPREADSHEET.

    Adam, I'm pretty much in agreement with your assessment.  Definitely hoping for more Casey and Paul (or, as the BF and I have dubbed him, "Hobbit Joe Cocker").  Is there enough room for Casey and Paul and James Durbin in the finals?  I certainly hope so, but I'm skeptical.  And Brett can't get off my TV fast enough.  Totally off-putting look, voice, and song choice.  Which, of course, means he'll make the Top 5.

  3. By the way, I didn't read the rules. Didn't realize we could re-order things until 8pm Thursday *and* all season long pre-results.  That means I spent way too much time before tonight researching spoilers and getting the 1-24 exact.

  4. Jacob? Really? Blech. Awful. He irks me to the point I can't even listen to or watch his performances. The eye thing when he started tonight was straight up bizarre. Maybe I should hope he sticks around just for the inevitable breakdown. 

    I definitely think putting them on the big stage the first night out was a bad idea for a lot of these guys. It should be interesting to see how the women manage tomorrow night. 

    I thought Casey was great. Stefano was OK. Paul was too twitchy to look at but there's something about him I like. I'm surprised that I like Scotty. I threw a few pity votes to Tim (he was so good earlier in the competition but I think bad song choice + first time on the big stage screwed him up tonight), Stefano (not so bad), and Robbie. Brett seems like a nice little kid who needs an Idol makeover. Maybe they can Bieber-fy him a bit. He has the head toss down already. 

    I can't even muster up pity for the others, I just flat out despise them -- except James Durbin. I don't like his voice so far or that stupid scarf hanging off his ass, but there's something very endearing about him that makes me want to root for him. It's tough to decide just who I want to go home this week. So many awful performances tonight. 

  5. Sorry to double post, but I meant to add that this is the first time I've really missed Simon. As much as I like the new judges and as excited as I am that Randy actually had something worthwhile to say, I kept wondering what Simon's take would have been about some of the performances tonight. I wish he was blogging this season or something.

  6. StvMg7:34 AM

    But don't you get points off for each time you change your rankings? I wasn't even going to bother ranking anyone until after the Wednesday night show. I assume that was OK.

  7. Correct -- nothing locks in the first time until tomorrow night. Until tomorrow, keep changing it up.

  8. Paul Tabachneck8:18 AM

    We have flipped tendencies as re: this show!  That's exciting.

    I rewatched a lot of it last night on YouTube, and have to say, I was blown away by some of what I saw.  I really hope Brett sticks around for a while, and I love Casey, Paul MacDonald, James Durbin, and Jacob Lusk.  My love is a curse, however -- last year I was convinced in the early weeks that Siobhan would lead us all across the desert, and we saw what happened there.

  9. Anonymous5:59 PM

    I already hated "Arms of the Angel" with the white-hot fire of a bazillions suns... and now I hate it MORE.

  10. KCosmo11:21 PM

    Sorry not to be part of the party this week, but I hope to be back next week.  A few points of disagreement:  I already hate Jacob Lusk, and  Robbie Rosen did nothing to endear himself to me this week.  My personal favorites are (of course) Casey Abrams, Paul McDonald, and James Durbin.

  11. Jenn.3:53 PM

    I'm honestly not sure what to think of Paul McDonald.  I definitely liked him more when I listened without watching.  His phrasing is so quirky that I'm struggling to understand if he is quirky but good, or just quirky.  I'm down with him making the finals so that I (and, you know, other members of the audience) can try to figure that out.  But when all is said and done, it wouldn't shock me if I wasn't crazy about him by the end of this experiment.