Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CHALK AND CHEESE: Time for tag-team Idol coverage again, and Kim starts us off:

Kim: Now hear this. No good can come of a theme week in which there is no theme. "Top Billboard Hits" is not a theme. It is a list of songs that have been popular over the years for a variety of reasons. This is not a theme. I repeat: this is not a theme!

I liked Lee's "The Letter." Whose version is that? It was so familiar. I bet that if that performance had come later in the competition, Simon wouldn't have been so quick to dismiss it.

Adam: Well, I'll dismiss it. It just felt very Vegas-y, especially with the Magical Horns of Idol on stage with him. Lee had all this indie authenticity going on with his song choices and performance style so far, and it all went away this week. He's just another guy who looks like Bill Simmons and can sing okay.

Singing okay, however, puts him light years ahead of Paige. Lookit: No one has done “Against All Odds” well on the show before. (See, esp., Corey Clark.) Streak continued, and how. Worst performance in the finals this year.

Kim: Man, that "Against All Odds" was miserable. It was hopeless, though, before it ever started. Phil Collins must have sold his soul to the devil to be able to perform the song successfully, because I just don't think it's possible.

Tim Urban wasn't as bad as the judges said, but "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" is just one of those dopey songs that shouldn't find their way onto the show. I know that Taylor Hicks sang it with some success, but doesn't that just prove that two negatives make a positive?

Adam: All I can say about Tim is that shaking hands does not increase your vocal range. Make it stop. He picked the one Freddie Mercury song which mortals can sing and he didn't sing it well. Aaron Kelly, on the other hand, was enjoyable for me for the first time. "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" was a great song selection for him -- even if he still comes off as a boy singing a man's song. He did it fine.

Kim: Yes, Aaron was fine. It was tolerable, which is high praise for this rudderless night. These kids need structure. And then we get to the anointed one. Crystal Bowersox singing "Me and Bobby McGee" (my own personal AI audition song) should have been the gimmiest of gimmes, and in the mind of the judges it was. But I was left the tiniest bit cold. Maybe it was the "Entertainer" factor -- if you're gonna have a hit, you've gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05. I don't know what it was. I adore the song, she sang it well, but still . . . kinda eh.

Adam: But she has a carpet! I feel like she's comment-proof at this point; all we can do is accurately peg the level of her weekly greatness, and this was ... not pantheon level, but solid. Yeah, Melinda Doolittle v2.0 in every endearing respect -- that is, until Next Week's Big Surprise. Also in the it-is-what-it-is box is Big Mike Lynche. We like him, he'll make it to Final 4 or 5, and that's it. Not much to say.

Kim: Aw, Big Mike. Climbing right into the Peabo box and staying there. He's a sweetiemuffin. But yeah, no chance. Kinda like Andrew Garcia. I liked the Santana vibe on his "Grapevine," but nothing worth discussing further.

Adam: There was a vibe other than I'm Denouncing You? Couldn't feel it from someone who's morphng from Lea DeLaria to Kim Jong-Il to Filipina Lesbian. Speaking of morphing, how 'bout that Katie Stevens? From DeGarmoBot we've occasionally dreaded to ... well, there's nothing wrong with competence, is there? Okay, one really sharp note towards the end, but she's totally safe right now.

Kim: Yeah, Katie sucked less than she had been sucking, which was nice, and it was good to hear a song from a decade in which I was old enough to vote. But it was also good to hear a song from my youth sounding a lot like it did in my youth -- Casey James does a right good Huey. Some songs/artists require you to be American to appreciate them; it surprised me not one bit that Simon was grumpy about "Power of Love."

Adam : When Casey said he was singing "The Power of Love," I couldn't imagine why he'd attempt a Celine Dion song. Phew. Knows his box. Stays within it. Occupies it well. There was nothing great about this, but the boy radiates star quality.

As for Didi, any song that requires you to sing "you're no good" over and over again runs the risk of subliminal suggestion to the viewer. She vamps well, but there wasn't much to that, was there?

Kim: The minute I heard what song Didi was singing, I of course had the same thought. The Elvine snarl was kind of weird too, and whatever did the world do before the advent of thigh-high boots? Oh, and while I'm at it, what's with Kara finding every possible opportunity to touch Simon? Did I miss something all these weeks that I wasn't watching?

I find Siobhan so utterly weird that it's kind of distracting me from my enjoyment of her singing. I get the inherent contradiction of the fact that (a) I was a huge Adam Lambert fan and didn't mind the screaming and the weird but (b) Siobhan bothers me with the screaming and the weird, but there you are.

Adam: Fienberg tweeted tonight that she's got a Clark Kent thing going on in the rehearsal footage; I prefer to think of it as She's All That. Either way ... this was her worst performance, just because the others have been much more interesting. Still, her worst is top 2, top 3 tonight easy. And Paige has to be the one going home, right?

Kim: One would think, although Tim should be a candidate too.

Speaking of candidates, I've got a Lost to watch. 'Nite.


  1. tortoiseshelly11:04 PM

    This has to have been the dullest night in AI history. What a snoozefest. 

  2. Indeed, that was really disapointing, including the lame song choices.  I was significantly more impressed by Crystal than our commentators though.  While the slicing and dicing to the song bothered me, she did nail the emotional progression of the song, and had tremendous control and power.  I can't wait to hear the full version.  It was my favorite performance of the season so far.

    Siobhan was a let down, I agree.  I'd hoped for better, but she's still miles ahead of everyone else.  Mike did a famous song less well than the original but competently.  Casey did a not-as-famous song perhaps better sung than the original, but so close that I agreed with Simon, I was thinking "Really good cover band". 

    And that's it...everyone else was boring, except for Didi (who I hate listening too...my least favorite idol voice in a couple of years), Paige and Andrew.  Boy did I agree with Simon, I couldn't belive that that was what Andrew did to Grapevine.  No creativity, no point, no emotion, what a mess.  But yeah, it'll be Paige.

  3. I saw Huey Lewis in concert last year.  At this point, Huey Lewis sounds like a Huey Lewis cover band.  They're a  really great party/bar band that hit it very, very big.  Not a singer's showcase.

    I'm fairly sure that Lee sang the arrangement of "the Letter" made most famous by Joe Cocker.

    Siobhan, Siobhan, I love you, but the world does not need a female Lambert.  The male Lambert has that covered enough for both genders.

    My only thing about Crystal was that she lost my favorite line of the song, "I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday."

    And was there an audience shot of Miley all night in which she wasn't chewing her gum open-mouthed like a cow with some cud?  I hate it when starlets turn me into my grandma.  "Stop chewing that gum.  Where's your slip?  The whole world can see your bra strap, young lady."

  4. I liked Crystal. She was probably the best of the night.  I just don't have much to say about it.

  5. I need to start with Siobhan:  You know, I didn't end last season saying to myself, "Wow, you know what would make me happy?  Another season with someone who feels the need to insert screaming notes into almost every.damn.song, but is substantially less successful at hitting the note that is the ostensible point of the scream."  This song was at least as old-fashioned as many of the other songs, but it included screams at the end where she wasn't hitting notes.  Again.  Blah.  Can she sing Wicked Game again?  I seem to recall that being enjoyable and, what do you know?  Scream-free.

    Okay, now that that's done, my tiers for everyone else:

    Top:  Crystal.  Yeah, an obvious choice, but she did a great job with it, and I am so downloading that song as soon as it hits itunes.

    Second tier:  Lee, Big Mike, maybe Casey.  Lee was better in terms of hitting notes than he's been.  Big Mike did riff too much (high time that the judges started calling people on that) but still, so much more stage presence than most of the others.  I don't see superstar with Casey.  I see bar band guy with pretty good guitar skills, but the Huey Lewis voice worked for him there.

    Third tier:  Aaron (does Aerosmith have some contract with Idol requiring this song to be sung every season?  This is at least the third year in a row, and one of those years, it was a producer's choice), Katie (much better than she's been). 

    Fourth tier:  Tim, Andrew, Didi

    Fifth tier:  Paige.  Second disaster of the year for her.  She has to be out, right?  I mean, that was awful.

    Sixth tier:  Miley Cyrus.  I may move her down a tier after tomorrow night's performance, though.

  6. Adlai1:24 AM

    Also, Miley Cyrus, put on some pants.

  7. Robin5:38 AM

    I received some misinformation that this week's theme was "teen idols," which would have been much more fun.  Number one songs just made me feel like the semis were back. 

  8. Katie6:27 AM

    watts, i knew i liked you!
    thanks for typing up everything that has been brewing in my brain

    i think i'm the biggest huey lews fan on this board (and proud of it!)
    so when i heard casey was doing "power of love" he automatically earned some votes from me
    i think it was his best performance to date
    and i know the judges haven't mentioned this, but he's sorta nice to look at

    someone needs to pry the mike out of katie's hands
    she will do really well in the miss teen connecticut pageant
    but please, no more

    and while i like siobhan, the screaming has become schtick
    it's screaming for screaming's sake

  9. That was the initially-announced theme.

  10. Sheila7:46 AM

    Is anyone else keeping track of the number of times Idols say, especially after a bad critique, "I had fun." At our house we're thinking of turning it into a drinking game. I think last night we were 9 for 11, with Crystal and Siobhan our only holdouts.

  11. piledhighanddeep7:51 AM

    How on earth can Miley Cyrus be a mentor?  She's been the pawn of DisneyCorp her entire life.  She's not had an original thought about her career in her (short) lifetime.  What an utter joke.

    And what a boring night.  Yawn.  I FF'ed through 95% of the show.

  12. gretchen8:15 AM

    I think Katie needs a haircut. It's like she's hiding under that curtain of hair.  (Also, what Watts said: "Young lady, get your hair out of your face!")  I have not enjoyed her performances, and I hate that Fergie song, so last night didn't work for me.

  13. gretchen8:16 AM

    That would have been so much more fun! 

  14. Fred App8:18 AM

    I'm still trying to figure out why Siobhan picked a song from the '70s and a hairstyle from the '80s. The song was more successful than the hair, but if she insists on inserrting the caterwauling at the end of every song, it going to quickly become a tiresome gimmick. In fact, I think it already has.

    I was listening to "The Letter" on my iPod yesterday and thought, "This would be a good song for Lee to sing." (Forget how pathetic it is that I now view my music collection in Idol-applicable terms.) I thought he was very good; I've always liked his voice, and this time he hit most of the notes. But there is some star quality lacking.

    And Paige, Paige, Pagie. What were you thinking? Have you never watched Idol before? Nobody has ever done "Against All Odds" successfully (including, arguably, Phil Collins). You deserve to go home tonight for song choice alone.

  15. gretchen8:19 AM

    I know Siobhan is the New Adam Lambert, with all of the strutting and preening and screaming, but I actually think that Crystal is the New Adam, and here's why.  What Adam had, more than anything else, was utter confidence in who he was.  His stage presence was totally authoritative; he knew exactly what he was doing and did it without ever looking nervous or vulnerable.  He was a star on that stage.  I think Crystal is the same way.  She knows who she is as an artist, she trusts her voice, and she plants her feet on that carpet and performs.  She doesn't ask for your vote; she commands it.  (Not that I've actually, um, voted, but you know what I mean.)  I never felt nervous for Adam and I never feel nervous for Crystal.  And that's probably why she won't win.  But it makes her an utter joy to watch so far.

  16. Watts9:46 AM

    I think Siobhan is falling into that trap of "If it worked once, do it again.  And again.  And again."  She should ask Adam Garcia how that worked out for him with the "acoustic cover of female pop song."

  17. Genevieve10:02 AM

    Gretchen, I think you're absolutely right!  Hadn't occurred to me before, but I do think Adam's confidence and authority was what made me like his performances, even though I'm not generally a screaming fan.  (I do like Siobhan, though, but I agree that she has to stop ending every song with the scream.)

    My husband said Siobhan had Sheena Easton hair.  I have to say, though, I don't find her weird - she's not mainstream, but I know plenty of people from college who she'd fit in with beautifully.  I hung out with a group of quirky people, but quirky doesn't equal weird.

    Tim Urban made one smart choice - picking a song with lyrics he couldn't wildly misinterpret. Play with your strengths, Tim:  go shallow.

  18. Genevieve10:03 AM

    Oh, and I fear Paige won't go home, because of the WhatNotToSing theory that a trainwreck performance invigorates fans, and so someone who gave a mediocre or forgettable performance (Andrew or Tim, perhaps) will go home before someone who gave a disastrous performance.

  19. I automatically FF after Simon's done speaking.  Do I miss anything in those Seacrest interviews?

  20. Sheila10:34 AM

    Rarely anything interesting. I would FF myself but my husband likes the "banter." If you imagine every single singer shrugging off the criticism with, "I had fun up there," you won't be far wrong.

  21. Miley gave a lot of stink-eye from the audience last night; I think she began to realize and resent the fact that most these nobodies could outsing her to the trailer park & back again, and would eventually become her competition.

  22. Okay, people: what's Crystal's big surprise for next week?

  23. Andrew11:30 AM

    Lee did sing Joe Cocker's arrangement of "The Letter." And it wasn't good. Fortunately for him, the bar is so low this year that this was easily in the top half of tonight's performances. Given that after having a number 1 Billboard hit with the Letter, Alex Chilton eventually went and became an indie darling with Big Star, is there any other number 1 hit song that would give a singer more indie cred? (I'm surprised that none of the judges mentioned the timing of this performance with Chilton's passing.)

    I can't muster any energy for who leaves in any particular week because so many of the contestants are just so terrible. 

  24. tortoiseshelly11:39 AM

    Do we know the theme for next week yet? I didn't pay attention if they announced it.

  25. My problem with Lee is not the Vegas element, it's that he sings everything like he's doing math homework.  I can just feel him THINKING about every single note and trick, and his performances have no fluidity.  It's too bad, because he's got a terrific voice, but I just find him painful to watch.  Love Crystal, as usual, and will definitely seek out the full-length version, and the truncation of the song was my only complaint with it.  Paige is a disaster and it's hard to imagine her surviving another week, but then Didi was terrible too.  Eh.  As long as Crystal, Siobhan and Casey stick around, I don't really care who goes.

  26. If it's not "How Do You Talk To An Angel?" by The Heights, hmm.  Some quick Wiki research:

    Heart of Gold, Neil Young
    My Ding-A-Ling, Chuck Berry
    Frankenstein, The Edgar Winter Group
    Christmas Is All Around, Billy Mack

  27. All we know is that Usher is the mentor.

  28. I thought it was that she isn't using the guitar next week?  She announced that she had a surprise planned for next week right after Kara or someone said they would like to see her without the guitar one of these weeks.

  29. At this point in the competition I feel like I'm not really judging the contestants on each individual performance so much as I'm looking at them overall. So, while Didi wasn't fabulous last night, I still want her to stick around because overall I love the tone of her voice and her phrasing and I think I'd probably buy an album by her. Same goes for Lee and Casey - I just really dig their voices. (And actually, I really liked Casey this week, but I'm a sucker for Huey Lewis so that might have something to do with it.)

    Crystal, of course, was great and we know she'll be around.

    The one thing last night did was cement my opinion on Siobhan. I've been torn about her b/c I do like her voice - sometimes. But another night of screaming off key at the end of a song? No thanks. If you're going to be off key at least do it quietly. I wasn't a Lambert fan (though I did like a couple of his performances), so now that she seems to be veering down that track I think I'm officially hopping off the Siobhan train. I reserve the right to change my mind if she changes her act.

    The others really don't even matter to me anymore. They're basically just filler at this point. And in the case of Paige and Tim - really BAD filler. A friend and I were discussing last night's show and agreed that since at least one of them will make the tour it'll be great if they perform in the middle of the show - perfect time for a bathroom break.

  30. I have the same fear! Ultimately, the order of Paige, Tim, Andrew, etc going home doesn't matter so much to me as long as my favorites make the top 3 or 4, but performances like Paige's that might rally votes do make me nervous.

  31. Genevieve2:37 PM

    I'm a little worried that it might be Didi instead, and I think she's in a higher tier than the three of them and shouldn't go home yet.  I'm looking forward to her further performances, whereas I'd be perfectly happy for any of those three to go home (and I used to be a fan of Andrew).

  32. Genevieve2:39 PM

    I think all she said was she had big plans for next week.  It's almost too bad that she said it, because now expectations will be built up.  She's going without the guitar, and I can't think what she'll do -- I can't quite picture her performing all over the stage like Siobhan, but if she just sings more or less in place it'll be a letdown what with people expecting something new.  Maybe there's something she can rock out on.

  33. sconstant2:43 PM

    I kind of enjoyed it when, with Aaron Kelly by his side, he exhorted everyone to call in a vote for David Archuletta.  I generally FF too, but sometimes I'm distracted or reading and don't, and the only thing you're missing is how Ryan is pretty good at occasionally asking a non-softball question without being unlikable, and while guiding the contestant gently out of it.

  34. Fred App2:56 PM

    But doesn't that give Lee a shot at winning, given Adam's theory about "growth"? Here's a guy with a good voice who hasn't had much experience performing in public. He's unpolished. He can grow just by getting more comfortable on stage and losing his nerves. As opposed to Crystal, who probably is going to be not any better or worse in Week 10 as in Week 2.

    Actually, out of all of them, I'd say Lee and maybe Siobhan are the ones with the greatest potential for growth. The rest are all pretty much what you see is what you get.

  35. Aimee3:51 PM

    Oh, don't get me wrong.  I think he could win.  I just have not been wowed by him yet, but his voice is actually great.  He just needs to let go.

  36. I'm hoping for some new rule tonight--like a reverse judge's save--allowing them to instantly eliminate, like, 5-6 people. Last night was dreadfully boring.