Tuesday, May 15, 2007

American Idol 6: Top 3 Perform

Our long national odyssey is almost over. After this week, it's time for the finale. But first, one of the three has to hit the road.

It's been a crazy week in the music world. Disc jockeys losing their jobs left and right, Internet Radio on the verge of collapse, dogs and cats living together, MASS HYSTERIA! So hopefully we'll be able to take some sort of musical solace in tonight's performances.

Oh...for those of you who didn't hear it today, look for my interview with American Idol 5's Heather Cox and American Idol 6's Dani McCulloch to appear here soon! Plus, I'm absolutely bursting with the need to discuss the Opie and Anthony fiasco and the RIAA's continued insistence on shooting itself in the foot, this time through over-priced royalties for internet radio. So stay tuned to this spot right here!

For now, on with the show!

According to the teaser before the show, this is the MOST. IMPORTANT. IDOL. YET. Why? No, seriously. How come? Does this mean that it trumps Idol Gives Back? How can it be the most important Idol yet, when it doesn't even surpass other episodes within the same season? Still, you gotta love the extreme hyperbole, even if it doesn't pass the "truth in advertising" sniff test.

THIS...is American Idol.

Over the past week, the remaining three went home and did the whole "oh my goodness I'm a celebrity now" thing where all the people from back home who used to shun them and talk behind their backs are all now their best friends and telling each other how they grew up with their bosom buddy from A.I. Then the mayor of their respective cities will give them some kind of key to the city or declare it "Jordin Sparks Day" or something like that, which is all fun and giggles when we're in the moment, but when a year rolls around and school doesn't let out for Blake Lewis Day, it kind of loses its lustre.

The structure tonight is: (1.) Judge's pick (2.) Clive couldn't show up this year? Producer's pick and (3.) Contestant's pick. Which, thankfully, will not allow Lakisha a chance to sing "A Moment Like This."

I love how the mayor of Jordin Sparks's town is utterly gobsmacked to get a fax "straight from Simon Cowell!!!!" Like, ohmahgahhh!! You'd think that she'd opened a picture of Simon's testicles or something. Simon picked "Wishing on a Star" as performed by Rose Royce ("Car Wash") and then the Cover Girls ("We Can't Go Wrong"), which just goes to show you that Simon likes bubblegum pop. No rock, no country, just pure unadulterated teenybop pablum. Fortunately for Jordin, this selection fits her to a tee. It's a good performance, but danged if the song didn't bore me just a bit. Randy thinks it was a very good vocal. Paula likes it too. Simon thought she sang it brilliantly, but that it wasn't actually one of her better performances. He thought the jazz arrangement wasn't that great. Ryan can't get over Simon not liking the song he picked (and I can hear a billion other mindless recappers and board dwellers parroting that idea as if it were their own right now.) Really, this whole contrived thing with Ryan and Simon has COMPLETELY jumped the shark, and Ryan's just not witty enough for improv comedy. As for being a talking head and a stereotypical announcer, he's perfectly in his element, but being an off-the-cuff sort of comedian takes a whole 'nother skill set.

Blake Lewis's mayor got handed a fax straight from Paula Abdul! (Straight up from Paula? Narf.) These poor political types. They NEVER get mail from anyone important. What a boon for them to get to plaster themselves all over national television and run the very real risk of being re-elected because of it. Anyway, Paula picks "Roxanne" by the Police. Blake makes it "Roxanne" by 311. Once again, this is a horrid arrangement. And something's just not right with the instrumentation. I wish Blake weren't yelling at me so much. The chorus of this song just makes me have to go to the bathroom and clog up the toilet. While parts of this performance are quite nice, a good bit of it only serves to showcase Blake's vocal weaknesses, particularly in the upper register. I don't think he hit the "Rox" in Roxanne on key even once. Now I'll grant you this: Sting wasn't always on pitch in that song either. Still, at this point in the competition, I expect Blake to show me why he's a superstar, and that just wasn't it for me. Randy thinks it was hot. Paula thinks it was fantastic, and she comments on what? Phrasing?? Huh??? She knows what that is? Simon points out that when singing a song like that, you're almost forced to imitate the original singer, and that has a degree of truth to it, because you do have to make the song recognizable. Anybody wanna try singing "Thriller" without aping Michael Jackson? Can't be done.

The governor of my state, Phil Bredesen, takes a break from Medicaid reform to tell Melinda Doolittle that Randy is making her sing Whitney Houston's "I Believe In You and Me." And the only reason he's doing this must be because he was looking through the Book of Trite Talent Show Songs and somebody had ripped out "The Greatest Love of All." So he had to go for this insipid Whitney Houston touchy-feely crapola schlockfest. Oh, by the way, I don't like this song. Melinda, again, is spot on with her vocals, but I'd almost rather fall on my sword than hear this song again. And it's time to fire the wardrobe person. Melinda's wearing the most nondescript dress this side of a burlap sack. What can I say? Melinda performed what she had to perform, did it well, and probably got all she could out of it, but I just didn't like that song any at all. Did I mention I don't care for the song? Randy chose the song because he wanted to throw a challenge at Melinda. What?? That song's about as challenging as throwing a five yard pass with a Nerf ball. He thinks it's hot anyway. Paula calls it one of the best performances this season. Dude, have you guys seen this girl perform before? Simon says the same thing. I have to agree with them that round one does go to Melinda, but I hope to enjoy her more in other songs tonight.

Can we get Ryan fired for imitating an African-American accent? I can see Imus dialing his lawyers right now. Simon queries whether our diminuitive host is in fact inebriated, to which Ryan replies that no, he's just a faultily programmed android that was released from production without a properly functioning humor chip. And with height issues to boot. Seriously, NOTHING he has said this year has been funny. NONE. All of his jokes have 100 percent fallen flat. I still say we should give Martina McBride a call and give Ryan's job to her daughter.

Jordin Sparks is back on stage, and her favorite song of all time is "Mmmbop" by Hanson. If she sings it, I'll die. And if Ryan sings it AGAIN, I'm burning down my house. Does the man not have even ONE shred of cool? The producers picked "She Works Hard for the Money" which I used to perform with my fifth grade band (first chair alto sax) and which is probably right up Jordin's wheelhouse. Jordin sort of reminds me of a very young Donna Summer. Jordin does a respectable job with this song, but I'm really done with her inappropriate smiling. This is a song about the working class woman telling The Man to step off and stop oppressing her, not the theme to the Mickey Mouse Club. Vocally, though, she does well. I'm not sure why I catch the scent of Diana DeGarmo on her though. I hope that A.I. will do a bit more right by her than they did with the former. Randy/Paula heap nothing but praise on her. Simon found the arrangement a bit old fashioned, but he, through fits of laughter after Paula shows him naked pics of herself below the table, decides that she did fabulously.

Blake Lewis thinks he would be portrayed by Jim Carrey in a movie about his life. Funny, I was thinking more along the lines of a higher functioning Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, but that's just me. Looks-wise, he could be played easily by a younger Robin Williams. As for the song choice, "This Love" by Maroon 5, this is perfect, and I feel like Blake's doing a really really good job of it. The only time that I'm jarred out of love with this performance is when Blake throws the much-overdone beatbox into the middle of it. Yes, it was short, it fit in, but I can't tell you how tired I've become of it. It's like when you go to the comedy club, and the comedian is really funny, but he does this breathing thing that annoys you and you can't laugh because you're pissed off at him for wheezing. Randy thinks it's a good vibe for Blake, which it is. Paula still has nothing but positive things to say. Simon thinks it didn't sound like a copycat performance, however, I HAVE to point out that he sounded EXACTLY like Maroon 5. In fact, if I hadn't been paying attention, I would never have known the difference. That's not a BAD thing, but it certainly doesn't speak to originality. Overall, I think this was a solid Blake performance, and it was good enough to get him back in the game.

Randy and Simon take a moment to comment on The Simpsons' 400th episode, which is quite frankly incredible. The episode, not Randy and Simon. What's more incredible is that after so many years, the show is still sharply funny and relevant.

Wish I could say that about THIS show.

Melinda Doolittle is going to get to sing the song "Nutbush City Limits" and everyone who was waiting for Melinda to do Tina Turner will be having joygasms aplenty by now. Nutbush isn't very far from where I live. I used to do contract work for a domestic violence center that was named for Tina Turner. Believe me, Nutbush the community is nothing near as spectacular as Nutbush the song. This is what I was hoping for out of Melinda. One thousand percent better than the first song. Oh man, I'm loving this. Loving it too much to type about it. I want Melinda to have a career every bit like Tina's, with the exception of Ike beating her with a shoe. Randy thinks she should do more of this type of music, and yeah, I agree. Paula loves you, loves you, and loves you. Simon calls it a brilliant performance. Ryan forces Simon to name who the winner of that round was. Simon, against character, chooses to remain noncommital, and once again, something Seacrest initiates on the fly falls completely and utterly flat and cold. I miss Brian Dunkleman.

Jordin Sparks has a star embedded in the floor of her local mall. She autographs it, and that ought to survive maybe the first two mops and floor buffers. Guess she won't be working there anymore. She picks a slow number to close out, though I failed to pick up on what the actual name of the song was. Ah. Now this is much better, Jordin. This is the single I'd buy on iTunes. There was a brief painful moment there when she lost her vibrato, but she rebounded, and overall, I thought this one was hot. Randy thinks it was her best performance of the night, and I totally agree. Paula continues the trend of the judges being super super nice tonight. Simon AGAIN nails Jordin on being 17 and singing an older song. Stop the presses, Simon, some of us actually ENJOY songs that were recorded more than five years ago. Jeepers, does it all have to be throwaway pop? Jordin correctly points out that Simon chose a song that was 30 years old for her to sing earlier.

Blake Lewis got to perform with Sir Mix-a-Lot, who has not had a hit record since his first hit record WELL over fifteen years ago. You know the one, the song about big butts. Blake is singing a Robin Thicke song. It's better than Robin himself singing it, that much is for sure. I don't know this song, but then again, that's been Blake's ace in the hole this whole year, picking songs that we don't quite know so that we can't compare him to the original artist. I like the tactic. I like that this song is upbeat, and that covers up any vocal shortcomings. But then there's that blankety-blank beatbox at the end! Enough! Randy thinks it was alright. Paula thinks it was good. And Simon really liked it, because the song isn't more than a minute old, and he compliments Blake on having fun. Because, y'know, Jordin doesn't have fun. Right.

Melinda Doolittle has chosen "I Am a Woman" for her song. And apparently there is now a Melinda Doolittle street in Nashville. Oh baby baby, sing me the blues! I feel like I'm down on Beale Street right now. The backup singers are off key, but dang, Melinda! No other words in that sentence are necessary. Just, Melinda! I would buy that album right freaking now, and I want it on my CD rack. Randy/Paula sing all kinds of praises for Ms. Doolittle, and rightly so. Simon probably doesn't like blues, but I'm sure even he can't bad-mouth this performance. He states that based on consistency, she should be in the finals. Correction, Simon...she should WIN the final.

Predictions:

Why Blake could be safe: Rabid fan base, and they will be charged up to vote tonight.
Why Blake could go home: He was good tonight, but he was the lesser of the three.

Why Jordin could be safe: Teenage girl vote, stand-out performances tonight.
Why Jordin could go home: Teenagers never win this competition. And if in fact she's splitting a fan-base with Melinda, there's a good shot votes will fall Melinda's way.

Why Melinda could be safe: She's fabulous, and tonight was a vocal tour de force.
Why Melinda could go home: So much praise tonight could cause her voters to feel that she's safe. Voter complacency could make for a shocker elimination tomorrow night.

Randy thinks it will be girls in the finale. Paula cops out like she does every other freaking time she's asked this question. Simon wants Melinda in it. Doesn't care who else.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I think Blake goes home tomorrow. We'll see.

3 Comments:

At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jordin's own pick was "I who have nothing" and I love the way she does that song! She sang it just a wee bit different than the first time she did it. That song was my favorite of this year's competition and Joridn is my favorite Idol. I can't wait for her to record an album, I'm buying it! While I hope she wins it, if she doesn't, it won't be so bad, look at Chris Daughtry (4th), and Bucky Covington (8th), who I hear constantly on the radio, but I don't hear Fantasia or Taylor...or Ruben. So 1st isn't always the best! As usual, another good write up j.d.!!!!

 
At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Ray said...

Why does Randy keep bringing up Jordin's age? She is within the age bracket that they have to be. And why does Simon harp on the song choice? That's what it is, a choice! What does it matter how old the song is? If there are limits, then fine, but there aren't! And, I have always thought it would be neat to have the Idols not be seen, but judged solely on their voice, and you would not see them until the very end. Do you think that Sanjaya would have lasted so long had these teeny boppers not seen his kooky hairdos and stuff? BTW, he has a really nice voice, just doesn't seem to know what to do with it! (Remember Milli Vanilli? I never did see what the real singer looked like, but I heard he was a white guy. Loved the cd and kept it when they were offering refunds to those who wanted it!!)

 
At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Cleo said...

BEST. IDOL. RECAP. YET. !!!!

I can't pick out which lines were especially funny because they all were. LOVE. IT. !!

Tori Amos could sing "Thriller" without aping Michael Jackson. Strange Little Girls - "Reign in Blood" in particular - 'nuffsaid.

;)

 

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