Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A disappointing night on Idol

At the outset of last Tuesday’s show, Randy Jackson predicted that we’d have a male American Idol winner this year, and then, in that inimitable Randy Jackson way, started hedging on that bet less than two hours later after actually hearing the women perform. But if he had made the same forecast at the outset of this Tuesday’s show, it’s doubtful he would have found it necessary to reverse course. It was a pretty disappointing night overall for the Idol ladies. No one really broke away from the pack tonight, and apparently there was some horrible rumor going around this week among the women that America really wanted to hear them sing slow, boring ballads–what other explanation could there be for the poor song choices? You know it’s a rough night when Paula has negative comments–actually in Paula’s case, it would be more proper to say non-positive comments–for more than half the singers. Of course, Paula was still upset at Simon tonight for, I guess, being more negative than she was and always having to “be right.” Well, yeah, Paula, don’t you think your opinion on the singers is correct, too? What’s the point of doing this show if Simon said to a contestant, “I don’t think you can sing, but Paula is probably correct that you’re going to be a big star because she was once a successful recording artist for a few years and she knows more than I do.” In fact, the whole premise that Randy, Ryan and Paula seem to reinforce every week–such as at the outset of Tuesday’s show when they semi-mocked Simon for being “on a different page” than everyone else–is so odd, considering that every adult I know of who watches this show respects Simon’s opinion more than any other. I would think that trio–OK, maybe not Paula, because she’s not the most self-aware person–would know that, but they certainly don’t act like it. Oh, just one of the puzzles of American Idol. Oh, and I kind of liked the new judges’ seating arrangement in the second half of tonight’s show–anything that helps to prevent Paula from interrupting Simon is good, and the once entertaining flirting between those two turned nauseating long ago. On to the singers...

Katharine McPhee (“All Is Fair In Love”)–First of all, they said that we were going to hear each singer’s “defining Idol moment,” and I thought they meant stuff like, “When Clay sang Solitaire,” or “When Kelly Clarkson won the first year” or “Fantasia’s version of Summertime.” No, it apparently meant the most important moment for each contestant in the two or three weeks they’ve been on the show so far, so we got mostly unexciting stuff like the first time they saw the Idol stage, or what they learned about makeup. On the bright side, we also got to see a clip of Katharine McPhee and Kellie Pickler laying on a bed hugging. I imagine I was just one of many millions of males over the age of 12 watching the show who had to walk out of the room briefly to compose himself after watching that and also thinking of all the other possibilities Idol producers might be able to show us in future weeks–Katharine and Kellie trying on bathing suits together, Katharine and Kellie bathing each other....Oh, I’m sorry, I got distracted there, but if those new Fox sitcoms bomb, I think that could be a hit half-hour show. Anyway, back to the music...I thought Katharine was kind of boring tonight. She sang that song well, but it wasn’t particularly exciting, and while she moved around a little more tonight on the stage than she did last week, her performance still wasn’t very animated (although she does do facial expressions well.) In fact, we might want to call in Nadia Turner for a consult with Katharine. They’re both very attractive, they’re both good singers, and Katharine is showing signs of Nadia’s bad habit of picking songs she likes, instead of songs viewers can relate to and like (yes, Katharine did sing a Stevie Wonder song tonight, but it’s not one of his more well-known tunes.)

Kinnik Sky (“I’m Here for the Party”?)–The judges were generally right on tonight for almost everyone, particularly here where they said that Kinnik, in contrast to last week, gave a fun performance that showed some personality, but that it still wasn’t really that great. I haven’t been to a theme park in a number of years, but Simon’s “it was a theme park performance” seemed accurate. As for Paula’s statement that she’d like to Simon on a roller coaster, was that supposed to be funny? I think Paula needs to hire back that joke writer that she reportedly hired back in season one to help her respond to Simon–come to think of it, I don’t think she had any intentionally funny lines then either.(She does deliver on the unintentional comedy every week, though.)

Lisa Tucker (“Who’s Loving You?”)–I complained last week that while Lisa has a good voice, she comes across as much too polished and adult for her age of 16. Strangely enough, she chose to sing this week a song by a performer who was even more polished and adult at a considerably younger age, Michael Jackson in the Jackson 5 era. And it was fine, but not particularly exciting, and very polished with all the hand movements and facial expressions that seemed a little too robotic. Then again, maybe I’m being unfairly critical and have just latched onto a theme and decided to beat it into the ground with Lisa. I imagine most singers plan out how exactly they’ll perform something, it just doesn’t seem like there’s much spontaneity with Lisa. But let’s give her a couple more weeks before reaching a final decision on that.

Melissa McGhee (“Why Haven’t I Heard From You”)–Melissa said she had four months worth of clothes with her in her little video message, which puzzled me. Is she just a heavy packer when she leaves home, or do they not get a chance to do laundry while doing the show? Can’t Idol spring for some dry cleaning, or set aside a day every couple of weeks for a trip to the laundromat (that would probably make a great Ford commercial for the results show one week!) And who actually has four months worth of clean clothes anyway? Anyway, we barely know Melissa, because she was for whatever reason absent from all the results shows, and she wasn’t all that impressive last week in her debut but managed to avoid the axe. This week, I kind of like her–she looked good, and I liked, as Randy said, her raspy voice. I did disagree with Simon–I thought the song fit her well, even though I’m not a big country fan. It wasn’t great, though, and considering that she probably has a small fan base because of her lack of screen time, it’s not clear whether it’s good enough to keep her around.

Heather Cox (“Hero”)–Wow, a bigger fan of American Idol than I am. I do tape the show most weeks because I work late on Tuesday, but tape over it after I watch it. Heather keeps the tapes and watches them over the summer. I wonder if she writes long recaps of the show for her blog, though. Anyway, Heather’s “defining Idol moment” was seeing a woman with a boa constrictor in Hollywood. I’m not sure what that has to do with Idol, or why I’m even bringing it up, except to avoid talking about how thoroughly mediocre her rendition of “Hero” was. As Simon would say, although he didn’t say it tonight, “It just wasn’t good enough.” Actually, he may have been harsher when he said it was “pointless.”Heather also seems a little overheated in the personality department–whenever she talks, she sort of reminds me of a hot, unfunny Kathy Griffin, which isn’t a good thing.

Brenna Gethers (“Last Dance”)–First of all, I guess Brenna was trying to look like Donna Summer, but I didn’t think that was a good look for her. Second, she talked in her video about the red carpet that the Idols are on. Are they already going to movie premieres and parties even in the semifinals? I know American Idol is enormously popular, but do paparazzi really want Brenna Gethers’ picture already? As for the singing, it was at least more exciting and spirited than last week’s Brenna borefest, but she didn’t sound very good–kind of off-key--on the chorus of the song, and the whole song was structured strangely. She started in the middle of the slow verse at the beginning of the song–it seemed like she missed her cue or something, but maybe that was where she was supposed to begin–and then once she got to the fast part of the song sang a verse that comes later in the song. It wouldn’t have mattered if the singing was better, but it wasn’t. I don’t think it was bad as the judges, thought, though. I might not have left the bar, as Simon said he would. I would have left the bar, though, if I had to listen to Brenna talk about how America really loved the performance and would vote for her. Please, Brenna, shut up.

Paris Bennett (“Wind Beneath My Wings”)–Paris said on the couch with Ryan that she got “favor” and then pointed to the sky. Is that a God reference? Just wondering, because I’m not familiar with the lingo. So Paris talked in her video about her taste for fashion, but while her clothes might have been fine tonight, I didn’t think that hairstyle was working for her. She didn’t look cute anymore, just kind of weird and pained. She actually looked sort of like one of the worst semifinalists in Idol history, last year’s Janay Castane, and you don’t want to remind anyone of her. Of course, Paris’s singing was much better than Janay’s–it’s not even really fair of me to put their names in the same recap, let alone the same sentence. But as the judges said, it wasn’t Paris’ best performance, particularly after last week’s memorable scorcher. I did like it more when she kicked it into second gear late in the song, but Paula was actually correct, although she said it in her own weird way: “Celebrate your youth.” And Paris, don’t select a song because it’s your great-grandma’s favorite song, sing a song that make you sound good and will make the viewers happy.

Ayla Brown (“I Want You To Need Me”)–Ayla said this was a Celine Dion song, but she sang it with sort of a country edge. Was that Ayla’s own invention? Whatever it was, it seemed to work for her. She once again showed that she has a pretty solid voice, and looks like she’ll probably stick around for a while, although I can’t really see her having a real chance to win the competition. Simon said she was too “mechanical,”and while I guess I know what he means, it didn’t bother me that much.

Kellie “Pick” Pickler (“Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About”)–As Simon said, it wasn’t a great vocal performance–although it was solid and fun–but how can you not like someone who says that she’s “never seen so many dogs with clothes.” I think we need a regular feature, “Kellie’s thoughts on L.A.”

Mandisa (“Cry”)–I actually agree with Paula, that it is interesting how Mandisa is taking songs in different genres and making them her own–this week a country song. But while I think Mandisa has an excellent voice, I think she kind of overpowered the song tonight in a Jennifer Hudson-esque kind of way, and I just felt exhausted after she was done. It was a little too much.

So who’s going home? I think Heather should, and so should Brenna for just being really annoying. Who will? Heather and Kinnik, because Kinnik also was missing from the audition shows and hasn’t done anything to distinguish herself in the last two weeks.

And if you haven’t noticed, for unexplained reasons Ryan Seacrest has dropped the Seacrest out signoff for the more conventional “Goodnight, everybody”–although tonight a couple of the contestants yelled it in the background. So I suppose I should change my signoff and say, “Good morning, everyone.”


Anonymous Mark said...

As usual, I feel like I know the show without having watched a moment. I'm wondering why no other subjects recently? Does the AI recap take so much out of you there's no energy for politics or sports or general commentary about whatever else is going on? How 'bout a little something for the rest of us?

3/1/06, 10:37 AM  
Anonymous John said...

once again, dead on as far as the boring ballads. I even love the original Smokey Robinson version of Who's Loving You, but Tucker was just okay doing it.

Simon and Paula: you know, I though that Paula was being okay, but when she poked him, he looked really angry. Perhaps this will be our last season with these three together?

McPhee: well, I'm still in love with her and I did enjoy the footage of her and Kellie putting on bronzer together in the bathroom. I thought she was a little too reserved, but her voice sound good whenever she let in rip. I voted for her twice.

Kinnik: I enjoyed it. She was spunky and fun, though I'd have preferred her singing Redneck Woman or Skoal Ring. I voted for her once.

Lisa Tucker: I thought she was okay. A little stagey, a little dull, and I cannot remember if I voted for her. I watched my tape during the ten o'clock hour, so it was very easy to vote for everyone, perhaps too easy. But if I did, it was only once and with reservations.

Melissa McGhee: you know, I enjoyed her and thought she looked a lot better than I remember. I think she talks too much while the judges are critiquing(sp?), though I like the fact that she said that she chose the song to better follow Simon's advice. I didn't vote for her because of the navel ring.

Heather Cox: you know, her voice was better than I thought and I think that all of the "you shouldn't sing a Mariah song" is just nonsense. I'd rather have them do a song that I know and maybe change it up a bit, rather than do some obscure song. I didn't vote for her as I find her annoying.

Brenna: I enjoyed her. I thought she was fun and that the vocal was pretty good. I think she should cut out a bit of the backtalk, though. I voted for her once.

Paris: I enjoyed her piece of tape on fashion and fun so much. Then she was boring singing. I didn't vote for her, because if you're going to be that boring, you better at least be hot while doing it(see McPhee). And Paris went from being a cute girl to Wednesday Addams. No votes for her!

Ayla: wow, the best surprise of the night for me. I thought she sang the heck out of this one and unlike what Simons says (npi), I didn't think it was mechanical. She had me convinced...and she earned my vote.

Kellie: she was perhaps the highlight of MY WEEK so far. I thought her videotape was adorable (though who doesn't like calamari?) and that she performance of the song was a lot of fun--her little kick and fist pump at the end made me laugh my head off. I lost track of how many times I voted for her--bless that re-dial. And I actually rewound and watched her whole segment a second time. If I have any doubts about you, Fingerman, it that you gave Kellie such short shrift in your write-up. For shame!

Mandisa: you know, she was fine. I've always thought that song was boring, even when Faith Hill sings it half-naked.

3/1/06, 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Arlene said...

I agree with a lot of your coments but I still think the women are better than the men. We'll see tonight. Kinik should go and Brenna is too stuck on herself, although she's not a bad singer. At this point I like most of the others and not sure who I like best other than Lisa and Kellie.

Melissa McGhee reminds me of an actress--someone with a raspy voice like hers--I just can't think who it is.

Eric, I loved your comment "who actually has four months of clean clothes?"!!!

3/1/06, 11:51 AM  
Blogger Eric Fingerhut said...

Mark--Yes, it's a combination of the AI recaps being draining (24 singers last week is a lot, and 20 this week is still pretty draining), laziness, having to work the past couple weekends covering stuff for the paper, and watching the Olympics, which were sort of boring but I have a weird devotion to for whatever reason. In fact, I want to write something about how NBC should change its coverage, but that's probably not current enough now. I'll try to get better.

John--I only gave Kellie sort of short shrift because I was tired and wanted to finish. And I can't believe you voted that many times.

3/1/06, 12:49 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Paula looked pretty good last night and I liked the switch up of the seating as well.

No one really excited me at all last night...I still like Paris and know she is really talented!

kellie Pickler is cute but vocally she will not make it to the end.

Ayla was better then I thought she could be.

Overall, not impressed with the night...and Eric you can still say Fingerhut out-it is better

3/1/06, 4:03 PM  

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