Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Loving the final six?

I usually go in chronological order when recapping American Idol, but tonight I have to deviate slightly from that practice because I’m feeling a little inadequate. I try to make some jokes, and be funny when writing about Idol, but, let’s face it, nothing I could ever write would be as funny as watching Paula cry (and Simon try to hold in his laughter) tonight after Elliott performed. It was one of the most unbelievable moments I’ve ever seen on television. You know how people talk about where they were heard that Kennedy was shot, or during the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase? Years from now, people might talk about where they were when Paula cried after Elliott’s performance on American Idol–and how many times they ran back their Tivo or videotape to watch it again. (For the record, I think I’m up to about five, but I’m going back after I finish this.) More on this later.

So we have what some are calling the best final six of Idol ever. I’m not sure I completely agree–I think you could make an argument that the season two final six of Clay, Ruben, Kimberly Locke, Josh Gracin, Trenyce and (I think) Carmen Rasmussen was better (Carmen does drag it down, though)–but this is certainly the most wide-open final six. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won–at this point, a Kellie Pickler win would be deeply disturbing, but not surprising–and that makes the next few weeks very exciting.

And apparently no one is more excited about it than Hollywood celebrities. What was going on tonight? We had Joely Fisher and Sela Ward and Kevin Nealon and Tori Spelling–can’t they just let regular people in to watch American Idol? Don’t celebrities get enough bonuses in life? Then again, it is interesting that over the last few years, you often hear actors whine about how reality television is horrible because it’s taking away jobs from actors–and yet they all love Idol. (And yes, Idol is not really a reality show, it’s a variety show–which have been on TV since television began–but snobs who complain about reality television consider it a reality show, so I’ll classify it that way so I can have a straw man for this argument.) Oh, and they also showed eliminated contestant Stevie Scott (apparently because she was the opera girl and Andrea Bocelli was on the show tonight.) She preened for the camera like she was a celebrity.

So the theme was love songs, which I guess is pretty broad, but meant everyone did slow songs (there are up-tempo love songs, right?). Unfortunately, one of my favorite love songs, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths, was not performed by anyone. Not that I suspected anyone would, but if that song had performed on American Idol the same night that Paula had a breakdown, I probably couldn’t have watched the show anymore because it would have basically hit its peak and everything else could only ruin it. Gladly, that didn’t happen, so we still have heights to which it can ascend.

Anyway, I don’t know much about Andrea Bocelli, except that I do like the most famous song he does (but I can’t remember its name–can anyone leave me a comment if they know the name?) I was watching an ESPN documentary about Wayne Gretzky, and they played that song as they showed him announcing his retirement, and everyone in Canada was so upset and crying, and the song combined with the emotion of the moment made me tear up a little. And yes, I know some of you are laughing at that, but I don’t care.

As for the team of Bocelli and David Foster, I thought they were great. Foster may actually be a viable replacement for Simon Cowell if he ever leaves the show, as well as seeming to help the singers with their performances, and Bocelli’s comments in broken English were often weirdly entertaining. I still don’t understand, though, Bocelli’s analysis of why singers are great.. I ran back the tape three times and apparently he said, “You become great only when it’s your destiny. When you sing and people wants that you sing, only in this case you can hope to be great.” They went back to the studio and Ryan said, “Well said.” Huh? What does that mean? You can only be a great singer if people want you to sing? Well, I guess, but that’s not exactly a groundbreaking thought.

Katharine McPhee (“I Have Nothing”)–After her triumphant performance last week, which the judges probably overpraised, Katharine sings one of the songs most frequently sung on American Idol and sort of gets panned by Randy, Paula and Simon. Sure, she didn’t sing the song as well as Whitney Houston did 15 years ago (although she can probably sing it better than Whitney Houston can now, assuming that Whitney would take the crack pipe out of her mouth long enough to get through it.) And the end was a little rough. But she put her own slight spin on the song, and Sasha Cohen liked it! OK, full disclosure: Between the general hotness of Katharine, the way her breasts appeared like they were going to pop out of her dress for a huge “wardrobe malfunction” and the very high slit in her dress that she was showing at the big finish, I was dizzy by the end of the song. I’m reminded of an episode of “Seinfeld” where George has to hire a secretary, and all of the candidates are very attractive women–whom he doesn’t want to hire because they’ll distract him from his work. At one point, he tells one of the candidates, “You are so good looking, I can’t even see.” Tonight, I was so mesmerizied, I may not have been able to hear. Whatever the case, many males over the age of 12 slept well last night. Oh, and did you hear Paula say she was going to “try to be a little bit on [the tough] side” with her judging (before babbling something about how Katharine’s “natural voice” was her strong suit, which I didn’t really comprehend.) I guess that toughness lasted one singer.

Elliott Yamin (“A Song for You”)–I don’t really know much about Donnie Hathaway, and I didn’t really love this song. Maybe that why I liked Elliott tonight, but I didn’t really get the love that the judges were lavishing on him tonight. I read someone recommending that Elliott needs to do a really well-known song really well, and this wasn’t it. Having said that, his vocals were still very clear and strong. But they weren’t worthy of tears. You know, added to the hilariousness of Paula’s crying was what she was actually saying during her breakdown: “You move me. You celebrate what this competition is all about. You are an American Idol.” (Is she sleeping with him? Instead of clothes, is she going to buy him some dental work?)

I’m still at a loss about what to say about Paula–I can’t improve on it except to say that I hope she was put in an ambulance and rushed to the best psychiatrist in town directly after the show--so I’ll move on to Simon’s desperate but unsuccessful attempt to hold in his laughter at this whole spectacle, which made the whole thing 1,000 times funnier.As I’ve said many times before, Simon is always right.

It reminded me of a story from Mr. Cormeny’s European history class senior year of high school. My friend Mark (also a senior) and his brother Ken (a junior) were both in the class and looked a lot alike. Ken sat in the front of the class, Mark near the back. The bell rang to begin class one morning and Cormeny (who had quite a temper) just starting yelling at Ken for something he had said or done and screamed at him, “Never do that again and get out of here.” The only thing was, he kept calling Ken by the name of Mark. So once Ken left class, Mark said, “Mr. Cormeny, I’m Mark,” and Cormeny yelled back, “Mark, you get out of her too.” This was so hilarious that my friend Rob tried desperately but just couldn’t hold in his laughter anymore, and Mr. Cormeny threw him out of class too. It was one of the funniest things I remember from high school. Anyway, Simon tonight reminded me a lot of Rob that day.

Kellie Pickler (“Unchained Melody”)–Did Kellie know that this is Simon’s favorite song (he’s said that a couple times before?) If she did, it was pretty stupid to sing this in a country version, even if Leann Rimes did it that way, because Simon hates country. Then again, if she had sung the Righteous Brothers’ version, it wouldn’t have been good either. But I did think the country twang was really annoying. As Randy did point out, though, she did sort of hit the big note near the end. But I thought Simon’s comment was harsh but appropriate: “It deserved tears for a different reason.” Oh, and at least Kellie didn’t put on that apology act–she just took her punishment like an adult.
I wanted to conclude with Andrea Bocelli’s analysis of Kellie: “She’s very happy and I like her and this is important.” Even though he’s blind, I guess Andrea Bocelli has heard about Kellie’s heavily-Internet searched two-piece prom dress.

Paris Bennett (“The Way We Were”)–Paris may be the most talented person in this competition, but she doesn’t seem to have the same kind of fanbase as many of the other singers (and got gypped tonight by the show–they were over time and they seemed to order the crowd to not applaud–what other reason could there be that the ovation for her lasted just a couple seconds while everyone else’s lasted significantly longer?). I’m not sure why–maybe she’s just too effortless. She sang very well tonight, although I guess one could argue, as Simon did, that she didn’t bring enough originality or something new to the song. But she can sing–and Paris often gets great reviews from musicians that work with her (Foster and Bocelli tonight, Queen a couple weeks ago, etc.)

Taylor Hicks (“Just Once”)–Taylor started off slow and sluggish (it seems like he was just sort of talking the first few lines of the song), but built to something not bad at the end. But it was kind of disappointing overall–I think we’re seeing that Taylor can sing certain songs very well, but is kind of limited. He just doesn’t do anything special or memorable with a slow pop ballad like this. Of course, Paula had to stand up after Simon’s negative critique and yell, “We love you!” over and over because...actually, I shouldn’t be making fun of the mentally ill or drug-addicted. That’s not nice.

Chris Daughtry (“Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”)–Wow, I thought this was the best of the night, and maybe one of the best performances of the season. I guess David Foster’s “lie down on the floor so you sing out of your diaphragm” trick really worked.. The first part of the song was good, and then he took up a notch in the second half. And he even smiled a little, again. I don’t really understand why, unlike everyone else, he got to have guys on either side of him playing guitar (shouldn’t Katharine have two guys fanning her or something?), but he kicked butt, so I can live with it.

By the way, in addition to Paula’s breakdown, the technical crew was having a meltdown too. Paula’s mike didn’t work when she was judging Katharine and they left the mikes of the judges on while they were doing the review at the end of the show, so we could hear them chattering. On second thought, they did catch Simon laughing at Paula’s crying, so they did do some excellent work.

So who’s going home? I hope it’s Pickler, but I’m not sure it will be. She’s got to be in the bottom three this week, though, and I think she will be joined by Taylor and Paris. I’m going to say Pickler going to go home (even though, yes, I know, she’s never been in the bottom three), although I have a bad feeling that Paris will. I hope not.

Fingerhut to bed!


Anonymous John said...

Well, due to more dvr confusion (apparently caused by me this time), I didn't tape the show.

This write-up was great, but amazingly harsh: dental work, crack pipe. And I'm kicking myself for missing McPhee.

4/26/06, 1:22 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I do think if Kellie goes tonight, this will be the most talented top 5 ever on the show. If anyone else goes, I will be wondering what is wrong with people.

I think Elliott is great, I think Paris is sooo talented, Katharine was not as bad as the judges said she was. Taylor was not so great last night but he still has talent. Chris was excellent.

Have you looked at the website Apparentley they have been right 84% of the time. But, for every week, they have Taylor with the most votes. has he ever been in the bottom?

4/26/06, 2:42 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh, and the Paula crying thing....they have replayed it 10 times on the radio today with hilarious music in the background and are laughing when talking about it.

4/26/06, 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Good Morning America had a little clip this morning about Paula and Ryan Seacrest. He apparently does not speak to her and was seen on the David Letterman show saying that she has come on the show while under the influence. There is definitely something wrong with her!

I thought everyone was good last night except Taylor. I just don't like him. He needs to do what David Foster told Dhris Daughtry to do so he can sing from his diaphragm. That was my complaint about Justin Guarini several years ago--that he doesn't project his voice.

4/26/06, 3:03 PM  

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