Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What happened to Kenny Rogers?

Two weeks ago, I was writing about how exciting it was to have so many good singers on American Idol, because the competition was completely wide open. Tonight, the competition is still wide open, because those singers maybe aren’t quite as good as everyone thought. It’s amazing what a couple bad theme weeks can do. This week certainly wasn’t as bad as last week, but I won’t be looking to download clips of tonight’s performances from the Internet or anything (not that I do that, it’s just a metaphor I’m using). I was thinking about writing a few paragraphs speculating on why I can remember only one really bad theme week from seasons one and two (the horrifying Diane Warren week in the second season), but way too many from the past three seasons, but it’s late, so I’ll just say that I’m glad country week is over–so I don’t have to worry about the threat of it later this spring.

In fact, much more disturbing than tonight’s theme was tonight’s guest star. What happened to Kenny Rogers? That must have been him, because it certainly sounded like his voice, but that really didn’t look like the Kenny Rogers I remember. Did he have some bad cosmetic surgery? Was he wearing one of those masks all the characters in Mission: Impossible 2 wore? Was he a Kenny Rogers impersonator? That wasn’t the effects of aging–he didn’t even look like the same person.
In the same vein, whatever happened to Kenny Rogers’s Roasters? We had here in Rockville that opened and closed in about ten minutes, and I haven’t seen or heard of the place since. Was it Kenny’s appearance on the Conan O’Brian show years ago, when he couldn’t tell in a blind taste test what was his chicken and what was Boston Chicken, what killed the restaurant? (Actually, the best part of that appearance was when Conan switched the conversation to the side dishes, and Kenny interjected, “That’s where we stand out, the sides” or something.) OK, I’ll stop rambling and get to the show.

First of all, why does Randy embarrass himself and boo Simon when he’s introduced? And what’s going on with Randy–he had that stomach-stapling surgery a couple years ago, and it looks like he’s gaining the weight back....

Taylor Hicks (“Take Me Home, Country Roads”)–I loved this song when I was about 10, but hearing it now, it doesn’t seem nearly as exciting as I remember it. Or maybe it was just Taylor’s version of it, which just came across as kind of boring and totally missing the excitement and personality that Taylor usually brings to a song. And the fiddle seemed to even sort of drown him out in one part of the song. Not a particularly good night for one of the favorites.

Mandisa (“Any Man of Mine”)–So obviously Mandisa didn’t read Robin Givhan’s fashion column in the Washington Post last week, which, like I did last week, advised Mandisa that tight jeans weren’t a good look for her. Randy said he only like the last five seconds of the song–I didn’t think it was quite that bad, but he was right in that Mandisa’s singing took a while to get going. While she kicked it into gear and showed off her voice at the end, it still wasn’t all that compelling a performance. And I was glad to see that Rachel Bilson, Summer from “The O.C.,” has good sense and good taste. When she showed her on camera after Mandisa’s performance, unlike the crazy people sitting next to her, she was applauding, not giving a standing ovation. And what is it with the standing ovations on American Idol? Come on, American Idol audience, shouldn’t a standing ovation mean something?

Then we had more of the weekly pissing match between Ryan and Simon, during which Simon made a comment about Ryan trying to “look like someone out of Desperate Housewives,” a reference to the news that Ryan is reportedly dating Teri Hatcher (and I guess, if you believe Simon, growing that heavy stubble/sort-of beard so he looks more like the plumber guy.) Ryan and Teri were photographed in US Weekly kissing last week, but–and I looked this up just for you all–the latest news is that Teri told Access Hollywood she is “not attached” to Ryan. I’m not sure whether that means it’s “Seacrest out” or just “Seacrest isn’t in yet.”

Elliott Yamin (A Garth Brooks song I don’t feel like looking up the title to)–About 15 seconds into the song, Elliott tugged his right ear–does that have something to do with his hearing loss, or was it his tribute to Carol Burnett? Or did he deal with this already and I just forgot? Anyway, his vocals were nice, the song wasn’t all that exciting, and it was an overall solid but unspectacular performance.

Paris Bennett–(“How Do I Live?”)–Wow, Paula Abdul’s opinion was actually booed by the audience and Simon was cheered–that may be a sign of the apocalpyse. Even scarier, I think, is that I agreed with what I think Paula was saying (it’s hard to be sure what exactly she means.) I want to see Paris singing fun songs, and so watching her sing a sad ballad like this doesn’t seem quite right. Then again, I suppose occasionally she has to sing a slow song, and she wasn’t bad tonight. Was she a “young Dionne Warwick,” as Simon said? Please. Apparently, the country music was giving Simon temporary brain damage.

Ace Young (“I Want to Cry”)–I always thought Keith Urban was an R&B singer because of his name, but I was reminded once again tonight that he’s a country singer.And I enjoyed his song and Ace’s version of it. I’m no big fan of Ace, but this was his best performance in weeks. I could have done without the squealing and wailing at the end of the song, though. For some reason, Paula and Randy like this and call it his trademark falsetto. I just call it unpleasant and, as Neil Sedaka might say, anything but ear-delicious. It was also interesting that Ryan announced Ace is now single–he was reportedly dating Essence Atkins, a very attractive actress from one of those comedies on UPN that I’ve never watched. I wonder if this is a ploy to attract votes after his repeated appearances in the bottom three.

Kellie Pickler (“Fancy”)–So Ryan gave Kellie a chance to respond to the critics who say her apparent dumbness–or as Ryan called it, naivete (although pronouncing it naive-eh-tee)–is all just an act. She said she really didn’t know what calamari was–and I can believe that–and that, you know, salmon has the letter L in it so that’s how she thought it was pronouced. Well, the North Carolina schools, at least when I lived there, were not highly ranked compared to the rest of the country, so maybe no one taught her how to say that word–but that’s a little more difficult to believe. She didn’t, of course, talk about the remark that really started the speculation–her “what’s a ballsy” comment–but Ryan Seacrest was doing the interview, so what should I expect? Maybe next week. Anyway, so Kellie did her thing–that up-tempo, rockin’ country thing with a little bit of growl near the end. And she worked the camera with her eyebrows, and looked like her breasts were going to pop out of her shirt at some point during the song. But it just didn’t really work for me. Maybe it was the song I didn’t like, but she just came across as kind of an ordinary singer. As Randy would say, “I just wasn’t feeling her tonight.”

Chris Daughtry (Some other Keith Urban song)–I agree with the judges–it was really nice to see Chris do something different (even though the judges, at various times, have encouraged him not to do anything different.) Having said that, while the vocals weren’t bad, the song and the performance were boring. But, hey, it was a different kind of boring than the boring that Chris had been giving us the past couple weeks, so that’s progress. And Chris, would it kill you to smile once in a while during a performance?

Katharine McPhee (“Bringing Out the Elvis In Me”)–Simon was right–what a weird song. But it did kind of work for Katharine. I didn’t reallly like the Elvis part, but she handled it fine vocally. And I did like the rest of the song, and how Katharine sang it in a lower register. I think that performance should keep her far from the bottom three, but you never know.

Then we had a commercial for getting ringtones of American Idol performances on your phone. Can you even imagine getting a ring tone of just Katharine singing the “Bringing out the Elvis in me” part of that song. And I thought the guy in my office who had that Black-Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get it Started” song had an annoying ringer.

Bucky Covington (“Best I Ever Had”)–Funny, Kenny Rogers told Bucky that a lot of people may not have heard this song, and yet as Bucky sang it I realized I had heard it, and I really don’t listen to country music. Did someone else do this song, or does Kenny not know what he’s talking about? So, although Bucky was sort of drowned out by the music at one point, I thought this was a pretty good performance for him–maybe his best. It still wasn’t anything special but not bad.

Picking a bottom three is really tough this week, since no one was really bad, and some of those I would think would normally be at risk sang well for them. Let’s guess an all-male bottom three of Elliott (he sang early, it was solid but nothing special, he still hasn’t solved his charisma problem) and Bucky and Ace (because they’ve been in the bottom three before and I have no idea who else to pick). And I’ll say Bucky is going home, but I’m sure I’ll be wrong.

And please leave comments!

Fingerhut out!


Blogger DCdame said...

What did happen to Kenny Rogers Roasters?! That was some good stuff!

I completely disagree about Chris. I though he did a great job with that song and is the clear winner! Bottom three based on actual talent should be Bucky (although it's fun to root for someone named Bucky), Kelly and Ace. None of them have that extra Simon would say, "It sounded a lot like Karaoke".

4/5/06, 11:15 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Okay, I'm exhausted today. This was funny today and I enjoyed it. It was perhaps your ballsiest post to date.

Taylor: this is actually kind of a fun, "up" song and Taylor sang it as if he was passing a stone or something.

Mandisa: I usually like her okay and I thought this was just blah. Though I've heard someone else sing this one before and thought it was a good record. And those low angled camera shots are not her friends.

Elliot: he was okay. I like him in general but he wasn't great.

Paris: I like her silly dance that she does at the commercial breaks. And I think that she's consistently good. I wouldn't be surprised if she backed her way into the finals.

Ace: There is something about Ace that always makes me laugh. That being said, I thought he was really good and I tried to vote for him. But the line was busy! A good sign for him, perhaps?

Kellie: I thought her sit-down with Ryan was odd, much like Chris's sitdown last week where they discussed how his version of "I Walk the Line" was actually Live's version was odd too. It's almost as if this is where the show addresses all the media concerns of the week before. Anyway, I disliked Kellie's song, but I thought that she sang it well and I voted for her a bunch of times. Redial baby...

Chris: solid and boring, but it didn't feel like a cop-out the way the Johnny Cash cover did. He actually sang a song from the theme night in the style of the theme night. And could Paula please drop all of this "staying true to yourself" malarkey?

Katharine: Okay, she gave the best "something John can think about on a cold night" sort of performance. It was all wrigglin' and gigglin'. But it was fun and it worked for me. I voted for her a bunch of times. Then I went back and tried to vote for Ace. His number was still busy!

Bucky: okay, Kenny Rogers told Bucky to over-enunciate his words. And it kind of worked, though Bucky is a mush-mouth on the Melissa McGhee caliber. Still, I liked his song and thought he was okay.

4/5/06, 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Being the foodie that I am, Kenny's chicken chain ran into trouble because of health department issues. A number of their locations were cited for multiple violations, and since he was such a public figure, the "media firestorm" or whatever you want to call it really hurt sales so it wasn't too much longer they shut down. There might still be a few out there, but if I recall Kenny immdiately renounced his stake in the company, distanced himself, blah blah blah...

4/5/06, 12:52 PM  
Anonymous britchick said...

ok...chris rocks baby!!!!!!he was great even if the song was a little dullish. i kinda got bored with the whole country theme...not being a "country" girl myself! ;)
and has kenny rogers shrunk??? kinda odd to show all his former glory pics then walk in afterwards looking less than half normal!

4/5/06, 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Sandi said...

Nice to see someone mention that the person talking sounded like Kenny, but looked nothing like him. I hope Taylor stays for a bit. Bucky should be the one to get the boot - the last spot wasn't enough to save him. I thought Ryan announced that Ace WAS single. Did I mishear him?

4/5/06, 2:09 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I could not care less if Ace was single..what a dud.

No one really did anything for me last night at all. It was a pretty boring show and I was tahnkful I watched it on TiVo.

I am done with Bucky..send him home.

I still like Katharine, Elliott(does need to find charisma fast though) and Paris. I thought she was pretty good last night and that was her best hairstyle yet.

I am starting to get over Mandisa really quickly...not into her much anymore and Chris as well.

I hear a lot of that stuff down here in GA and I know people like Kellie is so not an act...

4/5/06, 3:18 PM  
Blogger Eric Fingerhut said...

Yes, thanks, Sandi, you are correct--I meant to write Ace is "now single," but typed "not" instead. I guess that's what happens when you're blogging at 1:30 in the morning....

4/5/06, 3:23 PM  

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