Another "much better" night
Now let's get to the scandal not mentioned tonight--the unbelievable explosion of pictures of the lovely Antonella Barba. I mentioned the picture of her sitting on the toilet last week, and there were also pictures of her and her friends on a beach topless and covering their breasts with their hands. There was some talk about whether she might be booted from the show for these pictures, but I thought that was pretty silly. In fact, considering all the time I spend on the toilet--my fraternity retired a toilet stall in my honor when I graduated--I found that picture quite fetching. (Having said that, even with all the time I spend on the toilet, I'm not sure I have any photos of myself on one.)
But then we got some more interesting pictues that turned up--first Antonella frolicing in a wet t-shirt at the World War II Memorial in D.C. and then someone who looks a lot like her performing a sex act (as someone on the Internet wrote today, she was "stepping up to the microphone.") The word "pornographic" is often thrown around inappropriately, but the second set of pictures would certainly qualify under that definition.
Anyway, the Fox affiliate in D.C. had a hilarious story Monday night in which they went down to the World War II Memorial, showed visitors the Antonella photos and asked them what they thought. Of course, everyone was horrified and thought the pictures were disrespectful. (Of course, with TV news you never know--they could have interviewed ten other people who said the pictures were hot but they didn't play that tape.)
So what to make of this? To paraphrase a Simon remark from a couple years ago, in another life I want to come back as the pool at the World War II Memorial. But seriously, yes, I understand why people think it was disrespectful, but won't World War II veterans understand? Isn't that what they were fighting for on D-Day and at Iwo Jima--freedom, the freedom that allows hot girls to run around in wet t-shirts? If Antonella is kicked out of the competition for this, haven't the terrorists won? A lot of people are going to say this week that because Frenchie Davis was kicked out of the competition in year two for posing on some kind of porn Website, that Antonella should suffer the same fate. But my parents always taught me that two wrongs don't make a right. Frenchie shouldn't have been kicked out back in 2003--that was a stupid decision that Nigel Lythgoe said was made because they didn't want to take the chance that she would be named American Idol and have that photo appear everywhere--it didn't fit the image or whatever. Please--as Simon always says, American Idol is a singing competition, it's not Miss America or American Idol Citizen. And Antonella will be eliminated soon if she keeps singing like she did last week.
On to the singing tonight:
Phil Stacey ("Missing You")--I thought this was pretty good--Phil has some charisma and his voice is pretty strong. Simon said there was nothing unique about his voice, and I guess I know what he means, but I'm not sure how much Phil can actually do about that. He can put a new spin on familiar songs, I suppose, so maybe he can try that. He could beat box, but that's Blake's thing. But is there really anything that unique about, say, Chris Richardson's voice?
So they keep showing Jeff Foxworthy--without identifying him--because he has a new show on Fox tonight (and for the next two nights as well, for some reason. It's a three-night premiere!) And all these shots of Jeff Foxworthy do is remind me of the time I was temping at a law firm 13 years ago and one of my co-workers, in a discussion of favorite comedians, said that her favorite stand-up comedian was Jeff Foxworthy. She wasn't Southern--apparently she just liked making fun of rednecks or something. After dropping this bombshell, she walked out of the room, at which point the guy sitting next to me made a face and said something like "What is wrong with her?" and I just shook my head. Unfortunately, though, her lack of taste didn't stop me from getting drunk and making out with her in a bar a few months later. I still carry the shame of that lapse around, and all the Foxworthy camera time is just making it worse.
Jared Cotter ("Let's Get It On")--I liked Jared better than the judges did last week, but this week I basically agreed. It was OK, but kind of cheesy and over the top. Jared, though, did have one of the best responses ever to a Simon Cowell insult. Simon told him he sounded like he should have been on "The Love Boat," and Jared responded, "it would have been a great Love Boat." A comeback to Simon that's funny and not insulting. Perfect.
Then we had the best Simon-Ryan exchange of the night, with Seacrest, out of nowhere, reminiscing about all he's "done to that song" and Simon asking "What have you done?" I think all of America was glad, though, that Simon just left it there and didn't press for an answer, because none of us needed to hear it.
A.J. Tabalo ("Feeling Good")--I wasn't feeling real good about this performance, but the judges seemed to like it. All I could think about is how much his father looked like some sort of Hispanic version of Ray Romano (or a South Asian version of Ray Romano--I'm not sure.) OK voice, but for whatever reason, didn't do it fore me.
Sanjaya Malakar ("Steppin Out")--This may have been one of the worst performances I have ever seen on America Idol. I can't believe how bad that was. The judges should be punished for putting him through to the final 24. Sanjaya seemed scared just to be out on the stage. Here was the problem--and it has nothing to do with going to an "awful lunch," as Simon said. If you hear Tony Bennett sing this song (and I'm told that this was actually Fred Astaire's song before Tony Bennett sang it), he brings a confidence and swagger to it. Sanjaya brought negative swagger and confidence. Paula said he sang "on pitch," which is nice, but it's not like there's a five-octave range to this song. I'll stop beating up on the poor guy, but first say that if Sanjaya really wanted to "celebrate the great years of music," like he said, he could have honored them better by not desecrating this song.
Chris Sligh ("Trouble")--So after doing the fast song last week, the singer who said he knew how to pick the right songs in this competition picks another good one, slowing it down a little to show off his voice. And his voice was pretty impressive, especially when he kicked it up a notch at the end. I think he's going to be in this competition for a while.
Nick Pedro ("Fever")--When this first started, my reaction was what is he doing? (That, and is the drummer a contestant too?) But by the end, I thought the whole thing sort of worked--the smokiness of his voice brought something different and new to the song and it wasn't bad. Unlike Chris Sligh, though, I don't really think he'll be around that long. But he did improve from last week to this one, so who knows?
Blake Lewis ("Virtual Insanity")--Did you see the young lady in the crowd with the "Blaker Girl" t-shirt? Does this guy have fans making shirts honoring him after one week, or does he have a following from back home? And sort of a clever shirt, since Paula Abdul was once a Laker Girl. Anyway, I must disagree with Simon here--I thought Blake was really good--a strong voice, great presence. Particularly interesting about him is that he seems like a great pure pop singer (as opposed to the mostly rock, R&B and country singers in the competition). He could be interesting to watch. And I'm glad he added some scat singing in the middle to make Randy happy. The dumbest judge comment all night was Randy saying that tonight was a "return to form" for Blake. Randy, he had great form last week--you just were unhappy that he didn't beat box, because you think he's a trained monkey who must do the same thing every week to please you because change is bad. Wake up, dawg.
Brandon Rogers ("Time After Time")--Everything about Brandon's song choice tonight indicates he doesn't really watch the show. First, he sang "Time after Time," which Nadia Turner did a mediocre version of and never recovered from. More importantly, he chose a song that would fit his "dedication" instead of picking a song that he could sing well and impress America with (and then match a dedication to it.) If there's one thing I constantly repeat every year on this blog, it's that that you don't pick a song for this show because you like it or you mom likes it or you wanted to show off your personality or whatever other reason. You pick a song for one reason only--you can sing it well. As Simon kind of said, Brandon, with all due respect to your grandmother, no one except you really cares all that much about who you dedicated your song to--they want to hear you show off your vocal talent. And you didn't do that tonight, no matter how much emotion you felt.
Chris Richardson ("Geek in the Pink")--Not feeling the love the judges did on this one. Perhaps the Justin Timberlake Jr. thing is just too overwhelming for me, but I thought this was just OK.
Sundance Head ("Mustang Sally")--Certainly return to form for Sundance. But Simon was correct in calling the praise from Randy and Paula a bit effusive. He was good, but I've certainly heard better versions of that song, starting with Wilson Pickett and the guy from the movie "The Commitments." Sure, it probably isn't fair to compare him in that way, but he certainly didn't make me forget about them. But at least he's gotten better, and that's a good thing for the competition--since his Dial Idol scores indicate he's pretty popular.
So who's going home? Sanjaya should be going home, but his Dial Idol scores were also pretty high, which makes me nervous. (Some have speculated that at this early point in the competition, with so many singers, the "Vote for the Worst" Website actually does have some influence and might help Sanjaya stick around.) But I'm going to say he gets booted, and then try to make up my mind between Jared Cotter and Brandon Rogers. I'm going to say Jared, because he went earlier in the show and was kind of forgettable. But I really have no idea.
Seacrest has dropped his signoff, so I will too. I'll just say I'm off to watch Veronica Mars.