Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another surprise

For the second year in a row, an upset on American Idol. As I wrote after Tuesday night's show, I thought Adam should have won, but liked Kris a lot too and wouldn't have a problem if he won. So it was a nice moment when Kris actually said, "Adam deserves this." Both guys were very gracious and it seems they both might have nice careers ahead of them--with all the attention Adam has received, this loss shouldn't hurt him at all.

I don't have much else to say--I've been a slacker all season in blogging Idol, so why should the finale be any different? But a few thoughts on the finale.

Best duet: Kris and Keith Urban
Not-the-best duet: Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah

Least welcome return: Norman Gentle--talk about a one-trick pony, he did the same bit for the fourth time
Most amusing award bit: Bikini Girl return and her, um, new body, and then Kara's attempt to outsing her. I guess Kara can't judge well and can't write a good coronation song, so at least she showed she could do a decent job on a Mariah Carey song--which is actually kind of sad, if you think about it. But her opening her dress did make me laugh.

Worst performance of the night: Rod Stewart. Wow, was he bad. He sounded 100 years old. He's really touring this summer? I'm sure there were people calling Ticketmaster and requesting refunds after last night.

And that's it. We've come to the end of another Idol season, and we'll see next January whether I'm up for blogging season nine. Thanks for reading.

Fingerhut out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not a bad finish

The American Idol finale inevitably seems to disappoint because of the format. Ever since the incredibly entertaining finale in season two, where Clay and Ruben each did a coronation song and then selected two songs they hadn't performed before, they've had each singer duplicate at least one song from the season--and then saddle each singer with a horrible coronation song. For whatever reason, last year's finale was a little better than usual--the coronation songs weren't as bad. This year, again, the finale wasn't that bad--even though the coronation song was horrendous--because the repeat songs they both did were really good. So let's break it down.

Adam doing Mad World--Simon was correct in that the fog and the coat and the steps made the whole thing a bit much, especially since the reason this performance was so good in the first place was because it was so stripped down. But it was still really good.

Kris doing Aint No Sunshine--I remember this being good when Kris first did it, but he actually improved it the second time out--what I love to see in an Idol finale. One of his best performances of the season.

Adam doing Change Is Gonna Come--They should let Simon Fuller pick songs more often for the singers, because this was a great choice for Adam--a classic soul song that allowed him to both belt out parts and be soft and soulful at times. A song that was right in his wheelhouse, and yet it was still challenging. And he did it really well. It came close to going over the top a couple times, but never did.

Kris doing What's Going On?--Once again, Simon Fuller does a good job. It's a classic song that fits Kris, and yet doesn't fit him so well that it isn't challenging at the same time. I actually sort of agreed and disagreed with what Simon had to say: Stripping it down to just an acoustic guitar and some guys playing drums did feel sort of small for the moment. Yet I also disagree in that doing the song in this style is what we expect of Kris--it's why we like him in the first place. His most memorable performances have been in that style, so why shouldn't use that style in the finale? As for Kara praising Simon Fuller for picking a socially conscious song for Kris--Kara, idiocy like that isn't going to get you brought back next year. (By the way, the head of Fox Entertainment refused Monday to say there would be four judges next year.) Remember Kara? It's about artistry.

Adam and Kris doing that horrible song--Really, I can't believe it, but this might be the worst coronation song they've ever made us suffer through. A tuneless mess with barely a hook to be found. I think I might have enjoyed Kris' version a little bit more because you could actually make out the weak melody somewhat better, but his voice was sort of all over the place in parts. I hope we don't have to hear the winner sing this monstrosity tomorrow night in the extended show--and is it really that hard to fit everything into two hours? What can't they cut from what is likely to be a bloated show? The 18 different movies they'll have to promote? The 15-minute montage of "How we got here?" They can't control themselves enough to just do two hours and get on with it--they have to threaten us with overruns?

Oh, and if Kara isn't eliminated from Idol because of her annoying appearances at the judging table, she should be thrown off the show for being involved in writing a song that bad.

So who should win? I really have liked Kris improve and develop over the course of the show, and he might be the more viable artist commercially because his style is more current, in some ways, than Adam's. But the fact that he might be more viably commercial shouldn't enter into it--American Idol is kind of like the Heisman Trophy. Every year, people complain that so-and-so shouldn't win the Heisman Trophy because he's not a good pro prospect or won't do well in the NFL. But that shouldn't matter--the Heisman Trophy should be awarded to the best college football player each year, not the best pro prospect. And American Idol shouldn't be awarded to the guy who might sell the most records, it should be awarded to the person who has earned it through their performances on the show. And consistently, Adam has been the most interesting, best performer throughout the season. That's why I think he should win, and will win. Would I be upset if Kris won? No, because he's pretty good. Adam was just better.

Fingerhut out.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We're almost done with this season

One of the most memorable images of tonight's penultimate performance show of American Idol was when they showed former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe sitting in the audience watching the show. I criticized Nigel a lot on this blog over the last few years, but Nigel, all is forgiven. I know I sound like a broken record, but really--only two songs each for the final three for the first time ever because the judges can't shut up enough--and they can't stop commercializing the show enough--to get nine songs into a program. So no "Clive Davis choice" this year--or "producers choice" like it was last year, which at least prevents the sabotage we saw last year when Syesha Mercado got saddled with that song from the movie "Happy Feet", so there's at least one positive out of all of this. (Sorry for that run-on sentence.)

Anyway, I thought there was one memorable performance tonight and nothing particularly special in the other five performances.

Danny's first song--Why did Paula pick an obscure Terence Trent D'Arby song for Danny instead of, as Simon correctly said, a good song by Terence Trent D'Arby like "Sign Your Name" or Wishing Well"? Who knows? (And by the way, this show is giving me way too many flashbacks. Last week's results show had performances from Slash, the guitarist from the biggest rock band in the world during my college years, and Paula Abdul, the biggest female artist around during my college years. I can remember "Straight Up" being a big song during my freshman year and that song where she danced around with the cat in the video when I was at the beach after senior year. Or maybe it was the "Will You Marry Me?" song I'm thinking of. Anyway, Terence Trent D'Arby brought me back even farther--I remember dancing to "Wishing Well" at my senior prom. But moving on...)

Anyway, I didn't think this was all that great. Danny just seemed to shout the song to me--there was nothing about this performance that about 50 Idol contestants over the years couldn't have done.

Danny's second song--This was better, but a song like "You Are So Beautiful"--while a clever choice by Danny--is almost too easy. Since the song doesn't really go anywhere, Danny could pretty much do whatever he wanted to with the song--which I know Kara likes because switching up the melody turns her on to no end. But "stunning"? "Vocal master class"? Really? Nice performance, but I'm not downloading it from ITunes or anything.

Kris' first song--This was solid but nothing special. I was glad that Simon called Kara out because he's right--it is kind of ridiculous to give someone a song to sing and then get disappointed because they don't totally change the song. Of course, it's what Kara has wanted everyone to do all year, so it wasn't actually surprising--and I'm not sure why Simon waited until tonight to broach that subject--but at least it came up. As for Kara's bitchy "what do you know about interpreting a song," I'm not even going to go there.

Kris' second song--I loved this. This is what I like to see someone do on Idol--not change the melody of a song, but reinterpret the song in a different style or give it a different feel while staying true to what you like about the song. To take a hip-hop song and make it an acoustic-guitar based song was cool and enjoyable. This I could imagine downloading on ITunes.

Adam's first song--I still think Adam is the most talented and deserves to win the competition, but I love the song "One" and I didn't love this. It was fine for what it was, I just didn't really like the total change-up to a classic song. I didn't think it improved the song, it just gave Adam a chance to do his patented scream.

Adam's second song--A solid performance, but nothing particularly special.

So who's going home? I hope it's Danny, but I unfortunately think it will be Chris.

Finally, don't bore yourself watching a full hour of the results show tomorrow night. I recommend you DVR it and watch the Penguins-Capitals hockey game. You won't be disappointed.



Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This show is not as enjoyable as it used to be

For those of you coming here to read a detailed breakdown on last night's Idol episode, I'm sorry to disappoint you once again. I'm not feeling well and just want to go to bed. But unlike last week -- when between attending the Caps game on Tuesday night and work commitments the following night (combined with a general lack of excitment about Idol these days) meant I didn't even watch Idol until Thursday night, I'll at least provide a couple thoughts.

Adam, of course, was probably the best because he's just the most comfortable person left in the competition with straight rock songs, but I'm still not sure how I feel about Zeppelin songs on American Idol. Just kind of weird. (And I can't believe he didn't do "Sweet Child o Mine" with Slash as the mentor. He would have killed.) Still, I thought Adam wasn't really that much better than Allison, who I thought was pretty strong. i actually liked Danny tonight, until that awful last note, although Kara, um, Dream On is "early" Aerosmith, the songs you mentioned like Cryin are "late" Aerosmith. Wow, Kara, you're turning into a gaffe machine, the George W. Bush of American Idol judges. As for Kris, "Come Together" has always been one of my least favorite Beatles songs because I always found it kind of boring--so I wasn't crazy about Kris' performance, but I don't think it deserved the beating it got from the judges.

As for the duets, I enjoyed both of them, but found the whole thing ridiculous. To beat a dead horse on this blog, is this show so out of control that they now, unlike every other year, can't have the top four do two solo songs apiece? I presume next week we won't get to hear the top 3 do three songs, as is customary, because they won't be able to fit it in with all the other junk they have to fit into the show and the fourth judge. I'm really starting to not enjoy this show anymore--one reason being that in its eight season, it's getting kind of boring, but the other is the show's increasingly smaller time left over for actual singing.

Fingerhut out.