‘american idol’ top 11: too awful to make a witty headline.

I almost didn’t want to write about American Idol again, because I mentally checked out of the show about halfway through last night, and because it was so damn boring/awful/pitchy/etc. that I don’t care who goes home tonight; it could be any one of six people and I’d be happy. But I have some perverse dedication to this blog, even though about four people read it on a regular basis (Hi Mom!), and honestly, last night was just too awful not to discuss. The Idols could pick from any number one single in Billboard‘s 50-year history, and they managed to pick some of the schlockiest, cheesiest, over-performed songs on the list. Guest mentor Miley Cyrus wasn’t as bad as I thought she’d be, although her statement that, “People take me seriously because I take myself seriously,” proves all that is wrong with today’s youth.

Lee Dewyze, my current favorite, started the show with “The Letter,” by the Box Tops. The brass ensemble was borderline hokey, although it was a nice departure from the ‘dude stands behind mic stand with guitar’ performances in Lee’s past. I liked the vocals, and he definitely brought more stage presence, although he clearly had no idea what to do with his left hand, the one not holding the microphone, and flailed it around awkwardly.

Why Paige Miles thought it would be a good idea to pick “Take a Look At Me Now (Against All Odds),” a song already covered on Idol by Corey Clark, George Huff, Jessica Sierra, Scott Savol, Katharine McPhee, and Ramiele Malubay, is something I can’t fathom. Calling her performance ‘pitchy’ is an understatement. My living room cleared when Paige started singing. I think my dog was in pain. The girl sang better when she had laryngitis, for crying out loud. It was just awful.

Another performance that falls into the ‘just awful’ category is Tim Urban‘s take on Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Freddie Mercury rolled over in his grave, for sure, during Tim’s performance. There was nothing exciting about the vocals, and Tim’s attempts to be fun by sliding across the stage, touching audience members’ hands and standing amongst the audience were just cheap gimmicks to cover up the fact that he’s a terrible performer.

Aaron Kelly – whom Ryan called David Archuleta when giving out his numbers – picked another tried and true Idol favorite: Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” It was okay. It’s nothing I’m going to remember in a week or two, but his vocals were decent, and his performance was another chance for him to show off his earnest faces.

Crystal Bowersox‘s “Me and Bobby McGee” was yet another crunchy granola acoustic jam, this time with a rug on the stage! She really makes it seem effortless, but homegirl has to mix it up with the musical choices in the upcoming weeks if she wants to be a true contender. Enough with the Starbucks music. Take a page out of the books of Lambert, Cook, Allen et al, and find a song that isn’t from your genre of music, and revamp it to fit said genre. Otherwise, I think Mamasox will find herself amongst the eliminated former front runners, including but not limited to Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Melinda Doolittle.

I missed Big Mike‘s performance; I’m not sad at all. I don’t like him.

Andrew Garcia‘s performance of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was cheesy and amateurish. I know, I know, this is an “amateur” talent competition, but I’ve seen more skill from drunken coeds doing karaoke. He lost the guitar and gained a whole lot of awkward stage presence. I won’t be surprised if he’s in the bottom three tonight.

Katie Stevens‘ attempt at being young and cool resulted in ill-advised suspenders and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” It reeked of high-school talent show. I just can’t get behind Katie as a valid contender for the Idol crown. Her voice is great, just not technically at the level it should be to compete on a nationally televised talent competition.

I may be the only person who enjoyed Casey James‘ “The Power of Love.” Sure, Huey Lewis and the News isn’t the most current song choice, but Casey’s vocals were great. I could have done without the horn section blasting down from the band loft; they definitely contributed to the outdated feel that Randy spoke of, and they pretty much muted Casey’s guitar playing. (I did quite enjoy his comment to Miley that he’s a big fan…of her father. Zing!)

Didi Benami just plain sucked last night. There’s no other way to say it. Her performance of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” was cheesy, overdone, and flat. I believe I may have changed the channel to check the weather forecast during this performance.

Siobhan Magnus and her magnificent pink faux-hawk took on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Vocally, it wasn’t perfect, but I did like hearing Siobhan’s voice against a more upbeat, less morose song. “The shriek” is getting old fast, though, and while I don’t hate it, I find myself bracing for impact throughout her performances, waiting for that note.

My bottom three prediction for tonight: Urban, Miles, Garcia, with Urban going back to safety first and most likely Miss Miles heading back to her kindergarten class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Advertisements

american idol top 24: boys on the side

After Tuesday night’s two-hour torture session with the girls, I was anxious to see if the top 12 guys could deliver more entertaining performances. There were some standouts, but it was mostly a sea of mediocrity, with the judges being as hypocritical as ever.
Before I get to critiquing Todrick Hall‘s performance, let me take a moment to ask the judges, “WTF are you smoking?” During Tuesday night’s show, they chastised the girls for singing carbon copies of songs instead of making them their own. Then, we have two male contestants, Todrick and Andrew Garcia, who are inventive enough to take two well-known songs and completely, creatively rework them, and suddenly the judges are crying foul and boo-hooing that the songs are unrecognizable. Stop the hypocrisy! Todrick was brave enough to take on Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” which I would argue is the most well-known song from any Idol alum. He took the pop-rock anthem and turned it into a jazzy R&B-style jam. It was hard to remember the original while he was singing, but I took that as a good thing. Apparently the judges did not, because they all panned it. Regardless of what they think, Todrick’s performance was 10 times better than anything the girls sang last night, so we’re already looking up.
Aaron Kelly, the less-annoying David Archuleta type, sang Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye.” The performance is mediocre at best, but his voice is well-suited for country. Simon had encouraging words for him, so hopefully Aaron can shake the nerves and pick a better song next week.
Jermaine Sellers picked Oleta Adams’ “Get Here,” a song that should be retired from the Idol canon ASAP. His version was sharp and full of show-offy runs that just emphasized the sharpness of his notes. Randy thought he looked great; I thought Jermaine looked like Charlie Chaplin gone wrong. I have a feeling he’ll get through this week, but he’s going to need to pick more interesting songs to make it into the top 12.
I wondered why the powers that be chose Tim Urban to replace the ousted Chris Golightly. I soon found out it wasn’t for his talent, because his performance of OneRepublic’s “Apologize” was stiff, awkward, and hard on the ears. The song’s chorus has a prominent falsetto, notes that Tim could not reach. It just became embarrassing after a while. Even the judges gave up on trying to help him, telling him that he’ll get votes because he’s cute. Ouch.
Joe Munoz, seen very little prior to last night, has a terrific voice. His choice of Jason Mraz’s “You and I Both” was a smart one. I’ve always thought that song would do well on Idol, and Joe was the perfect fit. I really hope his lack of screen time doesn’t lead to his elimination tonight, because I think he has a lot of potential, and a great, rich tone to his voice.
Oh, Tyler Grady. I think you and your ’70s swagger are just fabulous, but the schtick wore a little thin last night. Singing the Guess Who’s “American Woman,” it came off as a paint-by-numbers Jim Morrison performance. Stage presence is not a problem for Tyler at all, but I think his vocal abilities got lost in his stylings. America knows Tyler is talented, so now he needs to come out and wow us with something unique.
Lee Dewyze may have been plucked out of a frat house; someone give this boy a makeover, please. The graphic tees and knit caps have got to go. His version of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” however, can stay. Lee wisely tweaked the melody, but not to the point of unrecognizability. He has a pleasant rasp to his voice, and his sound is very radio-friendly. I’m not sure if he has enough momentum to crack the top 12 as of this week, so he’s going to have to be very smart with his upcoming song choices.
John Park also needs to smarten up when it comes to picking songs. Billie Holliday’s “God Bless the Child” suited his baritone well, but my god, that was the slowest, most drawn-out performance of the night. Nothing screams, “Take me seriously as a modern recording artist!” than a song that most people’s grandparents fondly recall from their youth. There’s definite talent in John, he just needs to modernize himself if he wants to go far into the top 12, which I have no doubt he’ll make.
Mike Lynche chose Maroon 5’s “This Love,” which I thought to be an odd choice for him. It was, as it forced him to use his guitar as a prop instead of actually play it, and his vocals seemed forced and breathy. At this point, I think his personality will send him farther in the competition than his talent, and that’s just disappointing to whoever gets booted in favor of the new dad. (PS – go spend some time with your newborn, will you?)
Alex Lambert (whose name I initially typed as Adam) is confidently rocking a pseudo-mullet that he doesn’t seem eager to part with. Get this child to a barber. However misguided his hair style may be, his choice of James Morrison’s “Wonderful World” was perfect. Alex was awkward as anything on stage, but his vocals were great, and he’s got a nice, soulful tone that sounds a lot like Morrison’s. Ellen’s analogy about ripening bananas was spot-on about Alex; the talent is there, he just needs his confidence on stage to ripen.
Casey James’ performance of Byran Adams’ “Heaven” was passable but bland, except for the shenanigans going on behind the judges’ table. Can we drop the “Kara loves Casey” thing, please? It’s awkward to watch, and from the look on Casey’s face during his judging, is awkward to experience too.
The male recipient of the pimp spot is Andrew Garcia, which I saw coming from a mile away. He took Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down” transforming the song from high-energy to low-key and jazzy. Being a huge FOB fan (go ahead, make fun of me,) I loved Andrew’s take on the song. Hands down, he has the best song picking sensibilities in the competition. The judges, however, HATED IT, which once again made me declare that the judges are stupid.
I would say that collectively, the guys were better than the girls, but not by much. Hopefully everyone can shake the first-week jitters and start churning out some water cooler performances next week.

‘so you think you can dance’ recap: top 18

Last night’s show was rough. Some of last week’s top performers were not good, and most of the routines were just so-so. Other highlights of the show included Cat Deeley wearing a human-sized ruffled pillowcase, and the dancers revealing “secrets” about their partners.

Evan and Randi: We learned that Evan likes to build cars and that Randi’s dog is like her child. Yawn. I enjoyed their jive upon first watch because the two of them can sell a routine like no other, but after watching it a second time, I noticed all of the things the judges pointed out. I doubt many viewers, aside from those who are trained ballroom dancers, noticed the errors because Randi and Evan are truly fun to watch. (Oops…I tried so hard not to say “fun” in my recap.)

Ade and Melissa: We learned that Melissa and her sister are married to brothers, and that Ade’s full name is Adetokunbo Isaac Kayode Obayomi. Again, not very exciting. Moving on to the dancing…I have never been able to get behind Sonya Tayeh’s choreography, probably because I just don’t understand it, but I do know that these two performed it well last night. Melissa is a walking example of the idea that having a strong foundation in ballet translates well across all dance genres, and Ade is just great at anything he does.

Jason and Caitlin: Jason’s big secret is that he used to do Michael Jackson impressions as a child, and aside from the tragic mullet he sported, I wasn’t exactly falling off my couch in shock by this revelation. Caitlin’s secret is that she talks in baby voices and does a velociraptor imitation that annoys Jason. Come on, dancers, where’s the dirt? I want to be shocked and amazed! One thing that did not shock or amaze me was Shane Sparks’ hip-hop choreography for these two. It’s hard to make a great performance out of lackluster moves. Jason was much better than Caitlin, and even though you could tell she was trying, it was nowhere near as enjoyable as their week one Bollywood routine.

Brandon and Janette: Janette used to have busted teeth, (her orthodontist must have specialized in miracles) and incredibly ripped Brandon says he has never set foot in a gym. The clueless preteens in the audience audibly gasped at this revelation, but then again, saying the words “Jonas” or “Brothers” could send them all into catatonic fits. It’s called a dancer’s body, people! I always thought disco was simply a music genre until SYTYCD proved me wrong. Doriana Sanchez (who may or may not be made entirely out of plastic) choreographed possibly the fastest disco routine to grace a dance floor, but that didn’t hinder Janette and Brandon. I thought Janette’s facial mugging was a bit distracting, but I come from the school of “less is more” when it comes to facial expressions.

Vitolio and Asukah: I cannot for the life of me remember what their secrets were, so that shows you they probably weren’t very exciting. Their waltz is one of those dances where the emotional back story far outweighs any technical mishaps (see: Kherington and Twitch’s Viennese waltz from last season). Inspired by Vitolio’s plight as an orphan, Louis van Amstel crafted a beautiful waltz that wasn’t technically stunning, but it was emotional and they definitely connected more with the piece than they did with last week’s Broadway disaster.

Max and Kayla: Max is called a “housewife” by his fellow dancers because he likes to cook, and Kayla likes to text. Wow…an 18-year-old girl likes to text. Who would have seen that coming? Having been a teenager during the glory days of pop in the early 2000s, I was extremely familiar with Brian Friedman’s choreographic resume (Britney Spears, ‘NSync, P!nk, etc.). I was very happy to see him return to SYTYCD after a brief absence. Kayla and Max perfectly captured his pop-jazz routine, and I have to say, this week, I watched Max more than Kayla. Yes, Kayla is good, but I don’t really get all the hype from the judges. All I noted about her dancing last night is that she’s what I like to call a “fish face dancer,” meaning she dances with her mouth hanging open in a very unattractive way.

Jonathan and Karla: We learned that Jonathan (who my sister pointed out is a David Archuleta lookalike,) is tone deaf but sings all the time and that Karla, despite being labeled by Fox as a contemporary dancer, is actually a member of hip-hop crew Boogie Bots, as seen on season two of America’s Best Dance Crew. Ballroom dancing and ballet/lyrical/contemporary are both very technical genres, but each has its own specific technique. I was very surprised to see that ballroom dancer Jonathan was able to effortlessly slip into the contemporary technique, and I think he matched contemporary dancer Karla’s skill level.

Philip and Jeanine: We learned that Philip is a science nerd and has close to 40 reptiles in his room. We also learned that Jeanine has a teddy bear named Spanky that she dresses in coordinating clothes and claims is “better than a boyfriend.” What a perfect match: science nerd with a reptile fixation and crazy girl in love with a bear. “Hot mess” is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of their routine last night. Philip’s lack of technical training was glaringly obvious while attempting the tango, and Jeanine, probably sensing this, seemed to be working twice as hard to sell it. It was painfully awkward to watch.

Kupono and Ashley: We learned that Kupono is OCD to the point of irritation, (explains his lists) and that Ashley projectile vomited on her first-grade classmates. Really Ashley? That’s what you choose to tell America about you? Nothing else about you is as remarkable as the fact that you spewed barf before Show and Tell? Okay then…This was another Shane Sparks routine that I didn’t really like. Nigel claimed it was the dancers, but I think the source of the problem is Mr. Sparks himself. Two bad routines in one show points to the creator of said routines. Ashley was much better than Kupono. There were moments where she was hitting the choreography just right, and I just wanted to shake Kupono and say, “Can’t you synchronize yourself with her for one 8-count? Please?”

Predictions: It’s hard for me to pick three couples this week, because the ones who slipped are frontrunners/favorites. I can’t tell if America is going to vote based on who they like vs. who danced the best. (I only vote during the finale…I have better things to do with my time than repeatedly press redial for two hours after the show.) If I had to predict, I would say Asukah and Vitolio are going to be in the bottom, simply because neither of them has really connected with the audience. Ashley and Kupono could also see themselves dancing for their lives, and I think a third couple could be Philip and Jeanine. Based on the bottom three I chose, I think Asukah and Vitolio could be going home.

Tune in to Fox tonight at 9 p.m. EST to see who will be packing up their dance shoes.