“american idol” top 4: consider the shark jumped.

If all of the preceding episodes of American Idol this season were distress signals, then last night’s performance episode was those signals flat lining. “Songs of the Cinema” night was an all-around disaster. The judges could barely muster up any relevant critiques, and even the praised performances were just so-so in comparison to other things we’ve seen from the contestants this season. This is the top four, people! This is the time when you need to step up your game, not sit back and churn out something mediocre that borders on karaoke.
Before I get to the actual singing, I have to address the ridiculous theme and equally ridiculous mentor. Ryan proclaimed that everyone loves the movies, but that doesn’t mean that everyone loves songs from the movies. Based on the pathetic list of songs the top four had to choose from, I gathered that the theme was actually “Songs Written Specifically For a Movie,” rather than “Any Song In a Movie/On Its Soundtrack.” Nine times out of ten, songs that are penned to play over closing credits of movies are dull and schlocky, which explains why I spent most of last night waiting for Idol to be over so Glee could start. This type of theme is usually a momentum killer, which is exactly what happened.
Jamie Foxx was partly to blame; he spent more time obsessing over his silly “artist” and “contestant” shirts than he did offering any useful critique. No, I don’t think sticking his face in Lee and Casey’s personal space counts as mentoring. Maybe I’m still riding high from the excellent mentoring of Harry Connick, Jr. last week, but it seemed like Foxx was just there for the face time and didn’t care too much about the contestants.
Lee Dewyze and his face full of spray tan opened the show with a shaky version of Seal’s “Kiss By a Rose.” First of all, way to pick an awful song, Lee, and second, please stop dressing like you’re performing at Zeta Chi’s Beer Bash 2010. The pitch was just beyond his grasp the entire song, and all of the words ended in a vague mumble. You know I adore Lee, but I had to hide my face behind a pillow in embarrassment.
Here’s a shocker: Big Mike picked one of Michael Jackson’s cheesiest songs, the Free Willy song “Will You Be There.” Nothing about this performance indicated that Mike has the chops to become the next American Idol. I’m hoping Big Mike will be heading home tonight. Free Willy, indeed.
I missed out on season 8, so I hadn’t seen any duets on Idol until last night. I think it’s a great idea, and I’m all for duets being introduced earlier on in the season. Group night creates lots of drama and entertainment during Hollywood Week, so why not carry that into the rest of the show? Lee and Crystal sang “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once. I loved how their mic stands were positioned to face each other, and I also loved that they both played guitar. I wasn’t too keen on how their voices meshed; Crystal’s Joplin-esque howl was a bit grating against Lee’s gravelly tone. Things definitely picked up around the chorus, and Lee redeemed himself for his hideous solo performance just minutes before. Bonus points to Crystal for calling Lee her “musical crush.”
Back in solo land, Casey chose “Mrs. Robinson,” which is hands-down my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. It could have been okay, but he chose to sit in the crowd and play a mandolin to a slowed-down version of the song. The judges were so proud of themselves for making the connection between the Graduate and Kara’s supposed crush on Casey, but anyone with half a brain/knowledge of music history knows that the song was originally titled “Mrs. Roosevelt” and was changed only to fit in with the movie. Nice try, though, Randy.
Crystal was the only solo performer to change up her song a bit, but no amount of orchestral rearranging could hide the fact that “I’m All Right” is the song from Caddyshack. It was the best performance of the night, but that’s like saying it was the pile of dog poop that smelled the least. I did enjoy her boyfriend’s American flag pants, though. Forgive me if this sounds incredibly mean, but her boyfriend is way cuter than I thought the boyfriend of Crystal Bowersox should be.
The duet between Casey and Big Mike was like a nonentity, as I think one of them will be going home tonight and the other next week. I do enjoy “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” for the cheesy ballad that it is, and I thought the guitar stylings of the two gents worked well. Casey may not be the next American Idol, but damn, that guy can play the guitar. Their harmonizing wasn’t as bad as I thought, but someone was way sharp during the chorus (methinks it was Casey.)
Will there be a shocking, Chris Daughtry-type elimination tonight as we see who makes it into the top three? You never know with American Idol
Photo courtesy of Fox.com.

‘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.