Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
So, instead of ranking the performances, I will do a “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” list. Because it makes me giggle.
While everyone was falling all over themselves to praise Brooke last week, I was sitting there scratching my head and wondering what the heck I was missing. As I said in my Top 24 Girls blog, she kind of freaks me out. The girl is so gosh-darn vanilla (c’mon, you know she’s never dropped an f-bomb in her life) that she just sort of fades into the background for me. I think she’s very middle-of-the-road, in every single way.
When I heard the opening notes of “You’re So Vain” my stomach clenched. That is one of my absolute favorite songs and I was very, very afraid of what Miss Vanilla was about to do to it. Well…she was pretty freakin’ great. Having earned comparisons to Carly Simon early in the competition, it was a very smart decision to cover her on 70s night. The vocals were fantastic. Granted, she didn’t bring much of anything new to the number, but she definitely did it justice (and then some).
She had minor problems hitting a couple of the lower notes in the chorus, and her demeanor was a bit too happy and peppy for a song about the disdain one has for a former lover. Still, she only arrived in Holywood a few weeks ago. The city hasn’t had time to introduce her to condescension and anger and resentment and disappointment. Give it time, Miss Vanilla, give it time.
What was she staring at, off in the distance and slightly above her head? For the first verse she was staring so intensely at…something…that I had to quash an urge to look over my own shoulder. It was mildly distracting.
Minor quibbles aside, I think she rocked “Crazy On You” pretty hardcore. Her performance was strong and controlled and you could tell that she knew she was owning it. It was without a doubt the strongest performance of the night. I like Carly a lot, but there’s something (I can’t quite put my finger on what) that stops me from totally jumping on the Carly Smithson bandwagon. She’ll definitely be around next week for me to keep trying to figure it out, though.
I’m going to skip right past how her baby imitation gave me nightmares…*shudder* I will say “stop staring at the camera” though. Stop staring at the camera, Syesha.
Call me crazy, but I liked her take on “Me and Mrs. Jones.” With the exception of the last note (which made me wince), her power vocals on the chorus were great. Her vocals on the verses were weaker, but definitely not awful. It comes down (again) to song choice. It probably wasn’t the best idea to pick a song originally sung by a man…because this is what happened:
Syesha: Me-e-e-e-e and Mr. – Mr. Joooooones…
Me: …tell each other fairy tales and we stare at the beautiful women…
Even though she’s not one of my favorites, I hope she sticks around because I see flashes of brilliance in her that have yet to be fully realized.
What happened to all of the charisma and power that she showed in her performance last week? Her performance was disconnected and listless, and it sucked the life out of a decent vocal. She hit most of her notes and sounded nice enough, but not backing that up with, you know, a personality really killed the entire thing.
I don’t know if she was trying to play it safe or not, but everything about what she did last night was just right down the middle and boring. Still, I’m a big fan of her voice in general (to my hers, she has one of the most enjoyable female voices) so I hope she sticks around as well.
I love this girl so much…and I think that’s why my heart lurched painfully when she missed that note in the chorus of “All By Myself.” America…pleasepleasePLEASE forgive her for being really sick. I couldn’t even bear to give her performance a second listen (which I normally do before reviewing) because I just couldn’t take it.
For someone who was sick, I think she pulled this song off remarkably well. It was incredibly rough in certain patches (early on) but by the end she was hitting some impressive notes. If that’s what she sounds like with the flu, she’d probably kick this song’s ass if she was healthy.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t. She would’ve been smart to pick a song that wasn’t as tough (and Randy was right – it was far and away the most difficult song of the night) to save herself from the “ouch” moment when Simon called her out on being “a very good, but not a great” singer. Simon, though sometimes I think he’s harsher than he needs to be, isn’t wrong. Asia’h overreached a bit this week, but she showed me enough to hope/pray/beg that I get to see her next week.
Kristy Lee Cook
Hey look! Kristy found some personality this week (along with a bunch of shiny spandex). I still don’t quite believe that she’s not a robot, though – she just got upgraded to a newer model that has “human emotions.” In other words, an improvement, but she still seemed not all there while she was singing. Is she over thinking? Really nervous? Actually that vacant?
Amanda, did you go and audition for The Lion King right before you went on stage? Woman, WTF were you thinking?! I have no words for what you looked like. Other than “something that would show up in my nightmare about crazy Goth bikers from Texas.” I actually tried to open my mouth to form some and just ended up sputtering until my roommate told me to can it.
Tears, Amanda. You have caused me tears.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Amanda just wasn’t prepared for what Idol would be like. She doesn’t seem to be having all that much fun when she’s out there. Her in-your-face uniqueness covered for most of that for a while…but she couldn’t seem to cover it up this week. Yes, she’s great and different and helps bolster the argument that American Idol isn’t cookie cutter, but I just don’t think I’m buying it anymore. I want to see her stick around to shake things up a little; she just might not be able to recover from the huge mess that was last night.
OMG, I hate “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” I just cannot take that song at all. It’s barely tolerable when sung by Olivia Newton-John. When sung by a 17-year-old moppet in a strangely shapeless camouflage (well it was, considering the background) dress…it’s bad, bad news.
I had a hard time focusing on anything but how much I loathe that song. I know she was all over the place vocally, and the song doesn’t lend itself to much of a performance…so she kind of shot herself in the foot from the get-go. If you don’t have the vocal ability to infuse a slow song with charisma, you’re doomed (please see David Archuleta as the epitome of success in that arena). Alaina, you doomed yourself. And you make me yawn.
Please excuse me, my eyes are still bleeding. Who dressed you? Seriously. Cargo pants and heels? Plus that strange puffy vest thing? Please tell me the Go Fug Yourself girls critique American Idol…I need a good giggle after making it through last night’s show.
“If You leave Me Now” is another song that I just plain hate. It’s not a fun song to listen to. I like Alexandrea (she’s one of the two girls I placed in this category that I’ll be upset to see go home) and she tried to salvage her awful song choice…but she just couldn’t do it. Worse, she seemed so focused on trying to save the song that her exuberance and youthful energy that is so infectious was completely absent from her performance. I shall be chanting “Save Alexandrea” for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I can’t help it. I’m still searching for the tiniest glimmer of insincerity in this kid; for some little reason not to like him. I’m merciless (and, I suppose, slightly evil) that way. I just can’t believe that he’s that modest and that talented and that adorable and doesn’t also, I don’t know, kick puppies in his spare time.
This was not the week to find little Archie’s weakness. Not only did he take on John Lennon (and “Imagine” at that) but he set the Idol bar so unbelievably high with his damn-near-perfect rendition that I don’t know anyone will be able to top it for the rest of the semifinals. If he struck me as a normal human being, I would say that as soon as he finished his performance last night, he was proverbially looking down (from his pedestal as the littlest King of Idolonia) on those 19 other poor schmucks and going “beat that, suckas.” But no, he started a completely sincere round of applause for his fellow contestants when Simon announced that he’d blown everyone else out of the water.
Damn near perfect
Hang on…I think my tiny shriveled heart, despite my best efforts, is growing three sizes right now. It hurts.
His version of “Imagine” gave me goosebumps. My roommate and I, normally the biggest chatterboxes you’ll ever meet, fell silent and just stared, slack-jawed, while he sang. That is the kind of performance that will stay with you for a really long time. I stunned me and, as schmaltzy as it sounds (and I try to stay away from schmaltz as much as possible because it’s icky) it touched a part of my soul. He’s definitely the performer to beat right now.
He won me over during Hollywood Week with his fantastic stage presence and vocal stylings. Then, last week, the 60s sucked out all of his soul. However, the second he gave me the sex eyes from the top of the stairs (yes me, not all of America…be quiet) and started in on “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” I knew he’d returned to form. I am beyond happy about this because for a while I felt like I was the only one who saw anything in this kid, but I think now he’s a serious threat to make the Top 6.
The song choice was fantastic (and definitely not safe) and his voice was strong and clear throughout. I had a minor quibble with the very end, but he was ON from the second he stepped on that stage and his charisma is undeniable.
Oh, my Rocker David. You play left-handed guitar. You’re a “word nerd.” Last night settled it. We need to make little chubby-faced, rocker “word nerd” babies. You rocked the hell out of “All Right Now” and everyone knows it. Your vocals are strong, your stage presence is solid (when you winked at the camera halfway through I almost lost my isht) and you’ve officially wrested the “rocker” title away from anyone else who might try to claim it.
That love letter aside…please never cross Simon again. Let’s have a little talk, David. I think Simon was slightly off-the-point when he criticized you for admitting that you “liked doing crossword puzzles.” However, what got buried in the bru-ha-ha over the relevance of his remark was his other observation, which I think you should definitely take heed of: your charisma (or lack thereof). I don’t think you lack charisma at all: you make me all tingly every time you perform. However, I think you’ve got this aloofness that guys who want to be seen as “rock and roll” try really hard to cultivate. It probably works well for you when you’re touring with your band or when actually playing in a straight-up rock show. But this is American Idol, dude. You need to seem open and friendly and mass-marketable if you wants to win this thing. You need to be the kind of personality that the Idol phenomenon can hitch its wagon to.
I think that’s what Simon was trying, in his own “special” way, to point out. I cringed while David and Simon were having their little tiff: Rocker Boy came off as a bit petulant. He needs to pull out the bits of wisdom Simon buried in his character attack and learn from them next week. Don’t disappoint me, David: I hate having my soul crushed.
I giggled a little when I saw that he chose to follow up his much-maligned wardrobe choice last week with a lime green and electric blue polo shirt. He’s got a degree of confidence and bravado that borders on obnoxious, but he kept it pretty well in check tonight (awesome crack about Simon’s wardrobe aside). I love how he managed to visibly win back Simon’s favor by admitting that it was a mistake to let the curt Brit get to him.
I breathed a sigh of relief a couple lines into his rendition of “Superstar.” It was leaps and bounds better than the disaster that was his Elvis karaoke show last week. I actually really enjoyed it. I did want him to tone down is vibrato a bit (Randy, I agree with you there, dawg). That was the only thing that really grated on me. But the rest of the song was very smooth and light and…impressive.
It was far from the best vocal of the night, but I think Danny definitely redeemed himself enough to go through to next week. I want him to stick around; he’s got a fun personality and his presence really adds something to the show as a whole. I do realize that such things only carry you so far, though, so he needs to step it up even more next week.
Okay, I don’t really get the whole “We heart Jason Castro” thing. Vocally, at least. His package was downright hysterical and he came across as this adorably earnest and honest and possibly (okay, probably) high. I say “whatever” to those who cry stereotyping…he’s a white man with dreads. Deal.
It’s funny, because each of the last two weeks, I’ve liked his performance a lot better the second time I heard it. Possibly because I’m less startled by the serial killer vibe he gives off. Still, he had some problems with a few of the higher notes in “I Just Wanna Be Your Everything.” Neither one of his performances was any kind of a revelation for me, but I like the kid. I think he’s got a unique style that he brings to the show and I’d like to see more of it. Partly so I can settle the “cute or creepy” debate raging in my head, but mostly because listening to him is just…enjoyable.
His mouth is gigantic. Has no one else noticed this? He was totally one of those kids who robbed people blind by betting them five dollars that he could fit his whole fist in his mouth…and then he fit both in. I was eerily transfixed watching his mouth move while he sang last night.
Sadly, this was mostly because his performance wasn’t memorable at all. It just sort of was. He was mostly on-key and sounded okay, but there was absolutely no “oomph” behind his performance. It was incredibly lackluster and a huge disappointment considering he chose to sing a great song: “You Can Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. Since he makes the womenfolk and menfolk alike sigh dreamily because he is Aussie and attractive (supposedly) and well-muscled, I’m fairly certain he’s safe. But if he keeps going downhill…
I thought that his “Killer Queen” was a definite, noticeable improvement over the disastrous performance of “Everybody’s Talkin’” last week. Mostly because I didn’t fall asleep while listening to it. Luke did an okay job. I was actually sort of impressed during certain parts. But here’s the thing: it’s Queen, man. Unless you bring some sort of new flavor to the material AND sing it impeccably, you’re going to get torn a new one. And that’s exactly what happened.
Also, his voice sounded really thin and reedy throughout most of the song. He doesn’t have the vocal power necessary to pull it off, so while he was on-key, the performance as a whole was unimpressive and forgettable.
I feel really bad for the guy that the judges and Ryan won’t stop harping on the whole “are you REALLY rock and roll?’ thing. I understand that it’s possibly a subtle suggestion for him to switch gears if he wants to last longer in the competition, but it comes off as badgering and sort of mean.
That said, his rendition of “Hot Blooded” was tepid at best. There was no rock and roll fire behind his voice. I felt like he’d taken a tranquilizer right before he started to sing and, in his head he was shredding up the stage like a rock god…but in reality he was standing there bopping a little and trying to eat his microphone. Color me unimpressed and mostly bored.
Definitely the last time you'll see his face. Uh..."enjoy"?
Monday, February 25, 2008
Greatest “WTF?!” Moment
First of all, who invited Gary Busey to the Oscars? Did they start a charity program that I am unaware of? Like, all of the night’s top nominees get to invite the has-been actor of their choice to walk the red carpet one more time? It’s a nice idea in theory, and I’m sure you’d make someone like Geena Davis really happy. But inviting Gary Busey to the Oscars is like setting a hungry dog loose in a room full of cats: you just know the fur is going to fly.
It couldn’t have been more perfect, for comedy’s sake, to have him decide to wander into frame while Ryan Seacrest was talking to Jennifer Garner, though. Because she seems like the absolute nicest person alive, and to have Gary Busey come after you going, “BLAAAARG! I want to eat your face!” was just priceless. I felt so bad for her because she looked absolutely terrified (this is exhibit A for why you should carry mace with you at all times, BTW) and is now probably slightly scarred for life.
Most Inappropriate Question
Okay, Seacrest. I concede that you are probably the perfect host for American Idol. I like you a lot on the radio, too. But you are a craptacular red carpet host. Your conversation with Jessica Alba was just painful to watch. Just because you prefaced the baby conversation with “I don’t have any of my own and I don’t know much about it, but I’ll try” does not excuse the fact that you thought it was okay (apparently) to ask her if she would be breast-feeding or not. I applaud her for returning your volley with “wow, that’s a really personal question.” Take your silly brown-lapeled BLACK TUXEDO (you douche) and go stand in the corner.
Favorite Live Blog Reaction
I have to admit, I find the fact that people think Javier Bardem is hot downright mystifying. He’s…odd-looking. I look at him and immediately want him to play Lenny in "Of Mice and Men" (I admit that my friends think my free associations are completely weird and off base 75% of the time, but I stand by my own thoughts!). Still, he’s Latin, which earns him a lot of leeway with women. And he seems like a very nice, intelligent, thoughtful guy. Which is kind of why I found this exchange, by the lovely blogging ladies of "Entertainment Weekly," so freakin’ funny.
Mandi: Javier Bardem wins best supporting actor. Presenter Jennifer Hudson didn't even bother to try to build the suspense, since there was none. Yes, you do have to speak fast, Javier. You have an accent!
Annie: I believe it's pronounced "Xavier," Mandi. Or at least that's what I hear from Reege.
Mandi: Someone who speaks Spanish, please translate Javier's speech during the commercial. Thanks!
Annie: I'll do it. "I am so sexy so sexy so sexy so sexy adios."
Favorite Acceptance Speech Involving George Clooney
The Supporting Actress category was so wide open, the winner probably would’ve been a bit of a shock no matter who it was. That said, Tilda Swinton looked completely blown away and unprepared when they called her name. She more than made up for it in her acceptance speech, though. Her insistence that the Oscar statue looked exactly like her agent was giggle-worthy (which she expounded upon backstage, saying that Oscar’s stance is the same as his always is when she tells him she's going to do another art film).
However, it was her “payback” to co-star George Clooney (a notorious prankster)that was priceless. Tilda paid him back by thanking him for wearing his Batsuit, nipples and all, under his costume every day and then hanging upside-down at lunch. Clooney, ever the good sport, took it in stride. I loved it from start to finish (so much so that I almost forgave her for wearing a glammed-up Hefty bag to the Oscars).
Almost forgave, Tilda. Almost.
Favorite Acceptance Speech Not Involving George Clooney
I admit, I thought it was really classy of Jon Stewart to let Marketa Irglova come back on stage and finish (well, let’s be honest, start) her acceptance speech for Best Song. It turned out to be well worth our time, too, because she gave the most heartfelt, well-spoken speech of the evening. She dedicated her award to ''all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling” and commented that their (somewhat underdog) win proved that “no matter how far out your dreams are, it’s possible.”
It’s the kind of speech that you long to hear once every awards show: totally free of ego or entitlement, someone just genuinely thrilled and touched that life took such a sharp left turn somewhere and allowed them to be up on that stage, fulfilling a dream. Of course, Stewart must realize that by doing this, he set a dangerous precedent. Now every winner for Best Animated Short or Best Documentary Feature is going to pester the Oscar host backstage, wanting to come back on stage to finish thanking their Uncle Frank.
Best Double-Take Moment
This one is a twofer: riding the coattails of the final "Enchanted" song number, John Travolta straight-up waltzed to the podium. LoveloveLOVE, Danny Zuko (or Tony Manero, take your pick). I went “did he really just do that? Really?” and then finished with “AWESOME.”
Of course, that double take moment was followed shortly by my other Travolta-induced second look…when I caught sight of his hair. Seriously, John, can we have a chat? First you try to rock the long, floppy (obviously hair-plugged) mop around town, and then you buzz it so strangely short that you look kind of like a life-sized chia pet. What gives? Where is your wife when all of this is happening?
Best Oscar Party Viewing Moment
I was deep in discussion about something completely unrelated to the Oscars when the announcer called Nicole Kidman to the stage. My friend Danielle went, “What, I thought she wasn’t supposed to be...” and then, catching sight of her, screamed, “AHHHHHHH!” Please imagine a completely startled, mildly horrified yell there and you’ll get the picture.
I think Nicole Kidman’s scarily frozen, waxy appearance scarred her for life. As for me, though, I was too busy nearly falling off the couch laughing to be similarly affected by Kidman’s visage.
Moment I Wished I Could Swap Places With Someone
I don’t really want to be Diablo Cody, per se. Being a stripper would never suit me, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in leopard print or a skirt with a slit that high (I have my modesty, people – if I’m going to embarrass myself, I’ll do it by saying something inappropriate, not dressing like a crazy person). However, the fact that HARRISON freakin’ FORD (hello, GILF of my dreams) presented her with an award made me weak in the knees.
How on Earth she managed to restrain herself from giving him a long, slightly-inappropriate hug and receiving the obligatory presenter-to-winner kiss on the cheek, I’ll never know. WASTED OPPORTUNITY, DIABLO! I am so flabbergasted by your inability to carpe diem that I don’t know what to do with myself.
Turn around and get your free Ford love!!!! DO IT!!!! (I hate you)
I admit that my fervor over this issue increased after seeing Harrison’s cameo in the “I’m F*cking Ben Affleck” video, but still…*shakes head* I am so disappointed in you, Diablo Cody.
Friday, February 22, 2008
So I’ll break down a few things (a lot of this is just so I can get the thoughts out of my head, where they have been bouncing around excitedly and driving me mildly batty).
The flash forwards are a stroke of absolute genius: it’s a device absolutely bursting with possibility, and the writers have made the most of it thus far. It’s like they turned a 100 piece puzzle into a 1,000 piece puzzle: it’s more difficult to figure out, but more satisfying seeing piece after piece come together to make the overall picture clearer.
The Oceanic Six. Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Aaron(?) and…
It’s not clear if they’re actually the only six that survived, or whether they’re just the only six thrust into the public spotlight as survivors. I can’t bear the idea of the former. Because it means that if Sawyer survived, Jin didn’t. Or if Jin survived, then Locke didn’t. Of course, it could also mean that some of them elected to stay behind (Sawyer and Locke are obvious candidates to make such a choice.) Does the person in the coffin count as the sixth survivor?
One thing seems (you have to say “seems” with this show, no matter how certain the conclusion you’re about to draw appears) clear: Claire didn’t make it off the island. She can’t be the one in the coffin because Kate’s trial took place before Jack went off the deep end and she was already Aaron’s “momma” by then. I think it’s an interesting tactic: usually they try to shock us with the deaths. We’re not supposed to see them coming and then – BAM! – someone gets shot or drowned or falls off a cliff. With Claire, we know that death is coming. Now it’s just a waiting game: when and how?
Does she die of being kind of boring and useless?
I loved the play out of Kate and her possible pregnancy. Was it Sawyer? Jack? Did she get pregnant on the island or off? What a huge, masterful fake out. I LOVED it. Stuff like this makes me want to build a huge shrine devoted to the show and bow before it every day. Fan-freakin’-tastic. It’s ALSO stuff like this that makes me worry a LOT that they won’t be able to adequately explain everything by the end of the show and pull a patented JJ Abrams cop out (a la Alias and Felicity). But we won’t get into that, or I’ll be ranting on and on for pages…
Jack loooooooooves Kate. From that exchange outside of the taxi, it feels like their relationship definitely went places that we haven’t seen yet (insert dance of joy here). As someone who wishes the island monster would eat Juliet already, this makes me very happy. However, why won’t he see Aaron? Does he feel responsible for Claire’s death? IS he actually responsible for her death? Did he ever find out (either before or after) that he and Claire were related? Granted, any of the above would be enough to make a guy with the biggest savior complex I’ve ever seen stay away. But I still think it’s slightly weird that he won’t go anywhere near the kid.
Jaters unite (to find a better nickname)!
It’s frustrating not to be able to put the flash-forward timeline together yet. It seems obvious that Jack’s flash forward is the furthest we’ve seen so far. He’s a bearded mess. Kate wants nothing to do with him. He wants to go back to the island. Hurley’s flashbacks seem to take place earlier. At that point, Jack thinks Hurley is (excuse my phrasing) nuts for suggesting that they shouldn't have left the island. Placing Sayid’s flash forward is nearly impossible because it was so contained. Kate’s flash forward also takes place before Jack’s, but whether it’s before or after Hurley’s is also difficult to decide.
I need more pieces, Damon and Carlton! Hopefully, next week will show us who the last of the Oceanic Six is. But after that – then what? I have no freakin’ clue, but I haven’t been this excited to know in more than a year. More Lost crack, please. Also, if you think this entry didn’t make much sense, blame the Lost crack.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Joanne Borgella: This was just flat-out bad. She tried to put a little sass in her performance to try and salvage it, but her version of "I Say a Little Prayer" was all over the place and not pleasant to listen to. I know people are sick and that sucks…but other girls managed to still sound like they weren’t tone deaf.
I wanted to show her face here, because it may be the last time you see it.
Amanda Overmyer: I really, really did not like whatever it was that she sang. I had a hard time hearing her over the band. The song, to me, ended up sounding like one big cacophony of noise. I also think she ended up doing more growling than actual singing. I realize that her voice is raw and gravelly and “authentic” (could Paula possibly throw that word around any more, BTW?) but she’s channeled it into better songs. I really like her a lot, but I just don’t see how she fits into the Idol model of success. I can’t see her finding mainstream success. So she’s basically the Season 7 poster child for “different,” and the only way I see her lasting very long is if she proves she can do something completely different.
Amy Davis: You are lucky you’re pretty, darlin’. Because, as far as I can tell from your performance (and I’m being kind calling it that) of “Where The Boys Are,” that’s all you’ve got going for you. I can’t even be bothered to waste more time writing anything else about you, because I will be shocked beyond belief if you aren’t booted tonight. Oh, except to mention that she’s a trade show model…and she told us hat without breaking in to an embarrassed giggle. Yeah.
Not much to her but her smile, unfortunately.
Brooke White: Lookit you, “Little Miss Down Home, Pretty As Pie, Cute As A Button I Love Puppies And Rainbows” girl. You’re on stage and you’re singing and smiling (so wide and bright and mildly disturbing that you look like the love child of Carly Simon and The Joker) and things are just gosh-darn fantastic. You sing “So Happy Together,” which really seems like the perfect song for you. The performance even comes complete with what appears to be a (slightly stilted and awkward) pre-rehearsed dance routine. Everyone loves you. Your voice is great and you’re adorable (though I think David Cook sang it better) but you FREAK ME THE HELL OUT. I just can’t jump on the bandwagon here, I’m sorry. *shudder*
Someone please explain her to me. Really.
I almost died laughing listening to Simon’s commentary…he just can’t figure her out because she’s so effortlessly sweet and nice and it just doesn’t compute in his head. I love it.
Alexandrea Lushington: So many of the Top 24 underperformed this week (because of nerves or inexperience or sickness or entire lack of personality) that Alexandrea’s rendition of “Spinning Wheel” proved to be quite a shock to the system. She came across as almost overperforming, causing Simon to liken her performance to something out of an over-the-top 60s musical. He’s not wrong. She tried just a little too hard. Reached a little too high for a few of her notes. Got excited to the point of being spastic a couple times. I like her, though. I think if she just takes it down a notch or two she’ll be kicking ass and taking names.
Kady Malloy: She was the second coming of Kristy Lee Cook, which was a shame because her impression of Britney Spears had me in hysterics. The second she opened her mouth, though, all of the life went out of her eyes. It’s like that uber-colorful, Windows Media Player backdrop behind her sucked out her soul. It didn’t help that she sang a slow song sitting on a chair. Did you learn nothing from “Moon River” guy? Not a good idea, Kady. Also not the best song choice, but I liked you enough to hope that you stick around long enough to pick better material and find where you hid your personality.
Asia’h Epperson: I understand other bloggers’ concerns about choosing to sing Janis Joplin when you aren’t Amanda Overmyer. But here’s the thing: the judges have been harping all week about taking a song and making it your own…and I think that’s exactly what Asia’h did. Here’s the other thing: the song is about heartache and abusive relationships and she sang it with a happy gleam in her eye and a spring in her step. Yeeeeeahh…little awkward.
Still…I like her stage presence, I love her voice (she hit all of her notes – yay!) and I think she’s all-around fabulous.
Ramiele Malubay: Honestly, initially I thought the judges threw her in there as the token Asian girl. They repeated “little girl, big voice” so many times I started rolling my eyes. But then she kicked the crap out of “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.” That song always gets to me, for some reason. And when it’s sung well…forget it. With this performance the schmaltzy novelty they labeled her with has (hopefully) disappeared forever. She established herself as a serious contender and climbed into my Top 5 favorites (male or female). One minor gripe: really, the best part about the experience is “the shoes and the hair”? Oy.
Stop stealing Christian's "Flock of Seagulls" 'do. It doesn't work for you either.
Syesha Mercado: There was something about her that immediately turned me off when I first saw her during Hollywood Week. I don't know what it was (after all, it was in the middle of a very inspiring story about how she lost her voice and yet somehow still managed to come out and bring it) but I just plain don’t like her. It’s not that she’s a bad singer, because she’s not. She’s actually one of the strongest vocalists, in my opinion. She has a personality and she doesn’t seem to be an idiot. But I just DO. NOT. LIKE. HER.
Carly Smithson: Bad song choice, not her best performance. I love the not-so-subtle attempt to smooth over the “wait! She already released an album!” bru-ha-ha in the package before her performance. She’s the kind of person I want to like, and I do. But if she doesn’t pick it up and start giving stronger performances, her tattoos and interesting backstory will only carry her so far. I do really like her voice, though.
I predict Joanne and Amy will get the boot.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Chikeze: Dude, where did your last name go? I mean, I realize it's just the last three letters of your first name over again, so maybe you felt it was a bit superfluous...but still. You are not there yet, buddy. Your sorbet-colored suit proved it. I initially thought you sort of got a bad rap for singing a song from the 60s in an "old-fashioned manner," but that excuse became flimsier once I heard some of the other contestants perform. Also, I take an immediate dislike to uber-defensive, borderline disrespectful contestants like you. Get over it and get over yourself: the judges are doing their jobs and you're not helping your own case by coming off as flippant.
David Cook: I really, really want to try hard not to be biased...but I love this dude. A lot. If I find out that he has a tattoo, I will be done. I may have to start stalking him around Los Angeles (reputed Idol curfew notwithstanding).
Oh David...we could be "So Happy Together."
I think he could have chosen a better song for his voice, but he was the first contestant to put a very distinctive, personal stamp on both the song and his performance (awkward holding of the mic stand aside). He definitely rocked it, and I look forward to seeing what he can do with songs that are a better fit for his style. I definitely worry, however, that he will fall victim to the overarching failing of the show: those who rock a bit harder than most usually end up as square pegs in a round, Idol hole.
Jason Yaeger: *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* Oh, I'm sorry. I was re-watching his performance on You Tube. The guy sat on a chair and sang "Moon River" with blue mood lighting. I agree with Simon: he's like a lounge singer on a cruise ship who, you know, can sing very nicely and all, but you only go to see him because you're surrounded on all sides by ocean and there's nothing else to do.
Robbie Carrico: This guy is a performer and it shows. You don't really expect that voice to come out of a guy who looks like Robbie (he claims to be all "rock" but I think his voice is more pop, honestly), but I really liked his take on "One" by Three Dog Night. I would definitely put it in the Top 6 performances of the night and I really look forward to hearing more of what he has to offer...since I think he's pretty safe.
David Archuleta: I want to take a poll: who thinks that Archie's (there are too many Davids and he's so darn adorable that I am giving him an equally adorable nickname) excessive humility and "aw shucks" smile and foot shuffle will eventually start wearing a bit thin? When you take into account that the kid is no stranger to the spotlight there's an evil little part of me (the part that's been hardened by being born and raised in Los Angeles where falseness is king) that wonders how much of his reaction is sincere and how much of it was scripted backstage in front of a mirror.
A good friend of mine made an incredibly apt comparison in his Idol blog:
David A: the 'A" stands for "aw, shucks."
Here's the thing: I'd hate to see the backlash happen, especially if he continues singing like he did last night. Which is to say, incredibly well. I loved his version of "Shop Around." It had power, it had range and he sang it like a 17-year-old kid: full of energy but a little overexcited. I'm not worried about him: he'll be around for a good long while.
Danny Noriega: Danny, Danny, Danny. Why did you pick an Elvis song? Why did you have to do it? It's almost like you're hammering nails into your own coffin. You butchered "Jailhouse Rock." There's just no other way to say it. You have attitude and your skinny tie and skinny jeans are adorable, really, but...just no. Hands down the worst song choice of the night, and it may doom you. Which is a shame because you're actually interesting (and the fact that you sassed Simon so perfectly made me giggle).
Luke Menard: You look like you accidentally stumbled onto a giant stage while on your way to the corner store for some milk and a 40. You seemed genuinely surprised that there was a microphone in font of you and you were supposed to sing words into it. I have no idea what you sang, because I was busy trying to find my left shoe under the couch and then I wandered off to find something to eat for dinner. Yeah.
Colton Berry: Also tried to sing Elvis (and one of my favorites, to boot). He, to his credit, did a much better job with "Suspicious Minds" than Danny Noriega did with "Jailhouse Rock." He had a nice depth to his voice and it was a very good performance, but nothing made me go "wow." I have to admit, I did get distracted by his hair for a while. What was going on there, buddy?
Garrett Haley: I hated everything about his performance. I actually muted it. I just couldn't take any of it, from the Peter Frampton hair to the thin voice to the entire lack of charisma (seriously, I don't think the kid has a single drop of it anywhere in him). *Yawn* You're dismissed.
Jason Castro: I will avoid any of the multitude of "white Rastafarian" jokes that are floating around the blogosphere today (you're welcome). I will say that I liked his performance a lot better after a second viewing. He sang "Daydream" very daydream-y, which I suppose is apt. Minimal, in the context of Idol, really is novel and different, so kudos to him for taking that risk. I do think that there's something slightly creepy and unsettling about the look on his face when he sings: I feel like behind that smile lies a promise to follow me back to my dorm room with an axe at midnight. That aside, though...
I like him, but he might kill me in my sleep.
Michael Johns: Yes, the dude is Aussie. Yes, he's sorta hot. But I'm definitely not over the moon for him. He did a fabulous rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" during Hollywood Week, but I was under whelmed by both his choice and his performance of "Light My Fire." He did a perfectly competent job. If he didn't ooze charisma and sex appeal, he'd be in a lot more trouble.
Who will get the boot? Hopefully, Garrett and Luke.
Dodgers beat writers were more fortunate than most. 2008 is the last year the Dodgers will hold Spring Training at Holman Stadium in historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Starting in 2009, the Dodgers will have a brand new, bells-and-whistles facility in Glendale, Arizona. The team has been trudging down to Vero Beach for 60 years. Players like Robinson, Newcome, Campanella, Koufax, Drysdale, Garvey, Valenzuela, Gibson and Hershiser brought their gear there every February to gear up for the coming season.
Soon to be nothing but a memory.
By all accounts it's a magical place rich with history and full of nostalgia. Old players still drop by (often unannounced) to visit with old friends, swap stories, give pointers and check out the fresh talent. Sandy Koufax, who lives nearby, visited Dodgertown twice last week. Since prospective Dodgers are pulling on their cleats and running the bases there for the very last time, stories are cropping up all over the place trying to capture the essence of Dodgertown before it's gone forever (they will likely tear down most, if not all, of it to move the Orioles in next Spring).
I find it interesting that for every story that looks back fondly on Holman Stadium and bemoans the fact that the Dodgers are leaving (because there will undoubtedly never be another place like it), there's another that looks back fondly on the place while asserting "we're leaving – hallelujah!"
I have to admit, I was never fortunate enough to go to Spring Training. I really wanted to make it out this year before they left, but it's (sadly) way too expensive. I'm torn – like the writers seem to be – about whether or not I'm upset about it or not.
I understand the economics. Moving to Arizona means a newer, nice facility. The city of Glendale is providing the team with excellent incentives to "come and stay a while." It means a 6 hour drive instead of a 6 hour plane ride for Dodgers fans. It means a family of four can make the entire trip in 2009 for what it would cost for a single person to go in 2008. I also understand that the new stadium will have zero history. There will be no "ghosts of Dodgers past" haunting the halls; no more having an old-timer point to a part of the complex and tell an amazing story about something that happened there. There will be no more history, no more roots.
The new stadium will probably be soulless...but geographically closer!
On the one hand, I'm really sad that I won't be able to ever set foot in Dodgertown. I'm a huge fan of and believer in tradition and history (don't get me started on my rant about why newfangled baseball stadiums have no soul). On the other hand, next February I'll actually get to GO to Spring Training. I'll get to help be a part of imbuing the NEW Dodgertown with new tradition and history. I'll actually get to be a part of it instead of watching from afar. And I'm already so excited about it I can hardly contain myself.
The stories and memories will live forever, and let's be honest: if you're not a part of the Dodger organization or part of the media group that covers them, you aren't privy to most of the history and memories that are being tossed around in the media lately. So those moments have always been secondhand. Bottom line for me: next year the dream of being able to attend Spring Training and see all the players prepare for the upcoming season in a more relaxed atmosphere will actually be a reachable reality. That trumps pretty much everything – it's much cooler to be able to be a part of the history than to have to watch it, longingly, from afar.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Coming to a theater near me in 2009 (woo!)
This is doubly awesome news because, as I may have mentioned above, he makes me think inappropriate thoughts. Also, he will be playing Gambit, one of my absolute favorite X-Men characters (who was inexcusably absent from the three previous X-Men movies). Gambit has such a rich back story and his entanglement with Rogue was so epic that I'm still not completely over the fact that Singer and Ratner didn't see fit to have him show up at all.
Oh, Remy...you got the shaft. But not anymore!
But it's okay, because this egregious oversight has finally been corrected. Wolverine also stars (besides Hugh Jackman, naturally) Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds and Will.I.am and will start shooting this month in Australia.There is so much pretty in this movie I kind of don't know what to do with myself.
If the script sucks (David Benioff, I'm looking at you), I will crack some skulls.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
One of the greatest comedies of the last 10 years: going straight-to-DVD?
For the curious, here's a link to an Ausiello Report article chronicling the future fate of all Primetime telvision shows: http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-Editors-Blog/Ausiello-Report/Wga-Strike-Favorite/800032698
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Out went the group sing, in came the instruments. For the first time, contestants had the option of accompanying themselves during their second visit in front of the judges. It seemed to me that this option was thrown out to bait the contestants to eff up. Because really, in a singing competition, can you think of a scenario where playing the keyboard or the guitar as well would really strengthen your audition? True, Brooke White and Josiah Leming earned accolades from the judges for their mad keyboard/vocal combo skills, but most everyone else who experiments at such ends up failing at life.
Seriously, put it down.
My gleeful "their pain is my pleasure" demeanor quickly turned sour when the montage of the lyric forgetters started. Seriously folks, you get up onstage for the biggest performance of your life and you forget the words to the song you've been singing over-and-over for who knows how long? I understand that you're nervous but there is absolutely no excuse for that. You are weak and have made yourself easily dismissible. Congratulations.
The "brutal" part starts on the third day, where the people who earned a "no" on their first return trip in front of the judges get to stand up in lines of 10 and get 15 seconds to do-or-die. Project Runway-like, after they all sing Randy calls a few of them to step forward and then sends one of the rows packing. They do this over and over again (though we only get to hear a few people actually open their mouths and sing) until I am mildly bored.
The very last audition of Hollywood Week, however, illustrates the thing that makes me seriously question the integrity of the competition. For all the accusations that the show is rigged/tilted/set up/etc, I'd like to believe that they're genuinely looking for the best singer, because it's a hell of a lot easier to make over your body than it is to make over your voice. I also would like to believe that while sob stories are ways to humanize the contestants and flesh out their personalities, they aren't in any way determining factors in who moves on and who doesn't. If all of the above is true, however...how do you explain Josiah Leming? Yes, he lives in his car. Yes, life is tough when you decide that you don't like mommy and daddy's rules so, with lack of foresight, you run of to be a "grownup" on your own. He seemed to make it past auditions on his sob story and "aw shucks" demeanor alone. Then he sat down in front of the piano and weakly warbled the first couple lines of Mika's "Grace Kelly," I declared aloud that he was toast. Sure, it was a bold and unusual song choice. Sure, it was a decent performance. But the guy is torturous to watch. His vibrato makes me want to press my hands up against my ears and hide under the table until it's over.
After it was over, Simon declared "this is the one I'm going to remember" without a trace of sarcasm. I mean, Simon is British and British humor makes a sport out of sounding sincere when really you're being mocked mercilessly...but I couldn't detect even a glimmer of that in Simon's reaction. I feel like my world is all askew. Even the beyond-snarky American Idol reviewer from Television Without Pity is over the moon for him. Who fed the world crazy pills? I'm also half-tempted to ask Josiah for lessons on how to hoodwink people into thinking you're amazing when really you are simply ordinary. Step One: moving into my car.
Here, for the curious, are my favorites (I know I run the risk of having my little heart crushed by mean old Simon by picking favorites before they choose the Top 24, but I am nothing if not a brave little toaster):
David Hernandez: His performance made me all tingly. For propriety's sake, that is all I will say. He is the first person who literally made me stop everything I was doing and thinking and just listen. He's got the voice, he's got the looks, he's smart enough to come on sans instrument AND he already has some stage presence. All in all, he makes my heart go pitter-pat.
David Cook: I love the Daughtry-with-crazy hair dude. I dig his vibe, I dig his rock-ish voice, and I love how he showed his range by auditioning with "Livin' On A Prayer" and then switched gears completely to belt out the ballad-iest of ballads, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You." He needs a bit more stage presence (it remains to be seen if Simon's prediction that he "would be vulnerable without his guitar" proves true) but he was my favorite of all the initial auditions and continues to be one of my front-runners.
Carly Smithson: She seems like a walking oxymoron on the outside: a sweet girl covered in tattoos. I judge great voices in their ability to render me motionless...and I’m the kind of person who is always going, going, going. She was the second person to make me stop short, close my eyes and just listen. She's my number one female pick, by far.
Asia'h Epperson: Yes, she has a sob story. It's incredibly sad. Her ability to power her way through "How Do I Live?" 48 hours after the death of her father (and sound absolutely amazing doing it) made me adore her. Coming back and kicking the crap out of the second round made me love her (though let's be honest, her outfit should be fugged).
Chris Hansen may be watching me right now.
David Archuleta: My roommate and I are going to start the "Inappropriate Fans of Archuleta" fan club for this kid. He's 16 and we're absolutely in love with him. He makes me wish I were a little sophomore-in-high-school teenybopper again (well, almost. Nothing could actually make me want that to happen) so I could have, like, a huge crush on him and stick a photo of him up in my locker. He is beyond adorable and the voice that comes out of him is nothing short of remarkable. I want to comment more on his mad vocal skills but he keeps breaking out in that beautiful smile of his and I forget...wait, what?
Bring on the heartbreak and elation of tomorrow (in a room where it looks like each contestant is going to have to sit and defend their doctoral thesis).
Monday, February 11, 2008
Entertainment industry employees (like myself) are prepped and ready to breathe a huge sigh of "the strike is finally over" relief. And, you know, I bet the writers are pretty happy too.
WGA members, 3500 strong, met at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday night to hear details of the proposed deal. Reportedly, though the deal doesn't completely satisfy all of the terms the writers were asking for, the concessions were enough of a step in the right direction to persuade the WGA to accept the terms.
Writers have 48 hours from the day of the meeting (until Tuesday) to vote on the deal. If, as expected, it is approved, the three month long strike will come to an end.
Assuming the best, the Oscars will go on as scheduled February 24 with actual writers penning jokes (though that doesn't necessarily guarantee they'll be funny - Bruce Vilanch, I'm looking at you). Most shows will resume production and try to turn out an additional 4-7 episodes before the end of the television season...though it will take at least four weeks for new episodes to make it to air.
This news makes my television-addicted soul sing with joy. My withdrawal symptoms aren't pretty, people.
See complete settlement details here: http://www.wga.org/contract_07/wga_tent_summary.pdf
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
American Idol found Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino and Clay Aiken in three previous trips to Atlanta. So, the city has talent, right?
Not so much talent as great slapstick comedy
Eva Miller is not the next great talent to come out of Georgia. Her audition is, however, one of the funniest things I've ever seen. It's hard to judge whether it was intentional or not, but the slow motion slip-fall that ended with Eva on her back, chicken legs in the air (and letting out a surprised "whooooop!" on the way down) left me gasping for air.
I think I rewound it about a dozen times (nearly killing my roommate in the process). It was just too good. Whether she was just overconfident and clumsy or putting on an act hoping it would send her through despite her atrocious vocal stylings, Eva is thus far my favorite terrible audition this season. Thankfully, the judges were having none of it and sent her and her ridiculous antics packing.
Their judgment through the rest of the day, in my humble opinion, wasn't as solid. I've heard rumblings that the judges are a lot kinder than they have been in the past, and that Idol itself is focusing a lot more (some would argue too much) on contestants' backstories.
Pageant Queen Brooke Helvie made me physically recoil. If she's not the bubbly, blonde, air-headed president of the Delta Delta Delta sorority at University of Florida next year...
Here's the thing, though. She DID prove that a pageant girl could sing (though it was a bit overdone) but she also proved that she had the IQ of styrofoam...marveling that she just said "I doo-doo American Idol" didn't help with that. No way she's making it into the final 24.
That seemed to be the theme for the night, though. Was the talent REALLY that bad in Atlanta or did Idol just not show the very best auditions? If the former, fine...just don't give out tickets to the people that aren't very good. If the latter - WHY?! I understand showing the very worst auditions, but shouldn't we get to see the very best as well? Don't try to placate me by showing me middle-of-the-road talent that makes it through on a quirk or a good sob story...I want to see the good stuff in the first round too!
Josh, the guy with the crazy eyes who loves glass-cutting just a little too much for my comfort, did a good job with an awesome Queen song, but they had to make him sing with his back to them. Really guys? Really? He's not making the top 24 either unless he learns to not freak Simon out.
Asia'h Epperson...I don't even know where to begin. Her dad died 48 hours before she auditioned...and she did it anyway. I was terrified (I'll be honest, I almost couldn't watch it) that she would be awful and I'd have to watch the judges try to let the poor, grieving girl down gently. Stuff like that (and I wouldn't necessarily put it past Idol producers) is why I avoided the show for so long.
Thank god, she was damn good (and probably would've been even better if her voice hadn't cracked with emotion several times while tying to get through "How Do I Live?" by Leann Rimes).
Your dad WOULD be proud, girl.
The last kid, though...Josiah. Yes, it's sad that you live in your car (though it was techically your own choice) and are a lonely, 18-year-old nomad. You have my sympathy. However, your audition sucked, dude. That weird vibretto, singing your own song...I wasn't digging it at ALL. I have absoltuely no earthly idea how you managed to hoodwink Randy, Paula (well, okay, those two aren't as hard to believe) AND Simon into passing you to the next round. Ugh.
Maybe it's time to beg momma to let you come home.
Tonight is supposed to be "the best of the rest." Well...we'll see. I, personally, can't wait to see what happens in Hollywood.