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Wha' happen on that one show last night:

JACKIE TOHN. Any incipient prurient interest I had in Ms. Tohn was decimated like a failed Roman legion by her bizarre “Olive Oyl in leather pants” ensemble. Her performance wasn’t great, either – she was all over the place tonally – but given what would come later, it might be good enough to get her through. Rocker chicks usually last pretty far in, but please God, no more of that outfit.

RICKY BRADDY. Ricky, who I had pegged as the most hopeless case of all the guys, actually surprised me by turning in a pretty great vocal performance, at least insofar as his actual voice goes. He’s still seriously lacking in charisma and identity, which is what the ever-wise Simon zeroed in on. I have to admit he’s better than I thought, but still not good enough to win.

ALEXIS GRACE. Another big surprise – Alexis was something of a cipher who seemed like she barely scraped through the previous round, but she looked and sounded great this time out, having actually taken the judges’ advice to grime it up a bit. In a normal year she wouldn’t be a standout, but it’s a bad crop of women this time out, so even Simon Cowell gave her some dap. She’ll move on, I think.

BRENT KEITH. Brent rather cynically took what is likely to be his only featured performance on the show to sing a retarded populist country song, and when the judges pointed out that he came across like a spoiled ham, he got all defensive and said, well, this is the kind of artist I’m going to be. No, Brent, the kind of artist you’re going to be is the kind that can’t get a record contract.

STEVIE WRIGHT. Stevie was just abysmal. I mean, it wasn’t just a failure of look, moves, song choice, or anything like that – she actually could not sing. She was off key for at least half of what isn’t even a particularly hard song. I kinda like how her mom got all bitchy at the judges – look, maternal pride is one thing, but it’s their job to spell out what a fuckup your daughter really is. One of the worst ever.

ANOOP DESAI. Anoop has been a favorite of mine right out of the gate, but he was a bit of a letdown tonight. His song choice was bad (no matter how meaningful it is to him, it doesn’t really fit his vocal style and delivery) and he wasn’t as charismatic as usual. Still, I think he’s solid enough to get through, and people like him enough to vote him a second chance. Plus, his parents were totally charming.

CASEY CARLSON. I don’t know why all the dudes think Casey is so hot – she’s perfectly plain-looking – and I won’t need to know after this round, because she’s doomed. This was the worst performance this side of Stevie Wright, and maybe even worse than that because of the grotesque stage business she was doing. Casey Carlson made drunk Paula cry, and that’s only slightly easy to do.

MICHAEL SARVER. Mr. Oil Rig Man delivered his song the way Brent Keith wishes he had, and considering that he’s a lumbering lard-ass, he didn’t hulk around on stage the way I thought he might, so last night has to be considered a victory for him. Still, he just isn’t the strongest singer in the bunch; he might stick around because so many people done fucked up, but he’ll need the special pleading he got from Simon.

ANNE MARIE BOSKOVITCH. Instead of going with the Rocker Chick Minor League persona she cultivated in Hollywood, Anne Marie instead chose to do a soul-belter vibe, for which her pipes are entirely unsuited. She was more bland than she was terrible, and she won points for her (perhaps unintentionally) bitchy dig at Kara, but I would be a bit surprised if she made it any further than this round.

STEPHEN FOWLER. I keep hoping for great things out of this guy, because he’s got a great voice, but he keeps completely disappointing me. After his weeded-out double forgetting of the lyrics in Hollywood, now he oversings a Michael Jackson song and botches a couple of the top-notes. He’s not gonna stick around long enough to show us what he’s capable of, and that’s entirely his fault.

TATIANA DEL TORO. Tatiana tried to downplay her crazy, or maybe she’s just on Xanax, but it crept through before her performance, during the “I believe in marketing” speech to the judges, and her creepy plea to America during the voting info bit. As for her voice, it was adequate if unspectacular, and she should stick around unless she stays on the medication that quells the reason she’s on the show.

DANNY GOKEY. The anti-Danny backlash has begun, and I can’t really imagine why – he seems the same now as when he started and everybody loved him. His voice is great, his personality hasn’t changed, his wife is still dead; is it just that Jamar isn’t around anymore to act as his foil? Whatever the case, I still think he’s a major talent and I hope people stop the hatin’. He’s pretty much a shoe-in for R2.

Predictions: I can't remember if they're KEEPING three each round, or DUMPING three -- I know they changed the rules. If it's the former, Alexis, Anoop and Danny move on; Tatiana, Jackie and Michael are remote possibilities. If it's the latter, I'd guess that Stevie, Casey and Anne Marie are doomed, with an outside chance of Ricky and Stephen being gone.


Feb. 18th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
I haven't been able to see much of Idol this season, and hadn't really heard much of anyone's opinions before seeing the last few people on last night, and I instantly found this Danny utterly repellent. He auditioned for Idol four weeks after his wife's death and is now trying to put on sexy faces for glamour shots? Anyone with a heart would be utterly broken. Then he sings that song, which I understand is meant to be pointed at the audience, but the message to me certainly seemed to actually be "look how strong and heroic I am, picking myself up after my wife died. I have a dead wife, vote for me!"

Unfortunately, he could really sing (the terrible schmaltzy, cheap song).
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
Man, I couldn't disagree more. He's hardly exploited his wife at all, in my view, at least in contrast to the way people exploit their kids and families, and I don't see what's wrong with posing for photos and other stuff he has to do to be part of the competition. Was it wrong for stars in the '40s to pose for glamor shots in front of soldiers who were about to get their heads blown off? Should anyone who's had a personal tragedy not be able to try out for "Idol"? The blind guy HAS to know that he's going to get a ton of sympathy votes just for existing, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't get to try out.

I mean, Danny could have just decided to sit home and be sad, I guess, but then we never would have heard of him. "Idol" has given us a lot of mawkish and maudlin storylines over the years, but few of them have seemed as sincere to me as Danny's.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
My reaction may be in part that I'm coming in late in the game, I'm hearing the quick recap, intercut with the shots of him getting his glamour shots, rather than hearing the whole story.

I certainly don't think he should've stayed at home and mourned forever, but I kind of have to question what kind of person is capable of even thinking about American Idol mere weeks after the death of the their wife.

Then, as I'm thinking this from the recap, he comes out and starts singing, "Oh Look How Strong I Am! What a Great Example For You!"

Sure, the blind guys is going to get sympathy votes for being the blind guy, but he's not going to come out with a cup and pencils.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Be funny if he did, though.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
I have to ask -- what was the song he sang?
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
"Hero" by Mariah Carey.

Feb. 18th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
if picodulce died, I can 100% guarantee you that I would not physically be able get out of bed weeks later, let alone audition for something and smugly perform on TV what a heroic survivor I am. I know everyone grieves differently, but... weeks???

which is to say that something feels phony to me too.

And I liked his best friend Jamar much better. Why did he get booted?!?! I missed that episode.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's the combination of his "up with people" attitude and Idol's usual MO of beating sad stories into the ground until they're a fine paste, but everything with Danny rings false. I keep trying to separate Danny the Singer from Danny the Widower and the fault lies with the producers and Ryan Haircut that it's hard to do so. He's been on my list from the very beginning when he said, "I don't like to talk about my wife dying but here's the whole story about my wife dying." Also, every time we see him, he has a different pair of glasses on and glasses are fucking expensive. His audition, each round of Hollywood week, the day he found out he was on the show, and last night all had him wearing some different variation of those glasses. I know the contestants get a stipend for clothing but not until they actually make the show. I can't even pinpoint why that bugs me because maybe he takes solace in highlighting his hair and buying fashionable accessories in the wake of losing his spouse, but I really hope as the competition moves on he becomes more than Dead Wife Guy because I want to like him. Danny just makes it hard to do so.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
and you know he gets all kinds of "aww, your wife died, let me console you" trim, as well. If he makes it a few more weeks we'll see his creepy female fans.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Man, y'all's harsh.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
You know he should just stop having a dead wife.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Why are picodulce and I the only people who thought Tatiana's vocals were very impressive last night?
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
She was okay, but not great. She just seemed impressive because she managed to dial back her crazy side. There's no way she's good enough to win the competition.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
I disagree, I think her voice stood out on it's own-- at the very least among all the suckage! But she will only stick around for drama's sake because she's not thin enough and hopefully in the other groups there are superior performers.
Feb. 18th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
I also think she sounded impressive in comparison to how much all of the other women save Alexis sounded last night.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
I think, on a show of karaoke singers and hams who hit discordant notes, Tatiana actually made me want to hear more. But the show has got to be part spectacle, so they didn't talk about how she was actually competent, they wanted to see her cry in the middle of a song or come on stage with burning incense and shrunken heads...

While I thought Stevie was just sad, Casey (whose bikini photos are... well, I see why the guys like her, she's glossy-hot) was abhorrent. I won't get into my whole thing about why I find this show a gigantic eye-roller, or about how I personally think a singer should be on stage with their material, but she plays into all the things I hate about this kind of competition -

she sang like a person from a non-English speaking country with a great accent who memorized the song without ever translating the words. I cannot say enough about how horrified I was about her taking the intensity of the song (which can be done CAREFULLY by a competent singer, despite the judges' yammering) and fucking it up with winks, arrhythmic hip twitches, and every hokey move the forgettable Kristy Lee Cook ever did. I'm not even sure how bad her voice was, because her performance made my eyes bleed.

Also: I hate Monica songs and I think she'd be hard to cover; Steven Fowler had the largest great voice/ shittacular performance variance of the night; and I really kind of like the One Tree Hill theme song. I started making loose plans to do some karaoke just to sing it. You should come to Chi and join me. How DO you feel about karaoke?
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
Casey Carlton was horrendous but Kara falling into the trap of "You don't touch [Blank Artist]'s songs because they are too good" that I absolutely hate made it even worse because there was enough to pick apart about the PERFORMANCE without going to the judge's cliche reason. It's such bullshit to tell contestants to make this other person's song original or to make it their own and then chastise them for picking a good song.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
that confuses/bugs me too. The entire competition is based on singing famous, beloved songs... is there some unspoken rule that certain songs should remain untouched? who decides which songs? I agree that the contestant does have a responsibility to choose songs wisely, but I don't agree that certain songs-- which seems totally subjective-- should just never be done on AI.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Artists who shouldn't be covered on AI despite their fame and popularity according to the judges but are still constantly covered anyway (Subject to change without notice):
Aretha Franklin
Whitney Houston
Stevie Wonder
Michael Jackson
The Police
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Well, I think what they're saying, as expressed by Randy Jackson in one of his rare coherent moments, is that certain songs are so completely associated with certain singers that if you're gonna try them, you can't do a good job -- you really have to SLAUGHTER it, you have to do SUCH a good job that you make people forget the original. A few people have done that, and the judges have praised them for it, but more often, they just do a good enough job to be passable and it sounds like what it is, a mediocre cover of a famous song. You can get away with doing a good job on a song that isn't iconic, but on a more legendary song, you should either forget about it or absolutely kill it. Randy ineptly tried to make that point last night.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
I'd do karaoke if you got me drunk enough.
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
IS THIS A CHALLENGE? How drunk is drunk enough? (Seriously, we must discuss when your next trip to Chicago will be).
Feb. 18th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
It's not so much a challenge as it is a dare.

I think the next time I'll be in Chicago is August -- my birthday coincides with either Lollapalooza or the Pitchfork Festival, I can't remember which, and I thought I'd jet up there for that.
Feb. 18th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
You forgot the word "again" after "karaoke".

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store...
Feb. 18th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
MAN, TRUE! I almost forgot about that. I don't remember how I did because I was drunk. That was fun -- let's do that again when I'm up there in April.

One time I did live band karaoke in Chicago, and I sang "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead and I fucking TORE IT UP. But I was so drunk that after I finished I threw up in my hat. The end.
Feb. 18th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
I think only three go through...
And in that case, I'd agree with your assessment as to who will be picked. Which sucks, 'cos man, Jackie Tohn.

By the way, Leonard, a quick "damn you" for two things:

1. Writing sensibly and engagingly about this ridiculous show, thus making me interested enough to actually watch and get sucked in by it this year.
2. Mentioning Hitchcock's "My Wife and My Dead Wife," which I now hear every time Gokey smirks at the camera. You are correct, though; he had far and away the best performance out of what was a pretty dismal bunch. The producers clearly clocked this in rehearsal and rigged the line-up accordingly so as to end on a high note.

Mainly, I just loved that Simon's harshest criticism was reserved for the band and whoever was doing the arranging- and again, he was spot on- as it was, by and large, horseshit.
Feb. 18th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
Re: I think only three go through...
See, people all love to hate on Simon, but Simon is almost always right. He's the one guy who's never bullshitting the contestants.
Feb. 18th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
I don’t know why all the dudes think Casey is so hot – she’s perfectly plain-looking

I'm impressed at how well you write, having apparently been blind since birth and all.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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