The hometown auditions are over and it’s time for those with the Golden Tickets to make their way to Toronto to chase their dream. Ah, Toronto. Hogtown. The Big Smoke. Home of the Leafs; perennial losers and eternal disappointments. So it’s only fitting that of the 212 that made the trek to T.O., 190 will be headed home in a few short days. It is my responsibility to give you the Cliff Notes version on how those 212 became 22.
Well, the Cliff Notes version of the Cliff Notes. Don’t expect some lengthy, detailed recap filled with stats and updates on who was eliminated when. 190 people were eliminated over the course of 2 hours and the show moves at a breakneck speed. People appear and disappear and names are flashed so quickly you feel like you’re staring at a disco ball. Just when you think you know exactly what’s going on, Sass appears with her gawd awful blue eye shadow and you can NOT concentrate on anything else but what in the HELL was she thinking?
Hello, I Love You – Won’t You Tell Me Your Name?
The show opens at the homes of several contestants across the country. Jesse Cox from Nova Scotia, Noel Taylor from Yellowknife and the Williams sisters from Ottawa are all featured. Same stories, different houses. Elena is there to welcome them at the airport, but no one seems to care. Before checking into the hotel, provincial flags conveniently appear and the obligatory pictures are taken. Yes, go *insert province here* go!
Ben appears and explains that 89 people will be cut the first day. The first day will consist of solo performances and the dreaded first row, back row eliminations. These are never comfortable. Unlike years past, the groups waiting are able to watch from backstage to see exactly what’s going on. Yeah, that’ll calm the nerves.
Before they begin, the judges each address the contestants. Or at least I think they do. From what I saw, it could have been taped footage from the same speech they’ve given since season one. The contestants counter by introducing themselves before they begin. It’s all the same after awhile. They’re excited. They want to share their gift. They felt Canadian Idol was something they had to do. It’s a dream. So help me if one more person says that THEY are the next Canadian Idol. I think that should mean instant elimination.
Tiffany Williams said good-bye to her sister Vanessa, who was fighting a bad cold. Al McKinnon, who again sang Black Betty, got scolded by Zack for not taking the process seriously. In an effort to move out of his comfort zone, Noel Taylor sang Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and Zack suggested he stay true to who he is. The judges loved Nathan Brown, despite none of them remembering him from the audition, and Cameroon native Rose gave a stirring performance, made the cut, but was never seen again.
Oh look! It’s Ben! It’s so good to see someone I recognize. Ben is on time with the update to help make sense of this crazy, crazy world. It’s down to 117 and after group performances it will be cut further to 76.
I have a confession to make. I really, really, really hate this part of the competition. The groups of three are simply not fun. If you’ve watched all 3 Canadian Idol installments, plus the first 5 American Idol seasons and assorted series around the world, you’ve probably seen what will happen next. Fighting, crying, and practicing. People disappear, then reappear, then disappear again. Some want to go home, some want to stay up all night, some drink and some complain about their group. The only difference is the song list, which included Baby I Love Your Way, All The Day and All Of The Night and More Than Words.
After the judges deliberate, the contestants are led into a room where they will scramble to find their picture on a clear wall and determine their fate by turning the picture over. Nothing says relief like safe stamped on the back of your picture… and nothing says good TV like capturing an eliminated contestant’s reaction on the other side of a big glass wall.
Say You, Say Me
Okay, I’m finally starting to put some names to faces. Well, more like recognizing faces. Baby steps.
Like the group performance portion, a song list is provided for the duets. And once again, a song that has no business being sung by anyone, ever, is chosen again and again. Or maybe it’s just me. This year, it’s Take My Breath Away. As if the memory of Top Gun and therefore, the thought of the increasingly psychotic and pompous Tom Cruise isn’t bad enough, Jessica Simpson butchered the song a few years ago. So yeah, I guess it can’t be much worse. Among those who do a good job are Craig & Leanne from Newfoundland and Brandon & Ashley, who Sass declares the best she’s heard in the competition. The other song that gets the beejezus sung out of it is Leaving On A Jet Plane, which doesn’t bother me as much because I do like the song and it doesn’t remind me of Tom Cruise.
One of the best moments of the show was when Rochelle, who had screwed over her group in the round before by showing up late and forgetting her words, completely froze during her duet with James. As James tried to cover for her, Rochelle got annoyed and tried to get the pianist to stop so they could start over. The pair did get a chance to start over, and Rochelle stood frozen with her hand to her mouth, which didn’t go over well with Zack. Say good night, Rochelle.
The highlight of the duet stage was Chad and Isabelle who selected Close To You. In keeping with the Something About Mary theme, Isabelle had some of her hair sticking straight up and Chad had his underwear sticking out of his fly. The judges loved it, but more importantly, the two could sing and harmonized well together. Afterwards, when the judges delivered the fate of the pair, both Chad and Isabelle moved on.
One For The Road
As I’m not always so strong in math, Ben appears, like an angel, to update us on the proceedings. 44 remain and half will be cut to narrow the field down to the 22 we, Canadians, will vote for. Ah, taking a cue from our southern cousins, I see.
The final 44 are given one last chance to sing, individually and without an audience, for the judges. Chris Labelle is stressed to his limits before and after his performance. Constantine lookalike Jeremy Koz impresses the judges once again, while purple haired Nevada does not. The judges must have remembered Nathan Brown, as he’s still around as is Rob James, of McMaster and James (and yes, I’m one of the 12 people that remember them)
Finally it’s time for the judges to retire to the war room. Even though we never know who they are talking about, it’s always entertaining watching the judges. Zack and Jake dig in their heels to bark their opinions at one another while a misguided Farley tries to use reason. Bewildered, Sass asks if this is earth after disagreeing with her fellow judges. It’s time for the revelations.
4 judges, 4 rooms. Sass and Jake deliver the good news and the Top 22 is determined.
The Top 22 are:
Join us next week when both groups will compete and Canada gets it’s first chance to vote for its 4th Canadian Idol. Fortunately for you detail lovers, Ogopogo will be back in the recapper’s chair!