AI10 – 3/03 Recap: Wild, Odd And Perfectly Scripted
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Idol overload week concludes tonight with a tedious two hour stretch of ridiculousness filled with more filler and dubious ingredients than a whole crate of SPAM. It has barely been two months but I'm already sick and tired of everyone on this show starting with Seacrust the puppet to Barbie JLo to Steven and his non-critiques, his leers and frowns, and Randy who is actually turning out to be the poor man's Simon. You know when Randy is the voice of reason things have just gone from bad to desperate. Oh, and did I mention the contestants, each of whom is either a blatant karaoke impersonator of a former Idol – everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Adam Lambert and even Danny Gokey – or an oddball specimen with no chance in hell of registering a blip on the current music scene? Oh, well. Let's stir this cheese sauce before it curdles.
The show opens with a lofty tribute montage to the audition process and Seacrust's intro of the judges and the contestants. Randy also explains that after the Top 10 are revealed, the wild cards are going to be selected from the remaining 14 lucky people who managed to avoid the pain of future elimination. Bummer. Seacrest also wants to know how hard is it for JLo to decide what to do and she says... What do you think she said? Oh, yes, it's difficult very difficult but judges will muddle through without a plan because that's how they roll. When asked who he thinks did better, the girl or the boys, Steven hems and haws and finally says “I'm not going there”. Gee, it's not like he's a judge or anything. I'm happy to report that this entire rigamarole took up 10 whole minutes of show time. Things are flying!
In which we find out that Idol covers all its bases. Geographically speaking.
Five girls and five guys will move on based on audience vote tonight and the magic Ryanator promises unparalleled drama. The bad news is that I'm fast forwarding through the boy's painful recap reel but the good news is it's a good few minutes long. I love me some filler that I can skip! However, there is a bit of trivia for you: Every city where Idol held an audition is represented by at least one finalist. Hurray for equal geographical treatment! The boys occupy chairs on the left side of the stage while the girls sit on the other side. The goal of the game is to make it to the couches located far right.
Before we can get to the results we get a video montage of the dudes all saying words about their experience so far on the show. I must say, most of them look and sound better at 4X speed. This is the real secret of getting through American Idol: mute and fast forward. Works every time, people. So far, 20 minutes of show time have elapsed. After giving Stefano the short, toothy tween girl vote magnet, a chance to chirp on and on about how happy he is to be here with his awesome new Idol TV brothers from other mothers, it's finally time to get down to some real business.
Side note: Why was Stefano asked to talk? Read on.
Scotty and Robbie are called up first. JLo wants Scotty to try new stuff if he stays on but she also wants him do what he's been doing so far. In other words she has no earthly clue what she's saying. Randy says Robbie is a singer songwriter and he can play the piano. He's a sharp one, isn't he? Scotty, this year's country fried boy offering, got enough votes from Middle America, so he's staying but Long Island Robbie is dispatched back to the chairs. NYC demonstrates once again that voting for Idol is about as cool as attending a Bingo players' convention in Cheeseville, TX. Sorry, Robbie! Ryan reminds him that all is not lost and perhaps he can still make it in as a wild card pick.
To expedite things, Clint, Jordan and Jovany are called up together. I'd kick all of them to the curb if it were up to me. Clint Potter's main claim to fame is that Randy said he's the best karaoke singer ever or something. This makes Clint Potter hyperventilate and I'm afraid he's going to pass out any second. Jordan, who butchered Usher's autotune masterpiece on boys night, says that he would love to rip off John Legend instead of Usher given another chance and Jovany, who has a really small head that reminds me of one of those aliens from Man In Black, mumbles something about journeys and whatnot. What he really should be saying is sorry for being such a shameless suck-up. After America's vote Clint and Jordan are disposed off quickly and then Jovany is given the bad news as well. Hey, I like this new mass execution style! Keep going Idol and I may not skip as much of your tired dreck as I usually do.
Seacrust says it's going to be super intense like this all night long. Don't mind him, he's just trying to amp up the drama to keep people from nodding off.
Time to get rid of some girls. Their recap reel is just as boring as they dudes' so I'm fast forwarding to where Pia Toscano is screaming at the top of her lungs at the end. Ryan gives Ashton the chance to sum up the girls' experience involving everything from daily prayer to being roommates to all the claims of deep abiding sisterly love she can lay claim to with a straight face in the space of 30 seconds. Before the first two victims are called down, Idol runs the girls' pimp reel which is full three minute tribute to their most special journey through casting. Exciting stuff. I don't need to tell you what I did with it, do I?
Why was Ashton asked to speak for the girls? Read on.
Ryan dims the lights and calls down Pia and Lauren Alaina to the center of the stage. Pia is reminded that she got the first standing ovation of the season from the judges and she is allowed to tearfully quip about how grateful she is to have finally made it to the Top 24 after trying out so many times for Idol. Translation: the producers finally found a use for me and I promise to be a good girl and play along. Lauren, who is 16 but looks like she's a 45 year old heavy smoker, looks nervous but perks up a bit when Ryan tells her that Kelly Clarkson tweeted about Lauren comparing her to Kelly Pickler. Hee! I don't know how many of you have seen the season that Kelly Pickler was on but if you did, you know that that's one hell of a backhanded compliment. That chick was not only dumber than a pile of rocks – remember “What's a calamari, Simon?” - but couldn't string two notes together in tune on Idol. But I guess she's some sort of a country prom princess these days and has dialed down the dumb act in exchange for record sales. In any case, I'm not sure I'd take that “compliment” to the bank if I were Lauren. Both of the dolls make it into the Top 10 because Idol needs those tween boys to get off their X-Boxes and vote for a girl. Good luck with that, Idol!
Time to squeeze in two more before the commercial. Tatinysa, the one nobody remembers, and Julie, who murdered a Kelly Clarkson song are called up next. Steven says Julie should take her performance and put it into a song. What? Half the time, the dude makes no sense whatsoever. Did America's grannies and tween girls vote them in? No, they didn't. Both girls are sent back to the chairs with the unspoken advice to find something new to do 'cause this singing thing is just not going to happen. Oh, well.
In which we find out that pageant chic and colorful embroidery make America vote harder
After a nice long commercial break, Ryan is still trying hard to drum up some drama. He calls down Kendra, Ashton and Karen neither of whom I remember much. The judges loved Kendra and her weird facial expressions. Ashton, wearing five pounds of Diana Ross curls on her head, was called confident and a diva in the same breath. Karen, wearing an 80s soccer mom helmet do, went all out pageant bot and cheesed up the night with a Mariah cover, two things that should automatically send anyone straight to the reject bin. Ashton is axed right away, leaving Kendra and the pageant bot to fight it out. Not surprisingly, America picked the pageant bot and she is super grateful. Expect more sucking up to JLo and, based on the fact that she's wearing giant hoops and fake claws that were last in style 20 years ago, I'm seeing at least another Selena cover in her future. You heard it here first. Kendra is history.
This train is moving along nicely. Tim, Casey and Jacob descend to the center of the stage for their verdicts. Jacob was praised to the sky, Casey still feels sexy ever since JLo said he was and Tim, despite the scruffy appearance, is just another white dude with an instrument. Steven thinks Tim he should go more Jason Mraz lite FM in the future which is just another way of saying that Tim was trying to ape the wrong person. Oops. Ryan quickly sends Jacob Vandross to the winners' circle along with Casey the oddball lumberjack character. Tim, hower, is sacrificed on the altar of boredom and sent to commiserate with the losers. Should've ripped off John Mayer more, dude!
Thia, Lauren Turner and Naima are called to face the firing squad next. Naima, looking like the dread head version of the Chiquita banana chick, is already teary eyed even though she got great feedback from the judges. Thia is weepy as well because Randy compared her to Michael Jackson for no reason whatsoever aside from the shock value. Lauren Turner who looks to be about 50 years old, was compared to Bette Midler. That, dear readers, is pretty much the kiss of death. With only one spot, Naima is quickly jettisoned, followed by Better Midler. Thia and her alphabet sweater, is into the Top 10.
Between Paul, lover of a good embroidered jacket, and Brett, recipient of this year's silver medal for overall Idol pimpage, it's a tough call. Neither is the typical Idol boy bunny, neither looks like the next pop sensation nor do they scream star. Not that any of the others in this field do because most of them just scream silly Idol puppet but these two are quite an unlikely pair. America voted hard and fast and they liked Paul's embroidered jacket more than Brett's insult to Jim Morrison. Alas, you trample on the great 60s sex god's legacy of ultra cool and you get what you deserve. Even Middle America has some sense of decency. So long, Brett and your carrot top. But wait! Ryan says he's still eligible to wild card it back into the competition. We shall see.
In which we find out that imitation will get you somewhere this season
Who is Haley? I'm not sure but she got mixed reviews from the judges after girls' night. Rachel went for drama and tried to sex it up but the sultry looks only managed to bore people to tears. The judges weren't wild for her shtick either. Haley, who is from Chicago, will be continuing on and Rachel, who has been auditioning non-stop since Season 6 is dumped once again. Thus all the girl slots are filled leaving only Stefano, the nondescript puppy, and James, he desperate metal screecher, up for grabs. Too bad they're not made to fight it out cage match style for some extra entertainment. Instead, they hold hands as Randy helpfully interjects that the two bros are roommates and tight as two straight dudes can be. Touching. James, with his douche bandana present and accounted for, is already gearing up for his standard waterworks while his puppy brother stares stoically at the floor. After a bit of that good ole' dun, dun, dun Idol music, James and his diseases-of-the-week are allowed into the Top 10. Watch for him to eventually fall into that hole he dug for himself. Should be good fun. Looks like the puppy roommate is going back to the chairs. For now at least.
Idol finally has a Top 10. That's about 8 too many already but things are not over just yet since the Wild Card slots are still up fro grabs and we've got 40 solid minutes of showtime to slog through. Ryan says “the public saw what they saw” but they have other ideas and three boys and three girls will have the chance to fight for their lives again. Ryan is careful to note that all 24 have previously rehearsed with the band, you know, just in case they'd be asked to croon live.
Remember who Ryan made a point to talk to earlier in the show? Sometimes it's good to watch things on a DVR. Some details are just too delicious to miss and this is one of them.
Randy picks Ashton to sing first and she chooses to assault the viewers with a Jennifer Hudson cover because she doesn't want to go anywhere just yet. Poor thing tosses her curly wig, acts all confident, screams loudly and tries for the big diva vibe but falls woefully short. Steven, who is seemingly getting his critiques from the Kara Dioguardi handbook of useless platitudes, declares that Ashton “brought it like [she] brought it before”. What “it” is, I don't know but I'm assuming he's talking about the her big curly wig. JLo says Ashton deserves to be here and Randy dug the attitude. Ashton is sent backstage to await her fate.
Next up, JLo picks Stefano the puppy to sing. Gee, what a shocker. He sings a weepy, thoroughly boring cover of Smokey Robinson's “I Need You Now”. I lasted about 20 seconds into the drama. The boy looked to be straining hard and his face was getting to be the color of a ripe tomato so I'm assuming he belted it out for his life. The judges also look pleased with his effort. Randy thought he anointed the moment, whatever that means, JLo says she got all shaky listening to him and Steven fell in love with his voice.
Steven's choice is Kendra and she launches into a decent version of “Georgia On My Mind”. The voice is there till she derails the train with an awful high pitched wail and some weird faces. I'm also distracted by her mole for some reason. She barely gets any feedback before JLo's next pick, Jovany, the tiny head, is trotted out. He also stripped for her, so I guess that made an impression. His pick is a song by John Secada called “Angel”. I guess he's hoping that sucking up to JLo with a half English, half Spanish cover will be enough to sneak in as a Wild Card. JLo calls him baby and says he did all he could do.
Two more sing before we can put a lid on this one. First up is Steven's next pick, Naima whom he calls “his own little Porgy and Bess all rolled into one”. She sings “For All We Know” by Donny Hathaway putting all the jazzy, bluesy diva wattage she can muster into this yawner. It's not that she's not good but her style is painfully tedious and old fashioned and some of her looks into the camera are borderline scary. She breaks down crying in the end and Steven, ever eloquent, says she brought it. Sigh.
Randy's last choice to sing is Robbie. With little time left the loser boys are quickly ushered off the stage before Robbie delivers an overly breathy and affected, albeit vocally sweet, cover of Elton John's “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”. The judges look appropriately sad during his delivery and Randy says it's hard right now since he delivered a very tender cover.
With very little time left on the clock, the judges pretend to deliberate some more. JLo says they're not ready to deliver a verdict just yet because, you know, reading the script is awfully difficult at this stage. Quite by chance, there are 10 more minutes of show time left and Ryan just happens to have a tape of Jlo's brand spankin' new video for “On The Floor” to kill some time. Gee, that's a happy coincidence! The video itself is a frantic hodge-podge of fake clubby footage and JLo writhing all over the place in several different outfits. And then there's Pitbull the bald rapper-for-hire whose presence cannot be explained except that he needed a paycheck and JLo needed a Top 40 radio friendly rapper add-on. I sped up through this gem but if you want to see it and are not put off by JLo staring a hole through the camera and more autotune than on Ke$ha and Britney's albums put together, I'm sure it's on Youtube or iTunes.
Now that all pimping has been concluded, the judges reveal that 3 people will be moving into the top slots and we will have a Top 13. Groan. Does that mean an extra week of singing? Say it ain't so!! With less than two minutes left, the Ryanator says everyone is anxious to find out the results. As for the last three, Randy announces Ashton, JLo goes for Stefano and Steven picks Naima. Gee, I didn't see any of them coming.
This concludes tonight's festivities. With the Top 13 now delivered, next week it's on to the more serious stuff. I'm assuming they'll finally sing live instead of this taped-in-advance nonsense that we've been getting. I've got my earplugs and my remote ready! Arielflies will be bringing you the first semifinal night and I'll be back to happily announce who gets voted off. Always my favorite thing to do around here. Don't miss it.
PS. Sorry for the lack of last names. Ryan didn't mention any last night and I don't remember these people yet. I promise to have them all down by the final five, or something.