It was standards week on American Idol – “standards” meaning “torch songs crooned by made guys in post-World War II America”. And “American Idol Standards Week” usually means “the show you should skip, if you plan to skip watching for a week”. Unless, of course, you can’t bear to go a week without checking out Haley Scarnato’s legs and cleavage. If you did tune in to Tuesday’s show, you were probably pleasantly surprised to find that things didn’t go nearly as bad as they have in the past – Sanjaya even did a cute little dance with Paula. Speaking of Paula, it’s nice to see her pass her Coke glass around to her fans in the AI audience before the taping begins – witness the fan holding up the sign emblazoned with Paula’s name…upside down. I was at a Motley Crue concert last year when Tommy Lee thoughtfully passed his bottle of Jagermeister down to our row – now, I personally wouldn’t even brush up against Tommy Lee without taking a shower with hydrogen peroxide immediately afterward, but I’m sure there’s no need to be as germ-conscious with Ms. Abdul.
Do I digress? Maybe just a little, but it’s that or I’ll be forced to make some snarky comment about Paula’s high-necked white lace ensemble, straight out of Sense and Sensibility. Maybe she’s just tired of Simon peering down her dress. Where was I? Oh yes, standards week with Mr. Tony Bennett, one of the original gangstas. The clipfest is unremarkable – how memorable an evening can it be when Chris Richardson, of all people, had the strongest performance? – plus, there was no real suckage. No, not even you-know-who – face it, if this had been Sanjaya’s first top 12 performance, we would have all cooed and said he was just a lil’ cutie with a sweet voice. Besides, you know his fans aren’t ready to give him up just yet. Though country week just might be the straw that breaks the tween voter’s back.
Socially conscious hardcore advertising
Yet another Ford commercial featuring the Idols squirting water at each other – but this time, it’s at a car wash (and I hope Phil Stacey made a good impression on the detail guys, because methinks he’s going to be applying for a job there shortly after the AI tour ends). Gina is decked out in oh-so-trendy-retro-‘50’s polka dots, and she’s driving a big honkin’ Ford SUV Hybrid. The song is “One Love”, which makes as little sense as you might expect. That’s not the oddest thing about this strange little video – at the end, Kermit the Frog pops up, shining the inside windows and hanging a pine air freshener, exclaiming “I love being green!”. I’m pretty sure that air freshener is not bio-degradable, Kermie.
Groups of three, the bottom so obvious to me
Ryan Seacrest ominously announces that there’s an American Idol songwriter’s contest online, and the winner will have his/her creation performed on the AI finale. This may have happened last year as well, but I normally hit the mute button during the finale show performances because the original compositions written for the final two always have the effect of making my acid reflux act up. I’m pretty sure if you enter, though, you have to make sure your song has phrases like “flying high”, “living my dream”, and words like “strength”, “achieve”, and “hero”. If you can work in something like, “Simon Cowell is a pretentious British buttwipe”, well, all the more power to you. Oooh, “power”, that’s a good word to use too.
Ryan’s having his bit of fun this evening by breaking the Idols up into groups of three. Right from the beginning, it’s transparently obvious who the bottom group will be. The first group he announces is Blake Lewis, who gave us a pleasant rendition of “Mack The Knife”; Chris Richardson, whose “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” was infinitely better than any of his previous performances (plus, he had a cool hat); and Sanjaya Malakar, at least marginally entertaining and amusing with his “Cheek to Cheek”.
doomedsecond group is Haley Scarnato, who strutted around the stage to “Ain’t Misbehavin’”; Gina Glocksen, who dropped the rocker grrl shtick and gave us a nice, low-key “Smile”; and Phil Stacey, scary-undertaker guy, who grinned and eye-popped his way through “Night and Day”.
Group three, also known as The Chosen Ones, The Season 6 Divas Supreme, and The Judges’ Favorites, are Jordin Sparks, who charmed and glory-noted her way through “On A Clear Day”; Melinda Doolittle, showing some spunk with “I Got Rhythm”; and LaKisha Jones, redeeming herself this week with a powerful version of “Stormy Weather”. This trio gets an admittedly well-deserved round of applause from the audience even before Ryan announces that they’re the top 3 vote-getters and are all safe.
We don’t have to wait for the next commercial break to find out the next safe group – what would be the point? Ryan quickly moves on to the Blake/Chris/Sanjaya threesome and tells the boys they’ve all survived to fight another week as well. Left to wait anxiously until 7:27 pm Central Standard Time are Haley, Gina and Phil, who are hustled off to the loser’s corner until the next 15 minutes of filler is used up.
Mad for Antonella
While he makes the bottom 3 sweat, Ryan chats about the American Idol Challenge, which consists of progressively stupid trivia questions about past contestants. Although it’ll be hard to top this week’s question, “Which AI contestant was “jokingly” referred to as “Chicken Little”?” The pictures are flashed on the screen and even if you didn’t watch that season, the answer is a no-brainer. Ryan quickly adds the disclaimer that he doesn’t make up the questions – suuuure you don’t, Ryan. There’s a brief mention of AI Giving Back – a pity they can’t give me back the 24 minutes of my life they waste each week with this tripe while I wait for the voting results.
Guess it’s time for Tony Bennett – but wait! Tony is a no-show! Has he “mysteriously” disappeared? *Taps side of nose* No, no, it’s nothing like that. Sorry, I was watching Carlito’s Way yesterday and I’m still in the mob story mode. No, Tony has the flu, and we’ll give the guy a pass, since the flu at 80 years of age is reason enough to make sure your will is up-to-date. His replacement, gosh-darn it, is Michael Buble, smooth young superstar crooner. Michael charms and soft-shoes his way through “Call Me Irresponsible”, and it’s probably safe to say no one is disappointed that he’s stepped in to perform tonight. It also gives him the chance to plug his upcoming CD, and he wants to know if he can still vote for Antonella Barba, the lovely but mediocre top 24 Idol contestant. I swear, if she had made it into the top 12, we’d have an Antonella/Sanjaya final two.
What’s the use of crying?
We’re back to the bottom three, and I’m distracted by the full-camera shot of Gina’s outfit – what in God’s name is the girl wearing? She’s got knee-high boots, jeans, and what looks like two dresses. It can’t be cold onstage, because Haley is in a very brief white mini, and I’m sure if it was chilly she would cover up more. Ryan immediately tells us that the horseshoe jammed up Phil’s nether regions is still intact, and he is safe for yet another week. The judges are polled for their opinions – Randy and Paula mutter platitudes about how wonderful everyone is, and Simon sniffs that he’s not surprised. I notice he hasn’t got the stones to pick who’s going home this week, though. And after 33 million votes, an all-time high for this season – Haley is safe, and Gina is going home. Haley looks stunned, Gina’s face crumples, and there’s scattered boos from the crowd. As Gina’s turned in decent performances the past two weeks, it’s a shame, but still not an earth-shattering result. She’s won some hearts, apparently, and garners a standing ovation from the audience after a showing of her Idol journey. Miraculously, there’s time left for her to sing out the show – but unfortunately for Gina, the lyrics to “Smile” are brutal under the circumstances and she breaks down slightly in the midst of the song.
Next week, get ready to shake your bon-bon, because J-Lo is hitting the Idol stage to revive her faltering career – er, that is, realize her dream of mentoring young up-and-coming vocal talent! (She isn’t going to actually try to tell them how to sing, is she? Oh mi dios!)
PM me if you know the REAL story about why Tony didn’t show.