This week’s ‘70’s theme is making me all nostalgic for the sitcoms of the era, and I have to admit I’m a little disappointed that no one chose one of those TV theme songs that were the last word in awesomeness. I mean, can’t you hear Syesha belting out “Movin’ On Up”? Or Brooke White strumming along to “Welcome Back, Kotter”? Danny Noriega and David Archuleta linking arms for “Laverne & Shirley”? A group sing of “Happy Days”, complete with poodle skirts and letter sweaters? And who can stop themselves from singing along to Andy Travis’ autobiographical “WKRP” theme song? Baby, if you’ve ever wondered…wondered whatever became of me…I’m livin’ on the air in Cincinnati…Cincinnati WKRP…
Now that I’ve got that stuck running through your head for the rest of today and possibly tomorrow, it’s on to the less fun song choices of this week’s top 10 girls.
AndyRyan opens the show by telling us Dr. Johnny Fever’sRandy’s shoe size, a whopping 13 ½. No idea why Ryan finds this such an interesting tidbit of information, unless he buys into that whole notion of what shoe size is equal to. Randy looks slightly uncomfortable and launches into a lecture of how important it is to choose the correct song, and adds that the guys were on fire last night. Well, if you equate being on fire to crashing and burning, sure. JenniferPaula claims that the boys surprised her, but not with their awfulness. It’s okay, Paula, I sympathize. I needed some “Coke” myself after listening to the guys last night. Less Nessman Herb TarlekSimon, who the other judges persist in calling “Mr. Happy” for the remainder of the evening, comments on his comment about David Archuleta being the one to beat. But let’s pretend that we didn’t REALLY pick the winner before the top 12 and that the season isn’t a pointless rout, shall we?
Crazy on Carly
The first contestant too young to remember the ‘70’s, except in reruns, is our Irish lass Carly Smithson, she of the tattooed arms and infamous failed record deal. Carly spends her free time toiling at an Irish pub, pouring lager and retaining her brogue, and cleaning her house. At least she didn’t include “growing potatoes”. Carly, along with myself and every other girl who sang into a hairbrush in front of her bedroom mirror, is a big fan of Heart, and has chosen “Crazy On You” this week. Her version isn’t good enough to make Ann Wilson fear for her job or anything, and Carly omits some of the cool vocal runs that distinguish the original, but it’s a lot better than her effort from last week. Mainly, she proves that she’s not really a rock singer, but that she surely can sing, and very well. Randy thinks she had a few pitch problems but worked it out towards the end, and deems the performance “aiight”. Paula is pleased that Carly has regained her health and thinks she did an amazing job. Mr. Happy, a longtime fan of Carly’s, thinks it’s better than last week but that Carly still hasn’t quite connected with the right song yet. He adds that Carly is “incredible” and that the other girls can’t touch her vocally.
This is what it sounds like…when babies cry
Syesha Mercado has done a lot of commercials as an actress, but far more interesting is her ability to mimic a baby’s cry. It’s a little spooky, but more entertaining than the cheesy commercial they show. Syesha is taking on “Me & Mrs. Jones”, a song I’ve never heard before in my life - and I listened to a lot of radio in the ‘70’s, because my family didn’t own an 8-track player. I suppose it was clever of Syesha to switch up the pace from last week with this soulful number, but it’s a bit dull and Syesha’s constant mugging for the camera gets annoying fast. Randy likes the baby cry impression but not the song choice, while Paula faults Syesha’s inability to sing “softer” notes but compliments the “big” ones. Mr. Happy sniffs that it’s all a bit indulgent and the song wasn’t written for a girl, especially one with Syesha’s voice.
It’s all about Mr. Happy
Brooke White is an actual, for-real beauty school dropout. Hairdressing, she says, is an art form. Just ask Amanda Overmyer if you don’t believe her. Brooke has since switched gears to the musical-type art form, and proves to be one of the few girls tonight who has chosen her song wisely – “You’re So Vain”. And not surprisingly, she does a simply splendid job of it, bless her folksy little easy-listening heart. The whole ‘70’s vibe thing fits her like a snug pair of bell-bottom jeans, and Carly Simon’s classic displays her clear, sweet vocal style to perfection. At the end of the song, Mr. Happy is heard to whisper urgently, “Was she looking at me?” to Paula. Oh, Simon. He really does think this song is about him. Much hilarity ensues at the judges’ table, but all three give Brooke high praise for her song choice – particularly Mr. Happy, who not only deems it “perfect” but likes that Brooke didn’t come off as old-fashioned. Plus, it was all about him.
Cute-as-a-button Ramiele Malubay has a big heart, evinced by her crocodile tears at the elimination show last week, and swively hips, a result of years of training as a Polynesian dancer. Yes, our Ramiele is an actual, for-real hula dancer. How did those tiny hips ever manage to hold up a grass skirt? Ramiele is singing “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, and although she blew the doors off last week with “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”, her voice falters at the beginning of the song, though she manages to pull the big notes out by the end. She’s also oddly rooted to the center of the stage, making me want to remind her that Celine wouldn’t have gotten a Vegas show if she sang with her feet glued to the floor. Randy thinks it’s “just OK”, and a weird song choice. Paula and Mr. Happy concur, and Simon goes on to decry the song as a ghastly wedding number and that Ramiele, as one of the top three singers in the competition, disappointed. Ramiele meekly admits that she had a problem with song choice this week, and was avoiding doing another ballad for fear of being labelled with the nickname “Lullaby”. That’s actually rather clever. Ramiele Lullaby. It’s got a beat and you can dance to it. Slowly.
Kristy Lee Cook is one of those girls all the other ones hate – tall, blonde, gorgeous, likes traditional guy-stuff like fishing and camping, and is good at sports like softball. Since she can’t possibly have any female friends (any that actually like her, that is), I’ll be all motherly and kind to her this week. Let’s see…first of all, the self-proclaimed tomboy cleans up very well. Kristy Lee has left her tractor cap in her hotel room and is decked out in a slinky metallic top and jeans, and joins Brooke in serenading Mr. Happy with her version of “You’re No Good”. As horrendously bad as Kristy Lee was last week, she’s back with a vengeance tonight. She’s really a pretty good singer, and enthusiastic and energetic onstage – really, the only complaint I have with Kristy tonight is her odd athletic-type stance on stage. She has a way of looking like she’s lunging for a pop fly, or about to saddle up on one of her barrel horses. I have an urge to send her to one of those old-fashioned boarding schools that make girls walk with books on their heads and sit with their ankles crossed. A little of the ladylike stuff never hurts, my mother would say. Randy says Kristy Lee is “100% improved”, and Paula is happy that she’s back in form and praises the song choice. Simon agrees that it’s a huge improvement over last week, but thinks that Kristy would be wise to perhaps go the country route as he doesn’t feel that Linda Ronstadt is exactly her style. He feels she’s got mad potential, though, and Kristy Lee agrees that she’s definitely a country girl at heart and plans on showing it next week. But hopefully she’ll leave her spurs at home.
Wayward and way weird
There’s no nice way to say it. Amanda Overmyer is one hot mess tonight. I came thisclose to liking her better when she admitted on her video that she’s a Constant Reader, but am a little underwhelmed when she says her reading material of choice is rock biographies. Now, I’ve read a few in my day as well, but Amanda seems to think they’re educational material. I suppose there’s some value in knowing how to cook heroin. Sort of like reading a chemistry textbook, maybe? Something Amanda definitely hasn’t read for a while is Vogue – she appears onstage dressed not for an American Idol audition, but as if she’s trying out as a Rocky Horror extra. Her hair is a backcombed disaster of black and white streaks, and her similarly colored pants defy description. I suppose you could call her look the result of coupling Vince Neil (in his Motley Crue heyday) with the Bride of Frankenstein. If you’re wondering why I’m taking so much space up on nonsensical items like Amanda’s trousers and reading habits, it’s because I can barely stand to discuss her trashing of Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son”. Again…there’s no nice way to say it. The song, which wouldn’t do even the finest singer any favors, shows every glaring weakness of her vocal skills. Sad to say, the anointed rock chick of season 7 really is just a growler who can’t sing to save her life. The judges look horror-stricken but somehow manage to retain their composure – Randy gets his shot in by calling the song “too melodic” for Amanda’s voice, and puzzles over her choice of a song that features so many instrumental runs. Paula, well into the Coke, cackles that Amanda has some great dance moves and that she’s needed in the competition. Well, I have to admit, it’s rather nice for us recappers to have someone so easily mocked. Please vote to keep Amanda in it! Simon, clearly no longer in Mr. Happy mode, said that although he found Amanda to be “cool” in her film, couldn’t wait for her performance to be over. And that the “Rock of Love” auditions are across the hall.
Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee
Alaina Whitaker is one of those tiresome people who don’t like their food to touch on her plate. My brother is one of those, too, and I swear you could lose your mind watching him take an hour and a half to complete a meal that most people could tear through in 15 or 20 minutes. However, my brother does have some things about him that make him interesting, while sadly for Alaina, the food thing is pretty much it. I’m a little more kindly disposed towards her when I hear her song choice is “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, from The Greatest Movie Musical of All Time. You can keep your West Side Story stuff, I’m all about Kenicki and a little Greased Lightning. Alaina is decked out in a cutesy short blue strapless dress, and though I would have preferred her sitting on a swing in a high-necked white cotton nightgown (purist that I am), I suppose the vocals and performance are nice and pretty enough to satisfy the judges. As it turns out, though, Alaina’s prom princess thing isn’t going over well at all this week, and Randy slams her performance as “pitchy” and “restrained”, while lamenting her song choice. Paula pipes up that she thinks Alaina did a good job, but Simon moans that she was pageant-y and old-fashioned. He redeems Alaina a bit by calling her one of the competition’s dark horses, but advises her to sort herself out and become relevant.
Wake me when it’s over
Alexandrea Lushington is the bestest little national anthem singer going, having honed her craft at various events around wherever it is she’s from. In keeping with that, she’s chosen to do one of the most deadly dull easy-listening AM radio anthems of the ‘70’s, Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now”. If you’ve been blessed enough to have never heard this particular piece, imagine a song that embodies every single thing that was bad about ‘70’s music. I mean, if you’re going to do bad ‘70’s, then at least do something campy and fun like “Le Freak”. You can’t be anything more than mediocre while singing a Chicago song, and that’s exactly what Alexandrea’s performance is. Randy smirks and asks Alex what she thinks, and after she sighs with relief and says “it’s over”, he advises her to play it a little less safe next time and challenge herself. Paula professes to be impressed, as she’s never heard a female “take” on that song, but Simon complains that Alexandrea was “in and out of tune”, she was boring, and he expects her to struggle after the performance. Alex defends her song choice and refers to herself as the underdog of the competition. Which isn’t exactly true – arguably, everyone’s the underdog up against the wee and winsome David A.
If at Faust you don’t succeed, please don’t try American Idol
Kady Malloy isn’t just an impressionist, she’s an opera singer. Really. Her vocal training and background is in the classic form, but nowadays she just sings opera in her bathroom. I can sympathize, because that’s where I do my Ann Wilson impression. If only Kady had restricted hers to the bathroom too, because her “Magic Man” is incredibly awkward and just plain wrong. I can only guess that Kady has either never listened to the original song, or that she actually hears Ann Wilson’s voice in her head like I do when I sing Heart. Randy sadly says that Kady “never found the notes”, and Paula squirms uncomfortably and says that she liked the opera, but Kady “lost it” on the low notes. Simon is irritable and frustrated, saying that while Kady’s films are great and that her opera is quite good, it was “one million percent” the wrong song to choose. Kady defiantly claims that she loves Heart and was just having fun onstage – so at least one person was entertained. Just like when I sing to my bathroom mirror.
Gimme an A! Gimme an S! Gimme a I! Gimme a A! Gimme an…apostrophe! Gimme a H!
Anyone surprised that Asia’h Epperson is a former cheerleader? Anyone? I thought not. Tonight, Asia’h expects to be on the receiving end of some cheers, though it won’t be for the dreadful hair extensions she’s sporting. As seems to be the trend this evening, she tortures the low notes of “All By Myself”, but after the rough beginning, her voice catches and quite abruptly, she finds the right notes, making the last half of the song is very listenable. Randy admits it’s a very difficult song but thinks Asia’h did a really good job. Paula waves her arms about and manages to spit out a “great”, and Simon almost sounds like she’s going to compliment her by saying it’s one of the “diva songs of all time”. Unfortunately for Asia’h, he goes on to point out that she isn’t a good enough singer to pull it off, and it showed her up. Simon sounds almost kindly when he advises her to “know her limitations”, something that Seacrest has learned to do very well. Ooooh, burn! You just know Ryan’s spending all of Wednesday night tossing and turning while plotting his comeback, don’t you? Bringing you all of Ryan’s witticisms is our own Ms. Happy, the fabulous Yardgnome, who’ll be sifting through the filler of Thursday’s elimination night. In the meantime, indulge in a little retro TV viewing and we’ll all sing “Those Were The Days” next week, ‘kay? I call singing Edith’s part!
Know your limitations? PM me.