I’ve been waiting for this night for six years -- the official meeting of American Idol and the 80s. Honestly, as much as I love those golden oldies, I wasn’t around for the dawning of the Age of Aquarius or the long, strange journey to Boogie Wonderland. But the ‘80s? Oh yeah, I got to know and feel the glut of awfully awesome and awesomely awful stuff this decade visited upon us. The ‘80s I lived. So did most of our contestants, which ought to mean they’ll be making better and more comfortable choices for themselves this week, right? Yeah, no. Not really.
Your Music Is Bad, And You Should Feel Bad
We’re live tonight, but I’m betting we won’t get that spontaneous Paula Abdul F-bomb I’ve also been waiting for six years, so I probably won’t even be able to tell the difference. Ryan dunks us right into performances, and because the ‘80s were such an embarrassing time for us all on so many fronts, tonight’s contestant packages are all revelations of the most embarrassing stuff ever. Up first is Luke Menard, with a thrilling tale of his life as a young cross-dresser, complete with a snapshot of him grinning in a hot pink tutu. His sister made him do it; how embarrassing! But I think he ought to be allowed to change his answer after this performance of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” If the fabled list of 50 songs is true, then the producers are some sick bastards to stock it full of land mines like this one. I think that’s the transitive property. I think you’ve guessed by my ramblings that I’m not even going to talk about the singing. But two notable things: 1) David H. is up in the balcony getting down, and 2) my neighbors are awesome to have put up with all my uncontrollable howls of laughter during Luke’s performance without calling the police.
Luke is smiling hugely like he did a great job. I just understand him. Randy says he was a little rough, and a little corny – both understatements. Paula can’t bring herself to criticize such a pretty, pretty man and Simon’s jealous of that or something, so he cuts her off. He thinks Luke’s performance was dreadfully weak and “girly,” and that Luke has no chance. At this point, if Luke had shown even a modicum of talent on that stage, I’d be positive that the backlash against Simon would secure Luke a spot in the top 12, but Luke is a special, awful case of terribleness. I think even Leo would say he’s made it to the Sanjaya Zone.
Luke at this point is so negligible that even the producers want you to pretend he doesn’t exist, so they follow him with David Archuleta and now the show really begins. We learn many things about David on the way to learning that this one time he couldn’t finish a song on stage so his mom did it for him: he’s already famous, he does lots of charity work, he speaks Spanish, he sings, and he loves his mother. Hey, he’s your perfect man! In like ten years, or however long it’ll take him to reach the age of majority.
Tonight Little David is singing “Another Day in Paradise.” I admit
unashamedlywith only a little shame that I love this maudlin song to pieces, gloomy "message" and all, and with David tackling it I can see how some of you felt last week. David does the song justice though, accompanying himself on the piano through the refrain and then standing to finish. He’s flat on a few notes, and his “I’m taking it seriously” stare is a little unnerving, but I have to say David was very good for going on first. Oh, wait…
Randy felt like he was at a concert, but wasn’t as impressed as last week. Paula’s glad David hit some rocky notes, because it proves he’s human. (Yeah, all the better to squeeze his head off, right? Somebody watch her, okay?) Simon says David’s image is getting too drear, and he should change it up, but he’s definitely in the final 2. So okay, there’s still no question that David’s going to win; Simon just doesn’t want us to be depressed when we get there. How kind.
IDK, My BFF Jill?
Danny Noriega once got tripped coming down the stairs at a movie theater. There’s no way I believe that was his most embarrassing moment. This kid was in a punk band at 15; there’s got to be some real humiliation lurking under the lip gloss. Anyway, tonight Danny’s dressed like one of the T-Birds to sing a souped-up, synthed-up version of “Tainted Love,” complete with sassy and driving bass line. He sings it with attitude, of course, because that’s what he does, and when he’s finished he looks like he can’t believe he just got away with it. OMG.
Randy liked it, especially at the end when Danny’s vocals seemed more confident. Paula calls him a bright light in the competition, and calls him sensitive and spicy. Like a soft taco. And she congratulates him for staying “true to himself” while a second later admonishing him for the purple streaks in his hair. Simon thinks it was useless. He gets drowned out by all the gals in the audience cheering for Danny. Danny brushes the dirt off his shoulders and calls Simon TMTH, which apparently means “too much to handle” in text speak. I totes don’t get that, but I’m obvs out of touch with the ling, so whatevs. Ryan says he never noticed the streaks in Danny’s hair, and Danny sagely rolls his eyes and says, “Mmm-hmm,” which qualifies as the best moment of the night for me.
Fair and Balanced Coverage
Golden-voiced David Hernandez is on now. His embarrassing moment is really gross, and I just can’t get into it because I’m much too graceful and refined. Stop laughing. Thanks. Tonight David is killing me by singing “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” which song is the equivalent of smothering me with a pillow full of Velveeta. I hate this song, for reals. It’s a terrible choice. David’s voice is still beautiful, and it’s clear as a bell on the glory notes. His pitch wavers a little in the softer dynamic, but as Paula says, that’s what all humans do. Oh, wow. Did I just quote Paula unironically? Huh.
Randy thought it was good, especially the song choice. He's an idiot. Paula loves seeing David get into his groove, and thinks he has some of the best vocals in this competition. This elicits a declaration of love for her from David. Oh no; now he’s given Paula a motive. Somebody watch her, okay? Simon doesn’t think David was as impressive this week as last, but that he’s definitely secured a place next week. I hate when Simon says “you’re 100% in.” Then they get eliminated.
Boomer the Roo Throws the Game
Michael Johns used to get beaten up in a kangaroo costume in his capacity as some rugby team’s mascot Boomer. I bet that sucked. Boring though. So he’s singing “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from Simple Minds, and also The Breakfast Club, probably going for a little residual Bender edge in the grubby shirt and leather jacket. He is loads better than he was last week, but still not even close to as impressive as he was in the auditions. I don’t know if he’s even trying. Also, he’s still bouncing and skipping around like the buffet ran out of meatballs and he must take everyone’s mind off the tragedy. The final note is atrocious.
Randy thinks this song is by INXS which is so stupid I’m not even going to listen to the rest of what he says. Michael’s wife is cute. Paula is happy that Michael knows who he is, and says his song choice is evidence of that. She also likes his low range and his stage presence. Simon liked it but didn’t love it; he mysteriously compares Michael to “one of the girls in the competition” who has a lot of talent but hasn’t had her moment yet. Are we meant to buzz about that? Okay, I think he’s talking about Amanda; who do you think?
Socks: Rocked Off
You can ponder that, or you can listen to David Cook telling a long story about forgetting the words to a song at a talent show. Your choice. Meanwhile, there was a scramble about getting David’s guitar plugged in tonight, but it eventually serves him well, once the band kicks in and accompanies him singing an amped up version of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” Yeah. But believe it or not, it’s good. In a night full of Meatloaf and Phil Collins, this performance is like a glass of ice water on a summer’s eve, sipped slowly as the thick, ripening scuppernong vines throw dusky shadows across the lawn and the jessamine blooms sway in the twilight breeze … Oh, hi! Hmm … what? American Idol? Okay. David sings well and he even has the rocker diction down – “yohhhhh” for “you” and “dew-ah” for “do.” But where is the creepy clay bust of Paula, is what I want to know.
Randy loved it and calls it slightly emo, which again makes no sense. Shut up, dawg. Paula thinks he was surprising and fabulous, and that this could be a hit right now. Simon calls him brave and says he loved it. This thrills David. Everyone imagines that Lionel Richie is somewhere with his eyes bugged out and his heart stopping in shock at how good David was, and Simon thinks it’s a good time to tell us that he and Lionel share a neighborhood grocery store, where they buy carrots and cereal respectively. Hmm, do I smell a summer spin-off? You know what, it probably could happen.
This one time, on a date, Jason Castro ripped out one of his dreads! Hilarious! Tonight he’s singing “Hallelujah,” by pretty much everyone on Earth but written by Leonard Cohen. Jason gets David A.’s eerie white spotlight and atmospheric shadow this week as he sits sans-guitar on a stool in the middle of the stage. I … don’t really get the love. This is such a beautiful song and such an affecting melody, that I can’t help but love it, but I don’t think Jason’s voice does it justice. It’s not the complete crack in his voice near the end, that was actually kind of nice, but Jason’s singing, there’s just no there there for me. Sorry Castronauts.
But I’m sure you don’t care what I think, because all of the judges are in raptures over Jason’s performance, even Simon. He calls it brilliant and tells Jason he’s getting better and better. Somebody start a slow clap already.
A Last Hurrah
And keep it going for Chikezie! Again in a suit, but this time it’s a color you can actually find in nature. Chikezie’s most embarrassing moment is a long one, involving him not knowing it was a girls’ restroom he was using every day. And he would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling gender roles. Chikezie’s closing us out tonight with “All the (Wo)Man That I Need,” and he’s okay. Ruben-lite. He really wants to stay on the show. Randy wasn’t sure about the song choice, but thought Chikezie was really good. Paula likes that he showed a different side of his personality, and somewhere in the cloud of gibberish she spouts is the sentiment that his vocals were lovely. Simon, strict adherer to gender roles that he is, didn’t like it all. The crowd boos him, Randy encourages them, and Simon acts as if it’s not a freaking trial to sit there like he can stand these people. Ryan asks if Chikezie deserves a spot next week, and Randy says he does. They’ve pretty much said that to everyone but Luke though, so what, are we just going to have 5 girls? I kinda wouldn’t mind.
That’s all the singing for tonight. Our retrospective particularly highlights Luke’s overall suckiness, David A.’s ability to communicate emotion, Danny’s hips, David H.’s killer kung-fu mic grip, Michael’s squinty bewilderedness, David C.’s comb-over, Jason’s ability to look like Janice the muppet when he closes his eyes, and Chikezie’s great manicure. Ryan asks Paula to sum up the night in one word. She asks for two, and then says, “Phenomenal!” You know, in general, I’m no advocate of dissections, but I would love it if one day Paula donated her brain to science. I just have to know how that thing works.
I have to say, tonight was kind of blah, on the whole. I’m disappointed that almost everyone made a terrible song choice, and there was no Culture Club. And there was no DeBarge. I’m left with two questions. Will we have a top 12 where a quarter of the people are named David? And will the girls redeem my second favorite musical decade by walking on sunshine, or will they fall like toy soldiers? Be sure to stay tuned, because the amazing AJane is covering all the action of ladies night, and come Thursday the amusing Yardgnome will have the news of our top 12.
Inquiring minds want to know, which would you rather watch this summer? "48 HRS at Whole Foods", or "They Saved Paula’s Brain"?