It's movie night on AI, which is another one of those head-scratcher theme nights that can only be explained away as filler. The theme is right down there with Broadway night and songs-from-the-year-of-your-birth night for sheer worthlessness. To lessen the pain, AI has Quentin Tarantino on as mentor slash coolness factor enhancing agent. Who will commit musical murder and will they be caught by the long arm of Simon's law? Let's get to it.
Lord Seacrest glides down his glass staircase of pretense and introduces the judges who are already seated. Either Paula is wearing 6” heels and a hangover or AI decided to scrub out some of the smelly cheese starting with judges' grandiose entrance. Simon explains it all saying that since the show has been habitually running overtime, a fact to which my DVR can attest, there's going to be some streamlining in the form of reduced judging. It will be either Randy and Kara commenting or Paula and Simon. Simon blames the new policy on Kara and Paula's long winded gab fests but I think he secretly relishes the thought of effectively muzzling Paula for half the show even if it means he won't always be able to tell people how badly they suck.
I don't want to miss a thing but I can't help it
After a brief intro of the Top 7 and an ass kissing video montage of Tarantino's greatest accomplishments, we're off and running. Because Tarantino is a big enough name, he doesn't even have to go to AI. Instead, the idols visit Tarantino at the big FOX sound studio in Hollywood.
First up is Allison whose pick is I don't want to miss a thing by Aerosmith. Tarantino offers some lame pointers about letting go, which is nice, but not terribly constructive. Allison is belting it out with gusto but I'm distracted by the hair standing up at the top of her head, the hideous skinny red pants and bejeweled belt that match her hair. While I stare fascinated at the whole ridiculous package, Allison is altering the melody in unforgivable ways, screaming the middle and really screaming the end.
Paula, wearing some sort of blinged out bib and chocker style dress, says that Allison and Adam have the “same special sauce” which comes off sounding slightly pervy but she only means that Allison is authentic. Simon thinks she sang that song very well, she is the best girl in the competition and she could go to the end. Kara and Randy sit silently and I just decided I'm in love with the new format. I'd even like to suggest a Critique v. 2.0 in which only Simon speaks and the others use hand gestures and hold up signs. They could cut the show down to about 20 minutes that way and we'd all be much happier. Just think about it, AI!
Everything he he does, he does like a pop singer
After a bevy of commercials that last longer than one of Paula's gushy critiques, it's Anoop's turn to butcher something and he's picked a particularly good one. His song is Everything I do, I do for you which always reminds me of Kevin Costner running about in tights. Tarantino has a problem with it too and wants Anoop to “rough it up” with more grittier vocals. I doubt any amount of fierce growling could render this song anything but a Bryan Adams impersonation, but we shall see. Anoop starts off soft, injects a bit of boy band in the middle and, as far as I can tell, omits all the strategic growling recommended by Tarantino.
Randy finds his dog back in the house, yo!, and thinks he was in his zone again. Kara thinks Anoop hit his niche with the soul infused pop genre. She thinks it was his best effort to date. The camera pans to a widely grinning Paula and Simon shrugging and staring off into space, proving once and for all that he doesn't even need to open his mouth for his critique to be heard loud and clear.
Born to be a Rocky Horror
Adam picked Born to be wild from Easy Rider because he's the only one who would even dare think of doing that song without breaking out in a cold sweat. Tarantino, who is only graced with a glimpse of Adam's arrangement, recognizes the rock star in Adam and can't wait to see what he does with the song. If Tarantino was expecting a flamboyant, oversize, high octane, cabaret slash hair band tinged extravaganza of Adamesque proportions like I was, then I bet he wasn't disappointed. Adam delivers on all fronts and adds flawless rock star worthy interaction with the band and a feeling that he could probably sing the phonebook to a Queen melody and nobody would think it was odd in the least. The audience are on their feet screaming louder than Adam and Kara can be heard squealing helplessly into her mic.
Paula can't resist hollering and pumping her fist in the air before telling Adam that he's shaking up the competition by being in the path of greatness and something about fortune favoring the brave. Simon deadpans that Adam needs to come out of his shell a bit more. He thought the whole thing was a bit Rocky Horror but technically brilliant. He also doesn't think the performance was as good as last week's. Adam smiles beatifically under his pancake makeup – lay off it already, Adam! - and I'd be running off to vote for him if I could be bothered to do so.
If you really love a painful affected attempt at originality this song's for you
Next up is Matt who is halfway confident tonight with a song he loves. That song is If you really love a woman which Tarantino says Matt will be spinning his own way. He is only concerned with enunciation while Matt just wants to bring emotion into the song. He's back behind a piano which would be good but he also warps the melody in a way that sets my teeth on edge and his final falsetto flourish makes me want to slap him. Why do some of these idols think it's a good idea to add some sort of affected emo mewling with a stale soul flavor to everything just for the sake of “making it their own”? They're not making it their own, they're just making me use my mute button more often. Matt is off-key in parts and a complete disaster in others.
Randy wasn't impressed with Matt's myriad embellishments that didn't work. Kara feels Matt wavers weekly between rock and pop and doesn't make significant progress. She didn't think all his vocal acrobatics paid off with this song.
Endless karaoke with a side of harp deep fried in an inspirational romance novel batter
The show has been moving at a surprisingly fast pace so far. Gokey is placed discreetly in the second half hour and there's even time for a bit of chit-chat with Seacrest. He lisps prettily that he bought a guitar last week even though he can't play it but since they're going on tour – and yes, he is going on tour, didn't you know? - and he needs something to do on the bus... Whatever. The Gawker picked Endless love because it touched his heart. Tarantino tells him to stop gesticulating and allow the emotion to come out in his eyes and voice which is a fine ideaa. What is not a fine idea is the harp – harp!! - that Danny picked to accompany another inspirational dime-a-dozen gospel-ish power ballad. Yawn. He also disregards Tarantino's suggestion of to tone down the lame boy band hand gestures and ends the song with a glance towards the ceiling light fixtures. On the bright side, Gokey is wearing contacts tonight perhaps enraging all those eyewear industry niche voters.
Paula thought he should have lowered the key at the start but gushes that the rest of the song was beautiful and it “slayed” in th end. Simon is dismayed by the harp and calls his straight-up version “traditional”. Traditional? That's just a nice way of saying karaoke.
Falling straight into Top 40 radio
Resident sensitive pop wonder Kris, chose Falling slowly from Once. Tarantino likes that Kris actually went to see the movie in preparation for his performance and suggests he play the guitar. Kris says he's on the fence about that but in the end he disregards the advice and attacks the song without a crutch. Instead he gets an entire string orchestra behind him along with the band and the performance is subdued but very commercial sounding. Randy thought it was very pitchy and didn't work for him. Kara thinks it was one of his best moments even though it was such an obscure song.
She barely gets that statement out before Seacrest steers the show into another commercial break. Of course it's crucial that we're all aware of the new Orbit gum – now with 35 pieces! - and that terribly obscure device called iPhone, not to mention a new classy Burger King add set to Big butts. It sure makes me want to run out and get a Junior Whopper. And some Pepto Bismol.
Some say Lil should be wearing a robe and swaying in the back row with the choir
Closing the night is Lil who gets no silly chit-chat with Seacrest as we move straight into her segment with Tarantino. She wants to pump some gospel into the middle part of Some say love it is a river while he wants her to keep the song even throughout and commit to a whole package not just to a stylized middle. She, of course, doesn't heed that advice because she's Lil and she will just do what she wants and expect it to fly. The song starts off as a gentle cover, morphs into a rousing gospel anthem, passes into R&B screaming diva territory then tapers off into an AM Easy Listening finish.
Paula loved the horribly cheesy lyrics of the song and quotes them to say that the road is long but worthwhile for all the contestants. Simon rolls his eyes at Paula then says the song was too soft, too middle-of-the-road for Lil. He's frustrated that she's not the artist they saw earlier in the season. Lil mouths back that she wanted to be an artist and she's all about R&B and soul and gospel and she tried hard. Simon shoots back that it's still a Bette Midler song, and really, does he need to say more? I don't think so.
Despite the heroic reworking of the judging routine, the show manages to run overtime making all Fringe fans intensely furious. Again. Who will fall victim to their own folly? Come back here to read all about it from the brilliant MotherSister and save yourself the pain of having to listen to Jhud and Miley Cyrus. Don't say I didn't warm you.