From Disco horrors to Rat Pack era Standard boredom in one short week. Only on AI, people, only on AI. Are they running out of theme week ideas or just trying to help millions of Americans with sleep problems break the chains of sleeping pill slavery? Perhaps a bit of both. The good news is that there are only five contestants this week, so the pain – and the nap session - should be short lived. Read on.
Seacrest says the finale is only three weeks away which is certainly good news. What is not so good news is that Jamie Foxx is on tonight as special mentor to the idols. What's he got to do with singing? Oh, well, there were a couple of movies he did that I never bothered to watch and then there's his most excellent singing career apparently. The one I've never heard about.
Being the big Hollywood hot shot he is, Foxx, arrives in a de rigueur black stretch limo right in front of the idols' mansion. A thick-necked body guard opens the door for him and Foxx alights in all his glory while the idols speculate inside about the identity of this week's mentor. Some expect Michael Buble others just conveniently have no idea. When Foxx finally walks in to loud cheers I get the feeling that they're either relieved that their mentor isn't a member of the AARP or thinking what the hell? Probably both. A lavish video montage enumerates Foxx's many stellar achievements, his Oscar win and music chart rankings, complete with a #1 song, his Grammy wins or nominations or whatever. I'm sure he's fabulous in a Kanye West meets P Diddy meets five or six dozen other generic R&B slash dance music hacks. Foxx starts off with an appropriately preachy history lesson on the Rat Pack while promising to tell it like it is.
Sweet strawberry jam on plain white toast and a wet puppy
Squeaky clean choir boy, Kris, is up first and he says everyone needs to do what they do to stay in the competition. Well, that's about half an inch deep as thoughts go. Which is about half an inch deeper than I thought Kris could get. His song is The way you look tonight, an appropriately sensitive balladeer-ish selection that can be easily boybandized. Foxx gushes about this year's well groomed AI puppy during their mentoring session saying he'd do a record with him even if things don't work out for Kris. Hope you got that offer in writing, Kris, 'cause you're going to need it in about three weeks' time! Just sayin'.
As for his performance, well, on my very own non-scientific Put-Me-To-Sleep Scale of 1 to 10, it's a solid 9.5. Puppy dog eyes, sweet, slightly sheepish smile, artfully gelled and disheveled hair, subdued versions of old Boyz II Men style hand gestures, syrupy voice complete with a discreet falsetto, some more puppy dog eyes into the camera and there you have it. I swear you could can this stuff and sell it in the jelly section at your local supermarket for $3.99.
Randy loved the song and thinks this was Kris' best performance to date. Kara squeals that Kris “set the technical standard so incredibly high” and calls him a dark horse. Nah. Maybe a little cute spotted pony. Paula recites her canned speech about Kris' confidence and impeccable performance. Simon thought it “was a little bit wet”. He says it was like taking a well trained Spaniel for a walk and he doesn't think Kris can win the competition. Woof, woof.
Someone to watch over my nap
Allison, who just turned 17, is the last girl standing on the show and Seacrest wants to know what that is like. Like he doesn't know. Allison rambles on about how she misses the other girls – sure, we believe you, honey – and how great it is just being on AI. Of course. Birthday or no, things must go on and it's Allison's turn to absorb some words of wisdom from the Foxx man. He says that her song Someone to watch over me is “absolutely innocent”. He counsels her to think of her family while singing this song since at 16 – 17 now - she is too young to be in love. You learn something new and utterly ridiculous on AI every week.
Sweet innocent, Allison, finally got a new dye job with a less strident shade of red and darker streaks. Now she only looks about 38. She is also wearing a cute, fluffy frock, a studded leather bow bracelet and a heart pendant to go with her darling song selection, which is an 8-ish on the Put-Me-To-Sleep scale. Allison has a powerful voice and her performance is not bad precisely but not terribly inspiring either. It's hard to be inspired when you're being lulled into a nap, though, so what do I know.
The audience cheers and Randy launches into a slew of hyperbole. She sings like Pink but with 9000 more octaves, she looks dope and it was the bomb! Yo! Kara gushes that Allison made some new fans tonight and she's not a one trick pony and thinks she's headed for the finals. What? No Oscar nomination? Paula manages to squeeze out that Allison's performance was “both alluring and tender”. I'm convinced she's writing this stuff ahead of time and memorizing it before the show. I'm quite impressed she can remember it all. Simon doesn't think that Allison believes she can win and he feels she might be in trouble.
Call your dermatologist, 'cause Matt the Mole is up next. Tonight he is covering up his forehead anomaly with a ridiculous hat. I am grateful for his consideration but now have visions of what horrible things he might try to conceal under that hat. Supposedly “Matt is stoked” about Put-Me-To-Sleep week because he used to study Jazz in college. Unfortunately he got a B on that course, however he is determined to bring his A game with My funny Valentine. Foxx thinks it's a big song but has not much input to give initially which really means AI had no usable footage so Matt is called back for an encore discussion. Foxx tries to dig deep for a comment to make and finally advises Matt to change the key to the song and sing it in his “full” voice.
Matt starts out sitting on a stool but soon stands up. Yeah, it's a terribly exciting performance. Why is this song such a beloved classic? My guess is because nobody has ever actually heard it start to finish. No wonder because this thing is a pure, unadulterated 10 on the Put-Me-To-Sleep scale. Matt croons as well as he can and even busts out that horrid falsetto as a final flourish but I'm unmoved. I just keep imagining that mole under his hat. Sorry, can't help it.
Randy thought it was pitchy and didn't quite like it. He gives it a 6 out of 10. Kara appreciated the runs but didn't feel an emotional connection from him to the song. Paula, of course, loved it and felt the emotion. She thinks he was right to lower the key as Foxx suggested. Simon disagrees with Randy and thinks it was the “only believable, authentic” song so far. It gave him a Nat King Cole feeling. Looks like Simon was asleep too. Can't blame him.
Danny Gokey's style: Now available in a convenient frozen package. Just reheat and serve.
Finally a week in which Gokey can remind us of his backstory while singing something mushy and sensitive. It's been so long! Like almost two weeks. He picked Come rain or come shine which he wants to sing straight up
karaokewith a slight bluesy tweak. Foxx is concerned that Gokey is trying to project big emotion with big hand gestures but it's all too... big and perhaps not real. His remedy is to get up into Gokey's face and make him sing lyrics like I'm gonna love you, like nobody's loved you that way. Foxx claims that Danny was truest when Foxx was up in his face. He even remarks on Danny's fresh breath. Allrighty then.
Gokey puts his standard church choir spin on the song, mixes it up with his customary low growl and finally sprinkles in a few of his stock tortured screams, always appropriate for any occasion. Some more powerful screeching delivered with a deep scowl – terrifically effective as a stand-in for any and all emotions – one final big anguished crescendo and he's done. His formula might as well be tattooed on his forehead. Or packaged an sold in the frozen food aisle.
The audience is on their feet but Simon looks like he smelled something bad. Randy thinks Gokey could have an album full of
sleeping pillslike that and could win. Kara says she missed the “Rat Pack swagger” from Danny and thinks he was “unbelievable”. Paula chirps that it was stellar. Simon says he has swagger and confidence. He says his vocals were the best Simon heard from him in weeks and he liked the arrangement.
Last to perform tonight, but certainly not least, is Adam. His song is called Feeling good and he wants to do it with a rock edge. Foxx is blown away both by Adam's delivery of the song, which he feels will blow everyone away, and by the fact that he thinks Adam is not particularly impressed by his august presence. What? Did he forget to bow down or something? Mon dieu!
Because nothing Adam does is done by half measures, he starts off his performance by descending Seacrest's big glass staircase which is all lit up in red. By the time he reaches the bottom the audience can no longer contain themselves and they scream loudly for him. The performance is typical Adam: not a note out of place, pure and strong, some screaming and a big helping of straight up fantastic drama. If Kris was a jar of sugar-laden strawberry jelly, Adam is a full barrel of the strongest Colombian espresso roast coffee money can buy. Zero on that Put-Me-To-Sleep scale.
Randy thinks he's consistently in the zone even though he's a bit theatrical and a bit Broadway for his tastes. Kara's mouth dropped open again. She says he's confusing, shocking, sleazy and superb, all in a good way. Adam makes Paula feel “better than good” and she says he's like Michael Phelps at the Olympics. For Simon, when Randy said that Adam was theatrical was like “complaining that the cow moos”. Simon likes the fact that Adam wants to win and wants to entertain. He also thinks Adam owned that staircase entrance and Seacrest should quit using it now. Don't count on in Simon.
Now that the sleep study session is over, all that remains is to send somebody home. Skip that fillerific fantasy and get your news from the fantastic MotherSister instead. Next week, the final four will return to and we'll be here again to tell you what to think about it all. It's a free service. You're welcome.