Last week on Idol: Some chick, whose name I already can't recall, was kicked to the curb, Lambert came, sang and conquered and the rest was a filthy combo of woefully incompetent judging and mostly off pitch karaoke warbling. This week, expect more of the same except Lambert is busy this Thursday and sadly not available to hold class again. Bummer.
The show kicks off with a public service announcement with the three musketeers of Idol saying that they're so very sorry for the catastrophic situation in Japan and they're looking to do their part to help. While I have to commend their good intentions, unfortunately, doing their part involves that bit about the viewing public buying a bunch of horrible karaoke songs sung by Idol's current crop of cannon fodder off of iTunes. Talk about inflicting more pain on the innocent! Sorry, Idol, but I wouldn't be caught dead putting any of this crap on my iPod, not even for charity. Besides, I already donated.
Here today... hopefully, gone tomorrow
Hey, Idol is finally live tonight! Not fake-live, but live-live. You know, as in no chance to doctor the tapes, adjust sound and pitch levels for the favorites
muchand absolutely no excuses. Well, there will still be excuses because that's how Idol rolls. Should be fun unless I fall asleep first from the non-existent excitement. Ryan earnestly claims that the show is decided by America's votes. Whatever you say, Ryan, whatever you say.
Tonight's theme is – haven't they done away with those this season? - Songs From The Year They Were Born. Ryan says to expect a lot of baby pictures. I expect to fast forward a lot.
This is how it's going to go down tonight: The contestants will get a schmaltzy family segment showing them as innocent babes in happier times before anyone knew who they were and America was not subjected to their off-key yodeling every week. Then we'll see glimpses of them in the studio surrounded by half a dozen producers – some bigger than others - all trying to coach them out of whatever natural tendencies they may have and into a specific mold they want America to see them in. This will be followed by a very creepy one-on-one session with the thoroughly unlikeable head crypt creeper, Jimmy Iovine, who will sit them down with a clipboard in front of him and will attempt to dispense trite pearls of wisdom and useless platitudes that they would all be better off not following. All this while I'll be doing my manicure or vacuuming my living room. Haven't decided which.
Naima is first and you'll be happy to know she was born in 1984, her parents favor colorful, ill fitting clothes and Naima sings lullabies to her kids just like her mama did back in the day. See, that's how Naima got that love for music super early, like at 6 months old, or something. Also, her mother is allowed to sing a bit of one of those lullabies. This will unfortunately be a recurring theme in this episode. Is it not enough that we have to endure these people's pitiful sqeals, now we need to take abuse from the parental units too? Shame on you, Idol. Her song is “What's Love Got To Do With It” and Naima gets all weepy over that with Jimmy Da Creep, her mother gets weepy because Naima got weepy and I'm just about to weep from sheer frustration when finally we get our very first live competition performance on this season of Idol. Took 'em long enough. Was the wait worth it? No, of course not. She is beyond awful. Not only is she horribly pitchy and out of tune the entire time but what's with the disco-Pocahontas-by-way-of-country-Mad-Max outfit she's wearing? This girl is a train wreck twice over tonight.
Judge me, stupid, judge me please: Steven loved it 'cause he is high again and sickly fixated on Naima. JLo is reading the script which says that Naima has been pitchy all this time. Gee, why didn't they tell her to say that before? Randy says her vocals were a mess last week and this week as well. Oh, snap! Naima looks appropriately confused and her face is saying “Dude, where's all the fawning I got used to all these weeks?” Can't blame her. She says she felt good singing her song and mumbles something else I didn't catch. In front of her backstage sob cam, she vows to “get [her] pitch together” for next week. Girl, that's not something you can “get together”. Does she think she can order that stuff online or something? Vote her off already!
Why is it that Paul is consistently more interesting whenever he doesn't sing? His parents are even interesting, sort of, and he was an oddly cute baby. However, as a grown-up he's like the love child of Rod Stewart and a bad Clay Aiken impersonator. I'm not sure which is scarier but his decision to sing “I guess that's why they call it the blues” by Elton John – class of 1984 - is typical. Iovine thinks he's been hoarse in rehearsal but loftily commands him to bring his “full voice” for the show. Whatever, dude. As for the performance, well, let's just say he did better when Nigel was still doctoring the tapes. Dude is all sorts of pitchy and shouty and he flails about the stage in a spastic manner making me a bit seasick watching him.
Judge me the blues: JLo tries to excuse the suckage with the fact that Paul has a cold. Newsflash, JLo, good singers, real singers, can work through a cold and you can't even tell they're sick. Paul is not one of those people. Suddenly lucid Randy says Paul is not getting a pass for having a cold and compares him to Ray Lamontagne. Steven thinks Paul is a cool dude, never mind those bad notes.
Born in 1995, Thia is tragically young. She really should be on Kiddie Idol if they had one. For some reason all the parents are now required to sing during the family pimp segments and that's only slightly more horrifying than Iovine dispensing useless advice to the contestants. Thia's song is “Color of the wind” to which Iovine should be saying “hell, no!”. Instead he babbles on about how much of a dark horse Thia is and he needs her to bring the “now” to her performance. Unfortunately, Thia misinterpreted that advice and is bringing pageant Muzak Pocahontas dressed in a nude mesh dress that would look better on a 50 year old. She is about as current as a three day old newspaper. For some reason she also has a string quartet in the back playing over the backing track and a guitar dude is also lurking at the foot of the stage.
Judge the wind: Randy heard OK vocals but had trouble getting the pageanty ballad stuff she's been rolling out for weeks now. Dude was bored. Steven wants to know whether she's as boring as the song and JLo is mumbling on about Thia's vibrato and how she needs to work on it. That's rich coming from JLo who lipsynchs all the time.
Bored to tears
Durbin was born in 1989. His mother brags that when he was still a wee babe in his crib James used to sing the ABC song in perfect pitch. I guess delusion runs in the family. There are pills for that sort of thing these day, Mrs. Bandana. His pick is “I'll be there for you” by Bon Jovi and Jimmy the Creep's major advice for him is that James should wash his hands so he wouldn't catch any germs from his housemates but most of all he shouldn't kiss any of the other sick people in the mansion. Durbin's reaction to this is to show his wedding ring and to vehemently deny engaging in any unauthorized kissing. Jimmy doesn't seem to believe him. His shouty, pitchy torture of a straight-up karaoke cover is sprinkled with a healthy dose of weird talk-singing and it's apparent that once all that nice pitch correcting software was taken out of the equation for the live show, things went downhill for James. I also notice the return of the douche scarf dangling from his ass. Oh, the humanity! I want to shove that thing down his throat. Maybe it will keep him from bleating out another insult next week. Fast forward to the judging.
I'll be there judging: Steven tells him not to get “too popy” to which James Toolshed arrogantly says that he didn't want to whip out the Aerosmith cover till the finale. Steven promises to duet with him if he makes it there. They even shake hands on it. I wonder whether Idol can rig that for him... JLo yaps something useless about rock stars and whatnot. Randy says bandana boy was pitchy but tasteful, whatever that means, after which James launches into an extended description of his many studded accoutrements that nobody gives a damn about except him. Maybe he thinks studs make a rocker or something. Poor thing.
Haley is from Chicago and was born in 1990. Her mother had the frizziest hair known to man and her parents are in a band. Not sure why anyone needed to know that their neighbors thought Haley was screaming in a musical way as a baby, but there you have it. She prepped “I'm your baby tonight” as in Whitney Houston's old clunker that has been covered up the wazoo and murdered just as many times. Iovine delivers the big lie saying that a lot of people will get recording contracts – hilarious! - and that work ethic goes a long way towards this. That's actually clever for being half true. Haley nods and smiles and buys this hook line and sinker. I'm not sure how long she worked on her performance but it's off key and horrible. Left to fend for herself without a guitarist or a string quartet behind her, I get the impression she's not a producer favorite.
Judge me baby tonight: JLo says she is pretty which is Idol speak for “oh, man, you suck and we want you to be eliminated, ASAP” but says she's stiff as a board on stage. The show stops for a second while Ryan tries to wipe some red lipstick off of Haley's chin that makes her look like she's bleeding, and the disaster is complete. Randy was confused by her Whitney choice coming on top of country and Alecia Keys songs in previous weeks and he doesn't know who she is. Steven wants to hear more bluesy stuff. These judges are so in sync!
Another one born in 1989 is Stefano the puppy and according to his parents he was very musical as a baby as well. Of course. They all were! This show is nothing but a collection of musical geniuses. Mozart, eat your heart out! Stefano contemplated covering Milli Vanilli but finally settled on “If you don't know me by now”, lately by Simply Red. In the studio, Stefano is mangling notes and lyrics, irritating Jimmy the Crypt Keeper. As for the performance, Stefano starts off by walking down the big Idol stairs which immediately puts him at a disadvantage. You don't walk down those stairs unless you can own them and the song. At what looks like barely four feet tall, I don't think this puppy owns anything. The arrangement is boring and doesn't vary from the original, grasshopper eats half his words and seems to be straining a lot not to mention he's wearing white sneakers with a dark suit. That's right up there with the douche bandana in obnoxiousness. He ends on a final tortured note and I breathe a sigh of relief.
You will never judge me: Randy thought he gave the best performance so far. JLo who sang along the whole time, loved it and thinks he can win it all. Steven loved that it was so over the top.
Pia, born in 1988, and she used to sing when her mother went out shopping. She gets all weepy talking about her grandpa who passed away – paying attention, voters? - and we find out that Pia does everything for him. Sniff, sniff. Appropriately enough, her choice for tonight is “Where do broken hearts go” - the night's second Whitney hit – and all the producers think she's going to slay it. I don't know about slaying but she's wearing a 70s style white disco jumpsuit which makes my eyeballs hurt. She sings mostly in tune but some of the high notes get the screamy treatment.
Judge the hearts: The judges are impressed because she's pretty and they really, really would give a kidney if a girl won this year. Steven thought it was oh so retro cool. JLo sucks up to the producers and says they deserve a lot of the credit for her perfection. Randy says she's in it to win it.
This show seems to be six hours long. Will it ever end? Will I survive it? Read on.
Take two aspirin
Country boy Scotty entered the world in 1993 and apparently was a born Elvis fan. Daddy thinks Scotty got his talent from him but Momma Scotty can also carry a tune. In fact, she sings that “turn the lights down low” line and is more in key than half the Idol contestants this year. It's fun to see these pop producers pretending to know what to do with Scotty and his country ways but he maintains he does not want to change even though they want him to “grow”. He's singing “Can I trust you with my heart”, a song I have never heard before but he does a decent job of it. The song is not exactly Bohemian Rhapsody, and it's hard to imagine he'd ever screw it up, so he's cruising smoothly in his safety zone. Hey, at least he's not pitchy, which is more than the others can say.
Judge them lights down low: JLo says he's grown in the right direction and she wants him to continue. Randy loved the song and says Scotty can sing anything even though we've only heard him sing country. Man, Randy is so full of it. Steven doesn't really know what to say so he says Scotty will be going places.
Another 1989-er, Karen, is wearing the tallest, weirdest beehive style updo, a Hollywood Blvd. hooker dress and tall boots tonight, which seems in puzzlingly bad taste until I remember that JLo sort of kind of wore something similar once. Then it's just disturbing. We find out that Karen auditioned through MySpace at the urging of her sister who just wanted to meet Nick Jonas. Unlike the other contestants, Karen loved music right from the womb because her mother used to put a radio to her belly while she was pregnant. I'm waiting for somebody to claim they were humming Puccini arias while in the embryo stage. It will happen. Meanwhile, the second hand embarrassment continues as Karen's mother shows off her singing talent for the cameras. I mean...
I'm sorry, I have to pause here. The abject embarrassment that is this episode cannot be sufficiently overstated. I cringe just watching this crap. Between all the off key sqeaking and the horrible singing parents this should qualify as a comedy but Idol is completely serious about it all which just makes it a tragedy.
In the end, Karen decided to sing “Love will lead you back” and she wants to reassure America that she is not just a Spanish singer and to this end she sings Taylor Dayne's cheez whiz song, you guessed, half in English, half in Spanish. Way to show America that you can move out of your mold, Karen!
Judges mios!: Randy thought she started rough but picked up with the chorus. Steven loves her ethnic “whatitisness”. JLo felts Karen attacked it but her advice is to not sing notes she can't sing and to play to her strengths without exposing her weaknesses. Did I mention that JLo prefers to not expose her weaknesses by singing live? Yeah.
Unfortunately for us,Casey was born in 1991. Why couldn't it have been 1990 or even 1992? This is a question that will forever haunt me. His parents seems lucid enough and use words like “pedantic” and quip about jazz music in Casey's pimp reel which makes me question their judgment a bit. 99% of the people voting for this show don't know what that means. I smell future elimination for Casey on the grounds of failure to identify with the public. Another thing that should be instantly grounds for elimination, and burning at the stake, is covering Nirvana's “Smells like teen spirit”. There is just no excuse for that! Even Iovine seems to know it. He thinks people are not going to get it but Casey wants to take on a risk. I guess Idol is either suicidal or they just love them some Casey because he is allowed to show up all by his lonesome with an electric guitar. It's always a ridiculous sight, seeing a dude with an electric guitar and no band behind him, but it's doubly ridiculous when somebody is trying to pull off a really bad Kurt Cobain impersonation. I can't imagine how much money Courtney Love got for allowing this iconic song to be trampled to death on American Idol but I can imagine Kurt rolling in his grave.
Judged by Nirvana: Steven thinks Casey is crazy and talented. JLo thinks some Casey screamed it away and didn't think it was pleasant. She repeats that Casey is sexy. Randy starts name dropping some bands for no reason whatsoever but he ends by saying Casey is fearless. Lucky for him, Nirvana fans are not violent types or he'd really have something fear.
Before running her pimp reel, Ryan wants us to know that Lauren has the flu tonight, you know, just in case she sucks again and they need an excuse to praise her later on. She was born in 1994 and, gee, whaddayaknow, Lauren used to sing to strangers when she was three years old. What? That late? Her choice for tonight is “I'm not the only one” by Melissa Etheridge. In the studio, she is trying to nail some high notes. Jimmy Creeper says she needs to sing the song and get it right. Man, this dude is a genius! The performance is inconsistent at best. At times she just sounds plain off key, shouty and weak. Other times it's just painful when she tries to belt it out but can't sustain the notes without her voice breaking. Surely the judges can hear what we can hear at home! Right, right? Uhmm...
Judge me the one: JLo chirps that it was “very nice” and she liked hearing Lauren's strong voice and the country spin on the song. Randy says she needs to have a cold every week and Steven agrees adding that she's beautiful.
One more to go and the show ending pimp spot goes to Jacob tonight. His proud momma claims that Jacob – born in 1987 – inherited his talent partly from her. Jacob vehemently disagrees with this and recoils in horror that his mother is allowed to demonstrate her non-existent singing skills to the Idol audience. He plans to erase that memory by singing “Alone” by Heart, a song that has been brutally violated on Idol a few times before. Can Jacob get through it without me wanting to stab him with a microphone? Iovine wants him to nail the ending and claims that he's glad that Jacob will be gospelizing a rock song because that crime has a long tradition in music. Jacob thinks that as long as he's Lusky enough, he'll be fine. Get it, Lusky? Ughh. In the end, he starts out off key which he corrects on the next high scream. You can definitely feel the church in his sharply shouty cover and, I'm sorry, I had to fast forward through this in order to prevent that aforementioned murderous urge.
Judge him alone: Randy says it was a “very, very nice” performance despite that whole sharp thing. Steven thinks “gospel had a baby and they named him Jacob Lusk”. JLo yaps on about how good he was. Randy responds by yelling out that Idol has a competition and it's hot. Not to be left out, Ryan wants Randy to say it again to make sure that America gets the message that they're supposed to think that this is a great season. Got that, America?
The pain and boredom is finally over. I apologize for the slow birth of this recap but I can only take this tripe in small doses. I have to go off and vacuum or play some real music on my iPod between performances to preserve my braincells. It gets tedious after a while but at least my floors are all clean. Lee Whatshisname, last year's sucky winner, will be here on Thursday and lucky for me I don't have to bother watching as Arielflies gets to sit through that pain.