Sadly, I was forced to miss an entire week of Idol karaoke but a quick Google search got me up to speed. It seems that not only did Idol waste an entire week of “competition” but they then had the gall to cheat us out of an elimination and replace it with a guest appearance by... Hulk Hogan? I get it, I really do. Having abandoned all hope of crowning the next Bieber Barbie or even Bieber Ken – hey, I could have told them two months ago that it was pointless to even try for one! - Idol is desperately trying to court a new demographic and I guess it's the beer-swilling-tools-who-watch-fake-sports-and-the-women-who-love-them crowd that they're after now. Not that that's not funny and pathetic at the same time, so, far be it from me to stop them. Indeed, I'm eagerly awaiting the day they put up a ring and let two contestants fake beat the crap out of each other while JLo watches and nods like the robot she is. Steven could say they were “beautiful” and Randy could tell them that they're the next Usher/Mariah/Vandross. Take your pick. Maybe they can even be sponsored by Nascar or the WWE. Crossing fingers!
So this week Idol still has a Top 11 and the show is still two miserable hours long. To add insult to injury, all of them are going to be allowed to butcher songs by Elton John tonight. Feels like a punishment just to type that out. The silver lining now that the save is gone, is a double elimination this week, but that's cold comfort for me. I'll be doing lots of fast forwarding on this one.
Sir Elton Twang
Iovine, who seems largely superfluous, delivers the OhEmGee-Elton-is-awesome speech that Ryan would have in previous years. I wonder whether Seacrust is mad about that or is he just happy to be getting a bigger paycheck for less work. Somehow, I think it's the latter. In addition, the Nearly Dozen are out in Hollywood doing a photoshoot for Entertainment Weekly all aglow in their delusion that this is what their lives will be like in the future. Unfortunately, I have no patience for time wasting stupidity so I'm cutting out those segments of them posing and preening for the cameras like a surgeon cuts out cancer.
Scotty is up first and, whaddayaknow, dude managed to find the only miserable country song Elton ever put out and would probably like to forget about. This turnip that absolutely nobody has ever heard of is called “Country Comfort”. He argues briefly with the producer units about some lines in the song that they deem to “grandma-ish” saying that his gran will be in the audience so it's okay. Iovine says Scotty is a one trick pony but with a good trick, which is kind of a good description. Scotty is the best one trick pony the show has this season and, as he's done every week till now, he sings essentially the same song the same exact way only with different lyrics. Kind of clever of him to be such a one note bore but make no mistake about it that way lies the typical Middle America Idol vote. And by vote I mean massive voting drives organized in places where nothing ever happens and nobody has anything better to do than slobber over their phone till their “idol” wins the voting contest. He even ends the song with a note a la “turn them lights down low” lest anyone forget his greatest claim to fame. Hey, at least he's in tune most of the time which is more than the others can say.
Steven loves his granny and he's happy. JLo babbles on about instincts and performing. Randy says Scotty was singing in his own bar. Yo, where's my beer, dawg?
Rap still standing
I'm all for people twisting songs around a bit if they are able to do it without making me laugh out loud – admittedly, few people can do that – but putting the reggae spin on “I'm Still Standing” seems like a particularly painful form of torture. Even the Iovine robot thinks she's out of her everlovin' mind as he coaches her on exactly what how to best bastardize Elton's lyrics with a rap add-on that nobody on the planet wants to hear. So Naima comes out wearing a – what else? - rasta version of a white jumpsuit complete with green, yellow and orange stripes and launches into the Iovine suggested, unnecessary rapped dedication to everyone who is something or something right at the start. Who cares? Imagine the worst thing, multiply it by a thousand and you've got the infernal mess that is Naima doing Elton John. At times she sounds like she's chocking on a crocodile as she croaks painfully off key into the microphone with a ferocious expression on her face that makes me think she's high on something.
Yes, yes, JLo loves her but didn't like that she flipped the song. Randy loves reggae but thought she was corny. Steven adored it and thought she picked a song that suited her because Steven was hired to like everything and everyone.
Guess what? You can now become the purveyor of dumbass lyrics for Taio Cruz's next auto-tuned masterpiece! Two bucks says 75% of Idol's audience doesn't know who Taio is but, hey, anyone can write a song for him that he will graciously lipsynch on the Idol finale for all of us. Yay! Wonder what Idol's newly found beer-swillin'-WWE-watchin'-belly-scratchin'-tool demo thinks of this development.
So, Paul and his toothpaste commercial smile are still on the show and his pick for tonight is “Rocket Man” because he once covered this song and bombed royally with it. Yes, I see how based on that it would be tempting to repeat the experience on national television. Paul obviously thinks the occasion warrants a certain degree of gravitas which is why we're getting the return of the infamous embroidered suit tonight. I finally notice those are carnations on the suit. I mean, the leaves are really well done but there is something about the shade of pinkish red that's... Oh, wait, I'm supposed to type words about his awkward mess of a performance which I was forced to mute 30 seconds in before he made me nod off on my keyboard. I can tell you he made all these earnest faces and took a bow at the end.
Randy was soothed by the pitchy mess, yo. JLo thinks Paul has untapped depths. Steven thinks Paul's been watering the suit 'cause it's now got more flowers on it. He also likes it that Paul is incapable of hitting all notes all the time.
Side note: It's cool to be off key!! Who even likes it when a singer always sings in key and hits all the correct notes and such? That's so boring. Just ask the last two or three Idol winners; none of them even tried! But, man, was Sanjaya ever shafted on Idol, or what? If only Steven was judging his season the dude would have won. Such a shame.
Don't let this girl sing another ballad
Ex makeup artist, Pia, loves her some cameras at EW and the other thing she loves above all is another stinkin' ballad. This time it's “Don't let the sun go down on me” because not only is this the holy grail of all ballads but Pia just can't help herself. Never mind that the judges and even the Jimminator himself keep yammering that it's a bad idea, Pia just smiles with visions of Mariah Carey floating before her glazed over eyes. The good new is that if America votes her through, Pia solemnly swears that she will sing something not only from this century but with actual rhythm. Cross her little ballad lovin' heart. The performance itself is mostly on key, except for some bits right at the beginning and some of the second half but in the big scheme of things she's practically the only one this season who wouldn't be laughed out of Top 40 radio, so, hey, props to her.
Steven says he cried because of the notes Pia chose to sing to the song. By this he means that Pia is... Oh, whatever. Don't mind him, he's perpetually high. JLo says the notes took her to some otherworldly place where she felt something or other. Randy thinks he slayed all her ballads and she can sing. They just all want her to stop being such a boring one-note Muzak purveyor for old ladies at church gatherings and get with some uptempo stuff already so people don't fall asleep at the hour mark. Is that too much to ask?
And to prove that Pia listens to criticism, guess what she's threatening to sing if she makes it? “River deep, mountain high”. Yup. Came out in 1966, you know, before the Moon landing. Kiddies are gonna dig that one for sure.
Speaking of old ladies at church gatherings, Stefano, could be their pet rock, he's that exciting. But the boy is mostly down with that rhythm thing that Pia just can't tap into. Of course, this week he's singing “Tiny Dancer” so there goes the upbeat vibe and welcome to the land of embarrassing puns. I guess he couldn't exactly sing “Honky Cat” so maybe it's not as bad as it could have been. Iovine has a hard time with him in rehearsal because Tiny just can't sing in tune but Stefano claims he liked all the ten tries it took till he finally got it right. In the end, he grins, huffs and talk sings through the whole thing and could have used some auto-tune here and there but that's such a Ke$ha thing to do that all the tweeny girls watching at home probably perked up and reached right for their cellphones.
JLo didn't think the notes were all there but, hey, he hooked the Ke$ha fans, so there. Randy thinks Stefano hit “money notes”. See? Told ya, $$$. Steven, he who never minds a bit of off key stuff, is delighted that Stefano finally found an in with the crowd.
I'm not going to stoop so low as to regale you with the most awkward interaction between Tiny's daddy, who is a dead ringer for Harvey Mendel, and the bald dude himself here to hawk some new show he's got coming up. Just can't do it.
Goodbye, Barbie Jean
Lauren, who is singing “Candle In The Wind”, says the song was “so great the first time it came out” that she won't be messing with the arrangement much. You know, as if she wasn't born two and a half decades after it first came out or as if she had even heard of Elton John before she got on Idol. Eh, details. Country Barbie also claims she can relate to the song. Yes, at 16 I could very well relate to Marilyn's sad life too. She occasionally blinks into the camera but mostly she's just staring out with dead eyes doing a great imitation of stiff Idol Carrie by way of that chick from Lady Antebellum. The pale green eyeshadow, the hot pink lipstick, the pageant dress and the Texas hair all add to the effect. Country vote bait, if I've ever seen one. Never mind that she smiled through most of that performance effectively demonstrating that she had absolutely no clue what she was singing about... Details, details.
Randy says that was one of her best performances and she can do anything. Did Steven love his insincere little doll? Of course he did! Steve the resident Idol pervert even cracks a sexy joke saying if she keeps singing like that she'll be able to afford the rest of her dress. Nice. JLo thinks she was the best of the night.
James is next and you will be happy to know that he and his ass-kerchief never spend even a second apart. That's true love there, people! It's dangling beautifully behind his ass in every frame at the EW photo shoot while Durbin is making dumb faces into the camera pretending to be all rock 'n roll and stuff. Man, this dude is one big unintentional comedy train making all stops between Doucheville and Tool Land. His pick for tonight is “Saturday Night's Alright” and he wants to amp up the idiot quotient by starting off in the audience and working his way to the stage. Iovine is not even trying to talk him out of it which is hilarious. Way to keep the boy from looking like a fool, Mr. Jimmy! The performance has Bandana Boy bopping with the balcony crowd before awkwardly creeping down the big stairs which are helpfully lit up in a very manly shade of dark blue and discrete flashes of red. He makes a run behind the judges' table before ending up stomping around on stage and warbling off key through a straight up karaoke version of Elton's classic. The focal point comes when the red piano on stage inexplicably bursts into flames – you know, a la Lady Gaga circa two years ago - while Durbin does his best Danny-Gokey-scream-of-death imitation opening his mouth so wide I am now grossed out and fully aware that the dude badly needs braces. And he even tries for a back bend too for good measure. What, no smashed guitars, no half naked chick writhing on car hoods, and worst of all, no smoke?? This is not going to cut it at the metalhead convention, dude! The kiddie pool is to the right, go splash in it.
Steven thinks Bandana has a good voice but shouldn't wear out his welcome. No kidding. JLo forgot this was a competition – mostly 'cause she was texting while he was hopping around on top of the piano – but she loved it as she loves all the lesser children of this Universe. Randy thinks that between the fire and the piano, Tool Idol had a great time entertaining himself.
For his part, Durbin tells Ryan he is just happy his hair didn't go all “Pepsi moment” on him. Say, what? Oh, man, talk about your mouth moving without your brain fully on board. Seriously.
Don't worry, the show will end... sometime.
Thia enjoyed her EW photo shoot and getting all dolled up but then she decided to sing “Daniel” stunning even grizzled old Iovine who tries to tell her to focus on the meaning of the song. At 15 years of age focusing on a song like Daniel pretty much consists of making sad faces into the camera and Thia is prepared to channel missing her brother into the song. Why is she smiling then right in the first five seconds? No explanation but Thia tries hard to keep a straight face as she drones on and on. No matter what she sings, all I see Pocahontas from two or three weeks ago. Sorry, Thia, you'll never live that one down. Fast forward.
JLo thought that was beautiful. Randy thought it was a pitchy but relaxed performance but didn't like the safe ballad thing again. Steven thinks that she sang well.
Side note: I can't stand Steven and his endless platitudes. Why is he not more drunk or more high to the point of being funnier or even halfway to mean but honest Simon? Man, I miss Simon and his sharp tongue.
That's a major 9, dude!
So Casey is the reason I'm sitting here recapping this endless show of eleven people shamelessly insulting Elton John. I should resent him for it but Yeti Casey is oddly likeable. He says he will single-handedly bring about a new revolution of “big dudes with beards [who] can model”. Since he's got a sense of humor and I feel bad for his weekly blood transfusions at such a young age I'll forgive him for picking “Your Song”. Iovine really gets on his case for last week's horrid performance that landed him at the bottom of the pile – which I have not seen but I'll take their word for it – while #2 producer man's best advice is “trim the beard dude”. I mean, as vocal coaching goes, this is some invaluable input. Thus we have Casey visiting a barber shop for the first ever beard trimming footage captured on American Idol. It's groundbreaking stuff, I tell you. The end result is that Yeti Casey turns into Less Hairy Casey. The performance is decent and kind of pretty with a myriad lights dotting the entire place like so many stars and I'm not as insulted by this rendition as I thought I'd be. Progress!
Randy is glad they saved Yeti Casey and liked the tender performances. Steven concurs because he always does and says Casey's last note was nice. Randy clarifies that said note was a “major 9” claiming that's a music insider type of info, that is, it will probably impress those at home who have no clue what he's talking about. Never mind that that's a chord and there are more than one, but let's not split hairs. JLo thought it was beautiful.
His foggy song
Jacob has been hit or miss for weeks. Sometimes he hits it out of the ballpark, other times I'd like to chase him out of the ballpark with a baseball bat. This week he's chosen “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” which he claims to have gotten straight via Mary J. Blige like all good Gen Y – or is that Z? - children. And, gee, looky, as Jacob is hard at work polishing his song who should show up but Mary herself making Jacob super happy. Not that that stopped him from putting the sorry into the song. However, any major flaw can be erased with a bit of fog. Vocally, it's good but I can't help chuckling a bit. Maybe it's the fog doing things to me.
Side note: You know that line “It's a sad, sad situation, and it's getting more and more absurd”? Well, that's this show currently. Swaying gospel choirs at Top 13, flaming pianos, the Hulk, fog on stage, every special effect known to man? Stuff that was previously used in extreme moderation is now standard operating procedure. Every. Single. Performance. Is. Special. Therefore... none of them are. It's all a one big vat of grease; stick your hand in and pull out a chicken leg of a peformance or a cubic zirconia one. Really, they're one and the same. That's Season 10 of Idol. Back to Jacob.
Steven says Jacob got into it well enough and Steven was blown away by both halves of the song. You know the first half and then the second half. I don't even have to try with Steven, he just makes it so easy. JLo says something about some previous contestant who sang this one and, perhaps remembering that Randy got all technical with Casey, she throws in that Jacob's last note is nothing to sneeze at. “You don't hear that every day” she quips sagely. Damn right, JLo, you don't! Randy loved the first half but wants Jacob to insert a glory note “spot” into his performances. In other words, “go high, dude, so we can tell you to tone it down”. Watch them play that out next week.
If you're under 5'8”, do not climb on pianos
For some reason it's left to Haley to close the show. Man, I thought she got eliminated two weeks ago. Oh, well. Oddly, her choice is the gutsiest of the night with “Benny and the Jets”. The Jimminator wants the piano to be bangin', he wants her to drive it home well this week and Haley does her best by starting out on top of the piano. She puts the blues in her voice and tries to sex up the vibe even though wiggling off of the piano isn't going too smoothly, but that's the best thing about her performance. This song just doesn't work for anyone but Elton. Sorry, Curly.
JLo thought she nailed what they've been telling her to do for a while. Randy thought it was an amazing song and she had the best performance of the night. Steven says she sings sexy and she had a well-placed chorus. Ok, then.
That's it for this week's performance show. Since two people are getting bounced, next week we'll all have an easier time of it, and by easier time, I mean more filler. I don't seriously expect the show to ever go back to one hour but hope springs eternal and all that. Arielflies will be dishing the elimination dirt. Don't miss it.