Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Dirty Dozen

Before I launch into this week's Idol reaction, I wanted to briefly touch on the Oscars. They've been discussed a lot, so I will keep this brief since I'm sure we're all kind of tired of the Oscars. Obviously, I was pretty psyched to see Slumdog win -- the streak lives!! Even though I picked Mickey Rourke over Sean Penn, I was happy to see Sean Penn win since I WANTED him to win. I loved the touch of having former winners present the award with those touching tributes, I liked the grouping of the tech awards (and how they told the story of the creation of a film), I even liked the cheesy-ass musical numbers. It capped off a long, tiring weekend. (This was the weekend I took my two girls to State. We didn't make it to finals, but I couldn't be prouder of those two. They are pure class all the way.)

Now, on to Idol:

We move to our next group of twelve tonight, and, well, if we thought the talent pool was shallow last week, this week was a veritable puddle compared to last week! This was a week when I actually sat here and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this?" Not much from tonight gave me a really solid reason other than the sort of schadenfreude pleasure of watching train wreck after train wreck live on national television.

A rundown of tonight's performers:

1. Jasmine Murray: Jasmine was one of those early favorites that the producers seemed to have identified during the audition weeks. She suffered through Group Day with Bikini Girl and survived to live the tale. She was destined for fame. She actually reminded me during the audition process of Paris Bennett -- a cute, precocious, talented young girl. During her intro video, I found Jasmine a little annoying, to be quite honest, and then she came out and did "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles, which is one of my favorite songs of the past year. And it was not good. It was incredibly pitchy, out of her range, and just pretty awful. Performing first tonight won't do Jasmine any favors, and with that performance, I'm not sure I'd hold my breath for a wild card spot unless the judges are making decisions based on the promise shown during Hollywood Week.

2. Matt Giraud: Matt was another early favorite after that killer rendition of "Georgia On My Mind" he did during Hollywood Week. He's a cutie for sure, and I was pretty psyched when I heard he was going to sing Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," which is perhaps my absolute favorite song right now. (Whenever I hear it on the radio, I get so happy!) But this was a pretty total train wreck to me. He had this weird pacing and these horrific runs. (I HATE THOSE RUNS -- where they try to cram 50 notes where one sustained and lovely note should be. My sister calls it "shitting all over the song.") It was just bad, bad, bad. The judges may give Matt a wild card shot based on his Hollywood Week audition and if the rest of the performances this week are as lackluster and awful as this one.

3. Jeanine Veiles: WHO? Poor Jeanine, aged 28, has been trying to break into the biz for 14 years (yeah, do that math!). She received little to no "face time" during the audition weeks, so is pretty much meeting America anew this week. And I suspect America will politely but firmly slam the door in her face. She performed "This Love" by Maroon 5. I initially liked her attempt to turn it into more of an R&B diva kind of tune, but she had this weird vibratto thing going on and was adding all sorts of ridiculous runs. JUST SING THE DAMN NOTE!!! All the judges could comment on were her legs -- which was insulting, sexist, and telling. If they can't say anything nice about your singing, they talk about your looks. Jeanine, after 14 years, it's time to find a real job.

4. Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle: Words fail me where this guy is concerned. Here's the thing -- I think he's an amazing freakin' showman. I would happily go watch him perform in a cabaret bar and probably laugh my ass off as I sing along with him. He has a pretty good voice, he's fearless, and he's a helluva lot of fun. Should he be American Idol? Probably not, but when he's gone, I'll miss him. His "And I Am Telling You" was campy and will probably be the performance I'll remember best tomorrow night. And I'm not ashamed to say that I called and threw the guy a vote because he made me laugh -- in a good way.

5. Allison Iraheta: During her interview with Ryan before her performance, I found Allison annoying. And then I found out she was peforming "Alone," which is one of those songs that maybe should be retired after Carrie Underwood's amazing performance back in season 4. So I didn't have high hopes for Allison. And then she came out and you know what? The kid did a pretty decent job. I thought it got to be a little much by the end and the background music did her no favors, but the kid was pretty darn good. This, however, brings me to a "concern." Allison is a high school junior. While she is tutored during her Idol tenure, I have some serious issues with her missing out on school to do Idol. Junior year is so crucial in a student's educational career, and I would hate to see Allison miss out and lose out on a more successful future to participate on a reality program. Okay, teacher hat off now. :)

6. Kris Allen: Kris was another "WHO?" for me. I don't remember this guy at all. And tonight won't help that. He performed "Man in the Mirror," a fact which I only remember because I took notes during tonight's performance. He was a bit pitchy and bland -- and talk about lousy song choice! It's perhaps one of Michael Jackson's weakest songs. That's not the song that will make America love you, Kris, so back to obscurity with you.

7. Megan Corkerey: During audition weeks, I have to confess I wasn't overly thrilled with Megan. She was quirky, yes, but I wasn't sure I liked the quirkiness she possessed. Tonight's performance of "Put Your Records On" was a little better for me. Here, her quirkiness worked for me. I could see her doing well on this show.

8. Matt Breitzke: One of the other blue collar dudes, Matt seems like a likable guy. He came out and did "If You Could Only See" -- of course. Doesn't every blue collar dude love that song? The whole thing seemed like a really good karaoke performance at a bar on the outskirts of town where all the welders hang out. Poor Matt didn't get the kind of pimping that Michael Sarver got last week when Simon all but ordered America to vote for the guy, and that's too bad because, truth be told, I liked Matt tonight a lot more than Michael last week -- until he talked back to Simon when he criticized his song choice. Talking back to Simon is my biggest pet peeve. Just shut up and listen to the man.

9. Jessie Langseth: In her interview package, Jessie came across as a very likable, chill chick. I was so ready to like her. And then she came out and sang "Bette Davis Eyes" with this weird sort of nasal and affected voice. (Like can you seriously tell me that her voice NATURALLY sounds that way? Of course not! You MAKE your voice sound that way. And did anyone else notice that when they played the recap at the end -- which is taken from dress rehearsal and not the actual live performance -- her voice sounded LESS affected? J'accuse, faker!!) It just didn't work for me. Multiple weeks of that fake-ass voice would be the sort of thing that could break me and Idol up again.

10. Kai Kalama: Kai is very cute even if his hair really bugs me. (Please look in a mirror before you come out and perform and maybe consider a trim to even out the look a little bit.) His choice of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" was nice, but I kept thinking that it sounded awfully Season 1 to me. Like I could see Kai alongside Jim Verraros and AJ Gill and Justin Guarini, but I also think that the show has grown beyond those Season 1 kinds of performances. Outside of Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Grey, there was a real blandness to the talent of that season. Think of the Season 1 top 10 and compare them with the talent of later seasons that did NOT capture the crown -- Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Jennifer Hudson, Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, Melinda Doolittle, Carly Smithson, Michael Johns, etc. Kai just doesn't quite cut it.

11. Mishovanna Henson: I really liked this girl. Her song choice was odd ("Drops of Jupiter" is really better when sung by a man about a woman), but her performance of it was enjoyable. I liked the quality of her voice perhaps the best of all the women tonight, but she's going to be fighting hard against Allison Iraheta and Megan Corkerey for a shot, and the lukewarm response from the judges may hurt her. Too bad.

12. Adam Lambert: First of all, brother has some brass ones to tackle "Satisfaction." Talk about iconic! I liked the arrangement he had -- for once the music didn't sound like a karaoke CD. The thing is that the song felt very Broadway to me. Don't get me wrong: I loves me some Broadway. But this felt like Adam was auditioning for the lead in the latest jukebox hit heading for Broadway -- Start Me Up: The Rolling Stones Story. Yes, the vocals were hot, but there was a lack of anything really genuine there. It seemed stripped of the rawness and grittiness that made parents across America fear that Mick and Keith were coming to rape their daughters. The judges were fawning all over Adam -- and I don't blame them. He clearly was the best performance of the evening, hands down, but he seems much more Constantine Maroulis than David Cook.

Adam is probably guaranteed a slot tomorrow night. None of the other men came even remotely close to touching him in terms of talent and performance. I think the other two spots may be taken by women -- Allison Iraheta and Megan Corkerey. Mishovanna Henson could be a dark horse, but I suspect that the better responses they got from the judges will give Allison and Megan the edge. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jasmine, Matt Giraud, and maybe Mishovanna back for the wild card show.

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