Thursday, April 28, 2005

It's the end of the world [again]

The screams are being heard. The threats of boycotts, the sobs of conspiracy and broken phone lines, and the vows never again to turn Tuesdays into Idol nights are [again] bellowing from coast to coast.

It's happened again. A fan fave is gone while the show's pariah remains to sing another day.

It's the end of the world as we know it. Again.

Tamyra's fans said that in season one as they watched Nikki stay while their girl sang her swan song. Ruben's fans said the same thing as they watched their man sweating out a bottom two appearance while the angry Marine sat in shock on the sofa. And Latoya's fans said the same thing when she waved goodbye as Jasmine waved on her way to take the final three photo.

It's the way of the show.

Why, though, will Constantine be spinning Jay Leno's wheel tonight, instead of the more obvious Anthony or Scott? The answer is not as simple as "conspiracy," and how I'm bored with that tired excuse.

Constantine fell victim to the alignment of the stars or to a variety of factors, whichever you choose to believe.

He sang a bad song. And he sang it badly. Okay. It's not like that's never happened on Idol. But he made a dreadful mistake. He overestimated the tenacity and loyalty of his fans.

He has had a solid fan base since the auditions, when FOX, in the body of Ryan, highlighted him (and his disgruntled band) in the premiere episode. That base has grown considerably throughout the semi-finals when the field of men was so vast that the odds of coming out on the short end of the voting stick were less. It's not as harmful for fans to parcel out their votes in the early rounds.

Once in the finals, he adapted his song selection and his style to distance himself from Bo, who was quickly taking over the "rocker slot." Not only did this gain him new fans -- I, for one, loved his homage to the Partridge Family and raved about his Bohemian Rhapsody -- but his flirty bad boy image, which he so carefully cultivated, solidified the base he had already earned.

His biggest mistake? Going head to head with Bo Tuesday night, selecting a rock song, alienating, perhaps, the voting fans who had come to love his "pop" persona, and he performed poorly, forcing the "rocker voters" to choose between him and the one who has remained true to his genre.

His bad. Thatcost him votes, possibly enough to land in the bottom three (as I predicted), but enough to land him on Leno?

No. Not by itself.

I felt an upset was in the making yesterday, when it came time to make a bottom three prediction, and at first, I thought Bo might be back in the bottom. But, after visiting a few message boards, and reading several Constantine threads, it became clear that Constantine fans, suffering, possibly, from a bout of self-confidence in the staying power of their pouter, had been splitting their votes in large numbers, many of them rewarding Anthony for a fine performance Tuesday night. Others wanted to help Vonzell out after a lackluster performance.

The Bo people weren't splitting. The Carrie people weren't splitting. The Scott people weren't splitting. But the Constantine supporters were feeling generous. After all, their guy was secure.

Wrong. Vote splitting at this stage is, as I said yesterday, borderline insane. If that lesson wasn't proven last night, it never will be.

Ryan likes to point the finger at America for the shameful elimination of fan faves. If 35 million votes are cast in one evening, there's no shame to be passed around. So, while Constantine is hitting the talk show circuit today partially due to the complacency of his voters, the voters are not soley to blame.

And to blame Constantine's ouster on any one of the remaining contestants is not only foolish, it's just flatly untrue.

Constantine's fearless performances will be missed on the Idol stage, but the show will continue just as it did after Jennifer Hudson and Latoya London, and Amy Adams, and Tamyra Gray. And it will go on with or without the viewers who are taking their toys and going home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

SIMULBLOG: Shocker don't quite describe tonight

Settling in to watch another young singer wannabe be drawn and quartered, and Ryan welcomes us to the execution by telling us we're in for another "shocking" result. Well, it wouldn't be American Idol if there weren't some shocking moments along the way (hear us ABC?), so I take that to mean Scott won't be going anywhere. After all, considering even the new Pope has weighed in on how Scott should be disemboweled, anything but Scott's head on a platter would be considered "shocking" in Idol terms.

So, release the Lions! Let the bloodletting begin!

We get to see the recaps from last night's atrocity and then we are introduced to Pamela Anderson, who likes the blonde and the rockers, and the cast of her stacked show. Lame "Ryan looking down her shirt" exchange gives way to the introduction of the group song.

The Bee Gees? Emotion? Shouldn't this have been done last week during 70s dance classics? I suppose they'll be singing Britney next week. Okay, just when I thought nothing on earth could be worse than the Tsunami Tsingles, I've been proven wrong. What's another word for "horrid?"

But to make up for the wretching group song, we're treated to a genuinely terrific Ford spot. Anthony is both a plant and a fridge. And there's another CLAY sighting! Thought he divorced himself from this show.

Time to split up the kids, back into groups. Vonzell is first and sent to that side. Carrie is sent to this side, which Ryan is calling far and near. Bo hears his reviews and is sent to join Carrie in the near side group. Anthony's time, he hears his remarks and is told to join Vonzell on the far side.

The Far Side. One of my favorite strips.

Scott and Constantine are remaining, and, of course, Ryan sends all of us to the break, so FOX can advertise Weiners on Sticks and Pamela Anderson shows.

Local news promo assures us that Paula is gonna fight that other network in court. Guess she's not heard of that thing we affectionately call the 1st Amendment. She musta missed class that day. Cheerleading practice.

Scott and Constantine are flanking Ryan, as Ryan tells them to join the groups they each think they belong in. Constantine joins Carrie/Bo, and Scott tags along with him.

Ryan identifies Bo/Carrie as the top vote getters and tells Constantine he's picked the wrong crowd to hang with and sends him to the bad group as Scott soils his Depends. Simon tells Scott that if he can get that many people to vote for him he deserves to stay at the party.

Vonzell is mercifully sent back to safety as Carrie, Bo and Scott cheer wildly. Constantine and Anthony are forced to wait through another Pamela Anderson commercial.

Ryan starts in with the "did you vote America" routine. He then sends Constantine home as the kids on the couch and Anthony on the stage look more stunned than the punted rocker. Paula bawls her way through her "I love you Constantine" speech, Constantine watches his funeral tape, and sings us out with the song that killed him, sans kicking and with a sofa full of backup singers and dancers. Paula consoles Mom Maroulis, and Constantine hits the Bo stage as they allow him the entire length of the song. Hugs for his mom as we say goodnight.

A whole lot of unpredictable fun just got sucked right out of this show.

What a shame.

Till next week.

Simulblog out...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Initial impressions

And so the final six is instructed not to wander back any further than the current decade. This, of course, means we get a show chock full of recent hits and biographical sketches. And we get to see the families! And we get to see Clay Aiken.

It's about time we got to know a little about them. Too bad I knew nothing -- absolutely zero -- about any of the songs.

When you're assaulted with six songs you do not know, and you've not had the opportunity to rewind and review, it's tough to critique. And, considering this is the meatiest of the final sixes thus far, it's even more difficult. But, as always, I'll try my best. And, as always, they're from worst to first.

Constantine. Well who would have thunk that after weeks of praise, I would stick Constantine last? But last he was. I don't have a clue what that song was called, and I really don't care, because I plan to never hear it again. It was fun to see his family. (It's been his brother all these weeks in the audience!) But I didn't much care for the sole of his shoe. Simon was right. After giving us the Partridges and Queen, to try to go back to the dark side at this point was a glaringly bad decision.

Vonzell. I don't want to say anything bad about Vonzell, because she proved more than capable of whopping my butt. But, the entire first half of her performance was out of tune, and, although she did bring it back at the middle half and end it well, but the first half let me down, Vonzell, because I've come to trust your performances, beginning to end.

Scott. I don't like this song, although the message is beautiful. Luther Vandross would be wonderful to sing on tour, but when you're fighting to stay in the game, I think he was a bad choice. But the principle of the song might have been more important than the results, because in connection with the bio, it did hold some significance. You have a marvelous voice Scott, and I hope for your fans, you can continue in the competition. And, as a side note, you've never looked better.

Carrie. Carrie decided to revert to her country roots, cows and all. Again, I had never heard this song, and I choose never to again. It was risky to go thoroughly country on American Idol, and I think the judges were right. You seemed to be fighting the band all through the song. You were fighting for volume, fighting for tempo and fighting for pitch. And the band won.

Anthony. Simon (again) was right. I personally hated this song, but I'm not a Celine Dion fan. But there are gazillions of girls who are ruining the warranty on their sparkly pink Bratz phones right now, panting girlishly, rewarding you for making their hearts go aflutter.

Bo. Considering tonight was a relative snoozefest and the only alternative to the ballads was Carrie's Tennessee tune and Constantine's kickfest, I will overlook the wardrobe and say, with some hesitation, that your Anything But Me, although I've never heard of it, was the best of a lackluster night. If someone forced me to take home one of tonight's performances as a single, this would be the only one I would agree to.

Yeah. It was another one of those nights.

Who's going home? Don't know. I'll get back to you on that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

SIMULBLOG: when disco attacks

And so we are still licking our wounds from the tragic disco ball encounter. It crashed. We burned.

But someone is gonna be burned tonight. Which, of course, begs the question: has anyone yet found a cure for the disco fever?

Oh who cares. We'll worry about that next season. Ryan tells me to check my watch. What if I'm not wearing a watch. Do I have to turn off the show? These rules are getting silly.

Ryan then sets up Bo so that Bo can set up Ryan to watch a clip of the Hollywood Star ceremony, followed by a blooper sequence. Well that is just special. How much do those Hollywood stars cost these days?

Requisite humbleness ensues followed by the requisite hawking of the Tsunami Tsingle and an original song for the kids, written by a disco composer extraordinaire, whose name I've already forgotten. I think it's called Shine, and Anwar, Carrie and Bo are all playing instruments while the others are in various positions of stance belting out a tune that is better than all three of the songs put up for auction to benefit the Red Cross.

And it's the Ford Commercial! Rock This Town. And to think the muppets freaked some people out. What are they serving in the Coke room, anyway. Actually I thought it was kinda cute, but I'm weird that way.

Time for a second helping of last night's disco dish. And they're still hyping Bo. Hey folks, voting is done.

Oh, no. They're doing it again. Ryan is separating them into groups A and B again, just like last year, only he's not calling it by letters. Yeah, right. Far side and Near side is far superior. If they drag George Huff out, I am over this show.

Vonzell is in that group, Anthony is in this group. Bet Anwar goes with Anthony. And, yep, he does. Constantine is next, and he's sent to the group with Vonzell.

So we have Vonzell and Constantine on the left and Anwar and Anthony on the left. And it's time for a break.

Hey! The weiner on a stick show is still on the air. Does anyone actually watch that dog?

Carrie is sent to stand with Vonzell and Constantine and Scott is ordered to the Anwar/Anthony club. Bo gets told he's safe. (Yay!) Oh no. They're not going to do it again.

Yes they are. Bo is told to Hustle his adorable behind to the group he thinks is the top three. What a crock. Booing commences.

Massive applause ensues, because Bo stands directly in the center of both groups, joining neither.

What a set-up. Aren't they just the clever ones.

Break. Weiners on sticks.

Bo is sent to join the obvious top vote getters. Paula mumbles nonsense about America voting and everybody being good. Then Ryan sends Scott and Anthony home to the sofa, leaving a stunned Anwar to watch his own funeral tape and sing us out with the song which killed him.

Thanks Anwar.

Till next week...

Simulblog out.

Someone left a brain out in the rain

Here's what happened. The producers, in the midst of yet another bout of disco fever, announce to the kids that they'll be boogie oogie oogieing next week. Carrie says "what's that mean?" Bo says "when pigs fly." So, same producers, with fever raging and suffering from hallucinations of a Scott/Anthony finale, change the name of the theme from the "D" word to "70s Dance Songs."

Yep. That musta been it.

Hasn't anyone come up with a drug for the fever? Please find a cure before this time next season.

And so the kids screamed and gyrated and pointed and hustled through some of the worst the decade had to offer. There were no disasters of Titanic proportions, but there also were no showstopping moments that make you sit up and go "whaa..." either.

Who is safe? Easy. Bo. There is no way on this earth those producers are going to allow Bo Bice to leave this party. Ryan opens up the show with a plea to save this beautiful endangered species called Bogart. It was your fault, America, that Bo landed in the bottom two last week, teetering ever so close on the cliff of expulsion until letting go of Nadia's hand to allow her to go splat on the talk show circuit.

It was your fault. Let's not let this happen again. So shucks, we changed the theme, and we're putting Bo in the anchor position, the always-dependable American Idol flotation device.

And Bo fans, seeing what their overconfidence and/or attempts to oust the threat known as Vonzell, almost cost their man, surely were energized to vote in the same way Ruben's fans were and Fantasia's fans were during the preceding two seasons. Bo is not going anywhere, except possibly to the nearest recording studio to cut Vehicle as his first single.

Carrie and Constantine should also be considered safe tonight, even though we're getting down to the point where we're cutting more than just excess fat. We're bound to lose some of the meat along the way. It's inevitable at this point.

Both Carrie and Constantine were subpar last night. Constantine may have taken a hit with the makeup (was that gold eye shadow??), and the lounge act interpretation of The BeeGees, but his fans are not fickle, and they're not disloyal, unless they pull a Bo fan act and try to pump up the votes for Scott and/or Anthony in an attempt to eject Vonzell, a very real spoiler to a Bo/Constantine finale. But, having watched Bo hanging by his fingernails, I don't see a strong effort that could put Constantine in jeopardy is gonna happen.

Likewise, Carrie's fans aren't going to let a disappointing performance by their Barbie Doll endanger her continuation in the competition. Of course, as the field continues to be whittled, and new fan bases emerge, just looking for someone to love, the [big] hair-apparent might not win any new fans with the foolish admission that she's didn't like the lyrics of the song she sang, evidentially because she was not bright enough to understand them and too lazy to learn the metaphoric meaning behind melting parks and waterlogged bakery items. I thought the dumb blonde routine was cute the first 500 times. Now it's just irritating.

That puts the rest of the field on the hot sofa.

Vonzell continues to Kim Locke her way through the game. The more she performs, the more people are drawn to her genuine and bubbly personality. But she's like the Christy to Carrie's Barbie. Her biggest obstacle is that many of the fans not already attached to Barbie are drawn to the male contestants, due to the gender segregated semifinal format. And it's hard to shake that early attachment. During any other season, Vonzell would be a lock to continue. This year, though, she must always be conscious of the ax over her head.

I still haven't figured out what in the heck Anwar was trying to do last night. Between his wardrobe homage to Jessica Sierra, deferring most of the tough stuff to the background singers (boy did they get a workout last night!), and his moves, here and forever known as the double dutch dance, the man took a song which could have bought him some extra time and perhaps reunited him with straying fans and instead, he took a pass. Personally, as much as I adore him, I'm writing him a hall pass to the seal tonight. Spring break may have just come to an end Mr. Robinson.

I'm still struggling with Anthony's performance. I detest the song he chose. Simon was right calling it "safe," because it really didn't demand much, which allowed Anthony the freedom to relax and deliver a very comfortable performance. The problem with comfortable at this stage of the game and with this level of competitors, good enough just isn't. Anthony again, is like John Stevens. I'm not comparing the two as performers, though. I'm equating them in terms of prediction spoilers. Every week I predicted John Stevens in the bottom three, bottom two and leaving, and every week he would stay seated. In fact, it was this week last year that the "three divas" landed in the bottom three. (You may remember the episode when, in the most shameful and distasteful act in Idol history, Ryan told George to stand with the top three, not telling him which group that was. The memory of that still makes me livid.) I have put Anthony in the bottom three and predicted his dismissal before, and each time he stays put on the strength of his fan base. So I'm really struggling with what to do with him.

And then, as always, there is Scott, who came close to slashing his own throat last week by mouthing off to Simon and, in the process, insulting millions of Americans by essentially calling them weenies. (Not me, mind you, for I am far too old to qualify, and my weenie days have long since past.) This week, better judgment prevailed and not only did Scott acknowledge Simon's criticism, he asked God to bless him at the same time. And then he gave a shout-out to Mom. Awwwww. Gotta love the shouts to mom! He had a clean performance, staying away from the clunkers that plagued him last week, and probably turned in his best outing since Against All Odds. (The one a few weeks back, not last week.) His fans are certain to continue rallying to keep him in the game, but it won't be enough to keep him from the seal tonight.

Oh how to call this one. This one is really tough after a relatively easy call last week. No one of them stood out as barf-inducing bad, but none of them, save Bo, stood out as panty-throwing good either.

I hate mediocre.

But here goes the dart.

Should be bottom three: Anthony, Anwar, Scott.
Will be bottom three: Anwar, Scott, and (here we go again) Anthony, who will be spared.

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson. Look around you, all you'll see are sympathetic eyes...

It's gonna be a heartbreaker.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Early observations, disco-style

For some insane reason, the producers decided to shove the kids through a disco strainer and subject us to a 70s dance music flashback. I'm still shuddering.

Okay, having confessed my dislike for disco (once again), the kids really did do an overall fine job. There were no butchered songs, no backtalk, no hair raising moments.

But if only the theme had been different.

Nonetheless, without benefit of listening to the audio without benefit of video, or the privilege of watching the show again, I have those early observations, as always from worst to first:

There really is no worst, and, except for the last two, any of these five could be placed in any order.

Anthony. It's always tough when one of the kids does a song I just don't like, because I always question if I'm critiquing the song or the singer. Anthony didn't hit any clinkers. He had an overall fine performance, but the song just didn't do it for me.

Anwar. This performance would have been the bomb if you had restrained from trying to dance. It started off pitch, as you're so prone to do, but it ended with the usual glory. But Clay Aiken taught all of you a valuable lesson: if you can't dance, don't try.

Scott. Everlasting Love has been done to death. Obviously his mom hasn't been watching the past two seasons. Clay performed it in season two; Jasmine in season three. It's an average song, so I don't expect goosebumps. Scott was perfectly fine, in tune and on pitch, but it just wasn't, as Simon said, anything terribly extraordinary, but then, neither were most of the others.

Constantine. At least I appreciated you transforming this song. The problem with the transformation is that it was taken from a dance song into something undanceable. But the effort was noteworthy. And you kept the goo goo eyes to a minimum -- always good. But there's one thing I want to know: who is that guy in the family section, the one who is there every week?

Carrie. I know that the judges were drooling all over you, as usual, but this performance was a bit flat to me. Your stage presence is improving by leaps and bounds, though, and for that I give you the highest compliment.

Vonzell. We expected that you would shine on disco night, and you did. The judges were right: this was probably the most complicated song to perform, and, while some of your notes were a bit left of center, the performance, overall, was terrific. I just hope your fans hang in there, cause you don't deserve to be taking any walks tomorrow.

Bo. Any question I had about your ambivalence with the competition were erased. I love the unclean shaven Bo. Yowzer. And thank you thank you for giving us a break from the disco heartburn. It was the perfect song; it was the night's best performance.

Bottom three? Don't know. I'll get back with you on that. Now I gotta go polish my platforms.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Welcome to Fantasy Idol!

Yeah, it's a rumor, but a pretty well-repeated one, so I'm going to play my weekly game of Fantasy Idol. So far I've gotten three wishes. Bo sang Time in a Bottle, even though I would have never dreamed him singing it, and, last week, he took my suggestion and performed Free Bird, even though some thought it boring and predictable. And Vonzell took to the Bo stage and belted Let's Hear it for the Boy, just as I recommended she do. Thanks Vonzell.

This week, most of the "word on the street," or the message boards, seems to be songs from the 1970s, the best, in my biased opinion, decade of music ever recorded. Until, at least, the dreaded sparkly ball of disco invaded the airwaves just as poison ivy invades the garden.

Now some people enjoyed the disco era, and that's just peachy, so if it turns out to be the decade of choice, the kids are more than invited to scour the Bee Gees' catalog or steal from Donna Summer. I, however, am avoiding those songs with every nerve cell in my body. And, since there are myriad songs that
I've begged for already from this decade, my pleading still stands, but I'm not going to repeat myself.

But what to choose from this beautiful buffet? I'll do the work; all they need to do is provide the microphone.

Although I must admit Vonzell fits the disco queen mold to a tee, I think she might do well to slow it down a tad this week. A nice choice might be Gladys Knight and the Pips'
Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye), from 1973. (Gladys is always a good selection for those who can handle it.) Or she might consider the lesser known, but still lovely, Don't Say You Don't Remember, by Beverly Bremers from 1971. But, if she insists on keeping it up tempo, there's always Want Ads, a 1971 hit by Honey Cone.

Scott is under the gun this week, so he needs a home run and last week he proved how much he struggles with his lower register, so one of my goals was to try to limit his choices to the ones which won't put him in that dilemma. And, who better than the Stylistics? They had two terrific hits in 1971,
You Are Everything (And Everything is You) and Break Up to Make Up. And they made a hit of the beautiful Betcha By Golly Wow in 1972.

Now Bo's biggest challenge is to put his whole soul into his next performance, because it appears the judges, and perhaps the voters, are seeing a Bo who appears less commited to this competition than the others. He might consider
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, by Bachman Turner Overdrive, a hit from 1975. Or, as a message to his non-voting fans, how about Cold as Ice, a 1976 song by Foreigner? My suggestion, though? Reminiscing, a 1978 hit by Little River Band.

Constantine merely needs to keep up with what he's been doing to stay safe in this game. And, considering this is the man who has brought to the Idol stage both The Partridge Family and Queen, he's likely to sing Donny Osmond. (Which, by the way, if he chose to do, not only would I throw panties, I would throw the panty drawer and the dresser too!) So I tossed a dart at the top songs and came upwith Lady, a 1975 hit by Styx. Second dart? Take It to the Limit, by the Eagles in 1976. Third dart? Love Her Madly, by The Doors in 1971.

Anthony needs to build on the great performance he had last week. Some 1970s songs that might suit him well include Hooked On a Feeling, made into hits by both B.J. Thomas and Blue Swede in 1974. But Anthony screams Kenny Nolan, and Kenny Nolan sang some great songs, including I Like Dreaming in 1976. But Anthony could do quite well with the Hollies' The Air That I Breathe, a 1974 hit.

If I were advising Carrie, I would suggest that she kind of crawl a bit back into her country dress this week, after her rock outing last time. It's a corny little song, but Lynn Anderson's 1971 Rose Garden is catchy. And Rita Coolidge's We're All Alone would be a nice selection. And, since Carrie missed this during Musicals week, she could always tackle I Don't Know How To Love Him, from Jesus Christ Superstar, a hit for both Yvonne Elliman and Helen Reddy in 1971.

And Anwar, you've been safe the past few weeks after your little trip to center stage, so best be tightening up those vocals and choosing a song which will make everyone want to trample pets and small children to get to the nearest phone. My suggestion for you, Baby Come Back, a 1978 hit by Player. Or try Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now, from 1972. Or, my favorite idea, reach back into the classic mode like you did with Moon River, and choose It's Impossible, a 1971 hit for Perry Como. You do that and I promise I will raid the panty drawer that's been sitting untouched since What a Wonderful World.

Well, so much for my fantasy. Got a 70s fantasy?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

See, I said '77 was not a good year...

So much surprise. Bo in the bottom two. Nadia leaves before either Scott or Anthony.

But was it really surprising?

I've been thinking about this all day -- the two I fantasized in the finale, both standing center stage last night. And, although I still haven't come to any solid conclusions, I have decided that it wasn't very surprising after all.

But what happened between then -- when some thought our finale was set -- to now, when they're both forced to stand there and await one's execution?

All I had to do was remember the semi-finals.

Bo exploded upon the Idol stage during the semis. Everytime someone whines about lack of airtime up to the semis, I scream Bo Bice. No one had really seen him until the 24 show, and yet, the minute he took the stage he challenged everyone not to love him. His performances were crisp. They were new. And he set a bar for himself, one that he simply has refused, or been unable, to raise since. He knows his everything will not be defined by this show. He knows that he has earned enough attention and enough critical praise to reach beyond cheesy group sings and Ford commercials. That knowledge is enough to allow him the freedom to perform as he wants. And, he has to deal with the complacency of fans who hear things like "see you at the finals," applaud and smile, then go out for pizza.

Nadia is the same. Her first true performance was a showstopper. She grabbed the viewers -- the voters -- by the throat, and made us notice her, not only for her hair and to-die-for wardrobe, but for her performance skills. She made it clear early on that she was her own person, unwilling to stay contently in the Idol box, and that may have just been her undoing. She has had some terrific performances, but they've been hit and miss. And, if one wants to move further in this competition, one must be willing and able to play the game. She wasn't willing. She's gone.

Constantine is playing the game about as well as Clay did in season two. He understands how to grab an audience, and he's not only raising the bar, but carving out a new trail in risk taking. Many people who didn't really give Constantine much credit outside of his sex appeal are changing their tunes. Could he have been the one sandbagging throughout the semis? I'm starting to think so.

Vonzell is playing the game. She knows that people will vote for the contestant deemed the most genuine, and every performance, every interview reveals that she is much like Kim Locke -- a sweet girl with a great voice who is just flat-out nice. And who doesn't like nice? Plus we are expecting better and better from her, considering the lackluster way she started off this competition.

Carrie is trying hard, but since everyone has shoved her into that country box, her performance risks, unlike Constantine's, have been met with a lot of negativity. She simply looked pained to be rocking on the Bo stage, but you gotta give the girl credit for putting herself out there. Her bar, like Bo's, was set high from the beginning. And, while she's not exactly raising it every week, she is not falling into that pit of predictability. Like Bo.

I'd like to be able to say with confidence why Bo ended up in that downtrodden duo. I'd like to blame it on overconfident fans. Or I'd like to blame it on an overconfident Bo. Or an apathetic one But I think it's more of a combination of all of them. Next week could dispell any apathetic rumors.

And as soon as I find out (or think I've found out!) next week's theme, I'll be fantasizing all over the place.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

And this bird you cannot change...

The downside of having eight talented people remaining in the field of eight is that the dismissal of one of them is certain to be bittersweet. Especially after a night like last night, when none of them fell on their face. At least not entirely.

Whoever thought we would see on American Idol, in one night, Pat Benatar, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Freddie Mercury and Hall and Oates? Certainly not me. But it was good. Perhaps it signalled a change in the direction of this show which was, admittedly, getting a bit predictable. Apparently the show's creator has announced that the "themes" remaining this season will not be as disastrous as "Musicals" was, but will give the kids time frames, like a decade or the year in which they were born, which will free the kids from having to hunt through a tiny box for a song title to perform half-heartedly. Good idea producer people.

But back to tonight. Of course the question of every Wednesday: who will be on that Midnight Train to Georgia, or wherever.

Who's safe? Two of them. Carrie and Constantine. Who knew that Paula, of all people, would have (or even could have) been the most lucid of the judges last night, announcing to Freddie, er, I mean Constantine, that he may have just become the frontrunner. He has, with consistently solid performances. He has been the one to take the risks that the judges so desperately crave. And they've paid off for him.

Carrie isn't going anywhere either, partially due to her enormous and rabid fan base, but because, despite the stage presence of a deer caught in the headlights, she is the most solid vocally, even though her take on Pat Benatar, in an attempt to shed the "boring" label she's been stuck with, left me yearning for that dish powder commercial girl from last week. Poor thing. She seems like such a sweet girl, and she's trying hard, but she really needs to crawl back into that country box they want her in so badly. When she strays from the box, the judges verbally cram her back inside.

The others are at risk tonight, some more than the rest.

Bo, who many believed would find his way into the finale by acclimation, has the misfortune of going three weeks with less than glowing Simon comments. I enjoyed his Freebird rendition, even though I do concede that he might have been better off choosing another, more vocal-friendly number. It might have been (and was) viewed by some as too safe, especially up next to Constantine's performance, but I think that might be because the song fit Bo like a glove. I think he's probably performed it before. One or two times. I don't expect Bo to be standing center stage tonight, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him there.

At this stage, I would consider putting money on those three at the end. So that leaves the others.

The only truly weak performance of the remaining group was Nadia, who had to find a 1977 Mac Davis LP and unearth a number that Crystal Gayle would later turn into a country single, all about dreams and dreaming and stuff. I think, after four seasons, it's become clear that voters do not cotton to unfamiliar songs. Now, if the song had been a stage burner, like Power of Love, which she sang in the semis, that would be one thing. But this song had less catchiness than your typical fast food commercial. Nadia will make yet another trip from the sofa tonight. And it may be her last.

Anthony could also find himself standing on the seal tonight, even though he is getting critical praise of his performance, and rightfully so. He remained seated last week after possibly the worst performance of the finals, thus far, because his fans broke land speed records running to the phones to save him from certain extinction. Those fans, basking in the glory that was Anthony's voice last night, might not have been so extremely motivated, which is why so many of the Idol contestants find themselves safe after horrible performances and in jeopardy after good ones. Anthony could be on the one who will play the spoiler, yet again, in so many of these predictions.

Vonzell had no business standing between Scott and Nikko last week, but she landed there anyway. I cannot understand why Simon finds the need to pit Nadia against this girl. They are miles apart stylistically, so, unless they're trying to manufacture a return to the "battle of the divas" from last season, many voters might see this competition as an either/or proposition, much like the Bo or Constantine discussions that were so common in the early part of the competition. Vonzell really should be safe.

Anwar, as sweet and talented as he is, has yet to return to the magnetic performances that caught our eyes during the semi-finals, and, while last night's outing was the best from him in a while, he really needed to try to embrace those Nikko fans out there, just looking for a new phone number. I don't think it's Anwar's time to leave just yet, but his clock is certainly ticking.

Which, of course, leaves us with Scott. The man must be given credit for taking on both the Hall and the Oates part of the Hall and Oates song, in front of both Hall and Oates on live television. Listening to Scott's performance on the audio file is much more revealing than watching it. Scott gave a comfortable, relaxed performance. So watching it, one can easily ignore or forgive some of the weaker vocal moments. Without the video, however, the chorus is magnificent, but the verses, sung in the lower range, were, in a word, painful.

But more painful than the vocals was the attitude. There is nothing which will alienate voters any faster than appearing to be ungrateful or arrogant. Just ask Justin Guarini. Just ask Fantasia, who suffered a huge backlash for an obviously playful remark she made to Simon last year. Scott's remark was not playful. It was defensive. Now I think he has learned over the years to compensate for a self-esteem problem with aggression, but, when people are still talking about a domestic violence arrest, the last thing he needs to do is appear to be defiant.

A trip to the stage is inevitable for Scott, unless his Underdawgs burned a few million phone lines last night.

How does one choose a bottom three? One closes her eyes and points.

Should be bottom three: Nadia, Anthony, Scott.
Will be bottom three: Anthony, Scott, Nadia, with Anthony getting paroled.

Nadia will sing us out tonight, and, with an hour show planned, they better have the group hug.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's my birthyear!

With this group it comes as really no surprise that, at this point of the competition, it may come down to an individual performance. And, for the same reason, it is sometimes really hard to rank the kids. Sometimes one missed lyric, one missed note is enough to drop down two spots. Or end one of them up in the bottom three.

But at least, unlike last week, we were treated to a great, overall, episode of Idol this week as the kids performed songs popular within the year of their birth.

With that in mind, and bearing in mind that I've not had the opportunity to listen to just the audio or watch the replay, here are my early impressions, as always, from worst to first.

Nadia. No question here. What the hell was that song, and what obscure album did she buy at a garage sale to find it? She says it was a Crystal Gayle song. Could possibly be, but she picked the absolute worst time to introduce it to most of the free world. Or at least the ones who weren't at the same garage sale. And, to make matters worse, she was off tune, or what we would suspect was off tune, considering no one has ever heard of the song before. It was, in a word, terrible.

Carrie. Where was that Crystal Gayle garage sale when you needed it? I know you wanted to rid yourself of the "B" word, but you don't go from boring to brilliant in six days. And prancing upon the Bo stage wiggling your fanny is not, normally, considered performing. Simon complimented you once upon a time for knowing who you were and playing to your strength. This took you three steps backwards.

Anwar. I love you Anwar, but, disappointingly, like Nikko, everything you sing sounds the same. Only the lyrics change. It makes you quite forgettable, except for that little pop-up video thingie I expect that says simply "best technical singer ~~>", just in case we forget.

Vonzell. At this point the ranking is getting difficult, but Vonzell, even though I suggested you hop on the Bo stage and belt this song (thanks for listening!) it just didn't please me the way I thought it might. The first half of the song, you seemed to stay just one-half a note off of the band, and the arrangement lent itself to repetitive lyrics. But, aside from a few missed notes, it was by far the best female performance.

Scott. The guts it took to perform Hall and Oates in front of Hall and Oates is incomprehensible. But the response to Simon's criticism was incomprehensible. You may be right, and you may have tried to be funny by reminding us that you're one of the few (eight, to be exact) who are standing up there trying their best, but many voters do not take lightly to such remarks, even made in jest. That said, you looked more comfortable than you have this entire competition, and, although you totally screwed up the lower portion of this song, it was one of your best efforts. I just hope your defensiveness doesn't diminish that achievement.

Bo. I wanted you to perform Freebird. You've been reading, haven't you? My one worry was how to condense that song into 90 seconds, and, I think, that hurt the quality of the performance. But your vocals were clear, your stage presence was brilliant, as usual. And I love you still.

Anthony. My oh my, am I shocked to say this. You were great tonight. Just terrific. I think you may really have listened last week. And, more importantly, learned. This was a controlled, relaxed, non-cheesy, great performance.

Constantine. Simon said astonishing. Who am I to disagree?

Bottom three? Don't know yet, but tomorrow's results show is an hour. Don't know why, unless they're planning to treat us to all three group sings.

Check back tomorrow for my prediction. I'm still recovering from seeing William Hung and liking Anthony.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's fantasy idol: birth date edition!

In the days preceding Tuesdays, the rumors run wild and rampant about possible themes. Most of the rumors turn out to be just that, but occasionally enough information surfaces that, while it may or may not prove to be accurate, is convincing enough to merit attention.

Above is a photo, taken after Wednesday's show, which shows Ryan and the kids, taping their "surprise! Here's next week's theme. Can anyone guess the clues?" moment. Carrie is holding a baby photo of herself as the others admire her in her infant adorableness.

A theme that has never been held on American Idol, but has been a theme on many of the other Idol shows, such as Canadian Idol and Australian Idol, is the "Birth Year Theme," where the contestants must choose a song recorded sometime within the year of their birth. The baby photos (it appears as if Ryan is holding pics of all of them -- Vonzell's seems to be next) would lend a bit of credence to this idea.

So, it may be right, or it may be wrong, but no one is gonna fall over dead if I play around, so here we go.

It's Fantasy Idol -- Birth Year edition!

Bo and Constantine, if this turns out to be true, have hit the lottery. Both of them, born in 1975, have a treasure trove of beauties from which to choose. It was so difficult to narrow down choices for both of them, so I went a little overboard, but I did kind of compile each of their first CDs!

If Constantine would listen to me, he might consider You are So Beautiful, by Joe Cocker. Imagine that song, those goo-goo eyes and millions of females with drool coming out the side of their mouths. But, if he prefers to jazz things up this week, he might try Sweet Emotion, by Aerosmith, You're the First, The Last, My Everything, by Barry White or How Sweet It Is by James Taylor. And, if he wants to drive that final nail in the I'm Not A Rocker coffin, there is always He Don't Love You (Like I Love You) by Tony Orlando and Dawn or Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, by B.J. Thomas. You're welcome, Constantine! One word of warning, though: do NOT announce to the world that Thank God I'm A Country Boy, by John Denver.

The Bo choices are plentiful too. My first choice would be Black Water (again) by the Doobie Brothers, but I really question how easy it would be to sing as a single. But that worry don't stop me from wanting to hear it. So Bo, you might consider Some Kind of Wonderful, by Grand Funk Railroad or even Amie, by Pure Prairie League. Lynyrd Skynyrd is always good, though. How about Free Bird? Saturday Night Special? Then there is always Hey You, by Bachman Turner Overdrive. (I know ... I keep harping for Bo to sing BTO, but I love them. What else can I say?) Another possibility would be That's The Way of the World, by Earth Wind and Fire. Just, please, no matter how much we love you, do NOT out yourself to world that you are, indeed, a Rhinestone Cowboy, by Glen Campbell.

Oh, the possibilities! Oh, the fantasy!

Scott would have to dive into the songs from 1976. And he is still under so much pressure to excel. So Scott, I would select for you You'll Never Find, by Lou Rawls. How I adore that song. No? Then consider This Masquerade, by George Benson, More Than a Feeling, by Boston, Kiss and Say Goodbye, by The Manhattens or If You Leave Me Now, by Chicago. But you could bring me to my knees with Beth, by Kiss. Just please, do NOT attempt to Shake Your Booty, by KC & the Sunshine Band.

Nadia has the misfortune of being stuck with 1977, a very good year to graduate from high school, but not so great for song selection. I would recommend Don't Leave Me This Way, by Thelma Houston, even though Latoya performed this last year, and I never suggest do overs. So why not consider Walk This Way, by Aerosmith? That could be interesting. But there's always Fleetwood Mac. Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow) was a hit in '77. Just do NOT attempt to Light Up My Life, by Debby Boone.

Anwar gets the 1979 bowl full of titles from which to choose. But I've done all the work -- all he has to do is loosen up, let it go and have fun. Oh, and stay in tune. Anwar could do wonders with The Rose, by Bette Midler, but he could have some fun with Do Ya Think I'mSexy?, by Rod Stewart. The Commodores had a hit with Still in 1979. That's a thought. Ain't No Stoppin Us Now, by McFadden & Whitehead would be a good choice, even though it's really not good for teachers to be using ain't. But my choice? I pick Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin', by Journey. Randy always likes when the kids sing Journey. But one thing, Anwar: do NOT, under any circumstance go to the Y.M.C.A., by the Village People.

Carrie gets 1983. What a terrible year. Sorry Carrie. So you could even make a fan of me if you choose Flashdance, by Irene Cara. No? Leg warmers out? Okay. Then put on some boring 1950s dress, stand there and sing Tonight I Celebrate My Love, by Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack or Islands In The Stream, by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. You've already been annointed champion, so I don't see why you can't be two people. Okay. Duets a bad idea? How about Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by The Eurythmics? Do NOT attempt another Total Eclipse of the Heart, though, by Bonnie Tyler. Been there, done that.

Vonzell is our 1984 baby, and she's got a lot of "girl songs" from which to choose. The Pointer Sisters had hits with I'm So Excited and Jump (For My Love). Those are possibilities. But I can see Vonzell hitting the Bo Ramp with Let's Hear It For The Boy, by Denise Williams. And she's one of the few Idol contestants who I would trust with Tina Turner. How about What's Love Got To Do With It? But there is nothing that says she can't try Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, by Wham. The choices are terrific. Just do NOT call Ghostbusters, by Ray Parker, Jr.

And the baby of the group, Anthony/John Stevens, will be given the 1985 songbook. Let's slow Anthony down to ballad tempo, no snapping fingers again. Try Suddenly, by Billy Ocean or Say You, Say Me, by Lionel Ritchie. No? Okay, I'll compromise. How about Sea Of Love, by the Honeydrippers, or Walking on Sunshine, by Katrina and the Waves? And there's always John Foggerty's Centerfield. I can be centerfield... Only rule? Do NOT, under any circumstances believe that We Are The World, by a whole bunch of people calling themselves USA for Africa.

Well, so much for my fantasy. What's yours?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

SIMULBLOG: One hand, one plane ticket

Here we go again. Time for another execution, and, since I'm now an hour behind my friends on the coast (or near the coast) I have a pretty good idea that what we get is not what we expect.

But I'm going to blog it as I see it anyhow.

Another record voting night -- over 32 million. And Fantasia is in the house, Ryan reminds us as we are assaulted, once again, with the atrocity that was last night. If they would spend less time rehashing the old stuff, we could spend more time on commercials. Haven't they figured that out yet?

So the first group sing will be the Tsunami Tsingle -- When You Tell Me That You Love Me. But, Ryan tells us, the other two group sings will be on the CD. They must not want to make too many copies of that CD, cutting costs, you know.

Fantasia looks great as usual, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. She's channeling Tina Turner. She's telling the kids to "act ugly." She musta seen last night. And Ruuuuuuuuben is in the house too! With Kimberly Caldwell, who is introduced but, apparently is in the potty. They are Weiners on a Stick, apparently. How nice that their careers are on the upswing.

And after the break, we're going to slice and dice. Great. Must mean no group sing. But wonder what the commercial will be. We've done miniatures; we've done muppets. What is left? How about a Geico spot. Or one which they just walk down the sidewalk singing. Okay.

Nikko is in the bottom three, and he's none too happy. Vonzell is next, and she's also headed to the stage. Everyone boos, and Ryan reminds the booers that it's all their fault. Scott is also sent to the stage. And he's really mad, as Ryan tells all the other kids that they're safe.

Bo says he's shocked that it's not him on the stage (yeah, right). John Stevens, uh, I mean Anthony mumbles some nonsense as he tries to hide the fact he just peed his pants, and Ryan sends us to another break to let Nikko, Vonzell and Scott catch their breath and the two people sitting on either side of Anthony to dry their seats.

Randy tells Scott he needs to go, because the others were awesome. Obviously Randy was in the potty during Nikko's performance. Paula spouts her usual, assuring each of them that they will be huge recording artists, therefore they really don't need this popsicle stand of a show, and Simon essentially says that Paula is stupid.

Vonzell is sent back to the sofa. She's safe. Well, heck, she should be. She's the only one of the three that shouldn't have been there in the first place, but maybe she'll think twice before doing a tired old song again. And hopefully she'll bitch slap Anthony later.

And there's Ruuuuuuuuuuuuben and Kimberly again, but this time it's a promo for that weiner on a stick show.

Ryan forces Nikko to tell the world what he did wrong, seeing as he's the comeback kid and all. Scott says he's not perfect. Scott, honey, it's too late to beg.

Ryan lets Scott off the hook, and he pees his pants. Nikko watches the funeral tape and remembers how lucky he was to have been able to spend four weeks on the stage. He sings the song which got him booted, dedicates it to Mario, and books a flight home to St. Louis.

Well, I was ready for a shocker and didn't get one, except for the fact that John Stevens is back and his fans are more dangerous than I had imagined.

Till next week.

Simulblog out.

That was the sound of music?

Well, at least it was sound.

I have to confess. Last night was one in which American Idol was just one of many sounds in a mass of conflict. It's difficult to watch, listen, take notes and try to form a semi-literate entry while, at the same time, cursing the day I decided to marry, regretting the day I chose my career path and wondering if the day I was born was indeed a blessing.

Whew. But as the dust settled and, indeed, the sun did come up again, albeit earlier than it did on the east coast, it was time to rewind the archaic VHS tape and watch my favorite show undisturbed.

Problem is, now I'm more disturbed than I was.

Disaster doesn't quite fit, does it?

I still question the wisdom of selecting Broadway musicals as a theme, considering the term "Broadway" has been used pejoratively over the last three seasons. But some of the most beautiful of music has come from these musicals, so the challenge was, indeed, challenging.

With a few exceptions, the performances were disappointing to put it lightly. It became apparent with Scott's opening The Impossible Dream, that the kids really were unacquainted with these songs, their contexts, and the musical from which they came. Even Vonzell admitted that she had just learned People, from Funny Girl, one of the most well-known musicals of the last fifty years, if not from Broadway, then from the movie adaptation.

Most of the kids seem to have just memorized the melody and the lyrics (and even though those were messed up more than once) and decided that was enough effort. Most of these songs were phoned in, devoid of any understanding of the meaning of the message. That is unacceptable, as was this episode.

Scott skated through his opening performance, and tripped or fell on one or more jumps. This could have been the perfect saving vehicle for him. This is a song that should bring shivers to the spine and reduce people to chills and tears. He performed it with the same depth of emotion that most people sing Happy Birthday. On a positive note, he looked better than he has throughout the competition, and he appeared much more confident and comfortable on stage. But it wasn't enough to mask a poor vocal performance. Scott had better hope The Proud Underdawgs have strong dialing fingers and have remained faithful. Otherwise, he may find out how it feels to stand center stage on a Wednesday night.

My opinion of Constantine has not changed since last night. In fact, I am more convinced that this man has more vocal talent than I ever gave him credit for. And it was evident that he was one of the few who really understood his lyrics and presented them accordingly. I must admit, though, that I am starting to applaud the times he doesn't make goo-goo eyes at me through the camera. A little goo-goo goes a long way, Constantine. Remember, less is definitely more.

Good gracious, Carrie. You have the best technical ability of all of the women, and you chose this abomination of a song? It's a great song, within the context of the story, but as a stand-alone number, there's a reason people don't sing it. It's BORING. So no amount of technical ability is going to make it not boring, especially when executed by a vapid performer.

At the same time I'm crucifying Carrie for performing such a bizarre choice of song, I was disappointed that Vonzell, who is quickly becoming my favorite female, selected such an overused one. I was grateful she didn't try to flouish it, but I just wasn't as blown away by the performance as the judges seemed to be. I have to agree with Simon here; it left me cold. But I don't think that is as much a reflection on Vonzell as it was on my dislike of the song itself. (If she was going to pick from Funny Girl, why didn't she select My Man or I'm the Greatest Star? Both great songs, with considerably less mileage.)

Simon used the word hideous to describe Anthony's disaster of a performance. Somewhere Mary Martin is looking down and frowning. And messing with Mother Superior? Did he even understand the words to this song? Did he comprehend the meaning of this song? Did he mean to make my dog cry with that last note? Anthony, you better have some hearing-impaired faithful fans if you want to stay in the competition. You've already overstayed your welcome by one week.

I am not getting this adoration of Nikko. I really don't. Where in the world did he get the idea that West Side Story is filled with rhythm and blues? That might have been his poorest performance to date, filled with missed and cracked notes at the front end and crammed with too many flourishes and curlycues at the end to destroy any resemblence to the original. What Randy calls making it current, I call taking a walk to the seal.

Anwar is at least making a return to the man I fell for in the semi-finals. And, while he still seems to be struggling with the comfort of the stage, he did, for the first time in the finals, appear to be having a genuinely good time. But Anwar, I hope you took a good long look into a full-length mirror and realized you had enough layers to outfit a small middle school. And did you raid Constantine's scarf closet?

Bo admitted that he closed his eyes and pointed, and that was how he ended up in Pippin. It wasn't his best vocal performance, but because he is so inherently comfortable on the stage, and he makes us like him whether we want to or not, Bo has that unique ability to make even the mediocre sound great. Simon was right, though. He has had two letdown weeks. The thing is that Bo's letdown week could be anyone else's performance of the competition. He's in no danger of elimination, and he knows it.

Nadia went with one of my favorite songs, Nancy's heartbreaking As Long as He Needs Me, from Oliver. But again, like so many of the others, I doubt that Nadia truly understood the context of the song beyond the superficial lyrics. Nancy is heartbroken, but steadfast, as she sings this, so, while Nadia, despite cheating us at the end, was able to hit the right notes most of the time, she lacked the resolve and the pain that turns this from a song into a performance.

This was the first time Idol had ever sponsored Broadway as a theme night. Let's hope it is also the last. It might have served as a mini-lesson for the kids on the history of American musical theater, but must we watch as they learn? Needless to say, had this been my introduction to American Idol, I would opt for the Weather Channel.

Fantasia makes a return to the Idol stage tonight, performing her newest single Baby Mama, which is certain to please those who adamantly believed that, as an unwed teenaged mom, she was not fit to be an Idol. Perhaps we will be spared a group sing, considering the disasters we've heard the past few weeks.

But, if we are to have a group sing, might I suggest Oklahoma? Somehow I just see Bo and Carrie as Curly and Laurie. Nadia is the perfect Ado Annie. Anwar fits as Aunt Eller and no one would make a better Jud than Scott. On second thought, no. Poor Jud is daid, after all.

Never mind.

At this stage, with still so many kids left in the game, and fan groups still emerging and strengthening, it's always so hard to predict the bottom three. But, as usual, I'll try.

Should be bottom three: Anthony, Scott, Nikko.
Will be bottom three: Anthony, Nadia, Nikko.

Everyone, it seems, is predicting Scott to be in the bottom three, due to a poor Tuesday performance and the revelation of the arrest record, and, while I think he belongs there after two lesser performances, I don't think he will. If this were a competition where we voted people off the island, I would predict his probable ouster. But his fans have kept him in over both Nadia and Anwar in the past few weeks, so with adversity looming, I expect those fans to have dialed their hearts out, saving him from eviction.

Nadia seems to have lost most of what fan base she once had. She's the Jennifer Hudson of season four, so, despite one of the better performances, I don't expect her to get the enthusiastic support the others are getting.

Anthony simply cannot survive much longer. He is audibly the weakest of the remaining contestants, and, while he does enjoy the support of young women with strong fingers, even some of them cannot, in all honesty, want him to continue to be verbally flogged by Simon each week.

Tonight Anthony will be climbing mountains, fording streams and following rainbows till he ends his dream....

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

No Tony Awards here

Considering the universe of music out there, representing the world of musical theatre, some of tonight's song selections were a bit surprising. But, considering that the kids were told to look to the past, as opposed to the current, the concentration of 1970s and before picks was predictable.

Overall, I would rank the show as acceptable, and very disturbing, considering most of the kids admitted to never having heard the songs until this week. Oy.

But here are the early observations, from someone who doesn't get to see it live anymore because of the moon and the need for more daylight, as always, from worst to first.

Anthony. Anthony always seems to land here, but it's only because he deserves it. I never considered Climb Every Mountain, from The Sound of Music, to be a pop song. And your attempt to make it such not only made me sick, it made me mad.

Nikko. You were out of tune during the first three-quarters of One Hand, One Heart from West Side Story. And, again, this is a ballad, not an R & B song. I know this song, and I didn't recognize it.

Scott. The Impossible Dream, from Man of La Mancha, is one of my all-time favorite songs. (And it was performed during last year's finale, with the same arrangement, by the way.) Overall, it was an admirable performance, although you probably missed more notes than you have all season.

Anwar. Okay, If I Would Every Leave You, from Camelot was your best effort of the finals, but unfortunately, it sounded just like some of your other efforts. The point of theme weeks is to push you out of the comfort zone, to challenge you vocally, and turning every song into variations of the same theme is not proving that you're up for the challenge. Just ask Nikko.

Carrie. Could you have possibly chosen a more boring song than Hello Young Lovers from The King and I? Of course, it did mean you didn't have to do much performing. It was performed technically fine, but it gave mundane a new definition.

Vonzell. Fine job taking on Barbra Steisand's People, but, like Carrie, that tune just leaves me cold. Perhaps I've heard it too many times. I don't know. It was technically fine, but it wasn't enough to force me to vote for you.

Nadia. I sang As Long As He Needs Me in my sixth grade production of Oliver, so I'm being protective. It was your best performance of the finals, but (and this might be petty) the angry mean face has gotten old. This was a song of love, and the facial expressions and the lyrics just didn't fit.

Bo. Simon was wrong. Corner of the Sky from Pippin was a nice change from my ballad-induced coma, although I was really hoping you would choose something from Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell or Hair. You are one of the few we can count on for a consistently good performance.

Constantine. Okay Buddy, cut the rocker crap. You are either so NOT a rocker, or you're the best actor in the world. My Little Valentine can be the most bland song, and it can also be overused, but, despite fighting with the band for volume control, you really put a new and different light on this song.

Who will land on the seal? Don't know. I'll get back to you on that. But it won't be Fantasia, who will be performing tomorrow.

To get to Oklahoma, you gotta Climb Every Mountain

And so it's "musicals" night on Idol. Boy meets girl and music ensues. Or something along those lines.

It's do or die time for many of the contestants, several of whom few would have put in the danger zone for many weeks to come.

Bo and Carrie are still safely tucked in their frontrunner status, and Constantine and Vonzell, barring some sort of meltdown, are happily keeping them company. But the others? Everyone but these four remain hanging off the cliff, potential victims to the clunky note, boring performance or Simon's "unlikeable" label.

In all likelihood, Scott is in the greatest danger tonight. This week's reveal that he has an arrest record will undoubtedly turn some people into anti-Scott zealots. His advantage is that there were already a number of anti-Scott voters out there, and he has survived thus far without a trip to the seal. His fans will probably hit the phones longer and harder, though, in the face of this adversity, but he really needs to prevent a repeat performance of last week's disaster to help to ensure his stay in the game.

Anwar also needs to watch some tapes from the semi-finals. He needs to remember why he entered the finals one of the frontrunners, but found himself in the bottom two last week. Moon River, Anwar! What a Wonderful World, Anwar. Classics, Anwar. That's where your strength is, and, after three disappointing performances so far, you need to return to that strength.

An uber-performance from either of these two will spell trouble for the remaining three, including the two who should have exited stage left before the dearly departed Jessica. Nikko's fan support seems to be growing faster than the national debt, but the bull's-eye on Nadia's forehead seems to be expanding. And Anthony is hanging on by the skin of his young fans, most of whom think he's cute.

With this group, predicting the bottom three before the show has aired is virtually impossible, simply because of the unpredictability factor, which is what is making this season far more entertaining than the last. But I'll try.

Bottom three: Anthony, Nadia, Nikko.
Going home: Anthony.

But I said that last week, and, while he deserved to, he didn't even leave the couch, much less the competition.

So what do I know?

Friday, April 01, 2005

And the drama continues...

In the past few days, the private life and the past of two of the Idol contestants have been revealed and examined, both in the press and throughout various blogs and message boards.

I choose to ignore the speculation regarding anyone's personal life, but the revelation this week, thanks to
The Smoking Gun (again), that Scott Savol was arrested in 2001 on charges of domestic violence, considering the show's treatment of past contestants, is worthy of discussion.

The show has gone on record as assuring that Scott's presence in the competition is secure. He was forthcoming with the producers about his arrest. The matter is no longer being litigated. He paid his debt and has, according to producers, shown a degree of remorse that does not justify his disqualification.

But, of course, there were immediate screams of foul, considering that Corey Clark was disqualified during season two, also because of allegations of domestic violence. And, certainly, everyone remembers the removal of Frenchie Davis, following the reveal that she had posed topless for an adult website. And Donnie Williams was replaced during season three, after he was stopped for DUI after celebrating a little too much his selection to the top 32.

People seemingly are forgetting about Trenyce, who saved herself the embarrassment of a disqualification in season two, by revealing to the producers before the finals began that she had been arrested for criminal conversion, therefore, when the big reveal hit the media, the producers were not caught off-guard and steadfastly defended her right to continue to compete.

And, it seems, many people have forgotten that Paula is in the midst of her own legal battles.

So, there is precedent for allowing Scott to remain on the show. And there is no need for the producers, through their puppet Ryan, to acknowledge this four-year-old incident, any moreso than it was necessary to acknowledge Paula's hit and run plea.

Many posters have expressed the certainty that, because of this revelation, Scott will be gone by next week. I'm not so certain. Scott's future will be left in the hands of the dialers. It remains to be seenif this will put him in more jeopardy than his "image problem" already has, but it could very well spur his fans to dial faster, harder and longer.

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!