Monday, January 29, 2007

NYC: you don't have to sing...

After battling cable issues that "forced" me to miss most of day (hour) one of the the New York City audition episode, I was spared most of the really awful stuff, and got to see some hopefuls from the city that sent 35 to Hollywood.

What did I learn? I learned that you don't have to sing to be an American Idol. Thanks Sarah Goldberg, but I knew that already. I've been watching since day one. I remember Janay.

In other news from day two (and I hope we've seen the absolute end of the two-hour audition episodes, because they're bordering on cruel and unusual punishment), my early favorite is a returnee from last year. I think I am [heart]ing Nicholas Pedro, who jumped ship during last season's Hollywood round when he couldn't deal with the tradition of forgotten lyrics, but dazzled me with his Fly Me to the Moon. Hopefully he's learned his lesson and will survive this year's group round, because I want to hear more. Lots more.

And I can bear to look more at Jenry Bejarano, whose not only got a great family story to tell, but is, in Paula's words, easy on the eyes with a voice to boot. I can deal with that.

Christopher Richardson is another story, though. Paula predicts the girls will love him. I predict a hot tub scene or two but, after being compared to Justin Guarini Timberlake but performing A Song for You, if the boy makes it to the semi-finals and tries Moody's Mood for Love, I will call foul. Loudly.

My money's on Jory Steinberg to make it to the top 24. She's pretty, she sings and Simon seems to be impressed.

The judges seemed less impressed with Rachel Zevita and her various singing personae. One minute she's a growling rocker before morphing into a balladeer and finally Beverly Sills. Actually I hope she doesn't get kicked out of opera school, because I think she may be back at class, especially if she can't settle on one personality and reign in that defensive attitude. I don't like her.

And while I wasn't able to catch all of day one, I did get lucky enough to see Sarah Burgess and her tearful call to daddy. Honey, reality television is not going to patch up family wounds, but dry your tears already. And I did get to see BFF's Amanda and Antonella. Oh, how I'm looking forward to the cat fights during Hollywood, featuring these two.

And would somebody get Ashanti Johnson a casting agent? She's a natural for "So You Want to be a Soap Star."

I'm not even bringing up the superfluous Carole Bayer Sager, because I've ranted enough about guest judges. But hey. Paula was on her best behavior, so that's a good thing. Right?

Next stop: one hour (YAY!!!) from Birmingham, where Idols are born and bred. This one may actually be worth the time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

memphis is burnin', love...

All-in-all, the Memphis audition episode was the best yet. With only an hour with which to torture us, the auditions, both bad and not bad were kept at reasonable length, so suicides should have decreased. No puppies were kicked for sport, and no children had candy stripped from their fingers. Or, at least the ones who did lose their candy did so deservedly.

Yes. It's much more fun to laugh at the humiliation of the truly
arrogant rather than the ones who are mentally challenged.

Like my personal favorite, Janita, who assured the audience that making a first impression is imperative, and that the judges would, in all liklihood, view her as both innocent and conservative, but very sexy, because she likes to be sexy, just not "over the top." Something of a top, though, would have been advisable. Too bad her "confidentiality" got stripped.

Now that was funny. Something tells me we'll see her in the finale.

And something tells me at least two of the Memphis crew will be sticking around through April. My pick is Melinda Doolittle, the session background singer who put a wallop on Stevie Wonder despite almost peeing her pants. The other is Jason "Sundance" Head who, according to Simon, blew Taylor out of the park. While Taylor may have had the more memorable audition, I can see Sundance giving the reigning idol a run for his money.

And yes, we had Phil Stacy, nominee for daddy of the year, narrowly getting passed through, even though, by the end of Hollywood, I have a hunch he'll have tons of time to spend with his new baby and Sean Michel who, unless he undergoes a major transformation and sheds that Fidel Castro homage, won't be vying for any live votes, despite a decent vocal.

And then there were the many others who left screaming and dancing while clutching their golden paper. We'll meet them at a later date, because it's all about pulling underwear out of our flies while croaking how we're a hunk 'a burnin' loooove right now.

Because THIS is American Idol.

Next stop: NYC.

Friday, January 19, 2007

sleep over seattle...

Amid the mess that we are being handed as the sixth season of Idol gets underway, I need to remember why I like this show so much. Aside from the brother and sister duo from Seattle, nothing from that episode was worthy of much discussion.

The manufactured drama is old. It's tired. We've been there and we've done that. And if Idol producers are pandering to a new audience who might still think it's genuine, fine. I've never liked the audition episodes. (In fact, it took me several weeks to even begin watching season one because the promos led me to believe that the series was a 21st century version of The Gong Show.) But I've tolerated them because, well, occasionally we spot a diamond amid the mud. And, while the humiliation of these people was uncomfortable at times, I would always remind myself that they chose to try out and, after season one, they should have known the consequences. But there's just something about the Seattle show that reminded me of those old Circus freak shows. And all the rationalizing in the world can't make me feel clean.

Maybe I'm getting old. Or just impatient for the real show to start. But for the first time in six seasons, I turned off an episode of American Idol and went to bed. It wasn't worth losing sleep for.

So I've been immersing myself in the good stuff. And Michael Slezak helped. A ton. Check out his list of the
top 10 Idol performances ever. I might argue #9, but other than that, he's right on the money. And best yet, he's got the link to each performance. Cleanse yourself!

I'll be back after a well-needed Idol break. (Oh. And go BEARS!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

minneapolis: other door...

What do you say about a premiere episode of American Idol when the most entertaining character was a locked door? What do you say? How about that was two hours of my life that I will never get back.

One would presume that even a show as iconic as Idol would want to begin its sixth season with a bang. Wimper was more like it. To sum up the show: the bad performers weren't amusing, the good ones weren't memorable, the guest judge (why do we have those?) was worthless and Paula was incoherent.

Let's hope there's a William Hung in Seattle.

But at least they're hitting the "check out these backstories" early, giving us some folks to root for, even if they're one song wonders. Gotta love Denise Jackson, the self-described "crack baby" whose golden ticket to Hollywood gave her cause to explain that she's now the only person in her family to make anything of herself. And who won't cheer for the Jarrod Fowler, the requisite active military man, winner of Reagan Idol (named for the ship), who's singing for all the troops, even if the only thing in his catalog is Rascal Flatts. We met Matt Sato, who, with a little Clearasil, might just become one of this season's traditional heartthrobs for the under 14 set.

Of the golden ticket recipients, only two of the featured ones stood out as potential live competitors. I enjoyed
Sarah Krueger, even if she did sing one of the songs I would like to see permanently retired from the show. Randy Jackson was quoted as liking a "girl with curly hair." Hers fits the bill. But so does Perle Meneses, who seemed to impress the judges with her impromptu Shakira impersonation. I expect to see Hollywood footage of her in a hot tub.

Tonight is Seattle, the city that
Simon ticked off and whose interview with Paula has become an internet sensation. And then we get a few days to recover.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

season six premieres!...

With the premiere just hours away, I can't help but wonder if this season will be equal, worse or better than the one that preceded it.

It seems every season begins for me with a fear that I won't possibly enjoy it more than the last. (Except, of course, for season four which I knew I would prefer, because while season three was entertaining to a degree, it wasn't exactly packed with talent. Speaking of which, bigtime congrats go to Jennifer Hudson!)

I think season two remains my favorite, but just by a hair over season one. In the first two years, the show was still unpredictable, the kids were still in the mansion and Paula hadn't completely melted down. Season three was a letdown for me, as only half of the final 12 had any real talent. I mean, come on, John Stevens outlasting Jennifer Hudson? Jasmine Trias in the final three?

I enjoyed the cast of season four, even though it was clear early on that it was to become the Bo and Carrie show. What I loved about last year was the absence of any clear frontrunner and the emergence and transformation of Elliott Yamin, the longest of shots, who remains my favorite Idol contestant.

Will I enjoy this season? Time will definitely tell, but I won't enjoy the first few weeks. I never do. For me the season doesn't begin until Hollywood week and that always-enjoyable top 24 "walk of death" episode. I will write about the auditions, as excrutiatingly painful as they are to watch, but there won't be any live blogging until the show is as live as the blog is. And as characters emerge and stories begin to be told and we can see who's this year's Pickler and who's this year's anointed one, I'll find myself being sucked into the AI machine again, setting myself up for all kinds of angst as the ones I don't like will keep on keeping on and the ones I adore find themselves having a "Bad Day."

But from what I'm reading, there's a good chance that this year they'll be heading "Home," courtesy of Chris Daughtry.

Because THIS is American Idol.

Monday, January 15, 2007

please please me...

With less than 24 hours before the launch of season six, we're learning bits and pieces of what's planned for when we've left the delusional wannabe singers behind and gotten into live competition.

And all indications, if
USA Today is on the mark, are that yes, there will be a Beatles night, after years of trying to coax the owners of the Beatles catalog into permission. The closest Idol has come to the Fab Four was a Lennon song and a McCartney song in the season two finale and a George Harrison song last year.

Hey Jude, I just wanna hold your hand like yesterday!

And, according to executive producer Ken Warwick, a star-studded halftime show is in the works at final six time in April. Personally, I hope the stars are Idol stars, but he's not saying.

Are you ready?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

season six schedule...

Season Six of American Idol is set to begin Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. (EST). And it looks like they're gonna treat us to more auditions and less Hell Week.

According to the proposed schedule, the Hollywood rounds, also known as Hell Week will be shown in two consecutive episodes over one week, Feb. 13 and 14. That's right. That means five weeks - 10 agonizing hours - of audition footage before the real fun starts. After Hollywood, of course, when the field is narrowed to 24 - 12 men and 12 women - the semi-finals will start until we whittle the final field to 12 finalists.

The show is promising to "blow America away" midway through the season with a twist. Nobody's talking about what we'll be twisting, but with this show anything's game.

Anyway, Tuesday night is, supposedly, Minneapolis, followed by Seattle on Wednesday. Tuesday, Jan. 23 will be Memphis, followed by New York on the 24th. Tuesday, Jan. 30 will be Birmingham, where Idols are made, followed by San Antonio on Jan. 31. Los Angeles will be featured on Tuesday, Feb. 6 and a "the best of the rest" episode follows on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Hollywood rounds will be the week of Feb. 13 and 14.

We're going men first during the semi-finals this season, with the top 12 guys performing live on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and the top 12 women doing the same the next night, with a one-hour results show on Thursday, Feb. 22.

The finals begin Tuesday, March 13. And for the first time, this season episodes will be available online.

Are you ready?

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!