Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the top 12 men: average is the new good...

Watching the opening round of the sixth season of American Idol live competition brought back chilling memories of past years, waiting and waiting and waiting for one good performance, only to have a Bo Bice or an Elliott Yamin take the stage and make me forget all about the waiting. And the ones who preceded them. The problem with Tuesday night that good performance never came.

So I guess my waiting continues until tonight. Or next week. Or next year.

Oy, where to begin.

I'm going out on a limb here to say that nerves were the biggest problem with the top 12 guys. Most of them played it safe, most of them stuck to the familiar Idol fare that we've become accustomed to, and most of them were so unmemorable that my TiVo is working overtime.

On the idealistic side, I'll say that I hope things get better. On the serious side, I'm predicting here and now that the next American Idol will be a female.

Nevertheless, here we go, here are my views, as always from worst to first, with a big old tie at the bottom.

Paul Kim (Careless Whisper). Oh for heaven's sake, enough with the barefoot schtick already. Maybe shoes will help. I had hopes for Paul after listening to some of his music. Simon called it "third rate." I agree.

Sundance Head (Nights in White Satin). Talk about a promising contestant shooting himself in the foot. I didn't think Sundance even belonged in the 24 after his horrendous Hollywood rounds and, instead of proving me wrong, the boy steps out onto the eyeball stage and convinces me that I was right. He gets the first "drunk dad at a wedding" review from Simon, but I've heard better dads. Between the off-tune "oh I love yooooo" and the awkward stage movements, I don't know which I found least offensive.

Sanjaya Malakar (Knocks Me Off My Feet). The 17-year-old is the cutest of the kids this year, but dang, did he have to start off the season with Stevie Wonder? Stevie got an entire episode devoted to him last season. Let's give him a rest, shall we? And, with apologies to Stevie fans, I really really don't like this song. And Sanjaya didn't make me like it any more. But he's so cute, I'm sure the Hello Kitty Cingular (now a part of AT&T!) phones were humming. Heck, even I got 70s flashback of boys named Cassidy during the performance.

Rudy Cardenas (Free Ride). Note to Rudy: when one is wanting to stay and not go, one should not put a big target on one's chest. But wardobe aside, what was he thinking? Aside from the props for an uptempo start instead of a sappy ballad, Randy nailed it with one word: corny.

Nick (Vote for) Pedro (Now and Forever). Sorry, I couldn't help the "vote for" thing, cause it was pretty much the only moment I smiled. I like Nick. I like his crooning style, and if he's smart, he'll follow that path, because this performance was as bland and boring as watching snow melt and his posture was so poor that it was distracting. And I usually don't pay attention to that sort of thing, but it symbolized the snooziness of the whole performance. I really hope people threw him votes, though, because, well, I like him. Now stand up straight!

Chris Richardson (I Don't Wanna Be). Chris has been getting likened to Justin Timberlake and last year's Elliott Yamin. And he's not about to, apparently, dispel any of those comparisons, choosing the Gavin DeGraw song that has been "idolized" by both Bo Bice and Yamin. And he performs it in a suit and tie? Wassup with dat? Anyway, the song is creeping onto my "please never sing again" list, but Chris is passable, and I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon. (And, too, his dad is awesome, and we need a cool dad to watch in the audience this year.)

Jared Cotter (Back at One). Jared came to the stage without much advance exposure, consequently without many pre-conceived expectations (see Sundance, above.) Randy said it "wasn't his best," but how would we know? And Simon tells him he "looks good." Oooo. That's normally the Paula kiss of death. He's no Brandon, but in a night where mediocre is good, Jared was, well, okay.

Brandon Rogers (Rock With You). Okay, I'll be honest. I can live with looking at Brandon over the next several weeks, but he can cut out the longing looks into the camera. Been there, done that, criticized it all over the place. I didn't catch the "pitchy" until a second listen, and it was that, and (again) Randy is right that Brandon (as with all of them) needs to tone down on the manic runs. But in a night of mediocre, it was one of the better performances, and he's one of the few I have hopes for.

Chris Sligh (Typical). So Chris kicks off his season by insulting Skynyrd fans, performs an obscure song and closes by kicking Simon in the (metaphorical) groin. Ouch. After six seasons of this competition, it's a pretty clear rule that contestants who want to continue refrain from attacking Simon, even when he deserves it. Despite a good performance, I fear he'll be remembered for the Teletubbies zinger. Note to Chris: shut up unless you're singing or you're in the finals.

AJ Tabaldo (Never Too Much). AJ tells us he's tried out for five seasons of Idol. Wow. That's tenacity. Or craziness. I'll get back on that. He reminds me of someone, and I can't place it, but, despite the popped-up collar that shook me out of my Sanjaya-inspired 70s stupor and flung me into an 80s nightmare, I've decided I like him.

Phil Stacy (I Could Not Ask for More). The audition flashbacks remind us that Phil has an issue with beginnings of songs. And sure as predicted, he falters out of the gate, but reins in the nerves enough to surpass the mediocrity of the evening. But I can't help but wonder if anyone else was as distracted by the freshly-shaven head and ears as I was.

Blake Lewis (Somewhere Only We Know). Beatbox Blake decided to leave the Beat in the Box, in a strategic maneuver to show he's not a one-trick pony, and gave pretty much the best performance of the night, complete with backup vocals provided by dad. (I love the cool dads.) [Clarification: Dad was not actually singing back-up; he was simply singing along. I love when they do that!]

So what did we learn? Rudy needs a new t-shirt, Paul needs shoes, Chris Richardson needs to lose the tie, Blake needs to get the Beat out of the Box, Sanjaya needs to trim his hair, AJ needs a collarless shirt, Chris Sligh needs to keep quiet and Phil needs a hat.

And I need a nap.

Oh. I forgot:

So who's getting Judded? I mean booted? Remember we lose two on Thursday (four total if you count the two unfortunate ladies).

Who I want: Paul and Sanjaya
Who should: Sundance and Paul
Who will: Paul and Rudy (that opening slot is a killer)

Want to relive it? Why? Well, the videos are available at Rickey's.

Labels:

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil's gleaming pate: Yes! Visions of Coneheads kept popping into my head during his performance -- which was a shame because I really liked his performance once he hit his stride.

LEN

11:30 AM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous gavintiegirl said...

You are spot on again Jennifer. I love you! But in a fellow AI fanatic sorta way. PEACE!

11:55 AM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, Chris R has a very cool dad. He has alot more talent to come. Tonight wasnt his best, but I hate the song. I thonk he will do jusdt fine in the coming weeks. As for beat boxer guy....OMG when does it end!

11:59 AM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blake's Dad provided backup vocals?
I missed that.
Is the Dad a singer as well?

12:24 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger jennifer said...

Nah. When the camera shot his parents (or at least I thought it was his parents) Dad was singing right along. I love when they do that.

We're gonna have cool parents this season.

12:27 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, Jennifer.
I was having a slight Clairol impairment.

1:07 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so right on about Phil's head! I spent more time thinking about the odd shape of it - I barely noticed how badly he started the song off! Perhaps that is good strategy???

Anyhoo - The time is finally here. It's sort of like a wedding. The anticipation (so far) has far outweighed the actual event.

Thanks so much Jennifer! You are a gem!

Xo

1:44 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Kristi Mantoni said...

I too was very disappointed over all. I do however think that Jason “I-will-not-call-him-Sundance-anymore” Head was the worst...and kinda creepy! Loved Blake most of all.

2:10 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger jennifer said...

Kristi, you've got it! We'll refer to him from here on as Jason. The Contestant Formerly Known as Sundance. Or, to borrow from Dave, TCFKS.

2:20 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your reviews! They remind me of my own. http://jamieburnside.joeuser.com

Last night's show was the LONGEST episode of Idol that I remember. They should really think about going back to the old format of passing through two each week, with a wildcard round to help the deserving to make it in to the top twelve.

In my opinion, last night's best was Blake, and the worst was Sundance. (We'll see how much pull votefortheworst has with getting him through.)

I voted for Nick because he is one of my favorites, and his song wasn't AWFUL.

(Are you the person that used to post in my Idol blog?)

It was inevitable that Chris would stick his foot in his mouth at some time, but why so soon?

2:53 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Kristi Mantoni said...

TCFKS it perfect!! I love Dave's nick names. Other than this one, my favorite is BAG (for those of you not in the know, BAG=Barefoot Asian Guy)!

3:02 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

TCFKS . . . I like that. May I use it? (I'm calling him Smashmouth for now because he looks like their lead singer).

"Who gets Judded?" That's also very funny, although also tragic. Not that Judd got whacked, but that Seacrest ambushed him. I wonder what cruel stunts they have planned for this year.

5:41 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger jennifer said...

Dave, we aim to give you acronyms! It's all yours.

I agree with the Judd assessment. I still cringe when I remember his face. They toned the executions down after that though. Although I still think Melinda's tirade made for great TV.

I'm cruel that way, I guess.

5:44 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

The beauty of Melinda's meltdown is that she was absolutely, irrefutably 100% correct. No matter how much they had Simon and Randy saying it was all about the singing, some contestants were handed votes early by being shown on TV and she was justified to feel used.

I read another commentary the other day that believes some people are put into the top 24 simply to get canned and were never intended to get a fair shot. With Dialidol supposedly keeping in check the allegations of vote fixing because the totals are not made public, the only way for American Idol to make sure the person they want to win actually wins is to make the playing field un-level.

Unfortunately, they have been very transparent about who they favour in the past (ABM being the most obvious), so this year they've had to tone it down and be much more subtle.

I think there are some people who made the top 24 simply to show how (comparatively) bad they are in relation to the ones Fox (and 19E) wants to win.

5:54 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger jennifer said...

I read the same article, Dave. And I think it true. How else can you explain Kevin Covias, who screwed up, IMO, their plans. ABM IS the perfect example. Last year they sort of hit us over the head with their anointment(s), so I am glad to see they've toned down the obvious favortism some.

Melinda was right, but it's not like it was some new phenomenon just leveled at her. (Who was the other girl dumped on the same night. I can see her face, but I can't remember her name. I thought she would advance. She almost had a breakdown on stage.)

I hate it when I can't remember.

6:09 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Jamie said...

Alright. I give up. . . Explain the acronym: ABM

6:31 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger jennifer said...

LOL Dave nicknames most of the contestants. It's tradition. (His link is in the sidebar; he's the High Lord. And a good read.)

ABM stands for Abandoned By Mother and it is our beloved Kellie Pickler from last season.

(It usually takes me the full season to remember them all, and usually they're toast by the time I do.)

6:42 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abandoned By Mother. I had to look it up in Dave's archives because I... couldn't remember!

LEN

6:42 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger JR said...

There is an attempt to have a TCO or two this year. TCFKS was there until he torched Hollywood week and went in the dumper again last night. Simon all but put on a vote for Pedro campaign button last night. The guys are going to need TCO status to survive this year. I've go a feeling that the girls will eventually prevail big time!

7:02 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

You know, Len, they say the memory is the second thing to go . . .

8:26 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

Just FYI, Melinda was whacked the same night Judd got blindsided.

Sarah Mather was the other girl who got canned along with Jared.

All four were lined up and mowed down.

8:29 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Doug said...

Am I the only one that thinks that Chris Richardson is the identical twin of actor Bradley Cooper? See http://ausbury.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/idol-familiarities/

1:29 AM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous chrisrocks said...

Am I the only one who thinks TCFKS had a Meatloaf sort of vibe going on? That's who he reminded me of when he was singing...staring into the camera...sweating...shaking as he sustained a painful note. (Sorry to any Meatloaf fans out there!)

8:01 PM, February 22, 2007  

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Thanks Rob for the awesome image!