Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Separating the Men from the Boys...

For the record, I prefer Simon in a tight t-shirt rather than a chest-baring, white (un)button-down. And as long as I'm commenting on the judges, let me just say that Ellen is even more adorable than I dreamed possible. Such a great addition. And...I didn't think I could possibly dislike Kara any more than I did last season, but, after just two nights, I can barely look at her. She spews complete nonsense and does so with an air of authority and an annoying swagger. And Randy? He's just a chair filler; a blob.

Now let's get the party started...

Toddrick Hall is too cool for school. Period. I think it's very telling that in his intro he describes himself as a writer, actor and dancer and fails to mention...singer. He does know that this is a singing competition, right? He's definitely a performer who feels at home on the stage, but he lacks the likability factor.

Aaron Kelly makes David Archuletta look like a freaking bully. Honestly, he is beyond sweet. I have no idea what song he is singing, but he sings it well. The judges seem pleased. Simon comments on Aaron's lack of confidence and Ellen counters by saying that she loves his humbleness. Randy says something philosophical like, "Sixteen. What a voice, dude. Wow." And I don't know what Kara is saying because I'm fast-fowarding through her pep talk and screaming at the TV telling Kara to shut the ffffront door!

Next up, Jermaine Sellers. I don't like his weird facial hair. I don't like his style. I don't like his over the top performance. I don't like anything about him. I don't like Jermaine Sellers.

And then it's Tim Urban's turn. He apparently was added after the fact when one of the Top 12 men couldn't fulfill his duties. He sings Apologize and it is beyond painful. Simon does not hold back and tells him that they made the right decision the first time around when they cut him. Ouch. Tim looks like he's going to cry and when the camera pans to his mother in the audience, she too looks like she's going to cry. Ellen tries to alleviate some of the uneasy tension by telling him that he's adorable (about 50 times), but it is still very awkward. I don't think that Tim is going to get a second second chance.

In his up close and personal, Joe Munoz tells us that he told his friends that someday he's going to be on stage and now it's finally happening. Finally? Cause you're like what, 18 years old, Joe? And it's finally happening? So you've been waiting forever. Well, enjoy it while it lasts, Joe. I already forgot him. Joe, who?

Tyler Grady is that 70's dude. The judges crack me up, they constantly tell the contestants to be true to themselves, to be who they want to be. So Tyler decides a long time ago that he wants to be Jim Morrison and when he gets up on stage and does his thing...the judges tell him to be somebody more current. At least, I think that's what they say, I can't hit that fast-forward button fast enough. Tyler bores me, the judges bore me. I'm bored.

Until Lee Dewyze opens his mouth. He sings Chasing Cars and I don't care what the buffoons say, I like Lee and his version of the song. I think he's adorable in a Chris Daughtry sort of way. Ellen and Simon agree: he's authentic and gives one of the best performances of the night.

Song choice, song choice, song choice. Apparently those words mean nothing to John Park who chooses God Bless This Child and proceeds to put me back to sleep. He might get the grandmother vote tonight, but he certainly isn't getting the under 65 vote. The camera catches his parents while Simon is telling John that he showed zero emotion. If looks could kill, Simon would be dead. Unfortunately, I think it's John Park who is going to be dead...dead last.

Now it's time to see the birth of Michael Lyche's daughter for the umpteen millionth time. I know the judges think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but me...not so much. I am not all over his enormous personality or his enormous biceps. And really, if we are being honest here, they aren't so much enormous muscular as they are enormous fat. Right? I'm just not feeling the love for Big Mike. His version of This Love is very lounge-lizard-like. I'm sure he'll be around for awhile and I'm sure we'll eventually get to meet his daughter, but I am not looking forward to either.

Ellen tells Alex Lambert that she likes the fact that he's holding on to the mullet. It's not really a mullet; he has a little flip on the end much like the do that Florence Henderson sported as Carol in the Brady Bunch. The resemblance is uncanny, really. But bad hairdos aside, poor Alex, this is thee most uncomfortable performance I think I've ever seen on Idol. Whoa. I just want it to END. Where is that giant hook to pull him off the stage?

You know who surprises me tonight? Casey James. Once I tune out Kara's rude antics, I really enjoy Casey's performance. Casey's got swagger. He's more than a pretty face, he can actually sing.

And the last man of the evening is Andrew Garcia singing a Fallout Boys song. I think the judges are too hard on him. I like his version and I think he has a great voice. It's just a damn shame that he looks like that....and following Casey "the eye candy" James doesn't help matters. But I think America will invite him back next week (and hopefully by then he'll have invested in some contact lenses).

I wish I could fast-foward through the next 3 weeks. Just give us the Top Ten already....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ladies First...

We're singing songs from the Billboard Charts. If you don't know the drill by now, you've clearly never watched the show (contestant Crystal Bowerbox apparently falls under this category). You need to sing well, make it your own, and for the love of Pete, do not sing a BIG song unless you've changed it to the point where it is unrecognizable to the judges. Don't even think about singing Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, or Randy will call you out so fast your head will spin.

So, do the contestants deliver the goods?

It's the first time I've ever laid eyes on Paige Miles (And by the way what is up with her eyes? They look like something you'd see on a creature in Avatar). She's good; I like her up until the very end when the camera goes inside her mouth for her final note. And then she shares even more when she tells all of America that she needs to "pee". Hmm. Bad song choice, bad word choice. Let's hope she doesn't get sewn into her clothes again next week.

Next up, Ashley Rodriguez. She sings a Leona Lewis song and is a little too plastic for me. She breaks the cardinal rule of Idol: singing a big song and not making it her own. Enough said. But I think she did enough to get invited back next week.

Janelle Wheeler is a wine sales rep. If she wins Idol, I want her old job. She sings Heart's What About Love. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this song on Idol, I wouldn't need the job as a wine sales rep....

Lilly Scott gets the most original award. She wants to be regarded as a musician, not just a singer. I think she proves that she is a musician and a great performer when she sings Fixing a Hole by the Beatles. She's been at this music thing for years living out of her car and performing on the streets of Denver. Her parents are in the audience tonight. Hmm. Did they not have a spare couch where Lilly could crash when she was trying to make it as a star?

Katelyn Epperly reminds me of Meg Ryan. She sings Oh Darling and I think she's just alright. Did Randy just call Ellen "E"? Yes, I believe he did. E is almost as cute as Katelyn Epperly. (R is not).

And the first disaster of the night goes to Hayley Vaughn. She's screaming I Want to Hold Your Hand at the top of her lungs and the top notes hurt my ears. She has a new nose piercing and new hair extensions and I can't get past her Chicklet teeth. She's a sparkly mess on stage and I do not want to see her back next week.

Hayley's disaster is followed by another...this one brought to you by Lacey Brown singing Landslide. She's got some bad, forced bed-head action going on and she's sporting a toga made out of my grandmother's table cloth. She's changing the melody and has a very odd way of annunciating. She was cut last year right before the Top 24....I think this year she'll be cut right after the Top 24.

Michelle Delamore sings Alicia Keyes' Fallen and sings it well, but she certainly doesn't make it her own. And yet, the judges don't call her on this fact. I think it's because she's got the look they want to know better and she does have pretty vocals. She'll be back and hopefully next time she'll shake things up a bit.

Didi Benami is this season's Brooke White. She sings The Way I Am and seems very happy with herself until the judges tell her that they are less than impressed. Simon actually tells her that it was dreary and a bit indulgent. As usual, he's spot on. She'll be back next week, hopefully having heeded their advice. Love that she is tear-free tonight.

Siobhan Magnus = Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club. She's odd and mysterious and has no idea what "dark horse" means. Wow. I am not a fan. I don't think she's a breath of fresh air; I think she's just plain odd.

Singing Hand in My Pocket complete with guitar and harmonica, Crystal Bowersox seems a bit out of place on the Idol stage. When Simon suggests that she does something a bit more creative to separate her from other subway station performers, she quips, "But they don't allow original songs." Really, Crystal? Never mind Simon's advice, my advice is get your hands on Season 1-8 and get yourself familiar with the show, for crying out loud.

And last, but not least is Katie Stevens who seems genuinely shocked after singing Feeling Good that the judges aren't feeling good. She is an old fart for a 17 year old. In fact, she's an old fart for a 40 year old. But Kara thinks she has "ridiculous chops" so I'm sure she'll be all set. Can I tell you how much I hate Kara's trite remarks? Ridiculous chops. Really?

So, I say Hayley Vaughn and Lacey Brown need to pack their bags, but we'll have to wait until Thursday to get the official word because tomorrow night is the boys turn to dazzle us....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last Shot in Hollywood: Part 1

71 contestants in 3 holding rooms without any chairs or smiles. I grow weary of the superfluous drama....but it wouldn't be Hollywood week without it.

I must admit, I actually like most of the contestants. I think that's a first for me. But I don't like them all. Mary Powers bugs the bejesus out of me. For somebody who oozes so much confidence, she doesn't have much talent. Or fashion sense. She stares into the camera with those enormous, black-rimmed eyes and declares, "My life, my family's life, is going to change." Really, Mary? After her final audition Simon whispers to the judges that she could be interesting because she is older. I say she could be interesting because she's a _itch. But lucky for America, the judges decide that to be in the top 24, a contestant needs more than an awful attitude and Mary doesn't make the cut.

I fast-forward through 2 hours in record time...a relatively easy feat since every other male contestant sings Man in the Mirror for his final audition. I'm sorry, but I still can't get my head around that black, teenage country singer. She freaks me out; she looks like a caricature of herself. At the end of the show, we are still not sure of her fate, but something tells me she's going to be in the Top 24 along with...

  • Michael Lynche: Apparently it was worth missing the birth of his daughter. After seeing him pick up all of the judges (except for Randy), I think it's best that his daughter bulks up a bit before Big Daddy comes home.
  • Didi Benami: She's adorable and original and made her angel friend quite proud.
  • Katelyn Epperly: Can't wait to see if her good-for-nothing father shows up in the audience.
  • Casey Forget-his-last-Name: He reminds me of Smith, Samantha Jones' boyfriend from Sex and the City. But apparently he's going to be Kara's boyfriend this season.
  • Aaron Kelley: He's the 16 year old who is as sweet as the day is long, but not all that cute. I'm not sure the teeny boppers are going to fall for him. Maybe the 40 something mom's will keep him around? (Present company excluded.)
  • Lee Dewyze: The jury is still out on Lee. I like his voice, but I'm not sure I like his being.
  • Todrick Hall: He's got the Fantasia connection and a photo of him and he's almost famous. I like his look and his personality, I just haven't heard enough of his voice.
And the Sore Loser of the Night Award goes to....Jessica Furney. First she begs the judges to give her a chance and when they do not - she blames her loss on the folks she sang with during Group Week. Nice, Jessica.

And the drama continues tomorrow night...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Group Day in Hollywood

The fake, over-the-top drama associated with Group Day is ridiculous, yet absolutely mandatory. The Idol script requires that there be at least three (made-up) crises accompanied by boatloads of dramatics and theatrics. This year's labor and delivery subplot was the icing on the cake.

But, really, why must we see the Idols sing in a group? They don't want to share the stage with anybody, much less their competition. This isn't an audition for New Kids on the Block; this is about one winner, one singer, one American Idol. But, I suppose the clash of personalities makes for good TV.

So, at this point there are 96 contestants and I don't really know any of their names. And they are forming groups and those groups have names. And a lot of the contestants look alike. Many, if not all, have bad hair. At any given moment, two out of three contestants are crying, making it that much harder to tell them apart. I'm exhausted trying to keep up with the mayhem.

And for some reason they only have the grand ballroom to practice in...adding to, you guessed it, the confusion. I don't know, would it kill the producers to provide the groups with break-out rooms? No, it wouldn't, but it would take away from the drama. There, I answered my own question. That also explains the all-nighter. Seriously, we have dragged this audition crap out for months, but for some reason Group Day needs to happen within a 24 hour period - or else. Really?

At the end of the night we are down to 71 singers. Big Mike is now officially a father and is sticking around Hollywood for the next round. Mary, the bossy rocker babe, is on my last nerve and is in dire need of a new hair-do. The Colbie Caillet-ish girl made it through with her group. And anybody who chose to sing Sweet Escape is on a plane home. Rightly so.

I think I have some favorites, but I still haven't learned their names and I don't want to get too attached because before long those 71 singers will be reduced to 24...and even that is 14 too many for me.

The sun is setting in Hollywood and it's way past my bedtime. Until next week...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ellen Takes the Stage...

181 of the nation's best singers take the Kodak stage during Hollywood Week...and the person I most want to see perform is Ellen.

Before she takes her seat at the judges' table, Ellen tells the crowd of Idol hopefuls that she doesn't have a musical background, but she knows what it's like to get on stage and try to please a crowd.

But is that what it takes to be a good judge?

Kara and Randy have the music industry resumes for the job, but they don't have what it takes to entertain us. Enter Simon. He has a knack for recognizing talent when he sees it and has achieved great success launching many a musical career. But he also has the ability to cut to the chase and put words to what everybody is thinking. Sure, those words are often caustic and scathing, but he's honest and he's spot on and he's always entertaining. And that is precisely why he's the best judge.

So, yes, Ellen knows what it takes to try to please a crowd, but she also knows how to think on her feet. She's quick, eloquent, sharp and she's an entertainer. That's why she'll be a good judge and give Simon a run for his money. Which is exactly what American Idol needs this season.

With that said...who were this evening's stand outs? Apparently the Top 24 is already established and the names of the 12 guys and 12 girls have been leaked to the media. You can easily find them if you are so inclined. But I'd rather wait and be surprised. So...
  • Katie-with-the-grandmother-who-has-Alzheimer's is adorable. The producers are painting a very pretty picture of her and I've bought it hook, line and sinker.
  • Loved the dude who sang Paula's Straight Up...
  • Hated that the stereotypical dumb Southerner had to get back on the air-O-plane to East Bumfuck. But really, you knew Hollywood was going to eat her up and spit her out if she stayed another day. It's best that she goes back to the trailer park and picks up where she left off...which I believe was jumping off bridges, no?
  • I don't get all the fuss they're making over the teenage, black country singer with the Chicklet-like teeth. I cringe every time she opens her mouth. Am I missing something?
  • Definitely liked Lilly the sandwich maker who sang Ella Fitzgerald. Quirky = good.
  • I think Big Mike was lucky that his wife's water broke so he could play the labor card. I hate that he missed his child's birth, because he is not going to be the next American Idol. And his wife is sooo going to hold that over his head for the rest of his life.
  • Must admit that I was somewhat relieved that Justin the cancer survivor did not survive Hollywood week. He reminded me of Donny Osmond. Maybe he can hook up with the Osmond Brothers in Vegas or something?
  • I liked Casie the Stripper this time around. I was not all over him the first time I saw him (half-naked), but if he keeps his shirt on, he may just have a chance...
  • Didi the Waitress sounded (and looked) a lot like Colbie Caillat. She's a cutie.
  • Unlike Crystal the Tattoo lady. Whoa. She sounded great, but if she sticks around (and I think she will) she is going to need some major help in the looks department. The stylists can't wait to get their hands on her. Start with some Crest White Strips and take it from there. And her son? It pains me to rip on a baby, but, man, that kid looks like an alien. Scary. But the judges liked her, as did the crowd. So...she's got a good chance at winning (and getting a free set of veneers) (I'm just saying...)
Ok, tomorrow night is Group Rounds....bring it.