Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Long Live Ryan, I mean Queen!

Is it Tuesday night again already? Wasn’t it just yesterday we were rewatching Bucky’s performance with subtitles so we could figure out the lyrics? Last week was country night, or as I like to call it, the worst show of the year for the visually impaired. The two previous themes went over about as well as a Duke lacrosse player visiting North Carolina Central University. Country music is dead; long live the Queen. When I first heard about the Queen theme I was shocked; I didn’t know Richard Simmons wrote music. It is funny how the musical guest spot on Idol morphed into a coveted spot. In the second season the people invited hadn’t had any success since the 1960s. Season number three welcomed Elton John and despite an occasional appearance by Barry Manilow since, the guest have all been relevant. In fact, this year Prince is vying to make an appearance. The normally standoffish Prince begging for a performance on Idol shows just how far the show has evolved. Justin Guarini where have you gone? Although no longer making music anyone cares about, the remaining members of Queen are still responsible for crafting some of America’s pop/rock standards. Queen was one of the most versatile bands of all time, able to switch back and forth from almost any musical genre. I know there is still a band called Queen, so technically I shouldn’t refer to it in the past tense. However, the band I grew up loving died the day Freddie’s amazing talents succumbed to the Aids virus.

“Can anyone match up to Freddie Mercury” are the first words out of Ryan’s mouth on Queen night. Answer – NO! Ryan is wearing another real outfit, complete with a sweater vest under his jacket. Fantasia is sitting in the first row of the crowd but apparently winning American Idol is not enough to get a shout out from Ryan. The judges are dressed pretty normal tonight; I kinda miss Randy’s love vest. We almost get an extra commercial tonight during the Queen introduction. On the way to their rehearsal, the contestants reenact the classic head-banging scene from Wayne’s World; for some odd reason Paris has her phone open while head banging. Who is she calling? Mandisa? Maybe to get an update on how many gays Mandisa converted since she got eliminated. Hopefuly she is just taking a picture. Ryan says, “With all star tributes, a hit musical, and memorable idol performances their music has lived on, now the show must go on.” Did he actually put all three of those in the same sentence with equal weight? Yes Ryan, the Freddie tribute concert featuring Elton John, David Bowie, George Michael, Seal, Axl Rose, and countless other fantastic talents is right on par with Constantine’s one minute and thirty second butchering of Bohemiam Rhapsody last season. Queen gave the contestants an exclusive concert hours before a real concert. Sadly, the crowd only doubled in size later that night when the real concert took place. Kellie walks into the camera’s view mouthing “oh my god.” Seeing Queen without Freddie is kinda like when you turn on TBS and discover a James Bond movie. You don’t know the title, but you know you have seen it before, the only question being who stars in this one, Connery or Moore? Nothing againt Moore, he is a fine actor, he just isn’t James Bond, there is only one James Bond – Timothy Dalton. Ok just kidding there, but you get the meaning. You can never replace Sean Connery just like you can never replace Freddie Mercury. Ryan says “following a valuable lesson in the ultimate school of rock the idols were ready to do justice to some killer queen.” We have our first pun of the night. First up tonight is Bucky with his rock workshop.

Bucky – Fat Bottomed Girls

Brian and Roger from Queen think Bucky rocks and has a good attitude. Bucky makes some jokes about getting the other contestants some backstage passes while he is rehearsing. Bucky isn’t Seinfeld, so everyone kinda fakes a smile, except for …Mandisa! Remember they filmed this a couple weeks ago before America sent her packing. I wondered what Mandisa would feel like around Queen. Sure Freddie is no longer alive, but can probably still feel the gayness. Do you think she would have tried to save him right there on the spot? Anyway, when the camera pans to Mandisa she literally looks possessed by demons. She shows no smile and appears to roll her eyes back inside her head. I wish I had a plasma tv just so I could freeze frame that expression. Roger and Brian say that Bucky likes to perform. When the biggest compliment they give you is that you like to perform, umm uh oh. Bucky is sans cowboy hat, but the gravel voice returns. This is a pretty good song choice for him, it’s a relatively simple song to sing with few big notes, and even fewer difficult vocal jumps. He has some pitch problems, especially on the chorus, but he doesn’t swallow half the song like last week. He maintains the same basic sound the entire song and varies little if any from the written notes. Freddie added vocal stylings to his songs that gave them more flair and substance; Bucky adds nothing, so the song is static, almost boring. Randy says it’s a cool way to start the show and feels like he is at a Bucky concert. Paula feels Bucky made it a country song, and Simon says it was a good song choice, but the song was bigger than Bucky. He goes on to say it was quite mediocre. In response to Simon’s comment, Bucky says, “Freddie Mercury ain’t nobody you wanna jump up behind (I think this might be how Freddie actually contracted HIV).” This is out first unintentional homoerotic moment of the night. Bucky is better tonight than I thought he might be, he picked a good song for his limited vocal abilities. As much as I would like to see Bucky rejoin Rocky back home, I give him credit for knowing his limitations and never wandering away from his comfort zone. Based on the performance tonight Bucky should be in the bottom three. If Bucky again avoids the bottom three, lord helps us all.

Ace – We Will Rock You

This song could also be called Ace will not rock you. Ace is wearing leather pants and tells us he is going outside his comfort zone tonight. Ace rehearses with Queen and wants to put his own spin on the song. Brian May, who wrote this song, is not very happy about funking up his song. He tells Ace he cannot do that to his own song. Hey Ace if Brian May thinks you are doing something stupid, maybe you should listen. Ace waits exactly 17 seconds until he breaks into his usual ‘I’m flying’ stance; a move actually gayer than anything Freddie Mercury ever did on stage. I correctly predicted Ace would sing this song tonight after seeing the clips of the rehearsals. I knew it was Rock you since Ace was waving his hand over his head. He likes literal choreography. If the song says scar, he points to scar. IF the song says hair he touches his hair. So when a song says waving your banner all over the place, Ace waves his imaginary banner all over the place. Ironically, Ace messes up the lyrics tonight and forgets to sing the waving line. Instead he repeats the last line of the last stanza. Not only does Ace like to rearrange the music, he likes to make up his own words. The last part of the song is different from the original, but its not a change that makes it better, or worse really, just different. So why make the change? Ace throws in some falsetto for his vagina bearing fans at the end of the song. I never really feel Ace tonight. Rock you is a song Queen wrote with the specifc intent of getting an entire stadium involved. Get them on their feet stomping and clapping and the fans will really get into the concert. Ace never really reaches that plateau tonight. Randy says it was a 5 or 6 for him, supposedly on a 10 point scale. Paula uses the word bastardize and calls Ace a little pitchy. Simon thinks Randy was generous, calling it a complete and utter mess. Randy agrees with him, and Simon points out that Ace forgot some of his words. In response Ace said “you know, I think I rocked.” The camera cuts to a sign reading “Ace is a Full House.” Can we have a rule that says no more card puns allowed with Ace; its time to fold them up the river. Ryan asks Ace if there was a bit of an uncomfortable moment there at the end, he noticed it when he watched the tape. Obviously, he was referring to the meeting with Queen when Ace announced his belief that he writes better songs than Queen. Ace thinks Ryan is talking about tonight’s performance and says something about feeling cool and wanting to feel the crowd on the right first and then the rest of the audience. Huh? Ace lacks any believability in the Queen theme. There are dozens of songs Ace could have performed that would have better showcased his meager talents. Tomorrow night the voters might rock Ace. Even if he doesn’t go home, he should be in the bottom three.

Kellie – Bohemian Rhapsody

Kellie tells us her dad used to listen to Queen. I’m sure knowing that prison inmates everywhere love them is great news for Queen. Kellie is wearing all black with a pair of boots. She looks like the evil female terminator from Terminator 4. Ryan says we love her too and calls Bohemian Rhapsody the most popular song of all time. Kellie is a little off pitch at the start of the song. She looks a lot like Lita Ford about 20 years ago. Rhapsody is the textbook example of why you do not pick a 5 min song for Idol. Brilliant songs like Rhapsody take the listener on a musical journey. When you chop the song down to fit in the 1 min 30 second time frame you kill the song, and any emotion it might evoke. When Kellie reaches the fast part of the song she calmly walks off the stage and vamps for Simon. She then falls to her knees and thrust her pelvis at the camera while she is behind the judge’s panel. Well that is gonna get her a couple million additional votes. She returns to the stage for the finale, but wait there is no gong? How can you do this song and not end it with a gong? Shame on you American Idol. Kellie doesn’t ‘feel’ this song. She should have been running around during the rocking conclusion. Instead she pranced around like she was in a beauty pageant. Her vocals are not good tonight; its way below her capabilities. Randy says he thinks she worked it out and Paula says it was truly ambitious. Simon calls her very brave and says it looked like the night of the living dead. He says ‘on paper’ it should have been completely hideous, to which Kellie responds “on paper?” Geez, is she really that stupid? Wow. She says she has a hard time understanding Simon’s accent. No Kellie you just struggle with sentences containing more than 4 syllables. I like Kellie, I really do, but tonight is just awful. She should have selected an easier song. However, America is dumb. Don’t believe me? Check out the last presidential election. Therefore, Kellie will avoid the bottom three and be safe yet again.

Chris - Innuendo

He didn’t know they had never performed the song live. Brian says Chris is great and that his daughter loves him. Chris picked a song from 1991. Chris assumes his starting position: tilt head to the right and stare into the camera with as much intensity as possible. I think I got sick of this performance style back in the Hollywood auditions. I’m not sure what look he is going for with the growing beard and wallet chain. There is actually a really pretty middle section to the original version of this song; Chris of course excised that part. The crazy lighting effects do their best to cover up the boring nature of this performance. It feels like Chris is repeating the same thing over and over again. He always sounds good when he sings, but he picked the wrong song. And dude, blink! Seriously, I didn’t see him blink one time during the entire song. If I ever need someone to stare at two light bulbs and tell me which one lasts longer, Chris is my guy. Hey in the audience, look it’s the ‘big girl’ from the practice. She must have a new show about to bomb on Fox. Randy acts like he is going to blast Chris, but then goes into praise mode. Paula says: “Chris the reason you…the bands probably never performed it live is because they probably don’t want to and only you probably could and there have been more times that you have superceded even when the band performs that’s why you should look back at the package and watch how they are in admiration at your performance.” For fun just say that quote out loud over and over again and you too can pretend to be Paula. Um no Paula, Queen released the song in 1991 and Freddie died in 1991, that’s why the song was never performed in Concert. Simon points out that the song is not a very good song, but he is disappointed. Simon wishes Chris picked one of the great Queen songs so he could have created a ‘moment.’ Chris does what he does well, but I’m sick of hearing him sing one long never-ending song. He is probably safe again since America loves bald slightly bearded chain wearing rockers with a heart of gold.

Kat - Who wants to live forever

Originally she was going to sing a fast paced song, but once Mandisa left and who wants to live forever became available she switched her song. Ryan is in the audience holding Kat’s mom’s hand. Her mom is a vocal coach; maybe she can spend some time with Bucky. Wow the lighting people are finally making someone besides Chris look cool. Kat is totally backlit with copious amounts of smoke billowing past the floodlights. She has some pitch problems on the higher notes; the entire song I feel like at any moment she could completely lose it and turn into Bucky. However, she works it out. Crap, I’m starting to sound like Randy. This is not her best vocal, but for such a big song she sang it pretty well. Other than Paris I don’t think any of the remaining contestants could have performed this song. Randy says it was a little big for her in spots, but a good job all in all. Paula loves when an artist changes her mind and thinks Kat handled it well. Simon says it was almost the ‘moment’ he keeps trying to find. He also says it was one of the best of the night, and he is correct. Considering the inept performances in preceding her, this might be the best performance of the night so far. Based solely on tonight’s show, she should be safe. As a former member of the bottom two its quite possible she returns, however, I am pretty confident she will stay on the show for at least another week.

Elliot – Somebody to Love

We learn Elliot used to work as a radio DJ before he became an Idol contestant. He manned the overnights on a local radio station (his name was E Double), yet he had never heard "Somebody To Love?" How can you be over the age of 20 and never hear this song. Roger says this is one of the hardest songs in the Queen catalogue to sing. Elliot starts the song and returns to the semi bouncing form of a couple weeks ago. The arrangers did a pretty good job of cutting the song down without making it sound horrible. However, throughout the entire song I feel like its just a little too big for Elliot’s voice. I really like Elliot’s voice, but this song is big and has a lot of huge notes that Elliot just skips; including any and all parts featuring the falsetto. I’ve heard this song performed by two people, both great vocalists: Freddie Mercury and George Michael. Of course it’s not fair to compare Elliot to them, but since when is life fair? This is one of my all time favorite songs so I’m holding Elliot to a high threshold. If I had never heard this song I would have given him very high marks, but knowing what I know about the song, I can’t get behind Elliot as forcefully as in past weeks. Particularly troubling for me is Elliot’s over enunciation of some of the words. Randy says there were some pitch problems but he loves Elliot. Paula thinks it’s the best vocals of the night and Simon says Elliot picked the tough one, but overall he thinks he probably pulled it off. I am not sure how the people at home will receive Eliot this week. Its quite possible he returns to the bottom three this week since there are only two really bad performers left. If he does end up next to Ryan center stage, he should be the first one back to the couch.

Taylor – Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Taylor asks the producers if he can sing yet another John Denver song since things went so well last week. Actually he picked we are the champions when he rehearsed with Queen prompted Brian and Roger to say he has a nice instrument of a voice. However, Taylor knows what the people at home want – crazy Taylor. He decides to change his song to a fast paced number so he can run around the stage like an idiot. Couldn’t you see Taylor in one of those used cars commercial airing in the middle of the night with him running around the lot showing off the cars screaming about his desire to ‘SAVE YOU MONEY.” If this whole idol thing doesn’t work out I think I just discovered his next career move. He walks into the rehearsal room and tells the piano guy that he is changing his song, to which the guy says ‘you are kidding.’ Does the guy playing his music really not know until Taylor walks in? I am thinking that scene is a bit scripted. Unless the guy knows all the Queen songs by heart he needs to get the music prior to the rehearsal. Taylor starts off and immediacy changes around the feel of the song; he is not doing a copy of the original album version. He takes of the microphone and then Carrie style tries to kick over the mic stand. He misses the stand – Strike one; Taylor is obviously not on steroids. He goes up and down the stairs and runs around behind the judges. Surprisingly throughout the song his vocals never suffer from the movement. He sounds great the entire time; I hear no pitch issues. Best performance of the night, and the only one that I am not thinking “I would much rather be watching a Queen concert DVD right now instead.” Randy says he missed Taylor the last two weeks, but he’s back tonight. Paula says they have heard the song so many times, but she is not sure if Taylor needs a record deal or a straight jacket. Simon asks Taylor if he is drunk. You can’t really blame him since he works next to an alcoholic; he probably assumes everyone in America is drunk. Maybe we can get Chris drunk next week. If he can keep up them crazy eyes he has even while drunk I’m going to suggest they lock him up before he kills again. If Taylor goes home this week I’m moving to Guam.

Paris – Show must go on

Roger and Brian think Paris was really good, and liked everything about her, she was fantastic. Wow she changes her look again this week. Now its some kinda Tina Turner looking black leather combination. This is another song too old for her. I really don’t think she has any idea what this song is about or what type of passion she should bring to the vocals. She is laughing saying ‘come on’ in the middle of the song; it just doesn’t fit. Her vocals are pretty good, but this song is too big for her peppy personality. It’s the second week in a row she selected a big soaring song instead of one of the fun numbers she does so well. She does a good job tonight, probably one of the better performances, but it didn’t quite work for my tastes; it certainly pales in comparison to the original and the Elton version recorded at the Freddie tribute concert. Randy thought she was a little rough in the middle, but worked it out. Paula says the whole country is finding out she is the powerhouse she is; Paula is a little less than coherent tonight. Simon says the whole thing was a little weird. Next week paris really needs to find a happy song intended for a 20 something year old female and get away from the belt it out songs. She is a bottom three veteran, so a return there is always possible, but I don’t think she will be eliminated.

Final thoughts –
Figuring out the bottom three and the eventual departing guest is getting harder every week. Thankfully we still have Bucky and Ace singing; that duo should provide the bottom two tomorrow night. The next question is who joins them? Taylor, Chris, and Kellie have some obsessed fans, so they should all be safe, leaving Kat, Paris, and Elliot. Elliot almost went home last week, so his fans should burn up the phone lines this week and save their favorite former DJ. Random side note: when they play back clips from the contestants at the end of the show Chris always sounds better than he did while singing the entire song. I suppose this makes sense. Chris has a nice voice with a good tone, but he sounds the same the entire time and never really changes it up, making a two minute song a boring repetition of the same long note. In short doses its great, but not over an entire song, let alone an entire album. Choosing between Paris and Kat is difficult; Paris was also in the bottom three last week and Kat was the last girl standing a few weeks ago. It’s a total guess but I’ll say Paris ends up back in the bottom three. The big question is which one of his crazy methods will Ryan use to eliminate the contestants this week. No matter who goes home, I think I speak for everyone when I say its about time we had another goofy group number!


Post a Comment

<< Home