Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This Column is brought to you by FEMA

Only five contestants remain on American Idol, which in past seasons would mean there were at least three good singers left, but this year all five are pretty darn good. Ryan AGAIN starts the show from the back of the theater and then makes his way back stage so he can have his customary fit for a king big entrance. Hey look Anthony Federov is in the crowd tonight. I really wonder how they determine which former loser gets to sit in the crowd. Sometimes it makes sense, like with Lisa Tucker last week; she was there to plug her appearance on the OC. But why tonight for Anthony? We have an OC cameo for one of the kids, why not get them on other Fox shows like maybe House. Ace could play a patient dying of good looks and his brother could play the caring relative upset with House’s acerbic style. This has Emmy written all over it – or you know maybe series cancellation, either way I wanna see it happen. Tonight three judges will judge the five contestants while they each sing two different songs. Speaking of the judges, Simon has a higher necked shirt than normal; he doesn’t have any cleavage tonight! Ever notice the plethora of hot girls behind the judges every week? Is this by accident? I’m guessing no, they probably have guy whose only job is placing hot people behind the judges’ table. Can’t have ugly people getting their faces on camera for extended periods of time, what do you think this is, the Larry King show? They have to get 10 songs into an hour long show, which means not as much filler as normal, so we move into Elliot’s intro video quickly.

Elliot – On Broadway

Elliot started chewing his fingernails shortly after his birth in 1978. He is doing the weird stuff with his non microphone holding hand again. He really needs to know what to do with that, maybe put a second hand on the mic. Instead he kinda swings it around non-stop snapping his fingers to the beat. He is wearing a button sports coat with a HUGE knot in his gold tie. I don’t know who dressed him tonight, but I think they were blind. This outfit comes from the Katharine school of fashion. Hopefully none of his buttons pop off like Kat’s did last week. He sounds pretty good on the song, but he is holding out the long notes at the beginning of the song with less vocal gymnastics than normal. Midway through he goes into a scat routine; is this the first time someone has scatted on Idol? The bass player is really getting into this song, look at that funky guy move in the background! He feels pretty natural tonight, not as forced as he has been in the past. It is kinda funny when he sings the line about playing the guitar when we don’t know if he really can play an instrument. Hey look, its Ace back in the crowd. Did he forget they kicked him off two weeks ago? This is Elliot’s dream, it's like Ace is his brother cheering him on from the crowd like Ace’s brother did before he got kicked off. Can the Ace clan make him an honorary brother? I wonder if Kellie will be back next week. This is a pretty good performance from Elliot, not his best yet on the show, but certainly not his worst. Randy says the song started a little rough, but by the middle he liked Elliot’s beautiful tenor. Paula liked the ending and his rich vibrato. Simon called it not his best performance, and tells Elliot he is lucky he’ll get to sing a second song tonight. Ryan says there are two dedicated numbers for Elliot tonight, but you don’t need to call both numbers to register your vote. Did he really need to tell American that fact? Are there people out there stupid enough to think both numbers should be called to register one vote? If those people are out there I say let them call both numbers over and over again all night long, anything to keep them from entering and interacting with society.

Paris – Kiss

How cute, some ladies are holding up a sign that reads, “ Ryan We’ll be Your Desperate Housewives,” proving Ryan can hook up with any 45 year old stay at home mom he wants. He recently took over that title from David Hassellhoff. Paris gets an interview with Ryan. I wonder how they determine who gets the interviews and who just goes right into the song. Do they flip a coin? Paris says she picked the “Kiss” song since its different, but then says it not something you can make a song out of. Huh? Then why did you pick it Paris? Because Prince is like a god in Minnesota, ok then, great reason to pick a song. Maybe she thinks she can pull a Jasmine ‘carry an entire state even though you have no talent’ routine. Paris was born in 1998, so she is by far the youngest contestant. Her mother was born in 1994, which finally explains why she looks so young. It is funny that Paris says she picked this song to honor Prince, but the original version actually recorded by Prince came out two years before she was born, so she had to use the Tom Jones remake version to clear the song as one from her birth year. I wonder if she knows that or just sings what they tell her is singable. I wonder if she might use falsetto at some point in the song; she has yet to use any all season long, so if she has it in her repertoire, now is the time for unveiling. She is moving around a lot and ends up behind the judges. She is also wearing a huge cross around her neck; a somewhat odd icon to wear while you sing a song laced with sexual innuendo. Simon is sitting in his chair looking back at her with his arms folded looking entirely bored and rather petulant. A couple of times her voice sounds a little grating on the ears. These songs are so forced everyone is trying to cram as much in as possible; at one point Paris says she just has to dance, then she proceeds to dance for 2 seconds, until the music starts up again and she continues singing. I guess she had to dance, just not for that long! When she is done singing, one of her relatives is so excited she almost kills the little kid standing at her side. Rule number one for television survival, never ever ever get near a really excited black woman, you will get hurt. Don’t believe me? Watch the Price is Right and you’ll know what I say is true. Randy says it is nice to see Paris do her youth thing, and Paula says the whole country knows you can sing your butt off, but prefers her singing older songs. Simon is the harshest of all the judges calling it screechy and annoying. Paris thanks Simon for his comments, to which Ryan calls her a politician! Silly Ryan, she can’t be a politician, she is black, and we already have like 2 of those, America isn’t ready for a third!

Chris – Renegade

This is the first song tonight that I’ve never heard, but I’m guessing it’s a rock song. Chris is a 1979 baby; in his video he says he used to dress up like super heroes as a child, but they show pictures of him wearing a clown and vampire costume, what super heroes are these exactly? Clownman? Is there such a thing? Tonight Chris is dressed up like a rocker; he is wearing an all black outfit complete with his CHAIN OF DEATH holding his wallet in place. He moves around the stage more than he normally does, even strolling behind the judges’ panel. Hey cool, he also throws in about 2 seconds of falsetto, it would have been nice if he gave us a little more of that sound. Idol’s electric bill is going to go through the roof if they keep up this light show. Whenever Chris is singing, be prepared, the light show might blind you. You almost need to watch Chris through that little hole contraption thingie people use to watch eclipses since his minute and 30 seconds are so harmful to your eyesight. The back up singers are dancing up a storm behind Chris, they didn’t even stand up while Elliot sang. When Chris finishes, they show his family and there is some middle aged white woman trying to do the Arsenio Hall dawg pound movement, and boy did she not even come close to doing it right. Poor lady, she probably thinks she just did something cool., Randy says we have a hot one here tonight. Paula toes the incoherence borderline saying something about Chris already setting himself far apart from anyone else tonight. Simon says Chris is a million times better than anyone else tonight. No hyperbole there right? Ryan asks Chris if he feels like he is in a groove now, and Chris says yes, “I’ve finally perfected the stare of death, in fact last night I killed a rodent in my dressing room just by looking at the little guy.”

Katharine – Against All Odds

Katharine gets an interview with Ryan where they cover her near disastrous wardrobe malfunction during last week’s performance. A button holding her dress in place popped, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see anything! Kat says she hopes she didn’t offend anyone, little does she know it garnered her an extra 4 million votes! Ryan’s joke falls really flat when he says we all found out she wears boxers. As usual, when Ryan tries prewritten jokes they fall flat. Kat says tonight she is wearing a trash bag, sadly she is not too far off, it’s a very plan looking dress that looks like it has three belts on it, one at the top, one in the middle and one near the bottom. I don’t get what look she is going for here, I guess anything that covers up more than the last dress she wore. As her video starts she is not sure if she should go on the stage yet, so she starts to go, then doesn’t, then finally does go and runs female style onto the stage. By female style I mean that kinda run, not really run, jog thing that girls do when they are wearing a dress. It’s also the way at least one guy runs at the company picnic. Kat says she was a quiet child, which is ironic since now she wants to be a professional singer. Hmm, I’m not liking the arrangement of this song at all, it is such a familiar song you cannot change it up too much or you’ll ruin it for every one. Someone got too cute with this thing, probably tried to show off Kat’s voice, and created a song that is just a mess. She sounds good on some parts and not so good on others, especially the first half of the song. The last quarter of the song is pretty good, but I wanted her to go falsetto on the last note. It really is just calling out for someone to take the note up an octave. Randy says he isn’t sure if the song is in the right key, but it got ok at the end. Paula says it is not her favorite performance from Kat. Simon agrees with Paula and Randy and says it was one of Kat’s best performances. Huh? What did he just say? Paula and Randy obviously don’t listen to what Simon says, since they say nothing. Several people behind the judges look really confused, like “did we just hear him say that?” Ryan asks Kat if the song is hard to sing and stupidly she says no, then corrects herself and says she doesn’t know, and then says when you are nervous anything is difficult I guess. Kat, when someone gives you a chance to explain why you didn’t do your best AGREE WITH THEM AND SAY THE SONG IS HARD TO SING! Even Kellie would have said ‘yeah that’s a super hard song to sing, I’m sorry.” Ryan starts to give the numbers when Simon interrupts and explains he accidentally called it a ‘best’ when he meant to say it wasn’t one of her best. Kat looks really confused; her brain wasn’t expecting Simon to compliment her, so she didn’t hear him say what he actually said! She then says, “Oh gosh we are going back to next week…last week.” Idol is so great when chaos ensues.

Taylor – Play that Funky Music

Taylor started out as a blonde in 1976, then turned into a brunette (can you really say a guy is brunette, it just sounds odd), and now he has a headlight on his head; he has endured more hair changes than Ryan! This could be a really great song for Taylor, or a really bad song. He hits the stage wearing a shirt louder than freight train. He sounds really good while he dances around the stage, but can he really stay on stage with this song? No, of course not, he dances his way behind the judges; the entire time it looks like he might fall out of pace with the song, but he keeps up, and never misses a note. He can move around and sing better than anyone in the history of Idol. Even when he runs around he sings in tune and doesn't loose his breath support. At the end of the song when he says ‘until you die’ he falls to the stage Torvill and Dean style and belts out the final note. The crowd loves this guy; they go nuts when he is finished. Unlike some other performers, Taylor’s standing ovations never seem forced by the standing ovation sign lighting up. Randy calls it a wild choice, he feels like he is in a bar and just had a few. Paula is the fashion expert, and she says he dressed the part and had fun; she loves the authentic Taylor. Simon is totally befuddled; he says it was like a horrible wedding performance, but he did like it when Taylor collapsed. This is not the first time Simon has invoked the wedding description, seriously, I need to start going to the same weddings he goes to, because there are some pretty good singers there I guess. Ryan, ever the good sport, joins Taylor on stage and mimics his falling down move, leading to the two of them lying down next to each other while Ryan reads the numbers. I’m glad he never did this with Will, because that would be REALLY creepy, this is just silly.

Second half of the Show!

For their second and final song the contestants must select a song from anywhere on the billboard top 10 lists. Since there are about 100 lists, that means they can pick from over 7 million songs. Ryan hypes the billboard list for a bit and says the reigning number one song is “Bad Day.” You know the song Idol plays every time someone gets kicked off the show; even though Ryan doesn’t say it we all know the reason that song is number one is because of Idol. Heck if you put my yodeling on Idol I’d get a top 10 hit. Ryan says the show created 90 number one Billboard hits in only 4 years. That is just a little misleading, since one song could count as 10 number ones. You could be number one on the pop chart, number one on the adult contemporary chart, number one on the whatever chart, etc., all with the same song! I’d like to know how many actual songs accounted for the 90 number one hits. Apparently Kelly Clarkson broke a record the Beatles used to hold; this of course means that Kelly Clarkson is better than the Beatles right? Do you get the feeling if the Fab Four was on Idol, Ringo would have somehow outlasted one of his band mates because he is so darn likeable? He is like the original John Stevens. The video segment ends with the remaining Idol contestants on the cover of Billboard. Is this a real cover, or did they just do some photo shopping? May 23rd the Idol Encore album premieres, which will finally give me the chance to listen to Kevin Covais in my car! Ok back to people singing.

Elliot – Home

Elliot is sitting on a stool, which of course means this is a very serious song. The main question is whether Elliot will do the dramatic stand up mid song. This song might be a little too low for him; his voice seems to sound better when he is in his upper register soaring along. There are definitely some nice moments in the song. I think he misses a couple notes for the first time in awhile, but the mistakes are minimal. I give this song a solid ok, not his best, but still pretty good. He never made the big move off the stool, is that allowed? Aren’t you supposed to stand up and walk towards the crowd or something? As soon as Elliot finishes singing he turns and walks off the main stage towards Ryan. Hmm I guess they don’t have time for judges comments on the second song. Wait a min, here comes Ryan running over to Elliot. He grabs him and they run back to center stage. I’m thinking Elliot forgot he was supposed to stand there and take his critiques. Leave it to Ryan to save a possibly embarrassing moment. All three judges are cracking up; they finally agree on something! Randy says he loved to hear the tender side of Elliot, and Paula compliments the richness of his voice. Simon is not sure if Elliot should be singing a lyric about a desire to return home. Ha! That’s pretty funny. Simon is worried about Elliot after his second song, but Elliot assures him the lyrics need not be interpreted literally. Upon finishing his comments Simon tells Elliot to run back to Ryan, which he does! Ryan teases Elliot about his avoiding the judging comments and Elliot says he knew he had to come over to Ryan at some point, he just wasn’t sure when! While Ryan reads through the numbers Elliot can’t help but place his head in his hands and hold back his laughter. It’s great since before the commercial when Taylor and Ryan were rolling around on the ground he had to be thinking what a bunch of idiots, and not he is the idiot.

Paris – Without You

She is wearing a Mary J. style camouflage themed outfit. This might be the first time anyone has ever worn camouflage clothing on Idol; maybe she is pandering for the military vote. I know this is a ‘cool’ look for some people, but I don’t get it, is Paris headed for woodland combat after the show? She sounds pretty good; she lacks the outright power and passion of Mary, but she is conveying more emotion than she has in past weeks. This song is nearly impossible to convey in one minute and 30 seconds, so the emotional impact falls a bit flat, and it’s still weird hearing a 17 year old plead she can’t live without someone. Randy says it’s hard to do Mary, but she did her thing even though it was a little pitchy, it’s her joint. Huh? Joint? Like a drug? Paula agrees on the difficulty, but she wanted Paris to make the song her own. Simon disagrees with Paula and says Paris did rather well on her second song of the night.

Chris – I Dare You

Get ready, on May 19th tickets for the Idol tour go on sale! Big surprise here, Chris picks a song off the mainstream rock chart. Ok this is a little over the top. The powers that be have a massive wall of fire on the big screen behind Chris and they place fires on every screen in the studio. Nagasaki didn’t see a conflagration this big. With all this fire and the death star, it’s like Chris is trying to prove he is in fact Beelzebub. His voice is a little strained on some of the higher notes, however, despite his brief vocal falterings, I think I am enjoying this Chris song more than most. I’m not sure why exactly, maybe the fact he has to strain to hit the notes makes the intensity on his face seem more real? Or maybe I just really like all this cool fire they have behind him, I mean how cool is a guy that can really rock out! Since I actually liked Chris on this song, I’m sure the judges will not. Sure enough, Randy says he didn’t like it, but Paula says she still loves Chris. Simon says his voice felt like it was going to go at any time, and cautious next time Chris should pick a lower key. Chris sticks with the running theme and jogs over to Ryan for his post song interview. He says it’s the 5th time today he sang the song and he probably pushed himself more than he should; fatigue is setting in for all the contestants.

Kat – Black Horse and the Cherry Tree

Ryan introduces Kat while he is still sitting with Chris and says she is singing a song from the Adult Top 40, and then in mid sentence says “she is on the floor,” maybe he should start going to rehearsals. Kat is indeed on the floor and has two guys next to her playing boxes. So last week Chris got two guitars players by his side, and Kat gets two guys with boxes – sounds fair right? One of these box players looks like he might be an illegal, it’s a good thing Idol isn’t on the same day as one of these boycott things. Not only is Kat on her knees to start the song, she is sans shoes. Sitting on a stool means it’s a serious song; I have no idea what starting a song on the ground means. She counts off the beats to the song and starts singing. She sounds really good on this playful number, no vocal dynamics, just subtle singing. Even though she spends the entire time on her knees and sitting down, she manages to include choreography into the song. Amazingly she never gets up from the ground. I have no idea what she is trying to convey with this song, but boy it sure sounded cool. When the song is done, she finally stands up to face the judges. Randy says this show is wild and he loves the real Kat. Paula, a former Laker girl and all-star choreographer loved the dance on your knees portion of the song. Simon says this show is strange; first we had Taylor lying down and now we have Kat singing her entire song on the ground. He likes her display of personality and thinks she picked a good song.

Taylor – Something

Is this the first time in Idol history someone gets to sing a Beatles song? Not only that, this song is older than Taylor, but still on one of the charts. Last week it appears the producers forced Taylor to sing a song he didn’t like, so I guess this week he can sing anything at all. Chris got fire in the background, but Taylor gets green lights. I’m not sure what the green lights mean; maybe green is universal for soulful? Taylor is wearing his almost a suit outfit, which is by far his best look; thankfully he only wore leather one time and then took Simon’s advice and avoided it since. He sounds good on the song, maybe missing one note at the end of the first phrase, but it’s a great performance. Very refined and sophisticated; you could imagine Taylor singing this at a concert. He finishes the song very subtlety by humming the melody. Great job Taylor! At least once every couple weeks he has to remind people he can stand still and sing just as well as anyone on the show. He smiles a big I just did really good smile after the last note. Randy says it was really cool, a nice tender moment, and suggests the show needs a Beatles night. Paula commends Taylor for daring to sing the song tenderly; she loves he didn’t over sing it (see Chris). Simon doesn’t understand how Taylor got such an old song approved as a current hit, but regardless, he says with all of Taylor's balminess, its very easy to forget that Taylor is a very very good singer. Taylor, who is not a favorite of Simon, is thrilled to finally get a compliment. Ryan joins Taylor on stage and says tonight has a happy ending, and Taylor responds with “it’s a happy ending.” Awkward moment alert! You can have happy endings on Idol, but if you do that in a massage parlor you get shut down by the police. Simon's rare compliment inspired a male Taylor fan to yell out he loves Taylor, which Ryan segues into a question. He asks America “How much do you love him?” Before the video recap begins Taylor manages to get out a few “Soul Patrols” to inspire the masses.

Final Thoughts –

The top five gave some pretty good performances tonight. I missed Kellie tonight. Not so much her singing, since that hasn't been ‘the bomb’ lately, but her interviews are golden. We really need to get her to read books on tape. Each contestant had two chances to sing tonight, which means no excuses. Elliot had two pretty good performances, but not a great one. Paris, like Elliot, had two ok performances; I think Elliot probably did a little better tonight than Paris. Chris had one good and one not so good performance say the judges. I agree with them there, but I think their good song was the not so good performance. Kat had a disaster on the first song, followed by one of her best efforts of the season. Taylor is the only contestant to have two strong performances. Furthermore, he showed the most range, singing a crazy run around song, then a slowed down stand still and sing song. Ryan polls the judges about their view of tonight: Paula says it was different and interesting; Randy calls it a wildly unpredictable night; and Simon says things were erratic, except for his judging, which he evaluates as a 9.5 out of 10. Shouldn’t he have lost more points when he accidentally said Kat gave one of her best performances when he meant one of her worst? Isn’t that like a mandatory 2-point deduction? Taylor is safe tonight, and Chris gave his fans exactly what they want. Kat was really awesome on that lay on the floor song, so I’m thinking she will be safe as well, which means the bottom two will be Paris and Elliot. Either one could go home this week, but there seems to be a surge in Elliot love lately, so despite her immense talent and untapped potential, I think Paris will be going home this week, except on a midnight plane, not a train.


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