Friday, February 20, 2009

Say It Ain't So Anoop

Idol, unlike Dancing with the Stars usually makes its results shows relatively entertaining, but this is nothing more than 3 minutes of suspense crammed into an hour of television. With this new format, I wonder if they will have a cheesy yet awesome group number. If they do have group numbers, is the third group of 12 already working on their number? If they are already practicing they might actually be able to add in a little choreography greater in difficulty than the arm swaying we normally see. Last night Idol had 24,000,000 votes, more than 10,000,000 more at this time last year. The producers changed the format this season in large part to make the early rounds incredibly important; get in the top 3 or else. The new format certainly caused increased voting. Behind Ryan are three of the standard uncomfortable looking Idol stools. Randy was pleased with last night, but thinks several people faltered and lost their spots. Kara says a few people disappointed her, and then actually names everyone that did. This might be an Idol first. Simon usually will not list off several names of people that he did not like. Instead he’ll talk in generalities, or say ‘the other contestants.’ Randy would not list names because he cannot remember them; there is a reason he calls everyone ‘dog.’ And Paula is just too nice to call out the performance challenged individuals. Ryan makes the night’s first sexually related joke about what goes on after the show. Idol gets away with more loosely veiled sex talk than any show with the possible exception of Meet the Press. They show a clip package of how all the Idols reached this point in the show and Ricky gets more airtime than he had all season prior to last night. Here comes the first group number.

Michael, Anoop, and Brent start off the singing and they do not even try to harmonize. Danny, Stephen and Ricky take up the next part of the song and sound better by a Simon mile. Everyone joins in now. Casey, Ann Marie, and Tatiana are next up (they like groups of threes tonight) and much like the first group they do not sound good. Casey is still flailing around like a salmon trapped on a rock on its march upstream. Alexis, Stevie, and Jackie take over and sound about the same. When everyone sings they sound pretty decent. Idol attempts intricate chorography as the contestants form two circles, one inside the other, both moving. What do they think this is, So You Think You Can Dance? Maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about this, but what happens when Scott McIntyre is out there trying to dance and move around. Will he bring the cane on stage? Will he have a Seeing Eye dog helping? Will someone hold his arm the entire time, or maybe he’ll play the piano during the number so he has a reason not to move. Since he is such a hard worker he’ll probably do all the movement of the other Idol contestants, except even better. Amazingly, at the end of the number everyone keeps their arms in the ‘big finish’ position held over their heads. Good ol’ Bucky could never master holding his pose. He would always bring his band down the second he was done singing. Sometimes he would realize his mistake and put his hand back up; we miss you Bucky.

Back from commercial the Idols are seated on the couches while we get the video recap. Casey says she has had a lot of fun and doesn’t want it to end. She then pauses for a second and then her face turns ashen and she realizes the dream is already over. The recap does not bode well for Brent, who is grouped with Stephen, Casey, and Stevie. Ryan says Tatiana turned the night around. Ryan, did you forget she went second to last? Gee do you think they’ll put Danny in the pimp spot even in the recap? Of course! Ryan asks Jackie how she ranked herself last night. She gives herself a 91. Anoop says everyone is pretty relaxed until he finally admits he is very nervous. Tatiana has the crazy look back in her eyes. Stevie still cannot fathom the judges not liking her singing a song that embraces her youth. Casey is the first contestant to join Ryan at center stage. She says she has been better, but she agrees with the judges that she picked the wrong song. Randy still thinks she picked the wrong song and then didn’t perform it well. Casey is eliminated. This is about as shocking as finding an Illinois governor in prison. Stephen and his sweat soaked hands are next. Kara doesn’t think he did enough to stay in the competition. Like Casey, he is not in the Top 12. Alexis, who is so small she makes Ryan look like Yao Ming, is next. Paula says Alexis came out of her shell last night and her reward is a berth in the Top 12. Hippyneck dad is crying in the red room. Alexis has to sing the song again. Now pressure free, she might be even better this time. Her fellow contestants, who have to be dying inside, are surprisingly really into this performance. We never saw Alexis sit on her stool. Since it’s about 4 feet off the group I wonder if they had a little ladder at her disposal. Jackie and Ricky form the first twosome of the evening. Ricky is not in the Top 12 and neither is Jackie.

Anoop and Michael join Ryan. Wow Anoop is way taller than Michael, so I guess Michael is a mini roughneck. Uh oh, Michael gets in over Anoop. Anoop handles his rejection with elegance giving Michael a huge hug. Michael is overcome with emotion, but he has to sing again. I wonder if he will stop switching the microphone from hand to hand after Paula’s criticism. This is his first chance to show he can learn from his mistakes; he keeps the microphone in this right hand from start to finish. Turns out Anoop lost by only 20,000 votes. 24,000,000 cast and only 20,000 votes separated Anoop and Michael. Would it be wrong to make a joke about call centers in India right now? I mean really, couldn’t he have found some relatives to pick up the phone and text. A motivated 13-year-old female can send 20,000 texts in 2 hours. Heck, if every woman Wilt slept with voted Anoop would be safe. Maybe he can pull a Norm Coleman and demand a recount. I am saddened Noop-dog missed the cut, but in many ways it’s his own fault. People need motivation to dial and text, and a crappy song choice can sap the energy out of voters’ fingers. Michael sang a crowd-pleasing favorite, but he did not sing it as well as Bo or Elliott. If there are multiple Idol contestants that have performed the same song significantly better than you, do you really belong in the Top 12? People voted for Michael because of Simon’s plea to give him a second chance, not because he is one of the twelve best-undiscovered singers in America. Shame on you Simon; after lecturing America for 7 years that this is a singing competition and not a personality contest, he places personality over singing.

Ryan reveals the new Idol Experience at Disney World. All seven Idol winners came together for the first time and David and Carrie performed a duet. Ryan asks the next two contestants to come on stage and it’s Michael and Carly from Season 7. Right now there are people new to Idol that didn’t watch last season completely confused. “Hey who are these two, I don’t remember them singing last night.” They are singing the same song they sang on last season’s finale. Couldn’t they have learned a new song by now? Practice does make perfect though. Hey Idol group number participants, this is what harmonies sound like. Anoop, devastated from his elimination is visible behind Michael and Carly clapping his hands with about as much enthusiasm as a dead man walking.

Ryan has Brent, Ann Marie, and Stevie stand up, but he makes them stay in front of the couch. When you don’t even get the chance to walk down to be next to Ryan, you know you might be in some trouble. All three are eliminated, leaving only Danny and Tatiana. They make their way to center stage next to Ryan. Tatiana is on the verge of a melt down. Since Danny is guaranteed his spot in the Top 12, I think Idol is just freaking out the Danny fans hoping some of them are gullible enough o believe Tatiana could garner more votes than their favorite widow. This sense of fear will force them to vote for Danny every week for the reason of the season preventing an early eliminated. Danny’s glasses might be a bit too cool for such a down to earth guy. He advances and Tatiana becomes the first contestant to fall apart. Michael is singing along in the background. Oh boy. The camera just showed someone holding up a picture of Danny and his deceased wife. Seriously? Look, everyone feels horrible for Danny’s loss, but this is a singing competition, not a contest for the most tragic back-story. Sure, a lot of this is Idol trying to give him a storyline, but Danny is complicit. Last season David Cook’s brother was battling cancer, but the general public never heard his story. Cook wanted America’s votes because he was the best, not from sympathy. If Danny’s sob story continues as a major storyline some voters are going to face widow fatigue and vote for another contestant. Danny is adding a little more feeling tonight. Like Alexis, freed from the pressure of Tuesday night, he improves his performance.

The first result night brought only one major surprise. Anoop’s inability to join the Top 12 severely diminishes Ricky’s ability to earn a Wild Card entry; sadly one of them will probably be left behind. Idol is almost like a drama for the people that watch faithfully. The contestants are all characters with their own histories, and the Idol producers love dramatic histories. In the first three contestants in the Top 12 they have an all around good guy grieving widow, an all around good guy roughneck desperately trying to support his family, and an all around good girl young mother sacrificing time with her child to improve the lives. The only thing that might make them happier is if they could somehow get Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger into the Top 12.


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