Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's A Mad World Until Adam Sings - Then It's Very Happy

Last week the bird lady officially flew the coup, leaving Lil and Allison as the only girls remaining (no Adam does not count). Tonight is one of those wide open any song goes theme that usually results in horrible song choices galore. The contestants can select any song from the year they were born. Basically it’s an 80s night and then one song from the 90s thanks to Allison. Last week the judges pimped Danny and Kris and gave lukewarm praise to everyone else. Who will be pimped tonight? Will they try again to save Matt? Will they finally declare their love for Lil? Will they give Allison good comments after her sojourn to the bottom three? Will Adam go big again? Will the show be as much pure fun without Megan?

Ryan says every one of the contestants has the dream of becoming a superstar, but the life of that dream lies in our hands because this…is American Idol. Hmm we have a new beginning to the show. Normally the voice of god introduces the judges and then Ryan ambles down the stairs. Instead, Ryan is coming down the stairs with no introduction. Please tell me the judges are already seated and we never have to see that preposterous introduction again. The camera gets a close up of a very scary looking bald man in the crowd. He is not smiling or cheering and looks like he is ready to kill whoever dares converse with him. Who is this guy? Yes! The judges are already sitting in their chairs. The camera shows scary bald man again. Who is this guy and why do they keep putting him on camera? Ryan introduces the judges along with their baby pictures. Randy looks cute as a baby. Kara looks like she just heard Norman sing in her picture. Paula looks about the same and Simon looks like he is playing with toy guns. Ryan’s picture wins the award for goofiest. The contestants emerge from behind the stage doors all wearing dark colors except for a green wearing Anoop. Lil is on Scott duty.

Danny – Stand By Me (the crappy version)

The oldest contestant goes first. See, they couldn’t put him first without having an excuse, a reason why they could possibly put the golden boy anywhere but last or behind horrible singers. At least by putting him first this week they can keep him closer to the end when the episodes really start getting tense. Danny remembers when his dad first told him he could sing. His dad was amazed and cried over his son’s talent. Danny seems close with his parents and his dad is obviously very proud of his son’s accomplishments. Nice way to get around the rules Danny. Pick a song from the 60s that was redone in the 80s and then say it came from your birth year. Did you really need to do the play fast and loose with the rules? Weren’t there any songs in 1980 you could sing? I’m sure at least a few about dead wives were written that year. I already don’t like this adult contemporized slowed down version of a classic song. I bet the song picks up pace at some point like his version of ‘PYT’ earlier this season. Danny is singing soft and subtle to begin the song. Like always, he does not sound at his best this way and he flirts with going flat on several notes. The song picks up pace heading into the chorus, but this is still a cheesy arrangement of such a good song. His riffs are a little weak. In the back half of the song he adds some energy and his voice is fuller. He sounds good here, but it doesn’t make up for the below average (for him) beginning. Kara and Paula are both really enjoying this performance, maybe a little too much. His last note is more of a whimper than a bang. I think he ran out of breath. Maybe he meant to hit the note just like he did, but I expect more from Danny and he looks like he expected more from himself; Danny does not look pleased with his performance. After a few seconds he remembers he is Danny Gokey, god’s gift to music and his smile returns. Ok judges, this is your chance to prove me wrong. This is your chance to demonstrate you can be objective and are not just following a script every week. Danny just did a horrible arrangement of a horrible remake of a classic song. Please show a little honesty and tell him his vocals missed the mark and his song choice was borderline awful. I of course don’t think they will do any such thing, but it would be nice. Randy says when he first came out he didn’t like the arrangement, but he loves Danny because he is an amazing singer. He says this is a vocal talent show and he has some talent. The judges are now one for one on the sucking up to Danny scorecard. Kara also wasn’t sure about the arrangement but thinks Danny killed the song at the end. He turned it on its head and made the song his own. The judges are now two for two on the sucking up to Danny scorecard. Paula says wow and suggests Danny set the bar so high everyone is going to have to run as fast as they can to catch up. Hold up here Paula, if he set the bar high why do they have to run fast? Shouldn’t they be jumping to get over the high bar? Thanks for the awesome analogy Paula. She continues with Danny saying she liked the liberties he took with the arrangement because they matched how brilliant his voice was tonight. He was very amazing. Simon is laughing at Paula and says he can’t stand her. The judges are now three for three on the sucking up to Danny scorecard. Simon says he thought the beginning was good, the middle was lazy, and the end was terrific; overall he thought it was great. The judges are now four for four on the sucking up to Danny scorecard. It’s like David A. from last season all over again. No matter what Danny does or how he sounds the judges will say he is amazing and brilliant. If Adam did the same version of this song I bet the judges would say he shouldn’t tinker with a classic. Sigh.

Kris – All She Wants To Do Is Dance

Kris gets a sit down on the stools. Ryan asks him if he is enjoying the praise from the judges, and surprisingly he says yes. Thanks for those hard hitting insightful questions Ryan. What next, are you going to ask Lil if she misses her children? Maybe you could ask Scott if he would like to have 20/20 vision. It’s only a matter of time until Ryan works his way onto 60 Minutes at this rate. Kris says they got their first day off in forever and he went to the beach, which was nice. He rode the ferris wheel and the instructor of the wheel asked him to say hi to Adam. Ha. Kris wins the award for the night’s funniest story. Kris’s parents say his initial dream was to become a taxi driver for some reason. He thinks it was because he always wanted to travel, but then he realized they only traveled around one city. Kris is in the middle of the audience like Matt was last week. This week he is back to his trusty guitar. He is putting an original spin on this song. His vocals are ok, but this isn’t a song meant for singing. Sure it’s fun, but the vocals are lacking. After last weeks journey into soul land he has returned to the bubble gum pop realm he usually occupies. He doesn’t hit any bad notes, but he doesn’t hit a whole of great ones either. This is your standard ‘so what’ performance. At least he did a version different from the original and at least he picked a song from his birth year. Unlike Danny, who picked a remake of a song written 20 years before he was born. He was at least no worse than Danny, but I have a feeling the judges won’t give him the same lovey dovey praise. Kara says she is a huge huge fan (uh oh Kris whenever a judge says they like you…they are usually about to destroy you) and she was glad he picked a fast song, but this song felt like jazz funk homework. She felt like the song lost a lot of its youth. She is still a fan though. Paula says he took a melodically same note song and changed it up to make it his own. She declares him one of the most likeable contestants. Simon says he was indulgent, boring, and forgettable. A group of girls (probably a bunch of stay at home moms) scream out “Kris you are hot,” to which Simon says so is he, but it’s not about that. Simon was disappointed because Kris came across as a guitar player who wanted to sing, rather than a singer. He thinks he made a stupid song choice and was also indulgent. Randy agrees with Simon that the arrangement was self-indulgent and says when something is so great you don’t need to change the arrangement. Dude you cannot be serious! Danny just did a butchered version of an all time great song and no one cares, sure they mention it in passing, but they don’t excoriate Danny. Kris changes around a somewhat silly song from the 80s and they are acting like he just ripped a picture of the Pope in half on SNL. Kris made the unfortunate mistake of singing directly after Danny. They had to tear him down so Danny’s train wreck would look more like a safe arrival. Kris tells Ryan he understands what Randy was saying. Ryan says Simon’s judging comments were indulgent and predictable. Ryan says, “alright hottie” to Simon giving Kris an opportunity to laugh even after getting killed by the judges.

Lil – What’s Love Got To Do With It

Lil’s mom clears up the fact that Lil’s name is her name. Her grandmother’s name was Lilly and her mom wanted to honor her by naming her Lil. One of her teachers thought she could see her name in lights and Lil hopes she was prescient. Lil is sexing it up wearing a short skirt and high heels. This is the most skin she has shown all season. She is even walking Tina Turner style across the stage before she starts singing. Hey big surprise, this sounds a lot like the original. Lil will never be scolder for changing up a classic because she never changes anything up – she is the copycat queen. She sounds really good when she reaches the chorus. Despite a few creative movements before she opened her mouth, she is mostly repeating her other performances where she barely moves and often stands still while singing. She feels slightly robotic. This is a passion filled song and she looks like she is just going through the emotions. On the final chorus she finally goes off the copycat tracks and does something original. A grand total of about 10 seconds, but at least she gave us something. Her last note is a little off and not the best way to finish her performance. Did she sound good? Yes she did. Did she display any creativity during her performance or do anything to make this song her own. No she did not. The judges can go either way with their comments. If they want to praise her they can, or they can destroy her, we’ll see which direction they take. Paula says she looks very hot tonight. This was the week when she thought it was really important for Lil to take her own liberties and go outside the box proving she knows what she is as an artist. However, she tells Lil being a brilliant vocalist only gets you so far. She thinks Lil needed to create her own niche in this classic song. She deosn’t think she did and is really worried Lil is becoming a beautiful karaoke performer. Simon says he thinks what Paula is saying is the judges are not looking for a third rate Tina Turner. He also noticed she tried to copy Tina’s walking style. He has no idea who she is and he feels like they lost her because of her bad decisions. He wants her to become original. Randy says they all love her and she looks hot tonight, but he agrees with Paula and Simon. He says it’s like she isn’t listening to them because Tina is not her. Kara says it’s about making the leap from a singer to an artist. She says Lil needs to find some strength in her lower range. Lil tells Ryan she listens to their advice and she tries to take in everything they say. She promises to make a giant leap if America keeps her around. I guess the rules state you must destroy the two performers immediately after or before Danny. Last week they torched the two before, this week they torched the two after.

Anoop – True Colors

He gets a sit down with Ryan and he is thrilled his Tar Heels won the national championship in basketball last night. Ryan asks him about the ‘fight’ with Kara last week and Anoop says he wishes he could back his comment to Kara. He says that is not the way he wanted to represent himself. He feels like he was caught up in the moment and not himself. So you humiliate him and then make him sing. This should work out real well Idol producers. Anoop was born the same day as David Cook. Nice shameless pandering for votes Anoop. Anoop hates taking pictures because as an only child he was always the focus of their picture taking. I guess that means most of those girls in playboy came from really large families. Anoop is on the stool of sincerity. Uh oh, he is starting off the song a little high; the song might get too high for his voice. He handles the first pass through the chorus ok and then gets up from the stool. His green and white striped sweater is a little distracting. This arrangement is not the best; I have no idea why is he singing this version and not the original, but I give him credit for singing his own original version. He sounds nice on a sustained falsetto note to complete the song. This song is all about emotion and he just doesn’t have any while he is singing. He makes a few sincere faces and brings out the stool to show how serious he is, but I think he is failing to convey the power of these lyrics. This is a good but not a great performance. Instead of frat boys sitting in his family and friends section it looks like he has some family members and a token white guy. Why is Anoop even here, didn’t they kill off his character last night on House? Randy congrats Anoop about the Tar Heels. He says Anoop pulled it back tonight and gave a very nice vocal. Kara says the song didn’t control him; he controlled it and took a pop song and filled it with soul. Paula says his song choice was flawless and his phrasing was beautiful and he was magical. He showed his true colors just like a rainbow. Simon says Anoop is a singing yo-yo. One week he is down and then he is up. He likes that he did an original version, but doesn’t quite think he was fantastic. Simon tells him he shouldn’t have apologized about his reaction last week because the contestants are allowed to be horrible to the judges. It’s only fair since the judges can be horrible to them. Ryan walks on stage and says it’s a happy ending between Anoop and Kara, giving us our first sexually laced comment tonight!

Scott – Search Is Over

Ryan sells itunes from high above the stage by reminding us we can download all of these songs. Scott wanted to be a train engineer when he was a child. He still plays with his train set. Scott created a scary Halloween once and the video goes into slow motion and his voice goes two octaves deeper as he bellows out a laugh…umm ok. Even Ryan looks a little embarrassed by the cheesy special effects. Wow Scott took Paula’s advice and left the piano behind; he is holding a guitar! This is unexpected. He isn’t actually playing the guitar so far, but he is singing pretty well. All of the songs from an entire year and this is what he picked? I suppose he sounds good, but he sounds the same every week. At least he isn’t pitchy yet dawg. He hits a few really nice clear notes, but he runs into a little trouble deeper into the song. He sounds totally off pitch right now, but I don’t know this song, maybe the note is written intentionally flat. He is really falling apart down the stretch his final riff is not good at all. If only the song ended one minute sooner he could expect nice comments from the judges. His family is a little too excited. Kara commends him for coming out with a guitar. He took on a very difficult song and she thinks he should stick with the singer songwriter song and not ballads. She says he had some good moments, but there were parts she liked and parts she felt were too over ambitious. Paula gives him credit for stepping away from the piano. When she says she would have pictured him playing acoustic guitar Scott says he is playing electric so his punk side can come out. Paula thinks he has a wonderful sense of humor, but felt he came off a little screechy on some of his high notes. Simon hopes he goes back to the piano next week because that’s where he is most comfortable. He calls the song horrible and says the guitar playing wasn’t much better. Simon says he isn’t criticizing Scott, he really believed the song was atrocious. That’s right songwriters, give Idol permission to use your song so one of its judges can call your creation atrocious. He didn’t think the awful guitar playing went with the awful song. He thinks Paula’s advice about the piano was wrong. Randy says the whole thing was all ok. It didn’t show him as a star, one of the best undiscovered talents in America, which is what they are looking for at this stage in the competition. Scott responds by telling Randy he showed he was versatile. Yes Scott, if by being versatile you mean you can sound crappy playing multiple different instruments.

Allison – I Can’t Make You Love Me

She is young enough to be Danny’s daughter if he hooked up with a teacher while in middle school. Her mother says Allison used to talk too much as a baby. She even took her to the doctor, who told her she would end up being a singer. Wait, so her mom took her to the doctor because she talked too much? Am I the only one who thinks that’s little weird? Did she also take her to the doctor because Allison kept ruining diapers? Uh oh, Allison is singing a grown up song, which means the judges are legally obligated to say she should sing something that makes her sound her own age. This is a little too laid back for the rocking Allison; her voice is capable of much more than the song allows. She is staying away from the screaming/shouting that sometimes afflicts her performances. There had to be a better song from her birth year that fit her style and allowed for her to add her own personality into the performance. This is just the wrong song choice, she is singing it well, but it’s still the wrong song choice. She isn’t adding very much Allison to the song. Paula says its great having her in the competition because if you hear one note it’s undeniably Allison, a gift you cannot put a price tag on. She loves that Allison added some tenderness to such a gut wrenching song. She says this is a perfect example of using the same arrangement as the original but making it your own. Simon says she was very good and they just need to sort her out a bit and make her more likeable. Simon says she needs to start being more talkative and lighten up a little bit. Randy compares Allison to Kelly Clarkson and says they both can sing their face off. He agrees with Simon she needs to engage the public more. Kara says to take adult content and make it believable and young like she did shows true talent. She suggest they go make a record. I just don’t agree with the judges. She was good yes, but not THAT good, but I guess they needed to prop her up after her dismal vote totals last week.

Matt – Part Time Lover

Matt, who is probably thrilled he gets to go before and not after Adam remembers singing in his choir. He got the lead roll and had 72 lines, which was pretty awesome. Matt is without his piano wearing a hat gripping the microphone stand when he starts singing. He has a few pitch issues right away and then the entire band enters. Burnt from showing his versatility last week, Matt has returned to his comfort zone. He is adding his own riffs throughout the song. He isn’t sounding all that great on the chorus. Come on Matt, that’s the one part of the song everyone knows, so you have to sing it well. He jumps into his falsetto and falls just a tiny bit flat. On a positive note, he is missing his falsetto notes with far less frequency than earlier in the season and when he misses the note it’s just a little off. He scats his way to the finish of the song. Sigh. This just isn’t working out too well for me because I expect more from Matt. He added a little creativity, but not enough. Between his missed notes and the basic and bland arrangement this is the most karaoke feeling song tonight. Even more so than Lil, and that’s saying a lot. Randy yos to get Matt’s attention and says vocally he was one of the best of the night. Kara says he was incredible on every level and unbelievable. Paula, better at math than Kara, say two words, standing o, and stands up. Simon says a million times better than last week and well done. They are running super late and fly through their comments. Why can’t Idol put someone back stage with a stopwatch so they can keep track of time throughout the show and not constantly end up rushing towards the end. And what’s up with the judges giving Matt so much praise? Did he really add any more creativity than Lil? Did he make the song his own with his artistry? Or, do they just want to make sure Matt sticks around another week?

Adam – Mad World

Ryan is standing next to Randy behind the judges’ table when they come back from commercial. Despite Randy distracting him, Ryan still manages to get out the itunes commercial. Adam’s mom says when he was little he loved everything and his dad blurts out, “except sports.” You figure he had to go through some rough times when he figured out his son didn’t want to do football but wouldn’t mind doing the football team. He liked to play dress up and decided he wanted to be a grown up. His parents bought him a little suit and a fake mustache. He is sitting on a chair in the middle of the stage with a spotlight shining down on him from high above. He is dressed so conservatively even Danny would wear this ensemble. He is in customary falsetto and the band is backing him with a piano and strings. He sounds excellent and extremely vulnerable on the verses. After the chorus he is joined by a back up singer and they make a nice pairing. He is changing up the melody his second time through the song. He stands up and hits a powerful note. Finally someone that stands up from the chair/stool at exactly the right moment instead at some random point in the middle of the song. He is showing remarkable control and subtlety on this song. He works his way up to higher and higher notes to finish the song. He might be a little off pitch on the final note at first but he rounds into the right pitch and he is so high who could even tell besides a dog. Paula is already standing. Simon says the bad news is they are running out of time and the good news is words are unnecessary and he gives Adam a standing ovation. In fact, all the judges are standing up for Adam. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Simon stand up like that before. Adam looks amazed that Simon actually liked his song. I know Adam should be thrilled he received such high praise from Simon, but he should also be a little frustrated he didn’t get the suck up fest Danny received earlier in the show. At least Simon didn’t stand up for Danny, even if he did get just about get down on his knees for him.

Final Thoughts

Danny still doesn’t deserve the judges’ love fest. After hearing Adam he sounds pretty bad. Kris still deserves praise for changing up a song and making it his own. Lil is still Tina Turner if Tina Turner lost 63% of her talent. Anoop still looks silly in his sweater, but maybe he is conveying his true colors. Scott still sounds pretty good for a deaf guy, oh wait, he is blind, never mind then, he sounds horrible. Allison still sounds a lot older than she really is – Chris Hansen is already planning how he can use her on his next special. Matt is still not amazing like the judges suggested. Adam is still wow! Interesting, on the rehearsal he didn’t go for the big finish like on the live version. Idol is finally finished extra long. I’m sure the local news at each Fox station around American is going to love sticking around an extra 10 minutes tonight. Adam was clearly the best tonight. The separation between him and everyone else is astounding. The gap is bigger than the Grand Canyon. I wonder if the judges didn’t talk about Adam because one of them would have slipped up and accidentally said he is 100 times better than Danny. You can’t exactly trust Paula to stay on script. Adam had another moment (he has already had a few), but because of time constraints his praises were visual instead of audible. Danny is also safe because he is Danny. The judges did everything but text a vote for Matt and Allison so they should also be in the safe zone. That leaves only Lil, Scott, Kris, and Anoop. Kris had a super strong outing last time, and is just so dreamy among the teenage girls, so he should be safe. That means Anoop and Scott return to the bottom three and Lil makes her first visit. She will be quickly returned to the couches leaving Scott and Anoop. Based on his performance tonight, Scott should be going home, but will America stop voting for the blind guy? I think the guitar experiment will finally seal Scott’s inevitable fate and he will be saying goodbye to Simon, Paula, Kara, and the guy with the huge watch.


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