Archive for March, 2011

The Top 11 Redux Avoid Being Camile Velasco

Yes, Idol fans you can now rejoice. We got what we’d all been waiting for. After being deprived of a performance of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” last season, Pia Toscano delivered tonight by performing the song, its seventh appearance on American Idol. Pia joins Idol giants Justin Guarini, Clay Aiken, Jasmine Trias, Bo Bice, David Archuleta and Jorge Nunez in the not-so-exclusive club. (Which might be a good thing for her, all besides Jorge Nunez got a hometown visit and four of the six managed to be on stage when Ryan Seacrest announced their season’s winner.)
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What’s More Staged: Wrestling or AI Results?

Normally I don’t have anything to say about results except for the obligatory “oh what a shame, ethnic girl #452 went home. I liked her more than pretty girl #26 and talented brunette girl #212 that were in the bottom three with her.” But this week? This week there was surprise and craziness, shock and awe, spectacle and real human emotion. Oh yeah, and there were results and this thing called the Judge’s Save, too. From a television standpoint, it was a pretty outstanding and entertaining hour of programming. From an avid (perhaps a little too obsessed) Idol viewer standpoint though, it felt too meticulously manufactured and wholly unsatisfying.
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The Top 11 Are Done Giving Us Something New

I love Motown music. It’s really hard not to love Motown music. Everything about it is insanely fun and downright happy. Why then was everything that happened last night so determinedly boring and snooze-worthy? Why do these contestants insist that we have, in fact, seen all they have to offer? I don’t want to believe that I’ve seen everything Jacob and Pia can do, but after four weeks of the exact same performance (sometimes with different lyrics), I’m inclined to give in to the harsh reality. These contestants aren’t actually people. They are, in fact, 2D characters that exist in a 2 hour vacuum on Wednesday nights.
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Top 11 Song Choices: Motown

Nigel is back and he’s changing things up drastically. Crazy backup dancers and music videos! No semifinal rounds! No white guys with (bass) guitars as front runners! And no theme weeks that force contestants into genres! That’s why this week, the theme is the extremely current, inclusive, fresh “Motown” week. It’s only been done, oh, four times before on Idol. (And that’s not even counting the R&B, Soul and 1960’s nights which, due to Idol’s expansive list of cleared songs, seem to amount to “Motown” night more often than not.) That said, I love myself some Motown songs and I appreciate the fact that Scotty will have to sing something outside the country genre, so I’m hyped up.
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The Top 12 Turn Themselves Into Caricatures

I’ve never been a huge fan of “Songs From The Year You Were Born” night because it typically equates to “Song From The Mid 80’s” night which, in my book, could just as easily be dubbed “Songs You Never Needed To Hear In The First Place, Let Alone 25 Years Later.” (I know, not quite as catchy a title, but SFTYYWB is hardly an eloquent theme name.) This year, though, we were in for something a little different because most of the songs were from the 90’s or late 80’s! So we were treated to gems like two faux midtempo Whitney Houston songs and the theme from Disney’s Pocahontas. It was truly a night of wonder.

The one thing I do enjoy from “Songs That The Contestants Never Actually Heard On The Radio” week is meeting the parents in the pre-performance packages. Stefano’s father was the clear winner of the night. I’m pretty sure no contestant has ever gone home after having their father cry the night before (entirely baseless statistic). No one has yet been able to convince me that “Lauren’s mom” was not actually just Lauren wearing a hat. For a brief, but glorious, second when Karen’s mom began speaking, I thought Idol had a watershed moment and had discontinued their practice of subtitling anyone who appeared to be remotely ethnic. (Well oh my gosh darn, what in tarnations do I say is might be done happening on this here, er, my teevee show gone done talking off in some alien speak. I can’t understand but one dagnabit word. Oh yay, subtitles!) Sadly, the subtitles came back and, unlike in Hollywood week, did not provide the nuts-of-wonder laughs. Now to move over to the land of parents-who-have-more-talent-than-their-children. Paul’s father’s voice did not immediately make me want to jam sharp objects into my ears! I’m going to assume that Haley’s mother did not, after the cameras stopped rolling, emulate the world’s most awkward striptease. Neither of Casey’s parents once attempted to growl/bark/roar/generally be a hideous swamp-thing. So take notes Paul, Haley and Casey, because your parents? They did it better.

Ryan Seacrest this year is actually amusing, entertaining and good at his job. This is a far cry from last year when he was doing his best to actively make himself the world’s worst Reality TV host which, as you can imagine, is a hotly contested title. The judges, however, are not all particularly good at their jobs. Randy has given a few good critiques this season and apparently thinks that’s given him the liberty to spew on for forty seconds about how he had the pleasure of recording that song with the one and only Alvin Seville and he just wasn’t feeling it because listen you know you were pitchy all over the place but that’s okay because the real Karen Rodriguez is back this week (and she’s right there in the sixth row, oh wait no, that’s Carly Smithson, my bad) but you just gotta do your thing like Muse and Florence and the Machine and see, I’m still current, I watched the Grammy’s last year and for you, for me, yo, yo, yo, we got a hot one here tonight, dawg! Randy’s critiques quickly devolve into word mush where he makes it his goal to say every word in the English language he knows. In light of this, I think Steven Tyler’s purpose on the panel is to make Randy seem intelligible. Yes, I find Steven immensely entertaining, but his comments are even less closely related to the performances than Paula’s were. And Paula once critiqued a performance that didn’t exist yet! That said, I do love myself some Jennifer Lopez this year. She’s starting to toughen up a bit and is actually giving these contestants constructive criticism. She cares about the contestants too, which is definitely the biggest plus of this year’s judging panel. (I mean, not since Paula have we really heard a judge mention popping in on the contestants’ dress rehearsal.) It helps that she looks insanely hot, too. Let’s just say if I ever go to an Idol taping, my puffy paint poster will read “J. LO, I LOVE YOU DESPITE ‘ON THE FLOOR.'”

Alas, there was other stuff last night. Not just judging and hosting and adorable-parent-pandering, but this singing and performing stuff too. As much as I’m sure we’d all like to forget about it, ‘ere goes:
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Top 12 Song Choices

The theme for the top 12 is “Songs From The Year You Were Born,” because apparently the new goal of the Idol producers is to constantly remind everyone how old they arehow young this year’s contestants are. Here’s my take on what the contestants should sing to bring me maximum entertainment value. You know, because in the end, this show is all about how much entertainment I get.
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Ashthon: When You Leave At Number Thirteen

To no one’s surprise (and I mean no one), Ashthon Jones went home last week on American Idol. (On an episode of American Idol that featured an amazing group sing, complete with ridiculous dance steps and pointy poses, a Puff Diddy Daddy Dirty Money performance and the Dougie.) So, Ashthon, here’s my ode to you, in song form! (I think I’m obligated to warn anyone who isn’t familiar with my musical skills that I have a fantastic, pitch-perfect voice and you might need to brace yourself for the awesome.)

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