Oh My Gosh, There’s So Many Ways To Fail

Oh, the American Idol semi-finals rounds are upon us once again! Except this time, it’s just a round. And the stage looks like some genetically-engineered stage that has been sustained from eating the previous nine seasons’ semis stages. I’m not sure it was an entirely smart idea to throw these contestants in front of America “live” for the first time on a stage quite that large. Some contestants drunkenly hobbled about (Paul, Tim), some shrunk to insignificance (Jovany, Robbie), and some flailed manically (Jordan, Brett).

Still, the weirdest thing about this year’s semi-finals? I actually know every single person performing. I can name at least one tragedy to befall every guy that made it through the live rounds. (Stefano: car crash, Robbie: paralysis, Jacob: possessed by spirits, Scotty: nuts of wonder, Jovany: accidentally auditioned for Idol instead of Jersey Shore, Tim: hair, Paul: suit, Casey: face, Jordan: forced to perform with amateurs, Clint: brutally axe-murdered Jacee, Brett: was BULLIED, James: Aspergers-Tourettes-drunk-and-absent-father-who-OD’d-impoverished-with-child-also-clearly-has-(stage)-mommy-issues.) While I welcome the change to actually introducing us to all the semi-finalists, it made the actual performances a little bit more predictable. For the most part, everyone’s performance was some degree of what was expected. There were no Latoya Londons or Allison Irahetas – heck, or even Alexandrea Lushingtons or Stephanie Edwards – to shock us with surprisingly good performances. That said, at the very least, there was mostly adequate singing, which is a far cry away from Season 9: Tone-Deaf Idol. So, on to the performances…

Clint Jun Gamboa – “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder)
Clad in his familiar Asian-stereotype-glasses and less familiar, but perhaps even more obnoxious, fire hydrant red sneakers, Clint had the unenviable task of kicking off the live performances. His singing was mostly passable until he decided in the last third that the melody, much like the speed limit, was a mere suggestion and not a rule. The judging panel decided to heap excessive amounts of praise on him (and everyone else through the night). I can only assume that this is because they were using Lee Dewyze as the gold-standard-of-excellence. I hope in the near future we can upgrade that to Brandon Rogers or Jessica Sierra levels.

Jovany Barreto – “I’ll Be” (Edwin McCain)
What? The Bryan Adams catalog wasn’t available? The swaybots were back in full force and pretty accurately portrayed the amount of energy in the song. After J. Lo and Steven Tyler were done throwing shipyard expletives and praising his spirit, Randy gave an accurate critique and used a four syllable word (“modulation”, for those wondering). Sticker for you, Randy!

Jordan Dorsey – “OMG” (Usher)
Jordan informed us in his opening package that he “doesn’t want to just sing, he wants to be a legend.” And then drove his point home by not singing at all in his performance. He shoulder shimmied in time with the “pow, pow, pow” and “wow, oh, wow.” Randy’s what-the-everliving-hell-was-that face at the end said it all. Jordan continued to insist that OMG was absolutely not him to the judges, which is, of course, why he picked it. Because out of every single song that American Idol can clear (even after you’ve removed “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”), clearly there isn’t a single one that can truly encapsulate all that is Jordan Dorsey: Man, Legend, Douchebag.

Tim Halperin – “Streetcorner Symphony” (Rob Thomas)
So, before today I actually was semi-interested in Tim. He played the piano and was part of my favorite Hollywood performance (his Vegas duet with Julie Zorilla on “Something”). I had high hopes (or, at least, hopes). Then Tim got a pimp stool interview before his performance, where he proceeded to bury any good will I might’ve had towards him by being the least captivating speaker known to man. He then sang and continued to dig his grave deeper. Between his awkward meandering and off-key croaking I wasn’t sure which to be more indifferent towards. But who cares? He’s a scruffy-looking, inoffensive white guy who has been known to play instruments! Give him an express pass to the Nokia Theatre in May.

Brett Loewenstern – “Light My Fire” (The Doors)
Brett decided to be as creepy as humanly possible by using his best stalker voice and pleading that we light his fire. Then he broke out his best Willow Smith and for the last ninety seconds showed us all how to properly whip our hair back and forth. Then the judges praised it. That said, the thing I was most disappointed in? The backing screensaver projection didn’t default to the Kimberley Locke “Heatwave” flames. C’mon, Idol producers, stop skimping on the cheese.

James Durbin – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” (Judas Priest)
James Durbin had a tail. I just thought I’d get that out first so the question wasn’t hanging over everyone’s head like it was while watching his performance. Because, really, 90% of my attention was directed towards his tail. Now, I wanted to hate James’ performance. I was ready to point and laugh as he fail-whale-screamed his way into obscurity. But something crazy happened and I found myself not detesting his every movement. He was relatively controlled and appropriately wailed without going off the rails (with a tail in a jail to no avail I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am). Now, if he would tone back a little bit of his “I’m-the-greatest-mother-[American Idol logo]-ever” attitude, complete with high jumps, twirls and points, I might stop wishing for his untimely departure.

Robbie Rosen – “Angel” (Sarah McLachlan)
Oh look, Robbie sang a balladzlkjnfxn,czzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Scotty McCreery – “Letters From Home” (John Michael Montgomery)
I’m going to channel a bit of Randy Jackson here – I can’t believe he’s only 16. His voice sounds mature and he’s so clearly defined as an artist it’s scary. More than anyone else this season, it’s obvious where Scotty fits in to the current music scene. Aside from singing with his mouth on one side of his face, Scotty’s performance was nearly perfect. People who like Scotty will like that performance. But will Scotty be able to navigate Idol’s theme weeks (or is Idol still having theme weeks)? Will we get a John Stevens singing Gloria Estefan moment from him? (I hope we get one. I need something to listen to after I’ve exhausted Sanjaya’s catalog and Chicken Little singing “Part Time Lover.” Although, now I guess I can run Dorsey’s “OMG” on loop, too.)

Stefano Langone – “Just The Way You Are” (Bruno Mars)
Stefano decided that we hadn’t been exposed to enough Bruno Mars on this season of Idol, so he serenaded us with more. His singing was probably the best we’ve seen on a Bruno Mars song this season (not saying much), but more importantly, he actually had a modicum of stage presence. The best moment definitely came when he missed his high note and the show cut to a shot of Jennifer Lopez recoiling in pain. (In her critique, she conveniently skirted his singing ability in favor of his confidence. Randy, again proving to be the voice of reason, called out his botched high note.) Ryan Seacrest proceeded to hit on Stefano as I made a mental note of how short this year’s boys are. At this point, Clint, Brett and Stefano all had boosted Seacrest’s self-confidence.

Paul McDonald – “Maggie May” (Rob Stewart)
Paul is quirky, if you didn’t already know. At some point, I intend to make an Old McDonald joke about him, but I haven’t quite put it together yet. I’m pretty sure Paul was drunk on stage – his hand gestures, uneven movements and goofy smile all hinted that there was more than just soda in his coke cup. If Tim Halperin was a drunk frat boy, Paul was the guy at the party that no one knows and, after everyone else has already left, is slouched against the wall in the corner hitting on the coat rack. Paul’s voice is a touch too Herbert the old pervert from Family Guy for me. It’s a little reminiscent of James Blunt being run over by a tractor (suddenly, I get the appeal). Maybe I just need to be as drunk as he is to enjoy his “uniqueness”.

Jacob Lusk – “A House Is Not A Home” (Burt Bacharach)
As with James Durbin, I was ready to hate Jacob Lusk. I wanted to hate Jacob Lusk. I’m still offended by his violent mutilation of “God Bless The Child.” (Has anyone pressed charges against him or Haley Reinhart yet?) This week, the only thing that might be able to have a case against him is his microphone for sexual assault charges. Dude needs to eat a Big Mac before he performs so he’s not quite so tempted to chow down on the sound equipment. While there was definitely no subtlety to be found, the vocal bombast was kept at bay and his ridiculously talented vocal chords carried the song. I’d be interested to see him tone it down even further, but I’ll take what I can get for now. (All that said, everyone really should watch the best “A House Is Not A Home” performance on Idol ever, by one Ms. Tamyra Gray.)

Casey Abrams – “I Put A Spell On You” (Screamin Jay Hawkins)
The judges love Casey Abrams. The producers love Casey Abrams. The Idolsphere loves Casey Abrams. Everyone loves Casey Abrams. I want Casey Abrams to run away and never return (© Scar). His doofiness annoys me in itself, but my real qualms are with his voice and performing style. He’s ridiculously cheesy and spent a greater portion of the song growling like an enraged hyena (I’m getting my money’s worth on these Lion King references). It’s Taylor Hicks all over again. Everyone loves him because he’s different and fun while I silently weep in the corner trying to choke down an entire season with a buffoon.

Overall? The guys sang well for the most part. Some of them even performed well. Most were just decent/passable. But how much can you really expect on the first night?

Going through: Casey, James, Jacob, Paul, Scotty
Potential Wildcards: Tim, Stefano, Robbie
Amy-Krebs-Club-of-One-And-Done: Jovany, Clint, Jordan, Brett


3 Responses to “Oh My Gosh, There’s So Many Ways To Fail”

  1. 1 Shosh March 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Cantiello and Slezak ain’t got nothin’ on you! I love your recap of all the horror stories for each contestant the best.

  2. 2 h2oconvo March 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    OMG I’m so glad you decided to recap Idol. Bookmarking! Or, um, just clicking on your link when you tweet it because I’m lazy.

    Loving your summary of the guys’ tragedies, especially Jovany and Jordan’s. BAHAHAHA.

  3. 3 Michelle March 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I enjoy the impending sense of futility and doom that runs through the whole recap. Keep it up!

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