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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


American Idolatry: Yoko Ono, Where Art Thou?

By popular demand, I'm going back to recapping American Idol. Let it never be said that I am not a grateful slave to my readers. I've been watching the new season until now, waiting to get inspired enough to say something...but maybe that's asking too much of a show in its seventh season. (Not all shows suck as they age; Lost is so good this year, it should come with whip cream topping.)

But this is what we've got, so let's have a ball, shall we? Last night was the Beatles. If you think I'm behind a week, I'm not...the Baby Boomers Must Always Rule Everything, so we've got a second week 'highlighting' the most overpraised band in history. Here's the way I saw it going down:

Amanda Overmeyer
Song: "Back in the U.S.S.R."
Fashion Report: Breast-splitting sleeveless black shirt, ill-fitting jeans, pretentious boots
ModFab Score: C+
Overmeyer has the ability to make any song sound like Joan Jett...which is fine when she actually sang Jett on 80's night, but not so good other times. I get that she's a rocker chick, and this is a rocker track (as much as the Beatles do). But few Idol contestants have hoped to survive on such a monotonal style, and I can't wait for America to tire of her. The judges weren't blown away, either; barely five minutes in, and Paula is already throwing around the word "pitchy", while Simon is reading my mind by calling her predictable and boring. I will say that she looks sexier than she ever has before, though...should play well with those embittered Gina Glocksen fans.

Kristy Lee Cook
Song: "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"
Fashion Report: What appears to be a multi-layered summer dress made of 2-ply Hefty bags, accompanied by some hooker boots and pale blue eye shadow
ModFab Score: D
I've been waiting for this girl's eviction for weeks, and she's inexplicably avoided the axe after some truly heinous performances. (What exactly WAS that countrified "8 Days A Week" last time, anyway?) Tonight, she did a bouncy, Nashville-inflected variation on Lennon's deceptively sad tune, proving again that Kristy never pays attention to lyrics. Maybe she could get away with that if she had an amazing voice (think LaKisha Jones, for instance), but Kristy's instrument is never more than adequate...and often less than that. My guess is that she's been surviving on the fumes and memories of Carrie Underwood in the eyes of the voters, but her pale imitation shtick should be obvious to everyone by now.

David Archuleta
Song: "The Long and Winding Road"
Fashion Report: Urban Outfitters t-shirt, vaguely retro purple blazer, Sunday school pants.
ModFab Score: B+
What a journey Archuleta has had with the Beatles this season. He vaulted into frontrunner status with "Imagine," then dropped precipitously last week with a terribly unfunky version of "We Can Work It Out." He was back on safer ballad-heavy ground this week with "The Long and Winding Road," which he did very well. But for me, the question remains as to whether Archuleta can do anything besides ballads. He's adorable, of course, and a nice vocalist, and anyone would be foolish to bet against him in the finals. (The judges certainly aren't -- they raved about him.) But is he a one-trick pony? We'll find out in the weeks to come.

Michael Johns
Song: "A Day in the Life"
Fashion Report: Monochromatic black shirt, black skinny tie, black pants, black shoes, all of which means he must be a serious artist
ModFab Score: B-
I've been telling friends for weeks that if Michael wants to win this thing, he needs to take a page out of the Jim Morrison-Michael Hutchence playbook: tight jeans, undo a shirt button or two, and croon until the teenage girls (and gay men) lose their minds. But maybe I was wrong...his version of "A Day in the Life" wasn't too bad, despite what the judges said. Yes, it felt as if it were on autopilot, but there are worse crimes committed on that stage. Face it: Michael's the only attractive adult male left in the competition (Archuleta and Jason are cute as buttons, but to consider either of them as sex objects violates the laws of numerous states, I think), and he's bound to have fans among the Idol voters. Plus: bonus points for being Australian. Because Aussies are hot. (Holla!) He can't win by phoning it in, but I think he's here for another week certainly.

Brooke White
Song: "Here Comes The Sun"
Fashion Report: A yellowish shiff thing made from construction paper and Elmer's glue when Brooke was at summer camp in 1986
ModFab Score: C
The slightly-geeky White has never been my cup of tea, but even so, I think she suffered through an unnecessarily perky arrangement and a song that, to be frank, doesn't have a lot of emotional or dramatic range. In her post-performance conversation with Randy and Simon, she admitted her failings with the tune, which was probably a very smart move. I'm not a fan in the first place, but I don't think this was necessarily her fault. Song choice, song choice, song choice.

David Cook
Song: "Daytripper"
Fashion Report: Brando's black jacket from The Wild One, a bandanna around the neck, and thankfully, one completely solid hair color. Set off with Jakob Dylanesque jeans to keep it mid-90's
ModFab Score: B
No Idol contestant this year has divided me more than David. I loved, loved, LOVED his version of "Happy Together," then felt ambivalent about his well-regarded version of Lionel Richie's "Hello," which I found overworked and overwrought. This week, his Whitesnake-inspired variation on "Daytripper" had me conflicted yet again; I thought it was interesting, but the truth is that I'd never buy it on iTunes if it were a single. He's innovative and cheesy all at once...kind of like Devo with a rock guitar. More and more I think he'll be in the final three. That doesn't, however, make me think he's any good.

Carly Smithson
Song: "Blackbird"
Fashion Report: pomegranate red blouse with atrociously oversized roses sewn around the drooping neckline, making her look pregnant and Polynesian
ModFab Score: A-
My assistant at work, the utterly fab Rebecca, feels that Carly is the one to beat this season. Truthfully, I've never see what she sees...until last night, when her confident, serene, and entertaining interpretation was the high point of the evening. In the post interview, she was gracious and charitable to her fellow contestants; she was even able to shut down Simon's poo-pooing of the song with some lyrical analysis and musicology, which played very well to the audience. For the first time, I think we'll be seeing her long after all the other women in the competition are gone.

Jason Castro
Song: "Michelle"
Fashion Report: slimming, retro white button-down shirt and ass-flattering Levi's
ModFab Score: C+
Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way: this boy has some seriously pretty eyes. And a charming smile. And he's nearly retarded. ("I just learned 'ma belle' is French. Huh. I didn't know.") My problem is (can you guess?) Jason, despite his camera-friendly charms, doesn't have much of a voice. He's got breath support problems, weak intonation, and a disturbing tendency to fall off the pitch. His performance was cutesy and insubstantial, and the judges were right to call him on his disconnected interpretation. But just like Chris Richardson last season, I've got to believe that sooner or later, someone's going to realize that Jason just isn't very good. Right?

Syesha Mercado
Song: "Yesterday"
Fashion Report: gorgeous full length green print dress with kick-ass big bangle earrings
ModFab Score: B+
Unlike most people apparently, I've liked Syesha from the get-go. Yeah, she's not the best singer in the world, but she's no slouch, either. Arranging the song last night as a plaintive, acoustic-guitar affair, her "Yesterday" echoed Corinne Bailey Rae for me...and that's a very good thing, indeed. There was feeling, depth, and raw emotion in her performance. There was musicality. And I felt there was a star in the making on that stage. It's clear from her tiny applause in the audience, however, that she doesn't have many fans voting for her. I'm not sure why she's not connecting with the audience...that girl, IMHO, is good.

Song: "I've Just Seen A Face"
Fashion Report: faded pink t-shirt with brown windbreaker and chunky belt...and can we get this man some pants that fit, wardrobe department?
ModFab Score: C-
How you feel about Chikezie is probably akin to how you feel about the gimmick of playing a harmonica for two measures as a "solo"...which is what he did this evening. Like the man himself, it's a bit endearing (if you're generous) and a bit irritating (if you're me). Can I ask that we place a moratorium on turning Beatles' classics into country tunes? If John Lennon wanted to live in Nashville, he wouldn't have married Yoko Ono, you know what I'm saying? It's simply not good enough, and proves that last week's success was the fluke many of us expected. (And to be clear, I wrote the word "gimmick" above before Simon used it in his summation. So there.)

Ramiele Malubay
Song: "I Should Have Known Better"
Fashion Report: Pussycat Doll white velvet fedora, baby t-shirt with black body corset, and sassy black jeans for that added kick
ModFab Score: C
Perfectly okay performance. And that's the problem with Ramiele, who has a pleasant enough voice but lacks the maturity to take the songs beyond mere adequacy into a resonant experience for the audience. Blame it on her youth, I think; in the right hands, she could be molded into something, but for a competition that already has a stellar young prodigy (Archuleta), she's simply not cutting the mustard.

Best of Night: Carly Smithson
Bottom Three Prediction: Kristy Lee Cook, Ramiele Malubay and Amanda Overmeyer
Getting Cut On Wednesday: Kristy Lee Cook

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Blogger A.M. said...

You're recap is pretty much spot-on. I think David A. and Carly easily stole the show.

See my recap/top picks, here:

3/19/08, 1:37 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

glad your wrist is better! (It is isn't it?) I don't have time for Idol but have been watching David A's performances on youtube and find him just adorable. He is almost a cute as Same Difference (www.samedifferencemusic.com) and i am all for the return of cutesy pop (but not in a cheetah girls/hannah montanna way). Am glad you have been checking out the fashions - it seems no one is really making an effort this year or maybe i was just spoilt last year with Blake and Chris (Cake?)

3/19/08, 8:50 AM  
Blogger JB said...

Yeah! I am so glad your back to this! I have been recapping since the beginning and last night was just AWFUL! Kristy Lee better go home, I am not sure how much more blood can come out of my ears.

Jason C has amazing eyes...Jordan Catalano eyes!

3/19/08, 9:46 AM  
Blogger PoliVamp said...

Interesting analysis of the performances (something I haven't done so far this season). I agree with quite a few of them, and only slightly disagree with others.

One thing I do disagree with is predicting Ramiele in the bottom 3. The person in the 'pimp spot' has only been in the bottom 3 about 5 times in the history of the show, and never this early in the game. I think she'll be safe.... this week.

3/19/08, 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm impressed, with the exception of David Cook, your observations are spot on. As for Jason Castro, not only can he not sing, he acts like he's not much smarter than a fifth grader. And those dreds...I just want to take a razor and shave his head.

3/19/08, 11:06 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

I wanted to like Carly more but I didn't last night because usually I think she's top notch.

Oh thank goodness. You called out what I only hinted at. That the Beatles stuff is sometimes overated. And Jason C is WAY overated.

3/19/08, 12:21 PM  
Blogger DL said...

*shudder* I don't know how to react to people calling The Beatles overrated. :S

Anyway, I'm so glad you're doing these recaps again this year because they're really to die for. My favourite contestants right now are far and away Carly and Michael, although I do tend to love David A and Brooke most of the time.

My least favourites are Kristy Lee and Jacuzzi (whose rendition of "I've Just Seen A Face" actually made me wanna throw up.)

3/19/08, 7:13 PM  

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