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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


American Idolatry: Giving Back What, Exactly?

Hide the children and get inside the basement bomb shelter -- the nuclear meltdown known as Idol Gives Back Week has hit the shores of American Idol, and we are swimming in a tsunami of radioactive waste masquerading as corporate philanthropy. The warm fuzzies coming from the aid-to-Africa effort are palpable, even though the actual all-star concert episode won't happen until Wednesday night. But with a theme of "inspirational songs," you know the contestants would be trying to out-ballad one another. And ballad they did. ModFab's opinions on the good, the bad, and the Kristy:

Michael Johns
Song: "Dream On"
Fashion Report: Jim Morrison-esque black pants and vest, topped by a retro-hot ascot-like thing around the neck. And as far as I can tell, he avoided wearing underwear this evening. Niiiice.
ModFab Score: B
You have to at least give Johns credit for trying to tackle icons: Steven Tyler is big shoes for him to step into, and I give Johns a few bonus points for trying. And if he didn't quite reach the heights we might have wished for, it's still better than anything Kristy Lee Flagwaver has sung all year. At this point in the competition, hitting a home run every time isn't necessary...just be good enough to not attract notice. Last night, I think he did that. (And is it me, or does Randy Jackson just not like the guy?)

Syesha Mercado
Song: "I Believe"
Fashion Report: More stunning new clothes from the India.Arie Hipster Chick Collection.
ModFab Score: B-
I don't know about you, but I'm still stumped as to how Syesha escaped eviction last week. (I'm not missing Ramiele, however...time for the also-rans to move on.) Clearly, she didn't learn her lesson. It's not that her diva-flashy interpretation of Fantasia's semi-hit wasn't accomplished; it was, in fact. It's that she seems hellbent on making people compare her to superior singers. Syesha isn't that flawed a performer, but she suffers from these comparisons she forces us to make.

Jason Castro
Song: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"
Fashion Report: T-shirt and sweater combo that says "Hey, I'm auditioning for A Chorus Line, would you cast me in this?"
ModFab Score: F+
Now I know who he reminds me of: Tiny Tim. Jesus, that little tinkly guitar thing was awful. It was hideous. It was insanely terrible. It made my intestines churn and boil. It decimated a gay anthem and beat all musical truth out of the lyrics. It made me want to kill small children and decapitate puppies, just to make it stop. It polished his lack of talent into a shiny, diamond-like turd. And. And. And...the judges loved it. LOVED IT. After pulling the forks out of my eyes and the icepick from my forehead, I realized that sometimes in life, it's better to be blind and lobotomized. This is one of those times.

Kristy Lee Cook
Song: "I Sing"
Fashion Report: One of Cher's old gold-spattered blouses from the early 80's, and some hip-hugging white pants.
ModFab Score: D
More country-fried, feel-good, slightly-spiritual hooey from the queen of mediocrity. Her voice wasn't godawful, I guess. But she's choosing songs that appeal to dumb people, and it's working to keep her on the show...and I hate that. She might win this thing. I never thought I'd say this, but I deeply miss Carrie Underwood.

David Cook
Song: "Innocent"
Fashion Report: Hair noticeably askew, crisp white jacket stolen from Panic At The Disco's costume closet.
ModFab Score: B-
Big ups for performing an Our Lady Peace song on Idol. But that said, I didn't really go with it. He's got talent, but this seemed off-balance and ungrounded; pop-rock tunes depend upon the singer's ability to float along the melody line, and the entire enterprise instead seemed labored. I'd be surprised, however, if this ends his time on the show...he's been on too good a roll for too long. Unlike...

Carly Smithson
Song: "The Show Must Go On"
Fashion Report: if you haven't realized by now, she's dark, deep and moody. Which explains another dark, deep and moody blouse and jeans combo.
ModFab Score: C
See Michael Johns above. She tried a big song, and it got away from her. This doesn't mean she should go home, but I sense that her voter support is weaker than most of the remaining candidates. I'm also going to guess that something went wrong for her; she seemed noticeably pissed off midway through the song, and the after-performance judging saw Carly try to weakly blame a scowling Simon for throwing her off. (I'm not buying it.) The question for me is: will America punish her for an off-night?

David Archuleta
Song: "Angels"
Fashion Report: plain white patterned shirt, puffy jeans, slight bags under his eyes because of all the rehearsing for the Idol Gives Back nonsense for tomorrow night
ModFab Score: B
I do love me some vintage Robbie Williams, so I was glad to hear a song I actually liked. (It happens so rarely on Idol's Parade of Vaguely Country Pop Songs these days.) David is clearly too young to understand the full complexity of the lyrics, which address the lasting power of relationships. (I will let the question of his probable virginity, and his probable orientation, remain undiscussed. For now.)

Brooke White
Song: "You've Got A Friend"
Fashion Report: Oh dear. A pink and brown tube of shapeless fabric, which can only be described as a tribute to Mud Flavored Pepto-Bismol.
ModFab Score: B
Doesn't it seem like Brooke was made to sing Carole King? A perfect match of singer and songwriter. She wasn't on her best game tonight, but I expect she'll be helped by singing the only bona fide classic of the entire evening. The Mom Vote, you know. The judges were pleasant to her, and seemed content, in this week of giving back nonsense, to let her off the hook gently. Don't be surprised if their generosity comes to an abrupt end, a mere seven days from now. Idol gives back, but it also taketh away.

Best of Night: Michael Johns
Bottom Three Prediction: David Cook, Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson
Getting Cut On Wednesday: Syesha Mercado

Previous American Idolatries: Yoko Ono, Where Art Thou?, God Bless The U.S.A.

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Blogger StinkyLulu said...

I actually love that arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" -- though not necessarily Jason Castro's cover of it.

It's worth hearing it as sung by native Hawaiian folk legend Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole before totally forking yourself over it...

4/9/08, 1:08 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Sigh. Little David A is just adorable. Like a little pound puppy. Or a polly pocket. I need to dress him a bit more stylishly though. And for the first time, I thought Michael Johns look H-O-T. Oh the songs were decent too :)

4/9/08, 1:26 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Um, Jason Castro covered a famous version of "Over the Rainbow" by Hawaiian singer Iz Kamakawiwo'ole. And the 'tinkly little guitar' is called a ukulele.

That being said, Castro's performance was its usual pile of steaming crap. I'm not angry because the song is 'a gay anthem', but because he took a beautiful version of the song and ruined it.

4/9/08, 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got three exceptions to your current review:

1) Michael Johns (who I just learned lives near me) just didn't connect last night. He wants to be a "rock" singer when the white boy bluesy soul singer fits him much better. I don't think he can afford any more mistakes like this. No one is buying the whole "rock star" thing with him. It's just not believable.

2) I readily admit I have disliked Jason Castro from the get go. His whole doe-eyed look and "I can't believe I'm here" attitude is just annoying. Frankly, I can't believe he's there either (then again Sanjaya). That being said, his take on "Over The Rainbow" was well suited for his vocal abilities (or lack thereof). I've actually heard that version on the closing credits of some movie recently (just can't remember). The best he could hope for is to take his music in the direction of Jack Johnson who's made a decent career out of his guitar and weak vocals.

3) You gave Brooke White a "B"? What were you smoking? Her rendition of the Carole King classic was nauseating. The girl really can't sing and it will be highly unlikely she'll get much furher muchless a recording contract. I predict she'll be in the bottom three this week (along with Carly & Syesha).

4/9/08, 9:45 AM  
Blogger will g said...

To Paul; Excuse my utter ignorance, but it AI carried on the same night in the UK? Who knew (not me, obviously). Why don't we get Pop Idol or whatever? Or is this some fancy satellite thing you've got going?

4/9/08, 10:22 PM  
Blogger lylee said...

Finally watched all the performances a day late, and have to say...yeah, pretty underwhelmed all around. I didn't think there were any standouts, either good or bad. Jus' reaffirmed that Michael Johns is no Steven Tyler, Jason Castro is no Iz, Kristy Lee is no Martina McBride (heck, she's no Carrie Underwood), Brooke is no Carole King, and TPTB need to tone down or get rid of the backup singers.

I'm worried for my boy David Cook, though I didn't think his perf was that bad. Unfortunately suffered from a shaky opening, and then the rest was buried by the backup singers.

Love "Angels," but for some reason the lines "She offers me protection, / A lot of love and affection" make me want to giggle. Clearly I still have the mind of a 7th grader.

4/10/08, 5:07 AM  
Blogger A.M. said...

Oh noez I have to disagree. I thought Jason Castro's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was amazing. The Ukulele and his vocals hit the song perfectly, and the arrangement was great.

I think David A did a little better than a B, about an A-. I'd say him and Jason were the standout performances of the night, considering the fact that this was a pretty weak night all around.

David Cook totally butchered a song that I love, unfortunately.

Kristy picked a great inspiring song that she sang OK, so I have another hunch she might be safe again this week, meaning Syesha might be in trouble.

And lastly, Brooke butchered her song and Carly just did alright. Nothing special from these 2.

4/10/08, 2:36 PM  
Blogger jason said...

I don't even watch this show, and yet you make me laugh.
I love your costume descriptions.

4/10/08, 7:56 PM  

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