Thursday, April 27, 2006

De-pimped

I was looking over some of the past recaps from week 7 and I can't help but think that coming in sixth place should be called the "Fall From Grace" spot.

After all, since season 2, the people who have been eliminated in this space have been Carmen Rasmussen, John Stevens, Constantine Maroulis and Kellie Pickler.

Carmen was Simon's inexplicable wild card choice, Red was one of season 2's fan favourites who got a lot of TV time and was the first "crooner" to make it to the big stage, FRC was the guy with the "rocker" look who sang "You Make Me So Very Happy" and ABM was one of this year's Chosen Ones.

Each of these folks seemed to be on the fast track to Idol success, especially FRC and ABM. Maybe it's because Fox has been playing favourites more obviously in these past two seasons, but it seems that after starting them out so high, the Fox/19TV producers pulled the plug on these folks as the competition wore on.

Last year, FRC got some of the favoured treatment when Seacrest himself went back to his band and watched Constantine quit on them so he could sell out. One of his bandmates had that F-You look on his face when he talked about American Idol. During the competition, the camera pandered to FRC's eye-boinks and posing and he was playing the game really, really well. It wasn't until he became such a polarising figure because the tweenie girls loved him, but everyone else thought he was a poser.

Then this year, ABM got the star treatment when the cameras followed her home, let her cry at every opportunity and the show seemed to delight in her stupid Picklerisms ("I'm a mink!", "What's a ballsy?" and "You just took that right off my chest!"). When the backlash against her became too great, she was gone.

I'm going to have to go back and watch last season again, but it seems to me that American Idol de-pimped these two as quickly as they built them up because they realised that there were as many haters out there as there were fans. FRC was so obviously playing the game (which Nadia never did) that he turned a lot of people off. ABM was so annoyingly stupid (or even worse, she was just pretending to be) that people stopped buying her "aw-shucks" wide-eyed country girl schtick and that turned the public against her.

American Idol had no choice but to back away from these two because they realise that they won't sell as many records as they would from someone who everyone likes.

Of course, this could backfire on them because everyone liked Reuben and where is he now? At least Pickler fans probably would have bought her CD. Would Taylor fans? Would Chris fans?

We don't know that yet, but that's what makes the music industry such a crapshoot. Besides, once a winner is declared, Fox really doesn't care about the American Idol winner anymore; they've made their gazillion dollars off them already.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And she didn't even get to sing . . .

Not that I'm heartbroken about ABM not getting to sing her way off the show, but this just seems crass. After how many commercials, Fox still runs over on time.

Before I get into my critique of the results, if Paula was moved to tears by ell-E-ott, she should have been reduced to a quivering blob of jell-o by Andrea Bocelli. I'm not a big fan of his, but even I got chills listening to him.

After seeing him at the closing ceremonies of the Tornio Olympics and again tonight, it only affirmed to me that even on his worst day, Bocelli is ten times better than anyone who has ever stepped on the stage of American Idol.

Now on to the results.

We get three groups: VCM & AWG, DLS & ell-E-ott, and ABM & Sergeant Hooks.

Taylor and Elliot are safe and we later find out that they're the middle two.

Simon shows some rare contrition and apologised to VCM for being unnecessarily harsh. Who said that yesterday? Oh, yeah, that would be me.

We find out that Katharine and Chris not only are safe, but that they're the two highest vote-getters for the week, bookending a rare week when the person going in the Dead Man's Spot wasn't in danger of getting whacked.

That leaves us with Kellie and Paris. With Bucky's ouster, Kellie is the weakest vocalist in the competition, and she has been handed votes from day one by Fox/19TV. Paris has the big voice, but she has seemed to be trading on her grandmother's name and she's picked songs that are too old for her.

We find out that, much to everyone's surprise, it's Kellie who is getting sent home and that Paris is safe.

I thought for sure that Paris would get canned and that Kellie's time would be up next week. I have never been so glad to be wrong (at least as far as American Idol is concerned).

The backlash against Kellie has been extremely harsh these last couple of weeks. Being exposed as a poor vocalist undercut all of the sympathy votes she got because of her TV time. Still, I thought Paris had less support. After all, this was ABM's first trip into the bottom group and Paris has been there a couple of times.

The question now is this: Where do Kellie's voters go?

The obvious choice is VCM. After all, they were roommates and they're both pretty girls. Chris might pick up a few of her votes and Paris might, too. Or the Pickler fanatics might just boycott the rest of the season because there is no obvious channel (blonde, country act) for those votes.

For those keeping track:

The Dead Man's Spot: 4 of 7 in the bottom 3, 2 eliminations
The Pimp Spot: 0 of 7 in the bottom 3, 0 eliminations

Next week, things should really heat up. I think this is anyone's game with even Elliott and Paris having outside shots to win.

Now that Kellie is gone, I think I can stomach any of the remaining contestants as the winner.

Even though I'm no longer winning boshkabob's Idol Pickin's Game over at the American Idol Conspiracy, now that Kellie's gone, I don't feel so bad.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It looks like Paula was in the happy juice (again)

Cue the blog.

Hey, Seacrest, if you don't want to run over time, try taking out some of the filler. On my clock, it was 8:08 pm (EDT) before the first note was sung. Maybe if there were more singing, less product placement and you didn't try to engage ABM in a conversation, you wouldn't have to rush through the last half of the show.

Let's get right to it:

Trying to reverse the curse of the Dead Man's Spot is VCM who pulled out all the stops: showing of the girls, flashing us lots of leg and violating one of American Idol's cardinal commandments: "Thou shalt not sing Whitney, Celine or Mariah unless thou art actually Whitney, Celine or Mariah". We also got to see her actually sing some opera along with guest and CD pimp Andrea Bocelli and she was pretty good. The judges said she picked a song that was too big for her, and while they're right, she did a lot better job than they gave her credit for. After being stuck in the lead off spot, you know it's bad when Ryan gives you the "you look beautiful" kiss of death. Look for Katharine to undeservedly be in the bottom 3 tomorrow night.
Flash Judgment: 8½/10

Next up is [E.T. voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice] who wasn't nearly as good as Randy, Paula and Simon gave him credit for. He has a good voice, but he picked a song not a lot of people may know and he tried too hard. The arrangement was bad, but for once, I don't think he's in danger this week of being eliminated. Elliott has been building steam these last couple of weeks and I think he's picked up most of Bucky's voters and a surprising number of Ace's voters. Did someone check Paula's cup tonight? She was more erratic than usual. Elliott moved her to tears and later she was just shouting incoherently. Are we really going to be subjected to this for another three years?
Flash Judgment: 8/10

The lambs are screaming! I try to free them! I open the gate to their pen, but they won't run! They just stand there . . . confused. I take one lamb with me and run away as fast as I can . . . but . . but . . . it is so heavy . . . They caught me a little later and sent me away to an orphanage in Bozeman. They killed my lamb . . .

And that was even before ABM started singing. Like Paris, I wish Kellie just wouldn't talk. However, unlike Paris, it's not because her voice is annoying, it's because she's as dumb as a box of rocks (or even worse, she just pretending to be that way). She's like that one girl you went to high school with who is drop-dead gorgeous, but couldn't find her forehead if it weren't attached to her. Pitchy snuck into her hairdo and assassinated her song. I'm not crazy about the song (it was beaten into the ground when Ghost was popular so I always change stations when it comes on the radio. On the other hand, millions of teenage boys and middle-aged men looking for younger versions of their wives will be happy to know that, contrary to rumours, Kellie is not dating FRC and she's on the market. If only we could send her home.
Flash Judgment: 6½/10

On my clock it's not 8:35 pm (EDT) and Seacrest doesn't give any more time-wasting sit-down interviews and cuts the judges short on their comments. Not that Paula's comments can be any shorter ("I love you! We love you! You're great!) or less coherent ("Who put GHB in my cup?") . . .

In the four-hole is Sergeant Hooks. Hey, Paris, Midge Pinciotti called: She wants her haircut back and she's pissed. She was either flat through the whole song, or brought in some reverse-falsetto in because it seemed to me like she spent a whole lot of time unnecessarily in the lower register. Simon said she was impersonating an older singer and he's right. For someone who's so young, she's singing like she's 50. Mikalah did that last year and the judges chewed her up for it. I guess it helps to have a Grammy®-winning grandma for Randy and Simon to suck up to. I was not impressed. Sure she has a great set of pipes, but this song just didn't do it for me.
Flash Judgment: 7½/10

Now that we're rushed for time, we get to hear Andrea Bocelli and super-producer David Foster gush all over DLS. Of all the contestants this year, he's the most like Bo in that he has the knack for picking the right song. Where many of the others are over singing (VCM, Hooks) or trying too hard (ell-E-ott) or just plain bad (ABM), Taylor never tries to do too much (except for the time he tried to kick the mic stand and missed). "Just Once" doesn't require too much range and Taylor delivered a solid performance. I think he reads DJ Slim's blog and knows that according to Dialidol, he's consistently been the leader, so he might even be sandbagging (a dangerous maneuver at this stage in the competition).
Flash Judgment: 8/10

From the Dead Man's Spot last week to the Pimp Spot this week is AWG who sings us a song I also cannot stand. The judges gushed over him. Fox/19TV gave him the prime spot. He was set up to succeed after his appearance in the bottom 3 last week. I was "eh?" about him. He's still doing too much of the angry thing. C'mon, Chris, show us some emotion when you sing. Don't just glare at the camera. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. This is the second time since the final started that Chris has been given the prime real estate and third time overall since the voting started. If that doesn't scream TCO, I don't know what does.
Flash Judgment: 7½/10

I thought this was another week where the contestants got some really good coaching. Not necessarily from Andrea, but from Foster. I think he told them exactly what they needed to hear. Some of them listened. Some of them didn't. Some of them delivered. Some of them faltered.

With half of the field being relegated to the bottom three, it will be interesting to see who ends up singing their swan song as the credits roll (because Fox just can't come in on time).

To recap my scores:

VCM - 8½
DLS - 8
ell-E-ott - 8
AWG - 7½
Sergeant Hooks - 7½
ABM - 6½


Who should be in the bottom 3: Chris, Kellie, Paris
Who will be in the bottom 3: Elliott, Katharine, Paris

I think ABM has had too much TV time to be in danger of going home. Having said that, she has been the weakest singer (or tied for the weakest singer) for about three weeks in a row now. I think there is a backlash against her among the message-board posting public. Sure, she has her core of die-hard supporters, but right now, the name of the game isn't getting new voters, it's absorbing the powervoters of contestants who have been voted off.

In reading what other people have posted over the last couple of weeks, I think there are a lot of folks who are tired of her dumb blonde and country bumpkin schticks and that the factions of Ace, Bucky, Kevin et al aren't going to her.

I also wonder why Fox/19TV would be pimping her so much because last year's winner has virtually the same act, only Carrie can sing, she's prettier and she's not as trashy.

VCM makes the bottom 3 because she had to go first and because the judges gave her an undeservedly critical review, but like Elliott, she has been picking up some steam lately.

Last year, in week 7 there was a surprise elimination when FRC got the boot, so I think the obvious weak link (Kellie) will be safe while another person is sent packing.

Since I'm picking, here is who I think will go home.

Who should go home: Kellie
Who will go home: Paris

Oh, and one more thing, today is our friend Jennifer's birthday, so everyone go over there and wish her many happy returns on the day.

That's it for me.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I knew they'd pull that crap again!

Who said Fox would pull the George Huff stunt again? That would be me.

You know it's bad when the people on CNN are piling on.

This morning, I was watching the CNN morning show and Miles O'Brien was saying that in an unscientific survey of the O'Brien household, Ace was the consensus pick to get whacked. And then another of the anchors was calling him "Ace the Face".

Is anyone surprised at this? Seriously. Who didn't see this coming?

What was surprising (at least to me) is that ell-E-ott was in the top group and that Chris was in the bottom group. Of course, he was in the Dead Man's Spot, so that might explain why he was in the bottom 3.

The question now is this: Who is going to pick up Ace's considerable faction?

I'm still trying to figure this one out. For the tweens who are voting on looks alone, the obvious answer is Chris. But then again, they might gravitate to the younger contestants (ABM and Sergeant Hooks), so who knows.

Good news for next week: the theme is broad (greatest love songs) and the person pimping their CD is Andrea Bocelli. I'm thinking that everyone left could do really well with this theme, especially VCM, Paris and Elliott.

With Ace now in the can, the weakest vocalist is clearly Kellie, but she's got so many powervoters she might end up as this year's Jasmine (pretty girl, weak vocalist), only with one-fifth the number of brain cells.

The tally so far:

The Dead Man's Spot: 4 of 6 in the bottom 3, 2 eliminations
The Pimp Spot: 0 of 6 in the bottom 3, 0 eliminations

It still burns me up that during the "see ya" montage, Fox/19TV plays that crappy "Bad Day" song and not the contestants performances, plus they didn't even let Ace finish his swan song.

For my "ways to improve Idol next year", remind me to put those on my list. That and pick themes that don't involve bringing back fuddy-duddies who are looking for career revivals.

So sorry you were sent home Ace; I'll miss your unnecessary falsetto. Not.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Cue the blog.

Could this season be any more boring?

Two shows of standards. Yech.

At least the disco themes kept us on our toes.

And the old, washed-up artists they brought on then weren't so obviously prostituting themselves to promote their latest project.

Fortunately, Paula was showing off the girls to keep my attention.

I think Fox is messing with my stats, because going in the Dead Man's Spot is one of this year's TCOs, AWG. For the first time, he moved away from the "angry" mode and even though he still had that unnervingly intense stare, he looked a little more comfortable. He wasn't great, but he wasn't bad either.
Flash Judgment: 8/10

Next up is Sergeant Hooks who I still can't stand to hear talk, but she's a powerhouse when she sings. I thought she did really well, even with a song that's three times as old as she is.
Flash Judgment: 8/10

In the three-hole is DLS, who turned in an average vocal with the most animated performance of the night. Considering what a snoozefest this show was, that's not saying a lot. With the bottom three making up almost half the remaining field, it's hard to guarantee that Taylor is safe, but you never know. He wasn't spectacular and it could hurt him.
Flash Judgment: 7½/10

Marking the half-way point is [E.T voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice] who turned in a good vocal with an average performance. Simon's comments were a thinly-veiled plea to get Elliott's fans to vote for him. With so many power-voters already locked into the "Alphabet Contestants", he needs to find a niche quickly or he'll face elimination again.
Flash Judgment: 7½/10

Turning what was clearly the worst performance of the night was ABM. She'll cruise on through thanks to her legions of power-voters, but based on this performance tonight, she should be the one going home. Pitchy showed up, plus she was boring as hell. Unlike Paris, who was elegant, Kellie was just kind of there, and she didn't do a very good job of it. Paula even had to resort to her "You look fabulous" kiss of death to try and find something nice to say.
Flash Judgment: 6/10

Going next to last is Ace who Randy says should sing everything in false. I say Randy needs to have his hearing checked and Ace should be sent packing. As much as I dislike ABM, Ace annoys me more. His vocals were iffy and he continues to grate on me.
Flash Judgment: 6½/10

Making up the other TCO bookend is another Alphabet Contestant, VCM who gets the much-coveted Pimp Spot. Her performance was understated and she didn't try to do too much. Plus she wasn't wearing maternity clothes.
Flash Judgment: 8½/10

So to recap:

VCM - 8½
AWG - 8
Sergeant Hooks - 8
DLS - 7½
ell-E-ott - 7½
Ace - 6½
ABM - 6

These themes are killing the contestants.

The average score is a dismal 7.43 out of 10 which is better than the 7.19 they turned in last week and only margially better than the 7.35 they collectively registered when the theme was "Songs of the 21st Century". I think Fox needs to stop showcasing the latestly fuddy-duddy who needs to promote his/her latest album and let the kids sing.

I'm also disappointed we're not hearing more singing. After Seacrest's mindless banter to open the show, unnecessarily showing Rod Stewart wearing Lycra and then Chris's introduction piece, by my watch, 9 minutes had elapsed before we heard note one from anyone.

Less filler, less advertising, more singing.

That's all I have to say about that.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Ace, Kellie, Taylor
Who will be in the bottom 3: Ace, Elliott, Paris

The Alphabet Contestants (ABM, AWG, DLS, VCM) will be safe for one more week.

Who should go home: Kellie
Who will go home: Ace

I think Ace knows his days are numbered. He's cruised along on his good looks for this long, but I don't see that he has picked up any new voting blocs. Bucky's voters probably went to Kellie, Mandisa's and Lisa's votes probably went to Paris and who knows where Kevin's fans went (Kellie probably). Melissa wasn't around long enough to gather any powervoters (although she certainly deserved to be around longer than Kevin and Bucky).

Everyone be prepared to send Fox/19TV hate mail tomorrow because I have a feeling they're going to pull a George on someone tomorrow, probably Elliott or Kellie.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Some random thoughts

I know I haven't been blogging as much lately as I usually do, but it's getting to be that time of year when term papers and major projects are due and I haven't been able to blog as much as I'd have liked. Over the past two weeks, I've written one 10 page paper, one 19 page paper and I still have two projects and two presentations left before the semester is over.

So here's what I think about some of my favourite things on TV:

The Next Food Network Star


Since I last blogged about TNFNS, Andy, Nathan and Carissa have been whacked. Carissa's ouster frankly surprised me since I assumed she'd be one of the two left standing along with Guy.

Andy is weak. He's got really sad, boring eyes and just doesn't excite me. Nathan is a jackass. Carissa is pretty is probably the best chef from a technical standpoint. When she got eliminated, I was pretty sure that Reggie was going to be the one who was sent home.

Guy is the frontrunner. He has the most personality, but isn't cocky like Nathan. He's technically proficient, but not so much as Carissa. I think he would be good on TV and apparently the Food Network execs think so, too.

Reggie is probably the most fun in person, but on TV, he's rather weak. While not as weak as Eric, the other big black guy from last year, Reggie is the least proficient chef (as you would expect from someone who is self-taught). Still, the food people can teach cooking skills; they can't teach personality.

What Guy has going for him is that he's got a unique show concept ("Off the hook"), or kind of the extreme cuisine segment. Reggie's schtick is southern food with an urban twist. He's all about "the butter, the sugar and the cream." Well, so is Paula Deen, so I'm not sure Food Network needs another comfort food show.

Of course, now that the fate of the winner is in the hands of the viewing public, there's no telling who will win. I only hope the winner isn't exiled to the same ratings limbo that Dan & Steve currently inhabit.

Doctor Who


The more I watch this show, the more I like it. While he's no Tom Baker, the new Doctor is terribly funny and the girl sidekick isn't bad herself.

In this past episode, they clashed with the Doctor's old nemesis, the Daleks, or rather a single Dalek. The precursors to the Borg, the Daleks were one of the best cheezy villains to come stateside courtesy of the BBC.

I'm not thrilled with the way the story ended; I was hoping the Daleks would turn out to be long-term adversaries, but who knows? They could show up again.

I like that even though they could have gone way over the top with CGI and special effects that didn't look obviously fake, they're paying an odd sort of tribute to the campiness of the old Doctor Who and not being too slick.

Battlestar Galactica


It's been over a month since the second season ended and I'm not sure I'm liking how things have turned out. Of course, on another level, this only makes the show that much better.

I'm giving you a spoiler warning, but since it's been a while since the last show was on, the statute of limitations is up.

Season two ends with Baltar as the President of the colonies and most of the surviving humans on a planet in the middle of the nebula. There are a handful of ships still in orbit, including both the Galactica and the Pegasus.

A year goes by and humanity has settled in. Tyrol and Callie are married as are Starbuck and her beau from Caprica.

Lee and Dualla are presumably still together and they're both part of the skeleton crew manning the Pegasus. Tigh has gone planetside and there aren't enough pilots to fly the remaining Vipers.

Baltar has apparently gutted the military and is living the high life aboard Colonial One while the rest of the population stagnates.

Then the cylons show up. Meeting no resistance, they take over the planet unopposed.

Along with the remnants of the fleet, all Galactica and Pegasus can do is watch the invasion force land and jump away to safetly.

Where will they go from here?

Who can tell? Starbuck, Tyrol, Roslin and Tigh are on the Planet. We don't know what has become of Helo and Sharon.

I have really enjoyed this show from the beginning. I think it's well-written, the acting is good and the story arcs superb. It's everything Star Trek could have been if they weren't so worried about being Trek.

October seems so far off now.

NFL


With the draft not quite two weeks away, there is a lot of speculation over who should taken whom.

Will the Texans take Reggie Bush or Vince Young? That seems to be the big question on the minds of pundits everywhere.

Not that I want to be giving my division rivals any advice, but I wouldn't take either. I'd take D'Brickashaw Ferguson. That's right, take an offensive lineman. No, he's not Orlando Pace or Tony Boselli, but right now, Houston's needs aren't at QB and they aren't at running back.

David Carr is a serviceable quarterback. We don't know how good he is because he's spent the last three years either running for his life or flat on his back. He's shown sparks of being good, but the Texans need to help him out.

The Broncos have shown us that with solid offensive line play (and a borderline illegal chop blocking scheme) that anyone can be turned into a thousand yard rusher, so I don't know why the Texans would take Reggie Bush. Actually, I do know why; Charlie Casserly doesn't want to be remembered as the guy who passed on Michael Jordan.

But with the salary cap the way it is in the NFL, the Texans need to address need first, the pundits second when making their pick. Plus, they won't have to pay Ferguson as much for being the first overall pick as they would have to pay Bush.

As a Jaguars fan, I want them to take Bush, not do anything about their porous offensive line and let Marcus Stroud and John Henderson play jailbreak in the backfield.

That's it for me right now.

Oh, except for this: As I mentioned before, we just switched to Nextel and I'm really wishing I had gotten the phone with the camera in it. So if anyone has a Motorola i850 they're willing to sell on the cheap, let me know.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

There can be only one . . . and it's not Bucky

Why, oh, why, after an hour-long show does Fox still run over time?

Maybe that should be a sign that they either need to cut out the unnecessary drama or some of the advertising/product placement.

The group sings are back and they're up to their usual campy stuff with a Queen medly. Not bad, not great. Certainly better than "Take It Easy" from earlier this year. They didn't even mention the Queen CD featuring the American Idols; I wonder why.

Elimination time comes and we see the alphabet contestants on the back row: DLS, VCM, AWG and ABM. Put them together and you get TCO.

With a short clip from home and some crying, we find out they're all safe.

ell-E-ott is on the front row and he cries, but we find out he is a type I diabetic and that seeing his mother reduces him to tears. But he's in the bottom 3. No surprise for me; I think I predicted that Tuesday night.

Ace is up next and despite an appearance by the brother who looks nothing like him, an older brother who looks somewhat like him and his hot brother in the audience, Ace is also in the bottom three. No surprise for me; I think I predicted that on Tuesday night, too.

In the final two spots are Bad Hair and Sergeant Hooks. We find out that Bucky's mother is a pretty, articulate woman from North Carolina; how is it then that he turned out so mush-mouthed?

Paris didn't want to sing or get into her family's business, but she shows up at the American Idol auditions with her grandmother in tow. Moral support or obvious ploy to get Randy Jackson to put her through and suck up at every turn?

Bucky turns out to be the one in danger and fills out the bottom 3. No surprise for me; I'm 3 for 3 in my bottom three predictions from Tuesday.

Ace, Bucky and Elliott.

Let's recap how each guy got here:

Bucky has been on the judges's and audience's list of worst singers since the singing started, but somehow has escaped elimination. No one knows who's voting for him, but he's just happy to be there (even if it is on borrowed time).

Ace show up at the auditions and cruised through Hollywood on his hawt-ness alone, peaked with "Father Figure" and has been sliding downhill ever since.

Elliott is a strong vocalist, but looks kind of scruffy and if he sang like Ace, he would have been whacked in the semi-finals.

So who's gone?

Much to my surprise and chagrin, it's Bucky. I was soooooo hoping Ace would end up getting canned so we wouldn't be subjected to any more unnecessary falsetto.

What led to his demise? Was it his country-fied (yes, I'm making that into a word; deal with it) version of a Queen classic? Was it recent reports of his arrest record for impersonating his brother after a car accident? Was it that he's simply the weakest vocalist to make it to the finals this year? Was it that he had to go first after being inexplicably being given the Pimp Spot last week?

Regardless of what actually led to his ouster, Bucky was sent home, much to the relief of young girls and Ace-curious guys everywhere. Of course, I think that means he needs a miracle to survive next week.

To recap:

The lead-off spot: 3 of 5 in the bottom three, two eliminations
The Pimp Spot: 0 of 5 in the bottom three, zero eliminations

If this keeps up, I'm going to re-christen the lead-off spot as "The Dead Man's Spot".

Next week, we have more standards, this time with Rod Stewart. Wasn't that the theme a couple of weeks ago?

How much do you think Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, Queen, and Rod Stewart paid Fox/19TV to pimp their CDs on national television? When did this become a "let's revive the careers of old people" show?

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Killer Queen night.

Cue the blog.

Best line of the night: “Someone is drunk at that table. You be the judge.”

Hey, Paula, you can’t use the word “bastardise.” This is a family show.

I’m disappointed that no one sang “Princes of the Universe” which is, after all, the most apropos song in the Queen catalog. Sure some of the words are kind of arrogant (“I have not rival/No man can be my equal/Take me to the future of your world”) but it would be worth singing just to make the obligatory “There can be only one” joke during the post-singing interview.

Did I miss a close-up of Fantasia? I noticed they got up close and personal with Camryn Manheim and Mickey Dolenz, but I didn’t notice a face-shot of Fantasia. You’d think they would be pimping their past winners.

First up is Bad Hair. I won’t say I hated it, but Queen done in the style of country-rock just doesn’t do it for me. At least he picked a fun song. I’d look for him to be in the bottom 3 this week.
Flash Judgment: 6/10

Next up is Ace who was sporting a new pair of black leather pants. He tried (in vain) to show that he’s a rocker, but he came up short. On top of that, he just had to throw in some unnecessary falsetto at the end. The more he sings, the less and less I like him. I don’t think he’s a poser like Kellie, but if he looked like Bucky or Elliott, he would be gone by now. Notice that the judges gave him the most damning comments of all: faint praise.
Flash Judgment: 6/10

I have a feeling that the bottom three are going to be the first three performers of the night. ABM was bad. Just plain bad. I had a feeling that Queen night on American Idol would showcase several people self-destructing on stage and Kellie certainly didn’t help herself. Did you notice how she managed to mention her dad in the introduction piece? I thought Kellie was off-pitch and that there was no way she could live up to the big shoes left by Freddie Mercury. And why is it we can’t seem to get through a week with a gratuitous eye-boink from FRC?
Flash Judgment: 6/10

[rant mode=on]I’m going to interrupt the regularly scheduled blog to rip Fox/19TV so put on your seatbelt and get a helmet.

Why the hell do the contestants only get to sing for 90 seconds? There are 8 of them. That’s 12 minutes of singing.

12 freaking minutes in an hour-long show.

What’s up with that?!?!?!?!

The introductory pieces before each contestant are 90 seconds. Seacrest runs his mouth introducing everyone before they sing. The judge ramble on afterwards.

I might remind Fox/19TV of some of Simon’s wisest words: “This is a singing competition.”

So why isn’t there more singing?

Heaven forbid Fox cuts back on their product placement and advertising.

I think it’s disgraceful that only 1 minute in 5 on the night everyone is singing is actually devoted to singing.

[/rant mode]

Next up is AWG in the four-hole. He was good, although as Simon rightly said, he could have been better. “Innuendo” is on the last album Queen put out before Freddie Mercury’s death (which explains why they never performed it live) and it is an obscure song. After more of Paula’s alcohol/drug-induced rambling, Simon scolded Chris for passing up the chance to deliver a pantheon-level performance. You know, the kind of performance that defines a performer or a season. This was Fantasia with “Summertime”. If Chris had picked a song people knew or even one that was less obscure (“Stone Cold Crazy” would have be great for him), he could have taken himself to the next level instead of just being okay. I also wish he’d let go of his intense glare that he has while singing and at least look like he’s having fun.
Flash Judgment: 8/10

Beginning the second half of the performances is VCM who had her mother in the audience. She chose to stand there and sing, and it was a good choice. I would have liked to have seen more booty-shaking with “Don’t Stop Me Now”, but she delivered a good vocal on a song that could have turned out very, very bad.
Flash Judgment: 8/10

Next up is [E.T voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice] who brought us a passable rendition of “Somebody to Love”. I was watching the Freddie Mercury tribute concert the other day and George Michael knocked this one out of the park (and he also had a spectacular duet with Lisa Stansfield on “These Are the Days of Our Lives”) and Elliott came up short. He wasn’t bad like Bucky, Kellie or Ace, but he wasn’t great either.
Flash Judgment: 7½/10

DLS is next with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. After putting in two mediocre, sandbagging performances in a row, Taylor is back to his spaz-dancing ways and it was good to see someone deliver on this song, especially after the David “I’m not a crooner but I’m going to croon anyway” Radford debacle. Next time, though, kick the mic stand over on the first time. He wasn’t the best vocal, but he was the best performance. He looks like he’s having fun again, and that will help him.
Flash Judgment: 8½/10

Making her first appearance in the Pimp Spot is 18-going-on-26 year-old Sergeant Hooks, who apparently is a member of the Rhythm Nation. I didn’t care for her song or the performance, although she does have quite a set of pipes on her. I’m trying to figure out why it is I don’t like her, and I’d like to think it’s more than her annoying talking voice, but she just doesn’t do anything for me.
Flash Judgment: 7½/10

To recap:

DLS - 8½
AWG - 8
VCM - 8
ell-E-ott - 7½
Sergeant Hooks - 7½
ABM - 6
Ace - 6
Bad Hair - 6

Who should be in the bottom 3: Ace, Bucky, Kellie
Who will be in the bottom 3: Ace, Bucky, Elliott

Who should go home: Ace
Who will go home: Ace

I wonder if Dialidol is going to get it right again this week.

When I heard that Queen was going to be the theme, I thought for sure that half the field would implode on stage. As it turns out, I was pretty close. Queen is a hard act to pull off because they've got such a big, theatric sound and there aren't many big, theatric voices left this year.

Anyone have a guess as to what the group sing is for tomorrow night?

We just have to wait through a results show that is being unnecessarily stretched out to an hour.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Do the math

I found this little gem comparing this year's American Idol crop against some of the past contestants. It's pretty funny, and for the most part, spot-on.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The First Shocker of the Year

It looks like the Dialidol folks got it right this week. Or has Fox been eliminating someone else just to spite them?

In any event, I thought for sure that Mandisa would get at least to the top 5. I was so sure that I picked her to be one of the top 3 in a contest over at DJ Slim's website.

I thought her big voice would carry her through but it looks like she was undone by the most common adversary AI contestants succumb to: herself.

Two weeks of bad song choices turned out to be her undoing.

The big question from here on out is this: Who can pick up the eliminated person's voters?

I'm not sure Mandisa had a lot of powervoters and that might be why when she had an off week, she suffered. Where do they go? The logical person is Paris or maybe Katharine.

When they divided the remaining contestants into groups of 3, I knew the DLS/ABM/AWG group was safe; TCOs each and every one. I thought for sure the Ace/VCM/Bad Hair group were the dead men walking and that the Mandisa/ell-E-ott/Sergeant Hooks group was also safe.

Silly ole me. And I'm willing to bet most of you thought that way, too.

For those of you keeping score:

Lead-off: 2 of 4 in the bottom 3, one elimination
Pimp spot: 0 of 4 in the bottom 3

That leaves us with Queen for next week. I have a feeling that it is going to be a trainwreck of biblical proportions.

Seriously, which among this crowd can sing Queen? Chris, maybe. Taylor, maybe. Mandisa probably could have, but she's gone. Paris might be able to power her way through "Somebody to Love" or something similar.

Don't expect anyone to try "We Will Rock You" or "We Are the Champions". No one has the voice.

I think Chris could turn in a respectable "Stone Cold Crazy" but I'm at a loss for what the others might do well.

I'd look for Taylor and Katharine to go deep into the Queen catalog for "Who Wants to Live Forever" or "I Want to Break Free", and I think Bucky is going to either self-destruct or the ghost of Freddie Mercury is going to show up wreak terrible vengeance upon the mulleted one.

My prediction for Kellie is that as soon as she opens her mouth, the lambs will start screaming.

Anyway, I think next week is going to be a terribly entertaining bloodbath. I can't wait to see the carnage. It will be the giant rolling head you just can't look away from.

Three final thoughts on the show:
  1. Makeover people: Code Orange. Repeat: Code Orange. Someone take the maternity clothes away from Katharine.

  2. How much do you think Daniel Powter's people are paying Fox/19TV to play his song during the elimination montage? Do you remember when the soundtrack was of the bootee's songs? I think the lyrics to "Bad Day" are patronising and unnecessary. I want to hear them singing, not some guy who is shilling his own record on someone else's time.

  3. I'm glad they're letting the eliminated contestant finish their song before going to the next show, even if it does run over.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Country Night = Blech

You would think that after years of saying how he doesn't understand country music, Simon would get it through his head that each year there is going to be at least one night that is devoted solely to country music. You don't have to like it, but at least try to know what it's about and be familiar with some of the artists and songs.

On the plus side, we got to find out that Nigel Lythgoe loves Ryan.

And that Ryan's razor is broken.

In the dreaded lead-off spot is Dances Like Spaz, who might be making his first appearance in the bottom 3 this week. I don't think he's in danger of elimination, but this week was not good for him. As a resident of the great state of West Virginia, I'm happy that both American Idol and the Travel Channel featured my new home (the latter in the form of a segment on the Pocahontas County Road Kill Festval), but Taylor was boring, boring and boring.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Second in the order is the one-named wonder, Mandisa. She picked a fun song and while it didn't challenge her range, she did manage to get all the words right. I wish someone would tell her that she should not wear anything that features horizontal lines.
Flash Judgement: 7½/10

In the preview segment, newly face-lifted Kenny Rogers told [E.T voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice] not to put too many runs in to the song. Then Mr. Yamin promptly ignored the advice of a man who has sold more than 105 million records. He was okay, but utter forgettable. Bottom 3 alert for Elliott this week.
Flash Judgement: 7½/10

The AFE has been graciously absent for the past couple of weeks, but it caught up to us tonight in the four-hole. Sergeant Hooks unloaded on us big time. She looked like her cat had just died (it wasn't me!). The vocal itself wasn't bad, but she appeared way too serious. It also amazes me that for someone with such a squeaky talking voice, she can hit to lower register so easily (and on pitch).
Flash Judgement: 8/10

Hey, Ace, I was looking around my house and I've got $7.63 in loose change, a case of 5W-30 motor oil and a set of Christmas lights I will give you if you don't bring us any more unnecessary falsetto for the rest of the year (like there's any other kind). I thought he was going to get through one week without having to do his "Ace thing", but I was wrong. The sad thing is that while he wasn't great, he was actually pretty good. But then at the end, he just had to throw in a couple of eye-boinks and the superflous falsetto to ruin it.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Pop quiz time. Mark the best answer on a separate sheet of paper.

ABM starts of her segment with a sit-down that shows off which of the following:

A. How naive she is.
B. That she's as dumb as a box of rocks.
C. The girls.
D. All of the above.

She's not bad, but she's not good either. I just want her gone (but not really since I'm have her advancing to the next round in a contest over at AIC).
Flash Judgement: 7/10

Next up is Chris who is getting a new name this week. Here's my problem with his performances. He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself. He's always got that intense look in his eyes, much like Eminem. When he's not singing, he smiles and looks animated, but when the music is playing, it's like he's trying to stare someone down. His vocals were good, but truthfully, would you want Chris telling you he loved you with that look in his eyes? From now on, Chris will be known around here as AWG (angry white guy).
Flash Judgement: 8/10

On the complete other end of the performance spectrum is VCM. Like Mandisa, she sang a vapid, but fun song, and unlike just about everyone else tonight, she actually looked like she was having a good time. I liked her song and I liked even better that her outfit didn't look like 1) a maternity dress, 2) my grandmother's couch, or 3) something she found at a garage sale.
Flash Judgement: 8½/10

Be on the lookout for the Four Horsemen because Bad Hair got to go in the Pimp Spot. Taylor goes first, Bucky goes last . . . what's next? Dogs and cats living together? I hate the song he sang and I'm not truly impressed by Bucky, but he's in his comfort box (again). He managed to cover up the fact that he's the weakest vocalist of the group but I can't fathom why he got the best placing.
Flash Judgement: 7/10

To recap the scores for this week:

VCM - 8½
AWG - 8
Sergeant Hooks - 8
ell-E-ott - 7½
Mandisa - 7½
ABM - 7
Ace - 7
Bad Hair - 7
Dances Like Spaz - 7

The average score for this week was 7.5, which is better than last week's 7.35, but that says to me that people either aren't trying or that some of them are sandbagging. No one was downright gawd-awful, but things could have been much, much better.

Also, does anyone else think that the band is overplaying the singing? Why can't we go back to the days when everyone sang along to a canned music track?

I think this is the point in the competition when the TCOs really start to benefit from all the TV time that will cover for mediocre or bad performances.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Ace, Bucky, Taylor
Who will be in the bottom 3: Ace, Bucky, Elliott

Who should go home: Ace
Who will go home: Ace

I'm hoping that this is the last week that Ace's hot brother (he had two there this week) gets to be in the audience. He peaked way too early and has turned in a string of bad to mediocre performances since. I think Elliott may also be in danger because I don't see many die-hard fans out there for him and it doesn't seem like he has lots of powervoting fans out in cyberland.

And what was up with Paula? Mispronouncing words, rambling. Fox/19TV gave her a three year extension for this?

Was she:

A. Drunk
B. High
C. Loaded on prescription meds
D. All of the above

I wonder what other random celebs will show up for American Idol this year? Chris Rock? Whoopi? Whoodathunkit?

Answers to the quiz tomorrow.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Who's going to win? Who cares?

After watching "The Next Food Network Star" last night, I was wondering how the finalists got picked.

There is no clear front runner among them. Each has a (sometimes severe) weakness.

Evette was sent packing, which should have surprised no one. She was simply a weak contestant. She had a definite message, but aside from that, wasn't very good. Didn't Morimoto have to show her how to filet a fish?

Let's go down who's left:

Reggie
Strengths: Fun, easy-going, likeable. He's not intimidating.
Weaknesses: He's simply the weakest chef. He doesn't have the training or the technical skills of the other competitors.

Andy
Strengths: He's . . . wait . . . nope, can't think of anything.
Weaknesses: Boring. I don't dislike him, but I don't like him either. He is completely uninspiring.

Carissa
Strengths: Technically proficient, pretty.
Weaknesses: She can be obtuse sometimes and her teamwork demo was just plain bad.

Nathan
Strength: Above average cooking skills
Weaknesses: He's a jackass

Guy
Strengths: High energy, the judges love the way his food tastes
Weaknesses: In some coaching last night, the selection committee told Guy that he was speaking too much in restaurant-lingo

If I were going to pick one of these folks to host a show I was going to watch, it would be Guy. He is technically a good chef, he has a good head for business and he's a likeable guy. His downside is that he needs to be more conversational and talk to people who like aren't restauranteers or chefs themselves, but this can be learned.

I don't think I would watch any of the others if they had their own show. Andy, for instance, can't be taught charisma. Nathan can't turn off his "cocky bastard" switch. Reggie could probably learn some better techniques, but I don't know if Food Network wants to wait for him to acquire that knowledge.