Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Put him out of my misery . . . please!!!!!

Our friends over at DialIdol say that Melinda, Chris R., Lakisha and Sanjaya are statistically safe, which I do not find surprising. After all, Melinda is the clear frontrunner, Chris R. has a following I don't understand, Lakisha is a fan favourite and Sanjaya has been handed so many votes he's not going home for at least two more weeks.

That's right, you heard it here first, Hello Kitty will finish at least #8 in this year's competition.

Please let me be wrong.

The show starts with a quick recap, then there's some filler and then the inevitable Ford commerical, which is bad.

I'm trying to figure out who's in danger based on their placement on the couch. They're going front row first. I'll be the final place is between Haley and Sanjaya. It's going to be Haley.

Blake, safe. Lakisha, safe. Phil, bottom 3.

Melinda, safe. Chris R., safe.

Now the back row, and to my surprise, they start with Sanjaya. Safe.

That leaves Haley, Jordin, Gina and Chris S.

Haley, bottom 3. Jordin is going to be safe. That leaves Gina and Chris S. for the last spot, and they'll find out after the break. Gina had better be the top vote-getter for the week.

American Idol pays some bills and then Gwen sings for us. What the hell is the deal with no group sings? I'm seriously missing those (sad isn't it?). Do you think Ryan is going to have to prompt Gwen for her album and website info?

Now we find out the final member of the bottom 3 and it's Chris. Gina, who had the best performance of the night before, is safe.

Given this bottom 3, I'd say it's a toss up as to whether the person going home is Phil or Haley. Both are among the weaker contestants and neither has a chance to win.

Lieutenant Ilia is sent back to safety, which means it's probably Haley getting the axe. However, DialIdol says Chris S. was the lowest vote-getter so it could be him and Simon agrees.

Seacrest tells Haley she's safe, which means Mophead is getting the axe. I'm surprised; I thought he'd last a little while longer.

I guess his personality couldn't overcome his vocal deficiencies. However, how Sanjaya outlasted him is unconscionable. We see his farewell film and Chris gets to sing his way off and get a hug from everyone (at least he gets most of the way through the song before they cut him off).

Plus, he's got a band he can fall back on. And he gets to go on the Idol tour.

I think he picked the wrong song this week, but I don't know that it merits his ouster. There are clearly worse singers around, and guys who aren't as likeable. Do you think his verbal sparring with Simon got him in trouble? Or was it something else?

I'll probably post some thoughts on Idol later this week, but that's it for me tonight.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Idol, Top 10

Tonight's show was changed from 60 minutes to 67, just so Fox can mess with ABC and their Dancing With the Stars results show. To be fair, the other show is two hours when it really only needs to be about six minutes long.

I guess that means I'm in for a marathon of competitive reality shows. Plus, if I get bored, I could always flip over to the CW and watch the Pussycat Dolls reality show. I'm told they're very "flexible".

Who's running the pool on whether crying-girl Ashley is back on this week.

Seacrest tells us in the early filler that even The Cure will be featured tonight. I'd really like to see The Cure on American Idol, as long it's Gigi and only Gigi who's doing the singing.

I'm not really sure what kind of music qualifies as "artists who inspired Gwen Stefani", but at least it's not Diana Ross night again.

Going in the Dead Man's Spot is CSM, who is probably not going to sniff the bottom 3 this week. Right now, I am going to officially declare that I am not a Lakisha fan. I don't dislike her; she just doesn't do it for me. She's got a powerhouse voice, but that's about it. She might win, but I don't think she'll sell a lot of records. Her reliance on the Money Note does her a disservice because she really does have a good voice. I think if the audience or the judges turn against her, I think she could really be nasty.

Mophead gets the random pre-singing interview and shares that he likes to play the bongos in his boxers. He's singing the Police which is a good choice. Vocally, he's one of the more limited singers but this is the right song for him. I think he's solidly in the second tier of this years crop. MSNBC wonders if pros like Chris should be allowed to compete in the show and that's another column, but I thought he was okay. Not as bad as Randy and Simon said, but not great.

Next up is Gigi and she's singing The Pretenders. Gwen says it's the perfect song for her and she's rights. She's also not doing any stunts and just singing the song. More people should try that strategy. I'm sure Simon likes the fishnets and spaghetti straps; Randy likes the boots. She was good, probably the best she's done so far.

Then we get a view of Hello Kitty with some Tasslehoff Burrfoot-like top knot and I really, really, really hope it's not him singing The Cure. If he does, I hope Robert Smith shows up and lays a smackdown on him like he did to Mecha-Streisand.

Thankfully, he's singing a No Doubt song and with any luck it will be his deathknell. Actually, his hair Nadia's 'frohawk 2.0 not Tasslehoff, and actually he does a pretty good job. Vocally, the song does him lots of favours and I think he's resigned himself to the fact that people think he's awful. It helps that he's in on the joke. He's become a novelty act at this point, and Simon rightfully says that the people who like him are going to keep him around no matter what he sings. At least we didn't crying little girl again.

Things are really moving along and Haley is next. Gwen says she should just sing the song and that's never bad advice. Unfortunately, she tries some tricks with the song that don't do her any favours. Will this be the last week that she punches the Idol clock? I think she is almost into the Katharine McPhee sex-kitten zone, but she doesn't get as much help from the girls.

We're still moving right along with a minimum of filler and Lieutenant Ilia is next. He's wearing a hat to cover up his chrome dome. He's also singing the Police and I wonder if he can sing the whole song in the same key. Gwen shows once again that she is a "stick to the melody" girl . . . but doesn't that fly in the face of Paula and Randy's "make it your own" mantra? Go figure. Phil is about half a key off (too low) and I think he should be in the bottom 3 again.

Getting the lucky seven spot is Melinda and she's back in the disco mode, even with the outfit. Vocally, she is spot on, and I might refer you to the article I linked to back under Chris S. She's either sandbagging or she really likes to sing songs that people older than her (and older than me) like. I wasn't super fond of the song, but she's not in any danger this week.

BBB is going in the 8-hole and he's the one singing The Cure, which will make my friend Wixie either very, very happy, or very, very pissed off. "Love Song" is not my favourite Cure song and he's okay. He forgoes the beat-boxing and it wasn't his best performance, but like Melinda, he can afford to sandbag for a week and he won't be hurt. Both Paula and Simon say he's the best of the guys, and Simon warns him about the "Chris Daughtry Zone", which is wise advice.

Also singing a No Doubt song is Jordin whose stock has been rising lately in the blogosphere. I have never really liked this song because it doesn't really go anywhere and repeats the same thing over and over. Vocally it's not very challenging, but she sounds the most contemporary of the people who have gone tonight and that will help her. Plus, she's also doing the boots thing which will get props from Randy.

That leaves Chris R. in the Pimp Spot and he's also singing No Doubt. Do you think they promised Gwen a No Doubt quota when she signed on. Or maybe he's going to take a shot a "Hollaback Girl". No, he's doing "Don't Speak" and I think it's weak. He likes to do tricks with his voice and the song, but he's another guy who should either totally re-arrange a song or just sing the melody. I still don't see the charm of this guy; I think he's cookie-cutter and boring. However, because of the power of placement, he won't be in the bottom 3, even though he probably deserves it.

The Good
Gina

The Bad
Blake
Chris S.
Jordin
Lakisha
Melinda

The Ugly
Chris R.
Haley
Phil
Sanjaya

The worst singer is clearly Sanjaya, but I think he's got too many crying fans to be eliminated for a couple of weeks. That said, I don't think Sanjaya is picking up any new votes so he won't win (despite the best efforts of Vote For the Worst).

I'd say that leaves both Phil and Haley in danger of being voted off and either (or both) of the Chrises might find themselves in the bottom 3.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Haley, Phil, Sanjaya
Who will be in the bottom 3: Chris S., Haley, Phil

I will also warn that Lakisha might sneak her way into the bottom 3 because of the singing order and the fact that she wasn't particularly good and that could spell complacency for her fanbase. She won't get eliminated, but she might get a Ruebenesque trip to centerstage tomorrow night.

Who should go home: Sanjaya (not based solely on this week, but because of his overall body of work)
Who will go home: Phil

Now that the show is over, I'm going to publish this now and then edit it later to reflect the DWTS results, so if you're into that show, too, stay tuned until about 10:05 and I'll post my thoughts on the other network's show.

Dancing With the Stars results


On the split-screen, Mrs. High Lord is watching the filler of DWTS and the drama of the Pussycat Dolls at the same time. Diana Ross is singing and I'm bored.

The girls on the PCD show are also singing, but I'm not really listening. My friend is right about them; they are really flexible. And the girls trying out for their show cry a lot.

Can Diana's face be any tighter? And was she lip-synching?

Is this show really going to go on for another 38 minutes? I don't know if I can stand all the inevitable filler. I think I'm going to do something other than watch this for the next half hour. I'll be back in a few minutes.

Okay, I'm back.

The bottom 2 are Shandi & Creepy Brian and Paulina & Alec. Mrs. High Lord thinks Paulina is going to get canned but she would also like to see Creepy Brian go because he freaks her out. Something about that bad fake tan and his scary teeth.

They go to a break and we'll find out who joins Trista, Kenny and Tucker as the first one to get whacked.

I think it's going to be Paulina because she hasn't been prominent for about 20 years and that puts her in the Giselle zone; folks who don't have an obvious fanbase to draw upon, even if they're technically adequate.

The couple going home is . . . Paulina and Alec. Dammit!

I soooooooooooooooooooo wanted Creepy Brian to get canned. I guess it was Shandi's legs that got her through.

Our loss is Ric Ocasek's gain because his wife is coming home.

We'll see who gets canned on American Idol tomorrow night and be back with DWTS next week.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dancing With the Stars, week 2

Tonight we get a second round of dancing with all 11 of the C-listers before the eliminations tomorrow.

The guys are doing my favourite dance: the quickstep. If I were going to learn any ballroom dance, my top two choices would be the tango and the quickstep. It looks very difficult to do, but when done correctly (like John O'Hurley), it loks cool and when done incorrectly (like Master P), it's magnificent in its sheer craptitude.

I don't know what the girls are doing, but we can only hope that Heather's leg goes flying off somewhere. And in case you hadn't heard, there is a gambling site that is taking bets on whether that happens.

Did I just see Kathy Griffin in the audience? Probably not, but this looks like the kind of show she'd watch.

We're reminded that the celeb with the lowest combined scores from last week and this week and the voting will get sent packing after American Idol tomorrow. We also find out the girls will be doing the mambo.

Is this show really going to be two hours long?

In the one-hole are Apolo and Julianne. Apolo needs to shave. He looks good in the suit, though. He does a good job of not looking like he's counting along in his head, although he does seem a little stiff. And the fake smile all the way through probably hurts as badly as it looks. Plus, I really hate the guy who's singing. I don't think he was as good as the judges said.
The Judges's Scores: 8-9-9
The High Lord's Score: 7

Does it seem odd to anyone other than me that you can start voting immediately? Of course, that eliminates the curse of going first that plagues American Idol singers, but does it hurt the people going last? After all, if you use all 11 of your votes early in the night, you could find that the last dancer is really good, but you don't get any more. I just wonder.

Shandi and Brian are next. Mrs. High Lord is freaked out by Brian's teeth. I think his tan and that look in his eye are kind of creepy. She could be this year's Stacy and that outfit only helps her. I thought a couple of times, they looked kind of mechanical. The dance wasn't as good as it could have been. Their chemistry isn't what other other couples have been in the past, but then again, she is hawt and he's just a little gay (and probably a little too much in love with himself).
The Judges's Scores: 6-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 6

Was Chuck Woolery in the audience?

Going third are Clyde and Elena. I don't know that being too tall is really his problem. I think it's that his arms are each a foot longer than hers. His footworks is okay and while he's a bit more awkward than Apolo, I think he definitely should get some points for trying.
The Judges's Scores: 6-6-6
The High Lord's Score: 7

It's Leeza's b-day and she and Tony are trying out the mambo. She doesn't have the fastest feet but she's technically adequate. She's slower than Shandi, but doesn't have obvious chemistry issues with her partner. Not great, but not bad either.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 6

I don't know who's the bigger celeb, Ian or Cheryl (we already know who the dancer is). Is Ian crying for votes? He's good, but a little stiff. He doesn't look like he's having as much fun at that as John O'H had with the quickstep. I think the judges will score him well, though.
The Judges's Scores: 7-8-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Paulina is inexplicably still married to Ric Ocasek. When they got hitched twenty five or so years ago, everyone wondered how he landed her. I'm just amazed that they're still married. She's as gorgeous as ever, plus she's terribly funny and in those heels, she's two feet taller than Alec. I thought she was good, even if the dance didn't quite seem like a mambo.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Last week Billy Ray and Karina got the lowest scores so there's only one way to go, right? At least he's trying (unlike Master P). He's counting out loud but he's better than I thought he would be. He's not having fun or looking very relaxed, but I think the hard work is going to pay off for him tonight, especially compared to last week.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Lot's of 7s tonight. That's lucky, right?

So who's left? Joey, John, Heather, Laila, right?

Heather and Jonathan get to follow and Tom wastes no time in reminding us that she's missing half a leg. Plus we get a cameo by Jaime Lee Curtis. Heather is actually pretty good and she looks like she's having fun, which is always a plus. It's a good thing the show doesn't vote people off or all the Beatles's folks would have had her kicked off this week. Mrs. High Lord says Heather has the most rhythm of the girls to go so far this week. Stacy Keibler like it.
The Judges's Scores: 8-8-8
The High Lord's Score:

In other news, ESPN (finally) dumped Joey T. from the Monday night lineup and replaced him with Ron Jaworski, a move that is long over due. If only they can now get rid of Kornheiser and replace him with Dick Vermeil.

Edyta and John got a pass last week for only having two weeks to train. When the dancer says someone's "charisma" will carry them, you know they're not very good. I think he wants to do well, but I just don't know that he can. Maybe all this activity will help him lose some weight. He looks like he's having fun, which is good. He's not light on his feet, clumsy even, but he covers it well. At least he's better than Tucker and trying higher than Master P.
The Judges's Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 6

Going next to last are Laila and Maksim. Her arms are nearly as big as his. I think she could beat the crap out of him. It seems that athletes seem to have a built-in advantage on this show because they're already used to the discipline of training, and this year Laila could be the next Jerry. I don't know that she can win like Emmitt, but she could go very far. I wasn't moved to tears by the performance, but she was better than most everyone else tonight
The Judges's Scores: 9-9-9
The High Lord's Score: 8

Getting the Pimp Spot (which may or may not be a blessing on this show) are Joey and Kim. If there's an early frontrunner among the men, it's Joey, the former boy-bander. Like Drew, he's probably had the most dance training among all the current contestants and it shows.
The Judges's Scores: 8-8-8
The High Lord's Score: 8

The thing about this year is that I think it's wide open. There are a couple of people who are clearly in a top tier, and a lot of folks in the second tier, but there is no one who is absolutely awful. Sure some folks aren't as good as the others, but everyone is trying and with a little bit of effort, those people (Billy Ray, Clyde) could actually move up to good.

I think Clyde is in danger of being voted off tomorrow night, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Paulina or Shandi got the axe tomorrow. Mrs. High Lord also says Leeza could go.

We'll find out tomorrow.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sanjaya's superpower: He makes little girls cry

Ashley, the little girl who was moved to tears by Sanjaya Malakar last week, was on the Today Show and told Meredith Viera that her guy is "phenomenal".

That's his audience. More power to him.

I don't know that she and other little girls like her are hearing the same show I hear, but Ashley and her cohorts around the country are apparently the reason why Sanjaya made it this far. I'd engage in some more bashing, but at this point, piling on isn't going to get rid of him and as Peter Noone told everyone in the US who didn't already know, "This isn't a singing competition" not matter how many times Simon tells us that.

I only hope he doesn't last as long as John Stevens did, because if say, Gina were to get the axe before him, I can guarantee that she will throttle Sanjaya right there on live TV. J-Hud gave the "No You Didn't" glare to John Stevens the whole time as she was singing her way off the show, but I think Gina would go UFC cagematch on him.

And if Gina did kill him on a Wednesday night for outlasting her, I don't think there is a prosecuting attorney who would win a conviction.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Week 2 results

Will the curse of the Dead Man's Spot strike again? If DialIdol is to be believed, Haley, Gina and Chris are the bottom 3, while Sanjaya and Phil are inexplicably statistically safe.

Last night, I predicted that Haley would get whacked, but now I'm not so sure. Phil could be the one, and I also think Stephanie may be in danger because I think she splits votes with the other two powerhouses and that leaves her as the odd (wo)man out.

We'll see in a little bit.

Peter Noone is singing a song I've never heard. Does he have a new album coming out or is this one of his oldies?

And there's no group sing. I'm a little disappointed that they didn't make the idols sing "I'm Into Something Good". I wonder if Seacrest is going to have to prompt him for his website and album info like he had to do with Diana last week.

At least we get a lame Ford commercial.

Now it's time to put some people in the bottom 3.

Are they really going with just a bottom 2 tonight? Or did I miss someone before they cut away to an absurdly-long commercial break and then Lulu singing?

There is a recording of Natalie Merchant singing "To Sir, With Love" as a duet with Michael Stipe that is the best rendition I've ever heard. Lulu sounds like she's shouting but she was better than Peter.

And now it's another commercial followed by the axe. I'm very happy that neither of the guest coaches were obviously hawking their next CD or project. That says to me that they're more interested in helping these kids along than making a buck for themselves.

So it looks like Chris R. and Stephanie in the bottom 2 now. I told you guys that Sanjaya was safe.

DialIdol says Stephanie is the lower vote getter. I'll bet it's Stephanie going home . . . and I'm right.

I like her but I just think she didn't do enough to build herself a fanbase. She's the same basic type of singer as Lakisha or Melinda, but without as big a voice as those other two. Jordin got the teenager vote, Haley gets the pop princess votes and Gigi gets the rockers. So the music stopped and Stephanie was left without a chair.

I'm not going to say Stephanie was robbed, but I think it's fair to say that she wasn't going to win. I am surprised that a girl was eliminated in the first three weeks because the guys are significantly weaker, but right now this game is Melinda's to lose; Lakisha's stock dropped this week, Blake made up a lot of ground and Jordin showed up to play.

Everyone else is treading water.

So that leaves us with a tour that includes both Creepy Phil and the guy who makes little girls cry. That's reason enough not to go see the show.

If you check back on my predictions on how I thought this year was going to turn out, I was all set to be right two in a row; I predicted Brandon going first and Chris R. second, but it looks like those prognostications blew up like my brackets.

I'll be around for the second week of DWTS before the elimination and then on Tuesday to see the top 10 perform.

What's the theme next week?

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Eleven to go

I've heard the theme tonight is "British Invasion" which is much better than an artist-based theme. I, like many others out in the blogosphere, like the general themes because not everyone can sing Gloria Estefan or Diana Ross. Plus, sometimes the guest doesn't really have anything to add.

To be fair, sometimes they actually help the singers, as evidenced by David Foster last year, but for the most part, they're only on the show to pimp their new album. I say let them find their own way back to relevance and let the singers do something that is more in their own comfort zones.

So are you ready for 16½ minutes of singing and 103½ minutes of filler?

They must not want Haley to go on the tour because it looks like she's going first.

The theme for the week indeed is "The British Invasion". Peter Noone and Lulu are the guest coaches this week, so do they get anything from the catalog or just from those two artists?

The last of the cookie-cutter girls leads off the show in the Dead Man's Spot. Lulu tells her not to powersing which is good advice because she doesn't stand a chance against the CSM and Melinda. Haley is singing "Tell Him" and it's not bad, but it's not great either. She looks like she knows she can't afford to slip up because even though the guys aren't great, she is the weakest of the girls. It's going to hurt her going first because she could easily be outshined by some of the others. At least she's not in tears in her post-singing interview. Off-hand, I'd say she's definitely possible bottom 3 material, but not because of the quality of the singing.

After an extraordinarily long commercial break, Chris R. who should seriously think about letting his hair grow out so his head doesn't look so round. Peter doesn't say nice things about Chris in the intro piece, so hopefully, he'll deliver. I don't understand the charm of this guy. He's not bad (like Sanjaya) but he's utterly forgettable to me. This performance almost put me to sleep. I'd put him in the bottom 3 and kick him off the tour because he just doesn't do anything for me. And then he has to throw in some unnecessary falsetto at the end.

Next up is Stephanie who gets a fan question. Why are we barraged with this stuff? This is a singing show, right? Why not more singing? Was it just me or did you see Simon and Paula making out? Stephanie's problem is that she wants to oversing and I think this song could make her try it. I'm not impressed with the song. I may be in a bad mood tonight because to me, no one is jumping out and saying that they want to win. They all just seem rather "blah".

BBB is batting clean-up. I think if any of the guys can make a charge, it's him. He is apparently ignoring all of Randy and Simon's bad advice to leave old songs alone and he's really making the song his own. I like that he's trying original things. He's got a good voice and no one can get on him for being "pitchy". Is Randy going to go all all old-fogey on us? I guess not. I think Blake is establishing himself as the guy to beat in the competition while making the judges eat some crow for what they said last week.

Seacrest should never do the Robot again.

Having ditched the orange, tonight CSM is in a green dress and I wonder if she is going to resort to belting this one out. Of course she is. I think this is the reason why I'm tired of her. I'm not crazy about the performance or the arrangement. She still has enough votes to carry her into the top five or six, but unless she tries something new, I think she may be this year's "shocker" elimination. I was bored. Simon is right on about this one.

At the end of the first hour is Lieutenant Ilia who just looks kind of creepy. People with funny-shaped heads shouldn't go shaved. He also shouldn't do the Bo move with the mic. I like the song and he does a good job. And he can't mess up the pitch on this song. I'd say this is his best performance that I've seen. I don't think he'll be in the bottom 3 this week.

Now Jordin gets a chance to prove that she's really 17 and not 23. She's also inordinately tall and much to my friend Mike's delight, she doesn't have a boyfriend. Please tell me she's not going to be shouting like Lulu. I don't like this song either and I'm bored with most of the show tonight. Could they not get the rights to good songs or is everyone just trying not to lose?

Seacrest gives us a few minutes to prepare for Hello Kitty. I don't know that I'm ready for this. At least he knows he's not the best singer in the competition. He's apparently singing the Van Halen arrangement of "You Really Got Me." A girl in the audience is in tears. Me, too, but probably not for the same reasons. Plus, he doesn't forget the words. This is probably his best performance, and that's a scary thought. He'll be in the bottom 3 again, but probably won't get eliminated unless TPTB intervene. Can we not show scared crying girl again? She's going to need therapy after this. Let's see more of Sanjaya's hot sister.

Gigi says she doesn't read blogs about the show, but I hope she reads mine. Is she going to shout out "Paint It Black"? I'm showing my age because I associate this song more with the 80s TV show "Tour of Duty" more than with the Stones. She needs to sing it, not scream it. She starts off with some Phil-like pitch issues in the lower register. Gina is laying claim to the "rocker" vote and that may be what keeps her around. She might make a surprise appearance in the bottom 3, but I don't think she'll get eliminated. I like that she's not boring me to death, even if I don't really care for the song.

Simon is holding on to the mistaken notion that this is a singing competition, but Peter knows better and so does everyone else. This is a popularity contest at this stage, and the most popular ones will stick around while everyone else will go home.

The guy with the most apropos nickname for this week is Mophead. There's not a single 12 year old girl in tears to be seen and that's a good sign. Chris is not a great vocalist, but I think he knows his limitations better than anyone else in the competition and that should serve him well. Too bad he almost took Paula out with the mic stand. I thought he did a good job with the performance even if he wasn't spectacular. Maybe he'll get some extra points for trying to jab Simon with the mic stand. Plus the " 'Fro Patrol" chant at the end was pretty funny.

Getting the Pimp Spot is Melinda who is the one person who doesn't need to be going last. She looks like she's in pain with all the squinting and the faces she's making. Another snoozer for me. Why did we not get any of the good British Invasion songs except from Sanjaya, Gina and Blake? I think Melinda is on cruise control and she might even be sandbagging.

The Good
Blake

The Bad
Chris R.
Chris S.
Gina
Haley
Jordin
Lakisha
Melinda
Phil
Stephanie

The Ugly
Sanjaya

There it is. Aside from Blake, I didn't think anyone stood out. I think the majority of the singers were trying not to lose and the ones who were in it to win it, did either okay or medium-bad. To me, the people who could have separated themselves from the rest of the pack didn't take advantage of the opportunity.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Chris R., Phil, Sanjaya
Who will be in the bottom 3: Haley, Sanjaya, Stephanie

Who should go home: Sanjaya
Who will go home: Haley

I think going first is going to be the nail in Haley's coffin this week, which is a shame because she seems to be growing a lot lately. I hope tonight I was just in a mood and everyone wasn't as bad as I thought they were. We'll see tomorrow night.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dancing With the Starts, Season 4

I don't know what I'm going to be doing for the next three months. My kids are already hacked off that I can't get papers graded on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and now that DWTS is on Monday nights, that's three nights that are basically shot for me. I'll figure something out. Maybe I'll give out less work (ha, ha!)

So here we go.

We open up with a group dance featuring the dancers and then they introduce the stars.

Tom and Samantha are back. What happened to Lisa Canning? Not that I miss her; I was just wondering.

First up is Ian Ziering and two-time champion Cheryl Burke. If he comes close to winning, is it his talent or Cheryl's coaching? Mrs. High Lord thinks Ian could be very good. Who the hell is singing? It's the same guy as last year who butchered "Hungry Like the Wolf". Ian is okay. Not spectacular, but not bad either. It's tough going first, so they should cut him some slack. He's got a lot of potential, plus he's got Cheryl, so that bodes well for him.
The Judges' Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Paulina Porizkova is up next with former champion Alex Mazo (who only won because ABC handed Kelly Monaco the title). Paulina is a self-confessed klutz and terribly funny (the joke about leaving the communist countries was hilarious). She looked a little nervous but was otherwise pretty good at the foxtrot. She looks better with her hair down. In parts she looked like she was counting along in her head. It doesn't help that she's taller than Alex. She probably doesn't need to be wearing heels.
The Judges' Scores: 6-6-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Going third is Billy Ray Cyrus and last year's runner-up Karina Smirnoff. Billy Ray, you need a haircut. Not the mullet again, but something other than that thing on his head. Oh, lord, Karina is wearing Billy Ray's old hair. At least he's having fun. He's not gawd-awful (see Master P and Tucker Carlson), but he's nothing special either. It's a good thing everyone gets to come back next week.
The Judges' Scores: 5-4-4
The High Lord's Score: 5

The fourth couple to dance is Leeza Gibbons and Tony Dovolani. She also looks nervous. She's not bad, but she's awkward. Better than Billy Ray, but she's can get a lot better. I think if she puts her mind to it, she can excel. Her age shouldn't be an issue like it was for Jerry and George. I think she could be this year's John O'Hurley.
The Judges' Scores: 5-5-5
The High Lord's Score: 5

Kym Johnson is rid of Jerry and now gets Joey Fatone, who could be this year's Drew Lachey. Or he could crash and burn. He's pretty good, but I don't know that this is really a cha-cha; it's more disco. Maybe they're hoping everyone will be counting Kym's ribs and staring at the girls.
The Judges' Scores: 8-8-8
The High Lord's Score: 8

Exchanging her boxing gloves for a ballroom gown is Laila Ali who is paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. She's got a lot of attitude, but I think she really wants to win. I'd take her in the cage match. She, too, is actually pretty good. I wouldn't put her in the finals just yet (like Stacy back in season 2), but it would not be inconceivable to see her in the top 4.
The Judges' Score: 7-8-8
The High Lord's Score: 7

Next up we have Major Bren Derlin himself, John Ratzenberger along with Edyta Sliwinska who have only had two weeks to train after Big Pussy left the show. It's her first time on the show and I think I'll give him a pass this week because of the short training schedule. He's not very good and almost dropped Edyta once, but I'll give him an A for effort. It doesn't help him that he's rather pudgy and wearing black; if he drops a few pounds he might actually be pretty good.
The Judges' Scores: 6-5-6
The High Lord's Score: 6

This year's beauty queen is Shandy Finnessey along with first-time on DWTS pro Brian Fortuna. Brian likes to show off his teeth and that freaks out Mrs. High Lord. They have a couple of off-movements, but looks like she's having fun. I wonder if she's taken any dance classes before. I think she was better than Bruno is telling her. I also like that the judges are trying to do some coaching in addition to giving critiques.
The Judges' Scores: 6-6-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

Clyde Drexler is 6' 7" and he's paired with Elena Grinenko, who only lasted one episode (with Tucker). Do you think he can dance well with someone who's two feet shorter than him? He's not bad, but he's not Jerry or Emmitt. The height difference doesn't help and only makes the couple look more awkward than they already are.
The Judges' Scores: 6-5-5
The High Lord's Score: 5

Soon to be Beatle ex-wife Heather Mills is up next with Jonathan Roberts, who has previously been coupled with Rachel Hunter and Giselle Fernandez. Is she going to be on the receiving end of all the Beatles fans who are wishing her ill or will she get lots of sympathy votes because she's one leg down? Let's hope she never has to quickstep. She's also not bad, although she (like a bunch of others) has a lot of work to do to keep up with some of the best.
The Judges' Scores: 6-6-6
The High Lord's Score: 7

Before the show started, Mrs. High Lord's favourite was Apolo Anton Ohno. He's with Julianne Hough, who's the youngest of the professional dancers. Mrs. High Lord would like him to shave and get a haircut. I worry that Julianne won't be able to coach Apolo up like Cheryl can do with the other guys, especially if she's starstruck or thinks he's hottie. I really dislike the singers they've got with the band. I don't think Apolo is bad, but he should practice more and skate less.
The Judges' Scores: 7-7-7
The High Lord's Score: 7

I like that everyone is getting two chances to show their stuff before someone gets canned. There is lots of potential this year and no obvious ringers. I think there is a clear top tier, but I'd also say that right now the competition is wide open, especially given how the public seems to vote.

Tomorrow is more American Idol and then we'll see how this shakes out for the next few weeks. I'll make my picks for the bottom 3 and elimination next week after seeing them dance again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First elimination

I don't know if you've checked, but over at DialIdol, they're claiming that Melinda, Lakisha and Sanjaya are statisticaly safe and everyone else is in play.

On a night when some people had the opportunity to distance themselves from the competition and others needed to shore up a fan base, it seems that most of the field faltered or at least, didn't do themselves any favours.

The general consensus is that Hello Kitty is the worst of the 12 finalists, but thanks to Fox having spent so much time showing him on TV, he won't be going anywhere for a few weeks. To everyone who thinks they're helping Sanjaya out by voting for him, the sad reality is this: the longer he sticks around, the more his therapy is going to cost.

American Idol has a long an glorious history of breaking younger contestants. The first was Carmen Rasmussen, but since then, Camile Velasco, John Stevens, Mikalah Gordon, and--most spectacularly--Leah Labelle, have all flamed out because they're too young and immature to withstand the week to week grind of the show.

Diana and Paris survived, and Jordin might as well, although she might crack once the media gets it hooks into her.

Sanjaya is not going to win and keeping him around will only breed more and more contempt and ill will for him. He never should have made it this far. He should have been mercifully cut in Hollywood like Jaclyn Crum was a couple of years ago. But there he is, still alive, much to the dismay of others who should have had his spot.

Diana Ross will undoubtably say nice things about the people who butchered her songs and then she'll unveil her new album (or greatest hits collection) that everyone goes on American Idol to pimp. Meanwhile, the final 12 will be left to fester for 25 minutes too long as what should be a 5 minute results show is dragged out and milked for as much as it's worth.

So here we go.

The local Fox affiliate keeps cutting away from American Idol to a random commercial. I have a feeling that someone at WVAH has been in the sauce again. On a related note, I realised the other night that with the start of the NCAA tournament, not once this year did Fox pre-empt American Idol for UK basketball.

I've ripped them in the past for showing a bad basketball game no one really wanted to see in place of my show, so now is the time to say thank you to WVAH for not subjecting me to crap I didn't want to see (again).

The show starts and it seems that Fox has gotten their programming settled down. We get the obligatory recap of last night and then it's the group sing!

Ooooh - a medley! It's not as bad as it could have been, but the obligatory Ford ad is.

The more I see Phil, the more I think he looks like Lieutenant Ilia from ST: TMP. You be the judge:

Lieutenant Ilia Phil Stacey


Now it's time for results:

CSM. Safe. Gigi. Safe. Brandon, bottom 3. The Dead Man's Spot strikes again.

Jordin. Safe. Chris R. Safe. Melinda. Safe.

I'd say by the way they're sitting on the couch, they're saving Sanjaya or Haley for the bottom 3.

New Papi. Bottom 3. Mophead. Safe. Stephanie. Safe. Blake. Safe.

So they're going to make the bottom 3 stew while Diana sings and plugs her CD. I'm hoping she doesn't turn out to be just another aging pop diva who should have retired a few years ago. Mrs. High Lord wants to know why she can't do something different with her hair. I'd rather she sang one of her hits (like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough") to show the wannabes this year how it's done. I am underwhelmed by Diana Ross.

Sanjaya is safe because of all the TV time. No! Ha, ha! Maybe "America" got it right!

That makes the bottom 3 Brandon, Phil and Sanjaya. Brandon is there because he forgot the words and he's not very memorable. Sanjaya is there because he's bad. Phil is just plain creepy.

After a little bit of suspense, Phil gets sent back to safety. That makes it Hello Kitty and Brandon. Is justice going to be done this week?

No. Dammit.

Sanjaya is safe, as predicted by DialIdol. They really need to change the format to vote people off instead of keeping bad singer around (but then again, that wouldn't make the show very good).

After his goodbye montage, Brandon doesn't even get to sing his way off. Maybe they should have less filler and they wouldn't be so rushed for time.

The lead-off spot has claimed its first victim of the finals. It also has put Hello Kitty's followers on notice and now they'll be extra pumped for next week, which is not a good thing.

Is anyone surprised? You shouldn't be. Now it's just a matter of eliminating about seven more people before things really get interesting.

Does anyone have any advice to help me with filling out my brackets? I have no idea about anything related to college basketball. I think I'm going to flip a coin and see how well that does for me.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Here's where the fun begins

In case you haven't heard, American Idol has jumped the shark. I don't know that I quite agree, but this year seems to be very bland compared to past seasons.

Jennifer over at Idoling Along says this season is going to be a snoozer, and on one level I couldn't agree more. I think the first seven or eight eliminations are a matter of who goes when and not who is actually being sent home. There are two clear frontrunners, two (maybe three) people who need some help and a little bit of luck and then there's everyone else.

Are these really the 12 best singers in America? Of course not, but this show is more of a popularity contest than an actual singing competition. I wonder if the winner will have any sort of commercial success (like Kelly or Carrie) or if they're going to disappear (like Rueben and Fantasia). Also, are the also-rans and cast-offs going to be more successful than the winner (Clay, Chris Daughtry)?

We'll find out soon enough.

There are 12 singers left, which means 18 minutes of singing and 102 minutes of filler, product placement, advertising and incoherent banter from the "judges". It also means that we get to hear Randy's wannabe ghetto-speak, sometimes-lucid ramblings from Paula and Simon trying his best to entertain himself by saying nasty things.

If the order in which the singers got called out is their singing order, Brandon is in trouble. I don't know that he can survive a two hour show when going from the Dead Man's Spot.

Randy says the girls are going to win, Paula diplomatically says this year's 12 aren't as good as last year and Simon doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.

The theme tonight is Diana Ross night and is it just me or should Diana do something different with all that hair? I think some of these kids are going to shine and some of them are going to bomb. Who's going to stumble? And mark my words, someone will stumble, because the Motown/Diana Ross theme is very easy to screw up.

Yup, Brandon is first and I think he could spontaneous combust on stage. His intro piece is longer than his singing time. Phil Collins is the only male I've ever heard who even came close to doing a good job with this song ("You Can't Hurry Love") and Brandon seems scared and uninspired. Does he get a pass due to going first and nerves? He shouldn't; he's a professional back-up singer and I think he should stay there after a few rocky notes and dropping a line in the middle. The judges rightfully pan him; even Paula struggles to find something nice to say. Definite bottom 3 material.

Next up is Melinda, who should be around for a long, long time. Why are we being subjected to this filler? Why isn't Melinda singing? Why the hell is there all this crap? Each singer should have at least five minutes to sing in a two hour show. That's half of the show that pays for Fox's bills and half of the show that shows us how well each of the finalists can sing. Melinda is singing Broadway and that's good for her. What's not good for Melinda is that she's 29 but she dresses like she's 45. Pitchy isn't anywhere to be found and if doesn't get to the top 4, it will be a major crime.

Paula's in tears which means Melinda was either fabulous or she's been in the sauce again. It's also Simon's turn to be incoherent, which could be a good sign for her because he compares her to Gladys Knight.

Mophead is getting hair tips from Diana and he's singing "Endless Love". Isn't this a duet? He's ditched the glasses and messed with the arrangement, which is good for him. He doesn't have the big voice and in a couple of spots the song sounds bigger than is good for him. I think he'll sail into the top 8 (because other people are clearly weaker), but don't be surprised if he's in the bottom 3 this week. At least he's bringing something new to the song instead of singing a straight-up cover. The judges say uncomplimentary things about him, but he wasn't as bad as they said and the arrangement was better than they told him.

Wrapping up the first third of the show is Gigi, who goes ga-ga over Diana. If she plays the game right, she could be one of that last ones standing as the others split votes and their fanbases say nasty things about each other. I'm not crazy about the song, but she's not bad. Not great either. I think she's just hoping to survive this theme night and maybe next week will be kinder to her. The judges are tepid on her, and they're right.

I shouldn't flip channels during Fox's many commercials. I just saw someone on NCIS arrest a Klingon and I don't want to know why. The guys making chariots and composite bows over on the History Channel are much more entertaining (and educational, to boot!).

Is Hello Kitty really going to tackle "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"? Why is this guy still around? Diana tells him he needs to be right on. Hasn't she been watching the show? Ryan asks (rhetorically) whether Sanjaya can handle the song and I'm going to say no without hearing a single note. And I'm right. Damn, this guy is bad. And as Diana said, it's not about the hair. It's about his voice. It's awful. My 5th period World History class is going to tear him apart tomorrow. Does anyone else hear that giant sucking sound coming from the TV? That would be Sanjaya. The tweenies are going to really have to come through with the texting tonight for him to be saved tomorrow night. You know it's bad when Randy says his hair looks great.

More commercials and then stuck in the middle of the show is Haley, who looks like a cross between Katharine McPhee and Nikki Cox. She's singing "Missing You" which could blow up on her. The performance is subdued and that's not necessarily bad. She doesn't have the kind of voice that can pull this song off. It's a good thing that she's wearing a dress that shows off her legs and the girls. Haley needs help, especially since she's the weakest of the girls who are left. Simon says she wasn't that bad and he remembered her name, even though she forgot some of the words; is that just because she's hot or he's trying some reverse psychology on the crowd? Randy and Paula were right about her singing. I'd says she's in the bottom 3. For the record, I didn't notice that she forgot any of the lyrics, partially because I don't know the song very well and partially because she covered for it well. It wasn't as obvious as Brandon.

Beginning the second half of the show is New Papi, who can't sing an entire song in tune. He's ditched the Huff Hatz and is doing the chrome-dome thing. He reminds me Lieutenant Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and that's not good. His singing is actually pretty good this week, but I still don't see the charm of this guy. The judges aren't harsh, but they aren't very complimentary either, and that could be bad for him.

I'm not a big fan of CSM, not because she can't sing, but because she's an OTP. And tonight's no exception. She'll last a long time, but unless she can pick up new voters, she could be ousted earlier than some people think. Her pitch is fine, but she's a belter and that seems to be her only style. Other contestants have shown more versatility and will have more cross-over appeal if they win. She deserves a spot in the top 4, but I don't know that she'll advance much further than that. Can't she smile when the judges are talking about her? I don't think she was a good as the judges said.

Beginning the final third of the show is BBB who's messing with the arrangement of "You Keep Me Hanging On" could work out very well for him. I like it. Vocally, he's no superstar, but I think of all the singers this year, he has a very clear idea of exactly what he can and cannot do, which means he won't bite off more than he can chew. Paula's up and dancing that's a good sign for him. I could do without the falsetto near the end, though. Blake is the best of the guys and I think he distanced himself even further from the rest of the pack. Randy apparently only likes straight covers of old songs, but I thought it was good. Simon didn't like it either.

Each year, the judges tell the singers to "make the song their own" but when someone does, they go crazy. I'm not saying he'd have a hit on the radio with that arrangement, but at least he has balls. The message here should be "do your own thing and make sure your fanboys/girls turn out in droves for you later tonight."

Stephanie is next and I think she could get lost in the shuffle. If Melinda and Lakisha are splitting some votes, she could be the one left standing when the music stops. It happened to Sabrina last week, and Stephanie could be the next victim unless she has a break-out performance, which it's not. She's not bad, but this was the wrong song for her when she needs to make up ground on other people who have had more TV time and who have better voices. Randy says she forgot some of the words, but I didn't notice; I don't know the song so someone please tell me if she dropped a line, too.

A fan favourite--but not one of the High Lord's favourites--is Chris R.. I don't see the charm of this guy because he seems very flat and boring. He doesn't have the presence of Chris S., the backstory of Phil or the TV time of Blake and that's a bad sign for him. I'm all "meh" on him. It was okay. Kind of karaoke. He could make a surprise appearance in the bottom 3. People described Diana Degarmo as "robotic" and that's how Chris R. comes off to me. Mrs. High Lord says he should be the third or fourth guy in a boy band and I agree.

Getting the Pimp Spot for this first night of the finals is Jordin, who comes off as older than she is. She seems much older than Diana, even though they're the same age at the time of the show. Maturity is a good thing in her case, though, because she could do very, very well, especially if she can differentiate herself from Lakisha and Melinda, which is something Stephanie is struggling with. Maybe it's because she's a foot taller than Seacrest.

She's succumbing to the AFE, but at this stage, that might be a good thing (since it's the only one tonight). Plus, she's not singing one of "the classics" so the judges can't complain about that and the public doesn't have much to compare the performance to. Mrs. High Lord says she knows the song because her son watched "The Land Before Time" a gazillion times and he's just about her age, so that could be the reason why she picked it. In a couple of spots, she's oversinging and that brings our friend Pitchy to the party. This wasn't a Pimp Spot-worthy performance, but going last will definitely keep her out of the bottom 3, and it will probably pick her up some fans (especially if Haley get bounced).

The Good
Blake
Melinda

The Bad
Chris R.
Chris S.
Gina
Jordin
Lakisha
Stephanie

The Ugly
Brandon
Haley
Phil
Sanjaya

So who should go? Sanjaya has consistently been the worst performer for the past three weeks. Brandon, Haley and Stephanie forgot the words. Phil and the Chrises all stumbled.

To me, Melinda distanced herself a little from Lakisha. I'm just not a fan of CSM and while she can sing, nothing about her performance tonight made me want to like her any more.

The big winner was Blake, who did a good job of bringing a new take to an old song. I think he's slowly gaining on Lakisha and moving ahead of the other guys. Speaking of whom, none of the rest of the men stepped up. The Chrises were okay, Sanjaya was his usual gawd-awful self and Brandon dropped a line. Not a good night. Tomorrow's bottom 3 could very well be all-male.

I think the bottom 3 are in play. Chris S. could make a surprise appearance there. Brandon, Haley and Stephanie certainly deserve to be there based on the Melissa McGhee Rule. Phil could also find himself in danger, but based on his TV time, that's probably not likely. The only person who clearly deserves to go is Sanjaya. Everyone else did enough to merit not getting canned.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Brandon, Haley, Sanjaya
Who will be in the bottom 3: Brandon, Haley, Stephanie

Who should go home: Sanjaya
Who will go home: Brandon

I'm not as underwhelmed as some other people have been, but given the theme, I think some people were just trying to survive, not excel. For a few of them, making through to next week will bring a huge sigh of relief.

Does anyone know what next week's theme is?

High Lord. Out.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Let the season begin

Rather than grade papers or doing anything productive tonight, I thought I'd speculate on this season's American Idol singers and the order of their ouster. Of course I'm going to be wrong, but this is fun every year anyhow.

As I've said before, the field this year isn't as deep as it has been over the last couple of seasons. The folks at the top of the heap are very good, and would have beaten both Taylor and Fantasia. However, the worst of the pack are very bad and I'd say are worse than any of the bottom tier contestants that have been on in the past.

My power rankings can be found in the previous post and I think it's safe to say that there are three groupings among this year's singers.

The top of the heap are a step or two ahead of everyone else. At this point, the two front runners have to be Melinda and Lakisha.

Melinda is in a good position. This is her competition to lose. She has the best voice and her years as a backup singer have removed the stage fright from her. She has shown a variety of singing styles that will serve her well on the theme nights. Unlike some of the others, she's not just a belter, but she can actually sing, too.
Odds to Win: 3-2

I'm not a fan of CSM's, but she has lots of TV time to go along with her big voice. She has an image problem and I think if she wins, she'll fall off the face of the earth like Rueben and Fantasia did because I think she lacks any sort of long-term crossover sales appeal. She might have some trouble once the theme nights start because she'll either struggle or she'll resort to the AFE and the voting public will get tired of hearing her power-balled her way through each week.
Odds to Win: 3-1

The second tier is where things get tricky. There are a few who could make late charges to win and a few who need lots of help.

I put BBB in third because he's a novelty. We've never had anyone with his style on the show before and his stage presence and mad beatbox skillz give him an added dimension that can 1) cover his vocal deficiencies, and 2) get him the extra votes he'll need to keep up with the top performers.
Odds to Win: 5-1

For someone who is 17 years old, Jordin is surprisingly mature. I put her in fourth place because I don't think she's peaked yet. Where other teenagers have flamed out, a couple of proven they belong and I think Jordin is in the same league as Diana without being as annoying as Paris. I don't think she's going to win, but she might make a K-Lo like stand at the end if she can survive the early rounds.
Odds to Win: 10-1

In a competition that is being dominated by black women with big voices, Gina can lay claim to two powerful voting blocs: the white girls and the rockers. As long as she stays away from screaming too much, she should be okay. Her persistence as an American Idol recidivist might also pay off for her since she should be aware of how the game is played. In the early rounds, she needs to distance herself from the bottom of the pack, consolidate a solid core of voters and pick up the voters from th people who will get voted off early (Haley, Phil).
Odds to Win: 12-1

Stephanie's style is very much like Lakisha's and Melinda's. However, her problem is that she's up against Lakisha and Melinda, and I think she is going to get lost in the shuffle. In my opinion, she and Sabrina were splitting votes going into the final night of the semis and Sabrina was the one on the wrong end of that deal. Stephanie should pick up a few of those voters, but she might lose them to the other two girls with the big voices. I think she'll be undeservedly booted early.
Odds to Win: 25-1

Next on my list is Chris R. I don't have anything against him, but I don't like him either. I put him ahead of the other Chris because he's got a better voice, but I haven't seen much personality. He seems very flat to me and that could be bad. American Idol has shown that people with a polarising attitude tend to stick around longer than people with good voices (Constantine being the best example). Chris is an unknown quantity to me and that means he will probably get bounced early on.
Odds to Win: 40-1

I think Mophead is one of the wild cards this year. He's already said (and shown) that he understands how the game is played. He realises that this is a competition and that there can be only one winner. He's snarky and clever without being too obnoxious (that one exchange with Simon notwithstanding). He has shown tons of personality and is self-aware of his place in the competition (as the "I want to make David Hasselhoff cry" line demonstrates) which covers nicely for the fact that vocally he is no where near the same league as this year's front-runners. Plus, I don't think he's taking this whole experience too seriously, and being loose can be an asset in the pressure cooker that is American Idol.
Odds to Win: 20-1

Finally, we get to the bottom tier. I think they are some of the worst singers to make the finals, and that takes in to account Lindsay Cardinale, Camile Velasco, JPL, Bucky Covington and Carmen Rasmussen.

Brandon has never been one of my favourites and I don't think he has the chops to go very far. He is one of the guys who is only there because Fox mandates that there be six guys in the finals. He's not bad, but he's not good either. I see him being whacked in one of the first three weeks. Think Melissa McGhee.
Odds to Win: 50-1

There's one thing going for Haley: she's the only white girl pop singer left and that will bring her a certain demographic. With Alaina, Leslie, Antonella, Amy and Nicole gone, she's the sole torch-bearer for all the high school prom queens who starred in "Grease" or "Bye-Bye, Birdie" in their school play. I think she will ride this train for maybe four or five weeks, but when faced with the more formidable singers, she'll get canned. It's telling that she's the only girl in the bottom half of my power rankings, which is a shame because I think in other years, both she and Antonella would be on cruise control at this stage waiting for things to heat up in the Top 8.
Odds to Win: 65-1

New Papi needs to send TPTB at Idol a big fruit basket for Christmas this year. If not for them, he'd be gone. His whole "I skipped the birth of my daughter to audition for American Idol" thing is what's carrying him. He can't get a whole song in the right key. I don't see his charm and I think he looks kind of creepy. Between his bald head and the Huff Hatz, I think he should have been sent packing last week. He's living on borrowed time and I think he knows it.
Odds to Win: 100-1

Clearly in last place as a singer is Hello Kitty. Why is this guy still around? Face time. That's the only explanation. His vocal skills are inferior to just about everyone and his stage presence is virtually non-existant. Even he knows he should have been put out of my misery two weeks ago. If viewers are smart, they'll vote for someone else to keep from breaking him. I see another John Stevens or Leah Labelle in this kid because he just doesn't have the chops to go deep into the competiton. However, as we've seen before, his "story" has carried him this far and the tweenie/kiddie vote will ensure that he's (unfortunately) around for a long, long time.
Odds to Win: 1,000,000-1

Please note that my handicaps do not take into account their actual talent, just what I think their odds of winning are, having watched this show for the past four years.

Now, having overanalysed the contestants, the above list is the placement I think they should finish, with Melinda winning and Sanjaya being kicked off first. Here's how I think they will finish:

12. Brandon
11. Chris R.
10. Phil
9. Stephanie
8. Sanjaya
7. Haley
6. Chris S.
5. Jordin
4. Gina
3. Lakisha
2. Blake
1. Melinda

Of course, this list will be meaningless once the first elminations go through, but it's fun to speculate, isn't it?

High Lord. Out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's all about the Yo!

Here we are . . . born to be kings . . .

No, wait . . . wrong show. Sorry.

Bring on the Top 12!

With four more eliminations to go, I am doing like some other viewers are doing and wishing the wild card rounds were back. I hope it happens after this year because every night the guys sang only highlighted how much one or two girls are going to get the shaft because of the forced gender-equity that Fox brings to the show.

Even before Seacrest barrages us with his meaningless wannabe cleverness, we are assaulted by the inevitable (and craptastic) group sing. It's worse than usual, and I can only hope that once they cut some of the dead weight these will only get better. I am cringing at the thought of having to sit through this crowd's Ford commercials.

Who's going home tonight?

According to DialIdol, Melinda and Lakisha are the only ones who are statistically safe. The rest of the girls and all of the guys are in play. Their bottom 4 are Haley, Stephanie, Sundance and Phil so we'll see if they're right or if the text messages make a difference in the final tallies.

Remember, my picks to be eliminated are Haley and Sabrina for the girls, Brandon and Jared for the guys.

They put all 24 together and it's time for the first eliminations.

Up first: Lakisha and BBB. My predictions: both safe. Yup. Lakisha seems genuinely surprised to be safe. The rest of us know better.

Mophead. Safe. Jordin could be the first to go; after all, she was in the dreaded lead-off spot. Nope, safe.

The rest of them are looking around and doing the math. Four have already been put through and there are only eight spots left. It's about time someone got whacked and everyone knows it. New Papi is up and he's safe.

Jared is up next and he's gone. No surprise for me, and I think deep down, he knew it was his time, too. He should have gotten Phil's spot, but thanks to all of the TV time the new daddy got, it means Jared gets the shaft. Make no mistake, Jared never had a chance of winning, but he should have advanced into the Top 12.

That's six down, ten singers left to fill seven seats.

Melinda and Brandon. My prediction: One is going on and the other is going home. Nope, both are through. I'm surprised but happy. You see the guys looking around to see who is going to get whacked.

Gina and Chris R. are up next. Both are safe.

Who's left? Sanjaya, Antonella, Sundance, Haley, Sabrina and Stephanie.

It's either Sundance or Sanjaya getting bounced, which would be an upset, given that both are TCOs based on their copious TV time.

Carrie is singing and she and Lycra have apparently become very friendly. I could do without the filler. Everyone who's not on the couch is very happy just to be there. The other six are stewing.

Antonella and Stephanie. Now it's time for one of them to go home and one to get whacked. And it's GBF who gets canned!!!!! Major upset! I think I just heard the "Woo-hoo!!!!" from Jennifer even here in the great state of West Virginia. As Antonella is singing herself off, I am only reminded that in other years, she would have coasted into the top 12.

Next up: Haley and Sabrina, who's in tears even before knowing the results. And there's another upset. Even Paula can't believe that Haley made it and Sabrina didn't. Randy says she deserves to go on and he's right. There is a guy (cough . . . Phil . . . cough) who's occupying her seat.

Now the only drama is whether it's going to be TCFKS or Hello Kitty who gets the boot. I'm thinking it's going to be Sundance who peaked too early. It seems to me that while everyone who isn't related to Sanjaya by blood, marriage or court order thinks he should be the one getting kicked off, the consensus is that the massive amount of TV time he's gotten coupled with all the 10 year old girls who have unlimited text messaging plans will put him through.

After the "big announcement" it's time for the last seat in the finals to be filled. We get a break and then learn that it's Sanjaya who's going on. Paula can't believe this one either. But I think everyone who knows how this show works understands why Sanjaya got put through.

Paula reminds us that this is a singing competition, but it's not. It never has been. American Idol is a popularity contest. And Sanjaya knows he should have been the one who was sent packing, but he's not. We'll be subjected to him for at least three more weeks, just like we had to endure John Stevens for so, so long.

This leaves us with a final 12 that is divided into three tiers.

My rankings are:

Top Tier
1. Melinda
2. Lakisha
Second Tier
3. Blake
4. Jordin
5. Gina
6. Stephanie
7. Chris R.
8. Chris S.
Third Tier
9. Brandon
10. Haley
11. Phil
12. Sanjaya

Blake is not a stronger singer than either Stephanie or Sabrina, but the fact that American Idol has never had anyone like him on the show will get him lots of votes and his mad beatbox skillz can cover for some of his vocal deficiencies. Gina also gets up a spot or two for being the first rocker girl on the show.

I also put Stephanie down a couple of spots because her style is very much like Lakisha and Melinda, but she doesn't have the pipes to compete with those two.

In my rankings above, I think people will get voted off in a different order, but that's how I place them as singers and contestants on American Idol (not necessarily as a ranking of their vocal talent).

How would you rank the Top 12. How do they stack up against previous year's?

I don't think they're as deep as last year, but I'd say that the top singers this year would have smoked at least two of the previous winners.

We'll see how this plays out beginning next week.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

American Idol, Top 16, The Girls

"You don't have to be the fastest antelope in the herd. Just don't be the slowest."

After a night where the guys were wholly unspectacular, it seems that was the general approach the top 8 men took going into the last round before the finals began. And let me tell you, it sucked royally.

I don't understand why people play it safe in the rounds of 24. This is the last chance you have as a singer and there is a 1 in 4 chance that you're going to get whacked. Why play it safe?

That's what Ayla did last year and she got canned. If you're one of the contestants who is safe, sure, you can sandbag, but if you're not--and only two or three of the guys truly have nothing to worry about--you have to go balls to the wall all-out. Otherwise, you stand a good chance of not coming back.

After a few seconds of meaningless banter, Jordin is going in the Dead (Wo)man's Spot and she's singing Pat Benatar. I like Jordin, even though the song isn't working for me. She's good on stage and she doesn't have the pitch problems that plagued the guys last night. I'd like to see her advance, but I think she may end up being one of the girls who gets the shaft thanks to AI's forced gender-equity thing. She is a singer who would really benefit from the Wild Car round returning. It's also too bad she had to go first. Randy says she is better than all the guys which is true and at the same time pathetic, because she's not even the fourth-best girl in the competition.

Sabrina is next and I think she is another girl who could be left without a chair once the music stops. She's also better than all the guys, a refrain you will probably see several more times through out today's blog entry. She reminds me of Whitley from the Lisa Bonet vehicle "A Different World", and not necessarily in a bad way. I think if she makes it out of tonight, she will have to step it up (as Simon says) to compete with Melinda and Lakisha.

Going third is GBF who can always count on being a classical violinist if this whole singing thing doesn't work. She's not as bad as last week; still a few flat notes, but not the implosion-waiting-to-happen that Sanjaya is. Simon says she is out of her league against this year's competition and he's right. Antonella would do well if she were only competing against the guys this year, but unfortunately, she's got to compete against five other girls who are at a whole different level and that means she's in the second tier, when in other years she might have actually been considered a lock for the top 8.

Wrapping up the first half of the girls is Haley, one of the cookie-cutter girls who should have waited another year to try out. Her voice is good and she's not trying to do too much. She reminds me of Katharine and will probably get bumped for Antonella in the finals. "No, Yo" according to Randy. Is it bad when Paula is more lucid than Randy? She wasn't as bad as Simon says, but she will be another victim of the gender equity, despite a performance that was better than the judges said.

It's Stephanie's turn and I don't care much for the song. I think she'll advance, but she may end up splitting votes with Jordin and Sabrina. I don't care for all the big notes. My late father-in-law would say that she sounds like she's got her "tit in a wringer" and it doesn't make me like her. She could do well by just singing the song instead of trying to do all that stuff with her voice

Next up is one of this year's TCOs, CSM who's not wearing orange this week. Plus she's shorter than Ryan, unlike Jordin, who towers over him. Do you think that before the finals start, someone will get her some dental work? This might actually be her weakest performance. The beginning is shaky, I think she'll be shouting here in a minute or so . . . yup, there it is. I'd call this performance by Lakisha uninspired, but she might be sandbagging. After all, she really doesn't need the votes and at least she proved that you can sing Whitney without butchering the song. She's not as good as the judges said, but she'll easily sail through.

Gina gets to follow Lakisha, and that could be either a blessing or a curse. At least she gets a break in between and she's getting to go near the end, which is always a good sign. Earlier it seemed to me that Fox was pimping her with a lot of TV time, but now I think she's on the bubble. After all, only six girls can advance which seven of them are clearly better than the field of guys. After being told to be edgier last week, Gina brings on some Evanescence and it makes her the most memorable performance so far. There's a little bit of shouting, but I thought she was good. She's showing that she wants to win and that should get her some votes. Now is a good time to be letting it all hang out (from a singing perspective, not in the I'm-on-spring-break way) and I think Gina did the most for herself to night.

Wrapping up the show is Melinda. I think I've figured out why her head seems so big: she doesn't have a neck. But what she's got is a powerhouse voice. If the top 12 were seeded like the NCAA basketball tournament, Melinda would be the #1, hands down. If I were a Vegas bookie, I'd give her 3-2 odds of winning. Unless she stumbles--and not just once, she'll have to falter two or three weeks in a row--this is her competition to lose; everyone else is fighting for second place.

The Good
Gina
Jordin
Sabrina
Stephanie

The Bad
Haley
Lakisha

The Ugly
Antonella

Was it just me or was Paula actually speaking coherently this week? After a couple of years when we've all been wondering if she's got something other than Coca-Cola in the red cup, Paula actually had some constructive things to say and did a little bit of coaching. She said more than "You look great". Should we start a pool on when Loopy Paula shows back up?

For the girls, Jordin, Lakisha and Melinda are sure things. Antonella will probably go through undeservedly thanks to her being given massive amounts of face time, maybe to the dismay of Fox after her candid photos hit the internet. That leaves Gina, Haley, Sabrina, and Stephanie fighting for two spots.

I had Gina on the bubble until this week. By not playing it too safe (guys, I'm talking to you), I think she secured a spot in the top 12.

Haley is pretty much good as gone thanks to Fox forcing us to have 6 guys in the competition, when only four of them deserve to advance. In another year, she could have done well. Same thing for Sabrina and Stephanie; I think they're going to end up splitting votes and one of them is going to end up as the odd girl out.

I'm flipping a coin and saying that Sabrina is going home along with Haley, even though it should be Antonella getting the axe. We'll see if the Fox brass steps in and takes her out because I have a feeling that GBF is going to be in the top 4 on DialIdol.

Let me know what you guys thought of the show and we'll find out how the semis end tomorrow.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

American Idol, Top 16, The Guys

It's that time of the week again . . . time for the guys to see who's going to join Sundance and Sanjaya in the finals.

We're on for an hour, which means that there will be 12 minutes of singing and 48 minutes of blather, product placement and meaningless crap. Let the games begin.

BBB is going in the Dead Man's Spot and he should be safe tonight. I think enough people like him and his schtick. In my opinion, he's one of the frontrunners for the guys, not only because he's different, but also because he's actually a pretty good singer. I still don't know that I'd put him in the top 4 of all the remining singers, but he's entertaining and good on stage. I'd say he's easily safe. I'd also hate to be the guy going after him.

(I'd also like to say that it's refreshing for the singing to start at 8:03 PM instead of 8:12 as has happened in the past.)

The secret Hello Kitty has is that he can hula, which is a scary thought. Fox has put him in the two-hole, which means that they're counting on his legions of fans to put him through or they want to get rid of him by putting him early in the show and right after someone who was excellent. According to DialIdol, Sanjaya was the leader last week, so I don't see his fanbase abandoning him this early. I think we're going to be stuck with him for a long, long time. Thankfully, he's actually not bad this week. His voice is better than his sister, but I think he's only there to keep the tweenie crowd interested. He is a trainwreck waiting to happen and as I've said before, I think he's going to have a Leah Labelle-level meltdown about week four and that's a tragedy none of us need to see. Please, please let this guy get sent home on Thursday . . .

Next up is TCFKS and he's singing Pearl Jam. I wonder if he's going to use the F-word like Eddie Vedder does . . . I guess not. I think this is the oddest performance that I've ever seen on American Idol. "Jeremy"? What's up with that. He was off pitch and about an octave too high. Randy and Paula were too nice to him; Simon was spot-on. As one of the other people projected by DialIdol to be safe for the past two weeks, I think Sundance is sandbagging for the finals. He'll easily advance.

After seeing a mullet-less Travis Tritt, batting clean-up is Chris R.. I hate this song. Pitchy shows up a couple of times, but he's not bad. I can't figure out why he's so popular with voters, but there are worse still left singing. I think if there weren't the forced gender-equity, he would be left behind in favour of one of the girls. Not bad, but not great, either. I say forgettable.

Jared is one of the guys on the bubble (since he's a former college basketball player and it's March, I think that's a good analogy). I think he's got a good voice, but I don't know that he's found a fanbase. And at this stage, that's crucial. Who's voting to keep this guy around? If he goes home this week, it's because he's just not inspiring enough to get people to vote for him.

Next up is Brandon who I also think could get lost in the mix. He's another guy who might make the top 12 but will probably get kicked off in the first week. Think Lindsay or Vanessa of years past. The song isn't the greatest. Not horrible; I think he's in serious danger of going home this week.

Getting to go second to last is New Papi who hides his chrome-dome under George Huff hats. Damn, that boy is really, really pale. And he's off pitch. Painfully so. Singing LeAnn Rimes is not his best choice. Why do people like this guy? Am I the only one who can hear how awful his voice is? I'd put him in the bottom 3 in a heartbeat. He'll sail on easily because of all the TV time, but I don't think he deserves it.

Finishing the show in the Pimp Spot is Mophead. I think he picked a good song to close out the show. In a night of mediocrity, at least he's going to be memorable. It seems that he knows how to play the game and even though he's a little mush-mouthed, he's different enough that I think he picked up a bunch of votes tonight. And getting to go last never hurt anyone.

The Good
Blake
Chris S.

The Bad
Brandon
Chris R.
Jared
Sundance

The Ugly
Phil
Sanjaya

If I had my way, Phil and Sanjaya would get canned. I don't think that will happen, though.

For me, the shoo-ins are Blake, Chris S., Phil, Sanjaya, Sundance. Chris R. is probably in, too. That leaves Brandon and Jared as the odd men out. Because of the TV time issue, I think that Phil and Sanjaya have undeservedly been handed spots in the finals and that's too bad because I think either Brandon or Jared would have done well.

The judges say only four of the guys deserve to be advanced, and that's probably about right. That means two girls are going to be screwed out of spots in the finals by undeserving guys because of the gender-equity thing.

If it were up to me (and it's obviously not), I'd put through Blake, Chris S., Chris R. and maybe Jared. Everyone else is either over-rated or has already peaked.

That's it for me. See you tomorrow for the girls.

High Lord. Out.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's time for the axe!!!

And I'm not talking about the body spray.

Four people are about to get whacked and I'm watching to see how it goes. I'm only partially paying attention because I really dislike these shows. Plus, until the top 12, this stage is still filler. I'd prefer that the Wild Card were still around and that the gender-equity weren't an issue.

At least I didn't miss the group sing this week.

The guys are on right now and the four guaranteed-to-go-through guys are up first: New Papi, Mophead, TCFKS and BBB. Jared is also safe. That leaves five guys and the first one to get canned is Nick. No surprise there. Not a great or particularly memorable guy, but not bad either.

Now that Nick is singing, I checked over at DialIdol, and they say Sundance, Sanjaya, Melinda and Lakisa are safe, while everyone else is in play. Their handy-dandy chart shows Nick, Brandon, Stephanie and Gina at the bottom and so far they're 1-1.

I really hope they're wrong about the girls, but I think Stephanie is splitting votes with Sabrina and Jordin, while Gina might just be the odd girl out. I really hope Alaina and Antonella get canned tonight, but I'm usually wrong about that stuff.

Now here they are.

Stephanie and Gina are first (perhaps in response to DialIdol) and both are safe for another week. The lesson from this week is: Back row is good, unless you're Alaina, who was a consensus pick to go home. Even MSNBC thinks she was the worst of the night and she can't even sing herself off; I think that's a first for the show. But who didn't see this one coming?

ABM makes an appearance. She doesn't sound as twangy as she did on the show. That makes me wonder if that was all a big act or if the coaches she has had over the past year have cleaned her up a little. They got her a haircut and a dress that shows off the girls nicely, and I'm sure she's not quite the wide-eyed country girl everyone thought she was.

Her song sounds like it will do well on mainstream country radio and if given the right songs and the makes some smart moves, she could be encroaching on Carrie's territory. Or she could just go back to her "Kellimari" roots and fall off the face of the earth.

That leaves us with 15 minutes and 2 more people to get canned.

They're going right to left and Chris R. first then Brandon. That means they're safe and the final person to get the axe is either Sanjaya or AJ. My money's on AJ because Sanjaya has the Hello Kitty vote and lots of TV time. If he's safe, I'm going to start calling him Hello Kitty.

And we have a new nickname for Sanjaya. If he sticks around much longer, I'm going to re-name the John Stevens Face, the Sanjaya Face. Even he knew he should have been sent packing. I think everyone in America who doesn't have a tin ear knows that the wrong person was eliminated.

Don't get me wrong, AJ was never going to win, but over Sanjaya . . . puh-leeze! This just shows how a lot of face time can keep undeserving people around when they should be eliminated.

Now let's see who the other girl to go is. Did anyone see the order they were sitting in on the couch? That's usually a good hint as to who is getting the boot.

We're going left to right and the two on the right are Leslie and Jordin. I think Leslie knows it's going to be her, and it is.

Lots of tears to night. Simon knows the wrong people got canned, but he knows how the game is played. Paula reminds us that this is a singing competition, but deep down, everyone knows that it's not. It's a popularity contest.

That's why Seacrest always tells people to vote for their favourite, not the best. If you believe this is a singing competition, you're either incredibly naive or just plain stupid. It's all about the votes, and none of the four who got whacked tonight got enough TV time and weren't individual enough to amass a sizeable voting bloc.

More than singing ability, popularity is the sole determinant about who wins. Sometimes it works out for the show (Kelly, Carrie) and sometimes it doesn't (Rueben, Fantasia and probably Taylor).

Antonella and Sanjaya both know that they're living on borrowed time and that they should have been sent home tonight. But this is a game, and they're benefitting from the system.

Next week, we'll see who is left to make the top 12.

High Lord. Out.