Thursday, February 28, 2008

The 70s Strike Back!

I don't remember much about the 70s. I was born in the early part of the decade. The latter part brought us Star Wars. Other than that, there's not much that stands out for me. So it should be no surprise that I always look forward to 80s night and I dread 70s night.

This year on Idol, 70s night came early as they forced a bad them on the kids during the rounds of 24. As Simon and Randy knocked all of the singers on their song choice, I can't help but think that they should be knocking Nigel for screwing the kids over rather than picking on the singers for picking crappy songs out of a shallow 50 title songbook.

I'm also a little fed up with the extent of the pimping they've done for this year's crop of TCOs. While Idol has always favoured some singers over others (Pickler, Clay, Constantine, et al), this years it's worse than usual. Many of the people who got considerable face time in the auditions and Hollywood got cut before the Top 24 so the ones who were advanced are reaping some extra benefits.

For instance, some people I work with (along with many other folks out there) are lurving David Archuleta. If he had just showed up on "The Chair" episode, folks would be saying that he's moron with a pretty good voice who doesn't know what to say when he's in an interview. Instead, people rave about how "cute" he is and what a great singer he is.

I don't think he's cute and I don't think he's that great a singer. I didn't watch him sing on Tuesday, instead I tried to listen to the song, and he was less than impressive. While I don't begrudge anyone for voting for their "favourite"--as Seacrest implores us to do--I have a problem with people voting for him because of factors other than his singing ability.

The same goes for some of the other recipients of big face time: Michael, Amanda, Syesha and so on. Sometimes, the TCOs are deserving (Carrie), while some are just put in there to cause controversy or keep people around longer than they should (Scott Savol, Anthony Fedorov). I hate that "America" is so easily manipulated by Idol into liking someone even before they've heard all of the singers.

This year for example, there was an "Aussie Posse" out there ready and willing to powervote for Michael without hearing a single note from some of the other singers (Garrett). This happens year after year. Remember Celena Rae? Kara Master? Nicholas Pedro? Yeah, that's what I thought.

In related news, according to Dial Idol, David A. is the only one who is statistically safe. According to our friends and their 85% accuracy rate, Amanda was the top vote-getter among the girls. She was horrible last night. So what explains her being the #1 girl? I think it's part face time and partly the VFTW factor.

They predict that the girls getting the boot tonight will be Alaina and Kady. No argument there. Syesha and Ramiele are also predicted to be in danger (since DialIdol does not take into account text message voting).

As for the guys, Luke and Danny are predicted to be voted off. Both guys should be sent packing, although I thought Danny had a large enough following to stick around into the Top 12. I hope I'm wrong because he is just plain awful.

We'll find out in about an hour.

One other thing I've noticed this year is that Idol is running out of songs. I know it's not the kids's fault, but during last night's show, I kept comparing the current singer to an previous Idol performance.

For instance, Ramiele was okay singing "Don't Leave Me This Way", but she was nothing compared to one of my favourite idols, Miss LaToya London. Ramiele sang a passable version; LaToya knocked it out of the park. Asia'h was given the Pimp Spot; not only did she squander it with a horrid performance, but she also paled when compared to LaToya's rendition of "All by Myself".

As I said, I know it's not fair to the people singing this year, but I can't help but recall seasons past. I'm going to have to work on this. Or maybe Idol is going to have to dig deeper in to their oh-so-rich treasury and get some new songs.

Now it's time for the show. Seacrest opens with prodding Randy into defending the theme weeks. His answer is predictably weak. The themes during the rounds of 24 are indefensible. I hope they're gone next year.

Next up is the highly-anticipated group sing. I hope there's lots of disco. I'm disappointed with Amanda's hair. I wanted the bigness back. I also want the sound guys to get on the ball and turn the mics on with the cues. As usual, the group sing was fabcrapulous.

Now it's on to the real business of tonight: Eliminations!

The guys are getting thinned out first. Chikezie, David C. and David H. were the big winners this week. They made up some ground on a night when they couldn't afford to sandbag. Michael stumbled, but that doesn't matter since 19E has handed him so many votes.

Luke and Jason Yeager were the big losers. They've been on the outside looking in and needed a big night, only to come up short.

After the montage and review of Tuesday night (or whenever it was taped), Seacrest calls up Jason Y., Danny, Chikezie, Jason C. and Michael. Michael is safe. So is Chikezie. And now Jason Castro is, too.

The other Jason and Jessica Alba are left . . . and it's Jason Yeager who gets sent packing. If you're surprised, raise your hand. No one? That's what I thought.

After a not-so-quick commercial break, Seacrest shows us a montage of the girls and then lines them up to kick someone off. I'll bet Alexandréa is crapping her pants right now. Brooke, Carly and Syesha were clearly the class of the night with everyone else fighting for scraps. Who's it going to be?

Seacrest also asks the back row to stand. It's Kristy Lee, Amanda, Alexandréa, Brooke and Asia'h. Kristy's safe. So are Asia'h and Brooke. That (predictably) leaves Amanda and Don't-Call-Me-Andréa. Amanda's safe.

After watching the recap, I can't help but wonder who dressed Alexandréa for the show. She was singing Chicago, but dressed like she was going to do a Shane Sparks hip-hop routine. After singing last night (or whenever it was they taped it), I think she knew how bad she was. The song just didn't fit her. And if it's possible, it's worse the second time around.

With the show halfway over, we've got two more singers about to get whacked. Who will it be? I'm going with Kady and Luke.

After the commericals, Seacrest calls up the rest of the girls. It's Carly, Alaina, Ramiele, Syesha and Kady. He starts on the left. Carly is safe. Ramiele, safe. Syesha, safe. Why did she look nervous? Doesn't she know how this works?

Alaina and Kady move to the seal. Kady gets the heart murmur and Alaina gets canned. Kady gives her a big hug, all the while thinking, "Thank God it's not me." Alaina is in tears, proclaiming that she's in no condition to sing (I can't blame her). She gets the pep talk and then Seacrest coerces her into singing her way off while the other girls sway along with the music.

So far, DialIdol is two for three. And according to them, while Jason Y. was statistically in danger, he was also the second-highest rated. I wonder if they're going to call it right about Luke.

The remaining five guys and brought up after Seacrest tell us about Idol Gives Back and also lets us know that the Lennon/McCartny songbook will be available. Of course, he gets in a nice little (and probably contractual) mention of Sony who acquired the rights to the songs from Michael Jackson.

Seacrest drops some names and then gets ready to whack another guy (interpret that any way you want).

Luke and Robbie are immediately called to the center of the stage. The tastefully-named Davids all look relieved. I'll bet it's Luke . . . and I'm wrong.

Robbie and his wig/extensions get the axe. I'm shocked. I rather liked him on Tuesday. Luke looks like he knows he just dodged a .50 calibre bullet. We see the singer's parting video and then Robbie sings us off. Surprisingly, he only gets a little but of his song cut off by the credits.

So next week we'll find out who's going to make the Top 12. I'm happy that the possibility off a David trifecta is still alive, but there are about seven people who know they're in real danger of getting cut.

See you next week.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ten girls left

After another night of a bad theme for the boys, my hopes for the girls aren't very high. Our friend Jennifer says that not only did Idol only give them a 50 song catalog for the theme weeks, they only gave each singer three or four choices. Talk about getting shafted . . .

Will the girls do better than the guys? As a group, I think they're stronger, but they've still got some weak links. The IBGs (Interchangeable Blonde Girls) are carbon copies of last year's (can you name them without looking them up? I thought not; answers at the end of this column).

I was at work today and apparently I'm not the only American Idol watcher. I'm just the only one with a blog. It seems that everyone but me loves David Archuleta. I'll talk more about this tomorrow night, but I just don't see his charm. And I don't think he's that great a singer, either.

Now it's time for the girls to try and make something out of the 70s theme.

It looks like this is the week when Fox throws their TCOs under the bus. Like Michael last night, Tattooed Irish Girl gets the Dead Man's Spot. She starts off with Heart's "Crazy on You". It's much better than Michael was. Carly shows that she's a pro (which both gets and costs her votes). Since they're trying to be this year's "rocker", both Robbie and David C could learn a thing or two from her. I give it a big thumbs up.

After Carly, there were something like four minutes of commercials. Hey, Randy, I thought this was a singing competition! Why is there not more singing!?!?!?! How about using some of that time to actually let the singers sing?

Next up is Syesha whose baby cry just made my ears bleed. She gives us a different take on "Me and Mrs. Jones". I like her a lot. I think she could be a belter but also a more well-rounded vocalist, too. Don't tell Mrs. High Lord, but I want to change my last name to Jones now. I think it's odd that they put her and Carly so early in the show. Her voice is clear and the song doesn't get away from her, which could have happened very easily. I don't know what the hell the judges heard because I thought she was great.

The third spot belongs to IBG2 and she's trying her hand at "You're So Vain". The song sounds pretty good. It matches her voice well. She also has a lot of vocal control. She's not stretched too much as a singer. Plus she gets to show off her guitar skillz (to go with her piano skillz). It wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't bad either.

So far the girls are off to a great start. While I ranked the opening thee girls, to me they were all equal at about the same level.

Batting clean up is Ramiele who tries to convince us that her tears at the end of last week's results show were genuine. Normally I dislike disco, but "Don't Leave Me This Way" is one my guilty pleasures. Her vocals aren't great and after the opening trio, she comes up short. She seems nervous and there's just something missing; unlike LaToya who absolutely killed this song back in season 3, Ramiele was just aiiiight. I don't know if she was sandbagging or if this was her week to phone it in.

Sitting in the five spot is tomboy IBG4. "You're No Good" is okay. As eye candy, she reminds me of Brooke Shields. As a vocalist, she's also okay. She plays it safe with a straight cover. To her credit, she doesn't flub anything, but it only reinforces her position as unremarkable and ultimately forgettable. Her position as one of this year's IBGs is secure.

With half the show over, Amanda tells us that she is also a word-nerd. Somehow it's hawt when she talks about reading, but creepy when David Cook does it. She looks like a Haunted House gone wild, but I have high hopes for her. Unfortunately, I don't think she delivered. She seems very over-the-top; when she's not hiding behind her hair, she's pretty and brings a fresh style to the show, but I think she did too much tonight. She tried to rock, but pitch problems get in the way. Is that Stan's dad playing with the band? She seems nervous when facing the judges. I think she knows what's coming. The judges rightfully pan her. Maybe she's holding back. Or maybe she just had an off week. I don't think she's in danger of going home this week, but she could be bottom 3 material.

IBG1 has some food issues. She's just as goofy as fellow teenager David A. and it's just as grating when she does it. The song seems very apropos for her. After all, this is a classic high school musical song and she's still in high school. Predictably, Alaina oversings in several places. I'm not a fan and I think she'll be in danger this week. To me, she was indistinguishable from Kristy Lee.

The 8-ball tonight is Alexandréa who impersonates a sock puppet and sings "If You Leave Me Now". Memo to the singers: picking songs across genders is generally a bad idea. Like Amanda, I thought she was bad. This performance seems forced. Her pitch is all over the place and her stage presence is absolutely awful. She's easily the worst of the night so far. Send her back to Star Search.

We find out celebrity impersonator IBG3 sings opera sometimes. Not as good as the goth girl from last year(?) with the blue hair who did "Phantom of the Opera". She also takes on Heart, this time with "Magic Man". It was awful. Her vocals are weak and she's trying to cover by giving the camera lots of smoldering looks (a la FRC). Definitely the Eyeboinker of the Night. Kady also comes off as ditzy in the post-song interview and that's a turn-off for me.

Wrapping up the show is Asia'h. Funny, when I was born on that continent, there was no apostrophe and no H. [Seinfeld voice=on]What's up with thaaaaaat?!?!?[/Seinfeld voice]. She was a cheerleader . . . and there's a nurse on this show . . . All we need is a one-legged Albanian midget and one of my fantasies would come to life on the American Idol stage. Why did she get the Pimp Spot? She's flat for the first part of the song. And then her voice cracks. Asia'h . . . I hate to break it to you, but you are no LaToya London. She gets the big note at the end, but I was embarrassed for her in the first two-thirds. Did Randy and Paula hear the same song I did? I guess not, because Simon must have heard the same thing I did. Maybe I should mention that she was sick tonight to excuse her for blowing the most coveted singing spot (because both Randy and Ryan did). Blech.

Beginning tonight, I'm bringing back some familiar categories for my rankings:

The Good

The Bad
Kristy Lee

The Ugly

I think both Kady and Alexandréa are in danger going into the second elimination. Amanda could also be flirting with the bottom 3, but maybe her fans will powervote after what happened to her last week. I also wouldn't be surprised if Kristy or Alaina went home.

Officially my picks for both who should and who will go home are Kady and Alexandréa. I'll see you all tomorrow.

By the way, last year's IBGs were: Alaina, Amy, Antonella, Haley, Leslie and Nicole. If you could name all six, raise your hand. If you've got your hand up, you're lying. If they're looking for singers who are "distinctive", I can't help but think that the only reason why they keep so many of this type around is to cut them down in the rounds of 24.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Top 20 Guys

After last week's 60s debacle, you'd think American Idol would have learned, but from what I hear, they're going ahead with the theme weeks during the rounds of 24. This baffles me. If I hear Randy or Simon tell the singers they need to make the song contemporary, I'm going to scream.

Last week, we lost Colton and Garrett. I look for Jason Yeager, Chikieze, David Hernandez and Luke to be in danger this week. Most of the other guys should be safe for at least another week. In the opening episode of this year's show, Danny was clearly the weakest singer, but thanks to his "sass", he has somehow built a fairly rabid following (plus he's wrapped up the VFTW crowd) and that should keep him around well after he's worn out his welcome.

We'll see once the singing starts tonight.

Leading off in the Dead Man's Spot is TCO Michael, who had a huge following already thanks to his accent and because he's hawt (not my opinion, but if you've got two X chromosomes and like people with only one, you probably think that). He's bringing us some Fleetwood Mac ("Go Your Own Way") and he sounds awful. He's sharp and I'm not feelin' it. If this were the first time I heard him, I wouldn't vote for him. It's a good thing Fox/19E has already handed him a couple million votes or he'd be in danger this week. I'd put him in the bottom 3 for that. Maybe he's sandbagging so as to not get expectations up too high.

I can see the 70s theme is going to be killing people all week long. Does anyone know if the catalog this week had more than 50 entries in it?

Next up is White Dreadlocks Boy who hates interviews. Maybe that's David A.'s problem, too, since he sucks so bad at them. He, too, despises all the filler. He also brings his guitar along. He's singing the Bee Gees ("I Just Want to Be Your Everything") and it's aiiiiiight. I don't see his charm, although he didn't have anywhere near the pitch problems that afflicted Michael earlier. Randy gets on him for playing the guitar ("This is a singing competition"); if they don't want the singers playing instruments, why let them?

Going third is Luke. I love the song choice ("Killer Queen"). I could do without the falsetto, but it's much better than anything else I've heard from him. Digging deep into the Queen songbook worked for him. I have problems with his delivery, but he has so far been the highlight of the night (and that's not saying a lot). Simon says he massacred a Queen song (he's right) but he was wrong to criticise him for it. The 70s theme takes its toll again.

Robbie ditches the doo-rag and hat and wants to rock. After seeing that he likes to drag race, you'd think he'd pick "Born to Run" but instead he sings "Hot Blooded". I like both the selection and the delivery. It nicely covers for his vocal deficiencies, but is at the same time upbeat and easy to sing along with. It's wasn't great, but it should definitely earn him a trip back next week.

After suppressing the urge to make a prison joke while he was singing "Jailhouse Rock", I don't know if I can do it again this week. Jessica Alba claims he was in a punk band. Since this is 70s week, I half expected him to come out with "I've Never Been to Me", but instead it's "Until You Come Back to Me". It was awful. He was out of tune and completely out of sync with the band. Even though they say he was bad, Randy and Paula fawn all over him; even Simon is nice. I think he sucks. It seems to me that Fox/19E really wants this guy to advance to bring some "drama" to the Top 12.

After a surprisingly strong performance last week, David H. brings us "Papa Was a Rolling Stone". He doesn't work the stage as well as some of the other guys (Robbie and even Danny). His vocals are above average, but not as strong as it could be. Like many of the others tonight, he's basically playing it safe. Is that a function of song choice, or song availability. The judges are also slurping him, too. I don't know that he was as good as Randy, Simon and Paula said, but he wasn't bad either. I don't think he'll be in danger on Thursday.

Jason Yeager was weak last week. He wants us to believe he's a musical prodigy since he plays so many instruments without the benefit of instruction. He sings "Long Train Running" and I'm not impressed. His vocals are better than Michael's tonight, but I thought his performance was a little much. He get the Eyeboinker Award for tonight. Since we didn't find out who was in the bottom 3 last week, I'll bet he was in it.

Next up is Chikezie who explains the etymology of his name. He ditches the orange suit for a bright blue polo shirt and sings "I Believe". I liked it. He seemed to be having fun this week. After a lackluster performance last week, the one-name wonder comes out swinging. And he even gets a zinger in on Simon, which I'm sure just got him a quarter million votes.

The tastefully-named David Cook is next with "All Right Now". He needs to avoid tilting his head back and closing his eyes because I find it annoying (it was annoying when Chris D did it; it's annoying when David does it, too). Like Robbie, the song choice covers for his vocal shortcomings. He works the stage well. I think the two of them are going to split votes because as of tonight, they're basically the same act, just as the four blonde girls are basically the same singer with different names. He and Robbie are at the top of the heap right now. He takes a shot a Simon and isn't even clever like the guy before him. See rule #4 to the right. Unlike Chikezie, David comes off as arrogant. I don't know that mouthing off like that will get him any votes.

Reaping the benefits of this week's Pimp Spot is the also tastefully-named David A. who's like the pretty girl who is inexplicably in AP Spanish class. You like to look at her and you enjoy the one or two things that she does well (probably jumping up and down), but when you try to engage her in conversation, you realise that her lot in life either involves marrying a rich guy or "modeling" for an internet website featuring a guy whose first name is D and whose last name is Sanchez. He's singing "Imagine" which I think is a mistake. Didn't Simon get on Luke for trying to imitate a legend? What's he going to say to this kid? Of course, he's going to fawn all over him. The vocal is actually pretty good, but I still don't see the charm of this kid. I think the show might want this guy to win because being so young, they can easily manipulate him. Plus he would be very marketable (unless the show chews him up and spits him out). After the remarks, he goes back to being the mush-mouthed 17 year old boy; that irritates me.

My rankings for the guys this week are:

David C.
David H.
David A.
Jason C.
Jason Y.

Who should go home this week:

Jason Y.

Who will go home this week:

Jason Y.

The most overrated singer this week is Michael. The most over-praised was David A. It seems to me that Chikezie and Robbie helped themselves the most with a couple of later charges.

I think David A., Michael, Danny and David C. can pretty much coast next week and still make it to the Top 12. Everyone else is in play. I saw that all 10 girls were in attendance, so I'm guessing that the flu has run its course.

Now I've got to figure out what to do for the next hour and a half or so while Mrs. High Lord stays up to watch the Democrat's debate.

High Lord. Out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The first cut is the deepest

After having heard all 24 singers, I'd like to make my predictions for the top 12. Remember, we have to have six guys and six girls. My picks are based on who I think will make the Top 12, not who should make it. These picks are in alphabetical order. Once the Top 12 is announced, I'll make some picks for the actual finishing order.

The guys:

David A.
David C.
Jason C.

I'd like to see a David Trifecta, but with David H.'s poor showing, I don't see that happening. He may be gone as soon as tonight.

The girls:

Kristy Lee

All picks guaranteed correct or your money back.

I'd also like to make a sad announcement tonight. At one time, Idol Rant was the best American Idol blog around. The rest of us pale in comparison. However, Sandie and Shonda haven't posted in almost two years now, and the blogosphere is a poorer realm because of their absence.

However, because their last entry was in February 2006, I'm going to take them off the links to the right. This is a sad day in the life of High Lord Dave's blog. In many ways, they were one of the reasons why I kept up posting on my blog; I just wanted to bask near their genius. I hope they'll post again; the second they do, I'll put them back on! Please, girls! Blog the show again!!! The High Lord begs you! (And the High Lord doesn't ever beg . . . unless Mrs. High Lord is involved . . . interpret that any way you want.)

After eliminating the group sing from the Hollywood rounds, we're treated to a nice group medley involving all 24 semi-finalists. It is appropriately spaztastic. The audience looks horrified at the sheer badness of it. I love it! It's too bad only 20 of them will be around for next week's group sing.

Who's going to get the Judd treatment tonight?

The guys are lined up first. I'm trying to guess who gets the axe based on their sitting position. Are they going top row or front row first?

Seacrest brings Garrett up and he's gets whacked on the spot. Without fanfare and without mercy. When Seacrest started talking, I had a feeling this was the way it was going to go. At least they didn't string him along or pretend that he was safe. Not having any face time was his killer.

While he sings his way off, I'd like to point everyone over to Dial Idol. They say that David A., Michael and Jason C. are the only ones who are statistically safe. They're right about 85% of the time and they predict that everyone else in in play.

I found it odd that some of the singers didn't even register on their meter. According to some people who have commented her and some other blogs I read, no one had any trouble getting through on anyone's lines last night. Maybe it was because people were watching the debates. Or maybe with only five or six of the Top 24 getting any face time to speak of, no one knew who they wanted to vote for.

Now it's time for the girls to face the music. If Amy doesn't get cut this week, I will be very disappointed in the Idol voters. She was the only girl who was downright awful. Some of the others were either obviously sick (or they should have been) and we've seen better, but they just had a bad night.

After their montage, Kristy Lee gets called to the stage and after what happened to Garrett, she thinks it might be her. Of course as a seasoned viewer, we all know Seacrest doesn't pull the same stunt twice. In a row. She's safe and the one getting blindsided is Amy. Unlike past years, they don't drag out the "drama", giving us a clean break, something I've been calling for over the past three or so seasons. It seems they're listening to me . . .

Her song isn't any better tonight. And I almost fell asleep again.

After Paula's random music video, it's time for the girls to find out which of the them is going to get the axe. Seacrest calls Amanda and Joanne to the center of the stage and declares the remaining girls to be safe. I'll be upset if either of these two go home because I think they're both strong singers. Amanda is probably the fave to stay because she's had more face time, although Joanne did get a fair amount of exposure.

Unfortunately for the winner of Mo'Nique's Fat Chance, this probably spells her doom. She had an off night and she isn't as strong a singer as she needs to be. I didn't think she'd make the Top 12, but I didn't think she'd get canned tonight. We take a quick break for Fox to make a few bucks, then we come back and find that Joanne gets whacked. I guess she'll have to be satisfied with winning one reality show.

I'll bet she's also pissed that her farewell song will be in that awful 60s outfit. Simon pans her song choice, but I might remind him (and Randy and Fox/19E and Nigel) that with a limited catalog and a theme that pushes it all the way to 11 on the Meter O'Suckitude, the singers shouldn't be expected to do well.

Have I mentioned that I hope they do away with the themed weeks during the rounds of 24?

With seven minutes left, the guys are back on the chopping block. None of them look comfortable. Chikezie and Colton are called to the stage. He doesn't tell anyone that they're safe. I'll be he's going to pull a Judd on someone . . .

And no, it's Colton who gets eliminated. The no face time monster strikes again. Was it because of his Ellen remarks? Or was it his sub-par (but not awful) performance on Tuesday? Or was there some backlash against him because the perception that he took goofy Kyle's spot?

After Simon is unnecessarily mean, is Colton even going to get to sing his way off? We get the good-bye video for all four of the eliminated singers.

I'm happy Fox/19E didn't have Seacrest pull the classless Judd move again. I don't think there were any surprises tonight. None of the four had any chance at winning, but I didn't think a couple of them would only get one song before being sent packing.

That's it for this week. Let's hope there's no theme next week.

I also wish the Idol Rant girls would come back!

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now it's the girls's turn

After last night's underwhelming performances by the boys, the girls get their turn to take the stage. What struck me last night was how safe some of the guys played it, and how nervous a couple of them appeared. I hope the girls are a little more polished.

Maybe they will do better; after all, a few of them had recording contracts and a few more are performers of one stripe or another. On the other hand, there are a few who we haven't heard much from, and their only purpose is to get cut. MSNBC ran an interesting article on the impact of face time on the results. I think I've been saying that for a couple of years now. Why don't I work for MSNBC?

TCO Carly is at the front of the line. That either means she's going first or last. I'll bet last since Fox/19E has already invested so much in her (and I'm right). I hope there's more singing tonight and less filler.

Why did they tell us about the girls being sick? Why not the boys? Are they sandbagging or setting the bar low? Is it going to be an excuse for everyone tonight?

Leading off for the girls is Kristy Lee who had to sell a horse to be on the show. The "Amazing Grace" girl brings us "Rescue Me" and going first could spell bottom four for her. It's not bad, but I think I heard this same version in the Lotus Lounge on the Mariner of the Seas back in June. She's pretty, if unremarkable. To her credit, though, she didn't show a lot of nerves. We got to see her in the auditions and Hollywood; she sang "Amazing Grace" twice (a song that is really hard to screw up) and the other song she tried didn't turn out so well. I'd be worried if I were her.

Next up is Joanne who has already won one reality TV show, although she didn't have to sing to do it. Is she going to be a belter or a more rounded singer? She's hoarse; must also be the flu. I'll vote for the first person who throws up on stage. Pitchy shows up in a big way and she could also be in danger. She's not a belter like K-Lo or Jennifer Hudson, but she's not as polished as LaToya either. Joanne needs to step it up every week; I think the theme and song choice hurt her tonight.

Alaina gets the random pre-song interview and she panders for votes by telling us that 1) she's the youngest singer this year, and 2) tomorrow's her birthday. Unlike David A., she's not an interview moron and while she's a little too bubbly for my tastes, she comes off as a pretty normal high school junior. She's also prone to oversinging, and that could be bad for her. I think she'll be around for another week.

One of the other TCOs among the girls is Amanda who could be very, very good, but could also get old very, very quickly. In the auditions, Simon said he already knows how every song is going to sound, and I have the bad feeling that he's right. For the record, I like her; I just don't know that I want to hear a whole season of her. Plus, her helmet hair kind of freaks me out. If I were going to a roadhouse somewhere in Alabama, I think I'd want her to be there to watch my back. Her vocals were secondary to the performance which was top shelf. If Chris Daughtry was the hard-edged angry rocker a couple of years ago, Amanda is the exact opposite. I think she's got a lot of style, and that's what will carry her, not her singing. I would like to see her take on a couple of different styles (how do you think she's going to do on showtunes night?).

Next up is Amy who is a too-skinny-for-her-own-good trade show model. She's also singing in the slow, yodeling Patsy Cline style and I think I'm going to fall asleep. Or is she going to blame the Dayquil, too? Being out of tune for most of the song won't help her. She's also in danger.

At the end of the first hour we get Brooke who needs to go see Nick Arrojo and stop hiding behind her hair. She's also singing "Happy Together". Jennifer over at Idoling Along has a link to an article that said the singers only got 50 songs to choose from for this show. Like David C., Brooke is underwhelming with this song. She sounded uninspired. Randy tries to convince us that the theme isn't killing the singers this week (he's wrong). I don't think she's in danger tonight because she's had a little bit of face time, but she could be on the bubble for the Top 12.

Did Seacrest call Alexandréa "Andrea"? She's the first singer to use the stairs. Her vocals are pretty good, except for those high notes in the middle. And then the end gets away from her. At the beginning I thought she might buck the trend of people without face time getting the shaft, but I don't know now that it's all over. She corrects Seacrest about her name at the end.

Who heard Kady sing in Hollywood? That's what I thought. Her pre-song montage makes her come off as a snotty little "mean girl". Kady has a nice voice, but the song doesn't do anything for her. She's also okay, and going in the middle of the pack won't help her. At least she didn't go first. The girls are not doing any better than the boys did last night.

If I have a child and I put an apostrophe in his or her name, please call CPS and have them removed from my house to be re-named. Asia'h gets handed some votes when Fox reminds us about her dad just passing away. She's very pretty but Amanda already did this song this season, and the nurse did it better. I have a feeling the judges are going to fawn all over her. At least, she came out swinging . . . unlike some of the other girls (cough*Kady*cough). At least unlike the boys, no one has been outright bad (yet).

Ramiele is going to tick off my spellchecker all season. She's a belter and probably a chronic oversinger. She's 20 and could be everything Camile wasn't. I wish she hadn't gone the powerballad route. Don't love her, don't hate her. She'll easily be safe this week.

Another TCO is Syesha who likes to be taller than Seacrest 'cause she can't sit on her backside. She's not sick this week, but we are reminded that she lost her voice in Hollywood but still managed to wow! the judges into putting her through to the Top 24. She rocks it out. Some of the vocal things she does annoy me, but I like that she went all out on a night she was saddled with a crappy theme.

This week's Pimp Spot belongs to the controversial Carly who has caught lots of flak for not really being an amateur (she had an album, music video and washed out). Like David A., her TCO status makes me not want to like her, but to be fair, she has sounded good in the past. I hear slow music . . . Noooooooooooo!!!!!! Her vocals aren't great and the song choice is not very good. I don't think this was worthy of the the placement in the order. What the hell was Randy listening to? Did we hear the same performance? I give her a big, resounding "meh". She'll get through easily because of her face time and the fact that she got to sing last.

Here are my rankings for the girls tonight:

Kristy Lee

None of the girls were awful. Only Syesha and Amanda were in "go for broke" mode. Most of the girls played it safe. I think a couple were laid low by the flu, but that doesn't excuse them for a bad night.

I'll post my top 12 picks tomorrow night, but as with past years, a clear top tier is emerging that is not necessarily made up of the best singers, followed by a middle tier and then a group that should not have made the finals. The forced gender-equity thing is killing this show. There were probably two or three girls who got screwed out of Hollywood by the not-so-good guys. I wish they'd bring back the Wild Card round.

See you tomorrow.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's time for your vote(s) to count!!!!

Or maybe not, depending on which conspiracy theory you believe.

Tonight we're getting to hear the guys sing. In most cases, we haven't heard them so far. Some others, though, have been handed a few million votes thanks to the Idol Face Time Machine. I'm told that this year's crop is deep and full of talent, but I'll reserve judgment on that until after tomorrow's show.

It seems that a lot of the sob stories and human interest pieces got whacked in Hollywood, so David Archuleta and the Australian guy got an extra advantage going in to this week. (If you don't like hearing about how face time affects voting, find another blog).

Much has been made in the blogosphere about the apparent experience of some of the contestants. To this I say: So what? The rules state that a singer cannot be under contract. However, having a past contract or recording deal does not preclude someone form participating in the show. I believe that the spirit of the show is besmirched by having professional singers on, but if the rules allow it and the rules are applied consistently, people shouldn't complain. If they had a deal, but it either lapsed or they got cut by their label, then they're just another amateur singer again. If they want to use American Idol as their platform, more power to them.

Going into tonight's show, I'd like to say that my one wish for the show this year is that there will be more singing. After all, as Simon tries to remind us every other week, this is a singing competition. So why, then, do we only get to hear 90 seconds from each singer? That's basically one verse, one chorus and then one power note to end. Why not a couple of minutes? Of course, the answer is that if they showed people singing more, Fox/19E couldn't pack in product placement ad nauseum, nor could we be saved from inane banter between the judges. Still, it would be nice if Idol showed as much singing as say, Rock Star.

Drawing the season's Dead Man's Spot is one of the three tastefully-named Davids. It's David Hernandez, who reminds me of Joseph Murena from a few years ago. This year, they're throwing the Top 24 for a little bit of a loop by having a theme night. I'm not sure this is a good idea because with every spot up for grabs, I think people should be able to pick any song they want. He opens with some Wilson Pickett (not a bad choice). I'm not wowed and going first certainly won't help him. He seems nervous but his pitch was good and on-target. His stage presence has something to be desired, but it could have been much, much worse.

In the grand tradition of one-name Idol singers, Chikezie is what we call a recidivist, or repeat offender. He goes deep into the songbook with "More Today Than Yesterday". It was aiiiight. Randy and Simon both tell him that he was too old-fashioned. WTF!?!?!?!? If you don't want singers sounding old, don't make them pick from songs that are 40 years old!!!! I think he's in danger because we didn't get to hear him sing in the auditions and because the judges basically panned him. Although talking back to the judges generally isn't smart, I think he was speaking for the entire group when he told Simon to kiss off and not complain about them not sounding contemporary with a craptastic theme night.

David Cook is next, but Colton inexplicably gets the random pre-singing interview. I like the short montage everyone is getting before they sing. He's singing "Happy Together" with a different arrangement which is refreshing. Do you think he'll spend half the season with his eyes closed as he's singing? Chris D. did the tilt-your-head back and sing move a couple of years ago, and I don't know if I can handle it again. I think he'll make it through to the Top 12 because he's gotten some face time, but I wasn't blown away.

Wrapping up the first third of the singers tonight is Jason Yeager. He's singing a song I absolutely despise ("Moon River"). It wouldn't be so bad if everyone didn't sing this at one of two speeds: slow and slower. I think he should be eliminated on song choice alone. It seems very school pageantish. The vocal was okay, but if Simon and Randy don't comment on him being old-fashioned, too, I'll be very upset. He does manage to pander for votes a little by mentioning his grandmother.

I hope that next week they do away with the themes for the Top 24 shows. They should be allowed to sing anything Idol can get the rights to. Save the themes for the Top 12.

Robbie Carrico is carrying the "rocker" torch this year. I'll bet he has a hat on every week. If he was in a boy band that backed up Britney Spears, he should be able to successfully navigate the theme nights. I liked him, although I'd like to see him shave and put some product in his hair. He's certainly no Bo, but he was also better than FRC.

Wrapping up the first half of the show is David Archuletta, one of this year's TCOs. The show has a history of chewing up and spitting out teenagers; can he buck the trend and join Diana DeGarmo as the only people under the age of 20 who didn't flame out early? I don't see his charm, but thanks to loads of face time, he's got a couple million votes in the bank. The judges inexplicably fawn all over him. He shows that when he's not singing, he doesn't know what the hell to say.

Another recidivist is Danny Noriega who spends too much time on his hair. Mrs. High Lord says he reminds her of Jessica Alba because of his slight lisp and his hair. I think Jessica Alba is much more attractive. He's very theatrical; it didn't charm me. People are either going to love this guy or hate him (think Sanjaya or John Stevens). I think I may have to find some Blues Brothers on YouTube to get over this performance.

While I'm trying to get the image of Danny burned out of my brain, I'd like to remind everyone of what they missed in the Hollywood rounds with the elimination of the group sing. This was the finest performance in Hollywood in any year. Thanks to Laura over at Idol Review for the link to the video.

Tonight's 8-ball is Luke Menard, who we didn't see earlier in the show, which means his sole purpose is to get mowed down in these rounds. He wouldn't be so bad if he weren't out of tune. The falsetto at the end was a bit much (see Rule #8 to the right). Paula talks about his earlier performances; too bad we didn't get to see or hear them. Simon calls him forgettable and he was right.

Self-proclaimed Ellen lookalike Colton Berry is best remembered by many folks out there as the guy who got Kyle's spot. He's kind of goofy in a self-deprecating, self-aware kind of way. As a fan of the show since season 1, I think he knows exactly where he stands, which could work to his advantage. He also brings us an Elvis tune; he mixes in a little bit of theatrics, but manages to pull it off (unlike Danny). I give him the Eyeboinker Award for tonight. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.

The guys are underwhelming tonight. Part of it is the crappy theme and I think part of it is that the song choices are way too safe.

Garrett Haley is another teenager who is trying to buck the trend. For the first time, we got to see his audition and I was not impressed. Get a haircut, hippie! I see lots of falsetto in his future (dammit, no!). He's got some pitch problems (flat) and he seems nervous. I hope he gets cut on Thursday, because I don't know if I could stand even half a season with this guy. Perhaps the no-face-time thing will work out for me with Garrett.

Let me say that white guys should not have dreads, but that's what Jason Casto's got. He looks goofy. Unlike some of the others who have gone the safe route, Jason brings us the upbeat Lovin' Spoonful. The falsetto is unnecessary (as it always is) and while the vocal isn't spectacular, it's still fresh, at least for tonight's show. For someone who didn't get a lot of TV time, this should propel him solidly into the middle tier of guys.

Getting the opening night Pimp Spot is Michael Johns who is another of this year's TCOs. Already object of the "Aussie Posse", Michael will go far because of the face time he's already gotten combined with getting to go last. Plus American girls dig the accent that he's got despite having lived in the US all his life. I wonder how many girls (and guys, too) want to light his fire. His vocal is good. He doesn't let the song get away from him, something that could have happened very easily. The judges are going to gush all over him. Being one of the older singers will help him because he won't get rattled. Combined with his rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody", Michael is staking out his place as a consistent performer and early front runner. He needs to sandbag a little or the weight of heavy expectations will hurt him in the long run (see Doolittle, Melinda).

My rankings of the singers tonight are (from best to worst):

David H.
David C.
Jason C.
David A.
Jason Y.

I think Danny and Garrett are in serious danger of getting canned. Jason should get the axe, but I think that is more about me hating "Moon River" than anything else. As a crowd, the guys are pretty good. Michael was the only one who clearly wanted to be in the top tier; everyone else was pretty good at best.

There is a clear bottom tier among the guys that includes Colton, Luke, Garrett, Jason and Danny (in that order). I'd look for all of them to get cut before the top 12.

Tomorrow we're getting the girls who are saddled with the same brutal theme. I hope they just let the kids pick a song next week instead of forcing a theme on them. If Simon wants singers who sound relevant, let them sing songs from this century.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now introducing the Top 24

I guess we're going to be finding out who "America" will be voting on this season. One of the good things going into this show is that I'm undecided on who I like. Aside from wanting a meteor to strike crying homeless boy, there's no one I'm enamoured with and no one I'm despising.

It seems that there are a lot of strong singers this year and I really hate that Fox/19E is forcing gender equity on us again. As with the past few years, they're making the Top 50 take an elevator ride and a long walk to find out their fates.

The good news is that if someone doesn't make the final cut, there's always next year. For everyone else, they'll be singing for their lives (maybe I should trademark that phrase).

First up is Ronald who apparently likes to look goofy when he sings. He gets whacked.

Nina, Mycale, and Lisa are girls we haven't heard and they all get the axe.

Retread Carly the Tattoo Girl gets her chance and I'll bet she makes it because they show her singing. Paula needs to shut up and stop intentionally dragging this out. This is what I hate about this particular show: all the manufactured drama. Even Simon seems disgusted at the manipulation.

David is next and he makes it. I just wish he had sung something other than "Everything I Do".

Last night, Simon told Amanda he knew how every song would sound. She makes it, and I would say that with Chris Daughtry, you knew how every song would sound and they gushed over him, so why not Amanda, too?

Brandon, Amanda H. and Buck all get the axe.

Early TCO David Archuleta gets his shot and I'll bet he makes it. He's trying to buck the trend of 16 year old boys crashing and burning early. I hope he doesn't flame out early (although he did bring back lots of pleasant memories of sixth grade and Emily Frumpkin).

Early fan favourite Kristy Lee gets her chance. I was not impressed. She's pretty so I think they'll put her through . . . and they do. Then it's Brooke's turn and she's already crying. That shows me she's not mentally tough. For her sake, I hope they cut her. They don't. Maybe she and Josiah can get together for some waterworks. This season is going to chew her up and spit her out if she makes it past the first couple of weeks.

Danny, Jason, Luke, and Alexandrea weren't shown singing which means their only purpose in advancing is to get mowed down in the rounds of 24.

Another pretty girl is Rameile who advances. How many people have made it. With this rash of "yeses", if I were still in the room awaiting my results I don't think I'd be very happy right now; I'd be doing the math.

Getting the axe are Shaun, Lorena, Drew, and Natasha.

Are the singers shown in the actual order they get their results or does Fox edit the results?

Coming of a rousing rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody", Michael gets good news. I must say he was much better than Kellie Pickler at that song.

Syesha gets felt up by the girl sitting next to her (which is kind of hot; just sayin') and she is another of this season's TCOs. I hope her voice is recovered by next week.

Does Robby strike anyone but me as a Bucky Covington look-a-like? I just hope he sings better.

Another group getting no face time but a positive result includes Garrett, Kady, Chikeze, Amy, Alaina, and Jason. None of them will make the Top 12.

I'm always interested in people who have apostrophes in their name, so I'll be interested to see how Asia'H does. She'll get some sympathy votes since her father died before the audition.

David Hernandez didn't get unanimous approval but he gets through. Simon does get in a nice little bit of coaching, if only to let him know to bring his A game.

Crying Homeless Boy annoys the crap out of me. I can already see the fanboys/girls who are going to vote for this guy week after week (not to mention the VFTW crowd) . . . and Randy gives him the bad news. Thank you, Dawg!!!!! At least he got a hung from some super-hawt girl who's name I don't know.

We've torn through 46 singers and now there are two guys and two girls left vying for the remaining two slots.

The guys are Kyle and Colton. Despite getting lots of face time, Kyle gets whacked while Colton advances. Colton will be eliminated the first week because he's kind of goofy looking and because he's had no TV time.

Getting the last results of the night are Joanne and Cardin. I hope Joanne gets through. Cardin just seems like another skinny white girl. Joanne is a belter in the mold of K-Lo who came off as a better singer.

Then we get to see a bunch of nameless people who all got whacked.

So who does that leave? How are the early faves?

There are a couple Fox obviously wants to win (or at least make the top 12), but I'd say otherwise the show seems wide open. We're back with more singing next week, so it looks like American Idol is off and running.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Hollywood Time!

After a seemingly endless parade of freaks during the city audition rounds, we've moved on to Hollywood, where the people who can't hack it are culled out (although a few are somehow still sent through; Leah Labelle, anyone?).

The twist for this year is that the singers can play instruments. We've seen a couple of keyboardists, a couple of guitarists and a drummer. While I appreciate that some of the singers want to be taken seriously as musicians, they need to remember that this is a singing competition and #2 of High Lord's American Idol Rules (see right) is "Just sing the song."

Fifteen minutes into the show no one is blowing me away. Goth girl/singing nurse (Amanda?) was good, if a little different for American Idol. I would definitely get on her bandwagon (interpret that any way you want). I don't know how are her raspy voice thing will take her, and she probably would have been better served on Rock Star, but she could go far if she found a fanbase early.

The montage of forgotten lyrics is embarrassing both for me and for the singers. Why can't people remember the words to songs? You'd think that since this is the purpose of the trip, the singers would take it seriously. Of course, I'd chalk some of it up to nerves, but that's something they need to get under control because I don't think I can stand another season of Camile Velascos.

This year, I think the singers are trying too hard. As the night goes on, I'm thinking the instruments are hurting more than helping. Remember when K-Lo just walked on stage and belted out "Over the Rainbow"? What are they going to do when group day comes around?

"Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" needs to be taken out of the Idol catalog.

I missed the opening of the show, so someone correct me if I'm wrong. The people who were given a big "yes" were put straight through to the second round. The people who had to sing again run the risk of getting canned in the first round of cuts. Those singers are not necessarily in danger, but they have a deficiency that needs to be addressed. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Watching the first round of cuts shows how heartbreaking the show can be. It also highlights how unprepared the non-professional singers can be when it comes time to sing on the big stage. The good news for these folks is that there's always next year. Once you get to the voting rounds, you can't try out again, but some people have been sighted in Hollywood twice or even three times. I think some of these folks will need to get cut in order to come back and work harder next year.

After a couple of years ago when they showed people partying hard in Hollywood, I think the singers now realise that this stage is a business trip, not a chance to try and pick up girls/guys and that it's not about pleasure. Maybe they're not giving them as much time just to hang out as they have in the past, but it seems that the people who've made it this far are taking the trip seriously. I just don't think everyone is prepared for how mentally tough they have to be in order to survive. And the competition part hasn't really started yet, either!

Another interesting thing is that the "human interest" stories that were highlighted in the city auditions seem to be dropping like flies. Are they doing that to keep the voting field level? Or were they just teasing us? As I remember, they did this to the singers last year, too. I think maybe they've realised that handing people votes early in the competition sometimes advanced people who didn't necessarily deserve it (Kellie Pickler).

Did I miss something or did they do away with the group round? I think they did! Dammit, I'm going to miss twelve different versions of "Band of Gold"!

I like nerdy guy Kyle; he seems self-aware enough that he's not going to take the competition too seriously but I don't think he's got a chance in hell at winning. Of course, I think I said the same thing about Clay a few years ago, too.

I'm liking most of the singer they're putting through. I'm not wowed, but since they're cutting Hollywood down to one night, I'm not really sure if I can be truly blown away. One thing I would caution people about is picking either standards or power ballads. Many of the singers are going for safe song choices and that could spell trouble when we get to the voting rounds.

One thing that has made me happy was seeing Beauty Queen Brooke get whacked. She annoyed me to no end. Homeless Josiah's crying is also a little grating and whiney. I can't believe they didn't can him. If he makes the singing rounds, I am going to be seriously hacked off.

I guess we're finding out who the Top 24 is tomorrow and then the voting rounds will start next week.

Are they going to do the forced gender-equity thing to us again? Or will they bring back the Wild Card rounds? Someone needs to answer these questions for me!

Check back with me tomorrow and we'll find out who's going to be pandering for votes.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Auditions: The Best of the Rest/Worst

After seven audition shows, tonight is the last night before the Hollywood rounds. That probably means lots of bad singers with a handful of good ones jumbled in just to throw us a bone.

This wraps up what is traditionally the weakest segment of the show, but has pretty good ratings because it shows the bad singers who don't know how bad they are. To me, the voting rounds are the real beginnings of the show. The auditions are a sometimes nasty taste, Hollywood tries to break the singers with a slight preview of what is to come, but when the votes start coming in, that's when the competition heats up.

I've got the TV on, but I'm not really going to be blogging this episode unless someone blows me away. I can't wait for next week!

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Auditions: Atlanta

I missed the first quarter of the show so I missed the reason why Paula was crying. Someone please enlighten me. It appears the Idol Machine is already handing votes out.

The first auditions I've seen is the Miss South Florida Fair. Funny, I don't remember ever seeing the South Florida Fair and I lived in Florida for two decades. She's okay. Her voice is above average, but she needs to just sing and avoid the vocal stunts. I'm hoping she'll jump up and down a lot this year. And lay off the tanning.

While I'm waiting for the next audition, I'd like to make some comments about the Super Bowl.

First of all, I'm pissed off that we have to hear about the '72 Dolphins for the rest of time. I wish they would just go away.

Second, Eli Manning shouldn't have gotten the game MVP. While he did a good job, the persons who won that game were the Giants's defensive line. I expected them to do well, but they had Tom Brady either running for his life or flat on his back all night. If not for them, New England would have been up about 21-0 at halftime.

Third, I'm happy it was a good game. Even if your team didn't win it was entertaining and competitive.

Finally, the commercials this year sucked eggs. I can't believe people were paying $100,000 per second for air time.

Like the other audition shows this year, I'm seriously underwhelmed by the Atlanta crowd this year. There are some people with good voices, but no one is wowing me tonight. Maybe they all went early in the show and I missed them.

The goth girl has actually been the best singer tonight. Her voice will get really old, really fast, but she's original. I don't think she'll survive the Hollywood rounds (can you imagine her singing "Band of Gold" in a group?), but I like her a lot.

Crying Homeless Boy is already annoying me. I had to mute the TV so I didn't have to listen to that schlock. His singing fake-British-accent also bothers me. I hope they don't put him through . . . . they did, dammit!

I'm hoping that they've been sitting on some other good singers that they show in Hollywood because I have a pretty low opinion of the ones I've seen.

Where are we going tomorrow?

High Lord. Out.