Monday, December 06, 2010

After a long break

Yeah, I'm back after a bunch of slacking. I skipped blogging DWTS because I broke up with the show. But I'm back for the Sing-off. I'll fill you in on the various boring things going on in my life as this show and Idol unfolds.

First up is Eleventh Hour, a Glee-like assemblage of high schoolers. They were okay, especially for going first. At least "America" won't have a chance to hold that against them. It's too bad I can't stand their song. Overall, I liked them. Ben has nice things to say, Shawn is kind of patronising.

I'm so glad this show is back. It was the highlight of my reality season last year. Can you believe that the Beelzebub's rendition of "Magical Mystery Tour" is still at the top of my iPod's playlist.

On the Rocks is from Oregon and apparently people on YouTube like them. Probably not as much as the Boone County Ninja, though. I'm not fond of this song either, and I have a hard time taking 15 guys singing Lady Gaga seriously. They were entertaining, if a little creepy. Did Ben just use the word "pitchy"? I thought Harry Connick, Jr. educated everyone that "pitchy" isn't a word. Shame on you, Ben!

Going in the three-hole is Groove For Thought from Seattle. I like they don't seem like semi-professionals as some of the groups are on this show. I like their jazzy sound that's not as overpowering as we've heard o this show before. They remind me a lot of Manhattan Transfer, which is good. Their harmonies are solid and they don't spend too much energy on non-singing performance.

The funniest name of the night is Pitch Slapped from Berklee (not Cal) College. They're entertaining and technically solid, but there's just too much going on. This reminds me of the over-produced second album that an artist releases after their small-budget and critically acclaimed debut. The female lead is über-hawt. The "pretty pitches" line was very funny.

Wrapping up the first half of the show is Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town. Unlike last year's token AARP group, they're not boxed into the barbourshop genre. Plus, they're really good, in the tradition of a 50s do-wop group. They don't waste time dancing or distracting us with shirt skirts; they just sing. I don't think they'll win because they will probably sound the same every week, but in a pure singing competition, I think they'd wipe the floor with the other nine groups of kids. It seems a little unfair that they're allowed to compete, since Jerry is a professional a cappella singer.

What I like about the Sing-Off is that the judges actually get to judge. They don't leave things up to "America", so there are no Bristol Palins or Sanjayas hanging around because they have a "compelling" sob story, the VFTW crowd or they got a lot of face time when others got Melinda Liara'd. I also appreciate that on this show the judges often get it right.

After the first half of singing, they're going to eliminate one group. It's kind of crappy to get kicked to the curb after only 1 performance, but that's how these shows go, right? I would have actually liked all five of these groups to be moved on since they were all pretty good (some better than others).

After a short deliberation, the first group to get canned is Pitched Slapped. And they get to sing their way out with "Kiss Him Good-bye". I'm going to miss their überhawtness.

Carrying on the New England elite university tradition are the Whiffenpoofs, who have been around at Yale since forever. I'm sure they'll be good, but while the Beelzebubs were fun, they seem stuffy. . . . And they are. Technically, they're always on-pitch. And very gay. I didn't care for it.

Men of Note are from New Jersey, but I won't hold it against them. They like to pick up girls with their singing. They bring us one of the few a capella songs I can remember hitting the pop charts. Like the Whiffenpoofs, they do away with the mouth drums and just sing. They lack the polish of some of the other groups, but that's kind of refreshing. They get some tough, but constructive, criticism. I think they're only 50/50 to make it until next week.

Next up is Street Corner Symphony, which reminds me of last year's first-related group, Face. It's a shame they didn't go in the first round, so Pitch Slapped's hawtness could have been kept around for another week. Their performance song is better than anything that was in their introduction short. Their very "breathy", but at least they're not oversinging. Not great. Not awful.

In the nine-slot are The Backbeats can pick up where the SoCals left off last year. In fact, they picked up someone from the SoCals and another girl from Noteworthy, which seems a little disengenuous, but if the show lets them, more power to 'em. At least they'll know what to expect. The lead singer shouldn't try to sing bass. She's no Beyonce (but then again, who is?). They've also got a lot going on. It's good that they're going in a heat against people who are inferior. I think if they were in the first group, they would have been eliminated.

Over on ESPN, the Pats are kicking the crap out of the Jets.

Wrapping up the show are Committed, a group of 6 guys who sing gospel music. Like JL&TOTT, they have a very stripped-down basic sound, which is good. It's too bad I don't like this song. They sound more Boyz II Men than gospel, which might not be a good move in the long run. I like that there aren't 30 people on stage all trying to be the #1 voice (cough . . . Backbeats . . . cough). I think they'll survive this show, but will probably be eliminated on Wednesday. The final harmony was fantastic.

Shawn says this show is the best show of pure, unadulterated talent, and he's right. It's much better as a singing competition than Idol has ever been.

There's another short deliberation and Men of Note get the axe. They're not who I would have picked, but they didn't have a chance at winning.

My rankings for the night--in honour of our friend Jennifer--from worst to first:

The Whiffenpoofs, "Grace Kelly"
The Backbeats, "If I Were a Boy"
On the Rocks, "Bad Romance"
Pitch Slapped, "Good Girls Go Bad" (eliminated)
Street Corner Symphony, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
Men of Note, "For the Longest Time" (eliminated)
Eleventh Hour, "Baby"
Committed, "This Love"
Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town, "Save the Last Dance For Me"
Groove for Thought, "I Wish"

At a couple of points in the show, I was wondering if I was hearing the same show as the judges. But I think overall, the right groups got eliminated.

I'll be back on Wednesday night for more of The Sing-Off.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If Brett Favre is on tonight

singing "Pants on the Ground", I guarantee I will crap my pants.

That would rock, by the way.

Yes, it's time for the Idol finale, which in years past has ranged from either boringly unsuspenseful to actually good. We're guaranteed a retrospective on the finalists, returning bad auditioners and lots of self-congratulatory schlock.

Plus a few sightings of past Idols.

Crystal's dad is in the house, and he's wearing a tie. The show opens and we get lots of large crowd shots. They show the kids hometowns and I miss a loopy LaToya London in a feather boa.

Looking back on this year, I wonder what's going to happen next season. I hope they shake up things big time and get the show back to its roots as a genuine amateur competition. If they can do that: get some of the innocence back and return to being an actual competition, then the show will succeed. Otherwise, it's just going to be nothing more than a glorified popularity contest.

How much money did they have to throw at Alice Cooper? And why hasn't he been a mentor on the show yet?

While I don't think the show will be the same without Simon, I think it's time everybody moved on. He's clearly bored by Idol and contrary to popular belief, there something worse than Kara: Simon phoning it in. He's had one foot out the door for the past three or so years and the quality of the show has steadily declined.

Kris just started singing and someone in the sound booth just got fired.

I'm not saying that you can just replace Simon with the next swinging johnson, but he's not indispensable. Several names have been floated as replacements; Howard Stern was supposedly campaigning for the job, but I think that was nothing more than a publicity stunt. I would like to see someone like Gene Simmons take that seat. In any event, the judging panel needs to be more like that from "The Sing Off" and less like "America's Got Talent".

The actual make-up is less important than all three persons having credibility and chemistry. This panel clearly doesn't have it. Last year's didn't either and I believe that to be Kara's fault. I think she was initially brought on to replace Simon, but that would be disastrous.

Look, Simon is many things, but he's never patronising, and Kara is nothing but. I don't think his replacement has to be the same kind of nasty, but someone like Gene Simmons could be brutally honest without being a jackass. After figuring out who to replace him with, TPTB need to find two suitable persons to sit at the table with him.

The four-person judges table is an unmitigated disaster. It takes too much time and they need to go back to three people who can genuinely get along and help mentor the kids, rather than find ways to make the show about themselves.

By the way, did everyone see that guy who ate Barry Gibb?

Man, the best sounding person in that group was Siobhán!

If I were assembling a team of judges, I'd pick Gene Simmons, Harry Connick, Jr. and keep Ellen. I'd make Barry Manilow the permanent mentor and dump Seacrest for Tom Bergeron. Of course that will never happen.

The other thing I'd do to revitalise the show is eliminate the influence of the powervoters. As it is, the show isn't about turning in a good performance, it's about getting people to put up 700 text/phone votes per night. In a perfect world, the voting would be more like DWTS's; each phone/email gets 10 votes (15, 20, pick a low number). To keep the show from becoming an outright popularity contest, the show needs to limit voting so that the casual fan has as much influence as the rabid powervoter.

Either the fan voting needs to be limited or the judges need to have some actual influence over the results. This will result in the final product being stronger; no longer will a weak singer be able to advance towards the finale at the expense of people who are better. The judges will weed them out. Notice that on DWTS and SYTYCD, the people remaining at the end are rarely weak.

Contrast that with Idol, which has seen singers like Jasmine Trias, Sanjaya and Danny Gokey move on when they should have been eliminated earlier. I don't care which system Idol uses; on DWTS, the judges's scores are combined with the fan voting to determine who is eliminated and on SYTYCD, the judges determine who is up for elimination before the fans vote to save someone.

A third option is to change the voting entirely and let "America" vote to kick someone off instead of voting to keep their favourite.

Look, it's Big Mike singing with half of the Doobie Brothers. In case you're keeping score, we've seen Alice Cooper, the Bee Gees and Michael McDonald. Are they going to have any songs that are less than 10 years old? Isn't the stated goal of this show to find a pop star who will be on the radio/satellite/iTunes today?

I could have done without the lame Dane Cook bit, although it was good to see our friend Renaldo Lapuz again. Was William Hung busy? Was it just me, or did they cut to commercial very quickly?

The girls are on singing Christina Aguilera and my friend Mike is desperately hoping that Katie has turned 18 because he feels dirty looking at her. The harmonies are a little off; maybe they're actually singing and not lip-synching.

One thing that strikes me about this show is that aside from the oddly uncomfortable "tributes" to Simon, there's a lot of decent content to the show. They're letting the kids sing. Why did they have to wait until the finale for this to happen?

I also wonder why they can't get more current artists. Sure we've had Christina Aguilera, but now the guys are singing Hall & Oates. I was in elementary and middle school when these guys were popular and I'm almost 10 years older than Casey, the oldest of the singers. Fox, you just paid a lot of money to feature Lady Gaga on Glee, why not pay her to be on stage again, only this time withthe Idols instead of taking up space at a (way too long) results show.

Crystal takes the stage by herself singing Alanis Morrisette. I wonder if the "You Can't Do That On Television" alum is going to show up, too . . . and she does. I would have much rather heard them sing "Hand in My Pocket" instead of the Dave Coulier song. Alanis looks good; it seems she has rediscovered shampoo. On a side note, "You Oughta Know" was my psycho ex-girlfriend's favourite song. That should have tipped me off. Sadly, I'll never get the six weeks we went out back, nor the three months she spent stalking me.

After the 473rd commercial, Carrie takes the stage. Unsurprisingly, she is last year's top earning Idol and I'm willing to be that no one else comes close for quite some time. See, kids? That's how it's done. If she and Kris were head to head in the same year, she would have chewed him up and spit him out. The only other singers who are even remotely in the same league as her are Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry and maybe Clay. I'd put J-Hud in the same boat, but she's shown that she's a more successful actress than singer.

And then it's time for some crappy Ford product placement.

Casey gets some face time with a song that was hot when I was in middle school. Does this mean Brett Michaels and his bandana are going to be on? Man, he's been on TV a lot for a washed up hair band guy. On top of two white-trash dating shows, he had a stroke and won The Donald's reality show. I guess he really is bulletproof. Where is CC Deville? Although I loathe this song (it was played to death by the radio), this is almost as good as Adam Lambert with KISS last year.

Lee gets his turn with Chicago (the band). I guess it really is old timer's night. If we're scoring for relevant songs tonight, Idol is averaging about a 1983 out of 2010. What's the matter, Simon Fuller? Couldn't get Simon & Garfunkel? Like Lee in general, his collaboration with Chicago is a snoozer.

General Larry Platt takes the stage and I'm looking for Brett Favre to make his appearance. I guess he's too busy recovering from ankle surgery, so they had to get William Hung. My friends Floyd and Shawn are very, very happy. Did you know that William Hung is something like the fifth best selling Idol of all time? He even has his own DVD.

There's another montage/tribute to Simon and Paula makes her return to the show. I wonder if she's on or off the juice tonight. I'm guessing off the happy sauce, but I don't think what she took about half an hour ago was ibuprofen. The love child joke was pretty funny. The rest of her stage time was awkward.

Is this show about announcing the next American Idol or Simon Cowell? I know that some people think it's the latter, but wouldn't this have been better done in an hour-long retrospective on a night between the final singing show and the final results show. If I were Lee or Crystal, I'd be ticked off that the show was so much about him and not them.

The former Idol winners take the stage and this is what this show should be: welcoming home the past Idols and celebrating the show, not the egos of the judges and host. I wonder what happened that David Cook couldn't make it. I'm also happy to see that Fantasia got herself a new stylist. Did they really need the extra chorus with all the Idols that were on stage? (The answer is "no", by the way).

Change #26 I would make to the format of the show: Only former Idol winners and finalists are allowed to perform at the finale.

Just a LOTRO reminder: I'm Kindelle or Vraeden on Elendilmir and Brindelle or Amberley on Windfola. Holla at me.

Change #27 I would make to the format of the show: The weekly results shows need to be 30 minutes and the season-ending finale stops after 60 minutes.

Was the Janet Jackson appearance really necessary? I know I sound like a broken record, but why couldn't they get someone who has had a hit in the last five years? Oh, that's right, I forgot about Christina. I guess Idol is 1 for 12 for current stars appearing on the finale.

At heart, this is what's wrong with the show: for a format that supposedly is intent on finding a current pop star, they spend an awful lot of time mining song catalogs that are twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years old. This has to stop. If the show is to truly generate a current star, they need to sing current songs. Lacking that, Idol will become a popularity-driven karaoke contest. And we all know what Simon would say about that.

Are there really 17 minutes left in this show? (That's assuming it doesn't run over)

Seacrest takes the stage and says, "Tonight is about Crystal and Lee" What a crock of feldercarb!!!! Tonight has been anything but. As near as I can tell, tonight has been about acts who had their heyday thirty years ago and Simon Cowell. What took them so long to bring the show back to them.

Hopefully, they'll sing "Falling Slowly" again . . . But no, it looks like they're going to get their money out of the royalties they're paying to access the Lennon/McCartney songbook. Too bad the only person they could get to help them out was Joe Cocker (or his overweight doppelgänger with bad teeth).

Change #37 I would make to the format of the show: If anyone other than the Idols is going to be on stage for a Beatles song, it will be Paul or Ringo.

There's yet another commercial break and then Seacrest brings us back with the two remaining Idols. The results are certified by some independent accountant and then he announces that Lee wins Idol.

Mrs. High Lord just swore off Idol and went upstairs to watch Sex and the City on HBO in HD.

I guess TPTB got what they wanted. In a way, Crystal got what she wanted, too. Now she won't have to shill for 19E for the rest of her life.

He gets to sing his U2 cover (it's a "current" song, if you consider a song that's 10 years old to be current) amidst all of the confetti.

According to Seacrest the margin of victory was 2%, which is closer than I would have predicted. After last night, I thought that Crystal would win in a landslide. I guess I was wrong. As usual.

The good news is that the show finished on time. We'll see what they do next year to "fix" the show.

I'll be back later this week or early next to reflect on the season.

Congrats, Lee! You made a strong charge at the end, even if I don't get your charm. Apparently enough other people out there did and crowned you the season 9 American Idol.

High Lord. Bane of the Orcs. Out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is it really the end of the season?

On one level, I don't know how this season of Idol passed so quickly. On another level, a part of me can't wait for this season to be over.

I'm not ready to say that Idol has jumped the shark, but clearly something needs to be done. By my reckoning, Idol started it's downhill slide a couple of years ago; the moment was when Simon first rolled his eyes, not because the singing was bad, but because he was bored.

Since then, there have been some changes; I won't list them all, but I think people vastly underestimate how important Nigel Lythgoe was to the show and now that he's gone, they tinkered with the show in ways that proved to be unfortunate at best and disastrous at worst.

Is Idol dead? The naysayers are proclaiming so. Simon is leaving. Ratings are down. The show is no longer the find-an-amateur-singer machine it once was. It's been taken over by advertisers and product placement, from the cups on the table to the mentors.

I don't think Idol will crash and burn without Simon, but they need to make some changes. First of all, the show needs to back to being about the singers, not the judges or the host.

Second, they need to clean house at the judges's table. Randy needs to go because he hasn't had a constructive thing to say since about seven years ago. Kara needs to go because she's annoying and condescending. Ellen is okay, but she can't carry the show. I'd also say that Seacrest needs to be voted off the island, but I've read that he's the only one who's safe.

Third, the show needs to start picking singers based on talent, not to fill a role (dumb blonde girl, angry white guy, black R&B guy, black girl belter, etc.).

Will Idol listen? Maybe TPTB already are. As reported on MJ's Big Blog, they've tinkered with the schedule, making the results shows a half hour (the singular plank of my Presidential platform) and cutting back on the performance shows.

Now if they'd only eliminate the killer themes and bring in mentors who are interested in bettering the singers instead of shilling for their own next project or album . . .

The performance show tonight is only an hour; after this, I'll switch over to the 2 hour marathon DWTS results show.

There was a coin toss to determine the singing order. Crystal won and she smartly chose to go second.

That means Lee is going first. The first song is a recycled version of a previous performance and he sings "The Boxer". I still find him to be a boring looking person and I'm uninspired by the performance. I don't see what is so great about him, but that's just me. Vocally, it's okay, but it caters to his fanboys/girls and will surely garner him a lot of votes.

CBX is next and she's reprising "Me and Bobby McGee", which is a good choice for her. I would have picked "Hand in My Pocket" or "People Get Ready". It's as good as the first time, but her problem is that she's been so consistently good all season that it's hard for her to improve.

Right before I fired up the blog tonight, I was invited to run Dar Narbugud and I had to pass. I guess that's good since my radiance right now stinks.

For Lee, Simon Fuller picked R.E.M. which is one of the worst songs to get stuck with. Talk about a depressing song . . . . What do you want to be that Randy rips Lee for his song choice. This is bad, but it's not Lee's fault. The wailing is awful. And what's up with the choir? Simon points out that he's nervous, which is either a ploy to get him more sympathy votes or will cause him to implode on stage.

I guess we can officially rename the producer's choice the "Simon Fuller Wheel of Death™".

And what's up with all the commercials? How much do you want to bet that the show runs over? If you're taping/DVRing "Glee", set it to run 15 minutes over now.

Crystal gets Alanna Miles from Simon Fuller, which is a good choice. After all the maneuvering they did to get Lee into the finale, are they now trying to hand it to Crystal? Despite the fact that this has been done to death, it's the almost perfect song for Crystal. As with "Everybody Hurts", it's a lousy song choice, but it fits her style more than REM was good for Lee. At least it wasn't a straight cover.

It's 8:31 and there are only two performances left. Maybe they'll actually come in on time.

It looks like someone at Idol opened up the checkbook because Lee is singing some U2. I'm just happy the CCS isn't some schlock written by Kara or her spiritual sibling. He still seems nervous. If the only measuring stick were stage presence, Crystal would be wiping the floor with him. She's close as it is. The problem with this song for Lee is that it's over produced. There are too many people on the stage. It's too loud. The venue is drowning him. This is the absolute wrong outlet for him; he doesn't have a big voice and the song is doing him no favours. He should have gone acoustic and not let the producers tell him he had to have three whole string sections on stage.

I'm freaking out there; it's 8:40 and there is only one song left.

Simon tells Lee that he is the kind of person Idol was designed to benefit, which is absolutely 100% correct. Idol has become an outlet for semi-professional singers to get exposure, but in its early days, the show truly was about finding undiscovered talent. It's too bad the show got away from that.

The final Pimp Spot of the season is taken by CBX. Where Lee's song was over the top, Crystal goes acoustic and that's smart for her, since that's how she'll sound when she strikes out on her own and joins the Lilith Fair tour. The song drags in parts, but for her, it could not have been better. Randy calls it one of the greatest performances in the history of the show, which is a bit of hyperbole, but it was still good.

Damn, I wish Kara would just shut the eff up.

Yeah, Crystal just crushed Lee.

The Good
Crystal, "Up to the Mountain"

The Bad
Crystal, "Me and Bobby McGee"
Crystal, "Black Velvet"
Lee, "Beautiful Day"
Lee, "The Boxer"
Lee, "Everybody Hurts" (but it's not really his fault)

The Ugly
no one tonight

I think Lee's nerves got the best of him tonight. The show was too big for him and when the lights came on, he wilted. Part of it isn't his fault. Simon Fuller picked a crappy song for him. The producers made the show too big for him.

I think Crystal will run away with this thing. You'll notice that neither Randy nor Simon have been giving rounds away. If they did, all three would have gone to Crystal.

There are four hours of voting and Lee's powervoters need to work overtime or he won't only lose tomorrow, he'll lose in a landslide. I'm going to fold the blog for the night and switch over to the DWTS finale.

High Lord. Pie-Eating Champion. Out.

Can we vote Grumpy Len off the show?

In a nutshell, last night's DWTS was the reason why I'm fed up with the show.

It can be summed up in three words: Fuddy. Duddy. Len.

Why can't he embrace styles of dance that aren't ballroom. Especially for the freestyle. Freestyle. FREEstyle.

He has consistently scored people lower for things he just doesn't like. Not because it's bad dancing, but just that's not his thing. That's got to stop. That's why--despite all the reasons to like DWTS--SYTYCD is a more compelling show.

Erin and Maks turned in what I thought was one of the best freestyle dances we've seen in a long time. What I liked about it was not only that they took on a style that is not seen on DWTS (thanks, Fuddy-Duddy Len! [boo!][hiss]), but they had an actual dance that was a coherent story from beginning to end.

Too many freestyle dances are simply a collage to tricks and stunts thrown together (Derek & Nicole, I'm talking to you), but Maks and Erin did a really good job. Was it technically perfect? No, but at least Maks didn't drop her on his final lift.

It makes me wonder how good Maks could actually be if he were paired with celebs who have above average talent and looks (as Derek seems to be). Let's face it, Maks's high water mark was finishing second with Mel B. He sniffed the finals with Laila Ali, but has also been stuck with Debi Mazar, Denise Richards (and her three left feet), Willa Ford and Tia Carrere. Plus, you can't hold Misty May-Treanor's freak achilles tendon agains him.

Of the remaining celebs, Nicole is the obvious choice to win. This has been her competition to lose from Day 1, and at points, I think Derek has been overchoreographing her and deliberately incurring Len's I-Hate-Anything-That-Is-Less-Than-30-Years-Old wrath to keep scores down.

Anna & Evan had a bad night, which was highlighted by their obvious lack of personal chemistry. I don't think it's Anna's fault in the least; Evan is simply a really, really boring person. Mrs. High Lord says it's his "flat affect" which could mean his GAF score is down or that he's just a very guarded person.

I liken his moods to the acting abilities of Keanu Reeves or Andrew Shue. You can't tell when they're happy, angry, sad, mildly perturbed or having an orgasm. The facial expression and vocal tone doesn't change. The fact that they finished 3 points behind means that they have a ton of ground to make up in the fan voting.

For the record, I think Nicole is going to win. However, if the fans vote in force and the final scored dances end it ties, the rules of the show say that the fan vote breaks all ties.

The person I feel empathy for the most is Anna. She's done more with Evan than I think a lot of others could have done, but she'll once again finish on the outside looking in. The only person who seems to lead a charmed life on this show is Derek Hough, who seems to get all the previously trained hawt partners.

I wonder how he would have done if he had gotten Neicy Nash, Melissa Joan Hart, Priscilla Presley or Holly Madison.

In other news, I created two characters on the Windfola server: Brindelle a human captain and Amberley, an elf minstrel. If you play LOTRO and are on either Windfola or Elendilmir, drop me a line and we'll go hunt some orcs.

Big night tonight: Idol at 8 (only an hour, yea!), then the two-hour DWTS finale/results.

High Lord. Seeker of Deep Places. Out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No surprises here

That's right, as expected, Crystal advanced to the finale. Lee was also put through, making him the longest shot to make the finale that I can remember. At the beginning of the season, I don't think anyone really knew what to make of him, but he's gained a following, absorbed the voters of singers who have been eliminated and improved steadily.

This means that Casey was kicked off, which ruins my prediction for the season, although I will say that most other bloggers I read didn't have him advancing this far.

So how does this stack up against say, last season?

The easy comparison is that you have one person who started the season as a singer to watch (Adam/Crystal) combined with someone else whose singular accomplishment has been to avoid getting kicked off week after week (Kris/Lee).

Can Lee upset the machine that is Crystal? Maybe. That is, unless Crystal decides she wants to win, stops sandbagging and unloads both barrels on him like we know she can (if he wants to).

This season has been hers to lose from the beginning. We've thought that before (Chris Daughtry, Melinda Doolittle, Adam Lambert, David Archuleta) and things didn't turn out as planned. Other years, the final two have both been strong (Clay/Rueben, Carrie, Bo).

I think for Lee to win, he's got to pick up Casey's voters, and that's probably not going to happen. I think they'll go to Crystal. Lee will pick up the VFTW crowd, but I think their influence is on the wane.

My pick before the finale is for Crystal to win. But ask me again next Tuesday night.

In other news, I was happy to see more footage of the singers going home. I could have done without the craptacular Ford commercial and the singing from the two random tween sensations. Why not have an encore performance from the actual Idol singers instead of that schlock.

Anyway, I'm going to see if I can rustle up a group for Sammath Gul, Sword Halls or the Grand Staircase (I ran the Turtle for the first time tonight so I'm locked out of that for a week).

High Lord. Blind Leaper. Out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yes, I'm a slacker

Yeah, I know I didn't blog Big Mike's elimination last week, but who didn't see that coming? Seriously, who didn't see that coming?

You, there . . . in the back . . . put your hand down.

Being on borrowed time only meant that he got a couple of extra weeks to stave off elimination, but by needing to be saved by the judges only indicated that he wasn't going to win. I also think some voters were turned off by Idol shoving him down our throats like they did with Gokey and Archuleta, so when it turned out he needed to be saved, they turned from him. I'm sure he's happy to have come in 4th.

That leaves us with the two most seasoned performers, plus another guy who is somehow still standing.

Here are my quick thoughts on Idol's final three:

The oldest of the singers, Casey has pretty much done his thing for the entire run of the show. He plays the guitar, sings bluesy-rock songs and can eye-boink the camera without appearing smarmy like FRC. At the beginning of the season, I picked him to win, and it's coming close to happening. I don't know if it's the Cougars for Casey crowd, or the tweenies gravitating to him because he's the hawtest guy left, but both of the guys have a long way to go in order to stick with the leader.

Early season prognosticators picked her to win, which was a reasonably wise pick. I didn't think "America" would embrace her the way she has, but the fact of the matter is that she's the most seasoned performer and the best musician of the group. To me, her problem has always been that I don't know who's voting for her. She doesn't strike me as the traditional Idol frontrunner, but then again, neither did David Cook. Now that this season's TCOs have fallen by the wayside, the door is open for Crystal to win.

I don't know what to make of him. I personally don't care for his singing and I think he's about as exciting as an afternoon of shopping with Mrs. High Lord for anything other than a television or a car. I think he's Jasmine Trias 2.0, only not a hawt. He's snuck in under the radar all season by being patently unoffensive. While that's great for him, it also means that he's very, very boring. If any of the eight people who read the blog are voting for him, please explain to me why.

At this point, the odds I give to win are as follows:

Lee, 10-1
Casey, 5-1
Crystal, 3-2

Note that I do not endorse gambling.

Over on ABC, DWTS is eliminating one more couple before leading into their 3-way finale. I think Chad is going to get eliminated, even though he's the only true amateur among the remaining celebs. I think he's got a lot of voters (he certainly has enough followers on Twitter), but his scores are so much lower than the others that I don't think his voters will get him far enough over the hump to stick around until next week.

The prohibitive fave is of course Nicole, but Evan and Erin have an outside shot, especially since the winner will ultimately be picked by the fan vote, not the judges's scores.

I was happy to see the traditional end of the year score inflation as the judges whipped out their 10 paddles.

Back to Idol:

With three singers left, everyone gets a trip home. Now if they'd only give Kara a plane ticket home and not pay for the return trip . . .

My hunter is up to level 65; I'm trying to build rep with the Malledhrim and gather tokens to trade for radiance armour. I ran Sammath Gul for the first time last night; there was me, a captain, a champion, a guardian, a burglar and a minstrel. Things were going great until the captain dropped link and the champ had to go "study" for "finals". WTF? Doesn't everyone know that my pursuit of radiance armour is more important than school? I also got the "fishslap" emote before the Spring Festival ended, which is pretty cool.

First up is Casey who goes the unplugged route. It's a typical vintage Casey performance that starts without the usual video montage. It's okay, but not great. I think a part of him doesn't want to win because he knows that the recording contract he wins will be cut just like it was for Taylor Hicks. I was meh on the whole performance. Maybe he's sandbagging. Perhaps the Dead Man's Spot is the way TPTB are going to ensure a Crystal-Lee finale.

Crystal is singing Melissa Etheridge, and I'm sure both Ellen and Missy would like to come to her window. Interpret that any way you want. Like Casey, Crystal turns in a performance that is typical of her since the season started. The difference is that Crystal actually seems to want it. I think she's holding back a little; on the good side, it's not a straight cover arrangement, but at the same time, she lacks Melissa's raw passion.

Over on DWTS, Evan was just declared safe, which means that either Erin (maybe), Nicole (not a chance) or Chad (probably) will be eliminated. It's interesting that they're doing background on the pros, not the celebs tonight. By the way, Cheryl looks just like her mom, and Mrs. Burke is pretty good looking (not as hawt as Bo's mom, but in twenty-five years, Cheryl is still going to be very attractive).

Drawing the Pimp Spot is Lee, whose sit-down interview puts me to sleep. Damn that boy is boring. So is the Skynyrd tune. Here's a hint, Lee: don't turn your back on the audience. Like the other two, this is a typical Lee performance. Only more boring that either of the other two. Technically, it's okay. The vocals are good, if unspectacular. The judges are going to give him a tongue bath, but I don't care any more for him now than I did after last week.

Why are the singers taking it so safe tonight? I'm right about the judges (undeservedly) slurping Lee.

Now that the first round is over, we get to see each singer go to his hometown AT&T store. Casey's segment is surprisingly light on content; apparently, Idol is only interesting in getting paid by AT&T. I think they picked his song originally for Mike, but then gave it to Casey since the royalties had been paid. This is another yawner of a performance, but at least no one can blame him for the song choice (maybe he can since he told VCM she picked the wrong song when Clive Davis had her sing "I Believe I Can Fly"). As before, it's not awful, but I don't think it inspired anyone to pick up the phone for him.

Even when Kara talks to Simon, she's condescending. Have I mentioned how much I want her gone from the show?

In case you haven't heard, Julianne Hough is returning to DWTS, which will automatically return her to the title of "Future Mrs. High Lord". If you were wondering, my current title is "Kindelle Elessedil the Bold".

For Crystal, Ellen picked a Paul McCartney song, which she should kill. She goes no-instrument, which is a not-quite-M-Night-Shyamalan-level twist, but still surprising. She doesn't fully unleash her vocals, but does well enough to carry herself into the finale. Ellen was just thinking that Crystal was singing to her. I still think she's sandbagging.

Over on DWTS, Nicole & Derek were just advanced to the finale which means either Erin or Chad will be the 100th person eliminated from DWTS.

For someone who constantly harps on song choice, Simon picks "Hallelujah" for Lee. I already don't like it, but that's not Lee's fault. Haven't we heard this once this season already? (Yes from Tim back in the rounds of 24). He doesn't ditch the guitar and inexplicably gets an eight-person backing group. Maybe they were cheaper than the single bagpiper. It was good, but the judges give him the expected slurp-job.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I have to admit that I don't care for Lee as a singer and I like "Hallelujah" even less. So sue me.

The Good
no one tonight (too many safe songs and arrangements)

The Bad
Crystal, "Baby, I'm Amazed"
Crystal, "Come To My Window"
Lee, "Hallelujah"
Casey, "Daughters"
Casey, "Okay, It's Alright With Me"
Lee, "Skinny Man"

The Ugly
no one tonight (at this stage, no one should be bad)

What's up with the effusive praise for Lee and tepid response to Lee and Casey? It's not like he did anything they didn't. Was he really that much better than the other two? (The answer is "no", by the way) Do TPTB just not want Casey in the finals? (The answer is "apparently, yes", by the way)

Over on DWTS, Chad was just eliminated, which is a shame since he was the only true untrained dancer still on the show. Let's face it: Nicole is a professional dancer, Evan is a professional dancer who wears ice skates and Erin was on her high school and college dance teams. Despite claims that the show doesn't cast ringers, was there any doubt that there wouldn't be a true amateur champion?

Tomorrow night, we'll find out who gets to the Idol finale.

Who should be eliminated: Lee
Who will be eliminated: Casey

I was surprised that they didn't show more of the kids going home parties. I guess they'd have to cut out some combination of 1) the judges's inane banter, 2) some product placement time and 3) advertising, which we all know is never going to happen.

Unless there is a massive upset by the Cougars for Casey Crowd, I think it's a pretty safe bet that we're going to be looking at a Crystal-Lee finale. But then again, stranger things have happened.

High Lord. Well-Traveled. Out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just so you know

I'm not feeling very well tonight, so I think I'm going to turn in early tonight. I've got the DVR set and I'm probably not going to work tomorrow, so I'll catch up on Idol and blog the show as I see it.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do you remember what happend this time last year?

Yup, that's right, with four singers left last year, we found out what a tool Gokey truly was. Idol stole one of my great theme ideas, duets. Allison and Adam knocked it out of the park with a duet of "Slow Ride" while Gokey ignored Kris for all of "Renegade". What a schmuck.

In other news, Mrs. High Lord got a new car. At first she wanted a Honda Crosstour, so we went to the Honda dealer and she drive one of those and a new CR-V. She didn't like the CR-V; her 2004 is great, but she thinks the new ones have a cheap, plasticky feel. The Crosstour was wonderful; we liked the extra cargo space and the four-wheel drive, but at $35,000, it was more than she wanted to pay.

So we left the Honda dealer and went to the Toyota dealer where we ran into an old family friend. He wanted to get her into a Prius, so we took it for a test drive and really liked it, too. Plus, at about $24,000, it was closer to the price point she was looking for. I think she was ready to close the deal, but then Mrs. High Lord decided to take a RAV4 for a spin, and fell in love.

She likes the extra cargo space of a small crossover SUV and the four-wheel drive. Plus the car we drove is red (a must), has heated leather seats, sunroof, automatic climate controls, smart key entry and all the other bells and whistles except for navigation (a $2,000 option that can be easily replaced by a $150 Garmin).

The Toyota dealer lowballed us on a trade (to be fair, the CR-V did have some body work), but sold Mrs. High Lord on a lease that is less than the payment she had before the Honda was paid off. So far (after three days), she's very happy in her new car. Ask me again in a year whether she still likes it.

PS - If you know anyone who wants to buy a 2004 Honda CR-V with $63,000 miles, drop me a line.

On to Idol, the theme to night is movies and first up is Lee who goes way out of tune in several parts of Seal's song. Can't we retire this from the catalog? I still don't buy him as a serious contender to win and this week, he seems extra nervous. I think he was off in several parts and had to rush to catch up. Plus, he was sharp. A lot. The judges rightfully bash him for being too safe and being out of tune for most of the song.

If you haven't already, go take the American Idol survey. I hope TPTB actually listen the people who take the survey.

Last night on DWTS, Derek stopped messing around and unleashed Nicole. They earned the second perfect 30 of the season, even though they should have three right now. I think Derek just messes with Len when he has a ringer partner like Brooke or Nicole. We all know that he's the best choreographer of the guy pros, and somehow he keeps getting hawt women that are prone to finish in the top 5. I think Niecy is gone tonight with Chad to follow next week.

Next up is Big Mike who gets a mini gospel choir. The judges are going to eat this up. He's okay, if a bit predictable. Comcast's video feed is off tonight. What movie is this from? Why is Randy stealing Kara's lines about keeping the singers in their boxes? No, wait . . . Kara yaps on about his past performances. Can't they just accept the singers for who they are? I was meh on Mike tonight.

When you take the Idol survey, be sure to click on all the answers that would discourage the judges from wasting our time.

Next to go are Lee and CBX who should do well. Either that or Crystal will crush him. Does the duet have to be from a movie, too? I guess so. This was the perfect song for them. I liked the way they sang; it would have been easy to sing side by side, but the setup lent itself easily to an intimacy that Idol has been lacking for years. Plus the harmonies were fan-freaking-tastic.

Can they pack in any more commercials? I wish I had waited 20 minutes to start watching the show, so I could go no-filler for the whole show.

Casey is singing a Simon & Garfunkel song to Kara and all the other cougars out there. Mrs. High Lord is about to hurl something through her new TV. He goes Tiny Tim on us while sitting in the Sway Pit. I'm just happy he shaved. What is it with all the boring songs tonight? The vocals are aiiiiiiiiight, but nothing to write home about. I also appreciate that unlike Lee and Mike, he didn't do just a straight cover, which I'm sure the judges will rip him for. I'm almost wishing Mrs. High Lord would flip over to the DWTS filler.

Did you know that "Mrs. Robinson" is the #6 Greatest Song from a Movie according to AFI? Mrs. High Lord wasn't crazy about it, but it was better than Mike or Lee.

Getting the Pimp Spot (for individual performances) is CBX who picks a song from Caddyshack, which seems a little odd given the vast selection of great movie songs that are out there. However, given her personality, the selection seems to be a good one for her. The arrangement and performance are what Casey aspires to, but is still a couple of steps behind Crystal. I don't think it was great, but Crystal doesn't need to hit a homerun each week (or she might find herself eliminated like Melinda Doolittle). I think she's sandbagging either so she doesn't win or so when she gets to the finale, she will absolutely destroy whoever is across the stage from her.

I'm just happy no one did "Over the Rainbow".

Over on DWTS, Chad & Cheryl are in the bottom 2, while Evan & Anna are safe (duh!), as are Nicole & Derek (double duh!).

The last performance is Mike and Casey with a song from "Don Juan Demarco". This song was run into the ground back when the movie was popular. Blech. Casey starts out singing solo for about thirty seconds, then Mike gets his turn. Isn't this supposed to be duet? What the frak? Lee & Crystal had actual chemistry. Neither Mike nor Casey wants to come off as gay. Then the false rears its ugly head. As a song, it was okay. As a duet, it was awful. There was virtually no interaction between the singers. I'm not saying that they had sing it like Angel & Collins sing "I'll Cover You", but it wasn't as good as the judges said.

The Good
Crystal & Lee, "Falling Slowly"

The Bad
Crystal, "I'm Alright"
Casey, "Mrs. Robinson"
Casey & Mike, "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?"
Mike, "Will You Be There?"

The Ugly
Lee, "Kiss From a Rose"

As the Idol recap starts, Niecy & Louis just got whacked, which was nothing if not predictable. I'll miss the jiggly parts. Next week, it's sure to be Chad because the other three are clearly the best dancers that were on the show this season.

By tonight's performance alone, Lee should get sent packing, but I think it will unfold differently. I'm not going to pick a bottom 2, since that is half of the Idol field, but I think that Casey is on the chopping block this week. Lee could also be in play because he had to go first.

I think Mike has been handed too many votes with all of his face time and Crystal is simply too good to be eliminated Daughtry-style.

I guess we'll find out in about 24¾ hours.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wake me when it's 9:50

Yes, the TV is on, but I'm not really watching the filler. What I know is that at 9:39, Lee is safe and the other four are awaiting their fate. Aaron needs to go. Casey will probably go. Crystal would probably be happy getting eliminated in the next two or three weeks.

I miss Siobhán.

In other news, my hunter is still level 64, but I'm over halfway to level 65 and I'm starting the Volume 3 book quests. Never mind that I haven't finished the Volume 1 and Volume 2 book quests . . .

As I mentioned before, Lee was declared safe, but when they called him to the stage, I was sure they were going to George someone, only with 5 singers instead of the usual 7.

Christina Hendricks. Yummy.

I read an interesting article that says Idol is no longer about finding a pop star but rather finding a way to market the singers as they are.

So who's up for Iron Man 2 at midnight tomorrow?

Mrs. High Lord is on the prowl for a new car. She's got a 2004 Honda CR-V that has 62K miles on it that's paid off. She'd like something that has four/all-wheel drive (for the 10 days a year when we'd need more than front wheel drive) or she'd like a hybrid (for the gas mileage). Her current dream car is the Honda Accord Crosstour 4WD, but it's at a higher price than she wants to pay.

I'd like a Prius or Insight, because I need some karmic offset to the horrendous gas mileage my car gets. We have occasion to transport kids on a reasonably regular basis, so she has ruled out a coupe or another sports car. Plus there are probably 15 days a year when we need to move a lot of stuff, which may include lumber, furniture and/or a table saw. Plus, when we go on a road trip, it would be nice to have something that is comfortable for an extended period of time (which my car is not).

We don't need a full-size SUV and I'd even be willing to consider something like a Sienna or Odyssey because they have a quieter ride and get better gas mileage.

I've got the local Toyota dealer calling me, but if anyone has another recommendation, let me know.

Back on Idol, Seacrest just put Crystal and Casey in one group, Mike and Aaron in the other and tried to get Lee to bite on the Georging trick. Luckily, he passed. I hate it when they pull that crap.

Mike and Aaron are the bottom 2, which is a little surprising. I thought for sure that Mike's elimination/save would have gotten him for votes, but maybe he's peaked. Aaron is the weakest singer/performer left and deserves to get whacked.

Seacrest is rushing because they're almost out of time.

Aaron gets whacked without much false suspense. Despite all of my bashing of him and his style, he didn't crack like other teenagers, which is a credit to his stage presence and resilience. I just think he would have done better if he'd waited (been prohibited from auditioning for) about two more years.

That leaves us with Casey, Crystal, Lee and Mike as our Top 4, which brings some drama to the finale.

Will Crystal tank so she isn't saddled with the creative stifling that comes with being the American Idol? Will Mike dare to venture out of the box Kara has stuck him in? After being exposed as an average vocalist, can Casey get some momentum back? Does Lee really deserve to have come this far or is he this season's Jasmine Trias?

I guess we'll find out over the next couple of weeks.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It's John Stevens night

Tonight's theme is Sinatra songs (how's that for themes that are current?), and the mentor is Harry Connick, Jr. Why isn't the theme for this week (and every other week), "Songs that are currently on the Billboard Hot 100" and the mentor Lady Gaga?

Or why isn't the theme, "Duets of songs that are currently on the Billboard Hot 100" or "The Karaoke Wheel of Death of songs that are currently on the Billboard Hot 100"? Or Better yet, why isn't the theme "Screw Your Buddy Night™"?

In any event, there are five singers left and we're not at the point where they're doing two songs each, so that means 7½ minutes of singing and 52½ minutes of filler, Seacrest, product placement and advertising.

Over on ABC, they're going to kick another celeb off; my money is on Pamela or Niecy; both have big boobs, both have struggled with the dancing and both have been in the bottom 2. Just don't put one of them next to a radiator and don't leave the other alone in a room with a bag of M&Ms (you decide which one is which).

The person I'd like to kick off is Grumpy Len because he has apparently made it his life's mission to be the biggest jackass he can be. I'm all for honesty and fair criticism, but he's being even more contrarian than usual and it's really starting to grate on me. Last night he whipped out his 10 paddle for Evan and Anna, giving them the first perfect 30 of the season. While I don't have a problem with Evan getting a perfect score, Nicole should have two of them by now . . . if not for Grumpy Len.

I appreciate that they want to keep things interesting (because everyone knows that the competition is Nicole's to lose) and that they have gone away from the slew of 30s that plagued the show several years ago, but for Nicole & Derek to have earned the same score as Erin and Maks (three points behind Evan & Anna) is criminal. I'd like for someone to pull the broom stick out of Len's bum and give out fair and consistent scores.

Meanwhile on Idol, we get a little bit of background on Harry, whom Mrs. High Lord thinks should win. I think some of the singers are going to struggle this week, and I wonder which of them will be left standing after a theme that is very different from most of their styles.

Leading off the show is Rachel Maddow (sorry to steal your nickname, Beckeye). Is Kara going to say that she doesn't know how he can relate to a song that is five times as old as he is? He seems flat for most of the song. He gets to croon, which is an unexpected strength. I'm sure his followers will only lurve him more. I'm meh on him, but it was probably better than I think it was. The judges, of course, patronise him because of his age.

Can Kara talk to anyone without sounding condescending? (The correct answer is "no", by the way.)

Next up is Casey who got a code B style makeover this week. He's ditches the guitar, a first(?) for this season. His voice is better than I thought it was going to be. It helps that Sinatra himself never had much range and relied more on his cool than on his actual talent. He and Maks apparently use the same razer. Mrs. High Lord would like to see him back in jeans. I just wish I had decided to watch this show no-filler because the judges are annoying the dickens out of me.

Over on ABC, Niecy was just declared safe after promising that she would get naked if that's what it takes to win.

We're thirty-three minutes into the show and there are still three singers left. CBX is next and it looks like they're going to have to rush through the end or it's going to run over (again). I think this is the first week when she has just featured a straight vocal; no guitar or piano, no stage-stunt like a diggery-doo. In a night of lackluster performances, she can afford to sandbag a little bit and still be the best of the evening.

All of the singers are struggling with the theme. Randy says Crystal was sleepy; Duh! It's the theme, stupid! Kara talks down to her, too. If they're going to have a big band night, it shouldn't be this late in the season.

I'm really excited about Iron Man 2; I'll be the one at the midnight show on Thursday night and sucking at work on Friday morning.

Big Mike is singing another song that fits him nicely in the box Kara has locked him in and then thrown away the key. If Simon doesn't call him sleepy, too, I'm going to be ticked off. Idol, please make next year's top 5 theme Screw Your Buddy Night™!!!!!! I'm seriously contemplating switching over to ABC to watch the DWTS elimination instead of this schlock. The judges slurp him, he wasn't as good as the tongue baths they gave him, but it was better than he's been in a while.

To avoid changing channels, let's talk about my hunter for a few minutes: I'm up to level 64 and should make level 65 by this weekend. Then I just need to find some partners to run the Grand Staircase and/or the Hall of Crafting to start collecting tokens for radiance gear. Then I think I'm going to head over to the Ettenmoors and Mirkwood before I wrap up some of the book quests. I also need to start finding rune balls I can use on level 61+ weapons because most of the ones that have dropped for me are only for level 50-60 legendary weapons.

I'm also going to start forging some level 65 legendary MHO weapons, but I need to find someone to make me a level 65 legendary bow. I also finally got my rep with the Galadhrim up to Kindred; now I just need a few thousand more points to get it up there with the Iron Garrison Guards . . .

Is anyone watching the show with Lieutenant Jones and Josh? It looks really stupid, but it might also be funny.

Drawing the Pimp Spot is Lee. If he's half as sleepy as he usually is, I think I'm going to have a narcoleptic fit. Harry says that Lee is a younger version of him . . . sure thing, Harry . . . maybe if you were 24 again and ate two small Cambodian children. It's sad when Lee is the most upbeat singer of the evening. He does a good job of not boring me to death, and for that I'm grateful.

Mrs. High Lord was distracted by Harry's organ, too. And she's not even a lesbian. I think. By the way, our anniversary is on Sunday. If you see her, ask how long we've been married. I'll bet she'll have to think about it for a minute.

The Good
Lee, "That's Life"
Mike, "The Way You Look Tonight"
Crystal, "Summer Wind"

The Bad
Casey, "Blue Skies"

The Ugly
Aaron, "Fly Me to the Moon"

Tonight the great enemy of the singers was the theme. None of them were outstanding, but the weaknesses of a couple were exposed.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Casey, Crystal
Who will be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Casey, Crystal

Who should go home: Aaron
Who will go home: Aaron

Casey could also be in play for elimination because Aaron has been getting all of the tween votes of the recently departed.

Over on DWTS, Pam & Damien just got eliminated, which has made Mrs. High Lord very, very happy. I'm sorry that the boobage quotient just dropped by four cup sizes.

Tomorrow night, we'll find out who get eliminated from Idol. Now I'm going to go see if I can get halfway up to level 65.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

No more typing ALT-0225

Once again, let me reiterate my political platform.

1. You, the good people of the United States, will amend the Constitution so that persons where are not natural-born citizens can become president.

2. I will run for president and you will elect me to be your firm, but benevolent leader.

3. Using all of the legislative tools at my disposal, I will ramrod the following legislation through Congress: All reality show results shows will last no longer than 30 minutes, including commercial breaks.

4. I will sign that bill into law.

5. Immediately after the aforementioned law takes effect, I will abdicate office in favour of someone more qualified to be president.

There it is, my candidacy for presided under the banner of the Reasonable Results Show Time Limit Party.

Tonight's show featured a bottom 3 that was somewhat surprising: Casey, Mike, Siobhán.

That means that Aaron, Crystal, and Lee were safe. How 'bout this season as the season of the girls? I guess Randy really does know what he's talking about. ::eyeroll::

I can see how the five remaining singers are safe; some were handed a gazillion votes beginning in the audition rounds (Mike, Crystal, Casey). Aaron has been picking up votes from the recently-departed (Katie, Tim). Lee has been flying under the radar and might be one of the last standing as the other four knocked each other around (think Jasmine from season 3).

Siobhán's problem isn't a lack of talent, nor is it her song choice. It's that she has an odd (read: non-mainstream) style. As a result, people either really, really like her, or they really, really despise her. This meant she wasn't picking up new voters as the season has progressed. This is vital because--as we all know--American Idol isn't a talent competition, it's a popularity contest.

This makes picking up new voters imperative to staying on the show.

Mike and Aaron (plus to a lesser extent, Lee) have been doing this on a consistent basis by pandering for votes and sticking to the (small) comfort boxes the judges have carved out for them. Crystal and Casey may also find themselves in danger because they've stuck to their own creative instincts.

I think the voting trends are the singular reason why the winner hasn't generally gone on to great commercial success. While playing the game and winning show a base level of talent, it doesn't always mean that the powervoters are willing to buy hundreds of downloads/albums as they are willing to re-dial and re-text for four hours.

To me, Siobhán's screaming was annoying, but like some other singers in seasons past, I always wanted to know what she was going to do next.

What we're left with are five predictable singers who will each do what they do best. How will they finish?

A few weeks ago, I picked Casey to win, but I think Lee is making a quiet charge, Mike has benefited from massive face time and the scare that the save instilled in his followers and Aaron has been picking up votes left and right.

I'll have to cogitate for a while and re-order my top 5, but for now, I'll miss the originality that Siobhán brought to this season.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In to the home stretch

With six singers left, we've pretty much left all of the dead weight behind. Sure there are some people who probably shouldn't still be around (Aaron) while other singers left prematurely (Katie). Still, this crop isn't as bad as Idol's detractors would have you believe.

There's a nice article over at MSNBC which summarises what the rest of us know: Being the frontrunner at this point isn't always a good thing. Crystal is the prohibitive favourite at this point; if your options are her or the field, take her. That said, at this point in the show there have been others who we all thought were going to run away with this thing, only to see them ousted and another singer installed as the winner (Adam Lambert being the latest of these).

Look, right now each singer has a core of powervoters who will back their singer because Seacrest implores them to vote for their "favourite" (not the best). Each week, it's up to the remaining singers to grab as many of the most-recently voted off singer's powervoters. Whoever does this will win. If the fave can't, they'll go home (see Daughtry, Chris and Doolittle, Melinda).

I think if this were a pure talent competition, Crystal would be so far ahead of anyone else, they would call the show off and simply declare her the winner. Since it's not, I think it's very likely that she may have maxed out her voters (at least until Siobhán is eliminated). I just don't see any of the other singers's voters going to her.

Of course, that's great for her since she can then take control (financially and creatively) of her musical future.

While Seacrest yaps, let me geek out the blog for a minute. As you may or may not know, I've gotten in to Lord of the Rings Online, an MMORPG where you run around Middle Earth and try to thwart the plans of the Dark Lord Sauron. My main character is Kindelle, an elf hunter who is right now at level 63 (the level cap is 65). I just started out two other characters, a human captain and an elf minstrel. I figured that I should try a couple of different classes just to see what I like.

I'm also trying to figure out the right combination of legendary weapons; right now, I've got a reforged mace of the second age and a reforged bow of the second age with some legacies I'm not crazy about, but the bow is level 37 and the mace is level 34, so I hate to give them up before I start getting some level 65 weapon drops.

If there are any more LOTRO fans out there (besides our friend James), drop me a line if you're on Elendilmir. I just got to Mirkwood, so I need a tour guide.

This week's mentor is über-MILF Shania Twain, who is back for more Idol after making an appearance during the auditions. Three of the judges want to get into her pants. I guess in lieu of country we get a country/pop cross-over. The singers would be wise to listen to her advice (assuming she's on the show for more than the paycheck . . . cough . . . Gwen Stefani . . . cough . . .).

First up is Lee who is singing a song I'm not crazy about (probably because it was played on the radio seven times an hour back when it was just released). He does his usual Lee-with-a-guitar thing. Why don't the judges bash him for doing the same thing each week, like they do to Casey. I still don't completely buy Lee as a performer and this week he did nothing to improve my opinion of him. Boring. The judges slurp him ("One of the greatest songs of all time"? Really, Randy? WTF are you smoking?). This is his second appearance in the Dead Man's Spot but I don't think it will land him in the bottom 3.

Over on ABC, Melissa Etheridge also wants to get into Shania's pants. Maks is almost shirtless, which makes both Mrs. High Lord and our friend Jennifer jealous. If I were a woman, I'd go gay for Melissa. Plus, she can rock. I think Pam will be going home tonight; two consecutive weeks it the bottom two do not bode well. I find her annoying and Mrs. High Lord doesn't like the way she's always preening for the camera.

Next up is Big Mike, who has gone all John Mayer on us (without the incessant tweeting and kiss-and-tell about Jennifer Anniston). He's the guy with the guitar at the party who has all the girls around him (until Bluto smashes the guitar). I think Mike is overrated, but I can see why people are voting for him. I just don't know that if he wins, his voters will buy is singles/albums/downloads (ie-Ruben). His voice has a good tone, but I wish he'd stay away from ballads. And the false. Do they have so much extra time tonight that they can go to a fifth judge? Or is that just to hand Mike a couple hundred thousand extra votes?

I also wish the camera guy who has the tough job of watching Shania Twain all night could keep the camera still. Hey, get your other hand out of your pants!

Back on DWTS, the flamenco dancers are hawt.

Is it just me or is Len grumpier than usual? (The correct answer is "yes"). I know that's kind of his schtick (like it is for Simon and Piers on their shows), but the stick seems to be a little further up his bum than usual.

Wrapping up the first half of the show is Casey who is sitting on a stool and playing his guitar. [sarcastic voice=on]Way to change things up![/sarcastic voice]. He goes the ballad route instead of with the rockabilly routine. As much as I hate all the ballads they do on this show, I understand why many of the guys are doing them; it's hard to do a woman's songs that are as recognisable as Shania and come across as a believable guy. I didn't think it was bad, but it was good; at least better than Lee's bleating and Mike's sappy songs that his wife likes. Casey knows that as a vocalist, he's middle of the pack (at best) and has to cover it with a good performance and his good looks.

Mrs. High Lord has the remote and she just flipped to my second favourite Melissa Etheridge songs, "Come To My Window", which also features a barely-dressed Edyta (is there any other kind?). In case you're wondering (and I know you are), my favourite Melissa song is "I Want to Be in Love", the video for which features the always-yummy Jennifer Anniston.

Look, it's the first ad for SYTYCD. I know our friend Kristi is happy.

Next up is CBX. I like this song; it's one of Shania's early songs before they all started sounding overproduced. I like the faux-bluegrass sound of this arrangement; it's not for everyone, but it's different. I think right now, Crystal could whip out a flash-frozen salmon and slap everyone on the judges panel with it, and they'd still slurp her. She's just that good. This was my favourite performance of Crystal's, but it was still the best of the night so far.

Crystal's boyfriend is waiting until she makes more money before he pops the question.

Is this an hour of ballads or not? Aaron is also right in his comfort zone, which will please his tweenie fans, but makes me cringe. Is Kara going to tell him that she didn't believe his performance because he's too young to be in love? Like Lee, I thought it to be vapid and boring. Pitchy in spots, too. And he can't keep his eyes open. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I thought he was the worst of the night (so far).

This leaves Siobhán to pick up her second Pimp Spot in five weeks. In case you hadn't heard, she's now the pick for Vote For the Worst, which I clearly disagree with (it should be Aaron). They're running long because Seacrest is rushing. And Siobhán starts off flat. At least it's not a ballad. My great aunt Mathilda is wondering what happened to the throw pillows on her couch . . . Aunt Matty, Siobhán stole them! The song stars slow, but it picks up at the end, just in time for the screaming. I thought it was aiiiiiiiiight, but not worth the pimpage.

The Good
no one tonight

The Bad
Crystal, "No One Needs to Know"
Casey, "Don't"
Siobhán, "Any Man of Mine"
Mike, "It Only Hurts When I Breathe"
Lee, "Still the One"

The Ugly
Aaron, "You've Got a Way"

I wish they had gone with the broader theme of country rather than Shania Twain songs. I think the singers were undone by a very stylised singer that limited them creatively and vocally.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Lee, Mike
Who will be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Casey, Lee

Who should be in the eliminated: Aaron
Who will be eliminated: Aaron

Casey is also in the mix, but I don't think he'll be eliminated. Since this was her weakest performance of the season, I think Crystal might also make a bottom 3 appearance, but this is about two weeks to early to predict a "shocker".

Over on DWTS, more dead weight was released as Jake got his walking papers. No shock there. Let me know when Nicole wins.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The long and winding road

I know it's not Beatles night, but the two hour monstrosity that is Idol Gives Back is dragging. At least they're actually kicking someone off the show.

Plus, they're not going to George anyone (one of the classless stunts they pull every year).

I'm happy to see so many alums on the show and I could do without all of the other "talent".

So far, the bottom 3 are Aaron, Casey and Tim.

Crystal and Lee were declared safe early on (duh!), then Siobhán was sent to the couches. There was some manufactured drama about whether the third part of the bottom troika was Tim or Mike, but Big Mike's voters have been working overtime since he was brought back by way of the save. I think that will carry him until at least the Top 5.

Based on last night alone, Casey should probably be going home, but I don't think it will be him. My guess is for Aaron, but then again, he could also have picked up all of Katie's voters, which would leave Tim as the guy left standing.

Just for the record, let me remind you that I'm 3 for 3 when calling the bottom 3.

As we wait out the last 13+ minutes of the show, I'd like to brag a little bit about my new computer. It's a beast! Liquid-cooled, 9 GB of RAM, quad-core, SLI-capable glowing-red not-quite positronic madness.

On my laptop, LOTRO looks okay, but now I see things like water and fire and orcs at the edge of the map that I never saw before. If only it could level up my legendary weapons faster, too!

Mrs. High Lord is happy Kate got whacked from DWTS, although we both agree that there are some others we wouldn't have minded seeing eliminated before her. We both think that unless Nicole blows out her ACL or bites the head off a pigeon on stage, she's going to win.

In that way, by Nicole and Crystal are the classes of their respective shows. I was just hoping that things might get competitive, but it looks like both shows probably won't.

It's now 5 after 10 and they haven't kicked anyone off. I'm sure the people at the local Fox affiliate WVAH are steaming. Serves them right for all those years that they pre-empted Idol for meaningless UK basketball games.

Okay, it's 16 minutes after 10 and Idol is about to eliminated one of the guys. After a commercial break, of course.

Seacrest saves Aaron, which I think (hope) means Tim will finally get whacked, with not chance of being saved.

Because they've already run 22 minutes over, Seacrest doesn't draw things out too long, then give Tim the swift kick in the backside. Considering that he's been living on borrowed time, he's had a remarkably strong showing. Certainly better than Nikko Smith. After his good-bye video, he doesn't even get to sing.

Next week, I think it will be Aaron shown the door, then all bets are off.

I'm going to go see if I can get my hunter up to level 62.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How much more of Seacrest's yapping do we have to endure?

Every year, it's easy to bash Idol. It seems that there is always a group of people willing to say that the show has jumped the shark and this is the worst season ever.

I try to ignore most of it because the fact of the matter is that the show turns out a remarkably consistent (if predictable) product. This season, the detractors have much more ammunition: Paula left, Ellen came on board and Simon is leaving for greener (?) pastures.

That means next year, the only constants will be Randy and Seacrest. Guess which of them is the more expendable. MSNBC says the show has become all about Seacrest and that he's the problem.

I hardly disagree with either statement, as for the past several seasons, the show has seemed to hinge more on the judges's inane banter than the actual singing and that Seacrest runs his yap too much, unlike other hosts like Tom Bergeron who keep things moving and the emphasis on the talent.

Seacrest has become ubiquitous throughout media, hosting a TV show, his radio program and seeming to be everywhere at all times. I think he wants to be the next Dick Clark, only he's much more annoying and has a better stylist.

It used to be that Seacrest was the singers's friend; he was there to console them after a bad performance, he talked back to Simon when they were too scared to do so themselves, and he stood by to celebrate the good times. Now, he's part of the spectacle. He grills the singers and the judges. He talks too much, stifling the action, not providing a segue from one performance to the next.

I wish he'd either take a double dose of humility pills or just go away.

Lucky for us, Glee is back, which means Idol is only an hour. That's right, 10 minutes, 30 seconds of singing, 48½ minutes of Seacrest, the judges's yappage, product placement and advertising.

Before show starts, let me say that I'd like to see Kate go home tonight on DWTS, but I don't think we'll be that fortunate. At leasts she didn't cry during her pre-dance montage. I'm dismayed that DWTS has gone the Idol route an introduced themes; why can't the theme be the dances? A couple of weeks ago, it was "story" night and last night they had to interpret movies. WTF? Just dance a tango. Or quickstep. Or cha-cha.

Nicole returned to top-form, although grumpy Len denied her the perfect 30 she deserved. Everyone else is fighting for scraps, although I think Erin is coming on strong. Maybe Maks has learned a thing or two about choreography. It helps that Julianne and defending champ Kym aren't on this season and the other two-time champ (Cheryl) got stuck with a guy who has two left feet. I don't think they're going to win, but they could make a strong run at Evan and Anna for second place.

Casey gets the Dead Man's Spot and his "inspirational" song is some Fleetwood Mac. As with all of his performances, it's solidly in his comfort box. This song really needs to have the USC marching band. I'm not wowed, but it's not bad either. Randy calls him out and he's right. I'm not saying that he needs to show up with a sitar, but he's got to try a different tack every now and then.

Getting the random sit-down interview is Lee who no longer has the opportunity to make Danny Gokey babies with Andrew (at least until the tour starts). I don't know why I don't like him. Mrs. High Lord says it's because his eyes always look "sad" and that he's not a very exciting guy. I think he's better than I give him credit, but I can't remember a performance of his that I'd even think about paying money for. His version of "The Boxer" is too slow. The swaying is about to put me asleep. Like Casey, he's a big "meh" for me. Maybe he just needs to smile more.

Borrowed Time probably should have gone home last week, but no, he's still around to torture Mrs. High Lord. If Andrew Lloyd Webber were on again this year, he'd tell Tim the same thing he told The Arch: Open your eyes. I kind of like him tonight, although that could be more a reflection of the competition than how well he actually did.

I wonder about the theme and how deep the song book is this week. I just don't find many "inspirational" songs to be very up-tempo and exciting. Can't we all agree that the most inspirational song to be on the show is "A Moment Like This"?

The big beneficiary of GHA's ouster is Aaron who is trying on a child molester's song. This could either be good or a near biblical disaster (if you don't mind a little hyperbole). I'm leaning towards the latter. Did you know he's only 16? The song is too big for him, although it doesn't get as far out of control as I had feared. At least he's witty enough to make a pre-school graduation joke.

This afternoon, my new computer arrived. It's an Alienware computer I bought from Dell's outlet website.

Mrs. High Lord doesn't think she's going to see me for weeks.

Siobhán is breaking two-thirds of Idol's Cardinal Rule #1 (to the right). This is the first truly "inspirational" song of the night. Frankly, I preferred the Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky version in the movie to the Whitney/Mariah radio recording. Siobhán does a perfectly serviceable job and doesn't resort to screaming in an uncontrolled way. The judges undeservedly pan her. The butterflies are a bit odd. Here's a better version.

Borrowed Time 2.0 (aka Big Mike) is rocking the white Members Only jacket, at least before he has to play the guitar. What happened to the days of a singer taking the stage by themselves? Why does everyone have a string section, back-up singers and a diggery doo? Mike is okay, although I don't think the judges should have saved him. This week, he's the best of the night (so far), although that's not saying a lot.

Switching places from last week (when she went first and Casey went last), CBX tries two new things: no instrument and a dress that shows off the girls (not a complaint about either). This makes her second Pimp Spot of the season, and she's the only singer of this crop that I would pay money to hear. This is #24 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (as of 2004). This performance single-handedly destroyed the six remaining singers.

Last week, there was talk that she was thinking about withdrawing, but Seacrest talked her out of it, but now that might have been a hoax [sarcastic voice=on]Noooooooooooo!!!![/sarcastic voice]

The Good
Crystal, "People Get Ready"

The Bad
Mike, "Hero"
Tim, "Better Days"
Siobhán, "When You Believe"
Lee, "The Boxer"
Aaron, "I Believe I Can Fly"
Casey, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow"

The Ugly
no one tonight

I think a lackluster performance could possibly land Casey in the bottom 3, although I don't think he'll be going home tomorrow night. In fact, I don't think anyone is going home tomorrow; if they follow past patterns, they'll save everyone tomorrow and then eliminate two people next week. After all, it's kind of crappy to kick someone off on "inspirational" song night. Plus, it will give more people a reason to tune in next week.

By the way, my hunter is up to level 61. Once I get to the level cap (65), I'm going to do a bunch of reputation quests and then start leveling up my captain (currently level 11).

There were some singers who weren't great and probably deserved to be grouped into "The Ugly", but I'm feeling unusually magnanimous tonight. Just don't let me watch the recording of the show, or I'll probably downgrade about four of the singers. At this point in the season, I think most of the awful singers are gone, but that doesn't mean that everyone is good.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Casey, Lee
Who will be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Casey, Tim

Who should go home: Tim
Who will go home: Aaron

Tomorrow is Idol's big self-important show. Surprisingly, this is the first time this season that Idol has gone long. I'm going to go finish formatting my new computer.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What happened to this being the girls's year?

Wasn't that the proclamation of Randy and/or Kara at the beginning of this season?

For a field of girls that was supposedly stronger than the guys, you wouldn't know it by looking at the people left standing right now. Partially to blame is the Top 24 format that guarantees gender-equity in the Top 12 rather than the (vastly superior) Wild Card rounds.

Another factor at work is that I think tweenie girls--whose unlimited texting plans drive the Idol voting--tend to vote for guys, hence the triumphs of David Cook and Kris Allen the last two years. Yes, I know Jordin won before them, but it's only been in the last couple of years that I think text voting has eclipsed phone voting (and has made DialIdol irrelevant).

With the judges using their save on Big Mike, it was Andrew and (surprise!) Katie left standing when the music stopped.

Andrew's elimination was expected by everyone except his mother. I appreciate that Seacrest didn't mess around with him and just gave him the bad news straight up (as they say). I'm also very relieved that TPTB haven't pulled the classless Judd Harris move since season 4.

I wasn't shocked, but I thought Katie was going to last a few more weeks rather than get kicked off tonight. That she was in the bottom 3 two weeks in a row should have been a hint that she didn't have a large following, but I don't think she was splitting votes with any other singer. In her, I'm relieved that Idol didn't break her as it has done to other 17 year old kids.

It is my ultimate belief that both Katie and Andrew were undone by the judges, specifically Kara. They want to put singers in nice little boxes and not let them out. You heard it last night as they were giving their "feedback" to Siobhán. All four of the judges, Simon and Kara in particular, start off with a preconceived notion of what each singer should sound like in a given theme and is disappointed when they try something new.

Siobhán had the best line when she said something to the effect of, "I don't try to limit myself to a category, I just like to sing."

Way to give Kara the big eff-off in front of 30 million people!

The judges (and by extension the audience) would not let Andrew get away from "Straight Up" in Hollywood. Mixed messages didn't help. When he tried something new, they were disappointed, and when he tried the same thing, they said he wasn't expanding his horizons. They did the same thing to Katie and in the end, it hurt them both.

At the same time, neither did themselves any favours with some of the song selection. Andrew in particular was running scared for the last three weeks instead of just pulling a Siobhán and going out there to sing.

Make no mistake, neither Andrew nor Katie ever had a real chance at winning. However, they should have outlasted some of the people who are still around (Tim and Aaron, I'm talking to you!). I think both will come out of this in good shape. Andrew, like Paige, might do better now that the pressure of Idol is off of him.

After she finishes high school (and go to prom without a date since obviously no one texted/called enough to keep her around), Katie might have a bright future in the business. She just needs to make sure that she doesn't take any advice from Kara.

Next week is the big Idol self-congratulatory help-the-world event, followed by someone being Georged.

Then we'll get down to business and find out who is going to win this thing.

I'm going to either watch V on the DVR or a Bourne movie on TNT.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Save me! Please!

As I've mentioned before, this season of Idol and DWTS has been mostly uninspiring for me. I find the talent to be sub-par, the false drama more contrived than usual and the focus of the show has been taken away from the singers and focused more on the host and judges. Let's hope the show either gets back to its roots or dies a quick death.

I read an interesting piece on the judges save which said that the cost of saving Big Mike might be high. Of course it's high; everyone is in danger once again. And that's the way the show should be.

Each season, there is someone who is voted off seemingly before their time. Whether it was J-Hud, LaToya London or Chris Daughtry, the show at least had some danger to it. When one of the faves landed in the bottom 3, it only motivated their powervoters to work over time the next week. The save eliminated that, at least temporarily.

To me, Mike's loss to the show would not have been catastrophic. Let's face it: he's not going to win. But he's received a massive amount of face time and carried the early mantle of TCO. His style is too narrow and "America" has shown a reticence to brown people winning of late. He has a tremendously loyal bloc of fans (due in large part to the face time), yet I don't think he's picking up new voters (hence last week's elimination). Vocally he's in the aiiiiiiight category and doesn't show a lot of range.

Still, the judges had no choice but to save him. He's too valuable to the show to let go this early.

Speaking of casting, I think that's part of the reason why I'm tiring of the show. It seems that when the top 24/36 is picked, they're not really picking the best vocalists (like they used to). Rather, they're picking types: black girl with a big voice. Wide-eyed teenage boy. Cute blonde girl. "Rocker" guy. This season seemed to have a couple of everybody, and as a result, the crop was mostly mediocre.

Idol seems to have forgotten that its stated mission is to find the next popular music star. Not a rocker. Not a balladeer. Not a Janis Joplin wannabe. Not a country artist.

Pop star. Like Kelly Clarkson was.

In picking types and forcing the singers into themes that are ill-suited to modern radio (big band week, anyone?), they're ensuring the winner might do a bunch of different things well, but doesn't excel at any of them. It is any wonder then that so many of the Idols have essentially disappeared from mainstream radio?

To remedy this, I propose the following:

1. Limit the banter of the judges to actual constructive criticism.

2. Do away with the themes and guest artists who just want to shill their latest album.

3. More singing, less filler. That means all of the singing shows are no more than 90 minutes and all of the results shows stop after half an hour.

4. Replace Seacrest with a host who isn't so narcissistic that he/she thinks the show is all about them.

5. Open up the checkbook and make a rule that no songs will be used that were first released before 2000 (ten years ago).

This will make the singers current, it will maximise their exposure and it will do away with the silliness that has enveloped the show and made it less about the talent and more about selling commercials, product placement and other ancillary brands.

Of course, this will never happen, but we can dream, right?

Last week's theme was the Beatles and this week it's Elvis. Great, two artists who haven't had a live hit in 40 and 33 years respectively. Yeah, Idol, that's a way to stay modern.

Before anyone forgets, let me remind you that Elvis week was when Chris Daughtry got eliminated in one of the genuine "shockers" (which I will also remind you, I correctly predicted).

Two people are going home this week, and I can only hope that this is the week Aaron and Tim get sent packing.

I'm watching the show no-filler, which means that it's 8:23 and I've hit the pause button on the DVR. Idol was originally scheduled for 1 hour with Glee on at 9:00, but with the save, they couldn't eliminate 90 seconds of filler to accommodate the extra performance, so they added 30 minutes to the entire show. Yech.

The "mentor" this week is last season's runner-up, Adam Lambert. Katie needs to be reminded that he doesn't like girls.

Leading off the show is CBX, who is one of the others the judges would have saved. I don't think she's in danger, but who knows? She goes deep into the Elvis songbook for a nice, Bonnie Raitt-ish rendition of "Saved". I'd pay money to see her in concert. I'm not a big fan of blues or roadhouse music, but as usual, Crystal turns in a good solid performance that should have been saved for last. Was that Sheryl Crow in the "friends and family" seats? My only nitpick for Crystal is that she need some dental work done.

Next up is Neck Tattoo, whom the judges would not have used the save. He changes the arrangement and slows it down a little. I'm not a fan of this song, but I like that Andrew is trying something new with it. It doesn't really work for me. Simon told Crystal the liked that she didn't pick an "obvious" Elvis song and that she didn't just do a karaoke version. Andrew does both. I think he's fallen into the same trap that Paige did. About two weeks ago, she was on Letterman sitting in the with the band and she sounded good. It was as if the weight of the world was lifted from her shoulder and she was free to sing. Andrew still has that feel. I think he's scared and going too safe. It doesn't help him that the judges (and as a result the audience) won't let go of "Straight Up". It wasn't as bad as Randy, Kara and Simon said, but nor was it great.

I like Andrew's mom more than Seacrest's. The girl sitting next to Mama Seacrest is smokin' hawt, though.

Mrs. High Lord is willing to pay a large sum of money for Tim to be eliminated tomorrow. This is another "obvious" Elvis song and it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be. He does a good job in pandering to the tweenie voters who are keeping him around. Who was Seacrest dancing with? And WTF is up with the false? It doesn't work for him. He should have taken Adam's advice on the ending. Mrs. High Lord says that the judges are all praising him because they're drinking the kool aid and realise that the only way to get him kicked off is to go the reverse psychology route.

The article I linked to above thinks that Lee has a shot a winning, but I don't. I don't understand why he's still around. He's singing the song that got Daughtry eliminated. I don't think his voice is a good as everyone else and I find him to be boring and flat. I simply don't think he has the charisma to be the "American Idol". That said, he turns in a respectable, if a little forgettable, performance.

Aaron, in case you didn't know, is only 16 years old and he makes Adam feel dirty. This is another bad karaoke version. He should have dressed up like the King because he comes off as a bad (underage) Elvis impersonator. I practically have to beg Mrs. High Lord to FF through the performance.

It seems that Mrs. High Lord and I are watching a different show than the three judges to the right of Simon.

We still haven't caught up with the show in real time, which is good. Siobhán is next and I can only wonder if the shrieking will return (I hope not). Someone call the Idol stylist and tell them that Siobhán should not be allowed to dress like Sheena Easton any more. I know the Idols were in Vegas, but that doesn't mean they had to stop by the Las Vegas Hilton to raid the wardrobe. It's too slow, but the vocals are very good, at least until the inevitable shouting at the end. The judges like the shouting, but I don't. I just want to hear her sing, which is good when she's not going over the top. I like that Siobhán says that she just loves to sing, which is what the show needs, not Kara trying to fit everyone into her convenient little boxes.

Kara's mouth is moving, but I can't understand the words she's saying. They're nonsensical and inane. I wish we could vote her off.

Seacrest's Dunkleman joke was just plain bad.

Like Tim, Big Mike is now officially on borrowed time. The arrangement is too slow, but at least it's not a straight cover. His pained, gospel-singer faces need to go. As does the false. Someone wake me when it's over. At least he doesn't end with a big money note.

After the best performance of last week, GHA once again makes my friend Mike (and Ellen) feel dirty by looking at her. I think she has finally realised that there is no point in playing things safe and has decided to go all-in every week. The two trips to the bottom 2 seem to have lit a fired under her and I like it. She's neither the most talented performer, nor the best entertainer, nor the best vocalist, but I think she really wants to win.

Over on ABC, Edyta and Aiden were whacked from DWTS. Mrs. High Lord can't stand Edyta because she makes the dances about her, not the celeb, which is the strong suit of Derek, Julianne and Cheryl. I thought Jake or Kate would get the axe this week, but I can't complain about Aiden's ouster. Since everyone knows that the show is Derek & Nicole's to lose, the order of elimination is the only thing in question, and that makes for a boring show.

Mrs. High Lord and I have finally caught up with the show live, just in time for Casey, who gets his first Pimp Spot of the season. As with all of his other performances, he doesn't venture out of his box, which plays well to his fans, but I don't think will be getting him any new voters. Like Crystal, I think he knows exactly what kind of performer he is and is using the show as a personal audition for his big payday after the tour rather than actually trying to win.

The Good
Crystal, "Saved"

The Bad
Casey, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy"
Lee, "A Little Less Conversation"
Katie, "Baby, What Do You Want Me to Do?"
Siobhán, "Suspicious Minds"
Andrew, "Hound Dog"
Mike, "In the Ghetto"

The Ugly
Tim, "Can't Help Falling in Love"
Aaron, "Blue Suede Shoes"

As usual, Crystal turns in the best performance of the night, something that shouldn't surprise us. Mrs. High Lord wants some combination of Aaron, Andrew, Lee and Tim eliminated, but I told her that won't happen any sooner than 3 weeks from now.

Who should be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Mike, Tim
Who will be in the bottom 3: Aaron, Andrew, Tim

Who should go home: Aaron, Tim
Who will go home: Andrew, Aaron

The girls are going to be safe for another three weeks or so. Until then, it's the guys who will be splitting votes and getting elminated.

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to be running the Grand Staircase with some buddies, so if you're on Elendilmir, look me up (Kindelle, level 59 elf hunter, almost level 60). I'll be watching the show so check back after the eliminations.

High Lord. Out.

EDIT: I forgot that two people were being eliminated, so I added a second person to the should/will go home lists. I think Tim will outlast Aaron with the tweenie voters, but I also think it's a given that Andrew will be on the chopping block.