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The Post-Game Show » 2009 » March

Archive for March, 2009

Idol: Deal Or No Deal

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

wild-card

I thought wildcard night was going to be next week, but those sneaky buggers at Idol snuck it out this week, so I suppose I’d better blog it. Damn you, American Idol; haven’t you punished us enough? I’ll try to keep it brief. 

Oh, but first, a word on this week’s results show. The group performance of Katy Perry’s Hot and Cold must rate as the worst bit of theatre in the history of the show. Shambolic dancing, awful miming, and all the boys forced to sit down throughout because of Blind Scott. And then there was the coronation of Lil Rounds. Oh, and Jorge (yay) and Blind Scott (boo) also got through. Now on to the wildcard performances:

Jesse Langseth kicked off the hour with a languid speakeasy rendition of  Tell Me Something Good. The notes were wild, but the vibe was good, and she was smart enough to try to be quirky, which is bad when the public is voting, but good when it’s just the judges. Suddenly I like her.

Matt Giraud also went retro with a smooth blues version of Who’s Loving You, and after his abortive Coldplay number it’s nice to see him remembering to do what he’s good at. If he’d sung this the first time around he’d have been voted through! Simon says, “I saw bits of Taylor Hicks”, and the other judges get annoyed with him for making that belittling comparison. Uh, guys; Taylor Hicks won his season. It’s a mystery to us all, but he did win.

Spaniel-haired Megan did more of her arrhythmic shimmying with Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, and she seemed more relaxed and engaged this time around. Again, she would have been wise to perform like this on the first show. Did the existence of wildcard night make everyone think they had a guaranteed safety net?

If there’s one contestant whose presence on wildcard night I do not understand, it’s Von Smith, who, when asked to tone down his shrieking vocal hysterics, was exposed as a singer with no range or vocal control. I forget what he sang. I don’t care. He hopefully won’t trouble my existence again.

I’ve been championing Jasmine Murray for a while, possibly becase she looks like a young Eartha Kitt, but her version of the Disney/Christina Aguilera song Reflection has none of Eartha’s purring black coffee vocals. She has a very sweet voice; she’s not quite mastered it yet.

Ricky Braddy sang Superstition, and he showed impressive vocal ability and stage presence. He really is the American Will Young. He wholly deserves to be in this competition, but it’s not to be.

It honestly sickens me that they brought Tatiana back. She’s not right in the head, and exploiting her for ratings is as low as this show has ever sunk. Her song was Saving All My Love For You - the same song she sang on the last live show - and again her voice conjures a mental image of a male Cybil Shephard tribute act. Since Jorge endeared the nation by talking in Spanish on Tuesday, Tatiana has developed a thick Spanish accent. This girl is as shameless as she is crazy. Ethnic gets votes, so suddenly she’s ethnic.

Finally, Anoop, whose smug self-branding as ‘Anoop Dog’, matched with his bad eyebrows and the lack of effort he puts into his stage outfits (you’re performing in front of millions! Pick out a decent shirt, for God’s sake!), has ensured that I will never like him. Anoop revives My Prerogative (or ‘Puuuh-rah-gah-tiv’ - does no-one know that this word has an R in the first syllable?), which got him a lot of love in Hollywood week, but you can’t be novel with the same act twice. Simon points out that he didn’t sing it very well, but prepares us all for the reality that Anoop is going to get through because they’re ‘casting’ the final 12 and they need some personalities.

And, sure enough, Anoop is through, along with Jasmine, Megan and Matt. That’s four people rather than three, which should be a big surprise, but, let’s face it, it really isn’t. Simon Cowell loves to pull this kind of stunt. For the record, from my initial prediction for the top 12, seven made it through, which is not too bad, though it is now out of 13.

Next week, I keep my fingers crossed that they vote out Anoop or Blind Scott! But they won’t, and I will be screaming at my television for the next several weeks, and I will be taking it all out on you.

Uncanny Likeness?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

movie-gambit

USA Today has some ‘exclusive’ fan-pandering pics of the Wolverine movie cast, including Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and Taylor Kitsch (above) as Gambit - surely the one character X-Men die-hards have most been clamouring to see hit the screen, being the big wet predictable fanboys that we all are. (If you don’t know Friday Night Lights, then Kitsch may be best known to you as ‘guy with great abs who dies having sex in the toilets in Snakes on a Plane’.)

Says Hugh Jackman of Gambit’s interactions with Wolverine; “He starts off as a pest, but their relationship is a little gray”.

Yes, ‘gray’. I’m putting that down to a transcription error.

Segel, the Albatross

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Bloggers are getting very excited about the new Vanity Fair issue, with a photo portfolio of Hollywood’s big comedy stars. One photo sees members of Judd Apatow’s comedy troupe - Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd - recreating the famous Vanity Fair Hollywood issue cover featuring a fully clothed Tom Ford getting all gay pimp on pale and naked Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson.

Aside from a change in personnel and the presence of some flesh-coloured bodysuits, see if you can spot the other big difference between the two images. Here’s the original:

vf-ford-cover

Mm, smell that haughty English actress, Tom. Smell her good. What does she smell like, Tom? Roses, lavender and Jammy Dodgers?

And here’s the comedy remix:

vf-rudd-cover

So, here’s what I’m wondering; did they actually invite Jason Segel to the photo shoot? What we’ve got here is perennial comedy bridesmaid Paul Rudd, man-of-the-moment Seth Rogen, and rising star/chubby sidekick Jonah Hill. And then there’s this Jason Segel chap, who is still not a recognisable name or a recognisable face even after starring in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He just doesn’t look like he’s meant to be there, does he?

I’m probably projecting my own prejudices here. I’m seeing something that isn’t there. Jason Segel is as deserving of a place in that company as any man could be! The same four guys also appear on the cover of the issue, so there can be no doubt that he was meant to be at that photo shoot, and he was meant to be in these images. Look, see:

vf-comedy-cover

Oh. Do we have a barrel for Jason Segel, guys? Did anyone… we didn’t bring four barrels? Right, right, we thought we only needed three.  Jason, would you mind standing at the back, there? Maybe a little bit further back than that? A little further still. You see the fire door over there? How about you go stand on the other side of that?

Idol: Can’t Polish A Third

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Can week three possibly be as bad as weeks one and two? It’s the least interesting of the three dozens. Thank God they’re wittling down so ferociously, because there’s a lot of crap and not much cream. 

But before we get to this week’s looosers, who were last week’s winners? Allison got through, to no-one’s surprise - every review I read said that she won the night, including mine. (Yes, I read my own blog. It’s the only good thing on the internet.) Kris Allen got through, to my considerable surprise - even in the repeat performance, when people are usually better because they’re less nervous and on a high - he was still shakey. I said he had an outside chance because Simon vouched for him. Apparently that carries a hell of a lot of heft. It saved Michael Sarver in week one, and now this guy in week two. Look out for his papal blessing this week. (Kris is also undeniably cute. I’m sure that didn’t hurt.)

The third place came down to a choice between two theatricals; Adam (musicals) and Norman (comedy). Thankfully - and none too shockingly - the slot went to Adam. America has finally found a theatrical it can love. Since then, photos have emerged of Adam kissing other boys! And wearing make-up! He’s not just a harmless, neutered, sexless homosexual; he’s a scandalous Weimar cabaret-rape-your-sons-and-turn-your-daughters-into-drug-addled-whores kind of homosexual! Oh, Adam, we barely knew thee. (Lambert is the one on the left.)

adamlambert3

Von Smith is the evil Adam Lambert. He has a similarly screechy voice and theatrical bent, but without Lambert’s charisma or range. His song is All I Need To Get By, which he starts in an ill-advised throaty whisper, but he soon remembers that the notes he can manage are a tad higher, and he heads up there with gusto. Doing Aretha is a bloody stupid idea for anyone, especially a screechy boy, but he’s not completely horrible, so already the bar is set higher than it has been in the last two weeks. I don’t think Von is going through, but he did put the work in. Simon says he reminds him of Clay - ‘your voice and the way you perform’. Simon never runs out of ways to tell gay people they’re gay. Usually he says it and follows it up with, ‘you don’t have a hope’, but this time he says that being like Clay will be good for him, so maybe Adam Lambert has opened America to a brave new world of gay possibilities?

Taylor Vaifanua does Alicia Keyes, which tends to mean having to sing up and down the piano keyboard, oh lord, why would she? At least it’s If I Ain’t Got You and not Falling. Taylor, looking like a middle-aged maid who stole her boss’s curtains to make a dress to wear to her second job as a waitress, does not have Keyes’ ability to effortlessly throw her voice around the room. She’s competent but unmemorable.

Alex Wagner-Trugman is the adorable geek with a sense of humour, so he has a good chance of getting through based on that alone. Ryan offers to spot him at the gym, so evidently Ryan’s over his infatuaion with Kris Allen already. The song, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, starts ropy, but he does his best to pummel it into submission with a few pained animal yelps. If he does get through, it’ll be entirely due to his likeability, not his singing.

Ariana Afsar is ‘cute’. All the judges agree on this. So she wants to get away from being cute. Silly girl. She gets massive points from me for singing The Winner Takes It All, which is the most awesome song she could have chosen, but her timing is way off. So way off that it might not even be her turn on stage. It’s hard to tell if the singing is good or bad, because my brain is reeling from the dissonance. She clearly can’t hear the official American Idol Bontempi organ at all. The judges seem to think this was the ‘arrangement’. God, I hope not.

Ju’not Joyner (pronounced ’shoe-know’, not ‘jew-not’, sings something about a girl named Delilah, but without the lyric ‘why why why’, so it is a crappy song. Shoe-know gives a confident, smooth, pleasant performance, but he is a big unattractive black man, and he needed to be amazing to win over Peoria. Shoe-know says something about a cortasone shot, and everyone reacts like he just said ‘look guys, it’s my penis’, so either something got edited or there’s something mischievously naughty about cortasone that I don’t understand. Apparently it’s injected into the buttocks. Well, there you are.

kristen-mcnamara1

Nathaniel Marshall and Kristen McNamara are grilled on the fact that they hated each other in Hollywood. Nathaniel tries his best to be diplomatic, but he can’t match Kristen for dead-eyed tooth-grinding insincerity. Kristen is the next to sing, and I always forget that Kristen has a better, grittier voice than her Barbie-doll looks would suggest. She also has the steely glint of ruthless ambition lurking beneath her false eyelashes, and she makes me think of Joy from My Name Is Earl. I don’t know the song, but apparently it’s Tracy Chapman. This girl has made Tracy Chapman sound like Jessica Simpson. That’s quite a skill. Not a good one, obviously.

And now it’s time for Nathaniel Marshall, who will be filling the role of gestalt Tatiana Del Toro and Norman Gentle for the evening - Noise! Hysteria! Flamboyance! Unbearableness! I applaud him for singing I Would Do Anything For Love, but I’d applaud him more if he was singing the “will you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot” part. Tonight Nathaniel has come dressed as Olivia Newton Gerbil. He seems to be enjoying himself on stage, but it’s sloppy and grating, and frankly I can’t imagine anyone liking him very much. If Tatiana couldn’t get through, this kid can’t. Nathaniel’s judging session goes on forever and ever and ever, and ends with Ryan trying to get Nathaniel to sit on Simon’s lap, and I think I’m going to vomit. Copiously.

Felicia Barton is the girl who didn’t make the final 36, and then one of the other girls was revealed to be Simon’s neice and Kara’s neighbour and Paula’s nurse and Randy’s actual honest-to-goodness dog, dawg, and Felicia got yanked back in. She’s singing another Alicia Keyes number. Could Alicia Keyes fund her existence on the royalties from reality shows alone, I wonder? This Felicia creature’s Alicia will reach ya! Well, no, it won’t, I just wanted to write that sentence. It’s a decent performance with moments of strain. Although the overall standard has been higher tonight, no-one is really standing out yet.

Blind Scott is next. Will Ryan attempt to high five him again? Scott brought us that moment of joy, and I thank him for that, and now he may leave. Scott is not a good enough singer, but hey, he’s blind, which is a bit like having a dead wife. Now, this will be a terrible thing to say (yes, this next bit, not any of the stuff I’ve said before), but watching him sing, you understand why blind singers often wear sunglasses, because it’s all a bit creepy watching his eyes swim in a void of nothing (not unlike the eyes of Kristen McNamara, now I think about it). The song is Mandolin Rain (my favourite of the Dulux colours), and the performance would get a seeing singer booted, but - hey - this guy’s blind! Triumph over adversity, Blind Scott!

kendall-beard

I’m really looking forward to there being less than 12 performances to sit through in any given week. It feels so bloody endless. Next in the endless drudge is some impossibly perky blonde little bit. Its owners call it Kendall. Honestly, she looks like she should be perched in Paris Hilton’s purse. She could also pass for Kristen Chenoweth’s mini-me, which is quite the miniest a me can be. Kendall sings… I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to guess it’s a Taylor Swift song. Let’s check. Darn it, it’s Martina McBride. So close. Anyway, a cute pocket blonde girl singing country could disappear without trace, or she could win the whole competition. Who the hell knows?

Jorge Nunez is a good-looking Puerto Rican boy with a big smile and a heavy accent. Hurray, West Side Story numbers all around! No? No. It’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, so he’s trying to dodge the Latin artist tag, leading me to expect one of the judges to say, “I see you doing more of a Latin music kind of a vibe, dawg, you know, dawg?” He’s a little pitchy (dawg - God, I have to stop that), but he’s got some pipes on him, and his performance is one of the most enjoyable of the night. It’s actually Simon who brings up the ‘Spanish’ artist thing (Simon never did quite get to grips with the concept of ‘Latin-American music’), but he gives Jorge the ‘likeable guy’ nod of the week - hallelujah! - and Jorge gets flustered and gives his reply in Spanish, ensuring that a whole heap of first generation immigrants will vote for him in their thousands.

The final slot of the night is the star slot, given to the anointed one in each group of 12; first Downey Gokey, then Adam Lambert, and now Lil Rounds. The song is Be Without You by Mary J Blige, which is not the best Blige song to do - not very ambitious or memorable - but doing Blige was sensible. Lil drops a shameless bit of pimping into her number and hits the big note, and she has those two things and the name ‘Lil Rounds’ and the love of Simon Cowell all going for her. Other than that, it wasn’t as stellar as I expected. She’s more amazing when you’re watching than when you’re just listening.

Even so, Lil is going through, and Jorge will probably join her. The third spot could honestly go to almost anyone, because although the standard has been higher, there haven’t been any serious stand-outs. Any one of Kendall, Felicia or Kristen could make the cut if the third slot goes to a girl. If it’s a boy, it’s either Blind Scott or Geeky Alex, neither of them for their voices. It’s the age of the geek, so I suspect Alex will claim that third spot.

Next week; the wildcards. There are four boys and only two girls in the final nine so far, which is not a surprise - girls vote, and girls mostly vote for boys. Even if two girls get through from this week, the boys will still be the majority, so expect to see some attempt to redress the balance with the wildcard picks. No non-white people have got through yet either. Lil and Jorge may change that, but it’s looking good for Jasmine Murray, and bad for Matt Giraud and Ricky Braddy. The only boy I expect to see go through from the wildcards is Anoop Desai.

Dance For Me! Dance! Dance!

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

I talk a lot on this blog about American Idol, but there’s actually another reality talent show that I’m much more impressed by, and that’s America’s Best Dance Crew.

Actually, the proper title is Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew, but what Randy Jackson contributes isn’t very clear. He’s not the presenter (that honour goes to AC Slater from Saved By The Bell) and he’s not a judge (that’s choreographer Shane Sparks, someone who calls herself ‘Lil Mama’, and ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez. Yeah, I know, but I’ll take All Day Long I Dream About Sex over anything by Timberlake. It has handclaps!). I don’t think Randy Jackson even produces or came up with the concept. He just stuck his name on the thing.

I only very recently caught on to ABDC with a marathon of the first season one snowy day over the Christmas holidays. It’s now at the end of its third series, and this week’s final is between Beat Freaks and Quest Crew, both of whom are amazing.

And that is why I love this show; the talent is unquestionable, and the performances show real passion and dedication. These guys aren’t doing this because they want to be on TV; they’re doing this because this is what they want to do. I wish I’d had that drive when I was a kid. Hell, I wish I had it now.

For your enjoyment, here are two of the best routines of the season, by the two finalist crews. The first is by Beat Freaks, the first all-girl group to make the final. This was from the week when all the groups had to incporporate magic into their routines.

The other finalists are Quest Crew, and this is their semi-final performance for the ‘Hip-Hop Decathlon’ routine (which had five required elements; apparently hip-hoppers aren’t familiar with the term ‘pentathlon’). The athleticism and precision on display is extraordinary, and the routine is ’sick’. (I’m told that’s a term of endorsement.)

For the record, I loved this routine even before the buff guy tore his shirt off.