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The Post-Game Show » alexis grace

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Idol: Jesus Write My Blog

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Before we get down to this week’s show, let’s talk about the Judges’ Save. Last week I posited that the change in the Idol rules would mean the introduction of the X-Factor method, wherein the judges choose which of the bottom two goes home. It’s an excellent method, as it allows for a little more nuance and intelligence than the brutal ‘boot the loser’ system. But it would not fly in America, where you can take people’s votes from them in a general election and they will demur, but if you even hint that the power of their vote could be diluted on a reality TV show, they will start painting signs and polishing their marching boots.

The Judges’s Save is not the X-Factor method; it’s the French Idol method. The judges have the option to save one contestant from elimination before the final five, if they are unanimous. One contestant. Once. This is in case of another Jennifer Hudson or Michael Johns; a contestant who either had one bad week but was otherwise awesome, or who seemed so guaranteed to go through that no-one bothered to vote for them, and deserves a safety net.

Is it a good move? No. It makes for a clumsy and uncomfortable end to every results show as the judges tell us they’re not saving this week’s loser. It drains the pathos from the leaving contestant’s song, and adds not a lot. But is it a terrible scandal? Is it an outrage? No! And yet Michael Slezak at EW.com said it would “nullify the public’s vote”, and James Poniewozik at Time.com called it “un-American”. Un-American! Time.com!

To be clear; people vote for the person they want to win, not the person they want to lose. There is nothing undemocratic about the Judges’ Save. By all means complain that it’s a bad idea, because it is, but it’s not robbing you of your basic rights as an American, you whining idiots!

Anyway, last week we lost Jorge Nunez and Jasmine Murray. Neither was a big surprise. This week…

This week is Grand Ol’ Opry week, which is a fancy way of saying ‘Country week’, with guest mentor Randy Travis, whom I have never heard of. As someone who loves Dolly and Glen and the Flying Burrito Brothers, I fear the sort of country they’ll be performing is not going to be the sort of country I like listening to. I predict a lot of Garth Brooks, a lot of Martina McBride, and probably some Carrie Underwood.

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Michael Sarver is first up, doing some kind of crazy scattershot number that sounds like the Saved By The Bell theme. “When I wake up in the morning / The alarm gives out a warning / I don’t think I’ll ever make it on time”. Fond as I am of Sarver, even I can’t take any joy out of thisweirdness. Paula’s comments, verbatim: “I, you know what, it’s a great Garth Brooks song, and I gotta tell you that, it, to me, allowed, to see you having fun, which made us have fun, and your artistic ability to take a harmonica player, it added charm, it boosted your confidence, and you’re fun. I thought that this is the genre that is, that suits you so well, and (drowned out by screaming crowd).” It’s going to be a good night for Paula tonight. Michael gives Simon some well-chosen sass, which may save him this week.

Allison Iraheta does a song about cheating hearts, but not the Hank Williams song. From rock to country is a shorter walk than many rock fans would like to admit (the difference is a fiddle), so Allison belts it out with practiced ease, and ought to sail through, but girl rockers have almost as much trouble on this show as ‘theatricals’. Ooh, maybe it’s a lesbian thing?

Kris Allen has a sideways Muppet mouth, like Peter Petrelli. This week he is singing, ‘I Am Very Handsome And I Love You; You Do Not Want To Send Me Home’. Unfortunately all the girlies at home will be too moist to want to get up and go to the phone. Oh, kids today all have mobile phones! He’ll be fine, in spite of his ill-fitting trousers, which seem to have given him man-cameltoe. Kris will sing this song every week, and will do very well. I for one am looking forward to his calendar.

Lil Rounds is singing Martina McBride’s Independence Day, which is a song I’ve actually heard of, but I’ve only heard of it because Carrie Underwood sang it on this show. Lil promises to respect the country and not do it R&B style. Lil has not listened to Tom Cruise’s advice in Magnolia: respect the rock; tame the country. Lil Rounds sings like we know she sings. Loudly, competently, and with very little nuance or emotion. Note to Simon and Randy: Lil is short for ‘Lillian’, not ‘Little’.

Adam Lambert is coming out, and we’d better get this party started! Tonight’s outfit; gold jacket, Native American necklace, fingerless gloves. Randy Travis does not understand homosexuals. He does not have the words to express his views on men wearing nail polish. Poor bemused Randy Travis. Adam does an Arabian sitar cover of Ring of Fire while writhing on the stage like a cobra. He does not respect the country. He respects the Bond song. I too respect the Bond song. We will call this Adam Lambert’s low-key, understated week. As Randy Travis has apparently made it charmingly old-fashioned to be skittish around ‘unconventional’ men, Simon takes this as his cue to be an asshole about Adam’s self-indulgence (which is a euphemism for ‘theatrical’).

Scott is blind. We judge him by no other standard than whether or not he’s blind in any given week. This week, he’s still blind.

I’m waiting for Simon to use one of his little predator lines on Alexis Grace. “You’re a minx”, or, “you’re a little devil”, or, “you’re a dirty goddamn whore”. Oh, he’s such a rogue! Alexis’ Jolene is shaky, and not up to her previous standards. It’s just a’ight, for me, for you. I slightly resent that she did Jolene at all, to be honest. You can’t cram Jolene into ninety seconds! It’s disrespectful!

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Hurray, Downey Gokey is singing reckless country anthem Jesus Take The Wheel, from the hit album, Jesus Handle My Responsibilities. Other tracks include Jesus Feed My Cat, and Jesus Stop My Sperm From Impregnating This Girl. Downey is not very good tonight, which is a relief, because let’s face it, we’re all sick of Downey now. Loving his spies-on-safari Joe 90 action figure jacket, though! Is Scott picking the costumes this week?

Novelty singer Anoop Desai wants to sex you up, just as soon as he’s finished his calculus homework. His song is Always On My Mind, which is a great song, yet also incredibly easy to sing, as it only has about three notes going up and down a scale. Singing is slightly out of Anoop’s skill set, but he gives it his best I Am Not Very Handsome And I Want To Rub Up Against You; Please Do Not Send Me Home. The judges cream all over him for no reason I can discern. Please send him home.

Megan Joy Cockring does Walking After Midnight. Randy Travis is impressed that she found something new to do with the song. Specifically, she’s singing it like your ancient maiden aunt after too many sherries, trying to relive her music hall days. It is a truly bizarre and frequently tuneless performance, but after last week’s Rockin’ Robin, I’m not sure how bad this girl needs to be before America will send her home. PS, Megan has flu, and she makes sure she coughs enough to let us all know. She coughs so much, I think I now have Megan’s flu.

Matt Giraud finishes the show. When Matt isn’t singing, he’s sneering in a way that suggests he’s wondering why he hasn’t been declared the winner already. His mouth goes up where Kris Allen’s mouth goes down! Melt them down and stir them in a big pot, and this show would be two weeks shorter! Matt sings some song involving a piano, like last week. It is boring, like last week. I hate this piano bar. Let’s go somewhere else next week.

Allison, Adam and Kris were varying degrees of palatable this week. In a sane world, either Scott or Megan should go home, and neither would get the Judges’ Save, but this is not a sane world, and this was not a good night, so I don’t know what’ll happen. I’d only expect the Save to get used on Allison, Alexis or Adam. (Lil and Downey aren’t likely to end up at the bottom before the final five.)

Idol: The First Cut is the Weakest

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

It’s the first ‘live’ show of the season, and Ryan Seacrest is wearing… a dun-brown sweater and slate-coloured jeans. That’s not TV clothing. That’s not even date night clothing. That’s cleaning-out-the-loft clothing. Are the gay rumours getting to him, so he’s decided to slob down? Ryan doesn’t seem into it tonight. He can’t get into the patter, he doesn’t flinch in the face of Paula’s ramblings, and he doesn’t respond to Simon’s taunting. Don’t you care any more, Seacrest? You are paid to care, you know.

The theme is ‘Hits from the Billboard Hot 100 since the charts began’, which is not a theme, it’s just ‘all commercial music ever’.

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Jackie Tohn opens with a lounge version of Little Less Conversation, and it starts listless and quickly crumbles into crazy. The timing is off, the style is all over the place, and there’s no spark at all. For a contestant who was big on personality, she’s really not showing herself off well. Ryan then conducts the world’s emptiest interview with Jackie’s parents, and it’s clear we’re in for a long, long night. 

Ricky Braddy is next. He’s sort of cute in a Will Young way, and he has that Will Young vibe, if you follow my meaning. He even has Will Young’s stage mannerisms and similar vocal tics. He gave up serving chicken fingers to be here at American Idol. That’s an amazing story, Ricky. I can’t wait for the biopic. The song is Song For You, which I’ve never heard of, but it’s pleasant, and the performance is very smooth.

Alexis Grace is being played by Toni Collette. Alexis is all punky truckstop girl now, and it’s hard to remember how wholesome she was in the auditions. I actually had her confused with someone else at first, she’s changed so much. She’s singing I Never Loved A Man (nope, no idea), and I like it. It’s blues with a country twang, and I could happily listen to that over a cold Martini. The judges love her, so she could be a wildcard contender if she loses tonight.

The post-performance family interviews are really painfully awful, especially the way the singers have to squeeze in halfway through. Clunky and amateurish television, and Ryan just isn’t awake.

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Brent Keith is lovely - a sweet, handsome Southern boy with a lovely smile. Unfortunately he’s a very stiff performer, and whatever the hell country song he’s singing, it does nothing to excite me. I swear, they’re pumping nitrous into that studio, because everyone is soporific, especially the audience, and it just isn’t a very good show. Kara points out that Brent had more soul in the auditions, and she’s absolutely right. Someone needs to be coaching these kids better, because if they pick the wrong song at this point, it’s the only song the audience will ever hear them sing. 

Saucer-faced Stevie Wright is doing a Taylor Swift number in an effort to sound young, having sung ‘At Last’ in the auditions. She is very young, and it shows; the girl is terrified, and her voice is fluttering like a butterfly. She’s trying really, really hard, and it’s sort of endearing, but it isn’t good. Even Paula can’t find nice things to say about it, though she is at least gentle. Simon isn’t. Stevie takes it with unusual grace considering the circumstances.

Time to start fast-forwarding through the trainwreck interviews. Anoop Desai is next, and Indian is the new black. Anoop looks like a software billionaire, and he sings a bit like I’d imagine one might - weedy, whiny and sharp. But at least I actually know his song, Angel of Mine. Which also means I know that he’s mangling it. Paula says she thinks Anoop will be here for a while, and then remembers that only three people are getting through and pulls a rictus grin to cover her doubts.

Casey Carlson has a good recording artist name and a bit of a Vanessa Hudgens look, and she’s singing Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, which, you know, is a proper song. All the signs are good. Then she starts singing, and it’s instantly and obviously a very bad song choice, and she does not have the chops to ride it. It’s beginning to look like bluesy Alexis is going to get a free pass into the next round, because none of these girls can touch her. Paula is torn between offering advice and having a small breakdown. This is weird, as Paula never normally offers coherent advice.

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Roughneck Michael Sarver is next, and please God let him be decent. We need someone to get this series started. But, no. He’s singing I Don’t Wanna Be Et Cetera And So On, and it’s a trainwreck start, and although you can hear what his voice is capable of doing, he’s not doing it. Oh God, what happened to this show? I will say, though, that I think he’s adorable enough that he could still get through.

Ann Marie Boskovich is the girl who sang really well in auditions and then got sent away to put on some lipstick, come back and sing again, for really no reason at all. Tonight she’s doing Natural Woman, which is a very smart song choice. Hit the notes and you can sail through on a song like this. She hits most of the notes but, magically, she makes the song really, really dull. For the first time in my life I’m wondering if I have the strength to watch this show week after week. I need a drink.

Gin in one hand and Dairy Milk in the other, I’m now ready to venture onwards, safe in the knowledge that the horror of Tatiana Del Toro lies ahead. But first, soulful Stephen Fowler, who forgot his words in Hollywood and walked off stage. Remember when Simon said “forget the words and you’re out?” Yeah, apparently not. Stephen’s song is Rock With Me. A little bit of MJ is sure to lift the mood! (Unless there are children present.) But Stephen delivers a banal and pedestrian performance, and I’ve already finished my Dairy Milk. Damn it. 

Here comes Tatiana - and on a night as shitty as this one, the devil could actually come out on top. Some people are obviously enchanted by Tatiana’s psycho craziness and her inability to speak without either giggling or crying. She sings Saving All My Love For You like she’s a man pretending to be Cybill Shepherd, but rather tragically she is actually better than most of the other singers who performed tonight. Vote for the Worst will be disappointed; she is far from the worst. What’s really weird about Tatiana tonight is that she’s shifted her game plan now we’re on the live show; she’s turned off ‘character’ Tatiana and is trying to be sane and balanced, which just makes her seem even more schizo. The fact that she’s now in ‘normal’ drag - even her laugh has changed, and that is just damn sinister - may actually lose her some of the votes she was getting for being ‘crazy Tatiana’.

Finally, Downey Gokey. Will they mention the dead wife? Will she be propped up on the interview sofa? Let’s find out! And even as I type that, the dead wife gets a mention. Also, he’s singing Mariah’s Hero, because of ‘what he’s gone through’. So, he’s going to get the votes, and we don’t even need to hear him sing. But, for the record, he sings serviceably well. Raising the bar, there, Downey! 

Predictions: I think we’re stuck with Tatiana - the girls were mostly so awful that it’s made life easy for her, and a lot of viewers won’t have seen the audition shows. I think Downey is sailing through as well, because the judges overreacted massively to his performance. The third slot should either go to Alexis or Michael, and whichever of them doesn’t get it will be in the running for a wildcard slot. Ricky or Brent could be in with an outsider shot.

I won’t be blogging the results show tomorrow night, so come back next week for more of this tortuous hell.