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The Post-Game Show » andrew garcia

Posts Tagged ‘andrew garcia’

Idol: Madam, He Is Adam

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

It’s an exciting week on American Idol. Officially, it’s exciting because last week the judges used their one-off save on Big Mike Lynche, which means two people go home this week, but that’s not so much a thrilling twist as a clerical adjustment. The real reason it’s an exciting week is because the guest mentor is Adam Lambert.

It’s also Elvis week, but Elvis is dead (by now, surely), so Adam is as close as they’re going to get. Now, I sneered at Miley Cyrus as a judge, because she’s only 17, yet she’s been a star for four terrible years, while Adam has been in the pop business for less than a year, so I’m surely being a big hypocrite.

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But I’m not, of course. Miley Cyrus is a performing puppet. Adam Lambert is a performing artist. The reason Lambert is the first former Idol contestant to come back as a mentor is simple; he understood how to play this contest better than anyone in the show’s history. He can give these kids smart advice that can really change their game. He may inject some life into what has been a pretty dull season. He’s a brilliant choice of mentor.

Before we get down to the performances, I should comment on the judges’ save. I think using it on Big Mike was the right choice. He’s the best male vocalist in the show, and he didn’t deserve to go home yet. I do worry that using the save now means it won’t be there if Siobhan has a terrible week, but it’s better to have the save out of the way.

This week’s performances, from least to most:

9. Andrew Garcia, aka Barrio Elvis
In the mentor scenes, Andrew nearly bored Adam to death with his Hound Dog. Adam told him to, “change it up”. So he changed it to ’still boring, but faster’, and that’s the direction he went with on stage. There are metronomes that rock out harder than Andrew Garcia. This was probably his best week in the live shows, and faint praise has rarely been more damning. (No change.)

8. Aaron Kelly, aka Toys R Us Elvis
What song can a person sing when they haven’t been on the planet long enough to have experienced their first emotion? Blue Suede Shoes! Of course! A song that stomps the stage without really saying anything at all! And that’s what Aaron did this week, with the most milquetoast Elvis impersonation I’ve ever seen. Any kind of toast is wrong on Elvis night. What we need is some deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. (Down 3.)

7. Katie Stevens, aka Sanrio Elvis
Every year the show has a Matt Girard - a contestant I’m so sick of that I just don’t want to write anything about them any more. This year it’s this creature and her grating faux-sassy head bobs. The song is, Baby What You Want Me To Do. I want you to go away, Katie Stevens. (No change.)

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6. Tim Urban, aka Surf Shop Elvis
Adam thinks he pushed Tim out of his comfort zone. Probably when he ravished him in the orchestra pit. The puppet poppet sang Can’t Help Falling In Love, which seems like a good choice for squee-inducement, but Tim’s voice is too low and expressionless to induce the sort of nether-tremors that Kris Allen was able to evoke at his most bedroomy. Adam’s advice - sing some falsetto - was spot on, because it got Tim to do some real singing for a change. Plus, Tim looked absolutely terrified while he was doing it, and that was hilarious. (PS. Good open-necked tight t-shirt choice this week, Tim.) (No change.)

5. Siobhan Magnus, aka Estate Auction Elvis
Siobhan and Adam. That’s a meeting of minds - and bouffants - for the ages. Sadly they didn’t speak to each other only in high-pitched screeches. After her sleepy performance last week, Miss Madness needs to be dragged back to the crazy, and I hoped Adam’s supervision would push her there. And it was crazy, but only in an odd way; she opted for an incomprehensibly smiley Sheena Easton-style rendition of Suspicious Minds. The vocal got stronger, but the smile never left, and her backchat was better than her singing. (Down 3.)

4. Casey James, aka Tackle Shop Elvis
I snicker at Casey’s hick-ness every week, so it tickles me that he chose to sing Lawdy Miss Clawdy, which I feel is a bit of a hick anthem. He didn’t do anything with it, though. He’s one of the most consistent singers on the show, but consistent can be very dull. Also, I feel he needed a banjo. (Down 3.)

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3. Lee DeWyze, aka Home Depot Elvis
Wise old Adam told Lee to shake himself out of his dullness, albeit he put it more diplomatically than that. Dullness is exactly the problem I have with Lee. He’s usually a concrete bag on that stage. He changed that a little bit this weekwith a clever country reinvention of A Little Less Conversation. It worked well enough that I actually enjoyed a Lee Dewyze performance. (Up 5.)

2. Big Mike Lynche, aka XXElvis
Apparently Mike didn’t know In The Ghetto. Has he never watched South Park? Probably better, actually, that he hasn’t. If you can get Cartman’s voice out of your head, this is a good song for Mike - it allows him to use his rich texture and enviable control without going back to his deep well of hot chocolate. A very understated performance, but elegant and well pitched. (Up 2.)

1. Crystal Bowersox, aka Thrift Shop Elvis
Elvis has a huge, huge back catalogue, but of course most of the contestants didn’t dig very far into it (while busily product-placing iTunes). Only Katie, Lee and Crystal avoided the most obvious hits, and only Crystal did the legwork to find a song that was a truly excellent fit. With Saved, Crystal took an obscurity from Elvis’s gospel songbook and put on a churchstorming show. It’s a shame she was the first act on, because you always know there’s not going to be much to keep you up after Bowersox. (Up 1.)

This was probably the strongest week so far, and I attribute that in large part to Adam Lambert. Now we get to boot two people off the stage, and I think odds have to be good that one of them will be Andrew Garcia. The other really could be Siobhan, but Aaron and Katie are welcome to bog off any time. It’s unlikely to be Big Mike, after last week’s save and this week’s performance. Because Tim actually sang this week, I think we get to keep him for yet another week.

What did you think, dear reader? Who do you want to see go home?

Idol: Killing John Lennon (And Paul McCartney)

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I’m a day late this week because I was out having fun last night. Sorry. I’ll try harder to avoid fun in the future. And that starts right now, because this week the kids are singing from the Lennon and/or McCartney songbook, and how much fun can that be? But it could be worse. It could be the Starr and/or Harrison songbook.

All though I’m a day late, the results aren’t in at the time of this posting, so this post is results-free and safe for those in foreign time zones. This week’s ranking, from worst to best:

andrew-garcia

9. Andrew Garcia, aka Misery
It’s noticeable that three women have been sent home three weeks in a row - Didi was sent home last week - and I think all three of them were better than both Andrew and Lee (and obviously better than Tim, but he’s Tim, he’s different). This competition is clearly much harder on the girls. Andrew’s rockajosé production of Can’t Buy Me Love continues his run of songs that make me wish Lilly Scott was still in this competition. (No change.)

8. Lee DeWyse, aka Nowhere Man
Lee chose to sing Hey Jude, which is like a 4×4 off-roader saying, ‘tonight, Ryan, I’m going to drive along a dirt track’. No, really? You’re going to Rod Stewart your way through the Beatles’ most popular pub chant? Wake me up when the ridiculous gimmick gets here. Oh, hey, there’s the bagpiper. (Down 2.)

7. Katie Stevens, aka Honey Pie
You remember those big neon rubbers/erasers that you could stick on the end of your pencil when you were at school? Katie came dressed as one of those this week. Let’s pretend that’s a complement, because that’s as close as I intend to get to saying a nice thing about Katie’s boil-in-the-bag version of Let It Be. It sounded much as I would expect a Taylor Swift version of the song would sound, which means Simon is correct; she went ‘country’. Not country as a country music fan would understand it, but country as a Taylor Swift fan would understand it. (No change.)

6. Tim Urban, aka Golden Slumbers
God bless Tim Urban, my little oasis of shining crap in a desert of regular crap. But I do worry about the boy. Not because he might be sent home - we know he must eventually - but because his sentient shell of alien hair is slowly eating his head. Tim sang All My Loving while strumming a guitar, and if you could describe a vocal performance as ’strumming’, well, he did that too. He lightly and methodically brushed the notes with his uvula. It was probably his best performance. It was still crap. Hurray! (Down 1.)

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5. Aaron Kelly, aka This Boy
With Bowersox and Magnus as the frontrunners, there remains a vacancy in this contest for a ‘dark horse’. This can mean one of two things; a contestant who grows in confidence week after week until he has sufficient nerve to let his talent emerge, or a contestant who bubbles along without any huge disasters until he’s one of the only ones left and that alone gives him momentum. Aaron is a dark horse, but at this point I’m not sure which flavour. The pencil-necked chicken-head-eater was overwhelmed by the size of The Long and Winding Road, but I don’t think he was as bad as the judges suggested. (Down 1.)

4. Big Mike Lynche, aka I Am The Walrus
Did he say his family singing group was called ‘the Lynche Mob’? Really? Really? Let’s set aside the worrying implications of that and talk about how Mike is finally trying my patience. I’ve enjoyed Mike’s smooth soul cheese so far, but his Eleanor Rigby felt much too jazz-lounge insipid. Or, as the judges like to say; ‘commercial and relevant’. God save us. (Down 2.)

3. Crystal Bowersox, aka Ticket to Ride
As a musician who accidentally found herself trapped in a popularity contest, Madam Bowersox probably had an extensive repertoire of Lennon/McCartney songs she could have pulled out of her crocheted Tibetan prayer purse, so it’s disappointing that she settled for the ever-obvious Come Together. It just seems lazy. She could knock this out of the park and still have time to perform the entire Joan Baez Woodstock set list before it touched down again. Stretch yourself, Bowersox. Pull your bowersox up. (Down 2.)

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2. Siobhan Magnus, aka Rocky Raccoon
After a couple of rough weeks where it seemed like Siobhan had lost all her promise, the crazy caterwauling lady needed to come up with the goods this week. The fact that she came dressed as Bjork’s Swiffer was a good sign. The unusual choice of Across the Universe was another good sign, and I think she did a good job with it. Yes, it was slow, and slightly over-enunciated and pinch-nosed, but it was refreshing to hear her without the screeching. Her explanation for why she chose the song was the most articulate I’ve ever heard a contestant give, and I think that took Simon by surprise, which was also lovely. (Up 6.)

1. Casey James, aka Happiness Is A Warm Gun
If they made a cartoon musical about hair metal where all the characters were played by anthropomorphic poodles, the animators might get close to approximating the laughable crimp of Casey James’s blond tangle. It’s my favourite terrible hair on television. But that shouldn’t detract from his charming, tender, acoustic rendition of Jealous Guy, so I suggest listening to this with your eyes shut, or you’ll think Peter Stringfellow is trying to get into your pants. This week Casey made a strong comeback from his previous soulless numbers. That said, I’m not sure how much you want folks to emphasise your ‘authenticity’ when you’re singing Jealous Guy. (Up 2.)

Results come in soon, and they’ve probably already announced the bottom three. My guess is that it’s Tim, Katie and Andrew, but I wouldn’t like to guess who’s going home. Precedent says it’ll be Tim and ‘a girl’ at the bottom, and ‘a girl’ will lose, in which case it’s the end for Katie. Fingers crossed!

Idol: Rhythm & Balls

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

It’s R&B and soul week on Idol. I’m hoping this means they’re performing songs by Cab Calloway, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles (and not Aretha Franklin, because no-one should touch that). I fear that it’s actually going to be Rihanna, Boyz II Men and Jodeci (and Whitney Houston, but no-one should touch that). Let’s find out together, shall we?

Instead of a mentor, they’ve provided a young man who they refer to only as ‘usher’, who will presumably check tickets, hand out programs and show people to their seats. Here are this week’s performances, in order from least loved to most bestest.

didi-benami

10. Didi Benami, aka the Senator’s Murdered Nanny
Didi’s thin reed voice is not at all suited to R&B. She has a nice voice, a folksy tone, but pitting it against the rich texture of Jimmy Ruffin on What Becomes of the Brokenhearted seems hopelessly ambitious, and she looks and sounds like Cheryl Crowe struggling under the weight of Isaac Hayes. I will give her this; she’s very game. If she survives this week, it can only get better from here. (Down 5.)

9. Andrew Garcia, aka Paul ab-Dull
Last week, Simon spoke truth unto Garcia; you are not as good as your one good moment, and we’re no longer even sure how good that moment was. Garcia needs to pull off a miracle to get back into my good books now. Singing Forever by Chris Brown is not going to fix anything. It sounded like a chewing gum commercial. And why is he giving Chris Brown any exposure? If you’re going to sing a soul song by a domestic abuser, sing Fool In Love! (No change.)

8. Siobhan Magnus, aka Madame Medusa
Some serious throwing back going on here with an 80s Chaka Khan song, Through The Fire. Siobhan goes period with the sort of 80s lounge singing style wherein you can never let your mouth close for fear that the lipgloss will cement. I think they must have fixed her hair with a magical can of vintage Aqua Net to get her into character. Unfortunately she sound awful; more Wrath of Khan than Chaka Khan. I thought last week was her off week, so I wasn’t prepared for this. (Down 6.)

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7. Katie Stevens, aka Darth Mallrat
I said no Aretha. Didn’t I say, no Aretha? Katie has actually been at her best doing blues, which is inexplicable given that she has as much soul as a Pez dispenser. Yet this is not blues, this is Chain of Fools, and you don’t attempt to climb Mount Aretha without spare oxygen tanks. This girl has all the spare oxygen of a whoopee cushion. Watching her trying to give it some head bobbing sass is just cringeworthy. Don’t sass me, girl. If you haven’t done your homework, you’re staying behind. (Up 1.)

6. Lee DeWyse, aka Blue Collar Tofu
Lee sang Treat Her Like A Lady, and I don’t know where it’s from (it’s not the Celine Dion song, that’s for sure), but if this was ever an R&B song, he sanded off the sparkling blue paint, took out the white leather seats, and refitted it for the demolition derby. On the one hand, it was probably his best performance. On the other hand, I don’t remember any of his previous performances and I won’t remember this one. In a boring world, even hiccups seem exciting. (No change.)

5. Tim Urban, aka Mannequin Piss
You’re wondering what Tim is doing up here, aren’t you? It’s not because he was any good. It’s because he’s entertaining. I know he’s a troll, and I usually hate those (though he’s a pretty troll) - but it does make me laugh that Tim is still on the show. He never does well with the voters, but somehow he keeps scraping through, and his pretty little face and his weak little voice get flung at another genre that he doesn’t know, doesn’t feel, and cannot do. This week, hilariously, he sang Anita Baker’s Sweet Love, which is one of the great soul seduction numbers. Could he handle it? Not even close! Strained, tuneless and desparate. Let’s do opera next week! It can’t get any worse! In a year of duff contestants, Tim’s performances are now among the ones I most look forward to, and his upbeat responses to the judges’ brutal critiques are kind of charming. (Up 5.)

4. Aaron Kelly, aka the Second Trimester Kid
I literally forgot about the existence of Aaron Kelly. He was on last, and I nearly turned the TV off after Crystal. It was like the producers were telling me I could go home early. Kelly’s song was Ain’t No Sunshine, and the usher gave him some good advice; find something to do with the endless string of ‘I know’s, or we’re all just going to be sitting around waiting for you to unstick the needle. Kelly did OK. I have to start finding nice things to say about some of these contestants because I know I’m going to be stuck with them for a while, and I’m sure I’m stuck with Aaron for the long haul, so that’s the nice thing I have to say about Aaron Kelly. It was OK. A bit patchy. (Up 3.)

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3. Casey James, aka Thin White Earl
Casey wins major points for bringing Sam & Dave’s Hold On, I’m Comin’ to the Idol stage, but he loses points for a milquetoast performance that walks a delicate path between gritty and smooth without ever committing to either redemptive path. I don’t think that song has ever sounded so peaches n’ cream. I suspect that Casey is lazy, and it’s beginning to annoy me. And this was the third best performance of the night. (Up 1.)

2. Mike Lynche, aka Always Big Mike
Mike sings soulful R&B every week. Give him a Christina Aguilera song and it would probably come out as soulful R&B. He’s cheesy, but he’s good at it. Given that this theme is deep into his comfort zone, it’s striking that he chooses to sing an obscure modern song and not something from the Smokey Robinson songbook; Ready for Love by India.Arie. As a result, he’s not as good as he’s been in past weeks, but he is instantly more commercial and less of a caricature, so it was probably a good idea. Simon’s comments bear out my suspicions; this is what they want from Mike. Less talent, more generic marketability. (No change.)

And with that, we are done with all the insipid performances, and we move on to the good stuff, by which I mean…

1. Crystal Bowersox, aka Buskerella
Midnight Train To Georgia! MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA, MOTHERNUDGER! Pinned behind a grand piano (you can’t just wheel one of those down to the platform at Grand Central Station, you know), Crystal seemed rattled at the start of the song, but as soon as she knew she was ditching the piano, she was able to swagger into position and take the room. While my brain couldn’t quite accept the sight of the Reverend Dame Bowersox in a red dress and heels, she sounded as great as ever, and I think she finally understands that she’s in a singing contest, and that she’s competing, and that she’s winning. Let’s hope that Siobhan Magnus comes back next week to put up a fight. (No change.)

The score at the end of the night, by my count, was six proper R&B songs out of ten, which is not bad going, but one of them was Aretha, and I was very clear about that, and most of the rest were performed by terrible singers. I assume Tim will continue to hold steady in the bottom three, and he’ll be joined this week by Didi and Andrew, possibly Siobhan, whom the judges would surely save. I hope we lose Andrew. I’ll be sorry if we lose Didi. I’ll be devastated if we lose Tim.

Idol: Billbored

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Tonight’s theme was supposed to be ‘teen idols’, but it was changed belatedly to ‘Billboard #1s’, aka ‘close your eyes and stick a pin in it’. I like to imagine that one of the contestants had a diva fit and refused to sing a Taylor Swift song, but as none of the contestants ended up singing a teen idol song, I sadly can’t decide who to pin the ‘difficult’ label to.

Perhaps the most likely candidate is this week’s mentor, prodigious Vocoder-voiced marketing asset Miley Cyrus. Maybe she’s decided it’s time to throw off the heavy shackles of her ‘teen idol’ identity (well, ‘tween idol’) and redefine herself as a serious artists. Honestly, teenagers! You will notice, in the mentoring scenes, that the former Ms Montana is wearing a dress so short that her age of consent is showing.

Cyrus is an invaluable guide for these contestants, because who else can speak with such expertise about having their youth destroyed in order to become a micro-managed record company asset? Miley probably slipped a note into each of the contestants’ hands that said, in crayon, ‘Run and never look back’.

Once again I’m ranking the contestants from worst to best. My assessments are not necessarily based solely on this week’s performances, but that’s what I’ll be talking about. Oh, and as it’s performance night, not results night, I won’t be revealing the results this week, so as the Blue Erster Cult once said, don’t fear the spoilers.

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11. Paige Miles, aka Bushbaby
Paige sang Against All Odds, which could almost be considered deft given that she’s clearly doing the Mariah Carey version, yet it’s the Phil Collins original that was the Billboard #1. But it’s not deft, because she was awful, and when the judges called her awful, the audience could barely summon a boo. The poor girl was drowning in the song, and given that she was bottom three last week, this should be her last week in the contest. (Down 5.)

10. Tim Urban, aka Crappercrombie & Fitch
The Timbot has been programmed with a series of gestures and swivels downloaded from years of ‘hot young musical thang’ video footage, from Elvis to the Jonas Brothers, but sadly machine technology is not yet sophisticated enough for the emulation to look organic, and Timbot’s stage slide looked like a Star Trek ensign doing the ship-shake tango on a wet floor. Disastrously, Tim is wearing a jacket this week, so we can’t even admire his biceps or his extraordinarily tiny waist. The song was billed as Crazy Little Thing Called Love, but I have heard that song, and this was not it. (Up 1.)

9. Andrew Garcia, aka Straight Down Now
I imagine Mike Lynche would do a pretty good Heard It Through the Grapevine. He’d keep it Motown. He’d keep it slick. He’d keep all the original notes. Andrew Garcia doesn’t do any of these things. His performance is the aural equivalent of cardboard salad. I think he thinks it’s sexy, but it’s just… MILEY CYRUS SPIT OUT THAT GUM RIGHT NOW! Young lady, you are on television! Have some class. You’re not just Billy Ray in a dress, you know. (Down 1.)

8. Katie Stevens, aka Miley Cyrish
Katie can learn so much from Miley, who is a little over two weeks older than her. Those two weeks give a person a completely different perspective on life. In auditions, Katie did an impressive rendition of Etta James’s At Last. I don’t know what happened to that girl, but I think she’s Benjamin Buttoning at a rate of one trimester a week. Katie sounded flat and strained, but it was a Fergie song, so maybe it was meant to sound like that? (Up 4.)

7. Aaron Kelly, aka Kid Ganglion
He has tonsilitis, or laryngitis, or snivelitis. I don’t know or care. He’s astonishingly boring on the best of nights, and this was a bad night. His I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing was dependably dull and wholly unmemorable. (Up 3.)

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6. Lee DeWyse, aka Generic Supermarket Brand
A peculiar jazz arrangement of The Letter allowed DeWyse, who has the air of a waxed orang-utan, to lumpenly bump around the stage like a simian Michael Bublé. Yet the vocal was the same coffee-grinder rocker stuff we’ve come to expect from him. It’s not that Lee is bad, it’s just that this is airtime that could be better used to advertise Dr Scholl’s skin tag remover. (Up 3.)

5. Didi Benami, aka Folksteady
Did’s rendition of You’re No Good makes me think we have a potential Nancy Sinatra on our hands. Nancy always stuck safely within the limits of her voice, but she had the looks and the style to sell her songs. Didi is no Nancy just yet, but that’s where her safe zone lies. She had technical problems and a clod-footed shuffling dance style this week, but I think she was better than the judges gave her credit for. (No change.)

4. Casey James, aka Redneck Messiah
The cornstalk was on fair form this week with a faithful rendition of Huey Lewis’s Power of Love. He walked through it and didn’et exert himself in the least, but his voice sounded good. Certainly, there were more offensive Texans in the public eye this week. (Up 3.)

3. Siobhan Magnus, aka Tuney Loon
After another long week buying toy soldiers on eBay so she can suck off the lead paint, Siobhan Magnus took to the stage with a badger brush up-do and a poorly chosen Stevie Wonder classic, Superstition. It was too orchestrated, too arranged for Magnus, whose golden moments have come in her stripped and spooky performances. Here she was fighting with the brass section and unleashing some fearsome screams. It wasn’t right. This was her ‘off’ week, and she was still better than almost everyone else. (Down 2.)

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2. Mike Lynche, aka Big Mike
Mike Lynche is a whole big bucket of cream coffee. Even Starbucks doesn’t serve in these sizes. When A Man Loves A Woman is a safe choice, but the performance was smooth, soulful and sincere. I like Big Mike more each week, because although he never offers any surprises, he always delivers. He’s the UPS of American Idol. (Up 1.)

1. Crystal Bowersox, aka Gypsy Ford Cortina
Dame Bowersox is seven actual years older than Miley, and about seventy musical years older than Miley, and you just know they would never normally even make eye contact in the Mean Girls canteen of life, so I applaud Crystal for not sending the little snit upstairs to play with a Bratz Terrifically Tacky Tramp Stamping Playset while she smoked dope in the garage with her friend Snake who owns a pick-up and is feeling vulnerable because his brother is in Afghanistan. Anyway, Crystal sang Me And Bobby McGee, but not much of it. Mostly she just riffed and noodled around it. It was good, of course, but the Bowersox is capable of better. (Up 1.)

This was a terribly weak week for Idol, though perhaps par for the course at this stage in the competition. I would be very surprised if Paige Miles survives the week, but Tim and Katie seem like solid contenders for the bottom three, and Didi is pretty, so I doubt she has many fans. I have a suspicion that Siobhan is also capable of attracting a lot of antipathy, so a weak week for her could actually put her at risk.

Do you agree with this week’s rundown? Am I too kind to Big Mike? Too cruel to Lee DeWyse? Let me know in the comments section.

Idol: These Are Your Contestants

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

This year’s American Idol is finally down to a manageable number, which means I can finally tolerate blogging about it. Up until now, there has been too much filler on stage. Too many packing peanuts, no personalities. And because the votes are spread so thin, anyone could go home any week - as proved last week when smoky-voiced witch woman Lilly Scott was prematurely sent home - so it’s barely worth forming an opinion about these people.

Of course, I did have opinions. Of the top 24, I was sorry to see Latino mole man Joe Munoz and wannabe rubber Jagger doll Tyler Grady kicked out so quickly - they weren’t going to win, but Munoz was better than most of the boys and Grady was more interesting. Asian crooner John Park showed great potential in auditions, but was a sucking vacuum on stage. Haeley Vaughn had a lot of charm, and Michelle Delamor had talent, but they were also both ethnic, and that never helps. By my count, ten of the top 24 were ‘contestants of colour’, and seven of those went home in the first three weeks. It’s always easy to get the minorities out when they haven’t had a chance to become people yet.

Now that we’re down to 12, I’m bothering to care a little more. So here are my thoughts, in order from least to most favourite.

12. Katie Stevens, aka Rinkydink Girlchild
You can see in her face that Katie doesn’t know what she’s still doing on the show. She’s a weak runt kitten that should have died weeks ago. Her version of Wild Horses was like watching a goldfish with a gun floundering on a pavement. I’m struggling to remember why I had nice things to say about her at the audition stage.

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11. Tim Urban, aka Crap Efron
I find the continued presence of Tim Urban on this show kind of hilarious. He was brought in to the top 24 as a replacement at the last minute and he should have gone straight back home again, but week after week his dimpled smile, his dewy eyes and that ridiculous mound of hair have kept him in. The shirtless photos of him on the internet can’t have hurt. So long as he keeps wearing really tight sweaters, he has a chance to stay in. But his voice is shaky and soulless, and as a performer he’s so wet and floppy that I assume he must also be lemon-scented and Swiffer branded. But I’ll give him this; he’s good-humoured about the mistake his life has become.

10. Aaron Kelly, aka Rinkydink Boychild
Completing the troika of contestants who have no idea what they’re doing on this show. He looks like a young Ed Norton squeezed through a toothpaste tube. He may actually be Ed Norton, smuggled onto the show to prep for a role. He can’t be here based on talent.

9. Lee DeWyse, aka Canless Meat in a Can
So uninteresting. Solid, but so dull. He simply never gets started. When Simon trots out his ‘you sound like a pub singer’ line, Lee DeWyse is the Platonic ideal of that concept. I suspect that Lee is a Chicago attempt at a Frankenstein’s monster, moulded together from breeze blocks, toilet roll tubes and a thick paste of corn grits. Corn grits without the butter.

8. Andrew Garcia, aka Guy Who Did That One Good Song That One Time
Remember that one time he did Paula Abdul’s Straight Up as a ballad? Remember how good that was? You’d better, because Andrew Garcia has been coasting on that performance ever since. He tried to recapture the magic with a reinvented Genie In A Bottle, but it didn’t work, and this week’s Gimme Shelter was unforgivably boring. It becomes increasingly clear every week that Andrew Garcia had one good trick in his repertoire, and now he’s all used up. But it was a good trick.

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7. Casey James, aka The Shirtless Streak
Casey James is proof that you can have a weak audition and go on to be a contender, which shows how unreliable the audition process is. This blond ratty white Jesus lookalike only got through because he took his shirt off and everyone but Simon thought he was a good sport. Never mind that he has a body like a gnawed corn cob! Since the auditions, he has improved a great deal, though he’s sliding  a little lazily into an easy country groove.

6. Paige Miles, aka Miss Teeth
Paige can really go either way. She has a lot of personality, but her version of Smile last week was shaky and badly arranged; her Honky Tonk Woman was much better, but may be as big as she can go. Even so, I like her a lot in principle. She’s sweet and cheerful, and with her big eyes and round face she looks like a Sanrio character. But she should never again wear a shorted safari suit. No-one should.

5. Didi Benami, aka Jo-Beth Sweetums McGee
Didi is the girl-next-door type, but let’s not hate her for that. I think she has potential. She tries too hard to force that 60s girl singer sound that’s so in fashion at the moment, but I suspect that country is more her thingdawg. (Thingdawg is Randy-ese for ‘forté‘.) If she stops pushing the vocals and tries to sing to her strengths, she could be very good.

4. Lacey Brown, aka Baby Cougar
What I like most about Lacey Brown is that she looks like the young white trash waitress in a roadside biker bar, all leather skirts and meth breath and a baseball bat always just in reach. But she sings with this lovely sweetness that’s just on the right side of cloying babydoll cute. There may be a rocker beneath the surface, but I think her distinctive look is a suit of armour and there’s a terrible lack of confidence under the surface.

3. Mike Lynche, aka Big Mike Lynche
Mike is the only guy singer that I actually like thus far, in spite of his abandoning his wife while she was giving birth so he could be on this show. Last week he sang Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work as a tribute to his wife. It was an extraordinary choice, but he made it through the falsetto parts and the parts where there’s not really much melody to grab hold of and acquitted himself brilliantly. This week he sang Miss You, which isn’t much of a song, but still out-sang most of the competition with his gospel riffs. Hopefully he’ll stick around, but that’s a lot to ask for a black dude on this show. He should stop trying to dance, though.

crystalbowersox

2. Crystal Bowersox, real name Mary Jones, probably
Simon was criticised for comparing Bowersox to a busker, but she is a busker. I mean, both in an actual sense - she is a busker - and in an abstract philosophical sense - she is the embodiment of buskiness. She is the busker queen. Crystal Bowersox has never seen American Idol, and it’s clear that she’s baffled by the whole process, from the tortured group performances to the offensively awful Ford ads. She’s what happens when a musician accidentally walks onto the show. Crystal’s stripped-down, Americana numbers are dependably great, and in all likelihood this year’s show is hers to lose. But she’s not my favourite this week.

1. Siobhan Magnus, aka Solid Gold Crazy
Siobhan is my favourite. I love Siobhan. She is a kook. I think Siobhan is a tiny mouse in a Billie Piper suit, trying to operate the controls that will allow her to pass for a real girl, but the controls are all slightly too far away from each other, so she can’t quite make it look smooth and convincing. There is something detached, peculiar, and massively over-medicated about her. In fact, she brings back the madness we lost when Paula left the room. I thought her House of the Rising Sun (which she sang as a boy) was an Adam Lambert moment, but this week’s operatically gothic Paint It Black blew that out of the water. When she sings, that little mouse has complete mastery of the controls. Delectably daffy.

If you don’t know who got sent home this week, look away now. But before I get to that, a few comments on the judges, who broke new ground this week. First, Kara said something that wasn’t wrong (that Mick Jagger put passion in his songs- it wasn’t original either, but it wasn’t wrong). Simon contradicted her anyway, but it’s a reflex, he can’t be blamed for that. And second, one of the judges made a gay joke that wasn’t homophobic. Admittedly, it was Ellen, but I’ll take what I can get. Unchanged since last year; Ryan Seacrest is still a twat.

This week’s loser was my fourth favourite, Lacey Brown. We will never know if she could have come out of her leopard print shell and rocked the hizzouse.

Whether you agree or disagree with my rundown, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the top 12. Do you love Tim Urban’s dimples? Do you hate Crystal Bowersox and her ‘credibility’, whatever the hell that is? Let me know.