Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Idol: Top 36 Group 1


Welcome everyone to LIVE Idol! Whew, I'm excited to be back in my element. We start narrowing down the list of people, giving me a chance to grown bonds with our finalists, and find all sorts of ways to make fun of them! And of course, inch closer and closer to my prediction of an Idol winner. Although, the happy news of LIVE Idol comes with some disappointing news as well. For some odd reason, Idol performances will be next WEDNESDAY instead of Tuesday with a results show on Thursday. You have GOT to be kidding me! I can only assume this has something to do with our new president looking for more reasons to put his mug on camera yet again and ruin February sweeps! I went on a rant here about my thoughts on this, but deleted it figuring I'd lose at least 45% of my readership (get it???). My bigger beef with this move to Wednesday is that it will cause me to not give my all to the Idol blog next week. It's just too much to balance a performance blog and the LOST blog in one night! (especially a 2 hour episode of Idol! I have to sleep at some point!) Just so you know...you've been warned!

Anyway, that's next week. Let's talk about what happened tonight! Well it was the first night of 4 judges live. It started off a little rough with Kara just repeating everything Randy said, but she grew a set of her own by the end (kinda). For the most part, instead of Tweedle Dee (Randy) and Tweedle Dumber (Paula) fighting the battle against Simon...we add Kara and her insight to the mix. In the end though, it all seemed to make Simon sound even smarter! Almost like a "THANK YOU someone is finally saying what I'm thinking!"

With that said here was the advice our judges gave to the contestants:

Randy: yo dude...be in it to win it!
Kara: I'm nervous!!! But don't let the nerves get to YOU!
Paula: Blueberries!!! (never gets old!)
Simon: No 2nd chances this year. 3 people going through. Odds are stacked against you! Love the new hair Ryan, you're stalking me.

So we finally got the rules for how these wacky semi-finals are going to work. Highest Girl vote gets a top 12 berth, highest Guy vote the same. Then the next highest vote getter gets in. Huh??? So if 3 guys do great, a girl still gets in? Sounds like we will have a lopsided top 12, but not TOO lopsided. I don't know about you guys, but I'm sensing something very fishy with the way this season is going. And I'm not liking it one bit. The producers seem to have way too much say in who is getting into that top 12. They've arranged the the 3 groups of 12, arranged the order in which everyone sang, and are allowing the "JUDGES" to pick 3 contestants. Hmmm very fishy indeed. All of this is making me not very excited about blogging this season. But since I'm committed, I'll continue. Next year depends on how the rest of the season goes!

Oh and I was told I had to give a shout out to the FLASHY NEW IDOL MICROPHONE! Oooohhhhh Silverrrrrrr. Consider it SHOUTED!

Here is my critique of the 12 performances. Predictions to follow.

  1. Jackie Tohn - 28 from New York - I had high hopes for Jackie coming into this week. She was my REVISED 12th pick for the top 12 after Joanna Pacitti was given the boot (she was deemed ineligible...duh I could have told you that!). I'm not going to say Jackie's rendition of Elvis's "A Little Less Conversation" wasn't entertaining. It sure was. But I think the big red belt and High Top sneakers were MORE entertaining. The girl has pep and is a ball of energy. But we got the impression she was going to be a rocker chick. This rendition of the Elvis tune just seemed a little corny. She was giving some flirty looks to the camera and she let out a scream at one point. She might be a wildcard pick. But I think there's going to be someone else that misses the top 3 tonight that they'll want to give another shot. Too many Judges/Producer favorites in this bunch for poor Jackie to make it. Such a shame. But you never know!
  2. Ricky Brady - 26 from North Carolina - Could this be the most boring guy we've never met? Sure his voice was practically flawless. But he had no charisma and he told us a boring story about serving chicken fingers. This is not the way to make a first impression after practically no airtime prior to tonight. Then he went and sang a song that Elliott Yamin made his own in season 5? "A Song For You" The kicker for me was that I liked the guy, right up until he sang "THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUU" for his final note. Really?????? That was just obnoxious. Maybe I forget that this is a lyric to the song, but I think that was Ricky just trying to be spontaneous. And sorry Ricky, it fell very flat.
  3. Alexis Grace - 21 from Memphis, TN - Based on the competition, she's going to get through tonight. And I did pick her for the top 12! Why? Because she put pink in her hair, and I'm convinced we need someone with pink hair in the top 12 since we've been lacking it since season 3! I thought she sang Aretha's "Never Loved a Man" really well. Great soul, great voice, bluesy. You name it. But she STILL has a hard time pulling off a star image. And I'm sorry Simon, you jumped the gun comparing her to Kelly Clarkson at this stage in the game. That girl was in a league of her own in season 1. And she still blows away this bunch. And before this blog is over, there will be a You Tube clip of her proving this fact! (As it was also pointed out to me, Simon also said Kellie Pickler reminded him of Carrie Underwood. Okay...both are successful in country music. But come on! Carrie is in a different stratosphere!). I'm reserving my judgement until I see Alexis hold her own with the rest of the top 12.
  4. Brent Keith - 29 Blanchester, OH works at a Home Improvement Warehouse -Our resident country boy sang "Hicktown." This was a karaoke performance with a capital CRAP! Had to love that body wiggle he had going on. Bounce up....bounce down...wiggle a bit, back to bouncing. Yikes. Train wreck! He's relying on country music fans to keep him alive. Can I get a show of hands from our Country fans out there who voted for him? (.....crickets.....)
  5. Stevie Wright - 17 from Phelan, CA - She wanted to be on show since show began when she was 9. Ouch, that made me feel too old to be watching this show, let alone blogging about it! Here's a funny idea, let's enter a singing competition and perform a lesser known song by a very popular country artist who is known much more for her songwriting than her awful singing abilities. That's right, Stevie possibly sounded worse than Taylor Swift could ever sound on "You Belong With Me." Brilliant Idea Stevie! Are you sure you're not STILL 9? I felt like i needed a hairbrush and a mirror and....well...hair of course! (I'm just about out of that!) This was ABSOLUTELY AWFUL! And I didn't think it could get much worse. (stay tuned)
  6. Anoop Desai - 22 from Chapel Hill, NC - What is up with all of the dudes singing girl songs this year? Anoop picks a very bizarre choice in Monica's "Angel of Mine," a late 90's pseudo hit. Does anyone ever remember Monica? For some odd reason, I do. This was the most bland performance ever. Granted, everyone loves Anoop. He got a lot of publicity and is a producer favorite. Were you not sure? All 4 judges were HOPING fans would be merciful and vote for him. This show is disgusting me big time. I don't know though. It's going to be tough. I believe he'll be vying for that "next highest vote count." We'll see. And can I get another show of hands who will be following the judges' lead in continuing to call him Anoop Dawg? (.......................more crickets......................)

    Oh and how about Anoop giving mad props to the band? Did anyone see the band out there? Were they hidden somewhere or did they just help with pre-recorded arrangements? Eh, whatever. I'm sure for the top 12 the stage will be even more ridiculous than last year and the band members will be sitting IN FRONT of the contestants this time around. Ryan will be lowered down from the ceiling on some crazy futuristic platform and fly around the studio pointing out all of the new 1080P 1000 inch HDTV Screens all over the room that no one at home will ever see! (ahhh is anyone getting excited? whew...I'm getting sidetracked!)
  7. Casey Carlson - 20 Minneapolis, MN Bubble Tea Maker - Yep, worse than Stevie Wright. Lots of people had hoped Casey Carlson was going to be more than a pretty face. Sorry Shania Twain, that's all SHE is! (please tell me someone out there got that!) She tried to pull of The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" And she failed with a 60's hairdo, awkward facial expression, 60's dance moves and a very weird smile between lyrics. The singing was bland. I don't have as strong a stance as the judges on Police Tunes. Sure they're a great band and Sting is a famous musician. But come on....the dude isn't GOD as much as he thinks he might be. Casey definitely will not be gracing our top 12 this year. Just awful. Flat out awful!!
  8. Michael Sarver -27 from Jasper, Texas Oil Guy! - Well, Mikey's another producer favorite. But I can't lie. The dude IS a likable guy. He's not going to be winning any Idol crowns or anything. But I think people want to see more of him. I think if anything, Anoop doing not so good only helped his changes of getting in. His rendition of Gavin Degraw's "I Don't Wanna Be" was decent. He was kinda off pitch, as Randy said. The judges expected him to be a little more soulful. This is a tough call. Someone has to get in from tonight, so maybe Michael makes the cut? We'll see.
  9. Ann Marie Boskovich - 22 from Nashville, TN - I had her picked as a top 12'er based on blog commenters and outside opinions. I should've stuck with my gut on this one. I'm sorry, anyone that watches Idol should know that NO ONE should EVER try to perform "Natural Woman" again on the show. I can never fairly critique anyone that attempts it. That being said, she did not do herself any service by trying to take it on. Why do I react so strongly? See Exibit K.C.:


  10. Stephen Fowler - 26 from Cleveland, OH - Musician. He promised not to forget the words. And he sure didn't. I really expected to be blown away by Stephen. Not sure why. But when he went ahead and did Michael's "Rock With You" I knew we were NOT in for a treat. Hasn't anyone learned that singing Michael on the show just does NOT work? He wasn't comfortable singing without his piano. So his plan was to rock it out with disco Mike? Sorry, I'm not comfortable writing any more about this!
  11. Tatiana Del Toro - 24 from San Juan, Puerto Rico- Okay, what on earth happened tonight? I am scared out of my mind that Tatiana may actually EARN a spot in the top 12 and not just get there because of Vote for the Worst (naturally, they will help her get in). She went from crazy to serious and back to crazy in a matter of minutes. I couldn't help but laugh at the whole thing. And I'm sure that's what the producers are going for. Starting with the moment she picked yet ANOTHER Whitney Houston song "Saving All My Love for You." Here's the thing, if you get past the craziness, she really isn't a bad singer. The whole thing is just bizarre. The judges are encouraging the crazy to come back out. Ryan is enticing the viewers to vote for her to continue her crazy story. And then Tatiana lets out a little speech at the end " Vote for me America. This is my dream and it's up to you to keep it alive." This girl just has some serious issues in the head. Leave it to Idol to endorse it! There is one spot still up for grabs Wednesday night. And I hate to say it, but she and Michael Sarver might be duking it out.
  12. Danny Gokey - 28 from Milwaukee, WI - If there was any foregone conclusion for the night, it would be Danny Gokey getting into the top 12. They put the guy last, he's the Season 8 poster boy. And I know, I've had his back since day 1 too. But I have to side with Simon on this one. His rendition of Mariah's "Hero" (another female song, but David Cook pulled off Mariah, although he totally changed it up though!) was very good. But Randy, Paula and Kara's reaction to the performance just made me even more disgusted with how season 8 is transpiring. Clearly, they want this guy around for awhile, if not to win it all. And they just totally showed favoritism towards this guy. Paula even said "I have 2 words with hyphens. Sold-Out Arenas" (ummmm Paula???) Wasn't Paula the one who criticized Simon for declaring Carrie the winner and the one who will go on to become the biggest selling Idol winner ever very early in the top 12? Not only was Simon right about Carrie, but Paula...SEMI-FINALS really? The whole thing just smelled fixed. I'll go on rooting for Danny because he is a good singer. But come on Idol! Tone it down a bit!

Whew. I'm exhausted. And I still have to do my picks! Here goes:

Top Male - Danny Gokey
Top Female - Alexis Grace
Next Top Vote - Michael Sarver
Bonus Pick - Tatiana Del Toro

Probably will Wildcard in 2 weeks - Anoop Desai

I just couldn't do it! I cannot in good conscience put Tatiana in the top 12! And I half expect her to end up there. I have hope in America that they will know she's a nutcase. But I know that there are a lot of people out there that despise Idol and want to encourage Tatiana's appearance on the show for the love of train wrecks. And you know what? I can't say I blame them. Especially this year when the show has shown their hand way too obviously! But those are my picks. I like Michael Sarver and I hope he can continue on.

Well that's it kids. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and hope you will forgive me next week when I ramble just a tad less!

Please share your thoughts on what you thought of tonight! I'll be here briefly Wednesday night for my take on the results. See you then!

2 comments:

Ian said...

I don't think the manipulation is that much worse than it has been in the past. I remember in last year's Semifinals Carly Smithson gave a frog-throated performance of "The Shadow of Your Smile" and Randy said it was the "best vocal of the Top 24!", which it clearly wasn't. I didn't actually watch the show back then, but I've heard it was the same drill with everything Fantasia did too.

I think voters are getting wiser to their tricks. We might see some odd results this year because of people who want to go against the grain.

Mike V. said...

Ian,

I'll be the first one to tell you that Idol has always been manipulated. The judges have always shown their favorites. But this year it just seems like they're getting lazy and much less creative about it. They did change executive producers in the off-season and all of a sudden, and they wanted to change the rules to spice things up a bit. But things that seemed to be working (aka top 24 whittled down to top 12 in 3 weeks) were changed back to the old format. These things were changed for a reason. Why did they do this? They explain that there is more talent than ever this year. Okay, maybe that is true. But you look at last night's performances and it's tough to believe that! The best thing I can come up with is that they have MORE control over who gets in. Oh and you read articles like this and it just makes it worse. These people have been out in the reality TV circuit before, have been with labels before (thankfully, they dismissed Joanna P.), you name it. And yes, this happens every year. But it seems more than ever that the producers are tipping the scales in their favor. I don't think it was any accident that Tatiana and Danny were the final performers last night. And come on...the judges have always shown favortism in the past, but last night was ridiculous. They clearly were rooting for the people that got the most publicity in the auditions and Hollywood. And when they didn't all perform up to snuff they resorted to "well, I like you and I hope America votes you through anyway." REALLY??? Even Simon said that! If you're telling these people they have 1 shot to impress in the beginning of the show, then back up that statement. Don't start trying to "convince" America who to vote for.

And then there's the wildcard. This was eliminated in season 2. The Judges are basically allowed to pick 1/4th of the top 12! And it could be people that had lackluster performances in these rounds. In season 2, at least they had performed one more time before the Judges made their pick. This year? Supposedly they are basing it on these performances. So say there are 12 fantastic performances next week and only 3 can get in. There's a chance that the Judges would still put Anoop or Sarver or Tatiana (whichever one didn't make it) in that top 12. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. But with the comments they were making all night, I just got the impression that the judges felt they were safe anyway.

It's just my 2 cents. I agree that the judges inexplicably got behind Fantasia in season 3, kinda like they're inexplicably behind Lil Rounds this year. Maybe I'm just tired of it. But so far, this year seems a lot worse and I think it has a lot to do with the new Executive Producer running the show. Like I said, they seem to be getting lazy about it!

whew...okay I'm done!