Let’s Go To the Movies

Forgive me if I’m not myself, folks. (You guys pronounce the “L” in “folks”, too, right?) I was just folding a few towels from my laundry basket when I was accosted by a spider lying in wait on my hand towel. I think my dignified and calm response was to flick the towel away from me as fast as possible and scream. It then took me about half an hour to fold the rest of the items in my basket as I had to scour every inch of every item for a similar little hitchhiker.

The downside? There are many, not the least of which is that now I feel that the little guy is crawling all over me. This results in an involuntary shiver, sometimes when I least expect it. Good thing I’m not a waitress, eh??

The upside? I’m fully awake, even in this late-ish hour, to bask in the wonder that is American Idol Top 8. The blood is pumping, the adrenaline has kicked in and I’m fully ready to channel my heebeejeebees into the world of music and reality television. It just might take me longer since I have to glance up every once in a while to look around the room and make sure I’m not being watched by arachnids. K?

Last week, you might remember, was the “shocking” elimination of Pia Toscano. I think my feelings are clear on this subject and lest I incur my father’s wrath again, we’ll move swiftly along. (ahemitwasn’tTHATshockingahem)

Word on the street is that Jennifer Lopez is the World’s Most Beautiful Woman. No disrespect to our beloved J. Lo, but I’m kinda wondering if this title means “world” as in “the entire globe of all races and peoples” or if it means “world” as in “America is the center of the universe, and therefore our most beautiful woman is the most beautiful woman in the world.” Either way, having a title like that is a LOT of pressure. Not the least of which is a huge spotlight glaring in your eyes while you’re trying to do your job and critique a singing competition.

Speaking of pressure, how ’bout those Idoloonies? Last week we had such phenomenal performances that I was crossing my fingers that tonight’s show would live up to the hype. You know, like the second Bourne movie. NOT like the second Matrix movie.

In the “pro” column, we have Will.i.Am’s return as mentorslashcomedian.

In the “con” column, we have Paul’s suit.

And in the “pro” column, we also have this little gem: “I’m convinced that Steven Tyler shops at Stein Mart.” – Polly

Okay. And…..ACTION!

Paul McDonald

“Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Segar
Movie: Risky Business

I’m a little torn. On one hand, I want to know as much American Idol behind the scenes information as possible because, well, I’m like that. On the other hand, do we need to know the singer’s process for how they are mentally approaching their performances? I mean, this is the second time that Paul McD has told us that he’s thinking of his time on stage as “my encore after a show”. Okay. That’s fine. Do what you gotta do to give us a good performance…but hearing it just takes away a little of the magic for me.

Also, I’m becoming increasingly curious what’s under Jimmy Iovine’s hat. Is he balding? Does he have a receding hairline? Waiting for hair plugs to fully adhere to his scalp? Or does he just think the baseball cap looks cool and helps him relate to the youngsters under his care? It could also just be a fashion statement. And I gotta say, I prefer his to Paul’s! But really. I wonder if we’ll find out on finale night?? Something to look forward to, people. Something to look forward to.

I love how into it Paul gets in his rehearsal time in the studio. I also love how Will.i.Am banters with Jimmy. Did anyone else notice those gem-encrusted shoes he was wearing? Dude had some major foot bling!

Paul’s performance was impressive! The fact  that he commanded the performance even with all the things going on onstage (you gotta know that Paul got that sax player’s digits). And then, suddenly, as if it came from thin air Paul had a tambourine in his hand. Where did it come from? Was that really necessary? It took it to an uncomfortably folksy place…visually at least. Otherwise, I couldn’t find anything wrong with Paul’s performance. And in hindsight, he was my favorite of the night.

Oh, Ryan. Seriously?

Ryan: “If you liked sax with Paul, it’s 1-866-Idols-01…”
Paul: Shocked laugh. Sidelong glance at Ryan. I could almost see his thoughts “Is he allowed to say that? Isn’t a family show!”

Lauren Alaina

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
Movie: “The Hannah Montana Movie”

Hey, Jimmy. How’s it goin’, buddy? Okay, so you’re right…to some extent, Pia’s votes are up for grabs. But I don’t know how painting Lauren as a cold-hearted snake eager to gobble up the still-freshly departed Pia’s votes helps her at all. Maybe give that advice OFF camera? Lauren’s reaction made me love her, but Will.i.am’s random insertions throughout Jimmy’s “take Pia’s votes” speech I loved more.

Will.i.Am: “Snatch ’em up.” And then just when you think he’s done: “Put ’em in a bag.”

One of the best quotes of the night has to be his: “If you steal them, they’re not yours. Don’t steal them, invite them. ‘Cause then if they’re invited then you got ’em and you can sell them whatever you want. You can make ’em little cupcakes, you can make ’em like spaghetti’s and stuff. You know what I mean…don’t steal ’em. Invite ’em.”

Okay then!

Last night, Lauren looked amazing. And that Miley song is deceptively hard to sing and she absolutely nailed it. She made subtle changes to the melody, inserted the faint glimmer that’s left of her personality, and moved around the stage a bit while doing it. Now, I didn’t love the slide up to the note at the end of the first chorus. But, she hit that key change and after her performance I felt some of her sparkle come back. And I’m not just talking about her fantastic eyeshadow. Still, she’s not the exuberant girl we first saw. Maybe we can hope for more next week.

BTW, if I put together all the people who the judges were SO SURE about on “Day One” all of the Hollywood round would be unnecessary. I’m just sayin’.

Stefano Langone

“End of the Road” by Boys II Men
Movie: Boomerang

And now we come to the part of our show where Stefano gives us all a lecture about what separates the good artists from the great artists. Are you ready? It’s the “performance”. First of all, it feels like Stefano is angling for a seat at the judges table. Second of all, I take issue with the thought that there is only one difference between good and great musicians. There are lots of factors!

Psst! Did you see Ryan leave Stefano hanging before they cut to video? Stefano put out his hand to shake Ryan’s hand and Ryan wasn’t paying attention at all.

Whoa, Stefano. Emotion does not mean “play with your eyebrow configuration”. I thought his performance tonight felt a little overwrought. He was definitely at the top of his range and while he pulled it off, I think it could have benefited from a half-step down. Gosh, he did hit that money note, though. If only that was the image I was left with rather than the final image of the head tilt with a full view right up his nose and then a settle down into a “senior picture” pose. Did he do a good job? Yes. Did I love the performance? No.

You know what is flabbergasting? The fact Randy managed to brag about his connection to a Boys II Men  singer and compliment Stefano all in one breath. It’s also amazing to me how J. Lo managed to call attention to how she was right about her critiques and compliment Stefano all in one fell swoop. This just in, judges. This is not about you. It’s for the kids!

Stefano. Dude. Enough with the “we gotta come out and do what we can do each week and blah blah.” Thank goodness Ryan fed him the right answer with a stage whispered “We’re here to win!”

And for the record, I think Stefano’s best performance was the one that landed him a wild card spot. Who’s with me?

Scotty McCreery

“I Cross My Heart” George Strait
Movie: Pure Country (not to be confused with “Country Strong”)

Scotty is such a delightful human being. I just had to say that because even though I hate country, the fact that he’s the one singing it makes it bearable.

Our dear Jimmy Iovine took a page out of Randy’s repertoire of go-to phrases with his comment: “You could sing the phone book”. Okay, let’s break this down because it’s something we’ve heard a LOT over Randy Jackson’s term presiding over American Idol proceedings. Practically, it’s kinda hard to sing numbers. And some people have some wacky hard-to-pronounce names. It’d be real hard to sing the phone book.

Scotty enlightened us by telling us he was getting back to his country roots. Pardon me, but isn’t every week about his country roots? The only week it wasn’t about country was last week and even then, he was getting back to his Elivs roots.

I appreciated that Scotty continues to stretch himself to be comfortable in a higher range. This week, though, he got a little lost in the background singers. His performance wasn’t one of his best, but he hit a nice end note and the movement and shape of the song seemed more effortless. 

I wish he sang a style I liked. 🙂 It’s becoming my goal to get him to sing “Desperado” for the finale. Don’t you think that’d be good?

Casey Abrams

“Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole
Movie: The Boy with the Green Hair (?)
(I’m guessing because that was totally cut off in his intro video and I, long story, no longer have the capability to switch to close captioning on my TV at a moment’s notice.)

Casey! Two pieces of advice for you:

De-gel! That hair is meant to roam free.

De-makeup! We should not be able to draw a connection between you and Casper.

The no-holds-barred interview with Ryan revealed that Casey is a fan of a place called Cafe Aroma (“They have the best food”) and he’s a picky eater. I’m kind of surprised that Idol allowed a restaurant free publicity on national TV. But maybe they’re hoping other restaurants will jump on this band-wagon and make Idol more infamous than it already is. Greedy producers.

Casey waffled a bit about which song to choose. Jimmy Iovine’s advice to sing “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins was summarily dismissed and Casey decided upon the more contained, jazzy “Nature Boy”. For the record, I would have downloaded “In the Air Tonight”. I cannot say the same about “Nature Boy”.

Jimmy seemed less than pleased and told the camera so: “If you want to win this competition, you need to take the help at this point and Casey chose not to. So. He better be right.”

Casey took the stage, played the opening note on his bass and instantly I was transported into a hotel lounge. I’ve never even BEEN to a hotel lounge with music like this, but I’ve seen movies. And isn’t “the movies” the theme for the night? 🙂

Casey valiantly tried to keep his vocal grit in there, but it felt a little forced. I think that the song would have benefited from more simple piano accompaniment (except the interlude, which was pretty brilliant). He was spot on vocally. It just wasn’t my favorite. And turning his head on the last note to look at which note he was playing on his instrument was disruptive to the end and therefore the final impression that we were left with.

The judges loved it. The audience loved it. Everyone loved it (except, I have a feeling, Jimmy). And he was SO skilled. But I was left wishing he had done something different. That song did nothing for me. But I still love Casey and the fact that he was overcome with emotion in the backstage interview. I almost had to laugh with his monotone “I’m elated”.

P.S. Who the heck is Esparanza?

Haley Reinhart

“Call Me”  by Blonde
Movie: American Gigilo

Haley, I love the dress but it’s REAL short. And the boots have GOT to go.

Her first note was a little iffy and I couldn’t hear half the lyrics in the song. I couldn’t tell if that was a sound mix issue or if it was that she was returning to her mumbling ways. Some of her stylizations were a little shaky on pitch, but Haley is an amazing vocalist. And because she is, I have to agree with Randy that this song wasn’t a showcase for her voice. All in all, her arrangement was a nicely tweaked version of the song.

At least she has a plea from the Most Beautiful Woman in the World to keep “America” from sending more girls home. Let’s hope that sticks, ’cause I’d hate to see Haley go this week.

Jacob Lusk

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel
Movie: The Pursuit of Happyness

Jimmy took Jacob to the woodshed for preaching at the people (“it’ll be because America wasn’t ready to look themselves in the mirror”) without having an album yet. Newsflash: Even if he had an album out, that wouldn’t have changed anything. Sufficiently browbeaten, Jacob felt that he had to do Jimmy’s song choice. A song also done by a one Clay Aiken pre-flat ironed hair era.

I think Jimmy was right to advise Jacob to choose a different song so that he wasn’t “corny”. And Will.i.am’s brief and helpful recitation of things that can be made out of corn took things one step further. (Cornstarch! Cornmeal! Corn Syrup!)

I noticed right away how subdued Jacob was on stage tonight. And in his usual style, he kept swallowing the lyrics. But boy, this guy has a range. And when he projects, it’s pretty amazing. There were a few pitch wavers, but nothing huge.

Holy teeth, Batman! I’m convinced he has more than most people! And is he wearing lip gloss?

I still want Jacob to be gone already. But he did a good job with the song. If only I could say the same for SteTy’s critique in which he referenced crescendos and innuendos. Um, I think you might mean “decrescendos”, SteTy.

James Durbin

“Heavy Metal” by Sam Hagar
Movie: Heavy Metal

Oh, boy was his rehearsal in the studio a hot mess. It began with the ill-advised outfit…a weirdly fitting striped tank top with skinny jeans. It was totally “jailbird meets emo”.

THEN, we had the verbal altercation between Jimmy and James:

James: “You and I both know that you can’t hear the potential of a number one hit song just hearing it on a piano.”

Jimmy: “Who can’t?”

Will.i.am: “Yes, you can.”

Jimmy: “Do you think I’m an accident? I’ve heard a song BEFORE it was on a piano and knew it was a hit. Somebody was just humming it.”

James: “I don’t want to be just another face in the crowd. If I go out, I feel like I’m going out on top.”

Whew. TenSION CITY. Somebody bring in some aroma therapy and the American Idol therapist.

James had the final word on the subject: “It all just comes down to giving metal a chance. Give metal a chance, America! I’m making wristbands and flyers…give metal a chance!”

Okay, James. But only because you asked so nicely.

Not being a heavy metal officiando myself, I wasn’t a fan of his performance. First of all, it felt like my volume setting was broken. It was just all loud all the time. And maybe that’s what metal is…can’t say I’m well versed in that particular realm. But it wasn’t enjoyable.

And in a singing competition you’re going to give a 20 second electric guitar interlude where you do not so much as hum a single note? Seriously. I was a little confused if I was voting for Zach-the-guitarist or James at the end of the whole thing!

Please, James. Take it down a notch. I don’t want to see you go home, ‘k?

Well, what did you think? Did this week match last week? If nothing else, we’re getting a fine education on what it means (at least in the Idol universe) to be an “artist”.

You might be an artist if:
1. You wear a suit comprised of seemingly reproducing embroidered flowers.

2. Flout Jimmy Iovine’s advice publically.

And I just have to say one other thing: what movies are kids watching these days? Some of them were COMPLETELY random.

Haddock out!

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One thought on “Let’s Go To the Movies

  1. Erin says:

    I kept wanting to tell J-Lo “You have something on your dress,” How embarrasing for her!
    I also thought of a great drinking/cupcake eating game. Every time J-Lo interrupts one of the judges or Ryan, you drink/eat a mini cupcake. Which ever one you choose, you’re sick by the end of the show.
    Nature Boy is also from Moulin Rouge. Nat King Cole is my favorite ever, so I was gald Casey did this.
    I really wish Scotty had done the song he started with. It sounded really nice when he was practicing. I found the one he did to be b-o-r-i-n-g.
    I couldn’t understand any of Haley’s words either.
    Also, did you notice that when the lights went down and J Lo was the focus, Ste-Ty leaned into the spotlight? Silly man. Also, they always look like they’re about to kiss when they talk to eachother. I think he might have an issue with personal zones.
    Those were my thoughts for the night.

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