I’m Saying “Adios” to American Idol for Good

Steven's default is pervy, J.Lo always looks so concerned, and Randy doesn't seem to understand that it's not cool to refer to people as "dawgs" anymore.

I haven’t watched a single episode of American Idol this season.  Blame it on singing competition fatigue, blame it on the fact that American Idol contestants have no one challenging their belief that they are good singers.  But me, I’m blaming it on the fact that every one of the contestants I have seen sound exactly the same.  I told myself I would watch the top 24 this week and see if any of the contestants sparked anything in me, but after watching the boys on Tuesday I couldn’t bring myself to get through one of the girls on Wednesday (although, on the advice of Dave Holmes at Vulture I did check out Jessica Sanchez and while she was not terrible, if that’s the only talent he chose to highlight with a video in the top 24, it doesn’t bode well for this season).  In general, I just felt that all of the guys were totally bland.  On top of that, the judges added absolutely nothing to the conversation.  They barely said words.  I am embarrassed for everyone involved with the show at this point.

I think I just believe Adam, Cee-Lo, Christina and Blake more. What they say is usually interesting and at the very least I know that they're not judging on looks during the first round. The same can't be said of Idol's first auditions.

Especially because I have been watching The Voice on NBC and it appears to be the exact opposite of American Idol.  It is built on actual singing talent and judges who seem to have something at stake as well.  I don’t know what the age cut-off is on The Voice, but there are few, if any, young teens vying for a spot on the show which makes for far more interesting contestants.  The contestants on The Voice appear to have actually lived lives and bring that experience to their performances.  On top of that, the judges actually have authentic personalities and aren’t afraid to spar with one another and rib each other which is far more entertaining than just fawning all over the contestants.  No, they don’t give cutting remarks to the singers they don’t turn their chairs for, but that’s not entertaining to me so I don’t miss it at all.  My one complaint is that sometimes this show can focus too much on the judges’ themselves.  I’m not the hugest fan of when they perform together because I think it pulls focus from the goal of the show, but I will admit that I like their collaborations with their teams.  Plus the coaching portion actually feels like coaching and not like they’re trying to change their contestants entirely.  Bottom line: the talent is more interesting and diverse and the judges are more entertaining on The Voice.  So I’m saying “adios” to American Idol.

So You Think You Can Dance is BACK!

Being a dancer just looks like the most fun!

So You Think You Can Dance is back and I could not be happier.  This might be the show I look forward to the most over the course of the year.  Oh Cat Deeley.  How I’ve missed you!  Cat is seriously one of my absolute favorite  hosts of all time.  She is gorgeous, charming, funny, clever, quick on her feet and a total fashionista (which means loads of crazy outfits to critique throughout the season).  Mary Murphy is back next to Nigel Lythgoe as the permanent judges for season 8.  Tonight, Nigel (sporting a dapper haircut) and Mary will be traveling to Atlanta where they were joined by Lil’ C and the Bay Area where Nigel met up with Tyce Diorio and Toni Redpath.  The one thing I’ve always loved about SYTYCD is that it tends to keep the focus on the brilliant dancers.  Sure we get the melodramatic criers and weirdly confident strippers, but somehow, the judges usually find a way to celebrate these oddballs and encourage them to continue dancing. . . just not on their show.  And because there are so few reality competitions for dancers, the pool is larger and less diluted.  I just love watching dancers so much.  They can’t help but ooze passion.  Plus, I’m always super jealous of what they are capable of.  The thing about dancing is that it is something that the normal viewer can be subjective about and we know what we like and what we don’t like in our guts, but we need the judges to give the technical assessment and the judges on this show are brilliant at that.  Rarely has this show been taken over by teen girls voting for the cutest boy.  I love that.  I love that the people who vote for this show vote for the dancers that move them instead of the ones that just make their hearts pitter patter.  I’m so glad to have a show with true talent back. Continue reading

American Idol: The Season 10 Finale

It's your top 2 America! Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery!

It’s the finale of American Idol, FINALLY!  It is a little weird that the show is back on Tuesday night (it’s totally thrown off my whole sense of what day it is), but anything that means a new season of So You Think You Can Dance has my vote.  Ryan looked very snazzy in his tux as he announced that this was the battle between “the boy next door versus the Southern belle”.  ”Battle” is a little extreme.  At most, Scotty and Lauren are going to smile at each other real hard.  Also of note, this is the youngest finale match up in American Idol history.  Ryan went into great detail about some sort of vocal emergency Lauren had this afternoon while rehearsing.  In my opinion this is just to give her an excuse for sucking tonight so that when Scotty wins tomorrow the producers can claim that had Lauren been fully healthy she would have had a better chance against him (yeah right.  Girl doesn’t have a shot in hell of winning this thing).  Three rounds of songs tonight: #1 Contestants favorite song of the season; #2 The Idols’ Idols choose (Carrie Underwood for Lauren and George Strait for Scotty); #3 The lead single.  Are you ready for some country?!?  I hope so because that’s all you’re gonna get. Continue reading

American Idol: The Top Three Perform Three Songs

Beyonce is the mentor for American Idol’s final three – is it just me, or have the caliber of mentors really gotten better this year?  The final three will be singing three songs – personal favorites, judges’ choice and Jimmy Iovine’s choice.  That’s a lot of singing.  Let’s get on with it.

CONTESTANT’S CHOICE

ScottyAmazed (Lone Star) Beyoncé was a bit effusive about Scotty, but I’m used to the judges on this show overpraise him.  Apparently, Scotty will be singing in his higher range which sort of scares me.  Way to dress up Scotty.  I think it would be great to see him bust out a nice suit.  I bet he cleans up nice.  I’ll say it again, he’s really grown as a performer since the start of the show.  He’s got an undeniable stage presence and despite the fact that it’s got a tinge of arrogance these days, he puts himself into each performance.  There’s no phoning it in here.  I was not a fan of this song or the way Scotty sang it, but I think that’s my anti-country prejudice coming out again.  (What was up with J.Lo’s hair tonight?  Seriously whack.)  The judges didn’t have anything bad to say to him (of course) and Randy found a way to talk about his own illustrious career (seriously.  Has anyone heard Randy’s version of the song with Boyz II Men?  No?  Good, it’s not just me).  B Continue reading

American Idol: The Top 4, the songs of Leiber and Stoller and Lady Gaga

AMERICAN IDOL: The Final 4: Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, James Durbin and Lauren Alaina. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Last night’s episode of American Idol was a total farce.  As the weeks have worn on, it’s become quite clear that the judges are working with a script.  And in that script the final two will be Scotty and James no matter how badly they sing or perform.  Lauren and Haley don’t have a chance.  Well, maybe Lauren has a chance.  Haley DEFINITELY doesn’t have a chance if J.Lo and Randy have anything to say about it.  I’m actually boiling with fury right now.  Their bullying treatment of Haley is totally indefensible.  Nothing she’s done deserves the kind of deaf criticism they’re throwing at her.  She still has a champion in Steven Tyler, but it seems that he’s only capable of coherent sentences 20% of the time, so I don’t know how much sway he has.  Look, I know that this comes down to America’s vote, but America listens to the judges to tell them what’s good and what’s not.  The fact that the judges are telling them that Scotty and James are amazing every time they’re on stage (when they definitely are not) means that America hears they’re good.  When the judges constantly rip Haley to shreds and force her to go on the defensive in order to maintain some semblance of dignity America hears “don’t vote for this girl”.  Look.  I have proof.

Exhibit A: Continue reading

American Idol: The Top 5 Sing Songs from Now and Then

American Idol Top 5

Ugh.  What a terrible theme.  I sort of wish that the producers would do away with the themes.  Or else come up with something more interesting than “Now and Then”.  What the hell does that even mean?  When is “then”?  Why so vague, producers? Celebrity cam spots Anthony Hopkins (HUH!), Kelly Preston.  Sheryl Crow as mentor is pretty great.  She had some pretty insightful things to say and seemed really excited to be there which was cool.

James Now: Closer to the Edge (30 Seconds To Mars).  I absolutely adore this music video so, good choice James!  It’s not exactly an out of the box choice for James, but still love it.  James’ vocals were a little loud in the mix on TV and we could hear the weaknesses in his pitch much more clearly.  It always surprises me when television shows about music don’t get the sound right.  I mean, James sounded really really bad.  It was almost accapella his vocals were so loud.  And it’s a total bummer.  This could be the end of James (unless of course everyone else gets the same treatment).  I could tell by the audience/judges reactions that they were not listening to the same mix we at home were, but the voters are sitting at home complaining about how off pitch James was, not really wanting to pick up the phone for him no matter what the judges tell us.  D Continue reading

American Idol – Top Six Sing from the Carole King Songbook

The Final 6 (l-r): Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Lauren Alaina, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Random American Idol Intro Musings: Jennifer Lopez looks like she’s wearing an ice skating costume.  Tonight is Carole King Songbook night.  Each of the top 6 will sing one solo and one duet (which means 9 performances).  I can’t believe Carole King has only won 4 grammys.  That seems low.  I love Carole King.  She’s got white-girl soul and she is not a classic beauty but carries herself like one, which I love.  Ryan looks super slick tonight – sort of like an American Bandstand era Dick Clark.  I’m diggin’ it.  Instead of Wil.I.Am, Babyface is helping Jimmy Iovine with the mentoring duties.

First up. . . Continue reading

American Idol: The Top 7 Sing 21st Century Songs

Ladies and Gentleman, your top 7!

The opening of American Idol always gets a bit hyperbolic as the season wears on.  The producers have a lot of time to fill and seem to feel that America will forget that this is the “best season ever” if they don’t remind us of that fact every week.  It gets old and I fast forward through it.  Tonight, the Top 7 will sing songs from the 21st Century (anytime after the year 2000) which is another HUGE category.  For some reason the producers thought it would be a good idea to bring back all of the voted off contestants to sing So What by P!nk.  It was pretty awful.  Like really really bad.  None of their voices blended, it was just a a complete mess (although props to Naima for that kick-ass leap in the air).  Excuse my why I go clean all of the blood out of my ears.  Ahem.  And now back to our regularly scheduled performances. Continue reading

American Idol: The Top 8 Sing Songs From The Movies

American Idol's Top 8

PaulOld Time Rock and Roll (Bob Seger) Paul had a great energy, but there were definitely times when I felt all his flailing around the stage took away from actually singing the song.  He sounded a little screechier than usual and while it was a great way to open the show, I didn’t really like the vocal.  Steven Tyler was gross as usual before saying something totally inconsequential, J.Lo had nothing but positive things to say and Randy said pretty much nothing new.  The judges have been getting some heat from the critics about not being critical enough of the contestants (leading to Pia’s “surprise” exit last week) but clearly, the judges didn’t take note. C

Lauren The Climb (Miley Cyrus) Ugh, I sort of hate this song, sort of love it.  I agree with Jimmy Iovine that Lauren has a prettier voice than Miley (let’s be honest, pretty much anyone has a better voice than Miley) and actually was kind of hoping that Lauren would make me like the song.  It was pretty good.  I still feel like Lauren is completely dead-eyed when she sings and she really shouldn’t have been with this song (it’s not like the topic was out of her realm of understanding) but she had some nice, pretty moments in while she was singing tonight.  B Continue reading

American Idol: The Top 9 Sing Songs From The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Season 10 Top 9 Contestants

This, like songs from your birth year, is a very broad theme.  The contestants can sing any song from an artist that’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  There are 171 performers in the hall of fame.  That’s a lot of songs to choose from.  Steven Tyler introduced us to the theme this week and man, did he read that teleprompter.  That’s really all I can say about that.  Thank God this show is only 90 minutes tonight.  The two hour episodes were killing me!

JacobMan in the Mirror (Michael Jackson)  Jacob started out singing Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye which is an awesome song, but I’m glad he changed his mind because I don’t think I could have handled Jacob’s particular butchering of it.  His statement before he sang that if he’s in the bottom three this week “it won’t be because I picked the song bad, it won’t be because I sang the song wrong.  It will be because everyone in America wasn’t ready to look at themselves in the mirror” was said with a complete straight faced earnestness.  Look, more power to him for believing in himself and in this song (which is a great song, don’t get me wrong) but if Jacob ends up in the bottom three, it could be because America just doesn’t like him.  Onto the actual singing (all my previous comments were written before Jacob’s performance):  The performance was actually pretty restrained considering Jacob was singing it.  I have to say, Man in the Mirror is such a good song (massive props to Siedah Garrett for lyrics AND back up singing), I think it would have been hard for him to screw it up.  This was definitely a “Jacob moment”.  Really good job.  A-

HaleyPiece of My Heart (Janis Joplin) Finally!  Haley has decided to fit into the box the judges have put her in and she just OWNED it!  I don’t know where she gets that bluesy growl, but she really knows how to work it (sometimes a little too often though).  I loved this performance – it had energy, soul, and charm.  Randy tried to backpeddle a little bit and claimed that the judges weren’t asking her to necessarily sing a Janis Joplin song (even though they totally were) but even he couldn’t deny that her performance was right in her comfort zone.  A Continue reading