American Idol gave me exactly what I deserved. I railed against them for bringing in mentors that today’s viewers (and the Idols) could not relate to. So what do the Idol producers do? They give me Gwen Stefani Week, and not surprisingly ('cause my karma is for “S” — I could be Earl’s stand-in, truly), the show was decidedly awful.
The palette of songs to choose from is probably the culprit here. Seacrest claimed the Idols were singing either No Doubt songs, songs from the '90s, or songs that inspired Gwen. O… kay. So you brought Gwen on to rope the moderns but don’t require the Idols to only sing No Doubt or Gwen-solo songs? Why bother then? I wanna hear Haley try to gam her way through “Spiderwebs”. Or LaKisha bring it big on “Ex-Boyfriend”. “New” would have been a perfect choice for beat boxer Blake. And I would have paid green cash money to hear Sanjaya sing “Just A Girl”, even with the hair-saster.
The show had no rhyme, reason, or rhythm. Songs came from out of nowhere, and the performances reflected that lack of connection. I never got a sense that the songs really mattered this week, which is surprising considering Idol shilled out for a hit-making superduperstar to mentor them in the ways of pop success.
And on the Gwen Stefani tip, she was cute as hell, but seemed to be in way over her head. Her tips to the Idols were limited to “watch out for the melody” (Lulu was better at this), she rarely had a good word to say (other than for Melinda, natch), and she’s a terrible actress, because it was beyond obvious when she hated someone (Chris Sligh).
Furthermore, how can someone so successful be so “deer in the headlights” just because she’s pulling studio time with Sanjaya? Is he that detrimental to the health of modern music? Should Gavin Rossdale put on his machinehead and destroy the kid? Can we get Sanjaya a time machine to 1996 so he can wander into Orange County and kill the evil ska trend before it gets invasive and nearly deafens a nation of grunge recovery victims?
I thought the show needed an injection of 2007, but I was wrong. Maybe Idol is better off staying an old-school karaoke contest, than it is trying to artificially paint some Top 40 on kids who aren’t ready yet (and those who never will be).
As stated before, I’ve decided to recap the show week-to-week and grade the singers on a sliding scale of how much I wanted to, or did, TiVo-bloop through the song. At the end of each recap I’ll make my pick for who should (and hopefully will) get the axe on the Wednesday night results show.
Let’s break it down, bloop bloop style!
1. Melinda Doolittle – When they opened with the wide shot of the lights going crazy and Mindy waving her hands in the air, I knew there was no chance she was getting the bloop tonight. Match that awesomeness with the kickin' flippy bob, the daring six-inch heels and the under-the-boobs beltage, and this was a package I would mail first class with insurance. No plebian ground delivery for this girl. She rocked, as per usual. And I — and the nation — loved it, as per double usual.
Gwen was right, who needs luck when you got the Doolittle? And let me add how scary this performance must have been for the rest of the Idol-wannabes. The only hope they had was that Melinda would falter on the up-tempo songs, but as she proved tonight, that ain’t happening. It’s scary how over this contest already is and there’s still eight more weeks to go.
2. Gina Glocksen – A calculated song choice error on Gina’s part. She cannot go up against Melinda and LaKisha with a ballad. She needs to toe the rocker line and get through the herd thinning with as little collision as possible. Gina does not do stand-still singing well. The arm movement was clumsy, she seemed stiff and unsure of her talent and I was not a fan of the haircut. I like her a lot, I like her voice, but I would not advise her going down this route for too much longer. A half bloop at best.
3. Chris Richardson – I grew up listening to the radio in the Valley, which for a period of time in the mid-'90s could have been called No Doubt FM, so I’ve been over “Don’t Speak” about fifteen different times. But I knew if it was No Doubt night someone had to sing “Don’t Speak”, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Chris R (when Gina was the obvious choice). I was even more surprised to find I really enjoyed it. This should have been a double bloop purely on principle, but I upgraded to a one bloop because I dug the R & B twinge, the ornamentation, the passion and the fact that he didn’t have the damn Hindu dot on his forehead like a certain platinum mentor who looked stupid when the song first broke and who will remain nameless (Gwen!). I think he botched the words near the end, and he didn’t have nearly as big a finish as the anchor spot requires, but that’s secondary to how flat-out nice it was to hear him sing this song and not want to gouge my ears out with a dooce-stained Q tip. I will never forgive KROQ for slobbing on the No Doubt knob so voraciously. (And they don’t even play her new music, fucking hypocrites! Go spin the new Panic song again, asses).
4. Blake Lewis – Is Blake a Cylon now? Is he hearing “All Along The Watchtower” in his dressing room? Because I’ve never seen him so boring, dreary or stalkerish (check the eyes, they had “giggity giggity” written all over them). The only explanation for this lapse was that he was too busy watching the BSG finale to put his usual spin on things. I don’t dig Blake bringing it tender. And I really don’t like him saying he’s covering The Cure when he so obviously sang the 311 version from the Sandler-in-Hawaii flick. That’s twice with the substandard '90s crap rock band. Let it go Blake. You go or we go. Double bloop this unfortunate Blake bullshit.
5. Haley Scarnato – I see someone got the “your gams are great” memo, 'cause Haley unleashed them on a sick world and instantly healed the populace. Her kaBAM was so good it’s almost an afterthought that her voice was so thin and pitchy (not to mention she nailed exactly zero of the big applause notes). For those who are watching the show for reasons that have nothing to do with the singing, you can put your TiVmote down. For those who are purists, you might be dipping into double-bloop territory. Good thing I’m of the former group. Idol needs her for the eye candy so she’s not going anywhere, despite having the second worst voice on the show (hi there Sanjaya, we’ll deal with you and your epic vertical follicle trainwreck in just a minute).
6. Phil Stacey – I see the aliens took the Phil Cylon back to the baseship and replaced him with an upgraded model — one that doesn’t suck so terribly, and has heightened suck up powers. I want to triple bloop his obnoxious audience pandering arm movement and head bops, but his voice only merits a bloop and a half. Though I did notice that the background singers stepped all over him and sounded off-key. They took away from the great mid-section of the performance and completely ruined the close. But factor in the hat, the decreased alien-ness, the “everyone loves this song so much you get points just for reminding us how much it rocks” angle, and sympathy vote for the regrettable background ornamentation mishap, and it all spells a chance for Phil to finally break out of his weekly bottom three purgatory.
7. LaKisha Jones – One bloop for the dress she sported that looked like the downside of a melted pack of Original Fruit Skittles; one bloop and a half for her tired vocal. Is it me, or did she seem out of breath for most of the middle of the song? Finally smiling rid her of most of the “bitch” vibe, and I liked the up-tempo song, but she still didn’t do enough to get me to consider buying a ticket on her bandwagon. A good first step, though.
8. Jordin Sparks – A disaster of near Malakar-ian proportions. Bad song choice (the vocal was way too low in the opening verse), horrible wardrobe choice (that skirt wasn’t just doing nothing for her, it was running all over town messing up her credit), and frustrating tempo (either speed it the hell up in true No Doubt style, or flip the script and go super slow in true Blake Lewis style, but don’t wish wash the speed). I hated hated HATED this performance. Double bloop. And she’s lucky I like her or it would be worse.
9. Chris Sligh – Aside from him being a total fucking abominable monster of arrogance and prickitude, I dig the guy. But his performance tonight sounded like Pee Wee Herman doing an above average Sting imitation. (How scary is the thought of Paul Ruebens mastering tantra? He’d be a pervert force of nature.) A forceful double-bloop for the Sligh Creature From the Idol Lagoon. When even the performer admits he botched the job, I can’t abide by anything less. I guess I was wrong about him turning a corner last week. I could very easily see him hitting the bricks tonight.
10. Sanjaya Malakar – He’s an automatic triple bloop, let’s get that out of the way. Now, to the performance… WHAT? THE? FUCK? IS? WITH? THE? HAIR? It made him look like the soulless villain in a late '80s Jean Claude Van Damme movie (and not Bloodsport). He forgot the words like Gwen said he would, he was timid and quiet even when he was on point and again, the hair? Really? REALLY? Gwen should have sacked the Harijuku Girls on this poor child. Randy and Paula are right, the only chance this kid has is to go balls out every time and appall the viewers so much that they have to vote for him out of sheer shock that someone had the balls to be so humiliating on purpose. He’s like a cast member of The Office wandered out of the Scranton branch and somehow made their way into CBS Television City.
Bottom Three: FrankenSligh, Haley Scarnato, Phil Stacey
My prediction for who gets the axe this week: FrankenSligh