American Idol: Hurls on Film

“They’ve dominated the small screen for the past six weeks,” says wee Ryan. Our boy needs to buy a new calendar, because this crap has been going on since January. “Tonight, our Top 7 takes on music from the movies.” To underscore this theme–and to make me lose my dinner all over the coffee table–Quentin Tarantino appears out of the darkness, looking like a clammy, bloated sweat gland. Oh Christ, he’s pointing at me. My eyes!! This is American Idol. I am gonna ask you questions. And every time you don’t give me answers, I’m gonna cut something off. And I promise you they will be things you will miss.

Hey kids, Steven Van Zandt is in the audience. By the look of him, he’s waiting for Hansel and Gretel to arrive at his gingerbread house. Also, the lady who plays Kate on Days of Our Lives is there. How does she rate a close-up when Doogie Howser never got so much as a howdy-do?

Simon begrudgingly informs us that due to the show running long last week, only two judges will speak after each performance tonight. That should bring us in right on time–except for the part where that totally doesn’t happen.

Back to the theme, which is “Songs from the Movies.” Specifically, songs from the soundtracks of films. Theme tunes, if you will. And who better to mentor the Idols than someone like Rob Marshall, who directed Chicago and the upcoming Nine? Ah, fuck him. How about Olivia Newton-John? She’s been in two or more musicals and had quite the career as a recording artist. Hell with her, too. Zac Efron, then? Pssh. No. The person they had on speed dial was Quentin Tarantino, known for such musical opuses as Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, and Death Proof. His street cred is that he watches the show and was a guest-judge in Season Three. Well, damn. I’m already halfway qualified, Idol. Mentor me up, bitches!

Quentin, looking like one of those guys who hangs around the Port Authority bathroom offering to “help a buddy out,” gathers the Idols in some big-shot recording studio, piano-side. His plan is to direct them as he would direct a movie. If that means Gokey and Lambert are going to shoot, stab, and mutilate each other, I will totally throw Quentin some respect. But unfortunately, it looks to be all about the singing.

Allison Iraheta. Singing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from Armageddon. David Cook sang this last year. Put that in your trivia hat and wear it sideways. At rehearsal, Quentin stares at Allison like he wants to see her dirty pillows (Carrie reference #32). Then he pulls over a chair, and sits down in front of her. This is allegedly to put her at ease, but I think he just wants a lap dance. On stage, Allison starts off a little breathy, in her lower register. Then she amps it up at the “amp-it-up” part and starts belting. I don’t deny that Allison can sing, but I’m so friggin’ bored of her. This performance is a by-the-numbers, somewhat flat, rendition of a song that’s a so-so, for starters. (This paragraph has been brought to you by the hyphen.) Paula says Allison is authentic, remarkable, and talented. Simon says Allison is the girls’ only hope left in the competition. Because Simon hates “Little” Rounds like she’s Little Satan.

Anoop Desai. Singing “Everything I Do, I Do For You” from the Robin Hood movie. Also known as The Song That Almost Made Bryan Adams Dead to Me. At rehearsal, Quentin instructs Anoop to “rough up” the song, and demonstrates this by growling like one of the Evil Dead. Anoop, afraid of being eaten alive, obeys. On stage, he sings this gayer-than-gay song quite well. And he is singing, rather than partying. Vocally, this is probably one of his best performances. It’s actually better than the original because it’s over a minute shorter. However, Anoop needs to sing with his eyes open and buy jackets with sleeves that match. Randy thinks Anoop found his zone and is rockin’ the house. Kara says Anoop found his place by adding soul to pop songs. Soul, to Kara, is like salt on a tuna sandwich.

Adam Lambert. Singing “Born to Be Wild” from Easy Rider, which I have never seen. (I prefer my Peter Fonda to be chased by Devil worshipers.) Quentin feels that this is a competition for rock stars, and that Adam is “the real deal.” I’m too numb after these 14–I’m sorry–6 weeks, that I won’t even argue the point. Besides, I’m all about the obliteration of Danny Gokey at the moment, and don’t want to split my focus. On stage, Adam does what he does. He wails and screeches and howls. Maybe I’m getting used to him, but this isn’t a disaster. It isn’t even bad. There’s a vague Robert Plant aspect to his vocals. I’m talking Led Zeppelin, not the Honeydrippers. And, because the Gods of Idol have deemed him worthy, Adam gets the full-scale rocker lights. If I had time to watch this show in slow motion, I’m sure I’d catch all the subliminal messages that say “vote for Adam” and “buy Coke.” Speaking of which, did you guys see 90210 this week? What the fuck was up with the Dr. Pepper pimping? Is Dr. Pepper a character now? I mean, sure, Tori Spelling is only about three plastic surgeries away from resembling a soda can, but enough already. I’m gonna drink Gatorade out of spite. Anyway, Paula says that Adam “dares to dance in the path of greatness,” which I think is an arrestable offense. Simon says that this was vocally incredible, but “like watching the Rocky Horror musical, in parts.” That’s hardly news, Cowell.

Matt Giraud. Singing “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” from Don Juan DeMarco. Also known as The Song That Did Make Bryan Adams Dead to Me. Really, how can you go from singing stuff like “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Run to You” and then follow it up with music like this? Or that awful duet with Barbra Streisand? That’s just wrong. By the way, if you saw Don Juan DeMarco, please raise your hand. Thank you. Now get out. At rehearsal, Quentin tells Matt to do “the gravelly thing” and “the soul thing,” but not to lose “the annunciation of the lyrics.” On stage, Matt sits at the Scott MacIntyre Memorial Piano, apparently so distracted by having to sing and play at the same time that the notes of the song topple like dominoes all over the place. To my ears, it’s a tuneless mess. It gets better–well, better-ish–at the bridge. But overall, it’s unfocused, sharp, and off-key. Randy thought the rough patch was at the bridge, which: Wrong. He says that Matt fell down in more places than he won. Kara is still caught up in whether Matt is a rock artist or a soul artist and let it fucking go, Kara. He is not interested in your wannabe judge foolishness.

Danny Gokey. Singing “Endless Love” from some movie I don’t know the name of. (Edited to say that of course I know where “Endless Loves” comes from. It’s the theme from The Matrix, right?) At rehearsal, Quentin tells Danny not to sing with his hands. On stage, Danny is like, “Screw you, Tarantino!” He sings with his hands. Danny is not wearing his glasses, so we can see the “pain” in his eyes as he performs this song that has nothing at all to do with his dead wife and how can you even think that even if it’s five hundred percent true. Yuck. He’s a skeevy character, this Danny Gokey. Is he trying to make himself cry? Yes. I think he is trying to make himself cry. To repeat: Yuck. Vocally, he’s as solid as always and is going nowhere. Paula liked the magic of the “tamber” of Danny’s voice, and the magic of Poopa the Toilet Elf in her mansion in La-La Land. Simon felt it was too traditional and was a little disappointed, but congratulates Danny on dealing with the “emotions” connected to performing this song. Translation: “You know that the voting public will fall for your special brand of bullshit, Danny. Well done.”

Kris Allen. Singing “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once. Okay, America, all together now: What? Huh? Wha? Now that that’s out of our systems… Quentin is like, “Well, Kris seems to like this movie or whatever, so there you go.” Then he advises Kris to play an instrument. On stage, Kris does not play an instrument. This song is a quiet ballad, but not mushy-gushy. Just sort of pretty and sedate, not unlike Kris himself. The first time I watched it, I was a little baffled. Now, watching it again, it’s pretty good. Kris’s voice is controlled and easy on the ears. Still, this was a huge risk. Randy was not feeling it and felt it was pitchy. Kara says it was one of Kris’s best moments (to which Paula hollers, “Yes!”). I’m somewhere in the middle. He should have chosen a known quantity.

Lil Rounds. Singing “The Rose” from The Rose. At rehearsal, Quentin approves of Lil’s gospel switch at the end of the song, but wants her to commit to the whole thing. Translation: Don’t fuck it up. Helpful. On stage, Lil sports her eighteenth hairstyle of the season and sings the song adequately, as always. The non-gospel half is a plain, dull stand-and-sing. There’s nothing special about it at all. The gospel half is better. Interesting, at least. It affords Lil the chance to show off a bit. Unfortunately, although she comes to life, she’s not fantastic. The days of Lil being fantastic are like a distant dream had long ago, but this was better than she’s done lately. Paula talks marbles about the writer of the song and the lyrics and Lil being a strong flower and applesauce and celery. Simon reminds Lil that she’s getting it all wrong, making “middle of the road” choices. And he’s getting frustrated. Lil is like, “Look, I put some R&B in the song and made it my own, so step off, Frankenstein!” She’s really had enough of him. Then Paula literally yells out, “Those who matter don’t mind!” Paula is on the sauce. Lil and Simon are forced to shut up because we’re already in overtime. I’ll say this: If Lil was half as passionate about singing as she was about bickering, she would not be in this predicament.

Tomorrow, somebody goes home, because there’s no way the judges will save Lil, Matt, or Allison, all of whom will Bottom Three. Okay, they might save Allison, but let’s hope not.

Also tomorrow: It’s Miley!


Back to the season guide.


    1. Great recap, Frank.

      And Endless Love is from the movie…. Endless Love. It’s that easy!

      ‘Twould help, however, if The Show could be bothered to introduce songs properly. Every week, I think, “Would it KILL THEM to put some type on the screen?” Artist/Song/Movie from would suffice, please and thank you. even, minimally, SONG NAME, if you could be bothered.

      Also, you say, “I’m all about the obliteration of Danny Gokey at the moment, and don’t want to split my focus. ” Frank, Frank, don’t abandon us now. Adam deserves a fair smattering of your contempt. Actually, MOST of your contempt. You need to be an equal-opportunity hater.

      I don’t hate Gokey, I’m just bored with Gokey. I’m honestly got sure where the “real” Gokey begins and/or ends… or how much “game playing” is truly involved. It doesn’t matter tho, even though he’s good “on paper”, he’s a boring artist to watch.

      The Show is obviously steering for a Adam-Gokey final two, in which they will steer Adam for the win. They want to round out their final four with Allison and Kris (“if we must,” says show).

      I’m constantly perplexed at The Show’s unwillingness to give Kris Allen some due. He’s actually doing what the judges SAY they want.. every week he’s taking chances, putting his own spin on things and singing well. There’s been a couple of so-so performances, but he’s sincere and actually in the game to win it and not just “sell out” and play into some obvious things he could play into. ::shrugs:: maybe he needs to be more manipulative and game-playing?

      “Then Paula literally yells out, “Those who matter don’t mind!”,” and she might as well have yelled “Soylent Green is people!” Both make about as much sense in context.

    2. FrankiePitt says:

      Heh! I know that “Endless Love” is from Endless Love. I was just cracking wise.

      As far as Adam goes, as irritating as he is, he isn’t trading in his personal tragedy for “love me” points — and his humility at least seems genuine. Gokey can smile with all the faux-charm all he wants. He’s despicable.

      • I’ve been loving your rundown of the show these past few weeks – did you notice the subtle eye movement Danny had at the end of the song – I think he realized “oh yeah quick look up to the heavens”.

    3. I’m not usually one to really get behind Kris Allen, I mean he’s alright, he doesn’t make my ears bleed and he doesn’t piss me off. But I’ll tell you this, last nights performance was hot…like “I need a cigarette” hot. Like “could someone get me a change of panties” hot.

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