American Idol: In Living Duller

“For the people who remain on this stage, the intensity of the competition is a constant evolution.” True. We’ve seen Adam evolve from an annoying woman into a moderately tolerable ladyboy. “Tonight, they take on some of the most classic American songs of all time.” We’ll talk. “Who will set the standard?” If we’re talking about standard of douchery? I believe Gokey is standing on his mark. This is American Idol. Jerry likes my corn.

We’re live and down to the Top 5. The finale–and, more importantly, my reunion with my neglected DVD collection–is three weeks away. Tonight’s theme: “Songs from the Rat Pack Era.” What the fuck does that mean? Well, the show says it means “Big Band Standards” or perhaps just “Whatever Shit Sounds Old Timey and Vegas-like.” And what are we going to do about a mentor? As Kris Allen so aptly puts it, “The theme is Rat Pack…all those people are all dead.” Matt Giraud imagines it might be Bublé, Bennett, or Rod Stewart. But when you think of American Standards–hell, when you think of music, period–there really is only one name that comes to mind. One person whose talent and wisdom could guide these five souls to the success they so slightly deserve. That man, that brain trust, that shining star in the galaxy of creativity, is none other than Mr. Jamie Foxx.

Yes, I said Jamie Foxx. They’re not kidding about this.

Did you know that Jamie Foxx, aside from being an actor sometimes, and a comedian sometimes, is also a singer sometimes? He is, in fact, a “classically trained musician” and an R&B artist whose album has gone double plantinum. That’s like, one better than regular platinum. And he has a single at the top of the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop chart, right this very minute. From the sample they play, I’m here to tell you it sounds like absolute boogers. But there’s no accounting for taste or miracles. Thus, Jamie Foxx. (And let’s face it, he can’t be any worse than Tarantino. I mean, at least we won’t have to worry about Foxx trying to touch Allison inappropriately.) To me, he’ll always be Wanda Wayne.

Foxx’s mentor sessions pretty much play out like this: He listens to the Idol rehearse like he’s hearing a particularly fine piece of preaching. Lots of head-nodding and serious, contemplative expressions. Then he tells the Idol why he or she is incredible. Then he tells us that he thinks that Idol is incredible. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Kris Allen. Singing “The Way You Look Tonight.” Dressed in one of Seacrest’s hand-me-down gray suits, and looking like those guys who get on the subway at the Wall Street area during the 5 pm rush, looking handsome, but a little tired, with their hair askew and their ties loosened. Kris could go from the stage to a wedding reception without missing a beat. The performance is smooth and lovely. I’ve been listening to his studio recording of “She Works Hard for the Money” all week and it’s fantastic. This, I think, will also get a download. It’s almost perfect. The judges lurve it, because they see the value of Kris and realize that he’s Top 3 material, at the very least. Kara calls him a “dark horse,” but that’s not right. Randy is the dark horse. Simon calls the performance “a little bit wet” and backdoors Kris a few sympathy votes by saying he doesn’t think Kris can win the competition. Subtle and smart. Thanks, Cowell!

Commercials. Okay, so the Jonas Brothers have this new show called JONAS. In which they play themselves, Kevin, Joe, and Nick, but with a different last name. Lucas. Not Jonas. Because being their actual last name and the title of the show, Jonas would make sense. And the title of the show is in caps because originally, the show was called J.O.N.A.S. and they were spies. But they’re not spies anymore. They’re rock stars. Like the Jonas Brothers, except now the Lucas Brothers. See? Still, they’ll sing in every episode. And I will watch, on the off chance that the show will feature full-frontal nudity. I’m especially looking forward to episode 12, “The Promise Ring Thing,” where Kevin loses his virginity to his boyfriend, Snake.

Allison Iraheta. Singing “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Looking slightly more mature this week. Like, 35 instead of 30. Less frumpy. Still mushmouthed. The girl has pipes, but I just can’t listen to her anymore. She makes every song sound the same. Her inflections, her delivery. I don’t know. It’s repetitive. Any performance of hers, taken alone, is fine. Good, even. But lined up, one after the next? Enough is too much. Kara calls the performance “gut-wrenching” (in a good way), but you have to take everything Kara says and dial it back about five notches. Paula says it had “an innocent sensibility that was both alluring and very tender.” Wow, that was almost a coherent sentence. Simon doesn’t believe that Allison believes she can win, and thinks she could be in trouble. Well, either she or Matt will go home this week, so Simon’s opinion isn’t too far off track.

Matt Giraud. Singing “My Funny Valentine.” Next to “Ballroom Blitz” this might be my most hated song in all creation. It’s so fucking awful and maudlin and bullshitty. Why isn’t Gokey singing this? It’s totally his speed. So here’s Matt, wearing a hat. (Does anyone still wear a hat? I’ll drink to that.) It’s pulled way down over his mole-thing, which I normally wouldn’t address, but he’s making such an effort tonight that it’s distracting me. Matt’s performance is sketchy. Good bits, bad bits. Hrm. More bad bits. He’s not winning, so let’s not play with each other here. What we need to do is discuss this song. What the fuck is with these lyrics? “Your looks are laughable, unphotographable.” Translation: You’re funny-looking and take horrible pictures. “Is your figure figure less than Greek, is your mouth a little weak.” Translation: You’re shaped like a potato sack and you’re slack-jawed. And then he’s like, “Stay, little valentine, stay.” Translation: I’m not done abusing you yet. Have we discussed your terrible body odor? Horrible song. Anyway, the judges are mixed on Matt. Randy and Kara didn’t like it. It was pitchy, he didn’t connect with the song, and things like this. Paula and Simon actually agree that Matt, more than anyone so far, fit the period, the style, and the genre.

Danny Gokey. Singing “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Ugh. Gokey. Fake smile, soulful voice. Slow and smooth at first, powerful and belting at the end. Making ugly Taylor Hicks faces. That’s new. Garnering more applause from the audience than anybody so far tonight (but not as much as Lambert will; silver linings and all that jazz). The judges praise him, like he needs more praise. He can sing, he has a Rat Pack swagger, he was stellar, blah, blah. I can only hope that Kris beats him out of the Number Two spot in a couple of weeks. Can you give me that, Universe? I’ll be your best friend.

Adam Lambert. Singing “Feeling Good.” Don’t girls usually sing this? I’m not trying to be funny. Well, a little. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a guy take this one on. Adam came dressed as Elvis: The Animated Series. He makes a grand entrance down the long center staircase on stage. This isn’t a bad performance, although there are still some piercing moments. He really puts a lot of energy into his performance, and that’s what is is: a performance. We don’t get that from Matt or Allison. Or even Kris or Gokey. And, for better or worse, that’s exactly why Adam will win the season. Meanwhile, dude needs to lay off the bronzer. The judges fall over their faces trying to find new ways to express their love for him. They don’t even care that it was theatrical-sounding. Kara calls him “confusing, shocking, and sleazy.” Paula compares him to Michael Phelps. Pot-smoking and hot from the neck down? Simon flat-out appreciates that Adam wants to actually win this stupid show. And he liked the Norma Desmond entrance.

Tomorrow night, Matt or Allison leaves, and Taylor Hicks will inflict himself upon us all. First the swine flu, now Taylor Hicks. We just can’t get a break, can we?

Boing!
-Frank

Back to the season guide.

    Comments

    1. Elvis: The Animated Series. Hee. Funny as ever recappery!

      I can’t believe I made it all the way to the end of the paragraph about the Jonas Brothers. It was worth it for the veiled “Facts of Life” reference. Oh, Natalie, you slut!

      (PS: Someone else make the “secret agents as rock group show” and I shall watch! )

      Also: ““My Funny Valentine.” Next to “Ballroom Blitz” this might be my most hated song in all creation. It’s so fucking awful and maudlin and bullshitty.” Most sucky, stupid maudlin song? That honor, sir, belongs to “Send in the Clowns.”

      I’ve been thinking, and I have no idea what The Show is thinking in their unilateral Adam-backing. What kind of album will he make? The Cure is passe, as is glam rock. “Who is he as an artist?” as they say over and over, but never ask Adam.

      Kris, I can see as a Year One Jason Mraz or John Mayer.

      Even Gokey (shudder), can be made into a bluesy modern-day Eric Clapton-ish singer. Probably more Michale McDonald, but his voice is recordable.

      Adam, once you strip down the grandeur of his performance and theatrics… you have a talented voice– but what is his style? What is his “voice” as a singer? I guess they dont care, or already are writing his songs and lining up a producer….

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