Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol Top 36 Week 1

Last year, I made a blog called A Million Percent Yes, in which I opined on all things American Idol.  It was fun, but a lot of work, and I never really got any kind of readership.  When the season ended, my readership dwindled even more, and over the past few months I've averaged less than one visit per day, so I've decided to leave that blog in the dust pan of history and just post my ruminations here.

I know that this is an ER blog, and many people who read my blog couldn't care less about Idol, so I'll try to limit myself to a weekly recap and then my thoughts on the results, with maybe an additional post here and there.  To those (Nurse K, I'm looking at you) who want pure ER blogging experiences:  please just skip these posts.  It's not hard to do.  To everyone else (Dad, I'm looking at you) who wants to know more about my particular take on Idol:  enjoy.

So this week we had our first live performance.  They have broken the top 36 into 3 groups of 12 and each week the top male and top female vote-getter and the second place overall vote-getter will move on to the top 12 while the rest hope that the judges have pity on them and put them in the "wild-card" round in three weeks.  I hate this format, just like I hate pretty much every other decision that the producers of this show have ever made, but it is what it is, and until someone makes a better singing competition, I'm stuck with this.

Going into the show, I have pegged Anoop, Danny, and Ann Marie as the three I would like to see advance, but I also really like Stevie and what little I've heard of Ricky.

Off we go, then:

1. Jackie Tohn - A Little Less Conversation (Elvis)
Jackie says, "my goal is to get Paula up and dancing,"  My wife: "that's not hard."  Her performance?  Yuck.  Just yuck.  And what's up with that outfit?  Wait a minute, the judges liked it?  At least Simon keeps it real.  4/10

2. Ricky Braddy - A Song For You (Leon Russell)
I found a youtube of a song of his a few days ago, and the dude can sing.  When he is live, he seems to have a breathingintothemic problem, but I kinda like his voice.  That said, I don't think this song is showcasing the best of Ricky, and that's too bad because given that he's had no screen time up to this point, so he has an uphill climb.  Based on the judges' over-reaction to his performance, I think he will be picked in the wildcard round.  7/10

3. Alexis Grace - I Never Loved A Man (Aretha Franklin)
I don't like the "dirtied up" Alexis as much as the one who auditioned.  paraphrasing another blogger (I don't remember who it was so I'm paraphrasing) said that it is sad that to "dirty herself up" she had to look like a cheap hooker.  My thoughts exactly.  When you do that, you lose the "single mother" pity vote.  She out-rocked Jackie, but I still don't like her.  In other words, I'll give her props - she can sing, but it's just not my style.  I hope she grows on me, because I fear she's here to stay.  6/10

4. Brent Keith - Hicktown (Jason Aldean)
I like a lot of country music, but I despise this type of country song, and it is a really really bad choice for Brent.  It does nothing to show off his vocals, and in fact the music is so strong in the background that it is hard to hear anything beyond just the fact that he is, in fact, singing.  Not terrible, but not good enough. 5/10

5. Stevie Wright - You Belong To Me (Taylor Swift)
Here lies Stevie Wright.  She was a good singer, but she bit it.  I had such high hopes for her after her audition, and then this pile of hot mess comes tumbling out of her.  It started off too low and in the wrong key and only got marginally better.  Her voice comes across as weak and shaky and she has poor breath control.  And I'm no expert on facial expressions, but it sure looks like she knows how bad she is doing.  Paula said it best: "It wasn't the Stevie that we fell in love with."  Goodbye, Stevie.  You will be missed.  4/10 (generous because I like her)

6. Anoop Desai - Angel of Mine (Monica)
I love this guy.  I've been listening to his performances as soloist in his college singing group the Clefhangers, so when I heard he was singing Angel of Mine, I had high hopes because he really did a good job with it in his group.  Unfortunately, he came out and sang a kind of flat, boring version of it, without the flair of his Clefhangers version.  Also the background singers really ruined the song.  I still voted for him 5000 times, because he's my homey. 7/10

7. Casey Carlson - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police)
She's cute, but I'm not on the ohlookhowhotsheis bandwagon, especially with that terrible haircut.  Luckily, she can sing, right?  Wrong, I guess.  She starts off weak and then goes off key.  Then it gets worse.  Then I throw up a little bit in my mouth.  My wife called it "campy" but I think she's being generous.  But I feel a little bad for her as the judges rip her to shreds and I can see she is right on the verge of tears. 2/10

8. Michael Sarver - I Don't Want To Be (Gavin Degraw)
I'm not a big fan of the original of this song, but with his constipation faces and forced singing, he is killing the song.  And still I want to like him because he seems like a good family man, and I respect that.  Oh, and did anybody else note how much his wife looks like Charlize Theron? 4/10

At this point in what I expected to be an incredibly strong group, I am terribly disappointed.  Perhaps if I didn't put so much stock in a stupid show it wouldn't matter, but as my wife so deftly remarked, "they're dropping like flies."

9. Ann Marie Boskovich - A Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin)
Let me just say that I want to make babies with Ann Marie's voice.  I've been in love with her, hoping she will be my Karen Carpenter (without the sad ending) ever since I first heard her in the auditions.  So when I heard she was singing Aretha, I groaned a little on the inside.  Anyway, she did a credible job, but she doesn't have the type of voice, nor the presence that Natural Woman demands, and I'm afraid she's done herself in.  And yet, even in this terrible song choice, the ease with which she is able to get those smooth vocals out makes me pick up the phone and vote until my fingers are numb. 7/10

10. Stephen Fowler - Rock With You (MJ)
So I'm not entirely sure why he got through to the top 36 after forgetting the lyrics twice and then walking away in Hollywood.  Nonetheless, here he is, and there he goes.  Simon often uses the term "cabaret" to describe a performance.  This is the perfect application for that description.  He sounds shaky and unsure of himself and very very weak.  Incidentally, Simon decided on "corny" to describe this one, and I have to agree. 3/10

11. Tatifreakinana Del Loco - Saving All My Love For You (Whitney)
I know she can bring it when she is not acting completely batty, but does she really think she can take on Whitney?  I sure hope not, because I don't want to deal with her insane fakery and posing.  She reminds me of an ex-girlfriend of mine in that way.  So what do I think of her singing?  Here's what I wrote on my note paper: EXPLETIVE!  8/10 (but I still didn't vote for her)

12. Danny Gokey - Hero (Mariah Carey)
The most pimped contestent gets the pimp spot.  Do you think the producers want to put him through?  The thing is, he doesn't need the pimping with that well-controlled roughness in his voice and impressive range.  Put that together with his Robert Downey Jr looks and pity-vote-generating backstory and he'd have to fall pretty hard to fall at all.  I found him just a little nasal, but it's hard to be hating on his voice.  Also, the arrangement felt very rushed, like he had to barrel through it, which was too bad.  My wife was sitting next to me in a state of rapturous ecstasy, so it must have been good.  8/10

And with that, we are done with one of the more disappointing episodes of Idol that I can ever remember watching.  Nothing in the episode changed my mind about my three favs, but I'm worried that Alexis or *gulp* Tatifreakinana might just squeeke through.  Also, I'm worried that Anoop was a little boring and might not get the votes he deserves.

Prediction: Danny, Alexis, and either Anoop, Michael, or Tatifreakinana get voted through, with an outside chance of Ann Marie coming through.  We will see Ricky and two of the other three mentioned above that don't make it back in the wildcard round.

Incidentally, I've heard that the wildcard round will not necessarily be singers from the top 36.  Does that mean there is hope for David Osmond?

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