Thursday, February 21, 2008

AMERICAN IDOL: Hot chicks with Nyquil

We got our first look at the girls Wednesday night (Thursday morning for me ‘cause I tivoed it). They’re cute, they belt, they have sob stories, and they’re all going to end up in the touring company of MAMA MIA. But for now their hopes and cheeks are high.

We were told over and over that some of them had the flu. But showing the same grit and fortitude they had when they attended their senior proms despite breaking a nail, they hung in there and gave courageous performances of 60s bubblegum hits.

First up was Kristy Lee Cook. She sold her horse to fly from Portland to Philadelphia to audition for the show. There were also auditions in San Diego, which is closer. She could have just sold her cat. Kristy was one of the flu victims. What will her excuse next week be for being boring?

Joanne Borgella was next. She’s the “plus size model” filling the LaKisha/Jennifer Hudson role this season. Simon said to take a risk and she did. She wore jeans.

Alaina Whittaker followed. She’s 16, blond, and has that Lauren Hutton space between her two front teeth that make her seem wise beyond her years. Alaina sang “More Today Than Yesterday” – the same song that Chipote (or whatever the hell his name is) sang the night before. There aren’t a gazillion songs in the 60s? They had to repeat the same four?

Finally! Something that Paula knows! The group that had the hit with “More Today Than Yesterday” (Spiral Starecase). Amazingly, Simon had never heard of that tune. Obviously he doesn’t listen to oldies radio. They play it eight times an hour. Along with…

“Happy Together”, which Brooke White sang (and David Cook mangled the night before). Brooke is a dead ringer for the young Susan Anspach (pictured below Brooke). She labels herself as “the good girl”. A couple of weeks in the bottom three and she’ll be wearing leather and going down on the mic.

Amanda Overmyer, the cool rocker chick who looks like an owl, scatted through “Baby Please Don’t Go”. Again, Simon had never heard of it. He can tell you every Lulu tune but is unfamiliar with Van Morrison? Amanda is a breath of fresh air. And even if she had the flu, who cares because she sounds like she has the flu anyway.

Amy Davis is gorgeous. I’d vote for her if she coughed up phlegm for three minutes. She sang one of Simon’s favorite kick ass songs from the 60s – “Where the Boys Are”.

Then it was Alexandrea Lushington (which would be the perfect name for Elaine Stritch). Randy and Paula loved her. Simon did not. I agree with Simon. Just another boring belter. Next!

Kady Malloy is this year’s Carrie Underwood wannabe. Big voice. Did a slow sexy rendition of “We’ve Got a Groovy Kind of Love”. Why? It’s an innocent teenybopper song. Why not just do a smoldering blues version of “My Boy Lollipop”?

Kady was followed by Asia’h Epperson. I’m still trying to tell all these people apart. I have in my notes for Asia’h: “dead dad girl”. Sang “Piece of My Heart”. Won’t make anyone forget Janis Joplin. Or even Amanda Overmyer.

One of my favorites was next. Ramiele Mulubay. Little girl. Big pipes. Irene Cara without all the lawsuits.

The goofy names continued with Syesha Mercado. (Notice all the cheerleader types are named Kristy and Amy and Brooke?) Will somebody tell her the Diana Ross look is not becoming? The only thing missing was plastic surgery and a cape. Another boring belter.

And finally, there was Carly Smithson – the girl with the sensational voice, scary tattoos, and Hannibal Lector smile. AMERICAN IDOL has taken a lot of heat lately for not disclosing that Carly is a professional singer who even signed a million dollar recording contract once. So to avoid looting in the streets and rioting, this “secret” was revealed on the program. Carly should be in the top two…if she wears long sleeves every week.

All in all, a good group. But certainly not a great group. Maybe the third touring company of MAMA MIA.

30 comments:

Melissa said...

Ken:
I read somewhere that they limited the number of songs they could choose from to 50 so they wouldn't have as many clearance issues.

I too wondered why Portland girl didn't audition in San Diego. For that trip, she would only need to sell a saddle, not the whole horse.

I'm with Simon on the Irish lass. What's the big deal?

The blonds all cancel each other out, except for Brooke, gotta route for her cause she's from The Nuys (as Sandra would say).

TE said...

"Baby Please Don't Go" -- the version copied last night, at least -- was by Them (w/Van Morrison), not the Animals, with or without Eric Burdon.

And it's "Spiral Starecase." You know those '60s bands and their unconventional spelling!

Also, note to Randy Jackson: "Where the Boys Are" was Connie Francis, not Patsy Cline.

But enough nit-picking. When I start submitting "The Captain" spec scripts, you can come down on my ass.

(Incidentally and not related: Alison LaPlaca on two concurrent episodes of Boston Legal, reuniting her with John Laroquette! I, at least, was in heaven.)

Joe W. said...

"You may choose from these ten songs that are being reissued on iTunes and a boutique imprint."

"And be sure to turn the label towards the camera."

Martha said...

Amanda Overmeyer is a wretched, one trick pony singer. My ears bleed every time she starts to croon. I will kill myself if she makes the top 12, and worse if she becomes a favorite to win. She looks like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, on steroids. My husband thinks she's sexy. God help me.

jbryant said...

I think I liked Alaina the best. The amazing thing about Simon not having ever heard "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday" is that, um, he HAD heard it. Just 24 hours previously, as a matter of fact, when Chikezie sang it (as you pointed out).

Then again, Simon is the 48-year-old Britisher who last season was unfamiliar with Gerry and the Pacemakers' "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying." He's seems to be much more familiar with MOR stuff like Celine and Whitney than classic rock and pop.

I agree that Amy is attractive, but how can you mention her without pointing out that her performance of "Where the Boys Are" was the weakest of the 24? I'm thinking she's history (not that quality always factors into the voting).

And yeah, I was wondering why in hell Randy was talking about Patsy Cline. I don't think she ever covered that song, and Connie Francis sure didn't sing it with a twang. Speaking of Randy, I wish someone who loves him would hook him up next Christmas with a collection of Readers Digest's "Increase Your Word Power." I'm pretty sure he doesn't use over a dozen different words per telecast.

Ken Levine said...

Thanks te for the catch. I was on the fence on who recorded that. I bet the Animals have a version of it too.

maven said...

At least you take notes during the show! I can't tell most of these people apart! There are the blond good two-shoes, the belters, the Rock Nurse and the tattooed one. Not one of them made me look up from my laptop and take notice. Where's Melinda Doolittle when you need her?

Anonymous said...

Love your writing! I was so happy to read your mention of the white teeth. I really noticed it but maybe because I think I need to have mine whitened. Seriously, I managed a client once who was on a FOX show and the executives were obcessed with white teeth! There's a story there somewhere....

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I can cough up phlegm for much longer than three minutes. Shame I'm over the maximum age to audition.

jbryant said...

By the way, Kady's slow version of "Groovy Kind of Love" was clearly based on Phil Collins' remake, not the Mindbenders' original. My guess is that Collins' take is the only one any of the contestants know.

Anonymous said...

so "Kristy Lee Cook" and "Amanda Overmyer" (and maybe "Amy Davis" too?) have been making out backstage huh? nice

space said...

I loved Alexandrea's performance...I think the band did too. They gave her more "chops" than any of the other contestants.

I think that Ramiele and Syesha can both sing very well. I favor Ramiele because she doesn't seem as spoiled as Syesha. However, Syesha gives me more goosebumps when she gets into it, so I still need more time to decide on that one.

As far as the guys, its all Archuleta. Noriega can blow the house down, but he is still finding himself, and until he does, he is just going to continue to overthink his song choices and confuse us.

A. Buck Short said...

Mr. Levine, hadn’t you heard? They’ve already cast the Simon Cowell role with Simon Cowell. With all that flu on the set, you have to be careful. If word ever gets back, they’ve got you on at least 3 counts of sternutatory rape (don’t ask, while in utero, mom was frightened by Clifton Fadiman).

This is true. Sometime in the early 90s I received a phone call here in Dallas from Connie Francis. She was really very nice and, unfortunately, earnest. She wanted to film a sequel to “Where the Boys Are” called “Where the Men Are.” I asked her where the men were? She indicated they were in “Fort Worth.” Unfortunately the financing wasn’t.

Anonymous, I do wish you hadn’t introduced that image of Kristy Lee, Amanda and Amy making out backstage. Makes it that much harder to hang onto the one I’ve already been nursing involving The Lipstick Jungle, Women’s Murder Club, Cashmere Mafia, The Solid Gold Dancers from the 60s, Molly Sims, our daughter’s imaginary friend, and oddly enough, Estelle Getty.

D. McEwan said...

Sorry Martha, Amanda is the only one who makes me look up from my computer. The show became exciting for two minutes.

I had exactly the same reaction to the lugubrious ballad version of GROOVY KIND OF LOVE. Hello dear, do you know what "Groovy" means, because you sang it like you thought it means "Sad and doomed." It's a bouncy, happy song. Next week that girl (She probably has a name but I'm not going back to check it) will probably sing ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE in a minor key, with a dirge tempo.

Sorry Melissa, selling the cat is funnier than selling the saddle.

Simon has no idea there was any music prior to 1980.

(Bad Taste Black Humor Alert! The easily offended should skip.) Poor Connie Francis's career came to a screeching halt after she was sexually assaulted years ago. I can never hear WHERE THE BOYS ARE without thinking the lyrics should be:

Where the boys are,
Someone waits for me.
It's very dark,
He's got a knife.
He'll be assaulting me

When he grabs me,
He'll treat me horribly.
Where the boys are,
Where the boys are,
Where the boys are,
Someone please HELP ME!

My friend Tallulah is already supporting Alexadrea Lushington, but it's based solely on her name.

I thought Dead Dad Girl's ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART was pretty good. No Janis Joplin, but the second best performance of the night.

Paula hates Simon's (Often accurate) negativity so much, that even when she has critized someone, she nonetheless can't let Simon finish a sentence if it isn't praise. Incidentally, Paula has only ONE negative comment she ever makes: "It wasn't your best performance." I think she even uses it at auditions of people she's never set eyes on before.

BTW, notice how many of these people have auditioned for the show before? By Season 10, ALL the top 24 will people from previous seasons. AMERICAN IDOL ALL-NOT-STARS EDITION.

Anonymous said...

How about including more thumbnail pix so we know who you're making fun of?
Thanks.

cpo snarky said...

Guys, I think that Randy's referencing of Patsy Cline had nothing to do with the original version, but everything to do with Amy's vocal 'take' on it.

And Simon's "appaullling" (insert snotty British accent here) lack of pop history knowledge show that he loves money a lot more than he loves music.

VP81955 said...

jbryant said...
By the way, Kady's slow version of "Groovy Kind of Love" was clearly based on Phil Collins' remake, not the Mindbenders' original. My guess is that Collins' take is the only one any of the contestants know.


They probably also think "Piece Of My Heart" was first made a big hit by Faith Hill in her bland, Wal-Mart country version.

Dhppy said...

Well, we agree on Ramiele (tiny girl with the big big voice), but I had to ffwd through Carly "McShouty". I agree with Simon on that one: all hype and disappointment.

I'm probably alone in thinking that Ryan's refusal to notice Simon at the end of the show this week is just too cute. I'm hoping for a June wedding. Of course, Simon would insist it be on the beach so that he can keep his shirt open and Ryan will object because the salt water will muss his hair. I think I'll get them some salt and pepper shakers; they're such spicy opposites. Where did I put my Willams Sonoma catalog?

pat reeder said...

God, this is the weakest bunch of karaoke singers yet. You could roll them all together into one big lump of protoplasm and they still wouldn't total up to one single personality.

Instead of watching untalented wannabe singers trying to become celebrities, I invite you to come over to my site and watch actual celebrities try to become untalented wannabe singers: http://www.hollywoodhifi.net/videos.html

Kevin said...

Well, it's a done deal, the pretty Irish gurl will make the final. She's already got Ireland rooting for her.

bilge said...

Your blog is occasionally very interesting and almost always amusing, but I immediately move on when the topic is American Idol. Is it just fodder for your daily deadline.

J-Money said...

Much like a 60s album, I've heard if you play Paula Abdul's comments backwards, they actually make sense.

And Simon made his money and reputation by signing novelty acts like the Teletubbies and WWF wrestlers. He's completely unfamiliar with British Pop, but knows all of Tinky Winky's biggest hits.

Mary Stella said...

dhppy said:
I'm probably alone in thinking that Ryan's refusal to notice Simon at the end of the show this week is just too cute. I'm hoping for a June wedding.

Ryan's waiting for that cute 17 year-old David A. to reach legal age. He already looks like he has a boy crush.

I'm still trying to figure out why they keep saying "this is the best group of 24 ever". Perhaps it's creative editing and the real sentence is, "This is the best group of 24 ever seen in 2008."

Tom Quigley said...

I felt sorry for poor Amy Davis having to re-perform her song last night on the results show. "Where The Boys Are," came out as "Where My Voice Ain't"....

I'm still not a big fan of the losers singing their way off the show... It's like asking a prizefighter who's just lost a title match to stand in the middle of the ring and take three more minutes of pummelling as a goodwill "Just happy to be here" gesture... Besides, who are they entertaining by doing it? The two people who voted for them?... Well, I guess at least Grandma and Gramps got one more chance to see their little dear on national TV, the one who always used to mangle the Christmas carols during the singalong around the piano at the family holiday get-togethers...

Oh, and to borrow a joke from several warm-up comedians, maybe Seacrest should be announcing "Of all the groups of finalists AMERICAN IDOL'S ever had -- this one is the most recent"....

A. Buck Short said...

pat reeder said...
I invite you to come over to my site and watch actual celebrities try to become untalented wannabe singers

I checked that Hollywood HiFi out and I can say unequivocally that the “But can they sing?” section made me feel all shiny and new... woa, woa, woa. My only question is, when we're hearing what we're hearing, what are they hearing?

Looking forward to sampling your Bob Mitchum and Walter Brennan cuts – although one suspects you really don’t even have to, all you have to do is imagine. But dammit, there’s too much. Some of us have work to do. Now I’m in that Twilight Zone where I’ll be sampling all day from another dimension, convincing myself it's only short breaks.

Two observations that, I guess, can have some meaning even without visiting you. 1) I’ve had actresses in my family who have come out with singles, when they really shouldn’t have, and it always started the same way. Agent says something like “Look, you’re in pictures, you’ve been on TV, live theater….What you really should do is cut a record. Then you’d be the total package.” 2) At one point I knew a half dozen people from Arkansas who didn’t know each other. Yet not one of them hadn’t performed with Up Up with People. Good site, so I think the administrator of this one (KL) should waive the pimp on merit.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

"Baby Please Don't Go" was recorded by Mississippi Fred McDowell before any of the rockers grabbed hold of it. His is likely the definitive vrsion.

I was right about who got canned last night, too. Do I win a trip to Oxnard?

D. McEwan said...

"I'm still not a big fan of the losers singing their way off the show... It's like asking a prizefighter who's just lost a title match to stand in the middle of the ring and take three more minutes of pummelling as a goodwill "Just happy to be here" gesture... Besides, who are they entertaining by doing it?"

I think of it as the "And here's a reminder of WHY you voted them off!" It makes everyone feel better about them leaving.

Colton had improved his hair on Thursday, having gotten the Zac Efron bangs out of his face, but it way too little, way too late.

How was Paula's video? I heard three notes, hit "mute," and returned my attention to the computer.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I lasted longer on Paula's video--maybe 30 seconds. If this is what all the love and high fives were about, she should be voted off the earth.

pat reeder said...

To: a buck short...

In researching the "Hollywood Hi-Fi" book, we found there are three basic reasons why celebrities make records:

1. Some actually have hidden musical talents they want to show (this is by far the smallest category);

2. Some want to show off talents they think they have and seriously don't (Bette Davis and Paris Hilton leap to mind);

3. The vast majority were convinced to do it by their agents or had a gun put to their heads by some studio executive who wanted to cash in while the gettin' was good.

What makes this germane to "American Idol" is that Simon Cowell is one of those executives. One of his earliest and biggest successes was convincing a couple of Brit TV actors to cover "Unchained Melody" (his favorite song and one whose charms have always eluded me) and seeing it become a #1 smash in the UK, sort of making them the Unrighteous Brothers of the TV-created pop star era. He's now convinced that "Unchained Melody" is a "magic song" that can be a hit for just about any talent-deficient mannequin as long as you give them enough TV exposure and studio polishing. And of course, that's pretty much the entire theory behind "American Idol."

BTW, I think I've heard you mention before that you're in Dallas. So are we. If you're really interested in this subject and ever want to visit the giant HHF record vault, drop me an email at the contact on the site.

Karen Scott said...

I was just grateful that Sanjaya (?) wasn't there.