Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AMERICAN IDOL: Top 5 Hey hey Paula!

This was the greatest night of AMERICAN IDOL ever!!!

Paula Abdul actually critiqued Jason Castro’s second song EVEN BEFORE HE SANG IT! And she had SPECIFICS!! This proves two things: Paula Abdul’s brain is not as highly developed as a mollusk's. And two, the judges watch the dress rehearsal and in many cases formulate their spontaneous opinions beforehand.

But offering a DETAILED critique of a performance not yet given... in front of thirty million people? What a colossal embarrassment. And an instant television classic. Let’s face it, it’s finally time for AMERICAN IDOL’S producers to think about replacing her. I hear Miss South Carolina is available.

This was Neil Diamond night and my heart went out to the contestants. How can you possibly do a memorable performance when you have to sing lyrics like “And no one heard at all, not even the chair”?

I knew we were in for an evening of hilarity right off the bat when Ryan narrated that puff piece on Diamond and actually said, “One of his greatest successes came from the movie THE JAZZ SINGER”. I almost fell off the couch. The remake of THE JAZZ SINGER is a legendary Hollywood trainwreck. Neil Diamond, who has never acted, and was 39 at the time, played an adolescent. There’s a scene in which he sings in blackface. It was a movie that not only killed his feature career along with Lucie Arnaz’s. It almost finished off Sir Laurence Olivier’s as well. Yes, one of Mr. Diamond’s “greatest successes”.

As a mentor I thought he was good with the kids although some of his advice was less than helpful. He suggested that Brooke White change a lyric from “I’m New York City born” to “I’m Arizona born” since that’s where she hails from. So she did. But then the next line made no sense – “I’m lost between two shores”. What east coast ocean does Arizona border? Paula? Do you know that one?

Each contestant sang two numbers. One in the first half hour, one in the second (except for Jason Castro who in Paula’s mind sang two in the first half hour and can fly).

Jason did a passable version of “Forever in Blue Jeans” and slaughtered “September Morn”. Why is he wasting his time trying to be a professional singer when he has such a bright career ahead of him as Lisa Edelstein?

David Cook sang two Neil Diamond songs I never heard of. I think they were from Neil’s “Hot August Night—I’m wearing pirate shirts now” era.

Brooke White sang both of her songs in one take. And for the second she resorted to her Steinway crutch. My problem with Brooke now is that at any minute I expect her to have a complete breakdown. Do you want your next American Idol to be strapped to her bed for her own safety?

David Archuleta sang “Sweet Caroline” but as any Boston Red Sox fan KNOWS, you pause for the “oh oh oh’s” and “So good, so good, so good’s”. Otherwise, why on God's green earth would ANYBODY sing that song? Then he did “America” wisely choosing that one over “Crunchy Granola Suite”.

Syesha Mercado wore a hot purple dress this week. I hope it’s enough.

But no one will remember the performances. All anyone will be talking about is Paula Abdul and that incisive critique of a song that no one heard. Not even the chair.

36 comments:

Bob said...

Should have changed it to "I'm lost between two saguaros".

jbryant said...

I'm afraid you have to let Ryan off on a semantic technicality, Ken. One of Diamond's greatest successes did come FROM the movie The Jazz Singer -- the soundtrack, which was huge.

I actually love a lot of Diamond's 60s and early 70s stuff. He kinda lost me after that.

Cook was once again the best of the night for me, even though he's no more original a vocalist than Daughtry is. There are a million guys that sound like that, and they can all be heard on KROQ.

But yeah, Paula's gaffe is what we'll all remember. Can't wait for the backpedaling tomorrow night. She can't win though. Either she admits she saw both of Castro's numbers in rehearsal, or she admits she was too stoned to tell the difference between Castro and Cook.

D. McEwan said...

Since Paula actually had something cogent to say about the performance that hadn't happened yet, maybe she should do ALL of her critiquing before the performances, because once she's heard someone actually sing, she can no langer form sentences.

My spit-take on Seachrest's idiotic JAZZ SINGER remark scared the crap out of my cats.

I thought I'M A BELIEVER was a Monkees song. And perhaps Brooke might have done a better job with it if she'd performed it in a key she could sing in. The key was way too low for her. Aren't they allowed to transpose?

At least Ryan's stopped saying that this is the most talented group they've hever had. Even a man who can call THE JAZZ SINGER a great success with a straight face can no longer sell that one.

susy said...

replacing her? eh no. are you crazy? finally, idol is worth talking about again. all thanks to her. the show (the singing) itself is a snoozefest. thank god for Paula. idol is lots of getting attention again today, and it is all thanks to her. (yes the ratings have been on decline but will probably go up now again, thanks to her)

Leanne said...

thank god for Paula Abdul! she made the show worth watching again! it was getting way too boring. and it was just an honest mistake, and she was laughing about it in interviews afterwards. idol has never gotten as much attention this season as it is getting Right Now, and that is 100 % thanks to Paula (and yeah, attention is what Fox wants, they dont care if its bad or good)

ajmilner said...

I actualy thought Michael Dukakis had a chance to beat George H.W. Bush in 1988 until I heard his campaign theme song -- Neil Diamond's "America." It was then I knew we were doomed.

jbryant said...

I haven't taken a second look (and please don't make me), but if Ryan actually said "One of his greatest successes came from the movie THE JAZZ SINGER," that is absolutely a true statement. I'd even wager it was phrased that way specifically to avoid any suggestion that the FILM was anywhere near as successful as the soundtrack, which produced 3 Top Ten singles and sold over 5 million copies, Diamond's biggest selling album.

Willy B. Good said...

I think Neil Diamond is the greatest rock actor ever narrowly beating out Prince, Bob Dylan, Mariah Carey and the Rolling Stones.

WizarDru said...

"I thought I'M A BELIEVER was a Monkees song."

It was. But it was written by Neil Diamond. It was actually a bigger hit for him than anything he done by himself at the time (as was "little bit me, little bit you", another of his songs for the Monkees). He recorded his own version on a later album.

And yeah, the movie The Jazz Singer was an abysmal failure...but the soundtrack was HUGELY successful. Not unlike Diamond's soundtrack for the Jonathan Livingston Seagull movie, which was more successful than the movie it came from. Not that I've seen the movie, read the book OR heard the soundtrack. 'Cuz I haven't.

liz said...

Paula was reading notes that had been given to her, probably from Nigel the producer. But she made a mistake and read both songs together. They have been apparent in their efforts the last two weeks to sabotage Jason from going further in the competition. Look at how they edited Andrew Lloyd Webber week, with him scoffing at Jason's choice, never hearing a guy sing Memory, let alone a dreadhead. It set the viewer up beforehand not to enjoy it. This week was the script of how "Jason has lost his charm", Paula just blew the lid off, how they are not honest with their critiques. There is no way they can come up with the excuse that she wrote this from the audition, because that would then explain why they didn't call out David A and Carly last week when they forgot their words. It was also obvious when they never mentioned Jason being so ill last week, just insulted him. When Ramiele was sick one week they mentioned it ten times.

Mary Stella said...

I'm a Believer has been sung better by four Monkees and a donkey (Shrek) than a babbling Brooke.

SteveH said...

Neil Diamond, on one of his 70s live albums, did a duet with Henry Winkler. So I guess that'll put a end to you dismissing the man's artistic choices once and for all, Ken.

Anonymous said...

During Paula's critic for Syesha's second song Paula referred to Syesha as 'Brooke.'

Also why can't Paula form a coherent sentance or thought, she sounds like Porky Pig of the Looney Tunes Cartoons.

Aaron Barnhart said...

Songs you SANG to me ...
Songs you BRANG to me ...

Michael Zand said...

Neil Diamond did something impossible. He made Andrew Lloyd Webber look like a fucking genius.

Also "I'm Arizona born and bred" was really a ridiculous idea. Have you been to an Arizona city? It's not that different from LA -- except a lot hotter.

RAC said...

Neil Diamond was good in Saving Silverman, playing himself. Who can forget his classic line:

[approaching America Avenue]

Neil Diamond: Hey, we're coming to America.

Grant said...

Don't forget Mr. Diamond won two Golden Globes for his work on "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDbToBxhZUo&feature=related

jbryant said...

Neil was also "winner" of the very first Razzie Award for Worst Actor (for The Jazz Singer, natch).

D. McEwan said...

"Paula was reading notes"

1. Paul needs notes to remember to say, "You are who you are. You did your thing. You're a star. America loves you. I applaud you."?

2. Paula can read?

"Neil Diamond, on one of his 70s live albums, did a duet with Henry Winkler."

Then what are we waiting for? Let's get to Henry Winkler Week!

And no one needed to be primed to hate Castro's awful performance of MEMORY last week. It sucked fair and square. He's turning into this season's Sanjaya. We haven't been able to get rid of Fidel in almost 50 years. Let's hope little Jason isn't as resiliant. Even Ryan is calling him out on not taking it seriously, and actually like preparing, rehearsing, or spitting out his gum before he sings.

He's a maroon! Nice skin though.

friarduck said...

I love your blog, the inside stuff, the Idol reviews, the insolence...I love it all. But today, you outdid yourself.

The Jason Castro/Lisa Edelstein comment has elevated you to my new God.

ALL HAIL KEN!

Bradford said...

Did anyone else think Brooke was acting a lot like Alex P. Keaton in the Speed Trap episode?

carl said...

Quoting: “And no one heard at all, not even the chair”?

Someone's been reading Dave Barry lately...

Hmmm.

carl said...

for anyone who doesn't know what I was talking about in the comment above just try to find a Dave Barry column called "Mustang Davey"

It's about bad song lyrics and he makes special note of the same line that is in this blog post and even ends his column with the same line, not even the chair. Very strange coincidence???

Anonymous said...

Very amusing and wonderfully done post. Thanks.

JSWN said...

I used to make out with boys in my parents living room with Neil Diamond vinyl on the stereo!
Pathetic, yep, I know. My little brother would use my parents album covers to roll his loose joints. His preference was any double album. His friend Joey dropped some acid once and wanted to listen to The Carpenters! Of course, we obliged! My parents were out in California and we couldn't get Joey to leave!
We had some Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young, Deep Purple, Gram Parsons, The Grateful Dead, Nina Simone, plus a great Jazz Blues collection and some classical. We had a crazy random album entitled Drums A Go-Go to which my sister and I would perform our dance routine of the week. When my boyfriend formed his own band 747 and they did a Deep Purple Cover entitled ~Space Truckin'~ I started getting really serious about my music! I remember being very conflicted when Neil Diamond and B Streisand did their duet ~You Don't Bring Me Flowers~...and Ken, last night, I was holding my breath waiting for Brooke and one of the Davids to break it out!

plays88key said...

Thank you for the "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" quote, which had me shaking with laughter. That song is my mom's guilty pleasure, and she used to sing it just to annoy me. "Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies" indeed. Not to mention the sermon...

As for the listening chair, that line (bad as it is) never bothered me as much as the verse comparing Neil's life to a frog king. Why nobody could do "Red Red Wine," one of his better songs, is beyond me.

KEN LEVINE said...

Yeah, Carl, it IS a coincidence. I zeroed in on that lyric because it was so stupid when I heard it LAST NIGHT.

And as for reprising the line, it's called a "callback" -- a comic convention discussed in this blog. The fact that Dave Barry, who is brilliant, is aware of that convention is no coincidence.

But you're welcome to go through two and half years of archives and see what else you thought I stole.

Horse's Ass said...

Well, now that you've brought it up, everyone on the internet today is going after Paula for her gaffe.

Coincidence????

And how come you and Dave Barry both write in English? Hmmmm? Seems awfully suspicious to me.

Richard Y said...

Michael Zand said...

Also "I'm Arizona born and bred" was really a ridiculous idea. Have you been to an Arizona city? It's not that different from LA -- except a lot hotter.


But it is a DRY Heat!!!! :)

JSWN said...

Ken, somebody on staff at the LA Times must be reading your blog! Had the unmitigated gall to steal my American Idol slang ~Archie~ for David A. and use it in today's Calendar section. Remember how I used it first!? Petty thieves, those writers and journalists. Errant knaves, every last one of 'em!
I wanna sue. Speaking of litigation, maybe I have grounds to sue Traci Lords and company because she plays a character with the exact same first and last name as me!! Coincidence????

carl said...

Ken, simply pointing out which comedy/literary device you employed has nothing to do with the specific example here. That would be like a plagiarist saying, "I just used a subject and a predicate, which is common in sentence structure. So there!" I doubt that would work in the case of someone actually accused of plagiarism.

It just struck me as extremely odd that you not only cited that one part of the song but also used it exactly like Barry did -- from the first citation to the end of your post, almost to the exact wording and structure of the joke.

KEN LEVINE said...

Carl,

Anyone who's read my posts or seen the shows I've written knows I've made a very nice career plagiarizing for 35 years.

Let me check Dave Barry's column so I know what to write tomorrow.

jbryant said...

carl - I think people have been ragging on that particular Diamond lyric since roughly the day the song was released. There's bound to be some overlap.

Miss Francis said...

In the words of Dave Barry,
"Kids, play nice."

D. McEwan said...

I can't believe it. There's a nasty fight going on in the comments page, and I didn't accidentally start it.

Hey Carl, pissing people off here is my gig! Get your own act, plagiarist!

Roger Green said...

It occurred to me that ice skating judges have long been accused of doing the same thing as Paula. No, not drinking; taking the practice skate as the actual performance, thus giving the gold to the skater who fell in the real thing over the skater who did a clean program.