Wednesday, April 09, 2008

AMERICAN IDOL: Top 8 "Dream rainbows and believe in striving"

While Syesha Mercado was screeching out some faux inspirational song that strung together every I believe/Catch a shooting star/There’s time for every soul to fly/Reach within your heart/Strive to be the very best/Anything is Possible” bullshit cliché (and every one of those lyrics actually WAS in that song), Doug Davis, a young pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks took the mound and pitched the game of his life…knowing that in two days he will undergo surgery for thyroid cancer.

THAT’S inspirational. THAT’S real.

AMERICAN IDOL’S “Inspirational Music Night” was manufactured hokum – trumping up your emotions so you’ll be all primed and ready to give to AMERICAN IDOL GIVES BACK, their big charity oozfest.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s all for a good charity and it’s commendable that they’re doing it. But there’s an element of inflated importance and grandstanding that just gives me the vibe that AMERICAN IDOL is doing this more for themselves and their image than for the charity itself.

I will not be watching the show this evening. I watched it last year. It was like freebasing the Jerry Lewis telethon.

Nor will I watch the results show. Last year they didn’t eliminate anybody. How could they? What is American going to say – “Your song was the least inspirational. You’ve got to go”? Of course not. So now the show that is 90% filler normally will be 100% filler. There will be the zippy Ford commercial, the Up With People production number with the kids (probably singing “Climb Every Mountain” while Paula cries uncontrollably), probing questions from the viewers (“David Archuleta, I’m getting my braces off in a year. Will you wait for me?”), and finally the recaps – endless recaps (Tuesday’s show, Wednesday’s show, last year’s show, the first half of this show).

But I did watch the Tuesday performance show. I’m not an overly sentimental slug as you know but I must admit I was moved to boredom.

I know I'm being snarky but does it seem to you that the performances are just not that good this year? There are always things to goof on but in the past those were mixed with some fantastic performances. Now the judges are fawning over Jason Castro. We've lowered the bar to the point where only a limbo champion could go under it.

Michael Johns sang “Dream On”. Most inspirational songs are not angrily shouted at you. Okay, okay, I’ll dream on. Don’t hurt me!

Syesha belted the crap out of the aforementioned “I Believe”. Actual lyrics I forgot to mention included “I believe in the impossible/It’s in the eyes of every child/Have you ever reached a rainbow’s end?”…and the obligatory “I’ve waited all my life for this moment to arrive”.

Jason Castro did the Iz version of “Over the Rainbow”. The judges LOVED it. What am I missing? To me it was like watching Tiny Tim.

Kristy Lee Cook sang “Anyway”. She said it was a deeply personal song to her. I guess because any way she can win this contest she’s going to go for it. God bless the U.S.A.

With David Cook’s new hairstyle he's starting to morph into Joey Heatherton. He did “Innocent” and had “Give Back” written on his hand. Carly Smithson wanted to do the same thing but her tattoo artist was on vacation.

Carly sang Queen’s “Show Must Go On”. I forget why she said this was inspirational.

David Archuleta did a lovely job of “Angels” although the producers didn’t do him any favors making him give a video introduction. Somehow, life lessons from a 17 year old don't have the same impact.

Brooke White got the pimp spot. Her Carole King song this week was “You’ve Got a Friend”. But the genius of Brooke is that she picks the right Carole King composition. She could just as easily have chosen “Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby (Oh No)”, “Happy Being Fat”, “Let’s Turkey Trot”,or “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)”.

I don’t care who gets the least number of votes this week. I do care however that Doug Davis pulls through his operation this Thursday and has a complete and speedy recovery.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Randy, Paula, Simon and Ryan were on with Larry King on Monday night and they insisted that somebody will indeed go home on Thursday so you might want to tune in, even though it will be almost an hour of AI congratularing itself over how wonderful Idol Gives Back was.

I wanted so badly to hate Jason Castro's performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow - I have never been able to warm up to the Brother Iz butchering of the lyrics - but I had to admit that that he did a decent job of it. I'm frightened, Auntie Em! I'm frightened!

Robin said...

Your not suppose to make me teary eyed for a guy I don't know at 530 in the morning.

Tom Quigley said...

Thanks to the new 12-Step progam I just joined, A.I.A. (American Idol Anonymous), I realized that I was powerless over American Idol, and that my life had become unmanageable -- and I can proudly say that I did not watch last night's show... Of course, I'll probably relapse when it comes on tonight... And tomorrow... And next week (God, when the hell is the damn thing going to be over with?)... Please -- somebody help me!... And bring plenty of coffee and cigarettes....

Vermonter 17032 said...

Ken,

Thanks for the Joey Heatherton reference. My first crush as a boy was Joey Heatherton. Sadly, she became a punch line.

Murray said...

" But there’s an element of inflated importance and grandstanding..."

Since that phrase applies, in spades, to every "reality show" since the debut of "Survivor", your column is as close as I get to any of the "Idol" shows.

And best wishes to Mr. Davis!

Mike Bell said...

Ahhhh....Joey Heatherton. The first to stir these...strange...wonderful feelings of....

Baldini said...

You know, I was thinking that the performances sucked this year, too. Then, last nigh in a commercial break, I switched to CBS. Sheryl Crow was performing. My wife said "Jesus, she's worse than everybody left on AI." And, sadly, she was right. The art of singing is nearly dead. I was floored by how horrible she sounded. Good producers are gold, I guess...

Doktor Frank Doe said...

I'm with you guys on Joey Heatherton, she was the first woman that made me think things I had to later look up years later in a dictionary. But I'm with you Ken on the Idol sensationalism with this charity event. It would mean a hell of a lot more if the show was done without a single sponsor plug. I've reached critical mass where no matter what I turn on TV there's a company logo in the background, enough is enough already! This American Idol "give back" week is unbearable. Do it, do it from the heart, leave your Fords and shit at home and it will really look like it matters to you!

rita said...

naw. david archuleta just cannot hold up to robbie williams -- especially not when sung in front of an audience of 77,000.

Observer said...

Castro's performance was by far the strangest of the night. During the whole song, not a single person in the audience was moving or showing any emotion I could see. It was like they were all watching in horror as a train wreck was unfolding in slow motion. There wasn't even any stupid arm waving in the front (THANK GOD THEY STOPPED DOING THAT).

I said to my wife during his song, "Well, he's doing the same thing as the last two weeks, only this time it is with a stupid ukelele and a song from 'The Muppet Movie,' the judges are going to crucify him."

And then Simon says "FANTASTIC!" What the?!?! He's been bashing Castro with the "I don't get it" vibe for two weeks and now this?

jbryant said...

Carly Smithson seems like such a nice, bubbly girl when she's not singing. But as good as her voice is, she makes singing look about as much fun as ditch-digging. She was actually scowling with concentration on the line "My make-up may be flaking, but my smile still stays on!" But she won't get voted off -- I predict she'll burst a blood vessel and die on stage.

I hope they do a Gospel Night, and Kristy Lee covers Cartman's South Park classic, "I Wanna Get Down on My Knees and Start Pleasin' Jesus."

Syesha is a true mistress of the obvious. In her intro to "I Believe," she stated something like "to me, it's a song about believing in yourself." To her? It's the actual subject matter of the song. It's like saying "To me, 'John Henry' is about a steel drivin' man."

John said...

I remember as a pre-adolescent yute there was just something about those Joey Heatherton "Perfect Sleeper" commercials for Serta back in the 1960s ("Be a perfect sleeper/Buy a Perfect Sleeper/Perfect Sleeper/By Serta) that demanded attentions in a different way than, say, the latest Trix rabbit ad did.


(On the other hand, a modern day ad where Paul Abdul passes out on some brand name mattress would also be interesting. I just don't think she could either sing or read the ad copy coherently.)

BigTed said...

Does anyone remember Heatherton's '70s summer-replacement variety series "Joey & Dad"? At one point the network forced her to wear different costumes, saying her outfits were "too revealing." I think that show may have sent me into early puberty.

Monsterbeard said...

Wow. All I want to do now is: 1) Watch Idol every day, and 2) Use freebasing to compare one thing to another. Constantly. Thank you. You rock.

Anonymous said...

How 'bout singing Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds song LOVE LETTER?
Or, maybe wrapping their anemic vocal chords around some Nina Simone? Anybody head of Neil Young?
The talent boat, it is a sinkin'!
They all suck, plain and simple.

Keeping the beloved Mr. Davis in our thoughts.

D. McEwan said...

Observer,

When you "said to my wife during his song, 'Well, he's doing the same thing as the last two weeks, only this time it is with a stupid ukelele and a song from 'The Muppet Movie,'" did your wife point out that the song was actually from THE WIZARD OF OZ? Only the arrangement was from Muppettland.

I'd not heard this arrangement of OVER THE RAINBOW before. Does "Brother Iz" or whoever the artist is put the lyrics through a mixmaster that srambles them up, eradicates all meaning and sentence structure, and makes hash of Yip Harburg's rhyme-scheme? Musically, the Ukelele Ike rendition didn't bother me, but turning the lyrics into Word Salad did.

But honestly, you come off as effemintate week after week, you look like Joan Crawford with dreadlocks, and then your choice to butch up your image is to sing OVER THE RAINBOW, which was annointed as "The Gay National Anthem" in THE BOYS IN THE BAND 40 years ago? Good move, Castro.

BTW, how is this song of yearning for a less-boring life "inspirational"? It's inspired a lot of gay sex and drag shows. Beyond that, it's inspirational aspect escapes me.

But it was Smithson's inability to fill THE SHOW MUST GO ON's sound that almost made me miss Infant Boy's ANGEL, as I HAD to slip in the Queen CD and listen to Freddy Mercury sing it as it should be sung again during the commercial break.

But tonight IDOL GIVES BACK will give me back Wednesday Night, as I certainly won't waste it watching Idol Give Back.

Actually, if the Castro kid continues his butch committment to OVER THE RAINBOW, we may end up seeing Jason Castro give Back.

D. McEwan said...

I forgot to mention my favorite sartorial touch of the evening, which was Michael John's butch decision to perform while dressed as Sir Noel Coward. If only he'd performed OVER THE RAINBOW, he'd have had every gay vote in America.

Dhppy said...

Brooke says "You've Got A Friend" is a happy song. A feel good song. I guess, she glossed over the "down and troubled" part that drives one to "call [someone's] name out loud". It's more of a feel better song, really, but she never quite gets that pain thing.

Poor Carole King. She has to live with the knowledge that somehow, she inspired Brooke to grow up and bleach every ounce of soul out of pop music.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Tiny Tim's version of "Over The Rainbow" is pretty good.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

I was convinced by the time they had winnowed it down to the top two or three hundred that there was nobody as good as at least the best four or five singers last year (which didn't happen to include the beat-boxing novelty act, who was talented... just not at singing.) They look better this year -- and really isn't that all that should matter? -- but the singing sucks. By the way, Jason Castro is Sunjaya without the charisma.

emily said...

"IZ" was Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole, a great Hawaiian vocalist known to many, but not all, obviously.

velvet goldmine said...

Some of you might remember a commercial for e-toys (like 10 years ago? Kid is riding in the back of a car, eyes full of wonder?), and recently for a kids' cereal (Life?) , featuring that "ooo-oooo-OOOO-ooo-hooo" vocal....that was the intro to Iz's Rainbow song. It's very pretty, but Jason skipped most of it.

Annie said...

3 days ago I was about to answer Ken's intriguing question about our 'worst nightmares.' Then my Internet connection died. Ever since I've been either on the phone with tech support or entertaining them in person. But at least they didn't make me watch AI.
btw, I heard Carly Smithson's tattoo artist is out with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Anonymous said...

You can hear Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" here (scroll about halfway down the page).

I think (and have thought since I first heard it) that it's incredible, but for me Jason Castro didn't really do much with it. Of course he was still better than some of the other lame performances on Tuesday.

What's really sad is that after telling myself I wouldn't, I watched Idol Gives Back. And what's even sadder is that Teri Hatcher (yes, Teri Hatcher!) actually sang one of the best performances on the show. She was way better than Mariah Carey...

Tom Quigley said...

When Seacrest announced "I'm being told the phone lines are jammed," I expected the next thing to come out of his mouth would be this little ditty:

"The lines are jammed, the website's crashed,
But sorry, folks, we still need cash.
So give us the OK to take any amount
By electronically tapping your bank account."

jbryant said...

Didn't we also hear Iz's "Rainbow" on ER when Mark Greene died? It's a lovely performance, but I'm with d. mcewan on the weird cut-and-paste, mix-and-match lyrics. Maybe it was recorded on a whim, and Iz just sang it from (faulty) memory?

Does every ukulele-accompanied song inspire Tiny Tim jokes, even when the singer sounds absolutely nothing like the guy? I won't make any big claims for Jason Castro, but in general he has a nice tone, some good phrasing, and a sort of bud-blurred vision of what kind of artist he wants to be. We may never hear from him again when this is over, but I've got to give him props for staying true to himself thus far, even if it's only because he realizes his limitations. Given his style of music, he's probably gobsmacked that he made it to Hollywood, much less the top eight. I think he's just enjoying the ride, dude.

Paul Atkinson said...

Castro's performance didn't hold a candle to Iz's version. I have no clue why the judges fawned over it. It must have been one of those "Oh, I love this version of the song and I haven't heard it in forever!" moments.

I don't see why it's so surprising, though. I hear that version a ton more than the original, and for a guy in dreads it just seemed very obvious he was going to do it before he even started the song.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Seems every performace I like, the judges dislike (other than Paula, who's the resident hospice worker). I loathed that sappy, dreary version of Over the Rainbow. I wasn't reminded of Tiny Tim when I saw the ukulele, I thought of Poncie Ponce

corneilius said...

Anyone who devotes even a millisecond to American Idol is wasting time..... even taking a dump is more useful, more fun and obviously essential.