Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AMERICAN WHITEL

It was “Soul and R&B” week on “American Idol” as performed by the New Christy Minstrels. A high school girl from Middlebury, Connecticut taking on Aretha; another high schooler getting down with Bill Withers. I’m surprised the celebrity mentor wasn’t R&B legend, Kristin Chenoweth.

The mentor they did use, Usher, gave some really good advice – when he wasn’t staring at the kids in disbelief. The one tip he forgot to impart was always lock your car when you have over a million dollars of jewelry in it. Big Mike said Usher is “one of the greatest performers they’ve ever had” to which my daughter Annie chimed in, “Big deal! The only other one was Miley Cyrus!”

In general I wasn’t thrilled with the song selection. There are so many incredible soul and R&B tunes to choose from. How could no one do “the Oogum Boogum Song” or “Papa Oom-Mow-Mow” or at least “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman”? Who’s guiding these people?

Siobhan Magnus got it started. She always looks so cute in rehearsal with her big mousy glasses and tousled hair. But then on show night she transforms into that strange girl in school only the foreign exchange student will speak to. Last night she was Boy George. Siobhan had an off-week with “Through the Fire”. And that last screechy note is overkill on the level of an Oliver Stone movie.

Smilin’ Casey James did Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Coming”. In rehearsal smilin' Casey had a tough time remembering the words. But he was a champ on show night and nailed it, even getting the ultra tricky: “Hold on, I’m coming. Hold on, I’m a coming”.

Big Mike Lynche sang a beautiful rendition of “Ready For Love”. Randy was impressed that Mike “showed his sensitive side.” Huh? What other side does Mike have???

Didi Benami tried a Joan Osbourne version of “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”. Her performance reminded me of that “Sopranos” episode where they shot Phil Leotardo to death and then crushed his skull under a tire.

Tim Urban wasn’t much better. I used to think it was amazing that cockroaches could survive a nuclear blast but Tim has them beat.

Andrew Garcia did well singing “Forever”. But then Simon said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re boring.” Uh, what exactly is the right way to take “you’re boring”? Simon, don’t take this the wrong way but you’re an egotistical asshole. Oh, wait… he would find that a compliment.

Little Katie Stevens tackled Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools”. She’s got a strong voice but come on. When she sang the line, “For five long years you were my man” I thought, “So, like what? He’s been your man since you were twelve?”

The best was saved for last (except for Aaron). Lee Dewyze kicked ass on “Treat Her Like a Lady”, and for my money the performance of the night was Crystal Bowersox singing “Midnight Train to Georgia”. Wow. Last night she proved that not only could she sing without a guitar, she could sing while wearing stilettos! Crystal is starting to distance herself from the pack.

Rachael Maddow doppelganger, Aaron Kelly wrapped up the night with Bill Withers' “Anal Sunshine When You’re Gone”, or at least that’s what it sounded like he was singing.

The overall problem was that none of these kids were in their element this week. Let them have “Afterschool Rock” week and see how they blow the doors down.

19 comments:

Eric said...

Schoolhouse Rock? Do you think one of those kids has the chutzpah to dare to handle that classic "Zero, My Hero"?

Tom said...

New Christy Minstrels?!? Man, you're showing your age, Ken!

I'm guessing there aren't many of us codgers (sp?) who get that reference.

Harriet said...

Ken, great take on the show as always, and so funny! Thanks.

Brian Phillips said...

"Mama Oom Mow Mow" is a better song that "Papa..."

Craig said...

The days of just being a good singer are over. Music is now a visual medium and thus, a female singer who looks like Crystal Bowersox has little chance of success. Just look at who are considered the most successful women singers today. I think it is unfortunate, but it's not about who sounds good on the radio, but who looks sexy on TV. The attempt to dress her up last night showed little hope for that ever happening. Maybe she'll prove me wrong, but I don't think she'll win Idol or have more than a mediocre career.

David (not Isaacs) said...

Craig:
Yeah, you`re right. I mean, everyone only listens to Susan Boyle because she`s such a hottie.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see Siobhan take on Bjork or Alanis Morrisette.

Ian said...

Craig is probably right about Crystal Bowersox. She's certainly talented, but it's almost a given that today's female pop stars need to have a certain "look" as well as sing well. The problem is that she looks like a real person, not something dreamed up by a committee of 15 year-old boys. That's not to say that Bowersox can't have a great career, but I don't see her becoming a break-out mainstream pop star.

Brad said...

"Anal Sunshine when she's gone, only darkness everyday, anal no sunshine when she's gone, she's always gone too long anytime she goes away"...Kind of takes a new meaning with this new interpretation. Sorry I missed this episode. I was in Vegas and saw a great Penn & Teller show instead. Sounds like I was better off here in Vegas.

jackscribe said...

Perhaps Tim should spice up his act with a shirtless performance. That'll keep Ellen using the 'adorable' line and sweep in the 'tween votes. Thanks, Ken, for your usual excellent take. Like DWTS, I think I'll give AI a pass for the next couple of weeks and let whatever cream there is rise to the top.

Wendy said...

Completely off topic, but what's your reaction to the loss of David Mills?

YEKIMI said...

I'll give AI a pass for the next couple of weeks and let whatever cream there is rise to the top.


I have a feeling it's only going to be sour cream......

Mary Stella said...

I'm guessing there aren't many of us codgers (sp?) who get that reference.

I got the reference and I'm not old enough to be a codger. Cougar, maybe.

The judges want everyone to be "relevant" and the young singers to be contemporary.

Age-wise, that'll happen when Katie sings Taylor Swift and Aaron goes for Justin Biemer (Biemer? Bieber? That teenage kid.)

I know Casey's supposed to be this season's eye candy and all, but there's just something so awkward about him when he performs -- like a juvenile giraffe that hasn't quite worked out how to balance.

I think Crystal is terrific and would buy her CD tomorrow. I don't think she'll win the whole thing because she doesn't fit the image from the star making machinery.

At this point, I no longer think I know who's going to win which greatly jeopardizes my weekly choices in the AI pool.

Mary Stella said...

Now here's a commentary on AI: My Dish Network service described tonight's results show with this listing for the DVR:

American Idol
Starring Ellen DeGeneres and some other people.

That's just great.

Bob said...

Urban is the selected player at votefortheworst.com so he's getting a number of votes from those followers.

Kevin Arbouet said...

Is it just me or does Casey sound exactly like Huey Lewis?

Not a bad thing. I'm just sayin'...

And what the FUCK is up with Ryan Seacrest and Didi??? He gropes her like Gordon Jump from that Different Strokes episode with Dudley and that porcelain bathtub.

Oh, and Siobhan still sucks.

Chalmers said...

I've always felt that Gordon Jump, by playing that role convincingly, jarred his image so much that it cost him work. He was a funny actor from a well-regarded sitcom. After that, I only saw him as the Maytag repairman.

From then on, it seemed Paul Dooley got all of those roles.

Anonymous said...

Ken, you are such a brilliant writer, and I would hate to dampen the spontaneity of this blog. But I've noticed that you are increasingly committing a syntactical error on these pages by sticking a confusing and unnecessary commas in front of names that read better without them.
You've got at least two in this one:

"I’m surprised the celebrity mentor wasn’t R&B legend, Kristin Chenoweth." and "Rachael Maddow doppelganger, Aaron..."

If you read the lines out loud, you'll see that there should be no pause in these continuous thoughts. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Ken, you are such a brilliant writer, and I would hate to dampen the spontaneity of this blog. But I've noticed that you are increasingly committing a syntactical error on these pages by sticking a confusing and unnecessary commas in front of names that read better without them.
You've got at least two in this one:

"I’m surprised the celebrity mentor wasn’t R&B legend, Kristin Chenoweth." and "Rachael Maddow doppelganger, Aaron..."

If you read the lines out loud, you'll see that there should be no pause in these continuous thoughts. That is all.