Wednesday, April 02, 2008

AMERICAN IDOL: Top 9 (to 5)

Dolly Parton night.
Okay, I like Dolly Parton. She’s got a good sense of humor, doesn’t take herself too seriously. But I’m sorry, with all the plastic surgery she now looks like the Joker in a blond wig. You’ve seen those scenes where a guy in tight pants bends over and they rip in half? Every time Dolly smiles that’s what I think is going to happen to her face. So it’s a tad disconcerting. And it must be worse for Ryan to see himself in ten years.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of country music (it’s fine for playing in the background at barbeque joints) but Ms. Parton wrote 3000 songs and they all sound the same to me. The only tune I liked all night turned out to be written by others – Cynthia Weil & Barry Mann (who currently have a musical running in Pasadena based on the movie MASK – a heartbreaking story to us, a cautionary tale to Dolly).

Brooke White kicked it off with “Jolene”. It’s about one woman telling a prettier woman not to steal her man. Songs about Jerry Springer topics don’t thrill me. Brooke was fine. She managed to sing it all the way through without stopping. Beyond that… I dunno.

Before David Cook sang some gut wrenching song about a sparrow he did a brief interview with Ryan in Coca-Cola Corner. He explained how he chose his various cover versions. “Damage Control… brought to you by Coke!” The judges fawned all over him (AGAIN!) in a futile and transparent attempt to make the viewers believe someone other than David Archuleta is going to win.

Next up – Remiele Malubay, who would kill her parents and eat them if it meant making head cheerleader. “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” was the Dolly ditty she oversang the snot out of. But if you disagree, vote for Remiele at 1-866-B-E-T-T-Y B-O-O-P.

Jason Castro sang “Travelin’ Thru”. “I’m travelin’, travelin’, travelin’ thru.” At least when Steve Martin sang, “I’m a ramblin’, ramblin’, ramblin’ guy” it was a joke. But Jason did an okay job of it and she should be safe for another week.

I thought the best performance of the night was Carly Smithson’s “Here I Come Again” (the song penned by Weil & Mann). Simon criticized her wardrobe. She’s not dressing like a star. What he really means is WEAR LONG SLEEVES!!!

David Archuleta sang “Smoky Mountain Memories”, a song about reliving painful distant memories. So who better to really sell that than a twelve year old?

Since this was a country-themed week Kristi Lee Cook didn’t have to wave Old Glory and shoot fireworks out of her ass. She warbled one of those interchangeable, forgettable country songs that will keep her safe for this week and land her a job singing at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Syesha Mercado never met a song she couldn’t strip of its melody. She attempted to do “I Will Always Love You” with her usual senseless runs and vocal tricks and topped it by trying to top Whitney Houston. She wasn’t even as good as Angelica Huston.

Michael (Bolton) Johns did “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” as if Freddy Mercury performed at a rodeo.

I think Remiele and Syesha are in the bottom two but the real suspense Wednesday night will be seeing Dolly perform under all those bright lights.

Addendum based on some comments:

let me repeat, I LIKE Dolly. I also don't hate country music. I would imagine a big part of the problem from me is that instead of Dolly Parton or superb C/W artists singing her material we got Jason Castro and girls with made-up names.

It was not a good introduction to the brilliance of her songwriting. And last season anyone not familiar with Cole Porter would wonder what all the shouting was about with him after hearing that bunch of chuckleheads trample his songbook.


Anonymous said...

Wow - how anyone over the age of 16 can continue to care about the "singers" on Idol is beyond me. That isn't a slam on you, Ken, because your witty comments are about the only thing good associated with the entire mess and I know reviewing it brings you blog hits. But every year, the contestants get more bottom-of-the-barrel and this year they aren't even decent lounge singers. It's a mediocrity fest. And Dolly Parton? Unless she was naked (and that is a scary thought nowdays), I don't see the appeal.

Anonymous said...

"Songs about Jerry Springer topics don’t thrill me."

But that's EVERY country song!

At least David Cook finally chopped off the horrid bangs and had decent hair for the first time.

And also --- no, that was aout it.

No wait, there was all the praise the judges heaped on Sayesha without anyone pointing out that every single note she sang was flat. There's nothing quite like hearing a big note belted loud and long, without ever coming within a semi-tone of the actual pitch.

And as for Little David Archipelego, the 12 year old, I can't wait for his first album, which will include SEPTEMBER SONG and IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR, in stores before he ever loses his virginity.

webbie said...

But did anyone else see Michael Kors in the audience? Zowie! I guess he figured that Dolly Parton would make his face work look good.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that men can be as bitchy as women - meow!
Dolly Parton is a one of the true pioneers in popular music, a powerful, talented woman who paved the path for many. She is a brilliant songwriter, and the only thing that kept me sitting through the sleepfest that is American Idol. Shame on y'all.

Anonymous said...

I remember Dolly's introduction to non-country music America on The Tonight Show, when she finished her song and Johnny invited her over to the couch to "Take a load off your feet". Nothing like a combination of voice and special order-sized breasts to make someone a pop culture icon for 35 years.

And considering the group of male singers selected to go to Hollywood for the show this season, they probably could do a Dolly Parton impersonator night on Idol this evening without any problem.

Anonymous said...

I can not agree more with you about Dolly. Why oh why do do these superstars go great lengths to portray a false image of their true self.

Anonymous said...

Faux looks aside, Dolly Parton is widely regarded regarded in the industry as one of the finest songwriters EVER or any music genre.

Mary Stella said...

I completely disagree with your assessment of Dolly. She's the poster woman for plastic surgery done right. Now there's an idea for a reality show -- America's Top Face Lifts, but we need to include the horror stories like Wayne Newton and Kenny Rogers.

Everybody who consistently voted for Sanjaya last season must be voting for Ramiele. It's the only reason that I can think of for why she's still in the competition. She has to go home tonight. I'm tired of her screwing up my betting pool picks.

Richard Cooper said...

Yes, can't wait to see Dolly melt under the lights... If I watched. I don't watch TV anymore. I've been on the wagon since Thanksgiving... Did I have my drapes open?

The Minstrel Boy said...

one of my favorite moments with dolly (who i absolutely adore) came backstage as she was getting ready. she had about ten wigs on stands on the counter and was looking them over. she grabbed the biggest tammy wynette inspired mountain of platinum blonde hair, plopped it on, giggled and said

the bigger the hair, the smaller the hips.

word dolly.

A said...

You're hysterical. Favorite parts:

it must be worse for Ryan to see himself in ten years.

Brooke was fine. She managed to sing it all the way through without stopping.

David Cook sang some gut wrenching song about a sparrow

Since this was a country-themed week Kristi Lee Cook didn’t have to wave Old Glory and shoot fireworks out of her ass.

Too funny.

As for David Archuleta, it's funny how fast the bloom wore off that rose for me. Just weeks ago, I was all teary with his rendition of "Imagine" but now I realize he sings everything that way. His eyes well up with emotion, he belts out the words but I'm not buyin' it anymore. The whole, "Look how adorable I am and do I have a great voice or what?" got old.

Now I wanna see him lose his temper, I wanna see him get pissed off, flip Simon the bird, kick over his stool, cry about life "not being fair!", something.

No love for the Archuleta any more.

And Carly Smithson? That's another one that can go home. She wants us to like her so much I can't bear to look at her face and eyes, all that yearning for us to LOVE HER, so I look away and...guess what? When you're not watching she sounds less than great.

In fact, none of them sound all that great when you look away from the screen.

Which is why I watch the show but never buy their music.

Anonymous said...

Diana's right, Dolly is a brilliant songwriter. I doubt that anyone who knows anything about songwriting would even argue the point. Country music is like any other genre - amid the tons of dreck, there are some great, great songs. But since even the best country artists seem "common" to the sophisticates, they're easily dismissed. Though I grant you, if Cole Porter had worn towering wigs and double D implants, we'd have had trouble taking him seriously, too.

Hey Simon (and Ken): "Little Sparrow" is not really "about" a sparrow. And "Coat of Many Colors" is only "forgettable" when Kristy Lee Cook sings it, and it certainly isn't "interchangeable" with every other country song. This isn't all that different from our parents dismissing all rock 'n' roll as noise, or a metal fan thinking everything from the Great American Songbook sounds "gay." "Opera is all screech and bombast." "Jazz is all aimless noodling." "Hip-Hop? Why, it isn't even music!"

It's a wonder we listen to anything at all, isn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

Brilliant title for this post.

I still love David Cook. Just ask anyone at Anna's.

P.S. Not as much fun to watch without you.

Anonymous said...

The song Carly sang is titled "Here YOU Come Again."

Anonymous said...

I got an aircheck of you announcing "here you come again" at KHTZ hehehe

Anonymous said...

What does Simon have against BIRDS? He was ragging on Carly when she sang Blackbird, now David for singing Sparrow.

Anonymous said...

Simon critiquing a bird:

"What are you? The yellow one? A canary? Okay, whatever you are. Look, I don't mean to be rude, but that was the most cabaret tweeting I've ever heard. In fact, it was more like 'bleating' than 'tweeting' like you were some sort of dying goat being led to a slaughterhouse without being sufficiently gagged first. It was simply ghastly. And I don't like your tufts. They seem all askew and ridiculous, and the way you flapped you arms... wings... whatever, was so rigid. It was as if you had just been kicked out of the nest due to sheer embarassment. It was an awkward mess, if I'm being frank with you."

Annie said...

I'm torn between watching this show and getting sucked in, or skipping it and being an hour up on the rest of 'civilization.' So I'll split the difference and just read your review.
btw - I read your profile as 'Emmy-whining writer.' It's snot you, it's me. Smoochie.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Ken, you are always so much fun to read. I clicked on the pic of Dolly thinking it would take me to the comments, but instead it blew up TO LIFE SIZE! It's sad when someone that talented and lovable can't just let it be.

As for Idol, if I'm not mistaken these decisions are being made by the same people who elected Taylor Hicks and George Bush twice. Get back to me when there's a reason to take their (our) opinions seriously.

Oh God. I'm watching the vote-off show right now and the bottom three, Brooke, Remiele and Kristi Lee, are all on stage together, hugging... kissing... sobbing... writhing... panting... Oh. Sorry, that's me. There's definitely a more entertaining show here than the producers have figured out how to make.

But as I was saying... Melinda Doolittle made me cry. More than once. Melinda Doolittle, Paverotti and a few other people. They voted her off for an arrogant little clown who makes fart noises with his mouth. That I don't forget. And I don't forgive.

Anonymous said...

That picture isn't Dolly Parton, it's a lookalike. I'm sure of it.

Anyway, the Irish chick is the best and this show is a sad pitiful piece of crap.

Tim W. said...

Defending Dolly's talent is one thing, but defending her plastic surgery? Have you seen her? What exactly is this obsession with looking like plasticized version of yourself 20 years earlier? More times than not it doesn't make the person look better. It just makes them look less like themselves. Although maybe that's the point. Maybe therapy would be a better option.

Dr. Teeth said...

Dolly may look like an alien now, but the woman can write a song. I've got to object to your unfair slam of "Jolene," one of the saddest, most honest songs I know. There's nothing lurid or trashy about it. It's just one woman pleading with another not to take her man away, because he's all she's got. "He talks about you in his sleep, there's nothing I can do to keep from crying when he calls your name, Jolene." If you can't sympathize with the woman in that song you've got a heart of stone.

Tom Quigley said...

Well, here it is Thursday morning and Remiele is gone -- but not to worry. I understand she's already hiring herself out as a piƱata for Latino chidren's birthday parties....

Thomas said...

Well thanks for the post, but I think Dolly looks great, even with the plastic surgeries! People can agree to disagree though :-)

Anonymous said...

Last night Dolly sang a song about gravity, and Jesus lifting her up.

Why doesn't Dr. Horowitz get any credit for lifting her up?

Anonymous said...

Instead of mocking the woman, why aren't you more critical of a society that makes a woman over 40 feel like she has to get plastic surgery (especially if she is in the entertainment business)

By Ken Levine said...

I'm an equal opportunity mocker, Diana. I have in this blog took shots at men who feel the need to surgically turn themselves into tikis too.

Don't you think Dolly Parton is admired enough that people would buy her CD's and attend her concerts in just the same numbers if she didn't resort to plastic surgery?

I will agree that society does play a large role in these celebrities feeling the need to alter their appearances. But so does vanity.

Anonymous said...

I also wonder if Dolly, Joan Rivers and all the others reach a point where they're afraid to stop the procedures and see what happens when nature is suddenly allowed to take its course. Maybe they'd rather keep sculpting than risk looking like a mutant Shar Pei.

Anonymous said...

One of the choicest moments of last night's elimination show was the clip package of Idol alum country stars, in which Bucky Covington shared that being a part of Idol was "the smartest thing I've ever did."

Alto2 said...

This week's show was painful. I tolerate country music and Dolly Parton, but listening to Syesha SCREAM "I Will Always Love You" made me want to tear out my hair. Watching Dolly's multi-sculpted face and body prance through her song was surreal. The bright spot this week was Ramiele's elimination. Buh-bye.

estiv said...

I'm still waiting for them to do an all-Sex Pistols show. Or all Stephen Foster. Or half and half of those two great musical acts.

Anonymous said...

Good idea, estiv. They could do a medley: "God Save the Queenie with the Light Brown Hair."

Annie said...

Wasn't next week supposed to be the 'Wiggles' and Barry Manilow? Or was that on SURVIVOR?

Anonymous said...

come on Ken, in your equal opportunity mocking, couldn't you at least mock Dolly with an actual pic of her instead of Mellody from You didn't even change the filename...!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that you are an equal opportunity mocker. I find females are the most likely targets - too thin, too fat, whatever. Can't win. If Dolly didn't have the surgery, there would be a photo of her with a caption making fun of her sagging aging skin, no doubt.

Cap'n Bob said...

I can't look at the place where Dolly's legs meet her pelvis without thinking of the Arc de Triompe (sp?)

Tim W. said...

Diana, I'm pretty sure Ken mocked Ryan Seacrest in the very first paragraph, and last time I checked, he was a man (or at least fairly mannish). Besides, as Ken is writing a review of American Idol, and they're having a Dolly night, so it's pretty natural to, well, make fun of Dolly herself for all the reasons that he listed. Have we really come to a point in society where we have to make sure that we are politically correct while mocking?

It reminds me a little of GLAAD making Jay Leno make a public apology for asking Ryan Phillippe, who played a gay teen on a soap opera in his younger face, to give him his best gay face. I mean, is that really a battle worth fighting? Was anyone besides GLAAD offended? Have that many people been born completely devoid of a sense of humour?

Anonymous said...

I am certainly not trying to be "politically correct". I am writing my opinion, which is that Dolly Parton is one of the most brilliant, and underrated, songwriters alive. And I personally think she deserves more respect than she is getting here. And I do think that women get slammed more than men for their looks, no contest.

Tim W. said...

More respect? A large number of posters mentioned how talented she was and Ken even said he likes Dolly, but he's simply not a big fan of country music. Besides, being good at something doesn't automatically make you exempt from criticism. Dolly butchered her face, not matter how talented she is, and it's normal to want to comment on it.

As for the double standard, there possibly is, but I don't notice people giving Michael Jackson a free pass because he's the king of pop.