Wednesday, March 17, 2010


“American Idol” is like the Academy Awards this year – a plethora of nominees but only two real contenders. It’s Siobhan Magnus vs. Crystal Bowersox. (Why does my spellcheck flag me for “Bowersox” but think that “Siobhan” is a real word?) The rest are just fish chum. I’d be happy if Crystal wins but I LOVE Siobhan. She’s got an amazing voice, a real sense of theater, and let’s just say it – she is so fucking weird! She takes wild risks – from brave song choices to last week trying to wear heels. But she’s always fascinating, always original. If the theme one week is lullabies I wouldn’t be surprised to see her pop out of a coffin.

Now that we’ve reached the Top 12 we’re back to the garish Idoldome. What’s with the judges and Ryan now making entrances? My daughter Annie said, “It’s Sunday Night Football!”

The theme this week was music of the Rolling Stones. They showed a tribute montage of the band at the top of the show, and at first I thought, why? Everyone knows the Rolling Stones. But then I realized, Mick Jagger was already 80 when Katie Stevens was born, so maybe not everybody is that familiar with them.

Attention Idol producers: Please, please, PLEASE stop showing footage of the contestants’ background.


It’s just one long sappy stew of small towns, religious parents, hardships, gaggles of siblings, crippled relatives, toothless baby pictures, and near death experiences. “The Brady Bunch” meets “the Grapes of Wrath”. Just let the kids sing!

Highlight of the night was Ryan getting right up in Simon’s grill and Simon backpedaling away. Change his last name from Cowell to Cower.

Michael Lynche – the big kid with the canned ham biceps -- got things started with “Miss You”. I like him. Despite his menacing presence he’s very sweet. Michael won’t become the next American Idol but he’ll be close. And by close I mean he’ll be the next American Idol’s bodyguard.

The judges liked Didi Benami more than I did. She sang the dark “Playing with Fire”. Imagine being threatened by the Rose Queen. At least she didn’t cry though. More appropriate for her would have been “19th Nervous Breakdown”.

And what show were the judges watching when Lacey Brown massacred “Ruby Tuesday”? She was God awful! Every note was a clunker. Simon had no problem with the vocals. Really?? I bet when he watches the show back, (if he ever releases the pause button once his close up fills the screen) he’ll realize she sounded like a cat with it’s tail caught in a mop squeezer.

Casey James sang “It’s All Over Now”. Wordsmith Randy called it “bluesy, folksy, and rocksy”, thus comparing Casey to three of his favorite dwarfs.

Ellen finally got off a couple of great line when she said to Casey, “For most women, their hearts are going to start racing just looking at you. But then for people like me… blonds…”

Very funny. But then Ellen destroyed all credibility and proved she knows nothing about music by saying that Andrew Garcia’s performance was his best ever. Maybe earlier she should have said, “But then for people like me… deaf…” Andrew warbled “Gimme Shelter”. Kara took him to task for not sufficiently conveying the song’s message of war. She was clearly trying to show off her knowledge of music. On the other hand, I bet she couldn’t tell you which war.

Lee Dewyze crooned “Beast of Burden”. Randy said he sounded like Rob Thomas or Dave Matthews. I thought he sounded like Dean Martin.

Katie Stevens wore her prom dress to Rolling Stones night. In her profile puff piece she revealed that one of her goals was to “put Connecticut on the map”. Katie sang “Wild Horses”. She’s certainly not bad; it’s just that others are better.

Lowlight of the night was Tim Urban’s stupifying Reggae version of “Under My Thumb”. If only he had done it as a Polka. More apropos song selections for Tim would have been “The Last Time”, “Out of Time”, “It’s All Over Now”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”.

Siobhan Magnus, wearing a black party dress that really showed off her arm tattoo, gave the performance of the night with “Paint It Black”. She combines the best of Adam Lambert and Elvira.

Paige Miles, wearing what looked like a Boy Scout uniform, did a respectable rendition of “Honky Tonk Woman", especially since she has laryngitis. So Paige has a free pass this week. No one is going to vote off someone with laryngitis. Well, maybe Tim.

Aaron Kelly was next. He sang “Angie’ (which is really THE song to do if you have laryngitis. Jagger himself sounds like he’s being asphyxiated when he sings it.) Aaron sang it very well ; controlled and heartfelt. My only quibble is that his new hairstyle makes him now look like Astro Boy.

Crystal Bowersox got the pimp spot and without breaking a sweat delivered a knockout version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Simon worried that she might be getting a little complacent. He’s right. This is the trap singers fall into when they’re not released from the hospital the morning of their performance.

Not sure which contestant is going home, but it makes no difference. The ultimate winner will either be “Crystal Locker” or “Siobhantar”.


Eric said...

I'm just disappointed no one did "Star Star" or "Schoolboy Blues."

Unknown said...

Excellent recap! Agree with it all, especially Lacey. Both my wife and I hated it and couldn't believe the judges liked it. Tim was just horrible, and I agree with you on the winners. I'm glad no one did "All Right Now". They'll probably do that as a group tonight. yawn...

Anonymous said...

Didn't you love it when Ryan prefaced Lee's performance by announcing how nervous he was? After the song, Ryan asked, "Just how nervous were you out there?" Lee totally ignored Ryan's question and just commented on the song. Does AI really need Ryan? He's such a boob!

Tom Quigley said...

As one of the few people in the world who happens to have a sister named Siobhan, guess who I'm pulling for also? The rest of them be damned!!!!!....

That said, it seemed that none of them ever showed any of the baser grit and soul (and yes, sometimes even a sly little bit of put-on by Mick) that I always heard in the original versions by the Stones... I don't know if it's a generational thing, or if everyone tried to put too much ornamentation into their covers, or that the contestants just didn't seem io "get it" when it comes to Stones songs... Whetever happened to starting with the Blues and working from that point of reference?....

Dave Williams said...

Okay, I'll admit to being a sap. Somebody has to do it.

Without the personal and family vignettes I wouldn't feel any connection at all to these people. It allows me to root for them rather than just sit back in my Lazy-Boy and rag on 'em.

Go, Crystal!

Ian said...

Another terrific recap, Ken (especially as I agree with you right down the line). Yeah, Lacey's got to go... I've heard that sliding, pitchy, baby-doll singing voice somewhere before... oh, yeah, in a Manila transsexual cabaret show. The reason your spell-check doesn't flag Siobhan is that it's a legit name... we just don't meet many of them here in L.A. I too love her combination of talent, good looks, and, yes, endearing strangeness. I wish the producers hadn't troweled on so much makeup, but her performance was the one knockout of the night, even if it wasn't technically perfect. I suspect she went back to the flats because of the stairs, but hope she's wobbling around on heels again next week. Bowersox is talented, to be sure, and I hope she gets a career out of this, but I don't see her taking the top spot.

Mr. Music said...

Note to Rich...
The Rolling Stones didn't sing "All Right Now". That was recorded by a group called 'Free'

Unknown said...

Wild Horses and I Dreamed A Dream are the only Susan Boyle tracks that made a (very mild) dent on the Billboard Hot 100 despite the massive album sales to rubes.

She did an okay job with the song, nothing like the original, of course. That type of singer is what Simon Cowell really knows-he sure as shit doesn't know good music or what really goes into what a true artist does because he's always looking for gimmicks-his first records produced were awful novelty records sung by wrestlers recorded in a garage. In today's marketplace (and it's unfortunate that's not when he got his start) a pompous, arrogant, in many ways ignorant Simon Cowell wouldn't stand a chance.

Keep that in mind whenever you hear him open his arrogant mouth from now on. And I don't care that he makes millions, etc.-he's just plain lucky as sometimes happens (Jim Belushi, anyone?) and his position (in the recording industry in a deal with Sony) wildly exceeds his actual abilities.

Mick Jagger was basically a blues singer that put a rock twist on a lot of very good original material. You seriously can't think anyone on this abomination of a singing contest could hold a candle to someone who took the heart of those songs he grew up on years ago and developed his own style based around them can you?

Unknown said...

I'm sure he meant It's All Right Now. All Right Now is the song by future members of Bad Company and The Firm that is wedding singer material. (according to Simon Cowell, whose ignorant ass actually said this on a show earlier this season) collectively called Free as you say. It's also the only wedding singer song I'm aware of in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

(Simon, you're a dumbass through and through.)

iain said...

Nobody had the, um, "Stones" to tackle a Keith song like "Little T & A" or "Before They Make Me Run?"

Too bad.

Unknown said...

Woops-my bad-I was actually thinking of It's All Over Now not It's All Right Now.

Unknown said...

Just shows how little of a Stones fan I am. I always associated "All Right Now" with them. D'OH! Thanks for letting me know. :)

Anonymous said...

I cannot BELEIVE I am standing up for Kara (HATE HATE), but she DID know which war. She said so at the beginning of her comments.

Anonymous said...

fab review!!

Mary Stella said...

This season's home visits were the worst. Casey's mother all but said, "please vote for my poor, possibly brain-damaged baby" and Tim's folks guaranteed him a mugging by revealing that his sisters cross-dressed him when he was a baby. Maybe he's been mugged and that's why he chose to do a Bobby Sherman meets Bob Marley version of the Stones.

wv= utlyt or the Phillies second baseman scores a triple!

te said...

Siobahn's version of "Paint It Black" -- and I agree that it stole the show -- reminds me of my all-time favorite version, by Chris Farlowe.

Ian said...

Ha! Mary Stella, you're funny!

"This season's home visits were the worst. Casey's mother all but said, "please vote for my poor, possibly brain-damaged baby" and Tim's folks guaranteed him a mugging by revealing that his sisters cross-dressed him when he was a baby. Maybe he's been mugged and that's why he chose to do a Bobby Sherman meets Bob Marley version of the Stones."

Patty said...

I agree so so so much about contestants backgrounds, it's a singing show not a background show!

D. McEwan said...

"Casey James sang 'It’s All Over Now'. Wordsmith Randy called it 'bluesy, folksy, and rocksy', thus comparing Casey to three of his favorite dwarfs."

Were they dwarves before he sat on them?

Whlie Lee Dewze's voice sounds nothing at all like Dean Martin's, I gotta say, the idea of Dino crooning Beast of Burden, made me laugh. And if Dean had ever sung "I'll never be your beast of burden," I'd have believed him. He was way too lazy to be anyone's beast of burden.

I didn't like Crystal's rendition of You Can't Always Get What You Want; I thought it was her weakest performance so far.

But then I've always had a problem with that song. It gets it backwards. What I've learned in Life is that you can't always get what you need, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you want.

They defintiely need to lose the backstories. The minute I hear about religious backgrounds, and singing in church choirs, and talk about their great faith, I start disliking singers I might have liked if they'd kept their superstitions to themselves.

Dave Mackey said...

I wanted to throw something at the TV the night Randy Jackson complimented Katelyn (remember her?) for comping herself on a Wurlitzer electric piano, when the whole world could see she was playing a Fender Rhodes. What are the judges smoking this season?

WV: mongsoll: brand of sunscreen for mongeese.

Cap'n Bob said...

The Stones did have a song called "It's All Right," so maybe that was the cause of the confusion.

velvet goldmine said...

Ken, I can't believe a "Cheers" writer failed to notice that Aaron's mother's name is Kelly Kelly. I'm dying for him to seranade her with "Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly....."

Mr. Snrub said...

"YAY! Look! Someone knows what lyrics are! Thanks for the education, Kara!"

Uncertain Woman said...

I realize it's popular to hate Kara, but she doesn't really bother me. She's the only one who acknowledges on a regular basis that songs DO have lyrics, and they mean something, and it really helps if the singer appears to relate to that meaning. Tim might have thought twice of his Jason Castro version of "Under My Thumb" if he had any notion of the song's content and attitude.

What is driving me batty this season is Simon hanging all over Kara. Ryan gave him a hard time about ita couple weeks ago, but he hasn't stopped. Is he coming on to her, or (more likely) is he just trying to get on camera as much as possible? If they really do watch these shows back, he would have realized by now how distracting it is to see him lurking in the corner of the frame every time Kara is talking. But maybe his ego keeps him from caring.

Siobhan is fabulous. She's like a Tim Burton character. Maybe every season will need its own Glambert from now on.

Ellen may have couched it as a joke, but I'm thinkin' she was just as annoyed as I was by DiDi's pronunciation of "fi-ur" (there are some songs where that would be fine, but not this one).

I kinda liked Lacey, but she did deserve to go just for the stupid way she phrased "still I'm gonna miss you." Now THAT was annoying!

denparser said...

I really love that show. I miss American Idol..

Chalmers said...

While the backstories are lame and tiresome, I think they're necessary, particularly at this stage.

There has to be something that separates the mostly mediocre young belters from one another.

Not to mention the fact that they cast the same "types" year after year, and they often sing the same songs.

Doesn't part of your (wholly justifiable) ardor for Siobhan stem from the fact that she's a glassblower?

When I see her tattoo, I think of Annie Potts on "Designing Women" pointing out why Mary Poppins was a pretty lousy nanny. A semi-obvious joke, but Annie really nailed it.

Ted said...

I wonder where all those so called stars for American Idol disappear after a few years when the show is over? Probably they have no talents so without a proper sponsorship they can't promote their songs.