American Idol Season 6: Round Two
AND THEN THERE WERE TEN….
Tuesday night on American Idol, the British ‘invaded,’ bringing all of those songs we have to hear during Beatles documentaries because licensing fees for real Lennon/McCartney songs are too expensive. Presiding over the coaching segments were the eternally-boyish Peter Noone and Lulu (who looks more like Olivia Newton-John these days than Olivia does.) Is it just me or are these theme weeks starting to eerily parallel the special programs PBS likes to bust out during its pledge drives?
As you can imagine, putting the responsibility of choosing songs from the ‘British Invasion’ on the shoulders of kids who barely remember ‘grunge’ music evoked a collective ‘meh’ from America. There were a few standout performances from the usual suspects; overall, the week seemed forced and more than a bit stale. The most shocking moment came when the self-professed record industry guru, Simon Cowell, admitted he was unfamiliar with the Gerry and the Pacemakers classic ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying.’ (Shame on you Simon. You started the week claiming to be a bigger force in music than Bruce Springsteen and then only managed to make it until Tuesday before diplaying your utter ignorance.)
Sanjaya survived to see another week, but not before generating even more hatred from his detractors. Let me stress that I don’t believe he is talented. That said, you can compare him to season three’s John Peter Lewis and John Stevens and say he isn’t much worse than either one of them. It wasn’t just Sanjaya’s ‘iffy’ (but passable) performance of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ that had people flustered. Producers decided to seat a rather emotional Sanjaya fan (13-year-old Ashley Furl) near the front of the auditorium. They showed her at least a dozen times, crying her eyes out. While I have no doubt her tears were sincere, it was nothing more than a dirty ploy to generate enough buzz to keep Sanjaya in the competition. It’s just a matter of time before they flush this turd down the old ‘Idol’ toilet.
When it came time for this week’s official ‘booting,’ only two singers were put on the chopping block (as opposed to the three we have become accustomed to.) My bottom three singers would have consisted of Gina, Stephanie, and Sanjaya. America only agreed with one of those choices and delivered a rather surprising low number of votes for Chris Richardson (who is refereed to as Justin Timberfake on some internet groups.) It was unfortunate that we weren’t allowed to know who was next in line with the lowest votes. My guess is that it wasn’t Sanjaya.
While Chris R.’s performance was much better than last week’s, he seems to be getting eclipsed by the ‘flashier’ Blake Lewis. He certainly looked very surprised to find himself standing in the spotlight with Stephanie Edwards, waiting for Ryan Seacrest to read the results. The choice of a ballad suited Chris’ singing voice pretty well, but I don’t think the voters are quite convinced he has the ability to deliver a strong, upbeat performance. I just wish his father would show up in the audience to cheer him on, like he had in the earlier part of the season.
Seeing his old man awkwardly clapping along, all red faced, was almost as entertaining as Chris’ performances. If his Dad has been in the audience the past couple of weeks, they haven’t been showing him. What Chris R. really needs to do is focus on delivering a strong vocal performance with a song that connects with the people that will vote for him (you know, teenaged girls.) He is down, but I wouldn’t completely count him out at this point. His chances of winning the whole shebang are next to zero, but I think he can outlast Phil and Sanjaya. At least I hope he can.
I grew tired of Stephanie’s piss-poor Beyonce impersonation a few weeks back. Why a girl, who possesses a decent singing voice, felt the need to embellish every line she sang with those annoying vocal trills is anyone’s guess . I found myself yelling at her to sing without the b.s. tagged on the end of her phrases every time I saw her. With three lady singers delivering strong performances each week, it does not surprise me that the public chose to ignore Stephanie. I never went away from one of her songs saying,”Man, she made that song her own.” It always felt like she was doing someone else’s version of a song–usually that other person was Beyonce. Those folks who feel like America got it wrong this week need to take a good look at what Stephanie brought to the table and rethink that assertion.
Let’s round up the other nine performers:
- Gina Glocksen missed the mark with her version of ‘Paint It Black,’ yet she managed to escape elimination. I expected to see her in the bottom three but I think she has enough fans that want her to stick around. Her key to success falls mainly on song choice and she better step it up if she wants to last much longer.
- Blake Lewis made an excellent song choice this week. The beat box thing can get a little old, but it worked well with this particular song. As long as he can keep it fresh, and stay in tune, look for him to make it to the final three.
- Haley Scarnato improved her wardrobe more than her vocals. Judging by the verbal panting I have read in various comments I have perused on the web, her plan worked. Pervs unite! If she makes it to the top five or six, it won’t be because she has the ‘pipes.’
- Chris Sligh improved over last week’s terrible rendition of ‘Endless Love.’ Unfortunately, his overall weaknesses are becoming more and more apparent each week. He still has a shot to make it into the later rounds, but he really needs to step it up and belt out some killer performances. At least he had the sense to start wearing his glasses again.
- Phil Stacey, still bald and annoying.
- Jordan Sparks, Melinda Dolittle, and Lakisha Jones, AI’s own ‘Dreamgirls.’ The good news is: they continue to separate themselves from the others. The bad news is: the longer this contest goes on, the harder it will be for all three to remain in the competition. There are only so many votes to go around and we could see any of them go before they ought to. I think Melinda has the best shot out of the three to win it all.
- Sanjaya Malakar continues to defy his critics by remaining in the competition after two rounds. His performance this week was better than his last one. That’s not saying much, considering the fact that he couldn’t get any worse. He probably wishes the crying girl could come to the show every week. Brace yourselves, he’s bound to stick around for a couple more weeks.
We have ‘Pop Music’ as the theme (and a performance from Gwen Stefani) to look forward to this coming week. Oy vey!