Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Falling for Idol

This is the first in what may or may not be a weekly recap of American Idol. Now I recognize that I’m blurring the line of dude-acceptability here, but a wiser man than me once said that “watching American Idol with your spouse is a requirement of cohabitation”. That being said, I’m now fully immersed in my second straight season of Idol and all legitimate excuses have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

If you’ve tuned in before and been bored out of your mind know that this season is different. The most important change is that contestants can use instruments, so it’s not purely a singing competition. The other key difference is that there are some genuinely rockin’ dudes and at least one solid female, all of who are legitimately talented, and not in the teeny-bopper sense. Believe me, I was once like you: scared, skeptical, and a little hungry, but I have been converted. Look, I’m not saying it’s the best show on TV, but it’s not the worst either. What I’m saying: American Idol is TIVO-worthy.

To recap the season to date. There have been two “scandals” this season. One was the revelation that one dude was previously an “entertainer”, like, in the biblical sense. Biblical as in the part about Sodom. You remember Sodom? The sinful city? The one where the Lord made fire rain? Well this dude danced on other dudes laps for Andrew Jacksons. The other disclosure was that contestant Carly Smithson previously had a record deal. To some this took away from Idol’s “authenticity”, to me it really didn’t matter. Record deal or not she’s really not that good. I say fair play to the cover band singer that duped some record execs into a large contract.

[Let me use this space to complain about the only egregious error by the judges so far: the omission of Josiah from the top 24. This Keane- and Travis-clone has bounced back signing a record deal with Warner Brothers. This pretty much proves the judges were misguided. I genuinely liked his music and it looks like he’ll get an opportunity regardless.]

The theme for last night’s show was music from the year you were born. If you ever want to feel really old realize that a bunch of these contestants were born in 1987 and one in 1990. 19 f'n 90? Wasn’t that like eight years ago? But not to worry, despite the plethora of good songs to come out in 1987 (you basically have six from Joshua Tree alone) none were chosen and the older contestants (born in 1983 or earlier) pretty much dominated.

Ramiele Malubay- the only thing you really need to know about this girl is that she sobs hysterically when someone gets eliminated. When I say hysterically I mean you would’ve thought her mom killed her dad on a houseboat and her dog drowned while trying to swim to safety carrying the last Klondike bars on earth. This coupled with the annoying reality that she cannot sing, perform, or otherwise hold your attention longer than 10 seconds, unless sobbing hysterically, means she’ll be gone in the next three or four weeks. She sung a Heart song that I never heard before, also known as every song by Heart. Result? Fast Forward TIVO.

Jason Castro- he’s the one with the dreads (read: frequently logs on to Last night was his birthday, like Ramiele he’s an ’87, and he was borderline comatose. It was obvious to everyone that Castro was "celebrating" with the band backstage (cough). He sang a Sting (verb, present tense) song I never heard before. Besides his dreamy eyes, I’m really not sure what this kid offers that any decent singer in a bar on a Saturday night doesn’t? He seems like a likeable dude (yes, Cuban B), but in no way an incredible music talent. Result? Listen, yawn, agree with the judges (not Paula… never Paula).

Syesha Mercado- competing for the most forgetful performer with Ramiele, but Ramiele cries, like, a ton. Not much to say about her. She’s almost always a fast forward. A 1987 as well, she sung “If I Were Your Woman” by, um, who cares. Syesha could strip naked mid-song and re-clothe by the end and I’d have no idea. Result? Check remote batteries, then fast forward for awhile.

Chikezie Eze- I know what you’re thinking: dude’s name Chikezie, Jeff’s gonna love him? Well you’re exactly right. Look, he’s really not that good, but I’m convinced his Dad is Desmond Tutu and he does some really cool arrangements with the songs. Check out this bluegrassed version of the Beatles She’s a Woman. Rockin’ right? Anyway, last night this 1985 birthday sung "If Only for One Night". Let’s just say there was no bluegrass, no yelling, no funk, and only one shot of his Nobel-winning father. I hope the dude makes it, but he could be in trouble. Result? We want the funk.

Brooke White- So we’ve reached the portion of the show where legitimate contestants sing. Brook’s voice is so similar to Carly Simon’s she’s almost a cover act. She was a 1983 birthday (the year of our lord) and was the first one to sing a good song “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. Brook has stage fright, and once again she was a little nervous, but her voice hit a couple “god damn that’s nice” notes and she will be safe tonight. Result? Like a wing eating contest: great at the beginning, somewhat regretful by the end, but only somewhat.

Michael Johns- He’s the good-looking Aussie who either sounds great or terrible. Tonight the dude born in 1978 again dropped some Queen on us, this time the song from Mighty Ducks, and it was really good. Result? Solid.

Carly Smithson- this is the girl with the record deal. I’m telling you she’s a good cover band singer. 1983’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” was without key Wedding Crashers lyrics. Result? Meh.

David Archuleta- A name you need to know. This dude will probably win. Despite his age, he’s extraordinarily talented. What else you need to know? He’s LDS and always gives you the feeling he’s trying to convert the heathens. Also, apparently his Dad is insane (like Mary Pierce’s Dad insane, not cool Earl Woods insane) I feel this is relevant because it seems like his Dad completely controls everything in his life, like last night he sung a song called “You're The Voice” by John Farnham. I’m not sure if it was a religious song, but man it sure felt like it. Now I recognize he was born three years ago in 1990, but the kid needs to grow a pair and stand up to dad, it’s not like he’s Desmond Tutu or anything. Result? Uncomfortable.

David Cook- this dude is ROCKIN. A couple weeks ago he sung the best Lionel on Vinyl since Ryan and I got hammered playing Trivial Pursuit while drinking homemade beer from a Pepsi bottle and started belting out Lionel Richie songs to every answer until his parents just started skipping our turn. He did a pretty rockin’ version of Eleanor Rigby a couple weeks back. David Cook also has the unique ability of being both fat and skinny. Last night he sung Billy Jean that was way cooler than the original. Result? Rock on dude.

Kristy Lee Cook- going into this week I kind of liked Kristy Lee. Despite her hokey and sometimes painful performances I thought she had untapped potential. Then she reads the Karl Rove playbook and sings Lee F'n Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American”. Implication: If you don’t vote for me you hate America, the troops, Teen Wolf, and peanuts in the shell. The worst part of it all? Kristy straight nailed that song up. It was by far her best performance to date. So while she sung a song that made me uncomfortable at age six, she smartly locked up fly over country and surely survives another week. Damn you Karl Rove, is there any contest you can’t affect?! Result? Angry, but impressed.

With TIVO you can plow through an entire episode in 20 minutes or so. In doing so you get somewhat up on pop culture, you’ll be entertained, and every once and awhile you actually have a pleasant music experience. So now that I've sufficiently ruined any man-cred I had from my draft preview, join the watercooler discussion, you know the one with all the girls and dudes that don't like sports. It's not as bad as you think.


Ryan Smith said...

One of my favorite posts thus far. Hilarious. I haven't watched American Idol since season 4, but I may tune in now just to hear the offspring of Desmond Tutu and some cold-blooded Lionel on Vinyl.

Mike LeGower said...

"Dear Jeff,

I, the archetype of manliness in the universe, no longer respect you.

Chuck Norris"

Seriously though, Idol? I mean... American Idol? Ry and I used to watch The O.C. for similar reasons but you don't see us blogging about it.

Ryan Smith said...

Let it be known that I never actually 'watched' the O.C.

I may have been in the room while Beth was watching it. And I may have glanced up every now and then just to see what all the fuss was about. And, while doing all of this, I may have absorbed enough information on Ryan, Seth, Marisa and the crew to be able to hold forth on the topic during our weekly gatherings as we discussed Wittgenstein over games of backgammon.

But to claim that I actively watched the show is downright libelous. Libelous I tell you! Slander most foul!

Jay Z said...

Whoa, whoa, WHOA...Wedding Crashers? You know, I can live with the post about American Idol. I will not joing the "other" water-cooler discussion, but I don't smirk at those who do when I walk by. You lost my respect when you mixed up "Old School" with "Wedding Crashers." I mean, I can understand how that line gets blurred when you're in "Idol" mode, but it's unacceptable.

Jeff R. said...

Jay, I'm embarrassed and ashamed. Although to my credit the have only been two Will Ferrell movies: the goofy sports movie and the rest, but I still should have made that mistake.

I hate you so much Word Verification; let me post and be done with it.

Jeff R. said...

Should "not" have made that mistake.

I swear to god Word Verification I will punch you in the mouth. I am Neil Diamond...

Jay Z said...

Haha. Jeff, you can avoid the word verification by being logged in. Then you don't have to do it.