Friday, March 23, 2012

American Idol: Staying the Course

Generally I like to put out my Idol thoughts just after singing has happened. But I’m still pretty proud of my list of when people will fall out of the competition, and I choose to let it stand. At the moment, the only one who looks to survive longer than I expected (and maybe much longer) is Elise.

But we’ll come back to that.

Last night we lost Erika, which is a shame. But I remember remarking to my parents that she’d be gone early, no matter how well she did, and so this shocks me not at all.

But my dad pointed something out to me. Once you make top ten, you get sent out on tour. And if what my father tells me is true, each performer makes 10,000 bucks per performance, with the tour running anywhere from 20 to 40 shows.

In other words, even if you lose, you are essentially guaranteed $200,000 for roughly a year out of your life.

There are CEOs who don’t make that kind of money. And most of these guys, if they’re smart with their cash, could make it last three or four years while they look for a record contract and/or produce their own CD and head out on tour.

So in a lot of ways, Erika (and everyone else still in the competition) has already won.

A couple quick notes before I talk about the competitors:

My wife absolutely hated Lana Del Rey. I thought the song was okay, and I really liked the arrangement, but I couldn’t hear 90% of the lyrics, and so have little more to say about it. I did get a chance to remind my wife of Iggy Pop’s performance last year, which is always good for a chuckle.

Also performing last night: Haley, who did me the favor of proving everything I said about her last year. She dresses like a 12-year-old who got into mommy’s clothes. As a bonus, she had a horrible tan, and her dress actually revealed tan lines.

But wait! Once again, she was singing a song that was all wrong for her, in addition to just being a bad song in general.

Haley: Classic rock. You do classic rock well. That is ALL you do well. Scrap this thing you want to release, and go find 12 songs that sound like classic rock. I say this not because I like your work (I kind of hate it, really) but because my wife likes your voice, and even she thought you sucked last night. Which you did.

Last thought: The group took on The Longest Time, which was, originally, an a cappella song with all the parts sung by Joel himself. In this case, there were instruments under everyone in an attempt to keep things from going very, very wrong. It was a reminder that, while some of these guys might be “stars,” the folks on The Sing-Off are a lot more talented as singers.

Okay. Let’s discuss those performances, and what they mean for the coming weeks, shall we?

Erika: Erika always sings well. Really, really well. But she never got a fan base, for various reasons that seem kind of mean to get into (and I might be wrong about anyway), so I won’t. In the end, she made the top ten, and I hope she uses her money and goes out and makes a career for herself, because that’s totally doable.

Deandre: The dude has a pretty voice, and looks that capture the hearts of the teenage girls who watch this show (and they are legion). However, he has yet to put on a truly great performance, and his song choices have been somewhat suspect. That’s fine. Again, he made the top ten. His is a good life. And I knew he’d never get much higher than this.

Heejun – I told a Twitter buddy that this was Heejun’s Heejun-iest performance, and I stand by that. He was accused of, variously, being pitchy, running around too much, and disrespecting the American Idol process.

And you know, if this was an ACTUAL singing competition, everyone would be right. But it isn’t. And while they came down hard on Heejun for being a goof, they praised Phillip extensively for saying he just wanted to be himself.

In the end, he came out, he had a great time, and he gave the audience a great show, which is what they wanted. He got slammed for it by the judges, and next week will be SUPER awkward when he goes to rehearse with Jimmy. I pity him for that. But he promised next week would be even more crazy. And I’m much more interested in that than I am in hearing Jessica channel Whitney Houston again.

Hollie: What a spectacular blowout. I never understand what the judges are talking about when they watch something like this and claim someone was thinking too much. Look: In the rehearsal section, they told her that her first 8 bars were weak. I dunno if she tried to fancy it up and make it more R and B, since she thinks that’s her “thing,” but it sounded a lot more like she just didn’t practice, and didn’t know the verse that well. She wanted to get to the chorus so she could be Celine Dion.

By all rights, she should have been in the bottom three. And with this one really awful performance, she killed any chance she had of winning. She has leaked those people to Jessica, who has yet to flame out in such a spectacular way.

Elise: After a bad beginning, Elise is keeping her mouth shut about it, but it’s clear she trusts no one when it comes to coaching now. Jimmy steered her wrong once, and Tommy almost put her in bell bottoms (whaaaaaaa?). So she sang the song she knew, and sang it well, and she’s managed to dig herself out of the bottom three.

It’s a temporary reprieve, and she’ll be back there in a week or two, but in the meantime, I’ll get a few more performances from her, and that makes me happy.

Phillip: The man gives a good performance, but he kind of gives the same performance, week in and week out. And, you know, rock stars don’t CARE about fashion, man. He, too, managed to irk Jimmy this week, thereby making the coming weeks awkward for him. Look for him to apologize profusely next week, having realized that he just ticked off the guy who was ready to offer him a record deal a couple weeks ago.

Joshua: This guy. He can’t sing a wrong note. He is actually incapable of it. But the poor kid has a small wheelhouse that he feels good in, and even a slight deviation makes him feel uncomfortable. Why in the world did no one tell him to sing River of Dreams?

Colton: And speaking of Hayley… this time last year she did Bennie and the Jets, thereby demonstrating the thing she’s actually good at. It’s clear that people love Colton in bright-eyed-cute-boy-piano-playing mode. They looove him.

He, in turn, keeps wanting to rock, which he is physically incapable of. I’m willing to bet if he jammed himself behind the piano for the next eight weeks, and sat there looking pretty, he could take this thing. Much like Hayley, he won’t, and it will kill him.

Then next year, he can come back with his rock band and put on a sucky performance. Something to look forward to, right?

Skylar: This week, Skylar reminded me that Shameless is a solid song at first, and then it gets kind of boring after a while. Not really her fault. Just a fact. I recalled Garth Brooks doing a version of this song, and so I pegged it as her choice before the night even started.

She’s pulling a Scotty this year, singing country and non-country songs in a country way. It will serve her well. Colton should take a lesson: stop trying to be something you aren’t.

Jessica: She took a Billy Joel song and turned it into a Whitney Houston song. I suspect the difference between her and Joshua is that someone has told Joshua that he has a really special voice, but that he shouldn’t brag about it, while everyone in the world has told Jessica she is a very special snowflake her whole life, and she believes it.

She could still pull a Pia.

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