Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Final 7 Performances

I'm thoroughly contemplating calling my doctor for some kind of catscan, because apparently I'm having trouble perceiving reality. According to the rhetoric of Ryan Seacrest and his 3 Stooges, we're watching a batch of unparalleled talent constantly elevate their performances week after week. Each contestant is worthy of sold-out arena concerts and artistry-filled albums! Everyone is in it to win it!! And any one of them can win the crown!! (As long as they can't legally drive and sing country mu$ic).

I'm sorry, but are we watching the same show? Because as far as I'm concerned, we're entering American Idol Season 10: Train Wreck Edition, where a batch of lukewarmly talented contestants continually prove they don't possess the kind of self-awareness and/or artistic instincts necessary to wow anyone on the Idol stage (so they all resort to cheap tricks and general tomfoolery). Marching bands, creepy kisses and Tyler-cursing do not an American Idol make.

More and more, it feels like I'm watching nothing but a silly reality show, regurgitating the same stale antics week after week (after week after week). The magical spark that made American Idol something special seems to be missing--which is such a shame, because up until Pia Toscano's unceremonious ouster, Idol seemed poised for redemption. What. The. Hell. Went. Wrong?

We can at least start by pointing out the heinous opening number, where the 6 booted contestants returned to "sing." (Why?) While they all looked fantastic in their best black-clad rocker regalia (minus Paul "I can't care enough to remember my lyrics and/or sing remotely in key and/or wear something besides this tacky rose suit" McDonald), ladies sounded JANK. I mean, even Pia couldn't steer this mess into decent territory with her trademark diva notes (though Naima bopping around like a toddler on crack was rather entertaining, I must admit).

"You just made America think twice about their decision!" cooed Steven Tyler. Um, no. Just-- no.

I’m really trying not to sound completely sour grapes here, but I wouldn’t be bitching quite so much if I didn’t feel so unabashedly lied to… the Idol producers should consider governing some kind of dystopian regime in the nearby future, because lordy, the propaganda is strong with them!

The Hot
James Durbin: “Uprising.” Whatever else I could say about James’ performance (indulgent indulgent indulgent!), at least he was commanding, convincing and committed. For all of James’ ridiculous grandstanding (your visions aren’t all that original, playa pimp. See: any 80s hair band ever), he delivers consistent showmanship in a season mostly devoid of contestant confidence. And James' vocal acrobatics, if not always pleasant to listen to, are nevertheless impressive. If James could just curb that narsty little ego of his, I’d be way more inclined to like him wholeheartedly.

The Warm
Haley Reinhart: “Rolling in the Deep.” I mean, Haley’s voice is STUNNING. It’s just too damn bad she can’t ever seem to possess a song emotionally the way she can vocally. Haley kept slipping in and out of character (when she has no business playing a character in the first place, but rather earnestly feeling a song). And man, do I wish she chose Adele’s “Someone Like You” instead (that song is all kinds of gorgeous). We’re at a point in the competition where I don’t think it’s possible for Haley to pull it together the way we want her to, so let’s face it, the best we girl-lovers can hope for is another happy accident like Bennie and the Jets. Sidenote: Why the odd retro red polka dot dress, lady? And where did the Ke$ha twin backup singers come from??

Stefano Langone: “Closer.” I really just want Stefano to bust out Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor,” because that’s what he is: the little underdog-who-could probably solidified his tenuous safety yet again by employing one pair of red side-slung suspenders, one upbeat jam and a whole slew of sex appeal (I mean, let’s be real: I’d hit it). Stefano is at his best when he’s believable and, I have to say, I totally bought the flirty-Usher-Chris Brown act (just as much as I buy his more earnest balladeering style). He still can’t seem to escape the jerky/choppy phrasing, but I don’t think anyone can argue that Stefano proved his radio-readiness with this performance.

Lauren Alaina: “Born to Fly.” I really, really hope the producers have been purposefully building us up to some kind of splendorous Lauren Alaina moment, because these mediocre mid-tempo showings are just getting painful. I think everyone knows by now that Lauren’s voice is epic—so why doesn’t she? By all rights, the show-ending pimp-slot tonight should have gone to Stefano, not Lauren’s lifeless limbo. And someone needs to tell Lauren cowboy boots that cut off her ankles aren’t flattering! All in all, I feel one general emotion whilst contemplating Lauren’s massive-yet-flailing potential: Frustration.

The Cold
Casey Abrams: “Harder to Breathe.” Coming Soon to a Theater Near You, School of Rock 2: Time To Cringe. I mean, where do I even begin? I’ll give it to Casey, the opening of this performance gave me David Cook/Kris Allen high hopes. But soon all of these rearranging dreams came crashing down into a fiery pit of growling faces and forced kisses. My only consolation for this sound-mess was a vision of JLo in her dressing room post-show—you KNOW bitch could not have been pleased with that invasion of her personal space. I’d bet the farm that no one else is getting near Jenny from the Block for the rest of this season… I smell a contractual mandate coming. But I digress... wait, no I don't. Casey has made a joke out of himself and I really don't see him climbing out of the Jack Black/Taylor Hicks sized hole he's dug for himself.

Scotty McCreery: “Swingin’.” I’m utterly baffled as to why Scotty doesn’t feel any urgency to do anything other than coast with his performances. Oh, wait, I know why! Because he’s male and teenage and he sings country? Seriously, if Scotty escapes this week’s unabashedly mediocre showing unscathed, there’s no question he’s destined for Idoldom (as if there’s a doubt in anyone’s mind, anyway). In other news, sweet messenger jacket, Aiken-face!

Jacob Lusk: “Dance With My Father.” The only thing Jacob had going for him during this treacly, indulgent performance was the pause at the opening, where it appeared his emotions momentarily got the best of him. And then he had to go and put the Lusky Stank on that too by explaining it was just a sound problem. Several unpleasant/overblown notes and two unnecessary key changes later, I can officially say that I’ll be happy to never hear another preachy ballad from Jacob ever again—I can only hope America feels the same way.

I do think one thing is abundantly clear—the patented American Idol “Moment” we all know and love (and crave) has been nowhere to be found ever since one cranky Brit disappeared from the airwaves… and I’m sure now that it’s not a coincidence. X-Factor, here I come!

Predictions: I think this week’s elimination is going to be a tough one to call, but my gut is telling me Haley might be in serious trouble (Jimmy’s right, anything short of magic seems to sentence Haley to steel stool doom). But I refuse to predict her ouster and put that energy in the air, so I’m going with the next-most-likely target: Jacob Lusk. It’s simply time to go, Stank One.

Until tomorrow, hoping for the best and expecting the worst…


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