Sunday, February 18, 2007

A+ guest post! American Idol: Hollywood Week!

Hey, all. The cattle calls are through, so like it or not, I’m back.

This past week on AI, the group of 172 was whittled down to the top 24, which will eventually be the top 12, which is the part when people actually start watching this trash. You may remember this week as The Time When They All Sing In Groups. There are a ton of women this season, so the cuts will be steep. On the bus, a couple are talking about how they’re most definitely not all winners: “Look at the person to your left, and the person to your right. One of you three is going home.”

Or, as it turns out, perhaps all of you will be going home. The first group of 6 women goes up, including a woman named Jory Steinberg, who has a record deal in Canada around the time that Alanis blew up. As we are all aware, one Alanis is more than enough for us all, and so she got pushed to the wayside. She sings perfectly fine, and sounds a lot like those songs you hear in the background of your car, those pop songs by Natasha Bedingfield or whoever, and it’s fine but not exciting. More pretty girls sing – like Bedingfield, like Carrie Underwood, like the chick who always gets the female lead in the community theater productions of Pippin, like the chick who doesn’t. Some are better than others, but here’s the awesomest thing ever: All six of them get the boot. When Simon says they’re all going home, of course someone mishears him and gets excited, which pisses him off even more, and he tells them that they pretty much all sucked: “No originality.” Remember that, y’all, when we get to the top 12. Originality: the key to winning American Idol. You heard it here first, kids.

You know, this portion of the show always reminds me of high school musical auditions. I don’t know if anyone else out there can relate to this, but it always looked just like this – a mass of people in the audience, watching every move made on stage, the ebb and flow of mumbling when someone really good went out, the overcompensation and emotions at the surface, the nerves, the nerves, the nerves. By booting all six from the get, I bet a bunch of girls in that audience stopped breathing for a few seconds.

Next: the return of Perla, back to sing “Hips Don’t Lie” for the thousandth time. Though she seems awfully nice, she’s not a good singer, and bringing her here was just a stupid idea. In her group is also Rachel Jenkins, the Army reservist with the husband overseas. She’s wearing a dress tonight. She’s singing sharp and they have a flashback voiceover during the part where the high note is supposed to be, so that’s helpful, Fox. Thanks. She doesn’t make it through to the next round, but Perla does, inexplicably, though Simon basically tells her it’s because of her personality. Personality is the new talent; good to know.

That blond 16 year-old from the ranch in Texas sings, and for a 16 year-old, it’s nice. She kind of sounds like a child tried to make Celine Dion sound like she was singing a crossover country song. Which might actually happen in the future, I guess. I certainly would hesitate to characterize her as original in any way, shape or form, though. Suddenly, that doesn’t matter, as the judges loved her. She’s the only one to get through in her round. This girl is positive she’s a ringer. Speaking of high school auditions, she has the countenance of The Girl Who Always Gets The Lead. Going through the motions, acting gracious, trying desperately not to look like she’s positive she’ll take the whole thing. Gah, hate.

After seeing a bunch of people we came to “love” at the cattle calls get the big boot, Seacrest asks if they cut to many. I’m gonna go on record here and say, ‘no.’

Some girl I’ve never seen before is struggling over what song to sing. Her mom and aunt are arguing with her over whether to sing “Tracks of My Tears” or “Ain’t No Way.” She goes with her mom and sings Aretha. She actually has some Aretha-esque vocal qualities to her voice, and I thought she was a really good singer, but dull. She doesn’t make it, and then it gets irritating, because she sobs to her mother that basically, it was all mom’s fault for making her sing that song. She’s twenty five years old. That’s just sad. The producers (sigh) send her mom up, slowly hobbling to center stage with her cane, explaining that Nicole sang that song for her. It’s insanely irritating, the judges say it wasn’t the song, and eventually Simon gets so pissed that he gets up from the table and walks away. Good idea. Laters.

Next day: Boys. Some kid named Brian from California sings “A Change is Gonna Come,” and sounds just like he got the lead in the new revue musical about Sam Cooke’s life, also titled, “A Change is Gonna Come,” with choreography by Twyla Tharp. Oh, if only it actually existed. It’s pretty, but oh so very blizzard-like in its whiteness, which isn’t an enormous problem if you like whitewashed soul classics, which I don’t.

Another previously uniformed guy – the bald one – sings Josh Groban. He sounds really nervous. There’s no breath support, and it’s so boring I think I actually fell asleep halfway through.

Remember the young kid with the zit on his nose? He’s back, and he’s singing “Home” by Michael Bublè. It’s pretty, in the same way Brian From California was pretty. This kids got a little more smoke in his tone, and he’s out of tune at the end, but his actual voice is nice - he doesn’t dress it up like Tammy Faye like a lot of people here. He makes it, though bald guy doesn’t.

With everyone having sung individually again, it’s time for the group numbers. I always find this odd. I mean, why not check how good they are at singing back-up? It’s exactly the kind of skills you need to… to… yeah. Needless to say, most of them, throughout the seasons, have sucked it big time in the groups. There’s always this huge drama: Go To Bed, or Keep Practicing?

I also find this portion infuriating, every year, because the groups are given a list of a few songs from which to pick, and these knuckleheaded kids never know the freaking songs. Every year, people forget the lyrics, which is irritating enough, but the fact remains that you fucked up the lyrics to “Be My Baby” because you don’t even know that song, which makes you an exceedingly crappy choice for a Pop Star. You wanna be a pop singer? Learn pop music, you idiot. Don’t even get me started on that, it kills me. Add this to the fact that they have to take turn singing back-up in harmony and utterly fail because they can’t hear parts, and my head wants to fall off.

I mean, am I wrong here? This is a competition to be a pop star. If you only know pop music from the last 6 minutes of history, and can’t sing, what good are you? Who can’t learn a song in an entire day? Go home, Pop Tarts. You blow.

We see a montage of people forgetting the words, and I have a few strokes. In addition, the out of tune-ness is nearly deafening. These are the people who made it through? Perla and the kid formerly know as the kid with the zit are gone.

Four guys, including the guy who wants to make Hasselhoff cry, and Blake the beatbox dude, sing “How Deep Is Your Love,” and they’re actually… good. In a highlight, Blake does a beat while they all sing behind him. To end it, they create an echo effect, which is hilariously awesome.

You know, it was good, but… shouldn’t this be the case with all of these groups? Even when I was 15 years old, we used to do stuff like this, and with the exception of the beatbox, we were good, too. We whipped up a 5-part arrangement of “ABCs of Love,” a classic doo-wop song, in three hours for an audition to a vocal show group. I’m not including this to imply that we were geniuses – not by the longest shot. What I mean to say is, if we could do this, why can’t they all? Why are so many of them so egregiously untalented?

I’m also hacked off by the fact that it’s always guys on this show who do this cool shit, because with a few exceptions, they take the most talented guys and the prettiest girls. A few talented women get through, but many, many really outstanding singers, with tons of budding talent, never make it this far because of their hair or fashion. Their Ugg boots, or their ug face, or their titanic ass, or whatever. Alright, I’m getting off my soapbox. But I can’t promise I won’t bring it up a few thousand more times.

Sundance Head sings, extremely poorly. He’s in and out of tune, his voice cracks. He knows it, too – I don’t know if he’s tired, or nervous, or it’s like impotence where once it happens you get all freaked out and can never get hard again, or whatever. Interestingly, in his group is the chick who sang alongside Justin Timberlake at the Grammy’s. He makes it through; she doesn’t.

Little Blond Country Celine sings “This Old Heart of Mine” with two other young women, and the three proclaim that they are friends forever, no matter what happens. Hilariously and awesomely, Little Blond Country Celine cannot remember the words. Either can her BFFs. They send Little Celine home, and she’s all crying and shocked, explaining that she worked harder than the other two. The other two BFFs explain to the camera, “You know what? Because God likes good people…” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you get when you order up a plate of young hot morons. As far as I’m concerned, if American Idol wants a trophy wife, then they deserve the hours and hours of mind-numbing conversations that accompany it. But it still irritates me. It’s like, these are the people that represent young women? Foul.

To end the Tuesday show, they do that thing where they separate people into rooms and tell them, “I’m very sorry… sorry… so sorry… to makeyouwaitthislongtofindoutyou’rein!” And screaming ensues.

Wednesday’s show is basically what happens after the judges have looked at the tapes again. No one has sung anything since the previous cut, and it’s just another cut for drama’s sake, so I won’t belabor it. Basically, they bring in people to sit in a chair, alone, and have a period of protracted silence before they basically say yes or no. Sometimes, they match up pairs of people they have decided are “similar types,” and cut one of them. In front of the other. It’s actually dull, so, thanks to Reality Blurred, here are the final 24:

• Alaina Alexander, 24, West Hollywood, Calif.
• Amy Krebs, 22, Federal Way, Wash.
• Antonella Barba, 20, Point Pleasant, N.J.
• Gina Glocksen, 22, Naperville, Ill.
• Haley Scarnato, 24, San Antonio, Texas
• Jordin Sparks, 17, Glendale, Ariz.
• Lakisha Jones, 27, Fort Meade, Md.
• Leslie Hunt, 24, Chicago, Ill.
• Melinda Doolittle, 29, Brentwood, Tenn.
• Nicole Tranquillo, 20, Philadelphia, Pa.
• Sabrina Sloan, 27, Studio City, Calif.
• Stephanie Edwards, 19, Savannah, Ga.
• AJ Tabaldo, 22, Santa Maria, Calif.
• Blake Lewis, 25, Bothell, Wash.
• Brandon Rogers, 28, North Hollywood, Calif.
• Chris Richardson, 22, Chesapeake, Va.
• Chris Sligh, 28, Greenville, S.C.
• Jared Cotter, 25, Kew Gardens, N.Y.
• Nicholas Pedro, 25, Taunton, Mass.
• Paul Kim, 25, Saratoga, Calif.
• Phil Stacey, 29, Jacksonville, Fla.
• Rudy Cardenas, 28, North Hollywood, Calif.
• Sanjaya Malakar, 17, Federal Way, Wash.
• Sundance Head, 28, Porter, Texas.

Included in this group (since we don’t know a lot of people by name), are, Shy Backup Singer With Dynamite Pipes; Beatbox Genius, Rocker Chick from Naperville (har?); Guy Who Ditched His Pregnant Wife to Audition; Boy Who Looks Like Jack Osborne and Wants to Make Hasselhoff Cry; and a bunch of people we’ve never seen before.

Awesomely, the powers that be finally decided that it’s okay to have more than one soul singer, people of East and South Asian heritage, a bunch of seriously unattractive people (though not women), and multiple fat people. Get ready to start voting!


Anonymous said...

Jeremy: Do you get paid for these guest posts?

jeremy said...

Anon: Do not mess with A+.

carly said...

For what it's worth, I love the Idol commentaries. I don't always agree, but I love them :)