Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Toe-Tappingly Tragic

"American Idol"
Fox via DVR

Quentin Tarantino is the biggest reach for a guest critic in the history of the show. But, if they're going to run out of legitimately famous musicians, way to go picking random celebrities who will actually give criticisms. It makes perfect sense that trash-culture nut QT would be an "Idol" junkie. I only wish he was coming into things earlier in the process, because it was clear from his footage that the contestants were already locked into their song choices by the time Tarantino came into the picture. As a result, we were forced to sit through the single worst hour of the "Idol" season so far -- nonstop unbearable treacle, save one beautiful Kris Allen vocal and a surprisingly stirring Danny Gokey performance. I'm not writing much this week because I want the misery ringing in my ears to go away.

Allison Iraheta Allison despite her youth and inexperience has been doing an amazing job of finding ways to kick ass without forcing it through every theme week but this was a complete disaster. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," the foul work of Satan's minion Diane Warren, is one of the worst songs in the history of the planet. It castrated Aerosmith, and it totally stole Allison's impressive thunder in the same fashion. Any moron would sound terrible singing this horrible song, but having a good singer sing it is like making Yitzhak Perlman play the ukelele. She tried to overpower it, but it's a limp piece of crap and it just sounded like a limp piece of crap being woefully oversung. She was out of key a lot because she was straining to make an offensively stupid melody not offensively stupid. What a fiasco. Of course, now that she's doing generic commercial garbage the judges are all over her. 6

Anoop Desai Anoop picked "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)," leading me to warn the room that if the evening was going to keep going like this, I was going to physically assault somebody before the end of it. These are some of the worst songs to which mankind has ever been exposed, sung in lukewarm commencement-ceremony style and washed over in trademark "Idol" blue light. It's really difficult to critique Anoop's performance because I wanted to punch him in the face for making me have to listen to this bowel movement of a song again. Was it gooey and desperate? Yeah, but a lot of that could be the song. I really hate this week. 5

Adam Lambert Adam's Achilles heel is that he doesn't understand the concept of irony -- he thought "Play That Funky Music" was a saucy choice one week. He did "Born to Be Wild," which seemed unnecessary -- certainly he doesn't need an excuse to wear leather. He did something with the arrangement, parts of which worked and parts of which didn't. I've gotten a little tired of his habit of not singing any of the original melody after the first two lines, but this was the sort of song that really calls for that treatment if you're going to do it on "Idol." Interestingly, he could have done the exact same song he did last week and it would have counted under the theme. The annoying thing about his favorite status nowadays is that he totally deserves it. I liked watching him rock it out a bit, and his command of the stage is becoming more original and less theatre-derived, but the mounting gay subtext of everything he does needs a final act. 7

Matt Giraud Two Bryan Adams songs in one show? What did we do to deserve this? "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" is even worse than "Everything I Do," as if such a thing was even possible. Matt never had a chance of not sounding like a dope singing this one, but he also sounded less in control musically than usual. Some of his falsetto notes were wildly off and a lot of the song got stuck in his higher, raspier range and just sounded bad. His looks to the camera were stupid and creepy. This whole week makes me want to never watch "Idol" again. Kara, meanwhile, was in heaven; her definition of musical quality is profitability first, last, and everything. 4

Danny Gokey It would have been way better if Seacrest had credited Danny's song, "Endless Love," to Happy Gilmore. The nice thing about Danny when he does a big ballad is he can't shout the whole time, and this was the best he's sounded in a good long while. One of the better renditions of a hopelessly sappy song on the evening. He looks better without his glasses, and Tarantino gave him good advice about moving his hands around less. The judges were down on his performance, but I thought it was one of his better ones. He's not terrible. 8

Kris Allen Finally in "Falling Slowly" Kris gave us a song that's contemporary AND good! I like that Allen put down his guitar to concentrate on singing the song, which is difficult but really rewarding. Sometimes he can seem a little nonchalant about his vocals but he really nailed this one. I just wish that he had done it in a more stripped-down style. This was one of the few performances of the night that had more syrup than the original recording. I love that Kara called it "obscure." Way to go, Kara. The Frames are one of my very favorite bands, one that's languished in genuine obscurity in this country since the early 90's. Their singer Glen Hansard's appearance in the minor indie hit Once was what passed for mainstream vindication for them. But if it didn't sell 7 million copies, in DioGuardi world it's crap. 8

Lil Rounds Incredibly sleepy and boring. My girlfriend and I had totally tuned it out and were having a conversation about an entirely different subject fifteen seconds in. Lil might think she's an artist and put her own stamp on her tune, but she's exactly like about twenty other black female "Idol" losers past, only dumber and not as gifted. She can go away now. 5

Things have gotten predictable at this point in the season. The judges have been prompting voters as to how to behave, even beginning to prep losers a few weeks in advance for their inevitable departures. Until we break from script, I'm continuing to follow their lead. That means Lil goes this week, and probably Matt Giraud next week. Simon even went out of his way to dis Lil in his critique of Allison, just in case the show went long into "Fringe" again and DVR viewers missed him reaming Rounds later.


  1. While I was very pleased to see Kris sing "Falling Slowly" (which easily deserved the Oscar it won last year) I thought it was actually a very boring performance. The problem with the song is you have to let it build and with the stringent time guidelines put on the contestants it didn't let him give it its proper emotional due.

    Adam was (annoyingly) my favorite this week even though I didn't exactly love his performance. I continue to be baffled by the Gokey love considering he displays the same lack of vocal range every week.

    Lil really needs to go this week. She's becoming way too hostile in her pursuit of being an "artist" and she just doesn't have the chops to have any sort of attitude. Giraud wouldn't be surprising either, but after those two go it's going to be interesting how things pan out.

  2. Hmmm, probably should have checked the results before posting. Interesting that they saved Giraud since he'll probably be a goner next week anyway. I guess they wanted to insert some faux-drama by using their save at a time where it probably doesn't matter anyway.