Thursday, March 06, 2008

More AI - mass top 16 recap

Note to self - next time you ask for advice, permit more than two hours for results. So I will tippity-type after all, assuming that silence is consent.

At the outset I'm going to take a guess here at my final four, thanks to the poll that American Midol is running:

1. Jason Castro - just a hunch, but I think that this kid has a genuine sweetness to him that will put him over the top.
2. Asia'h Epperson - I don't dig the random apostrophe in the name, but she has pipes and that's the point.
3. Michael Johns - he's got a great voice, performs well, and is a handsome Aussie bloke.
4. Carly Smithson - powerful voice, can handle rockers; hopefully can also handle ballads.

My two dark horses are David Archuleta and David Cook. Why two guys? For one, I don't think the girls are as strong this season as the guys; for another, a lot of the guys are coming up with surprisingly good performances, while the girls seem to be trying too hard and disappointing. That usually spells trouble.

The reasons I can't put either of these guys up into my four are as follows:

1 - David Archuleta is beginning to strike me as kind of a phony. The saccharine aw-shuckism will be wearing in large doses; it would be to his advantage to quit performing once he's done singing the songs, so we can actually see a real kid.
2 - sadly, the problem with Mr. Cook isn't his voice. He and Johns are very close in that regard, but Johns has a moderate edge in hotness and a big edge in Australianity. He may also be clever enough not to bust out a guitar, thus avoiding an obvious comparison to Cook's musical abilities.

Castro and Epperson are the two more likely to be replaced by one of the gentleman above. There is also an outside chance that one of the other girls will get their act together and push into the final four, but they're such a muddle right now that I don't feel comfortable picking one of them to do it. I will hopefully know more at the end of the recaps tonight.

Guys first:

Oh it's 80's night, and the feelin's right - oh what a night! And embarassing outfits and moments.

01- Luke Menard - dressed by his older sister as a girl as a boy. Poor guy. Singing "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." He doesn't sound terrible... but he's doing odd stuff with the phrasing. Some of his notes are fading in and out quite annoyingly. Guilty feet have got no rhythm, kiddo. Paula is so scatter-shot out of the gate that Simon has to hustle her along. Then he adds he didn't like it, probably won't even make it past tonight. I'm forced to agree. America may correct their oversight. Don't let the door hit you as you go-go.

02- David Archuleta - he lost his voice and his mom had to finish a song for him once. Cute. He's scolding us, however, with Phil Collins' maudlin "Another Day in Paradise." And he wasn't as strong as last week. He couldn't sing and play at the same time, so he got up halfway and walked out to sing at us. Paula - "In your imperfection, you are perfect." They really let her get into something special for this week. Simon says that he risks being depressing, and David tells Ryan that he wants to bring attention to the poor around the world. BIG RED FLAG. (And the Ladybug doesn't like me writing that.) It just seems to me that he's trying a bit too hard to prove that he's got some gravitas; almost like a pageant contestant trying to prove she's more than a bubble-headed clothes hangar. Just be a 17-year old every once in a while.

03- Danny Noriega - somebody tripped Manga Boy into one of his crushes and he blushed and ran. This may actually have been a subplot in Three's Company. He turned into a "cute little red tomato." I am gagging on my Stouffer's. He's vamping his way through Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" [12" Queer as Folk club mix]. Randy thinks that he started shy (you're kidding, right?). Paula calls him a bright, spicy light. Simon thought it was horrible and useless. Danny's blowing him off, and the other judges are "moosing" Simon. Oddly, I kind of prefer Danny's honest reaction to David's constant gawwwwwwww-lee! Ryan claims that he didn't even notice the purple streaks and Danny just goes "mmmmm-HM." I am howling.

04- Trent Dimas - something about a booger or somesuch, and I don't care. He's doing Meat Loaf's "It's All Coming Back to Me." Ugh. Why do people just go for all these bombastic tunes? His vocal is iffy; he's not hitting the notes cleanly. He is trying to smolder at the camera, which is giggling a little uncomfortably and trying to hide behind friends at the end of the bar. And truth be told, I can't stand Stienman's music so I'm being perhaps harder on David Hernandez than I should be.

05- Michael Johns - thank goodness. Save us from the mediocrity. He's talking about making a rock-soul "with a little bit of dance" rehcord. He also used to be a mascot, and got jumped by four hooligans during a match. Poor Boomer. He's singing "Don't You Forget About Me." By a mile, best of the night so far. He's on key, he chose a great song, he looked good, and his performance was strong. The judges are happy, though Simon likes him better as a soul singer than as a rocker.

Aside - I love that "adventure racing through the movie theater" commercial.

06- David Cook - plays an intro chord to demonstrate that his guitar difficulties have been defeated. He once forgot a verse during a childhood talent show and stood mute rather than abandon the stage (or flee like a cute red tomato). He's singing (and playing) "Hello" by Lionel Richie. Interesting arrangement. (Ladybug: "You just know Good Charlotte wants to do this song now. Joel Madden is probably kicking himself." Heheheheheh.) He's terrific, and this is helped greatly by the lack of a giant clay bust of his head. Randy says it could be a single (agreed). It's so good that Paula is lucid while praising him. Simon loved it. He should sail through here.

07- Jason Castro - accidentally ripped off one of his dreds during a date, but they went out again, so that's cool. His song is "Hallelujah," and he's not playing the solo guitar, just singing. I like it. He's on key. He's putting the emotion through. Oops, he didn't quite have enough juice for the last note, but overall good. Finally somebody picking a bit of a daring song.*

08- Chikeize Eze - chikeize-beize, banana-fana-fikeize, fee-fi-fo-keize... His embarassing moment is using a girl's bathroom throughout high school. "Guess that's why there weren't any urinals." Uhm - yah. He's singing a Whitney Houston song, the name of which escapes me, in part because of the arrangement. "She gives me more love than I ever need." It was sort of short. He wasn't bad, though he had a pitch thing at the start, and a couple of long show-off notes that didn't quite work for me. He just seemed a little tentative at times. Going last will help him, though, because people won't remember to vote for the earlier guys who struggled.

My top two are David Cook and Michael Johns, with Jason a narrow third. My going homers are Luke (the force is NOT with him) and Trent.

And now, the ladies:

01- Asia'h Epperson - was an extra in a movie, and smacked into the set lighting while trying to roller skate. D'oh. Is singing more Whitney, "Wanna Dance With Somebody." She won't be able to hit the really high trilling notes. But so far, not bad at all. Struts her way down the stairs, gets to the stage... and promptly seems to go flat. (Not vocally, but facially.) Listening was fine, but watching wasn't quite as good. Randy brags about playing on the song with Whitney Houston. Paula is Paula. (Maggie scores big with her comment: "She's like a Mad Lib." HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) Simon's criticism is valid - she did it just like Whitney, which only highlighted what she couldn't do, that Whitney could. Hm.

02- Kady Malloy - Ryan is "scoring an interview" with Ms. Malloy. She was shocked that she didn't go home. I was shocked that Amanda didn't go home. In ninth grade, she ruined a Christina Aguilera song and then accidentally wrecked half the set. Luckily the mics are cordless here. The song is Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever." Uh-oh. She won't be able to hit Freddie's notes. What is wrong with these people? Pick something you can handle! She is very stiff at the stand until the big note, and then shuts back down again. Randy noticed too. Paula calls it Kady's best yet, says her voice was tender. No, she was sleepy, not tender. Simon calls it "lack of personality, you're like a robot when you sing." This bodes ill.

03- Amanda Overmeyer - Biker Nurse's most embarassing moment is not, surprisingly, either of her two performances so far. Turns out that she accidentally set half of somebody's house on fire, including the pool. She's locked in combat with "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I suppose I have to give her a little credit for not jumping at "I Love Rock n' Roll," but how about this revolutionary thought: sing something that isn't rock!

On second thought, I don't want to hear her rumble through some innocent Allan Parsons Project song. Better leave it where it is. She wasn't as awful as the past two weeks (she could hardly be worse). Her face was masklike and dull, but her vocals were decent, and her hair was finally tamed into submission. Randy says well done, Paula is on board, and Simon says she was fantastic and nailed it. I don't think she has the voice to keep up, but she may sneak into the twelve.

04- Carly Smithson - got stuck in a bar railing and her friend greased her leg with butter and oil to get her free. "I Drove All Night" by... well... I don't know this song at all. There's something odd about this, there's hissing on the s-sounds. She sang quite well, hit the notes, had suitable power. Paula calls her "a dependable dog." Simon: "What?!?" (Me: What?!?) Simon didn't really like it, though he said she did as well as she could - "you're a million times better than that song." Agreed there; I've actually never heard of this thing. Wasn't impressed by the actual song, but the performance is the best of the night so far.

05- Kristy Lee Cook - used to pretend she was a dog when she was 7, barking at people and drinking from a bowl. Moving on... she's singing "Faithfully" by Journey. She took Simon's advice to heart and is singing this with something of a country twang, which is good; but also hit that country vocal crack, which is annoying. (Her tongue is fire engine red - what is up with that?) This was really good, though. Unlike many of the others, she didn't have to worry that she couldn't get to Steve Perry's notes. Simon is worried that she will be "battling the bigger voices and bigger personalities," and should finish about tenth. I'm not down with that. This was really much better than her first week.

06- Remiele Malubay - in fifth grade she rode her bike to drop off a picture to a boy she liked... and both the boy and the mom laughed at it. That's mean. Good job, mom, for being a tool. Remiele is singing "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. Not my favorite artist, though this song isn't all that bad. Ladybug: "There are so many great 80's songs for ladies; why is she singing this?" I have to agree. It's not terrible. She very nearly Happy Faced while hitting the big notes, but dodged it. But bleah. Nothing about that stood out in any way. It sounded acceptable but it didn't go anywhere. She's very stiff on stage. Pointless, really. She should pick an offbeat song and really let it rip; quit being so safe about it. And for some unfathomable reason, Manga Boy is wearing her glasses. It's surreal. This must be how Paula feels all the time.

07- Brooke White - will be coming back and performing "Love is a Battlefield." I sense impending doom; I hope I'm wrong. But how is Brooke going to even hit half of Pat Benetar's notes with even a quarter of her power?

Brooke accidentally grabbed a guy that wasn't her dad after church when she was twelve. And now she's sitting on the edge of the stage (SEEN IT) and going acoustic with it. It's probably the only chance she has of pulling this off. She's wearing an empty cologne bottle on her hand, and it's distracting. Well, OK. It was a six, maybe 6.5. She's moving on.

08- Syesha Mercado - waaaaay back in second grade she wrote a note to a crush, complete with a bit of gum. The guy ate the gum and ratted her out. Her song is YET ANOTHER Whitney Houston song, and possibly the worst of the lot- "Saving All My Love for You." Yay, adultery! And she also sang that "Me and Mr. Jones" nonsense too. It stinks that she's doing well with it, because I am getting sick of this. DO NOT WANT. Quit singing about sleeping with other people's husbands.

My top two are Kristy Lee and Carly. My going homers are Kady and Remiele - BUT Amanda may wind up going out by surprise. Often the terrible ones go out the week they show a little improvement.

* For what it's worth, my songs would have been as follows:
for 60's night, "Everybody is a Star" by Sly and the Family Stone;
for 70's night, "Reminiscin'" by the Little River Band;
and for the 80's, either "Missionary Man" by the Eurythmics or "Mayor of Simpleton" by XTC (depending on how I'm feeling. Right now, if I had a dollar bill for all the wrong I done...)

RESULTS - Blake opens the show by doing some floaty dance moves and scatboxing. Very boy band. He looks like a more sophisticated Screech. I'm not really liking this. Not mything, sorry; though the beat box stuff is superbly done.

Turns out that Lionel loved David Cook's version of "Hello," and so did enough of America. David Cook has the first stool. Nice tie. David Archuleta gets second stool AND congrats from every girl in the competition. That was a little precious. Go sit down. (Maybe he can call himself "Davis" the way the other Aimee on ANTM is calling herself "Amis.") Jason Castro is also in, without the scare moment from Ryan. Danny gives us his best emo pout and we go to break.

The ladies are going to get some love now. First love goes to Brooke White. Good choice. Syesha stands next. The judges all say she should sail through; they're right. Next up is Kady Malloy, one of my shoot-down choices. And there she goes, our first elimination! The theme of the year seems to be "Don't sing about stuff ending or not lasting forever."

Back to the guys. Trent Dimas is in. I disagree. (Chikeize may have a difficulty.) Mike Johns is in, easily. So the last three guys are the bottom three. Luke, predictably, is a goner. It's down to Manga Boy and the One Top. We will see their fates after the ladies... Remiele stands next, so this means that she's probably in. (There are still four girls left, and they like to stretch things out.) Yeah, she's taking a stool. I dunno about this. This is bad for Asia'h. Carly stands next. Why is she wearing orange drapes? This is too odd. She's in, anyway, so she hugs Ryan (and looks over the top of his head at the same time), and then sits down. Amanda stands next, and there are two remaining, so she will skate. And she does. Well, no sense crying about it, but she is definitely taking a more talented singer's spot.

Final two eliminations. The final ladies' spot goes to... Kristy Lee Cook. Asia'h is going home, and one of my Final Four spots is kaput. (It's a preview of my NCAA Bracket, three weeks early! Yay!) Manga Boy is crying and he hasn't even been eliminated yet. Chikeize is holding his hand to buck him up. He's so close to the girls. (I have fifteen jokes here. I'm going to bleed from the eyes.) Chikeize... nodding as if he already knows he's gone. But NO - Ryan was pulling a fast one, and Chikeize is in the final twelve. I liked his performance, so I'm not upset, but I'm going to miss Manga Boy. So is Remiele, who is bawling.

So that's it. I'm actually sad about Danny more than about Asia'h. I'll miss the candor. Next week we really start slinging some tunes.

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