The Ladybug and I rolled through all of it in one blitz session last night; here are my recollections.
Unfunny April Fool's gag. Ryan says that they've pre-empted for a "Moment of Truth" special with Simon Cowell as the contestant. That would have been much better if they opened on the Moment of Truth set with Simon in the chair and the other judges watching from that little side area. The MoT host could then welcome AI viewers to this special edition of his show, and then the buzzer or whatever goes off - FALSE - and we pull back to see that it's all on tape on the main screen, while Ryan, on stage, says "This IS American Idol!" And this IS why I should be Emperor of Television Programming.
It's Dolly Parton Week. Syesha is a mortal lock to sing "I Will Always Love You." You've ever wondered how free will fits in with God's omniscience? This is a perfect example. You know this is happening, without causing it in any way.
Brooke, however, is first, with an unfortunately cheerful version of "Jolene." What's with the Happy Facing? Brooke, m'dear, this is a song of desperate heartache; you look (and sound) as if you're chatting up Jolene while treating her to brunch. Aren't you married? Picture her as an old flame of your husband's who is trying to take him back, and then sing.
David Cook next, and he's responding to the kerfuffle over his borrowed arrangements. But this song arrangement is original, he says. I'm drawing a total blank on the name of the song right now, sorry - in any case, he's hitting high notes and generally doing well. Let's hope that this doesn't turn out to be an obscure B-side from the Little River Band or something. PS - the hair is greatly improved.
Ramiele, who may or may not have actually gone third, is again in trouble. She actually looks a lot like Amanda towards the end - the light has gone out. She has the Nick Anderson Face going.* At least she's moving around the stage while singing. I fear it's too late. Remember my theory: singers who struggle repeatedly are often bounced the week they finally improve.
* Remember Nick Anderson? Magic-Rockets, game 1 of the NBA finals, 1995, he was fouled at the end of the game, with his team up three, needing only one of the two free throws to clinch the win. He missed both, wound up rebounding the second miss and getting fouled again - and missed both of those too. His team wound up losing that game (and the title) and he was never the same as a player. The face he made after missing the first of his second pair of free throws? Ramielle has looked like that for two weeks: a thin smile of terror, as if the judges were a firing squad.
Jason Castro does "Traveling," and it's a perfect song for him. (Coming into this I was worried. Jason doesn't have a powerful voice, and Dolly does. I didn't know what he could take on.) It was a much more focused performance this week, which means he got the message from his near-debacle with Sting's song. He even put a little rougher edge into the song at spots. Overall, I think it worked very well. (Simon is off my Christmas card list this year, sowry.)
Carly does a very down-tempo cut of "Here You Come Again," and I love it. We know she can rock out like anybody's business, but this is a welcome growth in her repetoire; I always felt that she could have done better on "Blackbird," and I feel justified now. (Maybe that's coloring my impression of her singing? Nah.)
Judges like the singing, but Simon says that her outfit is horrid. Randy doesn't like that. Well, Simon's right. (Sorwy!) I mean, we are going to be losing good singers every week - and soon, good singers who sang well that week, because it's a deep field this year and someone has to go. Given equally-good performing, little things like wardrobe are going to tell. Carly looks like she's dressed in a sack, and that huge waistband makes her bust and hips look awkwardly out-of-proportion. It's very unflattering. If this keeps up Carly is going to look like a homeless person in two weeks.
I think it was Archuleta sixth. Doesn't matter. "Smoky Mountain Memories." Is this about clear-cutting the mountains and displacing the Spotty-Freckled Polka-Dot Bird? No, it's actually a sweet little song. I think it's David's best since "Imagine." Well done all around.
(Lots of Jesus in the music tonight: some people may look askew at it, but you know what? First of all, it's country; second of all, it's totally unaffected - nobody's going out of their way to avoid it, or out of their way to mention it. It's just there, matter of fact. It's a welcome change.)
Kristy Lee. Can't remember her song. I will look it up. "Coat of Many Colors." OH, that's right. But I think that I just proved Simon's point - pleasant but forgettable. Yup. (He's back on my Christmas card list.) Randy said something about this being in her wheelhouse. If so, she just weakly fouled out to third.
Up next, Syesha, singing... well, you know. Vegas took this off the board, so I'm sorry, we're not paying off any bets. It's actually decent, but I'm a little torn. I think she would have been better off sticking with one style or the other: but if she sticks to the wistful Dolly version, she can't show off her power, and if she sticks to the Whitney version, she's trapped in the shadow of a superior performer. Yet another reason to stretch one's talents. I think she has the voice to pull off quieter runs (but don't go crazy with it), and should have stuck with wistful. This may land her in the bottom three.
Michael Johns will close the show. "It's All Wrong, but It's All Right." Not familiar with this. He's really doing well. His poses and stuff are all the same again, but the singing is just fine. (Ladybug likes his Villa Vallo "scarf around the bare neck" look.) Go to the couch, you're safe this week. DVR cut off after Randy; I'll catch the recap.
My bottom three: Kristy Lee, who should have done far better; Ramiele, who did do better but it's too late; and... hm. Ladybug says that Brooke could be in trouble. Her instincts for such things are unerring, so I'll go with her call instead of mine.
Results: we open with a very dull "Nine to Five" group sing. It sounded a little too fast. Kristy Lee didn't sound at all in her wheelhouse, Brooke bailed on the higher notes of her verse, Jason Castro... my goodness, what was that... dreadful capering? He looked like a demented marionette. Yipes. They're storming the judges' table for the finale. Run for it, Simon! Flee!
Idols backstage. Remiele is 3' 8", tops. They couldn't have her stand next to David Archuleta to de-emphasize the contrast?
OK, that Clark Brothers performance, was good - but it went to eleven on the oddity scale. They totally lost the beat during the first break, and though both the non-singers were great guitarists (or, a great guitarist and a great mandolinist), it was very chaotic. And bless us, the lead singer had the Nick Anderson Face going the whole time. I think he may have blinked once the entire song. So, yeah, I'm not gonna buy that on iTunes.
The commercial made me laugh out loud, but at them, not with them. Song was a dud, singing was a dud, and they wouldn't have a prayer of winning a pickup game against those guys if they all played at once.
Playing nine on five
What a way to take a beating
They're just running by
It's all dunking and repeating
We've just lost the game
Sixty-seven against zero
We should have stayed home
Playing "Guitar Hero"
Questions. Mostly forgettable, but Simon was funny about apologizing after giving tough criticism. It should be obvious by now that he's actually on the contestants' side, and wants them to be as good as they can be, and his way of doing this is not to be constantly cheerleading. It's an excellent balance between the three judges. Stay the course, Simon. Later, he winds up giving one of his quick winks, too. He's actually kind of charming.
(Ryan did skip one question I was able to read off the screen: "Is all the arguing for real, or is it scripted?" You know what? Excellent decision to skip that. Knowing one way or the other would ruin it - if you know it's fake you can't enjoy it the same way, and if you know it's real it would be really uncomfortable. The uncertainty is what makes it so much fun.)
I turned to Ladybug before Dolly came on and said, "As good as some of the contestants were this week, you know that Dolly is going to be as good as all of them put together." Well, she wasn't quite that good, but dude, she was pretty close - especially considering the insanity of the show up until now. "Jesus and Gravity." I think I'm with the Barking Spider on this one: I'm going to come out of the country/western closet and announce that I'm a fan. A lot of new pop or rock songs, it takes a little while to get into them; country is immediately accessible, and appealing. You either dig it right off or you walk away from it. For example, Trace Adkins sang his new single, "You're Gonna Miss This," live on the Celebrity Apprentice finale. iTunes download of that performance? Done, and done. This will probably join it. Good lyrics, nice tune, and I liked the gospel rave up at the end. Dolly is going a little crazy here, introducing everyone and everything, but I found it oddly charming. (But the outfit? It's like Elvira in Vegas. Completely insane.)
Idol Gives Back moment. Darn, it got really dusty in our living room. Finding that girl's sister on the streets of Addis Ababa? Worth every penny. God bless them.
Catching up with previous Idols. Holy cow, it's Nosferatu! (Phil Stacey.) Didn't recognize him with the beard. Or by name. Oops. Bo Bice, a fave of the Ladybug's, has had some rough times - long hospital stay and surgery, man. Took some time off, is doing the southern rock thing (fifty times better than Biker Nurse - sowry!), hanging with his family. God bless you too, Bo.
As for results... first three (Mike Johns, Dave A, Carly) are safe. Backstage, Remiele has gotten smaller if possible. David Cook goes to the couch. Remiele is out now, and taking a stool. Syesha is safe. Kristy Lee Hoedown takes a stool. (If she can't clean up doing country music, she is done like a Christmas ham.) It's down to Jason and Brooke. Ladybug's right, Brooke is in the bottom three. Judges say it's the right call. Remiele is now about two feet high, and bluffs sneaking out from under the arms of the taller girls. (Nice moment.)
Brooke is sent back to the couch, which is also the right call. So it's either Hoedown or Ramiele, and either way, America can't really lose.
Ramiele goes home. I'm sad for her. So is Kristy, who looked for a split-second like she was going to kiss Ramiele on the forehead. Instead she opts for a big hug. I can't even see Ramiele anymore. She's buried her face in Kristy's belly button. Let her sing, already! Finally she does, and the Nick Anderson Face is gone. As if it hasn't been said enough, I'll say it again - PLEASE enjoy your time on the show while it's happening! You will sing better and be happier.