February 20, 2009

American Idol: Group One . . . Bad Song Choices, a Subdued Tatiana and Danny Gokey

Season 8 of American Idol has now officially begun. It's 2 hours and it's live and Ryan is all jazzed about that, as if he's never gone on t.v. live before. He does his usual shtick with the judges and particularly with Simon and it's just as annoying as ever. Randy is a big bag of blah. Kara is all nervous. Paula is somewhere over the rainbow. Simon is bitchy. I love this show.

The set up is a little different this year. Instead of the bottom 2 vote getters getting shown the door, the top male, top female and the next top vote getter will be getting through. The rest of the contestants will be shown the door, unless they are granted one of the 3 wildcard spots the judges will be able to use.

Group sing. Does anyone care? I don't. Thank God for DVR and fast forward.

So Jackie Tohn is up first and I can pretty much guarantee before she even opens her mouth that she had better be praying for that wildcard spot because being the lead-off batter sucks. She is singing "A Little Less Conversation" - - and seeing as how basically annoying I found her during auditions, there might be a hidden meaning in this song title, Jackie. So she's apparently stolen Olivia Newton-John's black leather pants from the final scenes of Grease and she's added a hideous red or fuchsia belt to them and white high tops. I just report it, people.

She's all over the stage and very, very energetic. I imagine this is what Paula would be like if she switched her Vicodin for speed. Speaking of Paula, she is up and dancing to Jackie's performance. But remember, Paula is the woman who last season reported on Jason Castro's performance before Jason actually performed.

Randy praises Jackie on being energetic but says the singing itself wasn't really there. In case you didn't know, that's Randy code for "you sucked". Kara pretty much says what Randy tried to say - - Jackie is energetic but it probably isn't going to save her ass. Paula praised Jackie because, after a few Vicodin with a vodka chaser, Sanjaya would sound hot. Simon berates Jackie for playing the clown.

Next up is one of those mystery contestants that we really didn't see much of at all. This guy is named Ricky Braddy but I really want to call him Ricky Bobby. Ricky Bobby is fresh off a job serving chicken fingers and finding that perfect cardigan sweater. He is singing a song called "Song for You" and he's actually very, very good. He can definitely sing but Simon knocks him down a few dozen pegs by telling him he has absolutely no star quality. The other judges, however, absolutely loved him so it's anybody's guess at this point as to whether or not Ricky Bobby will live to see another day.

Alexis Grace is up next and after the judges told her to "dirty" herself up during the audition process, she has gone and added pink streaks to her hair. She is cute as all get out though and we are informed she is going to sing "Never Loved a Man" by Aretha. (If you've watched Idol long enough, you know that some people do not ever need last names. Aretha is one of them.) Girlfriend does an amazing job with this song - - because Aretha is never easy, you know. For such a tiny little girl she has a big voice in there. The judges are falling all over themselves to worship at the temple of Alexis Grace. Kara tells her the genie is out of the bottle - - hope that's not a sign that Miss Alexis peaked too early. Paula calls attention to the fact that Alexis is ONLY TWENTY! but Alexis corrects her and points out that she turned twenty-one. Simon gives her a backhanded compliment by telling her she's the best of the evening, but they have only heard 3 people at this point. Hmmm . . . Simon giveth and Simon taketh away. Such is Idol. He does compare her to Kelly Clarkson though and label her a "dark horse" of the competition.

Hey, there's Doogie Houser! And Ted Danson!

Brent Keith is up next and I vaguely remember him. He's going to be singing "Hicktown". As I don't care for country music in the slightest, his performance doesn't do much for me. Randy makes some weird comment about Brent performing at a chili cookoff, with Randy and Simon present and Simon is predictably and understandably confused as to what exactly a chili cookoff has to do with anything. That Randy! Simon, quite naturally, doesn't care for Brent's performance and disses him by labeling his performance "safe" and "boring". Seacrest, however, sticks up for Brent Keith and shows a little snotface to Simon by stating that country music fans won't find Brent boring or forgettable. I suppose we shall see.

Stevie Wright is up next and while I really liked her during her auditions, I absolutely detest what she's doing now. She's singing a Taylor Swift song that I don't know and that certainly does herself no justice. I suppose the judges told her she needs to sound more like her 16 or 17 year old self, and step back from Etta James' "At Last" (which I love, by the way, whether you're 17 or 70) but now she just sounds like a giddy teen doing karaoke. She is still smiley and basically adorable though, even as Randy proclaims her performance the worst of the night. (Note to Randy . . . you just wait). Kara and Paula basically try to soften the blow of breaking the bad news to Stevie, while Simon tells her flat out she sucked. I'm definitely feeling worried for Stevie Wright.

Anoop ("Anoop Dawg") is up next and I have to say, he is pretty much my favorite regardless of what he sings. Anyone who can proudly admit they wrote a thesis on the evolution of barbecue is okay in my book. Anoop is singing Monica's "Angel of Mine" and it's a departure from the Anoop we're used to, but a blazing hot departure, in my opinion. Anoop may look a wee bit uncomfortable up there but his voice sounds good. Anoop is the man. Randy reminds America that Anoop is Anoop Dawg and then says the performance was sharp. Kara wonders if it was a good song choice for him, that maybe he didn't have the depth for it or something like that. Paula tells us how much we love Anoop and compares him to Bryan McKnight. Simon wants to know why Anoop chose that song (it was the first R&B song Anoop really liked) and declares it too "old" for Anoop.

Casey Carlson is up next and she is tackling the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic". However, she has changed the "she" to a "he" and completely jacked up the arrangement. Seriously, this version gives "hideous" a new meaning. Girlfriend sounds worse than amateur karaoke night and she's winking and gesturing horribly on top of that. Randy calls her performance some sort of weird karaoke. Kara declares the Police iconic (who knew?) and basically said Casey should not have touched that song. Paula tells her that she's a pretty girl that appeals to all the males - - which you know is a kiss of death coming from Paula. I believe Haley Scarnato heard this too before she was pink slipped. Simon tells Casey she was atrocious and that she should never have been allowed to sing that song. All in all, Casey looks screwed.

Michael Sarver is up next and he is going to sing some Gavin DeGraw song I don't know. But Michael sings earnestly and you just can't help but like him, even if he's not the best performer out there. Randy didn't really appreciate the song and thinks Michael should return to soulful roots. Kara thinks the song was a crowd pleasure but doesn't think it shows Michael at his best. Paula was freaked out by how many times Michael shifted the microphone between his hands. Simon actually gives Michael a bunch of compliments, between stating that he likes Michael and he hopes America will like Michael and push him through. Very un-Simon like.

Ann Marie Boskovich is next and she sings "Natural Woman" and does it very well, indeed. Ted Danson even gives her a standing O. Randy, however, complains about the song choice and says some crap about not knowing who she is as an artist (unlike Casey Carlson, I suppose). Kara applauds Ann Marie for coming out of her shell but didn't like the song choice either. Paula thinks A-M is courageous. Simon says that A-M sounds like a hotel singer and her voice wasn't nearly good enough for the song.

Here is Stephen Fowler. If you don't remember, he's the dude who forgot his lyrics twice during Hollywood week but still managed to get through because Simon's rule of "forget the lyrics and you're out" was total bullshit. Stephen is singing "Rock with You" and can I just say right now that if the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" is off-limits, Michael Jackson's entire catalog should be. The song is just kind of there, and Stephen's voice is okay but the song really didn't do it any favors. Randy hated it and hated the song choice. Theme of the night! Kara thought he was better when he forgot the lyrics because he actually had an emotional connection with the song. How the hell are you supposed to have an emotional connection with "Rock with You"? Paula thinks Stephen should have sang the Cookie song Stephen forgot the lyrics too, as it would have shown the judges and America why Stephen was given the pass. I think this is the first time tonight Paula has made sense. She also says this song is the kiss of death because only Michael Jackson should do it. Simon, predictably, knifes Stephen and says the last ten seconds were decent but the rest blew.

Tatiana Del Taco is up next and she will be singing Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You". Oh shit. Kill me now. This might be a good time for the audio to inexplicably go out on my t.v. But of course that doesn't happen because that only happens during one of my favorite shows, when something very important is being revealed. So back to Tatiana. Who actually can singing this effing song! I am floored . . . not only because she can sing but that she also chose a song by an artist that has been repeatedly proclaimed "off limits" for most Idols. It really isn't fair that such a lunatic can sing so well . . . although Tatiana is unsettlingly calm tonight. Randy is amazed, as well, that Tatiana can sing although he will only give her that she had "moments". Wow, he really doesn't like her. Kara thinks Tatiana is a firecracker but is scared by her. She wants to know exactly who Tatiana is in the industry. Yet another ongoing theme. Tatiana thinks she's a personality and a celebrity and pretty soon her head may be bigger than Simon's. Paula states the obvious, which is that Tatiana is very talked about but she, like Kara, wants to know who Tatiana is. Simon says that Tatiana is a drama queen, much like Paula. Truer words were never spoken, Mr. Cowell.

Danny Gokey gets the pimp spot and if you don't think Idol wants him to make the top five, at least, you're sipping out of Paula's cup. He is singing Mariah Carey's "Hero", yet another ar-teest that usually deemed "off limits". Danny Gokey sings his heart out and all of us eat it up because we're hokey and easy to please like that. Best friend Jamar is in the front row looking as if he's about to cry. The judges lose their shit over Danny Gokey. Randy says something completely inexplicable about Danny being the diva or demon. Don't get it. Kara thanks him for the hope he gives us all. Paula says he was stellar but then reverts back to her usual Abdulisms by giving him two words with a hyphen in them - - sold out arenas. Simon says he was good, he's likable and has a good voice but he's not buying the same drug Randy, Kara and Paula are. Simon is such a buzzkill.

So with the greatness that is my DVR, I was able to watch the performance show and the results back to back. The results show was basically a waste of 45 minutes. The results could have been read in 15 minutes but Idol will find a way to stretch it to an hour. And that includes bringing back Hot Michael and Plant Carly from last season to sing a duet. Hey, Hot Michael has an album coming out in May!

The long and short of it, basically, is that 3 people are going through. The others are back home, unless the judges throw them a lifeline at some point. Casey is the first one called to the stage so you know she's history, even without her shitastic performance. Bye Casey. Stephen Fowler is next. Alexis Grace is next called and you just know she made it. As an added bonus, Alexis gets to sing her song again! Just so we know why we voted her through, I suppose. Jackie and Ricky Bobby come out and both are sent packing. Sad for Ricky Bobby, because he can actually sing and was totally shortchanged when the auditions were aired. Anoop and Michael Sarver come down together and Ryan tries to make it all nervewracking but only looks like a douche. He states that only one of these men will be moving on and . . . it's Michael! Holy shit! Anoop didn't make it? What the truck??? I'm sure even the judges are shocked at this point. Michael is giddy with happiness and sings his song again and he really is likable. I think any level of suspense is gone, since we all know that Danny Gokey made it. Ann Marie, Stevie and Brent stand up and are shot down together. That leaves Tatiana and Danny Gokey. Tatiana attempts to place her arm on Danny's as a sign of support and togetherness but Danny keeps his arms locked behind his back. Ouch. Still no real suspense. Tatiana sung well but she annoys the shit out of everyone. Danny sung well but he gives everyone hope, so of course he's in! Tatiana crumbles and Danny lets out a whoop - - no handshake or hug for Tatiana. Wow, she isn't liked at all, is she? He gets to sing his song again but a great deal of the camera is focused on Tatiana getting weepy and then basically losing her shit and bawling.

Is this the last time we will see Tatiana? Will Anoop Dawg get a wildcard? Will Ricky Bobby? Was Casey Carlson wearing a strange hairpiece?

Group 2 will feature Adam Lambert and Norman Gentle, among others. Stay tuned!

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