March 11, 2009

American Idol Top 13: Raising the Stakes on Michael Jackson Night But Don't Even Think About Being Creative

We're finally getting down to serious business now, as far as Season 8 is concerned on American Idol, and to demonstrate the point, the judges are now announced from some Voice Above as they stand on the massive stage and then walk, hand in hand, to the Judges' Podium of Righteousness. I hate it. Totally cheesey, although this show reeks of cheese and full of the type of self-importance all the judges and Seacrest like to think they are due. Seacrest is also individually announced by the random Voice Above and walks down the mile-long stairs and the entire time I'm thinking that if he should trip and fall I will never laugh so hard in my entire life.

Sadly enough, he makes it down safely and then has the nerve to say Simon likes to make an entrance. Because I'm sure that Seacrest fought tooth and nail over being singled out like that. One thing Seacrest does not like, people, is attention.

Anyway. Totally worthless discussion about how big the stage is and advice for the contestants (don't fear the stage; don't forget the lyrics). Intro of the stage and of the band. Announcement that tonight is Michael Jackson night, complete with a montage of MJ performing and videos. He was once a really good performer. It is confusing, though, as to how they are going to play this MJ theme off, as very few people sound like MJ (or should) and it seems that in seasons past the judges have felt that MJ is one of those "untouchable" artists. And after David Cook's version of "Billie Jean" from last season, which left even the angels crying from its beauty and poignancy, should they really subject the contestants to that? Reminder that tomorrow is a double elimination ceremony. Paula appears to already be three sheets to the wind so this should be an interesting evening.

Lil Round Rapper is surprisingly in the craptastic first slot of death. Because this is going to be a 2 hour show and American Idol is about nothing if it's not about filler, we are "treated" to film of Lil, with her kids and her husband and their life in an extended stay motel in Tennessee. Lil is attired in a disco-like type and totally bitchin' white jeans and she is singing "The Way You Make Me Feel". It's a-ight, Dawg. I'm not a Lil fan and she's not aggravating me to the point of scratching my own eyes out but I do think it needs to be the tiniest bit faster. It's an upbeat, quick little song, you know? Not like Lil is trying to make into a ballad or anything but I could totally see that happening and it ain't pretty. She does get shouty in a few places and for one brief moment, I am reminded of LaKisha Jones from a few seasons ago and I worry that Lil may try to wheeze out a massive glory note but fortunately she does not. Lil gets good reviews from the judges, which is not to be unexpected as the judges have found her to be one of the least offensive contenders and therefore a favorite. Paula thinks Lil looks lovely in her 70s/80s attire and digs her makeup, even the glittery shit on her face. She also thinks Lil sang like an angel - - yeah, an angel sniffing airplane glue. Wonder if Paula has angels on the brain because it certainly appears that her right shoulder had a hit and run with an angel and the angel lost, leaving behind the majority of its feathery wing. Simon, bless him sometimes, hates Lil's outfit with a blinding passion that he normally reserves for Seacrest and also thinks Lil's song choice was entirely too safe. Paula, naturally, is personally insulted that Simon doesn't agree with her fashion diva assessment of Lil and the two bicker about it (again, we have 2 hours and they need filler) before coming to the conclusion that Lil needs a powder puff. Why, I have absolutely no idea. This show literally is full of boundless stupidity. Kara thinks Lil got a little shouty or something but liked it and Randy thought this was the exact way to start the show. Ummm, with Paula saying something totally incoherent, Simon being bitchy, Kara being irrelevant and Lil wearing pants that makes her ass look the size of the Stay-Puft marshmallow man?

Scott is up next and we get to meet the parentals in his video blurb. Wow, they look really young. Turns out that Scott's sister is also visually impaired, the family has no history of it and genetics are a fucked up thing, aren't they? We get to see photos of little Scott and stories of how much he's loved music from a young age, and how he learned the piano very young. Scott is going to sing "Keep the Faith" and accompany himself on the piano. I'll be honest here - - I am prepared for Scott to be just all right, if that, and then immediately feel guilty that I don't like him more. Because I can see and he can't. I know, what's wrong with me? Hormones? Anyhow, I don't know this song which is kind of freaky because doesn't most everyone know nearly every Michael Jackson song? But back to Scott. His piano playing is very good and he sounds much, much better than he did a couple of weeks back when he sung the Bruce Hornsby song. He is definitely a stronger performer when he has his piano. So Kara starts off the judging and asks Scott if he learned that song just this week. Affirmative, Will Robinson. Okay, that's pretty darn impressive and my fingers are itching to vote for him on that basis alone. So Kara again busts out her "I'm so glad that people finally got to SEE you" crap and then says how powerful and inspirational Scott is. Paula too loves Scott. Paula loves her vodka as well. He he. Something is going on with Paula. Really. She then points the songwriter out in the audience and says pretty strongly that the songwriter (whose name I have absolutely no idea of) loved Scott's interpretation. Simon, perhaps still feeling pissy over the debate about Lil's outfit, basically hated the performance, as much as he likes Scott as a person. Scott says that he was trying to be artistic (love that Scott can totally talk over Simon because, well, he can't see him) and Simon retorts with "it's fine being artistic, just not on this show!" That is like the greatest thing ever because I think it's pretty much right there with the list of the Chosen Ones and the fact that the judges watch rehearsals prior to the show - - information we aren't supposed to know. I think someone forgot to tell Cookie last season that being artistic is a big no-no. So Paula gets her feathers in a twist and tells Simon that the album "Keep the Faith" came off of was the biggest selling record in Norway. How dare Simon forget that! Simon thinks Scott's performance was just old fashioned. Randy really doesn't say too much of consequence so who cares.

Danny Gokey is up next and his video blurb seems to go on forever. His family is basically like the Waltons and the Osmonds rolled into one, where the kids had to sing for freaking everything, and the kids got into all kinds of trouble but they could really sing and we see shots of the family sitting around Danny, laughing at something Danny is saying or doing because they all think he's going to be the next American Idol and they want to make sure they stay on his good side to get their payday. You aren't fooling me, Gokey family. So Danny is going to be singing "PYT" and I used to love this song. I was like 12, so don't judge. So Gokey starts the song off very slow and ballady and very much in his predesigned "box" of being the hero with the dead wife who's going to save us all from the abject depravity of life with his singing and I absolutely hate it. You cannot turn "PYT" into a ballad. It's a fact of life. Everyone knows this. Fortunately for the life of my t.v. screen, which was becoming dangerously close to merging with a remote control or a phone (anything within throwing distance), Gokey speeds the tempo up and rightly makes it back into a pop song, complete with some seriously funny white boy moves on the stage that resemble some random muscle spasms in his legs. Paula is up on her feet, dancing and singing along. I see her drinks probably began around 4 pm. Gokey's voice isn't bad. Not wonderful either but not bad. Paula believes that Danny Gokey is a true artist because when she shuts her eyes at night, she can still hear Danny's voice and words and knows exactly who he is. She also says that Danny is a total lock for the finals, which really should be against the judging rules, don't you think? Oh, and she is basically crying because she's so moved by Gokey's brilliance. Or more likely the brilliance of mixing Vodka and Vicodin. Simon feigns annoyance by pointing out that Gokey is only the third singer out of 13 on the night and Paula already has him in the finals. Simon does think the vocals were good, compares him to Michael McDonald but tells him his dancing is repulsive and he should never do it again. Randy thinks Gokey is wonderful, but of course Randy thinks any one of the 13 contestants could win the whole thing. Kara thinks Danny Gokey is nothing but joy, pure joy, which leads Gokey to remind everyone that he normally sings gospel for his church so this pop business is all new stuff. Whatever. Give it a rest, Gokey.

Michael Sarver is next and we see that he is from Jasper, Texas and he used to work as a roughneck. He didn't have a father growing up so it's very important for him to be a good father to his children. Awww, that is sweet, even to my hardened heart filled with black goo. He is going to sing "You Are Not Alone" and once again, I don't think I know this song! What the hell! Is no one going to bust out a totally ridiculous performance of "Thriller"? So Michael is sitting on the stage steps and he is just so happy about being on Idol, he has a great big smile on his face throughout the performance. Damn. It's very hard to snark on someone who is obviously taking this seriously and is so grateful to be where he is. He does have a better voice than I remember though. Simon starts the judging by stating the obvious - - Michael is not the best singer in the competition but he gives so much heart and passion, that really makes up for singing part. Kara agrees with Simon. Paula thinks Michael is a likable ordinary guy who picked the absolute right song and even says that by picking a slow song, it gives the artist room to color things up - - in pretty pastel colors, sequins and glitter, I'm sure. Seacrest comes out to shuffle Michael off the stage, but not before Michael tells Seacrest and everyone that he loves being on the stage and although the blue overalls he wore as a roughneck were cute, they weren't that cute. I think Seacrest is blushing. This is so many levels of awesome it's hard to describe.

Jasmine is next and from looking at her video blurb, she has an unnaturally attractive family. Beautiful cheekbones and skin. Life really isn't fair, is it? Jasmine is going to be singing "I'll Be There" and in some ways I'm not surprised because this just seems like the type of song Jasmine would choose although I really don't like it. It's been done to death, played to death. She can sing, although the performance to me is just so boring. The judges appear to be shocked at how tiny little Jasmine could belt out that performance. Kara thinks Jasmine should have gone something like half a note lower but it was still fantastic. Paula noticed some areas where Jasmine appeared to be singing under her register or something like that and there is definitely something going on with Paula. No, not her usual inebriation. Something is funky with her face, like she's either been pulled or stretched very recently, causing her eyes to swell, or she spent too much time fake baking because her skin looks funky and her eyes definitely appear to be swollen. Simon thinks Jasmine is a little bit robotic and wishes she would lighten up and act her age. Randy thinks it was a big song for Jasmine, because Mariah (name dropping for Randy) sang it.

Kris Allen is up next and his video blurb is actually halfway interesting because we've barely seen him at all this season. He looks about 20 and his wife is so tiny and so cute and blonde and they have a cute little apartment with matching aprons and they cook together and Kris' parents are painfully attracive in that abnormal way that makes you think alien life form, or deal with the devil. I swear, if Kris Allen wasn't bringing the pretty he would annoy me with all the cuteness in his life. So Kris is going to be singing "Remember the Time" and will accompany himself with the guitar. His song isn't bad. He's cute (of course), totally earnest and not a bad singer. I think someone forget to plug in his guitar though because I'm really not hearing it. But Kris is way into it. He is complete boy band material, minus the wife. Kara really liked Kris' performance and thinks it's great that we can see (finally!) Kris performing with his guitar. She also lets everyone know that Kris was helping all the other contestants all week, by accompanying them with his guitar. So Kris is not only unnaturally cute, has an unnaturally cute wife, apartment and appallingly attractive parents but is also a genuinely nice guy? Alien life form, for sure. So Kris blushes while Kara sings his praises all over Hollywood and then Paula and Simon create some type of ruckus which involves Simon supposedly undressing Paula. In any event, it completely and totally distracts us from the brilliant awesomeness of Kris Allen's being, which is exactly the point, isn't it? Very smooth, PaSi. So they get back on track and Paula picks up her critique where Kara left off, stating that Kris was helping everyone else because he knows the Michael Jackson catalog and she thinks, with deepest apologies to Kris, that he is adorable-sexy. The audience screams and squeals and Kris blushes some more. Paula in heat is a great thing, truly it is. Simon has no clue what Paula is talking about (join the party, Simon) and thinks Kris' performance was "interesting". Which could be a kiss of death or lead-in to a quasi-compliment from Simon, you just never know. Simon wasn't sure if the guitar was right for that particular performance and thinks Kris fucked up by letting the world know about his wife and the fact that he's married. The audience boos, of course, and Mrs. Kris sends Simon a death glare that is just too awesome for words. Simon had better start checking his back. But I do understand what he said, without much tact. Kris could certainly get the tween and teen vote, as well as female vote in general, because he's just so cute, so adorable-sexy (trademark Paula) but the tweens and teens may lose interest if he's taken. Because yes, at that age we are incredibly shallow. Randy thinks Kris is kinda cool and maybe just a bit like Jason Mrazzy. He thinks that Kris gave "a very well job done". Randy is kinda idiotic. Ryan interrupts to ask Simon if he's single or married and then tells Kris not to take marital advice from a singleton like Simon. Hmmm, the knives seem to be coming out tonight!

Horrendous Allison is next and we are forced to watch video showing her singing in some Marshall's or TJ Maxx-like store back home (? Texas? New Mexico? Arizona?) and the first thing I'm thinking is why are they making it sound like she's singing at the Met when it's a freaking department store and secondly, the local TJ Maxx and Marshall's by me do not have stages. WTF? So Allison, wearing what looks to be 50 pounds of clothing layered on top of layers and her blindingly blind hot fuchsia hair in her eyes hair are going to be singing "Give in to Me". Or maybe I should have said Allison and her hair were going to be shouting "Give in to Me" because I consider her a shouter more than a singer. So . . . as much as I don't want to like it, I will say it is miles ahead of the slice and dice job she performed on Heart the last time she took the stage. I have watched this show enough, and am bitter enough in general, to know the judges fucking love Allison (she's ONLY! SIXTEEN!) and regardless of how the official vote comes in, Allison and her fucking blindingly blind hot fuchsia hair aren't going anywhere. So Paula is going to start the judging and she simply cannot believe that Allison is such a fucking rock star because she's ONLY! SIXTEEN! I hope the producers or whomever are going to check Paula's judging station for a puddle because I seriously think she just wet herself over Allison and her fucking rock star persona. Simon, naturally, totally agrees and liked it although he thinks she's a bit on the dark side and maybe should lighten up. So Allison immediately makes this comment about the fact she's not cutting herself which has absolutely nothing to do with anything unless Idol is doing a public service announcement and then tells herself that was a weird thing to say. You think? Kara thinks Allison is a rock star too and she says it's ridiculous and when Allison hits those high notes, it's like the ceiling is coming off. I totally agree, Kara. And I think this is the smartest thing you've said in, like, ever.

Anoop is next and damn if I don't just love Anoop. How can you not love Anoop? He seems likable and he's kind of like "this is American Idol and all and it would be cool if I win, but fuck it if I don't", you know? So because Idol sucks balls and cannot contain their live shows within the hour-long format, Seacrest has a little sit down with Anoop to relive Anoop's dance with death on the Wild Card results show. Then we see a little video blurb with Anoop's parents telling us he was an only child and totally spoiled but he deserved it and then that pretty much ends Anoop's video blurb because he's not the Chosen Gokey. Anoop says he's going to be singing one of his favorite Michael Jackson songs ever and it's "Beat It". I would lying right now if I didn't say my heart stopped for a moment or two (okay, maybe a second or two) and I started to break out into a sweat because I worry that this is going to be either awesome or awesomely bad. So Anoop performs in his Noop Dawg way and it's actually very endearing and earnest and I am still totally on-board the Anoop Love Train with a nonrefundable ticket headed to whatever station Anoop decides to pull into. Maybe not the best song choice, all things considered, but his voice isn't bad and the crowd loved it. Obviously someone cut Paula off during the commercial break because she absolutely hated it. She pulls out the same tired card of a certain song being untouchable and when people try to perform it, it sounds like karaoke and I'm thinking well, if the song is untouchable, why the hell is it on their playlist? Honestly, take the song off if no one but freaking Michael Jackson can do it! It makes sense to me but when people like Paula pull shit like this it reminds me of those morons that are in the drive-thru at McDonald's and order a hot coffee and then get pissed when they put the cup between their legs or spill the coffee on themselves and blame McDonald's because McDonald's didn't warn them that hot coffee is actually hot and think that McDonald's should be forced to pay them for their own stupidity. If you don't want Anoop or anyone else to sing "Beat It" or any other song, take it off the list. Don't put it on there and then act offended and high and mighty because someone actually chose it. Simon thinks Anoop's performance was horrible and reprimands Anoop because his version of "Beat It" was lacking in the proper aggression it should have. Uh huh, because Michael Jackson surely looked and sounded like he was en route to kick the shit out of someone in his version. Simon further insults Anoop by insinuating that Anoop tried to be like Michael Jackson but utterly failed. So seeing Simon with his hackles up causes Seacrest to jump in and ask Simon if he now regrets making the Top Twelve the Top Thirteen and Simon, unduly harshly in my opinion, says after that performance, yes. Wow. Where did all this Anoop aggression come from? Back the fuck off my Anoop, now! Anoop himself, although shellshocked at the vitriol, conducts himself very well. He tells the judges it was his energy they originally liked about him and he was trying to bring that. The only good to come out of this Anoop abuse is the audience is totally riled up about the viciousness of the Anoop assault which thereby probably assures that Anoop's fans will burn up the phone lines keeping him safe.

So Jorge is next and we learn in his video blurb that his grandpa died and it sucked for his family but now that he is on Idol, everything is cool again. Jorge will be singing "Never Can Say Goodbye" and really, it's good. Jorge can actually stretch and use those vocal chords for good, which is more than I can say for many of these Idol-izers. Quite naturally, the judges didn't appreciate it. Randy thinks it's old fashioned. Kara thinks Jorge was connected enough to the song - - which seems to be a big concern for her so far this season. Being connected, I mean. Kara does ruminate over whether or not the problem was that Jorge had to learn the song. Paula has mad love for Jorge and wants to know why he chose that particular song. Jorge says that song is not his normal style, but it's not like he was going to sing "Bad" by Michael Jackson and Simon says something like oh, but you did. Man, but Simon is testy tonight! First, the Anoop hatred and now the Jorge bashing. Jorge does not look pleased and it's understandable. Michael Jackson is not an easy artist to sing and maybe all the "good" songs were taken?

Marlboro Megan is next and she was a pretty baby, pretty little girl, blah, blah, according to her mom, her divorce was hard but she's a great mother, blah, blah, blah, except for that atrocious tattoo on her entire arm. Marlboro and her totally nasty tattoo are going to be singing "Rockin' Robin" and I already know this is going to be total ass before Marlboro even opens her mouth. Really? This song? What the fuckity fuck in a world of fuckery? That was beyond hot mess . . . this song choice and performance was equivalent to calling Katie Holmes' performance in Mad Money an important and smart decision. Actually, we could smack that label on her marriage as well. Another story. So Marlboro doesn't quite go to the Puppet Master from Hell levels of stage spasming but her voice is terrible. She even says "Caw! Caw!" at the end, just to seal how truly terrible it all was. Did Marlboro lose a bet? Is all the ink from the atrocious tattoo slowly seeping into her brain? I really cannot imagine what excuse there is for this. If the judges beat the hell out of Jason Castro last season for singing Bob Marley they really should be hanging the noose for Marlboro right about now. Paula likes the unique and quirky tone of Marlboro's voice which proves how truly inebriated she is. Bitch is so drunk she's obviously lost her hearing. Kara thinks the song showed Marlboro's personality. What? Like crazy, tone-deaf, jacked up mess? Thank goodness for Simon to tell it like it is. He hated it with a blinding passion, hated Marlboro's jacked up moves and thinks if a new viewer tuned in right then and saw Marlboro's performance they would think the judges were off their damn rockers for putting this mess through. Truer words were never spoken. Simon is so offput with Marlboro that he points out Gordon Ramsey in the audience and asks for his opinion. Since Gordon doesn't have a mic and no one shows up with one we can't hear his response, but Simon assures us Gordy doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm sure Gordy could give a rat's ass what Marlboro sounds like, so long as she continues to shake her moneymaker at him.

Adam Fucking Lambert is next and he tells us how he grew up in San Diego but moved to L.A. as soon as he could get there to break into the business. He assures us that if he had tried the business and Idol earlier, he never would have made it. His parents are interviewed and they are so many levels of awesomeness, with Mom Lambert saying they just want Adam to be happy, making money isn't everything" and with Dad Lambert saying "making money would be cool though." Snap! I am nearly dying of curiosity, wondering if Adam Fucking Lambert will take the brass balls by the chain and actually perform "Thriller" because I will lose my freaking mind if he does. But he informs us that he chose "Black or White" and he comes out on the stage and prances around in that way of his and sings his little heart out and he is so much better than anyone else, even The Chosen Gokey, it's a freaking joke and they should just hand him the damn crown already. I mean, I wasn't necessarily a fan of the song when it was originally out but damn if Adam Fucking Lambert doesn't make me keep the beat and want to dance around or at least prance around my own bedroom, faux singing in the mirror. Honestly, this was the perfect song choice on a perfect theme night because Adam Fucking Lambert is probably the only Idol who can literally sound like Michael Jackson and act like Michael Jackson and it doesn't come off like an act. The crowd, predictably, goes nuts. Paula says that never in the history of American Idol has anyone been so natural on the stage as Adam Fucking Lambert and he's a natural and can marry fashion with music. Paula is basically in tears, so moved and blinded by Adam Fucking Lambert's pure brilliance and Adam looks like he's going to either burst into tears or another song. Simon tells Adam he is in a completely different league from the rest of the constestants, which just causes everyone to go even crazier than they were. Randy and Kara think Adam Fucking Lambert should be on the radio right freaking now and how come he's not? Randy says an album would totally sell. Right now. Kara even says "I hope Michael Jackson is watching tonight."

Matt the Dueling Piano Player is next and I feel sorry for him because he has to follow the absolute awesomeness that is Adam Fucking Lambert. So we see him playing ping pong with his family and his mom saying how great Matt is and his dad saying how great it is to be Matt's dad and Matt will be singing "Human Nature", accompanying himself on the piano. I love "Human Nature", it's one of the few slow Michael Jackson songs that I can tolerate and it's not meant to be a ballad or a powerhouse song. Matt absolutely kills it, and in a good way. Now, the last notes are painful to hear because he appears to be attempting to replicate Justin Timberlake hitting a glory note while on helium but the rest is about as good as can be. At least on a show where being artistic is frowned upon. Matt can go right ahead and join Kris in the boy band because he may have just out-Timberlaked Timberlake. Simon rightfully tells Matt how difficult it would be to follow Adam Fucking Lambert and says that Matt gave a good meat and potatoes performance. Is that a British thing? Well, I suppose that would be bangers and mash but whatever. Paula sang along with Matt (probably off-key) and of course she absolutely loves him and is probably about to go out of her mind, or what's left of it, having two incredibly incredible performances in a row. She even says she's blown away. Randy thinks Matt has the Robin Thicke/Justin thing going on. Of course Randy is more concerned with namedropping like these are his BFFs forever than being useful.

Alexis Grace gets the Pimp Spot and Ryan reminds the viewing audience that because there are 13 Idols tonight (instead of the normal 12) and because American Idol doesn't have a lock on the phone number for 13, be sure and pay close attention to Alexis' number because if you don't and you dial the normal exchange, you will reach a porn line. No joke. So we get to see Alexis' adorable little daughter again and I really don't remember much else because her daughter is so freaking cute. Alexis is going to sing "Dirty Diana" and I am really loving her hair, even with its pink streak, and I wish I could wear my hair like this. At least for a day or two. I'm not really feeling what Alexis is wearing, which looks like black bloomers but the song is a really good choice for her and she's even kind of grinding to the song and totally performing it. Given that Alexis has a very, very good voice and she's cute and her daughter is cute and she is in the Pimp Spot, she should totally be safe. I mean, are the judges' remarks even truly necessary? Kara thinks Alexis was naughty. Paula liked it but warned her about oversinging (which is rich, considering The Gokey One and Lil should be arrested for violating that edict). Simon didn't think it was nearly as good as Alexis herself thought it was. Randy decides to take Simon's side and pretty much says the exact same thing.

Obviously Adam Fucking Lambert, Matt and Alexis should be safe. They were at the end, and anything following Adam Fucking Lambert is going to be remembered. I suppose it's the Adam Effect. Anoop should be safe based on the reverse psychology of the Simon beating. The rest were a pretty big bag of meh overall, with the exception of Marlboro's assfest about birds and cawing. The others may get lost in the shuffle of ho-hum but nobody is going to forget that travesty.

As far as who will go home, honestly, I think it's anyone's guess at this point. Marlboro definitely should go home but otherwise, I'm drawing a blank.

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