I can’t remember why I left Star 98.7.
Things that are super-hyped but are ultimately underwhelming, the more you think about them:
1. Pinkberry. Why should I pay over three dollars for fake frozen yogurt made from a powdered mix that’s combined with water?
2. The top 12 guys on Tuesday’s American Idol. The girls are going to kick their asses.Things that you wouldn’t think much of, but are surprisingly good:
1. Taco Tuesday at Del Taco. $1.09 for 3 tacos, every Tuesday. They’re edible and a steal. Plus, they’re my litmus test of determining whether something is overpriced, like a $200 dress. I convert the dollars into tacos and suddenly, buying something that costs 600 tacos is no longer a good idea.
2. Jason Castro.
Seacrest the toothpaste peddler prances down the AI staircase of shame. He clarifies that this isn’t just a stage, but a platform. A platform that will allow many people to spam you with renditions of songs that have become bastardized beyond recognition? Sounds kinda like Facebook to me, which allows people to spam me everyday with invitations to add applications like “What non-deadly STD are you?!” and “What’s the color of your heart?”
But seriously, I think he means a launch pad or perhaps a rocket constructed out of origami paper. We’re treated to a 10 second parade of all our male contestants in the order they will be singing. Here are my snap judgments.
If you squint hard enough, you’ll see an abused production assistant between David H and Chikezie’s legs.
David Hernandez – A good reason to not name your child David
Chikezie – Orange Otter pops
David Cook – Another reason to not name your child David
Jason Yeager – Stupid highlights in stupid hair
Robby Carrico – Almost as bad as Kid Rock
David Archuletta – Jazz hands smiley face!
Danny Noriega – Worse than Emotard from “Heroes”
Luke Menard – Meh, blah
Colton Berry – High School Musical reject
Garrett Haley – “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
Jason Castro – I’ve never seen you before
Michael Johns – Did you steal your scarf from Maroon 5 or Danny Noriega?
The audience is clapping half-heartedly, and it’s only the first five minutes of the show. I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to be a rough two hours. It sounds like the clapping you hear at children’s piano recitals when none of the kids have practiced and the parents are dying for a drink after the third consecutive butchered performance of Bach’s Minuet in G.
If you don’t C sharp, you’ll B flat, punk!
I am longing for some sort of rapid-style elimination where the contestants aren’t allowed to complete the first four measures of their song if they suck, and are flung into a tank filled with sharks that shoot lasers. But it’s not gonna happen.
Seacrest says hello to the girls, and I count only 11. Perhaps they sent Carly Smithson home for changing her name and recording a crappy album you can buy on iTunes. Maybe she joined The Corrs. But she’s probably just sick with avian bird flu.
Our judges are back for their seventh dose, and Randy is the most excited of all. He’s rocking the man cardigans and enthusiastically lies that there’s more originality in these guys this season than there’s ever been. You know he’s lying because he didn’t say dawgs, but tops it off with “Keep it real, boyzzzz.” Paula, in a sparkly top, has overdone it with the mood stabilizers and sedatives. She sedately congratulates Randy on his restraint (he’s only said “dawg” and “man” twice). She rehashes that song selection is extremely important and doesn’t even crack a smile.
Seacrest ribs Simon about saying something inspirational and motivational to the contestants. Simon reads a bit from a Maya Angelou Hallmark card, sets it on fire, and dryly states that it’s about personality, originality, and singing chops. Seacrest congratulates the judges on finding all these great people, but it really can’t be that hard to weed out the talent from the writhing mobs of flesh that flock to these auditions in between being test subjects for experimental medical treatments and drug studies.
It was cheaper to hire the wax figurines from Madame Tussauds.
After the obligatory montage of the American Idol “Trail of Tears” journey and a commercial that includes a dad licking ice cream off a baby’s bald head, we’re informed that tonight is all about songs that can be found on Time Life’s seven-disc “’60s Gold” collection. I am secretly hoping someone attempts “What’s New Pussycat?” or “California Dreamin’.” But no one’s going to sing before Seacrest the Shill plugs yet another AI partner, iTunes! You can relive the pitchiness, horror, and brief moments of “hey, he’s not that bad” by downloading the night’s performances.
First on the chopping block: David Hernandez, who likes overly tight shirts with numbers and random sports printed on them. He manages to mention being raised by a single mom, low-income housing, broken family, and singing as escape for the soul in one sentence. I got it. His eyebrows bother me. He’s fired up by Simon’s veto of him during Hollywood week, so we can safely assume that he’s going to be slightly mediocre in this opening performance.
David # 1 is singing “The Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett, with a gospelly vibe created by the organ accompaniment. He’s not the most charismatic, and he’s on the verge of fluttering his fingers a tad too much on the mic. But I’ll chalk that up to opening night nerves. His tone? Wedding/cheap lounge singer at best, which isn’t helped by the background singers (who don’t sound too excited to begin with) and the arrangement. At the very least, he’s carrying a tune for the most part and has some power behind his voice. His eyes are absolutely dead, though, and that scares me.
He started out strong, but by the middle of the song, he’s stiffening up and chopping up the phrases instead of elongating them with some legato. But then we get to the end, and it’s not pretty. David H’s phrasing and timing gets really off and he struggles with the high notes, drops the rest and then crashes to an abrupt stop at the end, slurring “midnighthourrrrrrr.” A measure after the band’s hit their final downbeat. It’s awkward as he tries to slide the last few words in total silence. It’s kind of like having sex with someone who climaxes before you, and you realize, “Shit, I need to finish up!” before they roll over and start snoring. I was expecting worse. He won’t be kicked off this week, but he’ll be gone in about two to four weeks, for a lack of originality and stage presence. America can’t handle three Davids.
Optical illusion, or ironed by Helen Keller?
Randy liked it, but Randy is kind of like George Foreman in that he usually likes everything. He thinks David #1 was a strong opener, and Paula agrees, praising his vibrato and falsetto.
Simon weighs in that it was better than he thought it would be. Simon is fantastic at the negative tactics mentioned in The Game , with backhanded compliments such as “Wow, your hair looks great, you must pay a ton of money to get it to look like that.” The opening was strong, lost its way in the middle, and then blew chunks at the end. It wouldn’t hurt to loosen up a bit either, David H.
What happens if you dial the AI number but hit 1-800 instead of 866? Do you get a hot chat/escort service consisting of Idol rejects and past seasons’ runner-ups?
Chikeze (Ezie) made it to the end of Hollywood week last season, only to be cut. During auditions this time around, he also enjoys t-shirts printed with random numbers. He’s got extremely good control over his voice and a fantastic tone quality, which is more than I can say for 75% of the contestants. He hails from Inglewood (pronounced “IngleWOOOOD”), which is a city over from my hometown. Guess where I grew up? I’ll give you a clue – home of The Carpenters.
Chikeze is one of those people who have already dropped their last names, at the ripe old age of 22. His name makes me think of those Morningstar Chik patties, though. He channels Carlton Banks and Tom Jones in a red-orange pimp suit, complete with matching pocket napkin. I’m glad to be extremely nearsighted right now, ’cause I’m not down with his tastes. I am very thankful that he didn’t pair the suit with a white turtleneck. As he launches into his rendition of “More Than Yesterday” by Spiral Starecase (yep, it’s “starecase”, and this is what they came up with after being called the Fydallions), I am transported to the world of Shaft/shag carpet/rollerdisco porn.
My boyfriend comments that it’s definitely black boning music. Chikeze seems really sincere, and has a pleasant voice (better than David #1, in my opinion) but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been transported back to a 1960′s taping of Soul Train with Don Cornelius, and think a lack of innovation will be Simon’s main critique. The performance is really anachronistic compared to previews of the other performances. His talent is overshadowed by how traditional and cheesy the arrangement is, and how his interpretation severely lacked the modern update that the judges want to hear. But! He finishes with the band, unlike some people, ahem.
You look like a carpet sample from Hell.
Randy exhales loudly and says it was aiiiight, pointing out that the arrangement and execution is too old fashioned, and needs to be made fresh. Paula is happy to see that Chikezie’s dressed in an outfit which makes him easy to spot even when her vision is blurry, and shares with the audience that Chikeze has lost a lot of weight since last year. This isn’t The Biggest Loser, Paula. She proclaims that he’s infectious and that she loves his singing, with its R&B influences. Paula’s not quite slurring her words, but her delivery is stilted and spacey. There must be something good in her Coca Cola cup.
“Here’s my problem, Jacuzzi,” begins Simon. Chikezie graciously forgives him for the gaffe, but then Simon declares that he absolutely hated the whole performance. And the lava-lamp colored suit. Chikeze gets defensive and calls Simon Charlie Chaplin for his monochromatic choice of colors, reaching for the ole’ “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m…”. Simon explains that this performance could have been filmed 30-40 years ago, and I agree.
“It was ’60s night, right? I was taking a ’60s song of one genre and taking it to a different genre of the same era,” says Chikezie defensively. Really? He complains that it’s difficult to sound current if the songs are from the ’60s, which is missing the point entirely. Whine whine whine, someone doesn’t understand what Simon is saying. Oh Chikezie. You probably don’t get metaphors or figurative speaking.
Simon seriously considers playing the choking game.
We get a little sit-down sesh with Seacrest and Colton Berry. Can I just call him Colon? Because he makes me want to run to the bathroom whenever he opens his mouth. Colonoscopy confesses to Seacrest that he looks like Ellen D. from many angles. It’s true, but you shouldn’t have brought that up before you sing for votes. But I’m sure there’s a voting bloc out that who roots for Ellen DeGeneres Mini-Me types. Who knows. I already loathe this kid, in part because he’s sitting Indian-style on the couch while everyone else (even Seacrest, whose legs are pretty short) is sitting properly with their feet on the ground. Also, his favorite quote according to the AI site is, “Hey, girl, hey!” Which is as retarded as his face.
David Cook, our second helping of David, is trying too hard with a vest and a tie. He’s also got the worst Idol contestant profile photo on the site, complete with a horrific double chin. Ryan comments that he looks very relaxed and almost too comfortable, but David #2 just looks constipated, with sweaty palms. We’re shown a montage of David #2′s journey to LA, and an evolution of his hair. From a Manic Panic dye job and an elaborate fauxhawk to the world’s stupidest soul patch to flat-ironed hipster hair, he looks like an escapee from Fox’s show “The Next Great American Band.” He spends some time pondering the meaning of Simon’s cryptic audition comment, “Other than being a little bit worthy, it was good.”
David #2, who will be referred to from now on as DoubleChin, starts off with a slow, ballad-like crooning of “Happy Together” by The Turtles. The opening bars are disorienting since you can’t immediately identify the song, but the band speeds up steadily to what I call handclapping swing tempo (the point where the audience has to participate) and DoubleChin infuses the song with a dose of rock and edginess. The judges are going to eat it up after Chikezie’s blast from the past, even if DoubleChin can’t seem to let go of the mic stand. DoubleChin isn’t the most charismatic performer, and looks a bit naked without an instrument in front of him, so he starts using the mic stand to gesture and point. Put the goddamn mic stand down, DoubleChin! By the last chorus, he’s shouting a bit too much and not getting the notes out cleanly, but the judges will chalk it up to singing rock. To top it off, he TWIRLS the mic stand for the grand flourish at the end.
Chim chiminey Chim chim cher-ee!
Compared to the first two guys, he definitely updated the song and made it fresh. The judges weigh in, with Randy exclaiming that he was initially weirded out, then impressed, dawg. He also mentions Alice in Chains and having a rock edge. Paula concurs that DoubleChin rocked it and made it wordy/worthy, whatevs. A penchant for vests runs in DoubleChin’s family as we get a shot of his mom and bro.
Simon, cryptic as ever, says that DoubleChin’s performance was almost believable, which means that he nearly pulled it off. Simon’s never heard the song performed that way before, and sounds slightly genuinely impressed. Or just surprised. Will DoubleChin abuse the rock interpretations of pop songs the way Blake inserted beatboxing into everything?
Jason Yaeger has two accessories: the highlights in the front of his head, and his adorable little son. Will they be enough to keep America from voting him off this week? I’m not sure, because I have a feeling we’re in for an actual ballad/snorefest with his song selection. His hair relegates him to the gay Backstreet Boy category for me, but is also reminiscent of Stacy, the co-host of What Not to Wear she has that dramatic gray streak of hair). Yaeger’s son swapped his “My dad is a singing server” t-shirt for the “superstar” one during auditions.
Don’t worry, there’s always My Dad is Better Than Your Dad.
I’m a bit concerned that Jason is starting his song by sitting on the stool of thoughtful contemplation/earnestness. It can only mean one thing: slow ballad of death, which should never make an appearance this early in the competition unless you’ve a gal with a huge set of pipes and a sob story. He launches into “Moon River” by Henry Mancini, which won an Academy Award in 1961 for Best Song. It’s hard to get over the fact that the song was written for Audrey Hepburn, who fortunately is not around to hear the song get massacred. Yaeger’s performance is possibly worse than Jennifer Love Hewitt’s version, the one she sang while playing Audrey Hepburn in that godawful made-for-TV movie.
The plodding speed is slower than the “steady” pace option in The Oregon Trail, which guarantees it’s going to be a bathroom break for many viewers. Yaeger’s tone isn’t bad, it’s just too dinner theater/hotel/cheap lounge/cruise ship to be good. He has pitch problems, especially when changing keys and holding longer phrases, and I cringe because the delivery of the song makes it sound like the Miss America pageant’s switched its theme song to “Moon River.”
Somewhere in the wings, William Shatner is waiting to put in a word for Priceline. The band sounds bored, and the arrangement lacks dynamics. You know you’ve had bowel movements more exciting than this. Yaeger ends with a long note, and then shakes his head to and fro as if to elicit better vibrato. But he looks like a wet dog who’s trying to shake droplets from his face. So hot right now. On a slightly positive note, Yaeger looks a bit like Liz Lemon’s ex-boyfriend Floyd (The Floydster) from 30Rock.
Randy tries to keep it positive, reassuring Yaeger that he can definitely blow (chunks), and to stay focused during simple songs. Paula cops out and explains that she lost her virginity to this song. I mean, performed in her first ballet recital to it. She gushes that she has so much sentimental value attached to this song, to the awwwws of the collective audience (there’s gotta be an “Awww” cuecard). Yaeger ups the saccharine factor by informing us that his Grandma taught him this song when he was young and that he dedicates it to her memory. Sorry, Grandma! Simon gags and snarks that he bought his first puppy to that song, after Randy asks him about his first tutu. After ripping on Yaeger for appearing much older and dated than 28, Simon calls him a dependable old dog, a sheepdog in fact, noting that a lot of young people at home will be confused by Yaeger’s performance. The judges’ commentary devolves into a discussion of how many puppies Simon has raised, and how Randy likes dawgs not dogs.
So far, there isn’t anyone with super star potential. Simon sees only sheepdogs and chihuahuas. What we need is a beagle. A magical beagle, like the one that won this year’s Westminster Dog Show. Will it be wittle itty bitty David Archuleta?
Speaking of dogs, “Rocker” Robbie Carrico tackles “One” by Harry Nilsson, popularized by Three Dog Night. The title of rocker is dubious given Robbie’s past as an ex-boy band member of the group Boyz n Girlz, which opened for Britney in 2000. His grungy, hairy-chested rocker appearance looks as fabricated as his clean-shaven, harmonizing, sweater-wearing days. Gossip magazines also alleged that he dated Britney before she went bonkers. Robbie hastens to emphasize that after getting back from touring with Britney, he wanted switch to rock so badly. Hee. He went from boy bait to this:
It only took me eight years to grow this.
Nothing says rocker like a dirty bandanna, a chain, and dangling ties from an army green outfit. He launches into “One” with a lot of power, trying to amp it up into rock mode, complete with seizure-inducing strobe lights. He’s decent and energetic, but then again, he is a professional singer who’s done this for a living. He botches a high note in the phrase “Number ONNNEEEEEE” but I still can’t get the funeral dirge of “Moon River” out of my head. Overall, the performance worked, and he’ll stick around for awhile. I just don’t think his voice is super-memorable, but he’s commercial.
Randy’s all “You move me, baby.” Paula calls him authentic, and praises him for his song selection. Simon, surprisingly, says it’s the only performance we’ve seen that “has any semblance of making sense.” I thought he liked DoubleChin, though. He calls it current, but expresses his ambivalence over Robbie as Rocker, saying that he isn’t quite convinced that the PopTart inside of Robbie is completely gone. I kinda feel that Robbie would switch back to pop in a heartbeat if it meant he’d be signed with a lucrative contract. Ryan compares him to Justin Timberlake and Robbie pees himself a bit.
Seventeen-year-old David Archuleta is this season’s Precious Moments Doll. Why he and Colton Berry aren’t auditioning for High School Musical or other Disney productions is beyond me. He breaks out into the chorus of “What a Feeling” when he talks about making it to the Top 24 and I’m waiting for a reappearance of jazz hands. He always sounds like he’s singing with a stuffy nose, and I wonder if that’s just because he’s naturally a bit nasally or if he’s actually got a cold/allergies. A shot of Siracha hot sauce plus some Altoids should clear that right up. The producers and judges are eating David #3 up with a spoon, and I’m sure Tiger Beat will profile the kid soon. He should really shut up in interviews and sing instead, he’s a little too nervous/shy/awkward/giggly and won’t be taken seriously if he can’t answer things without blushing. He’s definitely a charismatic performer and has presence, and is much more comfortable on stage than a lot of the other contestants. David #3 is practically a fetus compared to Michael Johns, but he’s holding his own with The Miracles’/Smokey Robinson’s “Shop Around.” The song sounds a bit low for his vocal range, but he pulls it off, even throwing in a riff that’s straight out of the refrain from “Shout.” He can belt and smile at the same time. This kid could also definitely peddle Neutrogena products.
I get the feeling that while he’s a favorite of the judges right now, Fetus David may be criticized later for being so young and not having as much experience as some of the other Idol wannabes. There may be talk of letting him mature a bit and develop his own personal style, or at least waiting till he’s old enough to vote. He’s definitely fresh compared to the staleness of Yeager in this round, but it might wear off by the middle of the competition. And then we’ll have a huge fight over Experience versus Fresh Change. I listen to his performance several times and notice his voice cracking near the end on the phrase “Make sure that her love is true now.” He’s not perfect! Delayed pubetry’s a bitch.
Tonight, though, the judges can’t get enough of Fetus David. Randy praises Jeebus for Archuleta’s gift, and rotting somewhere in a jail cell, Lou “Big Poppa” Pearlman salivates over the idea of creating a boy band featuring Fetus David as the lead singer (oh, the pajama parties to be had!). Paula licks her lips in anticipation of deflowering the boy as she calls his song choice bold and brave, and says that she forgets that it’d be statutory rape if she had her way with him. She calls Fetus an old soul and imagines Fetus covered in whipped cream and Valium. Down the line, Simon may tell Fetus it’s not enough to be talented and cute, but right now, he declares his performance the best of the evening by a “comfortable mile.”
Fetus is a great singer, but a terrible public speaker. He blushes, he stammers, he can’t put words together and even Seacrest is a bit embarrassed for him. It’s endearing for about five seconds. “You can only vote for him, you actually can’t adopt him” jokes Seacrest. “Dude, I’m seventeen!” interjects Fetus. Seacrest also wishes he had such supple, clear skin.
Unemployed Danny Noriega could totally get a job at Urban Outfitters or Sephora. He’s here, he’s queer, and he’s proud! Heyyyyyy. Danny got cut from after the first day of Hollywood week last season, and he’s back with a vengeance. Well, he’s here to D-A-N-C-E. His eyebrows are fierce, and I keep thinking Christian from Project Runway is going to pop out from the rafters to style his hair and whip up some accessories. His voice, like Fetus, doesn’t match with his body and demeanor, but hey, it works. He’s got sassistude and does the signature head and shoulders shake while proclaiming his performance of “Jailhouse Rock” is gonna be hott.
The Many Faces of Danny Noriega.
I don’t know how Elvis would feel about this performance, but Danny is actually really entertaining compared to some of the fogies before him. Strangely enough, he kind of channels a bit of Freddy Mercury. I’d want to see what he does with “The Great Pretender.” Though it may be difficult to understand how his skintight jeans aren’t cutting off circulation to his brain (in addition to killing his sperm), Danny looks like he’s having a lot of fun. I have to give him credit for having an energetic performance, even if the vocals are technically not solid. Randy and Paula feel the same, that it was a theatrical and fun performance, if not the best display of vocal ability. Paula envies Danny’s ability to shimmy in tight pants, proclaiming it “warm, almost scalding.” And then she falls off the sober wagon by talking about the colors of his voice as if we’re in Pocahontas land and painting with the colors of the wind. “I think there’s going to be a lot of colors to Danny,” she says. “Let out your colors like a crazy peacock!”
“Purple!” Danny chimes in. Simon takes a moment to recover before declaring the performance grotesque, implying that Danny’s performance is dragging AI‘s reputation into the mud. Too late. Paula slurs that she doesn’t care what Simon thinks, that people have seen Danny’s vocals. “They hear vocals,” Simon interjects. Paula pleads Randy to come rescue her, and Randy just states that Danny was trying to be himself. Danny defends himself saying that he knows grotesque = bad (ooh, big words), while Ryan tries to get back Simon in a corner for having declared Danny talented during auditions but grotesque tonight. But hey, the kid is better than Sanjaya.
The best part of Danny’s performance, however, is when he retorts, “Some people weren’t liking it!” to Simon with the sassy head-shake and pursed lips. Simon actually grins back. I’m sorry, but the kid annoys me to no end.
Luke Menard is the carpet cleaner of my dreams. No, not really. I mostly lust after carpenters whose wives get pregnant through immaculate conception. He also auditioned for Season 6 where both Randy and Simon shot him down. The rejection motivated him to go home and clean the shit out of carpets everywhere.
How does it feel when your wife picks you up and twirls you around like a little girl?
He got virtually no airtime before this, so he needs a memorable performance. Judging from his nondescript hoodie and outfit, I’m going to say he’s going to be eliminated on Thursday. He can’t even get into a sit-down restaurant dressed like that, let alone the Top 12. He looks like he’s about to skateboard down to Ralphs and pick up some tampons for his wife. Luke graces us with a soft-spoken, airy, hardly audible version of “Everybody’s Talkin,” made famous by the awesome Harry Nilsson. It doesn’t help that he’s slowed down the song and put it on downers, removing any chances of it being upbeat. Seriously. He’s turned it into supermarket/elevator/easy listening music, which makes me incredibly sad. Only it’s out of tune and he can’t hit his notes. I want to take a nap and pretend this didn’t happen.
But since that’s impossible, I’ll tell you what this song does remind me of. The chord structure, especially the opening bars, are totally ripped off by Paul Oakenfold’s “Starry-Eyed Surprise.” I’m not shitting you. Play the original by Nilsson and the Oakenfold at the same time, noting that Nilsson’s version is faster and upbeat. I’d make a mash-up of the two, but it’d probably make Nilsson come back from the dead and kill me for desecrating his tune. Also, I hate Crazytown more than I hate Windows Vista. Play THIS and THAT at the same time.
Luke Menard has kind of doomed himself with an extremely beige performance notable only for his difficulty in changing keys and his inability to stay in tune. Beige is a bad color, people. He’s the equivalent of the chicken broth you sip after puking everything up the night before, in that there’s nothing solid or unique about his presence. He’s not horrific but he’s easily relegated to the background. He puts the meh in Meh-nard.
Randy is not happy with the lackluster arrangement, and pulls out the P word (pitchiness!). Paula agrees that it’s not a good song choice for, and wishes he’d chosen something that would’ve showcased the Kenny Loggins-esque tenderness she’s heard from Luke before. Simon says it was forgettable, and deletes Meh-nard from his mind. Meh. Dude, that’s what you get for wearing a free t-shirt and a hoodie on this show, while Chikezie pulls out a pimp suit the color of bloody Velveeta. Meh-nard gently disagrees with the judges, but they’re all pretty much in consensus. He needs a witty comeback or some sass to win over viewers. Simon’s replies, “No one wants to admit that they’re forgettable.” True that.
They’re from Dream Phone: The Unstable Ex-Boyfriend edition.
Colton Berry is the albino spawn of Ellen DeGeneres and Macauley Culkin, with Rosie O’Donnell’s love of theater and musicals. Oh, and he sings Teletubbies theme songs in his head when he’s nervous. That’s just great. Simon vetoed him in favor of Kyle, the a capella/glee club future politician, who would’ve been pretty entertaining tonight. Colton’s rendition of “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis starts out upbeat and bouncy, with a lot of energy and grinning. His voice is a bit throaty/raspy at the beginning, but settles down after several measures.
He’s much more dynamic than Meh-nard, but I feel like we’re at Chuck E. Cheese doing karaoke. There’s no real star power behind his presence, and his voice isn’t distinct or compelling. He’s good, but he doesn’t have what that other reality show called “The X Factor.” But people shell out for Hannah Montana and High School Musical, so maybe I’m in the minority. I cannot forgive him for the stupid suspenders dangling from his pants or the pubes he’s neglected to shave from his face. As the song winds down, we abruptly shift into a slower R&B-styled bridge, which gives the kid a chance to croon some longer phrases. And then we’re back to happy! And fast! And Disney! At the very least, he could play one of the winged monkeys in Wicked. Or hop onto the cast of Cats. Is that too mean? He’s just not right for this show, and needs to be eliminated FAST.
Randy enjoys it, despite the vocal rough patches, and declares it fun. Paula concurs that it was fun, but wasn’t his best performance. Simon pounces on Colton’s generic voice and looks, expressing that he sees a good singer, but not a recording artist. I think part of it is that a lot of personal growth happens after 18, and a lot of young performers have stylists, producers, and marketing teams who tell them how to look and act like recording artists. Simon wishes that people would spend more time on their voices than their hair, and Seacrest shoots back, “That’s called hopeless, that box cut you’ve got.” Got ‘em.
Garrett Haley is another teenage Idol contestant with disturbing facial hair. He got really no airtime before this. Seacrest compares him to Leif Garrett or Peter Frampton, but I say he’s a Spicoli. His attempt a joke, in comparing himself to Ellen D, and bombs. He’s also someone whose favorite quote is “Go big or go home.” Bet you two dollars that’s also going to his senior yearbook quote. His eyes look a bit glazed over, and if I didn’t know better I’d say he was perma-stoned.
Boy or sheepdog?
His choice of Neil Sedaka’s “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” is really surprising. “I thought he was going to rock out, but he’s like…a fairy,” comments my boyfriend’s roommate. He looked like a metalhead/hair rocker, but what we get is very soft, slightly off-key vocals that don’t have much range in dynamics and intonation. It’s almost as meh as Luke Menard. He just sounds weak, like he’s been forced to eat vegan for the last six months, and could really use a steak and potatoes. I don’t think this kid’s gonna make it, guys. By the end of the song, I felt as tired and depleted as Garrett sounded. It’s trouble when even Randy looks bored and says, “Glad that’s over, right?” The audience doesn’t protest that much since they all know Randy’s right. Paula suggests changing up the tempo to elevate the performance. Simon declares it boring, prescribing fresh air and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and an oxygen tank. “You look almost haunted,” says Simon. Yeah, well maybe the kid’s a vampire. “Should I go tanning?” replies Garrett. Hee. It wouldn’t hurt, kid, you’re from Ohio. In a surprising moment, Seacrest says he understands what Simon is talking about, and slips the kid a business card for Hollywood Tans. Bye, loser!
Hi, Jason Castro! I’ve never seen you before, except for half a second during the Dallas auditions. He’s a drummer, which means he’s pretty chill (and he doesn’t remind me of the jackasses I was in charge of as the sole girl in high school drumline, the ones who always thought it was comic gold to moon the rest of the band). He’s got twinkly blue eyes, an infectious smile, and has a relaxed confidence that suggests he’ll be the surprise hit of the night. Playing guitar to “Daydream” by Lovin’ Spoonful, Jason’s the thoughtful singer-songwriter that girls fall in love with at the cafÃ©’s open mic night. He’s also the guy that offers you your first pot brownie with disarming reassurance, “It’ll be great!” His mellow, simple delivery is spot on, and the song suits him really well. I’m just thrilled he’s not someone who adds ridiculous flourishes and runs to his singing.The performance is compelling, enough for me to overcome my disdain for dreadlocks. And I don’t say that lightly, I still think they look like greasy, matted sausages. I pray he doesn’t get turned into a Jason Mraz.
Randy likes the guitar strummy strum and some of his vocals, but disses the pitch problems. He’s not blown away, but it’s aiiight. Paula defends him and says she is blown away, and enjoys his minimalist approach, for it was joyful. I agree. It was understated, but not blandly unremarkable like Meh-nard. And Simon? Simon ranks him in the top two with Fetus. They didn’t give much airtime to Kelly Clarkson before she swept the competition, so I feel Jason’s got a shot if he proves to be versatile in the coming weeks. It was effortless and charismatic, Simon declares.
Unfortunately, like Fetus, Jason Castro acts like a deer caught in headlights and can’t get a coherent sentence out post-performance. I know we’re supposed to focus on the vocals but I think a recording artist needs to be charismatic and prepared even when they’re not singing. You gotta have presence even when melodies aren’t involved, for the total package. I guess that’s what speech coaches are for.
It’s time for our closer. Michael Johns, the artist formerly known as Michael Lee, whose female equivalent is Carly Smithson, the artist formerly known as Carly Hennessy . An expat from Australia who’s gotten scrutiny for having a previous record deal, he’s best known for his “Bohemian Rhapsody” during Hollywood Week. Unsurprisingly, he belts “Light My Fire” by The Doors, complete with matchy-matchy fire motion graphics in the background. Sure, he’s been here for ten years, but would the UK’s Pop Idol or Nouvelle Star ever let an American expat win their show? I kind of doubt it, so I think there will be an inevitable Michael Johns backlash in favor of an underdog. Americans love underdogs (but not sheepdogs — sorry, Jason Yaeger).
This may not go over well with you, Gasmii, but I’m not a big Michael Johns fan. I can understand the appeal. He’s got a professional edge (as does Rocker Robbie) over our other amateurs, which is fine, but he’s overrated. He’s got swagger. He’s got presence. He’s got some chops. He’s as reliable as your favorite vibrator, the one that always does the trick. But he’s gonna get boring. On his way to the first “Firrreeeee” he has to screech his way up there and I could swear he has a hairball caught in his throat.
Conveniently filling the void left by Heath Ledger. Too soon?
I feel like I’ve seen a lot of rockers like him already, and he’s already so polished that there won’t be room for the exciting transformation and growth that you see with talented amateurs who haven’t been in the industry for years. We’re not going to get any major surprises from him or see any drastic changes to his style. He’s not immune to pitch problems or straining his voice when yelling out notes, but the judges don’t call him out on it, probably because they’re judging him on a different level.
Randy says he’s a living rock legend. I wouldn’t go that far. Paula acknowledges that he’s a great closer and a good part of the show (which leads me to think he’ll be thrown overboard when they get bored of his classic rock voice). Simon thinks he was trying too hard on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and that he’s “got it” but admits it was a solid performance given by someone who has the presence of a lead singer. Um, maybe ’cause he is one?
My picks for the bottom two: Spicoli (Garrett) and theater’s darling Colton Berry. Meh-nard will make it another week, because he’s pretty and people might give him another chance. Chikezie and Yeager might be in trouble, but I predict they’ll make it through this week along with all of the Davids. What do you guys and gals think? Who’ll be saved by America, and who will go on to be the judges’ whipping boy?
(We seriously don’t need three Davids.)