With only five contestants remaining, American Idol doubled up on the songs, which meant we were back to super-rushed, super brief performances. That’s okay, though. Idol is a show best served quick and dirty — because even though we all love relishing in a wonderful performance, there’s nothing more irritating than enduring an endless bomb (ahem, Pickler). So, in the spirit of tonight’s show, let’s cut the chit-chat and get to the good stuff…Tonight’s show starts with visions of tracheotomy scars dancing in our heads. No, we’re not hallucinating. It’s the return of Anthony Federoz, last season’s milquetoast crooner who hopefully has found a lucrative career singing on a cruise liner somewhere in the Mediterranean. Luckily, we don’t have to hear his sleep-inducing voice. He’s just merely one of many celeb cameos spotting the audience.
The camera thankfully moves to the judges as Ryan re-introduces them to America. Paula’s hair is all semi-curly and swept up. I think it looks nicer than usual, but at the same time, it does have a certain crow’s nest style that’s somewhat disconcerting. Hopefully, she’ll keep her nutty emotions in check this week, but I understand that’s a tall order. I won’t get my hopes up.
So here’s the deal for this week. Each finalist will be singing two songs: one from their birth year and one from a current top 10 spot on this week’s Billboard charts. I’m already anticipating a butchering of James Blunt. Anyway, Elliot kicks off the night with a song from his birth year, 1978. It’s “On Broadway” by George Benson, made famous by last season’s resident Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man, Scott Savol. Before we get to the song, however, we get a little glimpse into Elliot’s childhood. He divulges that he has a bad habit of chewing on his finger nails. The audience inexplicably cheers. Yay bad hygiene! I can’t imagine how everyone would react if he were to announce that he picks at scabs. Whoo hoo!! On the plus side, all the finger chewing might explain the bad teeth. I wonder what his fingers must look like. I can’t imagine anything could survive years of gnawing from those chompers.
Anyway, Elliot takes the stage, and after a somewhat boring start, he really gets into the song. He’s got a great voice, but again, the charisma! The charisma! Not really there. But he is significantly better than Scott Savol; so that’s a plus.
Ace Young spotted in the audience! Still looks quite punch-able!
Okay, back to the show. The judges all like Elliot. Randy and Paula give him warm, if not gushing, reviews, and Simon says it’s not his best performance. Aaand we’re onto our next performer. Whirlwind pace!
After the commercial break, we find two women in the audience hoisting a sing up that reads, “Ryan, we’ll be your Desperate Housewives.” Yes, emphasis will have to be on the word “Desperate.” Something tells me he’d be more interested in the men of Prison Break.
Anyway, Ryan talks to Paris on stage, and she sounds like she’s been pumped full of helium. I mean, her voice is always high, but this week, it’s ridiculous. We then see several photos of Paris in big, ruffly dresses as a baby. Gosh, even then her wardrobe choices were annoying. Technically, they weren’t her choices. Her mother always stuck her in these garments from Ruffle Hell — which doesn’t surprise me one bit.
Well, Paris was born in 1988, and so she’ll be doing a cover of “Kiss” by Prince. Technically, that song didn’t come out until 1986, but Tom Jones did his own cover two years later; so I guess that’s how Paris is getting away with this song. And yes, the research on that was more entertaining than Paris’s performance.
It’s not to say that Paris is bad. She’s decent, but kind of boring. She also spends half the song with her face turned away from the camera; so all we see is her greasy, curly hair instead. Well, we also see her jigglin’ booty too, but that’s an different issue entirely. Before the song is over, I can tell this is going to be a rough judging. Paula’s hands aren’t even clapping in the air like usual. I’m not totally correct. Randy says he likes the song, but as predicted, Paula only gives passing marks, saying she likes it more when Paris sings from older eras. Uh, Paula, kind of stiff request when the contestants have to sing from their BIRTH YEAR.
Finally, Simon offers his critique which promptly draws boos from the audience. “Screechy and annoying,” he states. Ha. So true. Enjoy the bottom two again!
Next is Chris, who’s singing “Renegade” by Styx from 1979. Off the get-go, the audience is clapping along, which has to be good news. I’m not totally into the song, however, and not just because it’s by Styx. I think it’s just sort of dull. Okay, maybe that does have to do with Styx. Nevertheless, I always feel like Chris is trying to outsmart us by choosing these semi-obscure songs. Just do something we can all embrace. PLEASE.
Well, I guess Chris doesn’t need advice from me because Randy does his whole “AMerica, we got a real hot one tonight!” Paula then chimes in with her incoherent statement of the evening: “Outstanding! You… you set… you already setting it far apart from anyone else.” I think what she means to say is that he’s raised the bar. Don’t worry. I received a 5 on my AP Paulabonics test.
Rounding out the trio is Simon who says, “That was a million times better than the first two performances.” And so Chris coasts through once again.
Next up: Katharine McPhee. Before she can sing, Ryan talks to her about her wardrobe malfunction last week. “A lot of people went back on their systems and watched that moment over and over again,” Ryan says.
“I’m sure they Tivoed. I’m sure they did,” Katharine adds. Yes, that would be us she’s talking about. You know, the guys who took still frames of her hooha and put it on the Internets. Yay blogging!
Well, we learn that Katharine was born in 1984, and as a child, she was very quiet, and according to the photos, Latina too. Looks like she grew out of both.
El Katharine McPheerez?
Eventually, the McPheever takes the stage and attempts some McPhil Collins and “Against All Odds,” but she’s a bit McOff. Okay, she’s totally off. Her key is shaky at best, and her tempo seems a bit rushed and choppy. As the song goes on, she actually sounds flat at parts. She even misses a high note at the end. Ouch. Sounds like the McPheever has cooled off.
Randy’s first comment is “You look amazing.” Oh god, he’s borrowing from the Abdul book of avoiding the issue. Randy then gives a backhanded compliment by saying, “It was okay at the end.” Ouch. Paula is surprisingly more direct by saying, “Not my favorite performance from you.” Simon trashes it too, but oddly enough, he then says, “I agree with Paula and Randy. It was by far one of your best performances.” Huh? A dyslexic says tahw? Minutes later, during Ryan’s interview, Simon then interject to clarify. “It wasn’t one of your best performances,” he says, kick starting thirty seconds of pure awkwardness as Ryan tries to rebound from this impromptu moment. “Is that your final answer?” Seacrest finally asks, causing Randy to randomly say, “That was good, Ryan! Good!” When did Randy Jackson suddenly turn into Ryan’s doting mother? I half expected him to start clapping his and say, “Hercules! Hercules!”
Next, it’s Taylor Time. He was born in 1976, and he’s doing some vintage “Play That Funky Music, White Boy.” This means that before we can even say “Soul Patrol,” he’s already showering us with “AY!” and “C’mon!” noises. Taylor then proceeds to have a mild seizure during his performance, no doubt induced by his paisley shirt that looks like it was found under a box at Ross Dress For Less. After two minutes of twitching, swaying, and rump-shaking, Taylor finally ends the song by intentionally falling over on stage. Sadly, no animal control officers rush onto the scene and shoot him full of tranquilizers.
It’s like someone puked paisley onto Taylor’s body.
Get this man on House M.D.
Anyway, Randy says he felt like he was throwing back some beers in a bar — which is a good thing, I think. Paula says, “You had fun!” Yay! Fun! And Simon keeps it real by first moving his mouth like a goldfish and then saying, “It was like a horrible, horrible wedding performance.” Boo-ya! Undeterred by Mr. Cowell, Taylor keeps his goofy grin on his face, and then he and Ryan do pratfalls on the stage. The two then remain in a supine position as Ryan reads off the phone numbers. Wow, I bet this is farther than he ever got with Teri Hatcher.
Okay, round two! Bring on the Billboard hits!
Before the singers take the stage, Ryan treats us to a little video montage about Billboard magazine. In the middle of this, we learn that the number one song in the country is (sigh) Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.” And yes, we then have to listen to part of it. Because we don’t EVER get to hear this song on Idol. They just had to squeeze it in one more time. Man, this song is so annoying, but I shouldn’t be so surprised that it’s at the top of the charts. After all, the biggest show on television has been burning it into our heads for the last four months EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Okay, Elliot’s up first for this second round, and we learn that he’ll be singing Michael Bublé. Great. This is predestined to suck. Sure enough, it does. Two seconds in and I’m already asleep. “Let me go home,” Elliot sings, somewhat forebodingly. I prefer the other Michael Bublé song, “Let us not listen to this anymore.” It’s times like these that I truly appreciate the 10 seconds these kids have to sing their songs.
After the performance, Elliot inexplicably runs off the stage to Ryan, but our fleet-footed host guides the confused contestant back to the spotlight. The whole spectacle causes Randy and Paula to cackle like hyenas, and when once they regain their composure, they both say that they like the song. Not love, but like. Simon gives it a resounding “Eh.” I say no one should ever sing Bublé again.
Paris is next, and no surprise here, she sings that new Mary J. Blige song. She’s much better than her first time out, but what she makes up for in vocals, she certainly lacks in moisturizer. You know what I’m talking about: ashy elbows. BUSTED! Y’all can thank J-Unit for spotting that. I personally am more distracted by her tinfoil capri pants, but that’s just me.
Anyway, Randy says that he really liked the performance a lot, despite it encroaching on Mary’s “joint.” Paula also likes it but says it was a dangerous choice. Simon then notes, “Actually, I think you got that wrong, Paula. I think she did rather well with that.” The audience breaks out into huge applause, and over the din, we can just barely hear Paula yapping away with Simon, trying to explain herself. Oh, give it up woman. You won’t remember any of this anyway.
Chris then takes the stage and sings “I Dare You” by Shine Down. I dare Chris to give a good reason why he chose this dreadful song. Nevertheless, Chris still rocks the house (as much as one can do on Idol), and I’m amused by the Rocker touches the producers add to his performance. Exhibit A: flames on the LCD screen behind him (edgy!). Exhibit B: Chris’s leather jacket (super edgy!). Anyway, Chris actually smiles during the song, which is a departure from his usual longing, morose stare, and we know he’s doing well because we see Paula clapping along in her chair.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the song, Chris enters hernia territory as he begins screaming at the top of his lungs. It sounds like somebody’s been singing along with one too many Fuel songs. His voice can barely hit the high notes, causing the judges to temper their enthusiasm. “Just aiiight for me,” Randy says. Ouch. Paula simply says “I love you” (to be fair, she thought she was talking to her new bottle of Vicodin) and Simon registers fear that Chris’s voice is about to go. But overall, passing marks.
Next is Katharine, who opts to do that song that VH1 spent the past month insisting that “you oughta know!” It’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall — a.k.a. the “woo-woo” song. Katharine performs from the floor of the stage, and let me tell you this. The McPheever was back! She filled with confidence again and rocks the song. As she writhes and squirms on her knees, we can feel her sending out the waves of McPheever. And I’ll say that I’ve caught it again. This performance is my favorite of the night, and the judges love it too. So much so that Simon even claps his hands like Paula. Strong reviews all around, and with any luck, Katharine will be with us another week.
Last is Taylor, and I gotta say, I was quite disappointed with him. His song is an old Beatles tune. What’s that, you say? Beatles? Yes. Turns out the Beatles are number six on the Billboard Catalogues Chart, and that’s good enough to qualify for the song requirement. And so Taylor avoids having to be contemporary by this most tenuous of loopholes. I think it’s cheap, and I’ve already mentally penalized him for running away from the challenge.
The performance is decent, I suppose, but I find it boring and lame. I guess I’m still mad about the song choice. I also don’t like the way Taylor ends with a hum. Sounds weird. Oh, I guess I’m just hating on everything he does at this point.
Gary Cole spotted in the audience with a familiar looking but unidentified blonde! Sadly, he receives no title card. Boo!
Back to the show. Taylor manages to pull in nice reviews. Randy likes it, Paula says “You moved it tenderly” (I hope she was not referring to any body part), and Simon notes, “It’s very easy to forget with all your barminess (?) that you’re a very good singer.” What? No one lambasts him for choosing a Beatles song? The best we get is Simon who calls it “clever.” Nevertheless, Taylor’s happy with the judges, and he let’s out a celebratory “Whoo!” in responses.
Whatever. I’m just glad it’s over. So what do you think? Who’s going home?