This week on American Idol, the singers had to take on music from the 1950s. I thought this would be a recipe for disaster, much like the Stevie Wonder slaughterfest, but against all odds, nearly everyone brought their A-game to the show. Maybe the big-stage nerves had quelled, or maybe the straightforward melodies were easier for everyone, or maybe everyone was simply inspired by Barry Manilow. Whatever the reason, American Idol caught a much-needed spark, despite an unwelcome and unappreciated cameo by Constantine Maroulis.
Barry shows us what a face-lift feels like.
The groaning starts early for me as we watch the kids travel to Vegas for some inspiration by one Barry Manilow. I’ve never been a big fan of Barry Manilow, but then again, I’m also not above humming the occasional “Mandy” (or “Daybreak” or “Copa Cabana.” Holy shit. What’s happening to me??). Anyway, I’m expecting bad things from Barry, but he actually surprises me. He proves why he’s been able to hang around for so many years: the guy really does seem to be a smart, knowledgeable musician. Barry helps all the singers not only sing, but find interesting, thoughtful takes on their songs. As a result, this week’s episode features one of the strongest slates of performances in ages. Maybe next week the producers can tap the valuable resource that is Robert Goulet.
Mandisa opens the show by absolutely nailing her song. Whatever pitch troubles and nervousness she had last week are gone because she’s flawless for the entire performance. I mean, she’s truly amazing. She could eat Kevin “Chicken Little” Covais for breakfast. She probably already did.
Insert nasal growl here.
Oh Bucky. Bucky Bucky Bucky. I wanted to like Bucky so much. I wanted him to suddenly emerge as the guy who caught us all by surprise. Sadly, Bucky is just not meant for this competition. He growls his way through a Buddy Holly song, and despite his high energy and smile, it’s just totally lame. Randy and Paula praise his energy, but Simon sticks him with the dreaded “Karaoke” label. He’s gotta be a lock for elimination this week — or at least bottom two.
Paris Bennett sings a solid version of “Fever.” Thankfully, she does absolutely nothing this week to annoy me. She doesn’t even sing through her interview with Ryan. However, her entire performance is completely ruined by Constantine Maroulis who pops up to give his signature, awful pout. Making matters worse is the presence of wannabe rocker Ryan Cabrera, whose only claim to fame was being Ashlee Simpson’s boyfriend for about two seconds. His hair looks like a giant bird’s nest, which then had me wishing a pigeon might fly into the studio and take a huge shit on his head. Alas, no such luck.
It’s so awful in so many different ways.
This is embarrassing. Even Ryan Cabrera is bored.
Do I really need to say anything about Chris? The guy’s amazing. Chris reinvents Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” into his own brand of generic, Fuel-type rock, but hey, it works. Everyone eats it up, as they always do. Some people are just naturals. Chris is one of those people (as opposed to rock poseurs Constantine and Ryan Cabrera, who appear on screen again to throw their support behind Chris).
Katharine McPhee, appearing in a baggy dress like always, starts off her segment by complaining that Simon couldn’t remember her name on an interview with Fox. It just so happens that the girl who interviewed Simon was none other than his girlfriend, and she receives a nice big shout out on camera.
After Katharine is finished grousing about Simon, she knocks ‘em all dead with her second amazing performance in as many weeks. The McPheever is coming on strong, but she’ll never be able to unseat Mandisa and Chris. Will she?
Taylor Hicks takes the stage and sings a rather forgettable Buddy Holly song. However, he still manages to jazz up the crowd by dancing around the stage like a madman. Of course, in this case, “dancing” means Taylor walks back and forth as if he’s tiptoeing down a hallway that’s only five feet high. Randy and Paula love the performance, especially the dancing (huh?), but Simon keeps it real and says that this isn’t a dancing competition. Paula takes immediate offense to this and jumps up like an angry springer spaniel. She says some incoherent gobblety goop about upbeat and downbeats and who knows what. She’s ridiculous and in desperate need of a tranquilizer.
Yay for painkillers!
In random celebrity news, Andrew Firestone takes a break from his busy schedule of appearing on Iron Chef to attend Tuesday’s live show. The little girl next to him seems to be just as bored as Ryan Cabrera, except with better hair. Other D-list celebrities in attendance are Jasmine Trias (Her damn flower is like a target for fists and other flying objects) and Lindsay Cardinale — a girl who never saw a flat note she couldn’t happily embrace.
“I’M ON TV!!!! WHOOOHOOO!!!! Oh wait. I’m the only one screaming. This is awkward.”
There once was a time when Lisa Tucker was considered the front runner. Now she’s merely an afterthought. I don’t know where this aspiring diva’s personality went, but I imagine it was sucked into the black hole of adolescent annoyance that is Paris Bennet. Lisa sings her way through a forgettable version of “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” and judges only give her a mild “Aiiight.” Looks like somebody’s headed back to the bottom three! Don’t worry. The Mickey Mouse Club will always welcome her.
Oh look! My high school variety show is on TV!
Kevin Covais performs an earnest and silly version of “When I Fall in Love,” complete with hand in pocket and big, wide eyes. I’m sure there are thousands of doting women out there who think he’s just precious. The rest of us think his entire presence is ridiculous, especially because it keeps Disney’s Chicken Little in the national consciousness.
Down in front, bitch!
Elliot Yamin admits that he doesn’t really like Barry Manilow, but guess what? By the end of the day, he’s blown away by Barry! A true learning experience. Sort of like how Alf learned to live with Lucky the cat!
As always, Elliot hits all the right notes. He looks dapper in his preppy-casual outfit, but that doesn’t make up for his dangerously lacking personality. It’ll be a while before he’s in any danger though. And hey, at least he didn’t sweat three gallons this week.
Kellie Pickler gets back to her country roots and seems about a million times better than her usual nasal self. Still, she’s out of her league, and even worse, she had no charming anecdote about her new favorite seafood, some wacky thing called “Shrimp.”
Ace closes the show with a jazzy (read: lame) version of “In The Still of the Night.” He manages to get through the whole song sounding like a mosquito, but because his fans care more about that sultry look he gives at the end of each performance, you know he’ll be safe. Paula, meanwhile, looks like she just orgasmed in her chair. No seal clap could express her sheer joy.
The next night, Barry Manilow is pried away from his crack team of Botox specialists and plastic surgeons so that he can perform at the Results Show. He tells Ryan Seacrest that even though he has a show in Vegas that night, he still showed up because he just wants to be there for the kids. And, uh, he has a new album that he wants to promote on the biggest show on TV.
Anyway, Barry takes the stage to sing a song, (which just so happens to be off his new album!) and we cut to the audience to see that the place is littered with old people holding up Manilow signs.
Amidst the Barry-heads is Bobby Bennett, also known as one of the most annoying contestants of the season. Bobby, as you might remember, is a huuuuge Manilow fan. He’s also an attention-starved drama queen with the body of a Latino Slimer. He stands up in his seat and sings along, once again thinking that this show is about him. Constantine and Ryan Cabrera Tuesday night, Bobby Wednesday night: is the Convention of Suck in town or something?
Didn’t we already banish this tool from pop culture?
After Barry’s finished with his tune, Bobby Bennett joins him on stage. Before they even hug or anything, Bobby says, “I’m gonna be in Vegas on the twelfth.” OH GREAT! The presumption there is a) that Barry cares, b) that Barry might go out of his way to haul Bobby on stage and sing with him, and c) that Barry will even remember who he is three days from now. Seriously, who says something like that to their idol. Whatever happened to “You’re the best!” or “This is such an honor!” Basically, Bobby just invited himself to Barry’s show.
And so the vortex of all things terrible was opened…
Anyway, we have more important things at hand; namely, the eliminations. Ryan goes down the list of finalists, ultimately revealing that Kevin, Lisa, and Bucky are in the bottom three. This causes Paula to immediately tear up. Either that, or she’s having a bad reaction to the amphetamine cocktail she just downed in the commercial break.
Despite being in the bottom three two weeks in a row, Lisa is safe again, leaving us with just Bucky and Chicken Little. As much as I think Kevin Covais is completely out of his league, his performance on Tuesday was mildly better than in past weeks (hard to get worse than “Part Time Lover”). Besides, he surely has the seven-year-old girl vote locked down.
But no. Bucky is somehow saved from termination, which means Kevin’s Idol dreams come to an end. So much for Votefortheworst.com.
Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, Chicken Little. It tolls for thee! In other news, thank you, bell.
“But I thought he had favor…”
Everyone is shocked, especially Ryan who seems to have taken a certain shine to the boy. “Chicken Little leaves us!” Ryan says, somewhat ironically since “Chicken Little” is actually taller than him. We then see a montage of quintessential Kevin moments, all set to the song “Bad Day,” making it about the forty-third time we’ve heard that song this season. I’ll just assume Daniel Powter is signed to Simon’s label.
In his final words, Kevin thanks the fans and his friends and everyone, eventually saying, “America, be smart. Pick one of these amazing people here.” Uh… that’s sort of the point. Who else are we supposed to pick? Barry Manilow?
What did you think? Was Kevin the right person to go? Who was the best? Who was the worst? And who should have been in the bottom three?
Also, did anyone hear Randy say something to Paula about her boobs?