Wednesday, February 18, 2009

AI Season 8: Group A performs

Welcome to our first live show of the season! For the next month, contestants will perform in the small Hollywood studio. Turning to the judges Ryan asks the same question he asks every year, "How is this part of the competition different for contestants?" And he gets his usual responses. Randy says they have to blow us (the audience) away. Kara admitted to being nervous herself but told the contestants not to be. Paula reminded them that this was their dream and they can totally f*ck it up if they aren't careful. Simon reminded them that this season the odds are stacked against them and complimented Ryan's haircut. That's about right.

I've heard a lot of question about how the heck voting is going to work for this round of cuts so we actually end up at the all important Top 12. The 36 contestants have been broken in to 3 groups of 12. Each week, one of those groups will perform and will be followed the next night by a results show. The results show will give us the top guy and top girl plus the third top vote getter (no restriction on boy or girl). That means by the end of the third week we will have 9 contestants. The fourth week will give us the Judges' Pick (or Wild Card, whatever) for 3 additional contestants to round out the Top 12. This is vastly different from previous years when the Top 24 was broken up into guys vs. girls and 4 contestants (2 of each) were voted off each week. And of course, this now means more weeks of AI. Yay? Not really sure how I feel about that yet.

Jackie Tohn: "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley. Ryan calls her Miss Personality. I call her annoying. Does she remind anyone else of a poor man's Lily Tomlin? The song choice is a good one for her raspy voice. DH hates her "trademark" high tops. Jackie is bringing the energy but the crowd is still sitting which is never a good sign. Basically I think she did everything well but something was definitely lacking. Randy thought she was a good entertainer, Kara said she worked the stage, Paula said Jackie had her up dancing, and Simon thinks she played the clown. He was booed by the audience, natch. Jackie is not going on to the Top 12. Then we have to endure an awkward moment with Ryan and Jackie's parents. Do we really need that much filler? Oh right, this is American Idol...

Ricky Braddy: "A Song For You" by Leon Russel. I saw him and was like, "who?" Exactly. Ryan puts his hand on Ricky's knee for a bit too long and makes me feel funny. Ricky appears to have minimal personality which is the kiss of death. We see some shots of his auditions which we've never seen before. Ricky picks a mediocre ballad that I've never heard of for his first and probably only AI performance. He can definitely sing but that's about all he has going for him. Paula gives him a standing "O" and we see that his parents have T shirts supporting him. So did Jackie Tohn's parents. Do I sense a theme? If so, I hate it. Save that shit for the finals. Randy loved him, Kara said he "killed it," Paula mentioned he wasn't featured during the past two weeks but "deserves" to go far, and Simon doesn't think he has any star quality. Word.

Alexis Grace: "I Never Loved a Man" by Aretha Franklin. This girl is very cute and has a nice personality. She looks like she is wearing a slip while singing but the judges did tell her to "dirty" it up. Needless to say, Alexis is no Aretha (she needs a hat) but she does a very good job. Randy is loving her, Kara thinks she released something inside, Paula says she had passion and confidence (but says it in many more words and I say, "shut up, Paula" for the first of many times to come). Simon thinks she is the best contestant so far and could be a dark horse in the competition.

Neil Patrick Harris sits next to Ted Danson in the crowd. Odd combo. More inane conversation with Ryan and the parents.

Brent Keith: "Hicktown" by Jason Aldean. Brent didn't get much air time during the auditions but he is very cute. I've never heard of the song he sings. It sounds like every other country song I've ever heard. And Brent sounds like a bad karaoke show and is boring to boot. Randy liked that he returned to his roots, Kara thought he was playing it safe, Paula agreed with Randy and Kara, and Simon thinks he was forgettable. Say it with me, folks: word.

Stevie Wright: "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift. Stevie is 17 and has been watching since she was 9. Appropriate that she picks a song from another 17 year old. I'm going to show my age and say I've never heard this song before and only know Taylor Swift from Us Weekly. Stevie starts out really shaky and is obviously nervous. She misses notes and is all over the place. DH says what I'm thinking, "This is terrible." This poor girl is going to be eviscerated by the judges. Randy says he wasn't feeling it. Kara didn't think she connected with the song. Paula agreed that the song was not a good choice. Simon called the whole thing terrible. The camera flashed on Neil Patrick Harris and he totally agrees. At least Stevie took it well and didn't break down crying. Let's save that for the results, show, shall we?

Anoop Desai: "Angel of Mine" by Monica. I like Anoop, not only because he wrote a thesis on BBQ and is from NC. He just seems like a nice, mellow guy with a good voice. However, I am not happy with his song choice. Normally I think that guys who sing songs by women and vice versa are good choices. But this is a boring song and doesn't showcase his energy. Randy didn't like the song choice but is a big Anoop fan. He also calls out Anoop for a sharp pitch. Kara agrees. Paula thinks that America will vote him through, regardless. Simon also thinks the song selection was a bad decision. I hope that his likability factor will pull him through. Not that I plan on voting myself...

Casey Carlson: "Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police. I am immediately concerned for her with this song choice. It is a very difficult song. Casey is very cute and could go far if she can nail it. Unfortunately she does nothing of the sort. It was a very indulgent song choice and she is terrible. DH had to look away multiple times during her performance because of her weird faces and jerky movements on stage. A complete mess. Randy called it weird and completely wrong for her. Kara thought everything about it was wrong. Paula had to fall back on her "you are a beautiful girl" compliment because there was nothing else to say. Simon said the singing was atrocious. Again, I'm impressed she doesn't dissolve into tears. Perhaps because my pregnancy hormones are kicking in and I think crying isn't necessarily a bad thing these days?

Michael Sarver: "I Don't Want to Be" by Gavin DeGraw. Michael got a lot of face time during the auditions which will help. He picks a good, popular song that should be pretty easy to sing. Right? Right? Well, not so much. I can't figure it out but perhaps the arrangement is off? Michael is trying to not appear nervous but it's not working. He as zero stage presence and just keeps moving the microphone from one hand to the other. It would have been much better if he sang a stripped down version of the song. Instead, he has blown his shot at the Top 12. Next season I will mention to DH, "Remember the oil rig guy?" And DH will say, "Yeah, what ever happened to that guy?" Randy thought the phrasing was off, Kara didn't think it was his best performance and Paula thought he did a "real good job." Simon didn't think it was a good vocal but he hopes America will still vote for him.

Anne Marie Boskovich: "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. I really like Ann Marie (parking lot makeover girl) and hope she goes far. I am nervous that she picks an Aretha song but she has great voice. Anne Marie looks stunning in her blue dress and does a good job with the song. She doesn't blow me away but I am hopeful that she will make it through to the Top 12. Randy asks her how she did and doesn't think that the song choice was a good one. Kara thought the song was too old fashioned for her. Anne Marie kind of talks back to Kara and I'm uncomfortable. Paula thinks she did better than in her auditions. Simon calls her a hotel singer. I am still holding out hope that she might be the third top vote getter.

Stephen Fowler: "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson. He is the guy we only saw in the last round of auditions who forgot his lyrics. He is 26 and a musician so he should be good. DH thinks picking this song will either be really good or a complete disaster. Let's see which one, shall we? I like that he's not trying to be Michael Jackson in how he sings the song. Stephen definitely has a great voice, probably the best we've heard so far, but I think he falls a little off pitch at the end. The beginning was much better than the end. Randy thought the song choice was horrible, Kara didn't think that he connected to the song, and Paula is glad that he remembered the lyrics but is disappointed in his performance. Simon called it a pointless performance for a musician of his experience. Looks like Stephen won't be in the Top 12.

Tatiana Del Toro: "Saving All My Love For You" by Whitney Houston. In her interview she felt picked on during Hollywood. That's because you are crazy!! I hate that she can sing. Life would be so much easier if she wasn't that good. While she is no Whitney Houston, Tatiana does hold her own. She probably has the best voice of all the girls so far. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate to admit that. Grrrr. The audience gives her a standing ovation and I think it's the first one of the night. Randy was concerned about the song choice but felt like there were really great moments. Kara said she was reserved tonight but questions what her musical style is. Tatiana claims all musical genres. Paula thought she did a good job but is shocked by "demure Tatiana." Simon calls her a drama queen and desperate to be famous. Simon said it was better than he expected. Then all the judges tried to imitate her laughter and it was awesome.

Danny Gokey: "Hero" by Mariah Carey. He gets the money spot so I have high hopes for this performance. I didn't realize that his wife passed away just a month before his audition. My heart breaks for this guy. I hope his BFF, Jamar, is in the audience. The best thing about a guy singing a Mariah Carey song is that the normal comparisons can't apply. And Danny makes it his own with the arrangement. The crowd is definitely into it, for the first time all night. Danny is definitely sailing through to the Top 12. There's Jamar! Hi, Jamar! Randy called it blazing heart, Kara said it was great, Paula called him stellar and Simon thought it was good but he's not quite buying the hype yet.

Before I give my predictions I have to say that I don't think Kara is adding anything to the AI experience besides sucking up more time. She is a cross between Randy and Paula in terms of how nice she is to the contestants. When we hear a judge say, "I agree" a lot it means she doesn't have her own opinion. I'm willing to give her a few more shots but I have a feeling unless she signed a multi year contract she won't be around for Season 9. What do you think?

I am hoping that Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace take the top 2 spots with Anoop coming in for the third. What I think will probably happen is Danny and Alexis will be joined by Tatiana. I can only hope that her weird demure attitude on stage and disclaimers about her craziness make the public less interested in her. Who do you want to see in the Top 12?

SJ out.


Jordan said...

Danny, Alexis, Noop Dogg. That's it, that's the list.

Mommy, Esq. said...

A hot blond has never won AI before. Alexis could be the first. Still love Anoop and Danny though.

Mommy, Esq. said...

Did you notice that Paula was wearing her own braclet (the star that Tatiana wore). Won't save Tatiana, thank God.

Don't you think it is time for us to actually start voting? Also, this show makes millions of dollars - why are they having tape errors. Poor Brent.

Jordan said...

ummm I think Carrie Underwood qualifies as a hot blond actually.

Natalie said...

danny, alexis, anoop. I kind of like Kara because I think she gives feedback that's actually relevant and different than the standard "something wasn't working for me on that joint dog" from Randy or "you're not as good as you think you are" from Simon or the inevitable "the thing that I love about you and America loves about you is that you are true to yourself as an artist and a person and you bring the essence of who you are through and who you are is a fantastic artist and who likes you is America and I'm dizzy...."

Theresa said...

Danny, Alexis, Noop. That's it. I really didn't like anyone else.

Also, I have a giant pet peeve with Idol, or maybe it's Fox. WHY oh WHY do they have to change the lyrics to be hetero? ie, why can't a girl sing Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic? Why do the lyrics have to be changed to HE when a girl sings? Drives me nuts, because the songs lose something. Not that Casey Carlson had any business singing that song to begin with, but still. It's always bothered me.

Theresa said...

Also, I kind of like Kara's feedback, it seems much less "canned" and more useful (at least uses different word combos) than the other judges. Also, I missed the exchange between Anne Marie and Kara - what happened exactly?