Tuesday, April 05, 2011

American Idol: The Good, The Bad and the Off-Key

It was a long slog tonight on the 'big stage', with good singers choosing bad songs and bad singers making random noise that involved dramatic runs, emotive squinting and trite gestures. The gap is widening between the talented singers and the stage weight.

The nadir of the evening had to be Thia Megia sounding pathetically clueless, calling Carlie Chaplin Charlie "Chapman" and obviouslyhaving no idea who he was. He wrote the song you're singing, sweetie. He also happens to be one of the most significant figures in the history of film ... which does extend back before 1990.Tough to believe! But most of these kids have never even heard a Beatles tune. As far as her singing goes ...Thia has a pleasant, unremarkable voice. I can hear Simon snarling "Forgettable".

I'm writing on Wednesday night because I'm sure I'll forgotten most of these kids' performances by tomorrow morning.

The other losers -- Ashthon Jones, singing a tedious Diana Ross song in a dress so unflattering it belonged on the red carpet at some interminable awards show; Karen Rodriguez wheezing through an unintelligible Selena number, Pia Toscana singing some generic song in a generic dress looking generically pretty and bringing to mind e.e.cumming's famous adage, "The opposite of aesthetic is anesthetic.Pia was a major shot of novocaine last night ... which came in handy when listening to Stefano and Naima. Stefano sang a bad Stevie Wonder song, prancing around the stage with moves he must have learned by correspondence course; Naima was even more energetic but she seems to have learned the lyrics phonetically. She did make me appreciate the difficulty of singing and dancing at the same time -- a problem many professionals solve by lip-synching. Alas, Naima wasn't permitted this option.

I don't even know what Paul MacDonald did, or what he was singing, but it looked bizarre and sounded original, which is more than I can say for most of the other singers. The jury is still out on this oddball.

Lauren Alaina was fun, singing a throw-away Shania Twain song (She's really your favorite singer? That's tragic) and Haley covered a La Ann Rimes cover of a little known Patsy Cline tune. To her credit, she seemed to know that. She even knew who Patsy Cline was. Good for her.

Scotty Mcreery chose to perform a Garth Brooks dirge. Too bad because Garth Brooks is just bad -- or, not even bad, just boring and mediocre and over-rated. How about some George Jones next time, Scotty? Or Willie Nelson or Hank Williams? Or anyone other than Garth Brooks? That was a waste of talent, and unlike the judges, I sensed that Scotty felt uncomfortable up there for the first time.

Jacob Lusk sang a forgettable R Kelly song, with a full chorus. He's obviously a show favorite; and he's good, but he too needs better material.

The clear winners were Casey Abrams and James Durbin, both doing Beatles songs. Casey sang "A Little help from My Friends" and chaneled Joe Cocker, right down to the arm gestures. Durbin did McCartney and sounded great.

So ...an uneven group with a clear top six who need to find some decent songs next week. And the judges need to get tough. Even Iovine, who was supposed to be the imported hard-ass, has nothing but mild praise for everyone. It's sweet enough to put the average viewer into a diabetic coma. Simon Cowell was the insulin, and I need an IV drip after this love-fest.

Apparently the show wasn't live tonight. No one was 'ready', they said. Who cares? Some chaos and mistakes would have livened things up a little.

Go live, or go home.

Most of all don't lie about it. The kids struggled like professionals tonight.

The amateurs were behind the camera.

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