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A Little Slow, A Lot of Weird in Idol's Motown

Guest blogger Tamara Jones fills in this week for Washington Post television columnist Lisa de Moraes.

Note to Readers: Lisa will return to her regular posting schedule next week.

Motown, not slowtown.

In case you were wondering just how boring American Idol could possibly get this season, here's a clue: The show's own judges are now resorting to drawing mustaches on each other's faces during performances, and the stylists are getting their yuks by dressing the blind guy in pink pants.


'Idol' judge Randy Jackson alongside Motown legends Berry Gordy, center, and Smokey Robinson, right. (Michael Becker -- Fox)

And those were arguably the highlights of last night's tribute to the 50th anniversary of one of pop music's most influential labels.

"I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to it," judge Simon Cowell cautions before the show begins. Trust him.

In honor of Motown, the Idolettes take a field trip to the Motor City this week to visit Hitsville, where Berry Gordy launched the label and recorded most of its stars. Only powerhouse Lil Rounds, the sole African-American among the 10 finalists, seems to have any genuine grasp of the history the place holds.

Back in Hollywood, we discover that Smokey Robinson will serve both as guest mentor and living "help I'm stuck in a wind-tunnel" proof that men should not have face-lifts. Our hopes are raised for some great coaching.

Raised, and then dashed.

The Smokester thinks everyone is awesome and shouldn't change a thing.

Matt Giraud is the first of the 10 finalists to take the stage, showing off his falsetto for "Let's Get It On." Cowabunga! Vocal range ain't all he's showing. Matt is wearing beige trousers that are at least three sizes too small. Face, face! Pan the cameras to his face! Stay on the face!

The judges all like him, but given the way Kara Dio Guardi growls, "let's git it aawwwwwwwwwn," he may want to change hotel rooms. Or cities.

Kris Allen reminds us a bit of Dreadlock Boy from last season when he strums his guitar for a pleasant version of "How Sweet It Is." The judges agree it was a smart song choice, well-done, but Simon wishes Kris would learn to swagger.

"To be a star, you've got to be conceited," he instructs. (And wear sweat-stained t-shirts, too, O Chosen One?)

Scott MacIntyre learns the hard way that a) he is not the Lost Supreme and, b) he should demand a full description of the clothes Idol stylists put him in before wearing said ensemble onstage. "You Can't Hurry Love," but can we please hurry to a commercial break? Someday soon, you will open an overpriced greeting card at a Hallmark store and hear Scott singing. He's going straight to microchip.

Simon sums up his horror with a line from the song: "How much more can I take?" He even hates Scott's piano-playing, calling it "honky-tonk."

Paula claims to have liked it, and bases this on how placing the three backup singers right at the piano "brought whole new life" to Scott's performance.

"I don't agree with Simon very often," Randy begins, only to be interrupted by Paula shouting, "Yes!"

"No," he tells her. "I'm kinda agreeing."

Paula is puzzled to find herself back on Earth.

"Oh. You're agreeing?"

Randy and Kara offer their usual 100-calorie snackpacks of meaningless commentary, while Paula takes a solo spin farther away from the known galaxy.

"I have something for Simon!" she cries, diving under the table for several long, discomfiting moments. Ryan looks anxious. Simon looks happy. Paula resurfaces with a box of 64 Crayola crayons and a coloring book, "for the child," she triumphantly sniffs, plopping them in front of Simon.

Bad move. See 'mustaches,' above.

Host Ryan Seacrest explains the visual gag to MacIntyre, who makes a joke about the flesh-pink crayon color of his pants.

"How do you know they're pink?" demands Ryan, suddenly remembering that his contract requires him to ridicule the blind man at least once every show.

"They didn't tell me until 10 minutes before I went on," MacIntyre laments. We're thinking they also failed to mention the paisley shirt and the pinstripe brown jacket.

After a much-needed break, Ryan goes straight to Paula because, hey, short of "Intervention," when do you get to see live crazy on TV?

"Dare I ask what else you have under the table?" Ryan prods.

"It's under my skirt!" Paula crows.

Face, face! Please oh please keep cameras on face.

Thank you.

(Did we mention that Paula's skirt tonight is actually a tutu? The stiff kind like the ballerina from our girlhood musicbox except she didn't wear a dirty-girl corset with it?)

Oh boy, it's Megan Joy! (She used to be Megan Joy Corkrey, but amputating her surname was the only way they could save her after she became Patient Zero in the Idol flu epidemic last week.)

We are sorely needing something to cut the evening's persistent vanilla aftertaste, and we're sure we can count on beguilingly odd Megan ("half-jazz, half-cabaret," Smokey Robinson explains).

But Megan muffs it by choosing "For Once In My Life" and singing it like she was doing wind sprints on a pogo stick.

"That song was a trainwreck for me," Randy says.

Kara thinks she should've sung "My Guy," and demonstrates by singing a bar, with Randy's help.

Paula delivers her signature kiss o' death: "Your stunning beauty takes my breath away."

Simon adds, "Oh dear. Oh dear, dear, dear. It was horrible. Whoever advises you needs to be fired. You're getting some really, really terrible advice."

Simon wants to fire Smokey? Can it wait until tomorrow? We were kinda hoping he'd get to sing.

Anoop Desai, who is at least twice his advertised age of 22, delivers a tender "Ooh Baby, Baby," but he looks so drowsy that we wonder whether he's mistakenly sipped from Paula's magic cup and lacks the built-up immunity to remain conscious. The judges like the song, but agree with us that he needs more RPMs. "Get the party on!" exhorts Randy, who should know better, sitting so close to Tutu Twitty.

Smokey, maybe worried about being downsized by Simon, finally offers some actual advice, warning oil-rigger dude Michael Sarver that he needs to "pound it a little" on "Ain't Too Proud To Beg." This is guy talk for, "Man, don't prissy up my song like that!"

Ryan reveals that Sarver was so sick that Idol Doctors ordered him to miss the Detroit field trip. "But I feel a lot better now," Sarver unwisely insists.

Never, ever give back the pity card.

Sarver promptly karaokes a follow-the-bouncing-ball performance so awful that even Miss Nicey-Nice is bummed. "Well, um, oh boy, this is hard for me," Paula stammers, before declaring it "a little old-Las Vegas-loungey..." Sarver coughs, trying too late to recreate the brave, consumptive Camille role that saved Megan Joy's fluey patootie last week.

"You have no chance of winning," Simon sneers.

Randy and Kara pile on. "You made it a little corny," Randy scolds. "It's not about singing, it's about artistry," adds Kara, who is starting to remind us of a snotty sorority president during rush week. You are so unworthy to pledge Kappa Kara Lessa.

Lil Rounds takes the Motown homage to heart, wearing stilettos, a fabulous fringed flapper-dress and a shellacked albeit lopsided Supremes wig. Smokey, obviously desperate to regain Simon's favor by stealing one of the judges' collective clichés, declares that Lil can sing the phone book.

Maybe she should've, then.

Cause "Heat Wave" doesn't exactly make us break out in a sweat. Lil does indeed have, as Randy puts it, "mad crazy vocals," but not tonight. He thinks she was rushing. Paula thinks Lil owns that song, which probably comes to a surprise to Berry Gordy, sitting in the front row. Simon wishes she had sung "Heard It Through the Grapevine."

But now the time has come to be either really, really entertained or really, really scared. Adam "Goth as Musical Theater" Lambert is about to give us his interpretation of Motown. We needed stitches after his interpretation of Grand Ole Opry, but we admit we're curious, in a masochistic sort of way. Also intriguing: During his coaching session, Adam has the smarts to ask Smokey Robinson what inspired him to write the song he's chosen.

One of the characters from "Mad Men" appears onstage in a sharp grey suit and hair that has been brutally Brylcremed into side-parted, slicked back submission. The stranger has stolen Adam's voice, and begins to sing "Track of My Tears" in fabulous falsetto. Adam's ballad manages to be both soft and taut, and thumpity-thump, take off the makeup and the nail polish, and the guy cleans up nicely.

Adam scores standing ovations not only from Paula and Kara, but from Smokey and Berry Gordy, as well.

"Unbelievably hot," says Randy.

"You are exciting, you are it," trills Paula.

"You really have emerged as a star," says Simon, completing the canonization ceremony.

Finally getting the hang of this coaching thing, Smokey warns Danny Gokey not to leave the signature refrain "you're outta sight" to the backup singers in "Get Ready." Danny agrees, then promptly disregards the advice.

Paula pronounces him "undeniable, identifiable, always reliable," then returns to her green eggs n' ham.

Simon decrees Danny's performance "clumsy and amateurish," but he doesn't even try to find words to rhyme with those. Spoil sport.

Randy and Kara, continuing their bold season-long experiment in fusion-judging, love Danny's energy, love his personality. But the singing? Eh.

Last, but determined not to be least, is magenta-haired 16-year-old Allison "Cherry Bomb" Iraheta, who slam-dunks "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," ending with a power note reminiscient of Kelly Clarkson's breakaway performances that won her the title in Season One.

Allison gets the same standing O's Adam did, but her victory lap is ruined by the antics of Paula and Simon, who were too busy playing with their box of Crayons to pretend to do the scant little they're being paid millions of dollars to do. Randy calls Allison "blazin' hot," and Kara rubs it in that Allison was in the bottom three last week, even though she sounds like a pro who's been singing "for 400 years."

When it's Paula's turn, poor Allison is visibly taken aback, and sounds justifiably hurt when she asks: "Why'd you hafta do that?"

The camera zooms to Paula's face, adorned by a black mustache that she giggles Simon has drawn on her. She makes a big show of covering it with her fingers and mumbling some nonsense praise. Simon tosses out a token "you're a survivor" at Allison between guffaws.

Too bad viewers can't just vote for the worst performance. A surprise judge elimination would be just the ticket to spice things up this season.

By Libby Copeland  |  March 26, 2009; 8:21 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: "Idol," Put Us Out Of Our Misery!

Comments

anyone else notice Adam;s boyfriend in the audience?

Posted by: kjmoyer16 | March 26, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm totally with you on the judge elimination idea and loved your analogy of Kara being the sorority chick. I cannot stand to listen to one word she has to speak. She is total nails screeching down the chalkboard. It was disrespectful to Allison the way Simon and Paula carried on after she delivered one of the best performances of the night.

My highlight for the night was Adam. Last week I wished he would lose the nail polish and this week he did, and he looked beautiful. I've heard that song hundreds of times and for the first time last night I understood the true meaning of it.

After being in a difficult marriage for the last eleven years, working up the courage to separate and still in a very hard place, I could relate to the "tracks of my tears". The entire song really... except for the end..."I need you."

I LOVED Matt, too. I thought Kris and Allison were really good. I enjoyed Danny -- Anoop was good, but he doesn't do a thing for me. I couldn't quit staring at Lil's hair and she really sounds the same to me each week although she was one of my early favorites.

I really love quirky Megan Joy too, but she didn't sing well last night - although she did look beautiful -- tattoo and all.

Scott and that outfit. Whoever dressed him should really be ashamed of themselves. That was cruel.

I think he or Michael should go tonight. I'd love to see Megan one more week. Have a great day everybody!! What's up sis & bro??

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | March 26, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The cold that's been going around finally caught up to me, and at times last night, the show was more painful than being sick.

Hey, Seacrest, my sister called them "crowns" when she was 5, time to grow up. It's CRAY-ons.

The crayons and Simon drawing on Paula's face were the best judges' antics yet.

My wife thinks Adam looked like Pee Wee Herman and is the best girl in the competition. (That was before Allison sang.)

When Scott sang, I was ready for him to go. Well, this is not new, what I mean is finally there is no one worse that will stand in the way. Then Sarver sang. Now I'm not sure which one of them I'd rather see go.

Oh Megan. Kara had the best advice on the night for her. Totally wrong song. Still, two others need to go first, then you'll get your turn.

Any hope for Lil was tossed last night. This was your week, babe, and you can't even do that right.

Posted by: MaltyCharacter | March 26, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

So much to digest from last night ...

Matt - very weird performance.
Kris - rocked it.
Scott - oh dear. The pink pants should be the least of your worries, Scottie McBlindman.
Megan - screeched her way through that song. After last week's show, Carrie Underwood slept on her hair, took it off and plopped it on Megan's head. (And Randy "dude'd" her 3 times last night. Someone please buy that man a dictionary.)
Anoop - fantastic performance. Gotta tweeze the unibrow, bro.
Michael - figured Megan was sure to go after seeing her performance. Then I suffered thru the oilrigger. Oy.
Lil - Just like last week's country theme should have been Michael's, last night's Motown should have been Lil's. But it wasn't. Tina Turner she ain't, despite the dress. Why didn't she sing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough?"
Adam - Wow. He was channeling Chris Isaacs. The hair, the clothes, the no-makeup, no nail polish. He's in it to win it. P.S. to Kara - you didn't give him 6 words, you gave him 8. It's the basics of first grade math, pumpkin.
Danny - alright, but didn't listen to Smokey's advice. (Um, hello? If S. Robinson GIVES YOU ADVICE - FREAKIN' TAKE IT!)
Allison - dressed like a little Paula wannabe but sounded amazing.

Speaking of the Crazy One's outfit - loved the glittery disco ball ring. Not.

Bottom line: Rejoice little child(ren) - your Mommy/Daddy will soon be home: Megan, Michael, Lil.

Posted by: jpstang | March 26, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, back at the Idol mansion, this week's mentor Smokey Robinson was apparently dressed for his audition as "Boy #2" in a Sunny D commercial.

Also - The miserable performances by the bottom 3 (Inkarm, Oilrigger and Pinkpants) confirms it: Motown music is never played in Red States. Seriously, they sounded like they never heard the music before. I suppose at this point, they're hoping for a Lee Greenwood week.

Posted by: molsonmich | March 26, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Matt is also African American, so there are two in the final ten. I wouldn't have known except for the family shots with his mom, but his background would seem to have given him an edge for Motown night. I guess the rest of his background helped him out on Country night.

Posted by: jlizkenn@aol.com | March 26, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Another hilarious review. Kara's ego seems to be expanding by the minute and she also displayed her math skills last night ("I have six words for you...")- not.

Last night was even more about song choice than usual. The judges should pick the songs so they can focus on the singing and not the song. The song is what did in Alexis last week. Of course if they picked the songs, the judges' bag of cliches would be even emptier.

Posted by: rme465 | March 26, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Laughing out loud at:

After a much-needed break, Ryan goes straight to Paula because, hey, short of "Intervention," when do you get to see live crazy on TV?

And:
Paula pronounces him "undeniable, identifiable, always reliable," then returns to her green eggs n' ham.

The judges have been unbearable this season. From sitting through the canned, rehearsed, over the top garbage from Paula and Kara to watching Simon and Paula play grab-ass all night.

Kara screaming to Adam (the eventual winner) after his song. "I JUST HAVE SIX WORDS FOR YOU"...

1. One
2. of
3. the
4. best
5. performances
6. of
7. the
8. night

Idiot.


Posted by: mstaines | March 26, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

This should have been Slam-Dunk night for Lil, and she was maybe 5th best (at best). I keep trying to tell people her "mad crazy vocals" are a facade for a belter. She Can Sing Loud, but she can't particularly sing well. One thing she's really lacking is *range*, she just doesn't really have one. Did anyone else notice how she dropped an octave on the "wave" note? That's classic, as someone who has little-to-no range, I know all the tricks.

That was the first Adam song I didn't hate. I actually liked it, and was happy to see that he could sing when not Drag Queening it up. I thought it would be the best of the night...until Allison.

Allison knocked it out of the park last night. "Breakout performance a la Kelly Clarkson is right." Nothing more needs to be said.

To me, everyone else was forgettable or terrible, except for Anoop. His biggest problem is that he has no natural "Base." He really needs a "Beauty and the Geek" style Makeover.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 26, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"Kara screaming to Adam (the eventual winner) after his song. "I JUST HAVE SIX WORDS FOR YOU"...

1. One
2. of
3. the
4. best
5. performances
6. of
7. the
8. night

Idiot."
-mstaines, this made me laugh out loud and choke on my coffee! :) brilliant. :)

VTDuffman, I totally agree about Lil - I love her personality but I have never been blown away by her voice. I noticed the dropped octave on 'wave' and was truly disappointed.

Did anyone else catch Megan's lyric flub?
The lyrics are "For once I can touch what my heart used to dream of" OR "For once unafraid I can go where life leads me."

... Megan sang:

"For once unafraid what my heart used to dream of."

:)

Posted by: raquel2 | March 26, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

MaltyCharacter, Seacrest is from Atlanta but maybe he's part Cajun. He gave crayons is correct pronunciation. Perhaps he was being pretentious, but it is a French word.

Anoop and Adam were the biggest pleasant surprises. I, like others, expect to see Scott, Mike and Megan Joy in the bottom 3.

Smokey's face lift was just icing on a cake that seemed a little overdone. This is a guy approaching 70, yes? Was that his son or great-grandson sitting next to him? Well at least he was attempting the Anoop look rather than trying to channel Russell Simmons in hip hop gear.

Posted by: SheldonAlexandria | March 26, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I was also pleasantly, stunningly surprised by Adam. Apparently he took the Hot Topic model comments to heart and came out looking like young Elvis-- or, more precisely, Kurt Russell playing Young Elvis. One way or the other, the look was great and the song was amazing.

Allison was also amazing, and I totally support the idea of voting the judges off the show. I particularly like that Alison called them on it-- she's SIXTEEN and she has a better idea of how to behave in public than you do!! Anyone over 40 (or, more realistic, over 50) who has to take etiquette lessons from a teenager should be ashamed of themselves!

Totally agree that the outfit was the least of Scott's problems, but I'm guessing that this is Michael's last week.

Anoop needs to find either Megan's or Adam's stylist and submit himself to a makeover. The singing was great, but a sweater vest and a varsity jacket? Seriously? Does either he or his stylist think he's auditioning for Happy Days? And lose the frat boy haircut, too. Comb it back, do something, but wearing the same hairstyle that you did in the third grade? Not cool.

Danny would have been better if they hadn't shown the clip of Smokey's advice just before they showed him ignoring it. Smokey was right, but I suspect that Danny wasn't sure about the words, not having rehearsed them, and if you aren't 100% sure, it's best to shut up.

Megan needs to keep her stylist and find someone to help her pick out and arrange songs. She could do so much better, but hey! She looks hot! And Matt's problem is that he's just kind of forgettable. I'm not sure what he can do about that. Lil should have been better than she was, but she shouted her way through that song, proving that she can belt, but she can't really sing, as in, "carry a melody."

Winner: Adam, closely followed by Allison.

Posted by: inkydog | March 26, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I can not sing. I am not at all musically talented. I have no business being on American Idol. Neither do Megan or Michael. They are AWFUL!

Scott was not much better.

Matt has a good voice but he screwed up royally last night by trying to Justin Timberlake the song he was singing. He did not need the 175 falsettos he added to Let's Get it On. He took a very simple, soulful song and made it fussy and obnoxious. Way to go, Matt.

Chris also is very talented but he kinda bores me. While I think he is good when watching him, I always forget what he sang after the show is over.

I like Anoop. I don't know why.

Lil and Danny Gokey sound the same no matter the song they sing. No variation. It is like putting a song on repeat over and over again. Not good.

Adam and Allison are the only two worth watching. I didn't even like Adam at first because I thought he screeched but he at least delivers something interesting to watch every week.

Oh, and I hate Kara. Immensely.

Posted by: AmuseMe | March 26, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Tamara - Great -- and very funny -- entry. Thanks!

Posted by: jarvis20009 | March 26, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Adam really did look a little like the young Elvis last night, and showed some Elvis charisma, too. And the singing was in another league from everyone else. Whether he ultimately wins or not (from what I've seen he probably deserves to, but there's sometimes no accounting for my fellow Americans' taste) I think he'll have a career after this.

Kara's hipster presentation bugs me sometimes, but when she told Allison she was gifted, I thought that was right. Allison reminds me a little of Judy Garland in that she's a prodigy with a powerful, mature-sounding voice and presence. All the women tried to bring energy to their performance, but she was the only one who struck the right balance between being energetic and in control. Lil and Megan just seemed manic and screechy.

Is it possible that American Idol could find a guest mentor whose main feedback is, "You're gonna do great" or "I wouldn't change a thing" or "the artist who did that song would be proud"? This was the 2nd week in a row of that. Bring back Barry Manilow -- he actually had interesting feedback for them when he did that gig a couple of years ago.

Speaking of mentors, surprised no one mentioned what to my husband and I was the funniest moment of the show, after Adam asked Smokey Robinson why he wrote that song and Smokey, with great seriousness, replied, "See, they've been crying so much if you looked closely at their face you'd see tracks." Dude! That's deep, man.

Posted by: owingsmills | March 26, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I didn't think Adam looked like Elvis as much as he looked like Chris Isaak.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 26, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Yes, yes! We said the same thing: Adam looks like Kurt Russell! My fav from Tamara: Kappa Kara Lessa! Priceless! I hope Scott is put out of his misery, but I think Michael is outta here! And Anoop's unibrow! Agree! Get some man-scaping kiddo!

Posted by: sillyside | March 26, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Tamara, you're wonderful, but where's Lisa? I'm worried about my Pookie! When will she be back?

Posted by: chantooz | March 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

When is Lisa coming back?

Sorry, Tamara, but your lukewarm imitation of Lisa's snippy, wicked wit is really tedious.

Kara needs to be ejected. She brings nothing to the Table of Wisdom and seems to have no idea what she's supposed to be doing. Her bland, repetitive, and vacuous babbling is just a big time-waster.

Paula -- amazingly enough -- is the one to listen to lately. I was noticing last week that she's the only judge who actually gives the contestants real suggestions. Sure, she seems a little la-la at times, but if you listen to what she's saying, it usually has way more depth -- and constructive criticism -- than what anyone else is saying.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | March 26, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Raquel 2: Your comment: -mstaines, this made me laugh out loud and choke on my coffee! :) brilliant. :)

He's my brother and he cracks me up like that on a regular basis. He is one of the best guys I know.

Love you, Mikey!!

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | March 26, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Adam and Allison should be the Final 2. No question about it.

Almost beginning to enjoy Danny Dorky. His performances are so amazingly, laughably lame in every way (except the singing which is just mediocre) that I enjoy mocking and imitating his Dorkisms as he "performs". Thank God, Simon is starting to turn against him.

Whenever I see Oil Rigger, I'm filled with unbearable pain that Alexis is gone and he's still here, stumbling his way towards the Idol Tour. If he stays and Megan Weird Joy goes, I'll be dreaming of blowing up oil wells tonight.

Kara is so seriously salacious she's scary. Better put that rampaging libido in a cage, or every boy (and girl) Idolette needs to get double locks on their bedroom doors at the Mansion. Kara is Randy's Echo, filled with some seriously scary lust for the "dirty".

Can't help it, loved Paula's crayola mustache. But her and Simon's antics unfortunately detracted from Allison's knockout performance. Starting to really like that girl.

Posted by: Brookelover | March 26, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

molsonmich, as one from a "Red State", who grew up in the 60's and 70's and lived/breathed Motown music (as did most of us), your jabbing attempt at snarkiness was not only limited on the cleverness quotient, but incorrect. I think it's probably more a matter of youth and not geography that explains how in the holy heck they didn't know this incredible music. Which is alien to me, but so is the success of gangsta rap. Thanks for the unnecessary political put-down, Bro.

Posted by: ILoveToSinga | March 26, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

For weeks I was one of the VERY few minority staunch defenders of Adam against the majority here who basically abhorred him. There seemed no middle ground. I (we) felt like a salmon swimming upstream. Isn't it fascinating how all the Johnny-come-latelys now praise him with comments like "really can sing" (where have you been?) and "in another league" (a line every Adam-backer has used going back weeks ago).

I have given up on Lil. Kara said it best (to parapharase) that this could've been her night (her genre) and she STILL hasn't doesn't much beyond catterwalling each song. VTD -- you put it well too.

League of his own -- Adam
Very good -- Allison, Matt, Kris
Overhyped compared to last night's performances -- Danny, Lil
Good cover singers only -- Anoop, Scott
Poor -- Michael, Megan

B3 -- Scott, Michael, Megan
Out -- Michael

The judges will only use the save for (God Forbid!) Adam, or Allison, Danny, or Lil.
They will not invoke it yet (too early) on any other DESPITE THE PRETEND "SING FOR YOUR LIFE" event which is just a pretense for drama. They know right this moment who they will save tonight if need be.

Finally: the new name for my band (from Paula's coloring book) -- Daisy and the Pickles!


Posted by: redrocket | March 26, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"For weeks I was one of the VERY few minority staunch defenders of Adam against the majority here who basically abhorred him."

Adam's good performance last night doesn't change the fact that his last few have been abhorrent.

You're insane for separating Adam and Allison, while lumping her in with the Forgettable Twins. She blew the roof off the place last night.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 26, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I cannot abide Adam. If he were 22, 21, 20, maybe - but he's 27. He's a joke. He looks like he's in costume every week... it's a facade at best. He sounded sharp last night and seems to go wobbly very quickly --- his tone isn't fabulous. His ego should get its own phone # for 1-800 Idols.

Michael has got to go. Talking back to the judges to justify a performance that would have gone better on mute? (Granted, their advice can be about as useful as my cat's advice about my shoe selection.) Dear Michael: you are not a music professional. You don't have a clue about what it means to be "an artist." You are an oil rigger. This is why you are on a reality show and not a record label. Please do us all a favor - and my tv speakers a favor - and abandon ship.

I felt terrible for Allison. She looked great last night, her voice was controlled and the notes she hit were fantastic - she's really improved. And then the highest quality advice she receives is from... president of the math and glee clubs?

Here's holding out hope for Lil.

Posted by: L223 | March 26, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"For weeks I was one of the VERY few minority staunch defenders of Adam against the majority here who basically abhorred him."

We didn't abhor him, we just haven't drunk the Kool-Aid on him. We were judging individual performances. I contend that he still owes us a few weeks of penance for what he did to Ring of Fire-- that just sucked! And the Hot Topic gear was detracting from anyone's ability to take him seriously. He didn't look young and hot, he looked like a 30-something year old trying to look young and hot, and it came off as lame and creepy. That's a look that OK for stage once, maybe twice, but not week after week.

I never questioned his great voice, just his stage diva antics. Last night he SANG. And he looked his age, which, oddly enough, made him look younger and fresher than the previous "look" did.

More power to him. But he needs to keep an eye on Allison, because she's as good as he is without 10 years of musical theater to draw on.

Posted by: inkydog | March 26, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey redrocket -- you used my words today to exemplify the "Johnny-come-lately Adam-bashers", but I never said anything negative about his voice on this forum. I think the most negative comment I made a few weeks ago was that I was impressed by the voice, not sure if I could relate to the persona. But last week, I said I enjoyed the Led Zeppelinesque Ring of Fire. I don't feel like I deserve your contempt and I've seen it happen on other forums how it takes the fun out of it when people get concerned that someone's going to snipe at them for having a different opinion. Nor do the people who just didn't like Adam's earlier performances deserve contempt either, whether they've changed their minds or not. We're all different with different tastes. I didn't agree with the musical theater and drag show analogies that some people made, but I thought what they were reacting to was that there was something mannered about his performing style (not his singing). If it's true that when he dropped that, some people who had written him off could concentrate on the singing and change their opinion, that's interesting.

Posted by: owingsmills | March 26, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

SheldonAlexandria, I'm not sure if you are saying Seacrest said "crayon" or "crown" in reference to the crayons. If you see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/crayon , there is an audio file from the French that pronounces it with two syllables. I am, however, not an authority on Cajun.

Posted by: MaltyCharacter | March 26, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Dear Tamara - LOVED your take. especially:

Sarver coughs, trying too late to recreate the brave, consumptive Camille role that saved Megan Joy's fluey patootie last week.

As weak as many of these idolettes are, the changes to the format are the worst part of the show, in order:
1) Kara - needs to get over herself. Her ego is HUGE. Needs sound bite class. I keep thinking - get to your point, we aren't interested in your extended comments. Actually, she needs to just go.
2) Sing for your supper, or rather save? What a phony gimmick.

For a short time, during Hollywood week and beyond, I thought Ryan had improved. WRONG! He has returned to being as tasteless and clueless as usual. It's hilarious that he thinks he can keep up with Simon.

Speaking of Simon, what happened? He is extolling karaoke performances (Matt and Kris) but jumping on other karaokes (Lil and Danny). I think he is bored and put off by Kara. I consider him less credible now, even though he is the main reason I watch AI.

Actually, I don't mind listening to good karaoke performances. Butchering a song (Sarver and Joy), is something else.

The song I'd like Megan Joy to sing is "Gotta Wash That Man from Outa My Hair" (From South Pacific). Then her little wash cycle hip twist might work.

Re: song choice. Please, someone, find out how that really happens at AI? I don't believe these contestants have as much choice as we think, and I think their music stylists/arrangers are subpar in many cases. Wonder how that works. Does each contestant have a music handler?

I love the Smokster - have always been a huge fan. But agree with posts that he was another flat mentor. Surprisingly, Barry Manilow was the best mentor ever on this show - but then he started as a writer/arranger in commercial music - far more businesslike. Travis was lame last week as well, as have been most "mentors".

Could someone please explain what Randy means when he says "pitchy"? I'm not a singer, but even my husband and teen son who are both vocally trained sometimes say "huh"? when watching, and then wonder why other singers aren't called out with obvious pitch problems. Some of this strikes me as a picayune way to say they don't like the overall style, and to sound expert. When it comes to pitchy, I think that many if not most of the guest artists performing on results night show pitch problems, screeching, self-indulgence, and all the other criticisms heaped on the idolettes. Without recording studio repair work, too many artists cannot perform live without flubbing things that aware vocal judges will immediately hear.

It would be refreshing to hear a judge simply say: "Doesn't work for me. Period." Simon comes the closest to that. The overfeedback of Kara and Paula is torture and often idiotic. Just shut up. You are not that interesting to the audience.

Posted by: MarriedMom | March 26, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I LOVED Adam's "Ring Of Fire" last week. Maybe cause it made me laugh so hard. :D

echoing chantooz, when IS Lisa coming back??

majorjasoncastrofan, your brother is witty!

Anyone else notice how defensive Kara gets when the audience starts booing mid-advice? She must've said "Hold on!" 8 times last night. :)

Posted by: raquel2 | March 26, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

No, No, no! Does nobody remember Andrew Lloyd Weber's stint as guest judge??? He was the best Idol Mentor EVER! Seriously, go back and read LDM's recap. He was hysterical!! Barry was good, but nowhere near the ALW hysterics!

Posted by: AmuseMe | March 26, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Great column, Tamara! I'll say it again, either Michael or Scott has to go. I'd rather keep Megan around another week and lose one of those guys. Adam and Allison did the best last night! Matt did well. I still like Danny a lot. What happened to Lil? Wow. She did herself no favors last night!

Posted by: MILW | March 26, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Amusme - ANdrew Lloyd Weber was the best mentor - one of the few actually criticizing. Best idol moment ever: ALW explaining to Jason Castro/dread boy that his song from Cats was actually sung by a cat. I think the mentor wanted to eliminate a few contestants himself.

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | March 26, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Or when he told Nanny Brooke that she obviously had no idea what her song was about! LOL! Classic!

That is what mentors are SUPPOSED to be there for - honest critiques, not this "I would not change a thing" bs.

Posted by: AmuseMe | March 26, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I think Lil should have sung something by Gladys Knight, maybe, "If I Were Your Woman." Think about it.

Oh, and Tamara, the Idolettes make the song picks, not the guest artist. So, Smokey is off the hook for Megan Joy's "train-wreck". In fact, she is kinda like an accident—its awful but I can't help but look. I almost want her to do that swishy-thing more and more and more until she achieves lift-off.

I say Adam and Allison in the finals. I hope he doesn't return to his Joan Jett phase--its was just too been there, done that. I think Allison could use a hair-do-over, also. Color is okay, the style is too John Mellencamp.

As for Ryan's rude comments re:Scott, it would be great if Scott did his high-five thing again with him, only he misses and ends up punching Ryan in the nose. "Woops, sorry! Its just a blind-guy thing!"

Posted by: itsmyparty | March 26, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

VTD - We're strangely at odds on some, and strangely in agreement on others. I did give Allison props -- and have in the past too -- but she is not in Adam's league vocally. His was a performance. Hers was singing a song. They are 1 and 1A in my book now. You've made up your mind about Adam which leaves her to be your #1.

inky- many did abhor him -- that's the correct word to use. Some past comments were simply vitriol in their denouncement of his (pick one) style, "screaming", or fingernail polish, none of which I find particularly outlandish in today's music scene.

owmills- my flat out apology after re-reading your post again. I used your words but not your sentiment to make a point that many are just waking up from their long slumber and discovering Adam's vocal talent. (The judges comments last night -- and on previous nights -- and Smokey's standing O should have put any doubts to rest about their opinion of Adam's voice.)

In short, I was mostly targeting those who attacked his singing ability. It's always been there, week after week, including even the Ring of Fire performance. Admittedly maybe strange that night, but certainly not talentless. My main point is how superficial many are about just discovering this now.

MMom- pitchy is singing a B-flat when a B is asked for, or an A-sharp instead of A, etc. A lot of less talented singers try to hide that by trilling or singing up/down/around the note until they eventually find it "in the basket". Good singers can hit the note first time, hold it, and then either bend it to the next note, or cut it off and start a new note -- in tune. Voice-trained singers are better at it, but still need tone and phrasing to round out their talent. Amatuers (like Michael and Lil) haven't mastered it yet and sing what their ear tells them, not what the music sheet demands. You are right that studio wizards can hide that by tweaking the dials. (see: Kanye West -- who couldn't sing a-capella to save his life, and relies on a voice synthesizer microphone.)

L223 - Adam is "joke"? He has a huge ego?! Where does THAT come from? The fact that he looks to genuinely thank a positive comment? The fact that he respectfully looks each judge in the eye when they are speaking to him, and doesn't make excuses or talk back? The fact that he takes time to ask Smokey about the genesis of his song? When exactly did he promote himself by name over any others? The guy shows up each week, displays unworldy talent and outsings everyone, and gets vilified for it. Amazing! Please support your opinion with some examples of how he out-ego'd anyone else up there.

Posted by: redrocket | March 26, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

redrocket,
right on.

Posted by: itsmyparty | March 26, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

redrocket,
chill out.

Posted by: AmuseMe | March 26, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Well last week I was appauled by Adam in his Fallout Boy outfit singing Ring of Fire. All it did was conjure up visions of hemmaroid affliction in the kind of biker bar where bikers wear pink. But this week once he toned down the fire to just acouple of earrings and a 50s greaser look, I was able to actually enjoy his performance. My vote is to keep the theater going with a costume change every week.

Allison also impressed me beyond my impression that it would be harder to have her hair any redder than it is. Instead of hoping for glimpses of her braces, I got into her song.

Matt was just fine, and he is there showing Scott what a piano guy should be. Where Matt was soulfull and interesting, Scott seemed like a special olympian attempt at Hornsby or some other lite adult contemporary artist.

Lil continued on her genuine streak of interpreting the original artists sound, rather than imparting her own flair/interpretation on the piece. For some reason the judges cut her slack, and perhaps it is because she sings with confidence. She needs to step it up.

Chris looks like he is destined for the main street USA parade, and all of the tweener Jason Castro swooners will probably keep him in long after he should have gone. I close my eyes and wish it was over with him.

Megan with that horrid tattoo needs to find some long sleeves fast, and slow down her Amy Winehouse meets vibrato from the jazz club sound, and maybe Dance Dance Revolution herself some better moves. She is in the bottom 3 but will stay this week.

Michael is a likeable guy with a positive attitude that can't belt out something Smokey said to belt out. He is probably gone this week, although Scott is giving him a run for his money.

Anoop with the slow, sappy, herbal tea tripple hanky songs is not doing it for me. We need him up there again doing some recent Frat boy song. While some say tweeze that monobrow, I say celebrate it like Bosingwa and make it your trademark. Add some fur to the gap, and maybe put some on your palms while you are at it.

Danny sailed through even while ignoring solid advice from Smokey. I am hoping he comes out and does Jesus Christ Superstar.

As far as judges go

Randy- ho hum, not much there
Kara- annoying, and talks too much. Needs to get back into going underneath tables with Paula
Paula- Grandma Abdul and Simon must have reignited the flame because the flirting was out of control
Simon- the only judge worth listening to

Posted by: Wiggan | March 26, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

There has been so much prejudice connected with Adam's "look." Now that he's more conservative-looking (for one week anyway), people can finally look past the outside and let his talent sink in. I've loved every song he's done so far but last night shows how willing he is to change to be accepted. This boy is capable of anything from heavy metal to Broadway - he can "sang" (as the oil rigger claimed last night). And yes, I even loved "Ring of Fire." Waiting for Adam and Allison (what a talent!) to come on is the reason I watch. Kara was right - you can't teach someone to sing like Allison - "It comes from God." It doesn't matter who wins - they're both getting the exposure they need and will be selling lots and lots of CDs.

Posted by: ryjus | March 26, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Wiggan - I agree about Kris (I think it's spelled with a K). I find him rather boring and his voice is just ok. He's cute, and he seems a nice guy, but I do not enjoy his singing!

Posted by: MILW | March 26, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

itsmyparty -- you are TRULY introspective! :)

AMe -- cute, but hardly very helpful :)

Posted by: redrocket | March 26, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious column. I didn't notice Matt's "lunchbox," mesmerized as I was by the sight of someone singing "let's get it on" in a cardigan. I was not so lucky with Scott and his tighty pinkies in the opening line up. Thank God for the piano. I hope he or Sarver goes, but I think it might be Megan.

Posted by: watchingIdolbecauseIhaveto | March 26, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Thank you redrocket and wiggan for analysis and humor!

I agree that Adam followed by Alison were the best last night. I also agree that Adam has been very professional in his demeanor with judges. Hated last week, uncomfortable with some of his style, but appreciate and enjoy his talent. Sarver must go, followed by Scott and Megan. I do find M.Joy amusing, buther tatoo is a trainwreck along with her nonverbals. Last night she sounded more sick and off key than the previous week.

Thanks for reminder of ALWeber. Yes, he was the best mentor. I saved his feedback and made my teen singers watch that particular show.

One thing I have to say for Scott -- great sense of humor. I wish him the best and that he can build on this experience whenever his time to go comes.

Posted by: MarriedMom | March 26, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

redrocket: Apology accepted. Appreciate it.

watchingidolbecauseihaveto said: "I didn't notice Matt's "lunchbox," mesmerized as I was by the sight of someone singing "let's get it on" in a cardigan."

Ha ha same here!

Posted by: owingsmills | March 26, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Top 11 contestants? Is Kara doing the math?

Andrew Lloyd Weber was the best!

Posted by: inkydog | March 26, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Mwa ha~ you're too much fun, Tamara~! Glad to have you back for another week!

Here's the thing--compared to Lame Old Oprey Week, I thought Motown Night was awesome. We actually had few "moments" as Simon was saying--though not from Lil, as he and we had been expecting.

Adam was freaking amazing last night--that last note... wow... It wasn't just that he had such amazing control on it, keeping it on key for such a long stretch AND softening it w/o going flat at the end--there was this amazing emotion that came through in that performance, even through the TV--quite a feat! I was surprised by the genuine admiration he had for Smokey (motown didn't strike me as something Rocker Adam would be in to) and pleased to see someone on the show perform a song they really liked/respected/enjoyed to begin with, because it's really not usually the case. As for the "cleaned up" look--I definitely prefer emo!Adam (and he looked a bit too much like k.d. lang or Elvis in their latter years with his hair slicked back like that) but I think it was smart of him to show off his "clean" look b/c that should help win over some of the housewife vote, which he will need to defeat that smarmy Gokey in the end.

Allison was the other "moment" of the night--that girl just never fails to amaze me with that completely seasoned performer vibe (she blows away even the oldest/most experienced contestants like Melinda Doolittle for that!). Her stage presence and style are so fabulous too--she could take over as lead vocals RIGHT NOW for Black-eyed Peas or No Doubt and totally fit in. Never loved that song but I was captivated for every minute of it all thanks to Allison's performance. Seriously, this girl has that "it factor" in cartloads. No one has her pegged as a finalist, but she's SO much more deserving thatn Gokey or even Lil Rounds. My perfect finale would definitely be Adam vs. Allison--but I'm sure the producers have other plans... \=(

Posted by: Kureno | March 26, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

@MarriedMom - You were right about the Idolettes' song choices being pretty limited, even further than just by genre--here's the list of what they were allowed to pick on GOO Night, published by Vote for the Worst (they've got a lot of insider info from the show's crew):
http://www.votefortheworst.com/20090305/spoilers_upcoming_american_idol_8_theme_weeks

I forget whether we're allowed to post URLs in these comment or not, so if that's a no-go, just go to votefortheworst.com and click on the "spoilers" tag in the tag cloud to the right--it's like the 5th entry down, dated March 5th.

Posted by: Kureno | March 26, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

kirstenpaulson: easy on my boy :)

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | March 26, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

am i the only one who mistook adam for kd lang?
except that she sings lower than he does.
well so does allison

Posted by: shina1 | March 27, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Redrocket: An A# is the same as a Bb.

Posted by: Iteachmusic | March 29, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

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