"American Idol" Sort of Salutes the Rat Pack
It's Rat Pack Week on "American Idol," amended to Rat-Pack-Themed night at some point, but even so we assume the surviving Idolettes will be expected to convey guys cutting up and behaving like they own the joint while singing boozy but classy versions of sophisticated tunes from that day.
Either that or the guys will all put on suits with narrow lapels and mussed-up ties, and Allison Iraheta will put on something she thinks adequately retro - aka non-scary - and hopefully perform an era-appropriate tune without putting it through her Rocker Chick grinder.
Because, as Kris Allen so observantly noted, all of the members of the famous Rat Pack are, you know, dead, the Idolettes simply cannot imagine who is going to be their mentor this week. That's right, with just five Idolettes remaining, the producers have brought back the mentor and accompanying Plug the Mentor taped bit, because how else is the show going to run long this week?
And, in one of those incredible coincidences that make covering the TV industry so metaphysical, just as Idolette Matt Giraud is entertaining us with his impression of Ray Charles, who walks in but Jamie Foxx, who played Charles in a Hollywood movie.
"You're already an artist - you're my No. 1" Foxx tells Kris, in the love-ya-baby! ingratiating style of Rat Packer Sammy Davis, Jr.
All dressed up in his grown-up suit, looking bright-eyed and adorable singing "The Way You Look Tonight" while contorting his little parallelogram mouth, Kris looks not so much boozy, womanizing, sophisticated-tune singing prankster Rat Pack guy as Hannah Montana's date to Cotillion. But judges Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Paula Abdul act as through he's the second coming of Tony Bennett, while also breaking the record for most uses of the word "impeccable" to describe one Idolette in a single performance. Meanwhile Simon Cowell - the only judge worth listening to - calls Kris's routine "a little bit wet." We have no idea what that means, but we totally agree. Simon also likens Kris's version of the tune to watching someone take a well-trained spaniel out for a walk. See "we have no idea what that means but we totally agree" above.
Foxx, who recently told 16-year-old Miley Cyrus to "make a sex tape and grow up," to "get like Britney Spears and do some heroin," to "do like Lindsay Lohan...and get some crack in your pipe" and, last but not least, to "catch chlamydia on a bicycle seat," tells 17 year old Idolette Allison Iraheta she's way too young to have a boyfriend or to possibly understand what love is, so she should think about her family members and the support they give her while singing "Someone to Watch Over Me."
Anyway, Allison takes that to mean she should slow down and un-rock her performance for the first time this season. She also wears a non-scary outfit for the first time. It's all surprisingly good and Randy praises it as "Pink - but with 9,000 more octaves." Kara is convinced Allison will not wind up one of the bottom three vote getters this week, but Simon, who's determined to sink Allison, says she's in trouble because she did not convey enough belief she could win this competition during her performance. Again, we have no idea what that means, really, but this time we totally disagree with him. Meanwhile, Paula's assistant has accidentally mixed up this week's prepared remarks about Allison's performance with copy he was writing on the side for a perfume ad in Vanity Fair: "an innocent sensibility that was both alluring and very tender."
Foxx sends Matt Giraud away with no comment during the "mentoring" process, then calls him back with detailed notes about lowering the key and really holding on to a note near the end of the tune - the second bit of Foxx business this week that seems totally staged.
Matt the Hat should be in his element on Rat Pack night, but instead comes across like someone who's trying way too hard without any real understanding of the tune - in this case "My Funny Valentine." He tries to hang onto the glory note like Foxx suggests but wimps out and trills some more. Matt also has trouble with the lower notes, suggesting Foxx did him a disservice in re the whole "lower the key" thing. Randy thinks it's a little pitchy. Kara and Paula issue dissenting opinions about the emotional connectedness of it all. And Simon continues to work overtime to justify the judges' use of their one Judges Save card on Matt - this week insisting Matt's performance is the only "authentic" tune he's heard so far tonight, "absolutely brilliant," right down to Matt's "Nat King Cole phrasing."
Foxx appears to have the same reaction as Quentin Tarantino to Danny Gokey's come-from-a-musical-family bag-o-schtick. But unlike Tarantino, who forced Gokey to put his hands in his pockets while performing in hopes it would stop the annoying hand gestures, Foxx gets "right in his grille" during Gokey's rehearsal of "Come Rain or Come Shine." This, Foxx insists, brings Gokey's performance to its "purest" and "truest" state, though the evidence shows it only convinces Danny that Foxx is wildly eccentric. At any rate, whatever effect it had on Danny is not lasting, and his performance is conventionally stagy, though Danny gets props for fighting and slaying the drown-out arrangement by the tune's end. Randy fawns over Danny, Kara swoons over his swagger and Paula pronounces it "stellar." Simon notes Danny came out to prove a point, and calls his vocals the best he's heard from Danny in weeks. Danny makes a heart with his hands.
"Absolutely incredible - you don't care about who I am at all!" Foxx marvels at Adam Lambert during rehearsals - the most honest comment made by an "Idol" mentor. Ever.
The only Idolette to really get into the whole Rat Pack spirit is Adam, who goes whole hog Vegas and opens his rendition of "Feeling Good" while strutting down The Ryan Seacrest Stairway from Paradise dressed in an iridescent white suit, black shirt and white tie. Once again, he's in a different, far more accomplished league than any of the other Idolettes, and the way he hangs on for dear life to his tune's second-to-last note puts Matt's performance to shame. Kara wins our heart when she calls Adam's performance "confusing and shocking and sleazy and superb and way over the top and, I don't know, I like you!" Paula, on the other hand, loses our love when she likens Adam's performance to Michael Phelps at the Olympics. Randy think Adam was a "little too theatrical" which, hello, is kinda the point in a week paying tribute to an act most closely associated with Vegas. Simon notes, correctly, that Randy's comment is like complaining when a cow moos.
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