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Eight guys sing to survive on 'American Idol'

The eight Guy Idolettes begin their night inside a deep freeze. They have all turned a pretty shade of blue; host Ryan Seacrest checks them, one by one, for freezer burn. Next, Seabiscuit moves over to the children's play area to break up a fight between judges Simon Cowell and Kara DioGuardi in re which of them is leaning into the other's space. Once their tantrum is over, the Idolettes can begin to sing:

'Idol' contestant Tim Urban performs "Hallelujah" on Wed. night's episode. (Frank Micelotta -- Fox)

Lee Dewyze sings "Fireflies" while his talent blinks on and off. On the bright side, he is wearing better fitting pants, which judge Randy Jackson calls "making it work," judge Ellen The Generous is sure will make even more little girls develop a crush on him, and Kara calls "looking confident." Yes, it's easy to look more confident while singing if you are not distracted by having to pull your pants up repeatedly, in order to keep them from falling down around your ankles.

Alex Lambert is at his most pettable singing "Trouble." Randy wishes he'd sung it slower. Ellen the Generous says he's a banana who's ripening so fast she can barely keep up -- a banana filled with sweetness and innocence and vulnerability, and she urges him not to become a cocky banana. But Kara thinks he's still too stiff. The American Idol Decency Police get out their tranq guns and train them on Ellen and Kara. Simon suggests Alex imagine Randy in a bikini to get over his nervousness. The American Idol Decency Police put in a call for backup

Tim Urban does the 65th best version of "Hallelujah" we've ever heard. Randy calls it a pretty good job. Ellen, who, like the Idolettes, is still trying to find out what kind of artist she wants to be, decides to run up on stage and give him a hug. This is a very bad idea. It is the most uncomfortable moment in the history of "American Idol." It takes her forever to get up on stage to him, during which time we are naturally going to ask ourselves again what is she doing on this show. Do not be this kind of artist, Ellen. Kara, who knows what kind of artist she wants to be -- Paula Abdul -- calls his version of the tune honest and all about the emotion, and the beauty. Simon takes credit for giving Tim the ego boost he so badly needed last week to make possible this week's performance of "Hallelujah." Simon will regret saying that almost immediately when Tim starts swanking around, telling the judges they can each take credit for his performance because it was their constructive criticism last week that enabled him to deliver the 65th best performance of "Hallelujah" ever.

After weeks of telling us he's going to do his own thing only to get the stuffing beat out of him by the judges, who can't stop wondering why he can't be as good as when he did Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" during Hollywood Week, Alex Garcia goes out in search of the most "Straight Up"-ish tune he can find in hopes of recapturing the magic. That tune is "Genie in a Bottle." Still not "Straight Up" enough, the judges say; Simon calls it "a little bit desperate." Simon is wrong -- it is a lot desperate.

Casey James learned his lesson last week when he went electric and rocker and his cougar, Kara, mauled him badly. This week he's playing it safe with a Keith Urban tune, "You'll Think of Me." Casey has tied back his long blonde locks, sending a message to Kara: "You are dead to me." Naturally, his indifference is irresistible. "I'm kinda back on the Casey Train," Kara says flirtatiously. Chicks are so easy.

Aaron Kelly gets off to a terrible start with "I'm Already There" but by the middle of the song he's pounding away in full treacle-tune mode. Randy calls it a job well done, but Ellen wonders how old Aaron is. Do we have to ask him every week how old he is? Yeah, Ellen, he's still 16, just like he was when you asked last week. Kara says sternly that Aaron chose an irrelevant tune because it is written in the third person and is about a guy calling his kids on the telephone to talk to them while he, Aaron, is only 16. That's right - still 16. But Simon steps in and plays the Complete and Utter Rubbish card, adding, "If we keep going down this road of 'You can't do this, you can't do that,' we're going to confuse these people".

Todrick Hall should not get within 20 yards of a Queen tune the season after Adam Lambert. Period. Do not quote me any" Todrick-is-back!" nonsense from Randy, Ellen the Generous, Kara, or Simon.

We can't talk about Michael Lynche's performance of "This Woman's Work" right now because we are so deeply moved. We have to lie down for a minute.


Okay, we're back now. GAK! Michael Lynch doing falsetto is like The Hulk on helium. During the more glutinous bits in the tune, in which the singer is allegedly distraught that his woman is in danger while delivering their baby or, according to some interpretations, expiring of some dread disease -- anyway, things are not looking good for the chick in question - muscleman Mike starts doing lunges and deep knee bends. Once he's done, the judges begin to rave and Kara actually collapses, weeping, into Simon's arms, sobbing, "as a woman who doesn't have a child I can relate so much!" It's her best Paula Abdul impression to date, and totally trumps Ellen The Generous's on-stage Idolette hugging. Kara pulls well ahead of Ellen The Generous in the American Idol Empathy Derby! How will Ellen ever catch up?

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 11, 2010; 7:02 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Lisa kinda hits on something that has gone from from distrcacting to destructing -- the judges.

Ellen hasn't found her tone, or voice, or role on the panel. She's trying, but treading water.

Kara waffles between Paulaesque goofiness and Simonesque insight. And it's so obvious that her handler told her to occupy Simon's space to physically separate herself from Randy & Ellen, and subliminally acquire Simon's anchor-judge cred.

Simon checked out at the beginning, but actually seemed a little more engaged last night. Are the overnight's worrying him? Does he have an image to polish for his next show?

Then there's Randy. At least he's consistent and honest. He must be lovin' that paycheck, because he still seems to give a ****.

Anyway, the four lunatic judges occupy about as much airtime as the contestants. If they don't get it together, no amount of singing or Seacrest is going to make AI must-see TV.

Posted by: molsonmich | March 11, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

What the panel take before listening to the guys? There wasn't one guy better than the worst girl yet they were so much nicer to the guys than the girls. It was the first time I have tuned into the guys and was really surprised and disappointed in how bad and/or bland they all were. Ugh. If it was up to me I would vote them all off.

Posted by: barbnc | March 11, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Such a funny column, Lisa. Love the Casey James comments and the "complete and utter rubbish card". I too had a hard time trying to figure out who to vote for because they all seemed equally mediocre, so I wound up voting for the two guys who have the most distinctive voices - Alex Lambert and Andrew Garcia. They are the only ones I think I could recognize if I heard them on the radio. The rest sound fairly good but utterly generic.

Posted by: nthwoods | March 11, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I have to strongly diagree with you barbnc and nthwoods, I thought the guys were so much better than the girls. To many of the girls were off key and the sloooooooooow singing was so boring. The only guy I thought that was bad was the first guy he was way off key, but the judges really like him so he got a pass from them.

Posted by: sivwiz | March 11, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

to me there was no one to vote for. I tell you this is the worst bunch of contestant ever. Last night was my last night watching. American Idol needs to be cancelled

Posted by: bward40 | March 11, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Lisa -

I am so-o-o-o glad you watch so I don't have to!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 11, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't watching last night, just listening. Thought Andrew Garcia was really good in a muzak kind of way.

Could not *stand* Michael Lynch's showboating: so, you can hang on to a long note, in key? So what? You're *supposed* to be able to do that. And drop the falsetto, it sounds ridiculous. We know Adam Lambert, we watched and enjoyed Adam Lambert, and dude, you're no Adam Lambert so knock it off. You, too, please-go-home-tonight Todrick Hall.

Urban's Hallelujah may have been the 65th best version, but it was still good, Pookie.

Posted by: lanehatcher | March 11, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

You're most "spot on" column this season. I nominate you to replace Simon as the next AI judge.

Posted by: cscheuer | March 11, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I did not get the fawning over Lynch's performance at all, I thought he sounded ridiculous. I predict Urban and Aaron are gone and Todrick barely holds on for another week. Andrew is totally a one trick pony, take a girly pop song and play it acounstically with the same 3 chords...

Posted by: ozpunk | March 11, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Adam Lambert was the only reason I watched Idol last year, and this year there is no one even close to him to keep my interest. It is literally painful to watch (and I so agree with you, Lisa, especially on Todrick). Idol has not only jumped the shark, it's done several McTwist 1260s.

Posted by: jolinegkg | March 11, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I hope nobody believes that Kara was actually crying. . . . It was sort of like Tim Tebow: sobbing at appropriate times, but completely devoid of "tears," you know, the liquid that comes from your eyes when you actually "cry." I agree, it was a Paula moment except with Kara trying to be profound she comes off even worse than Paula

Posted by: observer23 | March 11, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't stand Michael's performance and actually turned the show off before he finished. However, I did correctly predicted they'd gush over him. Ick.

Posted by: MrsKirby | March 11, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

So now I know that there is another SEC football fan on this American Idol blog, since Tim Tebow just got bashed! Really, observer23- how long have you been looking for a way to tie a Tim Tebow slam into a comment about AI?
That being said (and, oh by the way, I have seen tears come out of Tebow's eyes)- while last night was not a high point for AI, this was one of Lisa's best columns ever- keep it up!

Posted by: faywray | March 11, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't get too bent out of shape over any of this - it's one of the few shows the whole family can watch together. It's just silly fun. I do wonder why Simon and Kara seem to be joined at the hip and I guess enough other people do that they had to mention it last night. I did think it was a crime that they never mentioned Kate Bush's name during all the post "Woman's Work" gushing. Maxwell who? Afterward I went to YouTube and watched Kate Bush sing it. I felt much, much better after that.

Posted by: buffybot | March 11, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Also, apropos of nothing, my son got up and fled the room during "Fireflies" - why is Lee on this show? He hasn't sung one thing all the way thru in tune. I predict li'l Aaron will leave since there are two other teen sensations "The Wonders" on the show with better hair. And whoever said that Michael scares them a little - I think that Idol got that memo and he is trying to show a softer, babydaddy kind of side. Still scares me, tho.

Posted by: buffybot | March 11, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Mercy. (Not a song sung by any contestant this week.) I never usually watch before Final 12 and now I'm reminded why.

I fail to understand why the producers continue to insist on gender parity in the Top 12 if there is no talent parity. I also wonder why, unlike "So You Think You Can Dance" the so-called expert judges don't have more control over shaping the Top 12. Why throw it open to a popularity contest so soon? Not that the public has been very "wrong" so far . . . .

Seems to me, that this might be the last season of AI and that's not a bad thing. Better to go out when you're at your best, though, and leave them wanting more. Not leave them with bad tastes in their mouths (and cotton wool stuck in their ears).

Posted by: jqw3827 | March 11, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

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