A few IDOL thoughts

Hello, everyone! I’ll be bringing you my penultimate Voice recap tomorrow, God willing, but first, a few thoughts on American Idol‘s finale last night.

I’ve been an intermittent Idol watcher this season, which has been a relief – without the need to live-blog or any sort of real investment, you can fast-forward through all of Steven Tyler’s incoherent haiku and the inane Ford music videos – but yet, as a longtime Idol follower, I just found the finale so…unsurprising.

I don’t just mean your new Idol champion, though that has been a mortal lock since early April; as I facetiously noted earlier this week, “cute white guitar-playing boys really struggle to win this thing.” But every element of the show had a been-there, heard-that-from-Seacrest kinda vibe. For example, when the guys of the top 12 started singing “Coming to America,” “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Daydream Believer,” the only way that Neil Diamond wasn’t joining them for a “Sweet Caroline” singalong was if there had been a freak accident in the Idol greenroom.

And even the moments that seemed “spontaneous!” were mile-away kinda enterprises. When Ryan pointed out former contestants in the crowd, ending with the “first Idol romance” of Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo and then inviting them to join him onstage, it was patently obvious that a televised proposal was in the works. Did anyone really think that Ryan Seacrest just wanted to have an extended chat about what was new and exciting in their lives? Just saying. (Credit to Ace Young for proposing using the patented Seacrest move: “I…will drag this out…for a while…to build suspense…and retain relevance.” Also, anyone else notice that he worked the name of the jeweler into the proposal? It is the Kardashians’ world, folks. We’re all just horrified visitors.)

Frankly, the only thing that I thoroughly enjoyed was the Idol producers FINALLY taking Randy Jackson to task for his repetitive cliches by having the top 12 literally “sing the phone book.” It was a delightful little skit that ended with Ryan Seacrest presenting him with a gift-wrapped phone book and saying “Get some new material before next year!” If not for the “next year” part, I would’ve given Ryan a standing ovation from my own living room.

As for our young Phillip Phillips, well, I am anxious to hear his first album, particularly since his single “Home” is pretty damn good, if a blatant Mumford & Sons photocopy. (At least it’s better than Scotty McCreary’s anthem last year, “I Love You This Big,” which sounded like a song from some straight-to-DVD kids’ program starring Elmo in a cowboy hat.) And I hope that runner-up Jessica Sanchez not only finds some material worthy of her big voice, but figures out how to use it; when challenged by the inimitable Jennifer Holliday during their “And I Am Telling You” duet, she finally showed the passion of a potentially great artist. (In a related story, I am telling you that I never want to hear that song again on any reality show ever.)

What say you, b-rollers? Any Idol watchers in the audience? What did you think of the show, and your new Idol champion Phillip? And can people please finally stop abusing their children by giving them the same first name as their last name?

Voices Carry

Hey, remember when American Idol was a good show? I know, it’s been a while, but remember? I know…I’m sad, too.

Last year, I watched my final season of American Idol (well, barring any of the following developments: The return of Simon Cowell AND his old face; a legendary, world-class musician – let’s pick one, say, John Williams? Aretha Franklin? – hauls Randy Jackson onstage mid-results show and screams, “‘Pitchy’ is not a real word, NOW GET THE HELL OFF OF MY TELEVISION, AND STAY OUT!”; or, now that House is ending, Fox decides to shift Chase over to Idol). Anyway, I found last season so unbearably hard to watch – as a fan of television, grammar and sound – that I decided to cut ties with it entirely. Good riddance, Idol! Farewell, thee!

But it’s hard to say goodbye (to yesterday! Sorry). I was so worn out with the Idol madness that I had no interest in watching The X Factor when it premiered last fall. I read Dave Holmes’ excellent recaps and managed to stay abreast of the general proceedings, but the few times that I briefly tuned in, I found it overstuffed and unwatchable. I saw much of the finale, and honest to God, I couldn’t get any grasp of if these people could, like, sing well. But there were flamethrowers and an army of back-up dancers, so that’s nice.

And even though I’d heard good things about The Voice last year (and watched a few snippets that made me think, “huh, this is interesting”), I didn’t watch it. Perhaps it was out of misplaced, diminishing loyalty to Idol. Perhaps it was because it’s hard to commit to a new reality show that will require roughly six hours a week of dedication (honestly, at the end of each season, every Idol viewer should get 3 credit hours towards a Music Performance or American Studies degree). But I didn’t watch.

But earlier this week, in a fit of boredom and without any intention of a long-term commitment, I finally watched. And wow, all of the singers are actually really good. Huh. No cannon fodder, or tone deaf fame whores? Really? And the judges are engaged and thoughtful, and…wait, you don’t laugh at some of the contestants? You thank them for their time? And the sad backstories are straightforward rather than mind-numbingly manipulative, without any dramatic re-enactments or Ryan Seacrest voiceovers? And there is a Starbucks bar in the waiting room for the auditionees?? (Does Starbucks sponsor the show, or did the producers just put this in? Is this something that can go in a private home? What dimensions are needed? I’m, uh, asking for a friend.)

The Voice, you sneaky little bastard. Just when I thought I’d never love again.

So I’ve officially switched allegiances, b-rollers. And I really miss live-blogging American Idol, but under no circumstances will I be able to do so while retaining any semblance of sanity, nor do you really want to read a live-blog that’s typed entirely in a rage-filled caps lock. So how do we feel about a Voice live-blog or recap, b-rollers? I’m pretty new to the Voice process (I have no idea what the hell happens after this audition round concludes, other than singing), so we can learn together, if we must.

What say you? Anyone watch the show, or willing to tune in with me? Do you prefer a live-blog, sarcastic stream of consciousness-style, or a straight-up recap? The Voice airs on Mondays at 8pm, so let’s take the weekend and decide, but please, share your thoughts in the comments section. And you should maybe be a little bummed that I decided not to start blogging about it until after Cee Lo wore a pair of red sequined pajamas onstage while Christina Aguilera sported the fascinator from Hell. I know…I’m sad, too.

Idol Live Blog: Finale Extravaganza

7:59: Hello, fellow Idol fans! We are here to crown YOUR. NEXT. AMERICAN. IDOL. Who’s excited? Who else wants to see David Hasselhoff cry again? Here we go!

8:00: Full disclosure: I haven’t seen last night’s show yet. But from all reports, Crystal killed it and Lee nearly threw up onstage. Thoughts, b-rollers?

8:01: Wow, Lee still looks uncomfortable! Chill out, dude. The hard part’s over. Unless Mike Myers returns in costume to hawk another movie as heinous as Love Guru. That will be a tragedy for us all.

8:02: Taylor Hicks! Jordin Sparks! Do I call that a celebrity sighting? Is that too harsh to say?

8:03: I know I’ve been Team MamaSox all season, but I don’t quite understand the overwhelming Lee love. He’s humble and all, but only occasionally excellent.

8:04: Um, whazzup with the Catholic school uniforms? I’m dying to know which group performance this foreshadows.

8:05: Ah, we have our answer. The Top 12 returns in full costume for “School’s Out for Summer.” I’ve played this song on Guitar Hero a few times, so I’m mentally playing the solo (like, as in, red, green, blue…)

8:07: Isn’t it a little early in the program for Alice Cooper and an army of zombie schoolchildren? This is more like 9:40 fare, no?

8:08: Alice Cooper sounded live; the Idols, not so much. They should all take a moment to ponder that fact.

8:09: First commercial of the night goes to Ford; second to Coke. Ohmigod, did you guys know they sponsor Idol?!

8:10: I realize that Ryan Seacrest descended the Seacrest Memorial Staircase (Nokia Theatre Edition) for the last time, and I forgot to note the time and date. I feel like I’ve failed you, b-rollers.

8:11: Just a notice, Idol producers: Another autotuned group performance may test my fragile stomach. Tread carefully.

8:12: The first few words of Seacrest’s intro aren’t caught by the microphone, then the first few notes of Kris Allen’s performance (hey, he’s back!) are drowned out by Seacrest, now live, saying, “It wasn’t open?” Well done, Idol tech crew. Well done.

8:15: I like Kris Allen and wish him well. And this song is pretty. Just not so much memorable.

8:16: Ah, the requisite Simon montage. But of course.

8:17: Look at that old footage of Simon rocking another haircut! Who knew that existed?! I feel like we’ve just discovered Sasquatch.

8:18: That was amusing. Although I do slightly feel like Simon deserved more than just a tongue-in-cheek montage.

8:19: Is this performance of “How Deep Is Your Love?” dedicated to Simon? Just asking. The post-montage placement is curious.

8:20: Hey, the BeeGees! This allows me to bring up the fact that one of the Gibb brothers (the thin one wearing sunglasses) apparently went completely insane at an airport recently when someone tried to put him through extra security. I don’t know why, but I find that story completely hysterical – the thought of him screaming, “Don’t you know who I am?!” Uh, no. Not for like 30 years now. Sorry.


The Idol Live Blog That Wasn’t

Good evening, b-rollers! As you’ve probably noticed, there is no Idol live blog tonight. I have an excellent excuse for why I wasn’t available to live blog the most important freaking performance show of the season, though. I’ve been fighting a nasty stomach bug for the past few days, and on doctor’s orders went to the hospital for some meds and fluids. Apparently, “I have to make it home in time for American Idol” is not a good enough reason to be discharged. Damn stubborn doctors.

Anywho, this week’s Idol performance thoughts will be late – hopefully tomorrow – and decidedly less stream-of-consciousness. And barring a serious health setback, I will almost certainly live blog the insane extravaganza that accompanies the crowning of YOUR. NEXT. AMERICAN. IDOL. So stay tuned, and please do accept my apologies, b-rollers. See you tomorrow.

Idol Live Blog: Top 3 Results

8:15: Good evening, b-rollers! We’re 45 minutes away from the Idol results show, in which Casey’s departure is, um, probable. Not to pile on the poor thing, but I checked DialIdol’s prediction meter and they have Casey trailing by a lot. They may as well have stamped “freaking duh” on their homepage. Anyway, my TV is currently off – shocking, I know – as I mentally prepare for this evening’s penultimate results show. Back at 9!

9:01: And we begin with a SUPER DRAMATIC INTRO that features Ryan saying, “The two facing off in the finale ARE…” Um, obvious?!

9:02: Love Siobhan in the audience, applauding tepidly for Justin Bieber. I know, I’m underwhelmed by the selection of him as well.

9:03: Casey looks pretty resigned, right? At least, as b-roll roommie Monisha just pointed out, he “won’t have to sing some heinous song that Kara wrote” next week.

9:04: I love Ryan saying that no one knows how hard the Idol contestants work. I think the subtext of his question is, But none of you work as hard as I do. I’ll be up at 3am for my radio show tomorrow morning. SO THERE. Also, Ryan is nodding at Casey’s “$10 million or $100 million” metaphor like, Those numbers mean nothing to me, I could buy and sell you like THAT. This could be a blog in and of itself – the inner thoughts of Seacrest. I’m enjoying this way too much.

9:07: It is now my goal in life to get a smiley-face text back from Casey. Who has this number?

9:08: Another astute comment from Monisha: “Crystal just brought her health AND the Lord into this conversation. Now she’s in it to win.” Indeed.

9:09: The Dawg continues his run of bizarre fashion choices by pairing a white cardigan over a white t-shirt, then wearing bright blue glasses. Wow. Yo, yo…for me, for you, it’s only aight.

9:10: The judges looked unamused by Casey’s comment, but he’s not wrong that there’s been some less-than-helpful criticism. In fact, that’s putting it rather mildly.

9:11: We now solve the mystery from last night: Casey’s town in Texas is named Cool. That’s both appropriate for Casey, and ironic because…you know what, I’ll refrain from further comment. I don’t want to be attacked by a mob of angry Texans.


Idol Live Blog: Top 3

7:31: A delightful Tuesday evening to you, b-rollers! I’m a bit under the weather tonight, but I shall soldier on for you, faithful readers. Back in half an hour!

7:58: Before we open tonight’s show with the traditional mix of creepy lighting, synthesizers and the Seacrest Memorial Staircase, I have to ask: Is there any possible way that Casey survives this week? Any at all? I’m thinking that he could give us a Fantasia-singing-“Summertime” performance and the judges would go into “This can’t happen! Must underplay!” mode. Thoughts?

8:00: I love this roommate exchange to open the show – Texan roommate, hopefully: “Where is Casey from in Texas?” Pennsylvanian roommate: “Texas.” Everything else really is semantics, isn’t it?

8:02: Side note, but didn’t you love how Casey refused to let Ryan pretend he was taller than he really is? As is also evidenced by this conversation, in which Ryan seems like a toddler next to his preschool teacher.

8:03: Strike the earlier sentiment. Casey shall not be giving us a MOMENT (TM). I like the song “Okay, It’s Alright with Me” perfectly fine, but it’s a fun little summer jam, not an Idol Coronation song. We’re looking for a performance a little more in the “Jealous Guy” vein here, Casey.

8:05: Casey’s “just glad to be here” comment to Randy is about right. I didn’t get a “fighting for my life” vibe from that either. Hang on, did I just agree with the Dawg again? For me, for you…

8:06: Simon had three judges’ critiques worth to craft a solid metaphor, and the best he could come up with was “salad”? Seriously? On the upside, the fact that my “what the what is with that song choice?” reaction was echoed by all of the judges makes me feel as if I am eminently qualified to fill Simon’s chair next season. As if we didn’t know this already.

8:10: Okay, so since we’re waiting out this commercial break, I shall ask: Who else is madly excited for tonight’s episode of Glee? NEIL PATRICK HARRIS IS IN THE HOUSE, PEOPLE. And he’s singing Aerosmith and everything. I could not be more delighted. Anywho, back to Idol.


Idol Live Blog: Top 4 Results

8:52: Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’ve spent the last hour looking for apartments online. Casa b-roll will soon relocate, if I can survive the living hell that is apartment hunting, packing and moving. Fingers crossed, b-rollers. Back in 8 minutes.

9:00: Um, who else is thrown off by the tinkly piano intro? My ears are conditioned for that pounding synthesizer, followed by the blinding strobe-light open. Sensory overload is what makes Idol great. I’m confused.

9:02: Daughtry must be shaking his head sadly at Ryan’s “Someone who knows how tough tonight’s show can be” remark. That was cold, Seacrest.

9:03: Fantasia continues the sparkly trend! That is one gold jacket. And when did shoulder pads come back into style, by the way? Kara was rocking them last night, too. I can’t imagine that the world was dying for a return to that hip ’80s style.

9:06: I like Fantasia, and she could sing the phonebook (that phrase is trademarked to Randy Jackson, incidentally), but this song is less than memorable. As evidenced by that shot of the four contestants watching blankly, clearly unaware of how they should be reacting.

9:07: Really, Ryan? Mocking other people’s height? When a conversation in my apartment once included the phrase “Let’s say Ryan is 5’8 in his shoes and heels”? Really?

9:11: Does Crystal have a bizarre yellow feather in her hair, or a really bad weave?

9:12: Casey must’ve drawn the short straw for the Ford commercial since he’s in lederhosen. And why was Big Mike not ethnically costumed? Could they not find clothes big enough for him? They must have Big & Talls around the world, yes?


Idol Live Blog: At The Movies!

7:53: Good evening, b-rollers! I know I’ve been absent for a while – a combo platter of heading back to New Hampshire for Mothers’ Day and working like crazy for an upcoming work Gala – and my apologies. But of course, I can always make time for an Idol live blog, particularly when movies are involved. So let’s just say a little prayer that “My Heart Will Go On” is absent from tonight’s set list and dive in. Back in 7 minutes!

7:57: Completely unrelated side note, but I’ve spent the past hour watching an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Remember what a great couple Burke and Cristina were, pre-homophobic epithet? This used to be such a good show. Sigh.

8:00: Dramatic opening as all of the contestants turn (stiffly and strangely) and stare at the camera for Ryan’s “This…is AMERICAN IDOL!” I don’t fully understand why they thought this was a good idea.

8:01: And my dream of Ryan taking a slight tumble down the Seacrest Memorial Staircase (without causing severe injury, of course) goes unfulfilled for another week. Someday, b-rollers. Someday.

8:03: Is it true that Jamie Foxx is openly campaigning for Simon Cowell’s seat next season? He seems like way too big a star for that. And frankly, that chair should have “Harry Connick, Jr.” stenciled on it by now anyway.

8:04: Poll time, b-rollers – is the tattoo on Jamie Foxx’s head (italics added for emphasis, because how crazy do you have to be to get a head tattoo?) a fake one for a film? Let’s hope so.

8:05: Wow, Jamie brought props! That was…thoughtful? Couldn’t he at least have made the shirts in a low-cut henley style, in honor of Simon?

8:06: I don’t think the pressure of singing in front of millions of people on TV is comparable to having Jamie Foxx invade your personal space with a terrifyingly intense stare. Not to question his methods, but yikes.

8:07: Dear judges: I too like Lee, and do not wish to see Crystal simply glide towards an inevitable victory. However, if you do not point out the serious pitch problems with this performance, I’m going to insist that we start seeing other people. Love, b-roll.

8:08: I’m with Randy. It was pitchy (and not just “in spots,” dawg).

8:09: It was nice of Kara to drop by on her way back from a business meeting in 1987. Sorry, it’s not Tuesday or Wednesday unless I’m criticizing her sartorial choices. (As I sit here in a ripped Red Sox sweatshirt and Gap jeans.)

8:10: No need to embrace Jamie’s t-shirt gimmick, Simon. It’s okay. Just say that Lee wasn’t good and move along.

8:12 Who else thinks Big Mike’s train of thought this week was, “Hey! I can sing that song from She’s Having a Baby to remind the world that I love my wife and she just had a baby! Wait, I already sang that song in the semifinals? Son of a bitch!”

8:14: I’ve officially entered The “I’m excited about seeing The Good Guys when it premieres, but if I see another commercial so help me God…” Zone.

8:15: Really, Jamie? He didn’t want the mildly insulting shirt? Shocking.

8:17: Because it’s only Top 4, Big Mike gets a mini-chorus of 5 people in semi-matching outfits. If this were the finale, there’d be a choir of 874 people wearing glistening robes. And angel wings.