Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I May Have Spoke Too Soon

After watching Idol last night, and looking at Dialidol this morning, I think my last post on the issue may have been premature.

As we know, Jason Castro and Brooke White have pretty much stunk up the joint for several weeks running, last night being no exception. We also know that Syesha has been at the bottom of the votes for several weeks running, despite some pretty good performances.

I had concluded that this data indicated that the voting patterns were set in stone and individual performances would no longer have an effect on votes.

Well, judging by my lack of interest in the show last night, and by the dialidol figures from this morning, I am changing my mind. I think the Castro and White voters have left the show and Syesha's fans were motivated by Simon's "you may be in trouble tonight" at the end of the show.

Couple that with Castro being in the "slot of death" at the beginning of the show, Paula's bizarre but eerily spot-on future-seeing comments about "not trying hard enough", and the fact that dialidol has Jason and Brooke in a dead heat at the bottom of the voting, with Syesha being the top vote-getter.

I have to guess that Castro is going home tonight. Let's hope it's true.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bewilderingly Sick

On Saturday, I got up late and noticed that I felt weak and stiff, despite not having done anything strenuous lately. I didn't feel better during the day. That night I noticed that my nose was congested again (something I thought was getting better after my one bout of allergy attack earlier this spring), and that I was only able to sleep well on my stomach.

Sunday morning, I was still stiff and sore and weak, but I was really dopey and not well-rested, which I attribute to breathing problems during the night. I didn't get better until late afternoon, after a nap. I was OK during the evening, but last night I woke up every 30 minutes, it seemed, and when the alarm went off this morning, I knew I wasn't going to make it to work. I called in sick and slept until 11. I also noticed that the little bits of my tonsils that remain (after having them out years ago) are a bit swollen.

When I got up finally, I stretched a bit and I'm feeling a bit better. I think I'm going to dedicate the day to stretching my muscles periodically and see if I can get rid of the stiffness. Tonight, I'm going to stock up on allergy meds again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Going On Record

I shoulda known.

We've reached the point where as far as the contest goes, they don't even need to bother with the singing - it's all about voter turnout.

The trend is clear and can be called out. Following this week's dismissal of Carly, we can expect Syesha to go next week, then the next two victims are Brooke and Jason, leaving the two Davids in the final.

The only thing that can change that is if Brooke completely and utterly melts down next week and her fans abandon her after three terrible weeks in a row.

I expect Carly's fans to move to David Cook's camp. Syesha's fans will probably stop voting entirely. Jason's fans will mostly move to Archuleta's base. Brooke's fans will mostly stop voting (males), but some will go to Archuleta (females who like the wholesome clean-cut thing). Archuleta wins American Idol.

That's how I'm calling it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

...It Was Better Than Cats...

We're down to six finalists now, so it makes sense to have the theme night where all the potential Idols have to tread water. Andrew Lloyd Webber comes to Hollywood as tonight's mentor.

I would have thought that this would be the most dreadful performance show of the season, but you know what? It was the most memorable night so far.

Two performers bombed: Brooke White and Jason Castro.
Four shined: Syesha Mercado, Carly Smithson, David Archuleta, and David Cook.

What sucks is that one of the shiners has to be in the bottom three tomorrow.

Syesha was in the dangerous lead-off slot, and sang "One Rock and Roll Too Many", giving her best performance of the season. She actually moved around, danced on top of the baby grand, did some dance moves with the bandleader, and really connected with the audience. I really enjoyed this one - probably the only time this season she's done that.

Jason Castro inexplicably tried "Memory", James Blunt style. Only - Jason doesn't have the power to make the needle move on the emotional scale. This is a power song - no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and Jason should have picked something else. No power, one style, no performance skills. He's a fish out of water this week, and his narrow range was exposed for the world to see.

Brooke White sang "You Must Love Me" from the movie version of "Evita". 20 seconds in, she blanks on the lyrics and stops and starts over. Paula tells her afterwards that this is unforgivable, but Simon undermines that opinion. (It violates all the laws of music performance, by the way - the show MUST go on. There is no starting over in music.) I have to give ALW props - his mentoring of Brooke zeroed in on her greatest weakness (at least before her new-found fondness for the do-over, that is) which is not feeling the meaning of the lyrics. Brooke got it! Tonight's song was absolutely full of meaning and emotion. Unfortunately, it threw her off her game and may have doomed her.

David Archuleta amazed me. He pulled a page from David Cook's book and re-arranged "Think Of Me" into a pop ballad! ALW zeroed in on Archie's most annoying habit - singing with his eyes closed. Damn, this guy is good. Archie kept his eyes open and the slightly peppy ballad version rocked. This was my favorite performance of DA's all season, however, I suspect that the rearrangement may have come from his dad. ALW's week was announced at the beginning of the season, and I suspect this song has been sitting in a suitcase waiting for it for several weeks.

Carly nearly ended her season this week. She was all set to sing "All I Ask of You", but ALW with his amazing insight stopped her after she sang two bars, and made her switch to "Jesus Christ Superstar". The change from a ballad to a production number turned it all around for Carly. She was GREAT! She was loose and comfortable and it looked like she was enjoying herself for a change. She also wore long sleeves again, which shows that she's been listening to the fans.

Now for the reason I watch this season: David Cook. I totally expected him to do a rock-opera verson of "Phantom", but he shocked the heck out of me by doing a straight version of "Music of the Night". Wow! It was awesome! Money notes and everything. Now here's why this was a great strategic move: that song makes girls swoon. DC may have stolen some votes from Archuleta, judging by the little girl screams from the audience. He'll need to do that to win.

Top 3:
David Archuleta
David Cook
Carly Smithson

Bottom 3:
Syesha Mercado (deserves better than this)
Brooke White
Jason Castro

Going home:
Hard to tell. Jason's performance was weaker than Brooke's but his fan base might be stronger. I'll go out on a limb and predict Brooke is outta here, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Jason.
If Syesha goes home, it'll be blatantly unfair and not indicative of her finally breaking out of her funk this week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another shocker

Well, the world didn't predict this elimination either. Just like last week, someone who everyone predicted to be safe is sent home. Dialidol missed this one badly. Last week, Michael Johns wasn't in their bottom 3, but margin of error made him technically "In danger". This week, Kristy Lee Cook was listed as "Safe".

Now I'm starting to wonder. Last week, I read a lot of people complaining about not being able to get through to vote for Johns. Now, since uses percentage of busy signals to estimate voting traffic, having a phone line disabled would register high votes, too. So now I'm slightly suspicious...nah, it's just whining after the fact. Nobody saw this one coming. Sayonara, Kristy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Carey On, Wayward Idols

Ah, yes. Mariah Carey night on Idol. Unfortunately, this means more ballads. Fortunately, it means better ones than we've had before. Tonight's the night everybody gets sent home for violating the Mariah Carey rule, right? Next week's theme: Songs about going home. Just kidding. I hope it's actually something that forces the kids to do upbeat songs. Anyway, on with the show.

In the cursed leadoff slot: David Archuleta singing "I Believe". David gives his usual performance, and I don't understand a single word he sang. Either the sound man's fault or David's, I can't tell, but he got swallowed up by the backup singers on the choruses. Let's not kid ourselves, though - the kid's not going anywhere even if he decides to rap the f-word over the bridge.

Second is our girl Carly, with "I Can't Live". Carly's still got the same problem as always: She has zero edge to her voice when the song needs it. For once, however, she wears a dress with sleeves, covering that dreadful shoulder tattoo. I'm beginning to think it's the sound man after all, because she gets swallowed up by the background singers, too. Bottom line: Carly's in danger again.

Third is Syesha, singing "Vanishing". At the time, I thought she did a pretty good job, however, after a couple more singers, I could hardly remember the performance - something that's been a characteristic of her act all season. She'll be in the bottom 3 again.

Then we have Brooke White, performing my second favorite Mariah song, "Hero", unplugged, at the piano. Unfortunately, this is the weakest performance of the night by far. Mistake #1 was playing the piano on this song. Mistake #2 was not using the band to generate some emotion. She made mistakes on the piano that distracted her and ruined her focus on the vocals. You could see the panic in her eyes, and she started rushing the tempo. The bridge, which is the part where the vocals should hit new heights, just fell apart, and she sped up even more and it was a complete train wreck by the end. Unless she's got a "get out of jail free" card from her fans, she's bottom 3 and probably gone tomorrow.

Next is Kristy Lee Cook with "Forever". Brace yourselves, because Kristy Lee had the best female vocal performance of the night, and a very nice reinterpretation of the song into the country genre. Her upward trend continues for a fifth straight week, and she's got all the momentum. Safe again!

Then came the David Cook show, performing "Always Be My Baby". The whiny crybabies that go on the E! site and others and complain that he uses other artists' covers won't be able to do that tomorrow, because this version was all his own and it was fantastic. Paula mentioned it being perfect for a movie soundtrack, and I was thinking the same thing. During rehearsal, Mariah really seemed impressed with the re-arrangement of the song. DC is moving back into the top slot this week.

Ending the show was Jason Castro with his version of "I Don't Wanna Cry". Changing it up minimally by not playing the guitar for once, he reinterpreted this song into a Latin groove and it worked nicely. He misses a lot of notes, but his style covers it up. I think he'll be safe again. Simon loves it, which is a bit of a surprise.

My humble opinion on ranking the performances:
1. David Cook
2. Kristy Lee Cook
3. David Archuleta
4. Jason Castro
5. Carly
6. Syesha
7. Brooke

How the voting is going to go:
1. David Cook
2. David Archuleta
3. Jason Castro
4. Kristy Lee Cook
5. Carly
6. Syesha
7. Brooke

Predicted to go home:

Message for you lazy bloggers

Many of the blogs I follow have apparently gone on hiatus. Some due to newfound fascination with facebook, some for unknown reasons. This has put a real crimp in my daily blogcrawl, so I just want to send a message to you folks who haven't posted anything in, like, forever.

Thanks for listening. We now return you to your regular program, now in progress.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Love Being Wrong!

Tonight, at least, I love being wrong. Bye-bye to Michael Johns! I've never really bought into the things the judges have said about him.

To be fair, I didn't hear him sing on Tuesday except for the recap at the end, which an article on E! revealed was a clip from rehearsal (something I was certain happened a lot last season, by the way).

Pretty much everyone was stunned at this elimination, however. Dialidol didn't have him in the bottom three, but had him listed as "in danger". They were sure Carly or Syesha was going home. Tivo predicted Syesha was going home, based on number of viewers + rewinds. Pretty much every article I read today predicted a bottom three of Carly, Syesha, and either David Cook or Kristy Lee, with either Syesha or Carly being the bottom vote-getter.

In my opinion, Michael's had one good week in the competition, and every other week, he was getting by on unfounded praise from the judges. What happened to evaporate his voting base, however, is a mystery.

So, what do you readers think? Was this as stunning as the Chris Daughtry elimination two years ago?

I've been thinking about it and I think there was a perfect storm of circumstances that might have brought this about this week.

  • Michael and David Cook share a demographic - young adult males.
  • Michael and David Archuleta also share one - teenage females and young adult females.
  • David Cook had a weak performance this week, and David Archuleta had a particularly strong performance.
  • Cook performed a song by a current alt-rock band that I'm guessing is popular among college-aged males.
  • Archuleta performed a song by Robbie Williams that was a bit more adult-appealing than his usual choices.

I'm guessing that college-age males rallied behind Cook to save him, and young adult females were swayed Archuleta's way by his song choice and strong performance. Both groups were stolen from Michael John's usual voter demographics.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Inspirational Hour

I tuned in a little late tonight and I missed Michael Johns and will have to base my impressions on the recap.

So, apparently the theme was inspirational songs. Lah Dee Dah. You know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see a week where the theme is "You can do anything as long as it's got a tempo of 100 or better", or "Anything but a ballad" night. That's what I'd like to see on American Idol. The theme where the judges pick the songs should happen in the middle of the season, not at the end. Other themes I'd like to see? How about "Ray Stevens night", or "Weird Al Yankovic night", or "Heavy Metal night", or even "Ska-Reggae night"? It'll never happen, but I hope you enjoyed your peek into my imaginary world inside my head.

What I did like tonight was the expanded band, with orchestra and choir. Finally, we got the big sound that we've been wanting all season. The trick to performing with such a big ensemble is that you must be aware that there is a huge wave of sound coming from the band, and the singer must ride that wave like a surfer - on top and slightly in front of it. Otherwise, you get swallowed up by the music.

Michael Johns - Aerosmith's "Dream On": Swallowed by the wave. His vocals rarely penetrated the background chords. I love this song, but I'd never pick it in a million years.

Syesha - Fantasia's "I Believe": For the most part, she surfs. Starts mellow, then projects as the band swells. Hits one awesome money note that unfortunately, was swallowed up. I think she took the microphone away from her mouth on that note.

Jason Castro - Bruddah Iz's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow": True story - My wife and I were listening to Sirius radio in my truck this weekend, and we heard this very version of this song on a channel called "Coffeehouse". Iz mixed this song with "What a Wonderful World" during his recording. I told Bernie jokingly, "I bet Jason Castro does this one sometime this season. I bet he plays the ukelele, too." You may all praise my psychic powers later. Jason does his usual job on this one, only there's real emotion behind it this time, and it makes a difference. A big assist on this one goes to the orchestra.

Kristy Lee Cook - Martina McBride's "Anyway": She's undeniably improving every week. Three straight weeks of good song choices and solid, if not difficult, vocals. She surfs, to my astonishment. She definitely gets the "most improved player" award this season.

David Cook - Our Lady Peace's "Innocent": You had to know this would happen - you restrict the guy, and he gets all creative and impresses the heck out of you, but if you give him freedom, he picks something obscure and unimpressive. I didn't like it, and the fault is all in the song choice - he surfs, he sings it well, he performs it well, he sells it. Only it just isn't a good song.

Carly Smithson - Queen's "Show Must Go On": Weird song choice. Minor key, depressing lyrics. Hardly inspirational. On top of that, doing a Freddie Mercury rock opera song is just not a good idea in a singing contest - to make it work, you have to hold notes and string phrases together with power. Carly seems to realize she made a mistake after the first verse, and she downshifts and starts attempting to cherry-pick places to sing riffs, cutting phrases short and pulling down the microphone. Awk-ward. Not good at all.

David Archuleta - Robbie Williams' "Angel": Sigh. Can we force this guy to sing something other than a ballad? Great song for the theme, great performance. I do have a problem with his enunciation, however. I couldn't pick out a single word of the lyrics other than the catchphrase.

Brooke White - Carole King's "You've Got A Friend": Simon sums it up - "It's like a relaxing walk in the park, isn't it?" This is pretty much what we've come to expect from Brooke. Good, Safe, Nice, maybe a bit boring. Nothing original here. She could have been lip-synching to the 45 record for all I know.

Top 3 Performances tonight: Castro, Archuleta, Kristy Lee Cook

Worst 3: I'd say Carly, Brooke, and David Cook were the worst of the performances.

Actual voting prediction: Well, we know no one's going home on "Idol Gives Back" week, right? Despite that, I think the bottom 3 in votes will be Brooke, Carly, and Syesha. If someone goes home, I'd say it's Carly, with Brooke having an outside shot at elimination.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


After all the talk about being on a mission, getting it done, etc., only two players came to play tonight for UNC. And I include the coach in that assessment.

It looked to me like Kansas had watched UNC game films all week.

It looked to me like UNC had watched 27 Dresses on DVD all week.

Absolutely not ready to play. I'm disgusted.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Parton the Interruption

It's Dolly night in Idol-land. Simon hated everything as usual, yet continues to deny he hates country music. Dude, just admit it and move on.

The best?
Here's the top 4, in no particular order:

David Cook - "Little Sparrow". He did an original arrangement tonight, and it was on par with his retouch of covered versions on previous weeks. I'd say this one charts slightly ahead of "Hello" and behind last week's "Billie Jean". Tuesdays continue to be David Cook night for me. The stylists got everyone's hair this week, and David looks better than usual without the sheep-dog look.

Carly - A Celene-esque version of "Here You Come Again". Very clean, very emotional. No pitch problems and she nailed the money note and the little vocal turn at the end that is Dolly Parton's signature in her songs. Her outfit looked hideous, like a secondhand store attempt at a comic book superhero gone wrong. Black leather one-piece swimsuit with red stockings and boots.

Michael Johns - I didn't catch the name of the song, but he was actually living up to his billing tonight. Excellent vocals, he didn't miss a note, and he hit lots of money notes along the way. He seemed a bit more inspired than in previous weeks.

David Archuleta - While it was another sappy ballad as usual, it was extremely good. It's just a shame that he's such a one-trick pony.

Middle three:

Syesha - "I Will Always Love You". My worst-case scenario for her was picking this song and trying to do it like Whitney, showing that she's learned nothing this season. I give her 1/2 credit, as she did the first half Dolly-style and then shifted gears to hit the last chorus (with a modulation to a higher key) with the Whitney-style cannon-blast. She did it well, but instead of being brave or original, she copied both styles that this song has been recorded in. I call that a cop-out.

Brooke White - "Jolene". Brooke performed this coffee-house style (as usual), and declined all the higher-difficulty jumps in the steeplechase. Result: Boring and safe, but good. She's got to break out of her rut or she'll be in the bottom three soon.

Kristy Lee Cook - "Coat of Many Colors". This is one of Dolly's sad but inspirational songs, and for once, Kristy hit it right on the money. Nothing original, but she sounded professional for the first time, and also looked good - the only performer other than Syesha to wear an evening dress, though she loses points for bare feet on my scorecard.

Worst of the lot:

Jason Castro - "Traveling Through". A bit more up-tempo than previous versions, but still a subway platform performance, albeit a good one. I think the voters' patience is running out with him.

Ramiele - "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind". Poor Ramiele lost her confidence when Danny Noriega was sent home, and just hasn't recovered. She failed to project through the band for 80% of her song tonight, and while she showed some improvement from previous weeks, she's just gotten too timid to continue on the show. Hopefully, whomever keeps dressing her in munchkin-wear with shoulder pads can go back to their day job once she goes home.

There's no doubt in my mind that Ramiele is going home. I predict Jason Castro and Syesha will join her in the bottom three. I also predict Dolly will have some words for Simon tomorrow night, since he pretty much trashed everyone tonight.

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