It’s the last semifinal round for American Idol, and I have a confession to make. I haven’t been watching. I’m one of those folks who watched in hopes of spying a glimmer of talent. Some people want to see Willy Hung, I want to see Willy get hung. Plus, Mr. Bebo is a professional, so turning on AI is just turning on the floodgates. If you think Simon’s harsh, stay away from my house when these folks are caterwauling.
While the finals can be amusing, the semifinals can be another story. In prior years, it’s been the Yak phase. - Kids who sound like they’re strangling a yak. - Kids who make such horrendous facial contortions that they look like a yak. - Kids whose attitudes make me want to yak.
So with an open mind and a snarky attitude, it’s time to see if the “new” semifinals are any different. Bring on the opening credits, with the theme song that reminds me of what happens when you stick a cat’s tail under a rocker.
Let’s Hear It For The Boy
After a quick reminder of who’s already been rejected, Ryan Seacrest introduces the judges. Simon takes the opportunity to address the allegations that rejects were rejected because they hadn’t had enough air time to build up a following. Some of us think that most contestants are rejected because they got just enough air time to prove that they don’t have what it takes. Simon claims it’s a “ridiculous excuse” because “the audience is not stupid”. Uhhhhh….. Paula claims that tonight they’re going to “bring it” as opposed to the phoning it in they’ve been relying on for the past few weeks?. Randy gripes about song choice and says, “just sing the song”. And just in case Simon’s wrong about the intelligence level of the audience, the judges remind us that it’s a “singing competition”.
Oooo, it’s a theme night! Which theme will it be? Shove Ford products and Coca-Cola down our throat? Cheesy video montage night? No, it’s time to prepare the youngun’s and remind the older contestants of the worst part of hanging out in bars…being asked the question “What’s your sign”.
For those of you scoring at home, my sign is “No whining.”
First , it’s Scott Savol. He’s a Taurus, which is a bull. He’s says he’s a bull. I think he looks like a bull. I also think this theme is a load of bull. Scott starts to sing “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch”. Singing-wise, he’s not bad at all, but when he dances, he makes Clay Aiken look like John Travolta. And what was with that end pose? Mr. B forgives me for making him watch, since he thinks Scott has a pretty good voice, even though he was a bit off. After saying dawg a few hundred times, Randy gives the impression that he liked it. Paula proved she’s on another planet by telling him she loved the choreography. Simon compares it to an amateurish performance at a party. I’m just relieved he didn’t try to tell us what kind of party he had in mind.
In an attempt to spice things up a bit, Ryan chats on the couch with Mario and Nikko, asking such hard-hitting and controversial questions as, “It’s good to have positive comments from the judges, isn’t it?”
Next we have Bo Bice, and since he’s a Scorpio, he has to make a comment about a scorpion’s sting. Either he’s too stupid to make up something original, or he realizes how completely stupid these segments are and just doesn’t care. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and pick option B. He begins mumbling Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be”, and I’m wincing at the poor start. He quickly erased that poor start though, and once he got into the meat of the song, he had that audience eating out of the palm of his hand. They guy’s got charisma, and unlike some rockers, he tries to sing a song instead of just yell. Hey, if AI can rely on clichés, why not me? Randy said it was a’ight after a shaky start and wants him to use his growl more. Paula’s delusions told her that it was consistent, and Simon told him that this was “his competition to lose”. For once, Mr. B disagrees with Simon and thought Randy was the one on target here.
Anthony Federov, aka “Trach Boy” is up next. He’s another Taurus brak brak brak born in Russia brak brak brak couldn’t speak English brak brak brak topple capitalism through the power of music brak brak brak. Oh no. He has channeled Willy Hung and chosen to butcher a Latin song “I’ve Got You”. No no no no no. Rhythm is a prerequisite. Didn’t anyone learn anything from Clay Aiken’s performance of “Grease”? While I still like the guy’s voice, I feel like he’s a Clay cloning experiment gone slightly wrong. Randy thinks the Dawg is finally back and that it’s the best he’s ever done, while Paula thinks it’s “brand new”. Sigh. Only three performances in, and I’ve already had to resist throwing things at Paula’s image three times. Why can’t I accept that the Paula doll is stuck permanently in Happy Thought Land? Oh yeah, because I’m summarizing a reality show. Simon says that Anthony has “as much Latin flair as a polar bear”. I really don’t want to know what kind of parties Simon goes to, if there are dancing polar bears involved. Then Simon compares him to The Wiggles. Thanks to my little Bubba, I have seen the Wiggles, and they have more rhythm than Anthony. Poor kid. Ryan adds to his misery by asking the Russian how he does in chess matches against Travis, and Anthony confesses that Travis kicks his butt. Ryan thanks him for not saying ass. Ryan, you so witty. Hard to believe you haven’t been able to snap up that someone special with charming lines like that.
On to Nikko Smith, who (surprise, surprise) is another Taurus. I’m a Taurus, and even I’m sick of hearing about what our sign is supposed to be like by now. Nikko looks sharp in his hat, but he’s flat as he sings “Georgia On My Mind”. Mr. B has an arm gesture he uses when a singer is flat, and he’s gesturing so wildly during this performance that I expect him to be airborne before Nikko finishes. Meanwhile, I become the stereotypical female, mesmerized by a smooth guy…but then he goes flat and loses me…oh, he’s got me back…oh, he’s lost me…oh that note, that note! Simon pulls Paula back into her chair, in his biggest act of kindness toward one of the contestants since the show’s inception. Dawg was pitchy, but Randy didn’t realize what a range had been hiding. Paula couldn’t imagine the final 12 without him. Then again, her final 12 has 10,000 participants, since she’s just a girl who can’t say no. Simon thought it was a smart song choice but that people will overlook the shakiness and remember that last note. Mr. B obviously does not qualify as people, since he thinks that with all the Oscar hype around Ray, that was a risky song choice that required a solid performance to win over the audience.
The producers decide to break it up and give us someone who’s not a Taurus. Travis Tucker, the Aries, spews on about his confidence. If this weren’t a live show, I’d swear this was foreshadowing a Travis loss. Dancing boy performs Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step I Take”. Performs is the kind term, since the singing was off, off, off. Mr. B declares that “he needs to go home” and says that “if the judges don’t say something about his pitch, they can’t hear”.
INSTAPOLL! Will the judges say something about his pitch? a. They all will – it was too obvious to miss. b. Randy will say the word “pitchy”. c. Simon will come up with some analogy to describe the horrendous train wreck we all just witnessed. d. Paula will officially take the title of Cleopatra, Queen of Denial. e. B, c, and d are all correct.
For those of you scoring at home, the answer was, of course, e. Simon was too bored to even come up with a new analogy, sticking with the old “theme park” insult. When he said that Travis was a dancer first and a vocalist second, Paula said, “I disagree”. Simon replied, “You would” and the producers made a note to remind Paula during the commercial break that this is not Hollywood Squares.
Now it’s time for Mario Vazquez. He’s a Gemini. What did he say? Who cares, it was brak brak brak, and definitely not worth trying to translate over the whooping of the audience. Maybe I should change brak brak brak to whoop whoop whoop. As he sings, “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?”, Mr. B complains he’s too nasal. He thinks “there’s more depth there, and with his charm and poise, he could be someone”. Dawg makes a reference to the Dawg pound (aka, the other competitors hollering to get that one more moment of screen time), Paula says…ah, who am I kidding, I don’t listen to her anymore, and Simon compares his charm to that shown when a girl brings a date home. Meanwhile, Mr. B is on a roll. “Like Kasey Kasem, he doesn’t mathc his voice. And he married a woman who’s 100 feet tall…but I’m off task.” I worry about what excessive exposure to AI is doing to Mr. B.
On to the other rocker, Virgo Constantine Maroulis. During the chorus of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, he’s not making magic, because he can’t quite get up to those notes. Mr. B is wincing but doesn’t think he’s as bad as “dancer guy”. And he loads of potential. When Dawg compliments him for being in tune, I have to remind Mr. B that he can’t jump through the TV and knock sense into Randy. Paula is still following the Thumper rule (if you can’t say something nice, then just run your mouth for way too long), while Simon calls it a bad impersonation of Sting. Then the judges argue about what Simon’s off of, while the viewers wonder what Paula’s on. Simon says they have lost the…block? Plot? Blot? Blood clot? Ah, who cares, it’s a typical judge b!tchslap fight and not worth the energy.
Last, but definitely not least, we have Anwar Robinson. Sigh, another Taurus. But my urge to tune out vanished when he began to sing “What a Wonderful World”. Mr. B was only half paying attention and thought he sang about “shaking ass”. I was too busy dropping to pick my jaw up to care. Then I dropped my pen as he got to the end. Da-yum. Randy gave a standing O and declared it the best performance of the season – “boy, girl, dawg, cat”. So, when Randy says cat, he means that it was a notch above dawg? Someone needs to publish a dictionary. Paula tries to sound unmedicated by telling him “your voice is an orchestra”. Even Simon is rendered incoherent, muttering phrases like “we could have had puppies on the stage” and “you and Paula should marry and have babies”. Aw, Simon, I thought you liked the guy. That’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said.