Look what I got on eBay today – an American Idol construct-a-episode kit. Let’s see what’s inside:
- One standard Ryan Seacrest introduction, full of inane banter. - Various AI scandals, sprinkled in when needed to stir up yet more publicity for the show. - One Randy doll, who will say phrases like “Dawg”, “a-ight”, and “I wasn’t feeling it” when his string is pulled. - One Paula doll who claps at everything. insert Corey Clark joke here - One Simon doll with scowl painted on with permanent marker. - Previous rejectees to scatter throughout the audience, as reminders of whom the viewers could be forced to listen instead of the group onstage. After all, they have nothing better to do. - Boos to throw at Randy if he criticizes and Simon every time he opens his mouth.
Oh, cool! I got the special Family Edition, with cheesy videos to and from family members. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. How to play: Roll the two dice to determine the theme. Why does one die have ‘Country’ on every side? OK, I rolled and got ‘Country’ and ‘Gamble & Huff’. Color in the appropriate areas on your map. OK…are Gamble & Huff more Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-95?
First theme, country. First singer, Carrie. Any surprise that they loved her version of the Dixie Chicks song “Sin Wagon”? Just goes to show what a little personality can do. Even though her vocals were weaker than normal, and she came in early, she still was lavished upon like she invented the genre. And unlike prior AI contestant Amy Adams (who sang it much better, IMHO), Carrie used the h-e-double-hockey-sticks word and sang about mattress dancing. Does she even know what that is? (Valid question, folks, after the whole “Macarthur Park” debacle.)
Hello, Bo. As soon as I hear the name Travis Tritt, I’m psyched. Bo could bring the house down with a rousing version of “T-R-O-U-B-L-E”. Yeah. But no, he’s going for mellower, with “Great Day To Be Alive”. Vocally, strong, but there’s something missing that I can’t put my finger on. Thank you, Paula and Simon, for making me realize that it was because the song wasn’t a challenge for him.
Oh.my.heck. I’m agreeing with Paula? I still would never, ever agree with her on Corey. Just sayin’.
We’re on to Vonzie, who unfortunately for my tastes picks the overdone “How Will I Live”. After watching Con Air and hearing both Trisha Yearwood and Leann Rimes’s versions on the radio way too often, I just wasn’t ready to hear it again. And sadly, Vonzell wasn’t ready to sing it. The early part of the song was a train wreck. Something off-stage was going on with Vonzie (something I read in TV Guide supports the theory that a young friend from Make A Wish had passed away). For those conspiracy theorists out there who think she was just upset because she had a bad performance, do you really think that Simon would have softballed her with comments like “you sounded nervous for the first time in weeks…I’ll just leave it at that”?
Finally, it’s Anthony. He once again shows his inability to pick a song properly by singing “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. Come on folks, it’s a hard sell for a boy who doesn’t even look like he shaves yet. He’s supposed to convince us that he’s singing to his wife and kids after being on the road working for so long? Decent vocals, but I didn’t buy it.
Rant: For those of you who want to pick on me for picking on his song choice and claim it shouldn’t matter, how many of you are starting threads on what songs you think contestants should sing? If it didn’t matter, why not just have every single singer sing the exact same song every week?
Second theme, the songs of Gamble & Huff. Carrie leads off with “If You Don’t Know Me By Now". Carrie’s Animatronic Twin is back. Yikes. Let’s see how big of a love affair the judges have with her after listening to that boring drone. Randy says he doesn’t like the song and never got on track and gets booed by the rabid fans. Paula says it was the wrong song but is booed. Simon says it was boring and blames everyone on planet Earth except for Carrie for the poor performance.
Rant: Carrie was my favorite by far during the auditions, with her vocal talent and her cute personality. But she has the on-stage charisma of moldy cardboard. When I said she could sing the phone book and win this competition, I didn’t realize that I had to explain that was a figure of speech. People who can sing well are a dime a dozen. What thrills me is someone with vocal skill who can interpret a song. Carrie isn’t doing that, which is why I shrug my shoulders at the thought of her winning this competition. Yawn. I miss Diana DeGarmo – she had vocal skill and could put something extra into a song.
That’s it. No more AI summaries. When I start praising Diana, there’s something seriously, seriously wrong.
Since this competition is on life support right now, Bo decides to liven things up with “For the Love of Money”. I quickly check to make sure Mr. B didn’t switch to The Apprentice, and then I sit back and enjoy the ride. Needless to say, everyone is so excited to finally have something worth cheering about that they treat the first above-average performance of the night like they were really being given extra money.
Bo Rant: The man can perform. While his song choice has sometimes shown his vocal weaknesses, he has shown that he can sing and he can perform. I just wish he’d leave the microphone stand alone – he makes me tired watching him haul it around. It’s like he’s in his apartment moving furniture. “I’ll put it there…no, it would look better there…but what about there…”
Vonzell picks an upbeat song for her second performance, and looks and sounds good as she performs “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. We’re shown applause shots of prior Idol contestants Johnny Red and Latoya London as the judges gush. Was this to remind us that she’s better than Johnny Red? Or that she’s no Latoya? Or just filler?
Vonzell Rant: I thought she’d be gone early, but once she showed her charming personality, I was cheering her on. She is definitely the most improved in the competition and has shown the potential to grow into a solid performer. But without the solid fan base of Carrie’s Animatronic Twin, it looks like third place is the best the girl can hope for.
Anthony’s going to wrap it up by singing…the same song that Carrie did. Mr. Bebo quickly moves anything I could throw at the television.
Rant: I was kidding earlier about everyone singing the same damn song. Ryan tells us that a Gamble & Huff love song plays every 14 minutes, but the contestants can’t find four different songs in that massive library? And Anthony, Anthony, Anthony, going head to head with Carrie is like being a member of the Ulong tribe on Survivor: Palau.
Mr. Bebo makes me laugh by pointing out that Anthony looks like Pat Boone. After listening to his seemingly much-shorter version of the song, I couldn’t help but think one thing.
Those are words I never thought I’d say. Then again, I also thought I’d never say, “Sure, I’ll write the American Idol summary” or “The folks on the AI forums are much more civilized than those on the TAR forums”, but every once in awhile, the universe delivers a genuine surprise.
Simon tells Anthony he has no soul. Takes one to know one, Soulless Wonder.
The results show is a day away, which means I’ll have to pass the time listening to Mr. Bebo tell me who all of the contestants remind him of. For those of you scoring at home, Carrie looks like Reese Witherspoon. And Anthony is like Donny Osmond, since neither is a little rock ‘n’ roll.
Heard Travis Tritt’s “Trouble” while I was on my way to lunch. Thought Paula would still be standing up and clapping if Bo had sung it last night.
So…what will the voters do this time? Will they base their decision on one night of performances, or a body of work over the course of the season? During season 1, the final 4 show produced the major shocker, when talented Tamyra Gray was voted out. She was the worst that week, and voters overlooked the weeks where she had outshone Nikki McKibbin and Justin Guarini and sent her home. Will that happen to Carrie this year, after her decidedly lackluster performance? Please, don’t make me remind you who outsang her. It hurts to say it. Or will this be like the second season, when the final three were the three strongest performers from the group?
We start off with the group song – “Islands in the Stream”. Vomit. Couldn’t stand it when Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton sang it, doubt I’ll be able to tolerate it now. Cringeworthy moment when Carrie and Anthony looked at each other and sang “making love to each other”. Nice going, Fox. Show your clean-cut All-American teenagers singing to each other about having sex. Nice family show. And for those folks who think “it’s just a song, the words don’t matter”, I wonder how you would have reacted if Vonzell and Carrie had been paired up for that song?
Well, since Ryan didn’t build up any artificial suspense, neither will I. Bo and Carrie were safe, and Anthony was sent home.