Wednesday, May 14, 2008

American Idol ~ 3 X 3

Now that we're down to the final weeks of American Idol, each of the remaining Top 3 contestants got to perform 3 songs last night, giving them plenty of room to impress or screw up, as the case may be. One song was chosen by the judges (with each judge assigned an Idol), one was chosen by the producers (those names that flash by in the credits, presumably), and one was chosen by the contestants themselves. Simon was the winner. And whichever producer(s) chose the Dan Fogelberg song for David A. was the loser. None of the contestants did themselves particular favors with their own song choices, which makes one wonder.

Let's start with the judges. Paula--proving again that she's not as ditsy as she sometimes seems--picked a Billy Joel song, "And So It Goes," for David A. It wasn't a Joel song I was intimately familiar with so I was just listening to the vocals rather than making comparisons to the original. (Joel's voice isn't much like Archuleta's anyway.) As Simon said, "predictable." But it flowed effortlessly from li . . . . from David, in a good way I thought, and he took his confident time with the lyrics. I think Randy mentioned for perhaps the millionth time that David could "sing the phone book" and it wouldn't matter and that he was "in the zone." Dawg, someone needs to give Randy some new phrases, ones that actually mean something.

Randy picked Syesha's song, which seemed cruel since he bashed her best performance last week and thus isn't a real reliable Sy advocate. He selected "If I Ain't Got You," by Alicia Keys, which delighted Syesha cause she's a fan, but once again it set Syesha up for comparison with an extraordinarily talented (and beautiful to boot) black diva. That's happened too many times this season, and who always loses? Syesha. She held her own, give her credit, on both the vocal and pretty fronts, but Randy, if he weren't Randy, could've done better.

Simon, proving again that he is the smartest as well as the bitchiest judge, picked "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Inspired! (Best choice of the evening, hands down.) It gave David C. the chance to be tender, which is his strong suit (Randy, of course, doesn't get this), and to amp it up a bit at the end to maintain the rocker vibe. (I would have been happy if he'd stayed in ballad zone, but that would have confused the typecasting.) As Simon claimed, it's one of the great songs of all time, and I have a particular fondness for it because it was written by Ewan MacColl, father of the late, great Kirsty MacColl, something I only learned long after becoming a major Kirsty fan. It may have just been my allergies, but I think I got a little teary. Certainly my favorite performance of the night.

Apparently the producers can't pick a song to save their lives, go figure. They gave David A. the aforementioned Dan Fogelberg tune (a treacly song made even more sentimental because of Fogelberg's recent death), which was almost like David A. actually singing the phone book. Not really David's fault, but it was as snoozy as a Bing Crosby holiday special. For David C., an Aerosmith song wasn't quite as boring a match, but nearly. Diane Warren was in the house and behind the song, so it was expectedly generic. (Not that I don't sometimes appreciate Diane's work on a long car drive.) Paula was on her feet, but David himself didn't seem that into it. (Giving this song to David A.--now that might have been inspired, or inspirationally disastrous.) Syesha was stuck with "Hit Me Up" aka The Penguin Song. Some drugs must've been floating around the producers' room during that choice. (Or they wanted to ensure Syesha doesn't crack the Top 2.) And the producers strike out.

I'd hoped the contestants themselves would do better than both the judges and the producers. This was a golden opportunity, but they kinda blew it, too. David A. made a valiant but ill-fated attempt to be "more youthful" (never mind the irony of a 17-year-old who looks 12 trying to be more youthful) by doing Chris Brown's "With You." Supposedly David A's Dad has been banned from the backstage area, but I have to believe only a Dad could make such a humiliating, uncool choice. (My theory: Dad wants David A. to only sing songs with "girl" in the lyrics, for more reasons than one.) I mean, really, did David A. honestly want to sing, "I need you boo"? Deep down, did he? David Awkwardleta! Or as Simon put it, "a chihuahua trying to be a tiger." Ouch. (But the girls do love their pet chihuahuas, many of whom might henceforth be named David or Archie.) Moving-gracefully-to-music is right up there with opening-one's-eyes in the list of things David A., precocious as he is, has not yet learned to accomplish on stage. I keep hoping he'll do something surprising and really great, but . . . there's still time. A for Awkward Effort.

David C's choice of Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move" was more predictable, and it's disappointing when David C. is predictable. Simon should have passed him a secret note to do something really geeky and make it cool, cause that's the kind of thing David C. excels at. Paula was right. The song sounded incomplete, and to me it was like so much blah blah blah from today's radio, middle-of-the-road rocker by a band whose name I'll never try to remember. (Maybe that just makes me old? Maybe middle-aged people didn't care about U2 back in their early years, but we'll see if Switchfoot is still around in 2020.) If David C. wants to put the chihuahua back in its place, his next choices had better be better.

Syesha picked Miss Peggy Lee's "Fever" as an excuse for demonstrating her skill at using a chair as a on-stage prop while wearing a short dress and while not pulling a Sharon Stone, something that may come in handy in family-friendly Broadway productions. (Girl's got an eye on her future!) If I'm not mistaken, Syesha disobeyed my permanent ban on the word "fun" escaping an Idol's lips. I think she disobeyed me twice. But I'll give her a break because the judges didn't. Paula was "surprised," which is Paula's way of saying, "WTF, girl?" Simon called it "lame cabaret" and warned that she'd regret it when--big surprise--she's eliminated tonight. I forgot what Randy said, because I've stopped listening to him. I didn't think it was a worse choice than the ones the boys made, but Syesha probably needed to make the *BEST CHOICE EVER* for it to make a difference, and even then. I do have a hard time listening to the song without comparing it to, A) Miss Peggy Lee's untoppably understated and sexy version, and B) the equally untoppable version by the brilliant Dragapella group The Kinsey Sicks in which they demonstrate what a difference one (or two, I suppose) simple letter can make in a song title. (See Sharon Stone reference above.)

Unless there's a true surprise tonight and Syesha fans caught the dialing fever, it will soon be David vs. David. This David is still my choice:

P.S. More proof that being a moron is REEEEEAALY a prerequisite for any FOX "newscaster."


Baywhale said...

After much mulling I've decided I definitely want a blog… but I've got to come up with a way for tag-surfers to be spared from articles about American Idol…

Love everything else here!

placeinsun said...

Ha, thanks for dropping in, Bay. I'm sure you'll create a magnificent blog.

American Idol was definitely a very guilty pleasure, writing about it at my advanced age even guiltier, but I have to admit I enjoyed it immensely. Now on a bit of a hiatus until I find more "high culture" to explore. ;-)