Friday, March 2, 2012

AI Results Show Recap: "But Did You See Hotel Rwanda?"

Let's say you're lactose intolerant. You know that every time you eat any dairy product or something containing dairy, you get sick and feel miserable for a day or two. Yet when presented with the opportunity to eat pizza and ice cream, you jump at it.

For me, American Idol is my pizza and ice cream. I know that it's going to anger or disappoint me (or make me sick) multiple times throughout the season, and yet I can't stop watching.

Last night America's top 10 and the judges' choices for the three Wild Card slots were revealed. While most of the contestants were my choices, I still am a little disappointed that two of my favorites didn't advance in favor of gimmickry and emotion.

Last night also saw the return of Grouchy McDuck, aka Interscope Records' Jimmy Iovine, as he sat in his little room and made comments about all of the contestants. While some of what he said was welcome acid to cut the frothy meringue of the judges' non-feedback, some of it was just mean-spirited. It would be nice if there was some middle ground between the often-unnecessary ego boosting from the judges and the painful (although honest) ego-crushing from Jimmy.

While he did praise some contestants, here are some of his more choice comments:

"This Joshua is the real deal. My job is to make sure this isn't Sister Act 3." "Heejun completely confuses me. His voice is sort of good, but this is American Idol, not American Comedian." "The judges gave Aaron a standing ovation. To me, he was like a cheesy Don Cheadle." "Creighton has an interesting voice. I think it's screechy. The judges liked him; I didn't." "Adam says he has a large black woman inside him. As of right now, he's not pulling either of them off."

Making it through to the top 10 on America's votes: Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Joshua Ledet, Heejun Han (seriously?), Skyler Laine, Shannon Magrane, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon and the "gentle giant," Jermaine Jones.

Onto the Wild Cards. I was hoping for a performance like Stefano Langone's mesmerizing rendition of I Need You Now last year, but I don't think we quite reached that level.

Jen was first up. I had a feeling she might be doomed when Ryan asked her before her performance, "Where did you go wrong the other night?" and she replied, "I don't think I went wrong. I guess I just didn't stand out as much as some other contestants." She sang The Beatles' Oh Darling, and while perhaps her Wednesday night performance didn't stand out, she really gave all of herself to this performance. But perhaps it was a little too much vocal pyrotechnics a little too late, because the judges were somewhat tepid with their feedback.

To the surprise of no one, J.Lo chose Jeremy next. He sang Carrie Underwood's I Know You Won't. When he gets going and hits the bigger notes, his voice is really pure and powerful, but I don't like the breathiness and choppiness of some of his phrasing, particularly at the start of songs. But he hit some really great notes, while J.Lo watched him lovingly, tears in her eyes. Overcome with emotion, Jeremy couldn't finish the last note. He told the judges that he promised them he'd prove how good he could be if they gave him a second chance, and the judges all talked about what a nice guy he is and how talented he is, although the praise reached hyperbolic proportions when J.Lo said he had one of the most beautiful voices she had ever heard.

Steven chose Brielle, who nearly knocked Ryan down in her need to be the center of attention her excitement. Despite Jimmy and the judges' criticism of contestants singing Adele, she chose to sing Someone Like You in an effort to prove to the judges that she "lives for this," and "does it all day every day." (Sweetie, you're in high school.) This just wasn't very good; there are songs that you should tear into and songs you should leave alone. This was clearly the latter. Steven told her she was "pitchy in her turnarounds" and he "just didn't hear it tonight."

Randy's second selection was (no surprise) Deandre, who had pulled back his hair into a ponytail to await the judges' decision, but then let it down again as he announced he'd be singing Georgia on My Mind. To me, Deandre's performance was like that of a figure skater or gymnast in medal contention at the Olympics—he has all of the skills, but in an effort to win just throws everything he has out and hopes he will succeed. He flipped his hair, he growled, he was soulful, he used his falsetto, but I thought all in all, the song was a bit of a mess. (Jimmy said earlier that Deandre is talented but "needs a coach." I felt this performance proved that.) But the judges lapped up the excess, telling him he should "sing this way all the time."

J.Lo gave Erika another shot. She picked Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory, and really gave it all she had. I love her voice, even though I knew she probably would succeed at Jen's expense. The judges told her she "knocked it out of the park."

The final wild card slot went to Reed. Rather than take this opportunity to show a mellower side, he sang Bill Withers' Use Me, and it was just one big mess of scatting, cackling (this year's growling, I guess), mugging, and an occasional sung note. The judges told him he nailed it, and that they loved "the artist" in him.

After Ryan salivated by making the contestants wait until after the break to find out the judges' decisions, the choices were revealed: Randy chose Erika, J.Lo chose Jeremy (insert surprised face here), and Steven chose Deandre.

All in all, it's not a bad group of people, although I would have traded Heejun and Jermaine for Creighton and Aaron, and Shannon for Jen.

Next week: the guys sing Stevie Wonder songs and the ladies sing Whitney Houston songs, courtesy of mentor Mary J. Blige! (Yes, you heard it: they'll be singing songs by two singers that the judges tell contestants they shouldn't try and sing. This will either be hot or, like Haley Johnsen's performance, "a little trainwrecky.")

Until next week...

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