Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Did you like it or not?" - American Idol

First things first. With the producers electing to completely dodge, we got through last night with no mention of David Hernandez’s stripping. Let’s see if they’ve got a press release later on. So it was business as usual, and the theme for the evening was the 80’s. Next week should give us a clue of how the kiddos sound on a ‘contemporary’ track, if the show moves forward to cover the 90’s. David Cook is a lock to do a Nirvana song, isn’t he?

Luke Menard’s most embarrassing moment was when his sister dressed him like a girl. What’s the big deal? Danny Noriega still does that. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was a great song by WHAM! but Luke Menard was never close. Randy dissed him at the end, then, with the audience giving him a hard time, Randy revealed that he was just trying to “keep it real.” Randy spends his life keeping it real. Paula, in her first display of utter incoherence, went on so long babbling that Simon finally had to ask her “did you like it or not?” Because some rage had built up against Paula, Simon let it out on Luke, crushing the kid’s chances.

David Archuleta was up second, but he was first to tackle Phil Collins this season. Scotty Savol made famous Collins on the show with his strip down and I was so ready for David to come out and nail it, but I think it played a little slow in the beginning as he played the piano. When he lost the piano and picked it up, I was moderately entertained. Paula was back at it again. Maybe, on what would become the best night, Paula just could not control her excitement. Maybe she was absolutely overwhelmed with a girlish energy that suspended her powers of speech. Whatever it was, she had trouble summarizing Archuleta’s performance. Simon, however, nailed it, calling David’s performances “a bit depressing.” (“Imagine”? “Another Day in Paradise”? C’mon, David, you’re 17 years old for chrissakes, stop trying to change the freakin’ world with every song.) David promptly stepped on his soap-box and explained to Simon about all the people suffering. Hello, Archuleta, ever seen Idol Gives Back?

Danny Noriega is only somewhat talented, so he tries to make up for it by being overly flamboyant. Maybe he’s being himself, but more so than anyone, I feel like this guy is a ham, playing it up for the cameras. Here’s what the weird thing was about his version of “Tainted Love”: I cringed the entire time, but it was probably his best performance. Randy tried to pump him up with his comments—“you can do dis dawg.” When Simon told Danny he hated it, Danny put his left thumb to his head and did a wave to Simon, creating some sort of awkward moose antler thing. It really threw me for a loop. Still don’t know what to make of it.

David Hernandez, who surely had a lot on his mind, did well singing Meatloaf’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” I’m a little upset with David, so I’m leaving it at that.

One question: where in the hell was Molly Ringwold last night when Michael Johns started singing the Breakfast Club anthem “Don’t You Forget About Me.” That’s exactly what I thought when I listened to his solid version. The magnitude of her 80’s run was not unlike Carrie Fischer’s streak in STAR WARS—it was mega-stardom for each of them, followed by awkward cameos in b-movies ever since.

David Cook plugged into the amp and worked it out on Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” I didn’t really dig it in the beginning, but he really improved throughout, and before it was over, he had every judge praising him, with even Simon saying “it was a really brave thing to do….and I LOVED it.” With his other positive comments congratulating David and calling him “unpredictable,” Simon single-handedly put him through.

Jason Dreads came out with “Hallelujah,” of which the Jeff Buckley version was once used so well by Aaron Sorkin in the West Wing. I liked it, but I never thought, as he built it up, that he took it to the high enough level that the song deserves. I was slightly let down, but the judges disagreed, each raving about Dreadboy’s version. Paula stumbled again while describing what “a beautiful vulnerability” Jason had. Simon called it “absolutely brilliant…you’re getting better & better & better.”

When Chikezie started, I didn’t recognize the song and I stopped listening.

For the first time this season, the group picked it up on the whole. But it ain’t that hard to call it this week, Luke Menard and Danny Noriega are gone-zo.

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