Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Click here for our Season 9 coverage:


Please pass the word, and be sure to bookmark!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

33,000 Idol Savant Fans Can't Be Wrong

Idol Savant (along with its predecessor Idol Blather) has received nearly 33,000 Web hits in its four-year history of providing the most inciteful and definitive American Idol recaps on earth. Okay, so Web hits do not equal fan numbers, but we're darned pleased regardless. Don't miss the Idol Savant's Season 9 coverage, beginning Wednesday, February 24. Thanks to all of you who keep coming back, and be sure to join us as we launch an exciting 5th year!

Note: our URL address will be slightly different - keep your eyes on this space to get the new link…

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Kris: Finale Recap In Exactly 30 Bullet Points. Do You Really Need This? [And…Hello, Kara!]

It has been a long and fascinating season, and Chadboulet needs to rest up, 
for approximately the next 8 months.  But before I go, I want to thank everyone for returning every week to read this blog, allowing me freely bloviate on a weekly basis, while ignoring every detail with which you disagree.  Taste is a funny thing — no one can actually convince you something works if it just doesn't work for you.  And yet, we all apparently love to watch the parade, and throw our opinions on the table, none of which are ever right or wrong. Except mine, which are always right.  [ But I kid!! ].

Without further ado, your Grand Finale, in 30 small pieces:

1. Ryan introduces our final two contestants, standing on the stage, dressed in "Finale white," of course.

2. Nod to the hometown crowds in Arkansas (with Mikela Gordon) and San Diego (with Carly Smithson), to which we shall never return!

3. Top 13 medley (in white again) of So What.  Sorry, not the Miles Davis version. I think this was supposed to pump us all up, but instead simply gave us an pre-headache.

4. David Cook sings Permanent, reminding us of the flipside of his career potential. iTunes sale proceeds to go to his recently deceased brother's cancer fund.

5. Golden Idol Outstanding Male Award to Nick Mitchell, who reprises And I'm Telling You… as Normund [sic] Gentle. Good chance that we have heard this enough already.

6. Lil Rounds duet with Queen Latifah - Cue The Rain

7. Anoop & Alexis Grace do I'm Yours with Jason Mraz, who are joined by the other S-8 Idols

8. Kris Allen's "journey montage"

9. Kris Allen duet with Keith Urban on Kiss A Girl -  nice pairing.

10.The Season 8 Girls sing Glamorous; Allison introduces Fergie who joins them for Big Girls Don't Cry; Allison introduces the Black-Eyed Peas, who do a big production number Boom Boom Pow with optically striped backup dancers; followed by a shameless new album plug

11.Golden Idol Award [for…Attitde?] goes to Bikini Girl, who accepts award in bikini, displaying new inflatables.  She gets to "sing" and is interrupted with Kara who upstages her (shades of Clay Aiken & Michael Sandecki) with real vocals and…wut? a faux wardrobe malfunction?  Kara's dress opens to black bikini —or underwear — of her own.  She works hard for her money.

12. Allison duets with Cyndi Lauper (a crowd favorite) on Time After TIme

13. Ryan talks to Kris's parents; then Adam's parents, both in the front row of the audience, but on opposite sides of the theatre.

14. Danny Gokey sings Hello, seated on the stairs; introduces Lionel Richie. Duet on Do For You and All Night Long. No mention of his new line of eyewear dedicated to his deceased wife "If You Could See Me Now, Sophia" glasses.  Daughter Nicole watches Daddy get Goked.

15. Adam's "journey montage"

16. Adam sings Kiss' Beth wearing…the shoulder-pad framework on which a Gene Simmons costume is built(?), 4-inch platforms, and sundry black leathery rock trappings.  And then, guess what?  Kiss actually joins him on stage.  Kiss, backing Adam Lambert. No fair!  And they apparently wanted to rock & roll all night.  And party every day — despite the elderlyness masked by their ever-ridiculous greasepaint.  Still, a Moment for the ages.

17. Carlos Santana plays the guitar intro to Black Magic Woman. Matt Giraud jumps in with vocals.  The other Idols join in for big ol' group jam on Smooth.

18. David Cook presents the Ford gifts — Fusion Hybrids, to both contestants.

19. Steve Martin on banjo with his song from his new album Crow, with attempted vocals by Michael Sarver and Megan Joy. Oh, we get it, now!  Megan—Crow!  Coincidentally, Steve's new album drops tomorrow! What are the odds?

20. All the Season 8 guys in black suits & ties for Do You Think I'm Sexy group sing.  Ugh. Poor boys. Adam introduces…

21. Rod Stewart, finally showing his age and sounding more like a dirty old man than an ageless sexy one sings Maggie May, a song about a young student who has an affair with a cougar.  Oh, the irony. Oh, and is he really going to sing the whole thing? Yup.  Damned rock legends.

22. Golden Idol Outstanding Female Award presented to Tatiana Del Toro, who milks one more moment in the spotlight with some embarrassing play-acting that doesn't quite work this time around.

23. Kris Allen and Adam Lambert take the stage for a rousing rendition of We Are The Champions, opened by Kris; joined by — guess who?  Queen —  sans Paul Rodgers.  Guitarist Brian May and our 2 Idols had lots of interplay, and  this is a season highlight for us — everyone on stage seemed to be wallowing in the pure pleasure of the moment — and this was indeed a Moment.   OMG — does it occur to everyone else that Glambert could go on tour with them and take over lead vocals?  It would be just like A Star Is Born. They could even bring Alexis Grace along on tour to stand on stage and sway!

24.  Simon Cowell praises both finalists as brilliant and nice guys, even though [he fails to mention - and we won't forget] he wanted Gokey over Kris.

25. The Envelope is presented by the Envelope Guy. Almost 1,000,000 votes were cast - no clues are given as to the percentages.  38 million votes came from Arkansas alone.

26. Kris Allen is named Season 8 American Idol!  He is dumbfounded and humbled.  Adam is gracious.  Cowell pouts, and wonders if it's too late to call and cancel production on that order for 8 million Adam Lambert action figures. It's a mad world.

27.  Unfortunately for him and all of us, Kris must now sing No Boundaries.  Can Kara help redeem this by returning to the stage in her underwear?  That might be its only chance.

28. Justin Guarini in the audience, smiles and shakes his head.  [We're hoping there's some obscure profundity to that].

29. Kris Allen hugs his wife and cries.

30. Everything goes dark until January, 2010, when we are all gainfully employed, and happy with our new post-recession salary increases.

Thank you, everyone, and good night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine In A Mad World; Cowell Founds Glambert Fanclub, Assumes Presidency

You're standing at the corner of Allen & Lambert, a crossroads located in another dimension — somewhere between Conway, Arkansas and San Diego, California; a land between shadow & substance; a dimension not only of sight & sound but of mind;  a realm of both the underdog and the over-blogged.  You have just crossed over — into……The Finale Zone.  The mainstream media has had a tagline field day trying to best characterize the last showdown of Season 8.  Pop rocker vs. Glam rocker, some have said. Strummer vs. Screamer.  Good vs. evil. Dark horse vs. Dark Force. Safe vs. sassy. Cuddly vs. crazy.  Swoony vs. Swaggery.  Fay vs. Fierce.  Demure vs. demented.  Soft vs. coiffed.  And Seacrest joined in with a few others.  We shall avoid the obvious cheap shot — calling this a "battle between the sexes." Man vs. Manicured, if you will. What is the measure of a man anyway?  No, we refuse to go there - you'll have to ask Clay.

And as we are compelled to do each year, we pose the fundemental question: What IS an American Idol?  What does one of those look & sound like? What does this title actually mean?  If you have an answer, then perhaps you'll know who to vote for, or whether it matters at all if you vote. Former contender and 6th placer Jennifer Hudson has an Academy Award sitting on her mantle.  Grammy nominee 4th placer Chris Daughtry is the most successful non-runner-up non-winner in Idol history.  Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is the second biggest selling former contestant of all time.  Remember winners Mr. Studdard and Mr. Hicks???  So, it isn't hard to make the argument that the crown simply does not matter to post-Idol success.  Still, we would like it to, right?

And is it fair to call Adam Lambert "too Broadway" when so many Idol alumni have moved on to the Broadway stage?  This list is long, and includes Fantasia, Clay Aiken, Diana DeGarmo, Anthony Federov, Reuben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, Lakisha Jones, Frenchie Davis and current Broadway star and recent Grammy nominee Constantine Maroulis. It's really no longer all about recording contracts, and Kris Allen may be more likely to play the Great White Way than to outsell Carrie Underwood with his first CD release. In our frequent Adam lambastes, we apply the the Broadway adjective as more an indictment of Glambert's theatrical singing style than of Broadway itself as a time-honored and still viable venue.

Three rounds:  1) The contestant Reprise choice; 2) The Simon Fuller choice; and 3) The dreaded Coronation song (this year co-written by Kara DioGuardi).  From the Nokia Theatre in L.A.  …are we ready?

Round One: Reprise Choice

Adam Lambert could have done no better than to choose a reprise of Mad World, the haunting rendition well suited to both his voice and this particular night, helped along by a 'long rider' jacket, stage smoke and backlighting.  This felt very much like a concert performance of an established star, not merely a round in a televised talent competition — that is to say, it was polished, and professional in every way, and accomplished all it needed to.  Randy Jackson, dressed as an insurance salesman tonight in a tan glen plaid jacket, checked shirt and clashing polka-dotted tie, gave Adam an A+, for "Adam." Get it?  Kara, who seems to deliver all her positive comments with a passion almost indistinguishable from anger, was also impressed.  So, if you were watching with the sound turned down, we assure you — she was not pissed.  Paula and Adam clearly share a special secret mutual admiration society and probably wear each other's jewelry & stuff, so anything she has to say tonight is like, whatever; although she was the first to use the T word (theatrical), meaning it as a compliment, we think.  Simon also used it, but in a not-so-complimentary way.  And yes it was…Theatre.  Not saying that is a good or a bad thing.

Kris Allen was back at the piano with one of his many standout choices from this season Ain't No Sunshine.  There were a couple of others which he was rumored to have up his sleeve, including Falling Slowly, and last week's Heartless.  But this song gave him the opportunity to emote in his Way, then build up to a fever pitch, then break it back down, all of which he did with his signature original phrasing at every turn.  Randy felt it was one of his best EVER, Kara loved it with her quasi-angry Albanian passion, Swami Abdul offered a Gibran nugget or two about awakenings in all of us, and Simon was sneakily complimentary.  Last week he didn't think Kris should have won and come to the finals — but now he wants to take it all back!   We don't trust this - we know he still wants Adam to win.  He's only throwing Kris this one crumb in Round 1 so no one can say he was slamdunking Adam with praise for the rest of the show.  Kris — do not eat the apple Simon left in your dressing room!

At Ryan's gunpoint, Simon gives Round One to Kris.

Round Two: Fuller's Choice

Change Is Gonna Come is a great song (as RJ points out, a Sam Cooke soul classic), and a perfect illustration that Adam Lambert is not a naturally soulful singer, and therefore, not a natural rock singer.  Sure, he hit all the notes, but he approached the challenge of singing this song as an actor to a role.  And so, he sang it exactly how he imagined a person who had soul would sing it.   Pretty good acting, good hitting of big notes, including the last one — his vocal coach would probably be proud. But with Adam, R&B may as well stand for "Robin & Batman."  And this is where the judges' pro-Adam Agenda kicks in.  Randy said that Adam could sing his face off. Kara 'angrily' explained that this was Adam's best. EVER!  DAMMIT!  Paula stood up, which we assumed helped her get a handle on her near-miss self-wetting, did some Laker cheers & Arsenio hand circles and proclaimed that the Messiah has returned to Earth, and He has never sounded so good.  Simon said "Don't worry, Adam, I've got your back, and the key to your 2009 Fusion Hybrid is in my back pocket. Come and get it."

Wut's this?  Katie Holmes & Suri in da house!?

Yes, Kris Allen can indeed sing the hell out of his Fuller selection — 1971's What's Going On?, a groovy R&B/pop song about how the world is going to Hades in a handbasket, a detail we bet was lost on Mr. Fuller. This song actually fits into our anti-Kris conspiracy theory — it may have been chosen to sabotage Kris, the idea being that tackling iconic Marvin Gaye is certain contestant suicide.  But not so with our little Arkansas buddy, who mellow-rocked the song & made it golden, self-accompanied by accoustic guitar along with that 2-man percussion joint — box drum and conga.  But before we tuck ourselves in and turn out our lights, happy in the knowledge that Kris turned in another stellar performance, let's hear from the Restrained-Praise Four:  RJ: "A little lite 4-me."  KD: "Good choice, Simon Fuller, who signs my paycheck."  PA: "Made me proud. And…here come Cowell's true colors: "Like 3 friends in their bedroom trying to strum a Marvin Gaye song."  Simon hasn't gotten the memo that there are many who would choose the "live from the bedroom jam" groove over, say,  Leona Lewis or Il Divo.    But, so…surprise — he calls round two for Adam.

Round Three: The Crap Song

Okay, I forgot what they're officially calling this round, but most refer to the song custom-written for the winner's first single [& sing-out] as "the coronation song." This one, No Boundaries was co-written by judge Kara DioGuardi along with Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allan. Two random observations I noted during Glambert's unsatisfying attempt to deliver this contrived piece of musical mediocrity:  1) Despite a LOT of bombast, there is nothing memorable about this song.  Not the melody.  Not the forgettable lyrics [although we believe there are some roads that go nowhere, some mountains to climb, but at the end of the day, certainly no boundaries]; and 2) Adam sang lots and lots and lots of flat notes along the way; it was not pretty.  But let's hear what our on-script judges had to say.  Props first of all to Randy, having a rare, candid on-the-mark moment, for pointing out that the performance was pitchy.  Kara would like to thank her mother, her father, Jesus, and Adam for making this moment possible. Thank you. Thank you very much.  I believe Paula simply drooled into her Coke cup for 20 seconds, gazing dreamily into Adam's painted eyes.  Simon, reprising last week's shameless end-of-show "please vote for Adam" mega-beg, sums tonight up for all of us:  you know — we were searching for a worldwide star, and we have found him in Adam. Thanks, everyone, and goodnight.  Oh, er, sorry — forgot that Kris hasn't sung yet.  And Kara — we hope Nike picks this one up for a Superbowl commercial, lots of footwear is sold, and all your dreams come true.

Musical shite, in the hands of Kris Allen, actually begins to take shape and even almost make sense. One can hear lyrics, and melody, and No Boundaries begins to sound like a radio hit, rather than, say, an off-pitch stream-of-conciousness tone poem, as it did with Adam.  Original phrasing makes it even better — Kara should love this, we think(?)  But what did our Passive-Agressive Four [a.k.a. Team Adam] have to offer Mr. Allen for his superior version of her opus?  Allow us to un-passively paraphrase:  Randy: Oh, you poor kid.  Let's just admit it — you failed big-time on this one. But you know, you should be proud anyway.  Don't feel bad — the song was just wrong for you, even though you can sing, dude.   Kara:  Please, let us not judge you on the horrible job you did on my song.  Let us all try as hard as we can to think back and remember a time when you didn't suck like you just did, and vote with those older, good memories in mind.  Paula:  Swell, kid.  You should be proud, now and forever, for your shining light, which didn't shine as bright that time.  Simon: You're a good boy. Now run along…

Thankfully, not all of us listen to those guys.  Some of us can sort things out without the assistance of Lambert's Angels — and we must vote our hearts, n'est pas?  And you can find our heart in a living room, not a bath house.  We can't wait to find out which force triumphed — good… or…evil.  Come back and visit us tomorrow for a short post-grand-finale final blog post of the season!  In the meantime, any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Three 4-Me, 4-You, Sing Two; Homeboys in the Home Stretch

At long last, our Season 8 final three competitors take the stage:  Tatiana Del Toro, Normund Gentle and Von Smith……Oh —no…wait, sorry — that was the nightmare I had last night. Apologies!

Our weary, yet still very competitive musical musketeers stand in the spotlight behind Ryan, looking as lonesome as wayward props randomly strewn about the stage of an abandoned small-town theatre.  Three amigos. Three coins in the fountain of talent and fortune, some shinier than others, some dorkier than others, some more fond of Cher and mascara than others, but each here to show America why he should be the next …[Seacrest pregnant pause here]…American Idol.   And that's just about as poetic and evocative as we plan to get here tonight.  Talk about pressure!  And were our judges just a little on edge or what?  They seemed poised to strangle each other at the drop of a hat, except for Paula & Simon, who just seemed to be waiting for the show to end so they could get a room.  It is homecoming week for the top 3 guys, yet the footage of their respective trips back home will be saved for tomorrow night.  It is the traditional end-of-season 2-Song Night -- one song hand-chosen by a judge; one song chosen by the contestant for himself.  Let's go take our seats…


Danny Gokey - Paula threw Terrance Trent D'Arby's Dance Little Sister onto the Smirkinator's plate.  This one (in Danny's strategic opinion) called for cranking up the shouty growly factor, to achieve maximum shouty-growliness.  For added spice, and coolness, the Goke thought, a little one-on-one with the sax-man with a liberal dose of "dit dit doo doo dit doo dit doo-ing" would certainly be in order.  And while we're on the topic, we forgot to mention Danny's "shoo-boppitybop" thrown into Dream On last week, just before the Toxic Scream heard 'round the world.  We're still deducting points for both. Tonight, Randy found the cumulative effect to be quite dope, 4-him. Kara dissed Danny's dancing, giving Paula the opportunity to finally pull some rank with "Well…I am a choreographer, and I say "…you did real good."  You tell that be-yotch, Paula.  Simon was elusive.  He still thinks he wants Danny in the finals with Adam more than he wants Kris, but in his heart still has the good taste to generally disdain Danny, as we all do; so he has a REALLY hard time saying positive things about him. So, Simon was non-committal on this Gokey joint.

According to the rules of tonight's game, Randy must be combined with Kara, in order to equal one brain — to choose a song for Kris Allen.  The song - One Republic's painfully boring Apologize.  We have a conspiracy theory regarding this choice, which basically says that a crappy song choice was made to intentionally throw Kris under the bus.  We knew it, you knew it, and Kris definitely knew it and was pissed off about it. Why else would he sleepwalk through a performance on such an important night, when he is known for taking any song and personalizing it — and making it better?  He was clearly throwing up his hands in disgust, and surrendering.  "I ain't even playin,' he seemed to be saying.  A sad thing to watch, though the vocal wasn't bad at all. Props to Simon [a surprise] for pointing out that this was all Randy & Kara's fault.  They said it was "a big song." They lied.  It was a small song, handed to a big singer.

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."  

Are you one of those people who are amazed by Mariah Carey's incredible range? That she can sing 3 octaves above dog-hearing?  And yet otherwise, you find her useless?  Well, have we got an American Idol contestant for you!  Okay, bravo, Simon— you got Saint Bono's permission for Adam Lambert to sing U2's One.  Kara got this one right. "You are such a strategist!"  Adam pulled the usual tricks out of his bag, the pseudo-emotional ballad-y beginning, the segue into the pseudo-rock build-up, and finally, the controlled screeching which tells you that he rocks, because otherwise you would not know that he does, because he doesn't.   Cheers to Randy (for once) for criticizing Adam's going "off-melody," while the other three jesters had nothing better to do than to prop up the one contestant who needs no propping up.  Adam fans (and his parents in the audience) were no doubt charmed.  But if this rocked, why were we so bored?

Okay, so listen up everyone for an important message.  A very white, very blond, very affluent chick with well-fitting stonewashed jeans visited a very poor place in Africa and handed out mosquito nets.  And now, back to our show.


We think Danny was quite proud (as he is wont to be) of his choice You Are So Beautiful, the Billy Preston-penned classic made most famous by Joe Cocker.  Not a bad pick, but really — Cocker nailed and defined exactly what Gokey was going for here — a kind of heart-on-the-sleeve emotionally stripped-bare heart-wrencher.  So, in our opinion, the bar was set rather high by the original [yes, like one of those Whitney things the girls always tackle].  Did he do a fantastic job? Well, he didn't muck it up, which is to his credit.  Side theory: Danny pulled a Debbie Boone here.  Debbie of course, was a strong Christian who became famous for her one big hit You Light Up My Life, lyrically enigmatic enough to appeal to a secular audience, and yet also reportedly quite a personal statement of religious faith.  And so we think You Are So Beautiful was for Dorkey -- a move to be religiously enigmatic in that regard, and appeal to both of his audiences (we think).  Smart, really.  The judges all followed their Gokey-Lambert finale scripts and praised the performance to the heavens.  Simon even called this one a "vocal master class."

We don't have a lot to say about Kris Allen, alone in the bright spotlight with acoustic, bravely putting his own very appealing spin on Kanye West's Heartless, redefining Kara's favorite word "artistry."   Credible as hell, and incredible as well.  Now, this is what we're talking about.  This is a man who should go to the finals; at this moment, we have no doubt that he should.  Put this performance up against Adam's One, if you like, note for note, emotion for emotion, phrase for phrase — Kris Allen deserves the Idol crown every bit as much as Broadway, or Smirky.  If there were a Special Season Award for originality (and bravery?), Kris Allen might deserve that too, more than say, a guy who still leans on the tricks he learned singing Brigadoon in community theatre.  Best of all, Simon Cowell, who (as we mentioned) still apparently on the fence with Danny as a finalist, seemed to be enthusiastically joining Team Kris after this turn of events.  It's getting interesting…

And it's getting late, people. Not only in the night, but in the Season.  There is no more time to mince words or attempts at openmindedness — our opinions will not please everyone.  And speaking of mincing, will Adam Lambert be in the finals?  Of course.  Will he win?  Our 8-ball says "signs point to yes," but…our 8-ball has been acting a little wacky of late. But, hey — how good is Adam, anyway? How deserving is he?  Since you asked…it's like this. Adam is the guy sent down from Central Casting to play the rocker dude in a new Broadway rock musical about a rocker dude.  I mean, look at the guy. He's singing Aerosmith's Cryin' in a black t-shirt with silver sequins spellng out "R-O-C-K" on his chest. He perfectly looks the part. He has that iconic thing going — straight outta the box.  His piercing blue eyes are to die for.  And his range?  Give me a break!  As Kara said tonight "Who hits those notes?"  Perhaps the appropriate question is "Who wants to listen to them?"  But we have never heard an actual music fan talking about his favorite music and saying "I love the technical vocal ability that allows him to scream with such accuracy!"  Music fans like music when it is good music; when it feels good —  not necessarily when the singer looks a certain way or power-screeches in what amounts to an impressive array of vocal parlour tricks.  We like rock — we just don't feel this passes for rock, or listenable talent. That about sums it up for us.  Adam = parlour trick(s).  Successful recording artist? We seriously doubt it.  Vegas mega-star?  Sure — the sky is the limit.  Frequent flyer miles apply (or whatever you said, Paula).

We hope you power-voted tonight, as we did (first time this Season).  and, may the least Gokeyish guy win.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Final Four: Pet Rocks; Whole Lotta Adam

Four.  Count 'em —no thumbs are necessary.  Just 4 remaining contestants compete tonight within the confines of a Rock theme, one which would ostensibly seem to favor Adam Glam-Bambam-bert and Allison ("Total Eclipse of the Personality") Ireheta.  We suspect in advance that the Gokester's approach to rock n' roll might be similar to Season 3's John Stevens in his approach to Latin Week — like a dork-fish out of water.  As for Kris Allen, we have come to believe he can be depended on to bring it (in one form or another), no matter the theme.  But did any of this ultimately occur?  We shall see, as we try not to be distracted by sundry Idol news items of the week —David Cook's brother's death from cancer;  Paula's admission to a 7-year prescription drug addiction;  Simon's possible impending departure, and Constantine Maroulis'  Tony nomination for Best Actor in A Musical (for Rock of Ages).
Then there was the matter of the massive on-stage logo tower which tumbled before the show, cancelling the dress rehearsals. Uh-oh.

And did we mention there will be 6 songs tonight?  4 people; 6 songs.  There is some math to be done.  And we would be remiss if we didn't mention that Kara DioGuardi looked exactly like a 38-year-old woman at a rock-themed sororiety reunion party, in costume — dressed as her idea of a rocker chick. "Uh, would somebody please fix another pitcher of cosmopolitans — stat?"

Tonight's Rock Week musical mentor is…legend-in-his-own-mind…guitar abuser Slash, who despite the fact that he's somewhat of a ridiculous self-parody, displayed a notable spirit of kindness & generosity to our final 4. Yet, we are not exactly holding up our lighters here.  With apologies to Mike Myers [& Linda Richman], we give you a topic:  "Classic rock by Guns and Roses was neither classic nor did it rock.  Discuss."  Such bands from this unfortunate generation of "rockers" who aspired to the whole "sex, drugs, and rock n' roll" thing — only bothered to master the first two, as well as numerous cigarette & hat tricks. There is a good reason why so many very popular bands from this period have never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including G&R.  And such, Mr. Slash, is your lot.   In our humble opinion, that is.

But enough Slash slashing…let's do the time warp again!  For those about to rock…

Adam Lambert, Superstar, do you think you're/ what they say you are?  Don't you get me wrong —  I only wanna know.

Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love is absolutely seminal.  No commercial radio hit before its release in 1969 sounded remotely like it — the unique sound of Robert Plant's over-the-top, sex-infused tenor howl, and that crazy jacked-up rhythm.  It inspired and launched an entire generation of hard rockers and metalheads.  Wow —this song is 40 years old, and it holds up.  It was a natural choice for Adam, although it was his "Whitney moment" — and by that we mean, the song is so big and iconic, it could have been too risky to tackle on the show unless he could lock it up.  But really, how could he miss? He already sounded more like early Zeppelin than anyone else we can think of; in fact, we sort of predicted this song for him tonight.  Did he pull it off?  The 4 judges showed every inch of their collective love for this performance, and rightly so.  The fact that Lambert listened to Slash's advice and kept his high-register histrionics in check is what saved the performance for us.

Allison Ireheta looked cute in her new coiffure and svelte black leather top & pant outfit.  Janis Joplin's Cry Baby would seemed to have been the ticket, a suitable blues-based rock anthem with not a lot of range, but with sufficient room for El Niña to demonstrate her particular rock chica skills.  We liked her decision to cover Joplin, but agree with Kara that Piece of My Heart might have given her a little more to work with.  But we were also impressed that Allison said she had considered and rejected "Piece"  because it had been done to death already.  Simon summarized Allison's performance best by praising the vocal but characterizing it as an unoriginal rendition. The phrasing was —we also felt, not far off the original.  Simon would have had her do Queen.  We just wonder why she confined her song choice strategy to girl songs.

The first contestant duet in American Idol competition history hit the stage next, with very little fanfare.  Kris Allen joined Danny Gokey for a somewhat pedestrian cover of Renegade.  We'll ignore our feelings that the band Styx and this song are highly over-rated, and just listened for the potential magic.  Danny began the song looking somewhat unconfident, but soon rose to the occasion with increasing energy & volume. The harmonies were on the mark, at least at first. Kris sing on pitch throughout, but didn't seem to have his heart in it, and sort of got lost in the bigness of the arrangement and the whole Gokey Growl thing. In other words, as if the song weren't bad enough, he had Smirkenstein to deal with.  And although we were rooting for KA to pull this off, Simon was probably right in saying Danny was the better of the two.

We felt a little better when Kris' solo turn immediately followed, because (first of all) he showed his usual good taste in choosing Come Together, a vintage Lennon song (and a fave of ours) that definitely rocks — classic Beatles; and that can't be bad, right?  He even played guitar, and put his own spin on the phrasing here and there.  Once again, we wanted Kris to prevail, but (as all 4 judges pointed out) this is just not his genre, which is sort of unfair to him at this point in the game.  Not one of his best moments this season, but much better than eating ice for lunch, in reference to one of Cowell's more insane critique similes.   And to add insult to injury, Simon also pointed out that this didn't top Adam.  Na na na na na.

Slash was correct in his observation that the audience would be waiting to see how Gokey will handle the screamy part at the end of Aerosmith's Dream On. It was risky — a possible make-or-break moment for this performance. Naturally (we learn from his post-critique comments), that Danny thought he nailed it, and I don't believe the rest of us did.  But he managed to feign enough humility to suggest that he needed to watch the tape just to be sure he was right.  But forget the screamy last part — the rest of this performance was noticably pitchy.  You are no Steven Tyler, Smirk-man.  And can anyone explain the appeal of this song to us, anyway?  You certainly can't sing it in the shower.  You know, 'longevity' and 'legendary' are not synonyms.  Unless you're Keith Richards.  Are you listening, Mr. Slash?  Once again, Cowell offered an unconstructive and unnecessary negative comparison to Adam, and wished aloud "you're safe."  Note: Danny Gokey has not once appeared in the bottom three.

Oh, lookie — it's the two shiniest objects on Season 8 American Idol, Allison & Adam —  in their matching rock n' roll hair-do's.  Ain't they cute?  Adam agreed to this duet after his initial refusal, only after the producers rephrased the proposal from its original intimidating "Adam, we'd like to see you perform with a young woman."  All humor aside, this charismatic pair eased into Foghat's classic Slow RIde, and slowly rode it and suitably (though not terribly excitingly) rocked it, appearing to Randy as "seasoned rock stars," to Kara as "rock god and rock goddess," to Paula as "a perfect blend/marriage," and to Simon as Allison's chance of staying in the competition, courtesy of Adam (and he's right).  Why, those two should record a duet, we are all thinking,  right? 

Well, someone has to go home, like it or not.  Based on tonight alone, things are not looking good for the pride of Conway, Arkansas, Kris Allen.  But those darned voters work in mysterious ways…

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top 5 render Rat Pack ring-a-ding……Cowell on crack — sells soul & 8 years of credibility for finale-based agenda

There are 5 remaining contestants: all are good; all want to win.  So there is a palpable sense of drama and competitiveness in the air tonight with (as Ryan reminds us) the finale…just 3 weeks away.  Along with our remaining five, we are in suspense about tonight's "mystery mentor" for the theme of the week "Standards From The Rat Pack Era."  We are treated to a 20-minute infomercial about how amazingly talented and versatile beady-eyed comedian Jamie Foxx is, but are never clued in as to why he has Thing One to do with the Rat Pack, or really, music in general.  That part remains a mystery.  Perhaps he will explain to them how to sing through a vocoder, for that trendy robotic sound.

Some of us do know the who, what and wherefore of the legendary Rat Pack, but it's all moot, really — the rest of only need to know that the producers see at least one of these contenders as a potential Michael Bublé or some such croony hybrid — in other words, this is clearly a profit-driven theme, designed to whet America's appetite for more standards potentially presented by one of these cool young cats.  As in "let's throw this theme at the contestants and see if it sticks to any of them, so we can start lining up the songs for that first album — um, especially Matt Giraud," because his name is French, like Bublé.  Please allow Idol Savant some cynicism here — there is potentially much more to come.  Tonight's subplot is this:  Simon is hell-bent on lining up his dream finale duo, sanity or personal credibility be damned.  It would seem to be a given that Adam will be one of the two.  We all have opinions on who will capture the other slot, do we not? In the meantime, come fly with us…

Resident cutie-pie, unofficial dark horse & ever-expanding contender Kris Allen looked 60s Vegas resplendent in a sharp gray suit with skinny lapels & skinny tie.  Kris' spot-on song selection accumen has seldom failed, and tonight was no exception — The Way You Look Tonight is one of the best songs ever written and one our own personal favorites.  Mr. Foxx was way enamoured with Kris and is ready to make a record with him; meanwhile, we are nearly inclined to buy such a record sans Jamie), if we bought records, that is.  It was smooth; suave; it was jam-packed with all that stuff that Kara said:  phrasing; rhythms; diction; perfection.  In fact, judges 1 through 3 were on the money — this was KA at his best.  Simon, on the other hand, had gotten into Paula's medicine cabinet.  Although Kris could not have been better if he had sung the song standing on a blackjack table in Dean Martin's pajamas, Simon called the performance 'wet' and 'like taking a spaniel for a walk," something that made zero sense neither in nor out of context. If Paula had said that, she would have been laughed off the show; so we found it a tremendous challenge to not change the channel at this juncture.  On this point, we found Simon transparently dishonest and clearly wrong, to a nearly evil degree.  Offense #1.

Like Kris, Allison Ireheta chose one of our personal favorite standards — the Gershwins' Someone To Watch Over Me. There is a very famous early-Sinatra rendition, but really — let's face it — this is a woman's song, and in tonight's case, a just-turned-17-year-old girl's song.  Although our love for Allison has dwindled in recent weeks, we felt that absolutely everything about this performance worked, and beautifully.  The rasp that is so well suited to rock seemed to morph into a smokey quality which allowed her to personalize the number in jazzy fashion, while maintaining its built-in tenderness & emotion — and melody. So Allison was pitch-perfect tonight: something we and judges 1-3 agreed on completely.  Crackhead Cowell inexplicably decided to discard eight years of critical credibility by expressing another clearly fictitious statement — that Allison would be in trouble after this performance(?) and that it was a "7 out of 10."  We know that is far from true, Simon knew it was not true, and we think the viewers know it is not true.  Offense #2. Kara and Paula are beginning to make Simon look like David Hasselhoff; Randy is actually beginning to sound coherent.

When we heard of Matt Giraud's decision to tackle My Funny Valentine, we had no doubt he was in trouble. Is this a great song? Yes. It is a classic American standard?  Yes.  Is this a good song choice for American Idol? No way.  This is not only not a singer's song, it is barely a song lover's song — it is more of a jazz lover's song; indeed — perhaps more of an abstract tone-poem than a song.  As songs go, the melody is absolutely unique and absolutely weird.  If you have the chops to sing this song, then…more power to you. But if you just happen to like it and haplessly (like Matt) want to give it a go, you may be doomed.  But even if you did have the chops, this song would not & could not slay an audience of American Idol fans.  But enough about what a horrible song choice it was.  This was arguably Matt's worst performance of the season.  The entire first half of the song was off-pitch.  Sure, he managed to sneak in a slick run or two, but — uh, no dice, Matt.  The roulette wheel of elimination should rightly stop on Mr. Giraud this week.   Simon Cowell Offense #3:  Once again taking the mantle of the Insane Big Fat Liar, Cowell spoke the incredible words "The was the only believable, authentic song I've heard tonight. Absolutely brilliant."  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Not brilliant, not great, not even good.  Liar, liar, pants on fire. We do not merely disagree with Simon, we hate him, forever.  For selling his soul.  It all makes sense now - Matt's prominence in the last 2 group songs and Ford commercial.  It's called grooming, and now it's all about to blow up in Simon's face. Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Speaking of faces, Jamie Foxx wanted to get all up in Danny Gokey's face, perhaps to try to wipe that smirk off [it didn't work], and informed Danny that he needn't worry, because "your breath is fresh."  Our television did not register Danny's breath, but his rendition of Come Rain Or Come Shine was also pretty fresh, delivered with his signature power-rasp and Gokey dork-swagger.  Uh, what's up with Cowell now?  This time he agrees with the other three — Danny was stellar; outstanding; smashing.  Whatever. 

Manifestly finale-destined Adam Lambert may have taken a big step forward on last week's show, but we have a hunch that this week he may have backtracked by two.  Dressed in a Broadway white suit (more stage costume than rat pack couture), he descended the scarlet staircase grandly and anti-climatically, to the finger-poppin' strains of Feelin' Good,  a song that has been sung on the Idol stage a few times before and was made immortal by Nina Simone.  Lock up your dogs, fans, it looks like we're in for a high-decibel storm of mock-rock theatricality.  This was all really just OK.  Has success gone to Adam's head?  No, he's always been this gimmicky.  Randy managed to hate everything about this, but in summary, loved it ("A little too theatrical, a little too Broadway, a little too dramatic; but GREAT!"). Kara was aflutter with schoolgirl emotion ("it was so confusing; so sleazy; so superb!!!"). Paula waxed Olympic ("you make me feel better than good, like Michael Phelps!").  Simon liked Adam's "showmanship," which is a backhanded compliment if we ever heard one. One compliments P.T. Barnum or Ryan Seacrest for showmanship. But then, who really cares what Simon has to say?

In our finale-projection summary, everyone appears to agree that Adam is in.  Simon wants Matt or Danny in the other slot — is that clear, voting public?  Matt or Danny [Kris Allen is WET, and the chica is dismissable].  The other three judges seem open to any other finale scenario.  Damn the evil Dr. Cowell - we are looking for the more deserving Kris or Allison in that slot.  Given Matt's bottom 3 history, we see this as his last week.

How about you? What are your thoughts?