Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Live Blogging A Tribute To Mariah Carey...

Err... I mean, American Idol: The Top 7...

Only one thing could bring me out of my post-audition rounds boycott of this season's American Idol, and if you thought that would be Seacrest coming out on live television... well, you'd be half right. That'd be interesting to see, sure, but I don't really need to watch something I already know is true get turned into a "breaking news" story. Lance Bass, I'm leering at you! Anyway, this season has been uncharacteristically dull in my book, especially compared to last year's water cooler moments of Sanjaya's hair and the consistent, knock-your-socks-off performances (KLC, that's the proper term, albeit weeks too late) of Melinda and LaKisha, so I've just settled for reading the recaps and nodding along with the snarky commentary. Really, is there any other way to watch a show that is not even a decade old but has become a joke? And I don't discriminate; I loved Friends more than some of my real life ones, but when Rachel got pregnant, I saw the end. But tonight, after weeks of crazy cross-over promotional city-hopping, Ms. Mariah Carey will be gracing the Idol stage to offer her guidance (and lending her songbook-- something from which the contestants are normally strictly forbidden from cracking open), and I think the only proper write-up would be to go moment by moment and dissect the odd choices you know are forthcoming. Though the media can't seem to agree on just how unique and impressive her octave range is (some articles site five, some seven, and a couple even raised as high as nine), it's clear she is in a class by herself vocally. Tonight is the night I've been waiting for; tonight is the night labels and general audiences alike will wake up to the fact that the infants being pushed through the music industry today can't even hold a candle to some tried and true experienced professionals.

Tonight is going to be a test for everyone, but mostly for the guys. Unless you're pre-pubescent (okay, so I guess David A. will have a shot here), if you're male you're just not going to hit the register Mariah can. Hell, most women can't hit it either. This is going to be fun (...well, for me). Now where's my popcorn?

15:20 (PS All times will be in PST) Official Set List is released... err, leaked... err, released? whatever; TMZ has it, and it doesn't look so good. Supposedly MC's entire songbook was up for grabs, and these are their choices? A bit uninspired, but I guess it's to be expected; very few of them seem like they have personalities. Let's just hope no one forgets the words (the cardinal sin) ala the aforementioned David A.'s two-line solo in "Seasons of Love" during the Idol Gives Back episode.

20:01 Ryan and his faux-hawk are on stage, and why is Teri Hatcher special enough to have tickets? Already I can't believe I'm missing The Biggest Loser for this. Oh crap, it's the finale this week, isn't it? The producers are finally setting it up so a woman can win, and I'm missing it??? Maybe I can just switch over for a minute; he tends to be pretty long-winded...

20:04 Okay, back to Fox. Did I miss the whole Mariah video package? Oops... onto some banter about the irony of choosing a theme week that is usually cautioned against (that's putting it mildly). Pick on Randy night, too, it seems, but why? He proved he actually knows her by getting her on the show. Though, I will say that since we all know AI has become almost as much of a joke recently as the film of the same name (see what I did there?), bringing on such a powerhouse in the music industry now as opposed to six or seven years ago, when the show was in its heyday, must only mean that Randy Jackson threatened to never work with her again if she didn't show up ("Ooh... you nasty!" "What? Wrong Jackson? Oh..."). He's already relegated her to a background singer on his first album, so word to the wise, Mariah: you don't need him.

20:05 First performance of the night: David Archuleta. Gushing like I would have been if Mariah gave me a hug: like a little girl, which means it's time to reminisce about high school *sarcastic YAY* I'm far from an Arch Angel. From his first audition I thought he tried too hard, and I just plain didn't like the tone of his voice. Then I began to suspect that though he works so hard to always be on-pitch and hit all the hard notes, he really never understands the songs he's singing because there's just no connection, no emotion behind his sad little dead eyes (for those of you who went to Stuy 98-02, you know who I'm referencing!). And you Must. Have. Emotion. when singing a Mariah Carey song! That's the one prerequisite, and when you focus so intently on performing it just right, the energy was lacks ("[It] ain't about getting things perfect!"-- Jack Black, School of Rock). But perhaps Joe from TWoP said it best a few weeks ago, though: watching Archie just makes you think you're watching a high school talent show. "When I Believe." A non-surprising, schmaltzy choice for him, and the judges love him, but I still think he's disconnected, and he will most certainly not get a part in my production of The Pajama Game now!

20:13 Carly's up now with some kissing-up to the gone (Michael Johns) and "Without You" with a much deeper and almost angry rendition... no, wait, it's time for the first chorus and now she just looks confused. Did she mess up her newfangled arrangement? What's that weird accent/throaty thing at the end? Oh I just don't like this. Maybe I will always be comparing it to the original, but I actually liked Carly this season... until now. Paula's babbling about vocal restraint: what??? That wasn't restraint; that was all over the place and not in the good way. Perhaps surprisingly, I agree with Simon: if anyone could have done it tonight, it should have been her, but the furrowed brow in the third line set the tone for the rest of the performance: she got lost in the big song because her voice just isn't big enough.

20:20 Commercial break so time for a side note: I really should have live blogged last week's Very Special (but also questionable) episode: Idol Gives Back because Joe R. and I had the same thoughts, only he posted them hours later, so for once it would look like I had the scoop, and maybe they'd offer me a job out of it ;) Besides, this is a lot more fun than I realized it could be!

20:24 Ryan's in the audience, and oh please, Syesha, do your baby cry for Mariah! No? And she's singing "Vanishing." Damn; Syesha said Mariah really "took her time" to show her notes... well, yeah, 'cause you weren't getting it. A little shaky start there, but oddly enough, I don't hate this... yet. It's different, and no one likes change (well, I don't), but this is sweet. Huh.

20:26 Wow. I did not know she could do that. Even my dog woke up at the end there; he tilted his head at the screen and stared hard. Something about screechy sounds always seem to pique animals' interest; I don't know exactly what it is.

20:28 Sure, Randy, pull the pitchy card; that's different. Paula sounds like she's on crack, as per usual... something about power... and... oh, I have no idea, but she did call Mariah incomparable (well, the Paula equivalent because I don't think she could get that word out). Simon: if people don't know this song, hopefully they will now 'cause they should. Hell, I may even download her version on iTunes tomorrow.

20:29 Another commercial... and crap, a commercial on NBC, too. I hate simultaneous ad time; I'm a flipper!

20:33 Brooke White missed her sister's wedding, tried to send a cardboard cutout in her place, and is singing "Hero." And this is the only contestant I liked in the Top 24 or 16 or whenever it was I stopped caring. I'm glad she's back at the piano, though; the acoustic guitar in rehearsal made me nervous for a song like this. Mariah did share she initially wrote the song for Gloria Estefan; that actually explains a lot.

Her version is simple. Nice. Pleasant. Unoffensive. Nothing special. It certainly doesn't give me chills the way Mariah's version does, no matter how sappy I find the lyrics. Maybe she should have done the "Never Too Far/Hero" medley...

20:38 "Every ounce of you is totally authentic to who you are." What the hell, Paula?

20:38.5 Stop booing Simon; I want to hear his hamburger analogy!!

20:39 KLC and "Forever." Oh man. She doesn't hear the sarcasm in Mariah's voice about the "really good job" she did in rehearsal?

20:41 Hmm, it's not the train wreck I thought it would be, but I still don't like it. She picks up and drops pacing/tone/emotion too flippantly. I don't think she's connecting either-- just doing that slightly nasal, whiny, stereotypically "sad" voice ballads like this scream for when the performers can't quite... oh, I'm not going to explain it; I just don't like her. And no, considering she reiterates to the judges that Mariah liked her, I guess she just doesn't "get" a New Yorker's snarky tone.

20:44 We'll be back with David Cook and "Always Be My Baby." I'm concerned. Maybe not as much as his future wife, my friend Amanda, but I am. I want him to go far and do well so he can make the millions off of which she deserves to live... Ooh the Judy Greer Mac commercial! Maybe things are looking up. :)

20:48 Heh. "I didn't know what he would do with it." Neither do I. Neither do I.

20:50 Now I know. And yes, it's haunting. If by haunting you mean "creepy." Think about him singing this by the tire swing while two young campers frolic around the lake. I'm calling Benson and Stabler; they're back on duty tonight, you know.

20:52 Randy, WTF? I think he drank from Paula's cup by mistake. Paula, Little Children was already released, so no soundtrack for David C. with this one. And OMG standing next to Ryan you get a real sense of just how cartoonishly large this man’s head is. Do they market AI contestants’ bobbleheads? ‘Cause his would be to scale!

20:53 I'm sorry, Simon, but you know who else was daring? Dahmer, Gacy, Wurnos, Zodiac. Does that mean they, too, should be celebrated?

20:57 Ryan's in the audience; they have three minutes; who's left? Oh, the stoner. Jason Castro. His name is Jason? There goes my theory that all guys named Jason are hot. Anyway, no way is this show coming in on time, which I don’t get because Ryan does this week after week, so it’s not like he’s out of practice... Back to Jason, I guess. Guitar in rehearsal but not on stage? Hmm... did he forget where he left it? His eyes are so glassy! Interesting arrangment, though...

20:59 Oh, now it's speeding up. It no longer works for me. "I Do Want To Cry" now, sir. Where's the (excuse the redundancy) friggin' emotion!?!?!?

21:00 Randy calls his performance reminiscent of being at "a luau on the beach," and I pump fist in the air in agreement and then promptly turn the channel to watch Curtis lose his shot at the $100,000 Biggest Loser At Home prize to Dan.

So what's the message of the night? Well, other than it being the worst tribute to Mariah Carey since Studio Group, the night has taught us that to be a long-lasting force in this crazy industry called entertainment (whether it's acting or singing)-- even though you don't have to be the best singer to make it as a pop star thanks to today's reliance on Auto Tune (see Britney, J. Lo, and even Madonna)-- you still have to pay your dues. You have to fall on your face sometimes, but if you get back up, "shake it off," and come back swinging stronger, you'll plant yourself firmly in place. Tonight not all of the AI kids fell as I originally predicted; they didn't each get bitch slapped, but let's hope it was at least a humbling experience. The bar has been set and will only be raised tomorrow night when Ms. Carey returns to take the stage herself and show these plebes how it's done. Who can clear it? Remains to be seen, but of course in my bias, I think none of them are worthy. As Allure's Brooke Hauser said, "Only Mariah Carey can get away with being Mariah Carey."

PS 22:01 Ali Sweeney managed to get her show out on time, and she's used to cue cards and second takes. Suck it, Seacrest! And Ali (pink team Ali) won like we all knew she would!!! :)


Amanda said...

DAVID COOK, I am SO worried about your song choice.

"Always Be My Baby"? WHAT are you going to do with that?


Amanda said...

Just when I was about to be all happyexcited that you gave me an SO as ROcker Boy's future wife..you gotta go and call him a "creepy bobblehead."


danielletbd said...

No, I said his performance was creepy. In general I think he seems like a cool, fun guy. I just don't want him to sing to my children.

And hey, as long as you don't find him creepy, that's all that matters :)