March 27, 2007

"American Idol" -- Gwen Stefani phones in.

That was an amazingly weak "American Idol." Gwen Stefani was the lamest celebrity mentor they've ever had on the show. For a while, I had the theory that she's just an idiot, but I think what it was was that she wouldn't put any time into the show. So they had fake shots with her and each contestant, and we never saw any interaction. Then we saw separate shots were her saying a little something about each one. I'm going to assume she showed up for about an hour, stood by the piano while each contestant came in and stood next to her to make it look like they had a master class type thing together, then she sat in a chair and read a scripted line about each one. And then the songs -- her songs plus songs that "inspired" her. They weren't much. "Every Breath You Take" -- that was good, and Phil Stacey was kind of okay singing it. The rest: a blur. I think LaKisha was okay. What was all that other stuff? Blah!

Wait! Two more things surfaced in my jumble of vague memories. Paula Abdul had newly, obviously collagened lips. And Sanjay Malakar had this crazy thing done to his hair: a line of pony tails across the midline of his head, sticking straight up in a pseudo-Mohawk. [ADDED, for Googlers: faux-hawk, fauxhawk, pony-hawk.]

What am I missing? Ugh! That was dreadful.

36 comments:

Patm said...

You know it's a bad night when Gina and Phil are the most memorable of the bunch. Stefani was just awful, especially considering how great, and really helpful and enthusiastic, Lulu was last week. She hasn't enough of a body of work, either, to have a night themed after her. But Gwen has a tour beginning, so there you go.

An awful show after last week.

SteveR said...

When the show turns into a promotional vehicle instead of a singing competition, this is what you get. Bleech Mohawkhead, he's like a n Adam Sandler SNL character, only Adam sings bettr.

Zoe Connolly said...

That was the lamest AI show I've seen in a long time. Bring back the fun and interesting Bad Auditions!

Michael said...

They're calling Sanjaya's hair a "ponyhawk" over at Oh No They Didn't. I think this more aptly describes the ridiculousness.

Click here to see

Jennifer said...

Noooooooooooooo. Say it ain't so. I haven't seen the episode yet and I adore Gwen Stefani.

Between No Doubt and her solo stuff, there's at least 7 albums that I can think of...so, about 70 songs for 10 people to sing? I don't see why they had to reach to "songs that inspire" her.

Oh, sigh. Now I'm not quite as excited to see the show as I was.

LoafingOaf said...

Yeah, she phoned it in on her album too. I thought the debut single "Wind It Up" was quirky fun so I got the CD and haven't played the rest more than twice. Once again: Should've just gotten the one song off ITunes.

But she does have a decent sized body of work. 15-20 years.

It's pretty obvious she was just using the show. The mentoring works better with older artists, I guess.

Anyway, I took part in Howard Stern's push for Sanjaya tonight, and I can tell ya from the busy signals that that movement will have to get much wider publicity than the Vote For The Worst site and Stern's program if it wants to work. Sanjaya's line had very few busy signals, whereas Melinda's and Blake's were very hard to get through on. I suspect Hayley or Chris R are the most at risk this week, but Sanjaya's days are numbered.

Blake did well again, even though I know Cure fans are aghastthat an Idol contestant did one of their songs. lol

Bender said...

That was an amazingly weak "American Idol." . . . Ugh! That was dreadful.

It was weak and dreadful because the state of music leading up to Gwen Stefani, including her, and after her has been absolutely, positively weak and dreadful. The Donna Summer stuff was good, but just about everything else was bad, because the music style is bad. On the other hand, last week was very good because the 60s British genre was very good.

However, I did realize something tonight. I always thought that music started dying out in the early 90s. I had totally forgotten about the Police, and listening again to their blah, bland, and boring songs, devoid of melody, harmony, or anything coming close to interesting, I realize that, perhaps, they are responsible for the death of modern music (not counting hip-hoppin' gangsta rappers and Britney hos).

One somewhat bright point -- I thought that Sanjaya was actually listenable tonight. Big surprise.

PatCA said...

We all shrieked with horror/laughter at the ponyhawk. I guess this is ... strategy? All the kids insisted on voting tonight, for Gina, and we agreed, so that the Sanjamaniacs wouldn't win again. Good song, lots of heart fro, Gina, doing Chrissie Hynde proud. She was the best.

Joe said...

Horrible night, no wonder ratings are dropping.

Michael Farris said...

Stefani's genius isn't music. She is however a video performer, an unrecognized genre in which she is second only to Madonna.

That said, intuitions would indicate that the best 'mentors' are older performers who are less likely to see Idol contestants as competitors for slices of that shrinking sales pie.

MadisonMan said...

Sanjaya is obviously the one who does things that are outrageous to camouflage is lack of singing ability. The problem with this approach is that eventually you run out of ways to top the previous show. When will his back of tricks come up empty? Soon, I'm thinking.

Tearfree aka Reject the Koolaid said...

I thought Gwen Stefani seemed really sweet and down to earth. Her comments were almost Simon-like in content but without his mean edge.

jcrue said...

pony-hawk!

MisterBunn said...

"Then we saw separate shots were her saying"

who has time to decipher this gibberish? Would it really a kill a blogger to proofread her own random thoughts before posting them?

SteveR said...

Mister Bunn:

"who has time to decipher this gibberish?"

gee where's the capitalization on the first word in a sentence, mother?

Cedarford said...

Maybe part of Ann's problem with Gwen Stafani is she has a very different off-stage persona from her shows and videos. Sweet, modest, and low-key. Others have noted that from other interviews. If music is "all about the singing" - then there is no explaining why looks, creativity, charisma, "heart" matter. But they do in an Idol, the best "new thing" artist..

Stefani is in a line with Madonna, Britteny (ugh!), and for that matter Paula Abdul - singing is secondary to the overall live show/video impression.

IMO, good show. Sanjaya is a joke and I think he is finally on board with the humor of it. I think the judges gave him some huge hints that he is cute and could be marketable in the tennybopper niche, not as a William Hung sort of campy laugh-fodder - but he needs to lay down chops to show he can at least sing in a stomachable manner to be made into a profitable product and he hasn't done that yet. May never.

The real contestants? Upside? Gina finally soared and gave off the whole Patty Smythe/Chrissy Hynde impression that this is really a gal who could front a serious band. Blake was again the most original and creative of the contestents - the risk taker who has the babe gathering charisma. Melinda did yet another glowing, professional performance.

Downside? Sligh sucked, Haley was just "nice", the bald guy unremarkable enough he may go before Sanjaya's teenybopper and Howard Stern votes are overwhelmed. LaKisha showed why voice alone isn't enough. If Idol was about just listening in a sound booth to a voice, maybe..Jordan? Who is Jordan? Did she sing?

Anthony said...

I kind of feel like defending Stefani here. Before she became a pop diva as a solo she really kicked butt in No Doubt. She might not have a superb voice, but she's brilliant at ska.

Jennifer said...

She's also a fantastic songwriter, which sets her apart from the Madonnas/Britneys/Paula Abduls of the world.

She's never been a hand-me-a-song-and-I'll-go-sing-it kind of performer.

I've now heard the mp3s of Chris Richardson (who I thought did a great rendition of Don't Speak) and Jordin (who completely wrecked Hey Baby).

Dwilkers said...

I'm betting Chris S gets the boot tonight. His was a really bad performance, in addition to being off key he was constantly chasing the (really easy) rhythm of the piece.

Lakisha had the worst performance I ever saw from here but she's so good I'm guessing it won't get her booted. Gina was solid, one of her best. Chris R was good, he surprised me. Same for Phil, he turned in a nice performance. I thought Melinda and Jordan were just OK, though the wife and I both thought Jordan made it up a good bit at the end. Haley was weak. Sanjaya actually wasn't that bad...for Sanjaya that is.

Chris S gets the boot. Or it could be Haley, but I doubt it.

jult52 said...

I too was disappointed in Stefani's commentary but Gwen is a legitimately brilliant singer. On the basis of her work, she deserved to be there. More than you can say about the judges.

jult52 said...

Gina: She was off key (sharp through much of the song) but no one else seems to agree with me so...

Ken said...

I don't know if anyone else noticed this but it seemed to me that Paula Abdul had less of a meds or alcohol problem than she normally does. I found her to be much more lucid and intelligent, and it made me both glad that she was, and sad that she often isn't. Wonder what the explanation is?

Harkonnendog said...

Have to disagree with you Ann. Stefani's comments were spot on, and would not have been had she not been involved in the process. Like an earlier commenter said, she was like Simon without the meanness. I especially liked the way she murdered Sanjaya- "It's a hard song to sing but he picked it so..." Lol.

And you shouldn't compare Stefani to Madonna. Nobody ever listens to Madonna's songs, but No Doubt had many great songs, and their first hit album was great. Worth listening to straight through, in fact. Madonna never produced anything comparable to that. Also Madonna always used sex to sell, Stefani did not. Gotta agree she's not been worth much on her own though.

MadisonMan said...

Nobody ever listens to Madonna's songs

Yes, that's why they don't sell (eyeroll)

Modern Otter said...

I don't know if Gwen was that weak or whether it was a matter of Lulu being so darn likeable and helpful last week. Then again, last week I was wondering whether Lulu was that good or whether she was just a relief after the unhelpful Diana Ross' appearance.

I'm worried about Chris S. He's impressed me from the outset, sounds good even when he's bad, has a lot going on upstairs and, were he to win, might be refreshingly difficult to handle, which I like.

OTOH, Chris Richardson is a skilled singer who has no voice. No voice at all.

Jordin's song choice (whatever the heck that was-- unfamiliar to me) was pretty brave and her performance was fun to watch. She could be in it for quite some time. (As far and away most talented contestant, Melinda seems a shoo-in for 2nd or 3rd, and not 1st.)

Am still waiting for Bob Dylan's guest spot.

Harkonnendog said...

Nobody ever listens to Madonna's songs

Yes, that's why they don't sell (eyeroll)


I don't know a single person who takes out an old Madonna cd and puts it on for listening pleasure. Maybe you do. If so, you know people with bad taste in music, lol.

Anthony said...

Errr, I still listen to the CD she did for the Dick Tracy soundtrack. Vogue is a brilliant song.

Harkonnendog said...

Er... exception that proves the rule?
:P

Ann Althouse said...

I like listening to XM radio and when I move off the 60s channel, I sometimes land on the 80s channel, and I love hearing any of the Madonna songs from back then: "Borderline," "Crazy for You," "Papa Don't Preach." I feel sorry for people who don't see how hard it is to make pop recordings that good.

I have nothing against Stefani as a recording star, but I object to stars wasting my time when they go on the most popular show on TV for self-promotion purposes. It's not enough just to show up. LuLu showed how to do it right. So have others like Barry Manilow and Rod Stewart. Neil Sedaka.

MadisonMan said...

I don't know a single person who takes out an old Madonna cd and puts it on for listening pleasure.

That you don't know of these people does not preclude their existence. It's also possible you have acquaintances with CDs you don't approve of, unless you vet all musical purchases within your immediate vicinity.

I don't know a single person who listens to Art Tatum or Barbara Cook (besides me -- and my kids, if forced). But such people do exist.

LoafingOaf said...

Madonna is far from a fave of mine, but I usually have a song or two from her on my IPOD Shuffle. Right now I've got: "Beautiful Stranger" and "Like A Prayer" on there. I love that song, "Beautiful Stranger"!

So, Sanjaya wasn't in the bottom 3. Interesting!

The problem with this approach is that eventually you run out of ways to top the previous show. When will his back of tricks come up empty? Soon, I'm thinking.

I keep wondering if he'll pop out one week and actually sing really well. I think the hair styles are part of a strategy, but I also think he's using them to deal with his shyness on the big stage. But he seems slightly less shy each week. If you remember the auditions, he actually has a decent singing voice. It would be really interesting to see him blossom into something more over the next few weeks.

Tanya said...

Last week was 11 people in two hours. This week was 10 people in one hour.

So we have no idea what Gwen Stefani did or said during practice, because there was no time to show it. But she was dead on about Sligh being off beat and Sanjaya picking the wrong song.

Ann Althouse said...

Tanya: Interesting theory. But I'll bet they'd have gone 2 hours if they'd gotten the material out of her. She probably chose the constrained time frame. Anyway, I thought it was weak.

PatCA said...

"So, Sanjaya wasn't in the bottom 3. Interesting!"

I hear Howard stern is pushing him, so that might explain it. http://votefortheworst.com/node/179

Harkonnendog said...

"Borderline," "Crazy for You," "Papa Don't Preach." I feel sorry for people who don't see how hard it is to make pop recordings that good. LOL! Please explain how hard it is so you don't have to feel sorry for me anymore. :)

Jennifer said...

Well, I finally saw the episode last night, and was coming back to make the point that the show was half the time. Looks like Tanya beat me to it!

I think they always switch from two hours to one hour when they get to the final 10. Every season it seems like there's one week where they are REALLY stretching it to make two hours and then a few weeks where they're really constrained by one hour.

Anyway, I thought Gwen had great insights. And I loved that she was willing to say what she thought rather than the "Wow they're all so great!" crap that a lot of the guest mentors put out.