May 11, 2005

Carving down to the final three.

Nice results show tonight on "American Idol." We saw the original audition of each of the final four, which was quite charming. Vonzell showed up with un-color-matched shoes. Anthony, told he reminded Paula of Clay Aiken, pushed up his glasses in that Lisa-Loopner-nerdy way and said that that's what people at work told him.

Carrie, who's been looking glum all evening, watches her earlier self singing "I Can't Make You Love Me." Her present-day self looks terribly grim, as if she's thinking, "Oh, yes, I was young and innocent once. I had hopes and dreams and the world was rosy. But, now -- now!-- it has all turned to ashes in my mouth."

Finally, we see Bo's audition, which never made the cut in the early rounds. He looks a little ragged. Remember Bo when his hair wasn't glossy? He sings with his eyes closed -- except one eye is open a little to check out the response. As soon as he's done, Simon says "Brilliant." And Simon usually waits for everyone else to speak first and often, in those early rounds, says nothing more than "You're through to Hollywood" when the other judges vote yes. We can't even figure out if he was positive or negative. That's his coy game. But he out and said "Brilliant" for Bo.

Carrie is looking so glum that it's hard to believe they haven't already told her she's going. But I can't see any reason for them to do anything "corrupt" like that. I didn't see her second song last night -- my cable glitched -- but maybe she was really awful.

But, no, Carrie is safe. She's told that right after Bo is told he's safe. The bottom two are Anthony and Vonzell. And now Vonzell is told she's safe. So it's Anthony who must go.

Goodbye, Anthony, sweetheart.


Larry said...

You are going to be so sad when Bo is sent home and Carrie wins, aren't you?

You remember Constantine, right?

Deja vu all over again!

jennifer said...

In that one moment after Carrie finally faced a true threat, she proved that she is, indeed, a human.

But androids cannot have emotions. That's why I want a Bonzell finale.

Mark Kaplan said...

I found out everything I needed to know about tonight without even watching TV. Great analysis. And your comments section is getting better and better. For what it's worth I think Carrie is the next to go and then Bo.

Internal Medicine Doctor said...

Not a great fan of anthony but last night vonzell deserved to go more than anthony. he actually did ok on tuesday, she stunk it up pretty bad.

well, i'll never really understanf idol

dax said...

Unless he "knocks it out of the park" next week, Bo will Go.

Ann Althouse said...

According to these comments, Bo is nearly certain to win and nearly certain to leave next week.

Actually, I think it is pretty obvious that Vonzell is most likely to go next week. She's in the Kim Locke position right now and must know it.

I don't so much care who wins in the end. It can be an advantage to come in second, like Clay, and it might be better for that to happen to Bo. He gets to do the final but isn't saddled with the role of Idol. Much as I don't like her, Carrie is more suited to playing the Idol part. Bo can only be the Southern rocker boy, but that's not a current style, so what sort of records can he make?

dax said...

"saddled with the role of Idol"???
Is that like being saddled with an Oscar for best actor? Or getting that pesky Pulitzer?
Come on Ann!

kentusha said...


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in our taxonomy. If you are not happy with the categorization of your
blog, write me an email stating where you would prefer to be. Please ensure that the category exists, you can either check at BigBlogZoo or DMOZ. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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Ann Althouse said...

Kentusha: Should I be trusting the categorization choices of someone who thinks that comment belongs in a discussion of last night's "American Idol" results show?

Ann Althouse said...

Dax: Somehow I am never persuaded by arguments that contain the line "Come on, Ann."

dax said...

A. I wasn't arguing.
b. It was meant in pure jest. It's too early to even attempt to argue.
Hey, I though it was amusing that you would think the Idol title would become a burden to the winer. Therefore my Oscar and Pulitzer comment.
American Idol Title=Burden?
What am I missing?
Oh yeah! It's those bank deposits that have to be made. I forgot those! ;-)

Ann Althouse said...

Dax: Of course that was an argument. The argument was that it's ridiculous to think being the American Idol is anything but a prize, that it comes with no burdens. Actually, I disagree with that argument, but I would be more likely to engage with the substance of it if it were made without the "Come on, Ann," which is a way of asserting that your point is so obvious that I'm just being obtuse for not already agreeing with you. That kind of irks me!

Matt said...

People like Bo because he performs music that is not the typical "Idol" music, i.e. rehashed karaoke pop. Bo obviously comes from a different musical background than the other contestants, as evinced by his song selection week after week. Were he to be The Idol, his uniqueness would be significantly diminished, saddling him to a career, however brief, performing music he will undoubtedly hate. Come on, Dax!

Bill Millan said...

I have been a Carrie fan since the start, so it is going the way I expect. I have no doubt it will be a Bo/Carrie finale. They let them both set down first last night, and Vonzell has consistantly been in the bottom group.

The ratings show that that Paula's problem upped last weeks numbers. Wed was higher than Tue for the first time.

When I guess the vote, I figure Bo is on top. Both he and Carrie will sell some records.

dax said...

Your Bo insight is eye-popping.
Were you two separated at birth?
Let's try this angle.
Bo wins! Goes on the Idol tour, makes a buch of bucks and cuts a couple of CDs that sell like crazy.
He hooks up with a great promoter and starts his own band, and lable and self-produces their music. Goes on tours,produces 10 platinum CDs, wins AMA awards, and lives happily ever after with his wife and kids on his 2,000 acre ranch on the West Florida coast
I guess it's something about a "glass half full"
I agree that the title will have some burdens, what doesn't?. But to assume that all things will be negative because of the title just makes no sense to me.
Just my $.02

Patrick said...

Come on, dax!

What kind of contract do you think 19 Entertainment gets these contestants to commit to in advance of knowing whether they'll win? They're dealing with unknowns, and they have all the bargaining power. My understanding of the deal is that the winner is entitled to have a CD produced and promoted, and the suits get practically all the cash if it succeeds. (If anybody knows different, I'll be happy to be schooled.) If nobody's ever heard of you, you sign that deal. But if you're Bo Bice or Carrie Underwood on 5/12/05, it might not look that great.

I believe Mario found out early that he could get a better deal as a free agent, and he'll probably get more artistic control to boot. Bo and Carrie are marketable free agents now, so they may well be better off not winning. Vonzell, on the other hand, is suited to the music the AI people probably want to produce, and at this point I think she's less marketable as a free agent than the other finalists. Hence, the best outcome for everyone involved is probably a victory for Baby V.

An Oscar and a Pulitzer don't come with the sort of strings attached that an Idol victory does, and once the contest is over, it's all about the strings.

SteveR said...

I think "what doesn't?" is just another irksome way of asserting your point is obvious just like "come on"

jult52 said...

I think it's pretty clear that Carrie was disappointed in herself (IMHO, her 2nd song on Tuesday, the sickmaking "If you don't know me by now", was her weakest performance on AI to date). She is technically the strongest of the singers in vocal terms (she is almost never off pitch). My bet is that she is going to rebound like gangbusters next week.

jult52 said...

Side question: Ann - are you disturbed that your AI posts generate the most discussion on your forum? I bet that's hardly what you expected when you began your blog.

dax said...

At this moment in time, these contestants are much like rookies in pro sports. They have talent, they have up-side, but there are huge unknowns therefore the owner gives them a three (3) year contract much like a 2 CD deal for artists. It's always a 2 CD deal. The first one gets mass marketed. The effort (marketing $$) placed on the second one depends on the success of the first one.
The two (2) keys for both artists and athletes, is to:
1. "perform" while you are under initial control and increase your value Basically, bite the bullet and stay busy.
2. Capitalize ($$) during this time so that as an artist you will be able to self-promote and release yourself from the record companies.
Actors do this by creating their own production companies. U2 was the first to totally self-promote and their actions proved to be a benchmark in the record biz and an example that many artist now follow.
At the end of the day it all comes down to the talent, ambition, and "smarts" of the individual artist or athlete.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, in pro sports you have to play on the existing teams. Art doesn't work like that. You can go with the existing big business of go indy. In rock, especially, there's always an issue of maintaining your credibility, so you have to play the game carefully if you want to succeed. But it's a much more acute problem with a traditional rocker like Bo than for a commercial pop star type, such as Carrie would be molded into. How would they mold Bo? If the molding inherently undermines his credibility in the only genre he's suited to, that's a real problem. So it might work out best for all concerned if Carrie won.

And to save you the trouble of accusing me of this, I'll just add: Althouse is a lawyer, so be careful. She's trying to structure the argument so that her favorite, Bo, wins whether he wins or loses, and so that her opponent, Carrie, loses whether she wins or loses.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PatCA said...

Bo is playing Nader to the Vonzell/Carrie main ticket and is drawing votes IMO away from Carrie.

He is one cool cat--clearly enjoying himself--while Carrie and Vonzell are crumbling under the pressure. And who wouldn't!? Fox stretches it out for every last moment of suspense! If he did pull it out, he would lose street cred, or Idol would have to reinvent itself as a serious rock outlet. Might be nice this once, but they won't mess with the moneymaking machine ($900 mil to date).

Ann Althouse said...

Jult52 asks "are you disturbed that your AI posts generate the most discussion on your forum? I bet that's hardly what you expected when you began your blog."

Not at all. Pop culture was always one of my topics. I'm very interested in pop culture and think it's both fun to talk about (as sports is for a lot of people) and reveals a lot about deeper things as well. I went to art school before I went to law school, and before that my "life was saved by rock and roll." I spent my entire youth watching television. Talking about television is something all of us television watchers don't get to do enough of and it can be much more fun than actually watching television.

The great thing about "American Idol" is that it leads to these conversations, much like following a sport through a season or the presidential candidates through a campaign. We have something to watch, we can spot mistakes, argue about what was good or bad, make predictions, celebrate victories and moan over losses.

So I completely expect this and am not disturbed at all! Carry on!

(Previous post deleted for typos.)

dax said...

Patca & Ann
In my opinion what makes Bo interesting is his I don't give a F**k attitude. "If I win, that's great. If I don't, that's great too because I really don't give two shi*s"
Is this a front? I don't think so.
If it is, the kid is GOOD!

Patrick said...

dax: Your sports rookie analogy is OK as far as it goes, but it doesn't address my point so I'll carry it further. Suppose we're talking about rookies in the NBA, except without the draft (because there's no draft in the entertainment industry). Say you've got a talented player that few people know about because he's at a Division 2 school. At the end of his junior year, an NBA team that has scouted him offers him a contract. He turns it down and transfers to a Division 1 school, where he stars on a team that gets to the Final Four. Another NBA team offers him another contract.

Which of the two contracts is likely to contain terms more favorable to our player?

Ann: If your caution about lawyers promoting their faves was meant to imply that I was doing that for Vonzell: guilty as charged!

jeff said...


If you've got a shot at the southern horizon, it's time to look into digital satellite service to replace what sounds like very unreliable cable.

dax said...

I was painting with a broad brush and focusing on the similarities of being controled at the onset of a career by a team/record lable.
Let me address your NBA question.
1. I know of no Div.2 kid that is "talented" enough to be offered an NBA contract after his Junior year. If he's a Junior, playing in Div. 2..........he ain't that good.
2. For the talented college player, college is 2 years or 3 at worst. Talent, real talent, doesn't play their Senior year.
The NBA Players Union pretty much has dictated rookie contracts and there wouldn't be that much your scenario.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: My cable problem Tuesday was unusual. It's my WiFi service too, so I'm not inclined to change.

Here's an emailed comment from "Tom":

"This regards the discussion of the value of winning (or even appearing on) American Idol. After three seasons, I think there’s a large enough sample that we can now draw a conclusion that maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, at least as far as CD sales go. Ruben’s second album was a commercial dud, and Clay’s Christmas album didn’t come close to its sales expectations. Fantasia’s first album was a huge sales disappointment and produced only one minor top 40 radio hit. Kimberly Locke’s album didn’t do much last year, and Diana DeGarmo’s first effort was a bomb of Guarini-ish proportions. Only Josh and Kelly have managed to avoid the pit the others have fallen into, and they’ve done that by distancing themselves from AI. Josh, wisely, moved to Nashville, where he no longer has to sing Bad Blood or Kool and the Gang songs. And while he’s disappeared from the pop culture radar, he’s a big bright flash on country music’s radar, where he’s racked up several radio hits and a big selling album. Kelly, meanwhile, managed to extricate herself from her contract with 19 Entertainment, hired her own manager, and has vowed never to appear on the show again. The music on her second album is also miles away from what one might expect from an AI alumnus, with none of those soaring, treacly ballads about wings and angels and following your dreams. She’s given the music more of a rock edge, with energetic guitars, big beats and loping bass rhythms, and she sings hard-edged, cynical lyrics about things like guys who done her wrong. Her fans from AI are probably disappointed in it because it's not the self-help book set to music that they're used to, but it’s a much better album and given that it’s sold as well as her first, probably expanded her market. So maybe the conclusion is that while AI is a good place to start and get your initial exposure, it’s not something you want your long-term career hopes wedded to."

jinnmabe said...

I agree with Tom's comments. Carrie would be wise to follow Josh's lead, since it is obvious she'd much rather sing country music anyway. Do you think it's possible to "throw the game?"

As an aside, I get a little tired of the Farmbot/Robot thing with Carrie. She's not any more soulless or robotic than any of the other contestants (or everyday people you meet, for that matter), but she IS blond and pretty and somewhat resembles a former children's toy, now ready-made villian, i.e. Barbie. I have my own criticisms of her, but let's not tar her for her genes.

mcg said...

Here's an interesting twist. Supposedly, if you watched "Idol" with the closed captions on, you'd have seen the call-in number for Carrie displayed for all the contestants. So if you, say, wanted to vote for Bo, and used the number shown in the closed captions, you would have inadvertently voted for Carrie. The on-screen graphics, though, had the correct number.

Is it un-PC of me to suggest that if you need the closed captions to follow the show that you might not be the best qualified to judge? :-)

Yes, it is. But you have to admit it's slightly humorous.

gyc said...

What kind of contract do you think 19 Entertainment gets these contestants to commit to in advance of knowing whether they'll win? They're dealing with unknowns, and they have all the bargaining power. My understanding of the deal is that the winner is entitled to have a CD produced and promoted, and the suits get practically all the cash if it succeeds. (If anybody knows different, I'll be happy to be schooled.) If nobody's ever heard of you, you sign that deal. But if you're Bo Bice or Carrie Underwood on 5/12/05, it might not look that great.

It is true that the contracts the contestants signed definitely sucked. However, do you think that Clay would rather be back home teaching instead of selling millions of cds and singing to thousands of adoring fans? Same with Kelly. They'd all be nobodies without their AI experience.

I also disagree that it's such a burden to win. The only person that has been successful without winning the whole thing has been Clay, and he's an anomaly with a hugely-devoted (to the point of scary) fan base. Justin flopped. Diana flopped. The others with record contracts such as Josh have done OK, but his sales are only a blip compared to the millions sold by each of the idol winners. Even Fantasia, whose sales have been disappointing, has already gone platinum with her album.

Ann Althouse said...

Gyc: Good points, but I still think Bo has a special problem, because of his style. He's also much older than any other Idol and that, in addition to his being male, makes it hard for him to fit the role. I think a younger, more malleable person will have an easier time getting the benefits out of the part.

Gerry said...


I saw this and the only answer I could envision for their rhetorical was...

"Then Ann Althouse would be Carrie's worst nightmare."

PatCA said...

Okay, all this reality talk has set me thinking of an idea for a law reality show: a bunch of law students are assigned to research contentious or topical legal issues, like Roe v. Wade, for one, and then argue them in front of a panel of Ann, Dershowitz and...who else? Glenn Reynolds? The prize is the winner, after several trials, gets to clerk for some superstar lawyer.

Gerry said...

patca-- so Dershowitz is the liberal. Which of your panel is the conservative?

I hate to say it, but you have to drop either Ann or Glenn for a Bork.

Hopefully, we can do this without Borking Ann. Detailing the reasons for her Constantine obsession could be quite ugly...

Ann Althouse said...

Pat: There is an actual TV show in the works called "The Partner," a law version of "The Apprentice," which I blogged about here. I wrote that I wanted a reality show about law school, with a very Socratic lawprof.

PatCA said...

I agree with your post. (rats, there goes my millions as a TV producer) I think the oral arguments should be on social issues and law, with the panel peppering them with questions, just like an appellate panel would. Who cares about an auto v. pedestrian case?

It would be a blast seeing students solving the great issues of the day--and one of the few places on earth where a true debate on the merits, and not a screaming match, could occur.