March 28, 2006

"American Idol" -- the final 10.

Without a pause to explain the theme and, apparently, no guest star, they just spring Lisa Tucker on us. She sings a big Kelly Clarkson hit song -- "Because of You" -- and it's a ragged, ugly song in Lisa's hands. The judges savage her. Ryan comforts her. Now she can sit out the rest of the show and hope that somebody falls on his/her face.

Kellie Pickler lays it on thick with a country song, "Suds in the Bucket." (I think the theme is "Songs of the 21st Century," in other words, songs of the last few years.) Her voice is irritatingly thin and harsh. The judges hate the song. "You choose some gimmicky, rodeo, lassoing -- whatever -- novelty song," says Simon. He should add that she sang that crappy song crappily.

Ace Young sings a kind of cool Elton Johnish song called "Drops of Jupiter." He keeps his voice up high and sounds pretty good, even though he seems ackward and, actually, scared. We see his hand shaking like mad in a closeup. He pulls his shirt to the side at one point, and I just think he's being a little spastic, but talking to Paula, he reveals a big, horrible scar there! I go back to see what the lyric of the song was at the point when he drew attention to it: "Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star/One without a permanent scar/And did you miss me while you were looking at yourself out there." So! That was a crafty, intriguing song choice. It's not a surgery scar, because it's an inch wide. None of the judges like him, but suddenly I do. Am I a sucker for scars? No, I like the old candy-pop Elton John sound. Ryan asks him about the scar: it's a basketball injury!

Taylor Hicks knows he's got fans, like that kid in the audience who's spray-painted his hair gray. He sings "Trouble." "I've been upSET by a woman." Simon complains about his leather jacket and jeans outfit. He's becoming generic? Simon wants to keep Taylor in his box: slightly square and inexplicably weird. But Taylor sexed up tonight, and I don't think he'll lose any fans this way.

Mandisa, God bless her, is going to sing a straight out gospel song, "Wanna Praise You." She's been singing it in church for years, she tells us, and it's a testimony that there's nothing too hard for God. "God has broken every chain." Frankly, she could have sung that more gloriously. Paula, blasphemously: "There's a new religion, and 40 million people have now joined the church of Mandisa." Simon: "I thought that was a bit indulgent. I just didn't get that. Not for me." The atheist!

Chris Daughtry gets an interview to start, and the point is made that his version of "Walk the Line" last week was Live's. He is required to genuflect to Live: "You worship them, actually, don't you, kinda?" He's doing "What If," by Creed. It's hard to sing-yell like that. It's the heaviest song anyone has ever sung on "American Idol." If they don't pay him respect, they are simply admitting that rock doesn't belong on the show. And Simon admits it! "There is a line you don't cross. Creed would not be seen dead on this show. The show is 'American Idol.'" Dammit, do I actually have to start voting?

Katharine McPhee, "The Voice Within." "Life Is a Journey." Give me a damned break! Horrendous! She has completely alienated me with this song. Hate, hate, hate.

Bucky Covington. "Real Good Man," a country song. He's got a cowboy hat and a western-style shirt. The song is a complete mess, you know, the kind of thing where you feel you can't even find the song in all that.

Paris Bennett interviews that she's going to be young. "Work It Out." And then she beats us over the head with young. It's desperate. "I can't wait for the bedroom." Wait! She's 17! Please, it's not worth it. She does this jerkily sinuous thing with her body. Is this her or what someone told her she needs to be? It's painful. The worst thing about the show is pushed in our face here. Judges? Randy: "The bomb!" Paula: "Awesome." Please, Simon? "Like a little girl pretending to be Beyoncé. Whoopee." Simon is utterly right here, I have to say, even though what he said about Chris irked me. The fact is, Simon has his feet on the ground. America, listen!

Elliott Yamin. They put him last. That means something. "I Don't Want to Be." He bobs up and down. I detest this song. It just seems sloppy and pointless. But he has soul. They told us that. I take it on faith that he can sing.

Who will leave? It's Bucky and Lisa on the line. One goes this week, and one goes the next. But maybe we'll get lucky and Kellie will be excised.

ADDED: I'm thinking that at this point it has become a contest about maintaining a grip on one's humanity. In that light, who is not lost? The women are losing it faster than the men. Perhaps only Mandisa retains her grip, but even that is questionable. The men are slipping. Chris and Taylor might still have a hold on what is left of themselves. But perhap the only person left is Elliott.


Jim H said...

I'll be the first to say that Chris burned through a lot of his accumulated capital tonight.

TidalPoet said...

My wife - Paris: Four foot tall shaking two foot of ass.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, you guys are getting ahead of me and my TiVo!

Kyle said...

I've always loved the drops of Jupiter song by Train. You should listen to the real one Anne. It was kind of sad the complete lack of soul that Ace put into it.

tiggeril said...

This show was a wall-to-wall display of suck.

Bench said...

I've noticed that you have the same feelings of, um, dislike towards Katherine McPhee that you had towards Carrie Underwood last year. Not criticizing, just noticing.

Ann Althouse said...

I like Katharine up until tonight. She just crossed a line. Carrie Underwood never meant anything to me, positive or negative. She was just neutral.

Irene Done said...

Taylor and Mandisa are the only ones tonight that didn't make me cringe. Odd that they were stuck in the middle of the line-up.

me said...

Everyone was horrible (especially Ace and Lisa), except maybe Mandissa was ok, and Paris wasn't bad. Simon wants to shag Katharine, and that is why he keeps hyping her.

SteveR said...

When you sing a song that's a classic in one way or the other, it *can* make the singer look good. The songs tonight were too new for that effect. Of you try to sing a real popular song like Lisa and you've just spent the last year hearing Kelly Clarkson sing it a hundred times, and you can't help but go bleech!

I agree Bucky or Lisa.

jinnmabe said...

Simon wants to shag Katharine

Hah, he can get in line. As for the song, eh. Even my favorite singers have a track or two I don't listen to.

tiggeril said...

Hell, I'm a straight girl and I wouldn't kick Katharine out of bed.

I wish someone would teach her how to dress, though.

JLR said...

The problem with this particular episode was the pacing. It was easy to find that the singers blended together simply because it was a quicker episode.

I also have a theory about Ace Young: he's a good looking guy who knows he's good looking and acts a certain quasi-smug way because of it. In other words, he's the kind of man that men hate.

Whether the theory is right or not, I hope he gets voted off.


Hecla Ma said...

I came away from last week thinking that Chris may have peaked too early and that Elliott is the one who seems to be growing and coming into his own, and showing real musicianship, to boot. It's still Mandisa/Chris/Elliott's thing to win, but at this point, I think Elliot is the only one still capable of surprising us. That will matter.

LarryK said...

Ace was apalling and I thought the scar schtick was too clever by half. He's gotta go.

But I don't understand your comment, Anne, that Chris is losing his humanity. Is he not showing enough heart? I still think (and hope) he's the winner, but even if he's not I think we're likely to hear more from him in the future (unlike Ace, who will soon be as forgotten as last season's Micheala).

Hecla Ma said...

Agree with that - whether Chris, Elliott or Mandisa wins, they'll have careers after the show.

Don't think any of the others will.

Ann Althouse said...

If we put them in order of how nice and genuine they are, then Bucky might come out first. Bucky, Elliot, Mandisa, Chris... and it's all downhill from there. You get to the robots and fakers soon enough. But I don't think Ace is quite as much of a faker as I used to. I think he's terrified.

kth said...

Simon was absolutely right about Chris. The sort of rock-god-frontman that Chris patterns himself after (Jim Morrison, Eddie Vedder, even the egregious-enough Scott Stapp) would as soon join the Osmonds or 98 Degrees as appear on American Idol. Chris' actual performances aren't the worst, but there is a lameness at the center that just cannot be abided. Like: I'm all angry and smouldering, but boy howdy would I like to be the next Kelly Clarkson/Clay Aiken/Fantasia.

I don't see the same contradiction for other styles; i.e., I could easily see a young, unsigned Marvin Gaye or a young Barbra Streisand appearing on AI. But not Neil Young or Henry Rollins. Some musical styles are suited for AI, and some aren't.

jinnmabe said...

I'm confused by tonight, frankly. The common theme of "I didn't like your song choice" at first glance seems like it's a "get back in your box" night, but they ripped Kellie for singing a very "in my box" kind of song, just because they'd never heard of it (incidentally, it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart and reached #33 on The Billboard Hot 100 Chart). I'll grant that the performances weren't the greatest, but why rip song choice? It seems like such a copout. Especially when it's said with the attitude of "you show off vocally every night, like this is a dog and pony show. How dare you merely sing a song well."

Just once I'd like a contestant to say, "well, I picked a song I liked, and I didn't spend two seconds wondering if you'd think it was "brave" or "safe" or too different from what I've done before. 'Please Simon Cowell' is not my ultimate goal in life."

Wickedpinto said...

I REALLY only liked Paris (she's the only one young enough to FEEL the music of the last six years) though the dancing was, not disturbing, but offsetting. A shame that Paris thought it was important to dance like a whore, to sell her EXCELLENT performance. She WAS "young" as in, contemporary., not young as in "not of legal age"

Mandisa who I thought did great, sounded, EXACTLY! like the nameless people everyone other than myself, can recall from any of the many Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Mandisa wasn't weak, or bad, she chose a weak format, and that format happened to fit the commonly idiotic music of "broadway" and "broadway's" offshoots.

I can't pick a best this time. Worst, ACE JUST FRIGGEN SUCKED!!! Soul has "hope" "blues" defines "feeling" Not to mention I HATE NOSE SINGERS! I HATE HATE HATE THEM! and Ace sang from his friggen nose.

My top three, is impossible, but I would include paris (for the first time)and PROLLY Katherine, only by default, and Taylor, cuz he still proved that he loved music in all it's forms.

My bottom three, ACE Didn't even START to feel the song, he was trying to manipulate it, and he EFFED it up in every way, with his nasal rendition. Bucky, because he ignored artistry, and went into a weak ass meter of song, which is so FLOGGING WEAK!!! and finaly . . . .

I hate to say it, elliot, cuz he didn't identify with the music in anyways.

My bottom three, bucky, elliot, and ace, all guys.

It's a bitch to lay it on the guy's who ARE better than the chicks (other than MAYBE mandissa) this year, it was the guys who sucked today.

Kurt said...

Yeah, this show was definitely a race to the bottom. I'm glad it was ONLY an hour.

I think it's easy to predict that Lisa will probably be going home after tonight, but I'd be hard-pressed to say who will be joining her in the bottom three. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see almost any of the others there.

I think Jim H is right and that Chris jumped the shark tonight. I wouldn't have predicted that he'd blow out so soon, but then again I'd never imagine he'd be choosing a Creed song. Ugh.

As far as the others, I think Elliott, Taylor, Mandisa, and Paris showed that they are all strong contenders. And Bucky was surprisingly likeable, even if he wasn't the greatest. (I'd say that at least he wasn't the worst.)

The show was so bad, though, I sort of wish they'd pull a Donald Trump and get rid of the four with the lowest votes. At least it would save the agony of more nights like this one.

XWL said...

Seeing all this talk about Chris and Elliott makes me think that Chris Eliott would be an awesome addition to the show, he could replace Seacrest (OUT!).

(how's that for a semi - non sequitur?)

Ann Althouse said...

I got why they were making a big deal out of song choice. Simon explained it at one point: choosing any song from the last six years, each singer was making a statement of what kind of song he would put out today. In other words, here's your chance to say who you are. It wasn't get out of the box night, but the night to be clear about what your box is. Then, we ought to respond to that. It's in that light that I'm positive about Ace and very negative about Katharine. I don't really get Elliott. I respect Chris and Mandisa. I have no use for Bucky and Kellie and Lisa. I like Taylor. And I can't accept Paris, a 17 year old, acting like that. She really made me feel bad.

HaloJonesFan said...

Paris learned the wrong lessons from Britney Spears.

As for Chris: Well, of course they're admitting that rock doesn't belong on this show--this is a pop music singing contest. It would be interesting to see a spin-off called "American Rocker" or something, where they have a similar competition for rock, but this is a show about pop.

Ace: "Drops of Jupiter" got me to buy Train's album. It's also what got me onto iTunes, when I realized that all the rest of the album was crap. (see also "Harder to Breather" by Maroon 5.)

knoxgirl said...

Kurt: "..but then again I'd never imagine he'd be choosing a Creed song. Ugh."

I second that ugh! Although I feel bad for him that one week they're like "stay true to yourself!" and the next they're like "Get out of your box!"

And another ugh! goes out to Katharine for singing a Chistina Gag-uilera song (hee!) although I thought she sounded fine. Same with Elliot and his song choice.

I acutally enjoyed Taylor last night... I liked that he was just standing there singing, not running around like a spaz. I thought it was a good song choice and he sung it well. I thought Mandisa did well too.

Everyone else sucked pretty hard. Paris, Bucky, Lisa, Ace, and Kellie all made me cringe for various reasons.

LoafingOaf said...

I liked Paris last week. Didn't like anyone this week. Wall to wall suckage sums it up, tiggeril.
None has much to offer the world from what I can tell, but I know that doesn't really matter on this show.

Okay, I guess I'll say I don't think Bucky's gonna go home yet. He slightly improved.

Leland said...

More shows like this, and I think I will quit watching AI. I think Ann's additional comment about the singers not letting it go to their heads, and thus losing them, is right (except I thought Elliott lost it long ago).

Lisa's performance was bad, but in retrospect wasn't as bad as follow on performances. If she was after Kellie and Ace, I think she would have seemed more average.

Kellie's song choice was bad. I know the song was a hit, but it is still a novelty song. Can you imagine an AI contestant singing Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Family Tradition"? The song was good for Sarah Evans, but not Kellie. But bravo for toning down her image and becoming a bit more realistic.

I thought Mandisa and Chris were indulgent... so... their fans loved it, and they will vote. Same with Bucky.

I'm pushing for Katherine, but this week, I'm in a hotel and not in front of my sound system. This pitiful TV made all the performances, and especially hers, sound very sharp. I had to close my eyes for the pain. I hope to watch the DVR version at home, but if this was a selection show, I'd have cut her off by the third bar and sent her home.

Jennifer said...

I haven't watched the show yet. But, I will say that I'm not so sure that a rocker would have no credibility coming out of this show.

I mean, Fuel already offered Chris the lead singer position. That's been confirmed by all parties.

I think American Idol has become a real pop culture phenomenon. These angsty post-grunge alt rock bands are pop whether they like to pretend otherwise or not. We're not talking about serious underground rockers, here.

And, when did Creed get so much rocker cred? I'll admit that's not my type of music. But I've always perceived them as radio friendly Jesus rock. Is that way off?

Adam said...

IMHO, it's not so much that the performers didn't define what their box was last night as that they failed to pick songs that tested the outer limits of their talents. They all played it safe.

Me? I'd have liked to have seen Mandisa attempt Dido's "White Flag".

Barb T said...

The performances this week were just plain not Idol material! What a shame when there are people like Taylor and Mandisa on board. I liked Chris until he started banging his head, and Paris should have remained her sweet innocent self. Paula's comment about "The Church of Mandisa" should never have been made. It will be a toss-up on who goes home this week. The only one who really did anything worthwhile was Mandisa.

HaloJonesFan said...

Jennifer: Creed is "modern" rock. You're right that it's basically pop with guitars, but that is the closest that modern Top-40 is going to come to actual Rock for a quite a while.

JodyTresidder said...

I noticed Ace's trembly flashes of terror a while back - he blurted something like "where shall I stand, SIR" to Ryan when he was dumped in the bottom three - and one always detects something deeper than normal unease flickering in his eyes just before the judges' comments. A desperate need to please somehow linked to his lovely "unearned" looks, perhaps?
I back the call for a Trump-like cull of the obvious five.
I give Paris, though, a pat on the head for wearing what were surely garments lovingly hand knitted by members of her family. Sweet.

Ann Althouse said...

Jody: "A desperate need to please somehow linked to his lovely "unearned" looks, perhaps?"

Good observation. Even if you're jealous of pretty people and think they have so many advantages they deserve no pity, consider how someone like that might feel that everyone only loves him for his looks and if they ever see through to what he really is, they will reject him. Scary, right? Think of Marilyn Monroe or some other pretty person who seems to have suffered and felt unloved nonsensically.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Katherine? Yuck, yuck, yuck. What IS it about her that just screams: FAKE? That boob shake is gettin' old! I really can't stand her.
Chris better watch it, Simon was right on with his Chris is getting a bit of cockiness about him. He's a nautral, but he needs to slow down or he's gonna burn out!
Pickler was ridiculous, but she's so appealing, saying she's "sorry", etc...America will love her.
Ace...oh, sweet jesus, what a dork.
Mandisa and Taylor definitely the best of the night.

PatCA said...

There must be something about being there...because sometimes the singers sound just awful at home, like McPhee tonight. Ace is crumbling. I'd give him a break for being desperate though. I'm amazed they can all still stand up and sing at this point. What a mistake to pick such a good song fresh in everyone's mind and not have the chops to pull it off. I loved Taylor, he sounded great, gave us a fresh new song, and was clearly enjoying it. Kelly was kinda cute, will end up in Branson and will be a big hit.

I liked Paris. I've seen 17-year-olds dancing way badder than she did (unfortunately).

jeff said...

I only saw Kelly through Mandisa - and quite honestly I thought that only Kelly & Mandisa were any good.

Randy didn't have his ears screwed on straight during the part I saw.

Oh - and if you are a frequent C&W listener, that was a very good version of Suds in a Bucket.

Dennis York said...

After watching Paris' performance, I think I need to register with the state department of corrections now whenever I move.

perry said...

I'd love to see someone do a game theory study on AI - I feel like in this middle stage everyone is racing to attach themselves to a certain genre - country, rock, gospel, pop, etc and try to grab onto that block of votes.

And Ugh - Creed is just plain Bad. Bad Bad Bad. That is the epitome of cheesy 'rock' guy. There is plenty of decent rock, even in "top 40" format. These guys have all had 'top 40' songs within the last few years and any of them would have been a MUCH better song choice than creed..

Belle and Sebastian
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Modest Mouse
Bright Eyes
Postal Service
White Stripes

(Also, Suds in a bucket briefly was a top 40 song as well.. I liked Kellie's performance.. )

paulfrommpls said...

Anything remotely as good as Brown Sugar or Gloria or Satisfaction or Backstabbers or Up on The Roof or I'm a Believer or When I Was 17 or Summer Wind or Ripple or Brown-Eyed Girl or Papa Was A Rolling Stone or (fill in two dozen Creedence songs) and so on? In this new century, I mean? Anything??

Sorry, just venting. But if this is what the new century offers, why is there still pop music?

paulfrommpls said...

Oh, or She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye or El Paso or Mama Tried or you get the idea (missed a niche earlier).

knoxgirl said...


Though I agree with you in spirit, those bands are not mainstream enough for Idol...even the ones that get heavy MTV and/or radio circulation. And don't you think it's sort of unrealistic to try to cover stuff like Beck or Postal Service? There's some complex stuff going on that's just not going to translate well in "Idol" format...

That's what I think anyway, even though I agree it would be refreshing to hear someone cover a song with at least a *somewhat* unique sound. (I'd love to put in a request for the Flaming Lips!)

paulfrommpls said...

Again, just venting, I know there's stuff worth listening to. Beck seems fine.

But "complex" is what you go to when you can't think of "hook."

knoxgirl said...

Not to be bitchy, but I guess you haven't heard any of that music! Some of it is quite catchy. But still complex.

Christy said...

Normally I love Mandisa, but last night she seemed flat the entire first half of the song. Am I the only one? Do you think her fans will be so appalled by Paula's blasphemous comments that they did not vote?

Ace pointing to his scar was awkward and cheesy.

These songs are mostly not my demographic - and that's okay, I haven't listened to a top 40 station since, well, ever. I did listen to country music for years, however, and found both Pickler and Bucky delightful.

twwren said...

Maybe they should not accept seventeen year old girls if it is only appropriate for them to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"?

Jennifer said...

HaloJonesFan: Ah, "modern" rock it is, then. Well, clearly Scott Stapp would do amateur porn before American Idol, so maybe there's a point in here somewhere. :)

Ann: This thread seemed as good a place as any to catch up on your beard thread of the other day. I can't believe that guy was right. Beards are coming back. UGH! When Jake Gyllenhaal, Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds and Will Smith are all rocking a beard, we've got problems!

perry said...


Yes some of those songs might not be easy necessarily to translate into idol format - but after the judges cooed over chris the previous week for making something 'his' - you would think he could do some more of the same.

MY final "insight" - that guy that was on last (some of their names escape me) certainly isn't easy on the eyes...

Ann Althouse said...

Perry: Yeah, Elliott is so bad looking! I can't believe he can win looking like that. They figured out a way to make Clay Aiken look cool, but it will take a miracle to style Elliott decently.

loner said...

Chris couldn't have had a worse night—not that it will ultimately matter.

They must have gotten some grief last week for not acknowledging the Live version of Walk The Line so they have to start there and then he chooses to perform a Creed song, and not just any Creed song. Talk about losing all credibility. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in tonight's bottom three.

I'd like to see Taylor win it.

Uncle Mikey said...

Paris crushed everyone else last night, despite objections to her attitude, dancing, dress, or whatever. If you recorded last night's show, replay her song with your eyes closed. She nailed it and showed she could perform it live while doing the dancing from the video. That may not demonstrate originality, but it does demonstrate skill, hard work and enormous brass performing balls. Isn't that what we're looking for from this whole process?

Dangerous Mind said...

I think the Creed song sounds like everything else that Chris has done. I would've liked to see him do something a little different but still within the "rock" side of the pop genre. Springsteen, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand... even something off of Green Day's "American Idiot" would have given him the chance to show a different side of "rock".

I'm personally waiting for the love songs show where he'll practically have to whip out an '80s power ballad.

I think Lisa goes. She's been terrible for weeks.

julie said...

Oh so am I! I would LOVE to hear him do some Extreme or Firehouse. Acutally they should just do an 80s themed show.

Dangerous Mind said:
I'm personally waiting for the love songs show where he'll practically have to whip out an '80s power ballad.

ElisaC said...

Ann, your AI recaps rock...and your commenters even more so! I do my own lonely little recaps. Here's this week's.

My personal opinion:
Bucky should be so gone, but there are people who keep voting for him thinking they're stickin' it to the man!

Lisa and Katharine have the same problem. When they're not singing they seem like slightly goofy, upbeat likable girls. When they start singing they attempt to be all serious and sultry, so it just comes off fakey-fake.

My boyfriend and I both like Ace, but he has been so nervous, no, like you said: scared out of his mind, the last couple of's discomforting.

My favorite part last night: Mandisa shaking her head "no" while Paula was babbling about her being a new religion. I'm not even a Christian, but I appreciated what I interpreted to be Mandisa keeping her head on straight in the face of Paula's inappropriate comments.

I hope Bucky goes next, but Country night doesn't seemed destined to answer my plea!