May 3, 2006

"American Idol" -- the results.

[ADDED: For the results of the latest show, click on "Althouse" at the top of the page and scroll down to the most recent "American Idol -- results" post.]

Today's show begins with some unmemorable interviews and a mindbogglingly cheesy song. Some crap about "inspiration" and "a place where dreams are made" and "shining like the sun" and "together we are one." How anyone with any taste or artistic integrity can bear to stand there and sing such things is beyond me. Why, with all the money the show makes, can't they find someone to write beautiful lyrics of the sort that people wrote for pay back in the 1940s? The answer, I'm afraid, is that they don't think we want great lyrics. They think we're soft in the head. People who don't watch "American Idol," of course, tend to think those of us who do are soft in the head.

The Idols commercial has them transformed into "Hollywood" characters in the end. We focus in on the center of the screen: Chris, in a top hat, and -- especially -- Katharine, in a tight blue dress that is eye-riveting, even for those of us who are not lesbians or heterosexual men. Ryan yammers about Taylor's shoulder pads. Who was looking at Taylor? He was scarcely on screen, off to the side.

Ryan tells us that they are going off to Graceland after the show. Apparently, next week is Elvis week. Good!

They're picking out the bottom two. It's not Taylor. It's not Chris. Next is Paris, and she's in the bottom two. Who else? Elliott? Katharine? First, they make Paris sing. And it's Elliott! Oh, noooooo! He's made to sing.

It seems awfully likely that Paris is leaving. And yes, it is Paris.

Only one female left! And this is the earliest point on the show when all the black contestants have been eliminated.


SteveR said...

Elvis music should favor Taylor and Chris, but we should never underestimate the ability of contestants to select a lousy song.

Dave said...

If I thougt you were soft in the head, believe me, I wouldn't take the time to read your blog.

Smart people can watch stupid TV. I just don't understand it. To each their own.

Jay Solo said...

Did you notice that Katharine actually looked surprised she was not in the bottom two, and maintained a "something's not right" look on her face for an extended time?

It was as if she'd suddenly sprouted a personality and accurate self-perception.

I knew Paris would go, but Elliot being bottom two? That a "must about manipulation" level shocker. Not that TPTB would do that because it would be the end if they ever got found out, but it was that unlikely.

reader_iam said...

I don't think you're soft in the head.

And I don't watch "American Idol."

I will second in the most heartfelt way imaginable about lyrics, and, in thanks, won't expound beyond that.


Adam said...

If Taylor sings "In The Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds", someone has to give me $20. That's all I'm saying.

Lou Minatti said...

Ann, "Lost" is a much better show. It's far more interesting to boot. You missed a whopper of a show tonight.

Ann Althouse said...

Lou: I watched the first episode of "Lost" in the first season (because I was intrigued by the written description), but I disliked the actors and the style of it.

Doug said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't get the fascination with American Idol.......

John Jenkins said...

Ann, next week when the Tuesday AI is over, stick around on Fox for House. The closest I get to AI is when several ladies I work with at my firm talk about it the day after. Watch House!!

Doug said...

If you're going to watch anything on Fox, watch 24.

John Jenkins said...

It's too late in the season to start on 24 (which, with Good Eats, are the only shows I watch regularly). There are only 4 episodes left this season, but defintely pick it up next season.

Medopine said...

Here's another vote for House. It's such a great show, great writing, and Hugh Laurie rocks.

American Idol is great fun, House is great entertainment. I watch both. :)

Jim H said...

It was too soon to eliminate Paris! I would threaten to move to Canada, but I'm afraid no one would stop me.

Am I the only one remaining here who sees what a fraud Taylor Hicks is? Back me up Thecla Mauro.

Michael Farris said...

"Am I the only one remaining here who sees what a fraud Taylor Hicks is?"

I think he's an amiable blowhard, but most Americans _love_ amiable blowhards. He's certainly not a singer, well, not a good one at least.

F15C said...

I've watched AI and I watch Nashville Star. To me, the Nashville Star singers come off as far more talented than the AI singers.

I think part of it though is the cheesy format AI employs that fails most often to get the most out of the performers. I think the NS performers get songs and performance formats that are better suited for their talent and so have less opportunity to look mediocre.

But that is not the entire explanation for, what is to me, a clear differentiation in talent between the two shows.

Moanique said...

To quote the divine Ann:

"How anyone with any taste or artistic integrity can bear to stand there and sing such things is beyond me."

Yeah, the song was pretty Disneyesque (like the show tunes at the theme parks) and vapid. I think it's a sort of musical Rorshach test to see who can stand up there and sell crap like that like they mean it. Ah, to find true meaning in inkblot lyrics. That would be important to the A&R people...their future employers.

Just my opinion. And our man Chris was selling as well as anyone.

Nice recovery by Elliot during "On Broadway" tonight. He and the band lost track of each other for a few seconds. And it *was* a nice recovery. I wasn't being snippy.

Wouldn't it be more fun if the bottom two/three had to sing songs by the other singers as their swan songs? Elliot singing 'Renegade' would be good fun all around.



Ann Althouse said...

Why are people telling me about shows to watch instead of "American Idol"? I don't watch AI just because I can't figure out other things to watch! If I wanted to watch a drama, I'd catch up on the new episodes of 'The Sopranos" and "Big Love," which I've put off doing for days. I did watch "Big Chef" last night though.

I watched a little "24" in the first season. I don't like a TV series about an anxious character with a lot of problems rushing around trying to solve them. They have to keep throwing complicated problems at him all the time, because the series must continue, and you the viewer have to absorb all this pointless information. Okay, what is it now? What's he going to do about that? I'd rather watch a science documentary if I have to understand problems and solutions.

knoxgirl said...

Katharine did look oddly surprised when she found out she was safe... she should have known that writhing around on the floor like she did on Tuesday was going to make her a shoo-in.

I'm guessing Elliot goes next week. boo-hoo

Telecomedian said...

Lou: You're spot-on. Lost was beginning to get a little slow this season, but boy, did it come back with an attitude last night!

Ann: Perhaps some people are intending to suggest other shows that you might watch. Of course, some commenters disparage AI (which makes me wonder why they're even bothering to read the AI thread), but I rather enjoy your recaps.

However, you *might* want to retry the first season of Lost. The characters become much more appealing towards the 5th and 6th episodes. At least, that's how it was for me. I was concentrating on the plot initially, and then realized it's a character study disguised as an action-filled drama.

Andrew Foland said...

As I am often working on the computer during AI, where I can't see the TV screen, I'd say that between Katherine and Paris it's not even close. Paris is ten times the singer Katherine is.

I want to second the question about the talent level. I perfectly understand that the "terrible singers" were selected during auditions specifically to be made fun of (do the numbers and you'll find it must be so), but for the last 24 you'd clearly want only the best.

How on earth can there ever be pitch problems in this crew, let alone every night? "Pitchy" is the new black. I don't hang with musicians but I know a half-dozen talented singers who will never miss a note. Some of them may lack the tropes and shiny faces, but surely somewhere in America such can be found.

I suspect Katherine was reading dialidol beforehand, which had her and Paris pegged for the bottom two.

Simon said...

I would suggest that Katharine think very seriously before next week about what material she can sing and what material doens't fit her. Something like No Frontiers might perhaps play to her strengths, but if she tries to do more of this diva stuff, surely it's going to be hard for them to keep up the pretense that it isn't rigged.

SteveR said...

In a conversation with a friend we discussed how was it possible for the contestants at this stage to pick and perform songs (in whatever category) that are clearly not suitable for them. Do they not get any advice? Perhaps, but letting them self destruct at this stage seems like a waste.

If they win they will do a recording where every detail is gone over by dozens of experts. Why should we hear "that song wasn't a good for you, dude"? when we are down to the final group of 10 or so.

Can't really compare NS with AI because that format is much more limited and to the strengths of the contestants. Throw them Queen or Disco and see how they do.

hygate said...

Simon said:

"if she tries to do more of this diva stuff, surely it's going to be hard for them to keep up the pretense that it isn't rigged."

I don't think it is rigged because it isn't necessary, and would, in fact, be counter productive to do so. Your previous comments concerning American Idol show you to be a man of educated and refined taste when it comes to music. The vast majority of Americans lack your sophistication on this subject. Their motives for voting for particular contestants have far more to do with how attractive they find them and how much they can identify with them than their singing ability. The whole point of the show is to find people who can sell records. If they rigged it then they would simply be substituting the marketing department’s judgment for the publics, and what would be the point of that? The show functions as a nationwide focus group. Marketing takes over after the public has picked what product it finds most appealing. I'm reminded of a show early in the season last year when a rejected contestant angrily demanded to know why they wouldn't accept her. After all, the music industry takes people with no real musical talent and, with the help of stylists and technology, makes stars of them all the time. She was right of course, and the answer to why not her was simply that she lacked the necessary contacts and wasn't pretty enough. Katharine McPhee is extremely pretty and her singing voice is pleasant. More importantly, she can sell the illusion to vast numbers of young girls that they too will some day be famous and loved by millions. Whether she wins or loses now is almost immaterial. Her career, at this point, is assured. (And yes, I know Clay Aikens isn't exactly attractive, but he appeals to a large fan base for some reason - and I don't really think it is just for his singing.)

perry said...

I never once thought that Taylor could pull it off but suddenly i'm thinking he's got quite a chance to do it! I'll still never be convinced that he isnt 45 years old, but hey.. And about him being a 'faker' - I think anyone once they are a pop star of any kind must be fake to some degree, comes with the territory.

As for other television shows, I like watching Idol but i'm convinced that Grey's Anatomy is the best show on network TV. (besides the O.C., which I love for purely cheesy reasons..)

Hecla Ma said...

Am I the only one remaining here who sees what a fraud Taylor Hicks is?

I'm happy to back you up - I watched him lying on the floor doing those obnoxious, "swingin' guy finger guns" at the camera and shouting "soul patrol, soul patrol" and thought, "get him OFF!"

I have an awful feeling that his zealously loyal fans are going to win the thing for him, in which case the show is not worth watching. He's two steps away from being Bill Murray's lounge singer character.

Michael Farris wrote, "I think he's an amiable blowhard, but most Americans _love_ amiable blowhards. He's certainly not a singer, well, not a good one at least."

Spot on. He's Bill Clinton with comparable cunning but fewer gifts. A genius for public relations doesn't make one great at anything except public relations.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I'm on vacation and the overly-tanned almost 50 women in the elevator offered that they didn't care who went, just not Taylor. That's his demographic.

Thecla Mauro said: "A genius for public relations doesn't make one great at anything except public relations."

I think you have an extra "L" in that for Bill Clinton.

Ann Althouse said...

But Thecla, if Bill Murray's lounge singer character -- what was his name?? -- was on "American Idol" ... it would be hilarious. I can't tell if people are for Taylor because they are -- heavens! -- over 50 and the sort of dimwits who tan or whether they are younger/hipper folk who are viewing him ironically. Or is no one watching the show hip? How seriously are we supposed to take this anyway? If we're serious, we embrace Elliott. But even that seems to be a crazy game: being serious!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Professor A: He's credited as "Nick the Lounge Singer" on the SNL website; he's called "Nick Thinblood" at another juncture.

Hecla Ma said...

Ann - You're probably correct that none of this is worth taking too seriously. But I don't think the Taylor lovers are celebrating irony. :-)

Doctor Chris said...

I hate to use such a passe phrase, but the words that keep coming up in my mind with regard to Taylor the last few weeks is "jumped the shark."

I'm still trying to figure out how to distinguish any of Chris's performances from one song to the next. The guy should try at least once to look like he's having some fun on a pop music show.

Elliott is too inconsistent for not being the best looking. His performance of the Donny Hathaway song was the performance of the season, but On Broadway?!?!

Paris needs some serious management. She isn't just a teenager - she looks like a teenager. Her costumes and song choices often made for weird girl-playing-dress-up moments. A girl that upbeat and innocent also should be permanently barred from covering Mary J. Blige. She made too many wrong choices, and that's why she's out.

Katherine is attractive and occasionally sings very well. I think she'll win, even though I think her music tastes are not so good. She should enroll in acting classes imemdiately (though sadly I am certain her management will tell her to lose weight).

jinnmabe said...

She should enroll in acting classes imemdiately (though sadly I am certain her management will tell her to lose weight).

Noooooooooo! Katharine, if you ever read this, do NOT lose weight! you are just fine as you are. Actually, to put it better, you are SO fine, as you are. Down with the Kate Moss look! Up with curves! Up with the Katharine McPhee!

yammagamma said...

I've been reading some of your comments, and I do think Taylor Hicks is a phony.
I think it's fix, I think he's part of the show, you have to watch him because he is so wacky!
I'm going with Katharine she can really sing. I think she did "Can't help falling in love" great. -yammagamma

jlaverre said...