March 20, 2007

"American Idol" -- tonight's show: The British Invasion.

Okay, this is the perfect show for me. The songs are the British Invasion songs, with Peter Noone tutoring the boys and LuLu for the girls. I love Peter Noone, let me say, so I'm really happy. I'm unashamed to say I was a huge Herman's Hermits fan. LuLu, I couldn't care less about, but in the first segment, we see her helping Hayley Scarnato, giving her really precise, quality instruction.

1. Simon leers horribly at Hayley, who's wearing heels, hot pants, and a silky backless top that's attached to her torso with a wacky amount of double-stick tape. She sings "Tell Him" and stomps all over the stage, up and down the stairs. She does not trip and fall, so okay.

2. Chris Richardson sings "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," and follows the melody -- the great melody -- the way Peter Noone told him to.

3. LuLu looks like my sister. I was trying to figure out who it was she reminded me of. And Stephanie Edwards reminds Lulu of Beyoncé. Stephanie sings "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." It's hard not to think about how beautifully Dusty Springfield sang this song. By contrast, Stephanie's singing is clunky and heavy-handed. But they're praising everyone today, and I'm sure they'll like her too. They've revealed that tonight is especially important, because they're eliminating the eleventh person, and the top ten get to go on tour. Actually, they are hard on her. Simon: "I think you are losing your edge... you're losing your soul."

4. Blake Lewis -- my personal favorite -- sings a song I love: "Time of the Season." He sings it much like the Zombies original, and the beat box thing imitates the original instrumentation. He gets a ton of praise for making the song sound contemporary, which just mystifies me. It was just like the original, but not as good.

5. LaKisha Jones sings a crappy song: "Diamonds Are Forever." She's a good singer, but she didn't belt it out like Shirley Bassey, and she didn't do something else interesting with it. Simon complains that she looks 50 years older than her age. Her problem is already that she seems old.

6. Phil Stacey wails "Tobacco Road" and seems kind of Bo Bice-y. But not as profound. [ADDED: And he reminds us of Bat Boy.]

7. Jordin Sparks emotes "I Who Have Nothing," a melodramatic song I've never liked. Tom Jones did it, and it really is more of a man's song, all about how the other guy buys "you" diamonds and takes "you" to fancy restaurants, while the singer just has some big love to share. Or so he claims.

8. The incredibly cute youngster Sanjaya tells Peter Noone he's torn between two songs. One is "You Really Got Me," and there's just nothing at all better than the early Kinks. But the other is Herman's Hermits' first hit "I'm Into Something Good." It's inexpressibly adorable to see the kid Sanjaya sing Peter's own song to him. Peter says Sanjaya looks more like one of Herman's Hermits than one of the Kinks, but advises him to go with the Kinks and "really get into it." He picks the Kinks. They keep showing a 12-year-old girl in the audience who's crying like a Beatles fan at "The Ed Sullivan Show." He's sort of shout-singing and running all over the place and at one point he just completely shouts "You got me so I can't sleep at night!" and it's really quite perfect. Simon: "I think the little girl's face says it all." Ryan sends Sanjay down to give the girl a hug. Very sweet!

9. Gina Glocksen is asked how she's holding up, and she talks about the stress, including "critiques that we see on blogs and everything." (Hi, Gina! Have I said anything mean about you?) The song is "Paint It Black." LuLu gets her to raise the key a half step and advises her to "devour" it. Gina really is the best rocker chick they've ever had on the show, and I'm not just saying that because I think she might read this. I said it before.

10. Chris Sligh is doing "She's Not There," one of the very best 60s songs. (Only The Zombies get picked twice tonight.) He enters walking through the audience and really obviously fails to interact with the girls reaching out to him. He practically brushes them away. I think the tone is not that pretty and he's not soulful enough. He needs to be better.

11. They save Melinda Doolittle for last, which signals that she's best. I'm tired of the way they keep presenting her as the best. It's too unsubtle. Let us decide! She's doing the musical comedy song from "Oliver!": "As Long As He Needs Me." This is famous for being just about the least feminist song ever. She's sitting on the edge of the stage, which, in the language of the show means, deep and meaningful. She sings the first line so it sounds like "as long as she needs me." There's also that line "I'll Klingon steadfastly." Man, I hate this song. Have you seen "Oliver!"? The character is an abused woman, manifesting the ultimate in Abused Woman Syndrome. And couldn't you have found a real British Invasion song instead of this mawkish, politically incorrect showtune?

So who might go home? Maybe poor Gina. Possibly Chris or Phil or Stephanie. It would viewed as upsetting if LaKisha got the boot, but, really, if it happens, it will be because of that draggy song and the way too old-looking bright green cocktail dress. If I had to bet on one person to stay though, it would be the supremely adorable Sanjaya (even if he's actually the worst singer).


boston70 said...

My favorite is Blake too.

I actually love Lulu. When I was little I used to lip synch To Sir With Love in front of my dad. My mom said I was creative. I think was around 5-6.

He threw my Lulu record away, which I stole at the drugstore.

My mom ending up buying me Cher's Half Breed and in the morning would walk around the kitchen table lip synching it. I had all these hand positions for most of the words in Half Breed when I sang in front my family My poor father. The sad

And then I found Donna Summer...

Best of Lulu cd is awesome: Man With the Golden Gun; To Sir With Love and many other great tunes.

She does look good.

boston70 said...

You know you have to give Sanjaya credit.

Yea, he isn't that great of a singer but he tends to get slammed every week and seems to have this amazing attitude. And he is only 17 years old.

He has had some awful performances, mostly all of them, but tonight he redeemed himself-somewhat.

They were nicer to him.

I thought he did the best he has done.

He will be back in next week just because he hugged the little girl.

I think the bald guy or the heavy guy will be out this week.

Ann Althouse said...

They know he has the votes, and they've got to want him on the tour. He's really doing that thing of building a fan base. That's something. I don't think anyone's ever gotten so much out of just smiling in the whole history of the show.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I was hoping you'd catch Gina's blog comment.

I think Peter really irritated Simon at one point. I imagined Simon thinking, "keep it up you toothy old man...I could buy and sell you a dozen times."

I mentioned the "problem" with Melinda's song to my husband and he thought most people wouldn't know enough about it to catch that. I find him amazingly accurate.

Apparently Howard Stern [radio dude] has been investing a lot in keeping Sanjaya around.

Kate Marie said...

I wanted to chime in with a quibble about "As Long as He Needs Me." It's a song written for a character from a musical stage show adapted from a Dickens novel. The sentiment may be poitically incorrect, but it fits the character. Would you expect the character Nancy to belt out "I am Woman," for gosh sakes? If you think it's just mawkish and a lousy tune, that's one thing, but I wouldn't consider a song verboten simply because it has anti-feminist or politically incorrect lyrics. You'd have to get rid of a *lot* of great old songs, if that were the case("What's the Use of Wonderin'?" from Carousel, springs immediately to mind, but there are lots more).

Joe said...

Thought the show tonight pretty much sucked and Sanjay was simply awful.

nina said...

Dusty Springfield.. the most evocative song ever. Good thing I was at a Law School event tonight. I would have cried and cried. (Especially if it was a not so good version of the sublime original.)

Ann Althouse said...

Kate: The song definitely belongs in the show, but the choice to use it outside of the show bothers me. Singers doing a song in isolation from the acted out story seem to be adopting the words as their own thoughts, don't you think?

Cedarford said...

Sanjaya -
Scantily talented. Propped up by the teenybopper "Squeeeeeeee!" factor. Always have had the Brittney Spears and teen idol Fabians and Menudo Boys factor in the commercial music biz.
Sanjaya - least talented by far, could be a millionaire in the right agent's hands who can market him to the 6-13 year old girl niche..make him a Disney Channel pretty-boy even try to get the gay crowd to follow him...

Melinda - Don't get Ann's cattiness on her. Don't see "Idol" setting her up preferentially. DO SEE her as nice, with a great presence and a Gladys Knight type voice...and Knight is one of the greats...The audience connection to her style of singing and making the song a story seems to be there too. Doolittle is not singing using the song as an excuse to do vocal chord exercising egotism, she seems to be honestly working to create the best song she can craft to her audience.
I like her.

Kate Marie said...

Ann, I see what you're saying. On the other hand, if you divorce the song from the context of the show, the lyrics themselves aren't any more anti-feminist than lots of other pop fluff.

There are times, too, when a singer can put an ironic spin on an anti-feminist song, and it works very well. The very fact of Lyle Lovett singing Stand by Your Man, for instance, puts an ironic spin on his version of that song.

Lynda said...

Let's face it: Melinda Doolittle could sing the phone book and make it amazing. I did not know the history of the song; nor, I am sure, did she. I think she is excellent; a true professional.

Blake is also good, because he is different (for Idol). I love Lakisha, and I adored her rendition of "Diamonds Are Forever," and I do NOT think she looked too old...I thought she looked beautiful. Jordin was also very good (local Phoenix girl), and I loved the melodrama of the song.

All in all, a good night!

Sweat Bee said...

Shirley Bassey was also picked twice tonight.

dave™© said...

Day Six of the Blithering Misogynist "Law Professor" Who Can't Find a Thing to Say About the Upcoming Constitutional Crisis Starring the Attorney General of the United States.

Truly, it is to laugh!

LoafingOaf said...

I wasn't feeling Sanjaya doing "You Really Got Me" AT ALL.

But, I predicted Sanjaya's success back during the Hollywood round: "One of my faves from the first round was the shy and sweet Indian-American who auditioned with his sister and sang Stevie Wonder. He will probably go far, too."

He's sure not been one of my faves since the auditions phase ended, and I guess he's a better singer in a small room than on a big stage, but he IS sweet and he IS going far! And he's entertaining. :)

The tabloids say he's sparked a romance with Jordin Sparks, after both felt like outcasts from the older contestants.

I didn't vote tonight, but if I had I'd have gone with Blake and Melinda like most folks. I have a feeling the bald guy's a goner tomorrow, unless he has fans out there extra-motivated after seeing him almost voted off last week.

Ann Althouse said...

Kate: "Ann, I see what you're saying. On the other hand, if you divorce the song from the context of the show, the lyrics themselves aren't any more anti-feminist than lots of other pop fluff."

That's definitely true. I'm importing what I know about the show into my opinion of the song. The lyrics the singer "endorses" are much more generic. They don't reveal that the problem with the man is serious abuse.

As for my attitude re Melinda, it's not against Melinda. Obviously, she's perfectly nice and a terrific singer. My problem is with the show telling me to think that. It can actually cause a person to lose as we pick someone else to sympathize with. I think loading the praise on Melinda is helping... maybe Jordin. And it may very well be intentional.

Nathan said...

That Sanjaya kid creeps the hell out of me.

MadisonMan said...

The only song I saw done (I was at a bar, and Idol and NIT BBall were on) was She's not there. It was a mediocre performance of a really great song that is hard to sing.

I wished I'd seen the song from Oliver! That's the last movie I recall my whole family going to see -- I can probably sing the entire album still -- so Ann your Klingon Steadfastly (so true!) comment makes me laugh.

Fritz said...

I don't like Sanjaya, but he will not be in the bottom 2 this week. He had a great performance.

Joe Baby said...

Sanjaya's got enough of a teen girl fan club to stick around for awhile.

Bald Phil has'm not sure what group he has. He's gone. Not the worst one left, but not much reason for voters to keep him around.

And Haley is already braless and skimpy. Should be fun to watch her pimp her looks from here on out.

Smilin' Jack said...

Blake Lewis -- my personal favorite -- sings a song I love: "Time of the Season."...It was just like the original, but not as good.

See, that's what I don't get about this show. People have a choice between a great original or a crappy imitation, and by watching AI they're choosing the latter.

But each to his own taste--so pull up a chair, open a bag of Cheetos, mix some Tang in your box of wine, and enjoy the show.

Jennifer said...

I don't think anyone watches AI to hear the classics. It's a competition. Sometimes the contestants pull off fantastic performances, sometimes they don't.

But, the concept of not watching a singing competition because other people have sang the songs before is like not watching a football game because other people have played better football before.

Jennifer said...

Oh, and Blake is still my favorite, too. Sanjaya's lack of talent bugs me even though he seems nice enough. Jordin's cutesy bounce bounce schtick bugs the heck out of me. While Melinda and LaKisha obviously have incredible voices, I really think Blake would be a much more interesting artist. Gina, too.

Eli Blake said...

I really want to see how well they would do if forced to sing something stupid.

So, since this is the 'British' invasion, how about he minstrel's song who was traveling with the 'Brave Sir Robin' in 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,' first before, and then after Sir Robin had avoided the three headed ogre:

Minstrel: [singing] Bravely bold Sir Robin rode forth from Camelot. He was not afraid to die, oh brave Sir Robin. He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways, brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin. He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp, or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken. To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away, and his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin. His head smashed in and heart cut out, and his liver removed, and his bowels unplugged, and his nostrils ripped and his bottom burned off and his penis...

Sir Robin: That's, uh, that's enough music for now, lads... looks like there's dirty work afoot.

Then came the encounter with the three headed ogre, at the sight of which Sir Robin turned around and headed for home:

Minstrel: [singing] Brave Sir Robin ran away...

Sir Robin: *No!*

Minstrel: [singing] bravely ran away away...

Sir Robin: *I didn't!*

Minstrel: [singing] When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.

Sir Robin: *I never did!*

Minstrel: [singing] Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about, and valiantly, he chickened out.

Sir Robin: *Oh, you liars!*

Minstrel: [singing] Bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat. A brave retreat by brave Sir Robin.

Paul is a Hermit said...

I love you, I love your blog, but

Sanjaya has and always will make me barf and I'm only talking about his singing.

He was miscast from the start, he belonged to the girls competition, in a dress because well, he looks like a girl.
Sorry to insult girls like that.

Something is wrong with the water in Madison, don't drink it!