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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

IdolCritics, Top 5

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From NPH: Kris Allen says he can't match up vocally with anyone else left. He's right, although his performance of "The Way You Look Tonight" challenges the assertion. He looks goofy in a suit, though, for real. Randy loves it ("Mad nice vocals"). Kara loves it. Paula loves Kris. Simon's not as enthusiastic, since it was "a little bit wet." Beautiful. Seriously, this is what Allen needs to ride as far as he can: guitar-less ballads that left him plant his feet at a mic and make goofy faces.

Iraheta, who is as hampered more than the others by this genre, is my favorite to make it to the final. She comes out all Michelle Pfeiffer in "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and absolutely crushes "Someone To Watch Over Me." She's it, boys. She's totally it.  Kara places her in the finals based on this performance, saying, "If that doesn't land you in the finals, I don't know what will." Welcome to the party Kara. Simon predicts she could be in trouble based on her lack of demonstrated confidence. I hate the comment, 'cause Simon's crazy-like-a-fox smart. 

Giraud went to Western Michigan University. So did The Roller's and my classmate. Huh. Dude needs to lose the hat, and his rendition of "My Funny Valentine" is bland, compared to what Iraheta just did. I wasn't moved. Neither were Randy or Kara. Paula liked that he took Jamie Foxx's advice (thanks Paula), and Simon throws his lot in with the crowd, who love him. He praises him for his "believability" and "authenticity."

Sidebar: can we be done with this insistence upon "authenticity?" What ever happened to the virtues of performers performing? When did it become necessary for a singer to be a lovable, believable, cuddly persona? I blame Kara for most of this verbiage, which I think has confused the contestants and single-handedly let to the demise of Lil Rounds. It's not constructive. It's not specific. It's sentimental and lame and all wet. 

Next we see Taylor Hicks--er, Danny Gokey. He's boring. So far, the worst. He hits soaring full-voiced high notes and I couldn't care less. I'm ready for the Gokey parade to be over. Randy loves it though and thinks Gokey could make a record like this right now. Kara gushes over his "swaggah," Paula calls it "stellar," and Simon holds him up as the exemplar of confidence. Gokey looks on with his smarmy smile all the while. I'm not buyin' it. 

And now the conspiracy has to advance, 'cause Lambert's in the sweet spot again, singing right at the end. That's the choice slot, and he's had it several times already. I expect nothing but salivating, gushing, coronating love from the judges. Jamie Foxx love him, for what that's worth. And, um, the high note he hits at the end is an absolute show-stopper. Kara and Paula are stupid beside themselves and can't complete a sentence in praise of the Wicked kid. I don't know, though; it feels like I've seen it already. 

Concluding thought: I'm more committed to Iraheta and less excited about Lambert now than ever. I just can't bring myself to root for Adam; he belongs in a different format, not begging for the praise of this half-baked panel. Iraheta I can root for. And so I will. 

Iraheta for Idol '09: the campaign has begun. 


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

IdolCritics, Top 7 (redux)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From NPH: Leaving the unpleasantness of last week behind, we press on to second week of seven. Three things have I noted, which I will briefly expound.

First, the video intros are gone. Last week's attempt at getting the show done on time split the judging in half, so that each performer was critiqued by only two judges. That was stupid. Everyone knows that if you haven't got Cowell's reaction, you might as well not even perform. Cutting him out of half the contestants was a bad move.
So this week order is restored and all four judges get a crack at all seven contestants (and, speaking of "all four judges," I'm ready to say that the added judge experiment is an unqualified failure. Diaguardi isn't terrible, just redundant; much of what she says is a parrot of what the other judges have already said. The show simply seems too big for her. If the tabloids are to be believed that either Kara or Paula will be gone next season, then I don't think there's any question that Kara has to go; Paula may be loopy and unintelligible, but that's part of the show's appeal.).

Secondly, Lambert is ruining Idol. I think it seriously has to be asked whether or not a contestant can be too good for the show. I've already aired my suspicions about the heir apparent's devoted fan following--the judges--and last night's love-in after his very, very good version of "If I Can't Have You" only confirmed those suspicions. He is an exceptional singer and a polished, poised performer, but Idol isn't doing itself any favors when its judges slobber all over him. Honestly, the shots of misty-eyed Paula during Lambert's performance and Randy's declaration that he's "Ready right now!" gave me an eerie feeling that the reality TV heavyweight was jumping the shark. It's bad television: it squelches the sense of competition, and it diminishes the judges.

Finally, Lil Rounds is getting railroaded. For weeks now the judges have ridden her with complaints that they don't know who she is as an artist. They have gone on and on about the Memphis diva's failure to "be herself," while at the same time blasting her lack of creativity and originality. Last night even elicited a prediction from Cowell that she's done for. It's not without any warrant, this line of critique, but they've hammered it so hard for so long, and they seem incapable of saying anything good about Rounds' performances beyond "You look hot!" that it's starting to appear scripted. Her take last night on "I'm Every Woman" won't change the course of history, no, but it was a solid rehearsal of a disco classic. You get what you get when you come on Idol, and blistering criticism from the show's judges comes with the territory; but if there's demerits to be handed out for a lack of originality, then give them to Randy, Paula, Kara, and Simon--give them to Simon Fuller--for Idol's inability to say anything coherent about it's only R&B contestant.

I'll end with a version of power rankings from last night.
  1. Adam Lambert
  2. Alison Iraheta
  3. Danny Gokey
  4. Matt Giraud
  5. Kris Allen
  6. Lil Rounds
  7. Anoop Desai


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:59 AM | link | 0 comments |

IdolCritics, Top 7 Results

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From The Producer: So I created a "results post" so you the reader do not have to scroll down through the endless ramblings of NPH's most boring and unoriginal friend "The Roller" who so eloquently told you I should enjoy my life as an ass last week for stating the truth in an original manner. Well Mr. Roller while I will take "not totally devoid of insight" as your pathetic attempt at acknowledging I know what the hell I'm talking about let me restate something: Please stop writing because you're just awful, boring, and unoriginal. For instance I loved how you tired to be edgy this week by talking about Giraud's head mole ... whoa ... so edgy. You're a hack and if you are going to keep writing could you please edit your post so when you say "bottom 3 and then list 4 contestants" realize you just look lame.

What a joke American Idol was this week. Giraud should be gone. He's a good karaoke singer and that's the extent of his talent. I'm sure he could move to Detroit and play piano at some upscale hotel bar for money. Get rid of Lil, Giraud, Anoop, and Kris so we can settle out who is the next American Idol.

NPH - The judges huddle up because they are on a ticking clock with a live television show. That is why they huddle up right at the end ... unless you're crazy and quack like a bird across the stage. Then you can just sing your swan song.

I want to comment on your post from a few days ago as I'm so glad you gave Susan Boyle some love on your blog. Susan is everything that is good with entertainment. While you can make an argument that pop culture loves Susan Boyle because YouTube has now posted that at least one video of her performance has been viewed over 27 million times. I'm not convinced America really does embrace this type of talent because as of right now with the dumbing down of everything to appease the masses of closed American minds we wrap everything up into nice, neat, sexy little packages so Target, Walmart, and Best Buy can entice you to buy a really sexy packaged piece of crap. What I hope will happen is that talent will again rise to the top in all areas of life. People like Susan Boyle should be cherished because God has given her the gift, talent, and joy to sing in front of people. It's the same feeling I get when I watch or listen to Paul Potts, Howard Stern, The Soup, Slumdog Millionaire, The Sopranos, and even Eastbound and Down. It's the same feeling I felt when Barak Obama was elected President of the United States of America. I pray for talent to rise to the top and become leaders because of true talent and not because someone is a "total package" based on smoke and mirrors. The point of reality television really should boil down to this:

Give common people who have common jobs an outlet and opportunity to show the world that God has in fact blessed them with a unique, beautiful, and stunning gift. Perhaps America could learn a thing or two from British Reality Television ... perhaps we too can embrace true talent in all walks of life and holding on to those ideals might just allow greatness to rise back to the top and lead America out of this cesspool filled with mediocre people mistaking a sense of entitlement for talent.

America ... let's find our talent.

FROM THE ROLLER: Wow. You, sir, are an idiot. I find it incredible that you spend your first paragraph telling me what an idiot I am... and then the rest of your article proving the same of yourself.

First off... I don't think that I have an editing problem. Perhaps you have trouble reading? I said the bottom three is "between" the four contestants I listed. That means, in case you were wondering, that I thought it would be three of the four. Which it was, I believe.

Secondly, and most importantly, I appreciated your commentary on Susan Boyle and how her ascendancy to pop culture legend highlights the potential of reality television. Your effusive praise for NPH was well-taken. By me. Because... wait for it... I WROTE THE POST. Read it. Are prepositional phrases too much for you? Make a decision, Producer. Are you "so glad" about the Susan Boyle "love" on the blog, or is nothing I say/post worthwhile? While you're deciding, I'll tell you what is becoming increasingly obvious: America need not look for its talent anywhere in your vicinity.

I'm done.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:48 PM | link | 0 comments |

Idol Critics, Top 7

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the Roller:
Sort of live-blogging (DVR style)
my initial impression of Allison's performance was that “if the judges praise the heck out of her, it’s a total scam.” This was not a good vocal. Listen to it. I beg of you… if you really thought this was solid, listen to it again. I am willing to stipulate that it possibly sounded better in the theater, but over the air… this was not good. It sounded like she had a sore throat, or she had a mouth full of something. Strange. Pitch problems… screwed up some of the words… just not good. Oh… and then the judges pimped the heck out of her, of course. Very annoying.

The comment Simon made about the girls was right. Allison is their only hope. But, based on her going first, along with what I thought was a very “blah” performance… I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the bottom three (of course, I haven’t seen the others yet).

Anoop: pretty good. Had one phrase that was off pitch. Liked his mild rearranging of the song, and the bead of sweat on his upper lip. He was working it. Does Anoop remind you of an Indian Ray Romano? He totally does that for me. Simon was killing himself that he couldn’t trash the ‘noop-dogg.

Lambert: Tarantino wanted to make out with Adam, that much was clear. Adam’s outfit and his little jog was totally weird. He’s a real talent, though. Paula needs to sit down. Okay, the whole “never gonna die” was totally channeling Axl Rose. Why oh WHY will he not perform some of the classic late 80s/early 90s hair band stuff? He was ripped from this genre and planted here, 20 years later. [side note: Do you think he’s gay…and if that “comes out,” will it have an effect on his fan base of screaming ladies? Just a little discussion fodder]

Matt: Needs to wear a hat… I like him, but the head mole is a little bit distracting. Dude can seriously play piano, though. Wish he would have done without the background singers and the classical guitar. The middle portion of the song was a total mess. Again… Simon can hardly contain himself.

Commercial: I can’t wait to see “Glee,” and I suspect NPH feels this same way.

Danny: “Endless Love” is an interesting choice… with the harp even. Sure, this song is from Endless Love, but isn’t it from “Happy Gilmore,” too? Ice skating scene. He’s good. I had thought that his vocal style would have worn thin by now; but, in my mind, he’s still going strong. Sounds a lot like Eliot Yamin, and I can't decide if that's good or bad. Like Eliot, he’s a very good singer… but there really isn't (as Simon says) much exciting about Danny. But, I wouldn’t mind seeing what he could do as a church music director… that’s for sure.

Kris: (Simon not letting Randy back to his seat…I can’t stand when the judges just jerk around) LOVE the “Falling Slowly” choice! Love this song… love it. He’s putting a lot of confidence in the background singer… wow. This might be the best performance/song choice of the year. I’m serious. Not just his. THE best performance. This was incredible… smart… and done REALLY well.
OH MY GOSH – Randy, you are an IDIOT. I can’t believe he is hating on this… and I’m now hating the fact that we don’t get to hear from Simon so he could set everyone straight… and that they are cutting off critiques so soon. Kara sort of redeemed this, but focusing on Kris’ “obscure” choice of song (you know… he just picked an ACADEMY AWARD winning song on MOVIE night!) sort of overshadowed her point about this performance being excellent. This was a very unjust critique from Randy and I’m really hoping it doesn’t cost him. I haven’t exactly loved on Kris this season, but this was top notch. I think I’m actually going to rewind and watch again.

Lil: can’t say I love Tarantino for saying he’s a fan of Lil. Let’s be honest – she’s not as good as some similar artists Idol has had (Jennifer Hudson, Tamyra Gray, Melinda Doolittle, Mandisa) and would already be gone had any of those Idol contestants (all losers, eventually) been in this year’s competition. She’ll be bottom three for sure. I’m sure she could have a solid career as a backup singer. Paula is just showing off that she knows the author of the song. they are rushing the critiques again, and it’s annoying. As we’ve said… the talking back is never a good idea.

Recaps: Seriously, Allison was off pitch. Listen. Anoop was solid… Adam was creepy and weird, but good… Giraud was decent but bottom 3…. Danny was solid, if boring… Kris was awesome (but may go unappreciated)… Lil was blah (bottom 3).

Predict: Bottom 3 will be between Allison, Anoop, Giraud, and Lil. Hoping it’s Lil… but we might see Anoop or Matt exit.
Oh well.

From NPH: On this we agree: Kris Allen stole the show. Nothing else--not Lambert, not the two-by-two judging, not the tears of the Gokey--nothing else matters. He alone took a layered and nuanced song that required careful control and full-voiced expression and carried it. I actually got some chills, which probably have more to do with the immediate emotional associaton you make with the film (if you've seen it) when you hear that song; the characters and the narrative are deeply embedded in the chords and lyrics of those songs, and you recall all of their complexity and yearning after only a few notes. He channeled all that masterfully, and I applaud him.

This is exactly what Kris Allen needed to do: stand up there like a big boy and invite an audience into a moving rendition of a good song. No guitar, no grimaces and grins and vocal gimmicks. Just plant your feet and sing, son. Well done.

The idea of Kris sticking around for another week doesn't turn my stomach tonight.

I said that nothing else mattered, but I'll respond to your most ereudite commentary. Iraheta was bad. That much is undeniable. Why Paula and Simon raved about her I don't understand, although I don't suspect a Lambert-style conspiracy. The problem was that "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" totally handcuffed her and prevented her from playing to her strength in the field, which is her rough-around-the-edges style. It was far too staid.

Anoop has figured out that all he can do well are romantic ballads, and so that's what he's sticking with. Randy and Kara said as much. That said, he does it well.

Gokey is Gokey. I'm not a Gokey fan, largely because he sounds to me like Taylor Hicks. "Endless Love?" Really? With a harp? Really? Could his appeal to the over-40 female demographic be any more overt?

Let's see . . . who else? Giraud was solid, but you get the feeling that you've seen the best of what he can do. There's no more there there anymore. Same thing with Lil, although to a much greater degree. She seems to have completely lost herself amidst all the judge-speak about "artistry" and arrangements. She doesn't even sing well anymore, let alone choose strong songs.

Now for the line of the night: "You dare to dance in the path of greatness." Paula actually said that to Lambert. Yes, but has he ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight? Abdul actual stood and "Whooped" for him. It's embarrasing. He's crazy good; there's no mistaking that. But he's good at something that is not that appealing to a mass pop music audience, right? His heavy metal scream is something to behold, but I can't take it week after week. I can't imagine it as part of "This is The Time of My Life" or "This Is My Now" or "For A Moment Like This." In other words, I can't hear Lambert singing the Idol victory song, because they, like the competition itself, is about pop music, and he is, at best, a tourist in a genre too small for him.

And to your question, I thought these pictures outed him already. Bill O'Reilly took up the question as to whether or not it will have an effect. Enjoy.

From NPH: I read about the results before I watched, but I watched anyway. Briefly (because there is so much in the world that is more important than this), it's a neat moment. Giraud is saved, the other six contestants mob him on stage, Cowell gets caught on camera smiling, and Kalamazoo's favorite son sheds tears of joy. It's nice.

But it is so painfully obvious that this is what the producers of Idol are after that the moment is very difficult to take seriously. It could have been Matt or Anoop or anyone else; somebody needed to be saved to justify this "judge's save" innovation so that Seacrest could proclaim "Idol history has been made!" For the sake, it seems, of making Idol history. And what is history to an eight year-old pop singing competition?

I've complained about it before, so I won't prolong it here. Just one thing more: can't the judges wait until after the ousted contestant is finished "singing for his life" before they deliberate with one another? Their decision obviously has nothing to do with said life-or-death performance, since they're not even watching it.

The only way this move has any significance is if Giraud survives next week as well. Being that it's disco week, that could well happen. Break out your Barry Gibb, Matty, and work it!


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:29 PM | link | 0 comments |

The Reason...

From the Roller:

Friends, this is why we watch shows like American Idol.
Watch it. Love it. Understand.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:09 PM | link | 1 comments |

Album of the Year Nominee: "Fantasies" by Metric

Shortly after moving to California in the summer of 2007, I subscribed to the Today's Top Tune podcast at KCRW.com and was promptly served a warm helping from Metric's long-delayed release of "Grow Up and Blow Away," their inaugural studio album from 2001. Two and a half years later, I'll take that record over most others any any given day. If I was stranded on an island . . . you get the idea: it's stupid good.

I've never gotten around to picking up their eventual rookie effort, 2003's "Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?" or the subsequent "Live It Out," and the likelyhood of that happening any time soon just got diminished, as the Candadians this week put out "Fantasies," their new new record, and any time I had laying around for extraneous activities has been taken up with playing and replaying it, grinning like an idiot.

I don't do music reviews. I'm simply a man in search of a genre. And I'm pretty sure that if Metric were a genre, I would major in it. I'm only two listens in, but totally, hopelessly, deliriously hooked. Watch the video for the album's first single, "Give Me Sympathy," below. And ponder this:

"Who'd you rather be: The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?"


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:33 PM | link | 0 comments |

IdolCritics, Top 8

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

*Newest content at the bottom

From The Producer: I want to apologize to the people reading this blog as I've been MIA the last few weeks and I should thank NPH for his post yesterday regarding my movie project CURVE which Simon Hunter is going to direct. If anyone has opinions on who should star in CURVE I'm open to hearing your thoughts, but will absolutely take the credit if it really happens or will make fun of you mercilessly if you post some really bizarre or weird thought on potential cast.

Is there any way to post this blog in braille because Scott Macintyre needs to hear the truth ... YOU ARE TERRIBLE AND CANNOT SING!!!!!!! You're awkward, boring, and not talented. No one will tell this guy the truth because he is blind so I will ... please stop singing, please go home, and perhaps when you move home you find a local bar that will put up with your horrible attempts at karaoke. Furthermore if for some reason you make it through this week because Lil Rounds or Kris Allen are voted off the show instead of you would you please buy a pair of sunglasses for next week so I don't have to endure 4 minutes of you singing while you never blink during your entire performance. It creeps me out.

This weeks bottom three has to be Lil Rounds, Kris Allen, and Scott Macintyre. America please vote off Scott Macintyre because he has very little talent. At least give Lil Rounds one more night to hang herself since she has no original bone in her body. She's a copy cat and a bad one at that ... I know this stings NPH because you love Lil Rounds, but she's not good. Kris Allen has to be in the bottom three since I was texting during his song hoping it would end since it was one note the whole time he was performing.

Holding strong at the top Adam Lambert, Matt Giurad, and Danny Gokey. Lambert is good NPH and that is why he's going to win, but you might be on to something because the judges praise gets more and more over the top every week. They must have pre-booked all the venues for Lambert to perform after he wins the show so FOX is doing it's part to force feed us Lambert. I think it would be funny to watch America vote him off the show two weeks in a row because you know that first week the judges are going to pull him right back.

BTW ... WTF was going on with the freaky guy from FRINGE tonight? That guys is creepy and I think he raped and killed four people in the audience.

NPH - I killed you in the March Madness Bracket so pay your respect to me in front of your blogging/twittering/tweeting/and whatever else the hell you do all day when you're not helping kids or making Kool-Aid ... Phillips got hammered by his wife in the Bracket which isn't surprising since he's completely lost all ability to be a man. Oh and last ... does "Roller" write science text books for a living because that guys writing is BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From NPH: Wow, Producer, the gloves are coming off. MacIntyre, Rounds, Roller: you're more merciless than Simon Cowell to these people. Beware, though: at least one of them gets a crack back at you on the blog.

I don't have much to add about tonight's performances. I'm really disappointed in most of it. There's a level of interest that's just not there, and I think that has as much to do with Fox and 19 Entertainment as it does with the contestants and their numbers. The ratings started to slip last year, so this year has a fourth judge and a new "save" option; the contestants aren't equally divided by gender. Whatever, it all reeks of over-effort. MSN had a solid article last week about the lies perpetuated by Idol, chief among them being the line that was repeated again tonight: "this is a singing competition." It's not. It's a television show. There are rules for singing competitions and rules for television shows, and they're not the same. Be that as it may, Idol used to be a pretty compelling television show. These last few weeks, though, I can't find much to get upset or excited about.

In the upset column, the absurd deference paid to Adam Lambert. I called this out four weeks ago, and it never really abated, but tonight it surged spectacularly. Cowell, looking like he was being poked in the back by a stick, ceremoniously gave Mr. Dress-Up's rendition of "Mad World" a standing ovation. It was good, but c'mon. That's just uncalled for. I smelled a rat before. Now I smell a possum.

If it were up to me, Gokey, Desai, Rounds, Allen, MacIntyre, and--yes--Giraud would all be sent packing, like, yesterday. They're all such a boring mish-mash of sameness. Giraud is the best of that bunch, but even he's a dressed-up hamster running in a wheel of blah. It's all so very boring.

Lambert is the truest performer left, and, like we've both pointed out, he seems to have his ticket for the finale already paid for. But the emerging gem for me is Iraheta. Kara (who's contributions to the show were wildly overestimated by yours truly) said tonight of Iraheta's ability, "Let's go make a record." Seriously. Her voice is powerful and genuine and unique. She doesn't throw away notes. She stands there and sings, and she's crazy good.

Pop music and pop culture are fun. Idol, at its best, is a guilty indulgence in that fun. This season is careening off course to an overly-serious bad ending. Give me Iraheta and Lambert. The rest of them just aren't any fun.

From the Roller:
Okay... thought I'd try to get a word in before the results show. Prediction, as referenced last week, is that Lil is in the bottom three. The only reason I think she won't be gone is that the brutality (accuracy) of the judges probably pushed some sympathy voting her way. I don't think, either, that racial issues won't be in play at some point this season. She is the only remaining African-American, and I don't know if there has ever been this early of an exit for the last contestant from that racial-ethic group. That could be interesting if she ends up going... OR if she ends up staying past her real shelf-life... which can't be more than a few episodes. She was bad last night... and it was probably one of the only times I've ever really understood what the judges always harp on about a 'karaoke' performance.

Producer - you are without feeling or tact, though not wholly devoid of insight. That works for you... fine. Truly, enjoy life as an ass.

As for Scott, it's time to go. There's a mediocre record selling 120,000 copies that is begging you to make it. Get to work on it.

Matt - better with the hat.

Lambert - good performance, but let's not lose that his 'brilliance' (Rocky) is heavily reliant on finding a song from 1982 that was remade into a #1 in the UK as recently as 2004 (Donnie Darko soundtrack), and appeared on the worldwide commercial for "Gears of War," one of the best-selling video games in recent years. He made a remake his "own." Way to go, David Cook... I mean, Chris Daughtry... I mean, Adam Lambert. Good company... good strategy... but, at this point, it's not genius. Reminds me that a few years ago, the runner-up Blake Lewis was actually remaking songs himself, which deserves some retroactive praise... and a frowny face that he has been a commercial failure. :( Oh well. Oh... and while I'm on Lambert, WHY in the heck does he get to go last in the 'money spot' so dang often. Totally unfair. To go right before voting opens has proven (historically) to be such a huge advantage. Do they really need to give this guy the Archuleta-esque favorable placements?

I wish the judges (especially Paula... she is a waste) would shut up enough so that the folks (like Matt last night) who did well toward the end of the show would get their due.

As for the rest. meh. nothing really of note, honestly. My wife has decided she "really likes" Iraheta... I can't say I'm sold yet. She a bit too affected for me in her style, but she is 16, and that's how musicians have been doing it in her lifetime.

I want some Sebastian Bach-Skid Row from Adam. On this, I demand satisfaction.

From NPH: Roller, stay off David Cook. Stay. Off. David. Cook.


The judges' demand for artistry with this bunch is a tactical mistake that's hurting the show. They're using the term as a sort of lipstick they want contestants to apply to pig-faced pop music. The better performances are coming, though, from contestants who tee up great songs as they were intended to be sung. Iraheta's "I Can't Make You Love Me" was tasty because it was simple. Kris Allen's "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" was goofy because that's a guitar song forced to do jazz band work. Why can't a good song done well be enough?

What Lambert is doing is not artistic; about that you are right. Like previous white male contestants who will go unnamed, he is making use of new versions of old songs to great effect. That works because a professional musician arranged it for a specific type of singer. And, to be fair, the Donnie Darko version of "Mad World" that Lambert reprised is no great vocal departure from the original, even if its instrumentation is gutted and tempo slowed. And he did that version the way that version is supposed to be done. And he crushed it.

I'm officially an Iraheta fan, though, and you're not talking me out of it.

My bottom three prediction tonight: Anoop, Scott, and Lil. Scott's going home, amid many tears and high fives.

From the Roller: David Cook is good... loved his remakes. For that matter, loved Daughtry's use of Live on Johnny Cash week, etc. They are among my all-time favorite contestants... partly because they're smart. But, the point was, it's not "artistry," it's a good strategy (one that's been used before). What they are actually talking about was what Blake Lewis was doing. That worked out well for him... um...

As for "Mad World," the Darko version is cool. And yes, not entirely a departure from the original (unlike Chris Cornell/David Cook's Billy Jean). But, getting rid of the synthesizer and the unmistakable 80s flavor is a good thing for AI contestants. As my wife said, "they should quit using keyboards and backup singers... they always sound cheesy and/or terrible."

Not opposed to Allison at all, just not a "favorite" of mine. yet.

No comment on the potential impact of race on voting, the impact, implications, or fallout? I agree with your prediction, btw.

Adam Lambert must sing "I Remember You" by Skid Row. On this I will not compromise.

From NPH: Keep holding out hope, my friend. It will soon be revealed that Adam Lambert is the love child of Sebastian Bach and Melissa Ethridge. It's poetry.

Just watched the results. My bottom three picks were spot-on, as was my prediction of Scott's ouster, complete with tears and high fives.

I'll comment quickly on the race thing. It's a non-issue. TV is TV, and the people who call in and vote do so because they love their Idol. You'd have to look at the numbers to actually make the case that race is having an effect: what's the race profile of the majority of Idol viewers? What about age? Maybe that's more decisive. Or geography? When Kristy Lee Cook sang "God Bless the USA" last year, it was a bald appeal to geography (granted, a racially homogeneous geography), and it worked like magic. Also, race could work in a contestant's favor if they're a minority. After all, all the cheery white contestants are splitting the votes of the cheery white viewers, whereas the African-American, Latin, and Indian contestants have entire demographics to themselves. Sort of how I beat out the two football players for Homecoming King in college: I carried the theater geeks while they split up the jocks. The geeks win again.

I'm ready to declare two things about Idol after tonight. First and most obviously, the show's highest utility is selling Fords, Coke, and iTunes. At its best, Idol makes you forget that. At its present worst, it's all too obvious, like when you have to watch not only another insufferable production of the contestants vamping for a car commercial but also a separate video about how they made the commercial they're about to make you watch. Gah! This is TV, and TV sells things, I know. But do they have to make it so obvious?

Secondly, the Judges Save is a total failure. Not only will it never be used, not only is it a novel gimmick aimed at injecting some drama into the Stax of Wax results shows, but it completely torpedoes what little shred of dignity the show used to possess. Used to be that the Idol who got voted off got to sing one last time as a sort of farewell, teary and embarrasing though it often was. Sometimes though, given that the performance didn't mean anything, it was better than the one that counted, and we all got to feel good about the accomplishment of an undiscovered talent.

Now the post-boot performance is supposed to mean something. Which means that as Scott MacIntyre sings what everyone knows is his swan song, the judges are acting like 6th graders, leaning over their desk to whisper to one another. And then they can't even get their act together enough to give a guy a decent send off. MacIntyre was nearly begging for his Idol life tonight while Simon, Kara, Paula, and Randy stared at each other and the audience heckled them. It's bad, bad television. It reduces a feel-good relationship into an akward let's-still-be-friends-but-occasionally-make-out talk. I am not a fan. It's shameful.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:28 PM | link | 1 comments |

The Producer (Revisited)

Monday, April 06, 2009

If he's dragging his blogging feet on IdolCritics, we can forgive the Producer if only for this bit of news from Variety:
Simon Hunter ("The Mutant Chronicles") has signed to direct indie thriller "Curve," produced by Benderspink and Solipsist Films, which is financing.

Producers include Stephen L'Heureux of Solopsist, Chris Bender, JC Spink, Neal Flaherty, Chris Billig and Nathan Miller.

Fo' sho.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:45 PM | link | 0 comments |

IdolCritics, Top 9

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

From Roller:  Thanks for your input, NPH.  Let me be clear: Lambert is good, and he's good TV... you have that right.  But, that doesn't mean that I have to think that "Play that Funky Music, White Boy," has any place in the "most downloaded" category, and I also think that the judges saying he made that song contemporary was a little obsequious.  That song is not, and really, can't be, contemporary.  Lambert might need to be careful - he can look sort of creepy sometimes (see Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger reference), and I don't know if that helps him with the younger set.  

I watched the results show last night.  Some thoughts:  
I loved Megan getting in the face of the judges.  She said in an interview that she did that 'cause she was sick of the judges talking out loud to one another during the contestants' performances.  Good for her.  

Kara's response to Ryan when questioned about the heckler (who was Megan's brother, apparently) who called her a broken record was weak.  Kara is getting more annoying all the time, though she has yet to break into Paula's realm of irrationality and incomprehensibility. 

The lip-syncing at the front of the show in the "Don't Stop Believing" number was terrible.  Especially Allison.  She looked like she was chewing cud or something.  Danny was the only one who was somewhat believable, and that is because he had enough good sense to obscure part of his mouth with the microphone.  It didn't even look like Scott was actually playing the song, as his hand movements didn't match the music.  That keyboard was not plugged in.  

In the Ford video, the rapping from Kris Allen was actually pretty good.  

We referred to Matt, in our house, as looking like a "much uglier Justin Timberlake."  

I was surprised that 'Lil wasn't bottom three... and I think she's going to have a tough time sticking for too much longer, honestly.  Her age/appeal to a younger audience is showing.  If they hadn't pimped her so hard during the prelims/auditions, I doubt she'd still be here (as opposed to Megan Joy and Kris, who were ONLY shown at auditions before the round of 32). 

Okay... I'll leave it to you.  

From NPH: Roller, welcome aboard. I'm totally with you: criticizing song choice is such a standard part of the judges repartee that it means absolutely nothing. It's the one concrete thing they can critique about a contestant (aside from their outfit), because everything else boils down to, "you worked it out" or "I wasn't feelin' you." And we now know just how little "choice" may be involved on Idols' parts.

I'll grant your assessment of most of the performances, but what is foolishness to you about Lambert's number is brilliance to me (note: not "artistry" but sheer entertainment brilliance). People are drawn to Adam Lambert either as a bee to honey or a moth to fire. But they're drawn to him all the same, and that's why he's got the best shot of winning. He's got an undeniable set of skills, better suited for an 80's hair band than anything he'll get to do on Idol, you're right, but whether you're revolted by his performances or delighted by them, you're interested in him. He's water cooler fodder. And, after all, this is television; you don't have to impress people so much as you have to give them something to watch.

From The Roller: Well, I am finally making my long-awaited debut. I feel as though I'm being forced into this unprepared, however, as I haven't even watched the results show yet! I know, it's been a bit of a crazy few weeks.

I gather that Megan, Anoop, and Allison were the bottom three. Can't say that I can argue with that.

One thing that's ticking me off this year... the judges suggesting songs/artists to contestants after they have already performed. It's lame. We don't know how the song selection process works, only that it's not something where "any" song is available (Danny's comment about Motown week and having to sing his 5th choice)... so get off song selection. Just give us a legitimate critique of the performance we heard! It's been a bit silly this year.

My personal rundown on the performances:

Scott will find himself there soon enough though. His Billy Joel was good... but the judges heaped the praise on pretty heavy. Though, the "birth year" thing could work out well for him next week. He has a feel for older songs, and is in no way a contemporary artist. Though, I suppose he's contemporary in the same way Barry Manilow is contemporary... meaning, he could release an album, but he's not going to break any new ground.
Anoop: looked okay, except for the snarly face... that was creepy. Other than that, I can't for the life of me remember what it was that he sang, so that pretty much says it all.

Danny: The Rascal Flatts was a nice choice - big crossover appeal to this band, and the emotional touches on the song that sort of remind one of his touching backstory are going to help him in the votes department.

Lil: I thought this was weak... really weak. I don't know if it sounded better in studio, but I was waiting for the judges to stick it to her, and they softballed the critique. Not impressed with their work there. I, honestly, thought she'd be bottom 3, if not a surprise exit. She is a threat, if only because she's had two pretty shaky weeks and has not found herself in the bottom three yet. Divas usually get voted off in the 3-4-5 spots, right?

Allison: Wow. She was WAY better than the judges gave her credit for... if a little shouty. I think you're right. If she were gone, they'd have saved her. All the focus on her crazy outfit overshadowed what should have been a "hey, nice rendition of an iconic song."

Matt: the more camera time this guy gets, the more I begin to think that my long-ago prediction about him in the finals might be a bit overstated. The Fray is not that different from OneRepublic... get off that train Randy. Interestingly enough though, the fray has been popular in Christian circles, and we know that matt has recorded in that genre before. All that said, I will predict that Matt will show up on the ubiquitous WOW Hits Christian compilation cds within 3 years.

Kris: This was a solid, solid performance... though I still don't think he has a chance at winning. But... I didn't think he had a chance of advancing out of his 12, so he might have a fan base that I am just not aware of.

Megan: This was actually pretty good. For 30 seconds. Then... too much Megan. Bye.

Lambert: This number was foolish. I was embarrassed for him. Ridiculous. Are you honestly telling me you liked this? It was painful to me. Sure, he sang well... but "Play that funky music, white boy?" Ugh. How is this a "most downloaded" song? What? I will be super, super upset if he goes this whole stinking season without singing "I Remember You" by Skid Row, or anything of the Sebastian Bach, Warrant, Bad English, even Guns n' Roses flavor. This guy has a voice made for that stuff. Paula's comparison to Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler was interesting. She puts Adam in a class with two iconic rockers... and two dudes who are seen by younger audiences as relics - old dudes whose on-stage sexuality borders on the creepy. And dudes with crazy mouths... though I'm not sure the last part is relevant.

As for the genre stuff... well, I don't agree. Conceptually, yes, looking at genre/artist based weeks can be fun. Yet, how soon we forget "Gloria Estefan" week? Disco week? What the heck. This, I felt, was the worst thing about Idol (at least in the older days): forcing people to sing songs and artists that they NEVER would end up recording. Some of the genre-bending that has occurred since Daughtry has helped this, but I still like when they give a wide berth to the contestants. They could probably get record labels to sponsor a week, and give them a buch to choose from. That might be a nice compromise.

Iraheta and Lambert? Maybe. I wouldn't put it past Lambert or Allison to really screw up one week. But they are certainly among the top contenders.

Anyway... that's it. I'm just Rolling in the BC.

From NPH
: We're expecting a new IdolCritic voice this week to accompany The Producer and yours truly. He has the NPH 411, so he can make his appearance any time now.

Any time.


Gents, a couple of interesting things happened this week that shed some light on the phenomenon that is American Idol. A departing contestant effectively gave the bird to the judges, who promptly returned the favor by declining to even discuss employing the "judge's save." Good on Cowell for that, I say; the judge's save is a gimmick that doesn't really mean anything. I remarked when the bottom three were revealed that if Iraheta were the victim, the judge's might save her. But she wasn't, and there was no way Megan or Anoop were getting that favor. Megan knew that. To her credit, she said she didn't care, and we all believed her.

Also of note in the Top 9: Iraheta cracked on her Idol-ness Kara DioGuardi, saying, "She's not going to sing, is she?" pointing up the new judge's embarrasing habit of re-doing contestants performances for them. Matt Giraud hammered out a Fray mock-up while standing at a keyboard in a leather jacket. How 1985.

I came away from this week's developments with a couple of insights to test on you guys. First, Lambert is so, so far removed from the rest of the field because he makes for better television. Idol is, after all, a television show, and television is a visual medium. Lambert is a good looking guy who knows how to perform. He has a police siren of a voice, of course, which only helps. But, primarily, he's good t.v.

Secondly, Idol is much better when contestants have to work with a genre. The nod to big-4 sponsor Apple pays the bills (songs were chosen from popular iTunes downloads and contestants were filmed in the opening piece wearing iPod earbuds for no apparent reason), but the availability of such a wide catalogue of music makes for a scattered show. Anoop does Usher before Danny does Rascal Flats while Megan does Bob Marley and Kris does Bill Withers. To the t.v. point again: it's bad. It's for more interesting when performers have to work within the constraints of a genre like Motown or country. Next week is the pick-a-song-from-the-year-you-were-born episode, so no help on that front (last year, David Cook threw down his quasi-controversial "Billy Jean" performance during this week; anything can happen).

Here's the bold prediction that came to me this week: Iraheta and Lambert in the finale.

Discuss. And enjoy Sir Idol below, who rocked it in his return to the show tonight.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:37 PM | link | 1 comments |