Thursday, April 5, 2012

idol top 8: time after time, they're the wind beneath my wings

Wow am I way, way behind this week, thanks to an awesome night of bowling and closing down The  Hangout* in Raytown last night.  I mean, here’s it’s Thursday, and there’s no “Smash” recap, no MLB Season Predictions, not even a “Stevo Remembers His Favorite Guilty Pleasure That Signed Off The Air Last Night”, and no, it ain’t Keith Olbermann.  So here at least is the “Idol” Top 8 Night recap, where Idol Tackles the 80s as only “Idol” can: cheezily, and shockingly well.  And the rest of the stuff can come later.

(*: this is gonna fall under the “you aren’t gonna believe this” department for three people, well ok two, since one of them was there to see the change in person last night … but The Hangout is no longer just The Hangout.  Oh no!  It’s new and improved!!!  At least with its name. 

I thought it was totally appropriate that as Katie parked the car, we were talking about “The Night the Sh*t Hit the Fan” from back in 2009 … reminiscing on the debacle that was that evening, a debacle on every level, at every location it went down, one of them being The Hangout … and wouldn’t you know it?  The Hangout is now called … wait for it … hang on – Dusty, Kellie?  Make sure you don’t have any liquid in your mouth, and put down the glass, because you’re about to laugh out loud – The Hangout is now called, in printed form on its welcoming sign … “DJ’s Hangout”.  I immediately busted out laughing, as did Katie.  I get that nobody other than the four of us will get why this is funny … but trust me, it’s hysterical.  Anyways, on with the recap!)

Have to admit up front, I cheated this week and read Slezak’s recap at TVLine.  Because if last night had been awful, (a) Slezak would have written how awful it was, and (b) I could just skip “Idol” and get on to “Smash” and “The Little Show That Could (for Nine Years of Horrendous “Draft Nathan Scott” Jokes Out of Me)”.  To say nothing of the fact that the Royals first pitch is now 26 ½ hours away, and I haven’t posted a friggin prediction piece yet.  But Slezak rated all but two performances as at least a B- … and when I saw Colton (this site’s rubber chicken in the competition) was covering not one, but TWO of my absolute top 100ish favorite songs of all time?  I have to recap it.

Dim the lights, here we go, opening with … Deandre, who, if there is a God, will be going home tonight.  He’s covering Debarge’s “I Like It”.  This week’s guest mentors are Gwen Stefani and Toni Kamal of No Doubt, by the way.

Here we go.  (julie “the chenbot” voice) BUT FIRST!  Let me say, “The Voice of Reason” and I are completely split on this season.  I am digging Season 11 of “Idol”, while Gregg is about one more episode away from pulling the plug on his auto-record.  Sometimes, reputable minds … ok, reputable mind, since I’ve never been accused of being reputable … can disagree.  I think this has been my favorite season since season six at this point. 

Now here we go.  And this is pretty damned good.  Deandre’s problem … is that he SOUNDS great, but looks atrocious.  Seriously, cue up a Deandre performance on Youtube!, or watch a live or recorded “Idol”, and close your eyes while he performs.  Not half bad, right?  Then open your eyes, and in the words of Scooby Doo, ZOINKS!  No wonder “The Voice” is popular.

JLo: “I like it a lot!”  I concur, that was good.  Steven: “totally captivating!  I forgot where I was!”  I think it’s the booze Stevo, I think it’s the booze.  Randy: “this kid has arrived!”  I wouldn’t go that far … but that was by far and away his best performance, and I’d at least debate hitting “buy” for $1.29 on iTunes this weekend.  Put it this way – if the person I think is the worst remaining contestant delivered THAT to open the show (aka “the slot at this point in the competition the person the producers want to go home gets”)?  We’re in for a great night.

(Update: Deandre was sent home.  Probably deservedly so.  But when this kid finishes eighth?  Your talent pool is ridiculously deep.  He'd have faced Crystal in season nine's final, that's how awful season nine was.)

Elise up next, covering Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is”.  I hate this song.  But to her credit, this isn’t half bad.  This is nowhere near as good as her Led Zeppelin cover last week … but that’s a virtually impossible to top performance.  Scratch that – its unraveling as she hits verse two, and descending rapidly down the hill to the land known as “Bottom Three”.  And sweet Jesus, WHAT IS WITH THAT DRESS?!?!  Christ, cut the sleeve off already!  That’s so hideous, God will forgive me someday for using his son’s name in vane twice in the previous three sentences.

Steven: “not sure if that song was the right song for you tonight”.  JLo: “you look beautiful tonight”.  The kiss of death.  Randy: “for me … its one of the greatest songs ever”.  Wait, WHAT?!?!  This song is ATROCIOUS!  Almost as atrocious as RJ’s red polka dot shirt.  “It was out of tune everywhere for me”.  I can’t believe I’m about to type this … but R-Dog is right.

Duet time!  One of my absolute FAVORITE country songs of all time, written by Barry Gibb, performed by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream”!  Tonight, its Colton and Skylar.  And dear Lord, Colton’s hair tonight looks worse than mine the night of my unfortunate incarceration in the Wyandotte County prison eight years ago.  Fortunately, his voice is much better than whatever that thing on his head is.  It looks like my old dog Phogger laid down and died on his head, that’s the color he’s got.  And that is NOT a good thing.  (Side rant: I miss Phogger.  I really miss Priest, but I miss Phogger.  Every night, she slept on the short couch next to the back deck, and “slept” is a misnomer, because whenever someone would stumble out for some water at 3am, she’d immediately start panting, barking, anything to get your attention, because all she wanted was someone to come over and rub her tummy, so she’d flop on her back, raise all four paws up, and let you rub her tummy for as long as you wanted to.  And then get mad when you stopped.  She was (hugh hefner voice) something really special.)

Back to the performance, and damn if I’m not digging this!  God bless it, is Skylar growing on me.  This chick has SICK talent.  Wow.  Just, wow.  That was very, very good!  Randy: “yo!  Wow!”  “I actually enjoyed that!”  JLo: “It was perfect!”  Steven: “match made in heaven!  Showed your individuality as great artists”.  I can’t believe I’m about to type this … but I agree with Steven.  That was REALLY good.  Definitely worth the $1.29 investment on iTunes.

Phillip Phillips up next, covering Genesis’ “That’s All”.  Another song I hate.  And I am calling it right now with the camera close-up as he goes to the chorus: the kid is f*cking STONED!  (pause)  ATTAKID!!!!

A completely forgettable performance, but won’t get him booted, so let’s discuss the obvious: is this kid the front-runner?  He’s number one on EW’s power poll this week (probably deservedly so), and Slezak thinks he’s a shoo-in for a homecoming (aka “top three”) … really?  Can a DMB wanna-be actually WIN this thing?  Jason Castro crapped out in fourth in season six.  I think that’s about where Phil will go out too … but we’ll see.

Steven: “keep that up”.  JLo: “you know how much I love you”.  Kiss.  Of.  Death.  Not one word of constructive criticism.  Randy: apparently Phil’s brother was playing guitar.  That’s cool.  “I loved it!”

Hollie and Deandre covering “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters next … and come on, how can ANYONE in the 20-40ish age bracket hear this song and NOT think of Jessie Spano’s meltdown on “Saved By The Bell”?  If Hollie actually sings “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so … scared!”, I might literally piss my pants.  It won’t happen … but it’d be EPIC if it did.

I gotta admit, I’m clapping along, this is DAMNED good!  Please, “Idol”, tonight?  Give us “We Are The World”.  PLEASE!  There is NOTHING more 1980s than “We Are The World”.  Other than maybe this song.

“I want to squeeze you, please you, I just can’t get enough / And if you move real slow?  I’ll let it go …”

“I know, I know, I know, I know, I want to – I want you!”  God I love when this show glorifies casual sex and/or prostitution!!! 

THAT was enjoyable!  Steven: “that was a beautiful duet!”  Agreed.  JLo to Hollie: “you need to do more of that”.  Completely agreed.  Let it loose girl!  Randy: “very, very, very, very nice!”  Yes, he said very four times.  With two more at the end – “very nice, very impressive”.  To think this man earned more in two hours last night, than I earn in a couple years.

Josh up next, Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”.  I love the original by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, hate Simply Red’s remake.  And he’s doing the original, SWEET! 

Gotta admit – I’m DIGGING the pimp suit.  Uum, not that I went dressed as a pimp two Halloween’s ago.  (I went as “God’s Gift To Women” this past Halloween, right down to wearing a “Price is Right” type contestant’s badge that said “To: Women  From: God”.  You’re damned right I am!)  Performance?  OK.  Typical Joshua Ledet – oversung, overwrought, safe to the next week. 

Randy: drops SIX straight “crazy”’s.  JLo: “Lord, Lord, Lord, Lordy, Lordy!”  Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweety, sweety Jesus girl, it wasn’t “spectacular”, it was “mediocre”.  Steven: “over the top”.  Yup.  Although Steven meant it as a compliment.  Randy: “you SANG it dude!”  Of COURSE he did.  And he drops the “Joshua’s gotta have it!” blast.  Excuse me, a wall is requesting my head be bashed against it.

Next up, “The Sanchize”, doing “How Will I Know” by Whitney.  I have high hopes for this.  And no, I have not been smoking – my dugout is currently “unavailable” due to being left in someone else’s car.

Here’s what I like about “The Sanchize” – she’s having a blast on stage.  She’s got a tremendous voice, by far and away the best in this competition.  Excuse me, since its Masters Week, this (hootie johnson voice) toonumunt.  Here’s what I DON’T like about her, and it was my same bitch about Scotty last year – she does the same godd*mned song EVERY.  F*CKING.  WEEK!  We get it – you can cover a diva.  How about you show us some range honey?  How about you show us an ability to cover multiple genres, which is what USED to define how you won this damned toonumunt? 

JLo: “I can’t believe that voice is coming out of that little body!”  Yes, it was good … but it was the same damned thing we heard last week, and the week before, and the week before … Steven: “you’re great”.  Randy: points out he worked on that song.  Excuse me, a cliff is asking me to jump off of it, I might be back in (chuck woolery voice) two and two if I survive the jump.

Elise and Phillip up next covering Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty’s “Stop Draggin My Heart Around”.  Quick random trivia question of the night – who wrote “Free Falling”, arguably Petty’s biggest hit?  Answer coming in a couple paragraphs.

Now THIS is what Elise should be singing.  Ditto Phil.  This is starting out REALLY well.  You know what?  If these two formed a duo?  It wouldn’t be half bad.  Seriously.  These two as a combo plate is a delicious idea to contemplate.  Put it this way – I can absolutely see me (eric church voice) drink a lil’ drink smoke a lil’ smoke at Starlight on a summer night, watching these two perform, and I’d happily pay for the privilege of doing so.  That was good.  If you’re into the “I’m stoned, so just go off on a riff and enjoy it” type of music.  Which, go figure, I am.

Randy: “that was hot!”  JLo: “I want more of that show!”  Agreed!  “It’s one of those things that you hear … that you just get that feeling, when you hear great music, and its sung that great – thank you!”  Steven: “couldn’t have been better”.  Agree on all counts.

(Random Trivia Answer: Stevie Nicks wrote it.  Of COURSE she did.  "Landslide", "Silver Springs", "Free Fallin'", to say nothing of "Don't Stop".  Unreal.)

Hollie up next, covering Irene Cara’s (I’m not Googling to determine the order) first or second major film soundtrack smash, “Flashdance (What a Feeling!)”  (The other being “Fame”). 

Gotta admit, she’s trying too hard.  It sounds ok, but she’s trying too hard.  She’s too tense.  Relax, girl, relax!  You have an incredible voice.  If you are voted out tonight, you’ll get saved by the judges, you’re that talented.  RELAX!  Have some self confidence for crying out loud!  You’re not a 35 year old blogger in south KC read by 11 people who’s trying to grow a scruffy appearance to pick up chicks more easily.  (That would be me!) 

Steven: “pitch was all over the place”.  Yup.  That was a disaster.  JLo: “let it go”.  Exactly!  Relax!  Have FUN!  “It felt like you didn’t release, can’t let go”.  Yup.  “Stop thinking, feel it, let it go”.  Bango!  Randy: “you have the talent, that’s why we say this to you.  You have the talent”.  Yes she does.  I like this girl.  But R-Dog’s right – she’s overthinking this.  Relax.  Have fun.  An inability to do so killed my season seven rubber chicken (Matt Giraud) at least two weeks too soon.  Would hate to see that happen to a talented chick like Hollie this year.

And cue “The Sanchize” and Josh doing “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by George Michael and Aretha.  Gotta admit – I actually like this song.  Do it justice girl.

Oy.  That was ok.  I’m fast forwarding, because there’s only two performances left, and they’re my two favorite contestants – Colton and Skylar.  Only back up – Jlo just said “you slayed that!”  Close enough.  Yes, yes they did – in the kitchen, with the candlestick, and damn if Miss White don’t look guilty!

Colton doing “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.  In the interest of full disclosure, if I’m feeling down and need an excuse to cry and feel better?  I cue up Javier’s audition doing this song on“The Voice” last year.  That’s the gold standard of this song.  Gonna be tough to even come within 90 feet of Javier’s version, let alone reach the (reggie jackson voice) second f*cking base he’s standing on.

Here we go.  First verse isn’t “Piano Man” good, but its good.  Second verse better.  Hang on, I’m biased – I’m rewatching this to see if my opinion changes at all.

Second time through … I feel the same way.  It was good … but not epic.  It’s almost like he held back too much as the song went along?  Look it, this puppy / pony / rooster / rubber chicken is my favorite “Idol” contestant since Blaker five years ago (and he’s in my top five ever, along with Elliott Yamin, Diana DiGarmo, and Kimberly Locke), but that was underwhelming.  The ending was eight degrees of awful – why slow it down?  I liked the rock vibe he was going for.  Why suddenly slow it down before you hit the finale? 

He has a tremendous stage presence.  Its obvious he’s rocking out with his hawk out up there – enjoying the hell out of the experience.  But dude?  Sometimes, you overthink things.  That was tonight’s effort.

Only Steven is clapping.  Randy and JLo look disappointed.  Steven: “you could do a record right now”.  Agreed.  JLo: backhanded praise.  Randy lumps him in with Phil and Josh.  He meant it as a compliment … but it’s appropriate – all three were “blah” efforts.  This better not get him booted – this wasn’t Stefano covering “Closer” awful like last year … but that was NOT his best effort.

Finally, Skylar, covering “Wind Beneath My Wings”.  Whoa!  THIS is a risk!  THIS is rolling the dice!  A country girl taking on Bette Midler!  I can’t WAIT to see how this plays out …

Here’s what I DIG about Skylar – she’s completely self-confident.  She genuinely believes (at least, watching her perform) that she can pull anything off.  Having said that … THIS is why she looks like that.  Sweet f*cking Jesus, that rocked!  And I HATE this song!  Dammit, do we have to switch rubber chickens mid stream?  What say you, “Stevo’s Site Numero Dos” Official Dog?  (zeus voice) (no bark)  OK, we stick with Colton.  But – but – I’m keeping an eye on this girl.  THAT was awesome!  

Wait ... you just want to make sure that rubber chicken doesn't wind up back on the roof, don't you champ?  (zeus voice) bark!  bark bark bark!  bark!

(**: last night at DJ’s Hangout … began at the Eclipse.  Some band that was really good was on stage, only it was so crowded we wound up leaving after a couple songs.  (And deservedly crowded – the chick in this band was awesome.  Wish I could remember the name of it.)  I heard her do two songs, one original.  The other?  “Midnight Train to Georgia”.  I can honestly say, the best version of that song I’ve ever heard … was Crystal’s.  Even better than the original.  Last night?  Conjured up memories of Crystal’s epic cover.  And that is just about the highest compliment I can pay a singer, since Crystal was the Top Five Idol Performer booted for Colton.  “Midnight” is a ridiculous tough song to cover, because EVERYONE knows it.  This chick last night had me feeling (jlo voice) goosies, she was that good.  Hope to hear her again in the near future, whoever she was, that one song was that damned solid.)

Randy: “this is your best performance on the show … unbelievable!  Amazing!”  Yup.  JLo: “you know what you just said to America with that performance?  DO!  NOT!  COUNT!  ME!  OUT!”  Also notes that she just took on something well outside of her comfort zone.  BANGO!  Steven: “that was the beginning of a great career”.  BANGO!

I hate to disagree with my self-appointed "Voice of Reason" ... but the state of "American Idol" is strong.  Any of these seven contestants left can deservedly pull this off (albeit some less deservedly so than others).  I can't wait to see how this season plays out, right champ?  (zeus voice) bark!  bark bark bark!  bark!

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