So I decided to give this show another try. Wish me luck and hope I don't quit halfway through.
First, some background info on my history with American Idol.
I watched from season three to season seven. My favorites included Fantasia, Constantine, Bo, Paris, Daughtry, Sanjaya (I'll get to that later), and Archuleta. I was the typical teenage Idol viewer, completely unaware of what exactly the show was, and annoyed when the person everyone hated made it further than everyone thought they should have.
In season six, I first heard about Vote for the Worst and how they were all working to make Sanjaya win. I didn't really know much about the website, but I became a Sanjaya fan on my own. He had a decent voice and he had some really fun performances. In short, he wasn't boring.
Then, for some very strange reason, I backtracked next season when I became an Archuleta supporter. I completely blame the halo effect for that. He was cute, my age, and a really good singer. I will admit that I was a major fangirl, to the point where it got embarrassing, but I was 17 at the time. But he did ballad after ballad after ballad, and if I had watched season seven of Idol for the first time at my current age (22), I would have been bored to tears. Season seven was the most boring season of Idol ever, and I actually stopped watching after that.
After that, I kinda-sorta kept up with Idol through Vote for the Worst. I read the entire site from cover to cover, and understood what the site was about. Honestly, the critiquing of the show made me want to watch Idol again so I could join in on the critiquing.
For the record, I am not some bitter Idol reject who wants to destroy the show, or a bald fat guy living in their mom's basement who doesn't have a job or "anything better to do than ruin a TV show". I don’t claim to be a better singer than anyone who is brave (or foolish) enough to try out for Idol. I'm just a 22-year-old Mass Communications major at a college in upstate New York who sees things more clearly about reality TV than I ever have.
There are a couple things that have changed since I stopped watching Idol. The big one is that there are three completely different judges. No elitist, hypocritical British asshole who rubs his manboobs, no drunk, washed-up former pop star, no useless, bitchy producer who writes the shittiest songs known to mankind, and no random comedienne who knows nothing about judging music. Instead there’s Mariah Carey, who’s a legend, Nicki Minaj, whose music is ridiculously annoying, and Keith Urban, because country music is actually the most popular music genre there is (it's the only genre to have its own music award show). I don't know how they are as judges, though. I only know that Randy is a moron whose critiques consist of "yo", "dawg", and "pitchy", none of which are words in the English language.
And I really don't get why there are four judges again. Didn't they already prove a few seasons back that four judges is not good for the time constraint of the show?
If I were in charge of Idol, Paula would be back (because it’s hysterical when she’s drunk on the show), and Randy, Mariah, Nicki, and Keith would be replaced by Howard Stern and Kanye. I’m talking ratings!
Here’s how it works. The Idol contestants will sing and I will grade them. I don't just grade them on their vocals, but also on their song choice, stage presence, and whether or not the performance was good in general.
Things the Idol Contestants Should Not Do:
- Over-sing the song
- Bore me
- Pick a song I’ve heard a million times before
- Sing off-key
- Sing ballad after ballad (see number 2)
- Scream out notes they can’t hit (see number 1)
- Disregard the melody and overdo it with the melisma (see number 1)
- Sing Stevie, Aretha, Whitney, Mariah, Celine, Christina, or Janis (see numbers 3 and 5)
- Sing Josh Groban or Adele (see numbers 2 and 5)
- Sing the most overdone songs on Idol ever (see numbers 2, 3, and 5)
- Sing Nickelback.
Why am I doing this? Well, every year we’re told that this crop of contestants is the best they’ve ever had. So I just want to see if they’re right. I grade on a curve, though, because they're not professional singers. I grade them against each other, and against past contestants on Idol.
Okay, we're getting off-topic.
I decided to skip the auditions completely because I'm really not interested in the morons who sell their dignity to get on TV and come in an inflatable cowboy costume to sing completely off-key. I also wasn't interested in Hollywood Week (is it still Hollywood Week? I heard somewhere it was Vegas now.) because as delicious as the drama of the group rounds can be, it's also full of people crying because they don't make it through. *yawn* Not interested.
So first, Seacrest tells everyone that they're doing something new: a sudden death round. (I dimly register that one of the girls is wearing a pink tutu.)
The new opening credits look like a building being shot by an alien spaceship. Then the faces of past Idol winners are shown... then I see Casey Abrams' face in the mix. I don't know what the fuck he's doing there (I know for a fact he's not a past winner) but I've been out of touch with this show for about four, five years. They also showed two different shots of Scotty McCreery's faces side by side, which I thought was randomly funny.
Apparently the show has a faceless announcer that introduces Ryan. After he already did the cold open before the credits. Yes. That makes perfect sense.
The new set is really, really weird. Why is there such a big audience for the semifinals? Remember back when they just used a really small stage and three sections of seats for the audience?
Apparently they're in Vegas. All right then.
They advertise the judge's Twitters when they're all introduced one by one.
So the sudden death rounds last two weeks, until the group is cut from 40 to 20. Then America gets to vote. I don't get it. Does this mean this isn't the semifinals? This is not clear to me.
There's hype about the girls because Idol creates it. The last five Idol winners have been guys (white guys with guitars, to be specific). It could not be more obvious that the powers that be on Idol want a girl to win this year.
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Onward to the actual singing!
First thing, I didn't know the majority of these songs. I had to Google them.
Jenny Beth Willis aka Pink Tutu Girl - "Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love" by Trisha Yearwood
Jenny Beth is 17 and from Kentucky. Considering all that, I expected her to sing Taylor Swift or something. But she doesn't. She picks some other country song that I've never heard of and watching her sing that while wearing a pink tutu was just odd (she's also wearing cowboy boots with her tutu). Her voice has an earthy, country tone to it, which I bet Keith loves. She was off-key in places. She finishes with the Idol-trademark glory note, which is also off-key in places.
Mariah wanted her to be more vocally dynamic during the verses, which is Idol-speak for, "Go ahead and disregard the melody." Oy. Please don't.
Grade: C-. Not the biggest fan of country music. She seemed a little subdued and awkward throughout the performance.
Tenna Torres Who Has a Really Big Weave - "Soulmate" by Natasha Bedingfield (I didn't know she had other songs that weren't "Unwritten" or "Pocketful of Sunshine")
Right away, Tenna was incredibly dramatic and theatrical. A little over the top, even. She kept bending her knees and sinking into like a half squat with her hands right by her face. Her hands kept gesturing. A lot. Some of her notes seemed whiny, too. The pained expression on her face coupled with those whiny notes did make me laugh a little. And she hit this really weird trill of notes that made me laugh some more. Then she hit a few painful notes in the chorus just as we were given a shot of Keith smiling. After a few more painful notes, I was literally cackling out loud.
Keith said the song required control which she mostly had during the performance. To which I said, "Pffft, what?!" Nicki thinks that people will see now that she has a good voice (hahahahahahaha). Nicki also said she had control. Good God, what are these judges smoking? They were all salivating over her. But Nicki did tell her to lose the weave. Best piece of advice of the night.
Grade: D. Lots of bum notes and oversinging.
Adriana Latonio The First Contestant From Alaska - "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin
Adriana is also 17 and she decides to sing Aretha. WHYYYYYYYYY? Can't they ban Aretha from the show? Any Aretha on Idol is bad Aretha. She's incredibly breathy and she hits some pretty off notes right at the start. And she's oversinging, too. Awesome. *facepalm* She also ends with an Idol-trademark glory note.
The judges said "NOW THE NIGHT HAS STARTED" with the past three singers. They all love her. Mariah gave it an A+ and I laughed. These judges are on crack. Side note: I want her dress.
Grade: D+. I've started this policy where I tune out when someone sings Aretha, Whitney, Stevie, Mariah, Celine, Christina, and Janis. I just get bored because it's not as good as the original.
Brandy Hotard aka Other Southern Girl - "Anymore" by Travis Tritt
Brandy sings another boring country song I've never heard of and also has a few off notes at the start. The painful notes continue throughout the song, painful enough to make me cringe. She tries to scream out notes she can't hit which just makes it more painful. Ouch. She gave a smiley performance that just didn't go with the song.
Keith said her voice was really, really good. lol. Okay. However, Nicki was on point when she called the performance "pageanty" and that she didn't connect with the song because was singing a sad song with a smile on her face.
Grade: D-. Brandy said she tried to connect with the song. Really?
Shubha Vedula (Ryan pronounces her name like it's a joke) - "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga
Another 17 year old. Idol has a lot of them this season. Her video package had her doing diva hand and head movements, which amused me. She sings "Born This Way", starting acoustic, playing the piano, but oversings her way through it. Then the song picks up the pace a little, but it stays about mid to low tempo. *yawn* Her dancing is funny, though. She kinda shifts quickly from one foot to the other while throwing her free arm out into the air. It kinda looks like a chicken dance. I think Vote For The Worst called it the "AI Poopy Dance". The last trill of notes were funny, too.
Nicki called her a mix between Christina Aguilera (no) and "the Gangnam Style guy" (HAHAHAHAHAHA). Randy told her not to oversing (despite praising Tenna and Adriana - hypocrite).
Grade: D for singing but A for hilarity. The funniest performance of the night.
Kamaria Ousley The Plant - "Mr. Know-It-All" by Kelly Clarkson
Kamaria has music industry experience. I call FIX! They're planting contestants with prior experience into the show again! First things first, her outfit made me laugh. Black and white pants with a really weird starlike pattern on them, what looks like a sparkly pink bra over a black leather top, black lace gloves, and a black and white leather jacket. Then her painful bum notes distracted me from her outfit. Eesh. She's also gasping for air after every line, like she's already exhausted, despite being about two measures in. And this song is pretty underwhelming for a Kelly Clarkson song, so I don't know why she's gasping for breath. Her high notes are really off-key.
Randy said the pitch was all over the place (at least he stopped saying "pitchy"). Only Randy seemed to be completely honest about how bad it was. Mariah liked her outfit and I laughed again.
Grade: FAIL. Off-key everywhere, all over the place. The only entertaining thing was her outfit and even that was overshadowed by her terrible vocals.
Kree Harrison Who Looks Like a Janitor - "Up to the Mountain" by Patty Griffin
Kree is dressed in a button-down shirt that looks five times too big for her. And she's off-key. And she's oversinging. And I'm bored. And she's screaming out notes she can't hit. And she ends with the Idol-trademark glory note. At this point, I realized there were three people after her and I groaned.
Keith is creaming his pants over her. Same for Nicki. She mentioned her parents, which makes me think she has a sob story to milk this season. Nicki also said she made love to the song (hahahahahah).
Grade: D. SOOOOO BORING.
Angela Miller With Really Big Hair - "Nobody's Perfect" by Jessie J
Ryan said she brought the judges to their feet, which is making me suspect major pimpage. She's wearing high-waisted shorts (oooh girl, no). She oversings a lot, too. I'm sensing a pattern here. She follows the camera around and does the AI Poopy Dance a little. She's very breathy and I think she forgot the words at some point. She hits a few bum notes and moves a little wildly, which makes me laugh. And she's oversinging again. Please stop. And this is like the seventh ballad sung tonight (I'm counting "Born This Way" because it was still at a slow tempo). These girls just seem without energy tonight, even Pink Tutu Girl didn't have energy to match the ONLY UPTEMPO SONG OF THE NIGHT. I'm falling asleep here!
Right on cue, the judges pimp her like crazy. Nicki actually knocks the pimpage down a little by saying that Angela's performance isn't as good as the one of her original song earlier in the competition. Hmmmmm, I wonder who the producers want to win?
Grade: C-. Is she the best vocalist of the night? Eh. In my opinion, she's not even that interesting. She bored me.
Isabelle With No Last Name - "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holliday
Isabelle does not seem to have a last name. But she does have a sob story about being overweight (pretty weak sob story, imo). "Oh boo-hoo, I didn't get asked out to prom, wah wah, I didn't go to a school dance." Neither did I, bitch, but you don't see me whining about it. Aaaaand, here's the eighth ballad of the night. *zzzzzzzzzzz* Everyone and their mother sings "God Bless the Child". She's off-key and screaming out notes she can't hit. She hits a pretty painful run of notes and I bury my face in my hoodie. Why? Why do you do this? Ends with another Idol-trademark glory note. I think that makes six tonight.
Randy called it pageanty. Mariah wished it had been simpler.
Grade: C-. The girls really suck tonight.
Amber Holcomb The Last Performer (FINALLY!) - "My Funny Valentine" - the R&B version
Amber was on Idol last season but was cut in Vegas. They show some footage of her from last season that I'll bet they never even showed last season to begin with. Then she sings ANOTHER BALLAD COME ON WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME. She also sings off-key and screams out notes she can't hit. Then my video cut out because I'd watched 72 minutes of video today (thanks for saving me from that performance) and I had to wait another hour before I could finish the episode. The rest of the performance was pageanty and still off-key. And she's oversinging again. *headdesk*
The judges are pimping these girls like crazy because the producers want the girls to win. I'm not looking forward to them treating the guys like shit.
Grade: D-. Zzzzzzz. Oh, is she done? Thank God.
Then the judges pretend to discuss who to cut, when the producers have already decided beforehand who's staying and who's not. When they play the snippets of each performance, the bum notes still make me cringe. Pink Tutu Girl, Other Southern Girl, Isabelle With No Last Name, Kamaria The Plant, and Shubha were cut, and Tenna With the Big Weave, Kree Who Looks Like a Janitor, Angela With Big Hair, Amber The Last Performer, and Adriana From Alaska advanced.
I was very disappointed in this episode. These girls were among the most talented singers in the country? I don't know what to expect as the season goes on.
See you tomorrow. I hope the boys are better.