Monday, February 19, 2007

Hollywood and Flow (American Idol 6 review)

After watching ten hours of auditions, I learned all these backstories only to find out that I don’t know who at least half the final twenty four are. And what do I know of some of the finalists? First off, there’s Sundance Head, the guy who started off as this year’s Taylor Hicks but with a better voice and a father who had a number one hit. He sounds terrible in Hollywood and then tells a heartbroken Tommy Daniels, “If I make it big in Hollywood, you can be my bodyguard.”

Do they seriously expect America to vote for Sundance Head? They might as well have had him quote Tim Hardaway while they were at it.

How about Antonella Barba, whose best friend forever, Amanda, appeared to take one for the team by playing head games with a teenaged Baylie Brown while Antonella said nothing. They made Color Me Barba even more appealing by placing her next to Marissa Rose who gets to sing well in her clip. In the meantime, Barba is shown having trouble with lyrics, the same sin that Baylie Brown got booted for.

Am I really supposed to like the fact that Paul Kim walks around Hollywood soundstages barefoot and wants to wear the same underwear every elimination day? What an image!
Anyone voting for him will be spraying their cell phones with hand sanitizer afterwards. Was it just me or did Rudy Cardenas’s version of Georgia sound like Bill Murray’s Saturday Night Live lounge singer?

Who am I supposed to root for? On the female side, I watched the auditions closely enough so I could do these reviews and I don’t know who Leslie Hunt, Sabrina Sloan, Amy Krebs, or Nicole Tranquilo are or where they auditioned. On the guys side, it’s better, but there are small matters like I never heard Beatbox Lewis sing, at least in an American Idol sense. They made Sanjaya Malakar out to be the world’s nicest teenaged brother, but you barely got to see him sing enough to make any judgment about talent.

I’m well aware of the fact that the Hollywood rounds are the bridge between two different American Idol shows. The steadily growing audition rounds are snarky and junior high cruel. In the midst of that, they drop in a handful of back stories of singers you might actually root for in the final twelve. The elimination rounds are this multi-layered guessing game. Did the judges get it right? Did all those teenagers with cellphones get it right? Did the performer play the wrong hand? Did I get it right?

For a couple years, the show was big on showing the interpersonal dynamics of the various candidates as they attempted to sing in a group. Though it was obviously heavily edited, this often felt like the most genuine snapshot of who some of the finalists really were. Two years ago, I remember how they used the group sings to have most of America asking if Scot Savol had some sort of mental problem. At the same time, Anwar Robinson got to come off as America’s greatest music teacher. Of course, Robinson was still voted off before Savol once the two cracked the final twelve.

I never did understand the musical purpose of the group sing - the show’s elimination rounds are generally based only on solo performances. Still it made for great reality television, sort of like Idol goes Big Brother. This year, they cut the Hollywood portion down to two one hour installments. In the second, you got to see Simon go “You didn’t…..” stupid long pause, “have to pack your bags, have to feel like you won’t see more of us, etc.” Basically though, you always knew how it was going to turn out because if the candidate got a long solo clip before you hopped in that elevator with the video camera, it got pretty obvious who was and who wasn’t going to be in. This year's group sing stuff was so compressed, that except for the Jersey best friends forever schooling "I was born for the city" Baylie Brown in real city ways I really had no idea why anyone was being kept or cut. The only lesson I could take from the very confident Jory Steinberg’s sudden elimination was that you shouldn’t make “I dressed like Paula jokes” once you actually hit Hollywood.

One simple theory for the choppy storylines of Hollywood week appears to be that the show’s ratings for this interlude have always been lower than either the auditions or the elimination rounds. A second reason appears to be the growing merger between Idol eliminations and As the message boards have gotten increasingly sophisticated, various reasons turned up for the more “shocking eliminations”. Second chance Ashlyn Carr had been arrested for putting sugar in her ex-boyfriend’s gas tank. Akron Watson, the shy cousin who actually could sing, had some sort of criminal history. Steinberg and Thomas Lowe may have had too much of a professional history. Tommy Daniels had been convicted for stalking and killing Sundance Head, or was it that he turned out to have a conviction for a hit and run? Jenry Berjarano had a Myspace page that made him sound like one of the President’s twin daughters.

Now, none of the audition rounds are live. They certainly have time between filming them to vette the individuals who get extensive stories. We know there are maybe hundreds of people who tried out who actually sing pretty well. Why in the world did they waste our time with segments on these folk who got eliminated for non-singing or undisclosable reasons?

There’s clearly an ongoing attempt to institutionalize the show. For instance, there are two candidates who have a history of having tried out and failed in Gina Glockstein and Nicholas Pedro. Were they making Baylie Brown an even more interesting story for Idol seven or eight? How many cowboy hats does Matthew Buckstein own? Are they showing all these people with criminal records so they can set up a Hustle and Flow story line for some future season? Will we see some hopeful kill Skinny Black in the back of a seedy nightclub just after the auditions then go out and sing "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."

All I know is that I’ve been having this recurring dream. I die and they put me in an elevator equipped with a video camera. I think the other person in the elevator is either Osama Bin Laden or Karl Rove. It’s sort of hard to tell the difference once you see the two up close. We get out of the elevator and there’s Dog backwards himself, some proto-version of the Madonna, and Satan sitting behind a table while St. Ryan stands right outside the pearly elevator doors.

I’m feeling good because they’ve shown so much videotape of my backstory, but I don’t know for sure. Dog backwards says “So, how do you think you did? Karl Bin Laden shrugs and says, well I thought I did pretty well all things considered. There was a rough spot here and there. I maybe shouldn’t have killed all those people, but I tried my best.

Satan lowers his cowl steps and says, "Well, we can only send one of you to heaven and naturally the other one is going to hell. Karl Bin Laden, we're sorry to say...."

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles



At 2/21/2007 07:39:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Very insightful Chancelucky. I wondered about Hollywood week and the group competition thing too.

That Antonella or Amanda tonight sure sucked the life out of the room didn't she? Elevator going dowwwwwwn.

At 2/22/2007 09:35:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks Dale.
I suspect Antonella Barba will be around for another week. I sort of like looking at her and would tolerate her being just so so. Since I don't vote, I guess it doesn't matter, but she's also getting support from

At 2/22/2007 07:07:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Interesting to see that you were right. Oh well, there's no accounting for, well, anything.

At 2/22/2007 11:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ask "Why in the world did they waste our time with segments on these folk who got eliminated for non-singing or undisclosable reasons?"

From reading your entertaining columns -- I remain an Idol Denyer, having never seen one frame -- I would gather that it's easier for them to be snarky with the bad singers & the early shows seem to be all about the snark?

At 2/23/2007 05:01:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I was having a look at the Vote For The Worst site. I think if I was in America, I might waste a few bucks just for the entertainment of it all.

At 2/23/2007 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. Pogblog,
you're likely right, but that essentially makes it 2 different shows.

vote for the worst is one of these odd things that the marriage between reality tv and the internet has wrought. It'll be interesting to see what it looks like when the medium becomes fully interactive. With the American signal going fully digital soon, I suspect that the tv/internet/computer will merge very soon. Maybe we can be part of the Blog shopping network or Blogolodeon.
I could see people watching a show like Idol, then getting real time commentary from selected folks on the internet midshow, sort of like an Oscar watching party.

At 2/24/2007 06:05:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I can see it happening but will they read what I say with all the swearing? It's funnier sometimes that way.

Interesting idea and probably just around the corner. Where do you get all these ideas? Oh right, thinking. Chancelucky, you are the next Thinking Idol. Keep your shoes on.

At 2/24/2007 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Yes, was sad about Paul Kim. If he was going to have a gimmick, he needed something better than that like maybe a t-shirt with a target on it or an upturned collar on a Lacoste shirt.
Dale, I've never heard you swear on your blog.


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