Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sanjaya Hair Today gone Tomorrow (American Idol 6 Review)

Ryan Seacrest
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images for FOX

The best thing about Sanjaya Malakar finally getting voted off is that my wife is going to let me take my hair out of that ponyhawk. Had the guy lasted another week, I was afraid she was going to make me put on a red Papa Smurf kerchief. Ah the price of getting her to agree to dress up like Haley Scarnato! In the meantime, why do I have this feeling that Sanjaya’s not going to be opening for Bonnie Raitt any time soon?

This was a weird week on the show for a variety of reasons, most of them outside the control of Idol itself. I have to say that the amount of time and energy spent in exonerating Simon Cowell at the beginning of the Wednesday show suggested that “eye-roll” gate had set off an alarm of some kind. The show’s balance between snark, family-entertainment, and double entendre has always been a delicate one. I suspect that Nigel et. al. saw this as a possible “Jump the Snark” moment for Idol.

I really rather enjoyed the use of instant replay on the Simon insults. I do think the replay did clearly show that Simon was in bounds, but there are some things I wonder about. One is the matter of the picture within picture. Why stick it in the bottom left-hand corner and cover up Paula, the person Simon was talking to, rather than put it in the upper corners? Second, they kept going at the idea that Simon wasn’t rolling his eyes about the “tragedy at Virginia Tech.” They pointedly ignored the equally real and in some ways trickier possibility that Simon was rolling his eyes at Chris Richardson’s using Virginia solidarity as tasteless way to get votes on the show. The replay strongly suggested that Simon was still questioning why anyone would claim to singing nasally on purpose. btw I rather like instant replay for Simon Cowell insults. I could see Paula Abdul throwing a flag out onto the stage, the producers stop the action, Ryan stares into a shrouded replay camera, maybe Randy talks about the critical impact Simon's insult will or won't have on the result....

This one though didn’t actually clear up the question of whether Chris did what he did to make the top 6.

I’m happy to give Chris Richardson the benefit of the doubt, though I have to point out that the circumstantial evidence is pretty interesting. He could have done his dedication before he sang, could have changed to a more appropriate song, and he didn’t even bring it up when he first got his chance to do his post-sentencing statement with Ryan. It was only after he tried to answer Simon's harsh criticism. Chris does, however, appear to have a reputation as a very nice guy which suggests to me that he wouldn’t have decided to use it as his “out pitch” this week. He did, however, apparently go from being bottom three to being top three in a week where most people thought he didn’t sing well. If I were voting, I would have sent him back to Mayberry just for the way he sang. I’d also say that simple nervousness could easily explain the timing of the dedication as well.

There are a lot of people speculating about what Sanjaya should do next. While I’m something of a fan, my suggestions would be that he should take more singing lessons. I don’t mean this in a mean way. I think there were obvious limits as to how well William Hung could sing. That’s not the case with Sanjaya Malakar. The judges clearly didn’t send him to Hollywood as a joke. He often sounded pretty good though maybe never for an entire song. I could definitely see Sanjaya and Antonella Barba as some kind of post-modern version of Donnie and Marie.

As for the post-modem of why he got voted off now, I've seen several plausible lines of speculation. Some say the joke wore out. Some mention that Virginia Tech left the voters much more serious. Others point out that Sanjaya simply didn't sing as well, even by his standard, and for whatever reason he lost his knack for surprising his audience this week. I lean towards the last one. Starting with "I like giving people Something to Talk About", Sanjaya dropped one too many hints that he was a bit too self-conscious of well being Sanjaya.

My one wrinkle is that I think his actually singing well last week hurt him. It set up an expectation that he might suddenly break out to conventional respectability on the show. His meandering sometimes flat take on Bonnie Raitt underlined his lack of rhythm and dynamic control and confirmed that Besame Mucho was maybe less a jump in his performing ability than a song suited to his voice and style.

This is my bottom line though. Three years ago, the weekly criticism nearly destroyed John Stevens's spirit on stage. Scot Savol seemed to turn surly the next. Last year, Kevin Covais got locked into playing a cartoon character. Sanjaya withstood the full measure of 50 lashes of Simon Cowell's tongue and still appeared to have fun in his time on the show. In that sense, Sanjaya Malaker beat the system and I say "Good for him!"

Lakisha Jones- I confess to a bit of a prejudice about Jesus Take the Wheel. If a rapper recorded a song with the same "driving lesson", most of America would be taking him/her literally and screaming that he's endangering all these teenaged kids who now are going to be testing their faith by closing their eyes, letting go of the steering wheel, and trusting in some higher power to get them where they're going. Carrie Underwood sings it and everyone accepts it as some tribute to motherhood and God. My guess is that Carrie could sing about doing Meth, mention Jesus in the song, and America would still buy it as wholesome.

Musically, I thought it was a terrible idea to Lakishafy this particular song. It didn't fit with the lyric and Carrie Underwood remains one of AI's sacred cowgirls.

Melinda Doolittle- Doesn't get enough credit for how smart she's been. Of all the contestants with deep spiritual beliefs, Melinda Doolittle has gotten them across better than anyone, largely by acting on them and not saying much about them. When she did the shout out on Wednesday, saying that she needs her Christian-gospel fix now and then it was perfect timing. I don't think she did it deliberately, but it was the perfect way to obliquely refer to the events of the week and yet not come off as if she might be exploiting them.

As usual, she was very good vocally with "Trouble is a Woman." She kept it sassy, upbeat, and fun. I don't however think she'll be making a lot of country albums.

Phil Stacy- Wow, shows how much I know. This guy's lasted at least two weeks longer than I would have thought possible and this week he did it for the right reason. He did well with Keith Urban's "Where the Blacktop Ends". Instead of waiting for the point where he could start soaring around with his bat sonar voice, it felt like he just sort of sang this one and it worked. I do think he'll have to keep getting better to have much of a chance to go way deep into this. As a possible vampire, maybe Phil was excited to hear about the Pope repealing limbo this week.

Blake Lewis- First, "When the Stars Go Blue" was sort of cheating. It's really a Ryan Adams song that Tim McGraw covered and Blake didn't make much effort to even take it country. And the clothes. I just hope the Blake Lewis look doesn't catch on any time soon, though I say that as somesone who's way more likely to be the makeover subject on "Queer Eye" than any kind of consultant. Also the lights and sound mix drowned him out. It must have sounded better in rehearsals for the show to give him the pimp spot. I wasn't shocked at all to see him hit the bottom three.

Jordin Sparks- To me, the measure of country music will always still be whether of not it makes me want to cry. A few years ago, another young contestant, Diana Degarmo, took on Martina Mcbride's song and got the notes right, but the song wrong. Jordin made sense of this song emotionally, going soft at the right times and soaring at just the right moments. It wasn't just putting emotion into the song, it was doing it with some measure of finesse. The song's message of hurt and recovery resonated perfectly with the week's events.

Simon et. al. also seem to be breaking out the heavy artillery for her.

Other- I thought Martina Mcbride sounded pretty good and I enjoyed the bit with her daughter. One sign that I'm getting old was when they announced Fergie, I fully expected Prince Andrew's ex-wife to get up and start singing.

Overally, I'm fine with Idol Cares next week, but the way they're going about it reminds me of those ten thousand dollar a ticket society extravaganzas where they invite all the beautiful people who would never come to my party, bring in several limo loads of first line entertainers, and promote their own social status while acting like they have a heart. Could it be that one reason there are so many children suffering in this world is that too many of us would rather watch shows like Idol than think about stuff like that? That said, I give the show credit for bringing it up at all and I just hope it really does make a few lives better.

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles

SirLinksalot Sanjaya Malakar American Idol



At 4/21/2007 04:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WRONG!!!! Diana DeGarmo blows linebacker Jordin out of the water! Jordin sucks!

At 4/21/2007 04:44:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks for reading and commenting Anonymous. It's nice to know that Diana found a boyfriend. She always seemed like a very likeable young woman. My best to the both of you.

At 4/21/2007 09:43:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Jump the snark indeed, very good rundown Chancelucky. I'm in agreement with everything but the thought of you in a ponyhawk or the threat of a red Papa Smurf kerchief.

At 4/22/2007 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

thanks Dale...I was actually sort of looking forward to at least trying the kerchief then putting on a white Miami Vice suit and serenading the wife in Spanish.

Sanjaya would have made a great character for Shrek 3.

At 4/22/2007 05:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you looked quite fetching in the 'hawk.

Until I catch you in your midlife Red Porsche featuring it. Pls do not give the wheel to Jesus when you're driving the Porsche.

At 4/22/2007 08:03:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I honestly don't even know if Jesus has a driver's license.

At 4/22/2007 08:57:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Jesus already takes the cake, I think he should leave the driving to others.

At 4/23/2007 08:29:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Whoever drives or takes cakes, I have to say that "Jesus is all right with me..."
What it the world was that song about?

At 4/23/2007 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Good question but I don't care what they may say.

At 4/23/2007 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Jesus doesn't take my wheel until he shows me a copy of a valid license or at least a learner's permit. I don't care if he can change water into wine etc.

I have, however, for a long time wanted a plastic Jesus for the dashboard of my car. Then I wouldn't care if it rains or freezes as long as I have him there.

At 4/23/2007 06:42:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

Did you see how Arianna Huffington sat next to Sanjaya's mom on the plane en route to the WH Correspondent's dinner?

I saw that Chris Sligh already is promoting an album on amazon today.

Sanjaya...sorry, but I thought he was a story, but that was all.

It will be between Melinda and Jordin.

At 4/23/2007 06:55:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I missed that about Ariana Huffington.
If things go to form, I'd agree. Jordin and Melinda are probably the 2 best singers, but strange things happen.


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