Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lakisha and Simon Kissing in a Tree (American Idol 6 review)

They had the leftover Idol winners doing promos for Idol Cares last night and Taylor Hicks’s was especially interesting. It went something like “Before Idol I was playing these tiny clubs in Alabama. Now I play tiny clubs all over the United States, I’m so grateful.”

I think he was being perfectly sincere, it was just a stark contrast with the show’s routine hyperbole. We often forget what a blessing it is to be able to make a living just making music. Simon Cowell’s repeated negative references to cabaret singers, hotels, and bad clubs tends to reinforce that to the point where I often forget that really good cabaret singers usually are much better musicians than whatever comes out of America’s number one show.

For about nine surreal minutes, everyone who missed last Wednesday’s extravaganza got to see the entire show fast-forwarded. I rather liked Annie Lennox’s 9 second version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. If only they could have done the same thing with Robin Thicke. Honestly, I can’t decide which was sadder, Robin Thicke doing an impression of Sway Penala (I actually had to walk out of the living room) or the strangely pathetic message from the President and his wife. Talk about odd body language! If the folks who analyze screencaps of the Bachelor broke out this one, most of them would be insisting that there was no way Laura was going to be getting a rose. Even when she turned towards him, there was more split screen between the first couple than there’d been between Celine Dion and Elvis.

On the other hand, Elvis looked a lot healthier than the Decider. I feel bad for the Commander guy. This is what happens when you don’t let him drink fresh blood. And people wonder why the guy refuses to withdraw from Iraq! (if you remember they had the State of the Union lead into AI early in the year and now that the Decider is Mid-veto on the 4th anniversary of Mission Accomplished, he just happens on to the most popular show on Fox) I had hoped when they did appear on Tuesday night that the show would assign an open line to vote for the first couple as well. Looking at the polls lately, had they done so I’m pretty sure that Phil Stacy would have gotten to sing another week.

While I was never a fan of Phil Stacy, I thought he wound up being one of the feel good stories of this season. As he was sounding very good, making better contact with the audience than he ever had, I thought he really did go down in a “Blaze of Glory.” As they showed Phil mingling with Jlo, Bon Jovi, Diana Ross, my wife commented “Wow, what a great experience!”

Phil Stacy was one of those performers who steadily improved during his stay on the show, managed to avoid controversy in his dismounts with the judges, and seemed to grow more likeable each week. I guess I like trivia bits like this, but it is fascinating to me that both Chris Sligh and Phil Stacy grew up in households where they basically never got to hear pop or rock music. What were the odds of that?

Totally different singer and personality, but Phil Stacy reminded me of Anthony Federov’s run two years ago. Both lasted much longer than anyone reasonably expected. Neither made one think “huge commercial potential” largely due to the lack of originality, but both stayed on week after week by coming off positive, working hard, and singing steadily better. I honestly never thought I’d think it, but when Phil was hugging sailors in the audience, I actually went “I sort of wish I could hear him another week.”

I had wondered how Idol would go back to normal after a week of Virginia Tech and then Idol Cares. Bon Jovi turned out to be exactly what the Doctor ordered to get the show back to what it does best, mindless-escapist entertainment. I’m honestly not a big fan of 80’s rock and Bon Jovi probably sums it up for me. It sounds like Rock the rock of a generation earlier, it looks like it, etc. But the actual spirit of rebellion and the odd illusion that 60’s musicians had that the music mattered somehow culturally got stripped away or got banished to Seattle. In its place, we got MTV, glitz, the music of diversion. Jordin might not have done well with “Living on a Prayer”, but where’s the actual prayer at the heart of even Bon Jovi’s version of the song. It’s just a hook to carry a bunch of guitar licks. You get Budweiser or GMC to sponsor the thing, make money, and go home to New Jersey.

You know about that other 80’s phenomenon lite beer? It’s real beer diluted with water, then they sell it to you at the same price by telling you that it tastes the same. That’s what 80’s rock was for the most part to Rock and Roll. Beer is beer because it’s substantial in some way. Lite beer is a “product” and a de-natured one at that. So if you offer me a case of Bon Jovi, Guns and Roses, and Journey (sorry Randy), I wouldn’t trade it for a single taste of Hendrix or Jim Morrison. On the other hand Bon Jovi and Axl Rose are still alive at 45 so it can’t be all bad. In any case, 80’s rock happens to be a good match for Idol’s own relatively bland musical personality.

John Bon Jovi the person seemed nice enough even if he had this odd knack for platitudes. “They all really want this. They’re all trying so hard….” Actually, watching him strum his guitar, not a hair out of place, etc. made me wonder what it would have been like to have say Keith Richards during his wilder stages guest coach on the show.
“So instead of rehearsing, I took Chris and Blake out and we did a little blow, then we scored some smack, got really drunk, we had sex with about a dozen groupies most of them female I think, trashed a hotel room, and now I think these two blokes really know what it means to rock.”

We’d see Chris stagger onto the Idol set say 4 hours late with a bottle of wild turkey, fall of his stool while setting up, then sing the most renegade version of “Wanted Dead or Alive” anyone’s ever heard.

Randy: Wow, it started a little drunk there, but once you got going, you blew it out. That was the bomb, Man!

Chris- *&$&*$ you.

Paula- I agree with Randy about the beginning, but you were really feeling it there. It’s a side of you we haven’t seen before. (applauds)

Chris- starts pulling down his pants and points towards something.

Simon- Actually, (audience boos loudly) I didn’t like it. Too old-fashioned. Not the sort of thing we can make videos of today or market.

(Ryan sidles up to Chris)

Chris- Get the *%#(*$ out of my face you little $&%$. He takes out a handkerchief, blows his nose into it, balls it up, and throws it in Simon’s face. “You want to see some real nasal singing, *$*%*? Wrap that smirk around this!”

He then punches Ryan and they cut to a commercial while Chris grabs Ricky Minor’s guitar and smashes it to pieces while screaming at him, “Play some real music, something I’ll remember after I’m dead.”

After the judges propped up Chris Richardson’s Idol candidacy for ten weeks, he got voted off anyway. He could have at least done something like that. Instead, the real Chris Richardson smiled, thanked America, and graciously left the stage, as he promised to cut a record deal somewhere and try to make like Chris Daughtry.

I was actually quite taken with the male-bonding fest between Chris and Blake just before the elimination. I think it was a healthy thing to see two guys being physically affectionate with one another without feeling any need to make jokes about it. They looked way closer to each other than George W. and Laura, for instance.

In general, this has been the Cumbaya season of Idol. A lot of the best footage since the top ten or so has revealed just how much the finalists seem to like one another. You always see them hugging, rooting for one another, etc. Even Sanjaya talked about how supportive everyone was off camera. Regardless of the quality of the music, it’s been a nice way to model healthy competition. Back in the semi-finals, it never looked that way with Antonella Barba around. It was interesting to see her in the audience and as the survivors were in their hugfest, I did wonder what she was thinking.

Other stuff:

Melinda Doolittle- She was really charming with Bon Jovi with her I’m really lost in this part of the music world schtick. While she sang well and I thought she did sound a bit like Tina Turner too (even thought that before the judges said it… na na), Melinda didn’t rawk. She only rocked in kind of a Disney version of rock and roll sense. If you imagine the band in Freaky Friday where Lyndsay Lohan plays while she’s being inhabited by Jamie Lee Curtis’s inner-self, it was that kind of rocking. “Have a nice day” was exactly the right song and sentiment for her take on rock and roll.

Jordin Sparks – The producers obviously like her. You can tell, they brought two guitar players on stage just for her the way they did for Chris Daughtry. I don’t think it’s a great idea to tell an aging Rock and Roller even Bon Jovi, “My mother is so excited about my working with you.”
She certainly sings loudly and dramatically enough to rock. Her performance of “Living on a Prayer” just didn’t have any build to it, no sense of shape. It felt like she was too worried about not hitting the notes instead of making contact with the audience.

On the other hand, there are a lot of politicians, including the guy at the end of the show, who could learn from the way the kid did damage control. She admitted it, didn’t make excuses, made it clear that she gave it her best, and basically asked America to trust her to move on and do better the next time. Some might think she was too pageanty, but if so Miss America should be President instead of some of the folks we have running for or occupying the office. I’m speaking generically here. I’m not so sure about the Miss America who posed as 14 year old on that police sting show.

Blake Lewis - I enjoyed Shot Through the Heart with fifty nine dollar Casio keyboard and studio kit. I enjoy Blake Lewis, but there’s still part of me that thinks watching him is like seeing a singing version of Shields and Yarnell. Perhaps next week, he’ll do “Staying Alive” while pretending to sing in a windstorm. He’s awfully likeable on camera though and has sort of grown on me because of that. Might be good on a sitcom.

Lakisha Jones – After she kissed Simon, Ryan started lobbying for a chance to kiss Chris or Blake. Actually, Ryan’s hovering over the kiss was a bit peculiar as was the whole “You insulted my girlfriend” winking exchange with Ryan on Wednesday night. I think the whole bit scored huge points for Lakisha at least in part because it loosened up what had been a fairly stiff stage personality when not singing.

I thought Lakisha was really good on “This Ain’t Love”. Some of it is that certain songs are made to be Lakishafied and many aren’t. This one was and she made the most of it. When she squats into the big notes with her turbocharged eight cylinder voice, there’s sort of a raw NASCAR-like feel to Lakisha’s singing that even Melinda can’t touch. For some reason, she does really well with songs with a slightly defiant edge. “I Believe” was a big voice song, but it just didn’t seem as credible. Anyway, I hope she’s learned her lesson and has stopped taking driving lessons from Carrie Underwood.

Wow, 3 more shows and I get two nights a week back.

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles

SirLinksalot LakishaJones American Idol



At 5/03/2007 06:49:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

But what will we do with the hole in your blog after you win your time back?!

I read, I laughed, I thought. Your split screen comment was hilarious and I thought it very nice in the middle of the Boozy Chris segment when you gave him an underused prop, the handkerchief.

I almost wish I watched The Bachelor.

At 5/03/2007 07:04:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks of the hard things for me as a blogger is that I get a lot of readers for my reality tv writing and a lot less for my other stuff. Last year, I sort of went through blog withdrawal after the AI finale.

I guess it would have been better if Chris had Kellie Pickler's snot rag from last year, but I'd already used that one on the Royal family, so figured I shouldn't do it twice.

Sometimes I wish I didn't watch the I'm not sure I'd encourage you to watch it. Besides, you go to the opera, travel to England, and stuff....I stay home with my wife and watch reality tv.

At 5/05/2007 02:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prez. Lickspittle did his grotesque minstrel-show, blackface mugging protodance, which was an embarrassment to us all. (Not that he tried to dance, but that to those of us who grew up in the South, it was so blatantly racist -- a kind of a mugging version of Mr. Imus' revolting remarks.)

Then Laura reading off the teleprompter says something like "Well, darling, they've seen you dance." Incredibly, the 'darling' was scripted!

When the reality shows are more spontaneous than you are, the bamboozled public will finally cringe, Lickspittle-in-Chief.

At 5/05/2007 09:22:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. Pogblog,
Was that the dance reference that Mrs. Bush was making? I actually didn't know what she was talking about.

A lot of people don't remember this, but early in W's reign, Mrs. Bush told the press that George had written her a poem then produced a bit of "Roses are Red, I miss you" verse.....

Everyone got a chuckle out of how silly the President's poetry was. Apparently, the strangest part of the story was that Laura wrote the poem. It came at a time when some were raising questions about their relationship.
Very odd anecdote from a lot of different angles.

Honestly, neither of them looked very healthy in that film clip. I hope that was just bad lighting or makeup. Otherwise, I'd hate to think they couldn't afford proper medical care or something.

At 5/05/2007 08:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, CL, that skin-galloping dance was the dance she was talking about.

If you get a chance to elucidate the Roses are red poem thing, I never heard about it.

At 5/07/2007 11:37:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

When you look less alive than Elvis, there's a biiiig problem.

At 5/07/2007 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. Pogblog,
I'd be happy to see the soon to be former president on Dancing with the Stars. It did wonder for Heather Mills's image.

The African dancing was definitely funny.

re: the poem business. It's detalied best in Kitty Kelly's book on the Bushes, but here's a CNN mention of Laura making the poem up...

I agree, Elvis looked more alive than the first couple.
Of course, Celine is Canadian, so that whole thing must be partially your fault in some way.

At 5/12/2007 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Hahaha, I accept full responsibility CL.

At 5/13/2007 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

On the other hand, I'd much rather be blamed for Celine Dion than George W. Bush.


Post a Comment

<< Home