Thursday, April 24, 2008

Carly Smithson's Fun Ends (Idol 7 round of 6)

Since I’m like this big time Idol blogger, I’m sometimes privy to information that the rest of you pathetic fan-types don’t hear about. You know, I’ve heard about some woman in New York who obsessed over Michael Johns so badly she started doing odd things with Photoshop. There’s another one in Texas who still talks about Sanjaya and Taylor Hicks. No wonder the producers don’t let just anyone in on this stuff.

Oh Geez….can I start over here? I kind of forgot what I was going to say. It’s not like I have the memory of one of T.S. Elliot’s cats. Btw, has any mentor ever been tougher on an Idol competitor than Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber was with Jason Castro? I would say if they ever do a remake of Wizard of Oz though, Jason would be a shoo in for the cowardly lion. They wouldn’t even have to spend money on a CGI enhanced mane. And am I the only one who thinks that David Archuleta is trying out for a touring production of Aladdin? Do you think Brooke White got enough mileage out of flubbing the opening for a second time on the show?

So where was I? I was so darn good in rehearsals for this post. Sir Andrew himself had me stare into his eyes as I wrote the thing and he told me how good it was. I have to say Andrew Lloyd Webber might have been on of the best mentors the show’s ever had. He told the show’s pet teenager to open his eyes when he performs, he was honest with Jason Castro, he actually did get Carly Smithson to relax (imo it helped but she still got voted off), and he managed to do it all with a measure of grace and charm. Simon could learn from this guy.

I was also very impressed with the fact that Ryan finally kissed Simon. I know it was one of those very ambiguous displays of affection and devotion, more or less like the shirt hanging in the closet in Brokeback Mountain, but I suspect the two have copied the moment onto DVD to cherish forever. You know that scene in Age of Innocence where Daniel Day Lewis touches Michelle Pfeiffer’s gloved hand and they both go all fluttery? That was the exact look on Simon’s face when he realized what had happened.

Okay, what did I find out? Now that some of the more talented singers have been voted off after arguably strong performances, a lot of viewers have been wondering what the show is up to. Of course, the producers official line is that “America Votes” we just subtly and not so subtly try to manipulate the way you vote. Anyway, Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson both sang quite well according to the judges and by most measures. Brooke White and Jason Castro both seemed to be almost embarrassed to be on the show on Wednesday night because they were so rough on Tuesday. What’s going on? I mean if it’s not about the singing what’s the point of the show?

This morning, I got an invite to a special trade show attended by all of America’s major retailers. We’re talking Walmart, Target, the Home Shopping Network, and the Pentagon. While the rest of the world is concerned about the cost of fuel and food staples like rice and wheat, they’re busy trying to sell us items we can’t really use though at amazingly low prices. Anyway, the talk of the convention was this season’s new American Idol products. With the crash of the CD market and the failure of the media spinoff scheme from last year (who can forget Justin loves Kelly or Puck and Pickler), Nigel et. al. have jumped into the ultimate Idol venture, American Idol housewares.

Naturally the talk of the show was the David Archuleta blender. It looks like your basic household blender and to be honest that’s all it is, but it has a life-sized full length photo of a smiling David Archuleta on the box and glued to the glass. Anyway, whatever you throw into the David Archuleta blender whether it’s John Lennon, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dolly Parton, or Mariah Carey, 90 seconds later you pour out a rich, creamy, pop ballad. It doesn’t have an especially distinctive taste, but it’s inoffensive, wholesome, sweet, more or less vanilla with a noticeable but barely detectable Latin flavor. Adults might find it a little boring, but for some reason teenage girls absolutely love the smoothies it makes. They just see the Archuleta Blender and they immediately start squealing with delight and hugging the thing. A special safety circuit prevents their hands and faces from getting caught in the high speed blades.

It is a bit strange that no matter what you put into the mix, it always comes out sounding the same. To be honest, it doesn’t always work. One time someone as a joke poured in some live Beatles and the Archuleta Blender sputtered a little, but the teenage girls and Paula only loved the product all the more for that because that made it “human”. Basically, if you’re selling something that vibrates to young females, the more human it is every now and then the better it sells. The product does come with one other warning. For some reason, it makes a lousy father’s day gift. Still, it should have you just licking your lips in anticipation.

Another motorized product that seemed to be drawing a surprisingly strong level of interest was the Jason Castro portable back massage unit. A handsome looking cushion covered in a soft fur-like material, the Castro massage makes relaxation in your home so easy and painless that a few minutes in the “on” position and you’ll be singing “Hallelujah” to yourself. With one of these, you could be on national tv for the biggest moment of your life and you might have to stifle a gigantic yawn. It’s battery powered so the Jason Castro back massage unit has its limits. For example, don’t let your Cats anywhere near it or they may tear it apart. Again young females seem to like the product and have been known to buy more than one at a time. In its category which is unique and totally itself, the Castro battery-powered back massage cushion should do surprisingly well. It’s so effective sometimes, people will insist that you look stoned or at least a little breathless.

Again it’s kind of a niche thing, but the Brooke White stain removing appliance is managing to stay on the shelves. You take something old and faded maybe on the simple side and you run the Brooke White stain remover over it and it’s supposed to make it shiny and now. Well, it does work with old Carly Simon and Carole King records. We’ve also heard that someone with a Pat Benatar CD got surprisingly good results once. Even if it doesn’t make it shiny and new, the Brooke White stain remover will always make it look authentic and sincere which apparently for a surprising number of people is good enough. Also if it doesn’t work the first time, you just start over.

There does appear to be some odd chemical in the Brooke White stain remover. First, never try it on DVD’s of R rated movies. There are some reports that it also shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight. The product has a pale finish and if you so much as say “Here Comes the Sun”, it starts whooing and spinning around uncontrollably. Other than that, it’s rather amazingly durable. It even has a special microchip which says “Thankyou” and pouts cutely even when you say bad things about the product. This product is guaranteed to outlast even better built and designed competitors.

Due to their rather surprising popular acceptance in recent years, the retailers group had high hopes for the Carly Smithson tattoo-maker. Several years ago, the same technology was used for the Carly Hennessy line of label makers but a marketing problem stalled the product roll out. In any case, this baby boasts an industrial strength inking mechanism. Initial sales were very strong. The Smithson tattoo-maker did a very good job with images of the queen a logo that said “Come Together”, and even one that said “Shadow of Your Smile”. For whatever reason, it had some problems with a simple image of a Blackbird and the company nearly had to issue a recall. Other issues with a Total Eclipse only worsened the problem (customers were complaining about a load screaming sound from the unit). They called in Andrew Lloyd Webber to straighten out the manufacturing issue and to his credit, he managed to fix the problem (he’s like the Jesus Christ of this industry) and also marketed it as “fun” rather than as a household appliance (there was one customer who’d used the thing so much he looked like a Klingon. Some people swore that he'd married the product). Unfortunately, it was a bit too late to save it and sales continued to fall anyway. Even offering a free t-shirt to the first 500 phone orders couldn't save it. It wouldn’t shock us if the Carly Smithson Tatoo-Maker reappeared in some other form in a few years.

After the retailers finally rejected a line of silver lame toy horses and socks known as the Kristie Lee Cook collection and an ultra-tiny set of sushi knives set to be called Sushi At Every Miele (A David Hernandez line of Boy's dance outfits also never quite got off the ground. Same thing with the Amanda Overmyer authentic scream chamber), they rather hesitantly decided to market the Syesha Mercado high stool. One of the biggest selling points of the product was the amazing indestructibility of the Syesha Mercado stool. Normally with previous models of stools, a guest would sit on the thing one week and be gone either the same night or at least by the next Wednesday. Anyway, the Syesha Mercado school looks attractive, it’s made from an extremely high volume plastic used to produce high decibel speaker diaphragms. The manufacturers were very optimistic about the Syesha stool early because they exposed it to extreme cold then tapped on it and it still had many of the qualities of Poly Arethathane, a legendary product.

The Syesha Mercado stool was marketed with a young woman who smiles a lot, says thank you to everything, and always manages to reappear on the shelves to the amazement of those who consider the product too Yesterday. I Believe that for whatever reason there are people who Will Always Love this Stool and that the Syesha Mercado might be in the stores longer than anyone imagined.

Perhaps the strangest product of all in this year’s American Idol housewares line is a set of David Cook CD’s. Apparently you stick them in a CD player and surprisingly good music comes out.

Not only does it make Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson sound quite different and even fresh, but amazingly it can do songs from Phantom of the Opera more or less straight. It’s a bizarre marketing idea I know, but I think it's the only AI product left that has a chance to stay in stores for a while.

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles

Buddy TV AMerican Idol Page



At 4/24/2008 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

Chance, that was one molten lava bomb of a post, dawg. Spot on with every product.

And yes, as you observed on BeckEye's post, The Yawn was the highlight of the night.

As was the comment about not knowing a cat sang Memories the night before. In front of Lord ALW!

I howled. Could you hear me howling?

At 4/24/2008 12:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I really enjoy your articles for the most part. I have to disagree w/your product for David Cook though. How about a prepackaged artist that the producers will make sure wins, no matter what. What with his cd already selling quie well, do you really think they will let this cash cow escape the pasture? Isn't this supposedly an amateur singing competition? How does already cutting a cd and performing live for years make one an amateur? I have grave doubts that the votes are ever counted. AI is just a money making machine. For DC, winning is moot. He will sell a lot of cd's. He is in his prime as a performer. DA is at least 10 yrs. away from his prime years. Who would you hire right now? This show has nothing to do w/best talent or popularity. It is all about the dollar. DC will be appointed AI, just like George Bush was appointed president. Don't delude yourselves that your votes have anything to do w/it!

At 4/24/2008 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks GT,
I'm afraid I didn't hear you howl, but my hearing's not what it used to be. At this point, the furthest away I've heard a howl was in southern Montana. It's been a while since I've heard Nova Scotia.

At 4/24/2008 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

In defense of David Cook's experience, he was probably 5th or 6th among this year's finalist in terms of professional experience singing for real audiences. Michael, Carly, Brooke, Syesha, and even David Archuleta have probably had as much if not more stage time and exposure.

I genuinely have no idea if there's some sort of fix. Personally, I kind of doubt it otherwise there'd be no way to explain Scot Savol or Jasmine Trias's long stays on the show.

My take has been that they've tried the hardest to push David Archuleta this year, but they're certainly also pushing David Cook as the alternative. I'd be really suprised if any of the other three are anything but 3, 4, 5 this year.

Still, it's always interesting how different perceptions can be. It makes things a lot more fun.

At 4/24/2008 12:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got the blender wrong - it's a David Cook blender - add any song, Nickelback it up for 90 seconds and spit it out.

At 4/24/2008 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

you could well be right. We'll have to see what happens at next week's retail show where we get to see which products get a 4 Diamond Seal of Approval.

At 4/24/2008 05:52:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

Carly and Syesha were the best performers, and I am totally disappointed that Carly was sent home. I found it more ironic considering that the show went out of its way to appeal to a Christian Music audience a couple of weeks ago, that Carly's best performance of most anything she had done of "Jesus Christ Superstar" sent her home. Maybe the viewers are more pious than I thought, but that rock opera song is one of my very favs. I appreciated Simon encouraging her.

Other wise I agree with the blender symbol, and would add that it could be like the SNL's "Bassomatic", and the presenter could do no wrong, no matter how bad blended bass guts tasted, except Dan Aykroyd did keep his eyes open with no problem.

Castro will be on the chopping block next. How he escaped this week is beyond me, but as Simon sez, he's charming.

I'm betting on Cook to win it all, and actually, I think he is fairly talented. It was nice to see what happened to Aiken on Broadway.

And yes, we need more Ronco inside secrets on this blog.

At 4/24/2008 06:10:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

So I take it you won't be ordering one of the David Archuleta Blenders. I can get you a discount and I still have about 500 of the animatronic Taylor Hicks's from two years ago.

At 4/24/2008 07:02:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

Re: is there a fix?

Presumably there are certified independent auditors involved in the counting of votes. (not that accountants aren't above fraud, but assuming that it's all straight, just for argument's sake)

My question is what's in it for the judges to push this one or that one?

I suppose you'd have to ask how they are they compensated.

Do they get a cut of the profits generated by the winner's CD? Or do they have shares in the AI production?
Or is it a flat rate per show?
Does the cred. factor of picking a winner increase their price for next year?

I wouldn't be surprised to know there is vested interest involved, but I'd just like to know what it is?

At 4/24/2008 07:21:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I didn't know about the massager. But I bought some Jason Castro rolling papers the other day. They're awesome.

At 4/24/2008 07:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Gifted Typist: I don't think that the judges have a vested interest in who wins or not. I believe that the juggernaut that is AI, including the producers, promoters, and anyone else that stands to profit from the sale of the product that is the winner of AI, are the ones making the decisions. I heard Simon say in an interview that they "would make sure the right person wins".
It will be interesting to see if they continue to pimp DCook and to unnerve DArch. Has anyone noticed that since sales of DC's cd have been increasing, DC either sings last or nearly last. Carly never got to sing last! They have been doing all they can to trip up DA in the meantime. He has sung first, and they tortured him on the results show during Mariah week. Then, this week, when he and DC were called out together, they said Randy said DC was molten hot. Then they said Simon thought DA was weak. Didn't Randy say he was the one to beat? Why didn't they say that? It will be interesting to see if DC ever goes first or has a bad comment between now and his big "win". Carly and the others who will get or have already gotten the axe should be thankful that they won't have to work w/such a greedy, corrupt organization. Hopefully they will be able to find promoters who are really interested in them and will help them build the careers that they deserve.
Welcome to America Idol! Land of the greed, home of the depraved!

At 4/24/2008 07:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chancelucky- thanks for your reply. I really don't think DA has ever performed live w/a band. Choir, I think. And Star Search, sort of a glorified talent show. Carly did a cd years ago, and it bombed. She also performed w/bands live every week. As for the others, Michael certainly has done a lot, I don't know about Syesha. Jason probably not! Brooke? Who cares. DC has done more than any of the remaining contestants by a mile. I like him! It's not his fault the show is the way it is. But he is no amateur.
All this controversy only feeds the AI machine. What is an amateur? Do the judges sway public opinion? Are the votes cast real, or just window dressing?I don't think I will watch the show again next year. It just seems wrong to support those greedy AI bastards! Having a winner is great! But humiliating the others and treating them so sadisticly for the entertainment of the masses...makes me want to stick my head in your DA blender!!

At 4/25/2008 04:37:00 AM, Blogger Sunny said...

I love the Castro device. Works well to increase relaxation especially if you add Patchouli incense.

Accompaniment of a nice herbal, paper rolled treat, optional.

At 4/25/2008 08:16:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I do think there is some minimal regulation of reality tv. The results can't be completely faked. I imagine there is some manipulation, but I don't think they'd run the risk of claiming someone was booted off who really wasn't.
I do think the producers probably do have preferences. They are interested in finding someone to market.

I know everyone assumes that about Jason Castro, but the one thing I saw about him was that he's pretty religious (not that they don't smoke marijauna)

Wasn't Junior Star Search with a live orchestra? David A. has also mentioned being in benefits, etc. His dad is a professional musician. I'm pretty sure he's been in public with a band.
I really haven't looked at David Cook's pre-Idol career much so don't know where he's toured, what he's recorded. Brooke White opened for a national tour for a medium level country singer. Jason Castro doesn't have music background but he was on a reality show before. All the remaining five have been on camera before in some form.

One of the difficult things about their showing so little footage of the contestant's normal lives this year is that we don't know what they're like. My guess is that Bo Bice probably did do drugs some. I don't know about Jason Castro....and I suppose it doesn't matter, but again it's interesting that so many people assume that he's into the Rasta lifestyle because of the hair and the laid back style.

At 4/26/2008 08:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, how 'bout giving this a spin?! If the votes really do count, when Brooke gets the boot, Jason will pick up most of her votes. Both Jason and Brooke get a lot of votes, according to Dial Idol. If you were to combine them, and give them all to Jason, I doubt that either David would have as many votes as Jason. Would that be the bomb, or what?! I don't know which would be better- the look on the judges faces or the one on Jason's..maybe Nygles...

At 4/27/2008 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...


I suppose that's possible. The thing I've noticed this year is that both dialidol and vote for the worst have been fairly ineffective.

dialidol has been missing more often than not if I recall correctly though they always have their margin of error thing.

vote for the worst seems to be on their fifth endorsement.

At 4/27/2008 11:06:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

No more talk of shopping,
forget these wide eyed buys...and always remember - you get what you pay for!

Very funny post.

At 4/27/2008 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

thanks...In real life, I think I've yet to buy an Idol-related product.
I did vote once or twice....never got a busy signal.

At 4/27/2008 02:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chancelucky! Just read in the Nashua Telegraph 4/27/08 about DC's pre Idol career. Quick rundown includes played hundreds of gigs In Tulsa and Axium during and post college, played 3 nt./wk for years, in band Midwest Kings that toured all over midwest, recorded a cd, and club owner quoted as saying, "...He has gone places musically that some of these kids haven't even seen." Site is on Sirlinks. I don't think the other contestants have this much under their belts. Carly and Michael performed live w/bands alot in Atlanta, from what I've heard. DA hasn't been alive long enough to get this much in!(plus, he couldn't play in clubs anyway, being underage and all...).

Having never watched AI past the prelim's, Dial Idol, etc. is all news to me. Have wondered how accurate any of the polls etc. are. seems to me very hard to predict anything on this show!

At 4/28/2008 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...


thanks for the background info on David Cook.

As I understand it, the show's only requirements are that you be between 16-29 have permanent residency in the US and not have a current contract with a major label. I don't know what the cutoff for that is.

Several Idols have had CD's prior to being on the show. I know that Bo Bice and Taylor Hicks hads both performed a lot as well before being on the show. As had Jennifer Hudson, Latoya London, Chris Daughtry, etc.

None of the remaining Idols are "I just sang in the shower and went to an audition on a whim".
I do enjoy it when those folk do occasionally stay on the show for a while. say like Scot Savol.

At 4/29/2008 02:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chance! I really enjoy your column. Your product line for the AI contestants is very funny and creative! I would like to comment on It here.
You've seen those ads on TV, 'Art Sale!', sofa sized paintings for as low as $19.99!, haven't you? Well, they are actually painted in an assembly line, where one artist paints the lake, another the mountains, etc...These gaudy cliches pass as "art" to the uneducated masses. None of the works would ever hang in a museum or reputable gallery. Matching one's sofa and color scheme does have some value, I suppose.
Why do I bring this up? Well, AI has always served to encourage and reward singing performances that are akin to the aforementioned "artwork". Over the top, bring the house down numbers with vocalizations just as brash as the colors in the paintings I mentioned, are the norm. As a professor of both voice and music, I would like to think that over the many years I have been involved with this industry, I have at least developed some ability to judge talent.
While there are some talented singers on AI this season, I wouldn't call any of them original. I have seen David Cook repeatedly called original, as I think you would agree. If you played any of his songs in a mix of altenative/emo rock numbers, nothing would stand out. He is good at mimicking a type of music, but to this point, I don't think he has created anything truly original.
I consistently hear the criticism that David Archuleta is boring. Here is where the comparison of a painting to match one's sofa becomes a pertinent. To the unsophisticated audience who want performances that impress one like a frying pan blow to the head, this could be the case. But I have to tell you, to a trained ear, David is doing some absolutely beautiful and original things with his voice. He is combining R&B, Soul and Pop phrasings in a way that is quite different than anything I have heard before. His tone adds a depth and warmth that is usually absent in the presentation of these genres. He has a sense of melody that is quite advanced, for any age.
When you take into account his age, and the fact that his voice hasn't even matured,(it will be 8-10 yrs before it will), and that he has just begun to write songs, he may very well become a true musical phenomenon. Some colleagues have even mentioned their belief that he could be the next Elton John.
Do any of us really know where these AI singers will be in 10 yrs.? No. Without good management even the most talented fall through the cracks.
I wouldn't expect the AI audience to appreciate the nuances that make a musical performance truly great. Nor will I expect AI to encourage such performances. It is a TV show that is geared for churning out music for the masses in an effort to make as much money as possible. Just like those 'Art Sale' paintings, there is no real lasting value, but it is fun for a while, at least.

At 4/29/2008 03:21:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...


Wow, thanks for your very thoughtful comments. I do see and to an extent hear your argument on behalf of David Archuleta. My personal take is that it's bland, but I'm not a musician nor do I claim to have a trained ear.

My early comments on David Cook were that he seemed to be working from a manual called "Daughtry for Dummies" I'm not sure that he's all that original either. It's been more that as the show goes, he's at least been interesting and he did branch out some with "Music of the Night". Chris Daughtry tended to suffer when he did anything but alt rock.

Anyway, I guess there may be a question as to which one of the remaining five isn't a 19.95 sofa-sized painting....but the problem is that the format is encouraging them to be exactly that. I think Tony Bennett got it right last year when he told Simon that they should think about opening some clubs so the performers can work on their craft beyond the show. Simon's alleged response was that they were making too much money doing it the way they were.

It's clear to me that the judges like both the Davids. If they're favoring one over the other, it's not been obvious to me.

At 4/29/2008 09:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply, Chance! I have to agree that the David's are being favored, and probably to large degree, rightfully so. On rereading my post, I want to make it clear that I believe David Cook is indeed talented. He has found a musical genre that really suits his voice and also seems emotionally relevant to him. He is definitely the most mature and seasoned performer remaining on the show. Should he win? Probably. If the point is to pick a performer who is approaching his prime, and will sell a lot of music, he's the one. If it were a contest based on talent alone, David Archuleta would be the hands down winner, I think. If he continues with his music, I will be very excited to see what he is doing when he is Mr. Cooks age! Didn't Neil Diamond call him a prodigy?

I won't venture a prediction as to who will win, this is AI, after all! Based on what is in store for the winner, I would suggest to those in the Finale to fein illness and surrender the crown before it's too late!
I will look forward to your next column!
All the best, Brett

At 5/01/2008 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks Brett.

I didn't think Neil Diamond was that great a mentor. At least they didn't show him doing much mentoring. I also didn't think it was the most memorable night for either of the Davids. A year from now, most people will remember this as the week that Paula judged a non-existent performance.


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