Thursday, May 01, 2008

Paula Abdul Spaces Out (Idol 7 Round of 5)

Personally, I liked the second hour of the Tuesday night show better than the first. On that second hour, available only to subscribers to Heartlight Television, not only did the five remaining singers on Idol perform much better than they had on the Fox version, but Paula Abdul’s critiques were incisive, detailed, and brilliant. I have to say it was an amazing moment when Jason Castro came out on a kid’s bicycle then sang that Neil Diamond song about space aliens with dreadlocks. I think it was called “Turn on Your Hash Pipe”.

Actually, I’ve been sort of puzzled by the Jason Castro doper jokes. People seem to jump to conclusions because of the hair the neo-Spicoli act from Idol Does Ridgemont High, and the fact that he was once a drummer in a rock group. As I understand it, Jason Castro is quite religious and frequently sings for his church. It’s strange how people assume so much based on appearances. Okay, now I’ve undercut my own joke.

Anyway, at the end of the other second Jason Castro song, he did an even more clever thing. Before the judges started their critiques, he ordered pizza for them. It so disoriented Paula that she forgot that most of America isn’t supposed to know about the Heartlight Television version of the show. As you may have guessed, space aliens have very different tastes in music from everyday Americans. Maybe it’s because their ears are shaped differently or because some of them have more than two of them. Anyway, the other thing to understand is that the millions of Alien life forms who watch Heartlight Television can do things with cell phones that the rest of us can’t. You remember E.T. and that glowing finger? Just imagine millions of them with cellphones voting for their pal Jason Castro. By the way, the aliens apparently hated Michael Johns and Carly Smithson. They resented the idea that some non-alien alien might actually be the American Idol. For reasons I can’t go into in detail, they were big fans of Scot Savol.

While standard Idol’s popularity continues to drift this year, the Heartlight Network’s version has never been more popular. All those alternative life forms just love it when Ryan implores everyone to Phone Home after the show. They’re saying that next week’s show might set Heartlight ratings records. Guest mentors Tommie Lee Jones and Will Smith will help the 4 remaining Idols sing songs from Johnny Cash’s classic album “Man in Black”. It’s too bad that the earthside viewers of the show won’t get to see any of it. If you do happen to get the chance (my daughter has a friend who got us one of those satellite dish decoder boxes for thirty nine dollars), it’s well worth it and you’ll probably understand Paula Abdul a bit better. To Extra Terrestrials, Paula Abdul’s music is like the Beatles. They love her so much that Emilio Estevez movies can not be shown on Heartlight television out of fear that they will cause riots.

Anyway, isn’t that way more plausible than that silly notion that Paula Abdul was either reading from a script or that the judges more or less write their reviews based on the rehearsals? I mean this is reality television. They’d never do something like that.

When I heard that Neil Diamond was going to be the guest mentor for Idol, I really rooted for them to build the show around his turn in Saving Silverman. Could you imagine the Ford commercial? David Cook could have done the Jack Black role and David Archuleta could have been Steve Zahn kidnapping old Neil, throwing him in the back of their Ford Escape Hybrid Van, and getting him to help them break up say Brooke White’s sister’s wedding. Now, that’s the Neil Diamond I wanted. Instead, this was some old guy who told everyone he or she would be great and hugged Syesha. About the only thing I remember him doing was to tell Brooke White to change the lyric from New York City born and bred to “I’m Arizona Born and Bred” to make it her own. That sure made me a Believer and look how well it worked! No wonder, the aliens are bringing in their own mentors next week.

I was probably the most uncool kid in the world. Even I knew that I didn’t want to ever be caught buying or listening to a Neil Diamond album. The only thing worse than that would be to be found with a Barry Manilow album….mmmm…..Do I sense a pattern here? I can’t even say that Neil’s a guilty pleasure for me. I thought he hit his peak as a songwriter back with the Monkees. Other than Saving Silverman, the only really fascinating thing I can remember reading about Neil Diamond was a feature story on Sweet Connie from Little Rock (Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re an American Band) and her account of her meeting with Neil Diamond.

Brooke White: I did think that I Am I Said might have been the best she’s done in many weeks. After all, she did remember the lyrics etc., but it was getting increasingly obvious that the former nanny had essentially played her best cards too early in the show’s cycle. She had no more to show and no surprises after Battlefield and I do think that realization probably started getting to her nerves which sometimes pushed her off key.

I liked the crying thing after she got voted off and her stopping to thank America. There’s something corny, genuine, and likeable about Brook White the personality. I’m also okay with listening to her music in limited amounts. I still wanted to know if anyone got her to see an R-rated movie.

David Archuleta: I get comments about my posts from time to time. One time, I brought down the wrath of Kellie Pickler nation after I compared her to Anna Nicole Smith because of the boob job (the Kellie fan was convinced that she hadn’t had one). Other times, someone will come along and persuade me to listen and watch the show a little differently. Last week this guy Brett C. came forward and slyly complimented my reviews then made a case for David Archuleta as a genuinely innovative singer from a musical standpoint. After all, I’d compared the kid to a musical blender that always made smoothies.

Neil Diamond might not have been the best test for that, but I did hear some of that in Sweet Caroline. Brett’s argument is that David blends pop and soul elements in some unique ways. I confess, I can hear that a little now that someone’s mentioned it to me. I’m still not sure that the guy connects emotionally (not many seventeen year olds do). For a kid ( I think at least one of his parents is an immigrant to the US) who might have a direct feel for a song like “America”, I’d argue that the personal connection didn’t make it into the song. Some of that is musical. Some of that is performance/presentation. On occasion, he’s talked about what some of the “idealistic” songs he’s sung have meant to him, but I’m not yet hearing it in the actual performance.

David Cook: That was a weird bit with Ryan talking about the station wagon and singing Neil. Are they seeing if David Cook might want to host the show some day? Last week, I was ready to send the guy off to sell CD’s. This week, I don’t much remember what he sang just that it was pretty good alt. rock takes on Neil Diamond songs. He didn’t transform either one nor did he penetrate them emotionally. Whatever one says about Neil Diamond’s songs, they’re definitely emotional.

Syesha Mercado: No matter how well she sings, the judges appear to say “That was well done, but it wasn’t amazing.” I confess that I sort of know what they mean. Ever since Andrew Lloyd Webber, Syesha and the judges have been putting her in the Broadway box. I see that. The best pop singers bring something of themselves into their music. Singers in musicals play roles. She clearly seems more comfortable doing the latter and I think she’s good at it. I thought she did well with Hello Again and for the most part avoided her self-imposed trap of trying to turn every song into a glory-noting screamfest at some point. She also unquestionably has a very nice voice. She doesn’t, however, have that little thing where you hear her and go “That’s got to be Syesha Mercado”.

I’d love to chat more , but I just found all these new channels on our Satellite Dish with some sort of Alien Dating Show. I think this one’s called A Shot At Love….Ooops, sorry my daughter’s telling me those aren’t aliens at all. Okay, here’s an alien dating show from a planet where all the life forms are silicone instead of carbon-based. I think it’s called Rock of Love.

Simon's first kiss lady apparently lives in my county.

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles

Buddy TV AMerican Idol Page



At 5/01/2008 03:58:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

There just isn't an umph in the old girl Idol7. The closer it gets to the end, the more dull and predictable it seems to get.

Jason was the one who should have gone last night. BTW, he's far to clean and pristine looking to be a proper stoner.

David A, I must confess, I don't get. I think your blender comparison was right. Sing's alright, but it all sounds the same and it doesn't make me sit up. HE goes through the mechanics but his persona is utterly vacant.

Brook? Eh. Won't miss her.

Syesha, impresses me more each time but I'm still not there. She's no Leona Lewis. (I watched her performance on XFactor on YouTube. Now that is stirring stuff. These Idols pale by comparison.)

That leaves David C, who is, as they say, the whole package. But star potential? Maybe fronting good revival band like INXS or Queen.

It's almost as though the judges don't know what they want. Diva? Girl Hippie? Tween with matinee idol good looks? Rock boy? Stoner.

Now I'm off to watch the DVRed show that I missed from last night.

At 5/01/2008 03:59:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

Enjoyed your post as always

At 5/01/2008 06:12:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

yeah, I don't know that there's a lot to get excited about. I was a little surprised that Jason didn't go home, but also wasn't shocked that Brooke did.

I kind of think this season resembles the one with Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice. iirc Vonzell Solomon and Anthony Federov were three and four. Carrie and Bo both had followings, but I don't think the people who rooted for the other contestants took much of an interest in the thing once their favorites were gone.

But definitely no electricity this last week. You know Leona Lewis was on the results show last week.

At 5/01/2008 09:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very disappointed that you think I was being sly when I complimented your column! I have enjoyed many laugh out loud moments, and even forwarded your writing to friends! Wow. What a cynical world!
By the way, did anybody believe that Neil Diamond week wouldn't wind up being one big cheesefest? Do the contestants ever get to choose their own songs to sing?
I bet they can't wait until this is finally over.

At 5/02/2008 07:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chance! I wanted to add a few things re. my "case" for DA. More than a "case" for him, I think I am rallying to his defense. I have only watched a smattering of AI over the years(my wife loves the show!). When I saw DA sing 'Heaven' during Hollywood Week, I realized I would be watching at least until he gets voted off. I also began scanning the web to learn more about him. In so doing, I was disheartened to see all of the mean spirited commentary both from the public and professionals. Not just for him, but all of the contestants.

Having worked w/young people for many years, I realize how difficult it is for them to persue any type of musical career. The constant scrutiny that the AI contestants are under is surreal. My hope is that none of them read any of the comments made. I'm sure they are filled w/enough self doubt as it is!

A couple of my students went on to study at Juliard. DA shares many of their qualities. I don't think he has any idea how talented he is.
When one encounters a student with tremendous potential, it is very exciting. You realize that this talent must be nurtured and allowed to mature at is own pace. Criticism is aimed at building up, not tearing away.

Were he my son, I would be very mixed as to whether to go the AI route. It is exposure and experience, certainly. As a pop artist, he will be dealing w/the industry and media for years to come. It may be best to get used to it. He is only 17, and just beginning to develop as an artist, though. It is obvious that he is very sensitive and not completely confident in his abilities. The atmosphere of AI certainly isn't conducive to gently coaxing one through this period of development!

If I could advise DA, or any of the contestants, I would tell them to ignore the public commentary. For the majority, all of their taste is in their mouths, anyway. Everyone knows what they like or dislike, at least, and there is no pleasing everyone! Listen to the mentors, learn everything you can, but ultimately follow your heart.

I really hope that DA does't win. They will likey sell him as a teen star, and he'll spend the next year (at least) singing for 12 yr. olds! I would rather he work on his vocal and songwriting skills...

So, there's my "case", I guess. Genuine talent is such a rare gift, one hates to think of it being squashed by an industry that is concerned only with money, or by a public that can be downright insensitive and vicious. DA seems like a bright kid. Hopefully he also has the kind of guidance that will allow him to flourish as an artist, in spite of it all!

At 5/02/2008 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

first thanks for referring my posts out to other people....I do basically write my reality tv stuff to be funny first and any music commentary is fairly casual, so it's nice to hear that you actually laugh at this stuff from time to time.

Re: David Arhculeta, Jordin Sparks, etc. I'm not sure that winning the show did Jordin Sparks any favors. As a stage personality she's more mature than David, but there's a lot to be said about being given the time to develop as an artist.

I know in the classical piano world one of the shifts in the last generation has been from young pianists concertizing in smaller venues and working their way up to trying to make a splash at an international competition. A lot of critics feel that it's hurt the music because there are certain things one has to do to get noticed in a competition with dozens of other pianists. Playing loud, technically difficult, and having other hooks to get attention or be remembered all seem to be factors.
Taking musical risks is generally not a formula for competition success and yet those sorts of risks are exactly what makes for a distinctive-mature pianist at some point.

Generally, those kinds of risks need incubation time in a safe setting at least partly because sometimes you sound worse before you sound better. Also, there is the whole factor of doing things a certain way because "people like it and respond well" rather than because it's musically valid or for deeper musical reasons. Most 17 year olds, even the really talented ones have the chops but not the depth yet to understand the importance of "stretching".

Anyway, the complaint is that now there's a whole generatino of pianists who sound like they came out of the same "contest" factory because they're good at impressing judges.

I would point out that David A's dad is a professional musician, so he likely understands all that. On the other end, very few singers or musicians get the chance to make several million dollars at any point in their lives. This is a chance to do that and it might not be there in 10 years.

At 5/02/2008 01:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say you are correct on all counts. And by the way, the image of Jason Castro on the bike...stunning!! Maybe they could have him ride mad circles onstage while they run the music and credits.

At 5/02/2008 05:21:00 PM, Blogger Sunny said...

Hi Chance, man, Pauler is baaack! hahaha. Great show last week. I'm working to rally support for my boy.

Certainly it wasn't Jason's best week, but he's up against that bloody machinery called Idol and it's taking a toll. Time I help out best I can. ;)

Rock week coming up, and that should be much better.

Remember, Vote Castro this next week!

At 5/02/2008 06:09:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

yes, I saw Leona on the Idol show and wasn't that impressed. It was bland and unremarkable. I checked her out on YouTube and it was something to behold.

At 5/03/2008 10:18:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I hope Jason does well next week.He may simply be so sincere and himself that he couldn't hide the fact that Neil Diamond just wasn't his thing.

I'll check out the youtube. Does this mean the British have better taste in music? They're still responsible for Herman's Hermits and the Bay City Rollers.

At 5/03/2008 09:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such serious commenting on this page! Brett C and Chance should both check out:
This guy seems to know alot about music and Archie, and he writes really well too! I think he was a professional singer-just goes by 'Rascal' on his page.

At 5/05/2008 08:23:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I need a new dish to watch the rest of the show! When Paula is the best moment of any show, you know you're in deep (space) trouble.

All of them sound so soul strippingly bland to me week after week. Go Idols!

At 5/05/2008 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

yikes, didn't mean to sound that serious. Thanks for the link.

we both keep saying this....I may just be burned out on the show, at least the earthbound version.

At 5/05/2008 08:58:00 AM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I mentioned this on the VFTW site...I don't see what being a Christian has to do with NOT smoking weed. I'm a Christian and I've partaken of the wacky tobaccky. Plenty of Christians do things that are supposedly "unChristianlike."

Another VFTW commenter summed it up pretty well by saying that if Jason isn't stoned all the time, then he's borderline retarded. Sounds better to be a stoner.

I don't care if he's high, stupid or just weird. I love the guy. He's cute, he's funny and he just doesn't give a shit.

At 5/05/2008 09:51:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

That's true enough. There are Catholics who use birth control and get abortions. I've known Jews who eat bacon from time to time. I imagine that being a devout Christian isn't necessarily proof that someone doesn't smoke marijuana. I'd have to know Jason Castro off camera a bit to get some sense of what he does with his lungs when he's not trying to sing.

He's definitely been amusing. "Hey Neil, sorry don't know these songs...I'll figure out the lyrics eventually."
That is better than the fake reverence the Idols are supposed to show some of the mentors. I do remember Elliot Yamin coming out and saying that he hadn't been a big Barry Manilow fan before meeting him. At the time, it seemed endearingly honest. I think it was Elliot.
It also reminds me that so many of the idols weren't even alive when some of these mentors were actually popular with young people.


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