American Idol Season 8 Hollywood Week Day 1 (2009)

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I think Barry Manilow is really a nice guy who cares about these kids and wants them to do well.

I get frustrated every time the contestants get to Hollywood.  I just don’t understand the agenda of the show’s producers or the judges.

First of all, I do not understand why the producers decide to spend several minutes of the show rehashing stories about from people that they have already given time to such as that rat-haired blonde Rose who really can sing.  Why do we need to spend 3 minutes following her around at the expense of four other contestants in the same line with her that we barely got to even see much less hear from?  And, why would they spend extra time on the ones who got kicked off after they have already been sent packing?  I want to hear the singers.  This is nothing new, but realizing that the top 24 have already been decided before the shows air this week, I will find it unacceptable and unfair if there are any of the top 24 that have not been shown singing by the time that they announce who has made that cut.  This has happened in the past, and there is no excuse for it.

Second, it was clear that if you can sing at all, a bit will get you through.  That was proved by the idiot, Norman Gentle and Bikini Girl who were not that good at all.  Jackie Tone and her Janis Joplin impersonation were painfully bad.  They got through to the group sing where they will effectively destroy the dreams of up to a half dozen other young people with their antics and lack of talent. 

Third, just for the record, I for one am not sorry that they sent Dennis the Ingrate home.

Fourth, Why do I feel like the judges expect me to think some people are great when they really are not that good just because they, the judges, say so?  I use Lil’ who yelled and sang off pitch and Jackie Tone as a couple of examples.  This has happened in the past, but I usually do not notice it until they get into the final 24.

And fifth, David Osmond may just win this competition.

The Bachelor Exploits a Child

I watch a lot of Reality TV.  I have watched every season of Survivor, The Mole, The Amazing Race, and several seasons of American Idol and The Apprentice.  I have also watched several reality failures like the recent pirate debacle.

 

However, I have never enjoyed any of the programs based on relationships especially dating relationships.  I think that a marriage is simply too important to suggest that people should act as if they could ever enter into it though a television program where money is used as bait.  I also am uncomfortable with them men and women on these programs who use sex or their sexualityto help them get ahead (I know I am a little inconsistent here with regard to Survivor).  It is seedy and unseemly.

 

So, when I saw the touching commercial for the new bachelor program where the male contestant is a single father, I wanted to puke.  It was clear from the advertisements the his young son was going to be a big player in the plot of the show.  It is one thing for these people to screw around with each other’s emotions, but it is something else entirely when you involve a child and exploit him.

 

I find it hard to believe that no one at ABC objected to this, but I am sure that they thought all they had to do was to make a ‘touching’ commercial, and people would be all over it.  It is one thing for these despicable programs to present their warped ideas dating and marriage, but it is something else entirely when a child is brought in, a child who probably is looking for a mother figure.  So, they will put him on the program where these women will attempt to form emotional attachments with him in order to curry favor with his father in hopes that the father will choose them, and they will win the money.  The young boy will also get to see them throwing themselves at his father in a sexual way,… nice.

 

Shame on his father for using his own son to further a career in entertainment.  Shame on the women who use him for the same thing, and to win some money.  Shame on the producers for thinking up this tripe.  Shame on ABC for allowing this abomination to happen, and promoting it as if it is a good thing, and shame on everyone who helps this program in the ratings by watching it.

Battlegroud Earth Episode One

I watched the new terrible Planet Green Series Battleground Earth last night.   I began keeping score last night, and so far I could not find a winner, or a person even in the lead, but there were losers.  Oh yes, there were losers, and the main loser was the Earth itself.  The program began with Ludacris in a recording studio, and oddly enough, I did not see one tree in the room with him.  There was, however, a lot of recording equipment that looked very high-tech, and not one solar panel to be seen.  As he and Tommy Lee both hopped on large jets and made their respective ways to New Orleans, I began to wonder if they were using Big Blue to calculate the amount of carbon offsets that were going to be required to save the Earth from the damage that this show alone was doing to the environment.  But hey, it was OK, they were destroying the Earth in order to save it, get it?

They proceeded to all pile into minivans and drive all over town (lost) on some sort of scavenger hunt.  As they circled the city with fumes belching from the vans, I think I saw them pass a teary eyed Indian four or five times.

When they final made it to the oddly named Battleground Baptist Church, they were instructed to build “Life Pods” which were basically metal closets with solar panels on top of them.  The owner of the company was there to explain to us how these “Life Pods” were going to revolutionize the third world by being used as homes, schools and hospitals run solely on solar power.  As he said this about these closets, I saw the scene from Zoolander in my mind where he brushes the model of the school off the table and exclaims, “What is this, a school for ants?”  I went to the website for these “Lifepods” and the solar panels on top of them, and I could not find any pictures of any third world person using one of these products.  In fact, the closets, I mean “Lifepods” were depicted as pool houses next to mansions that must have been worth millions.  I tried to find pricing for them, but there is no mention of cost anywhere on the web.  The solar panels, of which there were a dozen for each closet, I mean Lifepod, go for about a grand ($1000) a piece.  I’m sure that African goat herders are ratting back every cent right now trying to get enough money to buy one of these ‘houses.’

Later, as the Life Pods were being constructed, a question was brought up to the owner of the company about how they would work if it was cloudy.  I almost laughed as he said (and I paraphrase), “Well, there will still be electricity.  It is just a case of how much.”  That’s great.  I guess if you are heading to a Lifepod hospital on a cloudy day, you don’t want to be having a heart attack and need a Defibrillator.

Tommy Lee’s friend Nina later took an old work truck that was definitely not a hybrid to get a group of guys to do their work for them so that they could drink (oh, the sacrifices these guys make).  The show lingered on for a full hour, and Tommy Lee’s team won the episode.  As the show wound down, the participants were stuffing their faces at another party (let’s see, that is three concerts, two parties, and all the three camera shoots.  Big Blue may finish that Pi calculation before he finishes calculating all these offsets).  Tommy Lee hopped the ‘Red Eye’ (a flight that is generally more wasteful because there are fewer people onboard) to the next destination.  When the aptly named Ludacris saw this, he called a friend and had a G-5 private jet sent to get him (no joke).  I give props to the green supporter who left this comment on the Battleground Earth forum: “In the end Ludacris calls for a private jet to come pick them up so they can beat the other team to wherever they were going next? Well now I am impressed that they have taken the green message to heart. Did they eat some baby seal meat with ivory chop sticks on the ride?”

There were other things to hate about this show.  Among them was the constant sexist objectification of women, but that’s OK if you are saving the Earth.  There were at least three shots and references to Rick’s Cabaret, and Tommy Lee’s fellow competitor Nina felt the need to remind him that he, and his friends were not to try and stick their hands down her pants (If that is all Tommy Lee tries stick down her pants, she will be lucky).  Another thing to hate were the frequent drug references as if this were acceptable or cute.  But again, were are saving the planet here so that makes it good.  Similarly, drinking was also glorified in the episode.

Early on we were introduced to Debbie Levin, who I will refer to from now on as the Devil.  She is producing this pile of tripe, and runs an organization called the Environmental Media Association.  She literally took credit for getting “all the stars being involved in environmentalism” by encouraging a few to start driving Hybrids.  She told Ludacris and Tommy Lee that in the same way that other stars followed the lead of people like Leonardo DiCaprio, their fans would adopt the green lifestyles exhibited by Tommy and Ludacris (beware, oh Earth).  I found her attitude high-handed, and self aggrandizing while showing little respect to ‘the fans’ of these people for being persons who could make up their own minds.  On top of that, if these people are so easily influenced, perhaps it would be better to show Ludacris and Tommy Lee reading books or exercising rather than drinking, and acting sexist.

In the end, this program is simply another example of the fact that the supporters of the green movement have no boundaries.  They have created a new religion.  One in which any means justifies the end (saving the planet), and blind fervor is idealized.  This has occurred throughout history.  One great example is the Crusades, a period of time in which people in their religious fervor would volunteer to go and kill other people (and maybe get killed themselves) due to the religious zeal of the time in which they lived.  It is only a matter of time until the people of this movement also turn violent, but until that happens we will have to be content with watching the visual-violence that they have brought to television that is known as Battleground Earth.

Idol Season 7 Finale Results Show

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I winced when I looked at the schedule and saw that the show was two hours long.  Idol would use up ten minutes for a time check if it thought it could get away with it.

The first group song was terrible as usual.  The choreography was a mess (including the spastic dancers), and I swear the Idols were lip-syncing this one.  The Davids- I’m sure not having been able to practice with the others- looked completely lost.

The Guru tie-in was tiring, if at some times funny.  I just hope Fox never starts producing gay porn.  I’d hate to see that attempt at cross-promotion.

However, the ‘Hero” duet with the Davids was a high point as far as non-solo performances have gone this season.  David A. gave the audience a rare glimpse of some legitimate harmony, and it sounded very good.

The Seal/Seyesha duet was also very good.  I will attempt to climb Maslow’s Hierarchy a little way this evening by admitting that Seal is cooler that I’ll ever be, even with that thing on his face.

Both Davids got a car this evening, and that was nice.  However, the ensuing group song by the girls hit a new low.  The campy Choreography was cheesier than the Mickey Mouse club, and it was soon clear that Amanda has not had a chance to get that throat obstruction removed, because I still could not understand a word she said.  I wish I could not have heard her at all.  As much credit as the judges take for giving the audience the Davids, it is good to remember how they touted Amanda.  I wonder if they regret that now that they see what she is going to do to the Idol Tour?  Yuck.

Jimmy Kimmel was kind of funny.  The Simon montage was also pretty good.

The guys’ group song would have been much better than the girls’ song if the mix had been close to right.  The crazy camera work also made me dizzy.  It was nice to see Bryan Adams, and to note that he has not completely fallen apart yet.

I am from Texas, but I really didn’t get the idea of teaming David Cook up with ZZ Top, not that it sounded bad.  It just seems that teaming him with a group like 3 Doors Down would have seemed a better fit. The Brooke White/Graham Nash duet made much more sense.

The Gladys Knight and the Pips bit was pretty funny.  She sounded better and more relevant than Donna Summer did earlier in the show.  And, both Jordan Sparks and Carrie Underwood need to go on “What not to Wear.”  Jordan was wearing some small gold colored trash bag, and I do not even know how to describe what Carrie was wearing.  I assume it was just to distract the audience from the screechy song.  I used Tivo to eliminate the last group song, but I was surprised that they actually ended with a George Michael Tribute.  His voice still sounded good though.  I guess all that must be good for the throat (sorry).

 

[Of course David A. won the competition, but I predict that Cook will have the better career in the end.]  Shocking.  I actually pre-wrote this, but I was happily wrong.  And, the vote was not even close.  It was nice to see Simon try to still take some credit after trashing Cook last night.  Sorry, Simon, it was a little too late.  I think David A. has the opportunity and the talent to be a truly successful singer, even more successful than some Idol winners.  I truly hope he does not go the way of Taylor Hicks, but I think Cook is the real pop deal, and has more potential.

American Idol Season 7 Finale

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Finally, we have gotten down to the Davids, as if it could have been any other way.  The Michael Buffer intro was great.  Perhaps they could replace Ryan.  The question of the night was, “Can the musical talent of David Cook outdo the charm and vocal ability of David Archuleta?”  The judges obviously thought not.

I know they are judges, but could they not have been a little more impartial?  Why even have the vote?

 

David Cook:

Clive’s Choice: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’M Looking For”-

I liked it. He stretched the notes a little in the verses to give them a little Emo sound.  He softened his voice a little on the first chorus.  Overall, it was good, but the song choice did not give him the same opportunity to stand out that Simon’s choice from last week did.

Randy thought it was a great way to start the show.  He liked the ‘scoop’ at the end.

Simon thought it was phenomenal given the circumstances.

Songwriter’s choice: “Dream Big”-

I thought going into this round that Cook’s inventive style would give him an edge.  His diction on the verses was not too good because I did not understand a word.  The chorus, however, was good.  It sounded a little pitchy in some spots.

Randy thought it was OK, but he “sang his face off.”

Simon thought it was a ‘lightweight.’

Contestant’s choice: “The World I Know.”-

It certainly wasn’t a standard.  I give him extra points for actually having to learn a third new song this week, and the second half of the performance was great.

Randy thought it was nice look at his sensitive side.

Simon thought it was the wrong song choice for him for some reason.  Sometimes it seems like if you are not playing the game by Simon’s set of rules, then he is going to dump all over you even if it isn’t deserved.

 

David Archuleta:

Clive’s Choice: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”-In the same way as Cook’s first song was, this song was right in Archuleta’s wheelhouse.  However, it also did not allow him to do anything special with it.  It was good, but the high note was a little rough.  I usually don’t like it when they compare the contestant to the original artist, but hearing David sing this song only underscored to me how truly great Elton John really is.  I think round one went to Cook.

Randy thought it was one of the best performances or the season.

Simon thought it was the best he has done so far.  Simon gave round one to Archuleta

Songwriter’s choice: “In This Moment”-

This was a much better tune than the first song.  I could hear this on the radio.  He made this song a David Archuleta hit.  I gave round two to David A.

Randy was not crazy about the song, but loved the vocal.

Simon thought he chose the better song.  He gave round two to David A.

Contestant’s choice: “Imagine”-

It was as good as it was last time which is saying something, but I have to take points away because he sang something he already sang before. 

Randy named him the best singer of this season.

Simon agreed.

American Idol Results Show, May 14

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Once again, the group song was a train wreck, but that has just been the norm this season.  Can’t they pick a song a little more relevant than, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now?”  At least the Ford commercial this week was a song that was recorded in the past 20 years.

When Fantasia came out, my first thought was, “What the hell is that?”  That was easily the most awful, irritating, and scary performance in the history of Idol.  To say it was a mess would be unfair to messes.  I would rather have a weekly song from Kenny Rogers than have to ever hear or see that again.  Simon, who usually is gracious to guests no matter how bad they are, appropriately looked completely dumbfounded.  It was one of the most classic looks in the history of Idol.  Apparently Fantasia has no idea who the people who voted for her are.  It’s easy to tell them, though.  They are the one’s who just left the building.

The contestant montages were well done, but did they have to have so many?  There is less justification for the full hour show each week.

No one was surprised at the outcome, but most Idol fans were relieved to see that we will get to see the Davids in the final.  Sayesha took it well.  It was nice that she did not break down.  

 

American Idol Top 3, May 13

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Once again this year as we get down to the top 3, they are performing three songs: one picked by the judges, one picked by the contestants and one picked by the producers.  I remember last year thinking that the producers in general picked a bad group of songs.  I remember thinking that they picked a particularly bad song for Melinda, and we all know how that turned out for her.  Since Idol is always looking to interject the audience into the show, would it not be better to somehow let the fans or a fan choose one round of the music for the contestants?  It could even be decided in the form of a poll chosen from a list of songs submitted by the producers.

David Archuleta:

Judge’s Pick– “And So it Goes”- The a capella portion of the song was genius.  He had good tone and inflection all the way through.  The only criticism I had was that it was a little safe, but that was not his fault.  He did not pick the song.  It was very good.

Randy loved it.

Simon thought it was very good but predictable.

Contestant’s Pick– “With You”- I hate it when he sings the happy, upbeat bubble gum song.  This was one of those.  It was not a standard (always pick something very well known), and though he sang it well, there was simply nothing special about it.  This is top 3.  I expect more.

Randy correctly questioned the song choice.

Simon thought that it did not fit him.

Producer’s Pick– “Longer”- Once again his inflection was perfect.  This was a great version of this song. 

Randy did not like the choice of song, but thought it was hot.

Simon hated the song choice, but also thought he sang it well.

Syesha Mercado:

Judge’s Pick– “If I Ain’t Got You”- She looked nice again.  The verses were a little monotonous, but since she did not pick the song, I can’t really criticize her for that.  For the first time in weeks, she sang a pop song (other than a show tune) that looked as if she connected with it.  It was a very good performance, and it was nice to see her just sing the song very well while avoiding the “super note” that she tends to hold too long at the end of her songs.

Randy liked it a lot.

Simon thought she sang it well, but criticized Randy for picking a song that she had to sing in a straight up fashion.

Contestant’s Pick– “Fever”- I honestly expected much more from this performance than I got.  I felt the disconnect that I often feel with her performances, and I was surprised because I thought this overly dramatic song would be right in her wheelhouse.  The end, however, was very nice.

Randy said she sang it very well.

Paula, oddly, did not like it.

Simon called it a ‘quite lame cabaret performance.”

Producer’s Pick– “Hit Me Up”- She looked much more believable on this song, and she sang it very well.  All three of her songs ended well this week.

Randy thought it was just alright.

Paula took out the knife and stabbed her right in the back.  I honestly don’t think Paula is smart enough to play this role, even if she is right.

Simon correctly said that it was much better than the second song, but it was a little forgettable.

David Cook:

Judge’s Pick– “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”- When I heard Simon’s choice, I paused the show.  First I thought, “What a strange choice?  Simon really messed him over.”  But as I thought further, I saw the genius of the choice.  David has a really nice voice, and a standard like this could be the blank canvas for him to work with.  Doing well on a song like this could really set him apart from the rest of the competitors in a way the songs chosen by the other judges could never do.  The beginning was just awesome.  I have stated a few times that some of his songs were radio quality.  This one was just awesome.  It was the best performance of the season by any contestant, and the end was incredible.

Randy was an ass and took an opportunity to get back at Simon rather than praise an amazing performance as it should have been.  Kudos go to Paula (yeah, I said it) for calling Randy out for making the show too much about himself.

Simon thought it was one of his best performances to date.

Contestant’s Pick– “Dare You to Move”- I did not know this song.  It was kind of boring and a little rough at the beginning, but once he hit the chorus, it got much better.  He was good as the rocker once again.

Randy liked the choice, but it was a little pitchy.

Simon thought it was not the best choice, and was a little predictable.

Producer’s Pick– “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”- I thought this was a good choice for him.  It seemed a little week until he got to the bridge.  Overall, it was good.

Randy loved the song choice, but it was just OK.

Simon though he won the night.