Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Simon Says Sing Cinderella

Ok. I admit it. I've formed an emotional attachment. Generally, I don't do that. I'm a single girl in my 30's so I've learned to pick and choose who to cozy up to or else I'd be suffering heartbreak on a weekly basis. Even more disturbing, I've formed an emotional attachment with someone on TV. Generally, I DO do that. Emotional attachments with fictional TV characters are much easier to cope with. I think it was Heather Havrilesky who once said that we're rapidly becoming a nation who'd rather watch "Friends" than talk to our friends. Yeah, sadly, that's me. I have three simmering crushes on TV characters right now. One is Alan Shore of "Boston Legal", and another is Tony Soprano of "The Sopranos". (The past couple weeks had me tense as I sweated out the possible death of Tony.)

But a new darkness looms. The darkness concerning my third emotional attachment. The disturbing part of this one is that it's with someone on TV, but it's not a "character" exactly. It's Elliott Yamin on American Idol:

Yes, I have money on the fool. But I put money on a lot of things and don't get "involved". But this Elliott thing is different. It's disturbing. It's disturbing for the obvious reasons of how painfully cheezy and adolescent it is. But beyond those things, it's also downright wrong. I mean, it's Elliott Yamin. He of the peculiar facial hair and fucked up teeth. There, I said it. I admit it. His teeth are fucked up. Let's move along.

Maybe I'm caught up in the Cinderella / dark horse allure that happened with March Madness. (George Mason, anyone? And, didn't I see a picture of Elliott holding up a George Mason t-shirt about a month ago? Does that mean something? Is the universe aligning to tell us that not all Cinderella hopes are lost?)

American Idol isn't just a popular TV show. Right now, it's a marketing juggernaut that's pure gold for the producers. As the money-making machine it is, spawning tours and CDs and even spin offs, it has to be protected at nearly all costs. The formula of it has to be preserved. And now, in its fifth season, that formula is well known: The pimping of certain contestants, Simon's machiavellian manipulations of the audience to get them to vote appropriately, the "rising star" dynamic.

But doesn't it just feel a little "off" this year. It felt a little stale a few weeks ago when it was already obvious that Chris Daughtry would eventually collect his crown (having to forsake the call of Fuel to be their frontman), much in the same way that seasons three and four were about watching Fantasia and then Carrie gain and grow their fandom and accept their spoils.

But those two, Fantasia and Carrie, their beginnings were different than how Chris started off on Idol. Am I the only one who recalls that even though the show heavily pimped Chris from the start, Simon didn't? Simon, he of the spectacular eye for talent. Simon, who boasts of being able to recognize the "wow" factor. When he saw Chris, he didn't see the X factor and told him he lacked charisma. I almost fell off my chair when Simon said that. What I thought was, "Holy shit, Simon's even more heterosexual than I thought, cause Chris is sex incarnate and women will eat him up."

And then there was Taylor Hicks. Simon was even tougher on Taylor, even though it was blatantly apparent that viewers were going to go ape over him. Simon was so rough and so wrong that when Taylor broke the top 24, Simon recanted his words and basically told him I was wrong about you.

Who did Simon love immediately? Kellie Pickler. They've told us Kellie's sad story from the first time we met her and immediately they built her "image". The problem is, that image is quickly falling apart. It's been said that it takes someone very smart to play dumb. Well, Kellie, the jig is up. We all know you're not as stupid as you act. But we know that because you're not nearly smart enough to pull off being stupid, either.

But while these three sucked up the precious, star-building screen time that every successful idol finalist has been privilege to in the past, we saw nothing of Elliott Yamin. They haven't pushed his hard luck story, they didn't even show his audition. And though Randy falls all over him, Simon's praise has rarely risen above tepid for Elliott, with the major exception of the first week when he told him that he was "potentially the best male vocalist" the show had ever seen.

At this point, I have to wonder about Simon. Is his mojo seriously as whacked this season as it seems when it comes to spotting the talent, or is he even more savvy than I thought, and is he building a "surprise" season for us?

He publicly picked Chris as his winner and then basically sucked Daughtry's dick on TV after Chris gave that wholly average performance of "Walk the Line". I don't believe for one second that the AI machine isn't tuned into the news about itself, and that performance brought about a backlash that had some people wondering if a fucking senate judiciary committee meeting about the plagiarism of that arrangement was on deck. I mean, it kind of eclipsed the whole Vanilla Ice / Queen controversy of pop music past. (Oh god, wouldn't it be great if we'd have some lip-synching MilliVanilli fiasco this season to really heat up the anger backlash?) So this week rolls around and Simon lays into Chris and rips him a new one for doing *exactly* what Simon had praised him for the week before -- doing the same droning bullshit thing every week. Only this time, Chris didn't Creedify the song he sang, he actually sang a shitty Creed song! It doesn't get much more delicious than that for me. Don't get me wrong. Chris is hot. I'd still fuck him. I just don't want to have to listen to him sing anymore. Especially not one more of his shitty alterna-rock numbers by CreedFuelStainedWhatever. Just do it already, Chris. Sing Nickelback. You know you fucking want to.

Meanwhile, in those interim weeks, we've had to endure Ace's out-of-tune, preening, camera-fucking every week as substance-addled Paula nearly has unassisted orgasms over him while we also watch Paris's arrogance become more obvious and see Katharine's nerves make her sing off-key on several occasions. Lisa methodically self-destructs, Bucky continues to underwhelm, Kellie finally shuts the fuck up, and Mandisa? Mandisa idiotically levels a veiled slam against one of her bases by calling out "lifestyles". Bitch, please. Oh yeah, Mandisa can yell and make it sound good. But you know who loves those hard-driving dance remix grooves that are belted out by big women? Gay men in clubs, that's who. Marketing suicide, Mandisa. And Taylor? Yeah. Taylor. His spastic fits are starting to annoy people. Cause people love a gimmick, but what they love even more is to shred that gimmick once it gets stale. But Taylor showed great instincts by picking up on that vibe and standing still and singing a song this week. He's no dummy, that Taylor, but he does need to kick the shit out of the wardrobe department.

So that leaves us with Elliott, who's still largely the forgotten man in the whole mess of this top 10. On a whole, the top 10 show was a fucking disaster, so it didn't bode particularly well that they'd left the prized pimp spot to Yamin, finally. And what the fuck does Elliott do with this prize he's been handed? He comes out dressed like Eminem, doing a tricked-out, funked-up version of a past Idol favorite song while hopping around like Frodo from da hood and he even forgot a couple lyrics. It was a mess. It was a complete fucking mess of a performance. A glorious, energetic, throw-down, stop-fucking-forgetting-me, original and different, best-of-the-night beautiful mess that may have actually put him on the Idol map.

People had been saying the man can *sang*. But then they also said he was too nervous in his big stage performances and maybe couldn't bring it. Consider it brung. And another thing: His teeth? His hair? His what-the-fuck-ever the shallow fucks see wrong with him? I don't care. He's adorable. He's fucking hot. Know why he's hot? Cause he's got the X factor. That's right, Simon. Do you see it, yet?

Here's my question: Have you seen it all along, Simon? Is that why you tossed out that daunting breadcrumb "best male vocalist" of a hook after his first performance, only to then methodically chip away at his confidence every week to see if he'd take the heat and stand up and do what you said and grow up with it? Cause that's exactly what he's done. He doesn't roll his eyes and he doesn't get pissy and he doesn't look glum. He just gets back on the stage and does it different, and does it better. And even when he's fucking up a little, he's still got "it". I can NOT be the only one who sees this rare combination of utter lack of assholery plus bashful charm in him.

Hard luck stories? Word is that Yamin wouldn't ever complain, so I won't picklerize him too much, but let's just say this: His story, it just makes me want to hug him. But that's not the issue. The issue is his voice. His voice, it just makes me want to make out with him.

So let's talk about that for a second. Cause boyfriend doesn't have a voice. He's got A Voice. You know what I mean? I mean he's got a voice that's immediately recognizable as Elliott Yamin's voice. Let alone that he never hits a bad note, it's well beyond that. When you hear Van Morrison, you know it's Van Morrison. When you hear Lou Rawls, you know it's Lou Rawls. And when you hear Elliott Yamin, you know it's Elliott Yamin. He's got that kind of voice. It's an evocative, sultry, emotional voice. In the old days, it could've made women toss their panties to him. Now? We just sit at home and let our panties get wet while listening to him.

They say he'll never win cause he doesn't have "the look". Isn't that the point of being a star? They don't look like other people, they look like -- them, in all their quirky glory. I mean, fuck, Mick Jagger sold a shitload of records in his day, and he banged a lot of pretty women, too.

So Simon, tell me. Are you really such a puppet to popular opinion that you pick your favorite (Chris) and then capriciously throw him to the wolves at the first sign of discord? Or DO you have that eye for talent? DO the American Idol producers actually know how to breathe fresh life into the well-tread competition by changing gears this year and constructing a storyline like this?

Most importantly -- do Cinderella stories still happen? I mean, like I said, I'm a single girl in my 30's. I'm trying really hard here to still believe in happy endings. Is it so bleak that the best singer honestly doesn't have a chance to win a singing competition? Are we seriously, as a society, that moored to our superficial, preconceived, spoon-fed notions about who "should" win based on image? Or does Yamin have a shot, here?

Dark horse, Cinderella, American Idol winner Elliott Yamin. I like the sound of that. It gives me hope, in many ways.


Myfanwy Collins said...

YEEE-AAAHH! You need to stand at the pulpit and preach this, Susan, as I was amening you all the way.

This line had me shouting from the rooftops: Word is that Yamin wouldn't ever complain, so I won't picklerize him too much

"picklerize"--heee hee hee!

I like Elliot Yamin. Like him a lot. I especially liked when he said with all honesty that he didn't like Barry Manilow's music before he worked with him. That takes balls of steel.

And WHAT is this about Mandisa? I had no idea she said that shit but she bugged me anyway.

SusanD said...

Thanks, Myfanwy. That was a hard post to 'fess up to ;)

Mandisa. It's highly subjective how you want to take what she said, but what she shouted at the start of her song was: "This song goes out to everybody that wants to be free. Your addiction, lifestyle, or situation may be big, but God is bigger!"

And that "lifestyle" buzzword in tandem with the God check tends to put people's backs up.

Perhaps if this "controversy" reaches a shrill pitch Seacrest will sit her down next week like he did with Chris and have her explain it.

Don Capone said...

Elliot is a turkey who picks the worst songs every week. He'll last two more weeks, tops. Katherine McPhee, despite her poor showing last night, will make the top 3. I'm cooling a bit on Chris, but he could redeem himself with better song choices. Ace must die, or at least be voted out next week. He is the worst singer still in the competition. And that whole scar crap was the cheesiest thing I've ever seen on TV. Simon is always right (except for that Pickler is "Better than last year's winner" comment).

Check out this site for accurate recaps:

Don Capone said...

One more thing. I totally disagree that Elliot has a recognizable voice. If I was blindfolded and being tortured by Al Quada (however the f*ck you spell that) and they demanded I tell them who is singing, I wouldn't be able to. His voice is SO generic, and his songs are instantly forgettable (not to mention that I never heard any of the songs before. What are they, Back Street Boys tunes?).

I got McPheever!!

SusanD said...

Don, I think you are jealous of the hobbity sexiness that is Elliott. That's why you're lashing out at him. You should not have this glitch. You're hot, too.

Then again, I am always really stoned when I watch the show, so all my opinions regarding it are suspect.

However, we agree on Ace. He sucks. Nor is he attractive. I think Paula has lousy taste in boys.

SusanD said...

Oh. And, I think you're kidding about his song choices, but in case you're not, I guess we have *really* different tastes in music. That's a HUGE part of why I like the kid, cause of the songs he picks. Moody's Mood for Love is one of my all-time favorites. My dad was a jazz DJ. Just saying.

Don Capone said...

Seriously, I never know any of Elliot's songs. That's why he not one of my favorites. Really, I think he's OK. Pretty good voice. Just boring.

I don't think any music that I listen to ever makes it onto AI. Seems to be all Top 40 unless they do a theme show. No one's singing any Bjork or U2 or Green Day. Or Beatles for that matter. How about trying to tackle a Lennon/McCartney song? Some one did Imagine once, but that's it. The contestants always seem to go for the most tuneless, dull song they could find.

Who's hotter—me or Ace? I have an appendectomy scar.

SusanD said...

I would bet Green Day wouldn't allow their songs to be used on that show. (I don't know if Billy Joe is a pillar of integrity or not, it just strikes me he'd say "fuck off".) I know U2 wouldn't allow Constantine to sing "Beautiful Day" last year, so I'm thinking none of their stuff is allowed. I don't know who currently owns the rights to Beatles songs (is it still Michael Jackson?), so that'd be the hurdle there, I would think.

But dude, I've always thought you had great taste in music. I think you're just not familiar with Elliott's choices, but if you were exposed to them, you'd like them -- alot. Seriously. Two of his songs were Stevie Wonder songs, from back before Stevie sucked and went totally saccharine. Moody's Mood is a jazz standard. And Teach Me Tonight is a standard. Everyone's sung that song. (If Frank Sinatra ever sang a song, I probably know it.)

I will say that I put my utter loathing of Ace on hold for a couple minutes the other night, because of the song he picked. My friend wrote that song, and I love seeing my friends get richer. And then it was even more satisfying that Ace utterly botched it :)

You are infinitely hotter than Ace, with or without a scar. But like I said, I don't find him attractive anyhow. But you're hotter than CHRIS. Now that's hot, baby.

Don Capone said...

I forgot about them needing to get the rights to sing a song. That's a good thing. I would probably puke if I heard one of my faves done by Ace or Kevin or Bucky. I didn't know about Constantine wanting to do a U2 song. I would've had to shoot my TV out, you know? Which would have taken time—applying for a gun permit, buying a firearm, coming back and shooting said TV a week later.

So who wrote that Train song? Not someone in the band?

As soon as they up the age, I'm going to try out for AI. Or wait till Senior Idol comes out.

SusanD said...

Or wait till Senior Idol comes out.

For some reason this gives me a mental picture of you auditioning with Eleanor from SUNSET.

The only upside to shooting your TV would be that it'd be an excuse to then go buy a bigger TV.

Pat Monahan, the lead singer for Train, wrote that song. So don't badmouth Train to me ;)

alisoneliz said...

Hi Susan,

I'm one of Don's co-workers. As much as I like Don, he's SO wrong about Elliot. Elliot gives me perpetual chills up and down my arms when he sings. My son put all of Elliot's performances on my iPod yesterday, and let me tell you, when you hear them that way, you realize what an otherworldly talent he is. I would venture to say the best singer I have ever heard. He has so much going on in his voice -- grittiness, seductiveness, emotion, and just sheer beauty. He's definitely too good for American Idol. Thanks for recognizing it too!

SusanD said...

Hey Alison, thanks for stopping by. You have very good taste in music. And I agree, when I listen to the songs on mp3, they get even better. Poor Don. He'll get it sooner or later. I don't know that I'd say EY is the best singer I've ever heard, but I'd like to have a CD or three to listen to so I can decide.

Liza said...

I got your link to this entry somehwere else but I just had to tell you how much I love what you had to say and I couldn't have said it any better myself unless you would have thrown in the word "sexified". I linked this in my blog if you don't mind. If you want i can take it out though.

ELLIOTT is the best. ROCK.

SusanD said...

Hey Liza,

Thanks, link away. Please.

Lemonfresh said...

I loved this. Elliott for the win!

Anonymous said...

I am a woman in her 30's, single, who loves Elliott to death. I'm a 5'11" Black woman, and if I wouldn't scare the shit out of him, I'd do him in a minute. He just does something to me. Can't explain it. He is my first case of jungle fever.

Strategy Game Guides said...

That was quite a good one, honestly, everybody loves the good old Simon says cliches!