Friday, April 28, 2006

Idol Makeovers

One last one to fill the idle time without Idol over the weekend. Much hoopla is being made of the dramatic makeovers seen on some of the contestants this year. I thought I'd take a moment to honor the hard work of the Idol stylists (Mezhgan-makeup, Dean Banowetz - hair, Miles Siggins - wardrobe) by showing you my favorite, most dramatic makeover this year. I give you, from start to finish,

Mr. Chris Daughtry

When we first met Chris during the audition rounds, he was a humble, hard-working little rocker from Virginia. He didn't have all the glam and glitter around him yet, but the raw material was all there and we could see he had star potential, but he was still only a shell of what he'd later become.


During the early rounds, Chris immediately benefited from the classy stage lighting and even began grooming himself for the scrutiny of national television. We got to know his personal musical tastes and he quickly scrambled to the head of the pack.


Our beloved not-rocker falls into the hands of the professional stylists. He learns about eyeliner and has the benefit of smoke machines and wicked cool lighting and a juiced up wardrobe budget as he screams his eggheaded little heart out. Yay Mr. Daughtry! You've become all you were cracked up to be.

Congrats Idol stylists, on a job well done!


Wow. So. Next week the wannabe idols get to perform two songs. One has to be a song from their birth year, and another has to be in the top ten this week. (I don't know if it has to be on the hot 100, or if from any of the genres.) Incidentally, that song "Bad Day" that you hear at the end of every show? Yeah. That's the number one song right now. Will any of the five have the balls to do that song? I hope not. I hate that song.

So. I'm not gonna sit here and give notes on what all of them can perform, cause I don't really care. I care about Elliott. He was born in 1978. (that makes me feel old and lascivious and dirty and pervy. I love it. Thank you for endorsing this behavior, Mrs. Laura Petrie)

I'm older than Elliott, yes, but I was still a v. young little peep in '78. But I've seen the list of top songs from Billboard from that year, and I about died. I do remember the music, but I guess I just never realized how prevalent disco was. In '78, even the Rolling Stones were releasing disco material. I don't have anything against disco. I kinda like a lot of disco, in fact. And if that's the route Elliott goes, so be it. But I don't see him busting out the falsetto like that. I don't know what he will choose, but just looking at that list creeped me out, and I started to understand why the '70s music was so maligned.

Thing is, that's just the surface. There was some incredible music created in the '70s, even if that's not its legacy. Heavy metal was already out there (Van Halen), good hard rock (AC/DC), future 80's superbands were already working it (The Police, The Cars, Dire Straights), there was some funky new shit (Elvis Costello, Devo, The Buzzcocks, not to mention a lot of true FUNK) and some plain old good shit (Neil Young, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye.) Seriously. Compare this list of albums released vs the charted singles for the year.

There was great stuff to hear. People were just too busy doing coke and wearing polyester while dancing at Studio 54 to tear themselves away from "Night Fever" for it to chart. But for stoners, it was a great year. Truly. This material could probably never be cleared for use on AI, and I don't think it's fitting anyhow, but here's couple highlights from 1978 of what was going on outside the disco scene. Or, as I like to call this portion of the week:

Shit I like that you might like, too


Possibly the best Ramones album. And yes, "I Wanna Be Sedated" is from this album.


Who doesn't love Lou? And this live album kicks ass.


Of course, this is my favorite by a mile. Some people don't get The Boss, and if they don't, I can't explain it. (Well, I could try, but, really, why bother?) But for dark, powerful, and angry rock-n-roll, it doesn't get much better than this. Bruce's earlier releases (such as Born To Run) were full of simmering tension and frustration, but it boils over on this raw release. His guitar work is blistering and he's pushing the envelope to bitter -- but he never succumbs to that. Under all the shards of pain there's still a few glistening drops of hope, bloodied and dirty though they may be. And love songs? "Prove it all night" is a great one, fraught with lust and danger, just the way love really is, and it still rocks.


Technically released in 1977, this is actually an album that I could see either Taylor or Elliot pulling something from. I think Joel usually allows his songs to be used on the show. And some of the stuff charted in '77, and some in '78. I could see Taylor getting jiggy wit "Only The Good Die Young."

As for the album on a whole, you tell me. I know you've heard this album. This album has rock on it, but not rock in the Springsteen sense. It's not bubble-gum, but it is more pop-infused. But it's the moodier pieces on here that stand out. "Just the Way You Are" was the breakout hit, which I kind of hate. It's a quiet little love song -- sweet and unassuming, really. But just a little bland, too, which is why I think it fit in with the chart-toppers of '78. But go past that song and there's the still-enigmatic "Vienna." This album should come across as a mish-mash of styles, but for some reason, it doesn't. It congeals into something greater than the sum of its parts.

For all the women struggling with... age inappropriate crush at this time, please check out Confessions of a Middle Aged Suburban Diva. It's a new blog, but I'm totally digging it already. Mrs. Laura Petrie (Robinson) can write, and she's interesting as hell. But she's also entertaining. Check out her hilarious entry about May/December lust and how she's handling it.

A tease:
She sits on a barstool, with a cigarette holder in one hand and a vodka martini (Grey Goose) in the other, smeared lipstick in an somewhat garish color.

For all the struggling writers --

Please stop by and check out Don Capone's blog today. I hadn't heard about this story yet. Maybe it got lost in the shuffle because people were sick of the whole JT LeRoy and James Frey crap. But here's another embarrassing entry into the million little publishing scandals of late.

Schadenfuckingfreude, baby. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

In Loving Memory

Okay. I know this week didn't scratch the itch, so I have no choice but to do this. I give you this photo-essay of the single best American Idol moment: The Constantine Ejection.

It may take a minute for these to load. Hang in there, it's worth it. I promise.

I can't take credit for this glorious collection. I stole it completely from roadblocker over at Survivor Sucks. Yes. I could've just posted a link, but I knew a bunch of you lazy bums wouldn't've followed it. And trust me, this WILL make you laugh. HARD. There's a good chance it'll make you laugh so hard you cry like Elliott. (Still working on compiling a collection there. Might take some time.)

Anyhow. In case you don't recall how it shook out, last year's top six was divided into three groups of two. Bo and Carrie in one group. Anthony Federov and Vonzell in the other one, and Constantine and Scott Savol were then told to choose who they belonged with. Of course, they both chose to stand next to Bo and Carrie. They were told "wrong answer." And you can now relive exactly how it played out:

Please note some of the highlights:

Savol's stupid signature move of pointing to the ceiling when he hears he's safe. Also of note is the particularly self-satisfied, psycho smile he gets when Constantine's eviction is announced.

The looks on Constantine's face are priceless. There's nothing I can say to improve on those pictures.

Please note the "you're a bunch of motherfuckers" look on Bo's face from the gallery.

Also of note is Paula's hysterical reaction. Even her unseemly Elliott gushing display this week didn't quite hit the incoherent, emotionally bottomed out, peak of desperation that this did. Of particular note is the way she comforted Connie's mom, who was also terribly distraught.

That, my friends, was good television.

Not so Ballsy

I should be happy.

And, I am.

But I'm just not as happy as I was hoping.

So Pickler got the boot last night. But for some reason, I didn't get the rush of schadenfreude I was hoping for. I was partly held back from enjoying my bitchy jubilation because I was just so damn happy that Elliott will be singing us two songs next week. (YAY!) But the other part it was somewhat a letdown was because it was just so justified. I mean, she really sucked for a few weeks and it would've been hard to defend her lingering around. And though she was so heavily promoted at the outset of the show, I really think it was her infamous "What's a ballsy?" line that was the start of her undoing. The public didn't react immediately, but it helped put the brakes on her run. Then toss in all those awful performances, and it seems almost like Kellie was trying to get herself kicked off. (Which is something I wouldn't put past anyone at this point. Chris Daughtry and Taylor Hicks especially.)

The amusing part of last night is that she didn't even get to sing it out. Bah! Yes, she was that awful the night before. Instead of singing, Seacrest let her talk about something like time to go to commercial. (double entendre, there?) Or maybe they just didn't want anyone singing after Bocelli, cause they really would've looked less like American Idol and more like The Gong Show stacked up against him. Anyhow, Paula didn't even feign sadness for Kellie. She pretty much handed her her bags and chirped, "Someone's gotta go!" Maybe Kellie was moving in on Paula's desired fuck toy this year and so Paula felt threatened and wanted her gone? I don't know. I kind of thought that with Ace now gone Paula was getting the skeevy hots for Elliott, hence her breakdown the other night when he sang. As we all know, I wouldn't blame her. He was looking downright HOT in that Ford commercial last night. But he just doesn't seem likely to gain Kellie's sexual favors. I'm not even going to speculate further on the fact that he shed a tear upon her leaving. I mean, I dig him, but we all know Elliott cries. (this is grotesque. I just spent an hour and a half scouring the web for shots of him crying, and I can't find two of the crucial ones to make this joke work in a pictorial way.) Maybe he was crying tears of joy because he won't have to deal with having her nasty snotrag flung at him ever again.

Anyhow. It wasn't a shocking elimination, nor unjust. The only elimination that could give me that rush of disbelief along with a feeling of vindication at this point would be Mr. Daughtry getting the boot. But even then, it would never come close to the Constantine eviction of last year, because there's no one CRAPPY left for him to be paired against. That was the joyful horror of Constantine's eviction: that he was booted, while Scott Savol was safe. The only way we could've had that kind moment again would've been if it had been Daughtry and Pickler in the bottom two, and then Daughtry was eliminated. And I begged for that not to happen. I'm a fool who doesn't know what's good for her.

Anyhow. Seacrest claimed that Katharine and Chris were the top two vote-getters. I call bullshit on that. I don't care how lame Taylor's performance was. (and OH! This just in -- Taylor AGAIN had to change his song late in the game this week. He'd planned on doing "Try A Little Tenderness" and got jacked around with it. I think that officially makes Taylor THE most fucked-with contestant ever on AI. Does he really have that much bad luck, or do the producers fear him that much?) Anyhow, no way I'll ever believe his vote total was middle of the pack, especially behind Katharine.

It's just that I still can't decide which game they're playing with Katharine. My gut tells me they'd WANT Katharine around for a final two with Chris. However, something seems hinky. The way the judges ripped into her performance on Tuesday was damn near rehearsed. And yes, it was a bad performance. But it wasn't THAT awful. But to then turn around and apologize for it? I'm sure that the judges furor raised Katharine's vote total this week. But that's how they've been playing the knock-outs this year -- with combination punches. First, they rip into the person, and then the next week, they back off and give patronizing faint praise. It works because when they attack, people feel a knee-jerk sympathy for the person and vote for them. But then the next week, that sympathy is gone and if it's a lackluster performance but the judges don't attack, complacency sets in and votes don't get cast. It worked on Kevin and Ace. And it sure looks like that's what they're playing at with Katharine. Watch for it. If she registers as "meh" on their, and the viewers' radar, she could be in serious trouble next week.

All this to say, I do think Katharine's nothing but a pawn at this point. I think the only two that aren't pawns are Daughtry and Taylor Hicks. And right now, it's just all about the producers figuring out how to keep Taylor from winning.

The question is -- has Taylor figured out if he wants to win? I know he's gotten screwed with and certainly that can affect his performances. But I've a feeling it's not just me who's got a touch of the Hamlet ambivalence going on. I think several of these contestants aren't quite sure if they really want to win this competition.

Granted, people are fond of saying that now that the contestants have had exposure, they don't need to win or place to be successful. But really, history kind of disproves that theory, if the success we're talking about is massive, chart-topping, celebrity-star success. And for the ones who are on here fame-whoring, isn't that the only kind of success they want? The trouble is, by now we all know that the brass ring of becoming American Idol champ or runner up is a fairly tarnished prize.

Again, in case you've forgotten, here's what's rumored to be the winner's coronation song, written by Tamyra Gray and Nick Lachey. Fuck me gently with a chainsaw! Somehow, I don't see Taylor WHOOing and applauding about that fucking disaster having to come out of his mouth. And don't get me started on Chris. And it's not just the one song. Everyone saw what happened to Bo Bice's CD, and I showed you that little article last week that gives us some potential insight into Bo's state of mind about all this shit.

I don't consider self-sabotage out of the realm of possibility at this point for some of these contestants. I really don't. I'm not even certain we haven't seen hints of it already, in fact. And that could be the one thing to put a monkey-wrench into this season.

Anyhow. Next week's theme is "Songs of the year they were born" and "Songs on the charts this week."

What a dumb-ass theme, huh? We'll discuss more later. If anyone wants to give me a clue as to what's popular today, right now, I'd appreciate that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Song For Him

Wow. I'm going to forego any setup and just jump right in here tonight. Love songs was the order of business. I'll admit, my ambivalent nature was really looking forward to this night. On the one hand, as I've admitted, I'm a hopeless romantic. I had a sneaking suspicion that my romantic, sleeper pick of Elliott Yamin was going to shake off the last hints of Cinderellaish, desperado singer-boy and finally, completely step up and settle into his potential position of frontrunner.

On the other hand, my snarky, disaster-loving bitch side was hoping for a bit of a train wreck to occur when an onslaught of corny, too-big songs were going to be tackled by some of the others in this group.

Oh man. I wasn't disappointed -- on either count.

What a night.

"Love Songs" is a really vague kind of category, but I figured some people would get all overwrought with the shit, especially when you've got the kings of overwrought, Andrea Bocelli and David Foster, as their coaches for the week. I give Bocelli a free pass on being cheesy and overstated, for a couple of reasons. First, he sings both classical and pop, and opera requires a certain panache for over-the-top theatrics. However, what really rocketed Bocelli to fame was his pop songs, but even his pop songs are big, grand, showy pieces where if you bother to translate the lyrics into English, they'd come off as more corny than Iowa in July. But they aren't sung in English, and even though I understand the meaning, it sort of just works in Italian. Italians are grand and showy and passionate and quite serious, in a very not serious way, about love. So it works with that old-world charm.

I guess I also have to give Bocelli a free pass as a vocal coach, because I didn't notice that he did too much with the kids. Foster did most of the heavy lifting, while Bocelli seemed content to sit back and bask in his own wonderfulness and toss out a comment here or there. However, even though he's blind, he still showed the unmistakable guinea charm and ability to light it up around pretty girls. He did a duet with Katharine and then correctly pegged Kellie as a blonde and was disturbingly enchanted with her. The fucking skeevy indignity of that, you know? I was really hoping that being blind and all would make him immune to her idiotic allure, but it didn't.

Also on the downside in that area, I know a lot of people were questioning whether Bocelli even spoke English or if they'd need a translator. Me? I knew he spoke English, but I was still thinking a translator might be necessary in Kellie's case. Not to translate from Italian to English, but to translate between English and dumb-fuckese. But alas, her pheromones are strong juju, and he communicated with her just fine. Whatever. He also liked Paris. He didn't really like any of the guys. Which is pretty ironic (yes, really, it's ironic!) because the show ended up shaking out exactly opposite of the practices.

Anyhow. Hopeless romantic with an appalling affinity for Italian love songs I may be, but I'm also a Jersey girl, and it was on the cusp of my adolescence that Bon Jovi took over and utterly rocked my world. So to me, American love songs in the form of Whitney Houston and Celine Dion (and David Foster) are the ultimate in schmaltz. So I'm gonna break this show's winners and losers down Jersey-style in the love-gone-wrong arena rock anthem of my youth:

"Shot through the heart and you're to blame, darling
You Give Love A Bad Name."

Kellie Pickler. Kellie, Kellie. I just might get my dream eviction this week in the form of Kellie Pickler. This is three really awful performances in a row from her this week, and sure, sure, even Simon tore into her. She looked utterly plain and forgettable, except for her vaguely weird hairstyle. Worse, she picked what is notoriously known as Simon's favorite song, "Unchained Melody," and she proceeded to unchain it alright. She unchained it, whipped it, and then kicked the everloving shit out of it while it was down.

Even worse for her though wasn't the way Simon ripped it up. Believe it or not, it's been noted by statisticians that the most important judge on the show is actually -- wait for it -- seriously, wait for it, cause you're going to say I'm tripping -- Paula. I know, you think that's nuts. But consider it. Paula gives hearts and flowers to everything. When Paula does not give hearts and flowers to a performance, it's devastating. And almost always, when Paula does not give hearts and flowers, the audience follows Paula's lead and doesn't vote for that contestant. Paula, this week, did not have kind things to say to Kellie. I love Paula!

Guess who else Paula didn't give any love to? Katharine. Katharine is also in peril this week. It's a shame, really. She pulled out all the stops. And by stops, of course, I mean her tits. She was showing nearly as much boob as Paula was last week. Seacrest remarked on this by saying, "Well, if people had the volume on their TVs off, they'll still vote for you." Really. He said something along those lines. I thought Seacrest's role this season was to staunchly defend the contestants, but apparently the producers are REALLY willing to sacrifice Katharine or Kellie to the "shock elimination" cause this year with him commenting on her performance in that manner. Plus, they put her first in the lineup. What'd she sing? Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing." It wasn't very good at all, that's true. But it wasn't as appalling as everyone made it out to be. At least, the vocals weren't utterly terrible. But the struggling she did with it was on top of her smitten attitude with herself which has become too much. She, I think, will also be in the bottom three.

Unfortunately, Paris also chose a song that was too big for her in "The Way We Were." Paris is enigmatic. She's smug alright, but I hesitate to rip into her too harshly, because I'm not fully convinced that she's a fame-whore who's there of her own accord. I think her family is a gang of fame-whores who want her to be there, and that's hard to escape. I'd like to like Paris, and she shows talent. But she just doesn't bring it often enough. The band did her no favors with the gaudy arrangement on the song. Again, with this song, she kept it in such an annoying low key and though her face and hair were pretty, she just seems freakishly old. And I don't mean mature. I mean old. And smug. I'd prefer that Kellie goes before her, but I think Paris punched her trip ticket last night by busting out the classic Babs.

So, the girls sucked. It should've been a boys' night out, huh?

Too bad Taylor sucked the pipe, too. He was great in rehearsal, singing the lame-ass "Just Once," and I don't know what the hell happened when he stepped on that stage. The reason I tolerate, and actually like Taylor is because I don't get the sense that he's on there fame-whoring like most people. I get the feeling he's on there because he loves to perform. And he's good at it. But last night, for lack of a better word -- he choked. I mean, he choked in such a graphic way it was like Chuck Palahniuk had written it. (again, excuse the arcane, writerly reference.) Taylor's got those goddamn bedroom eyes when he's onstage that kind of almost sparkle. But last night, his voice was off for the first line, and he just never recovered from that. He fought for it, but it just didn't work and the whole performance got away from him vocally and stylistically. If he was anyone but Taylor, he might be in trouble this week. But, joy for him, he is Taylor, and he'll be safe. Especially because he didn't suck it out nearly as bad as Katharine or Kellie. And we ALL want Taylor to stick around for Elvis week.

That brings us to this:

I'm asking you -- does that look like someone who's giving a "sexy" performance as Simon claimed it was? Didn't think so. I get some people writing me letters and asking me if I'm serious about my hatred for Chris. I tell them, "Yes." Invariably, they ask, "Why?" I'd like to say, go back and re-read my posts, I think I've elaborated pretty well. But I know they won't. So I give them the short answer. Chris, I do think he's a fame-whore. I think he's an egg-headed, over-pimped, crappy song liking, self-serious, wallet chain wearing, eyebrow groomed, over-butch, shaky vibrato voiced, fucking fame whore. Does that cover it? I'm quite certain that Chris is a wonderful human being. But I also know he put himself out there on a national television show expecting adulation. He doesn't have mine. I don’t hate him as a person. I don't know him. But I do think he's more suited to gay porn than to singing love songs. And I don't like the character he plays on TV. I will not drink the Chris Kool-Aid.

The producers want to keep him around, because I think they're seriously eyeing the all male final three, so they put him last and he hid his wallet chain to look more romantic and sang a song I've never heard, I think he said it was "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman." [small tangent -- you want hypocrisy? I took fucking NOTES is why I know that. I'm ripping Chris to shreds but I'm sitting and taking NOTES on the shit so I can blabblab about it. I'm grotesque! /end tangent] He, like Paris, suffered from a gaudy song arrangement with not one but two guitars onstage flanking him and it didn't do him any favors. Back when I thought Chris was hot, I didn't notice the vibrato in his voice, or maybe it's these slower songs that's making it more evident, but lately it sounds like he's singing while sitting on a jackhammer. (And yes, I did use that metaphor specifically to bring about a gay porn visual. It works with him, doesn’t it? Admit it.)

So. That's four bona-fide losers for the night. (only four because the judges liked Chris.) That leaves one other person. Guess who.


Listen, don't EVEN think I'm saying this because he's my favorite. You KNOW he proved it (again) tonight. He did Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You" and he was incredible. Paula -- she cried! Okay. Look, Simon laughed at her crying, and I guess I giggled at it, too. But what the fuck. Paula's drunk and deranged and if she wants to be so moved that she cries, I don't have a problem with it. It's cute. Besides, I already told you, tonight, I love Paula! So leave her alone.

These days, people are trying to their damnedest to pimp Elliott in every way imaginable, including flinging around his backstory and telling us all the things he's had to overcome. You know what he had to overcome last night? The fucking BAND. Just like Paris and Chris, except Elliott was successful and somehow rose above them.

Here's a story from Sinatra's heyday. He was performing with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra and one night as he was signing, legendary drummer Buddy Rich just started going off and basically taking a drum solo. Sinatra finished the song the best he could, but then he walked to the back of the orchestra and punched Rich in the face and knocked him off the rise and the bandstand. Granted, Sinatra wasn't a cup of tea. But Rich deserved it. This season, someone really needs to go over and punch Ricky Minor in the face and pull that fucking American Idol band back in line. They have been awful all year and it's sad that they've destroyed so many songs. I never mentioned it last week, because I had it in for Ace (and for Pickler), but they were half the reason Ace mangled his song. And Pickler? THEY were the ones who caused her to lose her place and get tangled up. I laughed. But still. This shit needs to be handled.
[end digression]

So, try as they might, the band wasn't able to swallow up Elliott on this song. Possibly because he knows it so well, but also possibly for the same reason they haven't been able to overwhelm him yet this season -- because he adjusts and has the musicianship to go with it. Elliott's not a belter, and I don't know if a lot of people react to singers on this show if they don't scream. People equate loud with being good. But that's just not Elliott's gig, and he picks the perfect songs to showcase how he actually sings instead of shouts. And this song, for him, was perfect. It's sweet and soulful, but not overwrought. It's complex, but has a nice melody. (part of the lyrics are actually "Listen to the melody, cause my love is in there hiding" and damn right it is.) And Elliott just sang the everloving hell out of this song. Oh my. He sang the everloving love out of the song.

Don't believe me? Here's for mp3

Elliott, he's always brought the voice. But this week, the whole rest of everything else clicked and fell into place for him. I knew it. I knew it, I could see it turning last week. Last week he was so good on "It Had to Be You" and his performance was so close to being "there". And this week, it was "there". It was just effortless. It was unnoticeable, because his singing swallowed up everything else. There were no nerves, there was no hint of over-thinking. He just was. He inhabited the stage and the song like he completely belonged there.

Chris has been the front-running fame-whore who was massively pimped. And Taylor is the break-out bona-fide performer who amassed an immediate fan base. Elliott is the pure singer of the bunch, but that still kept him relegated to underdog status. People had excuses and complaints and took exception to things about him, but last night, the last of those niggling little problems just fell away. Last night, Elliott stopped being an underdog and became a contender.

Elliott's worked and earned every bit of this success. And last night, finally, all the work of the stylists and coaches and judges and his family and voters (you know, the fairy godmothers), all that fell into place and this Cinderella arrived at the ball.

More AI Crap

Well, it's Tuesday so they have to release SOMETHING in the way of controversy to help keep the ratings numbers from falling again for AI tonight. This wussy article about Paula and Seacrest's "feud" is the best I could find though. Again, my disappointment rises. Again, my interest wanes.

I still have my Elliott adoration, and I'm confident he'll bring the hot again tonight. But seriously. For how long and to what degree can I take this show *seriously*?

I miss Constantine.

I am now fully convinced how special Connie was last year. I suspected when I first tried to pigeonhole Ace into his shoes and Ace came up so sorely lacking. And yes, Chris does now satisfy my itch for annoyance on a weekly basis. But seriously, that eggheaded not-rocker just can't bring the obnoxious like Constantine could. Chris glares at me through the TV, yes. But Constantine? When he'd look at me through the TV, it made me feel dirty. Violated. (Oddly, sometimes I look at Elliott, I feel like I'm violating him. Hmm. The thought of me becoming Constantine is too much.)

Anyhow. This is it. Tonight is the one year anniversary of Constantine singing Nickleback and then getting the shocking boot the next night. That was, without question, the single most satisfying moment in AI history for me. Because, though I voted for Connie to keep him around to feed my perverse desire to be annoyed, it was so unexpected and elating when he got bitch-slapped like that it was just -- perfection.

But I missed him as soon as he was gone. The show fell flat.

Idol voters, I implore you, don't do it again this year. If we're ripe for a surprise kick off this week, don't make it Chris. Sure, Chris takes himself way too seriously in a way I don't think Constantine ever did, and he'd never have the balls to sing The Partridge Family on the show. But even for us haters, there is an upside to keeping him around.

I give you this gift: THIS is believed to be the song that the "winner" of AI this year will be saddled with.

I know. There aren't lyrics posted. But look at the songwriters! Tamyra and Nick Lachey! I can't hardly fucking stand the thought of Chris Daughtry having to be crowned AI winner and then standing there and screeching a Tamyra Gray song about rainbows, pots of gold, hugs, and kittens while his wallet chain dangles and his eyeliner runs!! THAT WOULD BE THE BEST MOMENT OF AMERICAN IDOL -- EVER!!

I'm like Pavlov's dog thinking about this, yo! The only thing better than watching that would be then having his fans defend it and say, "He made it his own. He rocked it out."

Of course, there's a dark side to even this.

I'm still rooting and believing in Elliott and his ability to win this thing, I'm going to keep voting for him as long as he keeps bringing it. Because I WANT talent to win out and I want Elliott to have a million dollar contract and to be a winner. However -- I really don't want our dear, talented Elliott to be shackled with this song!

Making Elliott sing that song would violate him worse than my lusty gaze ever could.

But maybe not more than Constantine's.

Again, with another fucking paradox in my life.

Anyhow. Here's how I'm going to roll. If Elliott kicks ass tonight, I will vote for him. (Obssessively. Cause that's just how I do things.)

I will rest easy knowing that Chris will rake in plenty of votes.

And I will hope that Pickler is the recipient of the "shocking" exit this week.

Monday, April 24, 2006

For me, it's them

I had a fun weekend. I got to see/hear Train in concert, and it was great. They're out touring to promote their latest release, For Me, It's You.

Train's sound has changed quite a bit since their self-titled debut album and since their jaunty single "Meet Virginia." But change and growth isn't a bad thing, and I love the sound of this new CD. It more mature, yes. Grown up, even. And, it's even somewhat wistful and melancholy, but not in an overwrought way. And live, there's nothing wistful, they're still a great time. And talk about singing? Their lead singer can still blow. Pat Monahan has a voice that's capable of inducing shivers -- and I mean that in the best way. And he's sure not hard on the eyes either.

Night Train / Frigg

The following information is cribbed from Myfanwy's blog. She's got a lot of other really good info over there, too, including links to some interesting upcoming books and current stories/poems available on the web, so please visit her today.

But I wanted to highlight these couple things. The new issue of FRiGG is online.

Also, the new issue of Night Train is available for order. Thanks to Myfanwy, I know that there's a story by William Reese Hamilton in the upcoming issue. I LOVE Bill's writing, and I'm willing to bet you'll love most of the writing in Night Train.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Still not quite shocking, but...

There's this little tidbit about AI runner-up Bo Bice.

See that. Once a cool rocker on national television. Goes to show what a dangerous elixir slipping-down fame and alcohol can be.

This is a little blip on the scandal radar, but it's still not doing the job. However, if drunk Bo had been the one who'd assaulted drunk Paula, THEN we'd have had a story, people! I'm telling you, the orchestration on this year's scandals is worse than the fucking BAND'S has been this year. That's suckitude, people.

Nevertheless. This cautionary tale, courtesy of Bo, is posted here for YOUR enlightenment, Mr. Daughtry.

So now we have a name.

And the name is Ryan.

What am I talking about? Here's Ace's exit interview. His foxy brother is named Ryan. His foxy brother is 6'7". Apparently, it's not just me who's attracted to his foxy brother.

Ace tries so hard to be normal, but he can't help letting the fame-whorey, self-loving crap slip out in small ways in that interview, and it's kind of funny. Just when I start to soften towards him because he's such a lug and so dorky he goes and says something mind-blowingly fatuous. And yes, even though he's good looking (to some people), he's still a dork. Read the interview, you'll see what I mean.

Anyhow. I'm truly going to miss Ryan.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Text massaging

So how do we fill the week until we have another American Idol show?


This year has been numbingly weak for controversies, and I'm getting a little fed up with it. This show used to be the polestar of sleazy, silly tabloid fodder. Poor Paula's been carrying the burden of generating outrageous buzz for years, and though she's trying really hard this year with her "assault" and all, it's just falling flat. It's time for Randy to step it up and do something explosively stupid and disgustingly inappropriate. Yeah. The only thing that'd one-up Paula's tawdry Corey Clark affair would be if Randy would have a sordid liason with a contestant. Makes you suddenly sorry that Ace has been hustled off now, doesn't it? Now that, my friends, would've been entertainment!

Anyhow, we don't have anything near that juicy. Text messaging outrage is all we can muster this week. I can't completely untangle how this one works, because I'm just not knowledgeable about the intricacies of reselling of phone services. And, I just don't care, because I don't have a cell phone so I don't think about my provider or scour my bill or upgrade my service or whatever else goes on in that world that I'm clueless about.

That said, the following strikes me as odd, because doesn't SOMEBODY have to be footing the bill to Cingular here? What I'm talking about is this:

Kellie Pickler's phone bank

On the surface -- so fucking what, right? But, if you're Ace and you just got booted, maybe those free text messages that Kellie's fans sent out impacted the thing. And maybe your fans would've sent more text messages, except they can't afford to do so. Well. That sucks and life's not fair, but it's still not a big deal, right?


Except --

Cingular is a major sponsor of American Idol. If this store, CT Communications, is somehow, for some reason, footing the massive text bill and paying Cingular out of their own pocket -- good on them for supporting a hometown girl. However, if Cingular is allowing these text messages to go through free of charge, that's complete and utter bullshit, unless they'd offer the same perk to all the remaining contestants in their hometowns. Otherwise, they're pretty much helping to fix the results. Scandal? This could blow bigger than the 1951 CCNY college hoops point-shaving scandal of 1951! (Oh. Wait. Did I just go Dennis Miller with too arcane of a reference, there? Then how about this cheating scandal from pop culture past?)

This is Fox's statement regarding the matter:

A store in Albermarle, NC (owned by CT Communications) has set up a text messaging phone bank where people can vote for Kellie for free. This company (CT Communications) is a telephone provider in west-central North Carolina. Their cellular stores are RESELLERS for Cingular, like Best Buy and other stores.

Cingular does not control them. They do not control Cingular. The store where the Kellie Pickler voting is taking place is owned by CT Communications and no one else.

There is no conflict of interest, just a retailer using this to drum up business and support their hometown idol.


Okay. Call me Kellie Pickler, but I still don't understand. Or, perhaps it's because, you know, I'm an accountant, so I'm still trained to follow the money. Maybe Cingular doesn't own this company. But if this company is a reseller of Cingular's service, I still need to know who's picking up the tab for this whole thing. If CT is footing the bill, well then, alright. Or do they have some sort of deal with Cingular where they get so many discretionary text votes per month to piss away or something? Do all resellers have that perk? Or has Cingular donated those messages to them only?

Really. I'd much prefer something more colorful and sexy to get all riled up and pissed off at Kellie Pickler about. Like, I'd love for us to get "shocking" backstage pictures of her snorting coke off of married Chris Daughtry's naked chest. (Though I bet all the guys would prefer to get pictures of her snorting coke off of Katharine's naked chest.) But if the best we have to get indignant about is some free text messages being dumped her way, I'll do my part to help stir the pot and spread the slander. And, if that all bottoms out and leads nowhere, it's okay and we can still malign her because she still can't sing for shit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Goodbye Ace's brother

I'm proud of you, Idol voters. Elliott was safe, and Ace is gone. So. To wrap up this week, Rod was cool. Extremely cool. He's also a poster boy for good, subtle plastic surgery.

Ace is gone. I was starting to wonder if he'd be the cockroach of the season, surviving against all odds. But I did expect him to go tonight. I was wrong about one thing though. He handled it exceptionally well. I'll miss his foxy brother.

Chris hit the bottom three, but it all went so quickly there wasn't really time to draw it out and milk it for shock value. Never fear, he'll be fine. In related news, Simon's beyond being a fucking asshole now. He took credit for Chris's performance last night, so when Ryan asked him tonight if he'll take credit for the bottom three, Simon got defensive and said, "I didn't sing the song." Simon used to be kind of spot on. Even when he was manipulating and steering the votes, there was usually truth behind his words. But now? He's just become a mocking, tap-dancing, cranky company man pushing an agenda, without any credibility left.

Maybe Simon's bitter. Because I'm now also throughly convinced we all had it called wrong and that if votes truly do decide this thing, there's no stopping Taylor. I don't think there's any way for Chris to overcome the massive Taylor fanbase at this point. Yeah, I'd prefer to believe Elliott still has a chance, but, whatever. As long as Pickler goes before Elliott, I'll be satisfied. And the thought of Taylor winning and sticking it up Simon's ass like that makes me giggle. I still think the immediate pecking order is Paris and Elliott in the judges minds, but, if the Elliott troops stay dedicated and vote next week like they did this week, there's no reason he won't be sticking around for quite some time, cause he's sure as hell not going to screw up the singing. Can you see it? One more week and then he'll be singing to us TWICE every show. Yes, that needs to happen.

Next week is love songs with guest Andrea Bocelli.


Honestly, I feel like they're making this shit up just for me the past couple weeks. Andrea Bocelli. Madone! I'm a guinea girl to the core and I've still got "Romanza" in strong rotation on my play list. I don't care if it's tacky, dorky, and cliche. I love him and I love that CD. His newest is "Amore" (a collection of standards, and it even has Chris Botti as a guest artist) and I've pretty much worn that out, too. I don't expect any of the wannabe idols to try and sing one of his songs, and I really don't want to even think about Elliott trying to sing "Con Te Partiro" because if he could somehow handle it, it might actually kill me. I don't know what the "love songs" parameters will entail quite yet. Maybe it'll be stuff pulled from the "Amore" album, done in the English translations. (I bet any money Chris would fight for "Can't Help Falling In Love") Or perhaps this is a chance for Elliott to finally bust out some Donny Hathaway for us. That'd be sexier than this:

I know, right? Looking at that picture (compliments of makes me feel dirty and pervy, too. I like it.

Anyhow, next week, it's also another opportunity for Chris to glare at us angrily while his wallet chain sways and he serenades us.

Again, thank you for this Nigel.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I've got a crush on... oh, you know who I've got a crush on!

I got together with three of my girlfriends this weekend, and once we'd caught up and had a few cocktails and become bored with our own dumb crap, talk drifted to TV. And once we'd exhausted discussing the new season of The Sopranos (It's great), the natural segue was to American Idol. It's reassuring that I'm not the only un-cool loser hawkeyeing the show, but I also cringed at the thought of how they'd taunt me when I revealed my dark horse pick, and my genuine affection for my pick. This group of ours, we don't exactly fancy ourselves the Algonquin Round Table, but we all appreciate a witty and cutting insult.

But I sucked it up and braced myself as I said, "I love Elliott." I was expecting some nasty comments about his looks or his nerves or something else. After all, I'd seen these girls metaphorically emasculate grown men for no bigger affront than their unfortunate choice in sideburn length. The response to my confession was fast and hard, but not what I'd expected.

"I LOVE HIM, TOO!" the first one shouted. This was even emphasized with a slap against the table.

"He's so excellent," my second friend said. "And he's gotten adorable."

Part of me thought to myself, Unbelievable. But the other half thought, I fucking knew it! Because, see, I did know it!

That left one more to weigh in, and the three of us who'd already spoken looked at her expectantly, to see if our freakish little coven of Elliott love would be complete. I knew the odds were long, given that we hadn't all enthusiastically agreed on the strange and striking desirability of one person since Furio had rained down hell in the massage parlor.

So we sat there, staring at our fourth, expectant, waiting for the final judgment to be passed before we devolved into squealing about the details.

And then it came. Final judgment: "I can't stand him."

Oh, the chorus of dissent we hurled at her:
"The fuck?"
"What's wrong with you?"

We badgered. She didn't relent. But the worst she could drudge up as a rationalization was this: "He spells his name stupid."

"You don't think he can sing?" I asked her.

"Yeah, he can sing." She shrugged. "Elliot, t." She actually stuttered the second T. Then, "It's stupid and I don't like it. It's gratuitous, that second T."

Well. What're you gonna do, you know? Besides, she wasn't the arbiter of good taste among our clique anyhow. Three of us are in agreement over Clive Owen, and she doesn't see that one either. And only two of us "get" Vince Vaughn. And I completely fail to understand their affinity for Colin Farrell. So. It happens. And, in all fairness, she does hold the spelling high ground with her traditional name.

But I could tell she wasn't just slightly negative about Elliott. I could tell he bugged her, but she wasn't ready to take us all on. So she needled again with the only ammunition she was willing to voice. "Elliot, t."

"The extra T," I told her, "is for Talent. Cause he's the only one who's got it."

I thought it was a decent throwaway line at the time. I had to say something for fuck's sake.

That was over the weekend. It was an interesting chat, but even we wondered if we really like Elliott so much, or if he was just a bright spot in an overall dirgy, formulaic season. I was starting to think maybe he wasn't so special, that he only seemed elevated compared to the glaring shortcomings of the rest of the character-contestants in this fifth and aging season of AI. I was actually starting to buy into that theory.

And then this happened.

In case you never noticed, I'm a tough, jaded bitch on the outside but inside I'm a hopeless romantic. One word: Swoon.

Again, Elliott brought the goods. Again, Simon gave him faint praise by saying, "Good vocal." But then he immediately took it away by saying that based on personality, he's worried for Elliott this week. I have to say, I love that he did that. I don't think it's accurate, but I also think it was a nice bit of reverse psychology on Simon's part to get people to vote for Elliott because they'll perceive weakness. Good! I don't give a fuck how he gets the votes, as long as he gets the votes and I get to hear him sing again next week. I could be wrong, of course. Maybe it will turn people off and they won't vote for Elliott based on Simon's comments. But I don’t think so. I think Simon knows about the groundswell of E-love that went on this past week after Elliott owned "Somebody to Love," and I think Simon wants to keep Elliott around, at least longer than Ace. I do think the next pecking order is Ace, Paris and Elliott. But I also think our underdog is starting to gain momentum.

"It Had To Be You" was Elliott's song choice, and boy-oh did he do it up. The backup singers were gratuitous and annoying, but he wasn't fighting the entire band for a change. His voice sounded so good and brought a modern sexiness, and yes, soulful vibe to the song, that even the very popular Harry Connick version never had. I love Harry, and I do see some similarities between he and Elliott, like Paula pointed out. (I can't believe I'm agreeing with Paula. Is that a sign that I'm partying too hard before the shows? Who cares? She has fun, and so do I! And, by the way, she was boobs OUT tonight. She had the ladies on full display for standards night.) Harry and Elliott both have quirky good looks, an approachable charm and affable attitude, not to mention dreamy voices. Harry's is smoother and more refined, but Elliott's has that sultry texture to it. And the way he started by leaning against the mic stand? Swoon.

But more on our charming Elliott later.

Let me say upfront that I was salivating to rip into Rod Stewart. Unfortunately for me, but good for the show, and the contestants, I think he was hands down the coolest pro they've had yet. I don't know how much he actually helped them other than to build their confidence, but even if that's all he did, it made for a massive improvement. Just goes to show you what a wonderful world it could be if so many people weren't fucking assholes, you know? His playful, cheerful attitude along with the fantastic material made this the best night of the season so far, or at least tied it with 50's night. And Rod doesn't even get tagged for the bad plastic surgery watch! He was tan, maybe even a slight bit orange, but he wasn't a complete Mystic Tan mess and overall, he looked his age, but damn fine for it.

Here's a quick rundown of the winners and losers for the night:

S'Wonderful -- The Winners

Paris. Even if she was dressed like a whorey CEO, holy smokes did Paris knock my socks off. Now I remember her audition and how good she was. She swallowed up the stage and band as she tore up "These Foolish Things." It was just -- awesome. Also at the end of Paris's interlude is when Ryan inserted his now mandatory "Simon is drunk" reference. Though this time I do believe Simon grabbed Paula's cup to show that yes, he had been nipping away. What prompted this whole exchange was Simon's glowing review of Paris, I think he told her she was terrific, or something similar. Good for Paris, good for them. Unfortunately for Paris, she went so early in the show that I'm afraid for her, and particularly afraid that in the dwindling pool she's going to get swallowed up, especially after the grotesque over praise Simon hurled toward Katharine to close the show. If life were fair, Paris would be a top vote-getter this week, but something tells me she's still in danger of hitting the bottom three.

Taylor did "You Send Me" and did his best, and his best was pretty damn good. He had to fight the band a little bit, but he sang it right on and in tune and even got a little jiggy at the end. Simon must've been on the hooch, or he's realized that there's really no stopping the Taylor love so instead of inflaming the Soul Patrol this week with insults he figured he'd go along for the ride and deem Taylor "magical." You think that's a good comment? It is. But not nearly as good as Rod's comment about it, and how he said that Taylor grabbed it by the balls. Rod was right about that. Taylor fits the stage the way Paula fits barbiturates.

As Ryan mentioned, Taylor got parodied on SNL this weekend. If you missed it, you can find it up at It's pretty funny.

Elliott. He may hit the bottom three again, but I highly doubt he's going anywhere this week.

These Foolish Things -- The Losers

Kellie. What the hell can I say here? She sucked every bit of life and sensuality right out of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." The song was boring and she was all out of tune, but then she got so freaking apologetic about it that no one had the balls to really rip into her for it. Still, she should be in the bottom three this week based on performance, but I highly doubt she will be. In stark contrast to Simon's comment about Elliott's lack of personality, Kellie's clip was shown right after that crabby moment, and her clip with Rod was all about her personality. He kept saying it over and over, and I suspect this is because, like I said, he wasn't critical at all. So with his complimentary love-fest, he couldn't say anything about her sub-standard voice, so he played up her personality. Kellie shouldn't rely on her personality. Standards don't suit her. Three hundred dollar haircuts that still look shitty are what suits her.

Ace stunk out with "That's All." He came out in a suit and with his hair pulled back to look the part, but it all had a desperate edge of trying too hard to fit in, and he just still didn't fit at all. He wants to be a crooner, but it's just not there with his nasally sound. And again with the freaking falsetto! Dear Jesus! And the best part? The judges encourage it! They tell him his falsetto is his meal ticket. Liars! Liars, Liars. The beauty of standards is that it harkens back to a time when men were masculine, without having to resort to wallet chains. But I've seen Tiny Tim pull off more ballsy performances than Ace ever has. Elevator muzak has more potency than Ace's singing. Remember when Kellie asked her infamous "What's a ballsy?" ACE should've been given Cliff's Notes on what a ballsy is, because he doesn’t have a clue. How I long for Constantine. Ace just isn't masculine, no matter how big and sturdy his body is or how hetero he is. (That brother of his in the audience, though? Yeah, he was there again. He's still hot.)

But in keeping with the fun and swinging feel of the night, they didn't use Ace as their whipping boy again. He was obviously thrilled to have Rod be nice to him, and I'm sure that was partially a knee-jerk reaction to his being bitched out on the show last week by Queen. This is why Ace is no Constantine. If that whole Queen thing had happened to Constantine, I'd have no mercy for him. But Ace is a strange mix of odiously arrogant and yet also embarrassingly vulnerable. That's a dangerous combination for a fame-whore like him. Because when you're a blatant fame-whore, you're going to have to take the hits when you're ridiculous, as Ace so often is. But he can't handle the hits. He's oblivious to his own arrogance, therefore, his ego gets bruised, man, and he gets all dewy-eyed. And that just sucks the fun out of riding him to the ground. And, apparently even Simon feels that way, because he was apologetic and tame in his comments, even giving some praise which Ace latched onto like an alcoholic latches onto his whiskey after last call. He'll still be bottom three. And this time, I think his luck has run out and he'll be leaving. He won't be at peace with it. He'll most likely cry. And blush. That'll be a very fitting end for him.

Katharine closed the show with "Someone To Watch Over Me." This is possibly one of the most vulnerable and pleading songs in the standards repertoire, and Katharine got the advantage of super-close ups on her outrageously pretty face and long-lashed eyes. But Maybelline Great Lash doesn't make a great performance. The problem with the performance is that she totally bottomed out on all the breathy, low notes and sounded awful on them. But the judges pimped her more gratuitously than a Vegas hooker during the annual Microsoft convention. It's getting embarrassing. Seriously. That Simon crapped all over Paris's performance by telling Katharine she was so far out of league with everyone else was just embarrassing for him. But that's marketing for you!

And then there's Chris. Honestly? I wouldn't be surprised if Chris makes his first appearance in the bottom three after tonight. With his shitty placement and that utterly boring performance, with the added bonus of how everyone probably at this point assumes he's a lock, I can almost picture it.

Remember how I said all my venom had transferred to Kellie? I was wrong. Chris, I have realized, is my Constantine this year. Chris valiantly but lamely tried to keep a stranglehold on his idea of cool with his scaled back version of "What a Wonderful World." (Told you the cool card would be played this week.) He got the memos about the eyeliner and it was gone, but his wallet chain was still on fine display along with his rolled up shirt sleeves. Remember Brando in "Guys and Dolls" and how painful that was? This was worse. Again, he put off this vibe where my initial reaction was to say, "He's hot again." But by the time he was half-way through glaring at the camera as he droned the song and the smoke puffed around him, I was back to getting the creepy, stalker vibe from him. He's got a strong persona, yes. This is why Chris is, sadly, a perfect fit for American Idol. The judges prostrated themselves before him, commending him for stepping outside of his box and pulling this off. But he didn't leave his box. He had to tackle this by staying within the confines of his definition of cool by looking leather-boy butch.

And that's exactly what negates his "cool" and makes him lame. Contrary to popular belief, cool has never been about fitting in and molding yourself into an image that others see as desirable. A life lived by other's expectations, and by not exploring all your own potential and options and tastes, isn't cool. It's suffocating, and damn near tragic. For as silly as American Idol is, it's a fast and erratic opportunity for wannabe artists to dabble and experiment outside of their comfort zone. They can learn and, laugh as you may, potentially even grow by finding out what else can work for them, and what can't. But Chris is so deeply invested in his style of shitty Creed not-rock that he's unwilling to even explore what he can potentially be and instead he remains shackled to his conformist prison.

That's not cool. Cool has never been about conformance. American cool is about defying the status quo and being true to yourself, even when it's considered lame. Perhaps Chris is being true to himself, but only so much as it's already been pre-approved by others. He may view himself as a maverick for Idol, but he's not, because his image is already fully accepted within our culture. His instant popularity on the show proves that, and it's a hallow victory, especially since Bo and Constantine had already cleared a path for him. That's why American Idol is a perfect, cheezy fit for him. I told you before why those crappy alterna-rock bands he digs aren't cool, but how they fit the current niche. Chris can easily be dropped into that niche to make some quick bucks. But that doesn't make it cool.

True cool is initially shocking, or ugly, or even laughable, because it colors outside the lines of what's currently acceptable. Like a snake eating its own tail, the previously mockable then becomes the new standard of cool and is imitated (and then marketed and consumed.) Dig?

Cool is someone who owns themselves and doesn't make apologies for being different. It's that difference that makes them cool, even if they're not aware of the appeal. Because someone who's hyper-aware of their own appeal and cool factor? That's not cool, that's a narcissist. Or Constantine.

You know where I'm going with this, right? Cliche, yes, that I said the extra "t" in Elliott's name is signifying of his talent. Nevertheless. For all his hesitancy and seeming reluctance to realize his overall, general appeal, I think Elliott is well aware of his talent as a singer. I don't think he's narcissistic about it at all, but I think it's something he acknowledges and has confidence about.

But in stark contrast to that confidence, Elliott still doesn't seem to be self-possessed or connected with his own allure yet. Which is to say, he simply doesn't realize that he's now, finally, one of the cool kids.

What's endearing about his manner is also what's frustrating about his performances: He's got mad skillz and all he needs to do is settle down to let it fall into place and relate to the audience through his body language as well as he does vocally. He did this so easily in his earliest performances on the smaller stage, until it was either Simon's words, or his own realization that he had his dream within his grasp -- or a nerve-wracking cocktail of those and other factors -- that seemed to kink up his game. The point being, vocally he's gifted and even if he was struggling with nerves as badly as it looked sometimes, that never overcame his voice or took him out of tune. Frankly, I don't understand how he pulled off that trick, cause it's a trick worthy of one of those aforementioned Vegas whores during convention week. It's usually exactly that pressure or fright that causes these kids to go flat or sharp, not their lack of vocal training or ability. (The pressure factor is for another week, though.)

This week, he was so much better with his performance. He wasn't *quite* breezy and swinging, but he was damn close, and I think that's why he looked genuinely shocked when Simon mentioned his "personality." Thing is though, I think Simon is trying to help him, both by keeping him in the underdog status, and by hammering it to him that he needs to relax and be confident. The paradox is, the more someone tries to relax, the harder it's going to be to relax. But, once Elliott does get the last few performance anxieties knocked out and snaps the final puzzle pieces into place, he's going to be formidable in this competition -- not because he's in step with what's in style, but because he's so different from the status quo. For all her drunken blather, Paula did nail something else important in one of her earlier critiques about him. He's humble. I don't think that part of his character is going to be annihilated by him being successful on this TV show, or even if he lands a good career. And that's something that's so out of step with our current culture and it is, to quote Paula, "refreshing." Beyond that, his whole style and vibe isn't neatly pegged or packaged. And it's exactly that difference that makes him cool.

Maybe he's nervous at times, but he takes the chances anyway. Fearlessness isn't bravery. Overcoming fears and getting the job done anyhow is brave. And it's that sort of guts and determination, along with his heaven-sent voice, that could actually make him one of the few Idol success stories, no matter when he exits the show. Maybe he'll hit the bottom three again this week. And maybe he will even exit, though I doubt it. If that happens, he won't get a million-dollar deal from this show and a career may be hard-won in the long haul, but I think he's got the mettle to do it. He's already proven he's got the talent, and it's becoming increasingly apparent that he's got an elusive, everyman chic going on. The inability to easily pigeon-hole him might relegate him to being more of a niche performer as opposed to a whopping commercial phenom, but it still spells success as a singer. And a life of professional singing, that's what fits Elliott -- to a T, even if it is a gratuitous one.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Standard Arrangements

I can't shut up lately. Browsing today I found this exit interview with Bucky. It confirms my suspicions that he's a good guy, and pretty funny, too, and with an exceptionally good attitude about the whole American Idol gig. He's so cool, in fact, that it almost makes me feel bad for being less than kind about him a few times. But. Well. Fuck it! How much fun would that've been?

Looking forward, I really am amped about the Great American Songbook week. As I said before, I'm not enraptured with Rod Stewart or his CDs. Frankly, they piss me off. These songs are standards, yes, but the arrangements and instrumentation can drastically change a song. For evidence of this, look no further than Frank Sinatra's swinging take on "Night and Day" versus his later, torchy version. Rod Stewart has an amazing arsenal at his disposal with the arrangements, the guest artists (I love Arturo Sandoval) and the production value. But there's just no escaping his warbly voice, which just doesn't illuminate these songs at all. (On the bright side for Rod, I doubt anyone will be talking about his horrible plastic surgery as he appears on the show, because all the comments will be focused on his burned-out, fried-up voice.)

Combine his limited vocal ability with the fact that I don't really "feel the love" from him regarding these songs either, and they just don't make for classics. There's a lucrative market for standards, as his success and the success of Michael Buble prove. I'm never convinced that Stewart is singing these songs because he has an affinity or feel for them rather than using them for the cash cow they are. Buble, on the other hand, is completely convincing in his affection for the material. I know plenty of people love Buble, and I have nothing against him. I don't think he sucks or anything. But nor does his voice ever manage to affect me. He's competent, yes. A good singer. I just don't connect with him.

There's still, for me, one Voice that manages to completely enchant me with these songs. If you're not a fan of standards but have even a passing interest, here's the best introductory CD for you:

The Very Best of Frank Sinatra

I don't really know what I could possibly write about Sinatra, or his voice, that hasn't been said a thousand times. But I've come to find out that there are a lot of people out there, especially my age and younger, that just never listened to this kind of music before. All I can say is don't knock it 'til you've tried it. That collection up there features Frank's voice a little later in his life (but still at his zenith) because he had to re-record everything when he started his own Reprise label. You'll find dissent among Sinatra aficionados about whether some of the earlier recordings had more swing and if his voice was better, but this is still a great but manageable place to start to see if you have a spark for this material. And you may very well love it. There's a reason there's still a hunger for these songs and why they persist, and there's a reason why Frank remains the Chairman of the Board.

And, whether you're a fan of standards already or just want to check out a couple of tunes but prefer a more "updated" spin on them, instead of diving into the Rod Stewart pool, or if Michael Buble doesn't do it for you, give this a shot:

Harry Connick, Jr. -- Only You

If you ask me, Harry Connick, Jr. is one of the most consistently underrated, under appreciated artists working today. I don't toss the word around lightly, but there's no denying it, he's brilliant. He's got gifts in every musical aspect: Composing, arranging, playing, singing. He's just brilliant. Sometimes, I do get the feeling that Harry's got so much talent it's almost harmful for him in that he's not always able to harness it and focus it completely, because he's able to think in so many directions at once. He dips into serious jazz quite often, which I think is what keeps him out the mainstream. And, some people knock him for being too Sinatra-like in his singing. That's a quality that comes and goes with him, depending on what material he's performing. It doesn't bother me, even though it is evident on this particular CD. Nevertheless, he's got enough of his own vibe and emotion that he still always comes across as Harry, not as a lounge-act impersonator. And I happen to really like his voice. Unlike Buble's, Harry's gets to me. Plus, these are great, jazzy arrangements on this CD and he sounds wonderful.

(Talk about a guy that could come on and help these kids with some musical advice? Harry would've kicked ass. And his hot wife could've given Kellie a lesson about how to be sexy and southern without making a fucktard out of yourself.)

Also sexy without being stupid, in this same vein of music is Diana Krall.

Love Scenes
When I look in your eyes
Like Connick, she's a double threat because she sings and plays piano, and she's marvelous at both. Her first album (I think it was her first) was a collection of standards, and she dips in and out of that genre as she goes more jazz original sometimes. But Diana's always got a very cool, sulty thing going on and she always goes right for the romantic songs with torchy, but not overblown, arrangements. This is the kind of music you put on when you're in the mood -- and when you want to get someone else in the mood.

Speaking of arrangements, it's been mentioned that the AI vocal coach has said that for the upcoming standards show the songs can't be too heavily tampered with. They're going to have to sound like standards. Sounds to me like they're tampering with Chris here. I had visions of him totally turning out "I'll Be Seeing You." You know, making it some heavy, creepy, psycho version. Glaring at the camera, "I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you, bitch!" That kind of thing. But with this news, sounds like he's going to have to do that while a string orchestra backs him! Excellent! Apply that eyeliner judiciously, Chris. And please, keep the wallet chain on display.

Oh. And a note to Ace -- Frank never sang in a falsetto. I don't think Nat King Cole did, either. Good luck, buddy!

I don't know how Taylor will handle this stuff, but I'm interested to see. Kellie? Pfft. Does it even matter? She'll just drape on some dress that shows her cleavage, trot onstage, wink twice, maybe make an asinine joke about how she'd thought Billie Holiday was just Wyatt Earp's sidekick up until this week and then accept the lascivious praise that'll be lavished upon her. Simon will say, "Kellie. That was transcendent." And she'll say, "Huh? But I AM dressed like a girl!"

There's no reason why Katharine, Paris, and our Elliott shouldn't shine in this genre, as long the band doesn't drown them out. Yeah, yeah, Elliott spent more time in the bottom three this week. But it also gave him a lot of exposure, even if he did have to tolerate having Kellie's nasty snotrag tossed at him. (And I'd thought they were jacking around Taylor by making him switch songs. At least he didn't have SNOT flung at him.) Most important though, Elliott lit it up when he got to sing a second time. I don't know if he's familiar with this music at all, but it shouldn't matter. This probably isn't the exact stuff that he'd say is in his wheelhouse, but he can definitely put his stamp and groove on it if he chooses wisely with the song. He won't have to dance or entertain or any of that other shit. He's already proven he's got the pipes for it, and the innate talent for phrasing to make this stuff come alive. And if Rod screws with him, so help me I will hunt that rickety old Brit down and kick his spindly ass. I doubt he will though. Rod'll probably be too busy trying to bang some intelligence into Kellie.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Oh, and ...

A couple other AI tidbits. Queen's Brian May posted a message on his site today concerning the ACE controversy. Read it here. Basically, he blames the editors for splicing tape badly to make Ace look even worse. But then he does say that the version of the song we heard was "a DIRECT RESULT of his (Ace's) own ingenuity." Ha ha! Okay, so that's tacky editing too. It goes on to say that he LIKES the version Ace did, and that they gave it their full blessing. So the cosmos jacked with Ace a bit this past week.

Also, um, wasn't Queen supposed to PERFORM on the show WITH the contestants? Did they creep out on doing that? Or am I just mistaken? Brian May addresses this also on his blog, and says that no, they never intended to perform. He says this experience wasn't about promoting themselves. (BA HA HA HA!) He says they just wanted to help the kids and didn't want commercial gain from it. Which totally explains why they're right now releasing this CD right now!

During the medley they sang, Taylor got to sing his "We Are The Champions." Yeah. That middling bit in the medley was so important it was worth the cosmos jacking him around last week and making him change his song? We'll see what happens with him this week, how they can undermine him. And the funniest part -- how little it will affect his popularity. I think Taylor's fairly locked in for the long haul unless he really fucks up bad for a couple weeks in a row.

Our boy Elliott? I'm cynical, and I tend to think most stuff is rehearsed. However, I really got the impression Elliott was quite shocked when Ryan asked him to sing in the middle of the show like that after he was announced as being in the bottom three. I also have to wonder if this is the cosmos trying to jack the viewing public into shape, though. Ryan seemed preturbed that Elliott was in the bottom three. Though, Ryan is always very chiding about the bottom three. "Look what your votes have done, America!" Guilt on a cracker, Ryan -- someone's gonna be there! But then that would mean that they actually DO eliminate and crown the winner based on votes. Do they actually do that? I'm asking for opinions here. For some reason, I've never been convinced it was all strictly determined by the voting. Nevertheless, if he continues to be beyond swell, I'll vote for Elliott. Anyhow, tossing Elliott out there and letting him sing and tear it up, again, can only help him.

Likewise, singing again, it can only hurt Ace. I will say this though. There are a couple perks to having Ace around again.
1) I get to laugh at him again.
2) For as un-sexy as Ace is, his brother that's always in the audience? Smokin'. I'd hit it.

Kellie and her snot rag and then tossing it to Seacrest? It's official. Last night, all my venom for Chris transferred right to her. Because maybe to me, Chris isn't worthy. But he doesn't SUCK, you know? And he's also not a moronic skank with a crappy voice who shouldn't even be there and who's skating by because Simon wants to fuck her. I don't blame guys for wanting to fuck her. Katharine is just as pretty, but she has that "ice princess" vibe, where guys realize they're not gonna get to tap her ass. But Kellie and that infamous prom picture gives guys hope. I have nothing against sluts. Trust me. I'm pretty slutty. It's the stupid card that pisses me off. Well, the stupid card and the fact that she's not a very good singer and yet people are telling us that she is. And that people are believing it and voting for her! It's gross. But, like with her snot-rag interlude last night, my hope is that they're giving her enough rope to hang herself with. More people have to be seeing this phoniness every week, don't they?

Chris is also going for the slutty look. He had eyeliner on again last night! Make Tim Curry proud, Chris.

Anyhow. So that's all until Rod Steward and his "husky" voice come on next week with the great American songbook collection. I can't wait.

Elliott in Bottom 3. Again.

Okay. So Bucky's gone. Ace was in the bottom three. But so was our boy Elliott. Again. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, fucking wrong. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.

Listen. When it comes to really Big and Important shit, the US, over the past several years, has demonstrated a frightening incompetence where voting is concerned.

For some reason though, I figured maybe we'd be able to get a handle on a pop-culture, entertainment show and make some non-moronic, non-assholey choices.

Look. I'm not insane. I know that actually picking a talented winner in this thing isn't going to atone for all the disasters and scandals that the Big, Important election led to. I mean, we're not going to be able to purge this from our national conscience. Nobody's going to forget about this, or this, (oh, or this.) It won't impact this, and it won't change this, or this, or this. The rest of the world isn't going to magically forget about this or this.

We can't jump in a time machine and do this differently. And I haven't got a clue if anything will ever clean up the mess of this.

But, you know. Can we PLEASE just not look like complete jackasses on just this one, little thing? This is supposed to be our area of expertise here, entertainment.

Seriously. Next Tuesday, if he knocks you off your feet, then pick up the phone and vote like yamin it, alright?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Killer Queen

First we had Stevie Wonder. Then Barry Manilow. Then Kenny Rogers. I wondered what fossil of the music industry American Idol would dig up next to hand-hold and fuck with the contestants as they struggled through another theme week. Well, they managed to top themselves. They actually did resurrect a dead man this week by having the kids perform the songs of Queen. The late, great Freddie Mercury may be gone, but tonight he was far from forgotten.

Much to learn, from the elders, there is. That's what Nigel and Simon are trying to tell us, and the contestants. They should be absorbing and growing with the advice generously being handed out by these wise and ancient ones, who are surely doing this without agenda, but purely from the goodness of their hearts, without regard to sales of their new albums.

So. Take their advice and learn we shall. On with the Show.

Bucky singing "Fat Bottomed Girls" was perfect for him. I like Bucky. He seems like a cool guy. I liked the Court TV story that came out about him this week, I like his manner, I like the way he blinks really hard, and I like his gravelly voice. He was fun, and I was glad for him. But I still have a feeling he's going to hit the bottom three with Ace, and possibly even Elliott again this week. Not that Elliott should be there after the performance he gave, but I think this week is definitely an acid test regarding the weight of the judges opinions and how heavily people vote on a "personality" that they like versus who's giving the best performances. The only one, the only one who seems to successfully straddle the vocal/performance line is Taylor, and I think it's obvious that Simon is gunning for him to not even make the finals anymore. Is he that much of a marketing nightmare, this guy?

Anyhow, back to the singing and performances.

Ace sang "We Will Rock You." He did not rock. Soon, Ace, we will STONE you if you don't get off the stage. From the pre-performance clip, we learned that Brian May took an intense dislike to Ace, which was understandable considering that even after the band explained that they weren't going to play their song differently for him, he tried to cajole them into it, forcing them to get standoffish with him. What I don't understand is why the producers insist on humiliating the kids just moments before they have to take the stage by showing these negative interactions. Well. I understand it with Ace, because it's a little funny. The even funnier part of it all was his performance. Believe it or not, it was the best Ace's voice has ever sounded, and yet on the whole he was just fey and pathetic, like a gelding. Or Clay Aiken. But because of him we did get the pleasure of hearing Paula say "bastardized". Nice.

Kelly doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" didn't hit the heights of stupendously bad as I'd hoped, but it was pretty damn close! She didn't kill the Queen song, but she sure did strangle it into submission. She came out looking like a blonde Joan Jett, tottering around on stilettos while singing completely off key. When she started moving around the stage and flouncing herself onto her knees, the only thing lacking was a pole for her to shimmy around. And the funniest part was watching the entire judging panel and their staunch defense of her abysmal performance, telling her she'd pulled it off. For her stupid move of the week, she pretended she didn't know what the phrase "on paper" meant, but then turned around in the next breath and said that Simon uses strange "terminology."

Chris. Well, Chris also came out looking like a bald Joan Jett with his freshly groomed eyebrows and black eyeliner and even a dash of lipcolor on! I was truly scandalized. I hadn't seen a "rocker" that tarted up since Axl Rose was back in the jungle. Honestly, I always figured his ultra-butch act would appeal to the gay contingent, but I never figured he'd outright court that vote, even on Queen week. But damned if he didn't. I almost give him credit. Too bad he insisted on glaring at the camera and screaming another crappy song. Can you imagine? I learned a new Queen song thanks to him. Because Chris actually sifted through the entire Queen repertoire to find "Innuendo" -- a song that was droning and bland enough to fit his sensibilities.

[Tangent] Please move along to End Tangent if you have no use for my idiotic sermon here. I've been questioned about my venom toward Chris. Well. Here it is.

What is my problem with Chris? Authenticity, credibility, and cool. I'll hit the "cool" card next week, because I'm sure he'll still be dragging around. So here's the authenticity one for this week: Call me a traditionalist, but there's a line between pop and rock, and that line has more to do with authenticity than with time signatures and instrumentation. Pop music can be manufactured. It's not unusual to have a great songwriter pen the lyrics/music and have a band put together and then a singer brought in. That's called production, and it can have wonderful results. I have nothing against pop music, trust me.

But rock-n-roll is more organic, it's more visceral. Rock-n-roll happens when frustrated people tap into a creative well amongst themselves and write/sing/perform, and it's something with raw power. Rock has been on the ropes several times, and it's had a number of so-called touted "saviors." There was the skinny kid from Jersey, and then there was the skinny kid from Seattle. With the declining popularity of rock, it's flush for another "savior" to come along. But I guarantee that savior isn't someone cut from the black denim cloth of Chris Daughtry. Chris Daughtry is symptomatic of everything that's currently wrong with the state of rock.

First off, those forumulaic, heavy-driving songs that've been playing for the past several years are not rock. They're heavy pop is what they are. Rock morphs and changes, and the next wave of rock won't sound like grating Soundgarden knock-offs. That's why Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden exploded with the "grunge" sound back when it first appeared: Cause it was different. They merged punk and rock and injected it with poppy hooks to breathe a new life into the stale "classic rock" repertoire. But the sound has morphed and flattened since then. Bands like Creed managed to drain the edge and speed -- and anger and joy -- out of it by sampling and popularizing the slower songs and forgetting just how glorious a fast, three-chord, simple arrangement can be.

These bands now have a packaged and groomed flavor. And if Chris likes that kind of music, that's fine. Since that's the popular status quo, and since that kind of music can be manufactured, I guess he could do well commercially. However, there's a catch. Even though it is manufactured, to retain some semblance of respectability, it has to APPEAR to be a little bit "real". How exactly is Chris supposed to pull off that trick by becoming the winner of American Idol? Right now, the weapons of mass destruction argument has more credibility than Chris Daughtry.

Chris, listen. The producers are going to give you some really shitty music to record as they assemble a band behind you and then send you out to perform like the trained seal you've become. Bitch, please. Dave Grohl would bitch-slap your sorry, bald-headed face. And then he'd beat you about the head and shoulders with that stupid wallet chain you insist on wearing.

People no longer question an artist's integrity when they sell out their songs to commercials (though I notice Springsteen and Nirvana still haven't done it) because we're a money and fame obsessed society. But I, and plenty of others, still aren't so far gone we're willing to give up the last vestiges of our soul by sacrificing one of the true American art forms up to the cult of commercialism. I don't blame Chris Daughtry for searching for his piece of the American Dream or for fame-whoring or selling out. Because I don't think he ever had anything TO sell out. I wish him luck and hope he makes lots of money. But he's about as close to a real "rocker" as I am to Lester Bangs, dig?

For me, the only way Chris could retain some dignity and cool at this point would be if he'd acknowledge that what he was showing as his previous taste in music was a joke, that he views this whole competition as a joke, admit he was after fame and money for HIS band and then go out on a gloriously high note by sanctimoniously performing Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady Land," while somehow getting Ace to do the accompanying Chris Farley dance.

[/ End Tangent]


Katherine I think became the diva she's always wanted to be tonight, at least in her mind. She looked gorgeous in the red satin and just threw her arms out in the broadway-Jesus pose as she belted away, and despite being off-key a couple times, she pulled it off and I'm sure her fans ate it up. Again, it struck me as very rehearsed though, and she was entirely too convinced she'd "arrived". I wouldn't be shocked if she's in the bottom three again. Cause while it was *close* to being a wow performance, I think with it being dead in the middle of show and then being followed by Elliott and especially Taylor, she might get forgotten.

Taylor rocked it with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," even if it did take him TWO ultra rehearsed kicks to get the mic stand knocked over. That was a bit odd. I mean, once it didn't work the first time, you'd think he'd have moved on. But maybe there's a bit of OCD to his personality and he had to complete that maneuver before jigging around to the other side of the stage to do his wobbly-knee move. I liked him anyhow. Like I said, I thought his voice sounded great even though he was bopping around so much, and at the end he got a nice gritty sound to bring it home.

Simon, of course, hated him and asked him if he was drunk. I knew it'd be too much for Taylor to say, "Of course!" Instead he said, "No, not at all!" This led to an interesting exchange where Randy said "Simon's drunk," and Seacrest had to reply, "Someone at that table is drunk." So it's now two weeks in a row that Ryan's told us that someone at the judge's table is hopped up. Yeah. We watch the show. We saw Leno last night. We know Paula's bombed, like, all the fucking time. We've known for years. That's why she's so cheery and sweet to everyone, cause she's high! So the way they've decided to deal with it this year is to unleash her and let her hog press about how she was recently assaulted, so we can assume that she's on "painkillers" for her back again and everyone can make a joke about it like she's the resident Karen Walker of the show. I have no beef with that. As a chick who's often chemically altered myself, I like it when it's considered funny instead of pathetic.

Oh, and speaking of chemically altered, was I the only one who thought that Roger Taylor looked like he was shrooming in those pre-performance clips?

Anyhow, back to Taylor Hicks. He really is getting fucked with lately by the producers. We learned he changed his song this week. But actually, it's two weeks in a row that his song choice has been yanked away from him in the late stages. Last week, he suffered because of it, but this week, he done really good and got backhanded by Simon anyhow.

Paris, she came out looking like an actual drag queen. Really. Like a drag queen impression of a dominatrix Liza Minelli doing a bastardized Freddie Mercury cover song. I knew she'd rock the Mercury-style fashion, but I thought she'd pull it off. She didn't. The outfit was like the skin on a wiener, and with the spike-heeled boots and long hair it was a mismatch with her age. Simon called it weird, and I agree. She belted, but it was all very anti-climactic after the one-two punch of Elliott and Taylor lighting it up before her.

So that brings me back to Elliott. Yes, I bastardized the order of the night so I could pour my unfettered love on him at the end here. What can I say? He looked hot. Sounded hotter. He nailed the song from start to finish, and though Simon said it had some pitch problems, I really didn't hear that at all. (But I also think that his faint praise it to be expected at this point, lest Elliott and Taylor become actual threats to his chosen favorites.) To prove I'm not blind to faults, I will say he had a couple awkward moves in there with the one-arm sway (but that didn't come close to Ace's stomp-stomp-clap at the start of his number) and his ending leg kick.

Also, as a writer, I had to cringe when he said it was "ironic" that this soulful song was written with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in mind. Ironic is a word that's been bastardized and misused plenty. Which is kind of funny, because ironic means "the opposite of what's expected or appropriate" and people, including Elliott in this clip, used ironic exactly opposite of what it means. It's not ironic that a soulful song was written with Aretha Franklin in mind, or that you're drawn to it because you love soul, Elliott. It's fitting. Ironic song choice would be if you sang Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me." Really. (That joke is for the hardcore Elliott fans out there.)

Nevertheless, I still love Elliott. One misuse of "ironic" couldn't but a damper on my infamously inappropriate crush. And tonight proved why he really shouldn't be such a dark-horse in the competition, cause he sang the hell out of "Somebody To Love." Vocally, his vibrato was just right, his tone was awesome for the first half, he hit a nice, attention-grabbing glory note in the middle, and then he put some serious stink on it for the whole second half of the number and finished up strong. I think people have sort of overwhelming expectations of Elliott, because he does have such a good voice and they either love him so much or they really dislike him intensely. So I'm not sure they'll ever be happy. But if you look at what he's put together on this show so far, at the consistency he brings every week with in-tune, great vocals, I don't think there's ever been a steadier, better singer on this show. People say they're waiting for his break-out performance, but after doing "Moody's Mood," "Teach Me Tonight" and now "Somebody To Love" and singing the everloving hell out of them, I can't understand why he's not a front-runner. I just can't. To me, it's completely fucking ironic that the best singer, as he's proven time and again, is still given short-shrift by the voters.

And, you know, I could kind of understand if he had a noxious personality. But I don't see that in him at all. If anything, he always comes across like a complete sweetheart. Like last week, when he was on the chopping block with Mandisa, he didn't seem squirmy or petulant (Katharine), nor did he have that air of entitlement (Paris) when he was told he was safe. He seemed genuinely happy for the people that were safe, and really disappointed for Mandisa. He just seems…cool. Genuinely cool, in a real person way. Not in the put-on, acting way (Chris).

I'm not advocating voting for Elliott cause he seems like a nice guy. I don't buy into the theory that people "deserve" some things in life because they're nice or because they've had it rough. I think something like this should be earned. What I am saying is that week after week, Elliott Yamin is earning this title, and I hope viewers catch on to that. The absolute worst part of his performance this week? The band. I think Elliott needs to pull the Bo Bice move and go a capella on the shit soon.

So. Anyhow. Where does that leave us? We learned this week that as far as celebrity mentors go, dead men come off best because we don't compare their bad plastic surgery. We learned that you don't willy-nilly try to bastardize a legendary band's arrangements, even if they're shrooming. We learned that Paula's not shrooming, she's just her garden-variety drunk as usual. We remembered that Freddie Mercury is a rock legend, but that doesn't stop us from putting him through the commercial grist-mill that is American Idol, or stop his band-mates from pimping themselves in such a manner. We learned that a gay cabaret night of Queen songs is very entertaining, especially when you've got a stripper (Pickler), the butch biker dude (Chris) and a drag queen (Paris) to pull it off, along with a self-anointed diva (Katharine) to be the topper.

And we learned who's got the chops to actually pull off the singing of the aforementioned legend's songs. Who's on a level with Freddie Mercury? No one. That's right, not even our darling Elliott can make us forget Freddie. And no one has Freddie's star wattage or showmanship, not even Taylor. But shit, that's Freddie Mercury. He's dead. Let him be a legend. But at least a couple of people didn't mangle the songs into dogshit because they do have serious chops. But I'm also afraid that tomorrow we're going to learn that having the chops just ain't enough. But hopefully it will be enough, and the right people will still be alive in this thing.

And we've also, as a bonus, learned that I am not Lester Bangs. (But I think I've also learned that I am secretly harboring a fantasy to someday gun for HH's job.)

Anyhow, I hope the voters toss a bastardized kink into the routine and vote off someone who deserves to go (Ace). That'd be a lesson for all of us.