So. It was a night of threesomes on AI. Three contestants. Three songs. Three phone lines. And three judges, because although they still had Clive the producer/overlord pick out one set of the songs, he wasn't allowed to sit on the judging table this year. Like most threesomes, it was an erratic encounter -- often rushed and frenzied, with awkward pauses tossed in, and not everyone knew exactly what they were doing at all times. Also like most two guys-one girl threesomes, the guys stumbled into dangerous territory of crossing swords, but it worked out very well for the female during the middle section, and one of the guys ended up with a big bang.
For a change, I'll take this in order. Clive's choices kicked off the evening, and each one was preceded with the ancient one having a little sit-down with each contestant. After the first round of interviews, it was all too blatantly obvious what the agenda for the evening already was. Everyone had been given their marching orders, and everyone, even my dear sweet darling Paula fell into line. Main agenda for the night -- make it clear to Elliott that he's not getting a record deal with Clive. Ironically -- or perhaps quite purposefully -- he was the only one who eagerly expressed his interest in hoping to work with Davis during the sit-down. Clive didn't say, "Fuck off, ugly one," but he did totally ignore the comment and just said something random like, "Kill 'em."
What he gave Elliott to sing, Journey's "Open Arms," was completely out of Elliott's comfort zone, and completely in the sappy territory. But, as is often the case with Clive's picks, it actually worked for Elliott's voice. He sang it in a higher key than he usually does, and because of that, his vibrato was controlled and he sounded great. It was a nice change for Elliott, lacking his vocal pyrotechnics but showing off his nice tone. However, the song, it still sucks and does nothing but bring back unfortunate memories of crinkled taffeta and sloppy post-prom heaving petting.
Don't hate me for this comment, but I went the extra yard and took grabs of Elliott during all his performances tonight cuz I've got a pretty strong feeling this might actually be the last time we see him performing on AI.
Once he was done, Randy followed the yes-man protocol to a T, even going so far as to tell Elliott he had rough spots in the middle. Excuse me? We all wonder what the hell Paula's Coke glass is spiked with, but I think someone spiked Randy's coke with a steaming helping of "deaf." Of course, the song choice appealed to Randy's ego, and he had to mention how he was once in Journey. Yes, we know, Randy. Do you really want to keep reminding people of this, though?
Anyhow, Paula, she loved him, but Simon told him he had to loosen up the rest of the night. The most interesting moment came not from the judges, though, but from the audience shot of Fuel sitting there, shooting death glares at Elliott.
I suppose they're bearing a grudge against him, accusing him of being the Goliath slayer of last week? Fucking good. Fuck them and their shit attitude toward my cupcake!
That put Katharine up next, and she sat and sweet talked Clive and then gave the googly eyes to the camera as she tried to fight her way through noted jailbait fucker R Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." Clive, he sure didn't do Kat any favors with that song. I've been saying for weeks she's not a belter, and that's what this song requires. And he's obviously trying to fit her into a belter box, which is just going to give him major headaches when it comes time to record.
On the upside for Kat, finally, finally the wardrobe department stopped sabotaging her. She looked gorgeous, hair extensions and all. But the way she looked wasn't enough to overpower the auditory information assaulting me during the song. And it just kept getting worse. Flat, flat, and then just screechy. The fun part, though, was when it was time for her stand and take the reviews. Randy was having none of it. He's had enough of her McMelismaing all over the place and told her she needs to just sing the melody.
Paula? Dear sweet Paula. It was like someone spiked her drink with bitch! She raved about how gorgeous Kat looked, and although that's true, I have a feeling Paula often pads her comments like that because she doesn't ever want to come off as catty. Kind of like how I've backed off on Kat a couple of times because I didn't want to come off like the ugly writer-chick who's just jealous of the beautiful girl. Thing is, I have no problem with pretty girls. I have a big problem with girls who are only pretty and who slide by on their looks and fake charm. And that's exactly what Katharine's been doing for weeks now. She has utterly sucked on that stage, but she's benefited from her looks, and therefore others who gave mediocre performances got cut instead of her. But Paula was having none of that bullshit with this performance. Once she'd laid the "you're beautiful" groundwork, she drew the line at the actual singing. Her review, gauged on the Paula meter, was brutal enough to make Bret Easton Ellis blush. (<--not so arcane writerly reference.)
Kat? She got whiny about it. "You guys have been really hard on me the past few weeks!" Let me tell you something about Kat. That girl has a sharper edge than a Masumune katana sword. We've all seen the surly glares and looks when someone criticizes her performances. I'd respect the hell out of her if she'd just be OUT with her overt bitchiness and stood up for herself. But instead she affects a little-girl voice as she flutters her lashes and has the same forced, cutesy mannerisms of Carrie Bradshaw. But under that thin veneer of saccharine, you know she's thinking "I'll cut you."
What I don't understand is why she gets so angry and upset at them when she so clearly sucks. Can't she hear herself? I wouldn't blame her if she was taking the unnecessary hits. But her getting mad at these times is like a scuba diver getting pissed off at the shark for taking a chunk out of his thigh when he shouldn't have so thoroughly chummed the water before jumping in in the first place.
But, never fear. Simon quickly came to her rescue and that's when I knew that the agenda for the evening was to advance Kat. She and Taylor had the pimp spot three times already, while Elliott's only had it once. And yet when he got placed in the "spot of doom" for this show (every contestant who's sung first in the final three show has always gone home) I figured they weren't really sticking it to him so much as glorifying Taylor. But once Simon outright lied to Kat (and the audience) by saying something along the lines of "despite some bad notes at the end, I think you nearly had a moment," I knew it was all but over.
And that brought us to Taylor. I whined about Clive's pick of "Dancing in the Dark" for him. But later I rationalized that at least it wasn't "Jungleland" or "Thunder Road" or "The River" or "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" or a hundred other songs. "Dancing in the Dark" should, theoretically, irk me the least if one of Bruce's songs has to be defiled on this show. And yet, I couldn't really reconcile it. I know a big part of it is personal, because not only was that song the one that rocketed Springsteen into the superstar stratosphere, but also because that's the time in my life when I started "growing up". I was still too young to know about threesomes yet, but I was just getting old enough to think there was something cool -- not icky -- about The Boss's sweat soaked white shirt in that video. In other words, it was right at the time of this song's release, and at least partially spurred by it, that the tectonic plates of my personal world forever shifted, even if I hadn't yet felt the earth move.
Courteney Cox? Yeah, I wanted to be her.
I don't resent Taylor for doing the song. What the fuck, he didn't pick it. And even if he had, I like it when people love Bruce. In fairness, it actually went down fairly easy, but I did think it wasn't very good. It’s a song about sex. Restless, desperate, horny sex. I like Taylor, but to me, he's about as sexy as berber carpeting. Bruce growls his way through the song. I don't want to say that Taylor hot dogged his way through it, but when he was finished, I had to wipe mustard off my television screen. Also, he seemed to be taking gesturing advice from Elliott, because on the line "this gun's for hire," Taylor actually made a gun motion with his hand. Worse, it was oddly reminiscent of the kicking of the mic stand incident, because Taylor cocked it twice before firing. I'm not even going to make a comment about what deeper, sexual connotations that could possibly have. I suppose it would've been worse if he'd been over-eager and accidentally made the gesture on the previous line, though.
If nothing else, though, we did get this moment from it:
Straight up now-- which is something she hasn't been since the mid '90s -- I'll tell you, I will love Paula forever. No lie though, I know Taylor had to get back to the stage, but Bruce would've never turned his back on a drunk, pretty lady tottering on high heels on a catwalk while obviously impaired and falling out of her strapless dress. Not so cool that Taylor plucked the lovely up and then left her in the dust. But Paula's a pro and she not only kept her boobs tucked in and didn't lose her footing and kept the smile on her face, she actually danced her way down. Plus, we got her feisty comment about wishing she'd been prepared cause she'd have used double-sided tape!
Anyhow. Thus ended the Clive portion of the show, bringing us to judge's choice.
Paula gave Elliott "What You Won't Do For Love." It was a love-filled night for Paula. She and Simon even had much fun with each other.
At Ryan's prodding, she blathered on incoherently a bit about love and soul and funkiness and Elliott and couldn't really make sense of it. But then Elliott came out, and love and soul and funkiness he was.
The band sucked. But it's been a long season and honestly, with Chris gone, I think my game is kinked up. I'm just not into the chop-socky kind of rabid bitchiness to go off on a full rant. Anyhow. Elliott sang great. Elliott looked great. Plate tectonics, earthquakes, blah, blah, love, soul, blah threesomes, you get the picture. The thing is this: I don't care. I like Taylor, but no, he's not sexy to me. I don't care what people say about him -- Elliott is. Singing songs like this, he melts the marshmallow in my s'mores. He puts enough overt sex in his voice to make Jesse Jane blush. (<--not a writerly reference)
Here's where the unsavory business of the guys tonight crossing swords comes in. Taylor repeatedly shouted out to his fans "Soul Patrol! Soul Patrol!" I don't mind. I think it's cute. But it's also unfortunate for both Elliott and Taylor that they ran into each other this year. Or, possibly, fortuitous. I mean, you know how when you play with someone really good you raise your game? I wonder if he and Elliott didn't end up really helping each other out in this thing. Chris was a rocker, but he didn’t have anyone to rock against. And although Taylor claimed the "soul" position this year, dark horse Elliott just kept getting better and raising his game, and Elliott's natural style is funkier and more soulful than Taylor's. Taylor's a showman, yes. And he can sing. And he loves what he sings. But Elliott's got more authenticity with this vibe. So they ended up crossing genre swords tonight in this tangled, lusty mess. Here's the problem for Elliott. He's got the genuine Masumune katana sword which he handles with deft precision and finesse, but Taylor has the Hollywood Hattori Hanzo sword, and he wields it with force. (And if you don't get that grindhouse metaphor at all, well, just move along. But trust me, it's good shit.)
Anyhow. Randy, taking the supreme Ed McMahon role this time actually told Elliott he was sharp for most of the song. So now he's not just drinking from the deaf cup, he's also drinking from the asshole cup. Paula blithered something, but it was fairly weak, and Simon painted himself as the good guy by admitting that Elliott actually sang the song good.
And that's when disaster struck for all the Elliott lovers.
Kat sang Simon's pick for her, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." Aw, fuck, you know? What do you expect me to say? Sure, she Fantasia'd it by sitting on the floor. Sure, she gazed dewy-eyed into the camera. But she also did exactly what she hasn't done for weeks on the show. She toned down the shouting and she sang. She's not a screamer, she's a chanteuse. And with this song, she was enchanting. I mean, I don't like the McPhony bitch. Not a bit. But that was great. Memorable great. Just as Simon had been hoping, it was "moment" great. When you put together that song and this face:
it's pretty hard to not see her moving on to the finals.
All hail Simon, the Cinderella slayer. And he knew it. Everyone knew it. Of course, he took some credit for it which isn't surprising. Simon, I bet he could get a moonlighting job with Cirque de Soleil if he wanted, cuz it takes a gifted contortionist to be able to bend over and kiss one's own ass the way he so relentlessly does. But in all honesty, he did pass congratulations along to Katharine, too.
Interesting, too, that amid this night of threesomes and love and sex laden songs from the guys that Katharine finally climaxed while singing a song about achieving personal dreams and happiness. Note, it's not ironic. It's quite fitting for Kat.
Worse, it'll probably even help her snatch the gay vote for the night.
Randy applauded her, and even my drunk, sweet girl gave up the Paulaticing for her candidate Elliott and gave Kat her due.
So, then Taylor had to follow that. Pfft. Randy gave him the uninspired "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker. Me? I thought it was okay. I thought Taylor kept missing the "to me" notes. I really did. Taylor? I think he thought he kind of dogged it, too. I swear, I didn't search for this grab, because it was his face when he was awaiting comments:
Does that look like a happy, confident guy to you? No. It looks like a guy who's just been shoved aside and relegated to reluctant voyeur position.
But maybe I drank from the deaf cup because all the judges loved it. Simon even told him it was his best performance to date.
That brought us back around to the contestant's song choice. Taylor, one of his primary fan sites is graycharles.com. That's because Ray Charles is Taylor's idol. So Elliott, he chose to do a Ray Charles song. Please reference my previous post where I talked about Elliott having cojones. Please note again our little chat about crossing swords. Ahem. Elliott sang "I Believe To My Soul." Honestly? I didn't know this song. But I did note the lyrics and what the song is about. Of interest, one of the lines is even "Tryin' to make a fool of me." Is Elliott really that coy? I'd like to think he is. I don't think he's stupid. And I think he's fought a lot harder than anyone expected him to to get where he is in this competition.
This year, the deck was stacked. Taylor, Chris, Katharine, and even Paris were ringers. They had oodles of performing and even touring and recording experience. None of them were "unknowns." But Elliott was. And here's the thing about Elliott. Somehow, the producers found a ringer of an underdog in Elliott. And they know it. No one on this show has ever come from so little experience and grown and improved as much as he has. His voice was always there. And in all honesty, the cosmetic stuff isn't such a big deal. Face it, it's a suntan, a haircut, and a goatee. That's all.
But the bout of stage tremors he's overcome is really quite amazing. The confidence he's picked up is mind-boggling. But he knows exactly where he stands in the producer's view at this point. Either they're ready for him to go, or they REALLY want to keep him pigeonholed into the underdog slot all the way to the finale. It makes for great TV. And it's probably just a zen-ful coincidence that he chose to sing about getting dogged. But that makes for good TV, too.
And seriously. These guys?
Elliott sang good. Again. Randy said so. Paula burbled something. And then Simon, he gave a heart-warming little kiss-off speech, basically repeating what he'd said last night on Leno. (Gee, you mean he already had his thoughts planned before they performed? Shocking!) He told Elliott his songs wouldn't put him through to the finale, but that he's one of the best singers they've ever had on the show, and one of the nicest guys, and he made his mom proud.
The best part? Elliott didn't cry! Nope. Not at that. He didn't even get misty. He didn't get mad either. He laughed. And it wasn't a rueful laugh. He just laughed and was happy, just like Elliott. That's pretty funny. Keep laughing Elliott. Because Kat may have had the performance of the night, but you did damn great all season. And while you laughed and while Kat and Taylor sang, I started voting. And so did all the other underdog lovers. You might go home, cupcake. But you might just be laughing onstage again next Tuesday at the Kodak Theatre, young grasshopper with katana.
So then after that, Kat sang again. "I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues." I was hoping she'd screw the pooch with it, but she didn't. It wasn't great, but it wasn't awful. But it wasn't enough of anything to erase the memory of her stellar performance from earlier, either. Bitch.
Taylor's choice was "Try A Little Tenderness." He's been hellbent to get this song sung on this show, and they screwed him out of it the first time. After tonight, I can see why he wanted to bust it out. However, I also think he's damn lucky that it got saved for this night. I mean, I guess it doesn't really matter. We all know that Taylor's bulletproof. But he didn't just reinforce his defenses with this song, he took the offensive and kicked serious ass. It was great. The audience knew it. He knew it. Here's him:
Yep. That's the trademark Taylor, "I've got soul and I have to pee" funky-soul-pleading stance. Like I said. I like him lots. But not sexy.
He'd obviously been saving this one up and finally blew his wad in glorious fashion tonight. That Hattori Hanzo steel isn't to be trifled with.
So, after an orgiastic feast like that, where does that leave everyone? Well. Just like in most threesomes, it's eventually going to result in an odd man out. Or, possibly, a woman. But really, what are the odds of a beautiful woman getting kicked out of bed, even if she is self-serving and shrill at times?
Two will move on to the limelight for another week, while one will be left dancing in the dark. (oh, yes, I did just get that cheesy. Wait for it, it gets better.) If Kat's gone, sayonora, princess. But Elliott, if you go, don't despair. You can lay down your katana, and if you need a pal to cheer you up, call me, 'cause this gun's for hire. After all, I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book.