Thursday, March 01, 2007

Loud Is Not the New Good

Somewhere along the way in the history of American Idol, loud became synonymous with good. When I'm listening to The Rollins Band or The Who, I couldn't agree more with that assessment. When I'm supposedly listening to a pop singer, I disagree.

So, that said, I thought the girls pretty much sucked last night. Admittedly, I was a bit tired and cranky, so my mood could've affected my enjoyment, but good music can always turn my mood around, but nothing did.

Leslie was alright singing some Nina Simone. I actually like her husky voice and think she's refreshingly different. But her brand of "different" is also easily conflated with geeky, so she doesn't get many judge props and I don't think the majority of the audience will connect with her.

Lakisha was darn good again. She did manage to turn the volume down a bit for the start of "Midnight Train to Georgia." But I have heard better versions, particularly the duet between Sandra Bernhard and Debra Messing on "Will & Grace." But I like Lakisha and liked that she did something different. Plus, I enjoyed watching Simon totally contradict himself again when he told her that she needs to get the attitude of a star, and then told Melinda that he likes her because she doesn't have the attitude of a star. But as funny as it is to laugh at his seeming nonsense, I understood exactly what he meant. And I agree. Which probably means I've been watching way too much of this show.

However, I'm not drinking the Kool Aid and going along with the verbal ass-kissing of Melinda for her performance of "My Funny Valentine." Loud is not the new good. And I get particularly spiky when someone fucks up a perfectly lovely standard, and that's exactly what Melinda did. "My Funny Valentine" is a soft, smoky number. The benchmark version is commonly considered to be Chet Baker's -- where instead of playing horn he sang. It's a serene and sexy version, and though it's the most well-known, it was hardly groundbreaking. The sublime Sarah Vaughn had a lovely version, too. Lovely, because she sang instead of shouted.

I don't mind when someone puts a new twist or spin on an old standard. But just because the volume is turned up doesn't mean it's "updated" or differently "arranged." I like Melinda. I like Melinda an awful lot more after seeing her dedication package last night. Unlike a lot of grandmother-pimps, Melinda's package didn't have a whiff of pandering pretense to it. And she's so likable she can get away with comparing herself to Oprah and telling us that she has a personal stylist and still not seem spoiled or pampered. But then she shouted that song and pissed me off. Maybe next week, Melinda.

Speaking of spoiled and pampered, how snotty did Antonella come off when the judges ripped her? Chris Sligh at least tried to get witty with it. She just came off as an entitled, Italian princess. Especially because she sucked more than those psuedo-porn pics depicted. Has she been fawned over so much her entire life that she's lost the ability and perspective to acknowledge it when she's not teh awesome? Trying to throw it back in Simon's face that he was wrong about Jennifer Hudson? I was glad to see him shove that back out there and clear the air. Believe me, I don't always agree with Simon, but if I recall correctly, he mostly ripped on Hudson for dressing poorly, not for singing badly. (And her trend of dressing badly continued as she walked the red carpet at the Oscars in a martian jacket and frump-ass dress that's made everyone's worst-dressed list.)

Antonella's vibrato-laden singing is the listening equivalent to looking at a butterfly with hiccups -- it's pretty and colorful but it's also random and nervously all over the place. I don't dislike her for the sleazy pictures. If anything, it makes me like her more. But the fact that they didn't give me any laughs by trying to address it on the show makes me feel cheated. Worse, her hot, Johnny-Jersey, guinea-gangster father wasn't in the audience. I won't tolerate her every week if she doesn't have Henry Hill slow-clapping her from the audience.

Also bitchy when hearing the judges politely tell her that she sucked was Alaina. And she did suck. I don't think her pretty will pull her out this week.

Jordin, she was okay if out of tune somewhat. Gina was okay doing "Alone." Again, with the loud business. Simon tried telling her that she's loud, but not as loud as the loudest. I still don't like her. And tipping the loud scale into screechy was Sabrina. I do like Sabrina, and I do think she can sing instead of shriek when she chooses. She got the coveted final spot this week, so I hope she uses the good fortune to sing next week. Stephanie didn't shout, but she still bores me, even though she looked gorgeous.

And -- that's only nine, so I'm forgetting one of the ten little Indians. Oh yeah, Haley. Now I remember. She did that Whitney tune. She's pretty and she cried at the criticism. But I have a feeling that if I had trouble remembering her, she's likely gone tonight. Not because she was bad, mind you. But possibly because she just wasn't loud enough to be heard above all the other roaring going on.


Alice said...

It WAS Henry Hill in the audience last week. Boring without him. And she did act entitled. I hate that and mostly didn't like the show.

Ellen said...

I hope Antontella sticks around for a bit because she's entertainingly dim. Singing a Celine song? C'mon! And the Jennifer Hudson dig at Simon was a perfectly cringeworthy moment. The show needs more of those.

Pinto said...

Hi Susan. Can’t say I totally agree with you about Melinda’s rendition of “My Funny Valentine.” I am a huge Chet Baker fan (I have the worn out CDs to prove it), but I thought Melinda did the song justice. It was not better, just different. Depends on your mood which one you like better. Chet Baker’s version has a vulnerable sweetness to it which seems to be incongruent with his male model looks (before heroin destroyed his face). His voice smolders. He sang the song like someone who is aching to have sex but is too shy to say it. Melinda sang the song with an assertiveness which belies her mousy demeanor, like someone who just had sex and is reveling in the mood. A musical version of stroking her lover’s hair, if you will. I suspect a good screwing could turn even someone like Melinda into catwoman.

I agree with you that the white chicks should all go home. If this truly was a singing competition, none of them will make it past the semifinals. Alas, it is not and we will be stuck with Antonella for several more weeks at least. I am bored with everyone fawning over her looks. She does have a hot ass, but it no way makes up for her insipid personality and total lack of charm. Worse yet, the idiot buys into her own hype. Very stupid and uncool.

Susan, thanks for your recaps. I can tell you put a lot of work into your writing. You are doing us all a great service. I probably wouldn’t watch AI anymore if it weren’t for your delicious recaps.

SusanD said...

Alice, Ellen --I'd be willing to bet Antonella will survive another week. And she is the only intersting part. (though she needs to bring her dad back.)

pinto -- that's a great analogy between the two versions of the songs. Maybe my crabby mood is what killed it for me -- I'll give it another listen over at Rickey's and see if I like it better today.

And -- pft -- thank you. I'm not doing a service by writing the stuff, I'm having fun. You're doing me a favor by reading.

Anita said...

>>Antonella's vibrato-laden singing is the listening equivalent to looking at a butterfly with hiccups -- it's pretty and colorful but it's also random and nervously all over the place.<<

This quote is why I am SO pleased I remembered to get back here in time for AI again this year. You formally crack me up! LOL!

Mutya said...

you forgot to recap stephanie. i liked her cause she almost sounds like beyonce. im not an R&B fan but i think deserves to at least be part of the top4 girls.

i know this is a comment to your blog entry posted 30 days ago.

appreciated your AI entries last year (im an elliott fan) and i love the home made jpegs of last year... i even linked you to my site (if thats cool) i went back to see what you think of AI this year.

its funny cause you are able to wittily express everything that i think about AI. (almost everything)