Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Idle Song Selections

Who spiked the punch during song selection day last week? Seriously, Paris? "Wind Beneath My Wings"? And Katharine? "All In Love Is Fair", aka the drab kiss-of-death song? Mandisa doing Faith Hill? Brenna thinking the ironic song choice ("Last Dance") isn't going to kick her in the butt?

There's probably only one performance from tonight's show that I would actually want to rewatch - Ayla Brown's "I Want You To Need Me". It was a brilliant choice. If you are dead set on singing Celine Dion, make sure it's one that isn't so identifiable with Celine, as "Power of Love" or "My Heart Will Go On" are, because there's no way you can possibly compare. And Ayla really did an excellent job with this song. I didn't like this girl at first, but she is totally winning me over with her performances.

Next best was Lisa Tucker, who sang "Who's Lovin' You". I was not thrilled with the arrangement, but her vocals are outstanding. Both she and Ayla need to try a more upbeat song soon because so far they are bordering on one-trick-pony territory. Ayla's one-trick-pony act, though, is pop ballads. Lisa's is almost Broadway-esque, which isn't nearly as marketable.

Katharine McPhee, Paris Bennett and Mandisa all have fantastic voices and personality up the wazzoo, but I think they all picked bad songs this week. With all due respect to Stevie Wonder, "All In Love Is Fair" is really boring. Katharine tried to spice it up in the chorus with all these runs, and she sounded pretty bad doing it. Her voice has such a pretty tone, but when she oversings ... not so much. Paris was very bland, especially in comparison to last week, and Mandisa started off shaky and then oversang. But neither of them will have any trouble getting to the Top 12.

Kinnik Sky's performance looked much better in retrospect after seeing so many bland performances. She took a big risk, though, with the Gretchen Wilson song. She's not popular enough to take risks like that. Just as Patrick Hall wasn't, and as soon as he stepped out of his box, he got the boot.

Melissa McGhee has a really cool raspy voice, but, like Simon said, she does not connect with the audience at all. There's a big ol' wall there.

Apparently, Kellie Pickler really connects with the audience and the judges, but I think she's faker than a three dollar bill. I don't buy for a minute that she had never had spinach salad or that she didn't know that squid and calamari were the same thing. Or that she didn't know keys meant something other than opening doors. This girl is overdoing EVERYTHING. Last week, it was Jailbird Dad. This week, it's the Ellie Mae Clampett routine. Watch her start crying on next week's show, which would, of course, ensure her a spot in the Top 12. But anyway, moving on to her performance, it was awkward and stiff and pure comedy when she shook her hair and growled. And her voice is just average.

As is Heather Cox's voice. She sang in tune, but her voice is not distinguishable or special AT. ALL. There's no color to it.

And then there's Brenna Gethers. She's all sass and attitude up front, but underneath, I suspect it's all a facade. I saw quite a few glimpses of fear and stiffness during her performances while she wasn't preening and posturing. I think she's toast. And she had the ironic/prophetic song choice of death - "Last Dance". Ryan Starr got booted with "Last Dance" in season 1. Charles Grigsby in season 2 went out with "You Can't Win". Vanessa Olivarez and Leah LaBelle both sang "You Keep Me Hanging On" with song lyrics: "Set me free why don't you, babe?" the week they were eliminated. Camile Velasco went out with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Last season, on one show it was Celena Rae with "When The Lights Go Down" and Aloha Mischeaux with "You Don't Know My Name".

My prediction is that Brenna will follow in the others' footsteps and will be joined on the sidelines by Heather or perhaps Kinnik.

Monday, February 27, 2006

How To Win A Reality Contest

How do you win a reality contest? Start off well (but not great), improve with time until the end, when you blow them out of the water. Usually, it's those people who show improvements at the end who win it all, and the ones who start off big inevitably can't sustain it and end up falling short.

I submit Evidence A: Kelly Clarkson, American Idol 1
No one knew who she was when the semifinals started. She was never even shown once prior to belting out Respect in that semifinal round. She began to make a name for herself with that performance but didn't step out from behind Justin Guarini and Tamyra Gray's shadow until the Top 6 show with her brilliant "Stuff Like That There" performance. While Justin and Tamyra showed flashes of both brilliance and what-the-hell-were-you-thinking performances, Kelly was building a juggernaut, and nothing could stop her victory in the end.

Evidence B: Kelly Monaco and Drew Lachey, Dancing With The Stars
In season 1, Kelly Monaco nearly got kicked out the first week, but she kept improving week after week (she couldn't have possibly gotten worse; she was pretty awful to begin with), and her improvements endeared her to judges and voters, and she beat early favorite John O'Hurley in the finals. Of course, it didn't help that John had an ill-advised freestyle dance. I wouldn't say that Drew Lachey improved since he was good from the start, but he smoked it in the end, while judges' favorite Stacy Keibler played it safe towards the end and maintained status quo or regressed.

Evidence C: Kristy Swanson/Lloyd Eisler, Skating With Celebrities
Finding romance off the ice (coughHomeWreckercough) has certainly helped this pair in regards to chemistry and showmanship, but what also helped them was a slow start to the show. They were nearly eliminated in the first round but kept getting better and better. Meanwhile, the show's ringer, Jillian Barberie, and her partner John Zimmerman, looked like a professional pairs team in their first performance, and they had nowhere to go but down. They have more or less phoned it in each week since. Monday's performance was better artistically than most of the stuff they'd done since week one, but they had a really big blunder when John nearly dropped Jillian on her head during a lift. The pairs still have one more skate left, but unless Kristy and Lloyd bomb and he drops her through the ice, look for a Kristy/Lloyd "comeback" victory.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dancing Drew

Drew and Cheryl's freestyle dance Posted by Picasa

Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke won Dancing With the Stars tonight. It's rare when my favorites actually win, although I think I'm on a bit of a roll after J.D. Fortune won RockStar: INXS. If I actually pick an American Idol winner, I'll be shocked. Drew and Cheryl's freestyle dance (seen above) more or less clinched the win for them. That, and Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani's uninspired and beyond safe freestyle that dropped them down to second in the judges' votes. Drew and Cheryl's country romp set my TV on fire. Such a well-deserved victory.

Stacy coming in third was a surprise in a way, but I can totally understand why she wasn't as popular with the public. The constant tonguebath the judges gave her even with flawed routines made voters resentful. And while she is very talented and has great lines, she does not express as well as others did. Dancing is supposed to make you feel, and I felt nothing watching her. Although I'm sure many guys felt lots of things whenever she'd show off that 42 inch leg. ::rolls eyes::

Speaking of the tonguebaths, I thought Stacy/Tony's perfect mark tonight was off the mark. I feel like the judges gave them that score knowing that she was going to lose the public vote. It was good, but perfect? Drew and Cheryl didn't deserve perfect scores for their dance tonight, and they didn't get it. Their jive the first time around, however, did. I think Drew and Cheryl got messed up by those sorry-ass singers on the show. They started the song early. ABC really needs to spring for better singers. I'm sure there are some former Idol finalists who don't have record deals out there who would be so much better at this. Anthony Fedorov, anyone?


First-time blogger here. My sister told me I should start a blog. To which I said, "Why? So I can talk about TV and sports?" Her reply? "Sure!"

So seeing as how I will talk to anyone who is interested (and even anyone who isn't interested. haha) about my shows and any kind of pop culture happenings, here we go.