Okay, now the deal last night was that the contestants had to sing three songs each, and there was no theme as such, just a succession of bad ideas and cheesy stunts and some really great singing. In the first round, the songs were chosen by Clive Davis, the CEO of BMG. I was not familiar with the total corpse of him until last night, and I had horror movie dreams all night. Because he's creepy, son!
The songs chosen by Clive Davis were really left field and exactly what you would think a thousand-year-old record exec would pick: some Dionne Warwick ("I'll Never Love This Way Again") for Vonzell, a little Roy Orbison ("Crying") for Carrie, and for Bo, some Elton John ("Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"). Basically, what the kids are listening to these days. Invariably, then, his horrible choices did not sit right with him, in the actual performances, even though in my opinion Bo and Carrie rocked theirs really well, in separate ways. He had strange comments for each performance, but none so strange as those reserved for these, his dread choices.
Vonzell was off to a rough start -- I have to say, about the only thing I enjoyed about her first song was the fact that it wasn't Anwar singing it (if you'll remember, that was one of his more piercing performances) -- and while as usual there were particularly pretty parts, on the whole it was just mostly boring and off-pitch most of the time. Carrie gave one of the best vocal performances of the season, while seeming very nervous physically, but it was still a lovely thing to experience. Nobody could be more surprised than I am about my rapid turnaround on the Carrie issue. Bo managed to make a song I hate to the ends of the earth very enjoyable, if not ultimately all that memorable.
Next up were the contestants' choice songs, which, translation: songs they've sung a million times and could probably perform in their sleep. I think that's actually what Carrie was attempting, but that's nothing compared to the stunt of Bo's performance. Vonzell sang "Chain Of Fools," which we heard her completely rock in her audition last week, and did a fantastic, note-perfect, utterly well-rehearsed job. If that's your thing, and I know it's mine, then this was an enjoyable performance. If what you like is passion and spontaneity and maybe a little bit of edge, this round is not the one for you. Carrie sings some song ("Making Love Out Of Nothing At All") that sounds exactly like "Total Eclipse Of The Heart," only less enjoyable, and it's good in a specifically Carrie way? But not that fascinating. Then Bo sings the Badlands' "Within A Dream," which is one of those pared-down metal songs anyway? But then he sings it a cappella. So obnoxious, and yet so good (if a few notes were painfully off, I didn't really mind). What I don't understand: he's so incredibly talented, but they won't stop selling him. It's just such a stunt, it's so overly excited with itself and with Bo as Product and he doesn't need it, okay, and it cheapens him. He's talented enough to do this straight, and yet every week we've got some kind of stunt shoving him down our throats, and I don't get it. It's insulting.
Then comes the Judges' Choice round, in which everything turns topsy-turvy and shallow and pop-cute-silly, so of course Vonzell rules with a color-coordinated lime green fist. Bo sings the overdone "Satisfaction," turning in another "For The Love Of Money"-grade performance that has nothing to do with vocals and everything to do with being a song everybody's heard a million times with a lot of flashing lights and running around. It's annoying, for exactly the reasons stated above, but at least it will earn him enough career momentum that he might one day get to sing songs that actually showcase his talent. Meanwhile, Vonzell returned to disco form with "On The Radio," proving that disco is a talent that a person can have. This is the second week in a row where she's come back from mediocrity with a disco song, and I for one cannot understand it -- I did not know that disco singing was a skill you could be born with, but I love that she was. It's a fun trick. Then Carrie sings "Man, I Feel Like A Woman," the Young Lady's Equivalent to the crap they've had Bo singing lately, and it's funny because I could not stop talking about Shania Twain in last week's recap, and now here she is, in "living" "color," and Carrie could not look more foolish, but whatever, she's fine.
Actually, this is the first I've wondered about Carrie's ultimate fate, although not too terribly much. As I've said before, it would be really awesome television if she went home before the Final Two. We shall see tonight. I'm fairly excited, aren't you?
Inbox bingo for this week: "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" and "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" are in fact the same song, and the dude also wrote songs for Meatloaf, cool, and that song for Celine Dion where she ran around Meatloaf's house and there was a motorcycle and it was incomprehensible and maybe there were ghosts.
Open on three Idols: Carrie (preparing to cry from second one), Bo (wearing some damned sunglasses), and Vonzell (Thorazine grin with half-hearted dimples). In the audience, Paula has finally put her breasts away, and there is no Clive Sidious to be seen. Speaking of Star Wars, the entire audience got to go down the lot and see the new one after last night's broadcast, and we get several embarrassing shots of people pretending to be stunned and/or thrilled, and the Idols tell us how excited they are. I just got back from seeing it, and let me tell you that it's the only one of those movies I've actually looked forward to seeing, so it was nice that I liked it just fine. I will also say that there were several very exciting moments where some snap decisions were made, and that often those decisions had grave consequences.
Trips home! Vonzell got on a private jet dressed like Maggie Chascarillo, did some radio interviews -- Which are hard! You feel like an idiot the whole time! And the people are in a hurry so you feel like you're slowing down their fast radio lives! -- was in the paper, visited the USPS, and signed some autographs at Wal-Mart. Then she and her family hung out on a yacht, there was a huge crowd and she sang "I Have Nothing" and got the Key to Fort Myers, and was totally sweet and clearly soldiering on in the face of enormous exhaustion. She rules. Back in the live studio of tonight, she sings "Chain Of Fools" and sounds like a million bucks and completely owns the room and is vibrant and wonderful. I hope they all sing their Contestant's Choice song.
Well, maybe not Carrie, but Vonzell and Bo. Yes, Bo. The problem isn't that he's not awesome, and it's not that he's going to win, it's that he is awesome and going to win regardless of how hard they try to sell him. And they are trying damned hard this week, and it's gross and cynical and makes me feel like they think I'm so fucking stupid that I need things handed to me and overexplained because they don't trust the decisions they're asking me to make in the first place.
"One Way Or Another" is officially the most overused song of the last year. I can tell you at least fifty different movies or TV shows it's randomly shown up in, in my own personal life. I kind of hate it now. And I can't even ignore it because the pimpomercial is sucky and all about them in an ugly car trying to get away from paparazzi on the Pont de l'Alma -- "one way or another," see, they're going to "give them the slip." Tasteful.
Bo gets off a jet screaming "Sweet Home Alabama." Quite droll. He's met by two of the Skynyrd in his hotel room and he freaks out about how great that is, which makes me happy, and then he goes to the radio station, and then he screams. Out of the window of a limousine. Screaming out the window. Of a stretch. SUV. Limo. On its way to Wal-Mart. It's pretty much exactly like watching the Kennedys. Back in the days when decorum meant something, I mean. He cries and it's very touching, and he gets the Key to Helena, and then he sings to 8,000 people, even more uncomfortable with the madness of crowds as I was at Star Wars, but at least they are his people. Skynyrd gives him a hand, which again makes me happy; he's cross-eyed about it. It's so great. Back in the studio, he sings the a cappella song again. I could watch this every day of my life and it would still send a chill right through me or something. I shouldn't joke, because it seems like I might actually have to do so.
Carrie flew to Checotah (before AI she'd never been on a plane before, FYI), and then met some adorable fans and did some media spots, including one about how Ryan is in love with her: Awesome. Then she rode in a horse-drawn carriage with her grandfather, sang a patriotic song and Oklahoma put their hands over their hearts, and it was Carrie Underwood Day. Imagine if every day was Carrie Day: what that would actually be like. Then, parade/autograph signing/flesh-toned lipstick, lots of hugging, love of all animals, and very sad leaving, plus crying without tears. If she wins that could be her coronation song, "Crying Without Tears." Then she -- how weird -- she sings "Crying" again, so I guess instead of Contestant's Choice, the theme is: "Everybody's Best Song." Much better to watch. I couldn't handle "Satisfaction" again.
Then, with like five seconds left: 37 million votes, and they're separated by 1%. Carrie was awesome, Bo gives goosebumps and sunglasses rage, and Vonzell has grown the most. Then she gets K-Locked and is going home. Her strange pimp contingent, humble recapper, and Ryan are all sad but not shocked. Then: Video Journey (lots of cute outfits and stuff), which Vonzell cries prettily and not crazily while watching. It ends with an awesome slo-mo kiss, blown to us, and Ryan congratulates her sweetly, getting her back on track. Then he points out sadly how the group sing ("United We Stand") is very poignant, just to make sure we get it. He does not point out, however, that it sucks really, really bad.
Since they pushed the group sing back past the reveal, the net is that they all sound totally horrible and fucked up and sad, but instead of being terrible to listen to, it's just sad and a little sweet. It sounds like shit: nobody has it together, at all, not even Bo, and Carrie's of course a huge messâ¦but it's still a very good sendoff. Goodbye, Baby V.
Aww. I wish these kids could sleep one day. Next week, we all can!
Ryan's wearing his "I [Flaming Heart] Celebrity Gossip." That's tricky, semiotically, because are we talking about Paula and her indiscretions, or the guys pretending to have dated you? Or something else I don't know about? Or did you get drunk at Paula Rubio's house and this is the only thing that would fit? Very interesting. If I didn't have Ryan's t-shirts to think about, what would I think about? It's not like I think they're specifically coded messages just for me, or anything like that. Not saying it wouldn't be awesome, just saying this stupid show still hasn't beaten me. I'm just not crazy enough yet.
There's only 1% "separating them," and even though I'm not sure I know what he means -- would that be between the highest and lowest-voted of the three? Or between each of them? Or between a random set of two of them? Or what? -- that's still incredible. And I mean, kind of, that it is not credible. But still, it means they did their homework making this close race thing happen, like they do every year. Randy's wearing a somewhat frenetic light blue paisley shirt, and Paula's breasts are going quietly mad on the table before her. And Clive Davis is in the hizzy! Check out the total corpse of him! Clive Sidious! Clive is wearing a necktie in my favorite shade of blue, M40Y75, with a clashing pocket square. This fashion review brought to you by the endless cheering for no reason at all.
Last fake Wednesday, it's suddenly kind of freaky how empty the room looks. Remember in seasons past when we practically lived in the red room? The theme, Ryan tells us, is "It's All About Choice." Whatever. They'll be singing three songs, one of which will be chosen for them by Clive, one of which they will choose themselves, and finally, each of the judges has picked a song for them. The assignments of judge to contestant, we shall see, make less than no sense, and are pretty much as stupid as the songs each of them will eventually pick for his/her contestant. I wonder if this was by coin flip or something, because it's one of the most random things in this very random week. Ryan explains that Clive is the chairman and CEO of BMG, which is of course the label to which the winner will be handing his or her soul over -- I mean, signing -- at the end of all this. They don't even pretend to know or care about this, and then Ryan shakes each of their hands, and says in a kind of "I see dead people" whisper, "I just touched the American Idol…who is it?" They all laugh nervously and it's kind of scream-inducing. The stress of this is getting to me, and that's saying a lot considering that there's no suspense about what's going to happen here.
Ryan explains to us that, in order to make it easier for the voters to get through, each contestant tonight will have two possible numbers to call. He leaves out the part where he's going to fuck this up on live TV.