Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AI Season 11-Top 12 Performance, 3-14-12

Ryan's alone on stage, in his usual no-tie Wednesday outfit. He warns us that there will be Controversy tonight, that Law Enforcement was involved, and that we shall have Drama, which makes for Interesting Live TV (emphasis: Seacrest). He doesn't say what caused all this upset, but if you were anywhere near Yahoo, or Facebook, or the Internet in general today (and I seem never to be far from any of them), you already know. But for Ryan's sake, I'll pretend that I'm in the dark and cannot wait until AI deigns to enlighten me.

Steven is virginal, in all white (The Hub says he looks like a Pip). Randy is in a black and red color block cardigan (bisected horizontally) over a polka dot shirt. He also has a pink carnation. JLo is in a very tight, very short, very orange sheath with one of those napkin-fold bodices. Her hair is pulled up tight, in a tall beehive.

Tonight the kids are singing songs from the year they were born. I hate this theme, if for no other reason than I usually don't know any of the songs. This season, the songs will range from '83-'95. Sigh. (For some perspective, my younger son graduated from high school in '92. Yep, I'm old).

It's also Baby Picture night, and we start the evening with shots of Randy (cute kid), JLo (adorable baby), and Steven (man, he had a big mouth even back then). And then one of Ryan- who was a pretty goofy looking toddler.

Tonight Jimmy Iovine is mentoring along with I don't usually get ahead of myself in these recaps, but since I don't feel like typing this out eleven times tonight, you can assume that Jimmy looks like he's in actual physical pain every single time that opens his mouth. The disdain is palpable. And hilarious.

#1. Phillip ('90)was a premature baby. He nearly died from intestinal problems, and his sweet father tears up talking about it even still. Phil is not actually feeling well tonight (and by tonight, I mean last week, when all of the mentoring took place, though the show always pretends that it happenes the same afternoon as the live taping). He walks slowly and moves slowly and winces a lot. He tells Iovine and W (I'm not typing that name, with all its extraneous punctuation, over and over either) not to expect too much, and that he's having surgery for kidney stones *tomorrow* (in real life: last Thursday). Even so, the mentors are impressed. Onstage, he's singing Something About Baby, a song that I do not know (of course). There is a lot of rocking, and growling, and there are a whole lot of words. This is an excellent choice for the guitar-less Phil, who is either feeling okay, or is very good at faking it, after his surgery. The judges are all pleased, though it takes Randy a hell of a long time to get around to saying so.

#2. Jessica ('95) is the oldest child of a pair of very young parents. She was a pretty darn adorable baby (big surprise there). Jimmy and W are surprised that Jessica plans to sing Turn the Beat Around, but she wins them over during rehearsal. On stage, she's wearing empire waist silver disco pants, with a sleeveless lace blouse and a wide sash. She's using the stage very well, and this is not an easy song to sing. But I think her voice might be too rich, too much, for this song. She can't quite manage the staccato beat, what with all that vibrato. It's not awful, but it's not as good as it should be (and it's something of a letdown after last week's amazing performance). Everyone is on their feet, though all three judges are mildly critical of the song choice.

#3. Heejun's ('89) parents are very proud, which they tell us in Chinese. He plans to sing Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting. Jimmy and W are skeptical. Onstage, Heejun struggles with his accent (and the attendant enunciation) more than usual. He's wearing a suit with a purple shirt, and a bow tie. His glasses have no lenses (I don't know if that's an affectation, or if it's necessary to minimize reflections). I like Heejun, and I like his voice, but this song highlights all of his flaws and weaknesses. He sings far too softly, though he does soar a bit toward the end. Randy drags out *pitchy*, JLo liked it a bit better than Randy did, and Steven somehow manages to agree with both of them.

#4. Elise's ('83) mother looks and sounds like Anne Maera. She's going to sing Let's Stay Together, which is the same song The Prez crooned awhile back. Elise says that people will be makin' babies tonight. She starts out all torchy, sitting on the piano in a black on black stripe halter dress. The beginning is slow, and there are a couple of wonky notes, but once she slides off the piano (to reveal that her dress is half long and half short, split down the front middle- as opposed to a mullet skirt, which is short in front and long in back), she pulls it off, with just the right amount of growl and rasp. The judges unanimously love it.

#5. Deandre ('94) is going to kill his parents for dragging out a video of him dancing to 76 Trombones in his own teensy little Drum Major Outfit. He plans to sing Can You Feel the Love tonight, but Jimmy and W don't like that song choice. They talk him into Endless Love instead. Onstage, Deandre is in a cream linen suit over a black sweater and white shirt. He's singing too softly, and he messes up the lyrics. Somewhere in the middle, he finally puts some power into vocal, and at the end, he trots out the falsetto, but it's too little, too late (or in the case of the falsetto- it's too much, like, ever). Uh-oh, JLo begins her critique with "Hi Baby", which is never a good sign. The Judges think that Jimmy shoulda kept his paws off Deandre's song choice.

#6. Shannon ('95) used to love Disney's Thumbelina song, and she sang it so constantly that it got in her dad's head while he was on the pitching mound (just in case you forgot that he was a pro ball player). W tells Shannon that she should sing lying down, so that she learns breath control. Shannon takes his advice in rehearsals. On stage, she opts to stand upright. At first, I think she's wearing a sparkly jacket over a very short skirt, but then I see that she's wearing sparkly shorts over black hose. Yikes. I don't know the song she's singing, and the sound levels are wonky, but actually, she sounds better than I've heard her before. JLo was surprised to like it. Steven says that she didn't try too hard, and that worked for her. Randy  name dropped. And then he name dropped. And then he name dropped some more. Still.

#7. Colton ('91) has a nice family, and he didn't used to look like such a doofus. He's singing Broken Heart by White Lion, to which everyone says: Who in the what now? The mentors tell him that it's risky singing a song that no one (not even a Big Shot Music Producer) knows. Colton sticks with it anyway. His hair is in a Mohawk, he's wearing a long black leather vest (actually, it looks more like a boxy sleeveless jacket), over a black tee shirt, over black pants, and black boots. Yeah Colton, we get it already. He starts singing, and I have to say that I don't hate it. I don't love it either, and I'm definitely not going to buy it, but... I don't hate it. JLo, however, loved it, and she thinks that Colton is pretty when he sings. Steven bluntly say that it was the wrong song, sung in the wrong way. Randy thinks it's okay.

#8. Erika (didn't catch the year) was a tomboy who sang the National Anthem before the Little League games she played in. She's singing Bryan Adam's Heaven. Onstage she's wearing a black lace hybrid poncho/tunic/smock (ponicock? Well, maybe not) with huge circular sleeves, over leather pants. I'm really sorry to say that this isn't great. It's not horrible, but it's nowhere near as good as she's capable of (or what she needs to stick around in this dog and pony show for much longer). Steven thinks Erika was too all over the place and that the arrangement was bad. JLo agrees, but she takes the roundabout way of saying it (by complimenting Erika's outfit. Which... no). Randy kinda liked it.

Okay, it's finally Controversy Time. Are you ready? Ryan mournfully announces that Jermaine Jones is outta here. With cameras on, Jermaine is called in for a meeting with the producers, who read off a list of charges and active arrest warrants (4 to be exact) that Jermaine just sort of forgot to tell them about when he signed all of his disclosure statements. It also comes out that Jermaine gave a false name to the police. Twice! I don't know if Jermaine knew what was going to happen when he entered the room, but he figured it out fairly soon after- watching the shutters slam down in his eyes was painful. He makes a few excuses, but it doesn't matter. Jermaine is going home. He's gracious about the whole thing, thanking those jerks for the opportunity to be humiliated on camera.

(Side Note: I love this show, but I don't trust it further than I can throw it. I refuse to believe that Jermaine's past was totally unknown to the producers until this week. They had plenty of time to do background searches on all of the kids, and you can be sure that they were performed. I have a sick feeling that Jermaine was brought back for this purpose alone. )

Ryan stands on stage and says cryptically that tomorrow night, the one with the lowest votes is at risk of being eliminated, which makes no sense, because the one with the lowest votes IS eliminated. Methinks that no one is going home tomorrow, since Jermaine already took one for the team.

#9. Skylar ('94) was a head banger. Literally. Her parents have photographic proof- a shot with her itty bitty nose and forehead all scabby. Skylar tells Jimmy and W that she wants to sing Bonnie Raitt. Jimmy thinks it's not enough song for Skylar, but she resists their suggestions for an alternate song choice (partly because she doesn't recognize any of them. I think Skylar was really born in '52). Onstage, she looks every bit of 40 years old in a studded black leather jacket, tight capris (with some sort of shiny thing right at the crotch- a zipper perhaps? It's distracting in an entirely disquieting way), brown heels, and a loose brown feather print top. Oh, and huge sparkly earrings. Skylar knows how to use the stage- she clomps over the entire thing. I understand what Jimmy meant about *not enough song*, it's not very melodic (unlike much of the Raitt oeuvre). But Skylar does fine with it. JLo tortures her a bit before expressing her approbation.

#10. Joshua ('92) is the youngest of 8 kids. His dad is a preacher, and he grew up singing in church. Since Jermaine isn't singing tonight, Ryan has some time to kill, so he has a huge tub of crawdads rolled out for Joshua, followed by about 5-13 year old girls. Joshua demonstrates proper crawdad eating ettiquette, and Ryan tells the girls to dig in. You can see the eew ick in their faces a mile away. Finally, Ryan sends them all off and Joshua gets down to singing When a Man Loves a Woman, which he does in typical Joshua style by embroidering and oversinging every single note. And then he takes his jacket off and throws it on the floor and goes batshit crazy for the finale. But he doesn't go as batshit crazy as JLo does- she's moved way beyond GOOSIES! and into total incoherence. I don't get it.

#11. We finally find out what's behind Hollie's ('93) hard-to-place-in-and-out-accent- her mother is Australian. Or British. Or something like that. Her dad gets verklempt just talking about how proud he is of Hollie, though he charmingly blames his teary eyes on the bright sunlight. Hollie is wearing a highly constructed dress with wide, heavy bands of gold sparkle winding this way and that on her torso, over nude-looking fabric. The dress has it's own bedruffle, which is handy for sweeping up the dust bunnies onstage. she's singing Power of Love, which is risky. Hollie has a powerful voice, but she's not quite pulling this off. I definitely heard a couple of off notes, and the ending wasn't what it should have been. That said, the good parts were really good, and this girl has an amazing voice. The judges all noted *pitch issues* but JLo declared them off limits for critiqueing, so I guess Hollie gets a pass tonight.

The Best tonight: Phil and Elise
Surprisingly Not Terrible: Colton and Shannon
Surprisngly Not As Good as Expected: Jessica and Hollie
Worst: Heejun and Deandre

I suspect Heejun will go home tomorrow (if anyone does, that is).

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