Wednesday, March 7, 2012
AI Season 11-Top 13 Performance, 03-07-12
Ryan enters through a dancing gauntlet of all 13 kids. Evidently Performance Night is also Suit With No Tie Night, and every night is Pompadour Night. JLO is wearing a white body suit with a shiny, black, circular band at the neck. Her makeup is very subtle (as to be almost nonexistent), her hair is straight, and she's wearing earrings as big as hula hoops. Randy is doing his damnedest to make Tall Collars happen. This one has a white on white print, and it doesn't stand quite up to the jowls. He's also wearing a gray jacket with a brown fur collar, and a pin that looks like a face made out of sequins. Steven is wearing batshit crazy pants that are screen printed with a face. A lady's face, half on one leg, half on the other leg, all dots (like in the comics, blown up about 1000x). In my wildest dreams, I could not make that up.
Ryan announces that this is the 400th episode of the show. I would guess that I've seen 390 of them. Yeah, I need help. He calls the girls out, and wow, Shannon is tall. The rest of the girls are all over the map, height-wise.The guys come out next, and outside of Jermaine (who is gargantuan), they're all about the same height (taller than Ryan, but not by a whole lot.)
I'm not usually one to complain about the irrelevance of most theme nights (at least in how they relate to the music being played on the radio today, mostly because you can't pay me to listen to the radio today), but even I know that sticking the Guys with Stevie Wonder, and the Girls with Whitney Houston, is a recipe for disaster. Or at least two hours of boredom.
Ryan explains that the lowest vote getting Gal and the lowest vote getting Guy will face off tomorrow night, and the Judges will decide who goes home. I'm not sure I like this new wrinkle- I hope it only lasts until they get to the Top 10 (or however many they plan to take on tour).
Tonight the kids are being mentored by Jimmy Iovine and Mary J. Blige. MJB is wearing a black and white striped top, and her hair is sculpted into a large Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy sort of curl on one side of her head. A Blonde BWBB curl. One that looks like it would hold its own against hurricane-strength winds.
#1. Joshua admits that he's out of his comfort zone with Stevie Wonder. MJB advises Joshua not to punch his syllables quite so strongly. Joshua hits the stage in a gray jacket over a lighter gray vest, over a lighter still gray shirt, all with black pants. I know the song he's singing, but the title escapes me. I suppose he's doing fine, but there is no subtlety in this performance- it starts out in overdrive and segues quickly into shouty. However, Randy calls it flawless, and the other judges loved it.
#2. Elise starts out intending to sing The Greatest Love of All, but neither Iovine, nor MJB like that choice. Though Elise does not take this criticism well, she changes to I'm Your Baby Tonight. She's wearing some sort of sunburst patterned, strapless, shiny monstrosity in gold and red (it's really awful, and unflattering to boot). She does a lot of dipping and squatting, but she sounds okay. The judges don't agree. Though JLO criticizes gently, Steven and Randy actually give her actual constructive criticism, which Elise does not enjoy hearing. She babbles and rationalizes to Ryan.
#3. When Jermaine isn't singing, he seems a sort of blank slate- a genial, gigantic, blank slate. Iovine and MJB both love his voice. They give him some good advice, which Jermaine appreciates and incorporates. On stage now, he's wearing a red jacket with black leather sleeves over a pink shirt, and red high tops. He's singing Knock Me off My Feet, a song I do not know. Jermaine's voice is so deep and so smooth, and I really enjoy listening to him. Steven loved it, JLo wants him to connect with the words a bit more, and Randy babbles critically.
#4. Erika meets Iovine and MJB wearing a fedora. Iovine and MJB determine that Erika doesn't need much coaching. On stage, she's wearing a long red dress with some weirdly studded straps. When she turns sideways, we see that the entire back bodice is also studded. She's singing I Believe in You and Me, and man, this girl can sing. She has a rich, full voice. She's doing so well that The Hub gets GOOSIES! Erika gets well deserved high praise from all three judges.
#5. Every year, there's one kid who annoys me just by existing. This year, it's Colton. I find him so unpleasant that I can't trust my assessment of his performances. I think he started out weak, and stayed weak throughout, but that could just be My Hatred of His Hair speaking. The judges liked it a lot more than I did, though I think someone should check Randy's basement for pods- his critiques tonight have been mostly spot on.
#6. Shannon barely sings a measure before MJB points out that she sings just the notes, with no soul or heart. Shannon begins again, and evidently does it to MJB's liking the second time around. Onstage, she's wearing a cropped leather jacket over a knit top with wide pink and blue bands at the hem, with shiny black legging-type pants. She's singing I Have Nothing, and doing everything she can to break through the Pageant Exterior, but the effort shows. JLo tells her to relax. Steven and Randy both say it wasn't up to par. Who are these people, and what have they done with the judges who told Eben Frankowitz that he sounded great? I do love to watch Shannon stand next to Ryan- she tops him by a full head.
#7. Iovine tells Deandre that he can't skate by on his hair tonight, and I am fully prepared to hate his performance of Master Blaster. But with his hair in a curly updo, and wearing a light gray jacket over a white shirt with odd horizontal pleats on one side (only), Deandre rocks a reggae version of this song that is exactly right for his voice. And for his talent. And he holds the falsetto to an absolute minimum. This is Deandre's best performance yet, and the judges agree.
#8. MJB tells Skylar that she needs to dial it back just a tad on Where do Broken Hearts Go. Onstage, she's wearing a white jacket with pointy shoulder pads, lizard print pants, a black shirt with silver spangles, and huge earrings. In other words, she looks like she raided Steven Tyler's closet. As I write that in my notes, The Hub says outloud, "Steven Tyler called. He wants his pants back." (And that, people, is why we've been married for 41 years). Skylar is nailing the notes, but there's no heart. She gets very mild criticism from the judges, but also lots of praise.
#9. Iovine has never been a big Heejun fan, but he's won over when Heejun gives him an autographed photo of himself (Heejun, not Iovine) that says that he loves him (Iovine, not Heejun). And then Heejun gives another autographed photo to MJB telling her that he loves her more than he loves Iovine. Heejun, in a black suit and white shirt, starts All in Love is Fair very quietly. And then he sings most of the song very quietly. Prettily, but quietly. He does have a lovely tone, and he ends the song well, and the judges are mostly happy.
#10. MJB and Iovine are both thrilled with Hollie. On a dark stage, lit with candles (or images of candles), with swirling fog, and wearing a pretty black, sparkly dress, Hollie absolutely kills All The Man That I Need.
At first, I think she might actually be holding a cigarette, which confused me mightily. But on closeup, I see that it's a long, pointy ring that rises perpendicular to her hand. A very weird, cigarette-like long pointy ring.
#11. Jeremy is nervous, enough so that Iovine and MJB both tell him to get a handle on it. He's wearing a gray cardigan over a blue oxford shirt over a black tee shirt. He's singing Ribbons in the Sky. It's a difficult song, but he's doing fairly well with it, though I am hearing a wonky note or two. Jeremy's voice evidently has a direct connection to JLo's tear ducts.
#12. Iovine calls Jessica on her runaway vibrato, and she appears to fix the problem immediately. I actually groan when Jessica says she's going to sing I Will Always Love You. Onstage, she's wearing some sort of shapeless, drapey, royal blue, one-sleeved, prom bathrobe. After Jennifer Hudson's performance of this song in tribute to Whitney at The Grammy Awards, I would have bet actual money that no other rendition could move me... but.... wow wow wow wow wow. And WOW some more. Jessica nailed every single note of this song. And for the first time in all 390 episodes (that I've seen), an American Idol performance has brought tears to my eyes. Jessica gets a Standing O from the Judges and entire audience, and maybe from the Taylor living room as well.
#13. I would not want to be Phil right about now, having to follow that performance, especially after he says that he's singing Superstition. But out there onstage, with his sloppy Henley shirt, and his guitar- he Dave Matthews his way into this song, and then growls his way through like I've never heard this tune done before. If he'd done any other song, in any other way, his whole performance would have been overshadowed by Jessica's tour de force, but Phil pulled this off. Bravo, Phil!
Actually, Bavo Everyone! If ever there was a Theme Night Poised for Disaster, this was it, and yet, no one biffed it (okay, maybe Colton did). There were a couple of performances that I did not love, but there were many more that I did. Go Figure.
My worst tonight: Joshua, Colton, Elise
My Best: Erika, Hollie, Jessica, Phil
Honorable Mention: Deandre
Maybe in big trouble: Heejun and Shannon
Tomorrow night is going to be interesting.