Thursday, March 28, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 8 Elimination

We open with a long pan of the 8 finalists, most of them really badly dressed.

Mariah and Nicki are not twinsies tonight. Mariah is in a tight, short, long-sleeved lacy knit yellow dress. She does not appear to be wearing a hangover. Nicki is in a red tartan plaid vest over black. Or she's in a red tartan plaid jacket with black leather sleeves over black. It's hard to tell.

Ryan announces that this is the 450th episode of American Idol. It will not surprise you to know that I've seen all but about eight of them. I need help.

The group sing tonight is Old Time Rock 'n Roll, and as far as I can tell, the kids are singing live. As a result, they sound thin and maybe a little shrill, though that could be due to the sound controllers and not the singing.

Instead of the usual Fordmercial video, this year they're doing assorted (Ford) Fiesta Missions. #1 is The Gift of Song. It sounds like a PSA, but make no mistake, it's a Fordmercial. The finalists go to a school and teach a small group of kids Phil Phillip's Home (which is now the #1 top Idol seller of all time). These kids are little- maybe 1st or 2nd grade, so I feel terrible mentioning it, but they all look rough. One girl has a fading black eye, one has red all around her mouth (as though she'd been drinking Kool-Aid recently) and more than one appears to have a dirty face. Their singing is sweet, but boy, this is odd, and a little unsettling.

Jimmy Iovine opines, based on last night's performances:
Candice: a natural, not going home
Kree/Janelle duet: Nicki was right, Kree was great, and far better than Janelle
Lazaro: better than last week, but he really does need to listen to someone
Janelle: murdered it
Devin: good compared to Devin's earlier performances, but still coming up short
Angie/Candice/Amber: they all supported each other and made a great trio
Burnell: impressed with how he connected with the song
Angie: wrong song choice, wrong everything
Amber: did exactly what she needed to do, and what she should have done
Burnell/Devin/Lazaro: new group called Wrong Direction, terrible
Kree: great top register, possible finale candidate

The kids are sitting on the Bleaches of Terror. Ryan calls up a surprise clip of Aretha Franklin's recorded phone message of support for Kree. She loved it. Mariah gives Aretha's Phone message a Standing O.

Colton Dixon was not one of my favorites last year. He has done well in the interim even without my support- his new album debuted at the top of the Gospel and CC lists. Colton still has spiked hair with shaved sides and long sideswept bangs arranged in a blonde Emo. He's wearing a black blazer with black leather sleeves over a loose red and black scoop neck sweater, and tight jeans on impossibly thin legs. In other words, he looks just the same. He sounds just the same too. I know absolutely nothing about CC music, but this songs seem okay. The Hub thinks that the pulsating red hearts on all of the stage screens are morphing into Devil's Heads.

Immediately following, One Direction and Katherine McPhee (Season 5 Runner Up) take the stage. One Direction is a combo of spiky hair and black leather, and hipster. Kat has short, shaggy raggy hair, a black leather cropped mullet top and low-slung black pants. But despite the hair and horrible outfit, she still looks pretty. I'd say something snarky here about Smash, but I don't watch it. By know you know the kind of tasteless jokes I make, so feel free to insert one of your own.

And immediately following that, Keith Urban takes the stage. Once again, I am innocent of the Urban Oeuvre, so I can't compare this song to any of his other work, but it certainly seems engaging and competent, and I can see how, in a smoky bar and after a couple of beers, it would be a catchy ditty. Unlike all of the JLo performances on this show, this one was done live because we see a shot from the stage, showing all three judges rocking out.

Mariah holds up a #1 Keith Fan sign, and he gets a Standing O from the entire house.

So, finally, we're down to the purpose of the show. In no particular order, Ryan says that the following kids are safe:
1.Kree (glossy straight hair, lose red top with a black hem band, black pants, sparkly black heels)
2. Candice (holey jeans, red sleeveless top, khaki vest)
3. Janelle (messy ponytail, raggy jeans, sleeveless top)

Though we don't see it, Ryan makes sure to tell us that Kree slipped and fell in her exictement over Janelle's safitude.

4. Angie (denim hot pants, black sleeveless top trimmed with metallic studs around the neck and armholes)
5. Amber (odd brown print dress, shortie denim vest that fades from dark to light) (those two pieces do not match at all- it's not a pretty combo)

Of course, this leaves Burnell (brown splotchy leather jacket), Devin (black satin jacket over a red shirt), and Lazaro (white shirt with blue flowers printed on the shoulders, white suspenders holding up tight black jeans. Literally... the suspenders pull the waistband of Lazaro's pants up in a goofy way. Also, he's wearing a white belt, and a shiny gold bow tie).

Editorial Opinion: yes, these three deserve to be in the Bottom 3. They're definitely no match for any of the remaining women. However, it's not an accident that the men are so weak- the show deliberately engineered this, and I cannot respect it. A Candice or Kree win would be absolutely deserved, but it's also diminished because they're competing against ringers.

So, Burnell is safe.
And... Lazaro is safe. Yes, Lazaro needs to go home- he's the weakest of the singers. But he's also cute. And he has a great Struggle Against Adversity Backstory. His fanbase is strong, and he's not going anywhere until maybe 5th place or so, after one of the girls is sent home (and I have no illusions- one of those girls could be Candice or Kree).

And so, Devin is in the bottom. He sings one of his songs in his usual manner, half English, half Spanish, all unnecessary runs. I don't think the judges even deliberated, though Keith, Randy and Mariah all give him a Standing O.

Goodbye Devin. I'll miss your Tintin hair.

Thursday Tab- Whitman 1974 Pippi Longstocking

This wonderful cut set was shared by our great paperdoll friend Dottie!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 9 Performance

A city of innovators, of the American dream, of visionaries, is Detroit. Smokey Robinson and his baby-smooth forehead wax philosophical about the Motown Sound, which is tonight's theme.

Nicki is wearing a bright red sheath with short sleeves. Her black-rooted blonde hair has a side part and is softly waved. Mariah wearing the same shade of red. Her dress is right out of Mad Men, with a gathered skirt, cap sleeves and plunging neckline. Keith is in a brown tee that reads: Detroit VS. Everywhere. Randy is in a yellow tee and a gray cotton jacket. Ryan's pinstripe shirt has a white collar, and he's wearing a pewter suit with an eggplant tie and pocket square.

Smokey is in the house, so I'm sure we'll be checking back with him periodically. Mariah has a glittery, lighted, pink plastic magic wand (my granddaughter had one just like it 8 years ago- we're not talking Designer Wand here). She's using it to bless Ryan, and bonk Randy on the head. She grabs Ryan's arm and gives it a big hug. There is a big ol' grin on her face. Mariah may be just a teeny bit intoxicated.

#1. Candice- singing I Heard it Through the Grapevine
Smokey: ride the beat
JI: raise the bar
Candice is wearing a gold and brown sparkly blouson top, with black stretch pants and knee boots. Her hair is softly curled and her makeup is great. She starts out slow and bluesy but she's changing up the song a lot. Candice is good no matter what she does, and she's in tune and performing well, but I don't love this arrangement. However, sub-par Candice is still miles better than nearly everyone else.
K: great
N: great
R: one of the best voices of the competition (Randy Cliche #6)
M: babblebabblebabble

Since we're insisting on a two-hour show when no such thing is needed, we have lots of extra time that will be filled with some actual singing (which is better than some of the things they fill time with on this show). Kree and Janelle are going to countrify Madonna, which should be interesting. Janelle is wearing a sleeveless top  with a sparkly silver front and a white back. Kree is in a white jacket with huge asymmetrical lapels over a black top with a sparkly scalloped hem. The stage is filled with yellow smoke and they're singing Like a Prayer, joined midway by a very hip-looking-but-gospel-sounding choir. This is fine, though not in the least exciting or interesting. It is also not noticably country.
N: feels like Kree is a pro who flew in to sing with an Idol Contestant (Note: this is not a compliment to Janelle, who feels the sting. So does Kree, whose arm tightens around Janelle's shoulder)
R: Kree fine, Janelle pitchy
M: it was a sisterhood moment... babble... omigod, so much babble
K: considers them solo artists and won't critique a duo, but wishes they had used the stage a little more

#2. Lazaro- singing For Once in My Life
Smokey: do what you like
JI: having learned that making Lazaro cry only keeps him around longer, is faint in his praise
At first I think Lazaro is wearing a shiny gunmetal gray polished cotton suit. But when he steps into the light I see that it's a biker-style jacket. A biker-style jacket made of satin. And he's wearing it with brown leather pants, a light shirt, and a sparkly gold tie. The singing? Well... it's not good. It really and truly is time for Lazaro to go home.
R: there were pitch issues, but it was far better than last week (Note: also faint praise. No one wants Lazaro to cry)
M: echoes Randy, but thought it was a smart song choice
K: Smokey's advice was good
N: calls Lazaro Ricky Ricardo and gives a shout-out to Smokey

Before the commercial, an off-camera Mariah continues to talk over Ryan, who is trying to work up there. I think they eventually shut her mike off.

#3. Janelle- singing You Keep Me Hanging On
Smokey gives her specific advice for singing the song.
JI: echoes that advice
Janelle, wearing a white peasant top with loose balloon sleeves and what looks like Toreador pants with boots, is sitting on a stool. She's playing a guitar that is nearly as big as she is. This is a very unusual arrangement, it almost has a Latin flair. I like this, and I think it's Janelle's best performance to date.
M: at your finest
K: so much better as a solo act, brought out the angst in the song
N: some pitch issues
R: absolutely loved it, in it to win it (Randy Cliche #2)

#4. Devin- singing Tracks of My Tears
Smokey: his guitarist wrote that song
JI: slightly behind the beat
Smokey: that's okay as long as it's on purpose
Devin is wearing a red dinner jacket with black satin lapels over a black shirt with a white collar. He still has Tintin hair. Well, there's being artfully and purposely behind the beat, and then there's missing it entirely. Also some of the high notes. And many of the medium ones as well.
K: great style, but don't overthink it
N: look like a ripe banana, loved it
R: Devin is back, y'all (Randy Cliche #5)
M: loved it, flawless
Me: Huh? I thought it was almost a as bad as Lazaro's performance.

Our next group of Time Wasters is Amber (one-shoulder strapless dress with sparkly sunbursts), Candice (black sparkly top), Angie (sleeveless gold and black top and leather short-shorts.). They're singing I'm Gonna Make you Love Me, and none of them will own up to being the Diana of the group (though obviously, it's Candice). Amber sounds fine, Angie is still the proficient little Pageant Princess (and man, I wish she would shut her mouth once in awhile. I don't mean *shut up*, I mean physically and literally close her mouth. It never happens). These three girls can harmonize though, and the ending is great. Great enough to get Standing O's from Keith, Nicki, and Randy. Mariah stays seated, but says: Hashtag WOW, and A+ amazing. And some more babbley things.

#5: Burnell is singing My Cherie Amour
Smokey says Stevie Wonder was 14 when he recorded this song (Note; Wikipedia disagrees, putting him at 16 years old, which is still pretty darn impressive).
JI: tells Burnell to hold back a little
Burnell is wearing an ill-fitting all white suit with a golden medallion at the collar. His pronunciation is off on the first few lines, as though he was saying each word as individual syllables. It's weird and unpleasant. He's moving around a little more than usual, but still his arms are doing the heavy lifting, and he's missing easily half of the notes.
Keith gives him a Standing O.
N: reminded why she fell in love with Burnell in the first place
R: loves that Burnell is from Louisiana. Also the singing.
M: loves the suit and the modern flavor
K: so original that it's hard to critique.
Me, once again: Huh?

#6. Angie is singing Shop Around
Smokey: have fun with it
JI: don't over enunciate
Angie is wearing a blue dress that looks like it was cut from a surfer's wet suit. It has some odd front and side cut-outs that are filled in with black lace, and underneath that, she's wearing a very visible black bra. Her hair is slightly less big tonight but she still looks like Miley. Angie is prancing and stomping all around the stage, and no matter what she does, she looks like she's in a pageant. I don't love this the exact same amount that I do not love anything Angie does.
R: pitchy (Randy Cliche #1)
M: would have preferred Angie to be at the piano rather than clomping around the stage. (Note: this is the most coherent comment of the night from Mariah).
K: heard pitch issues, bad song choice
N: Angie tried to show a different side that didn't need to be shown

#7. Amber is singing Stevie Wonder's Lately
Smokey: do exactly what you just did
JI: doesn't know why Amber doesn't get more votes
Amber is tight black knit underdress and a white overdress that has been shredded in an interesting pattern. The whole thing is compressing her chest into an uncomfortable-looking lump though. Amber's hair is very pretty, and she's finally wearing pink lipstick. This performance is slightly more connected than usual, and the notes are spot on, but it's still Pageant. A pageant performance that gets a four-way Standing O.
M: tour de force. Tour. De. Force. Does anyone know what tour de force means? It means BLEEEEEEEEEP (and I think Mariah actually said *effing*) incredible
K: beautiful
N: Yay pink lipstick, but missing that eye twinkle
R: Best vocal of the night

For our final time-waster of the evening Burnell (brown velvet jacket, brown tie), Devin (black velvet jacket, white tie, red shoes), and Lazaro (black velvet jacket, red tie, red shoes) are going to sing Can't Help Myself, which they do, standing at their microphones.  Aieeee- these guys are missing notes and missing cues, and forgetting lines. During the few moments when they appear to remember what they're doing, it's incredibly dull. It's not even up to Karaoke standards.
N: bluntly tells them that it was bad, disaster Hollywood Week Bad, and that she's going to pretend that she didn't just hear that
Ryan gives the guys a chance to defend themselves, and Devin promptly throws the others under the bus by declaring that he learned HIS part, and that he tried to cover for others.

#8. Kree is singing Aretha Franklin's Don't Play That Song
Smokey: when someone sings an Aretha song and I think it's great, then it's great.
Kree is wearing a short silver jacket over black. Her hair and makeup are both lovely. I don't know this song at all, but this is a great performance: smooth and bluesy and spot on throughout. I'm nearly in GOOSIE territory. This is the best performance of the night.
R: not a perfect performance but the best (Note: yeah, makes no sense to me either)
M: babble babble Aretha babble
K: love
N: taking on the Queen and becoming one herself

My Top 3 (in this order): Kree, Janelle, Candice

My Bottom 3 (in this order, but not by a large margin): Lazaro, Devin, Burnell

By rights, Lazaro should go home. But he has a strong fan base, so it could be one of the other guys. Actually, I'm a little worried about Candice- her song choice was off just enough that voters might hesitate. We'll see tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The end of an era

Almost a full year ago, I started watching The X-Files from the beginning. I only watched the show on my Kindle, while walking the treadmill. Back when it all started, a season was 23 or 24 episodes, and there were nine full seasons, plus two theatrical movies. What with traveling, and illnesses here and there, and taking Sundays off, it took me the better part of a year to see them all, in order.

I suppose I should post a spoiler warning or two, but really, if you watched the show at all, you know what happened (and what didn't). And if you never watched the show, you will have clicked away by now.

Yesterday morning, I saw I Want to Believe, the last movie, and last X-Files project (for now, and probably forever). I saw the movie in the theater the day it opened. I was one of 4 people in the place, so I knew then that the franchise was doomed. Even so, I'm surprised at how sad I am to say goodbye, once again, to these characters.

Despite the fact that the last two seasons were downhill all the way, despite the fact that I never warmed to Annabeth Gish as the occasionally psychic investigator (though I liked Robert Patrick just fine as Dogget),  despite the fact that so many of the threads of the mytharc were dropped and never picked up again,

despite the fact that The Lone Gunmen were killed off in a particularly stupid (and useless) manner, I loved that show. Loved it.
And I am going to miss spending 43 sweaty minutes every morning with pretty pretty Mulder and beautiful beautiful Scully.

There were some clunker episodes (invisible elephants, Middle Eastern mystics who crawl up fat guys' butts, poor dead Samantha as starlight), but there were so many more good ones, and for several seasons, the show itself was pure genius.

These are My Top 10 Favorite X-Files Episodes Ever. How favorite are they? I didn't have to look up any of the episode titles, that's how favorite they are:

10. Rain King

9. Humbug

8.The Unnatural


6. Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

5. Jose Chung's From Outer Space

4. A Post Modern Prometheus

3. Bad Blood

2. Small Potatoes

1. X-Cops 

You'll note that most of these are Monster of the Week episodes- I never did care much about the mytharc (and therefore wasn't too upset when things weren't neatly wrapped up at the end).

I believed in these characters, I cared about their lives, and I rooted for Mulder and Scully to see, finally, that they were in love. I doubt I'll do this again, so it really is good-bye this time. Or maybe just farewell- since I want to believe that they're still out there somewhere, bickering, believing and not believing, and chasing aliens.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You're either going to love me, or you're going to hate me...

Check this out...

I used regular sized peanut butter cups and chopped them to sprinkle over the whole top. The finished fudge has a more caramel-like texture, so it's not exactly fudge. It is also not completely solid, so it needs to be refrigerated. But it's very very easy to make, and really rich, so you only need a small piece. Since I can't trust myself to eat just one small piece, most of it is destined for others.

Oh, and if I make it again (who am I kidding, I'm going to make it again... and again), I think I'll sprinkle just a bit of sea salt between the layers.

Anyway, you're welcome.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 9 Elimination

We open in a sound studio. Jimmy Iovine, a grown-ass man wearing a backwards hat, is at the sound board (I have no idea if that's the right name for the big panel with all the switches and dials) and Janelle is in the soundproof recording area. It's so soundproof that Jimmy can't hear Janelle sing or speak, so he gets all huffy with some AI sound staffer, threatening said staffer's job. Shut up Jimmy Iovine, and shut up even more, Jimmy Iovine's stupid backwards hat.

Keith is the Space Cowboy tonight, wearing a white tee with "some people call me Maurice" printed on it. Nicki totters in on very tall shoes, wearing a pink knit dress with a mesh yoke. Randy is in a gray jacket and red-framed glasses. Mariah is working the double sided tape in a low-cut black, strapless dress. Ryan is in a nice black suit with matching vest, a black tie with white polka dots, and a white pocket square.

JI recaps last night's show, taking some time to knock the judges for knocking him. He assesses the Top 9 thusly:
Kree is great, though she still oversings sometimes, but she deserves applause.
Burnell has a great tone, but it's the kids' job to know The Beatles (and music, in general).
Lazaro was the worst of the night and he had six full days to learn his song, just like everyone else.
Amber chose her own song, and belongs in the Top 3.
Candice is a natural and gave the best performance of the night.
Paul has a good voice but he's not ready for Prime Time.
Angie has talent but is too dramatic and needs to dial it back.
Devin has a great ear, and potential, but was in the middle of the pack last night.
Janelle made a great song choice and her restraint is explosive. She's JI's dark horse.

The kids come out and head to the benches. Ryan has Amber stand up (ratty, tattered, denim cut-offs which are so short that the front pockets hang below the ragged edges, a tee shirt, and a long loose shirt with a sparkly blue and gold plaid pattern.She also has curly hair and pink lipstick. Sartorially very busy is Amber tonight). Ryan shows assorted clips of Amber's disastrous dress rehearsal, where she sits on the steps and is nearly asphyxiated by the smoke machine. Ryan toys with her for a bit and then tells us that we're not getting any results yet.

The guys do a group sing of Got To Get You Into my Life, the Chicago cover version with lots of brass. I can't tell if the line of trumpet/trombone/sax players are actual band members, or dancers. The guys sound good together, though there isn't a lot of harmonizing. Ryan sends them all to sit down except Paul Jolley (black shirt and red jeans), who is informed that his hometown has declared a Paul Jolley day. Ryan gives him a big framed poster, and then tells Paul Jolley that he's in the Bottom 3. Cold, Seacrest. Cold.

SQUEEE! It's Casey Abrams sporting a Belushi Samauri ponytail, Modern Major General muttonchops, and hipster sweater. He and his band (well, I think they're his band) are singing a jazzed up version of I Saw Her Standing There. Casey plays his bass, and is every bit as entertaining as he was in his season. This is fun and light, and thoroughly musically competent. Randy and Keith give him a Standing O.

The girls Group Sing now, sitting on stools for a lovely version of Here, There and Everywhere. Each girl gets a nice solo (for the very first time, I hear what everyone else hears in Angie's voice), and the harmonies are lovely.

Ryan has Devin (black jacket over a royal blue tee) stand to hear that he's in the Bottom 3. Next Ryan calls Lazaro (red shirt, black vest, tight pants, worried expression) down, but the show is not about to name all 3 bottom dwellers this early in the episode. Lazaro deserves to go home after last night, but he was #4 in the ranking last week, and his voters stayed true. Lazaro is the first one named Safe.

We see last year's runner up, Jessica Sanchez's original audition, and frankly, it's not that good- she oversang terribly. Luckily for Jessica, she improved greatly over her season. Now she's modeling, and touring, and appearing on Glee, and doing concerts in Manila, and she's still gorgeous, with an infectious smile. She's going to perform her new single with NeYo. Jessica is wearing a silver crop top, low-slung white silk sweats, sparkly hi-top tennies, and very very long hair. Jessica is one teeny, tiny little person- if she weighs 90lbs, I will be very surprised. NeYo is in black and white. Their song is a generic dance tune, with nary a hint of the powerhouse voice that carried Jessica to second place last year. However, she has a newly-relaxed stage presence, and I've certainly heard far worse on this show. Keith, Nicki, and Randy give her a Standing O. Maybe Mariah's skirt is too tight for standing again.

So with eight minutes left, Ryan finally gets down to business. In no particular order, he names the following kids Safe:
Kree (black shirt and red jeans... just like Paul Jolley)
Candice (curly hair with raspberry streaks, black leather pants, a white jacket and very high heels)
Angie (oddly pieced denim mini-skirt and black top)
Janelle (black fringe vest over a loose white shirt and black skinny jeans)
and Burnelle (collarless denim jacket and glasses).

Which leaves Paul, Devin, and Amber for the Bottom 3. The judges (except for Mariah, who doesn't speak tonight) all say that Amber should not be in that position. Ryan quickly sends Devin and Amber over to the others, which leaves Paul Jolley at the bottom.

Paul Jolley sings Alone in his usual Paul Jolley manner, but there's no chance in hell that the judges will use their Save on him.

And, nope, they don't. So it's good-bye to wide-eyed, oversinging, not-in-the-least-country-no-matter-what-he-thinks Paul Jolley. I will miss your melodious syllables.

Next week: Motor City Music. How much you wanna bet that none of these kids even know what that is?

Thursday Tab- Saalfield 1961 Honeymoon

Another lovely set from our paper doll friend Dottie.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

AI Season 12-Top 9 Performance

So, it's Beatles Week, during which the kids traditionally take beloved songs they've never heard before, and mangle them beyond recognition.

Jimmy Iovine waxes poetic on the beauty of the music. We have only 9 singers and a full two hour show, so I suspect we'll have plenty of time for waxing tonight.

Keith is wearing a tee shirt with a mustang silhouette on it. I don't know if he's celebrating the car or the horse. Nicki is in a yellow spring peep dress (*peep* the candy, not *peepholes*), very long straight blonde hair with black roots, and nude lipstick. As they walk out, she totters on her very high heels, and Keith had to help her to her chair. Randy is in a black jacket with what looks like a huge pocket watch without works or face pinned to the breast, over a red tee shirt. Mariah is in a gold and black halter-top prom dress. Her face looks thinner this week, and her hair is very straight. She's wearing huge gold hoop earrings which are heavy enough to stretch her earlobes out. They look uncomfortable.

Ryan is in a black suit with a dark tie and a pink pocket square. His shirt is white with all-over cris-cross lines. it's not plaid exactly, but it's not stripes either. He looks dapper.

We get a 5 minute Coke commercial starring several versions of Carly Rae Jepson (who dresses like she's 15 when she's actually 27 or 28) who is this year's Audience Designer Singer for the finale- voters get to decide her new song's lyrics, the background music, Carly's clothes, and maybe even whether or not she'll be sacrificed right there on live TV. Call her, why dontcha?

Ryan reminds us that someone, somewhere, somehow voted to choose which also-ran will get to join the others for the concert tour. He calls out Aubrey (in a robin's egg blue halter dress with awkward bodice gathers) and Charlie (brown sparkly shirt), and then wastes no time saying that Aubrey got the nod. Charlie takes the news well. I have to say that I'm surprised- I thought maybe Charlie had a bigger fan base, and his performance last week should have sealed the deal. But the voters (whoever they are) opted for one more generically pretty girl with a nice-but-not-special voice, over the performer who is actually interesting. Oh well, I won't be going to the concert anyway, so it's not like I'll see either one in person.

We're going to be featuring little clips with the kids and their families, right on schedule for that kind of Background Info Dump.

#1. Kree looks a lot like her late mother. We get several reminders in case we forgot that Kree's parents have died.
JI: Kree is a natural,, and this should be great.
Kree is in all black, with just a little sparkle. Her hair is long and glossy and her makeup is just right. She's singing With A Little Help From My Friends. She's a tad shaky at the beginning, but by the mid-point, she has fully warmed to the task. I don't love this arrangement- it's draggy in spots, but Kree did an excellent job.
K: favorite Beatles' song of all time, everything cool about country
N: superstar
R: the bomb
M: fan-freaking-tastic

#2. Burnell lost weight and looks like an entirely different person. This is not necessarily an improvement. Burnell looks healthy, but he also no longer looks like a grown man. He now looks like a teenager. A dorky teenager.
JI: establishes that Burnell had never heard Let It Be before this week.
He's wearing a leather jacket comprised of assorted brown strips, some with buckles, some without, some buckled, some hanging open. Buckles and straps and strips everywhere, even on the sleeves. For a kid who'd never heard the song before, he's doing okay with it. There's no real connection as though, and as always, Burnell's feet are glued to the floor while his hands are in constant motion.
K: favorite Beatles' song of all time, recognizable tone and spirituality
N: likes the jacket and the caressed song
R: establishes again that Burnell has only a passing familiarity with The Beatles
M: worried, but Burnell pulled it off

#3. Amber's dad has a farm. Amber's dad stands and speaks with absolutely no expression on his face or in his voice. Amber has a very large blended family.
JI: cautions Amber about the last note, but thinks she'll murder the song.
Amber is wearing a pretty batik patterned sheath. Her hair is sleek and tied in back, and she's wearing rust lipstick. She's singing She's Leaving Home. It's a very unusual arrangement, but it's working. This is really pretty, and Amber hits that last worrisome note.
R: comments on Amber's modern family, says she started slow but did well, establishes that Amber had never heard the song before this week
M: didn't know the song either  (Me: sigh)
K: favorite Beatles' song of all time, Amber made a 46 year old song sound new
N: harps on the lipstick color

#4. Lazaro's family is loud. And Cuban. And proud.
JI: says Lazaro's song choice is ambitious and risky.
He's wearing a bright yellow jacket, very very tight jeans, and red shoes. His pompadour is even taller than usual. Lazaro is singing In My Life, and... whoa... he's holding his microphone way too close to his mouth. He looks panicky and he's barely hitting any of the notes. His breath control is terrible, and this performance is not even good karaoke.
M: praises Lazaro's perseverance, which is never a good thing
K: wrong key
N: feels like Lazaro's confidence is shot
R: worst performance, out of tune throughout
In the after-critique-interview, Ryan allows Lazaro to try to explain that his song, which he had never heard before, was chosen just a day or so ago.  Lazaro wipes tears away and Ryan finishes his words for him. It's all very hard to watch.

After the commercial, Ryan gives the judges a chance to backpedal, but mostly they stick to their guns. As hard as they are to hear, musical critiques are sort of the point of this silly show. And dammit, they have a Beatles night almost every season, so it would behoove the kids to search out some of the music before hand, and you know, listen to a little of it. It's not like The Beatles are unknown or anything.

#5. Candice grew up on a small island, and she has lots of sibs.
JI: tells Candice that the lyrics to Come Together don't make sense to anyone, and he tells us that Candice will kill the song.
Candice is wearing black on black patterned pants, a black tee, and a black leather vest with a white back. She still has the raspberry streaks in her hair. I kind of wish she'd chosen a different song (Here, There, and Everywhere, maybe) but she is rocking the ever lovin' shit out of this one. I will say it again: Candice is the only performer in the bunch.
K: loved this, loved the vibe, favorite Beatles' song of all time
N: insane vocal... but... wants MORE attitude
R: ca-razy, happy for the uptempo choice
M: sings like a prize fighter, has an amazing range

#6. I keep forgetting that Paul Jolley is still in this. Paul Jolley comes from a small town, and he grew up on a farm.
JI: enjoying watching Paul develop and thinks he's catching on, slowly.
Paul Jolley is wearing a dark eggplant jacket over a black and white print shirt. The black print sparkles. He's singing Eleanor Rigby, and whattya know? This is good. Not just Paul's best performance to date, but actually good.
N: likes the look but bluntly did not like the performance, called it safe, bland, and forgettable
R: disconnected
M: great song but...needs more emotion
K: didn't like the last falsetto note.
Me: whatever the judges heard (and hated), bypassed me entirely

#7. Angie was voted the Next American Idol in her high school. Color me surprised. She has a really sweet brother. Her mom picks up a very cute picture of Angie as a chubby toddler and calls her *fatty*. Any good feelings I might have had about Angie's mom just disappeared. Not that I did have any good feelings about her, but if I had, they'd be gone now.
JI: cautions against over performing
Even when Angie's hair is straight, it's still very big hair, and her mouth never closes entirely. She's wearing black leather skinny pants and a black leather vest with lattice front panels. She sings Yesterday, and whoa- this is pageant with a Capital P. It's worse than pageant, it's off key. Angie started too high, and her voice sounds thin and shrill. It's oversung and overblown from beginning to end.
R: stellar
M: respectful and simple
K: effort visible
N: bleep bleep bleep, started high
Me: man, whatever they heard this time (and loved), bypassed me entirely

#8. I didn't catch whether Devin is in ROTC or if he's actually attending a military school. Either way, he likes the order and precision of the military life. He has adorable younger siblings.
JI: says it's okay to alter a Beatles song if you do it right
Devin is wearing a black jacket over a plum tee, and leopard print shoes. He still has Tintin hair, and I wish he'd let it go back to his natural color- I don't think that strawberry blonde suits him at all. He's singing Long and Winding Road. It's Boy Band , and Devin is adding too many runs, but it's actually an okay arrangement for yet another kid who isn't connecting to the lyrics at all.
M: Devin never ceases to amaze
K: missing emotional connection
N: more bleeps- I think she made a joke about the pianist that came out *penis*- whatever it was, it tickled her
R: Devin is back!

#9. Janelle is also from a small town and has proud parents.
JI: says this subtle song needs perfect breath control
Janelle is wearing a long, white dress with a belt and an Egyptian-style yoke. Her hair is loosely braided, and she's wearing good makeup. She's putting a country spin on I Will, and it works. It's very sweet and pretty. I think this is Janelle's best performance.
K: favorite Beatles' song of all time (and then laughs at his own running joke), pure and true
N: calls Janelle a Swan Goddess (Me: Janelle responds by saying that she's a *Marshmaller*)
For some reason, I have nothing written for Randy's and Mariah's comments, but I seem to remember that they liked the performance too.

So, Tonight's Top 3: Candice, Paul Jolley, Janelle
Everyone else was fine/good except:
Tonight's 2 Worst: Angie and Lazaro

I would predict Lazaro hitting the road tomorrow night (he certainly deserves to go), but I think he has a pretty strong fan base, so I'm not taking bets (after all, he came in 4th last week, after a lackluster performance). It really could be any of them.

The Blahs...

Sorry I've been so quiet lately. I'm plotting a new fiction (not Tory... not yet anyway), so much of my brain is taken up with that. My current knitting project is a gift for a friend and I can't show it until it's done and delivered. I am working on another project as well, for a book proposal, but I can't talk specifics or show pics until I know if it's going to fly. And this winter is cold, and it's white, and it's going to last for the rest of our lives...

Thank goodness for American Idol and paper dolls, because otherwise, I'd have nothing to talk about that wasn't complaining.

So, to tide you (and maybe me) over, here are some pretty pics from the photo challenge. We're supposed to get snow again this weekend (some more. still.) but after that... maybe after that, it'll be Spring.

 Starts with L: taken at the Getty Villa, in Los Angeles  (this is one of my favorite photos of all time)

Want: Man, do I ever...

Green: very amateur lampwork beads

In the Style of Ansel Adams: 5 stone faces

Shoes: those particular vintage glitter heels are quite rare

Beacon: yes indeedy

Under: Mr. Bear hangs just like this, on the wall at our favorite local restaurant/bar. You can sit right underneath him.

Favorite: self-explanatory