Life as an Extreme Sport

American Idol, Week 2 – 70s Night, Top Ten Girls

Oh, my browsing around the internet this morning while I waited for this episode to download have already confirmed my fears that the women and 70s songs were going to be a very, very bad mix. If I wasn’t still dealing with Flu 2.0 w/strep throat upgrade, I’d probably wait until a little later in the day and accompany the viewing with alcohol. Or at least, the pseudo-alcohol pomegranate Bacardi Silver mojito malt beverage currently in my fridge. What? It was midterms and late night studying and the sort of decision you make after being awake too long – the same one where the ideal food seemed to be peanut butter M&Ms and salt & vinegar pringles. Oh yes, the rest of the students are right there with me (and a good handful of the software industry peeps, too).

Millions of families watching – interesting emphasis Ryan placed there on families, eh? And the little animated person they have walking out on the runway always creeps me out – from the back it looks like Simon, but Paula when we switch to the front.

All the guys are in the dogpound tonight, Ryan looks way dressed down and here are the ladies! Randy has bright purple size 13.5 shoes and…why do we care? Aaw, Simon looks like a teddybear tonight. Okay, song selection and how do you pick ’em – interesting explanation on how you should pick a song (take into account what speed you’re accustomed to singing at, melody, etc). And Simon (Mr. Happy? oiy, let’s not pursue that thought) reiterates that when someone does well, it makes everyone around them miserable.

Alright, let’s gird our ears and get to it.

Carly Smithson – oh right. Interesting things America doesn’t know about me week continues. As if having the flu again wasn’t torture enough. She owns the tattoo bar with her husband, but she actually works at the Irish bar around the corner, pouring Guinness. Oh dear, hello stereotype! And a scarf, bound to irritate whichever of you was bitching about that with David Cook last night. She’s singing Heart, and not Alone, which in and of itself is a nice break. She’s singing Crazy On You, and doing a surprisingly good job – she’s definitely feeling better than she was last week; she’s hitting the notes she couldn’t last week, and in a few points actually sounds like she could be a Wilson. However, girlfriend needs a bra. Or better one. She also needs to utilize the stage a bit more, and tap into the performativity thing; just standing there isn’t going to cut it in the long run.

Still, I’ll give her an A- – definitely one of the best vocals this competition.

Randy says she picked a rocker song this week, and it was good towards the end for him, but it was pitchy and sharp in the beginning. The lower notes appear to give her more problems than the big notes. Paula says it’s nice to see she’s healthy, she’s an amazing singer, and it’s obvious she loves heart. (Carly jumps in singing this song on AI has always been a dream.) Simon notes she’s panting, but it was a much better choice than last week. Simon thinks she’s an incredible singer, but she’s yet to pick the right song, and she’s the girl to beat, but she has to find that one song to get that one moment.

Ryan bounds on stage – asks why this was a better song for Carly to Simon. Simon says last week was too cabaret, too old-fashioned, and this was one where she just seemed more comfortable. She reiterates her dream of wanting to perform this on AI. Yeah yeah can we move along now?

(Anyone else find it interesting that the people who closed out last week opened the show this week?)

Syesha Mercado – So I guess we’re supposed to be surprised that Syesha does a lot of commercial work in Miami, and is an actress. And she apparently does a good baby cry? Uhm, that was kind of creepy…

She’s singing Me and Mr. Jones, which I’ve been partial to since forever, but she’s a bit sharp and not hitting her high notes. The big notes are fine – I think Randy really had something there, saying that the big notes are easier because they can be belted out, but sometimes the lower (or, I’d argue in this case, high) notes are softer and thus harder. She’s just having trouble chasing the melody – or as Paula might say, she’s not quite in the pocket.

C+. Let’s see if the judges and I heard the same thing. Randy’s focusing on her pre-performance clip, which is never a good thing. He focuses on her big belting voice, too, and says she can’t hit the small notes on the verse and she needs to pick the big voice songs (what I just said). Paula says she goes off pitch on the softer notes, but she likes the interpretation. And Simon says it was a bit indulgent, not written for a girl and therefore silly to do (the audience boos and Simon gives them an exasperated thank you) and he was put off the minute she started, and it wasn’t a song designed for her voice. He doesn’t feel it was a clever choice.

Ryan’s up, and asks about changing the arrangement. She doesn’t know why, she just made it her own, and talk about an uninteresting response. Ryan drops that line immediately and goes to the numbers.

Brooke White – Brooke went to beauty skill, which I’ll admit is kind of surprising. It might actually be the first sort of surprising thing we’ve heard, over both nights. She changed directions, though, and is a beauty school dropout. *snerk* At least she put it in quotes.

She’s on stage strumming a guitar, and it’s just her and guitar singing one of my favourite songs, You’re So Vain. As I was saying to some folks earlier, I’ve been listening to John Barrowman’s version of this song pretty continuously, and was sort of bracing myself to hear someone else sing it, since his is about the near perfect cover, as far as I’m concerned.

This arrangement is pretty good – the band came in at the chorus, her voice is nice and warm, she’s getting the notes, and has a great stage presence. She really does remind me of an alterna-chick in the making, and I do think I’d buy her album. The song ends, and the first thing you hear is Simon, not realizing his mic is actually on, saying “I didn’t like the way she was looking at me during that song” and Paula cracks up.

I’ll give Miss Brooke an A, I liked that quite a bit.

But what do the judges think? Randy’s smiling, and says it was a great song choice for her. Goes for the Carly Simon vibe. And Randy asks, since she was looking at the judges table a lot, maybe the song was being sung to someone, another guy, not him, and then points at Simon who cracks up, and Paula mentions what Simon says. Paula thought it was a perfect song choice, and really liked what she did with it. She didn’t change it up much, but that’s not necessarily needed. Randy needles Simon some more, and Simon reassures her – he absolutely loved it. It was the perfect song for her, a rare occasion where the artist chose the song, it connected with her and the audience, and it was contemporary and just well done.

Ryan comes onto the stage, puts his arm around Brooke and said “that’s probably because you think this song was about you” and Brooke joins him singsonging “don’t you don’t you”. Simon says he’ll be honest, he did. Ryan: “when you are that vain and you hear a song about being vain you still like the fact that it’s a song about… *big gesture at Simon*” Really, I’m not sure Brooke could have set up a better song for 5 minutes of needling Simon, and he plays along with it brilliantly. Apparently she was debating about using the guitar, and was close to losing it – Simon shouts from a quiet mic that it was a brilliant choice, which Randy cosigns.

Feel sorry for Ramiele, having to follow that.

Ramiele Malubay – We’re up in the Coke Room, and get our second look at the Bride of Frankenstein and AUIGH. Ramiele was apparently genuinely sad to see people go – apparently one of the people kicked off was her roomie, and Colton was part of their tight crew. Apparently Ramiele does Polynesian dancing since she was a wee one, and she says, maybe if she does a fast song, she’ll dance on stage. Heh.

She comes out doing Don’t Leave Me This Way. Interesting choice, and very slow at the beginning. It sounds a bit breathy – I think she’s another one that needs to stay with the big songs. The minute she gets to the chorus she does a lot better. She ends with an R&B take on the song which isn’t bad, but honestly, I found myself wandering during the performance.


Randy thought it was a bit rough for him, just okay for him vocally. It was his favourite time of music, and it just wasn’t a good song choice for him… aaand she starts tearing up at the critique, and it’s very gentle critique, so oh dear. Paula thinks she has a lovely voice, but…agrees with Randy. It was a bad song choice. Simon says, rather astonishingly, he agrees with Paula. He’s heard it so many times; last week she was much better, with more personality and she stood out. He names her one of the top three singers in the competition (so, Michael, Carly and Ramiele), but it was a boring and unforgettable song.

Ryan comes on stage and tells Randy to take note, they won’t be hearing that at the wedding this spring and Simon does a full on spittake into his cup and… Simon’s getting married? Randy makes a comment about it being ghastly, and Ryan assures him yes, yes, it will definitely be a ghastly event. Waitaminute, I’m still stuck here on Simon getting married. This warrants pausing the show and hitting Google.

Hrm. Apparently he’s promising to leave his money to his dogs (seems he really does love animals, what a teddy bear), thinks Britney Spears is manipulating the public (shocker), but no, nothing about a spring wedding. In fact, just more of the same – he’s not interested in marriage, nor does he want children, fullstop, and she does, and when she gets to the point in her career where she decided to have kids, she fully intends to leave him to find someone to marry and give her babies. So now I’m just plain confused, damn those judges and their friendship!

Okay, right, back to the show now. Apparently Ramiele had a hard time picking songs this week, and was flipping around between four of them. Guessing she should have gone with one of the other three, then. Apparently she picked two ballads, and two fast ones, but was afraid people would start calling her Ramiele Lulabye. Suddenly the judges table launches into Ryan being “Righton Ryan” and so clever, and…there’s obviously something going on there that we’ve not been privvy to.

Kristy Lee Cook – Apparently the American Idol website contains Randy Jackson translations, which, I don’t believe but am yet still tempted to check. Yeah, alas, no clear “Decode Randy” link. Kristy Lee thinks we’d be surprised to know she’s a tomboy. Really, a horse trainer likes to be outside and likes outdoorsy things? And according to her, she does outdoors things that you see guys doing, but most girls don’t… like ride horses, camp, and fish. And any last shred of respect I had for her is officially gone.

She’s singing You’re No Good and oh, the minute the backup singers leave us, it goes wrong, and bad, and hurts me. It’s slow, too too slow, and low. And bad. And then the next verse, she looks like she’s about to fall over from the heels, the camera angle makes her pants look entirely too large, and I can’t figure out what went wrong vocally on that verse, except “everything”. Oh, man. That was bad. Really, really bad. F for FATALITY.

Randy says it was a 100% improvement over last week, which… also wouldn’t be hard. Better song choice, which yeah. Paula said it’s nice that she’s healthy, and it was good song choice. Simon can’t remember what she sang last week, which means it didn’t work, and he agrees with the rest that it was better. He is concerned, however, that he doesn’t know how to label her yet, and suggests she try the country root. I suggest maybe the judges get their ears checked.

Ryan comes on stage, and they note she was on a lot of drugs last week and wasn’t really even aware of what the judges were saying. She agrees with being a country girl and country singer, and if she’s hear next week she’ll prove it… with all those country 80s songs? Uh, yeah.

Bride of FrankensteAmanda Overmyer – *cry* She’s scaring me this week with her everythingstyle. So most of us know she rides a Harley and is a nurse, but people don’t really know she’s a bookworm. She likes biographies, and said people can never be overeducated. So, good for her. I’ll give her props for that.

She’s doing Carry On My Wayward Son, which is another favoured song. And… I don’t know how I feel about a rock version of this. …which isn’t a worry, apparently. She started out doing a rock bit on the chorus, but ditches it for the verse and… oh dear. Tune issues. She’s fine on the chorus, but I think her schtick just got old this week, and the concern that she’s not going to do anything well but rock is valid. C-.

Randy laughs that “oh crap” laugh, and says it wasn’t the right song choice, there was too much melody for a blues girl (aha, that’s it – she needs to go for more blues and rock songs). Paula complements the dancing, and again, not talking about the vocals. Paula says she knows Amanda is concerned about not doing too much Janis or whatever, but she needs to do what feels right, and this was the wrong song choice. Simon says her film was very natural and very cool, and then everything on stage felt very contrived, from the hair to the moves to the clothes, and the ugly song, and it was just too thought out. Paula says she’s really beautiful without all the extra makeup and hairstyle, and Randy says she needs to stay with blues rock. And I agree with both of them – I actually found myself thinking, several times, that she’s actually really pretty when she drops the horror queen act.

Alaina Whitaker – is singing Hopelessly Devoted to You, and since she’s 10 or something (okay, fine, 17), it seems appropriate. We come back to the Coke Room in the middle of the girls harassing Ryan, and I’m really interested to know what was going on there. What’s strange about Alaina, America? SHE’S A ROMULAN! Oh, come on – surely I’m not the only person out there who remembers that Star Trek novel that told us the way you could tell a Romulan from humans, when they were surgically altered to be spies, is that Romulans don’t like any of the different foods on their plate to touch, and they each their foods in order – all the peas before chicken and etc? I’m the only one who remembers this? Seriously? And you call yourself geeks. (I shouldn’t needle her, I had that problem when I was a teen, too.)

Oh dear, she hit an ugly note right out. And a second one. This seems like it’s half an octave too low for her, which is a weird choice. When she gets to the big vocals part, she goes up that half octave, and it’s much better. Might also be better because she can belt, rather than sing softly.

Good song choice in the age appropriateness, but pitch problems – solid C. See, I agree with Joe R on this one – if you’re going to do this song after Kristin Chenoweth took it to the networks, you’d better be damned good.

Randy likes the song, but thought it was the wrong song, and it was so pitchy and sharp. Paula thinks it was a good song choice, and goes for age appropriate, and thinks Randy didn’t get it. Simon starts off saying he likes Alaina, but thinks the problem is her grandmother set up the audition, from the dress to the song and hair. It was too pageanty for him, but on a positive note, she’s growing on him and he thinks she’s a dark horse. But she needs to get relevant, and quickly.

Ryan comes on stage and they’re talking about fashion, and Ryan? Oh dear, sets himself up. He starts by saying Randy’s good with the female fashion, and Randy goes incredibly effeminate for about 30 seconds to say it’s a cute dress, and then turns uber-masculine in his posture. You can hear Simon ask, with his mic off, “what do you think” to Ryan, and after reading off the numbers, Ryan, hand on his chin, tells Simon he’s just not good at that. The judges table loses it, and I’m pretty sure they all called him a liar in some form, with Simon saying “oh yes, yes you are, no this is something you know a lot about” and you can hear Randy saying something about “we saw you on the red carpet Ryan” and Ryan corrects himself to say he doesn’t know a lot about women’s fashions, blue dresses and heels are not his thing and Simon says “now that’s not exactly true, is it” and yeah, Ryan just set that entire thing up, poor dear. We cut to commercial with the judges still cracking up at Ryan’s expense.

Alexandrea Lushington – Ryan’s still struggling with Alexandrea’s name, and what we don’t know about her is that she was the poster child for the Atlanta fire department for many moons. She apparently sang at Ground Zero, blahblahpityvotescakes.

She’s singing Chicago, If You Leave Me Now, and my initial response is “she’s massacring it!”… but, it sort of grows on me for about two seconds as she does this neat R&B thing, and then… it goes bad. It goes really bad. In fact, it goes worse than bad, it goes to the forgettable karaoke place. Good idea, bad implementation. C-.

Randy wants to know why she looks relieved that she’d done singing, and Randy, if you have to ask, you really do need to get your ears checked, dawg. He asks her what she thought, and she says “it’s over.” Randy says that was funny, but his problem is that it was a really safe choice for her, and she should always challenge herself. Paula thought she did her own arrangement and made it her own, and if Paula’s never heard a female take on the song, I suggest Paula get out more. The judges do like her, though. Simon says he was a big fan in the early stages, but he thinks she’s struggling, and that the song is stuck in it’s time period. She was inconsistent in the song, she was out of tune, she didn’t look comfortable – Simon does note, however, that she looks terrific (which she does).

Ryan comes out and asks questions, and she immediately counters the judges by saying she knows the song was right for her and she felt comfortable, and she tries to take the judges commentary and apply it, and girl? No. She’s obviously sad, and Ryan obviously melts all sad for her.

Kady Malloy – is it bad that I start humming the bitch is back at her name? What don’t we know about Kady? She can sing opera! She thinks you can hear the opera in anything she sings… I haven’t heard her sing enough to say. And then she slams Simon, saying when he finds out she sings opera he’ll probably just roll his eyes, and then she mimics him and does and absolutely horrible impression of him, and darlin? One, Il Divo. Two, you do realize that this is playing before your performance, and you just utterly pissed him off, which isn’t the best frame of mind to take into judging you?

See, my problem with Kady is simple. She’s confused her ability to mimic singers like Britney and Shakira and other pop stars with giving her the right to have the attitude that belongs to a pop star diva – which she isn’t. So the attitude she’s sporting, rather than perhaps being an understandable if ugly side effect of money, talent, and fame, is simply ugly.

She’s singing, oh who cares. It sounds awful. I have no idea what it is, actually, that’s how unidentifiable it is. Oh christ, it’s another Heart song, and is going to prove, handily, that Heart is not a guarantee of a good performance. This wants to be Magic Man. It’s not. It’s just bad. For someone who can mimic singers, maybe she could have tried to mimic one of the Wilsons? Off key, out of tune, behind and ahead of but never with the music, going from pitchy to shouting… oiy. It’s every example of what not to do.

Do you know what we spell failure with? That’s right, an F!

Cut to the judges, who don’t look happy, and Randy asks if she loves the song. She says yes, and I get the feeling this is a setup for bad. Randy said there were interesting song choices going on, he loves that song and he loves Heart, he says that it never found the pitch, never found the notes. It did not work. The audience tries to boo, but can’t even get behind it. Paula says when she powered through it, she did fine, but the low notes were…not good. Paula isn’t sure she’s found a defining as artist song, and yeah, definitely not. Simon says he’s struggling as much as she is, and is very frustrated – says everything she does on film is fantastic, the opera was very good. He says he’s never heard the song, it sounded like she was mimicing Christina, it went nowhere.

Ryan comes out, wants to know why she’s working on tape and not stage. Simon’s not sure, and says it makes it hard to give her constructive advice. Paula interjects with saying let herself be. Ryan asks if she overanalyzes, and she says no, she was just having fun. And man, does this girl pull some ugly faces. And some advice to Ryan – the judges want her to ditch the mimicing Britney, so don’t ask her to mimic Britney, kay? Mixed signals, dear – the same ones you were bitching about earlier.

Asia’h Epperson – what don’t we know about Asia’h? She was a cheerleader! But at least she grants that we probably won’t be surprised by this. She seems to suggest it’s great prep for American Idol, and she ends up slamming some of the more mellow girls – which I think was unintentional.

She’s closing us out with All By Myself, which is actually a big song if you think about it. And like the others, she’s having a hard time with the lower register, going very badly off key on a couple of the notes. Oh dear, and she biffs it bigly the first time she tries the “all by myself” – goes for a high note she can’t hit, and just cuts out. When she powers through it two repetitions later, it’s much better, but the next repetition is shouty. The cut to the dawgpound shows that David Hernandez is actually has an “aick!” face on. C-.

Randy says it was a difficult song to sing, especially after Celine did it, and says it was the most difficult, and she did a good job with it – especially since she’s apparently the sick one this week. Paula noted the problems with the low notes, but the ending sold it. Simon says it’s one of the diva songs of all time, and you have to be a heck of a singer to pull it off, and she’s not – she’s almost there, but she’s not that good a singer, and the song is bigger than her and it showed her up.

Ryan comes out and asks if she doesn’t take a risk, then she’ll get hit for that too. Simon fires back no, no, you have to know your limitations (which, true), and then smacks Ryan down with “something you’ve managed to do very well with your career, Ryan.” Cutting back to Ryan, Asia’h’s got this “boy got SERVED” look hilariously combined with a “can I leave the stage???” worry, and Ryan’s got his finger planted firmly on the biggest grin. Randy tries to break it up, and Ryan doesn’t play that, saying at the end of his career, Simon’s shown the same. Heh.

Top Three: Carly, Brooke, Syesha (in retrospect)
Bottom Three: Kristy Lee, Amanda, Kady
Top 6: Carly, Brooke, Syesha, Asia’h, Ramiele, Alexandrea
Should Go Home: Kristy Lee, Kady
Will Go Home: Amanda, Kady