March 2004 Archives

Top 10: Results

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Rats.

I'm not entirely surprised; there's a logjam of good female performers at this point, and no particular perception of clear and present danger for any of them, which is one reason why I didn't even try to predict what would happen this week (aside from the pool). Still... I was hoping Amy would stick around longer.

For anyone who missed the show -- and, you know, posterity -- Amy got voted out. Jennifer was her company in the Bottom Two, and LaToya joined them in the Bottom Three. An interesting set of results... I have a newfound respect for Camile's fanbase, not to mention that of John Stevens. We might have to lose a few more of the good ones before their fans consolidate enough to start forcing out the bad ones.

Still, I repeat: Rats.

Make Your Pool Predictions!

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You know the drill... rank everybody from projected American Idol down to the person who's gonna be voted out this week. My own best guess to follow in a comment in a little while.

Top 10: Performances

Class discussions zipped along this week, so we got done a half-hour early for a change, rather than several minutes late... which meant that I was able to get home in time to watch the tape and vote.

And, in a way, I almost wish that hadn't been the case, because given the way I vote, that meant I had to do something I really, really didn't want to do: I had to vote for Fantasia. Because as much as I don't care for her as a singer, and as much as I don't want her to win, her performance was the best of the week, and that's my criterion for voting. She sang "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" well, she put her own stamp on it, she worked the stage... she was on.

Also good this week: George, Jasmine, Jennifer, Diana, Amy. (With reference to Diana, I did find myself wondering why the camera cut away to the audience at "I can mash potatoes / I can do the twist," as it seemed relevant to know whether she could, in fact, do those two dances. And, good grief, Simon's right: there is something Leno-ish about Amy, and I never would have noticed it.) LaToya was okay, but it wasn't her best performance. (Again, ya gotta watch out for the ballads.)

I do finally get the whole John Peter Lewis squee factor. He was okay. Cute. Kinda like Clay, just without the talent. Camile was pitchy, as usual. And John Stevens... the horror. He was so out of his depth.

Otherwise... for the past two weeks, I've been forgetting to mention how nice it is that they got rid of the guest judges this season, and now they're back! What have we done to deserve this?

Who should go this week: John Stevens.
Who will go this week: I have no clue.

Top 11: Results

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I spent most of today with "Sin Wagon" running through my head. In hindsight, I changed my mind about what I said last night; I think Amy had the best performance of the week, period.

I think Kim Locke is swell and all, but I'm not so taken with this song.

Getting on to the results... how clueless are these contestants, anyway?

We've had more than two seasons to learn the ropes. It's a given that of the last two people whose results Ryan reports in a given week, one will be in the bottom three, and the other will be safe. It's an inflexible rule; if it weren't the case, the results would be obvious before he even got to the bottom two, which would be intolerable. So as soon as Camile got sent to the bottom three with three people remaining, it was an absolute given that the next person would be going on for another week. (On the other hand, if Camile had somehow made it, it would have been a given that the next person was bound for the bottom three.) Why, then, Jennifer's look of shock and surprise at the glad tidings once Ryan came out and said it? I mean, duh.

Camile, at least, seemed to have no illusions at all, knowing that she was going home. And I'm typing this paragraph before my tape has gotten to the final results, I'm that sure.

...and I'm wrong. Whoa. Matt is gone. I did not see that one coming.

...neither did anybody else in my pool (there are four of us, about which more anon), for that matter.

Huh.

Oh, for the record, Diana was third-to-last this week. Not terribly surprising, given that those she's most in direct competition with did better this week, although I would have been shocked if she'd actually been sent home.

Rules Example Restated

I've been told that the example I gave in the "Pool Rules" entry made the system harder to understand rather than easier. An attempt to explain it better follows.

Place Your Pool Predictions!

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Okay, people. Time for the first week of the Shmuel's Soapbox American Idol pool. Place this week's predictions now, either in a comment to this thread, or by e-mailing me. The deadline is 8 PM EST Wednesday, or 5 PM PST. Full rules here.

(My own predictions to follow shortly in a comment to this.)

Top 11: Performances

I checked the TV schedule before going to class today, so I taped the whole two-hour show this week. Go me!

Anyway, they saved the best two performances for last this week, as LaToya and Amy were head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. A bit of a tough call between the two, because while LaToya unquestionably had the best overall performance, Amy's performance best exemplified the alleged country theme. (Indeed, it was one of the very few performances tonight that actually sounded like a country performance, although I should grant that LaToya was one of the others. But most of the singers took songs by country performers, and made 'em sound like other genres.) That said, because the show ran for two hours and I was able to fast-forward through the commercials and line-dancing, I actually got to vote this week, and I gave mine to LaToya.

Otherwise... I said last time that Diana could be a contender for the top spot "if she can keep this up"; as I halfway expected, she couldn't this week, although she did have one impressive note at the end. George was too laidback this week. In general, laidback performances are dangerous on this show; if you can't inject some personality and style into them, they come across as boring. Fantasia was Fantasia, but this time going the subdued route, perhaps to make a point, and almost certainly taking it too far, even hypercorrecting "often" to "off-ten." Perhaps that's why she snapped afterwards? After all, nothing screams class like an angry woman screaming "you don't know class!" [wry smile] People, you don't want to argue with the judges; it's not going to make you look better.

John demonstrated the good kind of laidback, I think, in what may have been his best performance yet. He brought a bit of the old ring-a-ding-ding to it, and he's totally safe for another week. Camile was shaky again, and isn't much longer for this competition. Jennifer definitely bounced back this week, turning in a pretty decent performance, at least until the last few notes. But, again, arguing with Simon is not a smart move. Jon was okay, but a bit pitchy, and a bit too generic. Also, I can't quite decide whether he reminds me more of a Monkee or the Hobbit Idol, just with better teeth.

Jasmine picked a great song, but her performance totally wasn't up to it. "Breathe" demands a passionate energy, which she didn't bring tonight. (I think she tried to talk back to Simon also, but, fortunately for her, the background music drowned her out. Was it something in the air tonight?) Methinks one of the Hawaiians is going home this week; the only question is whether it'll be her or Camile. Matt wasn't bad, but may have been a bit too controlled, especially towards the end. On the other hand, he serves as tonight's best example of how to deal with Simon's criticism. And that brings us back to LaToya and Amy. Thank goodness for LaToya and Amy.

A bit more on the Top 12

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Through the magic of my broadband Internet connection (thank you, Comcast!), I was able to see the second half of the Top 12 show after all. Granted, it was several days late, and I was not an unbiased viewer (looming throughout Leah's performance, for example, was the knowledge that she was the one kicked off the island this week). Also, it was a high-quality file with a fancy new video codec, and my Pentium II was struggling to keep up, so the sound and video were a bit out of sync. With that said, it was well worth the download, and I do have a few more reactions:

For the first time, I have an idea of what it is people see in George. I liked his performance this week; it was dynamic, had good vocal tone, and so on. I have mixed feelings about what he did to this particular song, though; I like "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" quite a bit, and it isn't supposed to be vibrant and punchy. In fact, I suspect this is one of the performances Simon had in mind when he complained about oversinging. On the other hand, if he'd done a more faithful rendition, it wouldn't have been a good song choice for Idol. All told, it was a bit of a perversion, but it worked, which is what matters, I suppose. (Then again, I like the Nicki French dance version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," so I probably have no right to say a word about this.)

Jennifer was okay (I had forgotten that she was in the bottom three until checking it just now, but it doesn't surprise me); Leah was slightly less so. As for John S., I found myself agreeing with both Randy and Simon. On the one hand, he's been picking boring, sleep-inducing songs. This week's was okay, but too subdued. On the other hand, he's different, and I like having him in the show, at least partly in the hope that his performances will pick up. I'm thinking he'll be around awhile longer. I'm not quite sure what his demographic is, but I'm pretty certain he doesn't have much competition for it, while the Hot Girl Who Can Sing Well vote has got to be split several ways.

Speaking of which, Jasmine was pretty good, and Diana was really good (although I was looking forward to her performance after reading the recaps and may well have been biased). The latter probably would have gotten my vote had I been watching this live, and she just might be a contender for the top spot, if she can keep this up. Which is, to be sure, a big "if."

Incidentally, I hope the reason that I haven't heard from anybody about my pool (except the one person I already knew was interested) is that you're all too busy plotting out scenarios and getting ready to make your picks. Because if nobody else is interested in playing along, I'll be very sad. And you don't want that happening, do you?

Pool Rules

Thus far, an entire one person has indicated any interest in joining an American Idol pool if I were to start one, but that's good enough for me.

Top 12: Performances and Results

Okay, so I've gotten over it. Mostly I was upset because this has been a tough week, and I'd finally gotten done with everything, and had really been looking forward to watching the tape at the end of the road. Plus I was a bit upset with myself, as I probably should have known to check the schedule at the start of the week. (Granted, the fact that I'd been stressed and busy was likely one reason why it didn't occur to me to to do so.) Oh, well. I'll know for the rest of the season.

I'm thinking of starting a pool of my own, strictly for fun, starting either next week or the one after it. I have an idea of how I'd run it (it'd involve making predictions every week, and long-term and short-term picks would both play a role), but I need to do some math and see if the method I'm thinking of would make any sense. More details to follow, if I go through with this. If you might be interested in being a part of it, maybe leave a comment or drop me a line, just so I'll know I should bother. There'd be no point if I were the only one playing.

Anyway. As expected, I saw the first six performances before the tape ran out. Before going on in my usual curmudeonly way, I should say that what I saw has allayed my concern that this season wasn't going to be very good. I'm glad we're getting down to the better performers, I'm glad they're stepping up their game, and I'm starting to get enthusiastic about this show again.

Now that we've gotten the warm fuzzies out of the way... rather to my surprise, I was underwhelmed by LaToya's performance. This might have been due in part to the fact that I'd had high hopes for her going into this, but I wasn't even close to being blown away this time around. It made me wonder if I was seeing the same performance as the judges.

If the six I saw had been the only ones in the running, and I were voting, I'd have had to have gone with Matt. Good song choice, enthusiastic performance (if occasionally straying from singing to talking), and the only singer to have me dancing in my seat. Amy wasn't bad, Jon Peter sounded too pitchy to me (and what the heck was the point of that portrait?), Camile was the worst of the six, and Fantasia was Fantasia.

This I foretell: Fantasia will make it at least to the top four, but she will not win. She's certainly good enough to make it that far, and there are enough people who like that sort of voice to allow that to happen. But there are also enough people who really don't like that sort of voice -- myself included -- to keep her from the top spot. She'll probably get a record deal anyway. Speaking of which, K-Lo's album is due in a couple of months. I'm looking forward to it.

(On the other hand, note that the last time I used the phrase "This I foretell" with regard to American Idol, I was predicting that last season's Top 3, from Idol to second runner-up, would be Clay, Ruben, K-Lo. So feel free to take this with a grain of salt.)

...okay, I've now read the recaps. I'm sorry I missed Diana's performance; it looks like it was a good one. And I think I'm gonna skip straight to reading the results online, given that I'm missing that part of the show anyway...

(Ooh, Clay was on. Guess I'll have to watch that tape after all.)

Okay, Leah went home, which tallied with what just about everybody on the Foxes On Idol panel had to say about her performance. Jennifer and Amy were the others in the bottom three. Amy's the only one I saw of those, so I can't really say much otherwise, except that I kinda forgot to take the Hawaii hometown vote into account with regard to Camile. (And I suppose some viewers may be hoping to see more footage of her in that bikini if she stays around...)

Top 12: Prologue

[long string of expletives deleted]

As mentioned in the main journal, I had a lot of stuff due at school this week, so I spent most of yesterday and today hard at work on it. I had to wait until after tonight's class to watch my tape of the Top 12 performances, followed by the results show. Or so went the theory.

So I got my Quark homework done today, went to class, got home, rewound the tape in the VCR, got my scorecard ready, and settled back to watch last night's American Idol with great anticipation. Especially as I'd been invited to join a pool to predict the results for the season, contingent on my making my choices before I watched the results show.

And then, within the first few seconds of watching the tape, I discovered that last night's episode was two hours long, rather than the usual one hour. And since I don't have a TiVo, and my VCR does not automatically adjust itself every time the [expletives deleted] at Fox decide to change the schedule, this means that I got only the first hour of it.

I am pissed.

...and belatedly checking the TV schedule now, it seems that I'm also missing half of tonight's result show. Which is a lesser concern, but still.

This will probably be followed by a report on what I do get to see (after I calm down and watch what I have), but I almost wonder whether it'll be worth the bother.

Wildcard Round

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(Spring break this week, but I was working this evening. I arrived home just in time to catch the first performance, after the preliminary bit in which the twelve contenders were winnowed down to eight. I'll probably watch the tape of the first half hour before I post this.)

Yawn.

Nobody really belongs in the Top 12 this week. In fact, I rather wish we could save everybody the trouble and scale back to the first season's Top 10, and even that would be dragging things out...

Suzy was probably the best of the bunch; "I Will Survive" has been so overdone that it's hard not to have it sound like karaoke, but she did manage to put her own mark on it. Matthew and Jennifer would be the runners-up, by narrow margins. Still not feeling the George love at all, although it seems likely I'll be stuck with him anyway. I don't understand Leah's approach to style (clothing, not music). I liked Katie a lot in the first round, but, alas, her performance was flat this time.

There doesn't seem to be anything else to say, except that I'm looking forward to seeing the non-contenders get voted out over the next several weeks.

(Okay, have watched the tape of the prelims. Don't much care for this year's wildcard format, but what the heck, they tinker with it every year. Also, have voted for Suzy.)

Round 1, Week 4: Results

Eh. I have nothing substantial to say about this. Two more people go through on the basis of flawed performances that left the door open for further improvement... which was almost inevitable, with the only question being the names. I'm just glad George didn't advance, although he gets another chance next week.

(But not Briana. [sniff] I didn't really expect them to bring her back, but I was hoping they'd surprise me.)

Round 1, Week 4

Ack! My tape cut out just before the end! ...fortunately, it was just after the final performance, so all I missed was half of Paula's reaction to the final singer, and whatever Simon had to say. (Fortunately, as I was almost done writing this entry, the recap went up. But I skimmed straight to Simon's reaction, not wanting to be otherwise influenced by it until I posted this.)

Anyway... this was not a great group. Probably the second-worst out of the four, and, once again, I don't think there were any standout performances. Tiara's rendition of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" could have been one, but, as Randy pointed out, the arrangement in the middle was seriously messed up, as she tried to cram too much into a short excerpt. Still, were I able to vote, she'd probably get mine; when she was good, she was better than anybody else in this group, and she can fix the arrangement problem down the line.

Second place would probably go to Suzy, whose performance of "Unbreak My Heart" was good. Although, as Simon pointed out, not memorable. Which doesn't say much for the rest of the list...

I'd give third place to John S., whose rendition of "She's Always a Woman" was soporific, but it was still a nice lullaby.

I suspect Lisa gets the award for bad song choice this week. She's cute, she has personality... but I got the impression that "Come to My Window" was out of her range. Oh, well.

Jasmine -- ironically singing "Run To You" -- had waaay too many runs. I'm with Randy; she's got potential, but she ain't there yet.

At the bottom of my rankings, you've got Heather (dynamic, but neither a good song choice, nor good singing... as an aside, Randy's comment about her seeming like a hotel singer was so Simon; the judges are clearly rubbing off on one another), John P., and George. I don't know what the judges like about George; I thought his performance was painful.

But that's just my opinion. I make no predictions at all this week; these groups of eight are always hard to call, and this is especially the case in a week when nobody was notably good.

Uncut, Uncensored, and Untalented

...actually, the title of this episode was at least partly inaccurate on all of those counts, but never mind that. This was mildly entertaining, and "Army Girl" actually wasn't bad -- in general, the live performances got progressively worse as the night went along -- but the appeal of William "She Bangs" Hung continues to utterly elude me. What on earth do people see in him? (It certainly can't be anything they're hearing in his performances.)

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