April 2004 Archives

Top 6: Results!

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Got to see this one live. Yay!

Okay, for posterity, the bottom three this week were Jasmine, George, John, the bottom two were George and John, and at the end of the night, the redhead finally went home. Yay!

I'm not sure whether I'm happier about the fact that we won't have to listen to John anymore, or the fact that this will presumably put an end to all the the-sky-is-falling-and-Idol-is-dead stories. (You'd think Nikki and Josh never existed...) Good times.

Top 6: Performances

Okay, I'm going to belatedly make the obvious observation: shows devoted to the songs of a single performer are a bad idea. With shows devoted to entire genres, like country or disco or '60s, performers have a decent chance of finding something that fits their abilities. Songs of a single performer work to the extent that that performer and a given contestant have the same vocal strengths... and considering that famous performers often become famous performers because they have distinctive or extraordinary vocal skills, that can be problematic.

Which brings us to tonight, where, rather than opting for "Latin night," they went with "Gloria Estefan songs" as the theme. Only two performers came close to pulling it off, I think. Two weren't good, but didn't have me clawing my ears off. And then there were the other two.

In order of performance, for a change:

Fantasia ("Get on Your Feet") was Fantasia, and this time not in a way I can grudgingly admire. Everything I dislike about her voice was right out there, and the performance was flat. This totally wasn't her style. (And is she trying to ride the backlash bandwagon with all the Jennifer shoutouts, or am I being way too cynical?)

George, "Live for Lovin' You." Oy. I wonder, wonder, wonder why we had to go through this. I can't say I blame him for getting stuck with this, but that was awful.

LaToya, "Rhythm is Gonna Get You." Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Very distracting lighting, though... if you're going to be building up somebody's dancing abilities, it might be nice if the viewers at home were able to see it.

John, "Music of My Heart." I'll give him this much; it was a better song choice than George's. That's about all I can give him, though.

Jasmine, "Here We Are." Good choice, so-so performance. Started out well, then got increasingly shaky, with a really bad patch in the middle.

Diana, "Turn the Beat Around." Surprisingly enough, best performance of the night. Granted, it's not the most terribly demanding song in any respect but rhythm, but, still, it was a good choice, she sang it solidly, and she seemed in the performance.

My vote would've gone to Diana. The rest of the rankings would be LaToya, Fantasia, Jasmine, George, John.

Who should go: John.

Who will go: Oh, who the hell knows. [wry smile]

Pool Thread

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Okay, so rather than running straight home after class, I went out for drinks with some of my classmates, so I've just gotten back. The usual entry to follow, probably later tonight, but possibly tomorrow, depending on when I fall asleep. In the meantime, here's a place to put predictions.

Postscript

I've gotta say, the more I think about the way they did the results show this past time around, the more I like it. Given what they had to work with, it's hard to see how they could have packaged it better (aside from not running out of time a few notes into Jennifer's final song). The whole mystery group thing was perfectly executed, having George be the last person placed was a great tactical decision, Ryan's earnest little speech to the viewers looked good onscreen... and, hey, props to Simon for pointing out that Diana and Jasmine hadn't done badly this past time around.

Given that the results show has traditionally consisted of killing time until the last few minutes, and that it had gotten formulaic over the past few seasons, it's something of an achievement that they actually made this one into good television. Well, after the group number, anyway...

That said, I'm still looking forward to the one in which John Stevens gets voted off. Might not be as dramatic, but it'll still be an enjoyable show.

Top 7: Results

Is Barry Manilow trying to ride American Idol back to the pop charts? And are the producers hoping to make "Let Freedom Ring" this year's "God Bless the U.S.A."? And was his performing a condition of his being on the show in the first place? I begin to wonder...

I do kinda like the fact that they're shaking up the results presentation, presumably because it had gotten predictable. Based on Fantasia and Diana's placements, I'm guessing "Group A" is safe, while "Group B" is on the chopping block.

And John is in Group B with Diana and Jasmine, so I'll just take that as being confirmed.

And why would George be nervous? By definition, whichever group he joins has four members, and is perforce safe, no? Not that he looked especially nervous; that's just what Ryan said, perhaps by way of misdirection. Plus I suppose there's a chance he'd be in the Bottom Four, just to shake things up further. There's the other advantage of their tinkering with the formula; all things become possible.

...no, okay, he clearly had been nervous, but that last bit still applies.

And, oh, my. Group A is on bottom. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Jennifer, LaToya, Fantasia.

And LaToya is safe!

(Y'know, if Jennifer goes, perhaps not the worst thing. She wasn't gonna win anyway, and it'd help concentrate the really-good-black-female-singer vote on the better two in that demographic, giving them a better chance against everybody else. And the glut in that demographic does help a bit to explain these results.)

And this is the closest vote ever? Considering that Clay vs. Ruben was a fraction of a percent, that's saying something.

*whew!*

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad Fantasia is safe. She deserves to advance further. And this is sure as hell gonna mobilize the troops for both her and LaToya.

Wow.

(As an aside, for those in the pool, we now have a five-way tie with two points apiece, with most of the points still in the air pending future results.)

Top 7: Performances

I got to vote this week! See, yesterday was a legal holiday here (Patriot's Day, a day for the running of the Boston Marathon and celebrating the fact that, once upon a time, Massachusetts was where all the action was), and today was on a Monday schedule at school, and I don't have any classes on Mondays. So while I was shuttling between the laudromat and the school library during the show itself, I got back in time to watch the tape before the voting period ended.

So, a Barry Manilow show without anybody attempting "Copacabana." Probably a good decision; I love it to bits, and it's probably my signature song at karaoke, but that just illustrates the point -- this isn't karaoke, and it's too cheesy for the show.

To get a few more random notes out of the way: what was up with the audio? I'm guessing they'll fix this for the West Coast airing, but over here, the sound came several seconds after the video until Manlow made his entrance (at which point there was a slight hiccup as the sound skipped ahead). I'm guessing there was some sort of snafu with the five-second delay. And what happened to Paula's arm? Did I miss an explanation somewhere? And what's with Fantasia's family being shown during her song?

Anyway. I've gotta give Barry props for his abilities as a vocal coach: until the key change, John Stevens was having his best performance of the competition. Then it went downhill, of course, and even at his best, he wasn't doing as well as the other performers. (And it took me a moment to see what Simon meant by saying he looked like Stan Laurel... and then I almost spewed Diet Pepsi all over my computer keyboard.) George and Diana came in just ahead of him, I thought; then Jasmine; then Jennifer. This is, in fact, the second week in which I've heard Jennifer's performance and thought that I probably ought to hedge my bets in the pool and put her at #1 one week, just in case, rather than putting all my chips on LaToya.

And then, once again, I heard LaToya and Fantasia and that thought evaporated, because she's just not in their league. It's becoming increasingly hard not to see them as the eventual top two. (Although one would be remiss if one failed to note that the first American Idol was also expected to be a battle of the divas, namely Kelly vs. Tamyra.) Fantasia was Fantasia, and she's actually growing on me. And LaToya got my vote.

Who should go this week: John.
Who will go this week: I'm gonna go with John.

(I like this week's Zap2It recap, by the way.)

The Inevitable Pool Thread

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I'm settling down to watch my tape now; report to follow. In the meantime, here's the thread for this week's pool predictions. Good luck!

Top 8: Results

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For some unknown reason, my tape of the results show turned out to be blank. My second VCR is a bit on the flaky side, alas. All I know at this point is that Jon-Peter Lewis got the axe, based on the graphics at the bottom of the Zap2It guide. Can't say I expected that one, but I won't say it isn't welcome.

Also, the Apprentice finale started at 9, not 8, so the ratings fallout presumably wasn't nearly as bad as I'd thought.

...ah, here's the recap. Diana was at the top of the Bottom Three; the other two were John and Jon. And Jon's gone.

And next week is Barry Manilow Week?! Oh, my.

(For anyone keeping track, only one pool entry predicted JPL's exit this week, that being mine from the Top 11 week.)

Top 8: Performances

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Partly through class last night -- which at this point in the semester isn't so much "class" as "lab time with access to the instructor" -- I realized that I was pretty sure I'd forgotten to turn my VCR off, so this week's performances wouldn't be recorded. After dithering for a bit, I did the only reasonable thing; I ran home to take care of that, arriving there with about ten minutes to spare. At which point I discovered that it was properly set after all. But at least I could return to school with a clear conscience, which I did.

Anyway, this was the one week above all others in which there's absolutely no excuse for a bad song choice; "movie music" covers so much territory that there's something for absolutely every genre and vocal range. And, sure enough, this was enough to abolish the spectre of last week's Elton John fiasco.

That said, George's performance of "Against All Odds" was kinda weak; he just might end up in the Bottom Three, especially as John and Jon made really smart song choices this time around. (JPL's "Jailhouse Rock" was a perfect choice. It requires very little vocal ability, sure, but that's why it was perfect.) Diana did not screw up "My Heart Will Go On," which, it should be granted, is a major achievement; that song is tough. Unfortunately, that's also all that can be said for her performance; she didn't bring anything else to the song. Jasmine was okay, Jennifer was pretty good, LaToya was my favorite, and Fantasia was Fantasia. Which is to say that she probably had the best performance of the evening, but only if you like that sort of thing.

And, like every other guest judge in the history of the show, Tarantino had nothing useful to say. Unlike any other guest judge in the history of the show, he was entertaining. I guess one out of two ain't bad.

Who Should Go This Week: Tough call. Probably Jasmine.

Who Will Go This Week: Almost certainly not Jasmine, as the Hawaiians are certain to rally around her. Also not LaToya or Fantasia. I'm not prepared to rule anybody else as being safe this time around.

The last entry seems to be the de facto pool one this week; I'll be posting my predictions in a comment there shortly.

Also: tonight, it's the American Idol extended results show vs. Survivor vs. the first hour of the Apprentice finale. I daresay this is going to be the lowest-rated Idol episode in ages. (For my part, I might not be home. I may get around to hooking up my old antenna to my second VCR, but, more likely, I'm just gonna go with taping The Apprentice and reading the Idol recap.)

Top 8 Delayed

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So I just sat down to watch the tape.

First reaction: "Press conference"? Oh, no. Don't tell me the show was delayed till 9 PM and I didn't get it...

Second reaction: Oh, they're putting it on tomorrow instead. Whew!

Third reaction: Wait. So when's the results show? It better not be up against The Apprentice... Hmm. And this week's the first new episode of Friends in ages. Probably against Will and Grace, though. Okay, I can live with that.

After checking the news: Okay, it's up against both those sitcoms, but I can always tape one while watching the other anyway. No big deal.

[Edited to say: no, Trump's show is two hours this week. Definitely taping the Idol results, then.]

Okay, carry on...

Top 9

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It's Thursday going on Friday, and I've finally watched the tape of this week's episode. As I type this, I have not yet checked out the results online (due to a VCR snafu, I didn't tape the results show this time), but, honestly, if I weren't totally committed to this show, this might've been enough to put me off watching it ever again. That was just dreadful.

Okay, bottom of the pack this week were the usual suspects: John Stevens was totally the worst, followed by JPL, followed by Camile, followed by Diana. Jasmine was almost good, but had some really bad notes in there. Fantasia was Fantasia. And George, LaToya, and Jennifer weren't bad at all. (And, for the first time, I'm willing to grant that George has an outside shot at the top spot.)

Who should go... umm, that is, who should have gone: John.
Who I think probably did: Y'know, I'm inclined to stick with the prediction I made in the pool this week, based on the recap: Diana. Although I'd love to find out it was a member of the Terrible Three.

And now off to read the results show recap...

...hmm. Well, Diana did come in third-to-last... but Camile went home. Well, it's long past time.

Finally, one more procedural pool thing: the original rules had an 8 PM EST cutoff point. I've addressed this via e-mail to a couple of you, but for the record, I'm totally ignoring this. I know and trust all the participants, so, you're on your honor. As long as you honestly haven't heard a word about the results, go ahead and vote after that.

Pool Predictions!

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I haven't watched the tape of tonight's episode yet, and I'm not sure I'll be doing so before I go to sleep, so figured I oughta go ahead and post this now. Post your pool entry as a comment to this; I'll be doing so myself once I see this week's performances.

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