Friday, May 06, 2005

Be Nice to the Substitute...

Since Gail has gone back to Canadia for a while, there to await her visa, she and I won't be watching the last few weeks of American Idol together. Gail has been blogging our reluctant foray into the world of Fox programming, through last week when she reported on the "Vote for the Worst" theory. Since Fox is not broadcast freely in British Columbia (and gosh, doesn't it sound better every day) it falls to me to tape the remaining episodes and file our reports.

We did manage to watch this week's episode together while Gail packed for her trip. Since the number of contestants is dwindling, there was time in Tuesday's show for each to do two songs, with a verse or two snipped from each. The two given themes were "Lieber and Stoller", picking songs from the five-decade songbook of that rock 'n roll songwriting duo; and "This Week’s Top 40 Hits", allowing any song currently on any of the current Billboard charts.


Anthony got the show off to a dull, colorless start with his L&S pick, "Poison Ivy". My impression was that he took a playful, fun song and sung it in the same cheesy, boy-band delivery that he struggles each week to perfect. He was wearing his glasses again this week, so he no doubt saw clearly the bored looks on the judges' faces.

Scott was up next with "On Broadway", which suited the booming alto of his voice, and with most appropriate lyrics; he defiantly pointed to Simon as he sang "...oh, but they're wrong - I know they are!" Scott actually delivered a credibly good performance of the song and had the crowd's approval.

Vonzell seems to gain confidence in her voice every week, and it is a great instrument; powerful and brassy. She turned it to the Elvis classic "Treat Me Nice", and gosh, why wouldn't you? Vonzell is just so darn nice herself. Simon was the only one in the room who wasn't impressed, and was loudly booed for saying so.

As he must always be titled, Rocker Bo was up next with "Stand By Me". It's been sung by better singers, but Bo showed that he can sing melodically when he tries. He was relaxed and largely on-key, connected with the audience - and left the mike stand on the floor, to the delight of the stagehand who has to wax it every week.

Carrie tried to stir up some "Trouble", another Elvis classic; but it just doesn't play, somehow. She can growl, furrow her little eyebrows and kick the mike stand over - sorry, stagehand - but she's still just a nice little blonde girl, although certainly one with a clear, dazzling voice. Carrie can't get in any trouble at this point, and the judges agree.


Anthony sang some crappy Backstreet Boys song, without their harmonies and with the emotional depth of an Earl Scheib paintjob. Gail and I discussed the merits of our reheated Indian meal and waited patiently, with the audience, for the next act.

Scott proved that even with your eyes closed, he is still in fact a Caucasian. He took a swing at Brian McKnight's "Every Time You Go Away", but stumbled through the quicker hip-hop riffs. Randy says he pulled it off, but Randy is wrong.

Vonzell took "When You Tell Me That You Love Me", recorded by the American Idol kids as a group effort, and presented it as a powerful solo piece. The crowd was cheering loudly, we thought it was good, but Simon shook his head and declared her "vulnerable". (I don't think he really likes music, necessarily.)

Bo... sorry, Rocker Bo sang "How Far Is Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys, delivered in the southern-fried growl that comes so easily to him. Even Simon admits that it was a professional effort, saying that Bo made the others look like amateurs.

Carrie stayed in her safe place with "Broken Road", from the Country charts; I don't know whose song it is, but I've heard it, it's a male artist. Carrie sung it flawlessly, with the commercially-perfect level of country twang, but palpably lacking in emotion. Simon hit the nail on the head, acknowledging that it was beautiful if a little "robotic".


Brickable Ryan Seacrest tried his best to stretch 15 seconds' worth of drama into a 22-minute show, but no one (except Scott) was fooled when he sent the lowest two scorers to the couch and left the top three on stage. So Vonzell, Bo and Carrie stood up, and Anthony and Scott sat down on the couch. Gail and I have been raging at the screen for long weeks, pleading for the removal of Anthony and Scott, respectively; so one of us was about to be rewarded.

And this week, it was me - brutish, inarticulate, alleged domestic-abuser Scott Savol was finally shown the door. I'll admit, he has a fine singing voice; but I never could reconcile the rich, warm music that comes out of him with the mumbling ghettospeak and the prison scowl. I don't know if the beauty of his singing is something he merely parrots, or is really hidden beneath all the urban-Ohio trash talk; but in any case, he's all gone now. With any luck, the wardrobe people are sewing a target onto Anthony Federov's pastel shirt for next week, and Gail will get her wish.