Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still indulging in Idolatry

Nearing the last of my 6 hours at the PAL Ticketing Office in Cubao yesterday morning (I was there to pay for the cheap plane tickets I had booked online under their "Real Deal" promotion, which turned out to be a Real Pain in the Ass), my high school kabarkada Mishy showed up with her sister Pao to relieve Mishy's husband Kim, who also happened to be waiting in line. In exchange for letting them sneak in line by adding their transactions to mine (I was way ahead of them), they kindly gave me a ride back to the office (where I really didn't get that much work done).

As we were chatting, Mishy suddenly asked me why I don't watch American Idol anymore, to which I replied, I still do. I also expressed surprise that she presumed I had stopped indulging in my favorite TV guilty pleasure. Mishy laughed her Mishy laugh and said it's because I don't blog about it. And I realized that indeed, unlike in previous years (see this and this
and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this), I haven't posted a single AI-related blog entry this season. So I promised Mishy and my fellow Matt Giraud fangirl Pao that I would blog about AI, and this is me fulfilling that promise.

Season 8 of American Idol has run the usual course: glimpses of potential during auditions, slip-ups and meltdowns during Hollywood week, strange picks by the judges (Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle?? who were they kidding?), and surprisingly good and disappointingly bad performances from the semifinalists. Of course AI attempted to shake things up this year by 1) adding a 4th judge, songwriter Kara DioGuardi, an insufferable know-it-all who won't SHUT. THE. EFF. UP. and suffers from "pop culture dyslexia"; 2) bringing back the Wild Card round where the judges get to put their favored contestants through to the Top 12; 3) unexpectedly (unexpectedly, my foot!) turning the Top 12 into the Top 13; and 4) introducing the judges' save, granting them the power to rescue a finalist from elimination.

As with previous seasons, I had my early favorites: bespectacled widower Danny Gokey, big oil-rig man Michael Sarver, dueling pianist Matt Giraud, sultry, soulful redhead Jesse Langseth, Goth rocker/Broadway actor Adam Lambert, hilarious drama queen Nathaniel Marshall, visually impaired Scott McIntyre, and college kid Anoop "Noop Dawg" Desai, the only contestant in Idol history to casually throw around a big word like "impetus" on the otherwise low-IQ show. Of course not all of them delivered the goods and made it far, and in fact very few have made a significant impact on audience consciousness the same way past contestants like Fantasia Barrino, Bo Bice, and Chris Daughtry blew us away.

But while this batch of AI finalists may not be the most talented or the most popular, I do think that they're the most... NICE. There are no fragile egos or abrasive personalities (save for some sass c/o Lil Rounds), they all seem to really get along with each other, and I get the sense that they give the producers little grief in terms of behavior and work ethic. I suppose that also implies they're all a bit boring, but collectively they have enough charisma to still keep me interested.

This week AI is down to 5 finalists, so here's my take on the Top 5, in order of personal preference:

Matt Giraud - I've liked Matt G since his audition. I even remember texting someone, "I like the piano player. There's something really sexy about guys who look good in just a white shirt and jeans." I really dig Matt's faux-Timberlake vibe, from the hip wardrobe choices (he definitely gets my Best Dressed Finalist award) down to the erratic falsetto (note to Randy: please stop referring to a falsetto as "the false"). The only thing that bothers me is that strange... THING right smack in the middle of his forehead. I first thought it was an unfortunately located zit, but when it didn't go away a few weeks later, I concluded it must be some sort of... growth? Whatever it is, it's kinda distracting, but it still doesn't change my adoration of Matt. Nor did Simon's undeservedly scathing critique of Matt's rendition of The Fray's "You Found Me" (note to Cowell: The Fray IS current, duh).

Kris Allen - Kris is my second favorite of the lot, not only for the very obvious reason that he's so goshdarn cute, but for successfully pulling off what Jason Castro couldn't manage last season: simply sing, and well. I applaud Kris for choosing songs that aren't "screamers", and for not ruining them with too much melisma and Regine Velasquez shrieking. His style reminds me a bit of Jason Mraz, and during Disco Week his slowed-down, acoustic version of "She Works Hard for the Money" made me seriously reconsider switching from Team Matt to Team Kris.

Allison Iraheta - This funky-haired kid gets my Best Raw Talent award (and the recipient of the Randy Jackson I-Can't-Believe-You're-Only-Sixteen Award). I also think she is the most genuine teenage finalist AI has ever seen, genuine as in not "manufactured" by a stage mom a la McPhee, or cloyingly precocious (and has a famous grandma) like Paris Bennett,
or Star Search-ed like David Archuleta and Lisa Tucker. Allison is modest, goofy, and occasionally unintentionally funny, topped off with just the right amount of awkwardness. Plus, I agree with Mishy that she projects a confidence onstage befitting a veteran performer, and certainly rare in teens. And I agree with Paula (anyone else notice how much more sense she's making this season? they must be putting less moonshine in her Coca-Cola cup) that Allison has one of the most distinct voices in the competition.

Danny Gokey - Danny reminds me of Martin Nievera. Not so much looks-wise (he's more Robert Downey Jr. mixed with a little Brendan Fraser), but more of the built and the overall aura. And the way they sing. I can so imagine Danny belting out "Be My Lady" or crooning "Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin", haha. I liked Danny early on in the season, but his grieving widower back story got old real fast. And am I the only one who wishes his best friend Jamar Rogers had made it into the Top 13 too? That dude had flair.

Adam Lambert - And then there's Adam. Oh Adam. I dub thee Glambert, for thine banshee wail maketh me wince, as does thine flamboyant stage presence. I admit he has the most polished and pitch-perfect vocals among the Top 5, but the judges keep pimping him so much, I stop focusing on his voice and instead start harboring a sense of injustice on behalf of the other finalists. I get turned off when something-- no matter how good-- is force-fed to me, so Adam Lambert is like the carrots my mom makes me finish during dinner. I actually like carrots, but let me choose to eat them on my own, and not by the heaping spoonfuls either. Glambert is truly talented, will probably win the whole thing, and seems like quite a nice guy (though the phrase "magpakatotoo ka sister!" pops into my head whenever I see him), but I think he only deserves about half the praise the judges keep heaping on him (Season 4's Constantine Maroulis got flak for being "too Broadway", when Glambert is even more so). If it really comes down to what is an increasingly apparent Adam vs Danny finale, I'd rather root for the Gokey.


At Thursday, April 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing how the judges seem to change the criteria from year to year. I also remember them blasting Constantine as being too Broadway.. "too much on performance, this is a singing contest" were their words. Like... duh.. At least Constantine had a pleasing voice. Glambert has a screachy type of voice. Not for me.

At Friday, May 01, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how the Idol judges mocked Constantine for being too Broadway in his performances. Especially now that Mr. Maroulis is receiving rave reviews for the role of Drew that he has originated in the super hit musical "Rock of Ages" on Broadway. Constantine set the groundwork so that artists like Adam Lambert could succeed on American Idol.

At Monday, May 04, 2009, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

I'm loving all the Maroulis love! =D

I was so crushed (see old blog post here: when Constantine got cut from Idol back in Season 4. I guess that's why I resent Glambert so. But I admit the guy's mad talented, more so than Constantine. I just wish the judges and producers wouldn't be so damn obvious in pimping him.


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