American Idol tearjerker as forced as it is touching: And what's up with Randy'sJordin Sparks diss?
And we’re off! American Idol finishes its second week on a more encouraging note, but with room for improvement, as always:
• Steven Tyler continues to demand attention, in a good way. He’s still delivering wacky zingers (“I found you to be disturbingly great”), but watch him closely during an audition: He listens with an intensity and unbridled enthusiasm that only a true music appreciator can muster. And isn’t that what the show is all about — celebrating the impact of music?
• The new judging panel is turning up the heat, episode by episode. They’re sharpening their judgment (Jennifer Lopez finally learned how to say no to contestants that aren’t shockingly bad) and proving that they’re thinking more insightfully about what makes contestants soar on the show, above and beyond talent. When their judging skills catch up with their energy, it’s going to be a good day for Idol. Bring it.
• I’ve seen my fair share of crazy audition costumes on American Idol, but giant toothbrush for the win. It was also just a matter of time before a Civil War reenactor made an appearance on Idol — with a strange Hippie/sex reference to boot. Jennifer’s “Oh no” reaction to him as he walked into the room was oh so perfect.
• Ryan Seacrest held a women’s leg while she suffered through a charley horse. Let’s talk about this, people.
• Naima Adedapo, who works as a janitor of sorts for the Summerfest amphitheater, carried herself like a star with her rich, expertly controlled cover of Donny Hathaway’s “For All We Know.” Jennifer points out that Naima’s the whole package — but it’s really her combination of voice and drive that puts her over the edge.
•Harvard grad and White House intern Molly DeWolf Swenson delivered a deep, smoky rendition of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Her tone is beautiful, and it takes skill and confidence to kick off the song in such a low key. I loved Steven’s succinct assessment of the way she infused just the right amount of personality into her performance: “You got attitude and you know where to put it.”
• Scott Dangerfield unsuspectingly pulled out a bluesy, soulful cover of “Dreamin’” by Amos Lee, topped off by a delicious falsetto. Jennifer declares him her favorite so far — he might be mine, too — saying “he felt the music in his body.”
• Suspicion confirmed: Idol literally attributed the age reduction to Bieber Fever, or in other words, to the search for the next tween star. But it’s actually been more promising than it sounds, as almost all of the 15-year-olds we’ve seen so far have had powerful and controlled natural-born talent (like Thia Megia, who I’m not yet completely sold on, but who might be the 15-year-old Nigel Lythgoe’s been talking up for awhile.)
• Nothing against nerds — see my Scott Dangerfield reference above — but auditor Steve Beghun should have walked out empty-handed after his unenthused cover of The Script’s “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.” Was it the novelty of a decent voice coming out of his physique (as Randy put it — it’s “the ‘unassuming’ season”) that pushed him through? And if so, didn’t we get over that, like, eight years ago when Clay Aiken opened his mouth?
• It was all kinds of awkward when Vernika Patterson, who covered “Loving You,” accused the judges of not allowing her through because of her weight, and Randy proceeded to point out the curvier Idol winners pictured on the backdrop. I foresee Randy receiving hate mail from a legion of Jordin Sparks fans today.
But in all seriousness, it’s true that appearance plays a role on Idol but I like to think the show’s record is a mostly positive one in this regard, seeing as the winners span from Ruben Studdard to Taylor Hicks to Fantasia Barrino. You can’t fit any of them in a box.
• There’s no denying the beautiful selflessness of Chris Medina’s story — how refreshing to see a man living out the vows he hasn’t even given — but the execution of the audition felt a smidge uncomfortable. Maybe it was the way they wheeled out his disabled fiancée, who didn’t quite understand what was going on. Or maybe it was just that the situation is so awfully tragic that it naturally makes you feel a little squeamish.
I think for me, though, it was the simple fact that Chris didn’t blow me away with his good but not brilliant take on The Script’s “Break Even.” I’m holding out hope for him in Hollywood, but for now, the whole thing feels more like a compelling back story that’s supported by talent — when I firmly believe it should be the other way around.
Quote of the Night
• “Wow, are those Tevas?”
-Steven Tyler — entirely serious — to self-proclaimed “radio guy” Joe Repka, who, indeed, appeared to be sporting Tevas.