Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mandisa gets the (cowboy) boot

"American Idol" viewers, repent! The church of Mandisa has lost its charismatic preacher. This season's bold, big-voiced, big-everything diva is headed home, one night after underwhelming with a version of Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine."

Call it this season's Jennifer Hudson moment, in honor of the vocally gifted Season 3 contestant who was kicked off fairly early while other, less-gifted potential Idols remained. No matter how good a singer has been, they're history if they a) have an off week, and/or b) don't have the built-up fan base to reliably vote for them. Mandisa qualified in both categories, it appears, even though Simon once called her this year's best female vocalist and no one questioned her tremendous pipes.

After Ryan Seacrest announced the 29-year-old Tennessean had been kicked off - Elliott, who has also earned heaps of praise for his skillful singing, received the week's second-lowest number of votes - the crowd reacted with stunned silence ... then booing, then clapping, then a standing ovation. It probably wasn't the way Mandisa wanted to go, or the way she deserved to go. But if it had to happen, at least she left with the crowd showing her the respect she had earned. "I thank you and I bless you in the name of Jesus," she said. Amen to that, sister.

Now, on to a disturbing trend I've been stewing about for weeks. Far be it for me to wax on about a concept as silly as upholding the sanctity of "American Idol," but like most viewers, I think, I watch "Idol" to see the contestants perform, and the show has kept me hooked by generally sticking to its very successful script. So I resent that this season has been partially turned into a showcase for 1970s pop stars who serve as singing coaches and then use the Wednesday results show to perform and hawk their new albums (a la Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Kenny Rogers). Don't get me wrong, all three are talented musicians who have been far superior to most of the toothless guest judges the show used to bring in, but their presence comes with a price. Clearly, being allowed to perform and promote their new work is their reward for coaching the contestants, part of some deal the producers have cut. Isn't the show about hearing the unknowns sing, though? And, for that matter, seeing them perform the cheesy, coordinated song-and-dance routines that have long been an "Idol" staple? I miss those. After all, don't we see enough commercials during the breaks?

Speaking of, the theme next week is "the music of Queen." The quirky, campy, seemingly hard-to-sing, harmony-and guitar-loaded music of Queen. Who picks these themes? Didn't anyone see Constantine take on "Bohemian Rhapsody" last year? Oh, goodness me. But, hey - it could be decent. It's not exactly Manilow, after all, and many of the band's songs have held up well ...

Now, a few asides.

Taylor's inner monologue as Seacrest separated the contestants into three groups of three - one of which would be the bottom:
"Hmm, ok, so I wasn't all that great last night, and I'm standing here at the near side of the stage by myself. Mandisa and Elliott are in the middle. Paris joins them. Ace goes over to the far side. Wait, Seacrest is telling Kellie to join me here! YES! Chris, too? Score! There's no way I'm going home."

Yeah, right: "Here we have Taylor, Kellie and Chris potentially in the bottom three tonight," Seacrest said - right before sending the wildly popular trio back to safety.


Maggpi said...

I like my fiance's idea.... have every Top 12 singer sing every week, tally the votes up, and then have a 3-hour blow-out on the finale night where the singer with the most TOTAL votes for the 12 weeks wins. They can do the 12...11...10...9... etc thing and have it get more and more suspenseful. Then, the singers wouldn't have to worry about the bad week. They are ALL going to have one sooner or later. the more I think about that idea, the better I like it.

Anyway, as for tonight... Mandisa going home wasn't a surprise to me, at least. Hate to see her go, but at least it's not Taylor, Kellie, or Katherine.

And I don't care what anyone sez, I adore Kellie. She's adorable and fresh.