Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Brandon: back to backup

For a show regularly derided as middle-of-the-road and white bread - which it is, although not as much as non-viewers think - Wednesday's "American Idol" elimination program sure did end with a triumph of dizzy weirdness.

OK, perhaps "triumph" isn't exactly the right word, considering Sanjaya "Is Love" Malakar lives to see one more "Idol" week, while Brandon "Forgot His Lyrics" Rogers got the hook. It's like watching the Cleveland Browns play the Arizona Cardinals - yes, one team has to win, but neither is going to advance very far in the end. So, yeah, viewers chose "memorable in a strange way" over "forgettable," meaning that Brandon is, presumably, headed back to anonymity and his job as a backup singer.

As far as singing - and related concepts such as range and pitch are concerned - I would have preferred to give Brandon another shot, just to see if he could have improved. With him, that was at least a possibility. With Sanjaya, well, you decide. But - and I'll probably regret saying this if he persists beyond next week - having the totally-out-of-his-depth Sanjaya around will definitely make the show more interesting in most other aspects, in much the same way that the wacky types run roughshod over the audition rounds. (For starters: We get to hear the judges critique Sanjaya again. Oh, man.)

Following a group medley of Ross hits (yes! with halfhearted choreography!) and trademarked Seacrest Delay Tactics, we learned that fifty percent of the guys on the show were in this week's bottom three. I can't say I really disagreed with that, or was terribly surprised, although I'm glad Phil returned to safety. Brandon, meanwhile, who sometimes emanated a hint o' smugness, kept up his polite, blandly professional front 'til the end, smiling too widely and giving too many thumbs up (I only saw one, but that was one too many) for someone who just got denied. And people who wanted him gone - judging from the results, there were plenty of 'em - got another treat, too: There wasn't even enough time left at the end for Brandon to "sing us out."

Fro't on: I'm still debating whether hearing Chris Richardson attempt the beginning of Modest Mouse's "Float On" in last night's commercial irrevocably marred the song for me, but right now I'm leaning toward no, mostly because the original is excellent enough to overcome that. Fortunately, the rest of the "Idol" comrades helped redeem the rest of the ad, especially the sight of A) break dancing and B) Chris Sligh in a 'fro and '70s sunglasses.

Behold the power of blogs: In case you were searching for further proof of the tremendous sway "American Idol" bloggers hold over the show, witness that Jordin Sparks straightened her hair one night after I begged her not to. The pen is mightier than the sword, etc.

And yet, he still made them wait 'til after the break:
The filler-heavy, overlong "American Idol" show is as much a tradition as Randy barking "dawg," and about as enjoyable. But with the large number of contestants this week, the elimination show had to operate in rapid-fire fashion to beat its 9:30 deadline. Seacrest hardly had time to breathe as he informed the top 12 of their fate, along the lines of "You're safe!" (moves on to next contestant) "You're safe!" Don't worry, though, I'm sure he's already scheming of ways he'll drag out the "drama" in weeks where he's got a half hour to fill and only, like, four contestants remaining.

So this is what a star looks like: Yes, Diana Ross' voice, was, uh, a little uneven as she sang "More Today Than Yesterday." But for all intents and purposes, the Detroit native's 40 legendary years in the music business rendered that moot - after that kind of career, you're pretty much entitled. And yet her performance wasn't lazy, by any means. Instead, it was energetic and remarkably down-to-earth (yes, even with the backlit, diva-appropriate stage entrance, flowing, off-the-shoulder red dress and huge frilly scarf/cape/boa thing wrapped around her arm). She practically skipped around the stage smiling, exhorting people to sing along and putting her arm around Melinda. Admittedly, it was unusual to see her performing in front of Randy, Paula and Simon ... but I guess that's the case with any of the seasoned guest performers, who are obviously well past the point in their lives where they'd need or even be willing to subject themselves to that.

Ross 1, Seacrest 0: When you're Diana Ross, you can also feel free to ignore Ryan Seacrest's questions, as this exchange indicated:
Seacrest, to Ross: So, who's going home?
Ross: "I just want to say something. This entire show is such an inspiration to American young kids ... I am so happy to be here."
Seacrest, not giving up: "Who's going home?"
Ross, laughing: "I don't know - me!"

If applause is anything to go by...then Blake and Melinda, especially, have nothing to worry about. For now.


Steve said...

As I sit and wonder after the performance show where 3 contestants blunder and forget the words and one guy reallys does not have talent singing, I try to contemplate how America is going to vote. Are they going to vote on a person who got the jitters and made a mistake that like I said, 3 others made (and did anyone else notice that only ONE of those contestants were in the bottom 3)? Or...we they going to go and vote for the lost puppy reject from the Lady and the Tramp (watch as he walked away when he was told he was safe) that can only sing songs that have 2 notes or less? MEMORY vs. SINGING TALENT. Who will win? Well, looks like America has spoken. I am completely SHOCKED!!

Kimberly said...

Does the Charlotte Observer need 2 blogs to discuss American Idol? I think not. There's a war going on. Have you noticed?