Hello again students, welcome back for another thrilling installment of Grading The Idols.
So the most recent AI gossip has nine (old) Female Fans of Clay Aiken who are suing him because he’s gay. Uh, yeah I’d like to see that stick in a court of law. Apparently his packaging as “wholesome entertainer” didn’t jibe with the 9 House Fraus idea of “family values.” It’s kind of like the contract I had Ozzy Osbourne sign before I bought “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Imagine the disgrace when I found out years later that Ozzy wasn’t ACTUALLY the Spawn of Satan and was merely a wealthy, drug-snorting rock singer. I sued too.
I think a bigger issue is Ryan Seacrest and what team he plays for. I’m not making any allegations. I’m just saying that in my house we play an American Idol drinking game called “Ryan’s innapropriate touching of male contestants.” When he tried to tear off Will Makar’s shirt and reach for his jewel basket I had to chug a fifth of Wild Turkey.
So, on with the show.
GRADING THE GIRLS:
Yawn! Oh, excuse me I must’ve dozed off. Did I miss anything? Wow did the girls suck this week. It seemed like they took all of the Judge’s advice last week and for the previous four seasons, and completely ignored it. You know, stuff like “Pick songs we’ve all heard before and sing them just like the pros.” And “Don’t put the audience to sleep.” That suggestion wasn’t actually stated, it just is sort of an unspoken agreement in the Entertainment Biz.
So what the girls did do was choose the most over-sung, hackneyed, schmaltziest songs known to man and did their best to sing them without any passion, emotion o r energy or any movement of any kind. For the first time in American Idol history every single thing the judges said was correct. Even when Simon contradicted Paula and their opinions were diametrically opposed they were both absolutely correct. Especially when they pointed out how boring the performances were.
Now, imagine you didn’t see the show, or like me you slept through it all. Just close your eyes and name some of the lamest, drippiest female singers, and then choose their most obnoxious, over-karaoke’d songs. Just off the top of your head, throw out a couple names.
How about Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” or how about some Celine Dion or maybe Mariah Carey singing “Hero.” Yup, this week we heard ‘em all. It’s not as if we we haven’t heard “Wind Beneath My Wings” about a bazillion times. To be fair Paris sings it pretty well, but the song is the Official Bat Mitzvah anthem. It’s the poster child for Quality Elevator Music. It’s like the friggin’ theme song for Epicac. If you hear “Wind Beneath My Wings” one more time you will puke.
KATHERINE MCPHEE- “All In Love is Fair” by Stevie Wonder.
Hey, we haven’t heard Stevie on American Idol since, oh, last week. Or when Sway butchers him the day after Katherine takes her whack at Little Stevie Wonderful. Katherine started to remind me of Xena:Warrior Princess, what with her square jaw and chipmunk cheeks. And outrageous bootaytay. Anyways Katherine’s vocals are light, airy and quivering. She hits a whiny pinch on the high notes and she throws in a lot of wailing Tarzan yodels, just to remind you she can sing. And to keep from doing embarassing movement of any kind Katherine is completely rooted to one spot. Scintillating, I tell ya’. On the other hand Katherine’s singing isn’t objectionable, and she does have a nice voice for th e most part. Also, my favorite moment of the night comes when Paula swtiches chairs with Randy, and faced with the prospect of going first with criticism, and you know, having a single original idea, Paula’s tough, unrelenting first question is “How do you think you did?” With the unspoken part being that Paula needs someone to tell her what to think first.
GRADE: C -- Not my favorite Stevie Wonder song, and not my favorite performance but McPhee can sing and I’m being charitable, especially faced with what comes after.
KINNIK SKY -- “I’m Here For The Party” by Gretchen Wilson.
I’ve never heard this song before, but having heard Kinnik sing it I never want to hear it again. Kinnik tries to lighten it up by strutting around and pointing to the camera and people in the audience but it wasn’t enough to make me care. Kinnik sang the boring song well, so she gets credit for that.
GRADE: C- -- Once agai n Kinnik shows off her trained singing skills, but she needs to do better for next week.
LISA TUCKER -- “Who’s Loving You” by the Jackson Five.
Because we haven’t heard any Jackson Five tunes since, oh, last week as well. Lisa managed to avoid all of their peppy, fun numbers and went with this deathly dull little ditty. Lisa’s voice was flat, and she sang in a bluesy style that didn’t really work for the song. The song also has the infortunate lyric “I don’t think I’m gonna make it” which might be prophetic.
GRADE: C -- Lisa is young and tries hard, but she still doesn’t know how to use her pretty voice properly.
MELISSA MCGHEE -- “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” by Reba McEntire.
Melissa brings some unwanted country to American Idol tonight. Doesn’t country music have it’s own show? Oh, yeah, it’s called “American Idol” when Carrie Underwood was rewarded for singing every single damn song in a co untry twang, including “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “This Song Should Never Be Sung in a Country Style, Ever.” Anyways, McGhee sings the song in her good raspy voice and she should be rewarded for singing the only slightly up-tempo song of the evening. Well, “Last Dance” is supposed to be up-tempo, but we’ll get to that travesty in a minute. Unfortunately she sings the entire chorus with the exact same vocal choices each time. The song has one single emotional range which makes it... Say it all together now “boring.” Also, in an unforgiveable performing faux pas the final bring the band to a stop fist pump was off by a half-second.
GRADE: C+ -- This is what the judges want her to sing, but Melissa is still just a good amateur and doesn’t really have the pizzazz to go too much farther.
HEATHER COX -- “Hero” by Mariah Carey
Heather once again displays her weak vocals and barbie doll plasticity on yet another over-performed dirge. Her voice is weak and after she cuts off a long note she nods to the judges as if to say “That note was hot.” Well, baby it was not.
GRADE: Fail -- The judges were not impressed and neither was I. If there is any justice Cox and Pickler the two “blonde” Okies will be going home.
BRENNA GETHERS -- “Last Dance” By Donna Summer.
Have you noticed how Brenna’s affected baby-doll, “I’m all that” persona dissappears once she starts singing? Off-stage she’s posing, “diva” Brenna, but on-stage she’s a timid singer who doesn’t know what she’s doing. Her vocals were weak and unimpressive as usual.
GRADE: Fail -- Brenna is not a good singer or performer. I’m guessing this is the best she’s capable of doing. However she’s perfect for Vote For The Worst as she displays all the ego and none of the talent to back it up. We’re hoping you take it all the way Brenna!
PARIS BENNETT -- “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler.
Paris is an extremely talented young girl with no talent for picking a song. This is the second week in a row she’s chosen a song older than she is. Unfortunately American Idol won’t know what to do with her if she wins. For right now Paris doesn’t have the emotional baggage to really interpret these songs properly. That being said she brings her enthusiasm, energy and dynamic voice to this Graduation Day anthem. During the song she does this snort after accomplishing a beautiful passage, as if to say “I have the power! You can’t touch this, Cox.”
GRADE: B+ -- Once again Paris shows her talents on a song she doesn’t quite understand. Give her a couple years and a few broken relationships and she’ll be dynamite. Also "Wind Beneath My Wings" blows.
AYLA BROWN -- A Celine Dion song that’s not that “Titanic” one.
Another good sin ger with stinky song choices. Ayla sings it like Celine with earthy, round low notes and she does a good job, but man is this song dull. I had time to contemplate how broad Ayla’s basketball-playing shoulders are, and how she never wears sleeves so that she can display said broad shoulders better. She must be proud of ‘em.
GRADE: B -- Crappy song but a pretty good imitation of Celine.
KELLY PICKLER - “Give Him Something To Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt.
If Pickler didn’t have a sob story for every occasion she would’ve been home long ago. She gives a feeble performance of an iconic song that she can’t hope to touch. Throughout the song Kelly has the same vocal inflections over the “something to talk about” part. Over and over and over. That is... BORING.
GRADE: Fail -- Kelly is out of her league here and I’m not sure how she even got to this point. Oh yeah, little girls voting for t hose sob stories. Kelly “I don’t like calamari” should hook up with Bucky “I cayn’t tell whut’s on my chicken.” They would make a cute but dim couple.
MANDISA -- “Cry” by Faith Hill
Faith Hill seems to be the latest undisputed mistress of the schmaltzy love ballads. She can’t even muster the effort to think up more than one word for her album titles, with albums called “Cry”, “Breathe”, and “Faith.” She must’ve gotten the idea for the last one from the only person less imaginative than her, Seal who’s albums are all called “Seal.”
Oh, sorry was Mandisa singing? What a come down from last week. The song made me cry with boredom. Mandisa’s beautiful, powerful upper register is much better than her wavery, uneven low register. Guess which one most of this trudging tune is in?
GRADE: C -- A bad follow up to her superb performance last week. Mandisa has shown she can sing, so maybe she’s jus t saving up for the good stuff later. Also, her dressers need to stop sticking her into those billowy Alladdin pants. I’m sure she’s got something a wee bit more flattering in her wardrobe.
GRADING THE BOYS:
Have you noticed it’s still hard to remember the names of the girls, but we’re all on a first name basis with all the guys. I guess it’s called personality, ‘cause it sure ain’t talent. Also, it doesn’t translate into excitement as the Boys go 10 for 10 on schmaltzy slow songs in a snooze-inducing installment.
TAYLOR “Silverhair” HICKS - “Easy” by Lionel Richie”
Um, he just sang a song by Lionel Richie. Bad Taylor. Bad, bad Taylor. I guess it’s appropriate because Lionel is a joke and so is Taylor. But come on man, this is friggin’ Lionel human suck-machine Richie we’re talking about. Unrelated step-father of demon spawn Nicole. Anyways, it gets off to a bad start when it seems Taylor missed his cue and jumps in late. Every week Taylor seems more like a Tourrette’s Syndrome victim with random “hey’s” and “Whoo’s” randomly inserted in the song, and his speech. He hits a couple squeaky notes in the song and generally ends the whole mess weakly. Remember when I agreed with the judges for the Girls show? Not this show however as Randy says Taylor “Nailed it” and Paula parrots Randy and says Taylor “Nailed it.” Paula seems like she’s been on a week long pain-killers and scotch binge so that she adds nothing to these shows. Nothing.
GRADE: C -- I think Taylor and Vote for the Worst would make a loving couple.
ELLIOT “Evil English School Boy” YAMAN - “Moody’s Mood” by James Moody. Who? Elliot sings a weird jazz song that nobody knows. It’s technically difficult with weirdly synchopated runs but it’s not particularly interesting or show-offy. I also didn’t need the “I see you” line while pointing to his eye from the Gedeon McKinney School of Literal Song Interpretation. The song sounds like a Steely Dan B-side and in general Elliot sings it okay.
GRADE: C+ -- Elliot is a talented performer but this song won’t make any teenage girl grab her cell phone to vote. Well, maybe the ones who are into Evil English School Boys, which Elliot looks like tonight in his sweater vest and loafers. It’s a bad look for a rock star.
ACE “I like ‘em” YOUNG - “If I’m Not Made For You” by some dude named Daniel Bettinfield.
Ace regales us with the bathos of the beanie in his introductory clip montage. Then he proceeds to torture us with his flat singing, bum notes and nasally, high whining. He then ends the song with his patented Ace-ly Dazed look. Blecch!
GRADE: Fail -- Maybe he was imitating Daniel Bettinfield as professionally as he aped George Michael last week, but nobod y knows who Bettinfield is. This song sucks and Ace sucks hard on it. Ryan continues his innappropriate touching by attacking Ace’s beanie in his back pocket without asking.
GEDEON MCKINNEY - “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
Another song I never heard before. Unlike the girls who go for the obvious songs sung so many times they hurt, the guys go with obscurities from the Five CD’s for $10 clearance boxes at Amoeba records for their song choices. I’ve officially given Gedeon the nickname of “Too Many Teeth” and taken it from Elliot as Gedeon flashes more pearly whites than Elliot does. Then Gedeon proceeds to kick ass on a motown tinged song. He even kicks up his heels like last week and warms our hearts with another Gideon McKinney School of Literal Song Interpretation moment when the song says “down on my knees” and Gideon gets down on his knees. It shows he really listens to the lyrics. Gedeon has a wonderful, clean voice and enthusiastic performance style.
GRADE: B -- Gedeon is still young and learning, but he’s got real talent, and he should go to Broadway and become a real star as soon as he’s voted off American Idol.
KEVIN COVAIS - “I Heard it Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.
Remember when I said the guys choose obscure songs? Well, not Kevin Covais, who sings the actual “Most played song of all time.” A radio station in Los Angeles literally ran this song day and night for months before their actual programming was ready to broadcast. True story. See, sometimes the Professor teaches.
Kevin proceeds to squander most of the good will he built up at this point as he lecherously makes a pass at all teenage girls in America with his “Hey Ladies.” So Kevin makes the clumsiest pass since Matt Hasselbeck chucked it away in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. Kevin’s thin reedy voca ls crack throughout the song as if we’re watching him go through puberty on-stage. He even half-heartedly tries a couple side to side sixth grade Culmination Ceremony dance steps. How come Kev never gets called out for his Karaoke quality performances? Well I’m calling him out now.
GRADE: D -- Kev should probably disappear quietly. You had a good run little buddy, but you’re a man now. Leave the roost Chicken Little, now that you can fly on your own.
SWAY PENALA - “Overyjoyed” by Stevie Wonder
Wow, remember when Sway had a pretty voice in auditions? Well, it seems to have departed him. Actually Sway wasn’t as bad as last weeks Earth Wind and Fire debacle. But it’s a well done but dull version of the song. He’s also a wee bit flat throughout and generally unimpresses.
GRADE: C -- Sway is circling the drain when a C is an improvement for him.
WILL “The Thrill” Ma kar -- “Lady” by Kenny Rogers
Snore. What a miserable performance. Will sings the song without moving an entire muscle on his body. He doesn’t even move his mouth. It’s eerie. He also has a creepy lack of emotion in his eyes throughout the song. Seriously his eyes didn’t even move. Weird.
GRADE: Fail - Well, I certainly hope Will is going home. I personally would’ve tackled “Gambler” but then I’m just a risk taker.
BUCKY COVINGTON - a song by Garth Brooks.
Bucky’s introductory video package has him hi-lariously talkin’ ‘bout how he doesn’t unnerstand food in Hollywood. As part of the video package they show a restaurant from back home “Stucky’s 52.” Man, that sounds appetizing. I want to eat at Stucky’s in Rockingham, North Caroline very soon. ‘Course it ain’t half as appetizing as Stucky’s 26 in Dead Horse Gulch, Alabama. So Bucky does his singin’ thing and it’s as pitif ul as last week. His lack of understanding the sauce on the chicken is akin to my lack of understanding any of the lyrics Bucky is singing. But then it’s by Garth Brooks, so I know I would have hated it anyways. At least Bucky cleared his throat before goin’ onstage, unlike last week.
GRADE: D -- Bucky is sporting a shaved Mullet-ponytail this week. During his song the video screen was showing water. Waves and waves of water. So um, yeah. Bucky.
DAVID “VOTE FOR THE WORST” RADFORD - “The Way You Look Tonight.” By Frank Sinatra.
Dave, the way you look after tonight is in your robe and slippers at home next week.
So Radford does his “crooning” thing. It’s an oft-repeated standard and Radford sings it all in the same five note range. But in his inimitable over-enunciating singing voice. Just for fun, next week Radford should tackle Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” in his style. “Ex-hi t Light. End of Ni-hight. Boo!”
While Radford is singing, a cut to the men standing in the rafters shows Bucky mocking David’s lame dance steps. Wow, when Bucky is mocking you, you know you suck.
GRADE: FAIL -- David continues to be awful. Simon was concerned for David’s abilities and I was hoping David would say “Vote for the Worst chose me, so I’ll be back, bitches.” But he didn’t. And he won’t.
CHRIS “Side Burns” DOUGHTRY - “Hemorrhage” by Fuel
Before the song Chris threatens to “rock” and then promptly launches into this Live (the band) style grunge power ballad. Granted he rocked more than Bucky, Sway and Chicken Large combined, but that’s not saying much. To his credit Chris does the grunge, “I’m singing hard” thing very well. His voice went a little too raspy and did a wierd trill on the words “even try”, but over all it was the best performance of the week.
GRADE: A -- Chr is is a good grunge singer with a strong but not quite pleasant voice. Chris will follow the Bo Bice rout where he hangs around until the end and deserves to win but because teenage girls are voting he doesn’t win.
So after tonight we’ll be down to 16 American Idols. And if we have to slog through 16 more schmoopy love ballads I don’t know how I’ll make it. The Professor’s lesson for next week will be how to sing something peppy, upbeat so we can dance to it. Ta-ta!
If you would like to contact Professor Chan about this article, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good day students, the class is back in session and the first American Idol test scores are in. I'm sure there will be controversy. Maybe not as much controversy as finding out Becky "The Evil Twin" O'Donahue did "steamy photos" for Maxim magazine. Ooh, the scandal. Excuse me but Maxim is the least "steamy" Men's magazine on the rack. Maxim is so air-brushed and sanitized for our entertainment that it doesn't even register as smut. Maxim is the magazine that 17 year old boys buy because they legally can't purchase Playboy for six more months. The whole thing is about as shocking as the discovery that Becky also appeared on Fear Factor. I frequently stumble over re-runs of Fear Factor around midnight after all the good shows go off the air. There's nothing fearful about it. Fear Factor should be re-titled "Surgically Enhanced Girls With Spiders Poured on Them." Or "Boobically Augmented Girls Forced to Eat Raw Pig Livers." I would be appalled at finding out I was ever on that show. Now THAT show is real smut.
Now that we've covered the latest AI controversy, let's get down to business. In my complex grading system I will score contestants based on their vocal prowess, their (bad) choice in songs, and their performance of said (bad) songs. Then I put the scores through a complex mathematical formula to arrive at a Scoring Quotient. Then I take my Scoring Quotient and ignore it as I choose a grade fairly random grade based on my initial gut reaction while watching the performance on TV then shaded by my second viewing to check for bum notes and funny idosyncracies that I may have missed the first time while loudly making fun of the performances with my friends. I will most certainly feel embarassed by my opinion at some later date, but I will resist the impulse to change my first reaction. In dealing with AI we must all agree to wallow in the tackiness and cheese.
GRADING THE GIRLS
It's always good manners to let the ladies go first. And so AI should never be accused of having bad manners. Except for when Dirty Old Man Simon Cowell, while on a national TV show looked at the Becky O'Donahue photos and leered "I hope they both make the finals." Eww. Where's my rape whistle?
Here are the grades, in order of performance. I apologize ahead of time for the Dostoevskian length of this article, but there are 24 freakin' singers to cover.
Also regarding "song by" credits, instead of writing the actual original performer or song-writer I will write the version that the AI Wannabe is clearly inspired by.
MANDISA- "Never" by Heart.
Mandisa makes a great choice to open up American Idol:Actual Singing Edition with an up-tempo performance to get the audience in the mood. The song wasn't an iconis signature tune so we could actually appreciate her performance. And what a performance. Mandisa is an excellent singer with a strong but controlled voice. She commands attention on-stage like a professional. She also throws in some Pointer Sisters style huskiness which suits the song, and goes along with the Heart "We're tough chicks that sing" ethos. Bonus points for Mandisa for the fact that her song was the only non love-torn ballad of the evening which makes her stand out. Also what makes her stand out, as Ryan Seacrest helpfully observed, is that she's wearing a crimson blouse that makes it look she has a giant heart on her boobs. The American Idol dressers didn't do Mandisa any favors with her weird bathrobe/trench coat and her billowy culottes. AI Dressers love culottes as we see half the girls wearing them.
GRADE: A -- This is what AI performances should be, but never are. A genuine talent. If there is any justice Mandisa will get far in the competition.
KELLY PICKLER- "How Far" by Martina McBride.
How far do I have to go so I can't hear the horrible noise on my TV any more? The Pickler, who gleefully declared on a paste episode that she'd never had a voice lesson should really consider some singin' lesson, 'cause she needs it, bad. The song was a bland, forgettable faux country number where Kelly would kind of mumble through the verses quickly just so she could get to the chorus to wail "How Far" in a very shrill, unpleasant voice.
GRADE: FAIL-- The Pickler should be gone before next week. However, she's Vote for the Worst material, but then I'd have to endure her painful singing for a while, and I couldn't handle that.
BECKY O'DONAHUE- "Because the Night" as sung by Nathalie Merchant.
Becky has a decent voice but her peformance of this song was pedestrian. It would be considered good for a karaoke bar but it was mechanical. Becky however does have great Jack Nicholson as"The Joker" facial reactions and she ends the song on a stripper hair toss that covers her face. It was a campy performance and otherwise unnotable.
GRADE: C -- "Evil Twin" O'Donahue is blandly beautiful and not a half-bad singer. Her predilection for getting nekkid in Boy's magazines will keep her popular but otherwise she's mediocre.
AYLA BROWN -- "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera from "Mulan."
Ayla has a strong, creamy voice that was served well by the easy to ignore bland backing music. She confidently ends the song with a nice, soft finish instead of launching into a long, glass shattering shriek like most AI Contestant. Ayla's expressive voice is ready for the radio. She's only 17, so I imagine this song will be on Radio Disney tomorrow. As for her performance, Ayla wisely went with a standing still ballad as I could imagine the 6' tall basketball player being a little gawky in the dance numbers.
GRADE: A -- A pretty voice and a strong performance. Unfortunately she burned her movie theme choice way before Movie Theme week. Luckily there are plenty of GOOD songs she can sing.
PARIS BENNETT--"Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight.
Paris sings with a clear, strong voice. She commands the stage, but turns the soul classic into a bubble-gum pop number. I can forgive that as she's only 17, and she seemed to be having a good time. Her voice gets strident in places, due to her agressive strutting but it's a good performance. Paris even gets bonus points for yanking her top up in the middle of her number as topless young girls on national TV would end this show so fast. Despite the AI dressers making her look wear a denim suit with flipped hair like Thelma Hopkins from "Bosom Buddies" Paris gets away with it.
GRADE: B -- A good performance but she was a little too perky to be taking that Midnight Train to Georgia. Paris should go far on this show.
STEVIE SCOTT -- "To Where You Are" by Josh Groban.
Stevie says she's operatically trained, and from the snippets we've heard before this limp performance of a limp song, she has a pretty voice, hoowever she picked/was forced to sing a song too low for her. Stevie warbled through most of the low parts and she was pinched and fragile through the high parts. I guess I need to comment on how Stevie is freakishly tall, and did this salty lip pout whenever she got bad criticism from the judges, but neither of these affects her grade.
GRADE: C- -- If Stevie survives this week she should do something with a Mariah Carey type high part, and sing a song that doesn't suck.
BRENNA GETHERS -- "Sunshine of My Life" by Stevie Wonder.
Stevie Wonder is a favorite choice by many AI Wannabes, who frequently butcher his songs. Brenna is no different. On this number she has a harsh voice and peppers the song with several snarls. She's not helped by a Tijuana karaoke bar sounding accompaniment. Her performance consists of a lot of squat up and down dancing, and what I call the AI Poopy Dance, where people who have never performed before are asked to do two minutes of a song and have no idea what to do with their bodies. The frequent result is that they squat up and down more or less in time with the rhythm like they're trying to drop some stubborn science. This is the AI Poopy Dance, and is rarely if ever seen while watching real, professional singers. Well, Brenna does the poopy dance, and in addition does that slutty Beyonce move where she does the arm pushing movement and shakes her butt up and down. I don't remember seeing Stevie Wonder do that move when he was singing this song.
GRADE: D -- For her obnoxious personality to go along with a grotesque misunderstanding of a classic song. However, Brenna is a strong Vote For The Worst contender and she'll probably stick around for a couple weeks to make us all laugh.
HEATHER COX -- "Tell Me That You Love Me" by American Idols.
Heather, the girl with the porn star name, and dyed blonde hair, and porn star makeup lives up, or rather down to the expectations. She gives a listless out of tune rendition. She also does this affected porno sultriness that is distracting. She sings the whole song in a repetitive melody that sounds like "Dream The Impossible Dream." I also like the part where she puts extra emphasis on the line "When you touch me." Eww. She gives a barbie doll plastic performance with no emotion. As a rule of thumb, Heather, the American Idols were forced to sing this asinine song, you don't have to.
GRADE: D -- Heather is blandly beautiful and plastically pretty. She will probably stick around a while, but shows little talent here.
MELISSA MCGHEE -- "When The Lights Go Down" by Faith Hill.
Melissa gives an unremarkable, standard AI over-singing performance. Her high notes are mostly flat and she engages in the Poopy dance from time to time.
GRADE: C -- A standard amateur performance, typical for midcard AI talent.
LISA TUCKER -- "I Am Changing" by Jennifer Holloway.
Lisa has a nice, pretty voice but her performance is of the standard AI over-singing with too much show-off vibrato in the high notes.
GRADE: C+ -- Good voice, Average singing. Because Lisa is still young she could overcome her weaknesses. But not likely.
KINNIK SKY -- "Get Here" by Alita Adams.
Kinnik has a honey voice with tortured facial expressions. She has a large mouth and even larger biceps. I mean, this girl is buff. In an attempt to show off her voice she hits a few wrong notes, but she does succeed in displaying a range of vocal textures unlike the standard AI one vocal inflection repeated. I think Kinnik can really sing and will be criminally ignored by the voting 12 year old girls. She displays subtlety in her performance that shows she's a professional.
GRADE: B- -- Too many off notes that could be attributed to higher difficulty level of song and nerves. She could and should do better next week.
KATHERINE MCPHEE -- "Since I Fell For You" by Barbra Streisand.
Katherine is a good singer with a pretty, smooth voice. However, Katherine's was an example of a mundane performance getting praised to the moon by the judges. Randy said, "Another hot one... Love it. Amazing." Paula said, "Great performance, great job. All the way." And Simon said, "You are the best vocalist of the night." Excuse me, was he watching the same show I was? Katherine was unexceptional on a mundane song. I imagine Barbra sings the crap out of it, but Katherine decides to get creative. She's not even singing in the same key as the backing band. She sings notes that should not be attempted anywhere near this song. I guess she's such a hot singer she can sing in any scale she wants and not be beholden to the song. Her performance consisted of a few repeated shoulder thrusts and some Poopy Dance. The AI Dressers didn't do her any favors, however. They shoe-horned her prominent bootie into skin-tight jeans, and a blows that stops two inches ABOVE her butt. I mean, this girl has a bootay-tay. To quote Spinal Tap, "If you like bum cakes my girl's got 'em." But there's nothing more endearing than a fat-bottomed girl who needlessly calls attention to her astonishing derriere. Ryan Seacrest was complimenting her performance when out of nowhere Katherine apologizes for her butt. No apologies necessary, Kate. Embrace your bootielicious self. Use your butt to fight for truth, justice and the American way.
GRADE: C -- However I seem to recall a girl known for having a prominent rear-end becoming a superstar. Jennifer something or other. So the future looks bright for Miss McPhee.
GRADING THE BOYS
PATRICK HALL -- "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge.
Patrick is a good singer with a clean, pretty voice but what a cornball performance. Patrick's voice warbled all over the song he shouldn't have even attempted. He gives a awkward, gorky performance. Gorky is a cross between geek and dork.
GRADE: C -- Patrick has talent but none of it was evident here. If he makes it to next week he should do better. Unless his song-choosing skills are broken.
DAVID RADFORD -- "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen.
David is a good singer but a bad Elvis. With his spastic dance moves and strange facial gymnastics he reminded me of Martin Short doing his bad singer impression. It was a mostly terrible performance of my least favorite Queen song.
GRADE: D -- Hopefully this "crooner" is off my TV set after tonight.
BUCKY COVINGTON -- "Single Man" By Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Who would've guessed that a good ol' boy from Rockingham, North Carolina's first song out of the box would be some Skynyrd. His growling, sandpaper vocals were unpleasant. I did not recognize the song as Bucky sang it. Also, his spastic, air guitar dance maneuvers made it seem like Bucky didn't know the song unless he was also playing his guitar. Some of his vocals sounded phlegmy. It's always a good idea to clear your throat before going on-stage Bucky. A truly misguided performance.
GRADE: D -- Bucky is a bad singer and a weak performer. Having said that I love Bucky with his quasi-mullet and six packs of cigs before he goes on stage vocals. This guy has Vote For The Worst written all over him, and I hope he hangs around for another week or three.
WILL "Cross between Fred Savage and That OC guy" MAKAR - "One More Chance" by the Jackson Five.
What a horrible performance with over-singing and stereotypical dance maneuvers. A misguided choice by Will, channeling the hateful cheerfulness of Donny Osmond. I like his blow the kiss maneuver midway through the song and his boy band-ish end the song with a fist, despite not having the slightest amount of agressiveness in the rest of the song.
GRADE: FAIL - So bad you need to see it yourself. Will rates a cheese factor of melted 7-11 processes American drizzled over nachos.
JO-SWAY PENALA -- "Reasons" by Earth, Wind and Fire.
The reasons I hate you are that you butchered a perfectly good EWF song. But I can't stay mad at Sway for long, what with his goofy white pimp hat and shaved head underneath. Sway seems like a nice guy, but his flat falsetto vocals made a hash of the soaring, clean falsetto of Maurice White. To Sway's credit he got more notes right than wrong and he had cajones for even attempting the song.
GRADE: D -- Sway has a pretty, but untrained voice. If he worked on something a little easier for next week he should be fine.
CHRIS "Sideburns" DAUGHTRY -- "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi
Chris illustrates the problems with a show that is made entirely of cover tunes. How can I rate a performance that sounded exactly like the Bon Jovi original? Is that good, or is it bad? Some parts were a weensy bit flat, and in the middle Bobby "The Troll" Bennett was rocking out in the background, so someone thought he was doing a great job. Also Chris needs to cut out the Poopy Dance as soon as possible. If you're gonna do Bon Jovi study a couple videos and get a feathered hair wig.
GRADE: B -- It was nearly a note for note imitation of Bon Jovi. It takes talent to do that. We'll see how he does next week.
KEVIN COVAIS -- "One Last Cry" by Brian McKnight
Kevin seems to be a likeable guy. He's young and he looks like he gets beaten up at school for his lunch money. How can you root against him? He actually has a soft but untrained voice and could do with a few more music lessons. Also, he will never choose a good song. He takes a soul ballad and makes it sound like a Disney on Ice show tune. I think he has a career in Disney stage shows. Not the good ones like The Lion King, but the ones where they have The Beast dressed up in an immoveable costume. "Finding Nemo" is gearing up for a Broadway show, maybe Kevin can audition.
GRADE: C- -- He has a pretty voice and despite the fact the song was mostly out of tune he tried hard. Come on, he's young, give the kid a chance. An Anothony Federov quality choice for Vote For The Worst.
GEDEON MCKINNEY - "Shout" by the dudes from "Animal House."
Wow, how did Gedeon go so wrong? He has a light, clean voice and an infectious smile, but this was appallingly fruity. From his weak backing tracks, which weren't his fault, to his literal interpretation of the song "Kick a little bit higher now" with a Rockettes style high kick. So very, very bad.
GRADE: C- -- At least Gedeon sung the song with enthusiasm and verve. He should do better next week if he survives the cut. I'll give him the same youth and inexperience benefit of the doubt.
ELLIOT "Too Many Teeth" YAMIN -- "If You Really Love Me" by Stevie Wonder.
Elliot has an excellent voice and actually sang an entertaining rendition of a Stevie Wonder song. There's something undeniably appealing about his leg quivering, one hand driving the bus dance moves. I don't know what it is, but it's damned appealing.
GRADE: B -- A good voice singing a fun song and had an amusing time with it. I think his Captain Ahab beard thingie needs to go. No, on second thought, he can keep it.
BOBBY "The Troll" BENNETT -- "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow.
Bobby has some seriously man-love going on for Barry. His performance was sort of criticism free. He did the song in a tongue and cheek style (and how can you be serious singing Copacabana). Bobby has a strong show tunes voice and he moves well for a big man. He reminded me of a cross between John Candy, John Astin as Gomez Adams and Freddy The Fish-Flinger from The Muppet Show. I particularly liked his pelvic thrust hump moves. He should have a long career working in a seedier hotel in Vegas, or working weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. You go Bobby.
GRADE: A -- I know, this is controversial. But he sang the song like a pro. He had energy to spare and he's only 19. If you hate Barry, then I can understand but he had me laughing. If Bobby makes it past this week he's a serious Vote For The Worst Contender.
ACE YOUNG -- "Father Figure" by George Michael
Hmm, Ace. How I want to hate you. However, Ace did a good job singing an earnest note for note rendition of "Father Figure." I particularly liked his dazed look as he finished the song which was supposed to be smouldering. The judges praised him to the moon but Paula nailed it when she said both her female and male friends will love Ace. So he'll stick around for a while.
GRADE: B -- As with Chris "Side Burns", if you sing a note for note imitation of a song is that good or bad? He sang nicely so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Ace is like a less skeezy Constantine.
TAYLOR "Silverhair" HICKS -- "Levon" by Elton John.
There's something damned appealing about Taylor. I love this guy. He has a nice husky voice and he hits the notes easily and cleanly. I liked his earnest look after he delivered the "Born on Christmas" line. Sure he toned down the spastic moves this time, but he's got soul, and by choosing Elton John, not an easy or obvious choice, he got away from his Mississippi Delta inspirations and did a good job.
GRADE: A -- Despite being legitimately good and talented I still think he's Vote For The Worst material, just so he might actually win. I believe Taylor will have a long recording career despite the show.
And that's it for Week 1 of American Idol: Actual Singing Edition. Join us next week when we eliminate Four people and this column isn't so freakin' long.
Hello and welcome to our new column here at Vote For The Worst. I am Professor Chan. I will be your music critic each week and grade the performance of the wannabes on Star Search... I mean American Idol.
I will grade each performance on an easy to understand A through F scale, and if I want to get creative, I'll throw in a plus or minus. Feel free to disagree, but since I am the one with the column and therefore the power, my opinion will always be the most correct. What are my qualifications for judging a silly talent competition that has bamboozled-- I mean, captured the attention of millions of Americans each and every week? None, really. Except that I am smarter than Randy, Paula and Simon combined. Also I have a basic enough understanding of both music and the English language to know that "pitchy" is neither a real word, nor one that can be used to describe music. I also know that American Idol is not a "singing competition" as Simon likes to call it. If that were the case they could do it on the radio and nobody would care what the sets look like. American Idol is a popularity contest first AND THEN a semi-amateur talent competition second.
I will comment on the bad singing, bad dancing, the cheese-tastic songs the contestants are forced to sing, and the stupid outfits that the show's dressers choose for the contestants. I will not comment on the idiotic Wednesday time filler show and I encourage you all to TiVO to the last two minutes to see who the big loser of the week is so we can all make fun of him Thursday around the water cooler. That's what I do.
GRADING THE JUDGES
Here's the low-down on the Three Stooges of American Idol. Randy is a nincompoop. He does not speak English and he barely can muster the effort to pay attention to what's going on in the show. His comments range from "Pitchy", "Yo, dog, yo, like, yo" to "I'm not feeling it." If Randy ever adds anything of value I will be amazed, so I will choose to ignore him for the rest of the season.
Paula is generally confused and/or inebriated. Occasionally she'll awaken from her drunken stupor to make an idiot savant-like comment on the contestants singing skills that miraculously cut to the quick and encapsulates the performance perfectly. These moments are few and far between. I will try and ignore Paula for the rest of the season.
Simon however, on top of being richer than Trump, has a financial stake in the show, so his comments always shade towards picking the Idol wannabe that he thinks can sell the most albums. He's invariably wrong, and he's a self-congratulating egotist, a buffoon and an embarassing jackass. On top of that he's a raging hypocrite. On this week's episode I caught two instances where he showed a blatant lack of self-awareness. First was when he accused the Brokeback Mountain Singers of squandering their shot at stardom for a bad comedy sketch. Excuse me, Simon, but that's what you do with your last shred of integrity each week. And second when chastising the Forgery Twins and their dodgy beards he said he's tired of their primadonna, hissy-fit behavior. Oh, like throwing a temper tantrum and walking out of the auditions a couple weeks ago, Simon? That primadonna behaviour. Jerk-off!He also exhibits a total lack of tact, sympathy and understanding of anyone who's not elitist, mid-40's and British. So keep your second grade "You should wear a dress" insults for your pub buddies. Mmm-kay? Oh and Ann "You are the Weakest Link" Robinson called and she wants her act back. Capiche? I will try to ignore Simon for the rest of the season.
GRADING THE FINAL 24 WANNABEES
Since this show has squandered 10 whole episodes to feature bad singers and next to no performances from people that will, you know, BE IN THE FINALS, I can't really grade the final 24. It's still early but no Scott "Stay-Puffed" Savol has emerged yet. We're hoping for someone with a similar lack of talent, a similar unawareness of said lack of talent, a blazing ego and a frumpy marshmallow body that inspired the American Idol dressers to go with the T-Shirt and baggy jeans look each and every week. Tres Chic! However, I will make some bold predictions.
1) None of the 6' tall, blandly beautiful non-singers will be around for the final 5.
2) Brenna Gethers, the stroppy girl who declared herself the Simon Cowell of American Idol, ignorant of the fact that there already is a Simon Cowell on American Idol is annoying and will be gone soon. She said that America loves a bad guy. Ah, but America does not vote on this show. A horde of 12-year old girls armed with cell phones votes and Brenna,they will be as turned off by your misguided diva attitude as I am. You will be gone very soon. Buh-bye.
3) Since we've only gotten to see Pickler and Paris sing so far, the single-named Mandeesa is the only gal that stands out and only because of her basic Ruben-ness.
Wow, what a wealth of Vote For The Worst Candidates.
1) Anybody named Bucky, Sway or Ace have got to be contenders.
2) I also think Chris "Bald But With Sideburns" Dougherty, Kevin "Geek Aiken", Will "Fred Savage Clone", and Bobby "The Troll" Bennett are primed for Vote For The Worst-dom, assuming they get past the first vote off.
3) Taylor "Silverhair" Hicks is my favorite to win it all, with the help of Vote for the Worst, of course. In particular I love how Taylor accurately apes 70-year-old blues singers. We saw 30 seconds of a great James Brown singing from his knees, followed up by a Bill Clinton-esque jaw clench and smirk after he nailed the last note. I love this guy. If he can get through weeks 1-4 with categories like "Top 10 Hits" and "Hits From the Top 10" and "Fruity Disco Hits from the 80's" he'll be primed to nail it in week 17 when the category is "Blues Songs By Blind Blues Singers From The Mississippi Delta." He'll kick ass that week. So next week FINALLY promises to have some ACTUAL SINGING so I can make fun of it here at GRADING THE IDOLS. Check it out!