Well, we buckled up and strapped in for 90 minutes of American Idol last night. No washing the dishes, walking the dog or flipping over to watch extended segments of the Michigan-Michigan State or Tennessee-Florida. Nope, just AI, full throttle.
Last night was Dedication Night, which can cause problems for the contestants. On the one hand, they get to make a nice little video before they sing, which enhances their appeal to the audience and is probably personally meaningful. On the downside, they usually choose a pretty corny song (with a few exceptions) to sing as a result, and most of them just are not talented or polished enough to bring it off. So, in order of appearance:
Philip Stacy: Missed the birth of his child for his initial audition and last night, with the perfect opportunity to make up for that, chooses instead to dedicate his song to his band (and was the only contestant to pick someone other than a family member or girlfriend). Probably not going to be invited to perform for Families First. Decent job on the song (John Waite's Missing You), but he moves on stage as if he is still wearing his double-starched Navy dress whites.
Status: Could be singing Anchors Aweigh next.
Jared Cotter: Did a fine job on Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On," an odd choice to dedicate to your parents, odder still when you consider that Gaye's father shot him to death. I wish I could find the black and white video of Marvin singing "Ain't That Peculiar" that I've seen on TV a few times. Very stylish and ahead of its time, I think. Instead, you'll have to make do with this version from the wonderfully named killmtv.tomorrowpictures.tv (fast forward through the ad at the beginning).
Status: Welcome back next week, Cotter.
A.J. Tabaldo: I know Feelings, Feelin' Alright, and Feelin' Groovy (okay the 59th Street Bridge Song, for you purists), but I don't know the song A.J. sang - Feelin' Good. Does it have anything to do with Applebee's Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood? Not terrible, but not much stage presence.
Status: Might be Feelin' Worse tomorrow night.
Sanjaya Malakar: This Michael Jackson thing has really gone too far. Last week it was Rock With You, this week the fedora and the ponytail. What do we get next week, the black and red leather from Bad or the aviator shades blue Sergeant Pepper jacket with epaulets? Emmanuel Lewis joining him onstage? He has a nice voice, but his confidence is pretty shot, a la Lisa Tucker last year. His choice of song (Steppin' Out With My Baby by Irving Berlin!) was very strange and his performance was modest, at best. Still, he will get the what I like to call the Ace Young votes from the teenyboppers, and he also benefits from the Yao Ming effect. What is the Yao Ming effect? Yao Ming is a very good basketball player from China who hlds the record for most NBA All-Star votes ever received in a single season, 2,558,278. China is the most populous nation in the world with about 1.3 billion inhabitants. India is second with about 1.1 billion. Sanjayah Malakar was born in the U.S. but is of Indian descent. Straight math, homie!
Status: Sayonara, Sanjaya? Not yet.
Chris Sligh: The grownups in our house like this guy, the kids, not so much. And the footage of his wife gave hope to every other songwriter who looks like an extra from Freak and Geeks as well. He sang Trouble, by Ray LaMontagne, a song that I did not know before Taylor Hicks sang it last year, but I enjoyed it then and again last night. If I buy this CD and like it, I will finally have to give credit to American Idol for providing something worthwhile to my life.
Status: Solid, in my book anyway.
Nick Pedro: The cool crooner does the 10,000th version of Fever. Okay, but nothing special and not very appealling to the kids today.
Status: Not enough votes for Pedro.
Blake Lewis: Another favorite of mine, Blake hip-hopped out of the box with Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" and added a little "beatscatting" in the middle. Simon called it "mostly unoriginal," and he may have a point, but it was good and different in a good way from all the other performances. I'd like to hear him do Ben Harper's Steal My Kisses. Don't know it? Here you go.
Status: Blake don't fake the funk.
Brandon Rogers: Nice, but unspectacular on Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. Could have been worse, could have been Shebop or Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with a cameo from the immortal Captain Lou Albano. I'm getting a little tired of the judges saying he has to stop being a backup singer, except that they are right.
Status: Mr. Rogers may not be in the neighborhood much longer.
Chris Richardson: Very entertaining, if a bit boybandish, version of something called Geek in the Pink by someone named Jason Mraz. Chris is from the same part of Virginia as Elliott Yamin, and while he does not have Elliott's vocal, he is far, far more telegenic. And when he stands next to Ryan Seacreast, Ryan looks like a tiny person, which amuses me. Only thing he needs is a more interesting name.
Status: No dis for Chris, he can't miss.
Sundance Head: Honestly, I think Pontiac made a better Sundance. Okay, he wasn't that bad, but mostly I thought he was wailing more than singing Mustang Sally. I'd rather watch the guy in The Commitments sing this one. Still, the crowd liked it, the judges liked it and he will get a lot of "awwww" votes for the dedication to his newborn son.
Status: A Sundance Festival.
Okay, that's it, gotta go rest up for another hour and a half of mostly mediocre singing.