American Idol always disappoints me; it's corny, too long, and I have never in my life felt prompted to buy one of the winner's CDs or even vote for the contestants I like best. But for some reason I have to watch it--if not for Randy Jackson's incessant clarion call of "yah dawg, yah dawg," Paula Abdul's incoherent but saccharine ramblings, and Ryan Seacreast's bronzed douchiness--then at least for Simon Cowell, the shining beacon of sanity whose cutting judgment is nearly always right. It's now two weeks into the live performances of Season VII, and the field has been narrowed down to 16. In case you've missed it, here's a recap before tomorrow night’s episode (8pm on FOX) of some of the best, the worst, and the weirdest performers up till now, along with a few predictions.
Amanda Overmeyer, 23This girl is so tragically white trash it's almost not funny. She's a self-described "Harley ridin' Rock & Roll Nurse!" She’s also been hit by a semi-truck and arrested for a DUI in 2006 (not mentioned on the show, but google it.) She's only 23 but she sounds and looks like she's been drinking whiskey and cokes in a smoky bar for 20 years more than that. For Week 1, she did a Janis Joplin song that was mostly screaming and bizarre jazz scatting. Randy Jackson apparently liked the scatting and loved her patch-worked rocker pants even more, to which Amanda inexplicably replied "Yeah! I couldn't afford a whole pair of pants so I bought three and cut them up!" You can't afford one pair of pants but you can afford to buy 3 pairs and reassemble them? But the judges loved her and deemed her "authentic." Week 2 was Secrets Week and she revealed that she loves to read--but mostly just "biographies of famous rockers." I thought she was going to say Proust. She sang "Carry on My Wayward Son," this time with even bigger hair and crazier pants. She can’t win, but she’ll be around a while longer.
Asia'h Epperson, 19:Ok, right off the bat, I'm hating the spelling of the name. Was her mom a stripper? But I felt bad for this girl because she said her dad died two days before her audition. Except she's strangely nonchalant and cheery about the whole thing in a way that creeps me out. Then again, her "secret" on Week 2 was that she used to a professional cheerleader. She's got a huge voice but sort of in an unoriginal "strong, black, and sassy" way I feel like I've seen before. She also has a huge mouth and looks like she's eating the microphone. Last week she sang the Eric Carmen/Celine Dion song "All By Myself" and Simon said "This is one of the biggest diva songs of all time. You've got to be one heck of a singer to pull that off. And unfortunately you're not. The song showed you up.” Still, she's better than a lot of the rest and should be around a while longer.
Kady Malloy, 18Well, the only thing remarkable about this girl is that she does a scarily good impression of Britney Spears and can even sing opera. Then when she performs, she's absolutely, disgustingly average. On Week 1, Simon said a pencil had more personality than her. Week 2 (70's week) she sang "Magic Man" by Heart and they still thought she sucked. Simon told her to stop trying to sing like Christina Aguilera because she'll never be as good. I predict she's probably going home next week. She is, however the most attractive of the 3 or 4 blonde girls.
Carly Smithson, 24I don't get why this girl is even in the competition. She's already had a record deal (which supposedly fell through) and her own music video, under a different name. And she's Irish? I thought this was Uh-mer-eh-cun Idol. She does have pretty a good voice but I didn't understand Randy's effusive assertion on Week 1 that it was "THE BEST VOCAL OF THE LAST 2 DAYS! WHAT, WHAT! YAH DAWG YAH DAWG." Paula said "You're like the lucky coin in your pocket" whatever that means. Simon said that she was cabaret and overrated. Week 2, she sang "Crazy on You" by Heart and by the end she was panting like a dog in heat. Simon made fun of her for being so out of breath and said she hasn't been choosing songs that show off her voice. Girl needs to put down the Guinness and get on a treadmill.
David Archuleta, 17Ok, I'm saying it right now, this kid is going to win the competition, dawg. Week 1 he sang Captain & Tennille's "Shop Around" and somehow made it sound good. But it was Week 2's risky acoustic performance of John Lennon's "Imagine" that was really amazing. Simon applauded him for doing a fresh interpretation while Paula started crying and said "I want to squish you, squeeze you, and dangle you from my rear view mirror!" If he doesn't win, then he could definitely have his own show on the Disney Channel in a minute. The only thing I don’t like is he's milking this "Gee whiz, I'm just an innocent 17-year old cute kid and I’m so speechless!" thing for all it's worth. Only someone from Utah could be this wholesome (he’s from Utah.) Then again, his bio says his favorite quote is "You'll never be lonely if you learn to befriend yourself." That's sort of poetic. I like this kid, for now.
Jason Castro, 20This guy looked familiar so I did a little digging and found out Jason played the love interest of Cheyenne on MTV's "Cheyenne"...a horrible little show that no one else besides me has probably seen. I can't figure out why no one's said anything about this kid's hair. It's like the elephant in the room no one will talk about. He reminds me of a Kling-on or one of those freaky albino creatures from The Matrix. White people with dreads? I can't think of a worse idea. Then again, he's ethnically ambiguous so I apologize in advance on that one if I'm wrong. The first week he sang "Day Dream" and everyone ate it up, him looking all rasta with his acoustic guitar, but I wasn't buying his Jack Johnson-ey "good times, man" vibe. On week 2 he sang Andy Gibb's "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" and everyone realized he was just hiding behind the guitar and had an average voice. But he apparently already has a hardcore fan base who call themselves "Castronauts" or "Dreadheads" so I think he'll have some staying power, though I'd "dread" to see him win...ha, ha.
Danny Noriega, 18Inexplicably, on Week 1 this flamboyant hipster chose Elvis's Jailhouse Rock so he could show off his "swagger and attitude." Randy liked it ok and then Paula had her first bat-shit crazy remark: "I liked how you went in and out of all the colors, there are a lot of colors in your voice!" Simon snapped him in half and called his performance "hideous" and "verging on the grotesque." Miss Noriega was not having that and he seemed convinced it was great. I'm so sick of this "you'll like me because I snap my fingers and make catty remarks" act. Go on Project Runway. He also loses points for not being able to his control his sassy-black-girl-head-shake both while he speaks and sings, even after Simon warned him to stop. I'd say he'll get kicked off soon, but the Vote for the Worst crowd has already rallied behind him and he could be this season's Sanjaya.
David Hernandez, 24On Week 2, David admitted his secret, which was that he was a child gymnast who won the Grand Canyon Olympics! Then he sang a creepy version of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Randy liked it, Paula obviously liked it, and Simon said he appreciated that he took all his criticism to heart...and then I feel asleep. Don’t get me wrong, he has a pretty good voice, but he’s just so damn boring. Until I found out his real secret...Apparently he used to be a stripper who worked at a gay bar. think we might have another Clay Aiken on our hands.
A Tribute to the Fallen:
8 contestants have already been kicked off. Here is one sentence each to remember them by:
Amy Davis: Pictorial in Maxim, otherwise completely forgettable
Joann Borgella: Plus-size model?--You go, girl.
Colton Berry: Looked like Ellen Degeneres, sang even worse
Garrett Haley: Peter Frampton, before puberty
Alaina Whitaker: Sang Olivia Newton John, dressed by grandma
Alex-andrea Lushington: Seacrest mispronounces name, she got pissed
Robbie Carrico: Former boy band member gone “bad”...real bad
Jason Yeagher: Future child molester?
-- Adam Winograd