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Refined Carbs for the Soul [4]: American Idol Season 8

This week’s Refined Carbs post (while being EXTREMELY long – be warned) is all about my annual obsession – yep, it’s the biggest night in reality TV, you guys. Today, a new person will be crowned as the latest contribution to the crazy world of music, and people all over the world will either cement or lose their faith in democracy. So I’m devoting today’s post to the ten things that stood out this season, and will stay in our minds for a while to come.

As Ryan would say: This…. is AMERICAN IDOL!

10. The first round mayhem

Okay, I don’t know about you, but I still officially have NO clue what happened in those first few weeks. I mean, first they made people re-sing at the judges’ mansion, pitted pals against each other, and basically psyched out a lot of people just for the heck of it. Then it went to LA where the top 36 were randomly assorted into 3 groups (with pretty much all the talent in one group), and the top girl and the guy and the something else got through, and then the judges took an extra week bringing people back, and then they let an extra Anoop through to make 13 but then there was the judges’ save… look, I don’t even know, okay? It’s been a weird season for technicality, and the drama. OH GOD, the drama!

Wed cry too, Anoop

We'd cry too, Anoop

Did anyone else wonder how many Anoop Desai psych-outs we’d have to go through before the producers were done having their laughs?

9. Studio 57?!

In the spirit of ever-confusing changes, Idol pulled in a fresh, pretty face this season to counteract the aging judges who all sort of mumble and grumble and say random things until Simon can step in and give his tuppence. But seriously, Kara, there were some definite Paula Abdul moments there. Like telling Adam his performance of “Play That Funky Music” sounded like something straight out of Studio 57. Which is, apparently, the low budget studio three lots down from 54? Or something.

Did I really just say that out loud?

Did I really just say that out loud?

One thing’s for sure, though – they couldn’t have found someone who liked the sound of her voice more. If I have to hear her unnecessarily enunciate everyday words one more time, I swear to God…

8. The Soon-Forgotten

It’s true, I loved Scott MacIntyre. Never mind the fact that his vocals were less than perfect, or that they took advantage of his disability by secretly ruining his hair, I’m a total fan. If I could vote, I would definitely have been one of those people phoning in the sympathy vote. And despite what you might think, it was not because he was blind, but because the guy was so happy all the time. I mean, he joked about the predictability comments from the judges (“Next time, we’ll move the piano closer!”), he danced his own with the rest of the guys, and he was never EVER upset about being in the bottom three. No matter how much I cringed during his performance, I’d always go into a panic attack during results night. Here’s to one of the finest, most talented and most determined contestants the competition has ever seen… and the only person who truly stole Adam Lambert’s monopoly over the spotlight.

And speaking of the soon-forgotten, who remembers Alexis Grace? You know, the pretty little 21-year-old mom who Randy thought needed to “dirty” herself up a bit? So she went out and had pink streaks put in, and sang up some serious class with her image?.Of course, it didn’t help at all, because in the end, Randy didn’t think she was dirty enough. What the…? The guy should be really glad he’s still alive with that stunt. Still, as most of my peeps know, she was one of my favorite females in the competition, and if she’d been in the top 10 instead of say, Megan Joy (WTFROCKINROBIN?!)… there may have been some stiff female competition near the end.

And the best performance among the forgotten? Definitely the graphic rendition of “And I’m Telling You” by Nick Mitchell, complete with the fondling of the judges’ desk. Oh, man, you just have to watch the videos. In fact, if anyone can find the video, I award them 10 points. That one was a keeper.

7. Those %&@#-ing Stairs…

Okay, so maybe there were bigger things to note this season… but I have to point out how much I hated the damned stairs. You know. The overly flashy, light-up stairs that Ryan ran down every single time the show began. It just made him seem smaller than the poor guy actually is. And their existence also guaranteed that somewhere inside Ryan Seacrest is the heart of a ten-year-old boy who greatly enjoys jumping on light-up panels, a la Tom Hanks and the floor piano in Big.

And then the minute I thought it was bad enough having to watch that descent twice a week, our very own Glambert decided to incorporate them into his Muse-like but creepier rendition of “Feeling Good”. I wish Ryan had taken Simon’s advice and given them up after that strut.

6. Russian Roulette is Not the Same Without a Gun

Most. Twisted. Guest Performance. Ever. I heart Lady Gaga.

5. Who Picked the Damned Mentors?

The fascinating things we learned about the celebrities who mentor:

  • Jamie Foxx has no concept of personal space.
  • Ditto with Smokey Robinson (how much does a grown man need to hug?!)
  • Slash probably lost a bet with someone. While drunk.
  • Quentin Tarantino needs tranquilizers. Badly.
  • For that matter, the Idol producers should probably stick to musically inclined people for mentoring from now on. Directors do not count.
  • Randy Travis has a really creepy grin.

I could probably go on… but I won’t.

4. Pebbles Flintstone? Aw, shucks… you guys

Someone in the styling department probably had a good laugh while trying to bring the mullet back in style. Poor Allison… the judges didn’t go easy on her, did they? Although, I have to commend the stylist she went to in the end (apparently the same person who styles Adam’s emo look). She did her best with what she had.

But despite her hair (I want that color so bad!), that girl had some serious pipes. If it weren’t for the uber-talented top 3 men, I would’ve raised a huge uproar that she didn’t get further. And since she’s 16, I was praying to death she wouldn’t sing something I remember hearing at release time as her birth year song. Thanks for not doing it, All.

3. Hearts!

Ah, Gokey. During the total chaos and confusion that was the first few rounds of Idol (see highlight 10), there was one face that stood out from them all. It was a pudgy but talented as all hell crooner from Milwaukee, who related the story of his late wife Sophie… the woman who believed in him and told him he should audition for the show. Which he did, ten months after she passed on.

And millions of females all around the world swooned, vowing to make Danny Gokey their own personal teddy bear.

I wasn’t quite immune to him, either. Between the gorgeous, husky voice and the ending of every performance with HEART (pun intended), this guy was manufactured by the kings of adorable. And the judges loved him, despite the fact that he began sounding a little trite and un-downloadable later in the competition. He may have been talented enough to belong in the top 2, but it’s about some freshness, too.

Although, I don’t think I can forgive his ear-splitting rendition of “Scream On” (pun still totally intended). Oy vey… Someone get Michael Johns (season 7) on the phone.

2. How could you be so heartless?

Probably the most underrated for the longest, Kris Allen is my favorite to win this year. He’s got a flawless voice, he can change anything to suit his style, and he kills with any instrument he plays.

I, for one, can’t forget his rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine”, and am even more elated that he picked it to sing last night (I was right on the mark with both guys’ selections). Great re-do. Whether it was his Adele-esque rendition of “Make You Feel My Love”, the complete overhaul of Disco Week’s “She Works Hard for The Money”, the flawlessly gorgeous “The Way You Look Tonight” or even the earth-shattering rendition of last year’s Oscar winning “Falling Slowly” (which Kara described as an obscure song…*snort*), the man has a very unique, defined style that makes you feel like he’s giving you a private audience. And if you try to dock off points for his strange contorted expressions, let’s remember that he wins points for having the most adorable family (especially his Mom… how cute is she when she’s celebrating the judges’ positive comments?).

And even though I think he should win, for being the more palatable artist… I’m pretty sure that his career would do better if he came in second. I’m just saying – it takes some of the pressure off, and makes for a better sounding album. If you don’t believe me, listen to David Cook’s and David Archuleta’s respective albums, and tell me which one honestly sounds better.

And, of course, by far the biggest highlight of the season:

1. Adam Lambert

Glambert. Guy-liner. My sisters even call him “emu boy” and “Lame-bert” respectively. He’s Idol’s new emo/punk/metal/glam rocker with a twist. Who on earth saw this guy coming?

I’m pretty sure Idol has seen other characters like this before. Scan through the old montages for the Idol auditions’ Wall of Shame or whatever it is – there’s probably at least three such people that have showed up over the years. So what makes this guy different? What made the judges do a double take and see the star that lurks behind the makeup and the black nail polish?

He may have screamed all the way through U2’s iconic “One”, he may have turned Johnny Cash’s crowning glory “Ring of Fire” into a belly-dancer’s seduction, he may even have changed “Born to be Wild” into something you’d hear in a Broadway remake of Rent. But he does it all without apology, without arguing for it, and without any sort of qualms about who he is and what he does. He takes criticism with a big laugh, and appreciation with a heartfelt “Thank You” and the occasional cocky little shrug.

There’s nothing predictable about Adam. Where Kris is safe and comforting, and leaves you with a vague idea of what to expect week after week, Adam has continued to shock and awe with every performance. He’ll show up to Disco Week in a suit and gently croon “If I Can’t Have You”, moving Paula to tears… and then follow that up with the heavy, creepy (but awesome) “Feeling Good” for the ever-so-classy Rat Pack Classics Week. He’s versatile and he can scream in tune, amazingly.

Whether or not he wins (though chances are he will), I’m really curious to see what they’ll do for him on his debut album. It’s been a helluva season, and people are going to remember it solely based on Adam Lambert, I’ll tell you that.

So, guys, since tonight is the big night – who are you rooting for? And which was your favorite performance of the season?

(All images are copyrighted to American Idol and FOX. I don’t own anything. Don’t sue my ass, please)

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