Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Idol Time--Rhythm and Ooohs (and a few Ewwws)

You know how when you're watching a lava lamp? And there's that great gloopy moment when one glob sinks to the bottom and the other gloop bloops up? I feel like that's what happened tonight. We saw Siobhan take the glob-dive of her career thus far, and Lee just bloopy-bloop-bloop up to the top. It was, in some ways, a nod back to the old days (think, pre-Jordin Sparks), because those who did well did so because of their ability to sing. Not because of funky red lighting, or giant staircases, or slick package mentality. Just like those old R&B records had a groove, tonight a few people fell into their groove, and a few, well let's just say, their parents probably never owned a record, either.
A few general notes: Ryan Seacrest takes awkward banter to an entirely new level. Like, painful. Like when you're driving your 9th grade son on his first "real" date and trying to make conversation in the car. "So, Ginnifer, would you ever wear an off-the-shoulder dress?" Just do what you're paid gabillions of dollars to do, or I swear I'll mount the campaign to bring back that other guy.
Usher as mentor--hey! Great idea having somebody with experience, clout, talent, knowledge...well, everything Miley doesn't. Last week was like watching a figure skater being coached by a duck. This week was like...well, better. (some metaphors deserve a quiet death)
Ellen's tie--did anyone else feel like it was 4 a.m. and the urge to get to a phone and call in to pledge to MDA? Way to channel your inner Jerry Lewis. (but I thought the joke about Tim Urban "creeping" was funny!)

So, to sum up my commentary, I'm going to lump performances into shades of blue:
Like perfect wash on your favorite jeans--Lee, Crystal, Casey, Andrew
Like a harmless crayon you'll pass over for a cooler color in the box--Katie, Michael, Aaron
Like mold you wish you hadn't noticed--Siobhan, Didi, Tim

Bottom Three? (should be) Siobhan, Didi, Tim
(will be) Didi, Tim, Katie

My pick to go home...Didi.

What do you think? Leave a comment, leave a vote, and be in the drawing to spend your idle time reading a bunch of free books!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 "Top" Ten... What went wrong?

It's going to be a long summer for all those Idol fans packing themselves into outdoor venues and theme parks, county fairs--whever this year's crop can find a place to rest their weary voices. Compared to last year's line-up (Kris! Adam! Allison! Danny! Anoop! Lil! Matt!--not bad...7/10 from memory!), this year's looks a little, um, thin? Pitchy? (zzzzzzz Crystal! zzzzzzz Siobhan! zzzzzzzz Tim Urban! Finally, a potty break).
So, what went wrong this season? Because critics, bloggers, face-bookers, my agent, pretty much everybody who matters agrees that something's gone terribly wrong. Here's my thought. This is Idol's 9th season. That makes it...old. Like that moment when you hug your 9-year-old and realize it's time for him to start using deodarant. It's sweet, but not pleasant.
Now, I am a die-hard fan. I remember what Kelly Clarkson was wearing when she sang R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Check out the clip. The contestants were having fun. They performed with a piano--not a full band (until later in the competition). Lately, they take these contestants--some with no performing experience at all, some already dropped from record labels, some clearly headed for HSM 4--Revenge of the Underclassmen (I'm looking at you, Timanilow). The judges say over and over that this is a "singing" competition, but it's not. It's child stardom in a microcosm. How does a 17-year-old know how to make a song "his own?" How do you expect someone who came of age under the influence of Britney Spears to make intelligent song choices from the vast array of Pop music? Most of these kids were born with only 2 living Beatles. Yet they're given back-up singers (who over-power them), a band (that indulges them), and a panel of 3 industry experts (plus an Ellen) to ping-pong them around.
Last season was lightning in a bottle. A wide variety of music--all delivered by genuinely good singers. I think they tried to hard to capture that again. That explains Siobhan. Katie is still a head-scratcher...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Idol Time...Top of the List

First, mad props to my friend Allison who compared Tim Urban's performance to Barry Manilow, thus bringing me to christen him "Timanilow." Patent pending. Just saying.
So, nothing like a nice, specific genre for the contestants to choose from: Top Songs. I guess it's a chance for us to see what kind of music the contestants gravitate toward--what kind of artist they want to be. If that's the case, then their future is just a bit too bland to be truly frightening. But when it's the night of the vote that will determine whether or not you'll be part of the summer tour, there's just no reason to sing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."
Open note to Andrew (like he'll read it, but hey...) "Straight Up" was brilliant because it had a cool Latin vibe to it. That's what we loved and, to some extent, your back story plays into that vibe. Where'd it go? And, more importantly, why aren't the judges bringing up that very specific point? Making me crazy, crazy, crazy. It's like he's constantly borrowing somebody else's song.
This week might make it tough to choose who's gonna go--so many truly awful performances (Paige, Timanilow, Didi, Andrew)--but leave your vote anyway! Unfortunately, I think Timanilow is on his way out, and just when I got the perfect nickname, too. So, I have to take advantage and use it as often as possible.
Timanilow, Timanilow, Timanilow
My pick for bottom three: Paige, Andrew, Timanilow. Who's going home? Timanilow.
And, if you're a facebook friend, stop by my page for a song-by-song commentary!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ticket Stub--Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I had a lovely afternoon "date" with my youngest son as we went to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Now, I went into this movie at a total disadvantage--I hadn't read a single one of the books (written by Jeff Kinney), and my Charlie had read them all. Still, it was my "turn," as hubby took the boy to see Percy Jackson, Lightning Thief a few weeks ago.

I think I got the better deal!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a fun, fun movie. OK, there was the usual amount of potty humor, booger humor (which I actually couldn't watch...), and generally juvenile chuckles, but the film had a certain little charm to it--genuine laugh-out-loud moments and a refusal to let the adult characters come in and take over to save the day. In true kid-movie fashion, the grown-ups are marginalized while the kids duke out the plot points, and the cast here does a marvelous job. The movie maintains innocence despite opportunities to swing otherwise, keeps you giggling without totally grossing you out, and refuses to pander to the big, emotional aaaaawwwwww moment that always seems so contrived in the typical Disney channel fare.

Great cinema? No. Harmless entertainment? Definately. I'm now a huge believer in the "cheese touch," and wanted to jump up and cheer when I heard the first few notes of this Bonnie Tyler classic.

I think what I enjoyed most, though, strangely enough, was the audience experience. The theater was packed (opening day for the movie), and the average age of the audience member was probably 9. Yet, they were all enthralled. I loved all the little whispers of (I remember that in the book), or (I love this part!). But none of their participatory remarks were rude or distracting. In short, give me a movie theater full of 9-year-olds over a theater with 9 teen-agers any day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Idol On...2010

Apparently nothing can bring me out of blog darkness like American Idol. And, no, I didn't post during the auditions, during Hollywood week, or even the semi-finals, because during those early weeks, getting attached to a contestant is kind of like making eye contact with a puppy in a pet store. Much as you might want to take that puppy home, chances are it'll never be a part of your life, because face it--you're just there to buy cat food. So, it's best to hold your head high and just keep a-walkin'. But now that we're down to the 12, it's on. This is the first season with Ellen and the last season with Simon, and so far it's been a bit of a snooze. Here's hoping a narrow focus and some pretty good singers will make it a season worth watching! And worth voting.

So...Rolling Stones week? Relatively harmless. I thought Siobhan was over-praised (in pre-Adam Lambert days, she would have been raked over the coals for being "too dramatic,") and I thought Lee was really under-praised. In fact, I've been voting for him for an hour, and have yet to get a busy signal. Not a good sign...

Anyway, here's what I'm doing this season. I'm going to keep a running poll on my blog here, and I'm inviting visitors to vote for who you think will be going home week by week. Not necessarily who you want to go home (Lacey...), but who you predict will get the least number of votes (Andrew...). Every week that my blog voters get it right, I'm adding a book to a ginormous Idle-Time Summer Reading Basket. I'll reveal and review the week's book after the results show. Just think, that could mean a prize of 12 books total going to one lucky winner. I'll draw a name from the comments. So...join in!

By the way--my pick for bottom 3: Andrew, Lacey, and Paige. My pick to go home...Andrew.