Thursday, March 13, 2008

American Idol: Top 12 Recap

TRACY: Ahhhh, the top 12. Now we only have to snark once a week, Troy, and hopefully there'll be a lot fewer contestants who deserve it.

TROY: Pssh. I disagree. The more trainwrecks, the merrier. Bring on the snark!

TRACY: Yeah, bad singing makes the blog more fun, I agree. OMG, I can't believe I'm actually typing this, but I think CHI-CRAZY EZE turned in my favorite performance of the night! Is that insane, or what?

TROY: I can ice skate to Florida now because, ladies and gentlemen, Hell just froze over.

TRACY: Now, mind you, I haven't forgotten just how postal the dude went on Simon during week one of the semi-finals...


TRACY: ...but he scored some points with me when he talked about how "lovable" Danny Noriega was. Not many manly men would have the guts to say something like that and possibly open themselves up to homophobic jokes. And it even seemed genuine, as did the rest of his rather charming interview clip. So, I almost liked Chi-crazy for a moment.

TROY: I will admit that both of these moments made Jacuzzi a tad more likable. While I can't forget the Chi-crazy side, I will admit that I am . . . slightly warming up to the jerk. Maybe he's on some meds now…

TRACY: And then he turned out this foot-stomping bluegrass, completely genius arrangement of "She's a Woman" that I adored. I didn't completely buy the transition from bluegrass to southern-fried rock, but once the latter segment got going, I couldn't help but admire his joyous singing and almost manic stage presence. It was a fun performance, and I've been singing the song all morning. He might be batcrap crazy, but Chikezie deserves to stay for that one. And I'll give him props for finding his manners--took him long enough, but last night he was the person and the performer I'd wanted him to be since I saw and liked his audition. Let's hope he can sustain the fabulousness--and the gentlemanly conduct.

TROY: Well I wouldn't go that far in praising him, but he definitely shined tonight. It was a completely unexpected, yet successful reimagining of "She's a Woman" (unlike some people … but we will get to Tonya Harding Lite later …). I agree with you about his enthusiasm--it was pretty infectious. Damn you, Jacuzzi, for making me like a performance of yours! However, I will NEVER forgive you for getting rid of Danny "Must Watch TV" Noriega.

TRACY: BTW, have you ever seen Seacrest so keyed up over a performance? The guy was almost purple--I was worried he was about to explode right on stage.

TROY: And he was breathing so heavily! Is it wrong that I was kinda hoping for a Marie Osmond moment?

TRACY: My second favorite performance was CARLY SMITHSON's "Come Together." I didn't think there was a whole lot one could do with that song, but she sang the heck out of it. She put her own spin on it, changed up the notes so she could power up a bit here and there, and looked like she was having a grand old timet. All season the judges have been telling her to bring it, and last night, it was totally broughten.

TROY: I don't think it's fair for you to quote a movie you hate (Not Another Teen Movie), but I digress.

TRACY: It was one of the two times I laughed, so I can quote it.

TROY: And … FINALLY! Simon and I must have been on the same page tonight because when Carly was singing, I actually started thinking back to Kelly Clarkson in season one. When she announced that she wouldn't be doing her acoustic performance, I was a little disappointed--mainly because I'd like to hear that take on "Come Together." However, it was unneeded as Carly was simply fantastic. FINALLY!

TRACY: JASON CASTRO's "If I Fell" was a bit of a letdown, not so much for the arrangement or the core of his delivery, but for the cracked, tentative high notes and the slightly scared performance all throughout. Apparently someone isn't in his comfort zone with the Beatles.

TROY: Slightly scared? The boy is TERRIFIED to be up there. I'm guessing someone didn't get to smoke a fatty before going on stage this week. It definitely wasn't the worst performance of the night, but after last week's "Hallelujah," I think we were expecting more from Mr. Castro this week.

TRACY: Oh, and we discovered that he's Colombian, but that still doesn't excuse the dreads.

I know you think DAVID COOK is an asshat ...

TROY: (TOTAL asshat.)

TRACY: ... but he banged out another genius reworking, this time of my favorite Beatles' tune, "Eleanor Rigby." It felt a little off when I first watched it, so I rewound Tivo and discovered why--he threw in a few two-count measures in the middle of a four-count song. Which is not unheard of, but I think some people may have expected him to stay with the four-count beat--Jose said he felt like it was off and he didn't know why. (Of course, when I tried explaining the whole two-count versus four-count theory, he launched into a litany of Naval supply contracting wisdom to head me off, and then we just declared a truce and went back to I-Don't-Get-It-Land together.)

TROY: Wow--you really thought about that one J. I just thought it sucked.

TRACY: I didn't obsess or anything! I just wanted to know why it sounded a little strange. Plus, I really liked it overall, so rewinding wasn't a hardship.

Long story short, the song improved considerably for me upon a second listen. He takes risks, and I like that. He also went onstage without the guitar and didn't look as lonely and pathetic as he did the first time he tried that, so props to him.

TROY: Satan's Combover just isn't doing it for me. I do like that he tries something new and definitely brings a different style to the competition, but that EGO. Yeesh. It was OK, but I could care less about DC.

TRACY: Maggie and Marin immediately dropped the toy airplane they were flying around the room when their favorite, AMANDA OVERMYER, came on. I wasn't particularly in love with her shrieky "You Can't Do That"--maybe because it wasn't a song I'm off my head about in the first place. But Maggie and Marin danced around the room with the sheer abandon only a pre-schooler can posses and made me replay it ... twice. They were gunning for a third, but mommy put the kibbosh on that. I told them it just wasn't good enough this time for a three-peat. Interestingly, they seemed to agree, because they didn't protest when we moved on....

TROY: Why so much Amanda love? That's so funny!

TRACY: I don't know! But it's hilarious--they will literally drop everything to go shake their little groove things whenever she sings! As for my thoughts on her performance ... it was a'ight. I still love her southern-swamp-thing voice, but I hope she chooses a better song next time. At least it wasn't as ear-splittingly awful as that Kansas debacle.

TROY: Another performance overpraised by the judges. It was fine, but Amanda tends to do the same thing where she drunkenly warbles, while spastically convulsing. And BAAAADDDD song choice. If you listen to the soundtrack to "Across the Universe," you can hear Dana Fuchs rock "Don't Let Me Down" and "Why Don't We Do It On The Road." I'd also love to hear Amanda do a softer rock song like "Dear Prudence." Maybe next week, seeing as they are doing BEATLES WEEK AGAIN! ARG! WORST PRODUCERS EVER!

TRACY: I KNOW! That so totally sucks. One week is ENOUGH, you unimaginative FREAKS! Moving on ... I love "Let It Be." I do not love Brooke White. She's basically delivered carbon copies of other people's arrangements all throughout the competition, though she's currently riding on the fact that very few people realize her "Love is a Battlefield" was identical to Pat Benatar's acoustic version of the song (once again, available on her "Live: Summer Vacation Tour" CD.) Jose liked her a lot, but I'm getting more and more disenchanted.

TROY: Poor Pollyanna. I'm not as affronted as you are, mainly because I don't think Brooke has a chance in hell to win this competition. "Let It Be" lite won't be helping much either. Meh.

TRACY: And the CRYING! The rambling! The drunken flailing toward the piano, toward the band, toward the crowd. Ugh. Someone obviously found Paula's secret stash backstage--or she's actually auditioning to joine Pill-a Abdul and the Morphine Drips permanently.

TROY: At least she can form a sentence. Paula's busy trying to string words together like, "Brooke … you sin g… vocals ….I'm a fan … the performance was like a star being caught by an angry alligator with a purse … good job!"

TRACY: Poor DAVID HERNANDEZ. He can't banter, and last night, he turned out a freak show performance. Who DRESSED that poor boy? With the tapered gray pants and white shoes, coupled with his awkward movements, I was half-expecting him to bust into the Peewee Herman Tequila Shuffle at any moment. That was just bad, bad stage presence. What this guy has going for him is not stage-presence or personality--it's that he's good-looking and has a powerhouse of a voice. "I Saw Her Standing There" did not allow him to show off either.

TROY: You'd think that for being a stripper, he could at least dance! Total "go white boy" moves (as interpreted by a Latino).

TRACY: I KNOW! Maybe the only dancing he can do wouldn't be suitable for PG-rated TV. Or perhaps the poor boy just needs a pole.

TROY: I also loved how he kept talking about the "pizza place" he worked at. Riiiiight.

TRACY: Totally. And now we'll probably always have to wonder why it was that the "pizza place" fired him. Sad.

TROY: Vocally, David was a disaster. Oversinging, hammy, and spastic. The boy has powerhouse vocals, but he just doesn't know how to utilize them at all. Whatever.

TRACY: As soon as he finished, Jose turned to me and said, "That was frightening." That pretty much summed it up.

TROY: Ha! Perfect.

TRACY: RAMIELE MALUBAY lived up to her "Lullaby" nickname with a narcoleptic performance of "In My Life." I don't know what's going on with this girl, but the only thing she needs to be singing in public is the jingle for Lunesta. I can't even type anymore, because I'm so bored recalling that mess. I'm guessing that Jasmine Trias's fan base will keep her around for awhile, because those two have a lot more in common than just the fact that they're Filipina. Ay.

TROY: Is it sad that I think Ramiele has even LESS personality than Jasmine Trias? She's cute, and she probably can find a career being the Lunesta fairy. I don't think there is a song choice out there that will make Ramiele anymore interesting or noticeable. Sigh. I can't even pull out good snark for her. Damn you, Ramiele!

TRACY: Luke Menard may only have been gone a week, but SYESHA MERCADO has stepped up (or down?) to take his place as the utterly forgettable contestant of the evening. She didn't sing Whitney (probably because she HAD to pick a McCartney/Lennon song), but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was she did sing. I do remember her awful 80s-valley-girl shirt that looked like she raided Ramiele's awful closet, and her strange sideways ponytail. WHY is the valley girl look--now with a side of schlump--coming back? It was never that attractive to begin with. Someone please stop this insanity.

TROY: Agreed? Syesha is capital B "boring." I'm going to be lazy with this one and just throw out some random "compliments" for her.

- Syesha has really pretty skin!

- Syesha sang!

- Wow, Syesha wore shoes!

- Syesha has an 1866-IDOLS number!

TRACY: Heh. I can honestly say that she has awesome hair. But that's about it.

Our half-Honduran idol, DAVID ARCHULETA, turned in a surprisingly shaky performance. It's hard to believe that after his polished and much-lauded "Imagine" that his stage parents wouldn't have beaten at least one more Lennon/McCartney selection into his repertoire. Someone at wondered if this wasn't an attempt by the Archuleta camp to keep him from peaking too soon. And while I'm not normally one to buy conspiracy theories, I'm getting my inner Fox Mulder on here. That was totally out of character for the little guy. But I doubt if he's in any danger based on his very strong showings in past weeks.

TROY: Forgetting the lyrics is usually the kiss of death in IDOL land, but David has his past three performances curving him.

TRACY: Not to mention that he has the cute factor of an entire pile of newborn baby kittens.

TROY: I read that, prior to his performance, his father was screaming at him, telling him that he was terrible and would never with the competition. It actually drove David to tears (allegedly!). Remember friends, a vote for David is a vote for creepy stage parenting.

TRACY: POOR DAVID! A vote for him is now a vote to get him AWAY from the creepy stage parents and into a bazillionaire mansion where he can lock the doors and bar them from interacting with him again. I really hate people sometimes.

TROY: I was just about to award him the "Hot Mess of the Night" award, until …


TRACY: Well, has a new spokesmodel after last night. Krusty's tragic "performance" (and I use that term loosely) was an abomination. I understand why she wants to go country with everything she sings, with the judges always on the contestants to find their "identity" as artists, but turning an iconic song like "8 Days a Week" into a square-dancing nightmare is just an insult to two of the greatest singer/songwriters who ever lived. I think that right after she gets the boot (and it had BETTER happen soon, people!), someone needs to frog-march her over the Strawberry Fields and make her apologize for inflicting that travesty on poor John Lennon's memory. I can only hope Sir Paul is still with us and wasn't driven to throw himself under a double-decker omnibus after witnessing what she did to his unsuspecting song.

KRISTY, WHAT DID THAT SONG EVER DO TO YOU! ::::shaking fist toward Hollywood::::

TROY: THANK YOU KRUSTY! We need a hot mess every week or this show gets insanely boring. Fortunately Kristy BROUGHT IT this week with her painfully misguided interpretation of "8 Days a Week," reminiscent of something a drunken country cover band would perform at the Random Lake Firemen's Picnic.

TRACY: (Shouldnt' they have changed that to Firefighter's Picnic by now?)

TROY: And is it just me, or were her vocals at least three seconds behind the music?

TRACY: I don't know. I was too busy trying to staunch the bleeding from my ears.

TROY: This was the WORST performance of the year, and for that, I salute you, Kristy.

TRACY: Maybe Yoko will challenge her to a cage-match throwdown. That's gotta be more entertaining that hearing her ... "sing."

TROY: BTW, when you sent this to me, you forgot MICHAEL JOHNS!

TRACY: OMG, I did! Apologies to Syesha--I guess she wasn't the night's most forgettable contestant.

TROY: Meh. I just can't get into this guy's performance and I am certainly not sensing any of this alleged "charisma" he has. I'm bored. Do you have more to add?

TRACY: I really like the song "Across the Universe," but Michael's performance didn't make me love it any more. He was great in the audition rounds, but now, he's just sweaty and uncomfortable. And a little bit shout-y. I mean, if you put that performance inside a north Florida bar, I'm sure all the drunk girls would think he was the best thing ever. But on American Idol? Meh. (You know, we sound like a couple of goats whenever we talk about Michael Johns. Meh? Mehhhhhh. Meeeeehhhhhhhhhhh!)

I'm writing this prior to the results show: If there is any justice in this world, America will say "Screw you, Kristy, and the horse you would have ridden in on if you hadn't sold it."

TROY: Unfortunately for us, America seemed to have disagreed and on the RESULTS SHOW, decided to send David Hernandez home instead.


TROY: Was it because of the sordid stripping past?

TRACY: :::::banging head on monitor:::::

TROY: The performance from Hell last night?

TRACY: :::leaving the room to go throw things at the TV set::::

TROY: No … what I think did him in was the visual of a "walnut-sized booger" etched into the mind of viewers. Ick! You didn't deserve to go David, but the moral majority, and Krusty fans alike, disagreed. David said this won't be the last we hear of him. I'm guessing it probably is seeing as he'll probably be back working the pole at Dick's Cabare, which probably has a maximum capacity of 300.

TRACY: YOu know, they always say "This isn't the end." But it always seems to be the end. Sad. And David H. SO deserved to at least go on the Idol tour. I'm appalled at this choice and completely disgusted with you, America. I bet France wouldn't have kicked David H. off before Kristy Lee Owmyearshurt.

TROY: In other results show news: Katharine McPhee and David Foster are totally doing it. Gross.

TRACY: She just got married! But you're right--I went back and rewatched as much of that awful performance as I could stand, and there's a big ick factor there. Eeeewwww.

TROY: And the Best. Top. 12. EVAH. have managed to continue their streak of the worst. Group. Sings. EVER. And could Amanda look even more pissed about the Ford commercials and Brady Bunch sings?

TRACY: I know. If you're too cool for the show, go back and sing for the people you're selling respiratory equipment to! (Although I hope it's not too soon--Maggie and Marin would be crushed.)

TROY: See you next week!

TRACY: Same bat-time. Same bat-blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Day, Another Wallbanger

It's not often that I read a book that's so bad, I want to drop it in my driveway and drive over it a few times out of sheer spite over good money and precious time wasted. As a writer, I have a healthy respect for every author's creative spirit and enough sense to know that what doesn't appeal to me may be someone else's Best Thing Ever. If I don't like a given book, I generally dismiss it with the philosophical thought that while it may be competent, it's just not my cup of tea.

But the book I just finished ... it boggles the mind how it didn't get the stuffing edited out of it or at least make some unsuspecting copyeditor completely lose her mind. It's books like this that make me wonder if I should just give up on the whole idea of trying to tell people that romance novels don't necessarily equal trash/fluff/incompetent drivel.

Here's my damage: We all know that conflict is the heart of a good story. Star Wars wouldn't have been the best science fiction adventure of all time without the evil empire. The Lord of the Rings would have been a bore without Sauron and his minions breathing down Frodo's neck much of the time. When Harry Met Sally wouldn't be one of the most beloved romantic comedies ever if Harry and Sally had had the maturity and sense right from the beginning to know that they were meant for each other.

So this anonymous book ... it had no conflict. Basically (and I'm changing around details to protect the scribbler's identity), the heroine's ex-fiance is an ex because she found out he'd been cheating on her. She and her ex used to be good friends with the hero of the story, but once she discovered about the cheating, she realized that the hero must've known about it and didn't tell her. So, she dumped him as a friend at the same time that she dumped her fiance.

So starting in chapter one, through the machinations of a well-meaning friend, the heroine and hero are being forced to work together for the first time since she told him to take a flying leap off her universe many moons ago. We have a fairly decent romantic conflict--she's angry that the hero kept the humiliating knowledge of her fiance's cheating from her and almost let her get married to the jerk when they were supposed to have been friends, and he probably feels a little weird about the idea of getting involved with his old friend's ex.

Then WHY, at the end of chapter one, did the author decide to sweep the entire conflict to the side and forge on without any sort of sensible obstacle to speak of? The H&H had a conversation that went something like this.

Heroine: "I hate you. You lied to me and let my ex humiliate me. We were friends, and you should have told me he was cheating."

Hero: "I didn't know he was cheating. I found out when you did."

Heroine: "Really?"

Hero: "Really."

Heroine: OK, I believe you, but I'm going to hate you anyway."

Hero: "But, but ... I don't get it. I didn't KNOW! I HATE that guy now!"

Heroine: "I've spent too much time hating you to go back now, you stupid dummyhead."

In other words, at the end of chapter one, what was a pretty decent if not earth-shattering conflict morphs into the following exercise in lameness: She's spent so much energy hating the hero, she refuses to let it all go to waste. And he admits that he's no longer in touch with the ex-fiance, so ... he really has no reason not to get involved with the heroine except that she's determined to get in touch with her inner middle-schooler and loathe him "just 'cause."


I wonder if my local used bookstore will take a book with wall dents and tire marks on the cover?

On the other hand, an author I just discovered and am loving so much I can't stand it is Sharon Cullars. I picked up her book The Object of Love based solely on word of mouth and the fact that her first book, Again--the one that wasn't available at my local store--is a reincarnation romance, and I love those. If I'd just been browsing the shelves, I probably wouldn't have picked up Cullars' book at all because it's a steamy Brava, and--as you might have guessed by what I write--I prefer the kind of romance novels that have dead bodies and a good car chase or two. But again, she's been getting really good word of mouth, which is often enough to steer me out of my light-reading comfort zone. Turns out that word of mouth is well-deserved: I'm only a little over halfway through Object, and I'm entranced by the story's emotional punch, the leap-off-the-page characters, and the paranormal twist Cullars threw in to keep things exciting and unique. I'm reading slowly, not just because of the day job and the preschoolers and the writing cut into my leisure time, but because there's only two of her books out right now, and I'm going to be sad when I finish the second and have to wait for the next one.

Also read A Thousand Splendid Suns recently, and it opened a whole new window on the world for me--specifically to Afghanistan before, during, and after the Taliban. I think everyone in the western world who assumes every Iraqi and Afghani is a terrorist should read Khaled Hosseini's book. Because it shows how no matter where we are, what our religion is, if we're not extremist wingnuts, we all love the same, and suffer when exposed to corruption and violence, and wish for the same basic things for our children and for the world as a whole.

Wow, end of lecture (guess I'm feeling grumpy today). Read anything amazing lately?

Friday, March 07, 2008

American Idol: Top 8 Women & Results

TRACY: After a great men's night, the women were still just a little meh. I'm looking forward to the streamlined top 12 next week. Perhaps without the weaker elements, this show will feel more consistently good.

TROY: I thought the women stepped it up this week--from "meh" to "sigh." To be fair, they couldn't compare to the men, who pretty much knocked it out of the park this week (except for YOU, Luke Menard--you still siz-uck).

TRACY: I barely remember A'S'I'A'H EPPERSON's performance because I was too busy being appalled by her choice of ensemble. The girl has a slamming figure, but I don't think Kate "Hi-I'm-a-Human-Pez-Dispenser" Bosworth and her gigantic head could have pulled off that duotoned Pepto-Bismol disaster. Why Asia'h felt compelled to stuff herself into that high-waisted, pink sausage of a costume is beyond me, but NOT FLATTERING. Unless, of course, you are the new spokesperson for Oscar Meyer wieners ("Now in pastels!") and they're paying you to dress like one.

TROY: Well As'iah has to be memorable for SOMETHING. Just remember: nothing is as bad as Jennifer Hudson's aluminum foil space suit or Clay Aiken's red leather pants.

TRACY: It was still pretty bad, from the armpits down. Whoever the rich idiots are who dictate style trends, listen up: High-waisted pants are the DEVIL! ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE TAPERED! AND SATIN! No one wants to look like a tottering, shiny sausage with tiny circus fat-lady feet, even and perhaps especially when they are as skinny as A'siah.

That is all.

TROY: My sister: one woman fashion police: tapered pants wearers of the world, beware!

TRACY: Yeah, you know it.

TROY: Seriously though, Asia'h was decent, but not memorable at all. In fact, I'm having trouble trying to recall her performance at all.

TRACY: You know how a contestant is dead to you when they talk back to Simon? Well, I am mentally willing them off my planet when they haul out unimaginative, already beaten-to-death Whitney Houston songs....

TROY: I think that's part of the reason why I cannot remember her–-whenever someone does Whitney, I mentally block their performance. I guess I just don't get what inspires a contestant to choose one of her songs. It's almost as if these contestants have never seen an episode of Idol before in their lives.

TRACY: As'iah who? Where does that apostrophe go?

TROY: 'Aisha?

TRACY: Dear God, KADY MALLOY just can't stay in tune, can she? I love that song (because I loved the original Highlander movie) and I thought she was going to pull it off until she got to the "For-eh-VAAAAAHHHHHHH!" part.

TROY: I really like Kady Malloy's personality too! Her interview clips are always a highlight. Why must she suck so badly? Why can't Krusty Lee Cook have Kady's voice? It's the soul sucking Idol stage doing it to her.

TRACY: I know--she's awfully cute in her clips. But I think Randy was sharing Paula's "Coke" this week when he told her that she was missing the low notes but hitting the high ones. A rewind of my Tivo told me I was 100 percent correct when I clapped my hands my bleeding ears during the high notes and shrieked "FLAT! She's FLAT! OOOOOH, IT HURRRRRRRTS!" at my husband.

Fortunately, he is tone-deaf, so he was impervious.

I think someone needs to just give the girl a sitcom about someone who pretends to be Britney to get ahead in life, and make her stop singing on my television. Such a cute girl. Such an awful, awful sense of pitch.

TROY: They should give Kady the job that the charmless Justin Guarini has on TVGuide Channel hosting Idol Tonight. She's funny, pretty, and seemingly smart--she just happens to have the singing voice of Cameron Diaz. Kady's a heartbreaker for all the wrong reasons.

TRACY: I loved AMANDA OVERMEYER's cover of "I Hate Myself for Loving You." I don't care if she can't sing a ballad--I LOVE it when she does that crazy howl in the middle of her songs. She has an identity as an artist, and she's not afraid to use it. Crazy biker nurse for the win!

And praise the Lord, she deflated her hair tonight and didn't wear flaming pants again. Please, Amanda, don't ever let them make you look like the Bride of Frankenstein doing "Hairspray" again!

TROY: I actually found Amanda to be a bit overpraised this week. While she was much better than last week, I wasn't flipping the way that the judges were. And why is she such a frickin' grouch? Hey Oscar, it's not hard to smile when you get a compliment. If you think glaring and acting socially awkward is "rock 'n roll," then you shouldn't be on American "This Is My Now" Idol.


TRACY: Agreed. She does need to perk up a bit. I also loved CARLY SMITHSON, surprisingly. She's showing a little more personality, not just being the "Hey, I'm Irish and I have a tattoo!" girl. Her version of "I Drove All Night" was stunningly proficient. Maybe it wasn't her "Superstar" moment yet, but it made me really look forward to seeing what else she can do.

TROY: Carly still gives me a case of the MEHs. While I think she has a pretty voice, she never does anything interesting with it. Plus, I couldn't get out Celine Dion's version of this song out of my head, adding to the cheese factor. I'm hoping Carly can do something.

TRACY: Oh, and more high-waisted pants, but Carly's insane legs and the little sailor buttons kept those from being a total knockwurstian disaster.

TROY: So Carly become the exception to the rule? I have so much to learn, apparently.

TRACY: The sailor buttons make the high-waisted thing make a little more sense. Plus, if you have really long legs and not too much in the way of hips, they're not the disaster they are on women who have even the slightest hint of curves. Come on, Troy. Surely you noticed the difference!

Moving right along....

KRISTY LEE COOK needs to go home, people. I know you feel sorry for the horse, but come on now.

Yes, she made an interesting CHOICE in serving up a country-fried version of Journey's "Faithfully." (BTW, Troy, did you know Randy used to be in Journey? Just in case you didn't catch his oh-so-subtle name-dropping.) But her delivery of that choice? Ow. Just ... ow.

TROY: Randy was in Journey? Randy worked with Mariah Carey? Randy sucks, but not as bad as Tonya Harding Lite. STOP VOTING FOR HER, PEOPLE. She is charmless, bland, uninteresting, and I just don't. get. it. We shouldn't even bother writing about her.


There's really nothing else to be done with Phil Collins' "Against All Odds," so I'm sad that RAMIELE MALUBAY chose it. BOOOOOrrrrinnnnnggg. In fact, I'm even getting bored trying to recall it, so I'll punt to you before I accidentally slip into a coma. (That's the way to avoid our snark--make us so sleepy, we can't serve it up.)

TROY: Ramiele: the cure for insomnia. The only time I've ever heard anything interesting done to "Against All Odds" was the Postal Service's electronica version. Ramiele's vocals were fine, but she brought nothing new to the song, except maybe made it "cuter." I think Ramiele is a little bit Jasmine Trias, but made more bland.

TRACY: I'm officially way annoyed with BROOKE "the musical Kaavya Viswanathan" WHITE. Word on the Web is that Pat Benatar does that acoustic version of "Love is a Battlefield" on tour all the time. So I did a quick search on YouTube, and TO A NOTE, that version that Brooke did is part of the great Pat B's "Live: Summer Vacation Tour" CD.

Don't believe me? Listen to the clip on YouTube:

Ergo, while Brooke may draw the line at seeing an R-rated movie, she will rip off the original artist and pretend in all her saccharine goodness that she made up a whole new arrangement of her song all by herself, isn'tsheclever? NIIIIIIICE.

TROY: Hey! You weren't annoyed when Daughtry ripped off Live with his take on "Walk the Line." I hate defending Brooke, but she didn't claim the version as her own. And Pat Benatar's version is a bit obscure. Either way, I thought Pollyanna was a'ight this week. She was better last week, but I still prefer her to Star Spangled Ice Queen.

TRACY: She did so claim it as her own, albeit indirectly! When Paula started saying that she should have done it with the full band, Brooke said something along the lines of "Well, I can't do Pat Benatar's version." Implying that she mixed it up on her own to avoid a bad imitation. And Chris D. admitted the next day that it was Live's version, while Brooke White did not.

The prosecution rests.

SYESHA MERCADO who? (Freaking Whitney.)

TROY: "Saving All My Love" is the only tolerable Whitney song for a contestant to sing because it is such a trainwreck. Contests usually do some sort of dippy, interpretative dance to it. See Alexis Lopez, Season One: Syesha wasn't enough of a hot mess for me. It was just bland when I wanted an extra dose of Velveeta. Dead to me.

TRACY: Oh, and what is UP with Paula's incoherent, self-indulgent ramblings? That's it--I really think they need to replace her. It's like having your doddering, 500-year-old auntie with Alzheimer's back you into a corner so she can mutter in your face about melons and cornflakes and other wondrous things in her world that make absolutely no sense in yours because YOU STILL HAVE ALL OF YOUR BRAIN CELLS. If they replaced her, people would be sad for about five minutes until someone else came along who was both a nice antidote to Simon and could speak-a the English properly. Dude. Pill-a Abdul and the Morphine Drips is not an act I want on my television ANYMORE!

TROY: It's a little sad when you see Paula from season one, back when she could put a sentence together to the current Paula 2.Slurry. But her ramblings make the show. She is insane and second to Danny Noriega's diva rants, I love hearing what incoherent mess will escape her lips. Remember this is the same woman who slept with Corey Clark and had a massive meltdown when she couldn't choreograph the BRATZ movie.

TRACY: Ugh. Jose and I have started fast-forwarding her when she talks, and we crack up when it takes Tivo FOREVER to get through her batcrap crazy diatribes even at 3x speed. Brilliant idea alert: I nominate Whitney Houston to replace her, because A) perhaps the mere presence of her greatness would make contestants too intimidated to tackle her catalog and pale in horrifying comparison EVER AGAIN, and B) even with her brain half-eaten by crack, I am SURE Ms. Whitney would be a lot more concise and entertaining than Paula McRamblypants. Imagine:

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, Syesha, HELL to the no!"

"A! SHEEE! AHHH!!! Do not! ::finger wave::: Sing my songs! :::finger wave::: Ever! :::finger wave::: AGAIN!"


TROY: I fully support that idea (with Mariah "Hey lambs..." Carey alternating in once in awhile). Whitney would be amazing for one reason, and one reason alone:

TRACY: We're just all about YouTube tonight, aren't we? I'm predicting a Kady and (wishfully) a Kristy Lee Boring ouster tonight, although we could see a Syesha or Asia'h upset for those ridiculously overdone song choices.

Can I also just mention that we're getting an insane amount of hits on these AI recaps thanks to Google searches for "Danny Noriega." So Danny, if you're out there Googling yourself ... HEY! : )

******RESULTS SHOW******

TROY: And you spoke too soon as on tonight's RESULTS SHOW, my favorite contestant got the boot. I am DEVASTATED by this turn of events (but not as much as Ramiele was--that breakdown was the hottest mess of the week! It was like Carrie at the prom, minus the blood). WHYYY GOD? WHYYY DANNY NORIEGA? This is truly a tragedy.

TRACY: Maybe Ramiele has a second calling as a regular on La Madrastra. Do you think they'd let a Filipina on a Mexican soap opera?

Poor Danny. I wish he'd stayed, but more for the promise of his voice than on what he actually delivered. Chikezie sang better, but he's Chi-crazy. (On the up side, at least we can keep using our favorite nickname for at least another week.)

TROY: In less traumatic news, Luke Menard got kicked off.

TRACY: And let the church say, AMEN!

TROY: Our ears thank you, voting audience.

It was time, but I am a bit sad to see Kady go, for all the reason lifted above. How bad was her sing-out though? On Wednesday, she had a note accuracy average of 54% and tonight I think it dropped to 23%. Sad.

TRACY: I felt bad for her, too, but I really think she just needs to be an actress. At least, until she can calm her nerves and hit the right notes instead of the wrong ones.

TROY: As'iah didn't deserve to go, seeing as Tonya Harding Lite is still in the competition. That's what happens when you pick a Whitney though.

TRACY: A'siah-who?

TROY: Bye Asi'ah! We hardly knew ye (or where to put the apostrophe in your name).

Blake Lewis also performed and reminded us why he didn't win last year. Dude put me to sleep.

TRACY: I KNOW! Maggie, my four-year-old, likes to watch American Idol with me (she is TOTALLY in love with Amanda Overmeyer!), and when Blake was singing she kept going, "Fast-forward, mommy. I want to see Amanda Overmeyer in the red shirt."

I don't think that performance is going to save that album any time soon. Max Headroom called--he wants his beatboxing skills back.

TROY: Top twelve next week! Huzzah!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

American Idol: Top 8 Men

TRACY: Well, Troy, I have to say, the guys did so well the other night, I'm not sure I have anything much in the way of snark to impart. But for you and our one commenting reader (Hi, Sharron!), I'll try.

So when DAVID ARCHULETA announced that his most embarrassing moment took place in Honduras, Jose and I ran upstairs to Google him and discovered that, like us, he's HALF-HONDURAN! So now I love him even more and forbid you from talking about how fake you think he is.

TROY: SO fake. His "oh golly gosh" demeanor is totally starting to grate. I'm just waiting for pictures of him doing a line of coke or something surface.

TRACY: :::snort:::

TROY: No one with stage parents turns out to be that nice and genuine. Or maybe I'm too cynical over here…

TRACY: Sheesh, no love for la raza.... Anyway, I never liked the song "Another Day in Paradise" much in the 80s when Phil Collins did it, but I genuinely enjoyed David's arrangement. His voice sounded awesome and I might just have to download it. I didn't mind that it wasn't some zippy little "Hi! I'm seventeen! Hi!" number like Simon seemed to be craving. He has a mature, interesting voice, and he should be able to do whatever the crunk he wants. Besides, happy, flippy little songs every week might just send us all into sugar shock.

TROY: Well it's not like he was doing some indie rock song. It wasn't all that deep (and lies! - you totally won't download it). However, I cannot deny that David does have a tremendous voice. He has just enough power and control to make any song work. I'll like to see him when things move to Latin and Country to see if he still holds up. I'd probably like him a little more if he showed some more edge. David + Marilyn Manson perhaps?

TRACY: Now that would be fun. What almost did send me into sugar shock was his comment about how the song was about "the people in the world who have nothing." But then I remembered that HE'S SEVENTEEN, and it suddenly became kind adorable. And since I read that today's young and hip generation has a huge problem with narcissism, maybe a sweet boy who sings a song for the world's poor isn't such a bad thing.

TROY: David loves world peace. STAGE PARENTING, dear sister. He's been groomed to be doing this thing since he was three. Unlike poor social mutant JASON CASTRO…..

TRACY: Ooooh. Why do I get the distinct impression that Jason wants to win the recording contract so he'll suddenly have 24-7 access to a never-ending supply of weed? You have to giggle at his obvious and kind of adorable discomfort and general, ganja-induced incoherence in front of the camera, but that most embarrassing story about losing one of his dreads at dinner was really gross. Who wants to contemplate a big pile of gunked-up hair in one's soup? BLEHHH.

TROY: Oh the guys were definitely ready to bring the disgusting with their embarrassing stories. Ick. You know Paula totally wants to get ahold of the stuff that Jason's smoking. He seems like a completely nice guy, but I'm pretty sure he's living on Cloud 9 … eating dread soup.

TRACY: EEEEEEUW!!! That said, Jason C. was fabulous. I love the song "Hallelujah" (Didn't they play that when Marissa Cooper died on the OC?)

TROY: (Yeah – and when Shrek and Fiona were breaking up, the dramatic Ugly Betty season finale, etc.(

TRACY: I thought his version was beautiful and emotionally true. He has a spare, interesting voice, and a throwback 70s vibe (I'm talking the Neil Young/Crosby, Stills, and Nash vibe), and I'm not sure why the judges are loving him as much as I do, but I'm glad.

TROY: I thought it was a really interesting choice. Jason did a great job with the song (even if he didn't look too terribly convinced with himself). I agree with you--the judges seemed to think this performance was Fantasia "Summertime" caliber and it just wasn't. Still, it was memorable and enough to secure a spot for Jason in the top 12.

TRACY: Jose and I LOVED DAVID COOK. I hate "Hello." Hate it. Hate, hate, hate. Hated the video (although the blind sculptress was adorable), hated the big clay Lionel Richie head, hated the song, and really just wanted Lionel to break out the bongos and release another "All Night Long" instead. But David C's version? Genius.

And I don't want to hear about how he snapped at Simon the other night. He felt bad almost immediately and probably won't do it again. And since he still didn't go off half as bad as Chikezie or Senorita Noriega. I'm over it.

TROY: I can't look over Cook's pretentious last week. Like I said, once someone freaks out on the judges they are dead to me. His performance was different, but I think he's starting to buy into his own hype. He has half the talent of Daughtry and twice the ego (post-show!).


TROY: Capital A Assh--


Plus, I don't care what Simon says, I loved his "word geek" clip from last week. He's someone I'd gladly listen to in concert, AND I could have a game of Scrabble with him, too. I'm a fan.

TROY: Blech. And nice comb-over, dude.

TRACY: He can't help it if the Rogaine isn't doing its thing. (Terrible transition alert!) Someone who doesn't yet have to worry about Rogaine is MICHAEL JOHNS (Heh.), who once again, left me with an overwhelming case of the mehs. His take on "Don't You Forget About Me" was a'ight, but if you hold up your hands in front of your eyes as kind of an anti-charisma shield and just listen, it's not great. Not even remotely. He's coasting on his looks, his mike-stand-twirling skills and his Jim Morrison magnetism at this point.

TROY: Ditto. I really am not getting the appeal of Michael Johns. Is it the accent? His performances just aren't anything spectacular. Great song. Weak performance. A dingo ate his talent.

TRACY: Oh, and let's take a moment to feel smug over knowing that the song was by Scotland's own Simple Minds, not Australia's INXS as Randy erroneously pointed out.

:::basking in smugness:::

TROY: Even I knew that. Randy must have been smoking some of Jason Castro's ganja.

TRACY: Or eating dread soup. So, let's just put aside the knowledge that DAVID HERNANDEZ is a stripper who goes beyond the g-string frontier for a moment, and focus on how great his voice is. I HATE the Diana DeGarmo-esque "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (melodramatic much?), but it was kind of interesting to hear a (very talented) guy sing it for a change. I may hate the song, but I didn't mind David's performance at all, and that's actually the highest praise I can give when someone bursts into a tune that usually makes me want to bury my head under the couch cushions and howl until it's over.

TROY: I actually started to laugh when David started to sing this song. Celine Dion? Really?? That said, David is very talented and he made me tolerate that telenovela-tastic song. The 80s were incredibly cheesy, but did he have to pick THAT song? Meat Loaf! Celine! Ack!

TRACY: Oh, and ... OMG, HE WAS A STRIPPER!!!!!!!!!

TROY: David was a stripper??? For the love of Jessica Sierra!

TRACY: Although, since he's a guy, there isn't the whole sexist, viewing-women-as-brainless-objects ick factor political element to it, I'm not as affronted as I am by Brook Busey's (aka "Diablo Cody's") stupid, pointless, not-driven-by-crushing-poverty past (and tattoo).

TROY: DOUBLE STANDARD. He's still a stripper - what difference does it make if the stripper is male or female?

TRACY: Obviously someone never took any feminist theory electives in college. The weight of the culture, dude. Men can't oppress themselves.

(By the way, what is UP with Brook Busey's (aka "Diablo Cody's") tattoo? What self-respecting, righteous woman permanently inks a bikini babe/stripper on her arm? Does she have those busty mud-flap girls on her booty to match? Why not go all out and ink the Hooters logo underneath your collarbone while you're at it?!?!?! I look forward to seeing Juno when it's on DVD, but in the name of Gloria Steinem, I really want to take a laser to that woman.)

TROY: (Uh … did you see her Oscar dress? I haven't read her book, but I have a felling Ms. Busey isn't too ashamed of her stripper past. She was also a "living doll" at Sex World in Minneapolis. The synopsis of her book alludes that she did this because she was "bored." You must love her that much more now.)

TRACY: (I know. Gross.) As I was saying ... I'm not politically affronted by David's past. And if he stripped, like some women do, because he couldn't make that much money any other way, then that sucks. What does get me is the fact that he went all full-frontal and lap danced. No one wants to picture their American Idol rubbing his junk all over men he's just met. That's just unsanitary.

TROY: Too much thought. Ack!

TRACY: :::trying to get rid of horrible visual::::

That said, I still like him . His awkward "Hey, did you see my shoes?" attempt at banter was kind of endearing. Although here's a note of advice to David: Never, ever employ the phrase "walnut-sized booger" when you're on national television again. Comprendeme?

TROY: That might have been a worse visual than the lap dance. Ick! David's all about the TMI this week. I'm scared about what we'll hear next week if he continues on this trend.

TRACY: CHIKEZIE EZE was pretty good, but I still can't get over his insane and endless ranting during week one, so he needs to go. Plus, I refuse to say any more about any unimaginative contestant who trots out Whitney Houston, except that everyone on this show in years past has already beaten poor Whitney to death, and hasn't she been through enough already with that no-good husband of hers? Leave the poor woman be.

TROY: Remember how we did a blog of swiping Oscars a year ago? I think it's time to ban songs from Idol--NO MORE WHITNEY! Seriously kids--you're not that good. Calm yourselves. As far as Jacuzzi goes, I have no desire to give him any praise. He did fine, but I would love to see his overdramatic ass go home this week. I'll welcome it.

TRACY: You know, I think somewhere in there, DANNY NORIEGA has an amazing voice, but instead of showing it off, he's too busy "performing." Sweetheart, this isn't an audition to be the America's Next Top Waitress at Lucky Chang's. This is a competition to be a recording star. So show us that when the cameras are off and all we're hearing is the dulcet tones of your voice through our car radios, we won't all be veering into ditches in our haste to change the station. You could save a life here, dude.

TROY: Hot mess of the week! Danny Noriega is quite possibly the most amazing contestant Idol has ever had and certainly the biggest diva. You have to admit that you look forward to see what he does each week. He's dramatic, immature, insane, and way over-the-top. In other words, he's tremendous TV. I will be wicked devastated if he doesn't make the top 12.

TRACY: Me, too, although I think he's in danger.... And, as always, that leaves us with ... LUKE MENARD.


Please, for the love of all that does not make my eardrums bleed, stop. Just stop.

TROY: Poor Luke Menard. He seems so nice too--can he switch voices with Jacuzzi? And if he does make it to the top 12, he'll definitely be the Haley Scarnato of the competition (but at least she had her legs – what will Luke do to retain votes?). He has to be Paula's boy toy of the year because he's already rendered half of American deaf.

TRACY: On Thursday, I really, really hope we'll be hearing the last of Luke Menard. I think Danny Noriega was the night's second most vulnerable. As a possible alternate, Chi-crazy could go, although if a large portion of the voting public missed his meltdown, he might get a pass on his talent. I'm also a little worried for second-alternate David Hernandez because of his low-key personality. And we KNOW he's lost the Moral Majority vote....

TROY: Ha! Chi-Crazy! I'm totally using that from now on.

Oh David and his G-string are totally getting Antonella-ed out of there. However, let's put happy thoughts into Luke "The Tone Deafanator" Menard and Chi-crazy getting the boot this week. I also wouldn't be heartbroken to see skeezy Michael Johns go back down under.

TRACY: Can we just keep nine men and only add three women to the top 12?

TROY: Is it too late to bring back Tami Gosnell?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Random Questions with Richard Dansky

Richard Dansky is one of the hardest-working writers I know, and while I struggle with plotting, story ideas seem to come to him fast and furious. He's the author of the newly released Firefly Rain, a critically acclaimed horror novel he describes as "snowbird gothic," or "a mixture of the classic Southern gothic with the sensibility of a relocated Northeasterner."

When he's not scaring himself and others with his books, Rich works as the Manager of Design for Red Storm Entertainment. Yes, people, he actually makes money writing and designing video games. If you've seen UbiSoft's Tom Clancy games on store shelves, Rich's fingerprints are all over them--he's UbiSoft's Central Clancy Writer. (NB: I actually got to "consult" on an adventure game he developed called
Freedom: First Resistance that had a Latina heroine, and my named appeared in the credits. In the credits! How cool is that?) Prior to joining Red Storm/UbiSoft, Rich developed live-action role-playing game books for White Wolf.

Rich and I met while we were both in the first days of Boston College's M.A. program in English literature. He bowed to me in this elaborate, Renaissance-esque fashion and asked me if I wanted to come to his house and be a vampire with him and a few of his closest friends in the city. I backed away slowly and politely told him to take a flying leap off my universe. And we've been great friends ever since.

In the interest of pimping my friend and amazingly talented writer, here are some Random Questions with Richard Dansky:

TRACY: So, Rich, you have an immensely enthusiastic fan base from your years as a video and role-playing game developer. Consequently, I bet you've gotten some bizarro fan mail. What's the weirdest piece of mail you've ever received?

I think the absolute weirdest one I've gotten was a bottle of Everclear that someone sent me back in the White Wolf days. I'm not sure if the message was "I love your writing, please drink yourself blind" or "If you drink this, you'll stop inflicting your writing on us," but either way, it was a bit on the unexpected side.

Honestly, most of the mail I get these days isn't fan mail; it's people asking for advice on how to get into the video game industry.

TRACY: As mentioned above, we first met at Boston College when you invited me to come to your house and be a vampire. Do you still vampire, and does it help with your writing?

RICHARD: To be fair, I asked you come by and be one of several vampires, though if you'd really wanted I'd have let you be a werewolf instead. (For anyone out there who has no idea what we're talking about, I invited Tracy into my nascent Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop roleplaying game, and she was smart enough to say no.)

TRACY: Just so you know, I'm not making fun. It makes for a great "how we met" story, but the truth is I just didn't trust my ability to make up stories on the spot. I SUCK at improvisational theater (which I discussed recently over at the Intrigue Authors' blog in gross and embarrassing detail), and couldn't even imagine coming up with stories off the top of my head the way you described it. And if you remember, I went, er, LARPing with you all at least once. And had fun.

RiCHARD: I don't actually do much tabletop roleplaying anymore-- with my travel and work schedules, I just don't have the time for an organized campaign--but for a long time running, a game was a tremendous help to my writing. Being in charge of telling a story for five or six players on a weekly, episodic basis can teach you a lot about plotting, character, and narrative flow, not to mention organizing your story ideas. Plus, you get a heck of a lot of practice working with various character voices and motivations, and all of that is invaluable in learning to write better fiction.

TRACY: Tell us more about your day job, because it's cool.

RICHARD: I work in the video game industry, and I wear two hats. On one hand, I manage the game design department at Red Storm Entertainment, which means working with the team here in North Carolina on the design aspects of our games. On the other, I'm the Central Clancy Writer for Ubisoft, which means functioning as a sort of central writing and continuity resource for all of the Tom Clancy-brand games like Splinter Cell, End War, and Rainbow Six. What that can mean on a day to day basis is anything from looking over a script or a story outline to make sure that we're not re-doing something we did in a previous game to actually getting down and dirty and doing the writing for the game itself. As a result, I spend a fair bit of time at Ubisoft's other studios, which means that there are waitresses in a couple of restaurants in Montreal who know me by sight. It's a lot of fun, and I've gotten to visit places like Bucharest and Shanghai that I never thought I'd see.

Now, if only they'd open up a studio in Jamaica, we'd really be talking…

TRACY: When we were at BC together, you were quite serious about horror fiction having significant literary value. So, for the benefit of our readers here, are your books more than just blood, guts, and gore?

RICHARD: I'm really not terribly interested in gore, arterial spray, splatter, or any of the other stereotypical trappings of horror. The horror fiction that I really fell in love with is much more--dare I say it--cerebral, or at least psychological, more about knowledge and consequence than it is about nasty sharp pointy teeth. As much fun as a good old monsterfest like The Thing can be, it's just not something that I want to take a swing at in my writing.

I'm much more interested in people and consequence, if that makes any sense. It's why I like to write ghost stories--they're very much about the consequences of character decisions coming home to roost, and they're deeply human stories. Giant evil monsters from beyond the cosmos don't do much for me, and if they're not interesting to me, then it's going to be that much more difficult for me to make them interesting for my readers. I'd rather write about people--alive or dead.

TRACY: My blog visitors are probably mostly romantic suspense readers and writers (with a few random people looking for Denise Austin crotch shots thrown in for good measure). Tell me why they should give Firefly Rain a try.

RICHARD: Ultimately, I think the best reason to give the book a try is that it's a good story about interesting people. There's certainly some suspenseful elements to the book as Jacob Logan tries to uncover what's going on at the family farm without getting himself killed by whatever's out there, and a lot of the book hinges on Logan's relationships with two of the women he knows. That being said, I don't think the genre labels matter so much as just telling a good story, and I like to think that there's a good enough story in there to keep people interested in what happens next.

Also, the cover's really gorgeous. But you can see that for yourself.

TRACY: Have you ever scared yourself while writing? If so, how?

RICHARD: There have definitely been times when I've been pounding away on a story, and I suddenly realize that it's 2 in the morning, there's no one else in the house, it's dark, and something just made a sound downstairs. So I do get carried away on occasion, but I like it when that happens--it means that I'm really getting into what I'm doing, and the mood is strong enough to drag me in.

TRACY: You're one of the hardest-working writers I know--creating computer games by day, novels by night, and probably some White Wolf freelancing in between, right? How do you stay creative and original without burning out/losing the muse/getting writer's block, or whatever you call it when a writer hits the creative wall?

RICHARD: I actually gave up the game writing freelance a few years ago, but I replaced it with book reviews, blogging, and writing about video game writing. So, yeah, "busy" is pretty much the operative word. Then again, there's always so much cool stuff out there to write about, I don't know if I know how to slow down.

The plus side to all the running around and going in nine million different directions is that I'm constantly exposed to new material that can stimulate story ideas, provide background, or otherwise goose my writing. Jumping on a plane for a week at another studio plays hob with my housecleaning, but it's also a chance to read on the flights, to explore a new city, to talk to new folks, and to shake things up a bit.

As for writers' block, generally I've got enough stuff going that if I'm blocked on one thing, I can jump on to another and hopefully keep the words rolling. Mind you, time spent writing a novel is probably more productive in the long run than time spent on my sports blog, but it's all writing, and as long as I'm putting words down, that can't be a bad thing.

Monday, March 03, 2008

American Idol: Top Ten Women!

Well, Troy finally caught up with his Tivo so we could recap the women's performances from last week. I'm all meh again about the women. The night verged on disaster for some of them, while others were just a'ight. So I'm not sure I can muster the snark--maybe we can keep this short.

TROY: Seriously. Isn't this supposed to be the MOST. TALENTED. TOP. 20. EVAH? Cause…I'm not buying it at all.

TRACY: I know! CARLY SMITHSON started off fine with "Crazy on You," which is a very difficult song, but I do think she suffered in comparison with Ann Wilson. She has a lovely voice and great range, but it seems like that should be adding up to some Fantasia/"Summertime," Ruben/"Superstar," Chris D./"Hemorrhage" moments, and it's really not.

She was one of the best of the night, but it was a sucktastic night. I hope she steps it up, although I have to confess, I'm kind of at a loss as to how she could do that.

TROY: Wasn't Carly supposed to be the "ringer" this year? I agree that she has a nice voice, but I'm still not seeing much of a personality or anything else. With all of the hype that this girl had prior to her performances, I am not seeing any kind of pay-off. She could go home at any time and I definitely won't be heartbroken,.

TRACY: I wasn't as off my head with BROOKE WHITE's "You're So Vain" as the judges were. It was a nice carbon-copy of Carly Simon's version, but that's not saying much, because this is not a difficult song. What Carly Simon brings to it is her amazing, butter-smooth lower register, and Brooke ain't got it. So ... meh.

And that guitar playing!? I was shocked that they didn't tell her to put that thing away, because she sounded like someone two classes into Guitar for Dummies. I mean, if she can go out there and play like THAT in front of millions of people and not get verbally decimated for it, I might as well chuck it all and start lobbying to be the third Indigo Girl. Dude.

TROY: Even though Brooke's guitar playing rivaled my final in Guitar 101 (I broke down mid-song and just said "I am SO sorry" after butchering my way though), I kind of enjoyed her performance. Sure she had a dopey grin on her face without any sense of irony or bitterness the song is supposed to have, but she set herself apart from the other girls, which is always good. I'm still not a fan, but I have to give props to the obnoxious nanny this week.

TRACY: I love "Don't Leave Me This Way," and was glad to see RAMIELE MALUBAY give it the Thelma Houston disco treatment, rather than the somnambulant suck-out-the-funk arrangements past American Idol contestants have inflicted on that poor song. But still ... it was missing that "it" factor. Maybe the "it" was a halfway decent outfit. I wouldn't have wore that tank or those jeans to scrub out my bathtub, much less on television in front of millions of people. I hope she makes the top ten just so the AI stylist can What Not to Wear her ass at least a few times before she gets the inevitable boot.

TROY: Great song. Mediocre performance. To do "Don't Leave Me This Way," you need a big voice and a little edge, which Ramiele has none of. She sang without any sort of attachment to the song, which could be because of the time difference (apparently these contestants are having troubles with the 60s and 70s – whatever). The only thing I can imagine her doing is getting involved with some sort of Disney production (unless her "scandalous" pictures online cause trouble--though that didn't stop Vanessa Hudgens).

TRACY: Eeeuw. I'm going to go out of my way to avoid those.

And speaking of terrifying outfits, AMANDA OVERMEYER needs to give those pants back to the WWE wrestler she stole them from. Here's a good rule of thumb: If it's acid-washed, has flames up the side, or could be described with the words "faux chaps," run away. Far, far away. Or better yet, set them on fire so they never have to be inflicted on an unsuspecting public again.

I really thought she was going to be in her element with the 70s, but she chose a terrible song for her voice (no offense to Kansas), and she whiffed the low notes, botched the chorus, and disappointed me greatly. I'm hoping her unique edge is enough to save her this round, because that performance sure wasn't. I think she can do better. I also think it would have been OK to trot out Janis during freaking SEVENTIES WEEK!

Hot mess of the week! Last week we were singing the praises of Amanda, but now she definitely deserves to get the boot after that "performance." Amanda, have you met Rock Star's Jordis, Hell's Kitchen's Elsie and Project Runway's Michael Knight? You can now start a support group for reality stars who started out amazing and managed to botch it when it counts the most. There was not one redeeming factor about this performance.

TRACY: And Troy just demonstrated how much time we waste on reality TV. Anyway, once again, I was horrified by KRISTY LEE COOK. She looked more comfortable this week, but "You're No Good" is NINE WORDS LONG and doesn't have that many more notes to it. Someone is coasting, and I think she should just coast home and beg her abandoned horse for forgiveness.

TROY: What is the appeal of this girl? I think Kristy is so bland and so plain that I cannot imagine who would be voting for her. If she could, she would just go out there and sing "Amazing Grace" every week. She would have earned some bonus points if she sang the Rolling Stones classic "Wild Horses."

TRACY: It seems like many people are singing ALAINA ALEXANDER'S praises, but I'm not feeling it, dawg. You have the entire catalog from one of the most innovative and fabuloso decades of music ever in the history of ever, and you sing "Hopelessly Devoted to You?!?!?!" Simon and Garfunkel! Three Dog Night! Carole King! Classic Rod Stewart! David Bowie! The Allman Brothers! Fleetwood Mac! Peter Freaking Gabriel! The Grateful Dead! Jefferson Airplane/Starship! Marvin Gaye! Donny Hathaway! The Kinks! John Lennon! SKYNYRD! Pink Floyd! The Rolling Flipping Stones! Roxy Music! Steely Dan! The Who! Neil Young (who probably wouldn't release his catalog to AI, but WHATEVER!), JONI MITCHELL, PEOPLE!!!!!!

I think I need to go lie down.

TROY: See … I didn't mind Carrie Underwood 2.0 (now with a tooth gap!) this week. She isn't a Joni Mitchell kind of girl. She probably grew up watching Grease and decided to sing something that she knew. I have to applaud her a little bit for that. It's safe, but she was able to showcase her voice and feel comfortable doing it. Besides, do you really want to hear Alaina's take on "Free Bird?"

TRACY: Well, at least it would have been interesting. Amanda's hot mess of the week was more memorable than that, and she has a great voice!

SYESHA MERCADO was sweet, and I liked her take on "Me and Mr(s). Jones" well enough, but like I said when it came to Jason Yeager *SOB!*, you need to bring more than sweet if you want to beat the Davids.

TROY: Syesha was okay. I really like this song, but she didn't even live up to George Frickin' Huff's version. She has a sweet personality and a decent voice, but again, I'm not seeing any kind of edge or something notable to her.

TRACY: I could say the same about ALEXANDREA LUSHINGTON. I did think her "If You Leave Me Now" was quite pretty, but she needs to step it up and at least get back to "Spinning Wheel" form if she doesn't want to be eliminated in the first few rounds of the top ten. That said, I really like her.

TROY: You've been criticizing everyone's fashion and I feel Alexandrea's outfit deserves some attention. The sk8er boi shorts were just baaaaaad. I think she needed a Red Bull (or a Coca-Cola, right Idol?) during that performance. She was even putting herself to sleep! Huge disappointment this week.

TRACY: I didn't mind it! Now KADY MALLOY was awful. Like Simon, I love her clips ... and then she opens her mouth on stage. There's just nothing else to add to that other than Heart is just too big for you, honey. Next time, try something that better suits your range ... like "The Wheels on the Bus." I think Amy Davis passed her perfect pitch allergy on to Kady.

TROY: Can Kady just be Britney on stage?


TROY: I'd honestly rather hear her impersonations than hear her be herself. I think realizing the cameras are live just sucks out her soul, and she just stands there, open-mouthed and terrified. I honestly can't even remember what song she sang because she leaves absolutely no impression on me during performance. Bye Kady--it's been, well, pitchy.

TRACY: And that leaves us with A'S'I'A'H EPPERSON, who brought us her own interpretation of "All By Myself," with a side of extra cheese. What is with the contestants who think they can suck for the whole song and then give us a power note at the end, and we'll forget all about how much they just sucked?

TROY: THANK YOU! I thought A'siah was horrible! Her voice cracked about ten seconds into the song and no one seems to notice that. Just because she hit a power note at the end, doesn't mean she is a good singer. The judges seemed to have selective memory on this one. Here's hoping America sees through this.


TROY: Well, the RESULTS SHOW wasn't very inspiring this week either. Amanda continued on her path to the fortress of suckitude with her impersonation of a dying cat during the group sing. And how cheesy are those group sings this year? Ick.

TRACY: I keep expecting the contestants to start pumping their arms like a bicycle and launching into "I'm gonna keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on dancing all through the night!" SO Brady!

TROY: I'm happy to see faux rocker Robbie go, but sad that Paula didn't drunkenly rush the stage and tear off his wig.

TRACY: Thank you, America! And yes, that would have been hilarious!

TROY: I know you must be devastated over (Not) Tommy 2.0.


TROY: Can't say I'm surprised, but it was nice to see him put some emotion into his final song. He also infused a little "go white boy!" dancing into it.

TRACY: I listened to the clip on iTunes, and he sounded better than the Doobie Brothers original! I think the guy got unfairly shafted by not having any screen time during the preliminary rounds, and by Simon's weird prejudice against him. He seems like a nice guy, and he didn't deserve to be repeated kicked on national television. I've heard worse (Robbie!) That elimination marks the first time I've ever genuinely felt really sorry for a contestant for more than two seconds.

TROY: I was fine with Alexandrea leaving this week.

TRACY: I wasn't. She was one of two interesting female contestants, and now we are down to one, who has started wearing acid-washed flame pants. This is going to be an ugly season.

TROY: But her bad fashion and narcoleptic performance sealed her fate. Did she have personality prior to getting the boot? I was pretty impressed with her banter with Ryan this week and I would have considered throwing a vote or two her way had she shown this before.

TRACY: I know! I wish we'd seen that a little earlier, but it's not like she was getting the screen time Carly Smithson has been getting. Seems like the producers are pulling for an Irish or Australian Idol this year....

TROY: And while Amanda deserved to go, how awesome was Alaina's breakdown after finding she got the boot? I thought she would reach "Marie Osmond fainting" proportions, but managed to pull herself together and get through the final song. Her tantrum ("I can't sing! I SUCK!") had me laughing, rolling my eyes, and feeling a little sad for her all at the same time.

TRACY: Aw, I really did feel sorry for her, especially after she started muttering about how embarrassing it was to lose it on national TV. She's very young, and you can't blame her for being genuinely upset. Despite her boring song choice, she deserved to stay longer and I'm personally affronted that Kristy Lee "I abandoned my horse" Cook didn't go instead.

Will Amanda finally stop sucking? Will another female contestant step it up and make us like the women better? Will anyone come close to having the moments of major awesomeness that David Archuleta has been having? Will Troy and I shake ourselves out of the "mehs" and show what kind of snark we're capable of? Tune in later this week to find out!

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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