Saturday, March 21, 2009

American Idol: Top 11 Recap

TRACY: Troy, I’m so bored with this season, I’m thinking we should have blogged Hell’s Kitchen instead. (Must. Stay. Awake.)

TROY: Too bad you don't watch Dancing With the Stars--unlike this Ambienfest, that's where the real shizz is going down (Injuries! Lil' Kim ... doing ballroom!).

TRACY: All I can say is THANK GOD we got country night over quickly—which can I just say was an egregiously transparent attempt by the producers to save poor Michael Sarver’s boot-ay? I can? OK.

Moving country night to the front end of the season was an egregiously transparent attempt by the producers to save poor MICHAEL SARVER’s boot-ay, and if there were any justice in the world, it SHOULD have been an epic fail. But, of course, it wasn’t.

TROY: The performance itself WAS an epic fail. Jebus, the gargling of words....the trouncing around on stage. Why must America continue to torture us so?

TRACY: He is a nice guy, and as happy as I am personally to see him get a spot on the tour just to get him away from his scary job for a little longer, I still think he’s out of his league. For his health and safety, Homeboy needs to cease and desist with all up-tempo numbers from here on out, unless Seacrest has an oxygen tank at the ready for him after his performance. By the time he’d finished “”Ain’t Going Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up,” he sounded like he’d just scaled K2 instead of just singing for three minutes. I had a sympathy asthma attack when he was done.

TROY: I'm all for the "Michael Sarver is a nice guy," but he broke the number one cardinal rule of Idol: DO. NOT. SASS. THE. JUDGES. My god -- this man did NOT shut up during his critique. After interrupting Simon numerous times and basically reenacting Justin Guarini's "I respect your opinion, but what did YOU ALL THINK?" tirade, he is dead to me in this competition. Blech.

TRACY: I think I missed most of that, because Maggie and Marin were running around like chickens. That's too bad.

Anyway, am I surprised he didn’t get booted? No, I am not, because I remember that AI has a vast, powerful country-fried voter contingent who managed to keep the abysmal Kristy Lee Cook on the show for faaaaaaaaaaar too long. (To the everlasting chagrin of Maggie, my five-year-old rabid Amanda Overmyer fan, who STILL asks for Amanda whenever the show comes on, even though it’s been a year!)

If you don't vote for the country contestant, you hate America! Sigh.

TROY: I'm not shocked at all--if you even remotely associate yourself with country on this competition, you're guaranteed at least 7th place (exception to the rule being Season Three's Amy Adams who owened "Sin Wagon," but was booted shortly there after).

By the way, I'm sorta missing Kristy Lee Cook this year: the horse snark, the win-at-all-costs attitude she displayed (who can forget her pulling out of "God Bless the USA" when she knew she needed it). Sigh. I hate these contestants.

TRACY: Agreed. At least Kristy Lee provided good snark fodder.

I thought ALLISON IRAHETA was cute (nice outfit!), but unlike last week, that grit in her voice felt forced to me. I wasn’t off my head about her version of “Blame It On Your Heart,” but I was happy that A) she learned how to speak in polysyllabic sentences, and B) she looked comfortable on stage. I also may write in to and ask them where she got her shirt, because … SO CUTE!

I think the shirt alone was worthy of earning her a spot on the tour.

TROY: Ha! I thought she was decent, but nothing spectacular this week. Still, she's also so much more likeable now that she does more than giggling and grunting when asked questions.

One thing for sure is that Allison is definitely one of the best teenagers that has ever been on this show (even though I know you loved Diana "C'mon Ya'll!" DeGarmo).

TRACY: (Not.)

TROY: While I was meh on her this week, I loved Allison's performance last week and am happy she's still in the competition.

How funny was her "OH. MY. GAWD" reaction when Ryan told her she was in the bottom 3?

TRACY: I didn't notice, because I was having the same reaction. Unjust!

Oh, and thank God they brought in a fourth judge this year, because Kara really adds so much originality to the show--like when she told Allison “You can sing the alphabet!”

To which my husband Jose immediately chirped, “I bet you can sing the phone book, too!”

A fourth judge, just to parrot all of Randy’s overused chestnuts? Really? REALLY, Idol producers? Paula may be inarticulate, but I’ve been finding her critiques extraordinarily relevant this year (except when she told Scott not to rely on the piano—good God.) But at LEAST she’s not pulling that phone book/alphabet crap.

TROY: I am very bi-polar about Kara. I loved her petty fight with Bikini Girl (she looked like a damn petty fool, but it brought the LOL), but she really is not bringing anything to the table now.

And how scary is it that Paula is actually bringing intelligent critique to the table this year (when you can understand what she's saying)? Loved the Scott comments and I actually feel bad that she sorta got written off. No one ever recognizes her for the true GIFT SHE IS! (travesty HEY PAULA never got a second season...).

TRACY: KRIS ALLEN has a really nice voice, but I’m not falling off my chair or anything. That said, there’s something charming about a contestant who can do a clear-voiced, stripped-down “To Make You Feel My Love” without throwing in a bunch of vocal sturm und drang just to impress the judges. …

TROY: Again, I really like Kris Allen. "To Make You Feel My Love" is such a saccharine, dopey song, but I still enjoyed his straightforward, simple rendition. I'm not running out to download the mp3, but I appreciate that he didn't IDOLize his performance.

TRACY: Yeah, but just when I start to like him, the camera cuts to his angry 12-year-old wife, and I get a little creeped out. Yes, I know she’s probably of age, but I can’t get the Pedophile Wing of the Playboy Mansion outta my head.

I actually loved Carrie Underwood’s version of “Independence Day” back when she was an Idol contestant, but I was largely underwhelmed by LIL ROUNDS take on the song. I’m not sure why—she hit all her notes. It’s kinda cool to see a woman of color singing country, because I can’t think of a single Latina or African American or Asian female country artist ever in the history of ever. Her raspberry bridesmaid dress was a marked improvement over last week’s tapered, pleated turnip pants. But for me, her performance had all the emotion and depth of my neighbor’s birdbath. Meh.

TROY: Again, while Lil can hit notes, she has not proven that she can saaaang. She is suffering from Carriebot syndrome where there is absolutely no emotion connection to the notes and words she is singing. Carrie seems to have gotten over it, so there's always hope, I guess....

And while I really couldn't care less for Lil's performance, I DESPISED Randy's suggestion that she should have sang "I Will Always Love You." Really Randy? You want Lil' to go for the most-maligned song in Idol history? The most cliched option for an R&B singer to pick on country night? The SONG THAT, HAD SHE CHOSEN IT, YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD HER THAT SHE WOULD NEVER LIVE UP TO THE WHITNEY VERSION? REALLY?


TROY: *Sigh*

TRACY: And she mouthed back to Simon—it wasn’t horrible, but it came off as messy behavior which is not making me a fan. Bored now.

TROY: Agreed. Haaaaate.


TRACY: Heh. We really have to start video-blogging you....

And now, I’m going to get a little angry. Because I loved, loved, LOVED ADAM LAMBERT’s wacky, sitar-drenched version of “Ring of Fire,” and I really didn’t get why Simon lambasted him so thoroughly. I really don’t get how Simon could tell Lil Rounds in one breath to transform a country song into a Mary J. Blige R&B joint, and then get all up in Adam’s face for transforming a country song to suit HIS style, instead of trying to sing like someone he is so obviously not. Having him come on stage and do a hoedown to “That Ain’t My Truck” or “Huckleberry Jam” would have been ridiculous.

TROY: Uh-oh we're in trouble here....I KNEW you'd like his performance. ;)

Now, I LOVED Adam's "Black and White," but this week's performance gets my HOT MESS OF THE WEEK award. The weird sitar strumming, the creepy vocals, I just didn't get it and can't see how it was a pleasure to listen to. Adam's range, while imrpessive, does not need to be on full blast everytime he sings.

Don't get me started on the excessive moaning and self-molestation that occurred on stage. Everyone in America needed four showers after that.

TRACY: I agree--maybe Adam could stand to stop mugging for the camera so much, before he ventures into the Land of Constantine. And with a sizable population of Idol voters coming from the Bible-thumping South, perhaps he might want to rethink the “hip-swivel, run the hand down the thigh, and VOGUE!” choreography—if he wants to sell out and make it on through to the end. But I encourage everyone out there, Bible-thumpers included, to ignore the second-coming-of-Freddy-Mercury theatrics and just listen, because his voice is heaven. (And Michael Sarver and Scott McIntyre's voices? Not heaven. So not heaven.)

TROY: I'm actually prety impressed with America for even keeping Adam in this week. I really thought this week's performance would have had middle America votes running for the hills while clutching to their rosaries. Although I hated "Ring of Fire," I'm glad Adam is in this competition. He brings something different to this competition instead of the blahs projected by everyone else.

TRACY: Note to Randy Travis: Stop being such an asshat, get out of Tennessee every once in awhile (and no, shuffle-stepping from arena to arena doesn’t count as “world travel”), and embrace the fact that not everyone is a macho, cowboy-hat wearing redneck JUST LIKE YOU. “Oooooooh! He has fingernail polish! Get him away from me, or his gay might rub off on me!”

And your wife is a judgmental idiot. Troy, did you see her refusing to clap for Adam and looking like she just got a faceful of acid? Beee-yotch.

TROY: I did! My guess is that her anger was more because of Adam's massacre of "Ring of Fire" and less about the black nail polish.

TRACY: I don't care what it was. It was still rude. She HAS to know the cameras were going to be on her and her overly blow-dried husband!!

TROY: Still so incredibly tacky of her and even less transparent than Gwen Stefani's evaluation of Sanjaya two seasons ago--"I's a hard song. He chose it. Good luck to him?"

TRACY: Brooke White’s Tennielle has found her Captain, and his name is SCOTT MCINTYRE. “Wild Angels” gave me the worst case of sugar shock since I went to the Minnesota State Fair and ate so much cotton candy, I threw up on my Garanimals.

TROY: You're in sugar shock--I'm in a coma. Seriously America? You want to hear THIS on the radio? Scott's voice isn't even good - he's frequently off key, his range is pretty much non-existant, and he constantly hides behind his piano. Totally agree with Paula that he needs to drop that FAST (not that it'll inspire me to vote for him either way).

TRACY: Now THAT I don't agree with. He's BLIND--he can't make eye contact with the audience, so he's just going to look weird and lonely standing up on the stage. But I agree that he should find SOMETHING different to mix it up--say, not sounding like a second-rate singer at church. Again, sweet guy, though. I really like HIM, but I’m not so much a fan of his elevator-esque song stylings.

For some reason, cloying 1970s informercial queen Sandy Patti also keeps coming to mind whenever Scott sings. Back in the day, people used to sell albums via infomercials, and big-haired, sticky sweet Sandy Patti was always hawking her gospel albums on our three channels. If you don’t have a clue who she is, just think about the kind of person who would be named Sandy Patti, and you’ll probably be in the ballpark.

TROY: :::Shudder:::

TRACY: I actually liked ALEXIS GRACE’s “Jolene”—it was so much more technically competent (and less annoying) than Brooke White’s last year. Yes, she might have missed a few notes, but only a few—and just about every contestant has this year. But she has a beautiful, clear voice and she manages to hold my interest on stage.

TROY: You can ice skate to Chicago to see me because hell just froze over--I actually prefered Brooke White's version of this song.

TRACY: ::::google-eyed, incredulous stare:::


I hated the slowed down arrangement of "Jolene" and missed Brooke's bug-eyed, frantic performance. And while Alexis' voice is great, but this song did her no favors. Plus her performance seemed so detached from what the song's plea (still love imaging, "Jolie, Jolie...I'm beggin' of you please don't take my maaaannn").

TRACY: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?! BROOKE WHITE?!?!?! Ampersand! Pound sign, percent sign, asterisk, ampersand!!!!!!!

I am all KINDS of bitter than she got booted before Michael and Scott. America, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! I want to find all these people and make them listen to Scott’s iTunes downloads over and over and over again until they come to their senses. This is how people like Kenny G hit the Billboard charts, people, and the madness needs to stop.

TROY: I blame Kara's obsession with wanting to dirrrty up Alexis constantly. She wanted that girl up on the pole and she wanted it baaad.

TRACY: It's true.

And what was up with the judges psychologically torturing her with that final performance. “We’re thinking of putting you through--now sing the song that we hated and convince us! ... Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd no.” That's only funny when you do it to Tatiana Del Crazy.

I think this would have been a perfect time to use the judge’s save, but of course, they’re probably waiting in case Lil Rounds or Danny Freaking Gokey need it. Alexis was totally robbed.

TROY: I am in total agreement. The sing-off is just mean (although we'd totally love it if it was Gokey up there singing for his life--only to get the boot). Heaven forbid the judges actually use their power for someone that's interesting and brings something completely different to this show.

Dirrty or not, I'm really disappointed Alexis is gone, especially when much lesser contestants are still in. Speaking of which....

TRACY: I’m actually surprised at myself, but I thought DANNY FREAKING GOKEY’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” was nicely done. I think it’s a smart strategy to sing a song popularized by the opposite gender, because you can’t help but make it different. Doesn’t mean I’m still not sick of him, but he did a’ight.

TROY: I had to laugh because before Ringy McRinger's performance, Ryan teased that it would be a Carrie Underwood song. I said outloud, "It's so going to be 'Jesus, Take the Freakin' Wheel.'" Lo and behold, look what arch-nemesis performed.

I again just hated this performance. Manipulative and shrewd, it was typical Gokey the entire time. He has decent vocals, but I just don't think I'll warm up to this guy. You?

TRACY: Not so far. But I didn't mind that performance, so maybe it's a start.

ANOOP DESAI played it way too safe for me with a serviceable and technically proficient version of “Always on my Mind.” I think I would have rather seen him try to set it to a hip hop beat or something, because at least Trainwreck Anoop is more fun to watch. Yawn. (Must. Keep. Eyes. Open.)

TROY: I agree. Vocals were fine, but I just wasn't feeling it. Where's the fun Anoop that performed "My Prerogative" or Hot Mess "Beat It" Anoop?

TRACY: MEGAN *cough* CORKREY *coughcough* sounded like she had a speech *coughcoughcough* impediment on “Walking After *cough* Midnight.” What was up with those crazy inflections and bizarre vocal swoops? (“Bah-EYE-uh the MOOOON-laaaaaaaahttt!”) I know there is a really nice voice in there, but she needs to find it, stat—unless she plans on being hospitalized for the *cough* flu every week to garner sympathy votes. And with Widowed Danny, Blind Scott, Michael “I-Have-a-Horrible-Career” Sarver, and I-Live-in-a-Hotel Lil in the competition, there may not be enough *cough* sympathy votes to go around. *coughcough*

TROY: Yeah, totally wasn't buying the flu either. I needed her to yarf on-stage to make it more believable (Kristy Lee Cook would have done it).

TRACY: (She totally would have!)

TROY: For sympathy, Megan should just say her arm has gangrene. I'd buy it.

And weren't you defending Megan's freak-ay voice last week? Another weird song choice with Megan pouting like a 1920s pin-up girl. The schtick barely works for Katy Perry and it's not working for you at all, honey.

TRACY: She does have a nice voice when she's not hamming it up! It was MUCH more affected and weird this week.

TROY: Lastly, did you notice she was just Megan "Joy" this week? The hell?

TRACY: I refuse to acknowledge when the contestants change their names. YOU'RE NOT THAT FAMOUS YET, PEOPLE!!!!

TROY: I guess it's just part of the yearly Idol name drop/change mid-competition (ex: Tiffany Montgomery becoming RYAN STARR...Mandisa "BIGot" Hundley becoming just 'Mandisa').

TRACY: MATT GIRAUD sang “So Small.” He plays the piano. It sounded okay.

TROY: Matt was actually my favorite of the night. There! I said it!

I really like the original and really loved Matt's stripped down version. And, unlike elevator music Scott "Ninth Floor Please" McIntyre, Matt can actually sing! That said, I'm really hoping he finds the right song soon to properly showcase his voice and step away from the pack.

TRACY: I don't know the original, so maybe that's why I wasn't too into this performance. Meh.

GOD, I’m giving them ALL the Lunesta Fairy award—except for Adam and the unjustly ousted Alexis—this time around, because this season is turning into the most incompetent, boring season EVER! (Can you imagine the voiceover possibilities? “In the most shockingly boring episode of the season, all ten contestants manage to put the entire Idol audience into a simultaneous coma. You don’t wan t to miss it!”) God bless Adam. Here’s to him bringing the crazy (and the five-octave range) every week!

TROY: Bet you miss Tatiana now.

TRACY: Strangely enough, I do.

TROY: Troy's Top 3: Matt, Kris, Allison
Troy's Bottom 3: Michael, Scott, GOKEY

Honorable Mention: Thanks to Adam for bringing the crazy (but I'll be sending you my doctor's bill for my bleeding ears and burned corneas)

TRACY: Tracy's top 3: Adam, Alexis, my pillow.
Tracy's Bottom 3: I can pick only three?!

I don’t even know what to say. I hate this season, Troy. I'm giving this show one more chance, and then we're going to start blogging Cooking With Nigella instead.

TROY: The crazy's on DWTS and Top Model! I promise! :)

TRACY: I'm going to go take a nap.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Team Jacob. Totally.

My friend Eileen Brennan is blogging today on the Liquid Silver blog about the impending release of the Twilight DVD. She doesn't really get the obsession with Edward.

As I mentioned in the comments, I don't really either. I was always firmly on Team Jacob, a fact which all of my Twilight-reading friends think is very, very weird. I think it has to do with being the mother of two girls. As I told Eileen in the comments section of her blog, I would want my girls to choose the NICE guy who is always there for them--not the suicide-threatening drama queen who freely admits he is constantly tempted KILL THEM IN THEIR SLEEP. This is not a healthy relationship, people.

The movie did make me appreciate it more. I know a lot of people will be headed to Borders at midnight to get the DVD, but as my brother Troy, Font of All Pop Culture Knowledge, informed me, Target's DVD is a better deal. You get more extras and an exclusive digital version for your iPod.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Self-Promoters Attack

I have to confess, I’m the furthest thing from a promotion genius. I habitually forget my bookmarks when I go to events and booksignings (I’m actually lucky if I remember a pen), don’t update my website as often as I should, and sometimes have to fight the compulsion to apologize to people who have read my books for the third book in the Mission: Family series. (I just had a baby—I was tired.)

But after attending countless conferences, here’s what I do know about self-promotion: it can really, really, really backfire on you if you don’t do it right. By all means, buy ads; invest in a cute bookmark or labeled trinket; volunteer to speak and mention your work. Tactfully bring it up in conversations with other writers, too, if you want. But do not, I repeat, do not go too far, or you will forever burn yourself into potential book-buyers’ psyches as That Annoying Asshat Author Who Won’t Shut The Eff Up About Her Book.

Trust me, being an AAAWWSTFUAHB has the exact opposite effect on your unwitting victims as you would wish. You want them to buy your book, but pelt them with one too many personalized emery boards, recite your website URL once too often, self-promote too rabidly, and readers will sense the waves of desperation coming off you like blood in the water. Act like an Annoying Asshat Author, and these potential readers will not only not buy your book, but they will go out of their way to grab random strangers in their local bookstore to tell them how much you suck.

(OK, I’ve never actually done that. But I know I’m not alone in having fantasized about doing just that when being accosted by one of these people….)

So how do you avoid crossing the line from building healthy awareness of your magnum opus to being the living embodiment of fingernails screeching down a chalkboard? Don’t worry—I’m here for you. (Did you doubt I would be?) If you are promoting a book at RT, RWA, PASIC, NINC, or any of the other writers conferences out there this year, please (I'm begging you) keep in mind my …

Top Ten Strategies for Promoting Your Book at a Conference Without Being an Annoying Asshat Author Who Won't Shut the Eff Up About Her Book

1) It’s good form to at least pretend to be interested in the other person when you are having a conversation. If not, you risk rapidly getting to the point where even if the other person somehow had the choice between a horrible death by wood chipper and buying your book, she might just take her chances with the wood chipper. I know there have been times when I would! (Because, after all, I couldn’t be arrested for assault if I gave a wood chipper a good swift kick and then ran away screaming.)

2) I don’t want to hear about how your e-publisher or single-title publisher is so much better than Harlequin. Do I really have to explain this one?

3) If I start pelting you with garlic and holy water, and chanting at you in Latin, it probably means I am tired of hearing about your book.

4) Telling me you think your own book is “SOOOOOOO good” will make me point and laugh at you. Which is always so awkward.

5) Do not blah all over everyone you meet about your book within the first few minutes of meeting them. Every conversation should be a two-way street, and if you’re doing all the talking about yourself, and everyone else looks like they’re about to projectile vomit on you, that’s probably a good sign that you are a rabid self-promoter.

Seriously, if someone makes me feel like a hapless buyer on a used car lot while I’m standing in line for the conference bathroom, there’s no better way to ensure that I will never, ever, EVER buy her book. I WILL, however, remember her name forever, and not in a good way. I will take pleasure in walking by her again and again during a booksigning, repeatedly picking up her book, and then going, “Mmmmmmmmm, no.” I will dart across the bookstore aisles in which her work resides for years to come to avoid so much as BREATHING on her book. Why? Because it’s perversely fun, and sometimes I get a little bored.

Judging by the snarky comments I’ve heard from friends after their run-ins with rabid self-promoters, I’m guessing I’m not alone.

6) If you’ve mentioned your book title more than, say, 3-5 times in a five-minute conversation, you may have a social disorder and should check out some self-help books on improving your conversation skills or not causing unsuspecting strangers to accidentally lapse into a coma.

7) If, while you’re talking to someone (like, oh, ME), your eyes glaze over like a card-carrying member of a zombie horde (uuuuuuuunnnnnhhhh!) while your mouth starts reciting your back cover copy (:::arm flail:::), I WILL know you’ve mentally gone on auto-pilot. Trust me.

Once again … social disorder. Go have a drink to loosen up, and then find a mirror and practice saying, “So, tell me, what do YOU write?” and “What’s your favorite part of the conference so far?” and other two-sided conversation starters into it until you mean them.

8) Unless I have expressly asked you to add to the already monolithic stockpile of author bookmarks, magnets, postcards, book covers, and buttons that are sitting in a closet while I try desperately to will them back into trees, please do not force your promo material on me. I don’t mind you asking if I want one, but to just shove one in my hands while I’m talking to someone else, or eating breakfast, or, say, rapidly running away from you is rude.

9) Saying, “Oh, I’ve read your books” to another author and then not following up with any sort of commentary appears like a lie at best, condescending at worst. Shoving promotional material into her hands after that kind of crap behavior? Even worse.

If you can’t say something nice, say nothing. It’s totally okay not to have read someone’s books. It’s not okay to mess with someone’s head. (I'M FRAGILE, TOO, OKAY?!?!?!?!)

10) If I seem to be deep in conversation with an old friend I haven’t seen since the original Beverly Hills 90210 was on primetime, do not, I repeat, do not interrupt with some fake-ass question and then immediately segue into an endless drone-fest about your book. Because I will probably punch you in the face—or at least be fighting a strong compulsion to do so until you stop flapping your mouth at me and go away.

BONUS TIP: The best way you can promote yourself to other writers at a writers’ conference? Be nice. Be helpful. Be genuine. If you're presenting, give a good speech and don't talk about all the jewelry and cars and clothes you bought with your (alleged) giant advance to a group of struggling writers. I firmly believe everyone has it in her to do all of the above (except, perhaps, for those who really do have a social disorder)—so have a glass of wine, r e l a a a a a a a a a a x, and just be yourself!

(And say it with me, “So, tell me, what do YOU write?”)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's American Idol (You Knew We'd Be Back!)

TRACY: Another year, another season of American Idol, another round of my brother Troy and I entertaining ourselves by publicly snarking about each show. We’re not sure if other people find us amusing, but we’re rather funny on our planet.

Unfortunately, Troy and I always manage to run out of steam and never seem to make it to the finale. This year, in an effort to actually finish up the season, we decided to skip the semi-final rounds and just start with the finalists.

Last year, we dubbed Ramiele “Lullaby” Malubay the Lunesta Fairy of the Season for her unimaginative song interpretations and dumpy fashion sense. This year, judging by those semi-final rounds, it looks like we had at least 15 people vying for that honor, with nine remaining in the Top 13. I'm not sure we're going to make it two weeks from now, the way this season's going down.

TROY: Word. Creativity is NOT a strong suit of this year's wannabes.

"What's that? You chose a Whitney Houston song to sing? How outside-of-the-box!!! Why even have a competition now?"

TRACY: ::::snort::::

I do miss Rose, the blonde with the funky outfits and no parents who had her dreams crushed during Hollywood Week, and my boy Ju’Not, who was TOTALLY ROBBED during the semi-finals (He sounded like Seal, people!).

TROY: Like Seal? Mmmkay. And Rose, Tracy? Really? After shaky Hollywood vocals and that weird, wobbly Hobbit dance she did while botching said vocals? REALLY?

I miss Jessie Langseth--not that she had the best voice or stage presence, but she picked interesting songs and had unique vocals (still bitter about JASMINE MURRAY being chosen over Jessie--WTF Judges?).

TRACY: Agreed. I loved Jessie Langseth and thought she knocked "Bette Davis Eyes" out of the park. I don’t know what the judges are looking for this year, but apparently it's not originality. These contestants seriously need to up the entertainment quotient, or the producers are going to be forced to inject some interest by bringing Crazy Tatiana and her 15 personalities back every show and go, “OK, you get another chance. AAAAANNNNNNNNDDDD, you blew it. Back home you go. … No, really, you get another chance. AAAAANNNNNNNDDDD you suck. Back home you go.”

(Actually, it would be kind of fun to see her melt down every week. That girl either needs medication or a serious karma boomerang on a daily basis until she stops being such a self-centered drama queen.)

TROY: Tatiana was a goddess who, unfortunately, only graced Idol with her presence for a short time. I've never been so entertained by an Idol contestant before! Plus, her crazy was MUCH more digestable than that Jackie Tohn creature (may she fall in to obscurity. I have never been more annoyed by an Idol contestant--the trucker voice! The creepy facial expressions/possessed twitching while singing!).

TRACY: Tatiana? A goddess? Excuse me while I leave the room to avoid expelling my lunch on my laptop.


Anyway, onto the top 12.

The night started off with LIL ROUNDS (if I hear another pun using her name, I swear to God I’m going to put my head through my TV set). The Mom Who Lives in a Hotel has a big, booming voice and rarely strays off key, but I give her the Lunesta Fairy award for this round for not meeting the voting public’s expectations. I found her rendition of “The Way You Make Me Feel” unimaginative, and that “Go on, Boy!” that started it off disturbingly awkward.

TROY: Agreed. Lil can sing, but she can't saaaaang. There's rarely any passion in her voice outside of hitting the big notes. I felt the exact same way about her Mary J. Blige rendition last week. All big notes, but no connection to the music.

And can I also say that I'm so sick of Lil' and Danny Gokey (more on that DB later) producer pimping? We get it Idol want the comeback kids to be in the finals. STOP with the manipulative pre-roll.

TRACY: I know! And dear God in heaven, WHAT was Lil wearing? Somebody tell me the fashion industry isn’t seriously trying to bring back tapered, PLEATED pants?!?! Have they not HEARD the “What Not to Wear” people pointing out how that unless you are a double-zero, tapered, pleated pants make your backside look like a turnip-shaped billboard? (Although it could make for an interesting foray into creative ad placement….)

Because Lil’s not a woman—she’s a MOM.

I didn’t mind her fluffy lavender top as much as Simon did, but I kept thinking during her performance that it really, really wanted to grow up and be a cocktail dress instead of a shirt.

Final verdict: “Meh” on the singing, “MY EYES!!!! THEY BUUURRRRRRNNNN!!!!” to the pants.

Next we had SCOTT MCINTYRE, who is obviously a sweet, sweet guy with a lot of (piano-playing) talent. But “Keep the Faith” is a horrible, horrible song—at least when it’s given that 1986-Bruce-Hornsby kind of treatment. He went off key a few times, and the whole song just sounded dated and irrelevant—I can’t even see Clay Aiken’s fans embracing that mess. Pleasant voice; nice guy; terrible, terrible song.

TROY: Didn't the judges and Scott say that we'd see the REAL Scott McIntyre once he got behind the piano? If this is him, then we may have our new Lunesta fairy. He's a super nice guy, but I can't think of one thing that would make him relevant to today's music scene. He's just tragically boring.

TRACY: Speaking of tragic, someone needs to give this poor guy a decent haircut. It’s obviously not his fault he has bad hair, because he can’t see! Ergo, I blame his peers—friends don’t let friends look like Art Garfunkel.

TROY: WORDY MCWORD. It's like a curlier version of Robert Pattison's rat's nest in between Twilight films. I'm sure it's also full of secrets.

TRACY: Heh. Because he is such a good guy, I’m glad he stayed THIS ONE TIME and hope he can become more current and fun.

TROY: I'm not. He will NEVER be current and fun on this show. Again, nice guy, but it's going to be the same schtick over and over, most likely sending him a long way in the competiton. SIGH.

TRACY: Hey, a girl can dream. (Of not being bored out of her skull all season.)

OK, I know DANNY GOKEY lost his wife at a tragically young age. It’s awful and totally unfair, and I will never stop feeling for the guy. But I’m totally not feeling the love so many people—including, apparently, the Idol producers—have for his singing, thanks to some of the nasty attitude he showed during the semi-finals. Particularly rolling his eyes at and cutting off Ryan Seacrest after his first semi-final performance.

TROY: Not to mention glaring at Tatiana and openly judging her for the crazy that she is. We all did it at home ...

TRACY: ... OH, yes, we did.


I also feel HORRIBLE about his wife--so tragic and awful. However, I feel that both he and the producers are being incredibly manipulative in using this tragedy to make Gokey Ringy McRinger. This guy KNEW that he would sail to the top 12 and much further.

TRACY: (You're all about the "Mc's" tonight, aren't you?)

I mean, seriously, people. Ryan Seacrest gets enough abuse—including from that revolting, adulterous Brangelina couple ...

TROY: (Let it go Tracy! Team Saint Jolie, BTW.)

TRACY: (You mean Team Sociopath.) ... and he just keeps smiling through it all while being unfailingly kind to the contestants, especially when they get the heave-ho. He’s good at his job—I can’t imagine having to single-handed provide as much verbal filler as he does during the shows. (I’d be stammering incoherently and then running off the stage crying.)

In short, if you can’t be nice to Ryan, you are dead to me.

TROY: He was horrible to Kathy Griffin--Karma Boomerang.

TRACY: True, but Kathy can SO take care of herself. I'm guessing he's learned his lesson on that front.

TROY: For the record, I wasn’t that blown away by his performance of “PYT,” either.< /FONT>

I thought it was much, much better than Lil' and Scott's performances. I still want to break his red glasses, but PYT was the earworm after Tuesday's show. Not that that really has anything to do with the quality of a performance. (Who can forget: "Here come the sun...?")

TRACY: ("Doo-doot-doo-dooooot...." :::zombie wave:::)

I’ll give it a “meh” with a side of “shut the eff up and sing, you diva!”

(Back to Ryan, did you notice how far off the stage he was standing when Kanye West performed during the results show? I had this feeling that Kanye was all, “Yeah, I’ll do Idol, but don’t let Seacrest rub his geek off on me.” Poor Seacrest.)

TROY: Pretty sure Kanye was pre-taped, so Ryan had to stand far away to make it look like it was live. :)

TRACY: Really? They're pre-taping already? E-gads!

That brings us to MICHAEL SARVER, who sang “You Are Not Alone,” a rather charming ballad that he managed to turn into treacle. Seriously, my boy Ju’Not got dissed for THIS?! I’m bitter, people. I’m really bitter.

TROY: Jessie Langesth! Bitter, Party of Two.

TRACY: Michael seems like a nice guy, and I would love to see him succeed on the country charts just to get him out of that dangerous job of his. But would I ever listen to his music? No, I would not. I think he has a pleasant voice, but he’s out of his league so far.

TROY: I totally agree. I just don't get the appeal--who the heck is voting for him? If it wasn't for country week next week, I'd say his time on Idol would be coming to an end shortly.

TRACY: JASMINE MURRAY has to have the best-looking family I’ve ever seen on the show. Which leads me to the only thing I really have to say about her Mariah-Carey-copycat rendition of “I’ll Be There”: She sure wears pretty outfits.

I predicted her ouster right after hearing this. Lovely voice, but a tragically forgettable performance that often went tragically off-key.


Sorry--Jasmine's inclusion to the top 13 and subsequent performance made me have Carmen Rasmuessen flashbacks :::shudder:::

TRACY: I really liked how KRIS ALLEN started off with “Remember the Time,” with his original, Jason Mraz-ish interpretation. But it didn’t take too long before I turned to my husband Jose and started singing, "This. Song. Has. Onnnnnnllllyyyy. Six NNNNOOOOOTESSSSSSS” along with the music. Meh.

TROY: I like Kris? I think he needs a lot more time to grow and make himself stand out a little more, but there's just something likeable about him. Then again, I'm a fan of Jason Mraz-type music so I may be a bit bias.

TRACY: And did you see his wife? What was she, like 12? I’m thinking he rescued her from the Pedophile wing of the Playboy Mansion, and she got some sort of judicial pre-teen waiver to marry him in gratitude.

Homegirl also looked a little angry when Simon started talking about how he shouldn’t have admitted to being married that early on in the show. So I have some hope that the wife will thrown down on Simon at some point during one of Kris’s performances. It would make them a lot more interesting.

TROY: That was AMAZING. She'll totally get Daughtried once he gets a little more famous.... Wait...what? Daughtry is STILL with his wife? Uhm...

TRACY: Eh, when you look like you just escaped the Pedophile Wing of the Playboy Mansion, you probably won't have too much trouble fighting off the tween-girl hordes.

As for the performance, I give it an “it was a’ight” with a side of “Ju’Not was so totally robbed.”

TROY: Really? With the Ju'Not still? I'm going to start pimping the "Tatiana was robbed" comments for the rest of this entry.

TRACY: ALLISON IRAHETA is starting to grow on me. I have to give it to her for not picking something totally ridiculous (Anoop!) and taking a chance on the not-so-well-known Michael Jackson B-side, “Give In to Me.” I listened to the clip of Michael doing this song in iTunes, and it creeped me the hell out—I just kept picturing him singing it while stalking a young Macauley Culkin through the deserted halls of Neverland. But Allison made the song sound like it was written just for her. Her voice wasn’t perfect, but she was definitely original, and the song suited her perfectly.

TROY: I really liked Allison's performance.

TRACY: Wow, she turned you around. You were a total hater during the semi-finals.

TROY: She's a total spaz, but it makes her more endearing. I haven't heard the MJ version (but just imaginging = yeesh), but I loved Allison's spin on it. Another earworm that sounds pretty good in the studio version. I'm curious to see what she does next week for Country.

TRACY: (Dear God, country?! To borrow a line from our brother Tommy, I might have to stick a couple of chopsticks in my ears and start scrambling as a preemptive survival measure.)

Had to crack up at her “I’m not dark. I’m not cutting myself” comment to Simon when he erroneously told her to lighten up. I don’t think she should lighten up at all, because singing edgier songs makes her different—and provides a welcome break from Scott’s elevator-esque stylings, among others.

TROY: LOL. Yes! I love Paula's horrified expression when she said that (or she just was startled by a loud noise and needed more meds). Allison is not perfect, which is why I like her more than Ringy McRinger.

TRACY: That said, girlfriend needs to stop with the horrifying grimaces. At one point while talking to Ryan, sh e grabbed her chest and pulled her lips back, and I thought she was going to tell the studio audience that it was shriveling up and about to fall off. Chronic grimacing = so not cute.

Oh, and she should probably learn to speak in coherent sentences on camera.

TROY: Advice than can also be directed toward Miss Abdul.

TRACY: I love ANOOP DESAI’s personality and his voice, but he really has to stop pretending he’s such a groovy cat. It comes off about the same as when Mom used to adopt my “Oh, gag me” Valley Girl teenage slang when I was in high school.” (Tragically exacerbated by the whole Spanish accent thing.)

TROY: She did? That's hilarious!

TRACY: Ohhhh, yes, she did.

Anoop, you are a nerd—a loveable nerd, but a nerd all the same. Embrace it, and stop turning your collar up and stalking the stage like a wannabe fresh-out-of-prison West Coast hiphop artist. “Beat It” was a travesty, and that should never, never happen again. ::::shudder:::: Having Kanye West on the results show just made him look even more ridiculous in retrospect. (Note to Anoop: Please don’t pull that kneeling-on-the-stage-dropping-your-head-in-your-hands thing that Kanye did. It won’t work—trust me.)

TROY: Like Anoop. HATED the performance. I thought his performance of "My Prerogative" was awesome, but this was a hot mess (first Troy-dubbed "hot mess" of the season!). Did this remind you at all of the "Mathlete" rap in Mean Girls?

No? Just me?

TRACY: No, I can see that. Or Leelee Sobieski dressed as DNA in Never Been Kissed.

I’m glad Anoop gets one more chance, but if he pulls that kind of mess again, it’s time to pull the plug.

Another contestant just brimming to the gills with personality is JORGE NUÑEZ. He has a nice, Marc Anthony-like tone to his voice, and I think he’s cute as a bug in a blanket. But “Never Can Say Goodbye” was a forgettable choice capped off by an utterly forgettable performance. (Except for those formidable eyebrows, which while he's singing always look to me like they’re going to jump off his face and start crawling across the stage shrilling, “Ryyyyaaannnnnn! Feeeeeeeeed ussssss!” Gah.)

I rightly predicted that Jorge would also get the boot, along with Jasmine. Sad, but he earned it.

TROY: Ay, Dios mio. Jorge...our Latin brother, was a disaster. He has a nice voice, but went to the Anwar Robinson School of Song Choice (Anwar Who? Exactly...). I was very tempted to fast-forward through his performance out of sheer boredom, but powered through. It felt very much like a torture chamber in Hostel.

That said, I'm very jealous that he got to meet J.Lo (and Marc Anthony) as they reportedly said his performances drove them to tears (bored to...?). Hope he finds his niche and finds some success.

TRACY: I’m a big fan of MEGAN CORKREY’s, even with the abysmal dancing. “Rockin’ Robin” was a silly choice—there is absolutely no way to make that wedding-reception staple of a song current or cool. But that said, I love the unique, folk-singer quality to her voice and the hippie-chick vibe. She’s this year’s Brooke White, without the herculean capacity to annoy the crap out of the free world.

I’m glad she stayed, and I hope her next song choice is more free spirit, less Bar Mitzvah.

TROY: WHAT? You're pimping Megan Corkrey? And comparing her to Brooke White, whom you HATED? WHERE IS MY SISTER?

TRACY: I loathed Brooke White. I just meant that Megan is this season's resident folk singer, except SHE actually sounds like she could stand up against the Indigo Girls and Dar Williams.

TROY: I HATED Miss Gangrine Arm with the 4-Note Range. Who the eff picks "Rockin' Robin," spastically dances to it, and expects to garner fans? She seems like a sweet person, but day-um.


TRACY: Can somebody get my brother a paper bag to breathe into?

(Back to Brooke Whitefor a moment, what was UP with her “performance” a couple of weeks ago? Did someone actually spend the money to make a record out of that mess? I can’t re member the name of the song she was so sure was so fabulous, but it sounded like the Captain and Tennielle without the Captain (and everyone knows you gotta have the Captain). Now I’m all about musically revisiting the 1970s, but not if you’re making the kind of music that’s regularly pumped into the elevators at your local Belk’s. Gross. Someone please collect all those CDs, break them up into little pieces, and rain them down on the terrorists.)

TROY: I believe you can find it next to Diana DiGarmo's "Dreams" in the Walgreens 99 Cents bin...

TRACY: Yes, thanks to some jackass posting private photos just to start a scandal, I, the Girl with No Gaydar, now know that ADAM LAMBERT is gay. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still have an inappropriate crush on the guy. SUCH a cutie, and I’m so glad that losing the homophobic mouthbreather vote didn’t hurt his chances this week.

TROY: Broadway? The shrieking vocals? Guy liner? Did you even need gaydar? :)

TRACY: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you Exhibit A: Pete Wentz and William Beckett. 'Nuff said.

Inappropriate crush notwithstanding, I loved, loved, loved Adam's version of “Black or White,” particularly the verbal middle finger he put in the line “I told them about equality, and it’s true you’re either wrong or you’re right."

TROY: I do like Adam, and I LOVED this performance. While I like HIM, I haven't been crazy about his performances, but he really nailed this song. This was my favorite of the night and the studio version has made its way to my iPod (yes--I'm a loser.)

TRACY: (Ummm, mine, too. :::cough:::)

I am, however, a little worried about his penchant for going all Skid Row on us and howling notes like a desperate lead singer from the last of the Hair Bands when Seattle grunge was on the rise. (Ah, Seattle grunge. How I miss you.) I LOVE that he has that crazyass vocal range, but is singing like Sebastian Bach really relevant now? Can he make it relevant again?

I think he might need to tone it down every once in awhile, just to keep from looking like a one-trick pony. (A five-octave trick, but a trick nonetheless.) But I love him, so I’m going to keep on dialing whether he does or not.

TROY: I'm hoping we see this side during Country week (doubt he can display the five-octave range during "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy"). Maybe a quieter, acoustic version of something like "Crazy" or a Dixie Chicks song?

TRACY: MATT GIRAUD did “Human Nature.” He plays the piano. It sounded okay. (Ju’Not!!!!)


TRACY: :::::forehead smack:::::

TROY: Matt Giraud was freakin' AMAZING pre-Top 36. His "Georgia on My Mind" was bloody brilliant. However, ever since then he's been on a downward spiral of suck. Pick it up, Piano Boy, or you'll get a Tyra-esque meltdown from me shortly.

TRACY: Ooooh! Ooooohhh!! We might have to video-blog that!

Closing off the show was one of my favorites going in to the Top 12, ALEXIS GRACE—that tiny sprite who is so impossibly pale, she looks like she might explode if someone accidentally exposed her to sunlight. I liked her version of “Dirty Diana” and think there was something original and fun in there. But she ruined it a bit for me by swallowing the word endings on half of her lyrics, and grimacing and crouching around the stage like a younger and only slightly less insane Joan Rivers gagging over a bad dress at the Daytime Emmys.

I think Simon was right when he said she probably thought it was better than it was, but I think with a little fine-tuning, she could really have something with that cover.

TROY: We're on the same page with a lot tonight--I totally agree. Alexis is my favorite female in the competiton and, while I liked her take on "Dirty Diana," I felt like there was just something a bit off. That's not always bad, but it did need a little more work.

Still, I have no doubt she'll only get better and better.

TRACY: Agreed. Oh, and was she wearing some kind of onesie-jumper thing? Because if that was a (microscopic) dress, those swaying zombies in the front row got more of a show than they bargained for.

TROY: Well, the judges bassically DID tell her to skank it up a bit more....Probably why they gave her the porn spot for DIAL IDOL numbers (apparently IDOL-13 went to an adult phone chat line--hence the new IDOL-36 number).

TRACY: Heh. CONCLUSION: I think the strongest performance of the night was Adam Lambert by a light-year, followed by the imperfect but interesting singing of both Allison Iraheta and Alexis Grace. Still love Megan Corkrey and hope for better next time. The rest … meh, with an extra side of more meh to Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nuñez. Sad as I am to see the little Latin boy go, I think America made the right choice.

TROY: All this fashion commentary from you and nothing about Kelly Clarkson's epic fail of an outfit? I loves me some Kelly, but her outfit made her look like a gold fringed trash bag with two wrasslin' cats inside.

TRACY: Ooooh, I was trying to scrub my brain of that image. Who dressed that girl? Miss Teen Texas? The ghost of Liberace? A Dolly Parton-impersonating drag queen? ARRRRGGGGGHHHH!

TROY: Positive Kelly Note:"I Don't Hook Up" and "Ready" on her new album are totally worth a listen.

Troy's Top 3: Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, and Alexis Grace (but probably should be Danny Gokey vocally--YARF)


TROY: Troy's Bottom 3: Bottom 3: Jasmine Zzzz, Jorge Nuñez, Scott McIntyre.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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