Tuesday, March 23, 2010

American Idol: Top 12!

As always, I'm bringing in my brother Troy for our joint recapping of American Idol's top 12. Enjoy!

TRACY: Well, Troy, another year, another American Idol top 12.

TROY: Another year of Tracy and Troy week-late recaps!

TRACY:Ready to go?

TROY:Bring it.

TRACY:So far, I’ve been pretty meh about this year’s group of singers ...

TROY:(You mean Idol’s WORST. SEASON. EVAH?)

TRACY:...especially after last week’s Elimination of Bitterness, which resulted in the demise of one of my favorite singers, Alex Lambert. I think Lily Scott was totally robbed, too, and I even feel insulted for Katelyn and Todrick, because both of them had enough original spark that they deserved to outlast the plain vanilla likes of Katie, Paige, and Tim.

TROY:WORD. But I’d like to also add in Lacey to that pile of shame (although, really, isn’t that just adding insult to injury now? Plus I know you liked her….)

TRACY:(I did.) But there’s no judges’ save in the semis this year, so the Idol juggernaut juggers on without Alex and his Plushenko hair. Sick and wrong, man.

TROY:But there is a judges’ save for the top 12! Thank god. This way America won’t let Aaron Kelley slip through the cracks.

TRACY: The horror. On to last Tuesday night. I never realized how much I actually love the Rolling Stones until I heard their truly, massively awesome song catalog aurally drawn and quartered last Tuesday night. After I staunch the bleeding in my ears, I think I’m going to find one of their greatest hits compilations and crank it until the urge to down a bottle of lithium and make the bad man singing reggae go away leaves my restless mind.

TROY:Agreed! I tend to make fun of the ancient Stones (Super Bowl halftime show? Really?) and was griping about how much I was expecting to hate this episode. Instead, I found myself loving most of the songs (if not the contestant massacre of most).

Mick Jagger--I salute you (but am still creeped out by some of Mackenzie Phillips’ recollections of him).

TRACY: Oh, you had to bring that up. Ick.

First up was MICHAEL LYNCHE, who delivered a mildly pleasant take on “Miss You.” I just don’t get all the love for this guy. He seems super sweet, and my heart grows three sizes whenever Fox shows his new baby. If were voting for America’s Top Next-Door Neighbor, Big Mike would get my vote 100%. But singing? I’m just sort of meh about him. He’s pleasant to listen to, but for some odd reason, I always find myself comparing him to Seal. And he always loses.

TROY:WORD. I’m still baffled over what triggered Kara DioHotMess’ tears o’ shame last week, but it certainly can’t be Big Mike’s performance. Totally a nice guy (although seemingly pain-inflicting, given his ketchup bottle-squeeze hugs on Ryan), but I can’t handle him each week. I get flashbacks to Matt Rogers and that is NOT a good comparison. Meh.

TRACY:Plus the dancing. Oh, the dancing. If you painted Michael green and gave him little trumpet-shaped ears, he’d be a dead ringer for Shrek cavorting in the swamp to “I’m a Believer.” Not hot.

TROY:Let’s be honest … this guy is Velveeta and we’re looking for the American Idol, not the next Universal Studios tour guide.

TRACY:I’ve liked LACEY BROWN a LOT more than the judges have so far in the competition, and I totally get her groovy signature warble. But I thought she jumpin’ jacked UP “Ruby Tuesday,” one of my favorite Stones hits. Staying on key would have been a good start, but there was something too painstakingly deliberate about her delivery last night. Feel the song, honey. Just feel the song.

TROY:I’ve kinda hated Lacey Brown. Sure, she has great hair and, in my opinion, is really gorgeous, but she has a voice could herd cats. Screechy and bleaty, I felt like you could play a drinking game with her performances (“Drink everytime she goes off key!” – you’ll have severe alcohol poisoning at the end of 2 ½ minutes).

TRACY: Mean!

It probably would have been deemed too copycat, but I’ve thought since the beginning that she’d sound gorgeous doing The Sundays’ version of “Wild Horses.” (Curse you, Katie Stevens!!!!)

TROY:You Buffy nerd (but I totally thought the same thing).

TRACY: Let the record show that I liked that verion long before it was on Buffy.

Oh, and what was up with Lacey's Wilma-Flintstone-as-a-Venetian-gondolier T-shirt under the beige and black lace cocktail dress? Seriously not working. Not even in the store window of Charlotte Russe.

I agreed totally with Simon that CASEY JAMES is a really good singer, but he needs to bring something MORE (I don’t know, just MORE) to his Idol performances. I’m not sure how long dude can coast on just standing there on the stage with a lazy grin, delivering more-than-competent-but-not-quite-outstanding performances, but I don’t think it’ll be until the end. That said, how can you not like a guy who rebuilt his own house and oozes genuineness when claiming he’s the least talented member of his family? (Sorry—the blonde hair, it dazzles.) Once he’s through with Idol, he needs to front a band, because he could do his stand-and-deliver thing as part of a group, no problem.

TROY:I can’t decide if Casey’s act is super dopey (“I’m Casey! I love to sing!”) or really cocky (“Kara wants to schtup me. Free pass to final 4!”). I do think it’s the former, but the boy really needs to step up his game. Big Mike is running across the stage like a madman and Casey can’t even shuffle his feet?

Love his voice, but still MEH on Casey overall.

TRACY:Perhaps part of the problem was that once again, I spent half the performance worrying that the Zombie Jamboree in the mosh pit was going to eat him once they were done spasmodically waving. CREEEEEpyyyyyyy.

TROY:Casey wasn’t very lively himself - think he would have survived (Shawn of the Dead style).

TRACY:Gotta give it to PAIGE MILES for busting out some power notes last night with laryngitis. Before I knew she was sick, I told my husband I thought “Honky Tonk Woman” was her best performance of the show so far. I totally think she needs to steal Haley’s schtick and go all “I’m African-American! And I’m country, y’all!” Number one, there’s just a bit of a void in country music when it comes to black women singers. Number two, it’d give this pretty but up-to-now rather generic performer a much-needed stamp of originality.

TROY:Paige Paige Paige. Sigh.

While I agree with you, I just can’t seem to care about this girl anymore. She has a good voice, but that’s where it ends as she has zero personality. This song was fine and props to her for singing with laryngitis, but just … whatever.

Also, do we need to revisit the “Smile” debacle from a few weeks ago? Girl couldn’t hit any of the notes and said she was so emotional because the song reminded her of Michael Jackson. REALLY?

TRACY::::We interrupt this AI recap to bring you an episode of Dear God, What Was She Wearing?::::

A denim onesie? Really? With weird tights? And horrible, mismatched boots? Did she raid the old One Day at a Time wardrobe trailer to come up with that outfit when the Idol stylist wasn’t looking? Dear God, WHAT was she wearing?!?!


Troy, I can’t believe I’m typing this. In fact, I’m not sure I CAN type this. Hurts. Too. Much.

TROY:Do you need to sit down? A fan? Vodka?

TRACY:(How about all of the above?) I actually agreed with Kara (OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH, the paaaaaaiiiiinnnnnnn!!!!!!) when she said, with her usual freakish intensity, that ANDREW GARCIA should have added some more (not-so-freakish) intensity to his delivery of the Stones’ anti-war anthem “Gimme Shelter.”

Again, it’s an ANTI-WAR ANTHEM. That phrase alone should make a singer stand up and growl and belt and cry to the heavens when singing a song that fits that category.

Andrew made a very smart decision to drop the guitar and deliver something different, and his vocals were really quite pleasant. I would have actually like the song if it hadn’t been an ANTI-WAR ANTHEM.

When Mick Jagger delivers an ANTI-WAR ANTHEM (I can’t stop typing that in all caps), he struts, he pouts, he points and snarls. The underlying message is something along the lines of, “Yeah, this war? EFF this war! And eff all y’all until this war is OVER! End the war! END IT, you motherf----rs!!!!!”

When Andrew delivers an anti-war anthem (doesn’t deserve the all caps), it’s more like,

“Um, yeah, hi. So this war? Maybe it might be time to end it? No? Okay, then. That’s all right. I’ll just go now.”

TROY:Whoa. Did Kara just takeover my sister for a second? That critique was slightly freakishly intense. J

TRACY:Yeah, like you've never gone there, Tyra.

TROY:Also, you mentioned “ANTI-WAR ANTHEM” almost as much as the judges have mentioned Andrew’s “Straight Up” performance. Judges--we get it. Andrew peaked with “Straight Up” in Hollywood. He has no hope and is as sad as Meg Ryan’s career.

TRACY:So, singing was a’ight, but someone really needs to start feeling his songs. And while I’m at it….

Dear Andrew Garcia,

Please don’t ever sing about someone “rubbing you the right way” ever, ever again.


TRACY:It’s creepy. I’m not sure why it works when Christina Aguilera sings it, but you sounded like a child molester. Regardless of how tempting it may be, do not go there at any point in the future, lest I be tempted to gouge out my eardrums with a spoon.




TRACY:Oh, KATIE STEVENS. Such a sweet girl. So very, very dull on the stage. I think they should have encouraged her to try out in a couple of years instead of letting her into the top 24, because the girl just isn’t soup yet. Of COURSE she sang “Wild Horses,” (Susan Boyle did it!) because she probably hasn’t even heard of any other Rolling Stones song in the short course of her life.

“Wild Horses” is seriously one of my favorite songs ever in the history of ever. I love it when Mick sings it, and (sacrilege!) I love The Sundays’ eerie cover even more (Buffy + Angel = 4-EVA!). I don’t even mind Susan Boyle’s version, even though no one can improve on The Sundays. But Katie Stevens? She sang that ballad of intense romantic longing with all the intense romantic longing of Miss South Carolina delivering a treatise on why the people of Iran should have maps.

I cannot forgive, Troy. I want her expunged.

TROY:I totally agree. THIS was the song I was looking the most forward to and was praying that anyone BUT Katie would sing this. Sure enough, Katiebot 2000 takes the stage to perform Buffy and Angel’s prom song. Automatic hate.

This was bad, Tracy. Reaaallllly bad. Completely devoid of any passion or comprehension of what the song means, Katie got up there and tried to lull us into a deep sleep. She seems like a sweet girt, but I’m thinking her only potential for a singing career is for lead vocals on the next Kidz Bop album.

It has to be said: Lilly got booted for this?

TRACY:And Alex.

Dear God, TIM URBAN. Normally, I would just refuse to acknowledge Sir Helmet Hair out of respect for the fallen Alex Lambert (and in honor of Jesse Langseth and Tami Gosnell. Still bitter.). But what the crunk did he do to “Under My Thumb?!?!” I’m not even going to give him props … I’m not even going to give him a SINGLE prop, not one prop for trying to do something different. The SONG is called UNDER MY THUMB. There is a LYRIC in it that compares the girl who broke the singer’s heart to a SQUIRMING DOG.

Think maybe there’s something a little angry about this song maybe, hmmm, Tim?

TROY:This was a trainwreck. I wanted someone to go steal Tim’s lunch money, because what a NERDY performance. His vocals have gotten … less off-key, but that creepy, vacant stare into the camera seriously gives me nightmares.

TRACY:SERIOUSLY! FEEL YOUR SONG!!!! FEEL IT!!!!! FEEEEEEEEEEL IIIIIIIITTTTTTT!!!!!!!! Do not turn a dark song-spiral of torment, misogyny, and abuse into a lovely little poolside ditty, you silly, callow little man.

Obviously he is a nice guy from a nice family, but that is not enough to win a recording contract. (Please, Lord, let it not be enough.)

TROY:It unfortunately doesn’t matter what we think in this case. Urban’s here to stay for awhile thanks to the teen girl vote. He’s the male (and nicer) version of last season’s Bikini Girl.

TRACY:Oh, and what is up with the HELMET made of HAIR sitting on his skull? Is this trendy now? It makes me want to hunt down probable disturbing trendsetter Justin Bieber and sit on him until the guys from Jackass can come and shave his head. Or at least snap a barrette over his forehead.

On the polar opposite end of the scale, I love LEE DEWYZE every time, because he has that cool rasp to his voice and he totally feels his song. And even if said song is a powerfully original interpretation or a “safe” but heartfelt slow jam, I feel it, too. He’s likeable, he’s competent, he’s original, and doggoneit, I like him.

That said, I do agree with Simon again that he needs to step it up and have “a moment.” (Is there anything more paralyzing than someone getting all up in your face and demanding that you have “a moment.” I think not. So I don’t really hold it against Lee that he hasn’t had “a moment” yet, but I do hope he can pull one out soon.)

TROY:I think Lee is the Allison Iraheta/Elliot Yamin contestant this year. He’s so incredibly talented, but also flying under the radar with his proficient, but not notable performances.

Lee comes on stage, does his thing, but isn’t quite yet standing out to show what he’s made of. I think his moment will come once he gets a little more comfortable with himself.

Of course, now that I said that, he’ll surely be voted out next week. Eff.

TRACY:I hope not--that would be a tragedy of Katherine-MacPhee-in-second- place-over-Daughtry-and-Yamin proportions.

AARON KELLY sang “Angie.” It was all right. (Yawn.)

At least he did something different with his hair, instead of having the Army of Perfectly Matched Stepford Spikes sitting atop his head.

TROY:Oh Aaron. He’s like a less charismatic, less talented version of David Archuleta. I’m bored just talking about him.

TRACY:I’ve thought all along that the judges have been unjustly awful to DIDI BENAMI. I even didn’t mind “Lean on Me….”


TRACY:Though that’s a really hard song to mess with since it’s so well known. I love her hippy-chick vibe, I love her wacky vibrato, and I love that she calls her mom “Mommy Benami.”

I also loved “Playing with Fire.” Didi always does something wholly original with the melody, but it sounds so effortless, you barely notice how accomplished of a song arranger she is. The fact that she’s lasted this long while serving as the judges’ cannon fodder for FAR too long could make her the dark horse of this competition. If there is any justice in this world, look for her to crack at least the top four, at worst.

TROY:You know, I’ve been hard on Didi since the competition started. Loved her Kara song, but have just been constantly disappointed since (Pitchiest “Rhiannon” ever!). However, “Playing with Fire” has been one of the only performances that’s been stuck in my head since Tuesday night. Loved Didi’s almost perfect vocals on a slightly haunting take of the song. I may even have to take back my earlier statement declaring her Brooke White 2.0.

(The title will be reinstated if she decides to stop and start one of her upcoming performances…or spastically interrupt the judges like she’s Rain Man while they critique).

TRACY:Agreed, although calling anyone that sweet and talented Brooke White is slightly horrifying.

Preventing a Didi Benami win at this time would be one SIOBHAN MAGNUS and one CRYSTAL BOWERSOX.

Crystal delivered yet another Joplinesque powerhouse with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” She’s flawless, and the only thing standing between her and the Idol crown is the fact that she doesn’t have too far to grow, so some voters may get complacent or even tired of said flawlessness. (Oh, and Siobhan, of course.)

TROY:Joplinesque? I can’t go that far (see Allison Iraheta’s amazing exit performance last season for that distinction), but I do like the Bowersox. I do feel like she’s missing a little bit of energy on stage, but I get that that’s her thing. She still rocked it and I loved her for it.

TRACY:But didn’t you just want to punch Kara right between her crazy Runaway Bride Eyes when she started talking about how Mama Sox was getting “cocky” and seemed to think she had the competition won? Thanks, Kara. Let’s just go plant the seeds of sabotage into the viewers’ minds, because it’ll be so fun to watch one of the most deserving contestants get axed prematurely so we can be treated to Katie “the female Barry Manilow” Stevens albums instead.


Had to love how Crystal put the kibosh on that by 1) managing to defend herself without having a Guarini “what did you all think?” moment; 2) genuinely admitting that Siobhan was “awesome”; and 3) wearing a peacock feather to protest Lilly Scott’s premature ouster.

If a MAN were to be all stoic and confident on the stage (um, hello, Casey), I’d bet my last copy of The Feminist Mystique that Kara wouldn’t bat an eyelash. But when a woman does the same thing, she calls her out as cocky. My inner feminist is SCREAMING at the self-described (ugh) “cougar” right now, and once she is done, she is going to have a good cry at the state of this alleged “post-feminist” era.

TROY:Excuse you. Kara embodies the word” feminist.” What, with her bikini spreads in Maxim, Women’s Health, etc….

TRACY:Somebody give Gloria Steinem a cattle prod and have her stand behind Kara for the duration of the show, please.

“I’m a cougar!”


“Simon, you’re so smart. Do you agree with me? Do you? Huh?”


“But I’m a cougar!”


TROY:You good?

TRACY:It's a lovely visual. You should try it sometime.

TROY:(Team Kara!!)


TRACY:And that brings me to SIOBHAN MAGNUS. I understand that the quirky little glassblower might be a little polarizing, not in small part because of that slightly not-all-there smile she sometimes gives the camera. But between the badly drawn Mary Poppins tattoo and her sweet 60s-throwback parents, there’s more to Siobhan than first meets the eye.

She definitely showed it with her dark, dramatic, and powerfully original take on “Paint It Black” (thankfully erasing Gina Glocksen’s “version” from a few seasons ago from my brain). Love the drama, loved the way she reworked the melody, loved the gorgeous, lilting ending.

And I massively, massively adored the Valkyrie Shriek at the end. Every time she does that, my husband Jose and I usually end up breaking out into applause and yelling, “That was AWESOME!” at our TV like a Latino Chris Farley and David Spade.

And then, inevitably, one of us stops, folds our hands under our arms, and mumbles, “You know, she can’t hear us” at the other.

TROY:I normally think Siobhan sounds a bit monotonous in her performances (save the token, glory note), but I downloaded the mp3 of “Paint it Black” and have been listening to it on repeat. The girl sounds amazing when she records and she certainly bring something interesting and intense to each of her performances. She’s just so INTERESTING--I’m always curious to hear what she’s going to say and what song she’s going to choose. Siobhan makes me care, and let’s be honest, that’s rare in season 9.

Who knew she’d clean up so well too?

TRACY:She reminds me of a more rocking Heather Nova (alternative 90s singer-songwriter. “London Rain?”)

TROY:(Say What?)

TRACY:(“Walk This World?”) … No?). Love “Paint It Black,” love her, love the surprise she brings to every performance.

Because if I can’t have Adam Lambert back for every season of American Idol, then just bring on someone like Siobhan.

TROY:Preach (although I do sorta wish the Glambert were back this year to show these contestants a thing or two about owning a song).

TRACY:Last week, I predicted (hoped, prayed) that Katie Stevens would be butchering her swan song on Thursday, or Tim Urban. Sadly, it was not to be.

TROY:Unfortunately, we did not get the outster of Katiebot 2000. Still, I can’t say I was wicked devastated to see bad bad Lacey Brown go.

Can this week be a triple elimination of Tim, Paige and Katie (I’m fine substituting in Aaron as well).


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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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