And then there were three

th (6)I was really surprised when JD got the boot. I mentioned last week that the voting was very close (behind Scotty, who is running away with it so far), but I was pretty sure that JD was safe this week. Haley got hammered by the judges AGAIN, didn’t sing as well as she had the last few weeks, and was well behind everyone else on DialIdol. Lauren’s crying jag was fresh in everyone’s minds and she was uneven this week, so if Haley got her fanbase motivated (apparently she did) I expected Lauren to be the one who got dumped. I honestly didn’t even take into consideration that JD would get the boot.

Performances:

Scotty/James- I enjoyed their performance. I don’t normally grade these things; it’s sort of pointless since they mostly just toss these things together, but if I did I’d give them a B something. What I noticed more than anything else was that JD sang some complex harmonies on the fly. He had to, since they probably spent less than a half hour blocking the entire performance out and most of that was probably about who was going where. The kid can sing harmony like a pro. He was as impressive on that as he’s been for just about anything that he’s done all season, to my ears. Scotty got drowned out, as he always does. He doesn’t have a big voice, and he doesn’t know how to use the mic yet. He’ll learn how to use the mic, and his style isn’t about having a big voice anyway.

Haley/Lauren– Again, I don’t grade these, but Haley has been blowing these duets away for weeks and this week was no different. Both of the girls sang very sweet harmonies, and I think that both of them were pretty terrific on their lead parts too. If I was grading it, this might be up in the low A range. I’ll listen to it again, for sure, and it might make my top 30 in my wrap-up recap at the end of the year. By the way, how tall is Lauren? I know Haley is pretty short, but Lauren really towers over her. She must be a good 5-8, and maybe more like 5-10. She is almost as tall as Scotty, and he ain’t short.

I skipped over the Lady Gaga and Rickey Martin performances.

Don’t shoot me…. I know that it wasn’t Rickey Martin. The guy (Enrique Iglesias) can handle a joke; he’s been diddling Anna Kournikova for years, and if you want a good joke read about his descriptions of their relationship. They are married; they are broken up; they were secretly married; they were secretly separated; they secretly joined a cult and now he can’t drink koolaid anymore….. I’ve seen footage of a blind whale spelling words by shooting paint at a canvas out of his blow hole that was easier to understand.

I remember channel surfing years ago and stumbling into the middle of a performance with a 120 member choir, a 42 piece orchestra, and several dozen dancers. I think there might have been a flag corps, an honor guard and some dancing midgets, but it was a long time ago. Anyway, this army of performers did their thing and, when the song was over, they were introduced as “Rickey Martin”. I wasn’t even sure which one he was, but he was in there somewhere.

I did watch Jordin Sparks do her song. Was she lip-syncing? I think that she was. For shame, former Idol!!! She looks really good, having lost some weight in what seems to be a general wave of post-Idol divas getting on the Jenny Craig plan. Even Kelly Clarkson is losing weight, and she looks terrific.

Steven’s video was a hot mess of images, very confusing. I wonder where he got the elephant. Paul Lynde was center square on Hollywood Squares in the mid 1970’s. Peter Marshall asked him the question: “Who is pregnant longer: your wife or your elephant?” Lynde, with no hesitation: “Who told you about my elephant?”

I liked the song, and I liked the belly dancer who sang with him. Who is she? Oh wait, I can look that up…

Ok, I’m an idiot. It’s Nicole Sherzinger, the lead singer of the “Pussy Cat Dolls”, and the winner of “Dancing with the Stars” last year. I really need to get out more. She looks really exotic, doesn’t she? She’s part Filipino, part Hawaiian, and part Russian. Apparently she was born with no ears. No, I’m not saying she’s tone deaf. She was literally born without ears. (added later) this turned out to be one of those internet bullshit ‘facts’. I like to think I’m a little more skeptical now, but I doubt it.

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Subtle moments, subtle movements:

When Lauren got the first spot on the (good this time) hard chairs, Haley smiled like she was going to be nice no matter what (but her eyes were very dark), and JD looked slightly concerned. When HALEY got the second spot (Ryan had to show her the results to get her to believe it), JD knew what was coming, and he couldn’t hide it. He tried to show his stoic side, trying to be calm, but his eyes betrayed his emotions. He got really dark, and a little bit wet. I could feel the energy from him coming through the TV screen. He was thinking like a guy that was on the way to the gallows, and trying to figure out if there was any way to avoid it. His “life” was flashing in front of his eyes. He hadn’t been in the bottom three all season, and he could taste the finale. He was SURE that he was going to be in the finale, like most of us probably believed as well.

When the hammer fell, JD made the same face (“crap”) that Siobhan made last year when she got the boot after never being in the bottom three. He recovered quickly, but JD isn’t some automaton. If there is one dominant trait to JD’s personality that I feel that I can trust, it’s that he will project exactly how he feels whether he likes it or not. He won’t lie, because he flat can’t lie. He would be the worst poker player ever.

JD didn’t think that he was going to get booted yet. He felt like he was going to at least make the final three, go to his triumphant homecoming, and he was already planning the trip. He felt that his metal persona, his big voice and his theatrical performances would count enough to get past this one more week. He hadn’t heard one negative word from the judges all season, so he didn’t see it coming. Like Lauren he had been treated like a star, and with kid gloves, all season.

The question that I want to ask is: Did the judges (I mean producers, the judges are reading from Nigel’s notes half the time) undo their own agenda by overdoing their agenda? Did they actually hurt JD by never saying anything negative? It was obvious since Pia got tossed that they wanted JD in the mix, to counter Scotty’s fairly weak voice. They haven’t given any honest criticism to Lauren either, other than to keep telling her to take chances. The Idol nightmare was that Haley would face off against Scotty, and now they might very well get that. They tried so mightily to prevent it that they motivated the Idoloonies, the internet Idol nut-jobs, to get involved in the voting and push Haley through. Haley has been the wise-guy choice for several weeks online (since Pia), but she would have been gone a couple of weeks ago if her voting bloc hadn’t gotten pissed off about the judges.

I don’t care about the political crap myself, other than for the sheer fun of speculating. What I care about is that these kids get a long run on the show to learn from the best, and get better at their craft.

JD came to the show with as much raw talent as anyone Idol has ever seen. Idol kept passing him through. They never told him to sing better, learn how to sing better, work on finding new vocal chops or finding new ways to bend a melody. None of the mentors braced him about singing out of tune, showing him the tricks of the trade to avoid that. They didn’t kill him for “Amazed”, when his famously high range was left in the back room. They didn’t tell him, week after week, that all the bullshit stage props in the world won’t hide him if he didn’t sing his ass off. They let him run wild and play, and he ran wild and played. He didn’t develop one lick, because in his mind he was doing so well. He was on a runner, man, and nobody was going to stop him. In his mind he was already a superstar, because that’s all they ever told him.

They kept telling him that he was great, and JD isn’t the type of self analyzing guy who would find another opinion. He’s a guy who came from nothing, who had this one special gift (that VOICE) to get himself out of the world that he was drowning in. He was riding a runner, a streak, and every time the seven came up he yelled, danced, and felt like he was too hot to ever lose. The voice of reason, which is the job of the judges, never uttered a word.

And then he got tossed, and now what does he do? He doesn’t have several weeks of growth to fall back on, because he didn’t grow an inch. His special voice, that kept him alive so long, won’t be all that special now that he will be competing with the rest of the world. I still believe in him, but it’s from a different place. He won’t be just a voice anymore, so he needs to be something more.

JD is a good guy, an emotional guy, the bastard love child of Fred Flintstone’s late night encounter with Lita Ford (Tell me you wouldn’t at least download THAT sex-tape….) and that will help him. If he can translate his emotions to tape, he will be hard to ignore. His intonation isn’t that bad, and with studio help he should sound amazing. He will be dynamic as hell in concert, with his energy. To me, it’s all about whether he can find a song that will blow up the radio. It’s almost always about that. He isn’t really a metal singer right now, so if he goes that way he will probably get stomped like a rancid mushroom, but he does have the ability to sing power pop/rock stuff. He lives and dies by the power of the melody that he has in his hands, so if I were to advise him I would tell him to find the best melodies that he can, and worry about the energy later. He can always rework the arrangement, but he isn’t good at crapping out a good melody.

I spent a lot of time on him, didn’t I? I really like JD, and I am hugely bummed that Idol didn’t take the time to develop him so much as they rode him like a plow horse. I hope that they don’t just send him to the glue factory. He made them a lot of money. He deserves to get some help in return, to teach him how to make a living in music.

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Power Rankings:

Yeah, right. Scotty is the prohibitive favorite. Haley and Lauren (and their respective voting blocs) will have one hell of a fight next week to get the spot next to him, so they can hug him and congratulate him. The real fight is between Haley and Lauren, and who knows? The runaway leader never wins, so they have a punchers’ chance.

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I have a couple of notes, internet info:

– The final three all got their triumphant home-comings, with 30,000 people for each one. I found it pleasing and warming that James was greeted by his own 30,000 people in his hometown as well.

– Each singer will sing a judges’ choice song. Haley is going to sing “You Oughta Know” from Alanis Morrisette; Lauren will sing “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack; and Scotty will sing “She Believes in Me” by Kenny Rogers.

– Josh Turner showed up for Scotty’s homecoming, and they dueted on his “Your Man” (baby lock them doors and turn them lights down low…..) with Turner’s band. Scotty bagged some groceries at his old job and got the key to the city.

– Lauren spent some time in tornado ravaged parts of Georgia, and paraded down her local main street backed by a couple of marching bands before being presented with the key to the city.

– Haley did two separate concerts, one at the local Community College and one atArlingtonPark(it’s a major horse racing venue). She signed autographs and was begged to sing everywhere she went, according to the report, but limited herself to the pair of concerts because of bad weather.

I noticed, from the article that I stole all of this from, that their respective cities wanted to HONOR Lauren and Scotty, but more than anything else they wanted Haley to SING. Does that mean anything? Probably not, but it does point out something: Haley is the only Idol left in the competition who is here because of her singing on the Idol stage. Scotty is the chosen one, and Lauren is future Carrie Underwood. Haley is just, well, Haley. And they all want to hear her sing.