Idol Gives Back is a very intense, very emotional show. Because of this I was going to skip the show tonight and just report the results and do my power rankings, so I did those first. I changed my mind, and I watched the show. My blow by blow report on the show was all written in real time, as I watched. I got somewhat preachy at times, and I might have said things that are well out of my own realm of knowledge. I do it all the time as a bartender, so I don’t worry about it, but not all of you know me as a bartender. I left it all in, just in case something that I said might accidentally make you think about something, in a good way. If not, just skip past or yell at me. What I say is always real in the moment, but keep in mind that I am my own editor. I am not ever intentionally politically correct, but I do take pride in not being racist. I keep the serious vulgarities that come into my mind out in deference to my sister. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t, but if I really want to say those words I just will. Alison would understand that, but I don’t think that she would accept me being an asshole just for sport.
Results Night/Idol Gives Back
This week the internet blew up (the Idol part of it) when reports surfaced that Crystal was thinking of leaving the show. According to reports, Ryan himself talked her out of it. Crystal was interviewed about it and stated, bluntly, that she had no intention of leaving, and that she never had any intention of leaving. There was also a report on a tweet from Crystal to former contestant Katelyn Epperly that said, “Betrayed by Seacrest”. When asked about it, Crystal said that she was “cool with Ryan. We had a great conversation, and he gave me great advice.” There was probably some spin control in there, from both sides.
My best guess on what actually happened:
-Crystal was homesick, and missed her kid. That is factual, both sides said this.
-She mentioned that she was tempted to just walk out and go find some normalcy, and get away from the pressure and all of the attention. This is paraphrased, but both sides said something about like this.
-Ryan talked her out of leaving, telling her that his happiest achievement from getting wealthy came from buying his mother a house. This was widely witnessed. He was verified also to have told her that winning Idol would make her a millionaire. He told her that she would be walking away from a recording contract.
-This is where the stories separate. Crystal says that she was just talking idly (Idol-ly?), while Ryan’s actions made it look as if she was very serious about leaving. This was probably where the “betrayed by Seacrest” tweet came from.
Anyway, this coupled with her Diabetes does give the rest of the contestants a glimmer of a chance. I seriously doubt that she will break down, but…. Oh wait, she did break down, last night. I am a big Crystal fan, but I would be just a little bit worried about her. Only Crystal can beat Crystal at this point. It’s possible that all of this is just Idol posturing, trying to drum up some drama, but those tears and that breakdown were very real.
DialIdol predicted that Crystal was a lock for highest vote-getter. This is no surprise, but it’s the first time that DI has predicted that anyone was a lock for the top spot this season. This doesn’t matter for a whole lot in and of itself, but it’s an indication that the voting is continuing to increase week by week. This makes DI a more accurate predictor, which was a relief to me because…..
Siobhan was listed third in the DI rankings, with a predicted range of 2-6. This means that she could land in the bottom three, but that it would be a very large shock if she was eliminated. The actual voting predictions from DI:
What this means is that, if DI is accurate, Crystal was the top votegetter for sure. Lee probably finished second, but could have been as low as fifth. Siobhan was probably third, could have been as high as second and as low as sixth, and so on. Tim and Casey were well below the rest, so they would be expected to be in the bottom three at the very least.
On with the show-
The President and First Lady stared the show off. Not bad for some stupid reality show, huh? Michelle Obama told Simon to “be nice”. Good luck with that.
Queen Latifa is co-hosting from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where a long list of musical icons and superstars will be performing. This always makes me smile, that Idol gets so many industry titans to show up for their parties. Did Chuck Norris ever show up on “Survivor”? Did Pauly Shore ever show up on “Big Brother”?
The group lip/Synch came next. I liked the song, what was it? I couldn’t find it. It was maybe notable that Crystal got the big glory note, and Siobhan got the last, lesser glory note. Probably not. The entire final twelve was up there, which makes me wonder if any of them ever really get to go home.
Jennifer Garner did a segment on “save the children”, in the backwoods of Kentucky. I struggle with this type of huge scale charity myself. I’ve always believed that charity begins at home, as the old saying goes. That said I see nothing wrong with any attempts to help the less fortunate. Everything counts, and any honest attempt can’t hurt. This particular program is a good one, because the money spent on it pays for the development of actual life skills, over simply sustaining life. Soup kitchens serve a very good purpose in their own right, but they don’t have that “teach a man to fish” dynamic to them. Life is competitive so we will probably always need soup kitchens, but programs like “save the children” give at least a few kids a chance to avoid needing to be fed down the road.
There was a segment next, funny but either you saw it and laughed, or you didn’t and don’t care. Lets move on….
Next was a meet with the final seven. They are all dressed in white suits. They look like the Osmond family.
Performance: Black Eyed Peas- The mix was pretty bad. The vocal mics were weak and dry, there was a little bit of a delay. This will probably be the case all night in Pasadena. Fergie is not my type as a performer, but I have a world of respect for her. She is a formidable singer and a true superstar as a solo artist, and yet she comes back over and over to take on a supporting role in the band that made her a star. That doesn’t happen often enough, if you ask me. I always get a thrill when a superstar goes back to their roots. It’s always very cool.
Results- In the mix with all of the titans performing and the heart rending pleas to give, the silly little reality show has its own job to do. Ryan brought George Lopez up to give the results. Oops, no, George is up there to roast the judges. I’ve never thought that he was very funny, which is a mild handicap for a comedian. Tonight, with a fish in the barrel bit to deliver, he did ok. Don’t get me wrong, George seems like a cool guy to me, just not a very funny one. His funniest line of the segment got lost in the mix. While the crowd was applauding some dumb aside, he called Randy “Lionel Pitchy” (Randy produced Lionel Ritchie), to a screaming round of crickets in the background. Way to deliver the money shot, my man.
Ford commercial next. All these videos are doing is building up a body of work for whomever is roasting Crystal in 20 years. Siobhan moves so well, and so loosely, when she is just rocking out that I really wish that she would do a rocker song on the show. It might get her knocked off, but at least we can see her do it. Once.
Results- It’s for real this time.
Crystal and Casey: One of them is in the bottom three. Ummm, which one could it possibly be? Casey takes a hard chair.
Aaron and Lee: Again, one is in the bottom three, and it’s obvious. Aaron takes a hard chair, for the second week in a row.
Performance– Jeff Beck and Joss Stone. For those of you that are too young to know him, Jeff Beck is a guitar icon. I don’t really know why, either. He was in the middle of the cool guitar scene for years, like David Crosby was in the middle of the protest/ folk movement. Sometimes it’s enough to just be around, I guess. He plays without a pick, like Lindsey Buckingham of “Fleetwood Mac”. Joss Stone was doing her Janis impression, and all I can say is that she should thank God every day that she is white. If she was black, nobody would ever pay any attention to her. Every Baptist Church in the country has better singers, but they are too tanned to get credit for it. I’m not saying that she sucks, though, or Beck sucks. I liked the performance.
More heart rending tragedy, this time from Africa. Let’s face it. Africa is a huge mess in many places, many years behind most of the rest of the world in medical advances. I did some browsing recently, for some reason that I can’t remember. I found that there are a lot of countries in Africa with average life spans under fifty years old. This doesn’t mean that they die of old age at 47. This means that they have a huge mortality rate in childbirth, for the mothers and the children. We in the US get a little bit nervous about childbirth, but we have faith that everything will be ok, and the times when it isn’t are considered tragedies. In many parts of the world what we call tragedy is just a normal way of life. I am not crying about it, but I am aware. It’s fixable, I think, in time. Africa is more like the world that most of humanity has lived in historically than what we now take for granted.
Morgan Freeman and Randy Jackson revisited “save the children” next. I can’t help thinking that this program is overly ambitious, trying to do too much. If it was simply a literacy program it would possibly be more effective, but they are smarter than I am. They probably found out, when they dug in, that they needed to do more than simply teach them to read. It’s sure as hell not up to me anyway, so slog on, guys.
Performance: Alicia Keys. She had no voice at all for her performance, for some reason, but what the hell. I can’t name one song of hers, because I don’t follow her genre, but I know about her. She is the perfect person to be the mentor this week, because her own career is massively augmented by charity works. She guards her personal life very carefully, but every bio that I looked up has a huge list of benefits, causes and trips to horrible places that we mostly see only when they are shoved in our face. She is just 29 now, but she seems to be an old soul. It’s a bummer that her voice gave out. I have heard her before. She has an amazing voice, and she is a consummate performer.
More fun with a couple of guys that swear that they have a bunch of celebrities taking pledges. I have a feeling that they are going to actually get some celebrities by the end of the show. Tatiana, the divamonster from last year, was there. Slash was there, and Jim Carey popped in. They introduced Tatiana as Clay Aiken.
Performance: Carrie Underwood. The sound is still off a bit, but they improved it as the song went on. It’s amazing just how much better Carrie has gotten since she won Idol in season five. It’s a reminder to those who judge the singers on the show that perfection isn’t what they are looking for. Carrie was out of tune on every one of her Idol performances, but she had the IT quality. Now she sings in tune all the time, and she is one of the best vocalists in the business. She went from a green hopeful to a full fledged diva who shows off her latest learned vocal chops with every song that she puts out.
Ellen did her bit next on feeding America, with David Arquette. I love Arquette, he’s funny as hell. Seeing him in a suit was unintentionally funny to me. He looks like he is posing when he is asleep, so the suit just looked ridiculous. He has been known to show up for weddings in a superman suit, and funerals in a tu-tu.
The stats that they listed are nuts. 37 million people call on this program? 10 bucks can buy 90 pounds of food? Where is Joe Isuzu these days? And how in the hell can a working math teacher not be able to feed his kids? I’m sorry, but I call bullshit on this one. It doesn’t add up. Only an out of work math teacher would be in trouble, and that doesn’t make him a teacher. This makes him unemployed, and I know plenty of unemployed people of all kinds of professions. I am not hardened to charity so much as I am not impressed when they try to blow smoke up my butt. This kind of begging hampers the efforts of the real charities, by making us all cynical about the needy.
Bill Gates was next. At the top of the show they mentioned that, over the first seven years of “Idol Gives Back” (they skipped last year due to the recession) they have raised 140 million dollars. Bill Gates’ net worth is roughly 58 billion dollars. He could put his entire fortune in a 5% money market account and make 100 years worth of Idol Gives Back money in one year just in interest, and have 10 million dollars left over to go for ice cream. I make about 25 thousand dollars a year and my net worth is less than that, probably around 10 thousand dollars. If Bill is going to ask me to give 10 dollars, that is the equivalent of him giving 5.8 million dollars. In other words Bill could, by himself, dominate this particular charity from the change in his couch cushions. This isn’t fair, though. Bill has no obligation to get involved at all, any more than any of us does. I was impressed by what he is doing, and I am personally comforted that such a formidable financial force cares enough about his charity to know, from memory, the numbers. He didn’t get rich from simple luck. He is a smart cookie. Having him in their corner is a very good thing for whomever he pays attention to. He doesn’t have to do this, but he does. Take that, Jihad nutcases, and you ought to hope like hell that our little Bill doesn’t take a serious interest in you.
Wandy Sykes was next. I’ve liked her for years, she is naturally funny, not contrived. She used to complain about having to have sex with her husband in her routines, but now she is a lesbian. Are we supposed to take back the laughs now, since she was being serious then? Her routine tonight showed that she is a genuine fan of the show. Nobody can tell those jokes unless they actually know how the show works.
Her take on the ousted singers having to sing: “I’m sorry, but you are going home; now sing that song that made America not vote for you!!!!”. Since I am writing a book tonight, I will take the time to mention that, if you see Wanda’s name in the credits of a movie, at least her part will be worth watching. She would be a terrific career character actress if she wanted to limit herself to that. She is always spot on, and always very funny.
Results- Mike first, Siobhan next, and then Tim. Siobhan is safe. Mike is safe. Tim takes a hard chair, after a one week reprieve.
David Cook is on the live stage. David just returned from Ethiopia. I know a little bit about this country, not because I work at it, but because I happen to watch shows that deal with world issues; like “Law and Order”, “South Park”, “Sportscenter”, “Real Sex” and “Family Guy”.
David’s report was verification that this horrible condition is real, not just a story line on a network drama. I was aware that Ethiopia treats women in a way that is too horrible to talk about to anyone that isn’t ready to deal with it emotionally. Again, if you watched the show you know, and if you didn’t you don’t really want graphic details. This is a show about charity, so the issues that the western world has with Ethiopia aren’t really important on this platform. It’s just another reminder of just how lucky we are to have ONLY the problems that we all complain about in bars, to guys like me.
Annie Lennox was next, talking about the Aids issue in, of course, Africa. I was interested, and I am interested, in the progress that so many dedicated medical researchers have made towards treating this disease, a disease that we used to all be so scared of. When did we (I) stop being scared? I got old, so I know when I stopped, but I don’t see much in the media about Aids in America, haven’t for years.
Annie talked about the need for money to pay for the cure. This is huge news to me, though the visual fact of Magic Johnson should have been a clue. There is a cure? Underneath Annie’s plea for money to pay for it was some incredible news, news that is just not being published where I read. She said that they can drug an HIV positive mother, and her child will not be infected. Ok, Family Guy, why didn’t you tell me? Common, McFarlane, you lazy bastard, we need to know….
I loved Annie’s performance. Annie could have been a formidable blues/pop singer, and a much bigger and richer star, if she had used her talent to show herself off; but she had other things to do. She spent her entire mainstream recording and touring career with a crew cut, singing serious songs with a serious voice. Only her song, “Would I Lie to You” showed her true vocal talents as a singer on the world stage. She must have let that one out accidentally. She did a video, I can’t remember which one, where she wore a wig, and she looked beautiful. That must have been an accident, too. While we argue about who looked the best, and who sang the best, Annie stands out. She could look the best, and she could sing the best. She had other things to do. I respect that, a lot. I don’t understand it, but she lives in her own skin. Bono of U2 plays the part of someone who cares, and I have always been very skeptical of him. Annie Lennox, I think, is the real deal.
Performance: Several performers and sidemen got together to do “Stairway to Heaven”, notably Steve Vai (the real Jeff Beck, a true monster on the guitar) and Idol’s own Randy Jackson on bass, along with Mary J. Blige singing the lead. The band drowned out Mary J. when they got going, but it was cool anyway. Mary J. had tears running down her cheeks, and the blonde girl that was on Idol a few weeks ago played some very cool guitar that they showcased. Steve Vai is amazing. His intonation and his ability to wring emotion out of his guitar always blows me away. If you are interested in seeing him, check him out at the usual places, or just rent “Crossroads”, the movie with Ralph Maccio. Steve Vai plays the devil’s advocate on the guitar. He is amazing. Did I mention that Steve Vai is an amazing guitar player? Oh, and don’t forget that Steve Vai is a pretty good guitar player.
Next up was Simon’s report on the Children’s Health Fund. I came away very warmed by Doctor John, and by (cough) Simon. I hammer on Simon, and I will continue to hammer on Simon when he is, in my humble opinion, hurting the show. That said, he is a human being. He’s an arrogant, stuffy human being, but he has a heart in there somewhere. I am happy to see him doing good, charitable work, but I can’t help feeling that this was more of a photo op than a genuine charitable effort. Bill Gates is finding ways to cut the rate of infant deaths in Africa. Annie Lennox is working to get medication for unborn children in Africa that are infected with HIV. Simon went to Douglas, Arizona, and played with kids. He went to New York City the last time, and he bragged about going to some horrible backwoods place like a small town in Arizona. I don’t want to make it sound like he doesn’t care, but there are efforts and there are EFFORTS. Simon doesn’t have to do this, other than that it is part of his contract. He seemed to be genuinely moved at times, and it’s probably just his British reserve that leaves him looking so cold. I hate him as a judge, but I am sure that he is a decent guy at times, when he isn’t walking his pet rat.
Elton John was up on the stage in Pasadena next. He talked about Aids awareness, and he amplified, again, that Aids is no longer life threatening if treated. I am just floored by this. How could this not have been a story big enough for me to know about? When did Aids stop being a death sentence, and why didn’t anyone tell us? I get so mad when medical issues become a political football. Don’t even get me started about that great American Ronald Reagan, who refused to acknowledge Aids as a pandemic until four years had passed. How many lives were lost because our President decided that this was a moral disease? It took Magic Johnson’s announcement, in 1991, to get the medical field to care about it enough to beat it, and he hd to go through some ridiculous hoops to prove that he wasn’t gay before they sprung into action.
This show was, at it’s best, a nice reminder that we can do something about the things that we struggle with. It’s also a reminder that we are not the quickest on the draw about it. I am no social worker, and by next week I will have forgotten most of what I have been preaching about in this report. In this I am fairly typical. We can do amazing things. We do amazing things. One is a constant. One is a constant only when we are moved. Music is something that moves us. Music is a huge, important thing to us, because we need to be moved. Great things come from being moved to action.
Performance– Elton John. Crap, I have to listen to the words because he has a habit of changing them to suit moments. He is singing “Your Song”, his first big hit. To say that I love this song would be an understatement. I am constantly amazed that this show about kids in 2010 is so often filled with songs that I listed to when I was a kid in 1973. I am 47 years old, and I am listening to one of my biggest heroes from my childhood on a show that is supposedly geared to kids that are the age that I was when I first heard this song. I’ll never get my head around that.
63 years old, and he still has it. I love these kids that try out for this show, and I root for them hard. They are trying to get the chance to be where Elton John was back when he was a kid, and become the next Elton John. I hope that they were paying attention to the master. They would learn. I remember very well that Elton, when he was in his early stages, was constantly hammered on for not being a good singer. Stories about him using filters and other tricks to sound in tune were all over the place. He doesn’t need them now, and he didn’t need them then, after he had toured the world a couple of times. The stories didn’t go away until years after they weren’t true. Things change, and somehow they never change. I feel honored to get to see him on this show.
Results– Oh, there are results to deal with, aren’t there? I honestly had forgotten. Aaron was sent to safety first, which left Tim and Casey out there. I would be very nervous for Casey here, going up against Teflon Tim, but……..
I cheated again, and looked the results up when I got home from work. I’ll probably do this for the rest of the season. Amazingly, it was Tim that finally was sent home. After eight consecutive weeks of being on the bottom of my list, he finally ran out of lives. Casey wasn’t all that excited to survive. Mike tried to hug him, and Casey just fist bumped him and walked to the back of the stage, in his own world.
Tim, bla bla bla. He got better, but he still wasn’t as good as any contestant that had sung from the final 24, and probably the final 71, 96, or 181. He is a nice kid, and he tries very hard, but he is just not any kind of singer. In deference to the theme of the show, I will leave Simon alone tonight. Let Tim take his bow, with some dignity. His run didn’t deserve it, because so many had to go early to accommodate him, but that wasn’t his fault. He isn’t Snidely Whiplash, tying Nell to the railroad tracks. He’s Dan Quayle, getting hired for a job title that he couldn’t spell. As we saw all night tonight, there are way worse things I our world than Tim Urban outlasting Lilly Scott and Alex Lambert.
6: Aaron Kelly– He gets compared to Archuleta, but he has more in common with Anoop from last season. Neither one of them could go up tempo without looking silly. Anoop was a better pure singer than Aaron and more emotional, though Aaron has more scratchy tricks. Anoop finished sixth.
5: Siobhan Magnus– She should be higher, I think, but her standing at the judging table is probably even lower, and there ain’t much difference between five and three at this point anyway. Simon is very sideways with her right now, and even though she navigated the minefield of talking back to the judges without seeming arrogant, the cumulative effect of any yapping at all tends to alienate the audience. She needs to stop that, and concentrate on finding a brand for her voice. She has been sampling various styles, trying out various things. She got credit for this early on, taking risks, but we are past the point of test driving songs. She needs to buy one. I am her biggest fan, but even I will tire of her if she doesn’t show some signature style very soon. Her problem, possibly, is that she has already done that. She is a musical theater performer. Unlike Adam, who has almost as much experience in musical theater as Sha-Von has using a toilet, She isn’t polished enough or experienced enough to bring it off week after week. It’s one thing to be the star of your high school. It’s a huge level jump from there to being a star of Idol, and still another level to be the star of a Broadway show.
4: Casey James- Casey took a big tumble this week, going first and getting hammered by the judges. It resulted in his first appearance in the bottom three. Casey’s problem is that he is what he is, and what he is isn’t all that special in the broad spectrum of commercial music. There are dozens of singer/guitar players in every town the size of Spokane that can do what Casey does, and probably thousands of them across the country. He got the winning lotto ticket, but let’s be real about it. He might not have the extra gear that he would need to get back to Lee’s level, and we are past the point where he can just do what he does.
3: Michael Lynche– Big Mike might have a trick or two up his sleeve yet, but he returned to his half octave range again this week. He will need to be almost perfect every week, or he could get booted at any time. He’ll get booted soon anyway, but there is a big difference between fifth and third when they are handing out recording opportunities.
2: Lee Dewyze- Lee is, at this point, a huge favorite for the spot next to Crystal when she wins, and the one in position to steal it if something bad happens to Crystal. This is fair, and right. After all of the extraneous stuff is scrubbed off, Idol is still a singing competition. Lee is the second best singer, with Siobhan right behind him. Siobhan is in the process of imploding, whether it’s on stage or at the judging table. Nobody else is in his class as a singer except for…
1: Crystal Bowersox– Had I not gotten so enamored of Siobhan and her Cinderella story you all would be sick, sick, sick of my endless shilling for Mamasox. She is going to win unless she is overtaken by the drama. Adam was beaten last year in a similar situation, so it can happen. It would be interesting to see how Crystal and Adam would face off, since they are so different, but there is no Adam this season.