American Idol, the reality television show. Is it all an act? I know "contrived reality" is an oxymoron, but were you watching tonight?
It was a simple formula. Five contestants. They each got to sing two songs and each had two phone numbers you could use to dial in to vote. Individually, before the contestants performed -- they were seen with Neil Diamond as he helped them "find their own path" for singing his music.
It played out like this:
First, goofy Jason Castro and Neil made us laugh. Then Castro, on guitar, was on stage singing "Forever in Blue Jeans".
Second, David Cook showed Neil what he planned to do. Cook then sang, "I'm Alive".
The third singer was Brooke White. For her first performance, she strummed her guitar to "I'm a Believer".
Neil called David Archuleta a prodigy. The first song sweet Archuleta tackled was "Sweet Caroline".
Syesha Mercado impressed Neil with her diversity. She showed her soft side first with, "Hello Again".
The next step was to bring all the idol hopefuls out for the judges to critique their first song before they each went on to do their second ditty. And this is where it started to unravel.
Randy gave his take which was... Castro was ok, better than last week. Cook stayed in his zone. Brooke was a bit karaoke. Archuleta was the bomb and Syesha was strong, wasn't amazing, but strong.
Leave it to Paula to blow the cover... Next it was her turn. The flustered judge started rattling off a critique for BOTH of Castro's songs. But let me remind you -- THE CONTESTANTS HAD ONLY performed ONE song at this point. Hold up!!! Let me explain to you what exactly happened.
Paula was rambling about not ever having to write these critiques so fast (lie #1) and said to Jason, for your first song "I loved hearing your lower register which we never really hear." Then she speeds on to say the second, "I felt like your usual charm was missing and it kind of left me a little empty. The second song made me feel like you are not fighting hard enough to get into the top four."
YES... she got all of that out before someone stopped her. Randy corrected, "just on the first one."
Paula responded, "wow, I thought you sang twice (lie #2)! You know what? This is hard." (umm.. yeah, sure Paula it's a hard days work. We "get" it.)
At this point, Simon got involved. This is where he should have been his usual self and just interrupted with his take on the singers. Instead he asked Paula, "who was your favorite?"
Paula tried to save herself, but only got in deeper, "you know what (get ready for lie #3?) I was looking at your notes David (to Cook who was next in line). You were fantastic. It was a song that wasn't known."
You are right Paula... Neil Diamond said that same thing when Cook told him what songs he was going to perform. And I am sure the AI producers jotted down those notes for you when it was time to give your opinion of his song. But you were talking about Jason Castro. And you weren't saying he was fantastic and "Forever in Blue Jeans" was a song that people know.
You said his usual charm was missing and he wasn't fighting hard enough. You were talking about Jason. It's over. The cover is blown as well as any credibility you might have been redeveloping this year. Paula hasn't seemed as loopy this season. Maybe this is all another ratings ploy. American Idol viewership isn't what it's used to be, but I don't know how this would help.
Simon finally broke all this nonsense up with a quick assessment that they all are lucky that they have an extra song tonight. He called Castro forgettable. Cook just above average. Brooke a nightmare (and Paula repeated "no, no, no!"). "Let me finish," Simon said. Archuleta - amateurish. Syesha - old fashioned.
For the next round of singing each contestant sang their song and the judges critiqued it on the spot. Castro was up first again. All three judges said Castro was unfortunately unrecognizable. Paula had more advice for Jason, "get out of your comfort zone and fight, fight, fight." Ooooo.. she can ad lib too. I guess I can't accurately say that. It is possible that was written down for her as well.
Next Cook's take on "All I really Need is You". All three of the judges agreed on this one too, but in a positive way. Simon thought it was "brilliant" and said he made the song sound like it was written this year.
Brooke said she was prepared not to forget words to her song like last week -- by writing lyrics on her hand. She also played piano for "I Am, I Said". Neil Diamond said it was a "difficult song to sing and make genuine, but she was able to do it." The judges were pleased too.
Archuleta got more props for "America". Randy said, "for a young man, you are in the zone." I thought certainly he was outstanding, but both performances of his for me was kind of boring.
Syesha had a lot of fun with her last song, "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime". The judges commended her for showing two different sides. Randy thought Syesha was also in the zone for this one. He commented that she is finally realizing who she is. No, Randy.. I think that's you finally realizing who she is. And as for Simon telling her that although good, she might be in trouble -- that would be a terrible mistake. Syesha has earned her place in the top three.
I'll save my rant about the other ingeniousness I've discovered on American Idol: season seven for another time.