American Idol 2, February 25: Dying Flowers and Sinking Shipsby Sting7 -- 02/26/2003
The last of the 32 are on deck, only eight more performances to determine who will step in to the Top Ten. Among the performers, Picks To Click Patrick Lake and Joshua Gracin (USMC). Also performing, Pick To Click: Probation member Corey Clark of the nefarious Party Trio (the only one to advance!), and Frenchie Davis' replacement, Juanita Barber. You may remember her from her conniption when she was told by Paula that her room of people were not advancing. Can she make the most of her sudden good fortune?
Ryan Seacrest welcomes us back! Is this thing on? Yes, it is this time. He relates his mike problems on the last results show and says, "I was actually funny for the first time!" The mike wasn't that dead, bro.
We meet the judges, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. Ryan offers Randy $100 if he can go the whole show without saying "dude," "dawg," or "man." Simon doubles it, and slams his own $100 on the table. Randy accepts the challenge.
He lasts 11 seconds before a "dawg" slips out! I timed it! But, enough with this tom-foolery (though there would be plenty of it tonight)!
On to the performances!
Sylvia Chibiliti, "Didn't We Almost Have It All"
Randy - " Were you nervous? (She says she wasn't, she was feeling the music, blahblahblah)... pretty good performance... started to get sharp at the end... something about your pronunciation was throwing me off."
Paula - "You have a beautiful face... you over-sang the song."
Simon - "Sang like you were shouting... you sing like a ventriloquist's puppet!... (she disagrees)... When you watch the tape, you'll see it. (She still disagrees, and twitches off the stage. Backstage, with Ryan, she looks into the camera, eyes bugged and says, "I don't think Simon has ever been to a black church because he don't know singing! That was singing!")
Sting7 - And, if she were given a million votes to cast for herself, her opinion might, maybe, count! Her reasoning about the black church was a bit askew. If her point was that her vocals were gospel-influenced, I didn't hear that in her singing. If she's saying that singers in the black church sing like they have an unhinged jaw, she's just flat wrong. What did she gain by disagreeing? Not a damn thing. Personally, I thought her performance was okay, but just okay. She didn't compel me to reach for my phone in the least.
Chip Days "A Song For You"
Simon - "You looked like I look in a dentist's chair!... I thought you sang better than Rickey last week, but you don't have his personality."
Paula - "I really, really liked your voice."
Randy - "Tough song to sing... I didn't see 'unbelievable'... sang runs with no emotion."
Sting7 - I liked his voice too, and I think we saw some personality backstage. Nerves made him somewhat wooden. He has a charming smile and a charming demeanor, just a hint of a Georgia accent, I think the ladies will sop him up with biscuit, as they say in the South. If this week is like last week, where no one really steps up, he may have a shot.
Juanita Barber, "What About The Children"
Paula - "I'm seeing alot of oversinging... subtlety is the key."
NOTE: Regular visitors of RNO and Foxes On Idol know that David Bloomberg and I have been pleading with the contestants not to argue with the judges. It gets you nowhere, and makes you look stupid. And arrogant. So, if you are all that, why do you need my vote? And, if you don't get voted into the top ten, you could be a wildcard entrant, but that is up to judges. The same judges you argued with and annoyed. Think about it. Not convinced? I present to the jury, Exhibit A: Juanita's pointless argument with Simon and Randy, in its entirety:
Simon: That was not good.
Juanita: That was not good?!
Simon: No. Juanita, Juanita, Juanita! I think, I mean, you really chose the wrong song. (He didn't say she can't sing, mind you.) I don't know if you were aware, but behind you there was a screen full of flowers--
Juanita: Well, I think America chose the wrong judge! (America did not choose him, the producers of American Idol did.)
Simon: --they started dying halfway through the song! (Oooohs! are heard throughout the studio. Randy is egging her on to defend to herself.)
Juanita: How's that the wrong song? I'm singing this song to America, and I'm axin' them 'what about the children?' How's that the wrong song? (oh, she's asking for it...)
Simon: Well, because I think America will be doing that! (he puts his fingers in his ears)
Juanita: I don't think so!
Simon: It has nothing to do with the sentiment (of the song).
Juanita: I think you're doing that because you don't know singing! You're doing that!
Simon: Juanita, I have ears!
Juanita: You don't know! You don't know what you're talking about! (She's lost all her steam, if she ever had any.)
Simon: It didn't suit your voice.
Juanita: How didn't it suit my voice? (horrible syntax)
Simon: Because it didn't sound very good.
Juanita: How didn't it sound very good? (she's killing me!)
Simon: Because you sang it. (More Oooohs! from the studio. Shot in the back shows Chip Days has his face covered trying to hide that he's laughing! Randy tags himself into this match, as Paula shoots a glare at Simon. To Paula he says) She asked the question!
Juanita: Whatever! Whatever!
Randy: The song was cool, all that was cool, you just didn't perform it that good. That was the problem. Really.
Juanita: What was wrong with my performance? (At least her grammar improved)
Randy: Dude, I mean, half the notes you --
Randy: didn't quite hit. (Paula is nodding beside him.)
Juanita: You don't know what you're talking about either! (laughter from the back)
Randy: I don't know what I'm talking about? Come on, now (laughing). Come on. Why do you think I don't know?
Juanita: Because! (The answer that has ended thousands of arguments. Not.)
Randy: Do you know who I am?
Juanita: Do you know who I am?
Sting7: No. You know why? Because you are nobody. Now, you are less than nobody. You are the person who replaced Frenchie Davis, who should have been blowing the other seven people out of the building tonight, if it weren't for a silly advertiser with delusions of purity. You are the person who threw a full blown tantrum when you heard you did not make the Top 32. You are the person who was here tonight because these very judges you are insulting put you here. You know what? You're right. They don't know singing. They clearly don't, because you were put in the Top 32. Want some more? There is no such word as 'axin.' You want to know about the children? They are crying. They heard you sing. You sounded like someone set a cat on fire. Now go in the back, sit down, think about the golden opportunity you flapped away, and shut the hell up!
Patrick Lake, "When I See You Smile"
Randy - "I don't think this was the right song to do... it's John Waite and he doesn't have the growl (Patrick says it was hard to do rock with just a piano to accompany, but he wanted to stay with that)... it didn't quite work."
Paula - "We got to enjoy you a cappella when you auditioned... it's difficult... refreshing."
Simon - "We made a mistake putting you here... if this were Rock N Roll Idol, you wouldn't have made it... I see a sheep in wolf's clothing." (Patrick really argues this point, saying rock and roll is in his heart. Randy applauds him. Simon's dig was a bit below the belt, I don't mind this defense so much. As Patrick walks away, steaming, Paula tells him he's great, Randy says he was good in his audition.)
Sting7 - I was really pulling for Patrick because he was such a maverick with his rockin' sensibilities. He did choose the wrong song, John Waite is not the guy to emulate when you want to show your rock chops. Foreigner! Why didn't you choose Foreigner? "I Wanna Know What Love Is"! I was praying you'd do that! But, he chose badly. Patrick just did not bring it tonight. Another Pick to Click down the tubes.
Nasheka "I Opened My Heart"
Randy - "Didn't feel anything from you... stoic... just standing there."
Paula - "When you auditioned before, I told you to work on your showmanship... have a real nice voice."
Simon - "When you auditioned before, I thought you were one of the better people we'd seen... I'm realizing what a great performer Tamyra Gray was, she could cope with a song like that, you can't... I'd like to see you do well in this competition, at the moment you are singing the wrong song... song is too old for you." (This is high praise from Simon, but all she heard was the negatives, "Tamyra and I have totally different voices!" Simon, annoyed, snaps, "I take it back, you were fantastic." She offers, "I think I was!")
Sting7 - So, are you happy now? What, Nasheka, did you accomplish? Hell, everyone under the sound of your voice knows you are several miles away from Tamyra. I liked her voice, her showmanship definitely needs improving, she spent more time looking at the ceiling than into the camera. But her attitude really put me off. What's interesting is the knock on Tamyra was that she was aloof and the audience didn't connect with her. Garbage, I say, but Nasheka looked aloof!
Joshua Gracin, "I'll Be"
Randy - "Finally, a good singer, singing a song that's right for him!"
Simon - Asks what Joshua will do if he's called to fight in the war, Joshua answers, "I joined the Marines to defend this country, I'm a Marine! That's how that goes!" "You just look right, feel right, sound right, standing over that spot that says 'American Idol'... consistent... hope you do well."
Paula - "Edwin McCain would be proud!"
Sting7 - Pick To Click, represent! I liked his performance. I think television loses something in the translation and there were a couple of notes he could have been more solid with, but there was passion and conviction in the performance that made up for those minor glitches. He absolutely earned my vote!
Ashley Hartman, "Touch Me In The Morning"
Randy - "Very beautiful... look amazing... Marilyn Monroe vibe... helium voice thing not working for me."
Paula - "Sexy vibe and girlish... seemed to be shouting in parts."
Simon - "The good news is you're beautiful, but you knew that... the first thought that came to my mind when you starting singing is that you sound like you should be singing on a cruise ship, then halfway through the ship started sinking!... Some people deserve to be here based on what they did before. Based on that performance, I'm afraid you don't."
Sting7 - That was so bad. It was so bad. I wanted to touch her with a machete. She is beautiful, no question. The singing seemed extremely amateurish, like she needs another two years of vocal training. She had no control, she sang in the completely wrong pitch (even the shots of her with the vocal coach showed a different pitch). Chalk this up.
Corey Clark, "Foolish Heart"
Paula - (standing ovation) "Unbelievable... you blew me away... different, unique, refreshing... you proved you are taking this competition seriously."
Randy - (Standing ovation) "Sensational... in tune!"
Simon - "You put me in a good mood... if you advance you will make this a more exciting competition than last year."
Sting7 - What a pleasant surprise! He sang one of my all-time favorite songs, from one of my all-time favorite singers (Steve Perry), and he did the song and the singer total justice. I wonder why more folks don't use the Steve Perry/Journey stuff! Once he did the run after the chorus (with the five chord changes), he actually gave me true to life goosebumps. I'm standing and applauding myself! And, he did his own ending... you go!
So, those were the performances. Time for a little handicapping. Who I think should advance:
1. Corey Clark
2. Joshua Gracin
Who I think will advance:
1. Corey Clark
2. Joshua Gracin
I think Patrick Lake will round out the top three, based on personality and the fact that he was put in a position to defend rock and roll, edging out the affable Chip Days. The rock-friendly crowd out there will vote for him. If Juanita is in the top three I will go on a murderous rampage!
That is the last group of eight. Two will go on to the Top Ten and only two deserve it based on tonight's performance. The producers of AI2 really wanted to get more males in the top ten this year, if it were possible. The ladies tonight helped with this process immeasurably. And the arguing. Juanita Barber should have taught everyone a valuable lesson.
Next week: The Wildcard show! Who will it be? Join me early next week when I predict my eight!
Sting7 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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