American Idol 4, March 23: The Great Do-Overby Sting7 -- 03/24/2005
An extremely enthusiastic crowd, most seemingly armed with amusing signs like "Please Donít Fire The Numbers Guy!" is shown. Ryan welcomes us, with a wry smile on his face, to an "unprecedented American Idol!" Indeed.
There seems to be lots of explaining to do, and Ryan wastes no time. He says last night was one of the best shows ever (not puffery, I actually agree with him!). He goes on to explain that the bottom of the two phone numbers, the ones without IDOL showing in them, were mis- um, shown? This was attributed to "human error." Hey, happens to all of us.
Ryan gives a brief dissertation on the importance of voting, gesturing toward the seated contestants like they are orphans waiting for adoption. He introduces a rather stoic-looking group of judges. Chances are they know they have to work an extra night when they probably had other plans. And they are not happy about it!
So, last nightís votes? Thrown out. The mysterious "independent accounting firm" has decreed those votes null and void. Ryan goes on to explain that the performances will be seen again, in the same order as they were last night, and you will be asked to vote again.
(How amazing is this? The error could end up winning Idol more viewers. I know for a fact that people who never watched the show Ė yes, there are still some Ė are planning to see how this calamity plays out. Good chance that a percentage of them will be compelled to watch a contestant get eliminated tomorrow and the real thing next week! With luck like this, who needs a proofreader?)
We see Anthony Fedorov perform George Michael and Aretha Franklinís "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." In my critique, I noted that it was smart of Anthony to choose a song that Clay hadnít performed, because the comparisons to Clay wonít help Anthony establish his own identity and make his own mark in his campaign. I guess I should have added it was a song Clay hadnít performed Ė on the show! A ridiculous number of people just had to tell me that Clay did the song in concert last summer, thus making Anthony some sort of Clay imitator. Well, I doubt that. The only thing Clay and Anthony have in common is they are skinny, male, and white. Anthony wears glasses every week. Clay wore glasses for about 20 seconds that we saw.
As for Clayís concert playlist, the 60 million people who are watching Idol every week did not see Clayís concert. Many did, but not 60 million, so the vast majority of us are not going to draw on a comparison between Anthony and Clay with "I Knew You Were Waiting." That was my point. Sorry you missed it.
Anyway, we saw Anthony do his thing, he went in the crowd, he shook his thang a bit. He looked comfortable, came off a little flat at times, but performance-wise, he was decent. Ryan recapped that two of the judges were positive, Simon was not. Ryan asks Simon if he wants more sex appeal from Anthony. Simon says not personally, but he thinks the performance was karaoke and boring and he stands by what he said last night. Somebody give him an ice cream cone. Ryan gives Anthonyís phone number for voting again.
Next, we move on to Carrie Underwoodís astonishingly brilliant performance of Heartís "Alone," which was THE talk of water cooler today. Last night, Carrie was stunning, big olí hair and everything. Today, she looked like she should have been on a box of hot chocolate! What the Ė? Ryan reminds us that Simon said she will win this competition, and asks Paula if he should have made such a prediction. Paula says emphatically that it is much too early to make that call, and itís not fair to the other Idols. Randy says he agrees. Simon "apologizes" for having an opinion, and says Carrieís hair looks better tonight. Ryan gives Carrieís numbers again.
Last night, Scott Savol performed Phil Collinsí "Against All Odds," and I was impressed with the emotionality of the performance. We see it again. Ryan reminds Simon that he didnít like it last night. Simon says, in a real world critique, if someone saw Scott for the first time, they would say he wasnít very good. So, Simon adds, he likes to keep his critiques in the real world, and not "in la-la land." Scott holds his tongue (good boy!), and Ryan gives Scottís numbers again.
Bo Bice is shown again performing Jim Croceís "Time In A Bottle," which I admit, I like better this time around, now that Iím past the shock of Bo not conventionally, well, rockiní. And I think someone got a hot oil treatment in that hair! Ryan says Randy was underwhelmed. Randy denies this, he said he noted the performance was "subdued," and he was just struck by the lack of rockiní.
You can see his dilemma. Ryan then asks if there is any chance Bo will get a haircut. Bo says heís had two good haircuts in his life, and there is zip-zero chance of him getting another one.
Next up, we revisit Nikko Smithís performance of Sisqoís "Incomplete." I got a few emails remarking that Nikkoís voice is nowhere near as strong as the other Idols. Iím inclined to agree, but what makes Nikko different is the effort, the heart he puts up there every single damn time! He never leaves anything in the dressing room! Ryan remarks Paula was a mess after the song. Paula stands behind her reaction. Randy says he thinks Nikko had the performance of the night, Nikko found himself. Nikko says he was nervous last week, but basically got himself together.
Then comes Vonzell Solomon, with my sentimental favorite performance of the night, the Emotionsí "Best of My Love." She and the background singers sounded like they had toured together for six months now! Vocally demanding. She responded. Loved it. Ryan asks Paula what was different last night. Paula said she sounded great, she was fearless. Randy says she is most improved. Simon says Vonzell is listening to the judges, and she is growing on them with her sense of fun. Ryan asks her she navigated in the platforms. Vonzell says she prayed on it.
Commercial break! Hey, Fox showed a promo of the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards without shamelessly plugging Ruben and Fantasia, both of whom are appearing and, I think, nominated for awards! Fox, you just keep surprising me.
Here comes Constantine Maroulisí love it or hate it performance of "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family (two words I never imagined myself typing). I think I liked it. Randy and Simon didnít especially. Simon says he found it unusual that hard-rocking Constantine did a Partridge Family song. Ryan shows shades of real journalism when he asks Simon if the contestants are supposed to be showing versatility and adaptability, which gets a huge round of applause from the audience. Now, I would have liked to have heard Simonís answer to that. But, nooooo! Paula has to interject, babbling something about Constantine making a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Idols of the seventies. Huh? Randy and Simon sarcastically ohhh like itís suddenly clearer. Constantine says he liked the song, it was a little tongue-in-cheek, but he just wanted to do something fun. (Thanks Constantine for not letting Paula look like a total ass.)
Then comes the moment Nadia Turner had a misstep. It came in the form of Cyndi Lauperís "Time After Time." I have to tell you that someone kept asking me if her mohawk would cost her votes. Only among the stupid. Many things were wrong this performance, most importantly, Nadia vocally was just not there. She was ahead, she was behind, she just couldnít find the handle at all. Happens to everyone. Thatís why itís important to lay a bed of excellent performances early on, so when that misstep happens, you have some cushion.
Ryan says his radio show was full of questions about The Mohawk, and asks if Nadia would rethink it if she could. Nadia says no, it was a tribute to her buddy Mario Vazquez. (Interesting!) Ryan comically asks, "why did he leave?" Nadia says, just as conspiratorially, "I donít know!" Ryan asks Simon what was missing for him about the performance. Simon says everything. He adds it was worse the second time, it was affected, it was cabaret, it had no edge. He basically despised every note of it. And, he concludes, if it continues, she will be out of the competition very soon. A lusty round of boos follow, so lusty, Ryan giggles in the middle of his vote pitch. Nadia remains as poised and gorgeous as always. (That is how you handle a bad critique. In her head, sheís probably cussing him out enough to curl his chest hair, but all you see on the surface is smile. Perfect.)
Ryan introduces Mikalah Gordonís dreary reading of Taylor Dayneís "Love Will Lead You Back." On second listen, itís even worse. She must have a cold. Like Bruce Barker said in Weíll Be the Judge of That!, she was shrill and hoarse at the same time! Ryan asks Simon if the problem was the song. Simon looks like heís trying to repress the memory, but answers, "No, it was what came out of Mikalahís mouth was the problem." (On some level, thatís been the problem all season!) He gets mostly booed.
Ryan asks Mikalah if she agrees it was pretty bad. Mikalah answers, "I think Iím fabulous and so are my fans!" All thatís missing is a dah-ling! Ryan has to reign her in from preening in her applause. Ryan asks her how she ranks her performance. Mikalah saves herself immeasurably by answering, "If we were all Mariah Careys and Whitney Houstons we wouldnít need this show. We make mistakes, we learn from them and we get better! Thatís what American Idol is all about!" Simon watches her like she is slowly losing her mind. But, in reality, that was actually well-reasoned. Sheís actually right. She may have elicited a little pity, and it may have saved her from the certain doom she was facing last night! Ryan gives her numbers.
Then came Anwar Robinsonís hit and miss rendition of Chaka Khanís "Ainít Nobody." Not Anwarís best, and I daresay it wonít cost him a single vote. Ryan notes Randy and Simon werenít thrilled with it. Anwar says he stepped outside of himself and is satisfied with the reward of the risk he took. Randy says Simon was right for once when he commented privately that when you hear that song, you hear Chakaís vocal in your head and you donít want that comparison (which is a critique Iíve given at least six times this season! Donít believe me? Believe Randy then!). Song choice is so crucial. Anwar defends himself (noooo!) that he doesnít want to be aligned with another performer, he wants to put his own stamp on things (which really is what Randy was telling him to do!). Come on Anwar, shut up and smile.
Jessica Sierra brought out "the girls" again and sang Bonnie Tylerís "Total Eclipse of the Heart" last night, which we see again. The judges loved it, most of the ďWeíll Be The JudgeĒ team loved it, I did not. Simon repeats that Jessica had one of the strongest voices in the competition. Jessica admits itís hard to be in the bottom three and know she must pick the right song. Ryan plugs her numbers.
Ryan reminds us that you must vote again tonight. Text message voters will not be charged for last night. Here comes the recap, in which Ryan promises with a wink, the numbers are right. They are.
And thatís another show! Tomorrow (hopefully), we get the results. Want to know what I thought last night? Check out my previous recap. I still say Mikalah is toast. Weíll see! Thanks for pulling the overtime with me!
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for many years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at email@example.com.
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