Here we are with American Idol, and music from the movies, with guest mentor Quentin Tarantino. Will the song selections be as uninspiring (Celine, Whitney, “Against All Odds”) as I expect, or will some of the contestants pleasantly surprise? Will QT, whose every movie I have in my DVD collection, be as annoying in front of the camera (as he usually is) as he is good behind it? Will they thoughtlessly go over the allotted time and cut into Fringe, like they unconscionably did last week? Will, as I suggested on Twitter, someone do “Stuck in the Middle with You,” and cut off Randy’s ear live on national television? (We can only hope)
We shall see. On with the show.
Allison bats lead off, with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” from Armageddon. I love Allison, but I’m not a huge fan of the song. Still, she delivers it with some restraint (where needed) and panache. She appears more comfortable on stage, and hits the notes. Great start for her. 8
Note: evidently, under fear of backlash from angry Fringe fans, they are limiting the judges’ comments after each performance to just two. Can we make it just Simon and one of the others each time? Pretty please?
Next is Anoop, who will do “Everything I Do, I Do For You,” a sappy Bryan Adams ballad (Robin Scherbatsky will be happy!) from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (which I actually own, if only for the plucky and underrated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and, of course, Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham. Not for Kevin Costner’s accent, obviously). QT tells him to “rough it up a bit.” Though he doesn’t take QT’s advice, because none of these Idolettes listen to a fucking thing anyone says, that’s the best Anoop has been in a long time. He delivers a very controlled, vocally on spot performance. But what was he wearing? It looks like a letterman’s jacket fucked a sportcoat and spawned. 8
The frontrunner, Adam, will perform Steppenwolf’s AOR staple, “Born to be Wild” from Easy Rider. Again, with Adam, a song choice that on the surface seems to reek of Gouda, but he’s always mixed it up in interesting and surprising ways. Well, that was fun. Adam sounded like the bastard love child of Axl Rose and Freddy Mercury, with all the requisite theatricality and campy pleasures. Man, he can shriek, and shriek well. That will be tough to top, and at this point, we can go ahead and start engraving the trophy. 9.5
Matt will be doing another Bryan Adams song (somewhere along the way, Bryan Adams has become Kenny Loggins) from Don Juan DeMarco, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.” Timberfake takes a song that had Spanish flavorings, puts it through his R&B blender, and the result is a smoothie full of bland. He’s just not connecting with anyone, and his time could be up. (And what is Simon doing while Kara is commenting? Is that is version of “spit it out, woman?”) 5
Gokey will be going spec-free, and doing “Endless Love,” a delightful ode to statutory rape. (I don’t think I have to tell you what movie that’s from). Just kidding. Laws may vary in your locale. And does anyone remember Brooke Shields’ costar from that movie? No? (Martin Hewitt). This is a relatively classy and spare arrangement, and Gokey is much better on the bigger notes, but no one is going to forget Lionel Richie. And of course, no one is going to forget the dead wife, as he looks heavenward as the tune ends. This is the worst performance I’ve seen him give. Was he off key to start? 4
Two quick asides: First, I can’t watch the new Star Trek trailers enough. This movie is going to melt my warp core. Second, QT is doing one of the better mentor jobs of the recent past, even if (like usual) no one listens to him. Though he is currently filming a war movie set in Nazi Germany, I think he may have looked too much at the Fuhrer for his current hair stylings.
Here we go with Kris, who will be singing “Falling Slowly,” from Once. (Didn’t those crazy kids break up in real life? Is that a good sign?) It’s a beautiful song, and Kris shows some very earnest sincerity in delivering it. But it’s not a totally compelling performance, and he’s a little pitchy and scratchy in hitting some of the notes. 5
Lil will be doing “The Rose,” from Weekend at Bernie’s. She starts it out in the familiar fashion, and then transitions it into a gospel arrangement. It’s not as spectacular as she thinks it is, and she can’t really decide what type of tune it wants to be. Paula babbles on about something, and Simon is visibly rolling his eyes and frustrated, because he doesn’t have his secret Rainbows And Unicorns Decoder Ring (I’m with him on this one). Then, Lil wants to cut into Fringe time to backtalk Simon ONCE AGAIN. Can we please add her to The Bride’s list, just after Budd? 3
All in all, I felt like I was at a prom or a wedding. Either the song choices are far more limited than we know, or these kids have no awareness of tunes from movies. (“Hey, Tarantino is a guest mentor, and his flicks always have great soundtracks, so let’s pick a song from…..what….Bryan Adams isn’t on the soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs? Oh well….”) Wouldn’t it have made sense to get QT more involved in the selection process? Surely he wouldn’t have selected disc 2 from Bryan Adams Greatest Hits. I’d much rather see 10 – 15 minutes of discussion and debate over song choices than anything Randy, Paula or Kara had to say (did someone point Paula toward wikiquote.org before the show?). And that judging thing was unbelievable. Whoever is responsible for the pacing of the show (director? producer?) should be shot. They limited the judges commentary severely, and STILL couldn’t bring it in on time. I understand the desire to add a fourth judge, either to season a replacement for Randy or Paula, or to bring the balance of the panel who can speak coherent English to 50/50, but the experiment is not working. I give ‘em credit for trying something new, but if you’re going to do this “only time for two” thing, then Simon ALWAYS has to be one of the two. I seriously doubt there would be any great public outcry if the commentary of the non-Simon judges was limited.
TNRLM Top 3: Adam, Anoop, Allison
TNRLM Bottom 3: Lil, Danny, Matt