American Idol 2011 – Year You Were Born Week


Naima Adedapo : She kicked off tonight’s honourable tradition of camera-lovin’ parents who were determined to show that they could too sing just as well as their offspring. Of course, Naima’s ma was actually a jazz singer, so she was more qualified than most. Quite possibly more qualified than Naima herself, whose take on ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ was something of a mixed bag, and that’s being polite. Since Fraggleface was determined to drag all of these numbers kicking and screaming into the 21st century, he made the frankly unforgivable decision to excise the panpipey original intro, which is totally the backbone of the entire song. Seriously, that’s on my Dad’s list of best things ever to happen in music (which I’m fairly sure doesn’t actually exist, but if it did, that’d be on it), and so I feel that by offending him, they’ve offended me by proxy. Naima’s vocals were patchy, just to add insult to injury. Still, with that outfit, she’s got a job for life in a touring production of We Will Rock You. SCORE : 4/10

(What orifice did Prince fart this arrangement out of? SCORE : 2/10)

Paul McDonald : The positive: it wasn’t as bad as last week. The negative: it wasn’t much better. His dad wondered where Paul got his talent from; perhaps a more pertinent question would be when Paul is going to get his talent. Soon would be nice, because it’s just starting to get embarrassing. For now, he continues to hop around the stage like a drunk(er) Rod Stewart, borrowing Haley’s idea of singing in Simlish, and persisting in those awful attempts to involve the audience in his performance. “Hello ladies,” indeed. You can try to get them to participate all you want, Paul, the blame remains your own. SCORE : 2/10


Thia Megia : It was quite difficult to tell when those baby pictures stopped at the pictures of Thia-Now began wasn’t it? She’s so very very young, and the disneyfication of both her VT and her eventual song-pick didn’t really count against that impression. Said song-pick being “Colours Of The Wind”, from the Disney-period commencing in the 90s and running until an exhausted slumping huff just last year, when they looked at their Princess line-up, saw its blinding Aryanness and went round the world randomly grabbing at girls of different ethnicities like Madonna on a three-day adoption spree. Apparently Thia thought this slice of hippie-dippie tree-hugging somehow represents something that’s going on in the world today in a very important way. I don’t even know what she meant by that, and I don’t really care to find out, because I would imagine I would find it quite depressing. Bless her utter lack of direction, made entirely obvious by when Jimmy Fraggle-Face sat her down and praised her having what nobody else on the show had, and it turned out by implication to be an utter lack of personality or direction. I expect a swift exit for Thia sooner rather than later, especially if she carries on doing things like pointing out that the show is edited in ways that don’t 100% reflect the truth. Certainly I don’t want it revealed to me that Debbie Blue is not in fact a gloriously deranged psycho hose-beast thank you very much. Performance was as “just there” as it always is. (SCORE : 5/10)

(Enunciate, dear. Just because the lyrics to this song are inane doesn’t give you the right to swallow them. SCORE : 5/10)

James Durbin : Regardless of the outcome of the public vote, he totally wins the “cutest baby” award, and really, isn’t that what ultimately counts? We got lots of adorable footage of him singing his ABCs, and his mom seems all kinds of adorable. His Bon Jovi performance wasn’t his best work, as there were some tuning issues, but this kid has stage presence that most of the others can only dream of having. Although the last note was pretty ugly, I’ve a fair bit of goodwill towards James Durbin for his previous good work, so as I’m feeling generous, he can have this SCORE : 7/10.

(Was kind of swamped by his backing track, but wasn’t everyone? SCORE : 6/10)

Haley Reinhart : Am I the only one who gets a bit squicked out when couples are in bands together? I mean, outside of ABBA and maybe Fleetwood Mac obviously. Haley’s parents came across as kind of a barfly version of that pair of hideous wedding singers from Four Weddings And A Funeral, making goo-goo eyes at one another over their fretboards and planning their next baby. Such were Haley’s parents, although I guess it speaks well of her father that he saw Haley’s slightly unfortunate infant eye-situation and decided to overcompensate by mushrooming out a giant and luxurious mullet. That’s fatherhood. Anyway, Haley had I think my favourite Jimmy Fraggle-Face sit-down of them all, with him basically telling her that she had no chance of winning, but not to think that meant that people weren’t watching her, and also that they wouldn’t hurt her horribly if she messed up. Of course she then went and did this performance anyway, vamping around at random, completely abandoning that new Country Identity she carved out last week from her old Garbled Old Lady Jazz Identity in favour of just sprinting round blarting Whitney Housten any old how. Total Idol by Numbers, although I guess any segment that ends with the words “well at least I let my mouth go with the flow” can’t be all bad. (SCORE : 3/10)

(The band drowned her out. This may have been a good thing. SCORE : 4/10)

Stefano Langone : An honourable second in Baby Wars (it feels weird to have baby wars conducted via the method of old pictures of the contestants themselves as babies. Maybe they can do that in Strictly next year) and comes from a long line of people who do stuff in a music store. Well, it’s musical heritage of a sort, I guess. He didn’t endear himself to me by sneering at how his options included Girl You Know It’s True and Hangin’ Tough, especially when he eventually plumped for If You Don’t Know Me By Now. He also needs to stop wincing at the end of each phrase, it only makes things easier for the critics. It was a functional performance, but he bored me. SCORE : 5/10

(I wish Louis was there to point out that picking a song that was not originally from your year of birth, only covered notably in it, is in fact cheating. I’m wishing for Louis Walsh here people, that’s what this week has driven me to. SCORE : 5/10)

Pia Toscano : Of all the parents, I liked Pia’s mum the most. I appreciate it’s not a competition, but I just appreciate how it felt like she was talking to the camera pretty much like she’d speak to anyone she wanted to bore ad nasueam about her daughter’s amazingness. And she brought us the hard evidence that in some point in her life Pia had some stage presence, even if it was a little bit over the top. I like to think there’s probably a happy medium that exists somewhere between her “11-year-old-Britney-Spears-On-Star-Search” childhood self and the slab of beige competence that greets us today. I appreciate that she tried to mix things up a little bit, by doing an unusual arrangement of her usual Idol Diva Classic performance. Just a shame that said exciting new arrangement was basically a Poppers O’Clock Gay-Bar Hi-NRG remix of “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” which was then…slowed down to about 1/8th tempo, making the whole thing feel like it was swimming in treacle slightly. Her vocals were still on point, and she’s handily won the “What Not To Sing” audience reaction poll for about the billionth week running, but it doesn’t feel like all of this is really going anywhere, and if it is, that “there” probably needs to be identified soon. (SCORE : 7/10)

(I love Pia, but even I’m starting to hope she leaves the diva belters alone at some point. I know that’s where her money is, but at least try and do something a bit different once or twice, eh? SCORE : 7/10)

Scotty McCreery : At least his parents have a sense of humour, giving us their own renditions of BABY CLOSE THE DOORS AND TURN THE LIGHTS DOWN LOW – although his mother seemed to be trying a little too hard to actually sing it, Gawd bless her. Scotty, meanwhile, continues to look more like Grand Ole Opry Fun Set Ken every week, and it continues to disturb me. He wants to keep it country, and I guess that’s fair enough – I can appreciate he’s really good at what he does, but it’s just not something that interests me at all. SCORE : 7/10

(I knew this exact same performance was going to get too boring at some point. SCORE : 4/10)

Karen Rodriguez : 1989? NINETEEN EIGHTY NINE? And the rest… If you’re going to lie, at least make it a better year than 1989. As Stefano pointed out, that wasn’t exactly a vintage year for music. Why not freak us all out in the other direction, pick some year in the 60s and rock some Bacharach out whilst you’re at it? Speaking of things that are old and tired, this week we officially decided to turn Karen Rodriguez into the American version of Ruth Lorenzo (except 56 times less awesome) by constantly baiting her as to whether she should or not sing in Spanish, like it’s going to make any difference at this point. I appreciate that the political situation is very different than over here, so the answer is almost certainly “yes”, but do people really care that much if Karen drops in a line or two of Spanish or not? It’s not as though it particularly cuts through the warmed up Selena-treacle of the rest of her performances. Maybe what she should actually do is take a cue from her mother, and speak in adorable fractured Spanglish. About 50 bland retreads of old Taylor Dayne songs that are only dimly familiar probably only add up to 0.8 of a “I LIVE NOW IN KAREN! SHE IS MY OSCAR! ANOTHER AWARD IS NOT BE WANTED!” *beams* (SCORE : 4/10)

(Whatever language she eventually chooses to sing in: zzzzzzzzz. SCORE: 5/10)

Casey Abrams : Personally speaking, I have very young parents, so the whole of Casey’s VT was obviously one giant slight on me personally. Yeah yeah, wiser is good, but at least my parents know what an iPhone is. Actually, Casey’s parents probably know what an iPhone is as well. They’re probably Silver Surfers, and enjoy participating in online jazz forums and ordering old Miles Davis bootlegs off eBay. They seem the sort, having produced the preternaturally talented Casey. Preternaturally talented to a degree that made this week’s performance actively painful to me. Really. What was this? Was it his vague medical issues that are kind of making it clearly impossible to compete? Is he doing this whole show on a bet? Does he really want to shag Courtney Love, and figured that really pissing her off was as good a way to start as any. An entire performance modulated at a bellow and performed as though he were playing the Jack Nicholson lead-character in The Shining. With an eerie green glow. Whilst looking even more like Rory McGrath than ever. What was this? That hit Randy in a soft enough spot that he started spilling out indie-cred names like he was a themed jukebox with Zane Lowe’s face on it. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS PERFORMANCE THAT BROUGHT TO MIND LYKKE LI RANDY? What the actual? LYKKE LI? Enough. This show flirtation with indie-cred could only be more horrific if it were Simon was here to have a stab at it and mess it up worse. (SCORE : 1/10)

(I’ve given better performances of this song on Singstar. SCORE : 2/10)

Lauren Alaina : Whilst I’m apparently in the mood for rating peoples parents rather than their actual performances, wasn’t Lauren Alaina’s mother a find? I bet if they’d let the camera run just a little bit longer she would have insisted that when she walked down the street with Lauren people would ask her if they’re sisters, THEY WOULD. I also really want to know what she said to her husband when he started crying that the camera just missed. I bet it was SPICY. Where’s Lauren’s poor sick friend in all this anyway? I miss her. She was so special to Lauren and now she’s just…gone. Following last week’s mild debacle, this was Lauren’s week to come back, and come back she did. Well, mostly. Half of it was really really good, and the other half was a bit of a mess. Basically, parts were a 9, bits were a 5, and there was a sprinkling of 2 bits throughout, but really, this week, I’m willing to be nice and balance her out at a (SCORE : 7/10). Let’s say that one of those points is for the stylin’ hat her mum was sporting if you want.

(I like it![/Barney Gumble] SCORE : 7/10)

Jacob Lusk : He wants us to know his mother cannot sing. That may well be true, but his mother is all kinds of awesome, judging by that VT. Maybe she can adopt me. Anyway, Jacob has taken on ‘Alone’ by Heart, and you seriously DO NOT FUCK WITH THAT SONG, because it is one of my all-time favourites. And judging on the curve of most of tonight’s arrangement abominations, it wasn’t THAT bad, but it still seemed to be fighting Jacob more than it was favouring him. When I was able to concentrate on his vocals, I loved the gospel styling he had in there, but parts of the song were a bit of a mess. SCORE : 7/10)

(A glorious, glorious mess. SCORE : 8/10)


8 thoughts on “American Idol 2011 – Year You Were Born Week

  1. Tim

    I have to say I’m starting to get a bit bored with Jacob’s constant over-singing. He has a great voice, but he needs to realise he doesn’t always have to turn it up to 11.

    Karen’s Spanish schtick is not so much annoying as dull. I know she’s trying to appeal to her target audience, but don’t be so blatant about it after saying you don’t want to be known as the girl who sings in Spanish.

    A shame about Casey and Lauren. They picked songs which were Chunky Monkey in a sea of cheapo vanilla, but Casey would have been much better served toning down the entire melody, and why they slowed down Lauren’s Melissa Etheridge song is a mystery to me. It’s a foot-stomping folk rock classic – why suck the life out of it with the arrangement?

    Ah well. At least I got this week’s final three spot on – not that it was a difficult call, I’ll admit – even if I had my bottom two the wrong way round.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I kind of still find Jacob’s over-singing thrilling just because last week showed that he is always 5 seconds away from losing it utterly and sending the melody gallopping off to the other side of the park to chase a squirrel. I’m now on the edge of my seat every week to see if he can hold on to the reins. We’ll see if he can mix it up soon I guess, really nobody other than Naima and Haley has really shown diversity and even there it’s more “hey! I can suck in a variety of genres!”.

      I think Casey needed to not put himself in a position where he could be out-sung by Kurt Cobain. It’s like letting yourself be out-sung by Bob Dylan (like Jason Castro did when he decided he didn’t care any more). I know that realistically “Smells” was the only song that was ever going to get cleared so it’s a moo point (*moo*), but if all you want to do is scream and pull Dario Argento faces then surely “Lithium” is the obvious choice?

      1. Tim

        I agree about Jacob. He’s fun and he’s a potential winner, but he is equally five over-vibratoed seconds away from a shock exit (or at least the judges’ save). As it stands, I can see him finishing only 6th or 7th. He can do so much better.

        (And, really, just as one of the unwritten Idol rules is that you don’t mess with Whitney, you don’t take on the Wilson sisters ether. Sacrilegious.)

        Teen Spirit could have been so great. I had in mind a Bo Bice/Adam Lambert a cappella “moment” where he turned the whole song into an intimate ballad, complete with moody spot lighting. To attempt a straight-up version was a mistake. But let’s face it, he’s proved he can sing already (unlike several others), so I’m okay about giving him a pass this week.

        As for diversity, what about Scotty? I mean, sometimes he sings sitting down rather than standing up. That’s diverse, isn’t it? Mind you, all country music sounds the same to me – it makes me want to slit my wrists, or rather the wrists of the person singing it. It makes no difference – the kid’s getting a recording deal no matter what.

        Next week: Thia takes on Def Leppard (who she thinks is a disabled cat). I’d pay good money to watch that.

      2. monkseal Post author

        I think I had Karen down as leaving from about 5 seconds into the song. Didn’t really give two much thought to the rest of the Bottom 3 : two out of Haley, Naima, Thia or Paul probably, although the latter would have been wishful thinking.

  2. Ellie

    Good read as always monkseal!

    Pia is my favourite, I heard her original songs before the show so I have invested interest in her! Plus her sob story actually made me tear up which I can positively say has never happened before!

    What I think is interesting is that her and Lauren are good friends so I expect her to have quite a fun character, we see glimpses of it but I think she’s holding her true self back a little.
    She’s so controlled which is good for results night but needs to let go on stage and get into it.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I think she might need to be pushed into being fun by a wacky rando theme. Given how the other girls are toppling like nine-pins it might well be more sensible just to keep doing what she’s doing til she out-lasts them, then ride the “OMG ALL THE GIRLS ARE LEAVING, SO SEXIST!” wave of being one of the last few standing to the end. Obv. that’d be less fun though.


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