Tuesday, April 15, 2008

American Idol Top 7 Recap - I Hate Myself for Loving You

There’s always a moment each “Idol” season when I boldly announce, to no one in particular, that I’m never watching this freaking show again. This is of course, due to an unjust early elimination that has left me completely infuriated. The memories still haunt me… Season 4… Constantine’s gone, yet Savol inexplicably lives on for another week… Season 5… Elliott’s cut out of the finale in favor of Boobs McSchreechy… Season 6… well, I really didn’t care when any of that lot got eliminated… but Michael Johns? My smoldering Aussie? He had finally begun to fulfill his potential, only to be ripped away from us faster than a wax strip between Seacrest’s eyebrows.

However, despite my outrage, the show has a pull over me that I’m helpless to resist. It’s like pop culture crack. So, of course, like a total sap, I’m back watching tonight.

Mariah Carey is this week’s guest-coach-looking-to-promote-a-new-single. Luckily, during her session with the Idols, Mimi’s strayed from her usual rule of thumb and is only sporting moderate cleavage, so as not to make lil’ David Archuletta turn six shades of crimson. She proves to be a polite, mannered, but not especially enthusiastic guest coach. I could almost hear the divalicious Ms. Carey add “ok, am I done here yet?” after providing her comments on each contestant. I also suspect the Idols were instructed to stay at least 6 feet away from her at all times, unless given permission to come in for a perfunctory hug. As a bonus though, it did look like they were at least permitted direct eye contact, albeit briefly.

Even with Carey’s presence and her impressive catalog of songs to draw on, for the most part Mariah night was just meh, with a little bit of magnificent thrown in.

Bringing the meh big time tonight were Carly, Syesha, and Brooke. Sporting a navy dress with plunging neckline and impeccable makeup and hair, Carly looked quite lovely. Her take on “Without You” was refreshingly restrained, but didn’t make much of an emotional impact. And Brooke pretty much had the same problem with “Hero,” which disintegrated as she rushed through the ending. Props to her though for working Mariah’s “Vision of Love”-era hair — Brookie looked spectacularly gorgeous this evening. Also looking great was Syesha, wearing a gold dress the “Idol” stylists stole off Hollywood Barbie. Yes, I’ll admit she looked amazing, but the vocals… not so much. Syesha’s version of “Vanishing” started off quite strong, but soon veered off course into Shrillville, before reaching its final destination in Schreech City.

So, in terms of the girls — and I literally can’t believe I’m about to write this —Kristy Lee offered the best vocals tonight. I was able to overlook the weird, painful wincing thing she had going on at the beginning of “Forever,” and went on to actually rather enjoy the performance. Gah. What’s next for me? Pickler?

Let’s move on to things that don’t make me shudder and talk about the boys’ performances. Lil’ Elmo Archuletta no doubt set legions of little girls all atwitter tonight with his pleather pants and perfectly gelled ‘do. A perfectly controlled version of “When You Believe” complemented his look, although I was slightly disturbed when it appeared that he briefly attempted a growl at one point. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a huge Archie fan — but soulful growl + little David = just not right.

100% right was Jason Castro’s showing tonight — Dread Boy has absolutely brought it two weeks in a row now. It’s so rare to see an “Idol” contestant genuinely connecting with a song’s lyrics and effectively expressing that to an audience. But Jason is proving that he has mastered the skill. His unique arrangement of “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” accompanied only by bongos and acoustic guitars, was the second best performance of the night.

Which brings us to the magnificent… Mr. David Cook. At this point in the competition, Cookie seems misplaced. It’s like he’s a professional musical guest booked for results night who accidentally wandered onto the set during Tuesday’s show. This week, he very convincingly turned the upbeat, extremely poppy “Always Be My Baby” into a power ballad, and made it seem as if that’s the way the song should have sounded all along.

It didn’t surprise me though, that Mr. RealityShowChick, in the words of young Danny Noriega, “wasn’t LIKING it.” That’s probably because, between David breathily crooning “you’ll always be my baby” directly into the camera at the song’s close, and then being moved to tears after hearing the judges’ praise, my level of fangirliness visibly reached a new level. But don’t worry sweetie, you’re not in for another “Idol” crush (see Maroulis, Constantine and Yamin, Elliott, above.) I only appreciate David for his artistry.

Much the same way I appreciated Michael Johns.

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