AI Recapper's Retreat

The Retreat spawns from the Television Without Pity American Idol Forum. Primarily for your longer form recaps, a place outside of the flow of the crazy episode threads. This way we can enjoy/comment/encourage/rationalize these long posts more easily. We spend the time on them, here's another spot for them to have 'life'. Not a forum replacement but a sub-set: Post there, paste here! Or more? We'll see. Oh, and NO SPOILERS! Welcome back for a new year of soul crushing pimping of Chosen Ones. -WS

See the FAQish to get access to reply and post. It should also answer 'getting started' questions.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Year, New Parade of Freaks
by Wandering Snark

Well well, another Idol season is upon us. Seems like just yesterday I was looking for the de-lousing spray after watching Constantine "perform". New year, first time I've felt that familiar sensation of throwing up in my mouth. Wonderful.

Commence the horrible parade of freaks trotted out for us to laugh at borderline personality disorders, deluded famewhores getting their spirits crushed, etc.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Singin' 'bout chest hair, singin' 'bout crazy cool medallions
by spacecitymarc

Ryan starts off the evening by telling me, "You have total control." Wait… really? Okay, then: Scott's out. My Jessiebear's back, and she sings, and she sings, and she sings, and she sings. 2Cats gets dipped in Neet and shivers like a wet dog so much that he can barely open his mouth, leaving him humiliated but not booted for another few weeks. Carrie and Cheeseheart make sweet love right there on stage, spawning a new race of Okla-Ukrainians. Bo upshifts back to primo ass-kickery and Anwar wins the whole thing, resulting in an album so boring that it undermines the entire AI franchise in one fell swoop. Awesome. Thanks for putting me in total control, 19E.

The theme is "'70s Dance Music," and, like last week's TAR and its "Go to Phil on the Mat" instead of "Go to the Pitstop," I find the fact that they didn't just say "disco" intriguing. Ryan asks Scott if he has "the fever," to which he replies, "Nobody's gonna be able to keep up with me next week, man" in the least energetic manner possible. So I'm looking forward to that. Was somebody saying "Good game, good game" as they applauded Ryan's exit from the room?

2Cats, "Nights On Broadway." Ah, that's the awful, disgusting 2Cats I remember, preening instead of singing. Anything he did well was solely in the performance, not the vocal. Dis-GUS-ting. Even my puke vomited. I mean, how much do you suck when Jimmy Fallon does a better cover of this in his Barry Gibb Talk Show sketch? I'm pleased that I thought back to Joe Murena's unctuous Portuguese nightclub perf of "Let's Stay Together" well before Simon said Spanish nightclub (hey, it's a bigger market, so, progress!). Paula sez, "Whatever happens, you're gonna be selling lots of records." And with that I cannot disagree: "Let's see, that's the White Stripes, Coldplay, Weezer… that'll be $47.22. Do you need a bag?"

Carrie Underwood, "MacArthur Park." Carrie doesn't know what the song is about, which, like, duh, it's Carrie, but I give her a pass on this one, because it's a horrible, wretched, nonsensical song that is quite famously one of the worst songs ever written. Why oh why do people keep coming back to this? The key is too low for her -- the last note of every line in the verse is getting completely lost -- but once she gets into her range, she's really good. One of her best non-country vocals. She looks… thicker than usual, I have to say, but that's just an observation, not a judgement, because she is really pretty tonight, despite another appearance by her fivehead.

Scott Savol, "Everlasting Love." Totally meh. He sang it, he didn't have a hell of a lot of energy and he duffed enough of the notes so that his detractors'll have enough ammo while his supporters will have enough to root for. And somebody needs to fucking strap Paula down into her chair, because Paula's One-Woman Dance Party is getting as old and annoying as Simon's arrogance and Randy's everything.

Alex Trebek! I wonder if he still doesn't like me.

Cheeseheart, "Don't Take Away The Music." That was possibly the blandest, most boring performance I've seen all season. When it was happening, it was just like I was watching something that was happening. Simon sez, "Pleasant, safe and a little insipid. So that's sort of a compliment." Which part, Simon? Ryan asks Cheeseheart, "Are you just happy to be back each and every week?," which is funny, since he may as well be asking, "Are you as surprised as we are?"

Vonzell Solomon, "I'm Every Woman." Excellent choice for her, but Anwar must've been pissed that she took his song. Too much heavy lifting by the backup singers here. Vonzell sounds just fine, but I've finally realized that the reason she does so well every week is that she has good control and tone but otherwise has a blank-slate voice so anonymous that she can blend into any style or singer without standing out overmuch. Which is probably exactly what 19E is looking for. Wait… did Randy just say that she had a few "sharp notes"? Not "pitchy"? Holy crap!

Anwar Robinson, "September." Wait a minute… this wasn't sung by a woman! Standard Anwar: rough start, strong end. Good, I guess. I kinda missed it after what I'm sure was a split second shot of my Jessiebear. Squee!

Bo Bice, "Vehicle." And we finally find out why the theme was not explicitly "disco." Great performance, but obviously the Bo Song. And as much as I'd like to bitch about Bo keeping himself in his box, you could say the same damn thing about Gregg Allman, Chris Martin, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, Aimee Mann and damn near every other name-above-the-title singer who ever made a living in music. The David Bowies of the world are the exception, not the rule. Bo does what Bo is good at. Might be fun to watch him stretch (a straightforward country night would be interesting), though.

Ryan sez, "My opinion: everybody did a great job." That's why we don't let you give your opinion, Sprinkles.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dance, dance, dance, dance dancin' machine...
by Swoopin

God, I totally forgot to post here last week. Eek.

Anyway, about tonight:

And still no RY AN on the doors for poor Sprinkles.

Wow, the Bo pimping started early, didn't it? And a Scott pimp? My head hurts now.

"70's dance music" just cracks me up for some reason.


THE CON: Travoltas in his intro--I thought he said in Hollywood that he couldn't dance? "Sings" the Bee Gees "Nights on Broadway" and lets the back up singers do the flasetto, the chickenshit. I was completely distracted by the Eyeliner! and the Highlights! and the White Jacket! and the Winking! Stop, stop, stop! Randy hauls out the Vegas line, and Simon says he's like a waiter in a Spanish nightclub, which is probably one step up from a Portugese nightclub. Overall, I thought he sucked. Hard. Hated it. Young Swoop gets the snark line of the night in our house with, "Eeww, even his chest fur is greasy!"

CARRIE: Sings the second stupidest song of all time, "MacArthur Park," and once again fucks up the words and this time no one calls her on it. She's wearing a butt ugly dress and her hair could be hiding an entire third world country in there. I thought she was vocally assy overall, behind the music, off the beat, and misplaced her lower register in her hair, and that was the most lifeless, emotionless, boring thing I've ever seen. And Paula, let me introduce you to Clay Aiken, who's burped longer glory notes than that one Carrie warbled through.

SCOTT: speaking of Voldemort, Scott takes on "Everlasting Love" and, while he's certainly no Clay, he does a credible job with it vocally. Simon calls it karaoke, but he obviously was picking his nose through Carrie's karaoke performance just before this one. I was completely surprised they didn't invoke Clay's name when he was done, until I remembered that Simon called Clay's version "broadway."

ANTHONY: Is going to shake his Ukrainian bootay to "Don't Take Away The Music." Mascara much, Aphid? I thought this was vocally inoffensive and that he moved fairly well. I was halfway entertained, at least. Word to Simon: "insipid" is hardly a compliment.

VONZELL: tackles the difficult Chaka song "I'm Every Woman," and makes a vocal mess out of the beginning of it. And the backup singers need to STFU because I can't hear her half the time. I love Vonzell and the energy she brings to the stage, but this didn't do it for me.

ANWAR: EWF's "September" is one of my all time favorite songs, so I go into this thinking he'd better not blow it. I thought he was eh. Once again, his lower register craps out and he's out of tune, and this song should have been a goldmine for him and it's not. It should have been much better. And he bailed on the falsetto too! Meanwhile, I'm dying because he is totally prancing around like a pony and it's the gayest thing I've ever seen on AI, but he has a nice mane to brush and braid. I knew Simon would haul out the Broadway Backhand, and I was not disappointed.

I then indulge myself in a moment of silence for Ricky Smith, who would so have kicked ass on that song--and Constantine's.

BO: in the pimp spot, with the pimp lighting and camera cuts. Totally dorky in his intro and I loved it. I also loved the leather jacket. And "Vehicle." I'm not sure how that qualifies as a "70's dance music" song, but since I melted on the first "Great God in heaven," I am beyond caring. I'm just glad he did well, was energetic, and wants me to know that he loves me. Me me me me me!

Bottom Three: Vocally, for me, it's Carrie, Con, and Vonzell. I don't see either Carrie or Con hitting the seal, though, so at a guess, I'd say it'll be Scott, Anwar, and Vonzell. Either Scott or Anwar goes. Probably Scott.

Oh, and the Family guy thing: "From Ruben to Clay"? Total shout out. Except the idea of Ruben running anywhere these days is laughable.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

by Wandering Snark

Hello friends. First of all of course thankyou so much for your support (tm Bartles and Jaymes), I really appreciated it. I won't get overly emotional on you all here, promise! Thanks again though, and good to see the fire's still burnin when I come back.

I wasn't able to actually care/comment last week either but I think it was working this weekend in a charity event for Gilda's Club Chicago that really got my head straight. Visting comedy and improv troupes from 12 noon to 3am Saturday and Sunday and all for a charity that supports cancer patients. Just what the doctor ordered!

The snark has returned:

Welcome back to the results of the ‘Idol’ creative team’s office contest for who can come up with the worst Idol theme ever. Tonight’s winning idea “Songs From The Year You Were Born”.

I really feel for Anwar here; he thinks it'll be “Nursery Rhymes” and he’s absolutley crestfallen to find out he’s wrong. In retrospect at least that might have been interesting... instead?

Welcome back to Valium’s Boredom Idol!

First up tonight is Nadia, back to the gigantic lion’s mane hair. That’s the good part unfortunately, the wardrobe and song choice lag far far behind. She takes this year’s Carol Burnette shoutout award, wearing the curtains from her room. Now, if she’d have tugged on her ear to show she’s in on the joke I’d have voted nonstop for her.

How bad is it? Even Paula has a hard time holding back when giving a halfhearted ‘you look great tonight’. At this point I realize that in this case bad song choice is another aspect of not having the ability to connect with your audience or pull people in to enjoy watching you perform (see Vonzelle).

We see two baby pictures and I am two for two guessing it’s Anwar and Bo. Seriously! Why would I lie to you?

SING FREEBIRD DUUUUUUDE!! FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEBIRD!!!!!!! I like Bo, and while it painfully apparent he can’t change and this comp is starting to bring him down I hope he doesn’t end up travelling on after this one. It seems like he could be caught in the vortex of the “song that sounds really ironic when done as a singout”.

Anwar has a little Captain in him. At least he’s getting some product endorsement kickback out of this. He’s next on ‘Sleep Like You Just Drank a Gallon of Captain Morgan’s' Boredom Idol. He also needs to button his gahdamn shirt. I don’t want to consider if he’s in the “I Shave All My Body Hair” club. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. The performance is a by-the-book Idol Cliche performance. Start sitting down, stand up at the part where your song ‘takes off’ (in your opinion) and then finish with a big drawn out glory note.

Anthony Absolutely Boresmypantsov - Every time he sings I just want him to go... away. He always of course is tops on my list. He’s a serious front runner for the title. He truly knows what it takes to win Sominex’s Boredom Idol and he’ll sound great when his winnings, a guaranteed track on your office music from hell, are played.

Ryan doesn’t even let us guess this time which is just rude of him, we once again suffer from Seacrest’s need to push his own catch phrases. We can't guess pictures because he needs to work in his absolutely horrific ‘Scotty The Body’ tagline by saying ‘Scotty The Little Body’.

Vonzelle just doesn’t get it... she’ll never win Ambien’s Boredom Idol with a performance like that. Energy? Having fun?

Scott still has this odd disconnect to anything he says, I feel vaguely threatened by his intro but delighted with the possiblity of him going off on Constatine for being a fake rocker. Scott will rock anything he gets his hands on btw, yeah that’s creepy. Paula dances like a marionette being manipulated by someone as drunk as she is. He gets the 'doing a song by the guest musician in the audience' pimp. We all know nobody rocks like Hall and Oates. *insert eyeroll here* I'm sick of his Weeble Wobble performances.

Carrie UnderwoodOverpimped will be up next. Ryan has decided the ‘guess the photo’ game is so 5 minutes ago. I read into this: more than one picture of Carrie to awe us with her cuteness but re-use the same rough around the edges pic of Vonzelle in the open and before ads. I hate it when TPTB get jealous of their ‘chosen one’ being overtaken in the competition. Bastards.

Absolutely the worst beginning of an Idol performance ever. Bar none. Truly bizarre because she actually sounds like Pat Benatar, until of course she does the morphing of Mariah ‘Egregiously Overused Glory Note’ Carey and Pat ‘Growling Snarling Rocker’ Benatar. It just further proves the point that this girl is very good. As the lead singer of a cover band... which she is. She also now believes she is becoming ‘Grease Post-Rocker Transformation Sandy’. Nah, it’s really not working. At least she looks less like Elle Woods this week.

ConstantOhfuckitwhocaresanymoreitdoesn'tmatter, not to be outdone in the cliche overplayed song choice category by Bo, C goes for Bohemian Rhapsody. Classic Constantine, over the top theater boy meets ‘I Think I’m A Rocker’ boy. He sounds quite a bit like Freddy. Paula is completely overtaken by her horrormones. no longer able to control herself and declares him ‘the one to beat’. Ohdeergahd. Ryan then shows he doesn’t know the definition of the word sarcasm, or the Brit’s propensity to employ it. He doesn’t notice Simon is about to burst out laughing while dubbing the performance ‘Astonishing’.

Tonight’s show? I have voted and I agree with Simon: “Astonishing” and not in a good way. The hell did this season go so horribly wrong?

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Damn, I am confused
by Swoopin

I obviously spent too much time staring at the spircles on Ryan's shirt last night because I'm all confused. Like, seriously confused.

First, they tell us to vote for our Tsunami Tsingle (tm Jacob) and then tell us what won, but hey, we're going to do all three songs anyway. So why bother?

Then Fantasia comes out. I thought she was singing "Baby Mama," but that's not what this is. I don't know what it is, although I was entertained by her name being split like some war-torn and reconfigured slavic nation on the sliding doors so that it was FANT ASIA. It doesn't take long to realize, too, that 19Evil's money hashn't been shpent on anything like enunsheation leshons. It's also clear she's still shrieking and yeah-ing her way through everything, and there was one big GASP before she yelled at the current crop of contestants to "BELIEVE OR ELSE" that I thought might have sucked all the available air out of the theatre.

Man was I glad when that was over. I was digging her boots, though.

So Fanty's advice to these people is to "act ugly." That's helpful to Scott, maybe. It was clear Bo was into it and his doing the "I'm not worthy" thing cracked me up, especially since Ryan then says in regard to the Couch Crew, "They all want to be the next American Idol" and Bo's response is a "Eh, not so much" face with dismissive shrug. Hee.

Next we get a pimp for Life on a Stick and to my everylasting amusement, KimberMe gets NO camera time. Bwah! Ruben looks like a big pimp daddy in that suit. And didn't he release a CD a few months ago? What, he can't come sing a song? Or get five seconds to pimp it out? He's reduced to craptastic Fox tv shows? I'm so confused, really.

That was the most boring Pimpmercial ever. I guess they blew the pimpmercial budget last week on the Pimp Puppets.

Oh good, here comes the elims. Excellent. I always enjoy this. So Ryan naturally confuses me by pulling down the first three people, two of whom should totally not even be there. Who the hell is voting for Aphid? And Slingblade Scott? Seriously people. Don't.

I don't understand why Vonzell is in the Bottom Three. Or Nikko, really. So very confused.

My confusion is furthered when Ryan then asks Bo how he feels about not being there. Bo says something about the "jawn-drah" and I giggle, and then nod when he says he could have done better. Then Ryan asks Aphid the same question and I'm all "oh shut up" and he's all grateful to his fans and all I can think is "well I'm not, so shut up Aphid's fans, too." Just everybody shut up.

And I'm also confused why they didn't chat it up with anyone else? Anwar? Nadia? Carrie? Constantrunningsores? Hmmm. Knoll fodder--are they worried about Bo and Aphid's fanbases? Hmmmm again.

Then in what has to be one of the stupidest exchanges ever, Paula yammers on in her druggy way about everybody should get a contract and do well and Simon says "I still think this is a competition you have to win" and Paula replies to my never-ending amusement, "Oh yes, there has to be a winner." Well yeah, because hello? That's the whole danged point of this nonsense. Uncle Nigel needs to adjust her meds, ferchrissake.

So Vonzell, thank Roman, goes back to the couch, and I'm all about Scott leaving because he so sucked last night. And he knows he sucked, and he knows he's leaving--you can see the attempts not to cry, and he looks like he's going to kill Simon first, Randy next, and then take out the entire staff of The Smoking Gun, so get outta my way Ryan. He totally knows he's going.

More harping about how not good Bo was and how ghastly Aphid was--definitely something up there, but I'm too confused to work it out right now. Especially when it's Nikko who gets the boot and Scott, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, people, SCOTT, is safe.

Awww. I'm so confused.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My Sucktastic Valentine
by Swoopin

Note to Ryan if you're reading here: sweetie, your sweater should not match the set. Or look like it was designed by a child with a spirograph. And tuck in your damned shirt.

I was SO looking forward to this. Really, I'm a huge theatre geek, I've been in dozens of musicals, and I've waited for Broadway Night on AI for 4 seasons now. So what do I get?

I get The Suck. Figures. Damn you, top nine, damn you to hell!

SCOTT: "Impossible Dream," Man of La Mancha--I liked the little R&B licks, but hated the way the song was cut and man is he sharp or what through most of this (my suspicions are confirmed with the reruns at the end, where he's in the right key). And that last note? Jeebus. Totally slipped off the pitched, warbled it around, threw it on the ground and stomped it. Bad, bad, bad, and no passion.

CONMAN: "My Funny Valentine," Babes in Arms--eeww, this is a horrible idea because he's going to, he's going to, he is totally smarming this up, my GOD, the eye-fucking. Someone finally out does Guacs. Nice glory note, missed the last one, and half of America is now pregnant and in need of a morning after pill. And Lawdy the pimping! Crimeny.

CARRIE: "Hello Young Lovers," The King and I--she's completely off the waltz tempo and behind the whole way through this, and she is also flat at the end. So here's my take on Carrie, for whatever it might be worth: she is solid, cold, dull, and disengaged, and every note is always copied--"I listened to the song over and over and over." She will never, ever be anything more than a very competent cover artist. Never, no matter how much Simon pushes her. She can't do anything even remotely original with a song.

VONZELL: "People," Funny Girl--some pitch problems in her lower register with this, but the high notes sound good, which makes her sound really uneven to me overall, but I thought she interpreted the song well. I'd put this in the top three tonight, in fact.

A-FED: "Climb Every Mountain," The Sound of Music--I would have voted for this IF he'd have worn the nun habit. This was like something I'd hear in my dentist's waiting room, and frankly, I'd rather have my teeth drilled sans novacaine than to ever have to listen to this again. Just, no. But I'll give him props for one thing: he at least tried to do something with it other than sing a note-for-note cover. It just didn't work for me.

NIKKO: "One Hand, One Heart," West Side Story--I wish he'd enunciate just a little better and sing a little less through his nose. Weak at the start, but got better, and I actually didn't mind it. Tough to tackle a duet like that, but he did it.

Time out: didn't that dude in the Burger King ad's mother ever warn him about taking high fat, high cal breakfast sandwiches from strange kings at the window? I thought not. Seriously, I'm starting to get a real pedophile vibe from that ad and it's creeping me right the fuck out.


ANWAR: "If Ever I Would Leave You," Camelot--known as "Camelsnot" when I was in it. Hee. Sorry, just had to share. Uhm, it was exactly what I thought it would be. Good, not fandamntastic or anything. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't cry if I never heard it again.

BO: "Corner of the Sky," Pippin--I was waiting for the disaster with this, but, it wasn't bad. He did dub the words right at the beginning, and I'll never claim this was great, but I think he survived it fine. I think it might have worked better with a slower arrangement, though--it seemed just a little too cheddaresque with that more uptempo arrangement. Good enough, I thought.

NADIA: "As Long As He Needs Me," Oliver--is not a song about true love, and it's not a song about scary mad faces. Clever of her to avoid the high sustained notes at the end by just cutting them right off. But I thought it made the end of the song suck because it took away all the impact. Blah.

So, to summarize: I hated everyone pretty much on some level, and as long as Bo and Vonzell aren't in the bottom three, I don't give a damn who goes. However, for form's sake:

Bottom three: A-Fed, Scott, and Carrie (because of the serious tempo problems). Toss up between Scott and A-Fed, but my guess is A-Fed's fan base won't prop him up again.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

And then there were nine (Or, Once upon a time there was light in my life, now there's only love in the dark)
by spacecitymarc

I am disconsolate. Not even a puppetastic pimpmercial for which there are no words can quell the anguish deep in the pit of my being. Jessica was my star, my light, my everything, and now she is gone. Gone! If I should ever refer to "the best female singer still in the competition" from here on out, note that it will be entirely by default.

This fucking blows.

Ryan tries to ease the pain by saying, "This is why it's tough, everybody's good." And… no, Ryan. Some people suck. Jessica does not. But Anthony and 2Cats live on. Was this really necessary to balance out the universe after the result of this week's awesometacular Amazing Race? Because this is just cruel, man.

And so now the awesome bit I was going to share with you about the group sing on "Everything Is Beautiful" and how if they were going to do a Ray Stevens song for the Red Cross, why not just go for "It's Me Again, Margaret" and be done with it? is shot to hell.


Are you surprised by the bottom two, Paula? "I'm very surprised." Lady, you're surprised by butter.

Nope, still doesn't help.

How about this: when Pamela Anderson dies, do you think those things will go in the Smithsonian?

Nothing. I feel nothing inside. This is how some of you felt about Judd Harris, isn't it?

I miss my Jessiebear.


(eventually composes self)

Why cry for Jessica?, someone asked. My tears are entirely selfish. I just wanted to watch and hear her sing for a few more weeks. I know enough about 19E to be happy that she's not as trapped as whoever will win this thing. But certainly the longer she stuck around, the more leverage she would have in building her own career. Because, as I've said throughout this entire process, that's the entire point behind the argument that the singers who got no exposure before the voting rounds were at a disadvantage. I'm not arguing that here, though; Jessica got six weeks to show what she could do (seven if you count the last "Hollywood" episode). And in those six weeks, she gave us:
  • One jaw-dropper that I'll remember for years ("The Boys Are Back In Town")
  • One simply exceptional performance ("Broken Wing")
  • One excellent salvage job of a disastrous arrangement, ending with The Look* ("Total Eclipse Of The Heart")
  • One subtly excellent performance of a song that didn't have any flashy tricks to keep her out of the bottom three ("Shop Around"), and
  • Two songs that I can barely remember but that she didn't even come close to embarrassing herself on because she actually sang them ("Against All Odds" and this week's song, the name of which I'm suddenly unsure of)

Ironically, I think what most people remembered was that they couldn't remember her, and the last three songs listed above became her calling card instead of the first three.

But you're right. She made the tour, she made the album and she got a month and a half to show the public, and perhaps more importantly the music industry, what she can do. I have no doubt that she'll keep at it. She's clearly talented, and if it's only raw talent at this point, let's consider the fact that she's only 19. She gets experience under her belt and works her ass off, she's gonna be an absolute stunner in five years.

Me? I don't want to have to wait that long. And before last night, I only had to wait a week. So I'm bummed for me, not her.

*I quite literally clapped again when I heard that Jessica was safe the week before this. And I think I figured out what it is. She's a fine singer and all, the strongest woman in the competition, but she has a tendency, at the very end of the song (and certainly this week), of giving this look directly into the camera, and it's not eyefucking, exactly, it's a look that says that Jessica is deeply, overwhelmingly in love, not just in love but in love with me, me personally, and I don't know how, since we've never met or anything, but I believe it, I believe that Jessica Sierra from this year's American Idol loves me, and I just give her my heart and trust that when she breaks it, as I know she must, she will be honorable about it and probably be devastated herself, because she never stopped loving me like she did when she was a contestant on American Idol and she told me she loved me at the end of every song with just a look. So I think that's why I clapped.

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