American Idol: best reaction ever?

If you saw “American Idol” last night, you know what I mean by that subject line. But let me just say, this was one of the best episodes on the show, ever, for a few reasons. It was almost like a lite version of the season finale. Anyway, the show began with host Ryan Seacrest talking about how J-Lo’s husband, singer Marc Anthony, helped the contestants this past week by supplying in-ear monitors…and hey, they seemed to really work. Then came the group number, and with this being Motown week, they did Diana Ross’ classica “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and it wasn’t bad….but then came the best part….Stevie Wonder doing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with the Idols singing backup….and then Stevie wishing Steven Tyler a happy birthday and singing to him, while a cake was brought out. Way, way cool.

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More movie news and stuff

Cannes is in full swing and there’s plenty other stuff going on besides — way too much to cover completely. So, consider this just me hitting a very few of the highlights of the film world right this moment.

* The critical wars are going full strength at Cannes with the biggest love-it/hate-it proposition appearing to be Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.” I haven’t seen the film, of course, but Iñárritu is most definitely my least favorite of “the three amigos” of Mexican/Spanish/U.S. cinema. (The other two being Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro) and not only because his name is the most impossible to type. I mostly liked “Amores Perros” but his “21 Grams” and “Babel” struck me as exercises in touchy-feely realism that was a lot less real than it seemed to fancy itself.

biutiful-inniratu

Still, he’s working with different writers now and everyone seems to agree that the always great Javier Bardem is especially fine in it, so I suppose I should keep an open mind. Still, reading about the film, it’s hard not to side with the anti-faction when much of the commentary echoes my feelings about past films and when the pro-side is being taken by Jeffrey Welles, who really doesn’t seem to respond well when other people don’t love his favorite films. It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya!

In any case, David Hudson does his usual amazing job summarizing the critical reaction from a wide swath of the press; John Horn at the L.A. Times focuses on the reactions of big name critics.

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American Idol: Is this show about the judges?

Last night on “American Idol,” history was made, but it was self-serving, me me me history for the wrong reasons. The judges sometimes think that they control the outcome, and try to sway that outcome as much as possible. Sometimes, as they did last night, they cross the line in that regard and piss us off.

The episode began with a group performance of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac,” which wasn’t nearly as bad as previous group efforts, with nice harmonies and everything. My guess is, we’ve weeded out some of the really bad singers like Scott and Megan, so naturally the remaining talent makes everything sound better. Then there was a plug for the movie “17 Again” which comes out this Friday, as the Idol hopefuls got to watch the premiere on Tuesday after they performed.

Then, on to business. Allison Iraheta, who had the opening slot and didn’t deliver her best showing, safe. Adam Lambert, who screeched a few too many times through “Born To Be Wild,” also safe. Anoop Desai, who wasn’t awful Tuesday night but, well, sang the first of two sappy Bryan Adams songs. Bottom 3, my good man. Anoop seemed pissed off when Ryan Seacrest toyed with him, even saying, “Come on, Ryan!” So Seacrest promptly escorted him to the other side of the stage, probably enjoying it.

Then came the first performance, by Season 3 alum and now mega-star Jennifer Hudson. Hudson sang her new single, If This Isn’t Love,” and what it wasn’t was good. Her voice was as big and beautiful as ever, but the song….just blech.

Then more results. Kris Allen, who for whatever reason remains under everyone’s radar but delivers great performances every single week, was safe. Simon didn’t have the opportunity to judge Kris on Tuesday, so he offered this take last night: “Brilliant.” Damn, that was nice considering Randy hated Kris’ performance of “Falling Slowly.” Lil Rounds, bottom 3. Seacrest asked her about her banter with Simon and blah blah blah. Here’s the bottom line, Lil…you are not as good as most of the other remaining contestants.

Down to Matt Giraud and Danny Gokey. Danny, safe again. Matt, bottom 3, because he sang the second sappy Bryan Adams song of the night, and sang it pretty poorly. So your bottom 3, America…..Anoop, Lil and Matt.

Then Miley Cyrus sang her new single, “The Climb,” all decked out in a dress like she was going to a movie premiere, which maybe she was. Cyrus, who has grown up around country music, was almost forcing the twang in her vocal, but did a pretty nice job with a decent song. Mark that down, I just complimented two things I normally don’t–Miley and a country song.

Back to business. Anoop Desai, back to the couches, you are safe. That left Matt and Lil. Simon says the judges would consider saving one of them, and that the choice may surprise that person (ahem, Lil, right?). Well, it was Matt who had the lowest number of votes and Lil who would for sure stick around one more week. But would the judges use their next-to-last save opportunity on Matt? Seacrest handed him the microphone and told him to sing for his life, making us all endure that craptastic Bryan Adams ballad again.

The judges huddled, and it made me wonder this…..why the hell don’t they have a pre-show meeting about who they might save and who they might not, and know their decision going in?

Instead, Matt sang, and Kara and Paula danced like morons as they always do. Then, as Simon started saying, “I don’t think you have a chance to win, Matt…” Paula and Kara were screaming at him, and Simon announced that indeed, it was good news, they were saving Matt this week. That led to a group hug of contestants onstage and the judges all high-fiving each other, making this moment about them and how they controlled this thing, despite America telling everyone they didn’t really like Matt Giraud.

Simon told everyone to calm down, saying that next week they will have to eliminate two contestants, and that it’s disco week. Matt might actually make it through next week, but I’m guessing Anoop may not…and also Lil, who clearly has a short leash with the judges and producers right now.

So that’s it…..anti-climactic? Maybe, but next week we get to send two home and then it will be down to the final 5. See you all then, and get your afro wigs and bell bottoms ready!

  

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American Idol: Changes, but not really

Last night the Top 7 performed on “American Idol” and while some changes were made, nothing really changed in the end. Last week, you’ll remember that Adam Lambert was in the pimp spot, but didn’t perform until after 9pm ET, with the show running almost 10 minutes late. So those who set their DVRs missed his performance, though with Adam being a favorite, the votes were not affected at all. Still, something needed to give and they decided that this week, the judges would have to scale back their comments….meaning, after each performance only two judges would comment instead of all four. Considering that there would be one less performance this week anyway, that should help shorten the program, right? Well, not really. Not when the judges see it as a chance to banter on incessantly, and not while Ryan Seacrest can’t keep things moving along properly, and not when they book more commercial spots than necessary. Actually read that last part back, because I am quite sure that’s your real culprit in all this.

But anyway, superstar director Quentin Tarantino was the mentor this week, a guy who makes movies but has a passion for music and a knack for marrying songs with his films. And the theme was songs from movies. Easy enough, right? Well yeah, but Bryan Adams’ two sappiest songs reared their collective ugly head.

Here is how it went down:

THE GOOD

Allison Iraheta went first and sang Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” It wasn’t her best, but when she kicked into the second half of the song, holy crap. Paula and Simon both draped her with praise. Paula said that while she knows she champions Adam every week (that’s an understatement), Allison is remarkably talented as well, and Simon said that Allison is the girls’ only hope left, and that she is getting stronger every week and believing in herself.

Anoop Desai sang the first of the Bryan Adams’ sap-fest with “Everything I Do (I Do For You)” and he did a really nice job with it. Honestly, I loathe that song the way Newman from “Seinfeld” loathes Keith Hernandez, but Anoop played with the melody a bit and made it soulful and interesting. Randy said Anoop has found his zone, and that it was in tune and had some nice emotion, and Kara said Anoop added some nice soul to a pop song and that it was one of his best performances so far. No argument here.

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American Idol: Judges can’t save these two

Last night’s “American Idol” results show began with another new twist of rules announcement. I was afraid of the judges throwing themselves more into the mix, but what they announced was something pretty cool. They flashed on a big screen folks like Tamyra Grey, Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, and Ryan Seacrest asked what they all had in common. That would be that they finished third or fourth in the voting in past seasons, and subsquently went on to have huge careers. The judges will have the option this season to “save” one eliminated contestant and give them another chance, to make up for a bad week, or because they feel so strongly about the contestant. Keep in mind they can only do this once in the next 10 or 11 weeks.

They then showed the finalists in their new digs at the American Idol mansion…are you kidding me? And then they showed the new Ford video, where the group covered Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” And then there was another awful group performance of The Jackson Five’s’ “I Want You Back.” Blech.

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