It had to come to this. It’s almost a dirty secret for American Idol that former contestants are way more likely to find a second life on Broadway than they are to become honest-to-God pop-stars. For plenty of this season’s early eliminations, the show was obviously just a stopgap on the way to being a name at the top of one of those subway posters. Broadway musical producers seem to look at the show as a farm-league even more than Nashville studio execs do. And so this week, the show came just shy of acknowledging its Broadway ties by recruiting giggling toffy frog-man Andrew Lloyd Webber as this week’s guest-mentor. As someone who’s successfully avoided ever seen an Andrew Lloyd Webber play, this was not a good week for me. The standard Idol quavery saccharine ballads were already broad and hammy enough, you know? Do we need to see these poor kids leaning any harder on their stage-smiles? Syesha Mercado, for one, bought into the exercise wholeheartedly. At the beginning of the show, she listed her occupation as actress, even though her acting experience apparently consisted of one line in a cheesed-out Florida lottery commercial. But her “One Rock ‘n Roll Too Many” was a straight-up Broadway audition, a bid for niche-market acceptance even more naked than Phil Stacey’s asskissy performance during country week last year. Also gunning hard for that Broadway money, weirdly, was David Cook, previously the show’s resident rock dude. His inner drama-nerd came out swinging last night on an eerily poised rendition of “Music of the Night,” and he didn’t even do one of those wobbly Layne Staley gurgle-yowls. Shit creeped me out.
For some reason, this was also the week everyone forgot their words. I didn’t notice Carly Smithson losing her way, but apparently it happened. It was pretty impossible not to notice Brooke White’s fuckup, though. She started the song, froze, asked the band to start over, and then finished up her “You Must Love Me” looking totally shaken and dead inside. Last week, I called Brooke this show’s Cat Power; the more she projects her wilting wallflower image, the more protective the show’s voters get. Since every one of my results-show predictions has turned out wrong, I’m not going to precog her exit, but I will say that if she does go home, it’ll be because she pushed that vulnerability thing way too far. Even Paula visibly struggled to find anything nice to say. The judges remained all over David Archuleta’s dick, even though he shanked his lyrics almost as hard. He didn’t actually stop the song, though; he just sort of inaudibly mumbled for a couple of lines. Nobody pointed it out, and I’m wondering whether Randy Jackson is just so afraid of getting booed that nothing could make him really go in on this kid. It doesn’t even really bother me that Archuleta forgot his words as much as it does that he’s pretty much sung the exact same song every single week on this show. Time pretty much stops when he walks on; those godawful dull two-minute warble-fests just stretch on into infinity. I can’t believe he’s winning this shit. David Archuleta is boring and he sucks and I hate him.
Jason Castro also does the same thing pretty much every week; that thing just doesn’t suck as mightily as David Archuleta’s thing. The judges really didn’t like his attempt at turning “Memory” into whispery hacky-sack fare, but as someone who’s never heard the grand-dame diva version, I didn’t hate it. The best performance of the night, though, came from Carly Smithson, who totally just screamed the paint off the ceiling on “Jesus Christ Superstar” and who benefitted from being the only one to sing a track that even halfway works as a pop song. As unfair as it is that someone who’s already released a tremendous flop of a major-label album should get a second chance on this show, I’m starting to think that Carly might be the only one who might actually release some halfway-decent music once the season ends. In any case, she’s the only reason not to pretend this week never happened. Here’s hoping Neil Diamond week tuns out better.
I’m going on a quick mini-vacation tomorrow, so no Status until Monday. You’ll live.