A quick word of advice: By all means, watch Still Bill, the new documentary about Bill Withers. It’s great, and it’s on Netflix Instant and everything. Just don’t watch it immediately before watching American Idol. If you do, you’ll find yourself hating everyone on the show for not being Bill Withers. This is not a tenable position.
But anyway, this show! They actually somewhat care whether people can sing or not! The big news coming out of last night’s show was that Chris Medina, the Chicago guy whose fiancee had a traumatic brain injury, got cut from the top 24 and took it like a grown-up, smiling through it while Jennifer Lopez went into some sort of attention-seizing teary breakdown. The show ended with a cliffhanger: We’re supposed to be worried whether she can keep going on the show after delivering this deathblow. But honestly, breakdown aside, thank god things happened the way they did. Medina seems like a nice kid and all, but he’s also a powerfully boring Christian-rock hack who, just on this show, jumped on a prop bed during a performance and brutalized Coldplay’s “Fix You” by yelling at it. And the way the show handled his story was so hackneyed and so ferociously offensive that I found myself just hating the guy through no real fault of his own. I’d assumed he’d make the top five this season just on the strength of his hyped-to-death back story. But no: His new legacy is that he’s the shitty version of infamous late cut Josiah Leming. Sometimes, things just work out right.
About that jumping-on-the-bed thing: This week started with an hour of people singing Beatles songs on a garishly decorated Vegas stage. This show, always with the Beatles-pimping. Every since they got the right to that songbook a couple years ago, the producers have made a big show out of busting them out once a year; at least we’re through with that now. This time around, we got to hear Ryan Seacrest invoke the term “Beatlesmania” — I’m pretty sure that “s” was not supposed to be there.
The slightly more coherent half of the show was the second hour, in which the judges sat in an awesomely lit airplane hangar and began dispensing final decisions on who’d actually move on. A few of the late cuts were tough: I’m going to miss DeAndre something-or-other, the Terence Trent D’Arby-looking, falsetto-wielding teenager, but not so much that I actually remembered his last name. So here’s the list of people we know are on the show, with a few quick thoughts.
Naima Adedapo. The weird-looking tatted-up girl from Milwaukee whose husband looks just like Sizzla and who brought what I have to assume is Milwaukee’s entire Rastafarian population along to her audition. I like her! She has a great, powerful r&b voice and delivers her songs with actual, unstage-y emotion. She lost big points with me for singing “Put Your Records On” (the lame, played-out song that always gets sung over and over on this show for some reason) and for sobbing uncontrollably pre-verdict. But she won me back for becoming the first person on the show to mention Jennifer Lopez’s Fly Girl past. There was an awesome instant where Lopez seemed pissed but couldn’t say anything, because she’d look like an asshole. I promise you Adedapo is the first person to mention In Living Color to Lopez’ face in at least 15 years. We also got this fun quote from Steven Tyler: “You’re a flower. Bloom.” This is not something that one person should ever say to another person.
Clint Jun Gamboa. Loathsome, weaselly asshole karaoke host with the worst collection of eyeglasses I have ever seen in my life. Glasses designers should study this guy and learn what not to do. Those gigantic red frames you thought would be so funny to design? Someone actually buys those, and they end up looking like this. Gamboa is always going to be the guy who kicked angelic 15-year-old Jacee Badeaux out of his group, which means he’ll probably spend the rest of his life running from angry mobs of grandmothers. My thing about Gamboa: If you name your kid “Clint” and he grows up into this guy, you’re disappointed, right? No matter how good of a singer he turns out to be? He does seem like a pretty good singer, though.
Haley Reinhart. Pretty blonde girl who sang a crazily showy jazzed-up version of “God Bless the Child” last week and who I otherwise don’t remember at all. I guess she cried a lot at some point? Whatever.
Paul McDonald. Beardy guy with a rhinestone suit and a squeaky wheeze of a voice. I know nothing about this guy but I already hate him so much.
Ashthon Jones. Seriously talented if slightly generic r&b singer with a first name that I just don’t understand at all. She’s been kind of lurking in the background since Hollywood Week began, and I really like what little I’ve seen of her. It does not hurt that she has really cool hair or that she looks like some long-lost Knowles sister.