Wednesday, March 12, 2008

American Idol - Coolia Attends the Live Top 12 Show

C. Crumpet Swank and I attended last night's Idol live performance show, and we had a great time! I think I had been on the waiting list for tickets since last season. I got to CBS Television City a little after noon although the ticket said to show up at 3:30 PM. I knew from past experience these things are first come first serve and there's no guarantee you'll get in. We were number 29 and 30 in line so I was sure we'd get in. We passed the time chatting with other avid Idol fans.

Things got a bit chaotic when we were moved from the street queue to the holding pen area. The wranglers gave out blue bracelets to those who would be in the pit (mostly young) and purple bracelets to those who would be seated (mostly old...including us). No care was given to keep people in numerical order. At this point a number of VIPs began pouring in. Around 4:30 PM most people in our area were ushered in, but our group was told to wait and that we would be seat fillers. One irate woman began screaming about how she had left her house at 1pm and wouldn't be denied. I about had a breakdown myself, thinking maybe I'd spent the day sitting on the curb for nothing. Fortunately, we all did get in, and we got good seats toward the back, but centered. The studio is much smaller than it appears to be on TV, so there really are no bad seats. The good thing about being in the back is nobody hassles you to cheer or wave your arms during the songs.

The new set is impressive, with the raised platform for the band, tons of lighting and monitors that continually flash the Idol logo. The pit section is a good addition, although it might be better if it was set up in such a way that the contestants could walk on a catwalk out into the center of the pit.

Celebs in the crowd included Taye Diggs and some Kardashians (the mom Kris fer sure and I think the girls were Kim and Kourtney). The judges came over during a break and greeted the Kardashians. Kris and Simon did that European cheek kissing greeting thing twice. I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Simon and Ryan seem buddy buddy during the breaks - I would say the bickering is just their schtick. It's hard to say if Simon flirts more with Ryan or with Paula. He spends a lot of time spinning Paula's chair, playing with her hair, fidgeting around her. He's like that kid in grade school that always picked on you who you later found out actually had a crush on you. The judges got escorted out for most commercial breaks. I guess they didn't want to fraternize with the huddled masses near them in the pit.

Here's my thoughts on the performances as we heard them live...

Syesha Mercado - "Got to Get You Into My Life"

Syesha had the disadvantage of going first and she didn't really put anything new into this performance. It was capable but not really memorable.

Chikezie - "She's a Woman"

Wow, Chikezie was a revelation. He really rocked the house with this Beatles tune I hadn't heard before. I loved the arrangement and the way he progressed from a mellow bluegrass opening to rocking out. He seemed to be having a lot of fun and looked totally comfortable doing his bizarre scattin' and shufflin'. We spoke to Chikezie's family on the way out and complimented his performance. They were very proud. We learned he is rooming with David Hernandez. We couldn't get his family to predict who would be going home - they praised all the kids.

Ramiele Malubuy - "In My Life"

Simon was so bored during this performance that he actually turned his back to the stage and sulked, fiddled with Paula's chair, sulked some more. I spent more time watching Simon than Ramiele. I guess this tells you that Ramiele didn't blow anyone away with a fairly safe song choice. Her big fan base should keep her safe.

Jason Castro - "If I Fell In Love"

Jason put a lot of emotion into his performance, but I'm starting to get frustrated. He's got to show he can do more than strum the guitar and sing mellow songs. Still, Jason's cute, and I think he'll be around a while. But seeing him live, I'd have to agree with Simon's comment that he was like a college student singing in his bedroom - he couldn't really fill the TV studio with his presence, much less an arena.

Carly Smithson - "Come Together"

I was really impressed by Carly. She really blew everyone else off the stage vocally, and I think she's the only true diva in the competition. I liked her blue dress, too. I don't know if she's likable enough to go all the way, or if being Irish will hurt her in that regard, but I thought this was a stellar performance.

David Cook - "Eleanor Rigby"

I liked David better live than I did on TV, but my overall impression is still that he's Daughtry-lite. He's got good stage presence but doesn't ooze sexuality like Michael Johns nor does he have the voice of Daughtry. I also thought this rendition was a little too similar to what he did with "Hello" - trying to make the song sound ominous in a stagey way.

Brooke White - "Let It Be"

We saw Brooke's former employers in the crowd, with a sign that said "We love Brooke, but we miss our Nanny." I really don't care for Brooke, but her performance was OK. I feel like when she plays piano, she concentrates so hard on hitting the right keys that she doesn't always focus on the vocal. I'm not sure she's great at multitasking.

David Hernandez - "I Saw Her Standing There"

Ugh, this was awful. I think David tried to be Taylor, dancing behind the judges, but he's no Taylor. This was a cheesy song choice, and he brought nothing new to it.

Amanda Overmyer - "You Can't Do That"

I was the only one in the crowd with an Amanda sign. Mine read: "Vote off Amanda??? Overmyer Dead Body!!" I didn't get any screen time, but I'm pretty sure Amanda saw me. When the contestants were in the line up on stage at the end of the show, she looked in my direction and pointed and laughed. Anyways, I thought she was good this week. At least she brings something different. She seemed very confident live, and she smiled more this week. I still think people are gonna find her too abrasive, though.

Michael Johns - "Across the Universe"

I think Michael is coasting, much like Jason is. I really haven't been blown away by Michael since he sang "Bohemian Rhapsody" during Hollywood Week. He better bring it, cuz looks can only take you so far (ask Ace Young).

Kristy Lee Cook - "Eight Days a Week"

This was definitely hokey, but I think country fans will eat it up. The judges hated it. Paula gave her harshest critique of all time, actually declaring she didn't like it, that it didn't work, and not even saying something nice about Kristy's outfit!

David Archuleta - "We Can Work It Out"

David shows humanity by forgetting his words and looking painfully awkward trying to be Stevie Wonder. He still got more way screams from the teens in the crowd than anyone else. This golden child will sail through. I wonder if the Idol producers told him to screw up just to keep things interesting.

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