The theme of tonight’s “Idol” is puppies, rainbows, America, Mom, Dad, small children, hugs, mountain rain and unicorns. That’s right, folks: This week, the kids tackle inspirational songs. It’s “Idol Gives Back Week,” which is all about shining a light on those less fortunate and donating to help people living in poverty, suffering with AIDS or recovering from the devastating effects of a natural disaster. Leave it to this particular crop of Idols, then, to make it all about them.
Tasked with singing an “inspirational song,” nearly all of them chose one that said, “Look at me and the story of my harrowing journey to reality television. Never stop dreaming and believing in yourself, people!”
Kathy: I was at the taping and here are the things you folks at home don’t see.
- Randy’s bodyguard is smaller than he is.
- The judges disappear backstage at every opportunity.
- The stage, the audience and Seacrest are much smaller than they appear on television.
- Everyone sounds much better in person than they do on TV.
- Paula was wearing the most hideous outfit imaginable and her poor boobs were so smashed they thought they were getting a mammogram.
- Spotted in the crowd: Sinbad and Eric McCormack (not together).
Fashion faux pas: Another damn ascot.
Song: “Dream On” (Aerosmith)
Cheese factor: 2
Kathy: He sang this pretty well, but Randy and Simon were right: It did sound a bit like a rock-star imitation.
Erin: Michael continues to champion the ascot cause again. It’s just not working for me. There are only so many jokes about Fred from “Scooby Doo” that I can make.
The Thunder from Down Under sings “Dream On,” which is not a good sign. Not because he doesn’t rock (he does), but because this would usually be the song that lands in the middle of the show to break up the monotony of ballads. Since it’s in the beginning, my guess is that the rest of the show will be a downhill slide into tunes about love and friendship.
Fashion faux pas: Hair looked like Don King’s, with a part.
Song: “I Believe” (Fantasia)
Cheese factor: 8
Kathy: Um, never sing a former Idol’s signature song, particularly the victory ballad from a former Idol with as a sound as distinctive as Fantasia’s. Sy, honey, please choose something by a less well-known artist and sing the bejeezus out of it. It’s your only hope.
Erin: It’s never a good sign when I start to dry heave during the description of the song.
I have never heard this song — but even before Syesha begins to sing, I take a blind guess that the word “rainbow” will appear within the first verse. I need to play the Lotto more often.
I agree with Kathy. She’s not Fantasia, so she falls flat.
Fashion faux pas: The Mister Rogers cardigan. Also, I heard a gaggle of tweens talking about how hot he would be with “normal hair.”
Song: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version, with ukelele) Cheese factor: 5
Kathy: Those who had not ever heard Iz’s version, like Simon, might have enjoyed this perf. Those who were quite familiar with it, like me, would have found it an emotionless, pale imitation.
Erin: Jason apparently caught “The Wizard of Oz” on TV last night while coming home from a munchie run. I think it’s actually an inspired choice for him and he gets to show off mad ukulele skills. But since I’m so used to seeing him with a guitar, the longshots look a little strange. Like he’s a giant from the land of kindbud.
Gib at the front desk told me that Jason was like Tiny Tim for a new generation, but in a lower key.
Fashion faux pas: Another shiny top.
Song: “Anyway” (Martina McBride)
Cheese factor: 9
Kathy: My country music-loving companion, upon hearing what Kristy was going to sing said, “Oh no, never sing Martina!” Apparently, Martina is country’s version of Whitney. I am boycotting Kristy, so I have no opinion.
Erin: I loved how all of the judges where giving her these strange backhanded compliments. Randy said, “It was very good… for you.” And Simon told her she was “appealing to your audience.” This is “Idol”-speak for: “You continue to suck, but now you are elevating the suckiness to an artform that many people with no taste can enjoy.”
Kathy: Hey, look! Our pal Mike Darnell, Fox’s reality guru, made it on TV! I was sitting right behind his parents, so I’m glad I only had nice things to say.
Fashion faux pas: White Sgt. Pepper jacket. Also, hair was somewhere between combover and rocker-spiky.
Song: “Innocent” (Our Lady Peace)
Cheese factor: 4
Kathy: Probably front-runner David’s weakest performance to date. Simon called it “pompous.” Paula noted “the inspirational thing you did on your hand,” which sounds mildly dirty to me.
Erin: The first note he hits reminds me of Crash Test Dummies. This is not a good thing. His perf was just… not good. He was all over the place with the notes and it just seemed out of sorts. Even a walk through the audience couldn’t save him. This might mean the end of David Cook, which breaks my heart. If he leaves, we are officially out of rockers.
Fashion faux pas: Still no sleeves.
Song: “Show Must Go On” (Queen)
Cheese factor: Began a 6, but anger turned it into a 2.
Kathy: I did not give you permission to sing Freddie Mercury, missy. I am officially done with you. This lousy performance will probably be Carly’s undoing.
Erin: I think Carly is trying to melt the cameraman with her steely gaze. She is just so angry. Living in L.A. can do that to you. At one point, I’m starting to take it personally. It’s like she’s channeling Wolf from “American Gladiators.” The song just wasn’t a good fit.
Fashion faux pas: His monochromatic outfit needed a pop of color.
Song: “Angels” (Robbie Williams)
Cheese factor: 34
Kathy: Once again, young David and his dad wheeled their virtual shopping cart down the Obscure Treacly Ballad aisle of the iTunes store. He sang it well, but really, who cares? This song was so boring.
Erin: I’m convinced he picked the theme of tonight’s show. This is a kid with 80 gigs of inspirational music on his iPod. There is a good chance that even when the cameras are off, he’s just wandering the streets randomly singing about angels.
Fashion faux pas: Shapeless dress
Song: “You’ve Got A Friend” (Carole King)
Cheese factor: 8
Kathy: Very nice rendition of a very nice song by a very nice contestant. Poor Brooke is fading fast.
Erin: Did you know that when you smile, you can repress your gag reflex? It’s totally true. But then it looks like you are enjoying the performance. I scared my roommate.
Brooke sang this tune like she wondered onto the set of “High School Musical,” only she’s one of the unpopular kids who is forced to the back of the gym. This song epitomizes all that is bad with inspirational music. But then she did the devil sign to the audience; that was just confusing. Actually, maybe it’s not. Maybe all these years, I just missed the obvious. Maybe inspirational music is the devil’s music. Wow, it all make sense now.
Kathy: Carly, Syesha, Brooke.
Erin: David C., Krissy, Syesha.