Thursday, April 20, 2006

In a Pickler

(I'll dispense with the "Idol" results right now, since they're freshest. I've also now seen "Gilmore" and "Veronica," which I'll get to blogging about ASAP; "House," "South Park" and maybe "Alias" to come later today or tomorrow.)

The identity of last night's "American Idol" boot wasn't a big shock -- I had feared for Elliot, but Ace has been living on borrowed time ever since Lisa Tucker went home (time to think about "Yvan eht nioj") -- so the more interesting thing to talk about is the annual time-wasting game at final 7 where Seacrest sets up two groups of three, then tells the seventh person (George two years ago, Bo last year) to go stand with the group he thinks is safe. This year's stooge was Taylor (it's the part he was born to play, baby!), and he eventually sided, correctly with Kat/Elliot/Pickler over Ace/Paris/Chris.

Several things we can take out of this: 1)Paris has been in the bottom three far too much at this stage for someone with her talent. I just don't think she's connecting with the audience, and could even wind up going home before Elliot. 2)Chris, who seemed destined to sail to the win without ever having to sweat through one of these farces, will no doubt decide that Simon is full of crap when he talks about showing another side of himself and that, like Taylor, his best bet is to one-trick pony his way through the rest of the finals. and 3)Pickler could win.

This wouldn't be a huge upset. I half-jokingly predicted her as the winner before the finals began because she was such an obvious Carrie clone, and Simon has so consistently talked up her, Taylor and Chris as the final three that I have to assume they've been outpolling the field by a wide margin for a while now. She'd never been in the bottom three before, and she was so obviously the worst on Tuesday that I'm sure it sent her fanbase into a panicked power-voting frenzy to save her annoying ass. (Say it with me, folks: On "Idol," it's better to be awful than mediocre.)

But if Kellie seemed like a deserving front-runner going into the finals (based mostly on her strong Melissa Etheridge cover in the semis), with each passing week it's become more and more obvious that she's thriving on personality, not performance. And let me just say that I am shocked -- shocked! -- to see that there's gambling in this establishment... er, I mean, shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that people aren't voting on this show based purely on singing talent. It's never been that way before. Never, never! Not when Nikki outlasted Tamyra, or when Carmen outlasted half the season two finalists, or when Jasmine outlasted La Toya, or when Savol hung around and around and around....

... but I get an invincibility vibe off of Pickler that I've rarely seen in previous seasons' token controversy-starters. Nikki went much further than she should've, but she still finished third. Ditto Jasmine. For all that the show drives people nuts about the boot order, it's fair to say that each season's winner has been either the best or second person in the group. (Carrie bored me to death, but girl could sing.) If Kellie made final three or even two, but Taylor or Chris won, people would deal. But what the hell happens if she wins? I'm sure they can put together a passable country album for her with a little Studio Magic help, but the larger "Idol" audience -- the people who create those enormous ratings but don't power-vote or buy records -- are going to know she didn't deserve it. Simon and Nigel and Ken like to say that controversy is good for the show's ratings, and they're right, but it's one thing to be mad when someone finishes fifth when they should have finished second, and another when somebody wins who should have gone home in seventh place or lower.

Ahhh, what the hell do I know? Much like Pickler, "Idol" is invulnerable until proven otherwise.

12 comments:

theron said...

It's Katharine McPhee, baby! She's the whole package - looks, talent, poise, showbiz family.

Anonymous said...

is this the part of the blog where readers post their "but so-and-so is SOOOOO much better"?

Alan Sepinwall said...

God, I hope not. Fortunately, there are so many "Idol"-specific sights out there that I expect to stay well below the radar of all the obsessives.

Daniel L. said...

I don't think the AI powers-that-be will let Pickler win. She's a nice little supporting character right now (like Elaine on "Seinfeld" -- or Kramer, even), but not nearly talented enough to become a megaseller on her own. The judges and/or the producers will find some way to undermine her. Hey, they managed to turn away Jasmine, and she had the entire state of Hawaii voting for her.

Anonymous said...

Please vote for Elliott. That boy needs to stick around for at least one or two more weeks.

Clyde said...

You may be right. All of the contestants you mentioned who outlived their usefulness on the show did eventually go home but if I'm not mistaken, they each and everyone were in the bottom three at least once before that if not twice. Kellie should have been in the bottom three at least twice by now if not more.

I think a lot depends on how long the judges keep letting her weasel out of these bad performances with her sympathy shtick.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Alan, there is a 95% chance that the vote would be rigged if necessary.

dez said...

I don't even watch AI, yet I now have a strange urge to join the navy....

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to vote for the worst, Kellie Pickler. Give Simon what he wants!

http://www.votefortheworst.com

jodaflo said...

Check out this Idol article that was written by a proucer of Access Hollywood about what went on at Wednesday's live show.

http://www.accesshollywood.com/americanidol/8864600/detail.html

"There was yet another little boy in the audience last night who had dyed his hair gray to support his favorite Idol, Taylor Hicks. Is this a trend or something with little kids? And the big question is, how do they get their hair that color? Don't think Taylor picking the "safe" group was of his own accord. During the commercial break, Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe, filled Taylor in on the fake-out handshake to Chris Daughtry and which group to choose. It turns out Nigel doesn't know who is going to be eliminated. He is kept in the dark until the very end. The only thing he knows is which three contestants are in the bottom three. He let out a huge gasp when Ace's name was called."

Anonymous said...

Two Simpsons references in one post - and one from Troy McClure! Well played, sir.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Don't worry Alan, there is a 95% chance that the vote would be rigged if necessary."

I'm not sure the producers are going to feel it's necessary. Yes, Chris would be the ideal winner from their point of view, filling multiple niches they don't have (white male winner, rocker with a much more contemporary edge than Bo), but I suspect Kellie would be their second choice out of the remaining field.

They wouldn't know how to market Elliot, and I think even Taylor frightens them in that respect. Paris is crazy talented, but the audience (or, at least, the segment that votes) doesn't seem very into her. I suppose Kat could take the slot that opened when Kelly left the stable, but she's definitely someone who would need to be shaped beyond this nebulous identity she has right now as the pretty brunette who wiggles her ass occasionally.

A Kellie Pickler album writes itself: a copy of Carrie's, only a bit sluttier. Plus, as I think I wrote at the start of the finals, I have a feeling that Carrie (who was never bottom three) was polling way, way ahead of everyone else for all of last season, and it wouldn't stun me if Kellie is pulling away even from the other favorites like Taylor and Chris. The whole pretty but nonthreatening, sweet and maybe a little dim thing seems like a very obvious connect for the tween and teen girls who power-vote. If Kellie is doing that well in the voting, TPTB may think there's no reason to rock the vote.