Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Congratulations, I'm sorry

No need to spoiler-protect "American Idol" results, is there? Half the known world already knows, and the rest isn't the least bit interested.

Chris' exit wasn't as huge a shocker as it would have been without DialIdol nailing the rankings again, but given how obviously the producers and the judges wanted this guy to win, it has me questioning all my conspiracy theories. Is there a chance there's just a lone gunman here?

Even without DialIdol, I would have suspected something was up when the ex Mrs. Stamos "spontaneously" asked if Taylor could reprise "Jailhouse Rock" (and there was somehow enough time in the show for it, and the guitar player was wearing the same shirt he'd worn for the previous night's performance, and...). No way do they give Taylor that kind of showcase if he's not their horse. Maybe all the pimping isn't so much about who they want to win, but who they think will win. It's sort of like how Simon "predicted" that Taylor, Chris and Pickler would go far, when it was just him taking a look at the vote totals and trying to make himself look smart. Maybe for a long time, TPTB just assumed that Taylor was a fad whose support would fade and that Chris' obvious talent and marketability would get him the victory, and they wanted to seem prescient with all the laser shows and fog machines and mariachi men and whatnot.

But then Chris' legendary refusal to compromise turned into a refusal to do anything interesting, to do anything even a milimeter different from that Fuel performance in the semis that made him the apparent frontrunner for so long. Aside from his straight rendition of "What a Wonderful World" that landed him in the bottom two (one of his better performances, actually), he's been beating the same dead horse for weeks and weeks, glaring into the camera like he has an axe hidden nearby and he knows how to use it. Like I said last night, would it have killed him to crack a freaking smile, just once? I know he has teeth -- we saw them in his Daniel Powter video -- and I think the monotonous intensity eventually bored the audience just as much as it bored me.

And yet, he's the second bootee in a row who I think is actually better off not going any further. Chris' true calling isn't singing the latest schmoopy iteration of "A Moment Like This" and "Flying Without Wings." It's not making focus-group ideas of what a rock album should sound like like poor Bo Bice. It's being the frontman of a band, something like, oh, I don't know, Fuel? Who happen to have a lead singer vacancy? And who happen to have said Chris has the job if he wants it? If Chris had won or even made it to second place, he would have been in the incompetent clutches of 19 Entertainment for the next seven years. But even though they hold the contractual hammer over him, I don't think they'll want to bother with the fourth-place finisher, early favorite or no. Once the summer tour is over, Chris will be free to pursue his own semi-unique blend of angry rock circa 1997-2001, and I'm sure he and his fans will be much happier this way.

Right now, all my pity is directed towards Katharine McPhee, who gets the Memorial Nikki McKibbin Villain Slot as the seemingly undeserving third-place finisher. She probably deserved to go home, but the judges have been tearing her to shreds beyond a reasonable point in the last few weeks ("Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" excepted), as if she's being held to a different standard because she lacks the necessary equipment down below to make Paula happy. She's not Nikki, or Jasmine Trias. She has talent, and some of her performances ("Black Horse," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Come Rain or Come Shine") have been among the best, most memorable of these finals. She just needs to play to her strengths (intimate and/or fun songs, not power ballads she doesn't have the range or power to handle).

But now she's going to go home next week because she's the villain, and it'll be the all-underdog final, and Taylor is going to win and Clive Davis is going to tear his hair out, and...

... it's all very strange to me. I'm glad to see the back of Chris, both for his sake and my own, but this was one of those core-shaking kind of TV moments. If I can't believe that the "Idol" producers are blatantly rigging the contest to get the winner they want, then what can I believe?


Jaynee said...

Chris' look of shock when Ryan awkwardly abruptly announced he was going home was priceless. He thought he was going to win the whole thing, as most of us did.

Now, looking at the final three, they all seem kind of weak, as though Chris was elevating the competition somehow just by being in it. Sure he was a One Trick, but he was a GOOD One Trick and I liked him.

Adam said...

19E has got to be disappointed; none of the final three have any upside. Taylor is all shtick; Elliott lacks charisma; and there are a thousand women in the recording industry who can sing as well as McPhee but are better looking. She can out-sexy anything Idol has had, but not anything in the real world.

As I say every year, this is what happens when you keep picking non-contemporary genres which fail to let your stars do their best.

kenjfuj said...

The first thing I noticed when Chris found out he was leaving the competition was Katherine's look: she was as shocked as he was.

I missed most of Tuesday evening's show, but I was able to catch Chris' "A Lot Less Conversation": I thought it was a slightly better performance than Simon gave it credit for---I liked the fact that he kept it low-key, gradually becoming more intense as it went on. Still, I can definitely see Alan's point about his brand of one-note "intensity" getting rather dull. Katherine certainly does have a good voice, but her "Can't Help Falling In Love" was definitely over-the-top and rather excruciating to listen to. Taylor did a terrific, emotionally sincere and warm "In the Ghetto" (I regret having missed his rendition of "Something" last week); I missed his "Jailhouse Rock," but I would guess that I probably would have found it entertaining to watch, even if it may not have showcased him at his best. Right now, I don't have a fully formed opinion on Elliott Yamin---but then I haven't been too much of a regular viewer of Idol this season, so that probably speaks to ignorance rather than antipathy or indifference. I'll take a closer look at him next week, perhaps.

undercover black man said...

I agree with Jaynee that something seems a little strange now with Chris gone (although I'm totally cool with it). What it is is: Even being voted out in the Round of Four, I'm willing to bet that, five years from now, Chris is the only one of these four who'll be a bona fide POP star. (Most likely, as Alan says, fronting a band.)

Elliott (my favorite singer of the remaining) is, in his heart, a jazz vocalist (where rock-star charisma doesn't count so much). I fantasize about this cat wrapping his voice around "Angel Eyes" or "It's All In the Game." I'd pay money in advance for an Elliott Yamin standards album.

Katharine's fortune will be made in acting, I have no doubt. Hey, if she can give Kermit the Frog a hard-on, you know she's got the kind of hottitude that belongs on screen.

And Taylor... oh Taylor... will he EVER have a better platform as an entertainer than this show? I dig Taylor. I looking forward to him every week. I'd crash a wedding reception if he was the singer. I'd maybe pay to see him do a nightclub act. But I can't imagine him turning out hit singles. Not to say he's a novelty, but he's a very particular, of-this-moment TV phenomenon, like Ken Jennings was.

Regardless of who wins "AI," Chris Daughtry is the one we'll be seeing on MTV a few years down the road. (And maybe Paris Bennett too, after she's gotten some seasoning.)

Mrs. Davis said...

Most of my conspiracy theories went out the window when Ace went home (I had written extensively about him actually being a guy named Murray Pasternak), but the rest of my theories died last night.

What kind of album are they going to get Taylor to make? I love him, but I just don't see how they can make a pop star out of him.

lady t said...

Chris did not deserve to be sent home last night(and Seacrest was a total jerk in the way he announced it-not cool,Zeus!)-even McPhee knew it. I have no choice but to root for Taylor since Elliot and Kat are blander than vanilla pudding with whipped cream.

Daniel L. said...

I know the conventional wisdom is that Elliot lacks charisma, but come on -- give the dude his props. He started with no fan base, finished in the bottom three a couple of times, and yet he continually turned in performances that got better and better and kept him in the competition. In fact, you could argue that he's the only one who actually showed improvement over the course of the show. I'm not trying to argue that he's another Bono, but he must have SOMETHING going for him. Maybe he's just a guy who gets more likable the more you know him.

J said...

Am so happy Daughtry got the boot. Someone so flat, one-note and humorless has no business flying the Rock Banner on the world's biggest music showcase. Let's call it the Scott Stapp Clause: Learn to laugh at yourself, or become a joke.

It's been so much more interesting watching Kat or Taylor fail (or not) than watching Daughtry hit the same mark, week-after-week. The three finalists have this in common: None of them seem to treat this like a job; Daughtry did.