Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Right on, and a little off

I feel so overwhelmed by "American Idol" sometimes - I feel like it's everywhere. Everyone watches it, everyone's talking about it, it's hard to catch a break sometimes. So imagine my surprise this weekend when I came across someone who doesn't watch it.

I was talking to a new friend of mine, Jared K., the other night - by the way, Jared, in case you're reading, say hi to Christine and the babies for me - and he seemed to be really in tune with Newsday and what we do in the paper. He had some favorite columnists, knew many reporters by name and made sure to let me know that he was a subscriber - he even mentioned that he reads the Flash! pages every day (the section I work on). I was totally grateful for the support, but it was crazy, because he talked about Newsday much like most people talk about "Idol." It was a new experience for me and it got even crazier when "Idol" came up.

He had no idea who David Archuleta was, couldn't comment on Jason Castro and his guitar and oddly enough, he didn't seem any worse off for not knowing. But it shook me - all this time, I thought everyone watched as religiously as I do - after all, how else do you get 30 million votes every week? But apparently, there is a whole chunk of the population who has better things to do than to watch mindless television for hours at a time, multiple times a week.

However, I'm not in that chunk, so let's get to tonight's show. We're down to 10 guys and already going in tonight, I have a feeling I know who will go home this week - Jason Yeager and Chikezie Eze. I just don't think there's much they can do to redeem themselves, but let's see if I change my mind after tonight.

This week's theme is the 1970s and that gives me such hope that next week will be the '80s, which would be so awesome. We also get to hear something that we may not already know about the contestants. First up is Michael Johns. Th thing we may not know about him is the fact that he's a bit of a jock - he's a tennis player and apparently is very good - he's either placed or won in a bunch of tournaments. He says tennis is a good way to take his mind off everything that's going on.

He sings Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" and while I love this song, I feel like something is off. I don't know if the song doesn't suit him or maybe he's not giving it the effort he should, but I feel like I'm waiting for that power moment and it's not coming. I mean, it's still good - I like his voice and I think he's pretty sexy, but he was better last week and even better still during Hollywood week. I don't know what that means - is he progressively slipping? I hope not - He has more to offer, I think, but tonight, it wasn't his best.

Randy says he liked it, but also says that he was waiting for him to let go but he didn't quite go there, but overall, he liked it. Paula says he's consistent and charismatic and that he's already there (already where? I suppose only Paula knows). Simon says it was OK - that it was by far his weakest performance, that his song choice was weak and that he's coasting along right now. They're all right - he was good, just not as good as we've seen he can be.

This is what I like about Michael Johns - he knows how to work the viewers. When Ryan asks him if he thinks it was the right song choice, instead of being disrespectful or getting an attitude, he respectfully disagrees by saying, "To sing a Fleetwood Mac song has been a dream for me, so absolutely, for me personally, yes, it was the right song." Good move on his part.

Have I mentioned that I love Jason Castro? He's so attractive but in an understated way - he's the kind of cute guy who has no idea he's cute. And he seems to have a great sense of humor. When he's asked about the one thing America may be surprised to know about him, he says "So one thing, I think, maybe some people would be surprised to know is that I, I really hate doing interviews." So cute. And then they show a montage of all his interview screw-ups and he finally says that he loves music and everything that has to do with music and how he's surprised by all the non-music things he's had to do like taking pictures, and talking. He's very funny, but I'm left wondering if people will notice that he never actually answered the question - we still didn't get to hear about the one thing we would be surprised to know about him... but that's OK - I still think he's yummy and I plan to completely overlook the fact that he's a decade younger than I am - it's not gross, is it?

He sings "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb. He also plays the guitar again. I know I'm completely biased here - I'm totally smitten with this kid - but I think he's fascinating to watch - his facial expressions and the way he moves. I do notice that there's a spot or two that don't sound fantastic, but he's so intriguing to me - he reminds me of that universal guy that's always just out of reach, who's a little too cool, a little too care-free, a little too bohemian to ever seem real. His singing is good, I think, but I do wonder what would happen if he put the guitar down. I wonder if maybe it's become his crutch. I think a ballad from him might be interesting to see - maybe next week.

Randy says that the guitar mixed with the vocals is a great act, but vocally, it was just OK. Paula says she liked the performance and the song choice, but that next week, she wants to see him without the guitar. Simon says the song was horrible because it didn't suit his voice and that he actually looked uncomfortable with the song. He says he didn't do himself any favors with the song choice.

I think he's being a bit harsh - it really wasn't all that bad - they keep saying it's a singing competition, but is it really? Can we honestly say that Taylor Hicks had the best voice out of the bunch the year he won? No way - he won because people loved his personality, so in my opinion, it's about way more than singing and I think Jason has character, which is better. People will forget about the nice tone of a voice, but they won't forget someone who made them laugh, or someone whose smile lights up a room - those are things you can't duplicate. So, I hope America picks up the phone and votes for him, just so I can see him a few more times.


Jared said...

Yes, yes, yes! Outstanding stuff here Eileen.

Anonymous said...

Andy gibb sung "I just want to be your Everything, not the Bee Gees

Eileen Fredes said...

thanks for the heads-up. I made the change

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed with Michael Johns this week, but he did pick a strange song (for his voice)in Fleetwood Mac's "You Can Go Your Own Way." And Jason and his dreds are very different, delightful, and I hope he stays.