Thursday, January 14, 2010
American Idol Season 9 has begun!
If you're reading this, thank you for coming back to the blog after my one week hiatus (everyone needs a holiday right?). Its good to be back in front of the tv and just in time for the season premiere of American Idol. This show (and F.R.I.E.N.D.S.) has been the tv highlight of the year for me for the last 8 years (we didn't carry Season 1 in Singapore), so suffice it to say I'm super happy its back, especially after about 3 weeks of Singapore Idol withdrawal :)
So how was Episode 1?
If you're like me, a big fan who has cable and no job, you probably watched it at 6pm. ;) Apparently @izked, @syazaq and I were spamming twitter with our tweets while watching. Back to old times hey? Only sans the twitpics!
First thing the show addressed was Paula's non-presence. In August (or was it July?) last year, Paula announced that she would not be returning to the show. This after weeks of speculation that salary negotiations weren't going well. Adding to the blow back then was an announcement of both Ryan's and Simon's pay increases. Most notably Ryan's as his was an extended contract and a huge pay increase. So Paula, who stated before Season 8 began, that having a 4th judge was not a good idea, hung up her Idol shoes with a few really sweet tweets (yes she tweets!)...
"With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to Idol. I'll miss nurturing all the new talent, buut most of all being a part of a show that I helped from Day 1 become an international phenomenon. "
"What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me. It truly has been breathtaking, especially over the past month. I do without any doubt have the BEST fans in the entire world and I love you all."
Sad huh? I'll be the first to admit although I didn't particularly love Paula, I enjoyed watching her have a go at Simon every so often. Last season, her role on the show seemed a bit overshadowed by the more 'technical' Kara - Paula seemed....unnecessary. But she's right though, she has been a part of the team that made the show what it was for the first 7 years. So for me, it was kinda weird to not see her on the show. But I got over that in like...7 minutes.
Thats when I became more fixated on Posh's super sunken cheek hollows and lacey headband - what is up with that? Someone on twitter said it looked like lacey underwear (tsk!).
Posh is the first of 8 celebrity guest judges who will be doing rotating duties over the next coupla weeks of auditions before Ellen (I can't wait!) steps in during Hollywood rounds. More on the AI9's season sked later on (scroll down if you wanna skip the review).
I was really looking forward to seeing how Victoria would handle her judging duties. She's actually pretty witty and sarcastic (have you ever watched her failed 'mockumentary' about her move to the US - google it, its on youtube somewhere). I've seen previous interviews of her (from my time in the UK) and she's actually quite smart - I like her sense of humour. Unfortunately none of that came through on tonight's show - what a pity. She seemed nervous actually.
Her first outfit made her look a bit like one of Tim Burton's animated characters, but I liked her second look. She looked fresher, despite being a bit on the skinny side - oh who am I kidding, she's the mayor of Skinny Town.
Simon Cowell's the same, first thing I noticed of the first few shots of him was how thin his white teeshirt was and how painfully obvious his man-nipples were. I tried not to notice them, look away even, but when I looked back they were still there, practically waving. My mantra this season will be NOT to notice Simon's na-nas. The na-nas aside, I still can't believe he's leaving the show (Simon announced recently that this is his last season with Idol as he'll be helming the US version of his very popular Brit show the X-Factor coming soon - he's judging as well as executive producing). Cowell is so much a part of what makes American Idol tick, I can't imagine what the show would be like without its resident bored baddie. Maybe they'll bring in Piers Morgan...or Hugh Laurie!
Back to the judges, Randy was his usual indecipherable self. I think he invents new phrases every season. What does 'great hang' mean? Its an audition, they weren't 'hangin' out' per se.
I'm a great fan of Kara. I liked her from the get-go - she's pretty, she's a talented song-writer, she makes sense when she speaks (to me at least) and she has the singing chops and experience to back her comments. I didn't realise that there was so much Kara-hate in the U.S., many find her annoying and self-righteous blablabla. Well, I donch care, I like Kara and am so glad to see her back on the show this season. I'm waiting to see how she and Ellen get along.
The Auditionees - The Good, The Bad & The Weird..
Good Two really standout talents imo were Ashley Rodriguez and Katie Stevens. Ashley sang 'If I Ain't Got You' and it was really good, plus, she looks like the total package type - pretty (super shiny hair) and can sing.
Katie Stevens had a backstory, her old grandma has Alzheimer's, so she's hoping to get through so that her grandma can see her sing and be proud before she totally forgets who she is. I'm a sucker for the heartwarming. This story totally reminded me of our very own Tabitha Nauser's story of her close relationship with her granddad, sumore same song! :) Oh and I love that they speak to each other in Portugese (hrm, I wonder if anyone's gonna play the race/nationality card here, probably not, cos she's AMERICAN, not Portugese - this is for the people who still can't get over Sylvia's Filipino heritage).
I've got my eye on those two, but I'm not sure if they'll last the voting rounds - they seem pretty shy, and we all know what happens to those with no personality - forgettable = no votes.
Others to note - Tyler Grady (the 70s styled drummer who fell out of a tree and broke both wrists) and Armadeo Diricco (this season's big lovable teddybear with a big voice, would love to join his family for a makan!). Also, Maddy Curtis, the girl with four Downs syndrome brothers, sang reasonably well, would love to see how she holds up at Hollywood rounds, and if she makes it through (which I doubt), her transformation with makeup.
Another auditionee reminded me of one of another one of our own. Joshua Blaylock sang 'Bless The Broken Road' which Teddy Teow sang on the piano show. He also seemed like a really sweet boy just like Theodore. Guess it takes a good boy to sing a song like that with heart.
Weird Clark Kent aka Andrew Folton (didn't quite catch his name) incurred the wrath of the judges with his 'sulky' attitude and 'bad energy'. Actually, I think the judges overreacted a bit. I mean, the guy apologised quite a few times and seemed to honestly not know what he was doing wrong. Initially I thought he was naturally geeky with those glasses, then I realised its possible he knows he's fairly good looking (did you see those biceps?) and that outfit was his 'look' for the day.
The other weird guy was the one that Simon called a '3 year old who dresses like LaToya Jackson'. Ouch! The guy (last name Guerrero) kept apologising cos he was so nervous, but I couldn't get past his hair. There was so much of it! He looked like Fran Drescher from The Nanny!
Bad Janet McNamara has mastered the American Idol video game. Yup. Video game. The video game judges love her. So that means, its time to try out for real. The video game manufacturers need to tweak the game or recall it altogether. Plus I think its affected her so much she kept calling Kara 'Paula'! Oh and get this, her idea of practicing is to jump. Sigh.
Mere Doyle the 'okasu' (I think thats the word I heard her say) claims to love singing, but she seems more into anime/cosplay. Despite having two vocal coaches, the girl still can't sing. Who are these vocal coaches? Maybe Kak Ann can help her?
Lisa Oliveiro came in normal, but her 'annoyance index' shot up when she said rather arrogantly that she'd been watching the show for years and knew she could sing better than everyone on the show. This big remark is followed by a painful rendition of Mariah's 'Vision Of Love' complete with hand gestures. Sweetie, at least Katrina Darrell could do the high notes reasonably well. I was waiting to see if Kara would say something, but she didn't (am surprised producers didn't cut to shots of Bikini Girl).
Last auditionee worth mentioning is a guy called Pat (din't catch his last name), who likes to 'holla'! :) So farnee. Turns out the guy can't really sing, I was hoping he would be one of those who would surprise us by being Josh Groban, but no, the boy decides to do Britney's 'Womaniser', not exactly the best song choice for a singing competition audition. He had some moves. But overall, painful.
So that was the premiere episode of American Idol. More audition footage to come from tonight's (its 4am on Thursday now) episode, when they go to Atlanta.
Here's the season's schedule (with telecast dates for Singapore) :
Audition rounds :
Jan 13 : Boston (guest judge : Victoria Beckham)
Jan 14 : Atlanta (guest judge : Mary J. Blige)
Jan 20 : Chicago
Jan 21 : Orlando
Jan 27 : Dallas
Jan 28 : Los Angeles
Feb 3 : Denver
Feb 4 : Road to Hollywood (probably a special/recap)
Other guest judges are as follows, didn't list above as I'm not sure yet which city they'll be guest-judging in :
Kristin Chenowith (4th pic), Neil Patrick Harris (3rd pic), Joe Jonas (1st pic), Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry and Shania Twain (2nd pic).
Once they get to the Hollywood rounds, Ellen Degeneres steps in.
Hollywood rounds :
Feb 10 : Hollywood round
Feb 11 : Hollywood round
Feb 17 : Hollywood round
Feb 18 : Hollywood round results - Top 24 (12 guys, 12 girls)
After this, we get Idol THREE TIMES A WEEK (Wednesdays & Thursdays for Performance Shows AND Fridays for Results Shows for the next 3 weeks!). Looks like producers have decided to revert to their previous elimination format of everyone perform instead of splitting it up into groups like they did last season.
Piano Show rounds :
Feb 24 : 12 girls perform
Feb 25 : 12 boys perform
Feb 26 : 2 girls, 2 boys go home, Top 20 remain.
Mar 3 : 10 girls perform
Mar 4 : 10 boys perform
Mar 5 : 2 girls, 2 boys go home, Top 16 remain.
Mar 10 : 8 girls perform
Mar 11 : 8 boys perform
Mar 12 : 2 girls, 2 boys go home, meet your American Idol Top 12 finalists.
At this point, we return to the twice-weekly schedule of Wednesdays performance shows and Thursdays results show. Wednesday March 17th will be the first LIVE Spectacular show :) And if my calculations are correct (and there are no 'extra' special episodes or breaks), the performance finale for American Idol should be happening on my birthday ;) , Wednesday 26th May, with Results on Thursday 27th May (pretty much roughly the same time every year).
Exciting not? I'm excited. My hubstation and mio TV sets are both set to 'record series' ...how about yours?
Ok, its past 4am, time for bed. Can't wait for today's episode. I wanna see how Mary J. Blige does as guest judge.
ps. 'Haters' are even more abundant for AI. Check out this pic of Katrina Derell, aka Bikini Girl from last season - check out the picture tags!