Monday, March 16, 2009

Honking Box Preview: American Idol

Hello! We’re back from our wee jaunt across the pond, and while we don’t have any gems to bring you from the six-song playlist of XL 106.7 this time around, we’ve not neglected you completely. On our trip, we visited the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, completely for research purposes, of course.

Although toe-curlingly embarrassing at points (hello, Jordin Sparks’ horrifying interval video), the whole thing was actually very well executed. And if the winning act, a band-camp balladeer named Cara Something, does the business on next year’s show, we’re claiming we discovered her. We’ll just brush over the fact we actually voted for someone else...

But that’s a whole year away. For now, let’s focus on the high-gloss live finals, which kicked off last week. We had actually wanted to bring you a full recap of all twelve finalists, but bizarre scheduling meant the Wild Card show was randomly slotted in a week early, not to mention the additional thirteenth finalist throwing proceedings into further disarray. So you’ll have to make do with our rundown of the remaining eleven...

Kris Allen
Ah, you gotta love these filler contestants – the ones that pad out the live shows until we’re only left with the artists that people actually care about (see also: Scott Bruton, Chikezie, Gospel Simone out of Fame Academy, anyone in I’d Do Anything who wasn’t Jodie Prenger). Although now we’ve said that, he’ll probably reach the final. A killer voice but largely beige on any other level, all Kris brings to the party is his wholesome Christian schtick and the fact he resembles a shrunken Nick Lachey.

Danny Gokey
Effectively the US version of The X Factor’s Daniel Evans (i.e. they’re both called Daniel, and each are prompted to talk about their recently-deceased wives at every given opportunity), except this Danny actually has the pipes to handle the live shows. Looks a bit like Danny Wallace, who incidentally is another Daniel, although his wife is alive. A strong contender for the finals, Danny’s impressive vocals coupled with his backstory and his strong Christian values (another one!?) could see him go all the way.

Alexis Grace
It would appear pint-sized Alexis is the perennial rock contestant, although how she’d fare in a moshpit alongside Amanda Overmyer or Constantine Maroulis can only conjure up images of a veritable bloodbath. Alexis is one of those singers whose physical size prompts people to comment on the enormity of her voice – and yet, no-one batted an eyelid when the gigantic Michelle McManus somehow won Pop Idol with a reedy, tuneless cough.

Allison Iraheta
16-going-on-40, she may not look quite like a teenager, but Allison’s tremendous take on Heart’s Alone proved she doesn’t sound like one either, securing her a place in the Top 13 (at that point, merely a pedestrian, everyday Top 12). A far more convincing rock voice than Alexis, Allison boasts a powerhouse vocal that her co-wannabes should be very, very afraid of. And a scarlet hairdo that Idol stylists are probably very, very afraid of.

Anoop Desai
Flying the flag for geeks the world over, Anoop’s consistently impressive vocals prompted Simon to spontaneously create the thirteenth spot in the live finals. Not that it was pre-arranged with Fox and the entire production team or anything, oh no. Although the first live show put the self-styled ‘Noop Dogg in the bottom two, his hefty online following should see him progress pretty far.

Michael Sarver
Perhaps the most archetypal All-American contestant that Idol has ever seen, Michael is a Texan redneck (like, whoever thought that was a proper job title? Apparently, his proper role is ‘oil rig worker’, but far be it from us to contest the Idol producers), a devout Christian, and family man complete with two kiddies. Surely a walk-through on paper, but with three active God-botherers in this year’s finals, the fundie vote could be split.

Scott Macintyre
To quote the hapless moron that is Louis Walsh, “the poor guy’s blind, Simon!” – yes, Idol’s first visually-impaired finalist (a whole five series after 2 To Go on The X Factor), it’ll be interesting to see whether they choose to focus on (a) his striking voice, likeable nature, and remarkable piano skills, or (b) the fact that he has a disability. Either way, a place in the finals is almost a given.

Megan Joy Corkrey
This year’s official Vote For The Worst contestant, and rightly so – we can’t find a single reason this tuneless harpy even made it past the initial auditions. Particular mention must go to her weak, discordant honk butchering Put Your Records On (which she also bollocksed up the lyrics to, inadvertently creating a lesbianthem). However, her Rockin’ Robin was truly a sight to behold, possibly going down as the worst performance in Idol history.

Matt Giraud
Matt is a duelling piano player from Kalamazoo – a sentence which makes little sense to presumably 95% of the American Idol viewership, but sounds utterly fucking amazing. Looking like a touched-by-the-hand-of-God Justin Timberlake and peddling his own brand of white boy soul, Matt seems to have a lot going for him, and yet screams 10th place.

Lil Rounds
Already pre-equipped with a rapper name, surely stardom is a dead cert for mother-of-three Lil. Perhaps this year’s best female vocalist along from Allison, but her slightly generic quality makes her appear, at this stage anyway, a tad Fantasia-lite. Get yer personality out, love. Mind you, not having one at all didn’t stop Jordin Sparks winning...

Adam Lambert
A former star of Wicked and our current favourite in the absence of the awesome Jackie Tohn, it’s hard to pin Adam’s style down. A touch emo, a tad rockabilly, and a dash of glittery eye-shadow, he’s sorta like a gay David Cook. And although the overpronounced dramatics and Lloyd-Webber leanings detract ever so slightly, it’s hard not to notice Adam’s commercial relevance or, more importantly, the most impressive voice in the competition.

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