Monday, March 14, 2011

American Idol Recap: Paul McDonald Does Ryan Adams, Ashthon Jones Goes Home

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Why is this man smiling?
  • Why is this man smiling?
“Come pick me up, take me out, mess me up, steal my records. / Lose all my friends, they’re all full of it, with a smile on your face, and then do it again.”

Do you recognize that song? When it first became clear that Nashville’s Paul McDonald was going to sing “Come Pick Me Up” — a Ryan Adams track and personal favorite from my angst-y years — I was excited. But then I remembered one of the reasons I like that song so much: It starts off as your average acoustic breakup number, but then Ryan starts cursing a lot on the chorus: “Come pick me up, take me out, fuck me up, steal my records. / Screw all my friends, they’re all full of shit. ... ”

Young people love this, as it feels edgy and true to their overwrought feelings (if I remember correctly). But, of course, this is Idol, so we were left with the hilarious, limp translation that reminded me of TV edits for R-rated movies.

The other factor that killed Paul’s performance was that songs have to be edited down to about a minute-and-a-half, allowing little room for storytelling and buildup — a key factor in that track. Maybe he should have sung “Tennessee Sucks,” introducing America to “Johnny B, weird and tall.”

The judges’ reactions to Paul and his lurching dance moves were priceless. From Jennifer: “I hope America gets it. I don’t know Ryan Adams, or that song. And I know a lot of music.” Then Randy, who never misses an opportunity to showcase his knowledge (it’s all he has) name-drops Whiskeytown and Wilco. Despite this strange, awkward performance (and a tan that could compete with Snooki's), Paul sails into the next round.

Everyone else? Lauren sang Shania — ”Any Man of Mine” — and it was a sillier version of the fun-but-silly Reba song she did last week. Also, can we get wardrobe in here? Flats simply don’t look good on TV.

Casey sings Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends,” which is a great choice for him. Plus, people love this song: It makes them think of Paul Pfeiffer. It seems someone finally got Steven a thesaurus; he calls Casey a “rainbow of talent.” Randy has a Paula flashback. (They usually only happen late at night when the moon is full.)

Our Ashthon Jones (who ends up going home) puts on a shiny ballad dress that is somehow unflattering on her hot body; don’t even get me started on the DTM eye shadow. Also, the Diana Ross song she sings is terrible. It contains this line: “Every time you touch me I become a hero.” Can we apply the fortune cookie rule? Every time you touch me I become a hero (in bed). It’s cliche hash with a side of cheese.

Pia gets some stool time with Seacrest and reveals herself to be sweet and boring. Ry-Ry: “How’s living in the house?” Pia: “We’re a big happy family.” Blech. She chooses Celine Dion as her “idol” because the lanky Canuck is very “family-oriented.” Perhaps Pia also dreams of marrying a creepy old dude she met when she was 12. Her dress has a tail (did she borrow from Durbin?) and she sings “All By Myself.” We’re all supposed to love that she hits some big notes, but no one can sing this song like Celine can.

“Maybe I’m Amazed” ... with James Durbin, eh? He chooses the Paul McCartney track and actually does something interesting with the song! He has lost the pooptail (HT: Richard Lawson) and doesn’t overdo it. When he sings normally, he has a great tone to his voice. JLo calls it “melodic quality,” and she’s right. I am becoming a fan until they cut to his post-performance backstage interview: “I’ve made it this far, so I’ve already won.” NO YOU HAVEN’T. JUST ASK KEVIN COVAIS.

Haley sings LeeAnn Rimes with a bunch of decolletage. Her mannerisms are so girlish and annoying. The song is called “Blue,” and she’s wearing a blue dress. Get it?!

Jacob apparently idolizes R. Kelly, which means he likes to pee on people. He gets a gospel choir for a ludicrous version of “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Thia sings “Smile,” and the big takeaway is that she calls Charlie Chaplin “Charlie Chapman.” She wears another big girl dress—it’s what i like to call “FLDS” length; you get just a hint of ankle. During the auditions, she was pitched as a sort of proto-hipster (silly sweaters, tights) but has since sloughed off all her breezy style and contemporary flair.

Karen (my least favorite) continues her seduction of JLo. I think we might have a situation here. I’ve seen Single White Female (well, bits of it, on cable), so I know how this goes. I actually thought she was gonna pick Jenny from the Block as her “idol,” but instead she chooses Selena. Sly devil! She’s wearing a weird Selena-inspired outfit that looks dated and awkward. It’s like Halloween. Turns out she designed it herself. God, I hate her.

Scotty is missing baseball season to sing for America. That’s what I call sacrifice. He sings Garth Brooks’ “The River.” The highlight is a pre-performance childhood picture of him in country-and-western tassles. I wish the producers would let the contestants play instruments — he doesn’t know what to do without his guitar. All that (and the hokey cross necklace aside), I really am awed by his talent. It’s narrow but powerful. And that’s what she said. ...

Naima closes the show with a nutso version of “Umbrella.” She sings! She raps!! I don’t know how “good” it is, but it ain’t boring.

I’m not a big results show watcher, getting through it in about five minutes on my DVR. I did watch Adam Lambert sing (miss you, boo), and was happy to see that America got it right in terms of the bottom three: Ashthon, Haley and Karen (blech). Ashthon goes home. I will miss her hair.

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