Posts Tagged ‘Tatiana Del Toro’

The Los Angeles Screwjob

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I’ll have more on the results show much, much later but I have to put this up right away. The Idol wildcard was going to be a bad idea to begin with, and the specter of producer manipulation was hanging over everything like a faulty chandelier.

Now, this may sound like bragging, but: I told you so! I said after the Group 3 performances that if Felicia Barton wouldn’t make it by voting, the producers would never be invited to the wildcard because she was probably a lose-lose for TPTB. Yet, if that wasn’t bad enough, it got worse.

Let’s look at the entire lineup of wildcard picks, separated by Group.

Group 1

  • Ricky Braddy
  • Tatiana Del Toro
  • Anoop Desai

Group 2

  • Megan Corkrey
  • Matt Giraud
  • Jesse Langseth
  • Jasmine Murray

Group 3

  • Von Smith

Let’s consider what we know about each of the group. Group 1 had plenty of hype, but really didn’t live up to it. The surprises there was Braddy coming out of nowhere and surprising everyone, Desai choking, and del Toro being surprisingly okay. That’s fair enough. I have no quibble with the Group 1 picks as is.

It’s the Group 2 picks where things get screwy. Giraud and Murray? Are you freaking kidding me? They were both complete and utter disasters – and whatever the “package” spin is, they can’t sing well. At all. Given the glut of talent in Group 3, only one of Langseth and Corkrey should have made it – and while I say it should be Langseth, most people believe it should be Corkrey. Fair enough – either way, it’s three bad picks out of four. Ouch. And why half of the wildcard picks out of, by universal consensus, the worst group? There should have only been one.

And then we get to Group 3. There has to be more than one pick – and if there was only one pick, why was it Von Smith? Why wasn’t it Felicia Barton? Or Ju’Not Joyner? Heck, even Kristen McNamara was better than Smith. Von Smith wasn’t bad, but it was just okay. It was not wildcard worthy.

The wildcard round is as bad as I thought it would be – if not worse. The producers have clearly decided on what they want – mostly cannon fodder. They don’t want to take any chances of “surprises”. They don’t want a competition; they want a coronation. This was the Los Angeles Screwjob.

They ought to be ashamed of themselves; in a just world they would be walking around the streets of Los Angeles tarred and feathered. In the pantheon of low Idol moments, this is one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

Group 1 Results: Winners and Losers

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Well, that was an interesting results show. I freely admit to being more than a little surprised Michael Sarver got through to the finals; I thought he was definitely in the mix for the wildcard, but not in the picture for the third slot. Obviously, I was wrong.

I’ll do something different this year for my analysis articles. I’ll have a regular winners and losers section each week, where I can dissect who gained and who lost out of what happened that particular week. Without further ado…

Winners

Alexis Grace: Grace got some early airtime in the auditions, but despite that she didn’t receive the kind of hype others received. With one song this week, many think that she’s catapulted herself to frontrunner status.

Now, I happen to think she’s an excellent singer that deserves a great deal of praise. I’d be real careful before putting that tag on her. She got to the finals with a 42-year-old song. Now, obviously, she’s not going to keep singing songs that old all the time, but before I can give her some support she needs to prove herself with some newer material. She’s probably safe to at least the tour, but beyond that we’d be real careful.

Michael Sarver: Oh boy. He’s one lucky guy. Simon’s comment probably gave him at least the 20,000 votes that put him over Anoop Desai, and in all likelihood a lot more. He shouldn’t even have been in the mix, but thanks to a few kind words he now finds himself in the top 12. Imagine that.

Michael needs to improve a great deal from what we saw in the group round, otherwise he’ll have a new group of contestants in his corner no one really wants: Vote for the Worst.

Losers

Danny Gokey: Wait, you might ask. Didn’t I just say yesterday he won the episode? So how can he be a loser?

Danny had immense expectations on him before the show. Anything else than a win would have been a disaster. I’m not convinced he lived up to all of them. Hero was good, but it wasn’t good enough to stick in voter’s minds when the finals start in a few weeks time. He’ll still be portrayed as a frontrunner when it arrives, but don’t believe it for a second. He doesn’t nearly have the kind of momentum he had before this week.

Anoop Desai: Can you still be considered a frontrunner if you can’t even beat a so-so singer in Michael Sarver? He was good enough that he’ll still probably end up in the wildcard, but this was about the worst start imaginable for him. He needs a knock-it-out-of-the-park wildcard performance to get in. The result can’t have been good for his morale.

Vote for the Worst: VFTW’s advantage in influencing results has always been that they are organized, and have a definite direction, when everyone else doesn’t. They’re going to be strongest at the start of the season, then fade as the fanbases form. If they couldn’t even get Tatiana Del Toro to fourth with a so-so field right now, what does this say about their real power down the road?

The whole “group round” system: Whatever happens in the next groups, we can already call the group rounds a loss. Why? There is going to be a lot of good talent left on the table that didn’t have a week to mature they would have had before. Ryan even hung a lampshade on the “rawness” of the contestants. There are a lot of people in this group who have a lot of potential who could have used more screen time, and two weeks of better, more refined performances. Instead, we have two more weeks of fumbling singers, and cringing audiences. This is not good.

If you need a reminder of how bad the group round might result, consider this. To get into the top 12, contestants will have one shot to impress America – and if they don’t, maybe one chance to impress the judges. It took David Cook his third performance to deliver Hello, his definite breakout moment In short, David Cook might not have even made the finals under a group system.

Buckle up, folks. This is going to be a rough three weeks. Two more weeks of rookie performances, and then a week that’s bound to be full of blatant bias and manipulation of public opinion. Oops.

Wildcard picks, revised

I have to amend our wildcard picks out of this group, since Sarver got in directly. The Desai/Del Toro/Braddy trio is probably pretty certain of slots, particularly Braddy. Anne Marie Boskovich is the best candidate out of everyone else, so she gets the fourth slot almost by default.

Group 1 Performance Night: Great Expectations

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Historically, the first performance night of any new Idol season has been a little rough. All the hype was about the talent-heavy Group 1 that would supposedly produce Idol‘s best opening night. I mean, Danny Gokey and Anoop Desai in the same group? How could it go wrong?

Well, somehow, it did. Perhaps it was just the excessive amount of hype, but the brave song choices had something to do with it. No, scratch brave. More like… foolish. Supposedly it was songs from the Billboard charts since they began, but I’m just a bit skeptical. There must have been clearance issues again, because the only alternative was everyone drinking out of Paula’s cup.

A Little Less Conversation from Jackie Tohn? Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, a song which has never even been average in the past? Both Danny and Anoop picking songs originally by female singers? Heck, did any of the choices make sense? I’m not quite sure.

Still, in this giant puddle of.. oddity, there were a few good performances. There weren’t any I’d call great, but it takes a lot for me to call something that.

Co-winner of the night: Danny Gokey. Given all the hype, promotion, and publicity he had received, anything else other than “winning” the night would have been a loss for him. He played the widower card with the song choice, wittingly or not, and he has to be careful that doesn’t wear out its welcome with viewers. We don’t need a reminder of that each and every week.

The real trouble, though, is that I don’t think Gokey put his own individual mark on Hero. To use the tired language of the judges, he didn’t “make it his own”. It may not be completely fair to ask that right out of the gate, but that’s how things go. On the upside, his vocals were excellent and he can communicate the song’s emotion well. He should be safe to the top 12.

Best of the girls. and co-winner with Danny, was Alexis Grace. Her pick of I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) will please half of the audience… and piss off the other half. It is a big song, and doing Aretha Franklin tends to be a feast-or-famine situation. The ones who do well do very well, the ones who do poorly do very poorly. Grace was generally in the former; sometimes the song was too big for her, but generally it was just right. More importantly, she was able to put her own trademark on the song – something that was rare tonight.

Ricky Braddy is in interesting territory. On vocals alone, he was the best of the night. However, there is a world of difference between a good vocalist and a good singer. A good singer not only has to hit the notes, they also have to be able to tell the “story” of the song. I’m very unsure if Braddy was able to do that. If he had been able to do that, we’d put him higher up, but as it is… he’s the Best of the Rest, but just that.

After all the diva antics she’s pulled during the auditions and Hollywood week, it figures Tatiana Del Toro would pick a song by as big a diva as they get, Whitney Houston. It was actually a lot better than we thought it would be, but that’s not saying much. Was it over the top? Yes, but with Whitney it sort of fits. Overall, it was actually above average – so the drama queen can actually sing, which will be a surprise to quite a few people.

I happen to like the original of Angel of Mine, so I was expecting a great performance from Anoop Desai. Did he deliver? No, not really. It’s not that it was a bad vocal – it was above average to good – but overall, the whole thing left me bored. Anoop is likable, yes, but he really has a charisma deficit. Like Braddy, he has to elevate himself beyond being a vocalist to being an artist.

Anne Marie Boskovich was in an almost identical situation as well – made worse by picking Aretha Franklin, the same artist Grace had excelled at earlier in the night. Aretha wasn’t too big for Grace, but it was for Boskovich.

The rest of the field rapidly went downhill. Brent Kieth’s Hicktown, Jackie Tohn’s A Little Less Conversation, and Michael Sarver’s I Don’t Want To Be were all songs that could elicit a good reaction from people in the studio, but not much for people at home. These are not songs you should choose in the group format, where only the very best will end up advancing.

Keith’s vocals were just okay, at best, but that was better than Tohn’s – who was all over the place. As for Sarver, he put himself in a classic no-win position: not only did he not impress with his vocals, he invited comparisons to Bo Bice and Elliott Yamin in the process. Oops.

It wouldn’t be a semifinal episode without a train wreck – and tonight, we got three. Oh boy. To be fair, Stephen Fowler’s version of Rock With You wasn’t actually bad, it was just boring. It wouldn’t be out of place playing in an elevator. What we did hear of Fowler vocally wasn’t actually bad, but he did himself no favors with his song choice.

There were two completely legitimate train wrecks, however. Casey Carlson picked a song, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, which has never been magic for anyone who’s sung it. Rarely has a song been done so poorly so frequently on Idol. Maybe Carlson should get together with Bikini Girl and the disqualified Joanna Pacitti and arrange a “Girls of AI Season 8″ photo shoot with Maxim. It’s not like it would be a completely new thing for any of them.

Worst of all, however, was Stevie Wright. I appreciate the attempt to use current material, but contestants have to consider whether it would suit them in the first place. You Belong With Me didn’t suit Wright. What singing we did see from Wright tended to be flat, at best – but how much of that was because it was a poor fit for her is unclear. What is sure is that the song choice was just wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. This was probably a case of Wright liking the song personally, and thinking it’s a good song choice.

A lot of other Idol pundits are taking aim at this episode, but not us. This isn’t an unusual semifinal result – around two good performances, another two that are above average, two more that are serviceable, and half of the field ranging from “inappropriate” to “call FEMA”. A lot of this flak is just overreaction to everyone thinking this was a loaded group – which, it turned out, it isn’t.

The Idol Guy picks

So who is advancing from this group? The top guy and top girl are easy to pick: both Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace will pick up their slots without much argument. It’s the third slot where things get interesting.

The three that have a real shot of getting the third spot are Anoop Desai, Tatiana Del Toro, and Ricky Braddy. Desai and Del Toro benefit from a lot of early screen time – and in the latter’s case, low expectations that were significantly exceeded. Braddy, meanwhile, made a case for himself strictly on his vocals.

Our pick is… wait for it… Del Toro to advance. Contrary to what Vote for the Worst would have you believe, it’s not a “tough battle” to get her to the finals. She made a decent case for herself based strictly on vocals, and any added help the early screen time gave her is an advantage.

What about Desai – didn’t he sing well, too? Yes, but unlike Del Toro he was expected to do so. I’m not convinced he “won over” new converts with his song. If there are high expectations on someone and they don’t deliver, problems might result.

As for Braddy, he was good, but he needed to top the night to clearly establish himself in people’s minds. His lack of airtime will hurt him, since you can’t build a rabid powervoting fanbase in just one show.

What about the wildcard? Let’s assume the producers will keep things roughly equal, and have people from each group in the wildcard, for a total of 12. Whoever doesn’t make it right away out of the Del Toro/Desai/Braddy group is all but assured of a slot themselves. That leaves two more openings.

The wise money would be on Ann Marie Boskovich and Michael Sarver. Boskovich is good enough to get there on her own merits, and they’ve spent an awful of time on her in the past weeks to make me think the Idol PTB won’t bail on her so quickly. Simon was unusually nice towards Sarver, and that leads me to believe they want him to be in the wildcard round, at least. He would be ideal material to “round out” the top 12 – both in terms of backstory and overall image.

More from us tomorrow after the results, including: why Alexis Grace may be good, but don’t put the “frontrunner” or “dark horse” tags on her.