TV Round-Up (American Idol, The Office, ANTM): Alison’s More Than Just a Rocker Chick

The Dream TeamThe Office:

I got what I asked for with this episode; namely, a return to the ensemble dynamics that made for the show’s best moments. The writing was a bit uneven at times (what was the deal with the Kevin’s chili opening?), but some moments were right on target. My Favorite Moment: Phyllis staring daggers into Pam while saying, “Close your mouth, sweetie. You look like a trout.” Runner-up Moment: This golden rhyme from Andy, “Oh, it is on like a prawn who yawns at dawn.” Honorable Mention: Toby’s sad allegory of how he came to be the H.R. Director at Dunder Mifflin.

America’s Next Top Model:

It’s was time for Fo to go, but not before giving us a classic “Gollum” expression in her photo shoot. She also had a great quote: “Everything in my life has been half-assed.”

But the best moment came courtesy of Nigel, who set off the gaydars of viewers across the country as he oh-so-reluctantly caressed the man-boobs of the Brazillian extra. Oh, Nigel, the lady doth protest too much…

American Idol:

I fully expected Matt to be dead man singing this week (he’s had good moments, but he’s just not at the level of the other four), and in the end, my prediction bore out, but not before giving everyone quite a shock or two.

Kris started the show out, and he was quite shaky initially. I was worried for him, thinking that maybe he had chosen a song that was just too big for him (in the video intro, he refreshingly admitted that he didn’t “measure up” to the other contestants vocally; and in terms of sheer vocal power as compared to Adam, Alison, and Danny, he’s right). It was kind of like watching a boy trying to put on his father’s tie for the first time, i.e. uncomfortable. Then the beat picked up, and Kris found his groove just in time. He found the rhythm, pulled off some great runs, and finished with a flourish. All in all, a bit uneven, but the second half was solid.

Alison followed, and to me, she gave the most surprising performance of the night for me. I don’t know what it was, maybe the fact that she turned a year older, but she really showed a vocal maturity and sensitivity that showed that she wasn’t just a one-trick rock girl. It was the first time that she sang as a WOMAN, not a girl (she even looked like a woman, a beautiful one at that, for the first time), showing raw power as always but also showing great control and knowing when to hold back. To me, it was her personal best performance, and not only that, it ended up being my favorite performance of the night.

Matt was next, and my worries that Kris might be going home dissipated in a matter of seconds. His rendition of “My Funny Valentine” was just wrong, wrong, wrong. Some of the blame has to be shared by the week’s mentor, Jamie Foxx, who was seen telling Matt to lower the key so that he could sing with the “full” voice. Again, wrong, wrong, wrong. The song is wispy and smoky, full of longing and vulnerability, and for Matt to try to belt it out; it just ended up a big, overblown mess. When Simon actually heaped praises on the performance, I kept waiting for him to skip a beat and add, “… NOT!” In fact, much of what Simon said was just really bizarre (Describing Kris’s performance as “wet”: Huh? Ex-squeeze me?? Baking powder???).

Danny then performed “Come Rain or Shine,” starting off singing cleanly without his trademark huskiness then going full out and bringing out the bombast near the end. It was definitely an impressive display, and everyone seemed to love it. But my problem with him again is that he didn’t really deliver the SONG. It’s all about showcasing his voice and what it can do; the lyrics might as well have been gibberish for what they’re worth. I never got the feeling that Danny was singing to or thinking about anyone that he loved (come rain or shine) while he was on that stage. In that aspect, he’s the polar opposite of Kris, who has a sweet but limited voice but sure knows how to deliver the essence of a song.

Things came to an end with Adam who strolled down the stairs with supreme confidence and proceeded to sing away with his usual theatricality and panache. Unfortunately, this week, it was just too much of it, for my taste. It was showy and entertaining in that unique Adam way, but I was trying to imagine listening to his performance as a record, and I just couldn’t do it. If it came on the radio while I was driving, for example, I would seriously have to say that I’d turn it off. It was just too shrieky and way over-the-top. Of course, that’s kind of what Adam is known for, but a little of that goes a long way; too much of it just makes everything grating and annoying.

Still, having said that, it was definitely a gasp-worthy shock when Ryan told everyone that the Bottom Three were Adam, Kris, and Matt. Even Alison seemed dazed and confused, having to let it really sink in before she headed over to the safety zone chairs. By the way, her candid and sincere attitude and comments were a stark contrast to Danny, whose smugness officially crossed over to pomposity during the results show as far as I’m concerned. Ugh.

In the end, Matt FINALLY sang his goodbye, taking the last of the frosting and leaving the cake, i.e. the Final Four: Danny (the only one to never be in the Bottom Three), Alison, Adam, and Kris. Next week is going to be must-see TV. Most likely, Kris and Alison are the two most in danger (I expect Adam’s fans to rally behind him in a major way after his near-elimination, unless he engages in another shriek-a-thon). If form holds true and there are no shockingly bad (or shockingly good) performances, Alison will probably be the one going home, though I actually rate her higher than Danny at this point (slightly in terms of vocals, by far in terms of their personalities). Regardless, she’s given viewers quite a few fantastic moments this season, none more than this week’s magical “Someone to Watch Over Me.” What a difference a birthday can make.

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