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Liveblog: American Idol

Posted by Ben Collins, Today's Soundtrack  March 30, 2010 08:01 PM

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8:00 - Well, here we are.

This is the American Idol liveblog, or Being Critical of American Children on Television with No Repercussions Twice a Week on Fox. This is what it is, anyway, right? This is why we're here.

Whatever. We've made them into archetypes. We have the hippie girl. The handsome, wholesome dude. The hot, untouchable Christian lady. The actually talented, robust dude who looks like he's choking a guitar to death every time he plays it. And the local girl, who is from Cape Cod. Or, potentially, Outer Space. One or the other.

We're rooting for one of these archetypes, right? We're criticizing archetypes, then, too, I suppose. I guess that's how we justify it, anyway.

They're not people, remember. They're all singular, extrapolated personality traits that we're rooting for. Except for that Katie girl. I'm not sure even she knows who she is yet. We'll go easy.

Let's have some fun.

8:04 - Hey, look, it's Usher! I almost didn't recognize him with his shirt on.

8:08 - Here's the local girl, Siobhan Magnus, being all pitchy, dawg.

Despite those pants, I'm rooting for her.

8:12 - Like Siobhan will do (as anyone named Siobhan will do), I traveled Europe once a couple of years ago. I spent most of the time in the Netherlands. My school had a campus in the bottom of the country.

It’s lovely. Thank you for asking.

And since your next question is, “Did I dabble in horrible drugs there? They’re legal there. How about ‘shrooms?” I will answer.

I will say no, not at all, none of that, less because I’m against the idea of taking ‘shrooms (I am) and more because I have a lifelong aversion to actual, edible, 100-percent legal in the good-ol’-U-S-of-A mushrooms, which will hereto forth be known, for the duration of however long I write Today’s Soundtrack (which, after this story, might be until tomorrow morning), as the Devil’s Fungus.

But, invariably, I was present about fifteen minutes after others had done just that.

They turned absolutely bonkers, Frank Zappa-level crazy. It was like they were having their own personal raves. I don’t remember much of the conversations (because it was almost entirely complete nonsense, words next to words that didn’t mean anything together), but I remember one person talking a lot about sealife. So they must’ve been having fun.

But the comedown was a lot more sincere.

Arms buckled around knees, thighs strapped to their chests, I’d get to watch reality pour back in around them. They were quiet and in good humor, but mostly they were just embarrassed for whatever they did that they now don’t remember, and they had a hard time pretending not to show it.

It’s the same kind of face -- half-incredulity, half-overcompensation -- that people make when they see those pictures of themselves taken right before a roller coaster drops.

I knew this was coming. We were on the tracks the whole time. Why was I doing that? Why was I screaming?

This. This is the face she has every week.

8:13 - Yep, I wrote that beforehand.

She hit, generously, three or four notes that whole time. If you like her, you better tell your kids to hit the ol' text messaging machines. She's in real-life trouble.

8:16 - Siobhan: "That's why I killed it ... and not in a good way."
Ryan: "Did she kill it?"
Simon: "I thought it was manslaughter."

Ooph. But, honestly, she's a lot more endearing without confidence. She looks human for the first time. I'm actually rooting for her now.

8:20 - There's a weird liveshot of Siobhan avoiding the fruit spread and crying.

The perpetually happy-to-be-there Casey James is next. He'll be performing "Hold On, I'm Coming," with a real life guitar.

8:25 - This was awesome. He had a strings section and backup singers. It was the best performance I've heard this season.

Let's see if Kara feels the need to validate herself as a critic by shooting down an awesome performance to make up for her lost credibility earlier in the season.

8:29 - Yep. She derided him solely to discredit her unconscious dreamboat ride in the first few weeks.

Simon calls it like it is. He remains the sole true voice of reason, a beacon of British light in our dark critical sphere, the BBC America to our otherwise shoddy digital cable package.

Have you seen this man on Top Gear? He's unconscious. You'll never doubt his acumen as an alpha human ever again.

8:33 - Michael Lynche
, the most talented person left in this contest, is back to strangling the neck of another guitar to death this week.

R.I.P. Eppy the Epiphone.

8:39 - He's a little nasally tonight, dawg, but he still killed it. All of the judges agree.

This is a first in my life, by the way: I'm recommending a guy wearing a leather jacket for anything.

8:44 - Didi Benami, our church-going, is-it-still-okay-to-call-her-hot-then?-is-that-insensitive? quandary of a contestant, is next. She cried in front of Usher in rehearsal for unexplained "emotional reasons." Uh-huh.

His abs have done that to all of us at one point, Didi. It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay.

8:48 - Boring, young Kelly Ripa. Boring. She should be okay, anyway.

It's been 45 minutes and we have zero blast-from-the-past Boyz II Men covers. What is the point of R&B week if I don't secretly go to iTunes and download "I'll Make Love 2 U" at 2 a.m. and nervously sit by my mailbox the rest of the week, waiting to burn my credit card bill?

8:52 - So that wasn't fake-crying in front of Usher, apparently. She was on the show to sing that song "for someone in particular."

Welcome to the next round, comely church-goer. Is comely cool? Can we settle on comely?

8:57 - Usher is getting pheremonally competitive around teenage heartthrob du jour Tim Urban.

"No one out-sexies Usher," he screams. "No one!"

8:59 - Okay, that last part didn't happen.

But, seriously, this kid is terrible.

He's staggering around the stage like a guy who is out of energy in a video game. Is he trying to be like the sickly kid in 2Gether?

Nice tie, though.

9:01 - Randy: "There was a plus side and a negative side to this."

Was the plus side that it's over?

Ellen: "You were walking around the stage like you were sneaking into a bedroom or something."

This is why she's on this show.

Simon: "You're gonna smile. The audience is gonna vote for you. And everything is gonna be okay."

This is why he's on the show.

9:09 - Usher is getting serious with Andrew Garcia, and he proves this by taking his sunglasses off.

That's the only way I know how to tell people I'm serious, at least.

He'll sing Chris Brown's "Forever."

9:11 - This is actually very, very good. Original and charming. It's his own song.

This is what happens when Usher takes off his sunglasses, America.

9:15 - Simon brings up the theme of this liveblog.

"At this point in the competition, personality is as important (as the song)." He's absolutely right and, also, absolutely partly to blame for this.

9:21 - Here's, oh, what's her name? The girl with the ... uh, I don't know how to describe her. The clothes on? And the hair on her head. She appears to have earrings on.

Oh. Katie Stevens. That's her name. She's next.

9:24 - She busted out Aretha's "Chain of Fools" and actually kind of killed it, dawg.

The judges argue about who Katie is -- if she's country, R&B, pop with a bit of R&B, a flamenco dancer, a second baseman, a cobbler, a line cook -- which leads to this:

Ryan: "Just between us, who are you going to listen to?"
Katie, whispering: "Myself."

That's cool. I was worried this whole thing was going to effectively ruin her life. I was going to go into this whole schpiel about how this competition is kind of forcing some sort of weird, populist personality on her before she had the opportunity to naturally attain one herself.

But that shows a bit of actual human agency.

9:35 - Lee DeWyze is the reason I can't get onto Twitter right now, probably.

He appears to have just got himself "favorite" status. Either that was really good or I'm running out of dumb jokes. Probably both.

9:43 - The bearable hippie contestant, Crystal Bowersox, is busting out "Midnight Train to Georgia" on the piano next.

9:47 - Pass the pachouli-scented snake oil, for I am sold. I would consider buying her record and secretly liking it, like that D'Angelo record I have to prove to my friends that I sometimes listen to R&B. She is probably the only person in this contest I can say that about.

Stay tuned to see Usher getting slightly angry at the only other little boy remaining on the show after the break.

9:55 - Here's 16-year-old Aaron Kelly, who was once in love with a teddy bear, potentially, or maybe a Rugrat or a collection of Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts, and he's singing "Ain't No Sunshine."

This should be genuine!

9:58 - That was fine. He's safe.

10:00
To recap: Siobhan Magnus- Horrible. She's probably on the next space shuttle back to Mars tomorrow night.
Casey James - Great, but he has to face Kara's fake-criticism and it might cost him tomorrow.
Michael Lynche - Wonderful, but could've used a Mucinex.
Didi Benami - Pretty sure her song was written by the guy who does the Family Circus cartoon. But she's safe by dead-friend proxy.
Tim Urban - Boring, but he's a badly disguised Zac Efron. He's safe.
Andrew Garcia - Totally remade a Chris Brown song and saved the competition for himself. I would consider listening to that song again. On purpose. Weird, I know. He's safe.
Katie Stevens - (Crickets.)
Lee DeWyze - Leapfrogged four or five people to become the favorite tonight because Usher accidentally left half of his sex appeal in the rehearsal room and Lee DeWyze stole it. Thief.
Crystal Bowersox - I hope America's 14-year-old girls with their unlimited data plans feel as strongly as I do about her: She's consistently good.
Aaron Kelly - Boring, but he's Aaron Carter in a (Hot Tub?) time machine. He's safe.

What did we learn tonight, kids? It's time to project all of your hopes and dreams on Katie Stevens. She's your last hope.

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About the author

Ben Collins can't help but search beyond Feist for the zeitgeist of Today's Soundtrack, his pick of a song or songs capturing the mood or events of the moment. His musical tastes vary from Strawberry Fields to The Magnetic Fields, from Low to Skee-Lo. A North Shore native, Ben has worked at The Boston Globe and Spin and is an Emerson grad. Make your own nominations to him at ben.t.collins@comcast.net or on Twitter @globesoundtrack. More »

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