Didn't You Used to Be Kellie Pickler? (American Idol 6 review)
There was something unintentionally sad about Kellie Pickler’s appearance. A couple weeks ago, they got comments from Hugh Hefner about the death of his friend and protégée, Anna Nicole Smith and I felt like strangling the guy or at least like putting saltpeter in his fifty gallon Viagra vats. He might have pulled her from behind the Burger King counter to celebrity, but he had so clearly done nothing to help her defend herself from all Playboy-induced celebrity might bring with it. For the guy who should have known better than anyone to be going, “So sad, such a tragedy,” was a bit like Charles Manson sending Roman Polanski a condolence card after he breaks up with a girlfriend.
This was not the charming if occasionally irritating nineteen year old who outlasted several better singers with comic timing, perkiness, and a kind of Girl from the Trailer Park Next door charm. This wasn’t even Girls Next Door, the tv show, charm. This was like she’d suddenly acquired all the creepiness of one of the Girls Next Door’s mothers. You know the ones who visit that show from time to time and manage to witness their daughters living with the closest thing American culture has to a vampire just for the sake of fame, money, cosmetic surgery discounts,and their own reality show.
The look was part Eva Gabor (I guess Green Acres makes some sense) part Dolly Parton (I won’t comment on which two parts), but the new Kellie Pickler was like a punch in the stomach. If this is what American Idol does to more of these wide-eyed young singers in just a year, I need to wash the tv with lye afterwards. It made me feel even more guilty for enjoying the show and promoting it. How do you go from 20 to 40 in just twelve months without vampires being involved?
Compounding all this, she was singing a sad song that she’d co-written about her mother not being in her life. Looking like that, pointing to her shoes, doing yet another sushi joke which gets fewer laughs each time, Kellie Pickler made me want to cry for all the wrong reasons. Idol had made so much about the sadness of her back story, but who’s helping this young lady now? Last year, I was thinking she could be June Carter. Now I’m worried that she’ll be Idol’s version of Anna Nicole.
Of course, it could just be a bad stylist. Speaking of which, at this point in the show would you want to be known as Melinda Doolittle’s stylist? Her look is about the only thing that makes her not already being a star plausible.
You do remember that last year, it was Kellie Pickler’s photos in the revealing harem prom dress that made their way across the internet? It sure hurt her chances didn't it? I’m waiting for photos linking Antonella Barba to Tommy Lasorda to show up this weekend. Of course, that’s after someone claims she kidnapped those kids in Missouri. I honestly don’t understand why people have more anger about some girl posing inappropriately on a war monument than they do about Lewis Libby. It doesn’t get mentioned much, but there were agents and informants who had worked with Valerie Plame Wilson who likely did get compromised. If anyone outed Valerie Plame just to make a point, we’re talking seriously sick, not young and stupid.
Although she doesn’t sing well enough to have any serious chance to win on this show and she doesn’t have Kellie Pickler’s charm, I just feel bad for Antonella Barba. Her whole saga makes me thing of the first part of the Karate Kid. He moves from New Jersey to Southern California, loses all his friends, gets picked on as the new kid by kids who actually studied karate, then pushes someone back during soccer tryouts and gets kicked off the team. I could see her holed up in her hotel room this week going “Wax on, Wax off. Must find Balance.” (that was a really horrible double entendre. I swear it was unintentional.)
Anyway, I hope she finds whoever released those pictures and kicks him/her in the face. I also hope she stays out of Playboy, unless she really wants that of course. I’m sure Hef has been heating up Nigel’s cellphone trying to make a reality show trade in the meantime. "Nigel, how about this I'll give you Kendra and the smart one for her?"
"Sorry Hef, had to get my call waiting. Ashton Kutcher wants her for Beauty and the Geek. What were you offering again?"
In her defense, she sounds better than at least a few singers who’ve made the final 24. Anyone remember Brenna Gathers? Also, America might have voted Jennifer Hudson off, but it was Simon who kept telling the future Oscar winner that she had the voice, but not the look to make it big.
If they someday have to give classes in lessons of American Idol, I would say it’s “Find what’s inside you that’s special and let people see it.” Elliott Yamin, Jennifer Hudson, and Clay Aiken all did this to an extent. Furethermore Daniel San, “Resist the siren call of Simon et al. to manipulate your self-image to fit the show’s idea of what special should look like.” It’s my fear for Kellie Pickler and Katharine Mcphee is currently walking that tightrope.
Some quick thoughts:
Alaina Alexander: Did someone tell her that this show had a Miss Congeniality prize? It was great tv in the way it echoed Melinda Lira two years ago, yet showed another better path.
Nick Pedro: Nice guy, nice voice. Sorry he had to go home to 1953.
Lakisha Jones: Still good, but why do people do Midnight Train as a dance number when it’s also a broken romance song? No hearbreak at all in her version. Simon was also right and Paula was, unusual for her, genuinely funny. The outfit made me think “Wow, didn’t know that Starr Jones could sing.” That’s not a good thing.
Sidenote to Ryan- If you’re trying to butch up this year, resist the temptation to tell Simon, “It’s not orange, it’s actually salmon.”
AJ Tabaldo and Leslie Hunt: I bet no one ever does Nina Simone again after this. Singing wise neither one deserved to go, but will anyone care once it gets to the final 6? I do have to answer Leslie Hunt’s parting improv. It isn’t scat or jazz singing that America doesn’t like, it’s when you seem to have written out your scat line syllable for syllable. Ryan’s joke didn’t feel completely like a joke.
I just felt badly for AJ. Likeable, hard working, talented….all of the things America secretly hates.
Sundance Head: Please don’t let there be naked pictures of this guy that find there way onto the internet! He was better in his genre, but what happens if he makes it to Herman’s Hermits night? Actually, I guess he’ll probably get away with covering his dad’s hit, but any of the other possibilities might be really weird. I won’t comment on the baby pictures.
Sanjaya Malakar: You dress up as Michael Jackson then cover Fred Astaire? It felt like a very weird parody of that scene in Young Frankenstein with Peter Boyle doing putting on the Ritz. I thought Ryan had a very deft line to soften the edge. “I’m sure your grandfather’s really proud of you.”
Sanjaya’s honesty on Thursday is why this guy’s getting votes. “I’m shocked I’m still on the show.” I am too in one sense, but I’m not really. Being likeable on television is a very real talent. Ask Antonella Barba about it.
Sabrina Sloan: Each time I think she’s really good, but by Thursday I can’t even tell you what she sang. I have no idea why.
Chris Richardson: I guess I’m just too old to get what was so good about Geek in the Pink. I’m afraid I’m with all those who are asking “Why would you dedicate this song to your grandmother?”
Blake Lewis: You remember the wild and crazy guys from Saturday Night Live? I didn’t know they had an outlet store. He can sing. He’s at least interesting and actually contemporary. I hope he sticks around some.
Gina Glocksen: At this point, she looks like she’ll be the last white girl still singing.
Phil Stacy: I enlisted right after 9/11 to show my patriotism, now I sing in the Navy Band. I know the argument that makes sense of this, but it still made me think about Pat Tillman ( a personal hero of mine) who gave up the NFL to become an Army Ranger then got killed by friendly fire after which the army lied about it. Isn’t appearing on American Idol, the exact reverse of the Tillman story?
I missed my baby’s birth to go to an audition. I’m now defending my country by being a recruiting device on a reality show that promotes my singing career. You seem like a nice guy, but…that’s not going to make me root for you. Fox News meet Fox Network.
Stephanie Edwards: my wife said, “You know most other years, she would win easily.”
Chris Sligh: I apologize. I was too tough on this guy last week. He sang well. I liked him playing it straight. He’s clearly smart. Out of 10 guys, he’s the only one who got some emotion into his song by tying his dedication to his lyrics. Wife seemed nice too. Geeks all over America are now all power voting for this guy. Think about what might happen if you set geeky looking guys loose on Idol’s voting system. We’re talking technology way beyond Vote for the Worst.
In a way, this vindicated Chris Sligh’s strategy for me. He would never have gotten to play it straight had it not been for the schtick.
Jared Cotter: When he did the hand over the face move, I was rooting for twenty seconds of Jim Carrey from Mask or Jack Nicholson from Batman. Very nice comeback on the Love Boat thing though, might have kept him in it. When Paula went “blue” with her comments, Corey Clark's Myspace.com page got half a million hits and they started printing bumper stickers "We believe you Corey!"
Jordin Sparks: Didn’t Ayla Brown do well on this song last year? She seems very likeable.
Brandon Rogers: Simon was really funny with “My mum’s birthday is in November…”
Is this guy trying out to be a backup singer on this show?
Haley Scarnato: How many times have I noticed that the backup singers often sound way better than the soloist? Okay, I understand if you’re a backup singer for a really good singer like Jennifer Warnes, but being a backup on Idol has to be musical purgatory at times. I didn’t think Haley Scarnato was bad at all fwiw it might even be that the show’s backup singers are that good.
Melinda Doolittle: On the subject of backup singers, a lot of people have picked Melinda Doolittle as the early favorite. I really like her too. “My Funny Valentine” was the third time, I’ve heard her sing and made a point of rewinding back to hear it again after the show. The modesty thing is currently playing really well, because it really seems to be who she is.
That’s why I thought her introducing her vocal coach and stylist as her best friends seemed very risky. I’m just not sure how America will take to making a real professional the winner. There was also the odd subtext of “They’re the Gail to my Oprah,” given what people whisper about Gail and Oprah. It’s kind of a measure of Doolittle’s current very high Q factor that all this slipped by. In any case, she could well wind up as LaToya London to Lakisha Jones playing Fantasia (in the fighter from the wrong side of the studio track sense).
Anyway, it would be nice to have an American Idol who really is the best singer.
Despite all the talk about the men “stepping it up” this week, the Inconvenient Truth remains that the women this year are a lot better. It’s not an accident that this week featured a billboard-sized shot of Jennifer Hudson looking down from above. She might not have thanked Idol in her acceptance speech, but the show now desperately wants to thank her and persuade America that judges and producers alike had really, really wanted her to win that year. They're doing it by making Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones her surrogates.
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Labels: Kellie Pickler Melinda Doolittle AJ Tabaldo Leslie Hunt Ryan Seacrest Haley Scarnato Lakisha Jones Phil Stacy Nick Pedro Alaina Alexander Chris Richardson Blake Lewis Sanjaya Malakar Antonella Barba