Last night was ladies' night on American Idol, which had me thinking: What's with the affirmative-action style gender-quota policy on this show? What I mean by that is, why does it have to be 12 and 12, and then whittled down to six and six? What if they'd found, say, 17 awesome male singers, but only seven "worthy" female ones? Or only three decent guys, but a whopping 21 great girls? Would the judges/producers still select an even dozen of each, despite a massive deficit in one gender or the other? And why should gender matter, anyway? I say, whoever sings best, those are the people that should make it through. Period.
I mention this because after watching the women last night, I have a hunch it's going to a very testosterone-drenched Idol this year. The boys are much more promising so far, and I'm predicting now that we're going to have our first boy-on-boy finale since Ruben battled Clay way back in season 2.
OK, a couple more little beefs to get out of the way: I wasn't feeling the '60s theme this week. Oh, don't get me wrong, I dig the '60s, quite possibly the most important decade in all of rock 'n' roll. But in past seasons, the 24 semi-finalists got to choose what song they wanted to sing, from any genre, any era. It was their golden opportunity to define themselves, to declare, "This is who I am, this is what I'm about, and this is the kind of music I want to make if I win." You know, so Chris Daughtry would belt out a Fuel tune, Blake Lewis would croon some Keane, Taylor Hicks would pick Ray Charles or Joe Cocker, etc.
Such defining moments would be especially helpful this season, because so many of this year's actual finalists were all but ignored in the earlier audition/Hollywood Week episodes (in favor of rejected contestants like Josiah Leming and Kyle Ensley, who got waaaaaay more screen time). We learned so little about Alaina Whitaker, Alexandrea Lushington, Kady Malloy, et al in the leadup to the semi-finals, it would have been nice if these girls got to sing songs of their own choosing, just so the viewers could've gleaned a better sense of who they really are.
I mean, c'mon--imagine if Chris Daughtry had been forced to a disco song in week 1? Can you imagine? If he had, who knows if he would have lasted and become the superstar he is today.
All right, last gripe before I move on to my female pick: It seems like before and after every commercial break, Ryan Seacrest just HAS to mention that this is the "most talented top 24 ever." OK, OK, we get it. Why does he have to keep saying that? Is he afraid we're not totally convinced? This tactic smacks of desperation, just a little. Just let the contestants sing--then we'll make up our own minds about precisely how deep this season's talent pool really is.
Anyway, as I alluded to a few paragraphs ago, I'm less jazzed overall about the girls this year. But until the chicks get plucked one by one, I still need to focus on a Reality Rocks top female pick. So cue the drumroll again, please...I'm officially backing...
Now, hear me out. I know Brooke's probably not an obvious or popular choice. And ironically, I'm supporting her for the exact opposite reason why my male pick is Danny Noriega: because she's not flashy, not zany, not OTT. But still, there's something I like about this supernanny. I have a good warm 'n' fuzzy feeling about her, and I think she could be a dark horse in this year's race. She's earthy, genuine, and most refreshingly, she's not one of these showoffy Mariah/Celine/Whitney wannabes who oversings every over-emoted note like some National Anthem-ruining diva. She has a simple, exuberant approach to music, like she truly finds great joy in just singing for singing's sake--and as we witnessed in earlier auditions, she plays keyboards too, which I'd like to see her do again in future shows. (There was so much hype about how the hopefuls would play instruments this season, so why was Jason Castro the only one who did so this week, huh?) Also, last night Brooke warbled "Happy Together," the same '60s throwback David Cook rocked out on Tuesday night, and her completely different take on the song confirmed for me that she's an original.
Anyway, like I said earlier, I don't expect--or even want--a girl to win this year, and I don't really think it's fair that six girls get to make it through regardless of the fact that there are more than six guys who deserve a spot in the finals. But regardless, I definitely want Brooke to be one of those final six girls. However, if she doesn't make it, I guess she could have a great plan-B career as a "washing-up liquid" spokesmodel, right?
And now, on to my honorable mentions:
Ramiele Malubay is a CLOSE second for me. I flip-flopped repeatedly between Ramiele and Brooke before I made my ultimate decision. I'm continually surprised by how her LaKisha Jones-sized voice emanates from her itty-bitty Polly Pocket body, and she's got so much X-factor oozing out of her near-invisible perfect pores than there's NO way she's not making it to the final 12. But I have one thing to say about Ramiele: Stop comparing her to Jasmine Trias, people! That's almost downright racist. Yes, she's Filipina. So was Jasmine. So what? The resemblance ends there. Jasmine could barely sing and only made it as far as she did because of the Hawaii vote. (Hawaii's in a whole other time zone, see--which means fewer clogged phone lines!) Jasmine's most distinguishing feature, honestly, was that flower in her hair. Well, Ramiele's got even cooler hair (Danny Noriega must be jealous), and her voice is killer. If this girl gets voted off early, it'll be up there with other Idol shockers like Tamyragate, Constantinegate, Daughtrygate, and Josiahgate.
OK, on to Syesha Mercado. Love this lady. For all of this week's whining and moaning about the 12 ladies being hit by the flu, here's a girl who had laryngitis for most of Hollywood Week but was STILL able to give 100 percent when it was down to the wire. Her performance last night was also sick--in the GOOD sense of that word.
I'm torn about Amanda Overmyer. As a rock fan, I dig her true grit. If you remember Dilana from Rock Star: Supernova (loved that show, loved Dilana), Amanda is sort of like Dilana's not-so-evil twin. But this rock 'n' roll nurse's image is in need of some intensive care, stat. Despite Randy complimenting her quilt-like trousers last night, the woman still desperately requires a makeunder. Seriously, the two-tone-hair look didn't help Nikki McKibbin, and it ain't helping Amanda. (However, unlike Nikki, Amanda DOES have a great set of pipes.) Last night's Amy Winehouse/Cruella DeVille bouffant wasn't working for Amanda either, and her voice needed a little makeover as well--she was a bit mushmouthed, kind of like Amy Winehouse at the MTV Europe Awards. But I still like Amanda--she's got more balls than most of the 12 males, and she rocks a whole lot harder than, say, Robbie Carrico. I hope she sticks around a while and shakes things up.
I am fond of Asia'h Epperson and Alexandrea Lushington too. Alex possesss oodles of Paris Bennett-style sass, as does Asia'h, but Asia'h is the one with the heartstring-tugging backstory that'll garner massive voter sympathy. (Her saga was one of the few that was sadder than Josiah Leming's.) I'd like to see her make her daddy proud and sail through to the top 12.
All right, and now my dishonorable mentions:
First, Joanne Borghella, the plus-size model and winner of the Mo'Nique's Fat Chance beauty pageant. Well, fat chance she's going to last very long, based on last night's performance of "I Say A Little Prayer." She better say a little prayer she doesn't get kicked off this week, because her vocals were very shaky. I don't know if it was nerves, or that pesky flu Ryan kept yammering about, or if she just flat-out doesn't have the goods. Whatever the reason, it's too bad, as I had high hopes for Jo.
Kady Malloy admittedly does Britney Spears better than Britney Spears (hey, maybe she can start dating Britney's ex, Robbie Carrico!), but her own voice is kind of, well, toxic. Last night she hit a few clunker notes that'd make even lip-sync queen Britney cringe. Oops, let's hope Kady doesn't do that again, should she be lucky enough to make it through.
Moving on...last night Amy Davis sang "Where The Boys Are." She wants to know where the boys are? Well, last night all 12 of the final boys were wincing uncomfortably from the sidelines, as they watched her mangle a perfectly good classic. "The camera loves you," Paula diplomatically told her afterwards. Well, so does the mute button, apparently. Seriously, I had Antonella Barba flashbacks watching this newly crowned VoteForTheWorst.com female fave. If Amy wants to remain in this competition, she better invest in a webcam and "leak" some racy pics of her sitting on a toilet or covered in rose petals to MySpace, pronto. It's her only hope.
And finally, there's this season's most controversial contestant, Carly Hennessy. Oops, I mean Carly Smithson. Anyway, for all the hype surrounding this lass, she's really not all that and a bag of chips. Or bag of crisps, as they say in her native Ireland. Besides fudging the truth about her major-label past (her old record company MCA did not "implode," exactly, it just got absorbed by the still up-and-running Geffen Records), her performance was hardly the best of the bunch. Really, last night the chips (or crisps) were down, the expectations were high, and in order for her to win over her many doubters, she needed to be flawless. And she wasn't. Randy Jackson, who reportedly worked at the "imploded" MCA Records back when Carly was signed there, unsurprisingly praised her like she was the second coming of Clarkson. And Paula agreed with Randy, as usual. But Simon was right on the money when he criticized Carly--it's true, she did hit a few wonky notes, she did lack charisma, and she did lapse into that aforementioned Mariah-lite showoffy schtick I despise so much.
You know, Carly's single on MCA was titled "I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind," but I'm wondering if last night she should have been singing "I'm Gonna Blow My Chances." I doubt she'll get eliminated THIS week, because the girl is a lot more talented than many of her rivals--but she shouldn't be too overconfident that she'll automatically make it through to the top 12. After all, look what overconfidence did to Josiah!
And with that, I will predict that tonight's casualties will be Joanne, Kady, David Hernandez, and Luke Menard. Come back to tomorrow to see if I'm right, and...GO BROOKE & DANNY!!!
For more on the top 24, go to Yahoo! TV