First off, background and disclaimer: I’m a first-time AI obsessive and this is the only Idols concert I ever considered going to. I am chronically adamtarded, but also love Kris and Allison and really, I was rooting for all of them.
The restaurants were packed and you could hear people mumbling, ‘It’s the ‘American Idol’ show.’ but did find seats at a restaurant bar. Quickly a group of women came up and one had on a (home made?) Adam Lambert tank top. ‘Hee!’ I thought.
Getting in was easy enough (free parking!!) another reason we were glad we didn’t go to Staples. I didn’t notice any of the former Idol videos playing ‘ just ALL the Ford commercials. By the time they rolled a video touting ‘The American Idol Experience’ (starring Danny, with cameos by Adam) people were pretty much in their seats.
Every time Adam came on the screen, screams erupted. My friend has watched AI from the beginning, but is a far more casual viewer than I was this year. Danny was her favorite. She commented little when I raved about Adam (which I tried to keep to a minimum). We hadn’t seen each other in quite some time so conversation was more about getting caught up, not Idol (go figure).
Sarver jumped right into it and I kept thinking of Corey the Warm Up Guy (his name is Corey, right?) they talk about on EW.com. Michael was relaxed, affable and he sounded good. He really didn’t radiate a lot of ‘star quality’ (a theme which I will revisit quite a lot, because that’s where the line is drawn between the small screen and the big stage).
The difference of how someone comes across on stage really is jarring, compared to TV, where you can always cut to a close up. Okay, Michael, sounded good, very nice, but a little forgettable (he was bedazzled too ‘ glitteriness must be contagious).
Then this strange sound came over the speakers. I looked at my friend and we were both like, ‘What the hell is that noise?’ It sounded like a kid snagged the mic and was playing around. A tight close up of Megan’s face was on the big screen, and until I saw her lips moving, I didn’t realize the noise was her singing!! I don’t know. She started out VERY low and maybe that’s why I didn’t recognize it as singing at first.
Now here is where I’m going to go on my rant about production making or breaking these performances: Ironically, the ones who needed it the most got it the least. I THINK the production was trying to help the weaker performers with the background videos, but in actuality, it completely undermined them IMHO.
The videos were of decent production value and they seemed like they meant to be ‘lighthearted, ‘ but really came across as a baffling cheese fest. It was ’70s variety show all the way.
Megan’s first video was flower power pink (as if she needed a little more pink) and the second I do not know WHAT they were going for. It was animated cityscapes and roads and (NO LIE) the universal women’s bathroom icon gliding back and forth (WTF?!?).
And on another production note: the backup singers. WOW! They must have had them doped up on some curare-like barbiturate, because they were just this side of being in a coma and for the entire first half. I swear they were doing this robotic dance, which can only be described as a 92-year-old lady on the elliptical at the gym (set at 2). And it went on and on and on.
Scott ‘ he sounded better in person, definitely. Still not seeing any real performance future for him at this point, unless it’s small venues. People laughed at his jokes (I heard them via MJ’s already, but his Simon wasn’t bad).
Now the Lil, Anoop, Matt triad, which I thought was interesting because of the save, Matt followed and you know what? Rightfully so. All three showed flashes of brilliance and some not so much. And the difference was (now I REALLY get that term ‘ swagger). It’s just this indefinable elixir of confidence, energy, ability and presence that seems to either be there or not to a degree (I tend to think people can be trained at most things, but wow, if it’s there, it’s there!).
I’d say, over all, Lil had a 60:40 percent good to bad. Again, karaoke words for ‘Single Ladies, ‘ might have sounded like a good idea in theory, but the reality was ‘Man, those are REALLY stupid lyrics.’ Most people weren’t singing, but seemed to be enjoying it. She seemed to have a lot more fun than she did on the show.
Anoop got a lot of fangirl squees and ‘Anooops!’ I think Anoop’s fatal mistake (for me, for you) is that he started off with a ballad, sitting down with that ridiculous (as someone said yesterday) Kermit the Frog or Mr. Rogers face in the clouds video ‘ another big WTF?? It would be hard for ANYONE to recover from that. I was up and dancing to ‘My Prerogative’ as most of the audience was.
The floor section was standing I’d say the majority of the show. Then again, they’re all on one level ‘ it is a hockey rink, after all, but no one seemed to mind. Everyone was into it. I think if Anoop rearranged his set and started out with an uptempo song and had someone put a match to that digital disaster that is his background, he would have been great. This evidenced by ‘ ¦
Matt. Homeboy TORE IT UP! I’ve been somewhat indifferent to Matt all season ‘ sometimes I really liked him and sometimes I thought he was in over his head. In all, I was rooting for him because he seemed very likable. His energy on ‘Hard to Handle’ was fantastic. That, my friends, is swagger (for mere mortals not hailing from Planet Fierce anyway).
I love the song ‘Georgia on My Mind, ‘ but the energy shift was so dramatic I was feeling let down a bit. And I know it must be tricky to make the uptempo-to-ballad transitions without losing energy, but for more on this see below under Allen, Kris.
It did dawn on me during Matt’s set that he and Kris were the real rivals in some ways during the season because they really have the same kind of style and target. I really think the Fray is far more suited for Kris (and even half think it is Kris every time I hear the opening lines of a Fray song lately).
Group number ‘ fun, but meh!
ALLISON!! Her opening video package was very brief. I enjoyed the hell out of ‘So What, ‘ but thought she could have had more fun with it if she lost he guitar. No worries. ‘Cry Baby’ had me totally choked up. Not from the song’s content so much, but her intensity and just the feeling that I was witnessing greatness in the making. She was better than her sing-off performance ‘ I swear! (Which is saying something!) She talked about her ‘big brothers’ and of course everyone cheered at the mention of their names.
Danny: He got a lot of love. People REALLY liked him. ‘PYT’ did rock. I was loving his black military coat with leather accents. ‘Maria Maria’ was good, but began to lose my interest. His dancing isn’t seamless, but isn’t bad. He does come across much more likable on stage than he did on the show (for me, anyway).
The Sermon in the Forest wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t have that lame ‘Inspirational’ light from the Heavens streaming through the trees visual. (Again, the production undermining when it’s supposed to bolster.)
By the end of his last song (what was it again?) Oh yeah. I had a revelation during Danny’s set, which completely negates the statement I made yesterday about pimping. I believed it was true to a degree, but I did wonder WAS Idol that invested in Danny winning? In a word: Yes. Evidenced by the fact that ‘My Wish’ was a stand in for ‘No Boundaries.’ I know many said during NoBo-gate that it was written for Danny and I now agree with that statement 1000 percent.
And here’s the weirder thing ‘ I think if Danny released NoBo, it might have been a hit for him, because it is HIS particular brand of cheese ‘ not Kris’s and DEFINITELY not Adam’s (although, I’m ashamed to admit, I do enjoy him singing in when it comes on my iPod). NoBo was right in Danny’s wheelhouse in the context that I saw him last night and probably would have crossed over to Country and Christian (inspirational), which would helped make it a hit. Well, thank the Lord for small favors, because then they might have hired that team to come back next year to write the coronation song (which NOBODY needs).
*** ADAMTARD ALERT *** (Read at your own risk)
Now, I know I am anything but objective here, but I will say my expectations were off-the-charts high (as they were for Allison and she met them, easily). There was a pause between Danny’s last song (big cheers!) and the stage was in total darkness and the cheers got louder, as opposed to dying out, as they would have in any other situation. The video flashed on screen and the roof blew off the place. EVERYBODY was on their feet. My friend kept saying before (when everyone screamed at a mere mention or flash of a photo of Adam), ‘God, I hope we can hear him when he finally comes on.’ (She wasn’t particularly enthused.)
Oh, we heard him all right. All I have to say is thank God I’m going back tonight because it went by so fast and trying to videotape it (pointless, for the most part). I kind of wish I just drank it all in. At the end of WLL, I put the camera down and looked at my friend and she just mouthed, ‘WHOA!’ And then said, ‘Oh my God, THAT was AMAZING!!’ And I said, ‘Welcome to my world, sister.’
‘Mad World, ‘ was gorgeous and haunting and beautiful as was ‘Starlight, ‘ my new favorite song. And now I completely see how THIS is where the production can support, not undermine. Granted, they could have been running episodes of ‘Family Guy’ behind Adam and it wouldn’t have pulled focus from him one bit, but the diffuse starry sky setting just worked as did the ‘Life on Mars’ visual.
‘Slow Ride’ was adorable and fun and they seemed to be having a blast. The Bowie medley was fantastic; could’ve watched it all damn day, but it was over in the blink of an eye (sob!). I thought again, I’m so glad I’m going to San Diego, because it was over WAY too quickly. I felt like it was Dec. 26th ‘ all that build up and anticipation and then bam, it’s over. BUT never fear ‘ we have Kris to the rescue.
It just dawned on me that this was classic dramatic structure ‘ climax, then denouement. Actually, the whole second act was dramatic structure. Allison was the ‘mini climax’ then Danny upped the tension and lulled us into a false sense of security, then WHAM! The REAL climax, then the denouement ‘ ¦ Now please don’t pile on me, Kris fans, because the denouement is actually my favorite part of a book. I hate when they end right after the major event ‘ I want to revel in the resolution and warm fuzzies and perhaps the prelude to the next story. (One of the reasons I love ‘Harry Potter’ books, because Rowling likes to languish there for awhile.)
Kris was awesome. The doom screen came dangerously close to sabotaging ‘Heartless’ with a random beating heart behind the scrim curtain, but fortunately it was used very sparingly. Kris’ voice FILLED the arena and he owned the stage. For those worried that he could not carry that type of venue, he can. Easily, I might add. He proved to me last night that he was much more than the singer/songwriter label people put on him. Pocket Idol could rock it and he did look tiny, but it didn’t matter, his swagger compensated.
DSB ‘ fun, but best when Kradam ascended, bedazzled vest and all. Adam did a slightly different take on his glory note at the end, but it was great ‘ a ton of fun.
The lights immediately came up and my friend said, ‘What you were talking about before ‘ stage presence? Wow Adam has that like 10, 000 times over! That was unbelievable!’
‘Yes, yes, he does, ‘ I said.
In all, it was lots of fun. When so much of who ultimately makes it comes down to beauty and backstory, pimping and persona, America did get it mostly right, I think.