Sorry the recap is so late peeps. I felt like I needed to watch the special over again, and I just could not bring myself to do that right away. It’s just as well, there’s a lot of information I’d like to include in the recap that wasn’t available last night.
ETA: Here’s an interesting post from Reality Blurred. Reuters tried to find out what portion of the monies raised came from corporate sponsors like AT&T, Ford and Coca-Cola, but the reporters were met with tight lips. Also, TMZ reported that Pink and Gwen Stefani’s videos were cut due to time constraints and will be shown later. Daniel Radcliffe’s people are still trying to find out what happened. (thanks dvls)
As of Thursday night, Idol Gives Back has raised $60 million. You can still donate at americanidol.com and at the IGB My Space page. Also, according to the AP article Bono’s organization, One has signed up 70, 000 new members.
There’s some interesting stuff from the in-studio reporters from the LA Times Show Tracker and Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch. Rupert Murdoch and his family were in the audience. Melinda Doolittle and Chris Richardson seemed to have a special bond. And, the audience murmured disapprovingly during the Celine/Elvis number.
I’m not sure how the in-studio audience were reacting, but in comments here on the blog, people were speculating about how Idol would manage to mix up what’s supposed to be a feel-good night of charitable giving with the tense and sometimes unhappy task of kicking a contestant to the curb.
In fact, our incomparable news hound, LisaB totally called it yesterday afternoon–speculating correctly that nobody would be eliminated Wednesday.
The most “shocking” boot in Idol history, really ended up being not all that shocking. Not only did Lisab predict what would happen, but in live chat Wednesday night, by mid-show, everyone was resigned to the fact that there would be no boot. Much of the discussion during the last hour of the special centered on the pros and cons of a bootless week.
It was also obvious to anyone who was watching carefully that the contestants understood what was happening. Watch back and see Phil and Chris’s Cheshire-cat grins as Ryan tells them they are safe. And watch Jordin giggle as she stands alone after Chris sits down. She only starts crying after the big group hug afterward.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that the money and awareness raised by Idol Gives Back makes the special a good thing. However, it should have been a stand-alone show with the Top 6 fully participating. A separate 30 minute results show could have been scheduled for Thursday night–just like back in the semis.
I have to admit, I feel a little deprived without my boot this week. No talk show appearances. No post-boot appearances and no Top 5. It sounds a little self-centered in light of what Idol accomplished Wednesday night, I know. But consider this–they used the promise of an elimination to keep people tuned in to the very end. Really, pretty annoying if you ask me.
I say produce a special that will keep folks riveted because it’s enormously entertaining and ditch the cheesy reality show gimmicks–just this once.
I’m not going to recap the show scene by scene this week, but I will note some of the highlights and the low-lights.
Poor Ryan must have been nervous. Those of us watching the live show on the East coast saw him flub his opening line so badly, he had to start over. I don’t think that’s ever happened to him before. Ryan recovered quickly, pro that he is. The production itself seemed pretty precarious at times with several glitches and missed cues.
The Best: Jack Black and fellow Tenacious D bandmate Kyle Gass were absolutely hilarious. The judges comments during Jack’s “Kiss From a Rose” were awesome. The best line was from Paula, “The school of rock wants their diploma back.” Seal shows up to tell Jack it was the best version of “Kiss” that he’s ever heard. Jack leaves the stage singing Whitney Huston. Good stuff.
Also funny–Ben Stiller who vowed to sing “Reminiscing” by The Little River Band until IGB raises 200 billion dollars. He says, “We better get going or we won’t have time for musical acts like Kelly Clarkson and….uhhm….Pure Prairie League or whoever they got…”
More funny: The Simpsons cartoon critique of Simon singing The Pussycat Dolls. Lisa Simpson does the Paula Abdul seal clap. Simon winds up going through a trap door at the end. Bart says, “The lions haven’t eaten this well since Dunkelman.”
Musical highlights: Kelly Clarkson breaks out her inner-hippie with guitar legend Jeff Beck playing back-up. I have to say she wears it well. Kelly channels Janis Joplin as she belts out “Up To the Mountain, ” with Beck laying down some tasty licks. Incredible. Kelly is here to stay.
Also good: Carrie Underwood’s clips from her trip to Africa set to her sweet rendition of Chrissy Hynde’s “I’ll Stand By You.”
Annie Lennox can’t quite hit the high notes she used to, but nobody can bring the emotion to a song like she can. I have to say I enjoyed her version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” better than some others. And that’s all I’m sayin’.
Honorable Mention: Josh Groban sings “You Raise Me Up” with the absolutely adorable African Children’s Choir.
Bono and Dave Stewart wrote an inspirational song, sans schmaltz just for the Top 6 to sing on the special. Bono talks to the kids about his organization, One, in a video clip that introduces the number. I liked this song much more than Quincy Jones’ special group number, “Time to Care, ” which was basically “Up With People” with African beats.
Ellen Degeneres’ gentle humor struck just the right balance as she hosted the live concert from the Walt Disney concert hall in Anaheim. She stepped up to the plate mid-way through the show by publicly pledging $100, 000 to the cause.
Now, for the not so good.
Seen better days: Earth Wind and Fire singing a medley of their hits. The kids would have pwned singing this medley as a group number with many many pointy poses.
Ew and ew again: Il Divo. Ugh. Who thought getting 4 boyband dudes together to sing treacly opera-light was a good idea? Oh yeah. Mr. taste-maker himself, Simon Cowell. It’s evil, I know, but I laughed through most of Il Dreadful over-singing “Somewhere” while audience members waved glowsticks. Video of little children blowing out candles meaning to signify the fact that every three seconds a child dies from extreme poverty only made the performance maudlin.
The “duet” between Celine Dion and Elvis Presley. As if Celine Dion doesn’t creep out enough on her own, she’s paired up with a CGI version of Elvis from his 1968 comeback special singing, “If I Can Dream.” Sure, the special effects are cool, particularly the way footage is made to look vintage. However, these back-from-the dead duets (Natalie Cole performed one with her father, Nat King Cole) just completely creep me out. Sorry.
Woven into the comedy bits, entreaties for donations, and musical performances are heartrending videos of the trips Ryan, Simon, Paula and Randy made to disadvantaged areas of the world.
We see more of Simon and Ryan in an African village slum where people die from malaria and aids by the hour under the most dreadful conditions imaginable. Paula, visits children at a local LA Boys and Girls club and comforts a little girl who breaks down describing how her mom works 3 jobs and still can’t pay the bills. Randy visits a FEMA trailer park where families are still, 2 years after Katrina, stuffed into tiny trailers. The kids can’t go out to play because of rampant crime and violence in the aftermath of the hurricane. An Idol crew interviews folks in Eastern Kentucky where half the adults have not finished high school and illiteracy is a wide-spread problem.
It’s pretty potent stuff, and it’s pretty manipulative too. But, if the videos compel viewers to dig in their pockets when they might not have otherwise, I’m ok with this particular manipulation. Next time, leave screwing with the contestants for another day.
The pre-special hype promised lots of celebrities, but most of them were featured as part of a very silly Ford video that had them lip-syncing to “Staying Alive”. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting a few of these folks to actually be there in the studio for the special, which would have packed a lot more punch, I think. I have no idea what happened to Pink, Gwen Stefani, Sacha Cohen and Daniel Radcliffe either–all were advertised as guests, none appeared.
The lack of star-power does not bode well for post-show water cooler talk, which is important if they decide to do this again next year. I also would’ve liked to see more ex-Idols involved with the effort. Maybe it’s just a superfan talking here, but how about Quincy Jones directing a “We Are the World” style number with as many ex-Idols as the producers can round up? No? It’s just me? Or maybe, gather all the winners together for a group number. At least include more Idols–particularly the popular ones–as participants.
Nigel and Ken make a huge deal about forcing the weekly guests to work with the kids as a caveat to pimping their latest whatever on the Wednesday night boot show. Why stop there? TPTB should remember not to stray from what made the show so popular in the first place.
Two contestants will be booted next week. The voting totals will be likely cut in half–it’s a good bet that whoever was in the bottom two this week will be booted next week, regardless of how the contestants perform. Then, the two will go off on their publicity rounds together, I suppose. The Top 5 is also the week where the contestants are able to tackle two songs each. It’s going to be tough to fit 12 songs in an hour, however.
It will be interesting to see how the producers handle Top 6 Part 2.