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American Idol, Season 14, Episode 3: JLo, you can have a rib! (Hollie’s take)

For Will’s take on this episode, click here

This post is late because I spent all of Wednesday night writing something for work, which ended up being torn apart and needed rewriting the next day anyway, so I wish I could get my Wednesday night back and have watched this episode fresh. I mean Jesus, Hollie, you have ONE LIFE TO LIVE, you should spend it watching forgettable mediocre singers, not churning out some crappy marketing schwag!

OK, I get the bus now, it goes to C- list cities to audition kids who stop off on their way to Denny’s.

Kansas City started off with Big Wan– Will is insisting it’s Big Ron, but I really do believe it’s Wan– who seems to have genuine swag and who I genuinely like. However I can only take so much of that Marvin Gaye shit, so long time prognosis is to be determined.

We are then made to feel uncomfortable for the first time tonight as the judges mock some Broadway-style guy with a high voice. It was one of those “are they making fun of him or not?” moments for me, as I often really don’t know if someone is good or not. Which is probably why I have not ever won my American Idol fantasy league.

A guitar folksy montage then commences, and there he is, SINGLE DAD from last season. But there are ZERO single dad references, and not even a “flashback to last year” back story. Producers do not seem hot on Single Dad!
For those of you who ride the subway:  Do you know when you’re waiting on the platform, and the train just isn’t coming, and there is some busker – for me it’s usually either one of those guys who drums on buckets, or an old Chinese man playing that horrible old Chinese man instrument—who is so goddam annoying that you wish you were more of an asshole so you could go up to him and give him $20 to STOP playing until the A train arrives?  That’s what I felt like during that entire Accordian-girl audition. Again, I didn’t know what the judges were going to say—was she good?  Did she suck?  I guess she was good, as she and her novelty instrument will be annoying her roommates at the Hampton Suites Burbank during Hollywood Week.

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eah, this thing

Then we get one of TWO Poor Man’s Crystal Bowersox of the night.  The first one is “so quirky I’m barefoot.”  The other one is “so quirky I play the banjo.”  They both annoy me and both go through.

Enter the lanky, shy cowboy Anton, hands down the most genuine, sweet, authentic person and voice… and the judges’ eyes are welling up too, so my senses are right and he’s in!  I’m mostly intrigued by the puzzling “Family Shot” outside the door… I think there were two women there with babies. Was one baby his?  Are both his but the producers didn’t want to ruin their ‘shy cowboy’ bit by showing he’s got two baby mommas?  Did an AI focus group reveal that the Single Mom story is more marketable than the Single Dad bit?  I’m nervous about what is going to be revealed.

Oh No, Deaf Parents.  The poor girl with a not-good voice has to trot her poor family in the room so that her Dad can hear her sing using a special device.  Will and I simultaneously wonder aloud, “What about the mom?!,” who is forced to sit there, reading the heartbroken expressions on the judges’ faces, not having a fancy hearing device of her own. What the hell?!  You can tell the judges HATE the producers for making them go through that sad, sad, scene. I look over at Will, whose eyes are teary.  Well played, AI.

We’ve seen the ‘homeless drifter’ routine before, and we’ve got another one in Season 1-4. Man, this kid has seen some shit.   Harry said that the kid’s ability to fit into the show “concerns me”—what concerns ME is the prospect of watching these people make this kid suffer through a terrible group dance number set to a lip synched version of “Bang Bang.”

But the best part of the show was the last scene. Did you guys see how J-Lo was looking at that plate of ribs Ryan set in front of her, while she mumbled “I can’t, I can’t” repeatedly?  And just yesterday a friend was telling me how his sister was on a photo shoot with JLo, who wolfed down craft services and then kept running in place and maniacally exercising. Did I just feel bad for JLo a little bit?

OK, Off to go to watch episode 4, which I didn’t watch last night bc I was out with aforementioned friend talking about JLo’s eating disorder.

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American Idol Season 14, Episode 2: Somebody please explain the Bus to me (Will’s take)

For Hollie’s version of tonight’s episode, click here 

WILL’S TAKE

Well it’s the first working Thursday night of 2015 and with it comes the back end of a two night AI premier doubleheader. I’ve heard rumors that this year Idol will only be one night per week, as ratings have continued to decline, but I am skeptical. Am I to believe that Bones can pull in the kind of audience that an even sub par Idol elimination night draws? I, for one, want to end my week seeing some precocious kids sweat it out on the stools and then frantically search for my face to shoot across the screen amidst a slew of 50 something ladies when they flash the background montage of Facebook voter profile pics.

With the idea of a potentially trimmed down Idol viewing season haunting my thoughts, I pick up my remote and check out the Guide only to find that AI is blessing us with a 2 hour show. YESSSSS! Fast forward to 40 minutes later when H exclaims “oh F….we’ve only watched an hour”. It’s a marathon not a sprint, babe – pace yourself.

On to the show…

The intro comes on strong with not so subtle digs at the Voice. “It’s all about the kids”…”It’s not about the judges”…”It’s the only show that has produced bona fide stars”…Listen – I love that Kelly Clarkson as much as the next guy but this is all sounding pretty defensive. You’re American Goddamn Idol. Start acting like it!!!!

AI shows us a bit of behind the scenes – which frankly I love. H and I always talk about how we wish AI had their version of Big Brother after dark so we could see how things really work behind all of the staged red carpet shenanigans and kids jumping on beds in the AI mansion. (PS. – we know of Big Brother After Dark as my parents might be the only two people who have watched the Big Brother cast on off hours besides Julie Chen).

We then see this year’s version of Dexter (I cant remember his last name). The kid is 22, has a cherubic face, likeable family and is a good ole boy from Alabama. He’s also a bit annoying and I am not terribly impressed. Nonetheless, I think there is a quota for this guy every season. Great – now we have one for AI14, so can we move on…?

Then we see someone a bit androgynous who reminds me of MK Noibillete. I earnestly ask H what gender this contestant is and then immediately feel guilty as it is just a 16 year old boy. He’s geek-chic and his nerdiness reminds me of Malaya Watson. Kid is talented but not sure how long he will last.

And as soon as we see pretty Kelly on the screen for a nano second, I yell “SINGLE MOM”. AI – I know your formula and I love it. Sure as shit, she’s got an adorable little girl who sings that awful theme from Frozen to the judges and I am fully onboard the Kelly Klime bandwagon.

Montage time along with various soundbites of “I recently quit my job”, “Music is all I have”, “I won’t do anything but sing” and “I don’t have any other plans”. Then it dawns on me that American idol might be responsible for several downturns in the economy. H and I both groan and shake our heads disapprovingly. I love to play basketball but I am not going to quit my job to try out for the Knicks. Sigh.

AI is an emotional rollercoaster and after my dismay at these kids’ wonton lack of sense and responsibility, I am then again fraught with emotion watching Garrett Miles and his devoted Dad. Garrett is blind and super talented and will cause some serious choreography issues when the top 10 dress in all white and do an awkward Bruno Mars medley group number (I just cringe thinking about how painful it was to see the finalists try to all dance around season 8’s Scotty Macintyre). Despite this I am rooting for Garrett.

Moving on…there is a busker from Nashville and J-Lo gives us a classic “you have the whole package so I am sending you through”. Translation: “you’re a mediocre singer but you are good looking. Teeny bopper girls and Midwest grandmas will Facebook vote the crap out of you so I’ll throw you a golden ticket. “ I don’t remember this dude’s name and I doubt I’ll have to.

Some others to note as we round out hour 2:

  • Savion Wright is back and I do remember him as do the judges. He is talented and confident and should be in the top 24 for sure.
  • Lovey James just made me uncomfortable all around. She’s 16, has a stage name and a music video and tells us that “some guy she is working with” gave her the moniker Lovey. There seems to be a lot wrong there. I am betting either TMZ or the local authorities will dig into this pretty quickly.
  • Jess Lamb is our final contestant of the night and she is good and quirky. She’s long in the tooth for Idol and while I do fear we have another Erica Van Pelt on our hands, Jess is much more interesting and I think I recall her voice from a mysterious silhouette last night.

We wrap up the show and are teased with scenes from next week and more “best of the bus”. Both H and I catch a glimpse of some blonds guy that is “back again this year”. I shout “lives in his car!!!” while H “screams “single Dad!!!”. ….Ryan implores us to come back next week to see all of the action. “F. Yeah I’ll come back.”

American Idol Season 14, Episode 2: Somebody please explain the Bus to me (Hollie’s take)

For Will’s take, click here

HOLLIE’S TAKE

American Idol started off with what we in the corporate world refer to as a competitive analysis, hitting The Voice right in Adam Levine’s surely waxed nuts. You see, American Idol is the only show to give us bona fide stars (cut to Clarkson, Underwood, ignore Hicks, Dewyze). And it’s MORE than just raw talent. The judges are looking for the ‘whole package’ — which means ‘if you are good looking, you just might get a pass,’ based on the fact that right before anyone so-so got sent to Hollywood, we cut to a judge talking about some “star quality” je ne sais quoi, and in walks some hot guy with a guitar.

Season 13 aficionados had a shocking flash back off the bat, with an even MORE annoying version of Alabama country Dexter singing Signed Sealed Delivered.  Harry called him out for being ‘goofy’—which is a far nicer adjective than I used playing at home. Good God, he got a ticket. I’m going with my gut that America will find him annoying as well.

We continued to be delightfully underwhelmed, yet we saw lots of montages showing kids with golden tickets whose performances we never saw. I always feel bad for those kids, who I’m sure told their entire senior class at Indian Hills High School and coworkers at Espresso Yourself Café and every distant relative on Facebook that “I will be on American Idol tonight. “ Surely if Ryan Fn Seacrest filmed a whole segment riding you around in a rickshaw while you proudly displayed your golden ticket, you will have a whole feature on the TWO HOUR show. Nope, that rickshaw was just a nice photo op and something to do with an increasingly irrelevant Seacrest (I can say this because I see how I am becoming the irrelevant old lady at work, myself).

Tonight we got our first Single Mom of the season. She trotted in her cute kid and after some home footage of going into the refrigerator, I could tell the judges wanted the mom to be good, as did me and Will. My husband also said, “wow, she’s pretty” about 8 times during this segment, giving a big clue as to why this girl got knocked up at 18.

There were some 15 year olds that looked like 24 year olds, mercifully only one Go Pro, and a great montage with VOs claiming, “My hopes and dreams hinge on a life in music,” and “This is the only life I see for myself.”  This right here explains why 15 years into my career, I’m still making my own spreadsheets, filing out my own expenses and running to Staples to make more labels… all the people who should be doing this shit in any company across the United States is “not going to give up on my dream.”  Kids, learn Powerpoint, Salesforce and Marketo, and you can make a good steady salary with benefits, we’re hiring.

And then, the clouds opened up in the heavens, and out came a blind guy.  One of the highlights of my and Will’s American Idol journey was the season when the blind guy made the top 10. Watching the amazingly cheesy AI choreographers work around that poor kid in the so-awful-it’s-amazing group numbers was really something we looked forward to every week. This guy Garret is not only blind, but he is so friggin cool, really good… and the cherry on top is he comes with a super proud Dad that makes me cry just looking at him.  I’m all in.

I’d be remiss not to mention the American Idol brainteaser posed to us at the end of a commercial break. I feel for the people who have to put this together, as I think that I have the equivalent of their job. Guys, we need you to come up with something engaging to keep the viewers attention until we come back from break. Keep it light, and dumb it down to the least common denominator. GO.  Uh, how about “How many of Keith’s sexy t-shirts are on display in the Country Music Hall of Fame?” I do have to admit that Will and I actually debated it during the DVR FF.  SPOILER ALERT:  ONE.

We see a couple guys from last year who I actually recognize, Alex Sheir and Savion Wright or something like that.  In their “last year” package, they look all sorts of different, and the judges notice.  I’m frankly shocked every time this “year on year change” happens. I was looking back at college pictures from 1997, and really the only difference between then and now is about 10 pounds and sometimes I wear a necklace. How do people change ‘looks’ like this?!

We see an interesting guy who’s totally OCD and good… but with that face paint, you are not going to win over the “Ladies from Accounts Receivable” vote, kid!  And living with a neurotic person myself, I’m very concerned for his poor roommate at the Ramada Inn West Hollywood. And then this manufactured poor child who talks about her stage name “Lovey” who has some “original content out there” [cut to clip of her really poor man’s britney spears music video, which must be blowing up right now]. I’m shocked and appalled that 1) the judges put her through; 2) that if she has gone through the trouble and expense of hiring some predatory ‘manager’ who gifted her this nickname, she doesn’t have a fake story to make the name seem genuine and announces it as her Stage Name; 3) that she has some creeping predatory manager who probably paid for her bus ticket to Nashville in exchange for owning the name Lovey.

They talk about the American Idol Bus again, and I still don’t understand. Do people win automatic auditions? Do they get their plane ticket paid for? Do they go ON the bus?  I don’t understand, I don’t understand.

Anywho, props to Keith for the “What a Cluster” t-shirt, which I need to queue up for Casual Friday. And HARRY YOU ARE STILL DREAMY, so funny, so handsome, swoon. #myhusbandsahater

Yes Ryan, I will tune in again next week, I friggin love this shit.

American Idol Season 14 Premier Part I: Hold on to your Go Pro, kids, it’s Idol time!

You know how people say that in your 30s you really get to “know who you are?”  Well our truth lies in the fact that we love American Idol. I encouraged my husband to write down his amazing summaries typically saved for family. So i did too, because am I just going to sit around and look like an idiot while he’s doing this?

Will’s take:

American Idle

There is a fairly good chance that by this time next year I will not remember more than 3 of Season 14’s Top 12 but as of now I can’t wait to get a peek at this year’s crop of underwhelming teens and 20 somethings. But wait – hold onto your golden tickets – it’s an “Idol first! “As Ryan dramatically tells us, this season we’ll get to see the top 24 BEFORE the actual auditions. #idoldesperation

I don’t like it already. Why are they spoiling my fun for the first several weeks as I go city to city with the gang in search of the next Taylor Hicks or Kris Allen???  Let’s let this thing play out….What’s the rush????

As I grumble, we are shown a dramatic opening and behold – instead of seeing the Idols, I am just teased with their silhouettes and will spend the next 3 fortnights trying to match voices and body types with the shadowy figures I caught a glimpse of in this special “idol first”. This might not be as bad as I thought, but why the need for an overproduced opening which looked like a post-apocalyptic movie outtake. Too much polish at this stage of the game. I like my talent raw.  If something with my Idols is going to be over-produced, I want there to be a Ford Fiesta involved.

As we move through week 1, I am keeping my eye out for what might become the Selfie of Season 14. The producers have already gone overboard with lame hashtags (were you racing to see what people were saying about #IdolSlowDance?) and Ryan has surely lost his selfie dignity with last year’s fixation on photos. Will “guitar go-pro” become a household term among AIs Greatest Generation viewing base? Or will this new “wall” somehow become an inane and annoying prop referenced all season?

In terms of talent, there were a few kids that piqued my interest but I am finding myself less inspired by these stories and more worried that the talented barista might have his “days serving coffee over” – but only because he cant get his job back after being sent home from Hollywood. How many of these would be stars “make it” to the AI big stage only to have reality come crashing back in? It doesn’t take too long as the AARP sponsored tour cancels dates soon after those kids get on the bus.

I bet you can find Jeena Irene playing in an Elk’s Club in Ann Arbor Michigan right now.

For now – let’s remain hopeful though.

It’s season 14 and my Wednesday and Thursday nights are locked in for the winter. It’s time to hibernate, hunker down, eat take out and find our top 12.

I am also excited that I think the shine is starting to wear off Harry. Last season my wife was all about HCJ but I sense his self confidence and “goofy” antics are wearing thin. Harry’s days as the ladies’ favorite are numbered. I’m calling it.

—————-

Hollie’s take: 

Don’t quit that coffee job yet, son

We are very excited to welcome Season 14 of American Idol into our household this evening.  Much like how one needs to work on their marriage after its shiny newness fades, in recent years we’ve been betting on all things Idol to shake things up, along with my sister and brother in law, Joy and John. This competition of using our own Jimmy Iovine skills to guess who will be eliminated week after week culminates in a bottle of whiskey being handed to the victor. A bottle of whiskey adorned with the likenesses of each of the top 12 kids, whose names quickly become trivia questions during long drives (we rarely remember their names when we go to make the bottle after obsessing over them for the season, fame is fleeting, kids). Joy has won the past three years. Will and I are downright embarrassed by this losing streak, distracted by picking winners from the doe eyed boy band types and church gospel enthusiasts, forgetting the demo of the American Idol viewer are 43 year old accounts receivable ladies from Indianapolis.

Right from the get go, I’m concerned. I get a text from my sister before our Indian food arrives asking if we saw, “the new rules.” I’m assuming she’s referring to Ryan introducing the docent mediocre voices of the top 24, shockingly revealed in silhouette. What’s running through my mind is, “do we keep this episode on DVR so we can cheat when selecting our top 24?”   Then, a startling abbreviated version of the intro music queues up the night— the Idol “ooohooooh” are autotuned this year, this can’t be good!

Our first stop on the tour is Nashville, which, Keith Urban, is NOT YOUR HOMETOWN so please stop!

We shook off the discomfort of the disguised singing silhouettes as we slipped into the certainty of the first person being really good, anyone with B roll from their home getting a ticket, and the Ghetto Kid who would die if they didn’t have music and they aren’t that great but oh my god, GIVE THEM A TICKET JLO so they can stay in a hotel for a few days and can I adopt them??

My favorite guy of the night didn’t get a ticket, but he was the token weirdo, and from staten island, and kinda looked like my sister if she were a not as attractive dude.

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BIZZARO JOY

 

I’m concerned to highly concerned about the Go Pros on everyone’s guitars… is this the “selfie” of 2015?

The auditions were fairly banal, but gun to my head I pick Corey, the kid from the coffee shop across the street who got an hour off of work to audition. Season 14 ain’t my first rodeo, I know that Corey probably spent a solid 27 hours total in auditions and call backs. And I’m also fairly certain that every single employee at this coffee shop also went across the street to audition, so I’ll just have to let it go and count it as part of the Idol Magic that sweeps us off our feet every year.

I am happy to see the ‘you didn’t make it’ reel at the end, if only because it’s nice that kids today are still legitimately upset about not making it to Hollywood.

There’s a teaser that tomorrow’s show promises us the best from the Idol Bus Tour, which is something we have just come to accept that we’ll never understand.

GIDDY UP, I’m winning that friggin whiskey this year!

Bootcamp at work, now that’s a great idea

I have a track record of signing up for activities without really thinking them through. “Yeah, a learn-to-rockclimb weekend sounds great, despite my panic attacks in dangerous situations!”  “Going on a solo 7 day horse back riding vacation in Costa Rica, without having ridden horses regularly in years, sounds like an adventure of a lifetime!” “Yes! I’ll go for a ride on your motorcycle, even though I don’t even like riding in cars!”

So naturally, when I saw that my company was offering free bootcamp classes, I signed up without hesitation.  “What a great opportunity to work out more!,” said she who owns an “Exercise… It Blows” T-shirt!

japan excercise Exercising with your coworkers is a great idea!

The first sign of trouble was running into a coworker changing for the class in the bathroom.  Something just gets all uncomfortable up in here when you see a person switch out of their button down and put on a “Bridgeport 5K Turkey Trot” T-shirt. And the shorts. Oh, the shorts.

There you are, standing in your company’s workout room, looking at the guy from legal and the lady you always see at the coffee machine anxiously, awkwardly faux stretching (you know, the arm in front of your body move), and wishing you were just answering fn emails at your desk.

You would think that the introduction of the hot Latino trainer would help smooth things over. Quite the opposite, because hot men just make me anxious. He was walking around the room, asking everyone if they had any injuries and what their goals were for the class. Goals. I’m about 80% sure he heard me dare my gay coworker to answer , “To bang the instructor.”  I also made the mistake of mentioning  a back problem, which means that the entire rest of class I got a special call out… “How’s that back doing?” Awesome, extra attention on me while doing burpees in front of people I have to follow up with about unpaid invoices.

Successful businesspeople meditating in the office.

I did manage to do a mental shift and plough through unselfconsciously. That is until I heard those horrible words that tie my stomach in knots in any situation: “Everybody find a buddy!”

I felt like Kramer in that scene when he’s trying to get a seat on the subway as I watch everyone I know partner up.  I end up with a guy I don’t know, and am then asked to get on the floor and face him. And interlock our legs. I now feel like I’m at a horrible match making event at a bar in midtown.   For 3 sets of 30, using this sales dude I don’t know’s legs as leverage, there I was, doing sit ups, high fiving as we both reached the top of the motion, glaring directly in his grimacing face as his abdominal muscles fatigued, his shorts creeping up with each rep.

I might be stupid enough to sign up for these sorts of things, but thank you sweet lord that I was smart enough to wear LONG PANTS.

The unwind

Contrary to the theme of this blog, I actually take a good day to unwind once on vacation*. The first night’s sleep is filled with anxiety-induced dreams, and waking up with a start regarding things I forgot to hand off or am worried about getting into trouble for if not done properly.

But those first night dreams result in me waking up too early (read: still drunk) and firing off a few emails addressed to Boss with rapid-fire CYA nuggets. Once this last burst of passive aggressiveness is off my mind, I drift off to “i don’t give a fuck” land, where I’m currently unpacking my bags as we speak.

* Opposed to post-vacation, where my schtick includes me strolling in, proclaiming, “so…. what it is that I do here?” I also like to answer my phone, then place my hand over the receiver and ask someone, “We sell pancake batter here, right?” I think the kids in the office laugh just like you do when Uncle Phil pulls that quarter from behind your ear.

Brooklyn, but for realsie

We are in Ithaca for our xth vacation up here. The irony that Ithaca is exactly like Brooklyn, where we live… but 4.5 hours away… is not lost on us. “hey kids, let’s get in a car for a long time to get to a place that is exactly like here, but away! And with worse pizza!”

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If we wanted to see this hippie at the Ithaca farmer’s market, for example, we could have walked up the park for 15 minutes. But there is something different — more authentic– about the way that people look down on you when you tell them that no, you did not bring your own bag. They aren’t just building a chicken coop for fun and to say they did. And they aren’t just TELLING you they are relaxed. It’s for realsie. These people are relaxed. Dinner will take you 60 minutes to get after you order. But their hippydome is for REALSIE.

I think it’s bc at the end of the day, Brooklyn people work and live in New York City. And you just can’t wash that intense funk off of you by working a 2.75 hour co-op shift.

Another funny note about Ithaca is that waitstaff/ hotel staff are infinitely more concerned with our dogs’ welfare. We waited for 60 minutes for food, but someone approached us saying, “I’m the owner… do the dogs need more water?” Our kinda place.

For the record, people up here are NOT relaxed about fracking. That shit really riles them up!