Idol Chatter: Top 10 finalists picked
Turning the Paige
By Burl Burlingame
We’ll get right to it. Paige Miles was voted off this week. She had a great voice and a terrible sense of what was good for her.
That’s part of the package. It’s not just a singing contest — you have to sell, first yourself, then the song, and in that order.
When the judges natter on about “song choice,” what they mean is, what works for you.
Paige was the black girl who grew prettier every week, in direct contrast to her eroding musical judgment. I have to wonder about their handlers. Clearly they have make-up and wardrobe out the yazoo, but who’s advising them about music? Who does the arrangements?
That’s where some of the past winners have shown up the competition, by taking control of the song, down to the very last flourish and decrescendo, making something new and interesting out of ancient chicken salad, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
I have the feeling most of these kids meet with the show musical director, who throws out advice, which they accept unblinkingly. No, don’t do it! Think about the whole package, kids.
This week was a tough one, as the survivors are down to the most magical number — the Top Ten. It’s the summit for working performers, because the Ten do the summer tour, and make real money. Paige, she’s going home to Florida to shovel horse manure.
No, I’m not making that up. Paige works at a stable, for reals.
The three horrible teenagers on the show are safe and will make a pile of scratch this summer to spend on toys. Life ain’t fair. “American Idol” proves it.
BY FAR, the most interesting contestant is my girl Siobhan Magnus. A couple of weeks ago, during a perfunctory Q&A, she revealed that she is most comfortable on stage and feels weird everywhere else. Very MJ of her, yes?
Onstage, she stalks the land like Godzilla, destroying buildings in her wake, breathing fire and then opening up the top of her head, like a Christmas nutcracker, to shriek the last bits of a song’s hammering windup. Whew, she’s fascinating and exhausting to hear. She’s a superhero.
But then, we see bits of her offstage — because this is, nominally, a reality show — and Siobhan is Queen of the Geeks, nerdy, awkward, tongue-tied, socially inept, clumsy, clueless, sweet. She listens to people so intently that she stares bugeyed, transfixed and panting, like a dog at your feet on Pizza Night — probably due to myopia. There is something opaque about her, a well of being that is so vast and bottomless it will never be plumbed.
I suspect she had trouble in school, with teachers who believed her, at best, some sort of savant who cannot play well with others. Siobhan is Peter Parker with the occasional shot at being Spiderman (this week in a Sheena Easton full-body suit).
I love her. I suspect many people do. I also suspect many people are puzzled by her. If this river runs its course naturally, the last two left standing will be Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox, and that would be a heck of a choice to make.
This week also saw the long-awaited return of the Weekly Mentor, the established musical artist who offers thoughtful advice based on their accumulated knowledge and career expertise. Because the producers of “AI” are whores, they inflicted 17-year-old Miley Cyrus upon the contestants. It was pretty embarrassing, except for the revelation that Smiley Virus’ speaking voice sounds like Aunt Selma after smoking a carton of cigs.
Go Home Night featured Smiley in some overwrought non-song, treated as dramatically as grand opera, which seemed perfectly horrid except that it was topped a few minutes later by a Jonas brother and a Disney Girl howling at each other. The horror! Even my dog left the room.
And then, Paige got the boot. Buh-bye, Paige.
But the one moment that I liked this week was Smiley offering advice to Siobhan about performing, and Siobhan nodding like a starstruck. When these one-on-ones wrapped up, every one of the other contestants got a crummy, no-pelvis air hug from Smiley, but not Siobhan.
Lost in the dreamy landscape inside her head, Siobhan just walked away from Smiley, passing up on the proffered fake Hollywood hug.
Love that girl.