American Idol‘s Grassy KnollBy David K. / Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
Of course I’m making reference to the small patch of land that became infamous following JFK’s assassination in 1963. It has been speculated that extra gunshots were fired — in synch with Lee Harvey Oswald‘s — from the bushes of the knoll, doubly insuring the president’s demise. In a similar conspiratorial spirit I offer you my observations about last night’s big Idol sing-off and why hidden forces worked extra hard to guarantee that Elliott Yamin would not be back for his well-deserved Kodak Theater moment.
It’s a freaky coincidence how the first singer to begin each year’s Final Three show is the Idollette voted off the following evening. This mystery has proven true since Idol debuted four years ago. Elliott, of course, went first last night.
The AI band, lovingly referred to by detractors as Bandzilla, was set on stun and destroy whenever Elliott took the stage. The effect was like watching a small boat negotiate gigantic waves and treacherous tides on its journey home. To stay the course Elliott had to push his voice hard and then compensate for the extra effort by losing some of his natural flair. Even with the extra contorting, he never wavered — despite the higher key he used to churn out the cheese during Count Chocula’s pick for him: Journey’s Open Arms.
Who was counting? I was. Why was Katharine McPhee‘s sprawled-on-the-floor, Eva Cassidy-cloned, melisma-clogged Over the Rainbow allotted nearly three minutes of air time, while Elliott’s songs were clipped to near-forgettable 80-second bites?
I’m just saying, people.
Or does it even matter? When I consider how badly I wanted Elliott to place in the finale all I need to do is listen to Bo Bice‘s atrocious post-Idol record. Or give a spin to Diana DeGarmo‘s RCA release — a gone-to-the-vapors collection of songs fit to accompany feminine hygiene TV commercials. Hearing both mishaps quells my disappointment instantly.
Sour grapes? Oh, fuck off!
After reading gigabytes of harsh commentaries regarding Elliott’s lack of fireworks last night, I was pleasantly surprised when I played back his performances this morning. He broadcast mature, cool professionalism throughout. His demeanor was classy and in command — despite his awareness of the odds against him. The guy just doesn’t have it in him to compromise, grub or whore.
While Taylor Hicks and Katharine milked the AI tit raw (blasting their glory notes, contorting for the Soul Patrol, winking and batting their eyes for the weepy papas in the audience), Elliott came across as his own man: A gentleman. He made me aware that, wow, someone had really evolved and deepened as an artist throughout the run of the show. Excuse my clichÃ©, but for that feat alone I consider Yamin a winner.
Katbot McPhee? As the zingy Linda Stasi posits: “So is she real or is she Memorex?” We may never know, after the ominous Scientology hovercraft sweeps Katharine off to its guarded cloister of celebrity. I’ve nothing against Kat. She calls to mind that famous Gertrude Stein quote: “There’s no there there.”
Taylor “Mr. Impersonations” Hicks? Well, last night, over on Datalounge, a frustrated Elliott fan summed it up better than I can:
I have to believe that in a few years, Taylor Hicks will have his own theater showcase, much like Celine Dion. Except his will be in Branson and will be located in a red barn by the highway. And the words “All You Can Eat Buffet” will be bigger than his name on the side of the barn.
And Elliott? The post-Idol Elliott will be doing what he does best: Making Deep Soul music and having a good time — being himself.
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