This year’s star-studded “Idol Gives Back” (wait, was that seriously Todd Bridges in the audience?!) was the cherry on top of the Inspirational Week sundae. Ryan Seacrest mentioned that they were all touched by how many people in Hollywood wanted to pitch in and give back. I’m guessing that it’s the same amount of people in Hollywood who have a project to promote.
Even the President and First Lady made a taped appearance, inspiring us and letting us know that — Yes, We Can! — make a change in the world. (Mainly, though, Michelle’s guns have inspired me to make a change in my triceps.)
Though no one can fault the message delivered by “IGB” or the funds raised for charities throughout the United States and Africa, what we can fault is the production itself. Once again, the powers that be seem to be playing with the levels of DVR Nation’s tolerance, as the “two hour” show went over not a mere two minutes or even four, but a whopping 24 minutes. It’s almost as if they were trying to make up for last year’s hiatus by cramming two shows into one!
As in years past, last night’s “very special episode” featured various sob stories interspersed with random musical performances. The video packages of celebrities “giving back” by visiting people who are facing life-threatening challenges called to mind those old middle-of-the-night St. Jude programs.
You know the ones. You’d spend an hour falling in love with a couple of cancer kids before Marlo Thomas gravely announced at the end of the program that your favorite one had “lost his battle.” Then they’d hit you up for money. Depressing? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. In fact, Simon announced that $15 million had already been raised by the end of the show. And once it aired on the West Coast, my text donation brought the tally up to at least $15,000,010.
Granted, malaria, illiteracy and sex trafficking are all things that we need to eradicate. But is it really appropriate for Posh Spice to sport her Christian Louboutins while educating us on poverty? Discuss.
As for the music — well, that may have been even more depressing than that story of the Arkansas kid who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by a “friend.” OK, not quite, but still. What was up with all the adult contemporary stuff? For a show that requires contestants to be 28 or under to audition, it sure seems like they could’ve younged it up a little.
I’m not asking for Miley Cyrus; I think we’ve had our fill of her. But isn’t there a middle ground? The Mary J. Blige performance of “Stairway to Heaven” featuring Randy on bass was impressive but then the DVR cut it off right in the middle. In fact, the only “current” performances on the show were by Carrie Underwood and Alicia Keys. (And, no, The Black Eyed Peas don’t count. They would perform at a nursery school graduation if it were televised. And, seriously, what is up with that one who looks like a creepy Pocahontas?)
I mean, I love Annie Lennox and Elton John but “Your Song” is like 40 years old already! And Joss Stone (a hotter Bowersox) may be young but her music isn’t. (And can somebody please use some of the proceeds to buy that girl a pair of shoes?) Perhaps producers were trying to appeal to an older audience, i.e. the audience who actually has money to donate to the cause. Still, it would’ve been nice to see performers who appeal to all demographics — Gaga, Timberlake, the cast of “Glee.”
In addition to the musical performances, there were few comedy bits too. George Lopez gave the judges a hard time and Russell Brand and Jonah Hill did an almost-funny bit about running an “IGB” phone bank with celebrity impersonators, Octomom and Tatiana del Toro (no, not a typo). The one thing that really did make me laugh was Wanda Syke’s uncomplicated stand-up routine on the things that bug all of us about “Idol” — making the losers sing, the weepy goodbye videos. This show is becoming quite the showcase for talented lesbian comedians. (And Queen Latifah didn’t do so bad hosting, either!)
As for the elimination, it did actually happen. This was somewhat surprising; in past years, the producers have decided not to eliminate anyone in the spirit of charity. As we’ve learned by now, though, this season is different in so many ways. In a sense, they truly were “giving back” to America by eliminating yet another boring kid from the show.
This week’s victim, much to the chagrin of Vote for The Worst (and tweens everywhere), was Tim Urban. Joining him in the Bottom 3 were Casey James (who I thought would get more votes than Michael Lynche) and Aaron Kelly (no surprise there). Urban kept smiling even after he was eliminated, perhaps because he knew there was no time left for him to sing (thank God) or to slide down the stage again (disappointing).
Next week marks the return of guest judge Shania Twain, who will be mentoring the Idols as they take on her songbook. This should make for some good television, as it will put most of the remaining Idols out of their comfort zone a little bit. I can only hope that Michael Lynche chooses to tackle “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.”