Thursday, March 15, 2007

"American Idol" Recap

Sanjaya lives! Remember, the order in which people leave doesn't really matter in the early rounds. As long as the person who is sent home deserves to go, then it's all good. Brandon certainly fit that bill. He looked poised and professional last night, much more so than when he performed and forgot his words and brought no color or interest to his song. It's also VERY dangerous to perform in that first slot. Why? Because the people performing later will be seen by millions of extra viewers. If people don't see you perform, they're a lot less likely to vote for you. Here's a breakdown of the shows viewers by each half hour, according to MediaWeek's Marc Berman:

American Idol Tuesday March 13:

8:00 p.m. -- 25.76 million viewers
8:30 p.m. -- 29.44 million viewers
9:00 p.m. -- 31.17 million viewers
9:30 p.m. -- 31.18 million viewers

As you can see, viewership jumps significantly in the second half hour and then again at 9. Through no fault of his own, Brandon was seen by 6 million fewer viewers than the people who performed throughout most of the show. The producers are well aware of this. When choosing the order of performances, they want to balance out the most popular with the least popular, create momentum, space out the really good performances and yes, protect or spotlight the contestants they like -- hence the valuable, closing slot for sweet 17 year old Jordin and the unlucky opening slot for likable but bland Brandon. Nothing guarantees anything, of course, but it certainly doesn't help to go first.

GROUP SONG -- A truly atrocious medley of songs by Diana Ross & the Supremes. Non one came off good, I thought, with the guys dancing with each other, the dorky attempt at 'tude when the gals sang and so on. To cap it off, it ended with one of those ludicrous shots into the audience, where we spot celebs and are told we're looking at "The cast of 'War at Home.'" On the other hand, Chris Sligh wisely took Simon's advice and popped the glasses back on. His face simply looks better with them.

FORD AD -- forget the ad, what bothered me was the shot of the final 12 after the ad aired, all of them giggling maniacally as if there was nothing funnier in the world than that ad and they just LOVED filming it. Are they drinking the Kool Aid or just determined to seem good-natured?

DIANA ROSS -- Her voice just isn't what it used to be. I'm glad the judges didn't speak after she finished "More Today Than Yesterday" or they would have had to point out how sharp and harsh it was. But she struck that classic Diana pose, worked the crowd like a trouper and basically acted as if it were 1972. I loved the shots of Paula dancing like the ultimate fan while Simon looked bored, sipping his drink.

GOODBYE BRANDON -- He looked very good tonight and was graceful saying goodbye though his performance certainly didn't make anyone think a miscarriage of justice had occurred. He might in fact be a backup singer -- he can sing and hit notes; he just doesn't have a lot of vocal personality. That's perfect for someone who needs to fill in on choruses and not overshadow the star. Hey, it's more than most people ever accomplish.

SHOT OF THE NIGHT -- Seeing Sanjaya slump back to his seat, looking very unhappy. I think he's been resigned to going home for weeks and knows he doesn't have a chance in hell in winning. All credit to the kid: it's got to be humiliating to hear people in the audience boo when you're saved and know millions of people think you suck and are staying on because of your hair ie your personality. How hard would it be to go on stage if you saw 1/1000th of what's been written about him online?


altmike said...

Couple of thoughts-
First off. Diana. Not sure if you noticed but she came out singing the second verse of "More Today Than Yesterday" instead of first. That was kind of funny.
Second- I was curious. How exactly do they figure out the order that the contestants perform? I agree that number one slot would have a harder time of it given lower viewership. But certainly it isn't a random draw? They always seem to have a heavy hitter at the end of the show.... doesn't seem fair.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Ford Ad, I have friends who swear that Modest Mouse is the most alternative band ever. (meaning, non-mainstream) Thus, I loved watching the group perform Float On to a Ford Ad. Heh. I think Modest Mouse just sold out.

And I agree with you about Sanjiana (or however you spell it) it's gotta be tough sitting there knowing the audience is rooting for you to lose.

Michael in New York said...

Altmike, the producers decide the lineup to fulfill all sorts of demands, most of all creating an exciting show. They want someone big early on so people don't get bored, they want a strong finish, sometimes (but not always) they seem to try and balance slow songs with fast, and certainly they are always aware of showcasing favorites -- the people they want to see go far -- in every way possible, by giving them good face time, crafting their little segments better, etc. Others have said backstage you can tell who the producers think will make a good show, because those people get preferential treatment by hair and makeup and so on, though I don't think they would be so heavy-handed as to shut anyone out. .You can usually also tell a difference in how their performance is edited -- I'm sure they try to make everyone look good (it has to be entertaining, after all or no one will watch) but someone always seems to get a few more exciting "cuts" in the editing and a little more flash and pizazz in the staging.
And Justin, your friend thinks Modest Mouse is super non-mainstream? No one whose music has appeared on The OC and One Tree Hill could ever make that claim. Ever.