“American Idol” Recap: Elise, Released
Here is the story of Elise Testone, as told by Idol: Elise charmed the world with approximately one note televised during auditions. That one note was scintillating enough to earn her the wacky, loving and tough coaching of Steven, Jennifer and Randy, plus Jimmy Iovine from time to time. Together, they taught the fledgling-yet-strangely-elderly singerlet to find her calling: rock music! She left in sixth place because, y’know, sometimes Ryan Seacrest has to make bad things happen.
Everything in that paragraph was wrong, by the way. Here is the story of Elise Testone, as told by reality: A fantastic blues-rock singer (who is younger than Nicki Minaj, i.e. not old) spent years honing her craft and talent in South Carolina, then went on Idol because for all its infinite faults, it does sometimes get you exposure. Idol proceeded to do nothing with her: no introductory personality package, no showcasing, no real critique whatsoever, and no recognition that hey, here’s a singer with all the voice, gravitas and realness of Adele, someone whose breakthrough might be a fluke but whose successors might nevertheless be in labels’ top ten gets and who could do quite well. Instead, Elise joined Allison Iraheta, Gina Glocksen, Carly Smithson, Erika Van Pelt and countless others in early elimination, all because she made the crucial mistake of being one or more of the following: female, older, possibly unconventionally attractive, sometimes un-perky, a rock singer and not a WGWG.
Elise said it best herself, in a comment I’m flabbergasted nobody edited out: “How do I not get slapped for looking a certain [unenthused] way without looking fake?” Good question, Elise. How should a woman–it’s usually a woman–act when life, or Idol, shits on her week after week, when you’ve got to be happy and simultaneously have to be genuine? How do you solve your “personality problem” when your “personality problem” is a combination of genuine, rational responses and creative TV editing? How do you turn yourself into a marketable country spritzer like Skylar, a steely pageant child like Jessica or a sparkly pageant sprite like Hollie? (To be fair, Hollie did slip in a half-miked, seemingly real “oh, lord” before rewatching her performance. So maybe the sparkles are creative editing too.)
You don’t. You take your sixth-place finish and the fanbase and connections you’ve developed and go off and make excellent music. Allison, Gina and Carly all did. Erika might. Hell, even Tora Woloshin did, and she didn’t even make the finals of her show. This might not be as immediately gratifying to recappers as throwing a Fiona Apple “this world is bullshit” fit of rebellion–which Elise didn’t do, but which she deserved to–but it’ll be better for her career, should she get one. (She should.)
Sigh. On to the superlatives. This week, they’re doozies.
LEAST LIKELY REFERENCE: Katy Perry’s track, which was almost certainly sung live–well, live to a track and probably pre-recorded, but live in some part, at some point–unsurprisingly got a military theme. (Some would argue it got more than just a theme.) This mostly meant that she was dropped in by (prop) helicopter and marched to drumrolls and drill-sergeant orders, and that the bridge bathed stage and dancers in a sea of thick green light. In other words, Katy Perry’s arguable military propaganda just alluded to “Dulce et Decorum Est”. That is kind of sweet and right.
MOST INFLUENTIAL TRACK ON MODERN B-LIST POP MUSIC, SHE REALIZED WHILE IN HER ROOM WATCHING IDOL: The Vengaboys’ “Boom Boom Boom.” Even putting aside every possible argument containing the word “EDM,” first Rye Rye interpolated its chorus, and now Stefano’s song is practically the same thing.
I am sorry, Rye Rye, for putting you in the same paragraph as Stefano Langone. I suspect a lot more people will be a lot more upset with me for putting Stefano in the same paragraph as Rye Rye. They are wrong.
MOST “CLUBBY” PERFORMANCE: Not the Vengaboys one. Not Katy Perry’s “Part of Me.” According to esteemed record-industry man Jimmy Iovine, Elise Testone’s Queen song–also called a “monotone stadium anthem”–was too clubby to save her.
MOST ICONIC VIDEO THAT JIMMY IOVINE MIGHT ACTUALLY NOT KNOW: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” whose four-heads intro Jessica used as a graphic and which Jimmy called “less Queen than Steven King.” Are you starting to doubt Jimmy Iovine’s job qualifications here? Maybe a little? Relax, he’s probably
BEST GOOGLE-FU: TMZ, who dug and scoured and mined data and searched far and wide on the mean streets with nothing but a reporter’s notebook and pluck to learn that Joshua’s nickname Mantasia is also the name of a male strip club. Also, the No. 1 search result. Keep making yourself useful, TMZ.
LEAST NECESSARY, IN GENERAL: TMZ. Did we mention this was an entire segment? Didn’t you feel fantastic about yourself and your life choices while watching this?
BEST EXTRA: The kid in the audience who jumped up and waved his arms while Ryan introduced himself. So some people still feel fantastic while watching this. They’re just usually toddlers.
MOST LIKELY TO SPAWN FANFICTION: The following exchange between Ryan and Joshua:
Ryan: (after reading some tweets) “Thanks, Joshua. Call me.”
Joshua: “I will!”
(Runner-up: The Queen Extravaganza performance, if only because that basically was Queen self-insert fanfic.)
MOST CONSPICUOUS ABSENCE FROM PROCEEDINGS: In the Ford Music Video, Jessica can magically turn soap bubbles into birds, as if she’s Zooey Deschanel or something. Elise can re-animate origami frogs. Hollie and Joshua can flirt. Skylar can carry bags or something. Phillip Phillips apparently can do nothing, because he wasn’t in it. And with that, I turn things over to Richard Lawson:
J.Lo has it bad for Phil Phillips. I wonder if she’s hit that up yet. Do you think? I bet she’s doing some sort of tantra delay thing and she will just motherf-cking pounce on him at the finale party. Just a flurry of extensions and gold jewelry, flying at him with sonic speed. That’ll be fun for him. For now it’s all foreplay and he knows it. He deeply knows it. She knows it. “Was that song for me?” she of the famous rump asked, mock offended. Phil just grinned his country grin, trying to act cool, trying to think about his grandma’s legs and baseball and whatever else would cool him down. “He’s always faking sick to get out of going to shoots and stuff,” one of the other contestants said about Phil in a video segment. MhHm. Suuure. That’s why he wants to stay back at the mansion alone. To avoid photoshoots. Riiiight.
ON THAT NOTE: So many unmiked-yet-audible comments! Like this one, loud and clear amid the audience booing in response to Jimmy Iovine saying “someone other than Phillip” might be in the finale, which is kind of like saying “one of these coins is not a nickel” but still: “YOU’RE STILL SEXY!”
That comment came from the general direction of J. Lo. We’re just saying.
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