Scott, To Be Certain


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

AI5: Verdict 2 & Semifinal 3

This episode delivered the series' first set of surprises.

1. ProActiv's next posterboy, Ben McKenzie, delivering the performance of the competition so far (see below);

2. Bookies' favourite Lyall Adonis conversely delivering a god-awful train wreck; and

3. Lana "Hello Kitty" Krost making the finals.

A nervous Lana before the show


The only aesthetic disparity between Hello Kitty and Hello Krostie is that the former has no mouth. Nonetheless, it's likely that the former's performance would have been superior. And so Monday night's worst performer has sailed into the Top 12 on the back of a sickeningly cutesy rendition of a Fergie song, thereby ensuring a repeat for Australian viewers of this atrocity:

That would be Lauren, from Season 1. Don't tell me you can't see it coming.

But we simply must make the most of a bad situation and focus on the positives: Lana is cute. And she has an endearingly warped accent, with vague remnants of Japanese inflection, and a disturbingly vacant stare, combining to create an overall effect not unlike O-Ren Ishii:

clearly nailed it on the head when he recommended facetiously, "Perform last." Viewers have short memories, and to date this has benefitted both Lana and Jacob Butler. Meanwhile, caterwauling powerhouse Parasite Williams Vushe was the only obvious choice to make it through. Again dressed affordably, Parasite took about 8 minutes to explain to us that she couldn't sleep, by the end of which not a single viewer could say the same. Better luck in the Wild Card round Cheray.

Now on to the boys, in descending order of quality.

6. Lyall Adonis

COPYCAT ALERT! This song delivered a touchdown to Dan England in Season 3: Strike 1. This was absolutely terrible, and inescapably infused with an incongruous touch of the Jesus, from the audition package reference to a "carpenter resurrection" through to his dramatic "on the cross" raising of the arms: Strike 2. And when Marcia don't dig it, even when you TAKE IT TO CHURCH: Strike 3. What a shame.

5. Dave Andrews

For someone who's an alleged fan of Radiohead and Queen, stripping a John Farnham up-tempo classic back into a ballad seems like a misguided choice to say the least. This limp, insipid performance was such a wasted opportunity. I find it interesting that semi-finalists who rely on their instruments to define their music - Dave, Natalie Gauci - revert to boring ballads when equipped only with a microphone. At what point do these people say, "Yes, my finest reaction thus far has come during an acoustic rendition of a Radiohead song; I think it's obvious that my next choice should be some Farnham!"

4. Marty Simpson, a.k.a My Son's Armpit

He brushed up much cleaner than I could possibly have anticipated. But aside from the eyebrows, this time Marty's fatal mistake was to not have decided in advance what to do with his right arm while performing: he awkwardly held it mid-air alongside the microphone as though creating parentheses for the lyrics. Either that, or it was a failed attempt at visually interpreting the song's title, "Over My Head". I share Dicko's love of this guy's voice, but this was utterly pedestrian.

3. Jack Byrnes

Jack's accessory of choice seems to be a HUGE JACKET. He is always wearing one, even during "busy" performances. Credit to him for still finding a way to move under its weight: for a greasy, chubby guy with braces, he's definitely got soul. "You took it to church!" wailed Marcia, in one of her better moments. But there was also something absolutely filthy and visually assaulting about Jack's hyper-sexual and strangely effeminate onstage grooving. When Dicko called him on his womanly jives, Jack was quick to call him "Dude" in order to conclusively nip any rumours in the bud. Nice work. And while Jack was good and all, his pre-performance package mostly made me rue that we never got to meet the Rihanna look-alike the the judges ditched from his audition group of 4. How seriously did she fuck up that she was sacrificed in favour of someone like Country De Rouge? I think I need therapy.

2. Mark Da Costa

"Thought I was at the pub!" Mark exclaimed at the end amid crowd cheers. Indeed. I know this was a capable rock performance, but all I could think of was Kelly "Rock Chick" Cavuoto's equal if not superior Season 1 version of this song. I also resent that he appears to have broken the unwritten Idol rule that audition songs are not to be re-performed: this formed the basis of his FIRST AUDITION, quite rightly pointed out by the brilliant Glen (read him here at one of my favourite sites, Stale Popcorn). Still, let's not get too worked up. This was better than every single other male semi-final performance barring Number 1 below.

1. Ben McKenzie

Ben loves Imogen Heap and Brooke Fraser, both brilliant female singer-songwriters. If you cover your eyes as he speaks, he sounds a bit like Jennifer Hawkins. And as Ben sang "Daughters" as his audition song, one assumes he identified closely with the song's subject. So there is definitely an androgynous theme developing in Ben's screen persona, but there is no denying that this was an excellent performance. It was also the first opportunity for Marcia to bust out something about story-telling, which is invariably a veiled attempt to compliment herself. But she was right: this was an unexpected delight, and I sense he has earned his place in the finals.

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  • At 1:58 PM, August 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Was Country De Rouge in a padded houndstooth number? Yowza - didn't know there was a David Jones in Mildura.

    Sharing your shock at Lana Scott... she really is like a little geisha with a voice about as strong as my little toe. Hopefully Cheray can bust out something special in the wildcard -u know she's a shoo-in for that.

  • At 2:04 PM, August 29, 2007, Anonymous FranklinBluth said…

    I haven't watched any of the finals, but I ALWAYS read your recaps... and I am ALWAYS entertained. I hate to be a pain, but I was wondering if you could put the song title & original artist/s up for each performer?

  • At 2:11 PM, August 29, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    FranklinBluth - I was wondering where you'd got to! Great to see you back in the comments. Your request seems entirely reasonable - will do so from now on!

    Anonymous - "geisha" is a great way to describe Lana. Have you seen Margaret Cho do Bjork though? I wish I could find it on YouTube. It's Lana to a tee: all uber-cute, wide-eyed weirdness.

  • At 3:18 PM, August 29, 2007, Anonymous FranklinBluth said…

    Thanks Scott, having that information in the post will help me get worked up. I reckon it will be easier to get riled up if I know what song a contestent is punishing.
    Also, I think that Jack Byrnes is wearing huge jackets in an attempt to bring his 'head-to-body' ratio into the realms of normal. Seriously, he has the most massive head EVER!

  • At 4:33 PM, August 29, 2007, Blogger Jacob said…

    Spot on.

    That comment of Marcia's about story telling pissed me off a bit, now I think about it. There were so many points of his performance that she could comment on, but instead she comes up with some regurgitated fluff about story telling. He didn't tell a story - he sang a song, FFS. Boo Marcia.

  • At 4:39 PM, August 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for inspired summary Scott. I actually loved Marty’s voice, but I was amazed he could hold his hand up like that for the entire performance while still looking completely stoned. I think he fell asleep there for a brief second.

  • At 6:34 PM, August 29, 2007, Blogger eMZed said…

    Hi Scott. Love your work. Take a peek around 3.40 here

  • At 6:58 PM, August 29, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    Your #1 and #2 were the only ones I liked (and I thought it was going to be a good show after those guys, alas...)

    I totally agree about Rihanna lookalike. Where was she? I want to hear her.

  • At 8:28 PM, August 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A favour please... please list the song titles. Your commentary would be much more useful for those of us who rely upon you when we actually miss the show. cheers.


  • At 10:31 PM, August 29, 2007, Blogger lisa said…

    i love Margaret Cho!

    thanks emzed

    and thankyou yet again scott

  • At 10:43 PM, August 29, 2007, Blogger EuroTrash said…


    Your genius continues to reveal itself through these hallowed electronic pages. Top marks on picking up on Marcia and her continued attempts to compliment herself (what about TONIGHT's comments about having previously covered a song that a contestant had just sung, ergo, Marcia's version was much much better!)...


    Highly entertained by your choice of picture for He With The Eyebrows. I am constantly horrified when he is on screen - I fear for his life as it appears that his eyebrows are always on the verge of consuming his entire head.

    Bring on the wild cards...


    He's infinitely more interesting than the relatively blah people presented so far (OK, apart from Ben).


  • At 4:23 AM, August 30, 2007, Anonymous kate said…

    If the semi-final rounds are anything to go by-and if the spectacularly poor decisions made my the public in the semi-finals are about the be repeated in the top 12-then this year seems headed to be the worst bunch yet.
    However, Ben's "Mad World" performance=The Shit. And as Marcia would say: "I got nothin' more ta say!"

  • At 9:33 AM, August 30, 2007, Blogger Zoe said…

    Jack should not do the Sexy Eyes.

    That is all I have to contribute today, thank you.

  • At 1:38 PM, August 30, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    Zoe - I'm right there with you.

    Emzed - you are a legend. Thank you.

    Kate - I'm hearing you, let's hope the Wild Card brings Cheray, Da Costa.

    Franklin - you hit the nail on the, er, head.

    KC - is too late to petition Rihanna for the Wild Card?

    Eurotrash, Lisa, Paul, Jacob - glad you're enjoying!

  • At 3:58 PM, August 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I knew you underestimated benji mackenzie! He killed it! However you are hilariously right about everything else, please keep up the excellent work.
    PS. I am having strange feeling towards Marty that I'm not entirely comfortable with. Its something about how tall and muscly he is.. he's just so... manly.. and laidback.. and god hes so not my type but damn take me to pleasuretown Marty! Please advise me in these troubled and confusing times.

  • At 5:42 PM, August 30, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    Anonymous: you've taken the first step. Now out yourself properly! But sadly, I can't share your pro-Marty passion. Have you ever heard the term "prawn" applied to such a person? I think it definitely applies here.


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