Scott, To Be Certain


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Idol Top 7: Jumping The Shark

There have scarcely been more obvious truisms than this: I simply love Australian Idol.

I love it with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

I love it with the abandon of Jennifer Keyte wrestling playfully with a handsome bottle of Veuve Cliquot on a summer's afternoon.

I love it with the kind of obsessive commitment shown by Rebecca De Mornay and a breast pump circa 1992; or like Nicolas Cage about 3 years later when presented with Elisabeth Shue's nipples and a whole lot of bourbon.

"If you lick this off my chest I could get an Oscar nomination"

But that love is now irreversibly in decline. Tonight we bore witness to incontrovertible proof that the show has jumped the shark.

'Jumping the shark' is a term which derives from an episode of Happy Days where the Fonz literally waterskis over a shark, a plot point deemed so preposterous that it signaled the decline of the show. In the intervening years the term has inveigled itself into pop culture to designate the moment where a once popular and successful show is identifiably past its peak.

The above photo is actually a fitting selection for this post's message: it shows Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in their Oscar nominated roles for Mike Figgis' Leaving Las Vegas, a career apex for both (Cage even won that year). They've been rubbish ever since.

And so it is for the once-good Australian Idol. The bourbon and bare breast heyday of Guy, Cosima, Paulini, Anthony, Chanel, Casey, Ricki-Lee, Damien and Jessica is already a vestige of yesteryear, replaced by the B-movie mediocrity and misplaced ego of this year's batch.

Now don't get me wrong: no-one is particularly terrible, but then neither is anyone particularly good.

Let's turn to the history books for a bit of a comparison.

The corresponding week in years' past delivered to us the following unforgettable and justly lauded performances.

"When Doves Cry" by Guy Sebastian (No. 8 in S2BC's All-Time Greatest List)
"Freeway of Love" by Paulini (No. 12)
"The Prayer" by Anthony Callea (No. 4)
"I Have Nothing" by Ricki-Lee Coulter
"Special Ones" by Casey Donovan
"River Deep, Mountain High" by Emily Williams
"Constant Craving"
by Chanel Cole (No. 15)
"Wicked Game" by Damien Leith (No. 10)

The Series 5 competitors tonight served us up a mess of such vulgar ordinariness that I half expected plaintive bugles to be playing over the credits. It's hard to imagine they're part of the same show that produced the above roll call of fondly remembered alumni, half of whom are now Young Divas by either profession or demeanour.

As for rankings? Despite the presence of Carl and Marty, it's actually difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff: everyone was resoundingly off the mark. If I had to, I'd probably do it this way:

7. Marty Simpson, "Now We're Getting Somewhere" (by Crowded House)
6. Carl Risely, "Turn Your Love Around" (by George Benson)
5. Jennifer Connolly, "Another Day In Paradise" (by Phil Collins)
4. Natalie Mouskouri Gauci, "Endless Love" (by Diana Ross & Lionel Ritchie)
3. Daniel Mifsud, "Billie Jean" (by Michael Jackson)
2. Ben McKenzie, "Higher Ground" (The Chilli Peppers' version of Stevie Wonder)
1. Parasite Williams Vushe, "I Knew You Were Waiting" (by Aretha Franklin & George Michael)

But with qualifying statements that Tarisai wouldn't even get past Day 2 of the American Idol auditions on the basis of last night and that, if you closed your eyes, Marty and Carl actually weren't horrible. In short: a hodge podge.

There are, however, a couple of important individual observations to make.

Jennifer Connolly, continuing his march toward becoming the most overrated but nonetheless runaway victor in the show's history, chose a song that was actually released the year before he was born, performed it with the emotion of a toothbrush and then, on being criticised for the first time by the judging panel, declared that "1990 wasn't a very good year for music".


1990 gave us The Pixies' excellent Bossanova album, Wilson Phillips' peerless "Hold On", Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love", Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun", "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, Belinda Carlisle's "Summer Rain", Madonna's "Vogue", Kylie's "Better The Devil You Know" and Depeche Mode's brilliant Violator album. Sure - Jennifer wouldn't touch any of these songs with a barge pole (unless he could slow them down mournfully and turn them into clever laments) - but for him to make a statement like that in defence of his choice to sing a terrible Phil Collins song in boring fashion when that song wasn't even from the relevant year is simply frustrating.

Meanwhile, Natalie continues to yearn for the heyday of her youth on the arm of Sonny Bono.

And Tarisai made another pitstop on her tour of homages to crazy-haired sister-girlfriends. This week: Janet circa Velvet Rope, and Kelis circa hating someone.

And that's pretty much as interesting as the contestants got last night.

In such times of woe, thank goodness for Marcia Hines.

Methinks there was a little extra sumtin' sumtin' packed into Marcia's pick-me-up powder this week, based on her mesmerisingly quotable output.

Dressed like a jaffa in Buddhist curtains, she stormed out of the gate with this, to Ben:

"You were born the year you sang that song!"

This pearler came in a fit of uncommon fury from Marcia, who was riled up over ongoing criticism being levelled at Ben by Mark and Dicko. She slammed down her fist, said "shit" and uttered this at the peak of her anger, but it's the most sense she's made in a while.

Then, to Marty:

"Sitting on the stool gives you nice and solid."

It's possible she meant to say "shitting a solid gives you a nice stool" - it's such a tongue-twister.

To Daniel:

"That happens to be one of my favourite songs, and I was lucky enough to see Michael Jackson perform it live back when he was Michael Jackson."

And finally, to Jennifer Connolly, whose vibrato had just been dissed by Mark and Dicko:

"Tons of people have built amazing career around their vibrato, people like
Deni Hines..."


Oh Marcia. No matter that Deni is actually an excellent example of the point you were trying to illustrate - Deni's version of "Ain't No Sunshine" is probably the definitive version globally thanks to her distinctive vibrato - but name-dropping your own daughter in the same breath as the words "amazing career"... well, there's just no accounting for a mother's love.

So who will be leaving us? After a night of collective averageness, it's anyone's guess. For mine, I think it's Marty's time after a week's reprieve, but the girls could just as easily be in danger too.

The show itself, I fear, has already left the building.

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  • At 8:40 AM, October 15, 2007, Blogger comicstriphero said…

    I was so bored last night, I didn't even bother getting angry at Carl.


    As for the Marcia-Jaffa observation, I suggested she looked something like Terry's chocolate orange, continuing the desert theme she has been running (an all-white pannacotta number last week, preceded the week before by an all-gold ferero-rocher get-up).

    But someone suggested to me that it might be a bit raciliast.


    Marcia's dwindling supplies of sanity are really one of the only entertaining aspects of the show these days.

    I'd tolerate a re-appearance of Booana at this stage, just to make it interesting again.

  • At 9:40 AM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Emperor Joshua said…

    Yeah, it was bloody boring, wasn't it? We didn't even hang around for Mifsud...

  • At 10:50 AM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Woodsman said…

    It was such a snore, i can't be arsed even writing about it. The only entertainment was the Deni Hines quote and the fact that Mark was dressed by Jacob Butler.

  • At 11:02 AM, October 15, 2007, Blogger EuroTrash said…

    Did anyone else see Hello Krostie jumping up and down enthusiastically clapping her hands in the front row of the audience??

    I suspect that it's because she is relieved that the show is becoming truly awful and mediocre that she's no longer ashamed of being booted out. Her godawful performances are almost now bearable in comparison to the shite that's currently on offer.


  • At 12:15 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    It is weird that the performances by people like Krostie wouldn't be the worst of last night if there was an error in the system and they got aired by mistake.

    My favourite parts of the night were Marcia's hilarious helopad of a collar, Mifsud sounding like he's stroking out an orgasm occasionally during his song, those mysterious gold extensions in Serena's hair and, yes, the many wacky comments by Marcia including her reference to an artist she has no relation to whatsoever.

    But, yeah, what a boring load of batshit. Jennifer making a song that is normally drab and a load of tosh even more drab and even a bigger load of tosh (he slowed it down again!) and both he and Ben (or was it Carl? or Daniel? I think all except Tarisai said it was a bad year for music) saying their year wasn't a good year for music. Ugh.

    And at the start of the show Dicko criticised Ben for drifting between the RHCP version from 1990 and the Stevie Wonder original saying it was a ploy to be able to perform the version they wanted and to ignore the genre, but then throughout the show critised several people for performing the version of the song from the year they were born and not the version by someone else that would have suited their voice! AAAAGH! Christ, when Kyle is the one making the most sense (as he generally has this season) you're in trouble.

    I did get some amusement out of Jennifer rationalising a dud performance. It was Courtney season 2 all over again.

  • At 1:22 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    CSH - your confectionary observations are good enough to eat. Brilliant.

    KC - I think Jennifer's protestations were almost as good as Jacob's, and certainly reminiscent of Courtney. You make a valid point about Dicko's contradictory comments, but I think there's credence to what he's saying. If it's 2007 and you're born in, say, 1998, it's a long bow to sing the Beatles' "Across The Universe" just because Fiona Apple recorded it that year. But if your style is dance, then I see no reason why you can't sing Cascada's version of "Truly Madly Deeply". Know what ahm sayin'? Ben and Matt, the youngest there, had such amazing songs to choose from. Maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic for those late nights with Shadow Stephens...

  • At 6:18 PM, October 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A few things to say:

    - Agree entirely with your assessment this week Scott. Tragically, Tarasai really was the 'best' this week, after my Benji let me down (he's still the only one I have any hope for though)
    - Have completely given up the hope that Natalie will show some flair again. That was one of the single worst song choices ever.
    - Matt showed himself for the douchebag I've been so steadfastly maintaining. Ms Petra at blandcanyon pointed out that he could have sung 'Nothing Compares 2U'. And don't get me started on him calling it the best song of the 90s when it was actually released in 1989. Disaqualify him!!
    - Funniest moment besides the o-so-casual Deni Hines reference had to be that Matt had a fuck-off-sized ring on his finger to sing a ballad about the homeless (maybe later he can sing Mel C's touching 'If That Were Me' "I could not live without my phone / but you don't even have a home")
    - Marty needs to SHUT THE FUCK UP about his original material, which we all know will be utterly woeful
    - Lastly, I need to defend Ben a little. He was clearly trying to respond to the feedback from Mark and Dicko who have consistently given him shit despite his being consistently good, and so he chose a dumb song and fucked it up (all the worse when he could also have done 'Nothing Compares 2U'(or Cher's 'Just Like Jesse James')

    A question: what would folks have done if they were the singer? I'm a 78er so would have done a rock-styled 'Wuthering heights'...

  • At 6:19 PM, October 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    (oh that was me - weasel)

    And shadow stevens!! My god scott, we would have been best friends as children.

  • At 7:03 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    I'm 1985 so, unless I'm getting my years wrong, I'd take a stab at perhaps "Running Up That Hill" or "Anything Anything"

    Although, I must say, "Here Comes a Regular" by the Replacements would actually be a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

    Actually, scratch that. Propaganda's "Duel" all the way. That would "represent me as an artist" surely. :P

  • At 7:14 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger PopGoesCanberra said…

    I PREDICTED at the beginning of the show that they would say "oh but there were no good songs in that year"!!!!! They are just ridiculous. Hello! "I need your body" by Tina Arena came out in 1990 if I am correct, so did the following:

    * "Advice For The Young At Heart" - Tears for Fears
    * "All I Wanna Do (Is Make Love To You)" - Heart
    * "Better the Devil You Know" - Kylie Minogue
    * "Bird On A Wire" - The Neville Brothers
    * "Black Cat" - Janet Jackson
    * "Blaze of Glory" - Bon Jovi
    * "Blue Savannah" - Erasure
    * "Blue Sky Mine" - Midnight Oil
    * "Chain Reaction - John Farnham
    * "Cherry Pie" - Warrant
    * "Close to You" - Maxi Priest
    * "Come Back to Me" - Janet Jackson
    * "Dancing Pompokolin" - B. B. Queens
    * "Dangerous" - Roxette
    * "Downtown Train" - Rod Stewart
    * "Elephant Stone" - The Stone Roses
    * "Enjoy the Silence" - Depeche Mode
    * "Epic" - Faith No More
    * "Escapade" - Janet Jackson
    * "Every Beat Of My Heart" - Taylor Dayne
    * "Everybody Everybody" - Black Box
    * "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" - The Blues Brothers
    * "Forever" - Kiss
    * "Four Bacharach And David Songs (EP)" - Deacon Blue
    * "Friends In Low Places" - Garth Brooks
    * "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now!)" - C+C Music Factory
    * "Hard To Handle" - The Black Crowes
    * "Hello" - The Beloved
    * "Higher Ground" - Red Hot Chili Peppers
    * "Hippychick" - Soho
    * "Hold On" - En Vogue
    * "Hold On" - Wilson Philips
    * "I Go To Extremes" - Billy Joel
    * "I Wish It Would Rain Down" - Phil Collins
    * "Ice Ice Baby" - Vanilla Ice
    * "It Must Have Been Love" - Roxette
    * "I'll Be Your Shelter" - Taylor Dayne
    * "I'm Your Baby Tonight - Whitney Houston
    * "Janie's Got a Gun" - Aerosmith
    * "Jukebox In Siberia" - Skyhooks
    * "Just Like Jesse James" - Cher
    * "Justify My Love" - Madonna
    * "Killer" - Adamski feat. Seal
    * "Lay Down Your Guns" - Jimmy Barnes
    * "Listen To Your Heart" - Roxette
    * "Loaded" - Primal Scream
    * "Love And Kisses" - Dannii Minogue
    * "Love Takes Time" - Mariah Carey
    * "Love Shack" - The B-52's
    * "Love Will Lead You Back" - Taylor Dayne
    * "More Than Words Can Say" - Alias
    * "Nothing Compares 2 U" - Sinéad O'Connor
    * "Opposites Attract" - Paula Abdul
    * "Poison" - Bell Biv Devoe
    * "Policy of Truth - Depeche Mode
    * "Rhythm Nation" - Janet Jackson
    * "Right Here Right Now" - Jesus Jones
    * "Roam" - The B-52's
    * "Sacrifice / Healing hands" - Elton John
    * "She Ain't Worth It" - Glenn Medeiros feat. Bobby Brown
    * "Step by Step" - New Kids on the Block
    * "Step Back in Time" - Kylie Minogue
    * "Suicide Blonde" - INXS
    * "Summer Rain" - Belinda Carlisle
    * "Tears on My Pillow" - Kylie Minogue
    * "That's Freedom" - John Farnham
    * "The Other Side" - Aerosmith
    * "The Power" - Snap!
    * "Three Strange Days" - School of Fish (debut single)
    * "The Thunder Rolls" - Garth Brooks
    * "Tom's Diner" - Suzanne Vega
    * "U Can't Touch This" - M.C. Hammer
    * "Unbelievable" - EMF (debut single)
    * "Vision of Love" - Mariah Carey
    * "Vogue" - Madonna
    * "Wash Your Face In My Sink" - Dream Warriors
    * "What it Takes" - Aerosmith
    * "Wouldn't It Be Nice" - The Beach Boys
    * "Your Baby Never Looked Good in Blue" - Exposé

  • At 8:16 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger EuroTrash said…

    Monday Night Elimination Show -

    Ummm... just about the most entertaining Idol moment of the WHOLE year with James Mathison participating in the group song.

    I think this goes a long way to illustrate just how poor this year is all up.

    And how is it that Ben can turn the word "Deputy" into "Dep-eww-taayyyyy" is beyond by understanding of the malleability of the English language.

  • At 8:45 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Zoe said…

    Me and Bobby McGee. That or Maggie May.

    You're all quite young, you folks, aren't you?

  • At 8:47 PM, October 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've had feeling that ben was in trouble and was going to vote for him. I like the boy. He has a little humility and takes so much shit from the judges and he's the only one (apart from natalie) that has produced an interesting performance this year.
    Anyway, I forgot to vote and look what happens

  • At 8:48 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger EuroTrash said…

    Oh! Sorry... look, I know I'm hogging comment space. But I just realised who Ben reminds me of!!! Shannon - the lead character from Planet Unicorn. If you haven't seen it -

  • At 9:32 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Adem IAR said…

    Marcia was fab, wasn't she? As was James asking her if she was donning a scarf or a blouse. What is he like?!!

    "half of whom are now Young Divas by either profession or demeanour."


  • At 9:42 PM, October 15, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    One word sprung to mind tonight while watching the results show:


    Christ, those last ten minutes were more entertaining than the Sunday night show. Watching Jennifer Connolly try and pretend he wasn't fuming to be in the bottom three was quite the laugh factory if you ask me.

  • At 10:34 AM, October 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When did a year (1990 etc) become a genre? As in I love the 1997 genre. what?

    While some of the 'genre' song choices were naff and safe, the idols' choices, I thought, are limited to the 'entertainment' conglomerate which is partnered to the show - I think it's SONY/ BMG. Because of the public performance licensing fees charged, I'd say the Idlers would be presented with a heavily vetted short-list of songs.
    Still if only Jennifer had been born earlier he could've done Phil Collins' 'Sue-sue-sudio'.

  • At 6:29 PM, October 16, 2007, Anonymous loopy said…

    The year of my birth was so long ago I have songs like:

    The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel
    Honky Tonk Woman - Rolling Stones
    Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
    Pinball Wizard - The Who

    I feel really old!!!!!

  • At 9:23 PM, October 16, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

  • At 4:08 PM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    I love that they're using Ben's performance on the promos because he and Tarisai's were the only ones there were at least sort of upbeat enough to use.


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