The road to becoming an American Idol is a long and winding one.
Imagine how winding for the remaining six contestants, who, having survived the songs of one whose visage vaguely reminds some of a minor character on the Muppet Show, now have to tackle the compositions of a man who it has been rumored, has an illegitimate son in Kermit The Frog.
There have been loud whisperings from almost every contestant (David Archuleta is far too polite to whisper loudly. And, anyway, you can’t do that in Church) that nothing could be more irrelevant than the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Save, perhaps, for the psalms of Pope Benedict.
Mr. Lloyd Webber, of course, wants to capitalize on the splendid free auditions and publicity offered by the Idol Floor Show.
What is in it for Cecile Frot-Coutaz and her cohorts in the Idol Control Room?
It is not for me to suggest that money might have somehow slipped on some, um, grease and made its way from one palm to another.
It is for me to suggest that it is very strange for a Frenchwoman to have, as her last name, an English colloquial term for rubbing up against someone for erotic stimulation and a Polish colloquial term for the male member.
I am astonished that, despite such hardship, she has grown to become, so I am told, the most charming female member of Idol’s Power Elite. (Or is it, perhaps, because of such hardship?)
So what of the power of performance to be witnessed on Tuesday?
David Archuleta is having a devil of a time deciding which song will be graced by his saintly vocal chords. After all, Mr. Lloyd Webber composed “Jesus Christ Superstar”, a musical upon which David is basing his own rise to the heavens.
Mr. Lloyd Webber (or Lord Lloyd Webber, as he apparently has become, everywhere except here) was also the hum behind another biblical hoedown, “Jason And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Some of David’s A&R altar boys suggested “Heaven On Their Mind” from the “JC Superstar” songbook. Unfortunately, it was then pointed out that this delight is actually sung by Judas.
David is himself a big fan of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from the same musical. Again, three wise men had to point out that not everyone might realize that the Him referred to in the song is JC himself.
He has therefore currently plumped for “Love Changes Everything” from the eminently mediocre “Aspects Of Love.”
There is again speculation, feverish to the point of hospitalization, that David has chosen a song with a subliminal message. The Love referred to in the song’s title, many believe, refers to those who love him changing everything. I mean, everything.
David Cook has found it difficult to concentrate on Idol this week, as he has had to confront sussurations that he has involved himself with a performer from the “So You Think You Can Dance” set.
This can hardly be the case. The dancer in question has surely been helping David with his moves, which are becoming a more central part of his self-presentation. And self-preservation.
After his initial “Who does he play for?’ when told of Lloyd Webber Week, David was hugely uplifted when he discovered that the original lead in “JC Supe” was actually Ian Gillan.
If you are not familiar with the name, then you will be with the hair. He is the only man on earth who can claim to have been the lead singer with both Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
David has therefore already got together with his favorite arranger, himself, and selected “Gethsemene (I Only Want To Say)”, a song that Mr. Gillan no doubt resurrects even today as he sits in the bath and rests his 62-year-old bones.
David wishes that Mr. Gillan had played Judas rather than Jesus as he feels this would provide a pleasant juxtaposition between himself and the Angel of Mercy, David Archuleta, his likely rival in the final.
He will merely have to ratchet up the Cleopatra’s Rasp effect to counterpoint Archuleta’s gentility with his own caring masculinity.
Jason Castro, whose performances have wafted between the lifeless and the dead, has chosen something a little quirky.
Rather than attempt to compete with those who have singing ability, Jason has decided to again rely on his points of difference. His enduring smile, unwashed locks and collegiate attempts at whimsy.
He therefore hotfooted his way towards “Cats” and specifically “Mr. Mistoffelees”.
The song has a line that Jason has embraced with a passion:
“The greatest magicians have something to learn, from Mr. Mistoffelees’ conjuring turn.”
Jason’s handlers are hoping that Mr. Lloyd Webber will revive “Cats” on Broadway and set it in a Rockwall, Texas junkyard. (Although privately they are despairing that Jason is deliberately trying to avoid giving the impression of trying to win.)
Stranger decisions, though, have made money.
Rockwall, Texas is a mere 147 miles from Crawford, Texas.
Syesha Mercado has selected “Memory”. A sad, haunting affair. Her managers are very keen that she not take on the verse that goes: “I must think of a new life and I mustn’t give in.”
As of today, the high heels are dug in, however. Syesha feels she proved much last week by singing a song that not even Mariah Carey’s mom could have remembered.
Those of a more portentous bent feel that the only thing she proved was that Kristy Lee Cook’s voter missed last Tuesday’s show.
So we come down to the two biggest personalities of the show.
Carly Smithson is adamant in her belief that Simon Cowell is deaf and mean. I myself am adamant in the belief that her singing reminds me of Joan Rivers trying to negotiate a contract extension. Or a hair appointment.
Carly has staggered over to “Sunset Boulevard”, a Lloyd Webber musical that no granny can recall clearly, and shoplifted the ever-haunting “As If We Never Said Goodbye.”
In the musical, this song is given temporary life by Norma Desmond, a silent movie star who has seen better days, and who was played originally by one of America’s greatest singers and most family-friendly actresses, Glenn Close.
There are still those pleading with Carly to choose something a little more uplifting like “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”.
However, one overheard snippet of a Carly conversation was the word “shite.” Is the lady for turning? Only God and Time will answer that question.
I have just received a call, though, to tell me that there have been forceful representations on behalf of several factions to the effect that “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” would, in fact, be the perfect song for Carly. She could spend the whole performance staring into Simon Cowell’s eyes and cooing:
” I don’t know how to love him.
What to do, how to move him.
I’ve been changed, yes really changed.”
Now that would be musical theater, would it not?
Finally, what of the competition’s premier drama queen, Brooke White? Mr. Lloyd Webber’s musical tales of longing and death are surely perfectly suited to Ms. White’s endearing temperament.
Yet she has been too weak to fight for the songs that she really wants to sing. Instead, she has turned to “Tell Me On A Sunday” from “Song and Dance.” This was immortalized by the astoundingly famous Marti Webb and subsequently regurgitated by someone called Bernadette Peters, a lady who may once have had a beer in Carly Smithson’s pub.
There are some around the Idol Green Zone who would dearly like to tell Brooke on Sunday to up her meds so that Tuesday doesn’t turn into yet another difficult night.
There are some who are desperate for her to change her choice to “Everything’s Alright” from “JC Supe.” They feel it might help her nerve-endings to subside for the requisite four minutes.
But without her shaking, weeping and other forms of uncontrolled emoting, what would more than 20 million people be tuning in for?
To stare at another Randy Jackson designer t-shirt? I don’t think so.
The Pond thanks MikeBaird for fully expressing the loneliness of the long-distance singer.