Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Tim Urban

Tim Urban Finally Eliminated on April 21, 2010 “American Idol” Program

american-idol-judges2April 21, Wednesday, was Elimination Day on “American Idol,” but it was also “Idol Gives Back” evening.

First, the elimination: Tim Urban (Terrible. Unanimous.) was finally recognized for the weak talent he has been since Day One. Tim the Terrible is gone. Sing no sad songs. Justice has been done (a little late, but better late than never).

Now, a critique of the “America Gives Back” show itself, with the comment that I have written in an earlier article that “A.I.” needs to do more of this sort of show, since times are tough all over. While saying that it is good to try to get people to give to charity, I’m not sure that showing video footage of a pregnant woman as she is dying is the way to go about it. That may be T.M.I.

Nowhere are times tougher than in Africa, apparently, since much of the show focused on that continent, making me never want to go there as long as I live. (Don’t send me hate mail telling me how beautiful South Africa’s Johannesburg is. I’m scarred for life by the visions of dying babies. First Haiti’s earthquake; now this on a SINGING show.)

The program opened, impressively, with President Barack Obama and Michelle saying, “Hello, Everybody!  ‘American Idol’ has always been about changing lives on the stage and around the world.” The president went on to mention the $140 million the show has raised in previous “Idol Gives Back” years and ended with the couple saying, “We want to thank ‘American Idol’ for the example they’re setting and encourage everyone to make a contribution. And, to the year’s finalists, as Randy says, ‘You’re all my dawgs—-and, Simon, be nice!” Very impressive opening. It was the middle and the end of the show that left me cold and depressed.

Nineteen entertainers graced the stage at two locations, one of them the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where Queen Latifah helped Ryan Seacrest M.C. The top 12 came out, attired all in white, and sang “Keepin’ the Dream Alive.” Lee, Crystal and Tim sang nice harmony on the tune.  It was like Old Home Week seeing the likes of Lacey, Didi and Andrew again (even though Andrew left just last week).

Jennifer Garner then made a visit to Breathitt County, West Virginia, where 45% of the people live in poverty. This is where the show began to sink into the slough of despond.  Sully Sullenberger, the heroic captain who saved 155 lives by safely landing his plane in the Hudson River, made a plea to save more lives around the world. Russell Brands and Jonah Hill tried for some levity in a skit that was based on the idea that they were supposed to have celebrity “friends” answering the phone lines, and nobody was there. (Later, look-alikes and a few real stars, like Slash of Guns ‘N Roses, were there). The Black-Eyed Peas sang “I Wanta Rock Your Body.”

This was the point where the show began to become a real downer. “Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria.” Video footage of a pregnant woman dying on November 26, 2009, dead from malaria because there was no mosquito netting to protect the young pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Then, humor returned—or tried to— with George Lopez doing a bit where he “critiqued” the judges. This bit was funny, entertaining and one of the few times in the night that I didn’t want to reach for a tranquilizer. (I especially liked it when Ryan Seacrest called Lopez Erik Estrada as he left.)

Jeff Beck played guitar while Joss Stone, backed by the Jubilation Choir, sang “You Put A Spell On Me.” (The spell being put on me was one of deep gloom; it deepened with every passing moment from that point on.) All kinds of stars put in an appearance, from David Duchovny to Justin Bieber to Josh Groban to Jim Carrey.   Carrie Underwood announced that 36 cents of every ticket she sells on her upcoming tour will go to “Idol Gives Back.”

Then came the cringe-worthy SNL potential skit part.  Ban-Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, spoke. I was afraid, for just a nano-second that he might be going to preside over a mass marriage of strangers, one to another. I wonder if I’m the only one watching who had no idea who the Secretary General of the U.N. was, at this point in time.

Alicia Keys performed, as did Carrie Underwood and Wanda Sykes and Annie Lennox. David Cook was seen briefly.

The whole evening became too much for me from that point on. I was made happy only by the announcement that, of the three who were in the bottom three this week (Aaron Kelly, Tim Urban and Casey James), Tim Urban was the one going home. I felt horrible, like I do when Caribbean Island dwellers living in poverty beg and you are the rich ugly American on the beach.

I’m also fearful for Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche and Siobhan Magnus, as I fear that this trio will be heading for the exits next. Stay tuned for further developments.

Meanwhile, tell me a good joke. Get me a drink. Pass me a tranquilizer. Give me a massage. Anything to relieve the gloom and doom I felt after this “Idol Gives Back” show!

Didi Benami Eliminated from “American Idol” on March 31, 2010

On Wednesday, March 31, 2010’s version of “American Idol,” Didi Benami bit the dust. She had endured a horrific critical drubbing at the judges’ hands on Tuesday, March 30th.

For her “save” moment, Didi chose to sing a different song (“Riannha”) than the one that had hung her out to dry on Tuesday night. It didn’t matter. The judges were unmoved, as Didi’s appearances had been up-and-down throughout the competition.

At the beginning of the program Reuben Stoddard, who won the title 7 years ago (in a fight to the death with Clay Aiken) and promptly sank from sight, sang. We were also subjected to a song by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, which showed the rest of the world America’s image of what an “American Idol” would be:  half-clad girls in black bustiers dancing with the white-clad Diddy, who was sweating bullets by the end of the number and admitted he had stage fright. (“I haven’t done this in a while.”)

At the beginning of the night, promos for Clash of the Titans (a remake) obscured the screen. The ensemble number that featured Kung Fu Fighting was lame and cheesy. A shot of purple-pink hair glued to the back of Michael Lynche’s bald pate was just about as classy. (Later Michael picked Ryan Seacrest up, physically, when he tried one of his “This is surprising” announcement moves on the large crooner/trainer.

Ryan Seacrest seemed to be more annoying for Simon Cowell than normal this night.  Simon actually said to Ryan, “You are really getting on my nerves tonight” and, at one point, said, “This is not the Oprah Winfrey Show.”

The lowest three vote getters this night were Tim Urban, Didi Benami and Katie Stevens. With Didi gone, Tim and the almost-always-off-key Katie Stevens.

And the snake that is “American Idol” continues to swallow its victims while slogging towards the end of this worst-of-all seasons.

“American Idol,” March 30th, 2010: Didi, Andrew or Tim?

images44“American Idol,” March 30, 2010:  Didi Benami and Teflon Tim Urban probably turned in the worst performances of the night. Didi sang fourth, attired in a strapless sparkly gown, the top of which fit as poorly as Gwyneth Paltrow’s pink one at the Oscars the year she won. Did said, before she even began, “I wanted to pick something that moved me, but now I’m worried that it might be too much.” During her time with Usher, this weeks’ guest mentor, she even broke down in tears. Did might as well have saved the waterworks until after the judges critiqued her off-key performance, since nobody liked it. Randy said, “It flat-lined for me. It just wasn’t great. It just never quite caught.” Ellen said, “It was dramatic.  I thought that was way dramatic and not your best performance.”  Kara said, “It was way overdone.  I don’t know who you are any more as an artist.” Simon compared her vocal styling to “swimming in jelly.” He said, “It was so over the top, old-fashioned, off-melody.  You’ve completely and utterly lost your way.” He went on to say it reminded him of “those dancing shows that always have a singer murdering a song on it.”

The reaction to Tim Urban’s as usual sub-par performance of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love,” which he sang with a microphone that had problems, unshaven,  with a deer-caught-in-headlights look was also underwhelming. Randy compared Tim to a singing waiter, calling the rendition “pedestrian,” but did say, “At least you sang in tune, but there was no vibe. No swag. It had nothing, Man. It just felt flat for me again.”  Ellen—after commenting on how “adorable” Tim is, said he was “mostly on key” but  “you were walking like you were sneaking into a bedroom. Oh, boy, why?” Kara called his rendition “uncommercial,” comparing it to Broadway or Vegas and, most critically, said, “You took the soul out of the song.” Then came Simon, who was hilarious. He told Tim that the song was “completely inappropriate” and like “ a mouse versus an elephant,” but added, “I don’t think it makes any difference what we say. You’re not gonna’ win.  You’re gonna’ smile. The audience is gonna’ vote for you. Nobody cares.  You’re gonna’ be here next week. So, well done.” Teflon Tim, as he has come to be known, commented—with a smile—that of all the things he could be criticized for, he didn’t think that smiling was going to be one of them.

So, if you ask me who should go home, take your pick of the two above, with Andrew Garcia another possibility.

First performer up this night was Siobhan Magnus, the 20-year-old from Cape Cod, MA. Usually, the judges have given her high marks, but her rendition of “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan, which began in a very low register, while Siobhan was attired in what looked like high-topped tennis shoes (boots?), a white skirt and a dark top, with long dangly earrings, left Randy saying, “Only you would have taken on this song. It wasn’t your best performance at all.”  Ellen said it was like having “Dessert before the meal.” Kara said, “It should have worked for you, but your lower register—it just wasn’t there.” Simon was the most blunt, commenting, “It was as if you’d run a marathon and were out of breath. You were so all over the place. You even look all over the place (protests from the other judges at this comment on Siobhan’s unusual outfit). You’re kidding yourself if you think it was a good performance, and I’m getting bored with the screaming at the end.” When Siobhan and host Ryan Seacrest made some chit chat about her desire to “kill it” (the song), Simon came back with, “I’m going to call it manslaughter.”

Casey James was hot tonight, playing a mean guitar on the Sam and Dave song “Hold On! I’m Comin’.” Randy said, “Yo. Listen. This was another hot night for you.  I thought it was a perfect selection and choice for you. Nice job.” Since the song genre this night was soul and rhythm and blues, Casey was in his element and also played a mean guitar.  Ellen did find his rendition “a little generic,” but admitted, “You sang it great.” Kara said, “These songs aren’t showing us everything you’ve got.” Simon basically disagreed with the 3 other judges, but agreed with me when he said, “Your strongest week you’ve had so far.  You were not a sound-alike. You sounded authentic.  I was really, really, really impressed with you this week.” Simon called this one right tonight.

Michael Lynche sang “Ready for Love” with an acoustic guitar, a quiet version.  Randy said, “You are in the zone.  I’m loving every performance, dude.” Ellen said, “That was beautiful.” Kara said, “You did an incredible job with it,” calling it “tasteful” and “lovely.”  Simon said, “This is probably the first time since you entered that I felt you were being original,” although he called the song “a little bit gloomy.” Simon ended by saying, “I thought it was terrific.  Congratulations.”

Andrew Garcia, 24, sang “Forever” by Chris Brown and was his usual ho-hum self. Simon even went so far as to say, “The only problem is that you came over as very boring.” Andrew has come across as boring ever since he entered the competition, probably because he is boring. At least there were no comments about his rendition of “Straight Up,” Thank God.

Katie Stevens, clad in a very unattractive dark black/gray outfit that did nothing for her figure, sang “Chain of Fools,” an Aretha Franklin classic. About the best thing I can say for Katie, this week, is that she wasn’t as off-key as she usually is.  Randy called her rendition, “One of the best vocal performances of the night,” in fact, and even compared her potential to “a young Christina,” with which Simon immediately took issue.  Ellen, commenting on her “Snookie poof” hair do said, “I wish that the song had been a little more current.”  Kara said, “You found where you belong: rhythm and blues.  Good job on the vocals, but you gotta’ go back to making it young.” Simon disagreed vehemently with Kara’s assessment of what musical genre Katie belongs in and called her “very robotic.  You actually came over as quite cold tonight.  My problem is I think the advice Kara has given you is wrong.” Squabbling amongst the judges then ensued as to whether Katie was a C&W potential performer, a R&B performer or something else.

Lee DeWyze, who had suffered from walking pneumonia during the week, came out and sang “Treat Her Like A Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers and hit it out of the park. Randy called it “Unbelievable.  That was the bomb, baby!” Ellen said, “That was the best performance of the night.”  Kara called his version, “Amazing.”  Simon, too, said, “Something has happened tonight. This was the night your life may have changed forever.”

Crystal Bowersox did not play guitar this night, but began her set seated at the piano playing “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Fortunately, since she seemed really preoccupied with the piano accompaniment, she soon left the piano and sang with just a microphone.  Randy said, “Another great performance.”  Ellen said, “You’re never not good. You’re in it to win it,” calling her use of the piano rather than the guitar, “A wonderful, wonderful idea.” Simon was not so sure that Crystal’s use of the piano was all that wonderful an idea. He did call the song choice “sensational” and said, “Incredible vocals,” but he added, “Do not let this process change your identity.  You are that rare artist who knows what she’s about.  Don’t change.” Advantage: Simon, once again.

Aaron Kelly finished off the program, singing, “Ain’t No Sunshine When You’re Gone.” Ironically, Aaron’s coaching from Usher had him emphasizing the “I know, I know, I know” line and crescendoing on it, a technique that was nowhere in evidence during his actual performance of the song.  Randy pronounced it to be “Just all right for me.” Ellen said, “I thought it was a good song choice and a really good job.” Kara said, “I liked it.” Simon said, “Lee was the main course. That was like a cupcake.  It was okay.  There’s absolutely no chance you’re going to be leaving the competition.” This a reference to the 16-year-old’s appealing personality.

Who should be eliminated tomorrow?

Either of the two mentioned first (Didi Benami or Tim Urban) or Andrew Garcia.

Stay tuned to see what the voting public decides.

Paige Miles Passes from the Program on “American Idol”

For once, the axe has fallen on the neck of the right chicken on “American Idol.” On Wednesday, March 24, Paige Miles was eliminated from the group and the Top Ten now sails on into the unspectacular sunset of “American Idol’s” least successful season.

It was interesting that Tim Urban and Katie Stevens were also in the bottom three, and deservedly so (see previous AC articles). While Miley Cyrus did defend Tim’s corny slide across the stage, she can’t give Tim a voice he doesn’t have…nor, for that matter, stop singing through her nose and tossing her hair around a lot.

After Paige received the news, she did NOT sing “Against All Odds” again…the song that sealed her fate, and which one of the judges pronounced, “the worst I’ve ever heard.” (Not exactly words to jump-start your career).

Miley Cyrus sang “Everybody Needs Inspiration” (with a very nasal quality while playing the piano, at first) and then she got up and tossed her hair around as though there were head lice in her tresses that she was trying to cast off or a bird had flown into her long coif and she needed to swing her head violently from side-to-side to rid herself of it.


She did have some words of wisdom that were worth noting, such as when Ryan Seacrest asked her if she could stand up to the “judges” on “American Idol” and she said, “It’s tough love. No, I would be this (happy face)… and then I’d be crying. I could never do that (sing) and then face criticism right there, face-to-face.” Hear! Hear! I agree with Miley on that, if nothing else. Also, she said, of Simon, “He scares me.”

One funny moment came when Didi Benami, onstage, said, “I can’t hear you” to the judging table (most particularly Simon). I thought she was being cheeky, but, as it turns out, they really couldn’t hear the judges (some sound glitch).

Demi Lovato (boy/girl singing team) came out and sang. Unremarkable.

When asked about whether the judges would use their “Save” power (which can be exercised only once and only by unanimous vote, as I understand it), the answer was a resounding “NO! It’s unanimous.” Simon said to Paige, “It’s not working. No false hope. It’s the end. You really genuinely had a great voice.” It’s always nice to hear Simon give hope and inspiration to young people. He reminds me of my golfing partners who always point out that the entire game rides on this upcoming putt. (You gotta’ love that.) His comment about the only female African American contestant’s vocal prowess was, at least, positive. Unfortunately, we heard little of Paige’s “great voice” during her execrable performance of “Against All Odds” on Tuesday night. It is difficult to say what happened to the pretty young girl who made it this far, but the cut was deserved, after Tuesday night’s performance.

For her final song, (thankfully) Paige did not reprise the woefully out-of-tune Phil Collins number (“Against All Odds”) that felled her, but sang the much better “All Night Long,” which suited her and which was up-tempo. She looked good, and she didn’t cry in public. If only she had sung more of this sort of song and less of old Phil, we might be seeing her “on tour” with the Top Ten, but Paige has pooped out, alas.

This night, America got it right. Paige, Tim and Katie: the Terrible Trio were the bottom three vote-getters, and now we know our Top Ten, which, in no particular order, are:   Crystal Bowersox, Siobhan Magnus, Lee DeWyze, Michael Lynche, Didi Benami, Tim Urban, Casey James, Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens and Andrew Garcia.

I’m still voting for the Sudden Death Cage Match Elimination where we dump the 4 with no chance (Tim, Katie, Andrew and Didi) and let the Spectacular Six duke it out, but obviously it is, instead, going to be a long, slow slog until we get to  the rightful talent at the top, i.e., Crystal, Lee, Siobhan and a fourth to be named later.

Stay tuned, if you can take it.

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