Over the course of 11 seasons of American Idol, only one contestant outside the South has basked in a confetti shower. Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, and Scotty McCreery were all winners raised below the Mason Dixon line. The one outlier? Illinois-born and -bred Lee DeWyze, who messes up the southern Idol theory as much as Season 9 messed up our ears and souls.
Heading into Season 11's finale, it's hard to ignore those demographics — especially seeing our one non-southern contestant, California's own Jessica Sanchez, shockingly advanced into the final two. Can we expect a true nail-biter next week, or should we go ahead and reward the prize to the southern Phillip?
At least we can count on a fair fight, as far as the judges’ are concerned. It’s no secret that our panel of three favored Joshua since the finals begin — Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Steven Tyler gave the contestant just as many standing ovations as Idol has given us awkward Ford Music videos. But as much as I want to praise Jennifer for providing comfort to Joshua as he sang his final swan song, “This is a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” I can’t. Because, plain and simple, it’s her fault that Thursday night’s elimination was a shocking one.
The reasons behind Joshua’s elimination are threefold: First, Joshua lost fans during the course of the competition because of the unabashed favoritism. Sure, we were pulled into the singer during his first performance, “You Pulled Me Through,” but it wasn’t long before the incessant standing ovations — an occurrence that used to be as refreshingly rare on Idol as a lucid Paula Abdul critique — began to grate on the voting public like they were Reed Grimm. (Ugh, gross!) Why should we back Idol’s favorite son when the under-appreciated are being so overlooked?
Secondly, our panel of three Archuleta-ed poor Joshua. Leading into the Season 7 finale, young judge favorite David Archuleta was all but guaranteed the Idol crown. Simon Cowell had already named him the season’s winner — and last time he did that, Carrie Underwood was treated to a rightful confetti shower. Instead, Cowell’s words drove David Cook’s fans to pick up their phones like they were in Bye Bye Birdie (that comparison brought to you by Uncle Nigel Lythgoe), and Cook was named our American Idol while Archuleta fans wondered why they had assumed their favorite’s safety. Same goes for Wednesday night — with Joshua awarded one standing ovation, and a 13-week stamp of approval, his fans likely felt there was little point spending their nights tied to a busy signal. Thanks to the judges’ constant approval, Joshua had to be as safe as a performance of “Imagine,” right?
And finally, our three judges managed to screw Joshua professionally too. Jimmy Iovine was absolutely right to label Joshua “overblown” and “overemotional” during his Wednesday night performances — but we can’t blame the contestant. After all, from his eyes, why should he fix what doesn’t appear to be broken? If the judges never told him to add subtly to his personal dictionary, why should he be expected to deliver the word? Now, I understand our panel of three are about as subtle as a Jennifer Lopez relationship in 2003, but constructive criticism is necessary to guide the voting public, and, more importantly, to help our finalists grow even stronger. After all, there’s a reason Jimmy has astutely pointed out Phillip’s growing originality over the past 13 weeks. Joshua, meanwhile, had yet to fall flat on his face, sure, but he also had yet to improve. And as soon as you plateau on Idol, it’s high time you fall.
So, sorry, Jennifer, you might cry and scream about this seemingly unfair and shocking elimination, but you have no one to blame but yourself. If you do choose to return next season, remember that an Idol judge always rolls the dice — and gambles with a singer’s future — when choosing a favorite. Now, excuse me as I get back to wondering whether I should report myself to my neighbors just for noticing Jessica’s cut-out dress.
Were you surprised by the results? Do you, like me, think the judges are at least partly responsible? Was the trio’s “Got To Get You Into My Life” the best opening number of the year? Does Jessica stand a chance of beating a southerner? Is she more of a Michael or a Jermaine? Or a Tito? When did Adam Lambert become so boring? How did Idol manage to book Tim Burton’s wet dream? What’s that? You didn’t say you wanted to see Ice Age, no matter how much Idol is shoving it down your face like it’s Casper Smart? And remember Reed Grimm? Ugh, the worst!
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
[Image Credit: FOX]
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Previously on Harry Potter: Big bad Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave while Harry mourns the loss of his wee elf friend Dobby and begins his search for the remaining Horcruxes.
If that recap leaves you with hazy memories of last year's Deathly Hallows - Part 1 you may want to pop in the DVD before taking on the Harry Potter franchise's grand finale Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The eighth film in the series doesn't pull any punches demanding your knowledge of the saga's previous events and crescendoing off a foundation of character and connection built over a decade of cinematic excursions. That's not a fault -- Deathly Hallows - Part 2 serves hardcore fans and dedicated patrons of the franchise alike bouncing elegantly back and forth between explosive action and emotional conclusions. At this point that's what matters.
Whereas Deathly Hallows - Part 1 took Harry Hermione and Ron on a gritty race through the real world Part 2 brings the trio back to their home base Hogwarts School of Magic and Child Death where their colleagues and professors find themselves defending it against the empowered Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. Similarly to Transformers: Dark of the Moon Deathly Hallows - Part 2 spends most of its run time following various established characters as they navigate the epic battle. Unlike the clunky erratic action of TF3 director David Yates manages to execute the sequences in Potter with bravado making sure we give a damn every time Potter discovers a secret from the past blows a Death Eater out a window or glances upon one of his closest friends lying dead on the floor.
For all its otherworldliness Potter is and always has been a human story one that puts its characters before spectacle. But when Yates and his team of FX wizards do unleash their bag of spells on the screen they do it with a very BIG bang. Deathly Hallows - Part 2's scope is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy bringing everything from trolls to spiders to animate statues into the wizards' massive assault. The franchise hasn't seen action on this scale before but Yates never misses a beat or opportunity to dazzle with visual eye candy. Turning the crumbling of Hogwarts castle into a riveting poignant experience -- true magic.
Once again Daniel Radcliffe Emma Watson Rupert Grint and a cast of veteran British thespians deliver the necessary gravitas to anchor Potter's fantastical elements in reality. With everything finally on the line in Deathly Hallows - Part 2 each performance is at its best and Radcliffe steps up to the plate to make his final showdown with Voldemort one to remember. He spends most of the movie covered in dirt encrusted blood on his face and a harrowing sense of death behind his eyes. Heavy material but Radcliffe pulls it off.
Few franchises have the chance that Harry Potter has been fortunate enough to receive to follow the same familiar faces through years of ever-complicating story. Thankfully Deathly Hallows - Part 2 doesn't squander the opportunity. The saga swells with a triumphant final act one that never forgets why people love the movies in the first place. The adventure the awe the comedy the thrills the people the places the things -- those are the elements that make Harry Potter grand and they return in perfect form once more to say good-bye.
Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans the 1981 cult favorite that fused Greek mythology with sci-fi theatrics is a grand experiment in the ancient art of alchemy a big-budget attempt to spin fanboy nostalgia for a 30-year-old novelty into contemporary box-office gold. The main ingredients in this ambitious concoction are a potent arsenal of CGI weaponry and the star of the biggest movie ever Sam Worthington who inherits Harry Hamlin’s role as the heroic Perseus. But it’s what’s missing from the formula that ultimately dooms this remake.
Clash of the Titans redux mimics the original film’s epic ethos and preference for spectacle over all else but its storyline differs dramatically. Perseus is still the half-breed product of a one-night stand between the god Zeus and a human hottie and he still must to defeat the monstrous Kraken in order to save the lovely Princess Andromeda. Almost everything in between however has been altered — and not necessarily for the better.
The new version casts the Greek city of Argos as the primary battleground in a proxy war fought by dueling Olympian superpowers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Born of a god but raised by and partial to humans Worthington’s Perseus battles not for the hand of Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) — as Hamlin’s character did — but instead for the people of Argos who stand to perish along with their princess at the hands of the dreaded Kraken. The film’s love story if it can be called that consists of the briefest of flirtations between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton) his self-appointed spiritual guide. (Cursed with immortality by the gods Io’s been secretly watching him all his life — which ostensibly makes her a glorified stalker.)
This detail is a small but crucial one. Strong-willed Perseus braves an obstacle course of giant scorpions gorgons and other horrors laid out for him by the wheezy fiend Hades but it’s never quite clear why he bothers with it all since what’s at stake is a princess he isn’t particularly interested in and a community of people he doesn’t really know — and who frankly don’t seem all that worth saving. His deadbeat dad up on Mount Olympus certainly isn't worth dying for nor are the battlefield compatriots he met barely a week prior. And while I’m sure that a few inviting glances from Gemma Arterton are positively delightful I wouldn’t risk being doused in flesh-eating scorpion venom for them.
This narrative oversight triggers a drain in enthusiasm that persists throughout the film. For a movie so epic in scale Clash of the Titans makes for a disappointingly bland ride. Leterrier’s CGI set pieces are at times magnificent but they’re proffered in the service of weak story filled with characters whose motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. During the film’s climax when Neeson’s Zeus utters the portentous words “Release the Kraken ” what should be an emotional high point instead feels perfunctory and anticlimactic. The only excitement it spawns comes from the knowledge that the end is mercifully imminent.