Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Knew That Their Cover Story was Going to Be Bullshit Before We Heard It

Hope a lot of you were able to catch the “Damage Control” that just occurred on Ryan’s radio show on KIIS-FM. It was almost as bad as last night’s mess. WTG, AI!!

McLovin: Yikes, Liz Lemon. High or just plain dopey? Nope, not adding to the speculation about Jason. Talking about Paula. And now we can add prescient to Paula’s never-ending list of qualities. She felt Jason’s second song lacked his typical charm. After they’d only performed once. Did she lose her spot on her script? Thank God Randy was able to keep his place on the page long enough to remind us that it’s a SINGING competition (no it’s not.) I’m voting my ass off anyway, but I want Jason as far away from these sleazy, slimy, lying, disgusting, underhanded fuckwads as he can get.

Also, good comment of yours in the Live Chat thread:

How could that not throw you off to be told BEFORE you sing that you’re going to get thrown under the bus?

Liz Lemon: Train wreck from start to finish. The judges I mean. When I heard they weren’t going to judge the first performance, I did a little fist punch of glee into the air because no judges means no rolling over on the poor boy. But of course they couldn’t rely on us to use our good judgment and vote how we feel, so they have to at least get a few words in. Randy? OMG dawg. He just rattled off a list of his favorite phrases. I can’t wait to watch that back on YouTube because it was a total caricature of himself. Without irony. But the clincher was when, AFTER telling Jason that he’s not vocally in the race, he totally COMPLIMENTS Brooke on her vocal imperfections. My head turned around like I was possessed. WHAT? NOW you get the virtues of a “flawed” performance? Nah-ah! I am so not buying your bullshit tonight, dawg.

And that’s just Randy. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around what happened with Paula. Either the show is taped and they had the judges give their first and second comments back to back and Paula forgot the plan – in which case, wouldn’t they just stop the tape and start over? Or else it’s live, and Paula saw the rehearsals or some video of the rehearsals. Except it has been documented this season that Paula isn’t in her chair except for the few minutes that the kids perform and appears at the very last minute possible at the start of the show. So that leaves us with a really disconcerting possibility – is someone feeding Paula her lines?

And supposing we were watching this chronologically – exactly WHAT is Jason to make of being told he’s about to sing like shit? There are too many reasons to be livid about this to count. The one that upsets me the most is how it affects Jason emotionally and mentally. Everything else is just show. But if they touched one aspect of that boy’s soul, they’re going to have an army of Castrocopians on their asses. Don’t fuck with the pants.

And yeah, despite my reservations, I went on and voted like there was no tomorrow because as much as I want Jason far from these charlatains, I can’t read Jason’s mind to know what he wants. I’m still waiting for that quiet email one day that tells me to stop fomenting the masses and just let Jason’s tenure on idol go gently into that good night. And I will.

But heavens to murgatroid, McLovin, what the fuck?

McLovin: Can’t even compute what the fuck, Liz Lemon. Not even a little bit. And we WERE watching it chronologically per EW’s Adam B. Vary’s report from the studio. But Fox is spinning it already, although they probably should have had a quick team meeting to make sure their stories matched. Was it her rehearsal notes she was reading? Did she really mean David Cook? I don’t find either explanation to be plausible, but maybe they should have decided on one of them and ran with it instead of letting them both out.

You know what, though? I find myself completely incapable of agreeing with anyone that thought Jason looked defeated last night. He knows how to shrug off their bullshit. Granted, last night was a big steaming pile of bullshit — but he STILL shrugged it off. Having watched the final judges review after September Morn repeatedly — I don’t know, Lemon. I saw a wince of disappointment on his face, to be sure, but only for a moment – right after Simon finished his speech about this not being the Jason that they put into the competition. I could and just might eventually go into a sarcasm-laden diatribe that would start with “Well, how do you suppose THAT happened, you out-of-touch, shitty-theme-night picking, Machiavellian motherfucks?” and would end with my Doc Martens up Nigel’s ass, but I’ll save that for another time.

Srsly? What I think I saw flash across Jason’s face last night? Embarrassment for them. I could be projecting — I’m embarrassed for them. But I don’t have the kind of character that could be embarrassed for them without getting any glee from it. I think Jason does.

So if he’s back next week and you haven’t received that e-mail yet, I’m voting for him like the maniac I was last night. And if he’s not back or you do get the e-mail, then my Vote For Syesha campaign is ON, fuckers. Oh, yes.

Liz Lemon: McLovin, what would I do without you? You make me laugh and you make me think. I hadn’t even considered that Jason was uncomfortable for the judges, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all. The kid has more integrity in his pinky than there is in all the people running this show together. Yeah – I just did the math on that and came up with a negative number. I worry so much about Jason being in that environment. He’s handling everything better than anyone should be expected to given the circumstances and I’m just really proud of him. You know, it’s amazing to me that this far into the competition, with such a varied group of fans, he has managed to never let his fans down. He’s a straight arrow that never wavers for those of us who get him.

And like you said, when I go back and LISTEN to the live performances, all I hear is exactly what I fell in love with in the first place. I can understand that not everyone will get Jason – the world is a vast and varied place, thank cheeses. But he wasn’t anything near the kind of suckfest that the judges portrayed it as. In fact, if you want to argue on technical singing alone, the first songs were not spot on for a single one of the other four performers. I don’t know about the last songs because frankly, I couldn’t concentrate on the show after catching a glimpse behind the curtain. My point is that in the context of last night, the criticisms they leveled at Jason could have equally been leveled at Brooke or even David Archuleta. But while David A’s vocals were all over the map, he was still loud – which elicits the questionable “the bomb” praise from Randy Iscariot. So yeah, Jason did fine last night and he should feel great about his performances.

Aside from the ramifications of Paula’s blunder, what about her message? Not fighting for the final 4? Is it just me, McLovin or does that sound to you like a “talking point”?

McLovin Total talking point, Liz Lemon. Paula rarely even speaks that coherently … we’re supposed to believe she was able to write that sentence in the dark? My ass. I watch So You Think You Can Dance. That’s how Nigel talks. And Slezak was so dead on when he said the comment was too specific to NOT be about Jason. It had all the sound bytes that everyone but Paula has spewed before – charm, not fighting (taking it seriously), blah, blah, blah.

So, fuck ’em. He’s got a huge, diverse fanbase just aching to buy his CD. If they don’t want their piece of that, fuck ’em. Right?

Liz Lemon: Right. Huge fanbase with mad love. Jason will be just fine, no question about that. AI has proven they don’t care about the music anyway. So huge FUCK YOU to ALL of them. And the bus they drove in on. They don’t deserve the pants.

Well, in case this is the end, my friend, let me just assure our readers that Castrocopia will still be here and running strong whether Jason is on AI or working in clubs around Texas or touring across country (The Travellin Pants Tour). We weren’t even here for the show anyway. It’s always been about one man and an article of clothing.

Still I want to say thanks again, McLovin, for all you’ve done to keep this blog fun and interesting. Hugs, girlfriend. *Hoping all this dramatic exit speechifying is rendered completely irrelevant tonight.*

Til later?

McLovin And a guitar. Don’t forget the Breedlove. And we’re not even close to being done.

McLemon out.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Know We Need to Vote Like Crazy

McLovin: Much to everyone’s surprise – including our own – Jason made it through to the Top 5. Our surprise based totally on how thoroughly AI trounced him, starting with the pre-performance package with the Dumbass Stoner edit: “I didn’t know a cat was singing it.” Well, he’d already said he’d never seen a stage production of any of ALW’s work. Are there any other 21 year olds in the world that possible didn’t know that? Zsyah! [/Wayne Campbell]

THEN We got the shitty production values of the performance itself: were they conserving lights because it was Earth Day? Dark and moody is one thing, but they were almost daring the mosh bitchez to bust out their cell phones and wave them around just so they could see. Then it was like they handed a stage camera to one of them, just to capture those hard-to-get shots of the arm-waving and Jason’s calf.

And the judges. When Michael Slezak — who seems a very fair journalist — openly calls you on your bullshit, well — then bullshit it is. I fully expected to find nothing but negative reviews early Wednesday morning — and there were plenty of them, but there was something they had in common: they liked what the judges liked, hated what the judges hated almost every time. And it happens every week, the same reviewers regurgitating the judges sentiments. But with that, we found enough reviews favouring Jason’s performance to convince me that it wasn’t as bad as Simon and Randy led these sheep writers to believe.

So what do you think, Liz Lemon? If AI is going to mindfuck the public at large like that, couldn’t they at least buy us all dinner first? And why are the Carly lovers mad at Jason and Brooke?

Liz Lemon: Buy us all dinner first? Hahaha! But no thanks, “turd sandwich” is not allowed on my diet. As a somewhat cogent know-it-all, I have to question the whole “under the bus” maneuver as a possible attempt to foment the masses and save the pants. For real, if we saw that kind of overtly harsh criticism of another contestant we might yell unfair for the pity factor involved. I mean, they *should* want to keep him as the unit mover of iTunes he is.

Not that I reside on the grassy knoll entirely, though it would be nice to think that the whole shenanigans was pro-pantz. I still absolutely believe Randy does not comprehend the power of the pantz. I also believe Paula totally feels the pantz appeal. Simon? He’s weighing out the economy of the pantz still and has his eyes set on the David/David finale still. He could swing.

I do think that there are viewers who swallow the judges’ commentary hook line and sinker, there are also viewers whose opinions seem to correlate negatively as well. And that may have worked in Jason’s favor. In fact, despite the lazy bloggers, I have heard more third hand reports this week of the variety I usually label “bullshit” where someone insists that their parent, mailman, tax assessor or parole officer watched the show and thought Jason didn’t deserve the shit kicking he got. *My* mom told me that Jason’s singing was beautiful. And no she doesn’t just agree with me to avoid a shrill whiney counter-attack. That has me a bit worried about next week where Jason is *sure* to shine. Remember that the last few boots came after someone had one of their best performances of the season. Can we keep up that fervent fan frenzy so that we don’t lose Jason to complacency?

Regarding why Carly fans would be angry at Brooke or Jason there are two thoughts. Obviously the common wisdom was that Jason or Brooke would be sent packing and with both of them safe, they are the scapegoats for Carly’s demise. But more importantly, isn’t Carly the antithesis of Jason and Brooke? How could Carly fans ever understand the voice that comes out of our boy? And I say this despite the fact that I loved Carly. I just don’t think the admiration is reciprocal.

So Top 5, McLovin – what’s this kid got to do to keep afloat?

McLovin Ah, so it was the old Double-Twist Mindfuck, eh? Silly Idol. Tricks are for David Blaine. I think Blaine already pulled his Frozen in Time trick on Randy. Hence the early ’90s vocabulary. Man, would I like just a peek at a flow chart from one AI’s Planning Committee meetings. The “If this, then that” section of their remediation plans must be mind-boggling. I guess it could have been Pro-Pantz, but you know they’re going to make a hairpin turn somewhere down the road. And pairing Jason with Carly for the “Who’s Safe” portion of the show sure didn’t help.

In Carly’s exit interview with JD Roberto on Idol Extra they discussed that at this point in the competition, your fan base is what is going to get you through and that when the comments are bad, it drives people to vote even more for their favourites. That’s a really valid point and goes a long way towards explaining why people are leaving after a great performance. So there it is — Jason needs to suck as much as he possibly can until he gets to the Finale.



Of course I’m kidding. I don’t think there’s been a night that Jason – or any of them for that matter – hasn’t gone out there and done the best they could do. Jason just had the misfortune of getting terribly ill during what was a tough week for most of them because Andrew Lloyd Webber is not Pop music and after all this is – what? A Pop Music singing competition. Duh.

He just needs to get out there and kill it every time, and we know that he can. He’s not going to win Randy over no matter what he does. A lot of viewers and critics gained a new respect for Jason because of what he did with I Don’t Want to Cry and Randy still made that asinine luau comment. I think you’re right about Simon — he could swing either way and he’s the only judge that has really criticized the Davids at all this season. I guess we just need to heed our battle cry of “Vote, you motherfuckers!!” – or whatever substitutes for that on the other Jason fan sites – as if he’s been thrown under the bus again no matter what the judges say.

So. Did you get your DialIdol set up?

Liz Lemon: I’m working on it. After reading what Nigel had to say about Jason being the weakest of the remaining contestants, it’s on! That’s right – I plan to dance back [/Southpark]. I want Jason there for top 4 and the inevitable Disney movie soundtrack week. Those farging bastages can do their worst as far as I’m concerned. I’m in it for the win now, a-holes.

Everyone involved with the production of this show seems to completely fail to recognize that not every person out there wants to be spoon-fed homogeneously perfect products. And Nigel can poopoo the fanbases for keeping Jason in the competition but there’s another name for a massive, hard-core fanbase and that name is “market”. I fail to understand why these douchebags never ever capitalize on that. Their total lack of interest in what motivates a fanbase is the main reason most people start to balk about getting their idol past the top 4. Who wants to hear your favorite singer on the radio singing an abortion of talent? Bo Bice singing “Inside Your Heaven” was later surpassed by the atrocious “Do I Make You Proud” that Taylor Hicks had to swallow. Nigel, Clive and company prove day after day after day that they haven’t the first clue about what authentic music is. At least Clive no longer has his spindly finger of death on the product.

It all drives me to drink. So McLovin, convince me why, other than revenge, I should vote for Jason to win this whole thing. And no fair saying “Drum Solo on the AI Tour” because you can’t fulfill that promise. But srsly – Jason, Please share some drumming either on the show or the tour. Kthxnbai.

McLovin: Revenge isn’t a good enough reason on its own? Crap. Well, I’ll let that one marinate for a minute. Did you say Disney soundtrack week?! zOMG! Jason! Do Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid!!! Or I Wanna Be Like You from Jungle Book!!!!!eleven!!

I’ve thought for awhile now that the winner’s CD and the care taken to insure that it’s a quality product is secondary to the money generated by the tour (Sponsored by Pop Tarts!) and the TV show itself with all its Ford/Coke/iTunes/AT&T product tie-ins. When they’re projecting their profits for a given year, I don’t think sales of the winner’s CD is seen as that big of a piece of the pie so the amount of money they’re willing to put into it is minimal. I think it’s stupid of them, but I’m also secure in the knowledge that they couldn’t care less what I think so it all evens out. Maybe with this new relationship with iTunes that will change as we move further and further away from CDs and the costs associated with producing a physical product. One can hope.

But why should you, Liz Lemon, vote for Jason besides revenge and in spite of the crap product they might make him put out? Thinking….thinking…..The best reason I have is this: regardless of whether someone thinks Jason seems to take it all in stride (and what’s wrong with that?) or that he auditioned on a lark (so what if he did?) or whether he can live with not winning (he can), he’s in it to win it. So I’m in it to help him. Plus, more iTunes singles for me.

So vote, motherfucker!

Liz Lemon: Ah! The Castrocopian battle cry. It’s become Pavlovian to me now. Someone screams “Bitch” at me while I’m driving and I reach for my phone.

And I will vote, god help me. Until Jason relays a message to his fans to let him go, I have no choice but to fight for him. I think my main motivation right now is to see him emerge from backstage on the tour as THE American Idol and get to tear up the stage with whatever instruments he wants to. Hey – Taylor got to play with feedback, so I’m assuming Jason will get to choose his instruments. And also he’ll get more songs on the tour if he’s the winner.

Furthermore – as the winner, he’s guaranteed far more publicity. It’s up to him to take advantage of that, but I love the idea of him being the boy we see in every interview as the underdog who made it. Remember – he’s the only one left who we knew nothing about prior to Top 24. And they’ve NEVER given the kind of backstory on him that would highlight his generous nature. And there’s the whole “under the bus” situation. It would be the Cinderella story.

My advice to everyone is to find out about the technologies available, test them out and vote more than ever. I’m even curious to learn about the Go Phone which would make texting available. Remember that there are never any busies with texting. All votes go through.

So do I sound insane to you? Or are you serving the kool-aid at this party?

McLovin: You’re asking ME if you sound insane? But, hey, I gots your kool-aid right here Go Phone from AT&T. They’ve got re-furbs on sale for $9.99, and after AI is over, you can donate the phone to a women’s shelter in your area, as one of our lovely posters suggested in the forum (and it counts as a charitable contribution on your income tax return!) I know the women’s shelters in my area accept them. They give the phones to victims of domestic violence so they can call for help if they’re in a crisis situation. So there you go. You can vote for Jason and then help make a difference in someone’s life. Ain’t it beautiful? And we’re all about the pretty around here. Heh.

Until next time?

Liz Lemon: McLemon out, y’all.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Know What You Did Last Summer

McLovin: So, Liz Lemon. How’d you like that bus Jason got tossed in front of tonight? Randy calls Jason’s vocals a trainwreck? Dude – by chance did you have your own CD playing over your iPod while Jason was performing? And Simon tells people not to vote for him. Sure he brushes it off with a smarmy speech about democracy and people voting however they like, knowing full well how much weight his words carry with the sheep voters, but that was just fucked up. Oh, and as if the judges’ commentary wasn’t bad enough, fucking Nigel and his behind-the-scenes production mechanisms suck hard. Did Ryan give Simon the opportunity to tell anyone else not to vote for a particular contestant tonight? Because if he did, I missed it.

Back to Nigel: WHAT is going on with the camera angles coming from the midst of the arm-waving mosh bitchez? The ones you ship in from sororities and ask to sway? At least they weren’t clapping, but really.

I don’t want to embarrass them or seem like I’m showing favouritism by highlighting them again, but a couple of our posters, kbkysun and SLW, described it so perfectly that I’m going to quote them:

The most emotionally driven moment of his performance was ruined by the hands on my tv.


I know exactly the moment you mean. I felt like I was having to squint to see around the hands. I was distracted from the emotion of the song by the sea of arms, waving like fucking kelp or something.


He was very into it and he moved his arms and I couldn’t see him because of those stupid bitches.

Thanks, Nigel. Although I do appreciate the darkened stage-lighting, because I was more able to focus on Jason’s voice – which was fucking beautiful even though he was clearly sick — instead of his beautiful Jasonness. Made it all the better for me.

Moment of irony at my house: An AI commercial just came on, one that had Ryan screaming David Cook’s name, followed by a cut to Simon looking into the camera, saying “America controls this show.” Yes, and I control what bottle of wine I’m going to purchase at my local grocery store. Except that I live in Utah, and I can’t buy wine at the grocery store.

So anyway — I’m pissed. How you doing?

Liz Lemon: McLovin that was no ordinary bus. That one was specially contracted with extreme prejudice. As one of our posters, Stephianne brilliantly wrote on her blog:

Based on the reactions from Randy and Simon, you’d have thought that Jason took a hacksaw and dismembered the song and walked off the stage waving both middle fingers.

For real, you’d think he had just stopped singing and asked for a redo or something.

I can never listen to my favorite singer without hearing everything that might possibly be brought to task. I like to listen again later because I can relax and hear it for the music instead of for the competition. So usually I am on pins and needles during the live performance. Clearly, Jason was showing some evidence of his illness and his nerves, and yet he was way more in control of his voice than either Syesha or Brooke. Of the three, Brooke positively exuded fear while Syesha overcame the vocals with a very fun theatric performance. And of the three, Brooke was handled with kid gloves and her egregious errors were glossed over in favor of mollifying her spirit and Syesha was given kudos that she deserves relative to her own past performances. But Jason? some small weaknesses are translated into a “train wreck”. Or is it once again the failure to yell that Randy can’t get past?

McLovin: No, if Jason had asked for a re-do, only someone as medicated as Pauler would have anything to say about that. WTF? They don’t want to bring out the crazy in her so they couch it in phrases that could translate into – what? votes for Brooke. She’s brave. Do they know she’s VFTW’s pick now that Kristy’s gone? And for exactly that reason — because she’s falling apart. If she stays after tonight, they’ve only got themselves to blame next week when she’s a slobbering mess who giggles, then cries, then talks to herself in the middle of “I Am, I Said. No, *I* Said!”

And Randy just plain sucks big ugly ass. I can’t even sugar-coat it anymore; he’s irrelevant and he gets nothing that’s outside the box unless it’s loud and he’s told ahead of time to get it. I wonder how he feels about Norah Jones? He’s probably not mad at her but I bet he’s not feelin’ it, either.

I don’t know, Lemon. Coming on the heels of the poorly edited Idol Extra clip of Jason revealing the existence of his newly-girlfriended girlfriend – which came on the heels of David Cook’s emphatic declaration of his singleton status (which came on the heels of gossip of Cook having some kind of sumpin’ sumpin’ going on with So You Think You Can Dance’s Lacey Schwimmer) – and then the less savory media picking up the “Marilyn/Smoking” picture — which has been around for ages, by the way — it all just smacks of orchestration to me. It’s like a divide and conquer campaign. Am I paranoid?

Liz Lemon: You know what they say…. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck… Must be Archi. KEEDING! Srsly though if the events of this past week weren’t orchestrated to squeeze Jason out it has been a perfect storm of bad coincidence. Maybe we’re just too over-invested and laser in on all the negativity but considering what a party last week was with all the Jason flove everywhere, I don’t think we’re prone to pessimism. And last night’s judge review wasn’t subtle.

I am not ready to say goodbye to the pants yet. I want want want more studio recordings and more Jason on my tv. I realize that it will end eventually even if he wins this, but I’m a junkie and to paraphrase the words of ALW in JCS (Yes, I’m still on that kick), I’ll save tomorrow’s withdrawal for tomorrow and think about getting my fix today instead. But should the unbearable happen tonight, there are a few things that will console me. The first is that he did NOT have a bad performance last night. He didn’t flub his lyrics or screech out of tune. He was Jason and he was lovely. He can be proud that he had a fantastic run on this show and went farther than anyone would have expected. But most importantly, as our banner says “The pantz are fine.” I am so happy that Jason held on to himself this entire competition.

Fingers crossed though – I’m not trying to jinx him, just bracing myself for the possibility.

McLovin: I can safely say we are over-invested. But, when both non-Jason fans and the press can be disgusted by last night’s shenanigans, well — like you said: no subtlety in Randy and Simon. The subtlety was in Jason, from his performance, the finer points of which don’t hit you until you’ve re-listened a couple times, to his good-natured response to their agenda. AI turned against him, but we’ve backed the right horse (looks like I’m still on the JCS kick, too.) Everything’s alright, yes, tire tracks on his back or no. I never wanted him to be their puppet anyway.

I’m braced. I think. I’ve certainly calmed down from where I was last night when we first started writing this. I’m trying not to doom and gloom, trying not to be overly confident and trying to have some faith. From the beginning of the season people who know him have said that he will be at peace with whatever the outcome is and I respect that, regardless of the effect that outcome will have on me.

But if you could hold me until tonight’s show is over? That would be great.

Liz Lemon: We can virtually hold hands and stand stoically awaiting the verdict. Just remember the immortal words of Andrew Lloyd Webber, that ancient, old glamourpuss:

When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

(See an old cat can change its tune!) I have immense respect for Jason and I agree that he will accept whatever comes with grace and humility. My admiration of him has grown in leaps and bounds throughout this season. Nobody ever reminds us how spectacularly young he is and yet so amazingly poised and confident – and comfortable in his own skin to boot. He is more than an idol, he’s an ideal – a fantastic role model. And curses to all the myopic news sites that choose to present a single-faceted (and unproven) characterization of him instead of shining a light on everything that we know to be true of him.

Despite everything I say, I’m a bundle of nerves right now. If I’m gripping you too tight though, please be sure to let me know.

I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

McLovin: Ouchless, Liz Lemon.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Know Too Many Lyrics From Jesus Christ Superstar

McLovin: So, Liz Lemon. Jason made it through Mariah Week, the week that a fair portion of the AI pundits predicted would be his downfall. He won over some reviewers that – as late as last week – STILL didn’t get it; and despite that big twat Randy’s seven-days-late “luau” comment (Dude – The ukelele was LAST week), he made it through with flying colours. Paula & Simon loved it, the audience loved it, the voters loved it, we loved it — our Love Llama of Jakarta (biggest Mariah fan EVAH!) loved it.

So what’s the poor guy gotta do to get a little respect? AI mindfucks him and us into thinking he’s probably NOT safe during most of Wednesday’s elimination episode; Andrew Lloyd Webber Week is coming up and that’s bound to be a train-wreck – not in our minds, we’ve been looking forward to it. But in the minds of a lot of the residual naysayers. Can we tell them to fuck off yet? Not that I haven’t been doing that already, but srsly — what’s their problem?

Liz Lemon: I believe that most people come at this show with a frame of reference that puts Jason at a disadvantage. We’re accustomed to a vocal style that is more “diva” than folk and the beltier singers are rewarded for obvious tricks and decibels. Key changes are the triple lutz of the competition – but only when you go up a key.

Randy is the biggest consumer of loud and we have even heard him say on occasion something to the effect of “Dude I wasn’t getting it until you hit that big note at the end and then *insert monosyllabic interjection here*”. I’ve lost faith in Simon ages ago except as a gauge of who he thinks could ship units. If he’s supporting Jason then he must have gotten a memo about Jack Johnson et al. I think everyone knows that Paula only matters when she’s negative – not that she’s always right either. Her role is basically “ego-cushion” so I’m happy when she says nice things to Jason but I don’t put stock in it.

As for the other critics and bloggers, you and I have read an inordinate number of articles where the status-quo pre-chewed common wisdom is passed around without much consideration. Jason is presented as a hack who doesn’t have range or technique or emotional connection. But those are certainly not the only reactions. In fact my own parents are polarized on Jason.

Okay so different strokes yada yada, but why is he getting so little respect? A critic I actually respect a lot had this to say about Jason’s performance of I Don’t Wanna Cry:

…what really made this stand out was that unlike every other performance last night it flowed easily, never seeming labored or forced. Even so, Castro’s charm is so casual, it’s also easy to have the performance fade a bit in memory after the show was done.

That was Steven Thomas Earlewine for the All Music blog. I’ve always found his reviews of other idol’s releases to be fair yet honest. I think he hits the nail on the head here by pointing to how easy Jason makes it all look. He’s never looked remotely nervous, he’s never looked like he was straining – though he does make hilariously dorky faces at times, he’s never really *looked* like someone who has range. It’s all just too effortless.

Do people need a diagram to see that Jason’s singing range is every bit as big as the other contestants? Is his relaxed charm causing viewers to perceive him as a lightweight?

McLovin: My attempt to make a diagram failed miserably, so why don’t we just post a list?

Range Including Head Voice/Falsetto of the Remaining Finalists

1) Syesha Mercado – 17 steps
2) David Archuleta – 14 steps
3) David Cook and Jason Castro – 13 ½ steps
5) Kristy Lee Cook – 13 steps
6) Carly Smithson – 12 ½ steps
7) Brooke White – 10 steps

So, there it is. Same range as David Cook, a half step below David Archuleta. I know we covered this last week, but it bears repeating that the judges seldom complain about Jason’s vocals. I’ve heard them comment on both Carly’s and David Cook’s lower registers when they’ve sounded ruff, dawg, but Jason’s lower register is beautiful. That may be where the confusion lies — his range is equal to or greater than three of the remaining contestants, but the scale is lower. Syesha’s the only one with more than two octaves in her range but I’m not into shouty.

Who are these hacks that say Jason has no emotional connection to his songs? Should they be reviewing music with their cold, black hearts? And I love Jason’s relaxed charm — I wish it garnered him more props in the world of Idol viewers than it does, but your boy Steven may be onto something about the ease with which he performs making the performance itself fade from your memory. Personally, I have a harder time erasing the vision of Syesha’s Cat Claw face when she doesn’t get the love she seems to feel she’s entitled to or one of Carly’s high-note faces, but I’m not saying that in a good way.

He’s not the first contestant I’ve rooted for who didn’t get the respect they deserved. Elliott Yamin’s incredible vocals always seemed to be secondary to his looks in the minds of a lot of people. And he always made it look easy, too. I’m not comparing Jason’s vocals to Elliott’s at all, they just seem to be on the same trajectory.

But we’ve got another week in hell in front of us. I’ve already read the predictions that there’s no way Jason can do Broadway. Hey, ya’ll. It’s not Broadway Week. It’s Andrew Lloyd Weber Week. He’s done more than Cats and Phantom of the Opera. I’m happy that Jason won the draw for the song he wanted and sad that we still haven’t found that mole at the iTunes studio who can tell us what he’s singing each week in advance. Where are all the big mouths at Idol these days? Do you suppose Jason got our memo about Jesus Christ Superstar?

Liz Lemon: Given the speculation that he won his song choice out over 2 other people – one of whom was Michael, I have to question whether any song from JCS would be that attractive to that many contestants. Then again, Michael supposedly had a JCS song lined up as his second choice, so could be. Still, it’s tricky trying to nail down a single song that 3 distinct singers would be drawn to. Everything’s Alright seems to be slipping from our grasps. Of course to this I have to say:

Try not to get worried
Try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you
Everything’s Alright, yes, Everything’s Fine

Jason will pick well and he’ll do a good job with the song, naysayers be damned. Whether or not the naysayers can drop their pre-conceived filters and see Jason for the first time for who he is remains to be seen. And looking at your chart (-like thing) above, I have to ask whether “screech” is considered a note. OK, that was uncharitable. Bad Castrofan!

Oh speaking of bad fans – and I know you already addressed this – who the hell would decide to stop voting for Jason because he spoke of having a new girlfriend and/or mentioned what he will do when he’s “kicked off” the show? First off – please tell me that you’re not voting for Jason because you really expect that he will think “O hai, I can has you?” when you write him on his MySpace comments to say “Json!!11!! I love you!!11!! I voted for you 241 times!!11!! OMG – marry me!!11!!” I mean thanks for your support and all but srsly – think about saying “yes” to that cute guy in your algebra 1 class who asked you to the Freshman dance instead of holding out hope for a guy who you might at best get a signature from one day. (Oh and I’m holding out for a hug too – sue me, I’m also delusional.)

And second – if you really think he wants us to stop voting for him, I have to ask where we get off making that decision for him. Yeah I second guess ALL the time whether he’s better off in third place with no 19E or in first with guaranteed publicity but a potentially shitty product. But it’s not really my decision to make. If he wants to tank, all he has to do is stop performing well. As long as he’s working hard to perform well, I’m going to assume he’s in it to win it. So why don’t we take a breath and try to side-step the machinations of the producers and support our guy as long and as far as we can. Don’t you want to see him get to F5 where they sing 2 songs each? And F3 where they get the home town package?

The end…is just a little harder, when brought about by friends.

Oh and by “you”, I don’t mean YOU, McLovin – just some fictitious straw man out there who does NOT know it all like we do. God it’s such a burden to be so smart sometimes [/martyrdom].

I have no control though so I say:

Close your eyes
And relax
Think of nothing tonight

Gah – I’m going to have to find his phone number when this show is over and ask him to sing that to me cause I’m going to be hella mad for getting him to ALW night without getting JCS out of it. Dude – it’s got your initials! Sorry – forgot my mantra. Everything’s alright. Everything’s alright…

Do you ever wonder if Jason has a clue what’s being said here or elsewhere on the internet?

McLovin: He has a clue – the blue dread bead and the thumbs up sign are shout-outs to the Dreadheads, from what I understand. I don’t think that we’re on the radar and I hope he doesn’t ever read the fan sites himself, but there are people who know him that post on the official site and it seems like he surrounds himself with good people — they appear to be in it to rally the troops or to let them know he appreciates them rather than in it for the second-hand fame of knowing an AI contestant. I could be wrong, I don’t go there very often myself, but that’s the impression I get.

I worry more about him reading what the AI reviewers have to say, because some of them are real assholes and not very imaginative. I thought I’d seen every stoner or busking joke out there, but nope — there’s always another one. Or not, since they just recycle the same ones over and over again. Part of me feels sorry for them, because I don’t think they ever re-listen to any of his songs and they’re missing out. Repeat listens bring out beautiful nuances that often go unnoticed the first time. But then I remember that I’m evil and I realize that those bastards don’t deserve the beauty of Travelin’ Thru.

Even if he does venture onto the internet, he so clearly has such a good sense of self and who he is as an artist that I doubt he’d take it any of it to heart, praise or condemnation. And I like that he isn’t compromising himself to please someone else no matter what anyone says. Including us.

So I’m going to close it out by adding this to the mantra:

If we try, we’ll get by
so forget all about us tonight

Until next week then…

Liz Lemon: Til next week… but before I sign off I want to self-indulgently quote yet one more thing I’d like to say to Jason from Jesus Christ Superstar

Sing me your songs,
But not for me alone.
Sing out for yourself
For you are bless-ed.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Know What You’re Thinking

Liz Lemon: In this week’s continuing saga of a pair of pants that wouldn’t quit, the Castro fan base was treated to more jack-assery on the part of the judges, vindication by way of viewer polls, a respite from the mosh pitches, a triumphant so-called comeback, eating of words, PANTS, MOAR PANTS and some sweet sweet validation. It’s been a crazy week.

Let’s start with Monday and the inanity of the Larry King Live show. Who knew you could be so mad and so glad in the same second about the same statement? When Randy announced he wouldn’t sign Jason but would instead opt for Kristy Lee, the Castro community burst out in a kind of strange combination of “ALRIGHT!” and “WTF?” and “FUCK YOU, RANDY!” and “NEENER!” Well, ok, “neener” came later but I wanted to throw it in, just because. Neener, Randy! So let’s get to the important question there: WTF?

McLovin: Right? Randy wants to produce Kristy? I didn’t realize he hated her so much. Heh. But it’s just so irritating that he comes out and says that shit when we’re at a point in the competition where it’s going to take more than established fan bases to keep the contestants in it, and the huddled masses (of sheep) tend to buy in to what that fucker has to say (why?) The WTF? about the whole thing for me is this: shouldn’t CNN – as a matter of journalistic integrity – have had a caption on screen while he was speaking that read “Randy Jackson: His own album blows” to balance the stupidity spewing from his lips?

I’m thinking, though, that just like most of us wouldn’t have been watching Larry King Live if the judges hadn’t been on, most of Larry’s regular viewers probably flipped to something else when they found out they were. I also have to wonder if Randy didn’t get his little hand slapped for what he said. I wonder that because of his “That’s a record!” statement on Tuesday night. What? He all of a sudden gets Jason after seven weeks of NOT getting him? I call bullshit.

But how much do we love that Jason won the CNN poll? And Ryan, for calling bullshit on Randy? You go, Ryan!

Liz Lemon: Jason’s been at or near the top of many polls this entire season. Obviously the judges are not in touch with the rest of the world though or they might not have been so surprised by the CNN poll results. Not that Jason is good for the win yet, but he’s very well loved and not just, as Randy seemed to think, because of the teen-aged girls. Randy’s not at all aware that talent does not always come wrapped in loud. I’m convinced more and more that the judges aren’t only completely ignorant about music but about their own show. Seriously, why can’t we replace these clowns with people who still care and have a relevant opinion?

So Tuesday rolls around and FINALLY the mosh pit is beaten into submission so we hear Jason for the first time since Hallelujah without interference. And his quiet subtlety reverberates with the audience, the judges, the blog writers, my mom… And Simon says it’s “fantastic”. I don’t need Simon’s validation to know it was good, but it was still nice for Jason to hear it. Can you imagine how well his performances might have been received these past few weeks if the clapping fools hadn’t been there? Seriously, who ever thought that up needs to be canned.

Oh speaking of Castroference, I’d like to take a moment to thank the ITunes people for not fucking up again like they did with Michelle. You all could seriously strip it all down further, but for now, thanks for letting Jason’s voice be the focal point.

So where does Jason stand this week and beyond? Would you consider him a front runner or is this just a temporary moment of glory before things shuffle back out? Can we start to dream of an all guy Final Three like so many people want? Sadly I wanted an all guy Final Four but I guess we can’t hope for that anymore.

McLovin: Not with the ouster of Michael Johns we can’t. What in THE HELL was that? And why did they handle it in such an insensitive, cruel way? Ryan lost all the bullshit-calling points he earned from me for the Larry King show.

The mosh: Thank you for fucking up the rhythm Jason seemed to be going for on If I Fell. And for demanding his attention during Michelle, and for creating an atmoshpere during Fragile that transformed it from the beautiful song that it is into the campfire clap-a-long it became, leading to the “busking” comment from Simon. You don’t want him to do well, do you? And I heard you clapping during the performance recaps, which are recorded during rehearsal. After they fire whoever thought up and continues to allow the mosh, they need to promote whoever made them behave for Jason’s performance. And I seriously don’t care if it took the threat of death from an off-camera firing squad to make it happen. Opening fire during that song would have been an improvement over what those girls would have done to it if they’d been allowed to go unchecked.

Is Jason a front-runner? Poll results aside, after Michael’s elimination. I don’t think anyone should consider themselves a front-runner. And their fans shouldn’t, either. Jason has been disregarded and disrespected in the press for weeks; I don’t think Michael was a front-runner, but he was gaining momentum, had been highly regarded in the press AND had never even been in the Bottom 3. Now he’s gone. Yeah, the press (most of them, anyway) came running back to Jason this week, but people are fickle. He’s got to be en pointe every single time from here on out. Next week’s going to be a toughie. Mariah Carey songs? Can they fire whoever thought up that one, too?

Jason looked really affected by all the goings-on during Michael’s sing out tonight. God love him for singing along during the chorus of Dream On like he was at a rock concert, but I felt bad for him when it was over. He’s got too much integrity for this festival of mind-fuckery. Are we selfish for wanting him to continue and do well? Could we give up the pants for the sake of the pants-wearer? Am I reading too much into his sullen look tonight?

Liz Lemon: This week has got to have been particularly hard on Jason. The schedule has been jam packed, his roomie was unceremoniously booted, and he’s had to take part in an exceptionally crass week of 70s-style variety show celebredom masquerading as a charity event. I don’t want to pretend to know what goes through his head, but he’s actually physically done his part to help improve conditions for those in need and to be on the telemarketing end of the spectrum has to be somewhat eye opening. The positive is that with his higher profile, he has to know he’s going to be able to make a bigger difference in the world when this is all over. I hope he can just make it through without the cynicism getting to him.

So can we talk song selection for next week? I probably know a few Mariah songs but it’s not really my area of expertise. But just in general, what should he be going for to gain some momentum off of this week? On the one hand, part of me wants him to take a huge risk and do something so outside his comfort zone as to produce shock and awe across the lands. But the other part of me whispers that this way lies doom. What are your thoughts, McLovin?

McLovin: Yeah. How ironic is it that in our first Know-it-All we both mentioned that we own no Mariah? I’m in shock and awe over the theme — why is AI using her songs when the standard mantra from the judges has always been to call out the names of divas and tell the contestants not to do their songs at all if you can’t out-do them? I mean, why not just have Whitney on for mentoring? Plus she could give Paula a run for her money in the chemically-induced crazy department and that would make for good TV.

The Mariah theme is supposedly restricted to her #1 hits. I’m pretty sure no one’s going to do “Touch My Body”, so that leaves 16 songs to choose from (don’t do Hero, Jason. Please.) Jason probably needs to whittle the list down to songs that weren’t produced by Randy, just to remove his ego from the equation, but I don’t know which songs they did or didn’t do together. Pretty much all of her songs are outside of what we see as his comfort zone.

The biggest Mariah Carey *fan we know thinks he should do Dreamlover. *shout out to our Love Llama of Jakarta*. I think Heartbreaker and Vision of Love both have melodies that would be more open to adaptation than a lot of her other stuff, and most of the contestants are going to have to adapt the songs – not just Jason. They’d be Cah-Razee to go for a full on imitation. Oh! Mariah had faux-dreads in the video for Thank God I Found You — maybe that’s a sign. And she had an inordinately hot guy with nice pants (Wentworth Miller from Prison Break) in the We Belong Together video — maybe that’s a sign, too. I’m so confused!! You know what? Fuck it. I’m trusting Jason to do it up right.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s on for the week after this. Our Jesus Christ Superstar dreams are getting closer to reality!

Liz Lemon: I think I can survive Mariah week if there’s any hope of Jason Castro Superstar in our future. He’d really rock that out. And would it be presumptuous to ask that anybody close to Jason reading this blog steer Jason to that soundtrack for Webber week … you know just in case he’s still here then (I’d hate to jinx the pants)? Kthnxbai.

And all your signs point to Jason offering us subtle genius next Tuesday; whether or not the audience allows itself to remain out of his way could determine how it’s perceived. Please please please let the days of the clap be behind us.

You know, I think I’ve actually ranted about everything that’s on my mind this week. Mostly I’m psyched that Jason had a stellar week performance-wise, troubled by the environment of cruelty and commercialism he’s being exposed to and anxious about next week’s theme. But like you, I have utter faith in Jason – he’s proven time and again who he is and what he’s made of and he makes me pretty damn proud to call myself a fan.

Til next week?

McLovin: We’ll have a Castrocopian plus One on site at next Tuesday’s show, so we’re guaranteed that at least two of the crowd will act right. Here’s hoping they make it to the mosh to set an example.

The stellar week – it’s been great, hasn’t it? After a few weeks of being written off or ignored in the press, that sweet sweet validation you mentioned at the top of this is like nectar for the Jason fans. I would think that the cruelty and commercialism weighs on him, but the ‘what he’s made of’ is going to get him through it. Through that and next week, too (don’t want to jinx the pants, either).

Speaking of pants – we so don’t sound like we’re all about The Pants, right now. What’s wrong with us, Lemon, letting our ulterior non pants-related Jason Love show through like that? We’re usually so good at being superficial.

Next week. Next week, it’s totally about the pants again.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Just Plain-ass Know it All

Liz Lemon: McLovin, if I could talk to Jason, I think I would tell him, gently, that he’s got at best a 4th place finish in him – depending on how he falls out with Michael Johns. I don’t know who votes for the girls in this race but I do think he can beat them all provided he starts thinking strategically about it. I would also tell him honestly that he should consider himself at risk every week for real. Not like the “anybody can go at any time” spiel. He’s really vulnerable. So in order to stick it out, he’s going to have to start figuring out what he needs to do to increase his fanbase and energize voters.

So what’s it going to take to get him to that 4th place finish? Or am I living in a Castroverse of my own delusions to think he can even finish that high?

McLovin: Liz Lemon, I’m with you; I think he can beat all of the remaining girls if if if. And some of the guys. If. Lots of ifs. I thought he did great this week. There was a lot of joy in that performance and it seemed like he was back to being his old self. He seemed so comfortable – for the first time since If I Fell, in my opinion – and I’m chalking it up to his gaining an ability to ignore the curse that is the Mosh Bitchez and choosing a song that couldn’t be ruined by their inappropriate clapping. It was a validation in my eyes when Simon agreed that Kristy, Ramiele and Brooke were the ones who belonged in the Bottom 3 this week. I was half expecting him to substitute Jason for Brooke, but he didn’t. Maybe he reconsidered his harsh comments to Jason on Tuesday night.

Jason earned a ton of fans during the semifinals. He probably drew in some more with If I Fell, but neither Michelle nor Fragile did anything to get people who weren’t already voting for him to pick up that phone. The performance of Michelle was just too cheezy. Fragile was beautiful but it’s not the kind of song that would grab anyone that wasn’t already in his corner. I get the feeling that song was chosen because it meant something to him on a personal level, which is great for your own concert but not so much for Idol.

You know what Idol viewers (and the judges) like? Songs they already know that haven’t already been done to death. I’m convinced that Syesha’s song choice is the only thing that kept her out of the bottom three this week (but she would only have gotten away with it during Dolly Week). I think she oversang the shit out of it, but she didn’t destroy it and it’s a recognizable song. With the cheeze-fest that is Idol Gives Back, he’s going to need to rise above whatever Kraft-infested offering that David Archuleta and Kristy Lee Cook are sure to offer up and deliver something that’s meaningful to a lot of people. Personally? I’m hoping he comes out with a folkified version of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?

Liz Lemon: Oh yeah but what I’d like him to do is refrain from the folkified and really sang it. I wouldn’t have said this last week because as much as I love Jason’s tone and style, I didn’t realize how much versatility he has in that voice until I heard the studio version of Travelin’ Thru’.

What I hear you saying though is that from here on out song choice is utterly critical and that Jason is going to have to really think about the impact on the voters. He can pander to us with a really well-loved song and hope he doesn’t end up alienating fans. Or he can find brilliant songs (like Hallelujah) and sing the shit out of them. But he’s got to step away from the non-descript pretty throw away songs now. As much as I’d love for him to go for something obscure like Lauryn Hill’s The Passion (which he’d kill on), I think he’d be smarter to do the Marvin Gaye or maybe even just pimp out for the full on Wind Beneath My Wings pander. Of course he always has the option of staying true to himself… How amazing would Marley’s Is This Love be? Oh wait… that’s me confusing Inspiration with dirty sex again. Replace that with One Love.

You and I could talk song selection all day (and have) but it’s surely long too late for this week. So assuming we can’t whisper song suggestions in his adorable little ear, what else can he do to attract voters? I’ve never heard any really serious critiques of him, other than superficial stuff (his hair, his goofiness). Nobody hates him or wants to see him go – everyone loves the pants. He’s almost everyone’s *second* favorite it seems. But since none of them are tossing votes his way, that’s not very helpful. What’s he got to do to move up to favorite? Lose the shirt?

McLovin: Two things: 1.) Much as the judges irritate me, he’s got to make them happy because their comments are the last thing the viewer is left with after the performance. 2.) I’ve seen more serious critiques than just — did you say “lose the shirt”? He needs to make it look like an accident, though. Take off the guitar, get a button caught in one of the tuning heads and BAM! Skin. Then turn his back to the camera while he buttons back up. Yes.

I’ve seen more serious critiques, ranging from “he can’t sing” to “he’s too boring” to “I’ve never seen anyone more baked on television in my life”. I can’t argue with the “boring” complaint because Idol tends to reward singers who club you over the head with their pyrotechnics and he did sing Fragile; and I won’t argue with the “baked” comments because only a dumbfuck would really believe that he’s high on television.

Although my initial reaction to “He can’t sing” is an urge to respond with a “Fuck Off”, the better argument is to suggest that they listen to the iTunes studio of ‘Travelin’ Thru’. You’re so right — he’s got versatility oozing out of his pores on that one. And luckily the instrumentation wasn’t overpowering him this time.

Another argument (and to get back to Point 1, making the judges happy) is this: Simon said that his Hollywood Week audition was “one of the best of the day”. No one was saying he couldn’t sing in the semi-finals, even when he blew the note on Hallelujah (which you and I both agree made the song more than it took away from it). Randy said he was pitchy at the end of “Daydream” (he wasn’t). Randy and Simon both said his vocals were weak on Top 20 night (they were), but Simon bitched more about the song choice than anything else that night. None of the judges have complained about his vocals since then. Where Jason is concerned, the thing Simon bitches about the most is song choice and Simon is the judge that everyone listens to.

But, since we’ve already got song choice covered (JASON: PLEASE SING DYLAN’S I SHALL BE RELEASED AT YOUR VERY FIRST OPPORTUNITY), the thing he might want to consider is his delivery and look back on what he was doing when he made the judges happy. Apart from needing to gain some on-stage confidence (which he did this week. Go Jason!), I’ve come to the conclusion that he also needs to put more thought into his use of the band, which he seemed to do in the semi-finals and again this week. As if there wasn’t enough wrong with Michelle, the band totally screwed him on that one, and the back-up singers were too loud on Fragile. He’s got to make himself and his particular delivery the focus of his songs. That’s what worked this week; that’s what worked on Daydream and Hallelujah; he needs to keep trying to get back to that. Because I’ll tell you what: it’s been working for Brooke, her appearance in the bottom three this week notwithstanding.

Other than that, he should employ more of the versatility you’ve mentioned and then Oh! What about wifebeaters or see-through shirts? Not quite so obvious as the shirtlessness but still effective, yes?

Liz Lemon: I don’t think America quite realizes what’s going on under those shirts. The picture of the day today should be spirited across the interwebs because that’s a taut little number. But oh right – it’s about the music. Srsly it is – but it doesn’t hurt to notice the scenery does it?

I guess what it comes down to right at this moment is “Please Simon, please the world”, huh? I’m just curious to know exactly what song would make Simon fully get Jason though. Clearly it has to be a song Simon already knows (and loves) – but who can possibly pick that needle from the haystack. I would dearly love for Jason to make it to the final 3 and have Simon choose his song for that night just to get an idea what Simon is thinking. Though it might make me shudder uncontrollably. You know his take on Jason might have been entirely different if they hadn’t started out with the themes from the very beginning and Jason could have done Santeria rather than Daydream (just as one example).

If we’re going for Simon’s “moment” or “master class” or even “That was a really great song choice” praise, I suppose the gratuitous shirt mishap wouldn’t have much of a positive impact. Maybe the trick is to get the paparazzi involved in a little extra-idol publicity. “Hey Jason, maybe you want to go out for a walk today. Oh no, you don’t need to put that shirt on, it’s warm outside…” It couldn’t hurt.

McLovin, I’m superstitious as all hell so I don’t want to speculate about themes down the road because to look too far ahead is to invite ruin. But still, I’m terribly tempted to start winnowing down the song lists for a Neil Diamond or Andrew Lloyd Weber night in order to try to trumpet the choices loudly enough while there’s still time for him to choose. Yeah I know – we’re just trees falling in the forest. Still, it’s fun to imagine that we might be heard.

So what would you say to Jason if you had his ear?

McLovin: I would say the same thing Marisa Tomei says to Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinnie in the scene where he confesses that he’s worried about the outcome of Ralph Macchio’s upcoming trial:

“You know what I think? Honestly? I think once you’re out there, and you’re doing your thing out there…’re gonna be great. Really great.

If….you don’t fuck up.”

Song that would get Simon: DYLAN’S I SHALL BE RELEASED. DO IT, JASON. DO IT.

I pretty sure we could get that pic in the hands of TMZ before the day is over.
I’m kidding. Maybe.

Liz Lemon: So I hope that we’ll be back here again next week maybe arguing over the relative merits of Everything’s Alright versus Pilate’s Dream?

Hey JC, JC you’re alright by me…

McLovin: Sanna Hey, Sanna Ho, Superstar.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Judge The Judges

Liz Lemon: McLovin, I’m not going to make bones about it, I hate the judges. I hate them each differently, yet equally. Normally I can put my disgust on the back burner whenever I’m entertained by their peculiar mummery (look it up). I have flashes of impatience whenever they praise one contestant for taking a risk and another for finding their niche. I get exasperated with their advice that cannot possibly lead to any constructive change. What do you do about sounding like a drunken uncle at a wedding exactly?

As our friend LaurieMae said today:

I hardly ever think the judges have anything constructive to say. Simon does on occasion, but Paula and Randy say the same meaningless stuff over and over. Bad song choice, bad arrangement, bad dancing, be true to yourself, step out of your comfort zone, it didn’t do anything for me, I was waiting for that moment, you are a star, you are nervous, you’re having a good time. What the hell does any of it mean?

All of that annoys. But today, my anger is very precisely aimed at their complete lack of preparation and woeful, possibly willful, ignorance of music in general.

Do you think that the judges should be characters we love to hate or should they be competent peers who can offer these kids sound direction? Is it too much to ask that these specific judges at least familiarize themselves with the songs that the contestants will perform? Could it be useful for them to be aware of the influences these kids draw from? Or is the judge supposed to represent some facet of the home viewer?

McLovin: Are they representing the Don’t Know Shit contingent? If that’s the case, they’re doing an excellent job. We could love to hate them just as easily if they knew what the fuck they were talking about. It’d probably be even easier, because stupidity isn’t lovable at all. You know who I love to hate? Mia Michaels on So You Think You Can Dance. Not her choreography – love that. Hate her judging sometimes. And why? Because she calls out my favourite dancers and tells them exactly what they did wrong and what they should have done instead. Bitch!

Back to Idol: I should find a nicer way to say that “Don’t Know Shit” part. The newest song performed on the show to date this year was David Archuleta’s selection from 1990 on performance night. AI’s main demographic are people who are too young to have had much personal recollection of anything that’s been performed this year. With the decades-old themes they’ve been using — ’60s, 70s, 80s, Beatles (max 1971), Beatles again (’71 again) and what is now essentially 80s night again with year of the contestants’ birth, it should be expected that the audience wouldn’t have the knowledge about these songs that the judges should by damn have if they’re going to comment on it.

So far this year we’ve had:

1.) mistaking Simple Minds for INXS;
2.) fumbling through who sang Hallelujah when
3.) misidentifying David Cook’s Hello as Emo. Yep. That’s EXACTLY how Dashboard Confessional would have done that song. *eye roll*

1.) being unaware of the hierarchy of Chiki’s “All the (Wo)Man I need, other than “Did Whitney do it?”
2.) Stating he hadn’t ever heard of
a) Spinal Staircase’s More Today than Yesterday
b) Heart’s Magic Man (wtf?)
c.) a few Beatles songs from the last two weeks that I can’t even enumerate anymore

There’s more, but why go on? I don’t have the strength to start on Paula, but I don’t expect as much from her, you know? Her forte is to soothe the hurt feelings — she sucks at it sometimes, but I don’t expect her to know as much as one should be able to expect from big time producers Simon and Randy.

I’ve always been frustrated with them, but this season – and this week in particular? They’ve been showing that in addition to not knowing what went on back in the day, they don’t know what’s going on NOW. Would you agree? And I’ll have you know that I looked up “mummers” when Loreena McKinnett sang that song about them in the mid-’90s, thank you very much.

Liz Lemon: Oh good, I’m not alone in my little tirade. What set me off last night was the effusive praise of David Cook’s brilliant take on Billie Jean. Simon thought it was a HUGE risk that paid off big. Now, I love David Cook and he’s smart – Ryan had already credited the version of the song to Chris Cornell so if the judges had at the very least listened to the introduction, they might have had a clue that Cook was, yet again, copying a song in a style that best fits him. There’s nothing wrong with that, either. But if the judges were aware of what was going on, they would know to critique him on the performance and vocals (which were fantastic btw) and not just react to the brilliant arrangement… which was, once again, not David’s doing.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not blaming David Cook for anything. His performance was stellar. I want to quote what Michael Slezak said because he’s right.

Either way, even if you stripped Rocker David of any extra credit for originality, there’s no denying his vocal on ”Billie Jean” tonight. The physical and emotional power of his glory note toward the end of his number alone exceeded anything sung by any of his nine rivals this week. As Simon succinctly summed it up, Rocker David was ”amazing.”

emphasis mine.

The misguided praise of the arrangement over the performance goes back a long time too. Remember when Chris Daughtry took the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s version of Higher Ground and was lauded by the judges and critics alike… until the hue and cry from the few of us who recognized the song finally reached the ears of the staff writers who turned on Chris as though they had been personally lied to? Was that Chris’s fault? Of course not.

To take an example of how things ought to go down, let’s look at Jason singing Hallelujah – a song the judges did recognize, and a version they were familiar with. Jason did do a brilliant rendition of that song, but rather than praise him for changing up a song to fit his style, Jeff Buckley got name-checked and then the judges focused on Jason’s performance and vocals.

Just to underscore how under-prepared the judges were last night, they all openly admitted to never having heard David Archuleta’s song. How can the judges be in any kind of position for offering critiques like “It’s all a bit karaoke” if they have no frame of reference?

McLovin: Good points, Liz Lemon. What are the judges doing during the introductory clips? Does Simon completely tune Ryan out when they’re not engaged in their silly-assed “Who’s a bigger knob?” banter while the contestant is standing there trying to remain poised before their phone numbers are announced?

And what’s with the dick-editing anyway? We find out today — after two weeks of Doxology being pissed about not being credited with the arrangement when David did their version of Eleanor Rigby — that he DID credit them but it wasn’t aired? WTF?

David Cook was brilliant last night. I will go so far as to say that he even out-sang Chris Cornell on that song. *gasp* And as you well know, I am a HUGE Cornell fan, so I don’t say that lightly. In my world, ignorance of Chris Cornell is acceptable only if you never – ever – listen to Rock music. He was the lead singer of both Soundgarden and Audioslave, two of the biggest rock bands of the last 20 years. When Audioslave broke up last year and Chris recorded his solo album, Carry On, the fact that he had covered Billie Jean the way he did was all over the industry news. There’s no excuse for the judges to be unaware of this and wetting themselves over Cook’s originality, even if Rock music isn’t their primary specialty.

Furthermore, it’s not fair to David and that really pisses me off. They want to tag him as the most original contestant ever (he’s not. Blake Lewis was). Are they not aware that legions of people watch the show and then spend the next few days discussing it? Do they not know that their failure to have a clue has made David look like an arrangement stealing, not giving credit where it’s due douchebag? That’s why they SHOULD be commenting on the performance and the vocals and lay off the arrangement stuff. Because the vocals and performance were incredible and no one can say that that wasn’t really David standing there delivering the incredibleness.

Which brings me to your last question: How can they be in any position to judge when they don’t have a frame of reference? They aren’t. And that goes for Nigel, too. Obviously, I love Jason’s style and his take on the songs he’s covered; I very much love his original recordings. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know that Nigel — and the judges during Hollywood Week — might not have praised his take on “Crazy” so effusively if they had been aware at all that he was covering Ray LaMontagne’s cover of the Gnarls Barkley song. Don’t get me wrong – I praise it effusively myself, but I do so without calling it really different and original.

I know we’re raging against the wind, Liz Lemon, but really – will they ever wake the fuck up? Or are they doing this on purpose?

Liz Lemon: Against the wind, we’re older now and still raging against the wind… (See how I altered Bob Seger there? Aren’t I original?)

You made a phenomenal point about Jason singing Ray LaMontagne’s cover of Crazy. It makes me wonder if he was put through to the top 24 based on vocals and performance or brilliant adaptation. I don’t care how he managed to get through – I’m just glad he did. But it makes me stop and think. The entire criticism on this show should be on how they performed the material regardless of whose it is. When you come down to it ALL the songs are covers.

None of this would really irritate me to this extent though if it weren’t for the impact their comments make on at-home viewers. By now, a lot of fan factions are formed and ready to vote hard-core the full 2 hours no matter what their favorite does. A percentage of the fanbase can get complacent on a good night or energized on a bad night – especially if the judges are “mean”. But there are surely casual voters out there who believe in rewarding the performances they liked on a particular night and who might think, as I’ve heard said, “Well if Simon liked it, you know it’s good.” That’s the mentality that if you’re always negative then you must really mean it when you’re positive. But while he might truly mean the nice things he says (though some speculate it’s all meant to game the voters) he can still be wrong. Wrong and ill-informed. I mean, what is it when you completely forget a contestant’s name?

And when Simon or Randy misrepresents David Cook as most original idol ever, that’s going to (unfairly?) convert into votes. His performance should have stood on its own. In a perfect world, the judges would have quickly said, “You did Chris Cornell justice with his version of the song,” and then continued to praise him to high heaven for the sheer mastery of his performance. But like you say, instead there’s that nagging question, which now I have about Jason… are they enamored with the song choice or the performance?

Do you think the judges are frustrated with Jason because they’re waiting for him to pull out another “brilliant” adaptation? What’s he to do in a competition where a Kristy Lee is praised for the content of her song despite the lack of any kind of spark in her performance while Jason’s inherent uniqueness goes unrecognized?

McLovin: Ugh. Thank God Toby Keith’s Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue wasn’t available to Kristy this week or she’d have thrown that monstrosity at us. But say what you will about her, last night showed she’s a brilliant strategist. If Jason’s going to stay in the competition, he needs to develop some strategy himself. I’ll get back to that in a second but I want to talk about fan bases first.

Jason has a huge and passionately committed fan base, The Dreadheads, on the official forums. He’s got a smaller but no less committed fan base, The Castronauts, on Idolforums. There are several smaller sites dedicated to him, who I would imagine were voting their asses off last night along with us and all the other fan bases. That’s all well and good, and it does make an impact on vote totals but here’s the thing: I think the vast majority of Idol voters don’t get on the internet and join fan boards. Even if you tallied all the forum members for all the contestants and figured that they could each get in 400 votes apiece, you wouldn’t come close to the millions of votes that are tallied every week. There’s also a huge number of people who don’t even bother to watch the show before Top 12 because they’d rather not waste their time on the dreck of the auditions and the cannon fodder contestants in the semi-finals. There’s a hella lotta voters who never saw his inspired interpretation of I Just Want To Be Your Everything. By the way, judges: THAT? was original. And fuck you for not saying so – except Paula. Oh! Maybe they’d never heard the original and didn’t realize how much he had changed the song. Looking at you, Simon.

That hella lotta voters also never saw or heard the beauty of Jason’s Hallelujah, let alone his wonderfully catchy Daydream. And that’s where strategy comes into play. I’m not the only one who felt a twinge of dread when the spoilers came out yesterday that Jason was doing Fragile. It’s a beautiful song, but given what transpired last week he should have gone with something else. If I Fell was gorgeous and wonderful, despite Simon’s ‘student in a bedroom’ comments. Michelle was gorgeous but awkward. Fragile was too understated to be a good follow up to Michelle. If AI wouldn’t have thrown the cog in the gears that was Beatles Week II, Fragile would have been a great choice for last week. But since they did, he should have reconsidered his original choice and performed something with more oomph. I think that’s what the judges and the casual fans who listen to the judges before voting are looking for from him right now: oomph. Oomph makes Simon happy and less likely to make assy comments about busking.

Plus the mosh pit girls are going to follow the lead of whichever idiot is getting them to clap along (it’s probably a production assistant, under the direction of Nigel — or maybe Nigel himself) whether it’s a clappy song or not. Next week he needs to do something that the clapping won’t spoil the way it has spoiled his last three songs.

Liz Lemon: Hey, you know if Jason wants some help with some perspective from a couple of shamelessly experienced broads who have watched this show at times from an objective distance and at times from the vantage of the rabid fan, he is welcome to contact the Know It Alls for advice – on song choice or whatever – you know where to find us. [/deluded].

Til next time?

McLovin: I don’t know, Liz Lemon. He’s seems really nice and we’re kinda bitchy. Plus, I was dead wrong on that Michael Johns “We Are the Champions” thing. Who knew? But, yeah — we’ve always got something to say about something and we’re more than happy to help. [/Folie à deux]

Also – David. Honey. I will disappear everyone responsible for the Doxology mess if you want me to.

Today in a conversation with Hollywood Insider, Simon Cowell stated re: David Cook’s Billie Jean, that he knows ‘where he got the arrangement of the song from, but that doesn’t really matter. He was brilliant!’

We agree that David was brilliant. We agree that Simon knows where the arrangement came from now. We dispute that he knew where it came from last night.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Bitch About Stuff

We know our opinions are not unique across the internet today.
We just really needed to get it out of our systems.

McLovin: Liz Lemon, I have a confession to make: I did not love Jason’s performance of “Michelle” this week. The song? Loved? His tone and phrasing? Double loved; I’ve listened to the song probably 25 times already, and the show just ended a couple hours ago.

The problem is this: I can’t WATCH him perform it. How can that be when (per Simon) it’s his face that sold the song? Because Lord knows I love him and his face.

Liz Lemon: This was not my favorite performance, McLovin. It’s the first time I was really aware of how little prior performance experience he has had. It left me wondering if he is going to be able to rise to the challenge and go from being a true amateur performer to a pro before he loses ground with the voters. Or is he just along for the ride?

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t want him to become someone he’s not. He’s already far more accomplished than you would expect given his history. He has amazing confidence and poise under incredible pressure. And like you, I think he delivered the song last night absolutely beautifully. I would not have turned the sound down on the radio if that were playing. For me, the sole weakness in the performance was a kind of flippant stage presence that exposed his lack of experience. And you know who I blame for this? The audience.

McLovin: You mean the screaming, sign-wielding idjits that just had to get his attention while the performance was in flagrante, damn the cost that attention had on the performance itself? Yeah, me, too.

This is the first time I’ve seen him ‘break the wall’ during a song, but I’m not letting Jason totally off the hook. He’s got to learn to tune-out the squealors. He did alright ignoring them last week. But then Simon gave him the dreaded ‘you can’t keep doing this week after week’ speech and Jason did something he doesn’t seem comfortable with this week: performing without his guitar. Yes, that’s not the first time he’s done that, but the solemnity of Hallelujah and the smaller stage probably made that an easier task last time.

Do you think he should let them goad him into losing the guitar? Or were they goading him into picking up the pace? David Cook’s getting away with using his guitar just as often as Jason does.

Liz Lemon: It’s a long held pet peeve of mine that the contestants aim to please the judges rather than the fans. The judges have yet to formulate a constructive criticism that is actually valid. Simon is very good at pinpointing what did or did not work in a given performance, but he rarely has any useful advice for how to overcome problems in future performances and is, in fact, often ass-wrong. What’s worse is that the voting public actually lets his comments sway their own assessment of the performance.

As far as the dread “week after week” criticism, it’s really damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If the contestants show too much versatility and range, they risk being told they haven’t yet found who they are as an artist. If they get into a groove with their style, they get told to take risks and get outside their comfort zone, which – just why?

So should Jason ignore the critique and keep the guitar? I want to say yes because he won over millions of fans with a single performance playing that guitar. And I seriously doubt that he’d have this momentum if last night’s performance had been the first we saw of him. And yet, the viewers have had the seed of doubt planted in their minds. So thanks to the judges, there’s a stigma attached to that guitar. It’s a conundrum, McLovin.

I live in dread of the Crocodile Rock, but what’s Jason got to do to convince the doubters?

McLovin: So much to think about, Liz Lemon. The voters do let Simon and, to a lesser degree, Randy and Paula, sway them. How many times throughout Idol history have you heard this morning after-ism: “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was last night?” Or as good?

To counter-balance this, we need to actively campaign for EW’s Michael Slezak – the voice of reason, taste and honesty in all things Idol – to live blog a quick opinion on each performance during voting hours. Or for Ryan to include a disclaimer in his introduction: “THIS! is American Idol, where the judges’ opinions may be coloured by the fact that they have an investment in the outcome of the show.”

I think last night may have actually reinforced the doubters, or at least reinforced that he’s getting away with mediocrity because of his looks. I don’t think that, but Simon as much as said it. And that pisses me off, because for all his cries that this is a singing competition, he more often comments on the performance instead of the singing. And Jason’s singing last night was just fine.

For now, I want him (in his mind, at least) to tell the judges to suck it, pick up his guitar and do what he do. If I can name-check Michael Slezak again, his suggestion this week that Jason make use of the band and try something “with a harder rock edge, or a more driving tempo” could really work in Jason’s favour without making him lose the artistic identity that we both fell in love with at Daydream.

Do you think he has it in him? A little more edge, I mean?

Liz Lemon: Michael Slezak should just be a judge. He’s got an uncanny ability to say exactly what I’m thinking and has actual good advice.

It would be great if Jason would come out and do an edgier song, IF he can do it without blushing and giggling about the squealing in the audience. We’ve heard his pre-Idol version of Crazy which, while not the edgiest song in the world, is no ballad. He definitely left his mark on that song:

You know come to think of it, one element missing from Michelle last night was that there was no Jason in it. It was pretty much a straight translation of the Beatles song. That could be a result of the fast-paced week he alluded to leaving him no time to play with the song and really make it his own as he did last week with If I Fell. Is it really fair to these kids to have them doing so many things not related to Tuesday night and then expect them to nail it?

McLovin: That’s just crazy talk, Liz Lemon! Those Fords aren’t going to sell themselves, you know. I don’t know what they had to do this week besides the Ford commercial and the studio recording of the iTunes download. When you throw in working with the vocal coaches and band on the arrangements and rehearsal time, that’s a full week. I think he – no, most of them – suffered from the last minute change in theme for this week. We’ve seen information that they had this week’s song already picked out (presumably with some ideas of what they would do with it) before results night last week when they were suddenly left with two hours to choose a new song. And Simon wonders if maybe it wasn’t a bad idea. Really? [/Randy Jackson]

I’m hoping they return to some normalcy, or whatever passes for it in an Idol contestant’s world, next week. If they go back to whatever they were supposed to do this week, he’s had some time to work on his arrangement. I hope he comes out and kills it with the edge or at least something more uptempo. Hey, I bet The Edge himself wouldn’t make it on idol. Pretty sure The Beatles wouldn’t have.

I am worried about next week: I see squealiness. Next Tuesday is his birthday. What are the chances that the squealers can maintain while he’s singing? I’d say none, so that tuning out the crowd thing is going to be more important than ever next week. Maybe he can amp up and drown them out? (And for those reading this, we should disclaim that we don’t advocate the silence of the squeal pre- or post- song. Mostly just during.)

Liz Lemon: Oh right! I nearly forgot that his birthday is on Tuesday. Happy Birthday, dude. I hope that doesn’t add to the general distraction, but I also wouldn’t want him to neglect celebrating the big day. Still – please, mosh pit girls, please – shut your squealholes during the performance!

McLovin, I’m laughing at your comment about the Beatles themselves failing to make it on Idol. I’m pretty sure most of my favorite artists would get panned for a variety of sins. Mostly Simon just wouldn’t “get it.” Then again, I was happily surprised with their reception of Jason’s Hallelujah. Who knew they could listen to Jeff Buckley without muttering “a bit pitchy in parts.” So many people think it was the song that made that performance, but I think Jason showed a flash of brilliance that cemented my Castromania. Do you think Jason can ever recapture the magic of that performance? Should he even try?

McLovin: Buckley at the least would have gotten nailed for the ‘self-indulgence’. And for not letting himself be ‘more vulnerable’ by playing without his guitar. Shut your squealholes! Someone needs to glitter that up on a sign.

He absolutely shouldn’t try to recapture the magic of Hallelujah, because they’ll call him on it. I think that he can get another great moment, though. There’s more than one kind of magic.

Liz Lemon: Fortunately, I think Jason’s magic will keep him going for at least another week. Let’s regroup next week to agonize over the song choice and performance all over again. And until then, try to regain our dominance in google returns for Jason Castro Pants.

McLovin: A noble goal! Okay, Liz Lemon. See you then.

Castrocopian Know-It-Alls Hold Forth About Mr. Jason Castro

Liz Lemon and McLovin, founders of Castrocopia, recently sat down to talk about their favorite season 7 American Idol, Jason Castro. Here’s what they had to say.

Liz Lemon: McLovin, I want to start off by saying how much fun it’s been working with you on this blog. You find the best stuff and always make me laugh. I knew when we set this site up that Jason was a musician I could support, but as the days go by and we see more of his range, I think he’s going to end up surprising both of us with how talented he really is. I enjoy quite a few of the contestants this year, but Jason is my favorite and I get excited each week to see what he will do. He hasn’t disappointed yet.

I know you feel the same way, but what is your take on how he’s faring in popular opinion? Are people responding to him like we are?

McLovin: Liz Lemon, it’s been a total party doing the blog with you. You crack me up, and girl! This place looks ferosh! You give good code, baby — it’s a great place to gush. I’ve got a handful of contestants that I look forward to every week, too, but Jason’s the one that has my full backing. We aren’t alone in our enthusiasm. He’s usually near the top of many on-line ‘favourite contestant’ polls and his threads and forums at a lot of the boards (Television Without Pity, IdolForums and Fox’s Official AI Forum) are among the most active.

But you know it’s not all flowers and puppies out there. He has his detractors.

Liz Lemon: True. I have heard people say they do not get Jason and can’t understand what I see in him. They ask me: “Is it the dreads? the blue eyes?” or “Is it the song choice?” As if it can’t possibly be the singing. What do you say to people who think you’re deaf or blinded by beauty?

McLovin: Well, I have to acknowledge that it’s a valid question — he does bring the pretty, in big damn truckloads. But pretty isn’t enough. If it were, I would have been steadfastly behind Chris Richardson last year or Ace Young the year before that. And I’ve been known to swoon over a fugly singer/guitarist or two in my time. Amos Lee: Pretty? No. Beautiful? God, yes.

I think Jason’s getting a bum deal because he doesn’t fit into the typical Idol mold. There’s not been a contestant like him before, so I think he tends to get discounted as a novelty. Is that something you see happening, Liz Lemon?

Liz Lemon: A novelty? Yeah I think that is definitely one critique of the counter-copia. For many, Idol is nothing more than a technical singing competition. When you talk about great pop singers, names like Stevie, Celine, Whitney and Mariah get thrown about. If these are your points of comparison, then you’ll definitely be left scratching your head over Jason. But personally, the last time I checked, I don’t own any Celine or Mariah. Or Josh Groban if you need a male example. Also lacking in my collection are artists who are eye candy without musical merit.

I think you agree with me, McLovin, that Jason’s not going to win this with melisma and powerhouse glory notes, so why do you think he’s still on that stage?

McLovin: Economics. Well, not exactly, but the principal of providing a needed service to a previously untapped market certainly comes into play. Maybe we’ve developed a bit of an intolerance for melisma and glory notes, particularly when they’re delivered sans charm or emotion. Lakisha from last year comes to mind, as does Ramiele from this crop of singers — lovely girls with beautiful voices, but something’s missing. Or maybe, like me, the people who enjoy and support Jason have stumbled upon a season of Idol whose contestants more closely match up to the music they purchase in their everyday lives. I have no Mariah or Josh Groban, either. I do have Celine, but that was the result of a well-intentioned Christmas gift gone horribly awry.

So, I’m wondering, Liz Lemon. In your vast collection of music, with whom would you compare or categorize Jason? And nicely done, slipping in the word ‘copia’ up there.

Liz Lemon: Ah that’s a good question. So many artists leap to mind based on the purity and vulnerability of his voice and the folky style he has on the guitar. But if I had to narrow it down, the person I keep coming back to the most is Shannon Hoon, late of Blind Melon. Shannon’s vocals are kind of “jangly” – for lack of a better word – and light, despite some of the darker elements of his music. I hesitate to make too many comparisons because I’d like to think Jason will be his own artist with a sound unique to himself. Still, the mind likes to draw similarities – like now when I hear Ray LaMontagne I can hear how he might have influenced Jason’s style.

Now I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on this topic. And also, what market do you see Jason reaching that the power singers are missing?

McLovin: Well, it’s not the coffeehouse market. I’ve seen the reviews and comments where people are trying to fit him into that niche, and that’s what I don’t get. Does acoustic automatically make you Jack Johnson? No. And Jack was almost 26 when he released his debut cd. Twenty-fucking-six. Jason has been playing guitar and singing for only about 2 years. He went from being the non-singing drummer in a band that puts me in mind of 30 Seconds to Mars as Christian rockers to what he’s doing now and I have to wonder why Randy Jackson isn’t screaming from the rooftops “He’s only 20, dawg!”

What was the other question? To whom would I compare him? His last two Idol performances showed tenderness (both songs) and unexpected big cojones (Hallelujah). To me, tender + ballsy = Thom Yorke (I’m not saying his style or vocals are like Thom’s). One of his pre-Idol songs, So Fast, is as musically dark and developed as Townes Van Zandt. I say musically but not lyrically because I find some of his lyrics to be underdeveloped or immature in spots, but dude — he’s only 20! With time to grow and some more experience behind him, I don’t see how he can’t stay unique to himself. He’s already sowing the seeds.

Which makes me wonder: Is Idol the best place to nurture someone like Jason? Do we want him to win? Or just go far enough to kick start a career? I know I want him on the tour at the least, and I think he’ll make Top 5 or better.

Liz Lemon: I don’t think he can win unless he changes his act in a way that fits the standards of a common denominator. And that requires a kind of sausage I don’t want them to turn Jason into. So in that regard, I certainly hope he does not win, but gets very close. In fact, if he could pull off the win despite staying true to his own artistic integrity, I quiver to think what the forces of evil would do with him. We know well from past experience that 19E does not mess around with niche markets. I would dearly love to ask Jason himself what his goals are on the show.

You’ve got me thinking about Thom Yorke now. It’s not like selling CDs out of the trunk of a car are the only options these days. What do you think Jason’s potential is if he doesn’t win or get picked up by a label?

McLovin: Yikers. Your 19E as sausage-maker analogy has given me the oogies. *shudder* I don’t want them to change him, either. I wonder why they feed the niche throughout the season and then starve it when it’s time to release a product? A kabillion viewers tell them ‘This is what we want!’ and the next thing you know? Bo Bice’s The Real Thing is marked down to $4.00 in the discount bin three months after its release.

Potential: In the last week, Jason
a.) has boosted the sales of a long-dead legend’s signature song enough to push it to #1 on iTunes, where it remained for almost a week – a song millions of people presumably already owned. Now it’s #1 on Billboard, too, and
b.) has cracked the iTunes Top 100 (Pop Category) with his own version of the same
c.) was the only Idol contestant with 3 songs in the Top 10 Idol downloads to date (all four of his performances are in the Top 20.)

So the potential is definitely there. He’s touched a nerve. The big labels are becoming less and less important, which is good for artistic freedom. What’s to keep him from bankrolling his own private label with the money he earns on the tour? Or selling his music on the internet? If he continues to deliver a good product he’ll keep the fans he’s gaining through Idol and draw in the new fans he’ll need to stay successful in the long run.

Or, if we all really are deaf or blinded by the pretty he could always model.

Liz Lemon: No denying the boy takes a good picture. I wouldn’t mind if he was promoted a bit like Beck – good music with a mind-bogglingly endless collection of photoshoot pictures to ogle. Is there something wrong with that?

I think I’m going to try not to overthink the whole “should he win” question. I don’t think he can and even if he shouldn’t, I won’t be able to refrain from dialing for him because deep down I want my favorite to be validated and last longer than all the others. And I want more songs for my IPod.

But for now – we just have to get him into the top 10, which means he will be on the tour.

McLovin: The Beck method of music promotion teamed with visual images isn’t the worst thing Jason could do. We can hope. And while we’ve all had a favourite fall out of the competition too soon (oh, David Hernandez – how can this be?), I think it’s safe to say Jason will make the tour at least. I’ll vote till my finger pads are raw to keep him in it to win it, too, Liz Lemon. If for no other (selfish) reason than an opportunity for a Lemon-McLovin AI Concert Crunk-Boo Fest. Plus, the more songs on my iPod Zune thing. Score!

Liz Lemon: Good looking out, dawg. (Not sure what that even means). So let’s get together again soon and talk about Jason some more.

McLovin: Way to bring it, baby. And I’m there!

Special thanks to T. Douglas Woomble, Esq., for editorial oversight, general awesomeness and *good lookin’ out.

*Per Mother Tongue Annoyances: taking care of something or having one’s back.