First, the bad planning. After losing precious moments with a bomb of April Fools joke at the start, the show was forced to run over -- which meant those playing along with DVRs missed the judges' long-coming vindication of Michael Johns, probably the show's only notable moment. (Luckily, my DVR was also set for Hell's Kitchen following, and thus leaping space and time, the last bits of AI showed up on that program.)
So, Dolly Parton night?! I like Dolly, in both her cheesy splendor and her longtime, if sporadic commitment to old-school country music. And I also love the requisite country-music night. I just wasn't sure that Dolly night was a good idea: Her songs often suit her unique act, and having her as a mentor was a spectacular waste of time. This is a professional sweet-and-sweeter entertainer who likely hasn't said a mean word about anybody or anything in half a century.
So, the "mentoring" was reduced to Dolly saying nice things about the contestants, and the contestants saying nice things about Dolly. (Though I bet most of those yuong'uns were pretty unfamiliar with Miz Parton's oeuvre, even her big hits which predate this gang's birthdates.)
Most of the performances ranged from pleasant to dull; some weren't helped by the caffeinated audience's tendency to clap along with every song -- who claps in time for maudlin tunes like "Jolene" or "Coat of Many Colors?!
Better moments included David Cook's new hairdo; David Archuelta's corny but sweet "Smokey Mountain Memories"; designer Michael Kors in the house (!!); and Michael Johns bringing some Joe Cockerish flavor to "It's All Wrong But It's Alright."
It was easier to find not-so-good bits. On the fashion front: Dolly's disco smock; Ramiele's mini-dress made from a garbage bag (or something similar); Jason's dread ring (I just noticed); and Kristy Lee's stoned-soul-picnic look, flowery halter-dress and no shoes. (Side note: To my endless disappointment, somebody has reined in Paula's usually manic fashion sense, and she's been looking respectable week after week.)
I drifted off during most performances -- though Carly's more-irritating-every-week, deep-breath-and-belt technique stirred my slumber. And I bet I wasn't alone in wondering what the uptempo version of Chikezie might have brought to Dolly night.
And yes, of course, somebody had to grab "I Will Always Love You" -- and go all Whitney on it -- though I was praying some ill-advised fool would opt for "Two Doors Down," among the worst of Dolly Parton's hits.
So, continuing my not-very-good streak of predictions, I say it's bye-bye time for Ramiele (again), Carly or Kristy Lee (again). Tell me if I'm wrong.