Saturday, August 20, 2011

Samuel WAS In This Episode, Right?

You guys, I can't even come up with a funny, witty, or even referential title for Samuel this week.  Like, was he in this episode?

I mean, have screenshots for this post, so he must have been, but he was SERIOUSLY edited down.  My first thought is that he must have totally sucked, so in order for the producers to get the final four they were looking for, they had to make him unnoticeable.  And given that nearly all of his confessionals were brief and purely observational, I say job well done--Samuel wasn't a competitor this episode, he was a narrator.

My second thought was just that he was exhausted.  This challenge was pretty much right up his alley, musically speaking, so he was able to afford a more laid back attitude to the processions.  Plus, they all seemed a little sleepy.

There certainly was quite a delayed reaction going on here at least.  Samuel almost seemed to be studying Kevin before being all fist-pumpy.  Everyone else was already bored with it.

I was surprised to find myself enjoying how he sang this--very calm, raspy, soulful.  His voice, naturally, seems a little strained when he sings, so he should have inserted a little more energy into how he was carrying himself.  As it was, the performance was pretty sleepy.  However, I will admit that I thought he could have won it...until I heard the others sing.  As Kevin pointed out, he just wasn't performing to the same energy standard as the others.

Also, this was SO not the challenge to break out the Michael Jackson hand, Dreads.

"I'm the only one in the top four that plays an instrument, and I play drums, guitar, bass, and piano."

Like I said: RIGHT UP HIS ALLEY.  Although as Kevin pointed out this wasn't much of a leg up--if anything, he was just teaching them a good lie to tell at a casting call.  But we'll come back to this.

"I'm the keyboard!"

I can practically hear the producers screaming from behind camera for one of the interns to bake cocaine into his lunch.  Like, why is he always so low energy?  This whole season he's been somewhat of a fan favorite, and generally up in the ranks in terms of contenders, but he's been SO under-the-radar.  Which, you know, great--be a consistent, respectable performer, but remember that half of your job on this god blessed reality show is to get people to LOVE YOU.

Granted, his appearance, and occasional adorable outburst of personality have gotten me to solidly like him (I do like him, you guys) but I just...I NEED MATERIAL!  I try to be fair and give him semi-equal attention because I don't want to seem biased, but damn it's hard trying to pull 1200 words out of this guy, AND keep you guys from hating me for saying them at the same time.

Sorry, that's been building.  Let's move on, shall we?

"The best thing about music is that there's no way to be wrong."

Remember how I was right about McKynleigh?


Nah, the kid just generally seemed freaked out by the entire experience--it was exceedingly sweet and heart-warming the way the Samuel tried to comfort him by staring down a camera, telling him that a camera's job is just to make you look good.  And of course, the kid hammed it up in an adorable, manner. Very possibly the cutest scene of the season. 

Actually, come to think of it, Samuel probably succeeded the most in this mentoring part of the challenge--he was energetic, game, and playful.  If this was the character Samuel chose to portray instead of Squinty van Smolder, I'd probably have found him a thousand times more interesting from the get go.

And now that I've been nice to him:

What is with the cast of this show and Quaaludes?!  Samuel really has a hard time bringing it under pressure--with the homework assignments and when he's just sort of hanging out, he sings pretty well.  But as he's said before, his nerves just close up his throat under duress.  Unfortunately Nikki had completely run out of patience by the time they got to him, because woman was barely letting him finish a sentence if it wasn't sung.

Although I have to give him credit:

 "Yeah, uh huh, you ARE sucking.  Speed this up, I have a date."

I think Samuel got Nikki to make the fastest, most significant mood shift she's ever had.  Looks like somebody just needed her battery recharged with some bad-ass belting.

I thought their criticism of Samuel pawing at the piano was pretty spot on.  It's not a huge thing, seeing as they can always cut to someone else or re-edit the footage so that it plays over a the footage in different timing, but editing equals money, so getting him to polish it up a little was a good note.

This is the one part of the episode the Samuel REALLY faltered for me--he was practically invisible in this video, even though listening to the vocal tracks again, he is definitely layered in the background a ton of the time.  Part of the issue is that the keyboardist, especially with a song like this, can't really move from the keyboard.  Still, he could tried to be a little bit more dynamic than he was.

This is what I was getting at before, about the instrument experience.  It did not really benefit Samuel in this situation to know how to play an instrument because it distracted him from performing--he was thinking too much about how he'd play it in a show, rather than the most dynamic way to portray it onscreen.

As for his last chance performance, it's weird, I initially had him written down as giving the worst one, but watching it back for this post, I couldn't quite grasp why--it was sexy, it was original.  It wasn't the most 'Glee' performance he could have done, but it was still a hell of a lot more interesting than Damian's vocal.  Then he hit that last note.  Let that be (no pun intended) a note to all singers--always nail that last, big note.

Okay, that was a pretty damn good pun.

I just love this shot--Ryan is essentially ordering Samuel to cry, and Ian is like 'Wtf? Since when is Glee sadistic?'  Gotta love miscommunications among writers.

So for half a second, it looks like Samuel isn't getting called back, and the collective hearts of teen girls across the nation shatter into a million bits, right before they all start shrieking and giggling that he's still in, despite everyone thinking that he'd be gone.  Personally, I thought that I thought Sam should have gone too, but watching the episode over, he really was the only one to embrace the challenge of mentoring a young kid, and for that there was no way they could have fairly cut him.  

Good job making it this far, dreads.  See you in the final.


  1. I disagree with you about the video. I think Sam wasn't a stand out but he didn't fade into the background ether. If anyone, Damien was missing something & Alex looked forced. I REALLY enjoyed his rendition of My Funny Valentine. He took Ryan's critique last week and gave a performance that was outside of his rocker norm. I think it was the drastic improvement in his last chance performance that saved him. I think Samuel's gotten the short end of the constructive criticism. How can he get better without direction? In the end I hope to see all of them as part of the future cast.

  2. Well said. I agree mostly. Before this video, I was a bit bored of the same things he would do each week. This week, however, he really brought it and got into the theme. He was one of the best mentors, I think. Everywhere else, though, he was definitely sleepy and not as dynamic. The one thing that really bugs me about this episode is that the Nikki and the rest of the judges didn't get to tell Ryan how the contenders did during the video shoot and stuff. That's not fair to those who did good... Alex got an easy way out for performing bad at the video shoot... I can't wait to see who wins! Only one more day left!

  3. Can't believe you didn't comment on him smiling at Kevin and touching his lips in the beginning. Ha!

    Did you consider that Murphy put him on the bottom this time so he'd be the underdog going into the final because he's never been the underdog previously? He gave him a song we all thought he couldn't do, and he pulled out something, as Ryan Murphy had ordered, "swoonworthy."

    "Stay little Valentine, staaaaaaaaaaay . . ." and Ryan Murphy says "okay"