Wednesday, May 28, 2014

AMICI, the finale
Before I get into it, let me say that while I know most of you won't be following my favorite talent reality show because it is in Italian and because if you are not in Italy it is a fairly obscure show, I still believe it will demonstrate many fascinating aspects of Italian culture.

 First check out what Blue team leader Miguel Bose chose to wear to the finale. Nice kimono, huh?

Our hostess Maria Di Filippi began by presenting the three finalists

Alessio & Dear Jack

Vincenzo & Giovanna
 and introducing the extended jury which for the first time was made up of a dozen or so journalists in addition to the three famous people who have been there all season. She said that she found getting to know Bose was a gift and it was implied that she enjoyed working with Moreno much less. Drama in the first seconds. We can't even get through the opening remarks without arrows being shot out. She went on to explain that despite high unemployment rates in Italy, 80 % of past finalists in the last 13 seasons have found work in their chosen fields. 

 The first performance of the night was a spirited, but not uplifting duet between Alessio and his band Dear Jack and the singer Elisa.  

 Next up were Vincenzo and Giovanna dancing to the song Bellezza, incanto e nostalgia which Alessandra Amaroso sang for them live. It was not really jaw dropping in any way.

Debora came out with the eye of the tiger. She sang with the singer Giorgia. I thought I was losing my mind because Giorgia who I like, did not sound good to me. Then Maria was quick to say after the performance that Giorgia was singing with a fever. Why do people with fevers have to hug everyone? I wanted to rush the stage and hand Debora a bottle of ammucchina/disinfectant. Well, it's the finale so I guess she can get sick afterwards if she has to.

Then in a very Italian way things got complicated. An envelope was handed to Maria. It had Vincenzo's name in it. He went center stage and while the annoying music played he had to pick whether to challenge Debora or Alesio and he picked Debora. I imagine since they are good friends and team members he did this to give her more air time. They get to choose what they perform for the first time all season and then the Italian public gets to vote by calling in on a hotline number. Thanks, Maria, for spelling that all out for us. Then she confused me by saying that without even performed Vincenzo was up by one vote. Each of them could get to a maximum of 5 points and just by standing there the score was already 3 to 2. Now that's ITALIAN. Also the graphic indicated that Vincenzo was ahead but Maria said that Debora was leading. That is also super ITALIAN. Learn with me. I live here now.

Wait a minute, she is number two he is number three because there are three contestants. I was just confused. Learn with me. I live here now.

VIncenzo then did the best he has ever done dancing with Giovanna to an Italian cinema themed medley that was everything you could ever hope for from this genre. Take a look:

Debora could barely speak she felt so shy to explain her choice of melancholy song about ill fated lovers. It was a musical theater kind of piece which is not usually her strong point, but I suppose she was trying to show her range to the judges. There were some dancers acting out the story in the background. She has received a lot of criticism about her interpretation of Italian songs over the season and this showed that she had mastered exposing her vulnerabile side to the audience. The dancers were in an hour glass at a cafe table where real water and fake snow covered them and they sealed their double suicide pact with a kiss as the hotel bellman kneeled down at stage left in defeat. When asked his opinion one of the journalists complimented her important voice and her courage in chosing a historic Italian singer songwriter as her inspiration since that song is no longer really performed by anyone anymore.

Vincenzo trotted out a choreography he has done, I believe twice before, to the song Fever with all of the female dancers surrounding him dressed in red. Jury member Luca Argentero said that he was dancing as a more mature dancer at season's end.

Debora countered with her inedito that she has also done before called Anche se fuori inverno. The one written by Fiorella Mannoia. But she sang it the best she ever has.

Vincenzo did the jive with Giovanna.
Debora then decided to counter with a song peformed in English acappella. It sounded like a Celine Dion song, but I think it was My Immortal by Evanescence. She sounded like an angel, hence the wings.
VIncenzo highlighted a dance style that is not his own, that is contemporary, with a cool number he has performed before where he dances with a skull and a girl in a strait jacket. It was very well choreographed and executed and showed his growth since the program's beginning.

Debora chose to sing Una storia d'amore in honor of her fidanzato. She got jury member Sabrina Ferilli and Maria De Filippo singing along which is always a good sign. I've given her a hard time in the blog because she is an easy target, but she has really grown on me with her genuine crying and growing empathy with the contestants.

Then Vincenzo did another number we've seen, but here is a great shot of the amazing choreography by Giiuliano Peperini which is carried out using persian rugs. 
Debora sang a shmaltzy American number that I usually hate, I think it's called Get Here, If You Can, but she was so sincere that she made me cry, mannaggia me.

Then Vincenzo danced the cha cha and I skipped it because I didn't care because next up was Debora singing And I AM TeLLing YOu, which is what I have been waiting for all season long. Even Dear Jack gave her a standing ovation.  One of the journalists said her growth in self esteem had made her a good model for girls everywhere. Debora won the match handily and then had to move on to duel with Alessio.

I LOVE Giuliano Peparini. Very Much.

Artistry of Peparini.


Shame on Vincenzo who upon being awarded the trophy for the Dance category by his choreographer Giuliano thanked Maria, but forgot to thank his partner and fidanzata Giovanna. She's from Napoli, too, and I, personally, wouldn't mess with her. Oh that one's gonna hurt, Vincenzo. . .

I had to laugh seeing Debora sing an Italian love song La Donna Cannone while a floppy haired dancer danced his little heart out on a heart shaped floppy pillow behing her. The journalist hated it, saying that she oversang it in a way that Italian songs, unlike English language songs, should not be oversung. Sabrina, God love her, defended Debora.

Ha ha check out the phallic tower in the background.
Dear Jack chose to do their version of the song Arrivederci which I think is by Umberto Bindi. Disconcerting and also very European was the choice to have back up dancers, one of whom, gets nude for no good reason at a cafe table whilst composing music. The journalists said that they loved this modern arrangement of the song.

Magic Mike?

Debora chose to sing Canto anche sono stonata which means I sing even if I'm out of tune with a full scat section, playing on the soft and loud parts of the song. Alessio is such a sweetheart, he was dancing in his seat. The fact that his boy band is going to make it big regardless of the outcome was only part of his display of generosity because he is sincerely adorable. He chose to sang the title track to his CD that is very good, if played to death by now. The journalists said good luck because it is hard to keep a band together and to kick off Moda which is the other Italian band which is always at the top of the charts.

Debora chose next Barbara Streisand's The way we were as a way to sing a more delicate ballad for the judges. This is a song which always makes me want to off myself and this time was no different, except for the fun misprnounciations of English: ees too paifuh too remembuh . . .
No shortage of corny choreography here.
Alessio and Dear Jack saluted Prof. Rudy Zerbi with this song by Battisti about a one night stand which convinced him way back in the season that they could in fact make it as a band. The journalists talked about their sophisticated interpretations and managed to give a swift kick in the nuts to the band One Direction which was a bonus. Debora was still ahead in the votes after the first three songs.  She went to sing another of her own songs from her CD that I can't hear again for the next six months I've heard it so many times. After singing one of his songs, Alessio talked about the unity and strength of his band.

Debora said she was going to sing a song called "Crip," but after a quick google search I figured out she meant Creep by Radiohead. She killed it. And she showed that she could be a current artist. I've been watching too much American Idol, obviously, since I seem to be channeling Simon Cowell lines all day long. I honesty can't tell you what Alessio did next. It's a three hour long show.

Debora chose Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys and she did not back down. Alessio, in turn, did a really good job with a Celentano tune. Debora finished with the seventh track on her CD which is my personal favorite. Alessio finished up with his favorite pentultimate track from his CD stato d'animo from his CD, and it was time for the vote.

Wait this Italy, you didn't expect to get to the results, did you? No. Now they send in a comic to waste time. What else did you have to do today? Five months of sweat and tears and you wanted to know who won. No. They send in a comic (almost always a man, always of a certain age), in ths case, Giorgio Panariello who is not happy with his introduction and makes Maria reintroduce him as if he were Brad Pitt and in English. And they give this guy a full ten minutes. I admit he made some funny jokes about the English. He said that English people are obsessed with furniture (due to those famous examples from the text books along the lines of "The book is on the table, the chair is near the table; the table is under the window.") He said that while Italians suffer through horrible mispronunciations, they still are kind about giving us directions whereas when they ask for directions, the English  always shout back: "WHAT??" They call the subway/metropolitana the Underground with no explantion, whereas in Italy they write phonetically:

Che gentile! (I suffered through it, why shouldn't you?)
Alessio and Dear Jack won the critic's award sponsored by Fanta which I think means that the journalists voted for him or that he is more worthy of doing a soda commercial, neither of which means that he won the program.

But as a surprise Kekko of Moda' came to them via video message and invited Dear Jack to open for them for all of their concerts on tour!

 In fact, Debora won Amici. And this happened:
Waiting for the results. . .

You WON!

Oh an ugly cry. I love you again, Moreno.

Yay. I am so happy. Can you even imagine how annoying I'd be, if Debora had lost? I thought not.

p.s. I didn't even get to see the whole end straight through before mediaset removed the video from the internet, but I pieced it together from the clips.

Monday, May 26, 2014

AMICI, la semifinale

It's getting serious on my favorite Italian talent show AMICI. This week they go from four semifinalists, two dancers and two singers, down to three finalists who get to sit on that crazy Italian throne thing you see in the above photo, I guess. During the behind the scenes they fnally got out of the AMICI house where they have been sequestered for five months or more to meet their fans at a local shopping center. The ragazzi were euphoric, as you can well imagine. Here they are:

This week's show started with Maria Di Filippi showing off her famous figure in some wacky, distasteful mother-of -the-bride dress which only made me love her more. Moreno, the captain of the white team who is last year's winning rapper, chose to start the show by singing a duet with guest star Annalisa, even though he is not a contestant. Annalisa should have probably opted for flats or at least lower heels.

 Then he let Debora duet with her and the height difference was still off putting somehow.
The blue team responded with Cristian dancing yet another number where all of the dancers look like matching curtains. It was a fast paced, purposefully effeminate farce centered around a tea party. The female dancer occasionally pulled up her skirt to show her matching panties and screamed theatrically. Cristian was wonderful in it, but it is the kind of thing the macho elements of the jury might be afraid to award with a point. But this time they kept an open mind and gave it to him.

Moreno then had a bitty boy tantrum and embarassed himself, claiming that he and Debora had been perfect and that Cristian had merely pushed some tables about. The nerve! The extreme faccia tosta! And I kind of like him usually, oh well. He responded with Vincenzo's dance ala Phantom of the Opera, which was not quite as good.

Next came Alessio who made the girls swoon, but we are not sure at first about the jury. Gabry Ponte chastised Moreno for his lack of sportsmanship, but perhaps to further embarrass him gave the point to Moreno's White team and Vincenzo.

Enter the final guest judge Cristain De Sica who makes the joke that with all the tension he is afraid physically for his life this evening.
Cristian, the dancer, was up first. He danced with one gorgeous girl after another.

Vincenzo did a speaking part in Debora's song. He wasn't at all nervous, the way most dancers are with public speaking. He did well, dai. And at least one jury member that we know of at this point voted for the white team.
Cristian tried his hand at hip hop, backed by a ton of break dancers. His gymnastic ability and timing are good, but he lacked a little power and his center of gravity was too high for hip hop, which is the downfall of many a contemporary dancer who tries to expand his horizons.

The white team chose to put dance against dance and had Vincenzo dance something from the brother and sister choreography team -the Paperini's - show of Romeo & Juliet.

Jury member Sabrina Ferilli defined the evening as a night of passion, but let's face it. That's Monday through Thursday for Sabrina. 

The vote went down like this: Sabrina 1000 % for Vincenzo, but De Sicca and Argentero and also Gabry for Cristian.

Debora sang a Cristina Aguillera song like nobody's business. Insert stank face here. It earned her a standing ovation from De Sicca. It was a MOMENT.

Alessio sang a Frankie Goes to Hollywood song with a full dance crew behind him. The vote was 2 to 1 in favor of Debora which tied up the teams in the first half, but the White team was awarded the win.

Cristian asked to be voted out so that the judges could finally make a decision between him and Vincenzo for the best dancer, the prize of which is 50,000 euro. Vincenzo then started off the second half. The blue team was only made up of Alessio and his band Dear Jack so we know he will be in every number for the rest of the show.

Vincenzo got to wear this kind of royal military suit, and those arches behind him were cool too. They had curtains that could be pulled to make it seem like the images of the arches were being refreshed every so often throughout the dance. Actually, scratch that. I think the effect was accomplished with light projections.

 Then Miguel Bose and Alessio sang a duet of a Cat Steven's song about a father and son. And it was refreshing to see the father wearing shit ton of eyeliner. I love the year 2014, don't you? Everyone was very moved by that sdolcinato schmaltz.

Debora and Alessio both sang a featured song from their new CDs and then special guest Cristian (yes half the men in Italy are apparently named Cristian) De Andre' sang with Miguel and then with Alessio.

Vincenzo finally got to dance with his fidanzata Giovanna and took home at least one point from the jury.
Debora managed to beat Alessio on the next song even though he sang in English, and she sang in Italian for which she has been criticized in the past. Alessio sang an original song that is a big crowd pleaser, but Debora sang I Paid My Dues and she belted that thing so hard that it gave me goosebumps. Alessio somehow got the point. I suppose it is because they didn't let me vote. Good for Alessio, though, because the big vote got him an assured place in the finals. This meant he got to climb up the AMICI staircase and claim his finalist tee shirt.
Vincenzo then saved his teammate Debora offering himself in the final voting against Cristian.
As they hold each other and Debora starts to cry, there is a malfunction of the graphics machine and there is a delay in game.
 And Debora is voted in as a finalist so she gets to trip up and down the stairs adorably and grab her jacket.

This is where I started crying like a schema.

Debora goes and hugs Alessio.

This sign says: "Debora renounce your Sicilian canoli, but don't ever give up your dreams. Your province is with you!!"

I know, Moreno, I know.
The show ends with a dance-off. A series of things that we have mostly seen before and one or two new ones.  Vincenzo's numbers had big sets and fancy backdrops while most of Cristian's were bare bones. The professors and jury and guest judge will all vote to determine the winner of the dance category. Sometimes I feel like Cristian should win for his honesty, but sometimes he comes across a little too moscio/soft.

Sorry that I can't show you the rest of the photos, but the site died and it won't show me the last ten minutes of the program. I won't leave you in suspense because I know that after the vote, a very disappointed Cristian was sent home. Debora ran to hug him when he couldn't hold back the tears any longer which was super cute. If Debora doesn't win I am going to go on a strike of some kind. It won't be a hunger strike because I live in Italy now and I'm not that crazy.

This just in:
So cute that they are holding hands . .

Stay tuned for what happens when our city stages a flash mob style picnic with a lot of rules including one that says everyone can only wear white. The urge to dress in neon tie dye is almost too much for me.