the Buzz for February 17th, 2009


Wouldn’t it be my luck that I would start writing a marvelous post, only to have the story contained therein change dramatically before I would have a chance to shepherd the composition to Buzz-worthy perfection? Such is the case with
Ms. Joanna Pacitti, who was already well on her way to becoming “American Idol” season eight’s bona-fide front-runner until the producers decided — amid a new swirl of controversy a la last season’s inclusion of the ridonk Carly Smithson (who, under the moniker of Carly Hennessy, released a high-profile Ishtar-level megaflop album at the beginning of this decade, and who was derided heavily last year for competing in what is ostensibly designed to be an “amateur” competition) — to deep-six her for eligibility reasons, as it had come to light that, even though she at this point no longer has a recording contract, Pacitti did have past working relationships with more than one executive at 19 Entertainment, the company which owns and produces “Idol.” It’s a devastating break for her: unlike Smithson last year, who, with her faux-tough-chick sensibility and demeanor, was never gonna go all the way (and whose needless desecration of Bonnie Tyler’s all-time classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart” still rankles my ass, all these months later), adorably fresh-faced Pacitti actually had a decent shot to win this thing.


If Pacitti’s name rings a bell with you, it ought to: three years ago, she released a dynamite debut record called This Crazy Life, which sounded very much like something Avril Lavigne would come up with if only Avril could hit more than one note. (I swear to Jesus I mean that as a compliment!) Life initially received a burst of attention for its fun (and infinitely more tuneful) cover of Dashboard Confessional’s breakthrough smash “Screaming Infidelities,” but there was so much more interesting material to be found on this record: for the life of me, I don’t know why the brilliant “Ultraviolet” wasn’t chosen as the radio single; “Your Obsession” matches pound for pound the haunting creepiness of Sarah McLachlan’s 1994 touchstone “Possession”; and if “Just When You’re Leaving” isn’t one of the saddest faded-love songs you ever heard, kindly ask someone to slap some sense into you until you’ve reversed your foolishness.


Meantime, we get our first real look at “Idol’s” top 36 tonight, and I’ve already been warned by my new pal Michael Brainard (an actor I recently interviewed on Brandon’s Buzz Radio) to keep an eye out for his good friend Jackie Tohn, whose Joplin-esque voice is already causing quite a stir in the “Idol” blogosphere. I already had money down on Pacitti, so my best guess is that the remaining contestants are breathing a heavy sigh o’ relief that she’s been shown the door. Game on, folks.