American Idol: can we just start over?

Okay, folks. After seeing the crop of 24 semi-finalists in Season 9 of “American Idol,” I’m convinced that the judges are high. They call this the best group of singers ever? Um, far from it…I think it may be the worst crop in years, possibly the worst since the first couple of seasons. Every single contestant this year has at least one flaw, and most of them have multiple flaws and glaring weaknesses. Anyway, the guys sang last night, and honestly, most of them were pretty awful. But the judges selected a few to prop up even if they were just okay…maybe it’s the way the field is, but this is not good. Here is the recap of last night’s dude-fest:

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American Idol: competing with the Olympics

As Fox tries desperately to compete with NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage, they keep unveiling “first time in American Idol history” type stuff, which really is just a small break in format during Hollywood week.
But I’ll give them this…they are getting down to the final 24 quickly. Almost too quickly.

Last night’s two-hour episode began with the final 71 contestants being broken into three rooms. Two rooms would hold those advancing to the next round, and one room full of those heading home. This, after one final shot to impress the judges with a solo performance.

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American Idol: America’s shocking decision?

Last night’s “American Idol” finale proved that while we have endured many crappy performances this season from the likes of KC and the Sunshine band, Lady GaGa, Frida Payne and even Idol judge Paula Abdul, they showed that they always save the best for last. I’d say this was one of the best finales, maybe the best yet. And for me, the outcome didn’t suck either. But more on that in a minute.

Ryan Seacrest announced that almost 100 million votes came in, and a record 624 million votes this season. Then they announced each judge and had little clips of them from this past season, focusing on each of their quirks, which was pretty funny. And I’m still seeing red from Randy’s bow tie. Then Adam Lambert and Kris Allen came out wearing all white…what? And after showing Kris’ fans in his hometown in Conway, Arkansas with host Mikhala Gordon, and Adam’s fans in San Diego with Carly Smithson, it was the first group performance–the final 13 all wearing white (oh now I get it) and singing “So What,” after which exactly one dude in the studio audience stood up and clapped. Does anyone remember Jorge? And poor Scott McIntyre was being pushed and pulled all over the place. Jasmine Murray reminded us of why she was booted off early on in the finals when she soloed….ouch!

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American Idol: I can get used to this

The producers of “American Idol” wanted to shake things up this season, and so far they have done that, at least in some ways. There are now four judges instead of three, and Hollywood week (on TV) was extended one extra week. But the biggest change of all is in the show’s format. Instead of 24 semi-finalists, there are now 36. And in the first three semi-final rounds, only 3 of the 12 are voted into the finals by America. What this does is weed out a lot of the lesser talent very early on, and sets up a very worthy, very talented Top 12. Of course, those voted “off” this week and the next two weeks still have a chance to make the final round as a wild card. But I gotta tell ya, this is a much better way to go.

So last night, since this IS an hour long results show, there was some fluff and padding. It began with video of the twelve who sang the night before in a video montage of their journey so far. Then they did a group number of the positively horrible Jason Mraz song, “I’m Yours.”

Seriously, that was the best they could come up with? Then we saw highlights of Tuesday’s performances.

Finally, Ryan Seacrest started bringing them out to the front of the stage. He asked the judges their opinion of how they did and then told them whether they were moving on or not. First up, Casey Carlson, who was pretty awful and chose an awful song in The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” Casey, not in the finals. Steven Fowler, also not in the finals. Alexis Grace, yes, in the finals. This girl is cute and has the voice that reflects her Memphis roots, big and soulful. They had Alexis sing, and this is so much better than having an eliminated contestant sing their way out.

Back to business. Ricky Braddy, who was clearly one of the best singers Tuesday night, not in the top 12. Jackie Tohn, also not in the top 12, and that’s good, because she’s been as annoying as the shiny pants she wore Tuesday night. Then it was between Anoop Desai and Michael Sarver. I had thought Anoop might make it, because he has an amazing voice and is likeable. But Michael was more likeable–the hard-working, everyAmerican many of us can relate to. Good for him. So Alexis and Michael so far in the finals, leaving us with five more and one more seat.

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American Idol: Say hello to Hollywood

Mercifully, the audition rounds of “American Idol” Season 8 are in the books. We have endured eight stops and seven episodes in the last few weeks, and now the scene is shifting to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood next Tuesday. Last night they lumped two audition stops into one, and those were New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The back and forth during the episode was a little confusing, but the talent was as bad and as good in both places as it had been in Kansas City or Salt Lake or Phoenix or wherever else. Here were the good and bad of the ones who had the most airtime on Thursday night….

THE BAD

Adeola, who had quit her job because she was so sure she was going to Hollywood, sang a Jennifer Hudson song and was just awful, and I mean every note was off-key. Lucky for her, Simon Cowell was nice enough to call her former employer and get Adeola her job back. Who said Simon was a tool? That was classy…..Jessica Byers, a 20 year old who sang Celine Dion, was so loud and emotive that she made the audition uncomfortable for everyone. She claimed she was just nervous, but no, she just wasn’t good….Joel Contreras was a crazy rocker dude from San Juan who called himself the “human iPod” and was more talented at being nuts than at singing…Alexis, who auditioned last season and was also a bit of a wack job, returned to the New York City auditions and claimed to have toned down her act through stuff like yoga. Yeah, okay. Alexis attempted Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and let’s just say she can also go back to being nuts, because she is better at that than at singing. Also true to form, she gave the judges the finger on the way out. Nice.

THE GOOD

Jorge Nunez, a 20 year old from Puerto Rico, sang “My Way” and had a nice Latin flair about him. The judges started saying he may have trouble singing in English, but Simon correctly pointed out that they came to San Juan to find Puerto Rican natives with talent, otherwise they would have gone to Omaha…..Melinda Camille, who admitted she likes to dance naked in her bedroom while singing, sang “Feeling Good” and had a really great voice. No confirmation on whether or not she will bring her clothes to Hollywood….Jackie Tom, who sang Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours,” picked an odd song but had a nice tone to her voice and got through….Nick Mitchell, who goes under the moniker “Norman Gentle,” had this cabaret thing going on, and tried to inject humor into everything he did. This pissed off Simon to no end, but even he laughed when “Norman” made a crude joke about Simon and Ryan Seacrest. Anyway, when dude stopped joking and sang “Amazing Grace,” I think I speak for all of America when I say it was a pleasant surprise. Norm is off to Cali, and he will no doubt be polarizing to everyone there….after a medley of good auditions and yellow tickets, things were winding down. Next up was Monique, a 16 year old who brought along her 9 year old brother, Christopher. The kid was like a used car salesman to the judges, and since Monique was above average but not great, an assist goes to young Chris for sending his sis to Hollywood….finally there was Patricia, a 20 year old who took on Whitney Houston. That’s never a good idea, because artists like Whitney or Stevie Wonder or Aretha Franklin are just so hard to live up to vocally for an amateur. Anyway, Patricia did earn her ticket, but barely.

So our initial auditions are over, and now we head to Hollywood for the next round. Soon we will have our Top 24 and a clearer picture of who some of the contenders will be. See you all next week!

  

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