American Idol: this round better

Last week on “American Idol,” there were some horrific performances of some bad song choices. How long could it go on? Well, this week, that was answered, because the song choices AND the performances were far better. That was good for us and good for the judges, but when you think about it, not really fair to everyone that sang last night because now that middle round that went last week may water down the finalist talent. But it is what it is I guess. With that, here is our recap of the good, the bad and the in-between from last night’s semi-final round:

THE VERY GOOD

Quite frequenly on this show, the performers who sing last make the best impact on voters, but last night the final two who sang were just lights out anyway. The first was Jorge Nunez, the kid from Puerto Rico who the judges had told to work on his linguistics and sound more American. Are you kidding me? Well, Jorge chose a white bread song in Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and accent or not, it was excellent. And I mean, this dude has a spectacular voice. Paula said she’s proud of him, Simon said Jorge has a good voice, which is an understatement, Randy said it wasn’t perfect but really good, and Kara said Jorge was born to sing.

Lil Rounds closed the night with Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You” and it was not just the best performance of the night, but I would dare to say it was the best semi-final performance of the season. Lil is not a contestant on “American Idol,” she is already a recording artist going through the necessary motions, kind of like standing in line to get her license like everyone else. Simon said “in one word, brilliant” and that it was his favorite of the night, Randy said it was one of the best this season, Kara said Lil is a powerhouse, and Paula said Lil is “first class.” Yeah, all of the above. See you next week, Lil.

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American Idol: Shtick sells

Last night on “American Idol,” Simon Cowell made my blood boil just a little. As he sat in one of four judges’ thrones in a judges’ “mansion,” he consistenly made reference to the fact that various contestants were not good-looking enough to make it as musical artists, or more to the point, to win Season 8 of “American Idol.” Mrs. Mike pointed out that Cowell is looking for the total package of looks, talent and the ability to sell millions of records. But this is also what has been wrong with the music industry for at least a decade now–that it passes on less pretty but more talented artists for pretty ones that they think they can teach to sing. Look, I’m not saying Cowell hasn’t been successful with that formula, but sometimes you can’t ignore amazing talent because you can’t picture their face on a magazine cover. Okay, I’m done ranting, on to the results at the Hollywood mansion…

I don’t know how many contestants made it this far, but only 36 are going on to the round in which America votes. This year will be different from than previous seasons, as 12 at a time will perform, and 3 of those will move on while 9 go home, with the judges selecting three wild cards to round out the final 12. So as they do every year at this point, the remaining hopefuls have to face the judges, but the scene is in a mansion this year. Is this someone’s house? Anyway, a handful of these contestants had to “sing for their lives” against one another, which was extremely uncomfortable for everyone. Here are the results, for real this time…

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American Idol: You call this an improvement?

So as Fox’s “American Idol” turned the page from Season 7 to Season 8, they vowed some improvements to help boost ratings. Well, we’re finding out that there was a bit of hot air in those promises. Yes, they added a fourth judge, and maybe they extended Hollywood week on TV another seven days, but an improvement? Not really. In fact, they barely showed any performances last night. I think they showed more of the judges deliberating and the contestants’ agony waiting for said deliberation than actual singing. Something is getting stale and the producers of the show can’t seem to learn any new tricks. But I’ll say this…the talent this year is pretty freaking good….and I believe it may carry the ratings regardless of the production.

Anyway, as the 72 remaining contestants got ready to sing in front of the judges solo but with some backup singers and a keyboard, the judges began their unenviable task of weeding out the mediocre ones. Then they were separated into four rooms..and you would think that two of the rooms would stay and two would go home, but that’s not exactly what happened. Only one room was sent packing, and I’m pretty sure there were no more than 15 or 20 in that room.

Among them, Kendall, the first girl of the night, attempted Carrie Underwood, and while yours truly is not a Carrie fan in the least, Kendall made Underwood look like Martina McBride…..Keneshe Young, the 16 year old from Cincinnati, who I thought was great, did not make it past this round…India Morrison, who led a fantastic group performance that included buddies Danny and Jamar, did not stand out enough on her own…..and Michael Castro, Jason’s brother, didn’t stay in Hollywood either, though they haven’t shown him performing since his initial audition (really now, how is that possible?).

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