American Idol: The wildest of wild card rounds

Last night on “American Idol,” the judges wielded their authority on the show by choosing the final three contestants out of eight wild card nominees who performed with their best foot forward. Only the wildest card of all was that they chose four finalists instead of three, making the Top 12 a Top 13. I actually loved that they did that, even if I didn’t agree with at least one of their selections. Here is how it went down…

Jessie Langseth kicked things off with Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good,” a somewhat odd song choice but Jessie wanted to bring her sexiest best to the table. But it was really just okay. Randy said as much, calling it “not great and just aight,” Kara said she likes Jessie’s swagger, Paula said she likes her tenacity (uh-oh, swagger and tenacity?), and Simon said that while it was better than her previous performance, it was a bit self-indulgent.

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American Idol: The judges really do have an influence

If you people thought the judges on “American Idol” have less influence now that America is doing the talent evaluation, last night’s results show was proof of just how strong their comments can be. Here is how it went down….

First, there was another group performance of a song I didn’t recognize but Mrs. Mike liked. I think she liked the song and not the delivery, because these group numbers are just bad musical theater. Anyway, it was straight to the results….Lil Round, in the Top 12. That left 11 others dangling and only two chairs to fill. Ryan Seacrest had Arianna, Taylor, Alex, Kendall and Scott all stand up and announced that one of them was in the finals. Uh-oh…by my notes, only Scott really had a chance to make it, with Kendall being a long-shot. So Arianna, Taylor and Alex were all told to sit back down, and it came down to Kendall and Scott. Naturally, it was Scott who made it, and not because he’s a great vocalist, because he’s not. Scott is something like 95% blind, and the judges did this fake drooling over Scott on Tuesday night to ensure that America voted him through. I know this because I’m halfway done reading “Chart Throb” and becoming more and more cynical about how this show works behind the scenes. And I’m getting pissed because I know Felicia or even Kristin deserved that spot more than Scott did.

Then it was Nathaniel and Kristin to stand up and both get the boot together, and then the same with Felicia and Von. Bummer, they were both decent. Finally it was Jorge and Ju’Not. I thought they were both great but that Jorge had an extra special something on Tuesday. We’ll find out what happens after the break….but wait, Ryan Seacrest wasn’t going to break, and there were 20 minutes left in the show….he announced Jorge was going through and Ju’Not was going back to the couch. So there you go….Lil, Scott and Jorge. I’m not upset about Lil and Jorge, but I am upset about Scott. Way to go, judges, you got what you wanted.

Then it was on to the wild card selection, and the judges brought back some of the semi-finalists who were voted off the last two weeks…there would be 8 wild cards who are going to perform tonight for the last three seats in the finals…and since there is no results show tomorrow, I’m guessing that this will totally be the judges’ call, and that scares me. Here’s why….

The judges selected Von Smith first, and while I can understand why, they didn’t select either Kristin or Felicia, and in fact chose no one else from Round 3! The others were Jasmine Murray, who had show such promise but chose an awful song last week….Ricky Braddy, who I thought was amazing in Round 1…Megan, who sang last week and has some appeal but not that much…Tatiana, who, we all know, was picked by the show’s producers to get more amazing footage of her telling us it’s “her dream” and crying and panting and crying some more (sorry, go read “Chart Throb” yourself!)…..Matt Giraud, who has a great voice but butchered Coldplay last week…Jessie Langseth, who has some good qualities but who really shouldn’t be a finalist….and finally, Anoop, and I admit I was pulling for this kid more than anyone.

If the judges really do have the final say tonight, your wild card finalists are going to be Jasmine, Tatiana and Anoop. It doesn’t matter what Von, Ricky, Megan, Matt or Jessie sing or how good they sing it. My cynic meds taste good, and I’m taking them because I hate seeing very good talent go home at the expense of TV ratings. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…see you all tomorrow with the recap!

  

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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: awkward and head-scratching

Last night “American Idol” Season 8 on FOX kicked into high gear with 12 of the final 36 contestants performing in front of 25 million TV viewers, a live audience, the four celebrity judges and Ryan Seacrest. And since it’s the eighth season, we can forgive them for a few awkward moments and some bad technical issues, right? Wrong! Okay, it’s live TV and most of these singers have never performed on a stage of this magnitude, so it’s okay if some of them stumble on their words when Seacrest sticks a microphone in their face. But there were some bad sound problems, and even a moment where a video montage of the wrong contestant forced Seacrest to improvise. He does that really well, but he shouldn’t have to. I have a feeling someone is getting fired today, or slapped with a written warning.

Anyway, things are different this season since they added a fourth judge–Kara DioGuardi. This was inevitably going to make the comments from the panel take even more time. Also, of the twelve performing each of the first three Tuesdays of live shooting, only three make it through to the finals–one guy, one girl, and the next highest vote getter. What does this mean? It means you have to be damn good the first time out and you have to pick the right song, something the contestants of Idol seem to mess up with stunning regularity. After each one sang, we’d get about five minutes of judging banter and then an interview with each contestants’ parents and/or spouse as soon as they came off stage. Whoever came up with this idea is likely being handed a pink slip now as well. Damn, I feel like Donald Trump today. Anyway, it was really awkward, especially for those who performed horribly…and there were a few of those.

Here is how it went down, broken down by the good performances, the in-between and the bad, as we have done before in this space.

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