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: 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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American Idol: Hollywood week showcases some fine talent

Hollywood week began on “American Idol” last night, and I believe they had promised us an extended Hollywood experience on TV this year, which is fine by me, especially when they continue to keep these episodes to a bearable 60 minutes.

There were 147 contestants plucked out of the tens of thousands who auditioned in the eight cities last summer. And in last night’s episode, they whittled it down to 104, meaning only 43 were sent packing. This season, there are makeup artists and vocal coaches to get these singers ready to perform in front of the four judges, and even Barry Manilow was a surprise coach and speaker.

The contestants were then put into groups of eight, and each group had to line up on stage at the Kodak Theatre, and sing a cappella in front of Randy, Paula, Simon and Kara. Then they were asked to either step back or step forward, and one line or the other was told they were through to the next round, and the other line was headed home. Immediate elimination Read the rest of this entry »

  

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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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