Season 8 has officially become the worst year yet for "American Idol." The results of the Wild Card round were so obviously set up in advance, it was hard not to laugh out loud at the judges supposedly spontaneous comments. Instead of their critiques being accurate appraisals of the performances, they sounded like validations for decisions that had been made by the
To begin with, everyone we knew said the three finalist seats would automatically go to Jasmine, Megan and Anoop. The
As it was, they had to settle for the headline shocker of a Top 13. But how much of a shocker was it really? There have buzzes about that happening since January, when Fox reality chief Mike Darnell told TV Week in an exclusive interview, "There's a big surprise coming when we get to the Top 12, but I can't reveal it right now. It is something that will be talked about and is something I think that has some element of controversy surrounding it."
And, " ... it’s a long season and you want to keep as many surprises for the audience, for the press, for everybody, as you go along. Some controversies will pop out [Joanna Pacitti?]. But this is something that we sort of felt like, here’s one set of things we’re doing, we’re going to wait and give you the other set when we get to the final 12."
In the Jan. 18 interview, Darnell also said, "I think I have in my mind a Top 7 or 8."
Hmmm. It's almost as if "Idol" is proving what many of us
But Darnell, who strikes us as a burnt-out, inarticulate '80s drugger leaning hard on the Grecian Formula in this clip, got it wrong when he said, "It's not going to change what you think of American Idol [ha!] and we don't want to do that. This show is, you know, a phenomenon. It's American, it's apple pie. We're not changing the core of the show." Wrong! As cynical as we've always been about the "reality" of the show, it took this season to really turn us against it. We doubt anything they do for the finalist weeks can make us like it again.
Perhaps Entertainment Weekly's clever Michael Slezak said it best in this little ditty he wrote, sung to "Give Me One Reason." Kudos to you, Michael:
Give me one reason to stay tuned, and I'll watch the Wild Card show/
Give me one reason to stay tuned; quick, before my head explodes/
Yeah, since you screwed Felicia Barton/
You've got to make me change my mind
Kara, I got your number, you're a soulless corporate shill/
You gave props to Jasmine Murray, even though her voice is shrill/
Take your package artists, /
Back to where you came from,/
You are no Paula
Give me one reason to stay tuned, 'cause tonight's show really blew/
Give me one reason to stay tuned, Ju'Not Joyner where are you?/
Said I can't go on without Idol/
You've got to make me change my mind
I don't want no Tatiana, with her tears and crying fits/
I don't want no Tatiana, she's a mediocre ditz/
I just want some Mishavonna — how I love her voice to bits
Oh handsome Ricky Braddy, come and give us what we need/
And that redhead Jesse Langseth, well, she's a'ight I concede/
But if Matt Giraud sings Coldplay once again/
I suspect my ears will bleed
Give me one reason to stay tuned, 'cause this show has gone to poop/
Give me one reason to stay tuned, okay I'll tune in for Anoop/
I miss singers playing instruments/
You've got to make me change my mind
Here is the recap of Thursday's performances. All the numbers were preceded by a clip of each contestant paying obeisance and being obsequious to the judges for giving them another chance. It was all quite disgusting.
We knew Jesse Langseth was doomed when we saw she was up first. Although there is still something we like about her voice and open honesty, we were less than mesmerized by her performance of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good." Yes, she raised the heat in the room with her facial expressions, body movements and mini (she has a wowsa pair of legs), but this just wasn't a great competition song. Instead of showing her range, which she talked about in her clip, for us it had the opposite effect. Randy Jackson calls it an interesting song choice, but isn't sure she sang it that well; Kara DioGuardi says Jesse had some notes that were not on key, but likes her "swagger" (there's that word again. Gee, maybe Jesse didn't "dirty it up" enough like Alexis Grace learned to do for the judges, sigh) and, pointing to the video screen, tells her she's not like the little girls in those "packages" (there's that word again, too), more like Sasha Fierce (what analogy would Kara have used if Beyoncé hadn't come up with this one?); Paula Abdul is impressed with her tenacity and determination and tells Jesse she has a lot of soul, but then declares "I can already tell it's going to be a hard night," which is a euphemism for, "Gee, I really didn't expect to like you so much, because you're not gonna get picked"; Simon reiterates that putting her into the Wild Card round was totally last minute (is that meant to be a compliment?), says he's glad they did, tells her she has a good voice, but then raps her with the song and performance were indulgent. It was all about you. Paula and Kara "fight" back saying it should be about her, it's a sexy song. Simon answers, "No tonight it's us, believe it or not, because we are the ones who are going to be voting you in." Ha! Liar!
Watch video of Jesse Langseth singing "Tell Me Something Good"
Matt Giraud says in his clip he wants to return to the bluesy sound that the judges originally liked him for. Dressed in Justin Timberlake style, he does a really nice job with the Jackson 5's "Who's Loving You." It was soooo much better than his Coldplay fiasco. Kara tells him he can riff amazingly, that it was a little bit over the top at points, but it was a great vocal; Paula tells him this was in the right zone, that the song was a perfect pick and that he did an amazing job and that there's no doubt that America is loving you right now (a euphemism for "It's in the bag, Matt. You made it."); Simon tells him he was a billion times better than last week and it was a great choice of song, but that he hates what Matt's wearing. What's worse for Simon, is that he saw "bits of Taylor Hicks coming through," and we all know how Simon despises Taylor. The audience boos; Randy puts the lock on it by saying, "You made everyone ... scared that you're going to maybe [maybe, ha!] enter this competition and give them a run for the money. That's how to sing. That's what I want."
Watch video of Matt Giraud singing "Who's Loving You"
Megan Corkrey proves once again that she's a very pretty girl who looks like Elaine Benes from "Seinfeld" when she tries to dance. She also proves that though she has a nice tone to her voice, she's not a very good singer. She unwisely chooses KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," a song that Katharine McPhee just killed when she sang it. It only proved how weak Megan was in comparison. The
Watch video of Megan Corkrey singing "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"
Von Smith was like a deer in the headlights on Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." There were problems with the low register in the beginning, but it got much much better in the middle and soared by the end. But, of course, he was doomed before he started. Simon tells him the song didn't start well and that Von is beginning to become "a bit boring," too serious, too earnest; Randy agrees with Simon, but talks about the beautiful tone of Von's voice when he hit the middle notes, though he wasn't crazy about the song choice; Kara says the song got more than serious, it got BWAHAHAHA "dark." She then says Von has great vocal ability, that he has what it takes, but that he "hasn't dialed in yet." [whereas Megan could dial for the rest of her life and only get a busy signal] At this point, Von knows he's doomed and looks like he's going to cry any second. We felt really badly for him because it was all a lie, all a fix and had nothing to do with him. Paula tries to temper the negativity by telling him that when he focuses too much on the technical side of the song he doesn't let his real essence show, and when he does let it out "you soar, and take us all with you." She also tells him,"You have to count on the fact that you're a brilliant singer [but the producers don't want you]. You really are."
Watch video of Von Smith singing "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
Jasmine Murray, a bright light at her audition but a disaster during the semifinals picks Christina Aguilera's "Reflection." Not only will Aguilera not lose sleep over this rendition, neither will Jordin Sparks (watch Jordin here) or Ayla Brown (here). Was it better than her last performance? Yup. Was it really good? No. Was it way too big for her voice? Absolutely. It had some moments, but just that. Nothing more. Randy tells her this was a big improvement, but that the song was too big for her and there were flat and sharp moments, but also some great bright spots. His biggest compliment was no compliment, "It was way better than the last time you sang." Kara says, "Actually, I didn't even know that you had that big of a voice [that's 'cause she doesn't]. "And now [now? now?] I'm starting to think she has a really big voice." Ha, Paula starts with, "You look lovely tonight and you picked a beautiful song." She continues, "There were some notes that fell off a little bit, but overall I felt you did a wonderful job." Lyin' Simon begins by telling Paula she's not giving Jasmine enough credit, starting a fake spat between the two. He then says, "That was pretty special compared to what we heard before." Yeah, well, mud is pretty special compared with turds. He then says, "It was a very, very brave song choice," but it sounded a little at times like a young girl trying to sound a little more grown up. And then came the tell: To a chorus of "yesses" from the other judges, Lyin' Simon says, "And I think you just put yourself back in the running."
Watch video of Jasmine Murray singing "Reflection"
Ricky Braddy did what he does best: He came, he sang, he conquered. Then he got shat on. Was Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" a surprising song choice, as all the judges kept reiterating? Yes? But did he pull it off? Unquestionably. That should only prove how talented he is, that he could pull off a song you'd never expect him to be able to. Plus, much to "Idol's" chagrin, he's an obvious crowd pleaser: There was a tremendous amount of shreiking and screaming before he even sang. Kara makes the stupidest statement ever, especially considering they're going to eliminate him in a few minutes: "Well, Ricky, you can sing your butt off. We knew that." She adds, tonight was about getting out there and showing us your personality. And you did that. Good job. [Er, yeah, so?] Paula agrees, saying, "I loved the way you loosened up ... You nailed it! You nailed it! And you had fun!" Simon and Randy, obviously elsewhere during the performance, didn't see it that way ['cause they weren't moving Ricky forward]. Simon tells Ricky he sounds good, but that when you're brought back at this stage of the competition you've absolutely have to say to us "You've got to put me into the competition because I'm a great vocalist, a great performer [HA! Like Megan and Jasmine just didn't?] He then calls Ricky's song and vocal karaoke, lightweight and clumsy. And the overt clue that Ricky was doomed in advance: "So I don't think you really made the impression you could have made there." Randy tells Ricky he thinks he really has a voice and can really blow, but the song wasn't quite the one for him. [Yeah, Randy, you just told Jasmine the same thing, and she's going through and without the vocal talent Ricky has.] Then he pulls a Simon and calls Ricky's song choice self-indulgent, a term Randy would never use. Sheesh.
Watch video of Ricky Braddy singing "Superstition"
Next up is what the producers hope will be the flaming burnout named Tatiana Del Toro. For whatever bizarre reason she had in her lil' puddinhead, Tatiana decides to sing Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You" again. But this time, she blew the hell out of the song and sang it better than last time. Plus, she actually looked really nice. But she might as well have been wearing a target for the slings and arrows aimed in her direction. To begin with, when the camera panned to the judges' table while Tatiana was singing, it was clear they weren't even listening to her. In fact, Simon was playing his little torment games with Paula. When Tatiana stopped singing and they turned on the judges' mikes, the first thing we heard was Paula loudly saying to Simon, "Oh my god, stop that!" Paula starts the critiques, but Tatiana is talking more than Paula is, telling Abdul how much she loves her. Abdul is like the patron saint of the demented -- they all come seeking her out. But then, we guess it takes one to know one. Heh. Paula says she's not a fan of people who repeat songs, and that it started a little shaky, but then when Tatiana got into her "frikking" power voice, the judges all started looking and said, "Man, she can sing." Simon says, so what happens if you make it to the next round? You'll just sing the same song again? He then torments her over and over about why she's singing the same song and why she didn't pick another song. (Of course, 'cause the fix is in, five minutes later he doesn't ask Anoop the same questions after Anoop repeats his song.) Randy lies and says it started off really rough, adding there were some good moments and some not so good moments [as opposed to, hmmm, who? Megan? Who had only bad moments but will get chosen anyway?] Kara jumps in with, "It's like 'The Adventures of Tatiana,' I don't know what this is. Like today this is a new personality. Like who's this one? ... But at least she's not crying and holding her heart." Simon chimes in "She will, she will." [Enough already! We get it -- the real reason she's here is for the histrionics]. And, in fact, she does, when they tell her she hasn't made it.
Watch video of Tatiana Del Toro singing "Saving All My Love for You"
Last up is Anoop Desai, who may be the most popular contestant to not, yet, make the Top
Watch video of Anoop Desai singing "My Prerogative"
After that, the judges eliminated or put through the contestants.
Watch video of Wild Card judges' choices: Jasmine Murray, Ricky Braddy, Megan Corkrey, Tatiana Del Toro
Watch video of Wild Card judges' choices: Jesse Langseth, Von Smith, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai
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