March 4, 2009

The final 12

I don't know, dawg. This is a weird night for me. Oh, I'm sorry - I couldn't help but channel Randy Jackson for a second there. Last night was the final performances of the Top 36, and it's a tough one to call.

First off, it’s official. I hate Kara. I’m sorry, Neil Patrick Harris, I saw you on Ellen when you were talking about you two are very good friends, but I just can’t do it. She can never remember she has a mic in front of her (enough with the pounding on the table and immediate commentary that we’re not supposed to hear!), and she repeats herself – and the other judges – constantly. Done.

Now, onto the performances. Pretty weak showing from the girls, huh?

Von Smith: Good that you took advice from Simon. Bad that you wore that awful suit (photo to follow as soon as I can find it). Decent performance, too bad you had to go first.

Taylor Vaifanua: I can’t even remember you this morning, but from my notes I remember that you’re a crier, and I like that about you.

Alex Wagner-Trugman: I love that you’re a smart ass. As Trevor said, “It's so weird that he can sing” – he’s kind of like Anoop in that way, where you really don’t expect that voice to come out of him. Aside from the growling thing, I thought the performance was actually pretty good, but I might have been distracted by Trevor, who was making some kind of argument about how he didn't hate Taylor Hicks that much, he just hated the Soul Patrol people, which is just not true. In any case, the crowd loved Alex and he's my dark horse prediction for this week (because that turned out so well for me last week?)

Arianna Afsar: She who doesn't want to be known for being "cute as a button" sang the first ever ABBA song on 'American Idol.' I have no idea how that's possible, but that was the only thing remarkable about her peformance.

Ju'not Joyner: Even though you sang ‘Hey There Deliliah’ (I just got this freaking song out of my head after all the Hollywood Week performances of it!), I liked this. You are very likable, your son is pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and I liked the slower rhythm (could there be a harder word to spell?) of the song. I'm rooting for you, big time.

Kristen McNamara: There’s little I can say to expand on my notes from last night: “She was on Next Country Star or whatever. She is whiny and annoying. Your old hair was better – what are these bangs? I hate you. You're plastic and I feel like you're the most fake person in the world. Note how no one is dancing for her.” Pretty much sums it up. Goodbye.

Nathaniel Marshall: For some reason, he elected to sing Meatloaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything for Love,’ a song half the people watching associate with a Dr. Pepper commercial, so that’s an interesting choice. Listen, you’re better than I wanted you to be, but, on behalf of all the flamboyant, tattooed, prone to drama boys I've ever known, I'm insulted by your headband and your dancing. (Speaking of headbands: RANDY. For the love of GOD. ‘Physical’ is by OLIVIA NEWTON-John, not Elton John. I cannot believe no one is correcting you on this!)

Felicia Barton: She’s the contestant who was called back after Joanna Pacitti was disqualified, and she stepped up, singing the second Alicia Keys song of the night. Even though she did nothing original with it, I think she did enough to earn a Wild Card berth from the judges. The highlight, however, was how thrilled Paula was that she was able to talk about “the universe” with someone (As in: "Felicia, isn't it funny how the universe works? You know? Everything happens for a reason.")

Scott MacIntyre: Even moreso than with Danny Gokey (he of the recently deceased wife), the judges are going to tiptoe around this contestant, who is blind. They can’t say anything about his outfit or hair, or encourage him to dance/have more stage presence, because he can’t see. On that note, I wonder if he is less nervous, because he can't see everyone? Is that a tacky question? The performance itself was pretty good, and you could almost feel the collective hope of the rest of the performing guys deflate.

Kendall Beard: She’s the other blonde one.

Jorge Nunez: It was just an Elton John kind of night. Paula & Kara had made him so paranoid about his accent, you could visibly see him concentrating – that left little room for an actual performance, but the vocal was good. I am forever grateful to Simon for pointing out that there is more than "American" accents in the world, and that Spanish performers can actually be - gasp! - successful! My second favorite Paula quote of the night: “God, I just want to squeeze you.”

Lil Rounds: Tonight’s Producer’s Pet played it pretty safe (She couldn’t be oblivious to the fact that she was performing last, a prime spot bestowed upon early favorites who have sailed through in the first 2 rounds.), but she blew all the other girls out of the water, no question. Trevor: Nice beat. Ashley: Nice dress.

Let’s make some predictions: I think Lil Rounds and Scott MacIntyre will snatch up the gender-specific slots. I’m really not sure about that last one, but I’m willing to bet it goes to Ju’not Joyner or Alex Wagner-Trugman, leaving it up to the judges to put Jorge Nunez, Felicia Barton, Nathaniel Marshall and maybe Von Smith through to the Wild Card round.

Praise be, by the end of this week, we’ll have our Top 12 and the competition can really heat up. Stay tuned for guest commentary and rules to the American Idol drinking game.