Wednesday, March 04, 2009

If I Ain't Got Idol The Sun Will Go Down On Me

Tonight is America’s last chance to vote contestants into the next round. The Wild Card round has no fan voting, only judges. Maybe they will utilize this situation to include yet another in-show commercial. Imagine if the judges have to text their vote to Ryan using an Iphone. Kara and Randy can probably text, maybe even Simon, but I’m not sure about Paula. The new meds seem to be working well for her, so I’m guessing she could handle the task. Last week two relative unknowns, Kris and Allison earned enough votes to land in the Top 12. Kris did so despite a lackluster performance that left the judges lamenting his song choice. Allison went all Carrie Underwood and delivered an impressive version of a difficult song. Neither of them are filled with personality. Kris looks scared every time he gets on camera; Allison and complete coherent sentences go together about as well as Clay Aiken and heterosexuality. Yet, they both advanced. Is it possible the early round favorites have lost some of their fans because of the new format? Would feel good story Michael Sarver still advance this week after America had a chance to forget about the loveable roughneck? The final group of 12 contestants have done their own Norma Desmond impersonation the last two weeks not uttering a sound, however, tonight they are finally ready for their close up.


Ryan is again dressed in his finest Friday casual attire. He looks like he is ready to cut out early to squeeze in 18 holes. As the camera pans across the stair dwelling contestants Ryan says they’ve said goodbye to their families, put their jobs on hold, and abandoned their everyday lives all for this moment. No pressure or anything. He does this introduction at the bottom of the stairs, and then when the credits are over, he is standing at the top of the stairs so he can walk down them in front of the Idols. So everyone in the studio got to see Ryan run up the stairs for no apparent reason. I wish we could see things like that. The 6 already named finalist are sitting in front of the stage. Kris, as always, looks terrified. Simon suggests a “Simon” night on American Idol where he picks all the songs. You know, that would be a pretty good Idol episode. Imagine if Simon was their ‘mentor’ and worked with each Idol individually. That’s some good television. Lil Rounds, like early season favorites Danny and Adam appears safely in the pimp spot. Sometimes Idol is blatantly obvious about pimp spot placement. During the introductions Scott is assisted by a guy I’m assuming is his brother. I’m still curious how Scott will fit into tomorrow night’s group number.

VON SMITH – You’re All I Need to Get By

Trapped in the dreaded ‘spot of no return’ Von must be outstanding if he has any chance of surviving. He recalls his shouting episode in Hollywood. Given another chance he changed his style and toned down a little. He wants to show the real, better him tonight. He is starting the song in his lower register. I don’t think we’ve heard him this low before. He transitions into his upper range effortlessly. He probably sounds better higher than lower, but the low sounds good. His parents obviously think they gave birth to Ethel Mermon and no doubt suggested he do a diva worthy song tonight, but he wisely followed Simon’s advice and picked a more traditional less dramatic song. It’s nice hearing Von sing with purity rather than power. This is a pretty pitch perfect performance. Also, he isn’t trying too hard to sell the song with his facial expressions. He looks confident and calm on stage. Von manages to add his own flair to the song without altering the melody. If he had the pimp spot I’m pretty sure he would move easily into the Top 12 with this performance. His mom is doing her best ‘Hercules’ clapping impersonation in the audience. Randy starts things off saying the last couple weeks started off rough, but not tonight. He thinks Von was hot and better than he was in Hollywood week. Is Randy’s watch getting bigger each week? Kara thinks he is coming into his own. He looks more comfortable as if he really knows what he is doing tonight. She applauds him for following Simon’s advice. She says it’s not about how high you can go, but how much meaning you can give the song. Paula sympathized with Von being the first singer, but she believes America will remember him in two hours when it can vote. She loves that he knows when to pull back and when to push forward. Only 22, she calls him a seasoned performer. Von reminds Simon of Clay Aiken. What? Von helped David Foster’s sister get pregnant too? Oh wait, never mind Simon means they both cannot dress themselves, but sing quite well. Simon compares their voices and predicts their similarities could be a good thing for Von. Von tells Ryan he rehearsed the song about 30 times before tonight. He is ecstatic the judges gave him positive comments. Since Clay is very successful, he has no problems being compared to Season 2’s runner up. Not that long ago Von propelled every note into orbit with nary a care for subtlety. Now, he has transformed himself into a plausible pop star. I hope he has a chance to continue his transformation.


Ryan reminds us yet again we can download these songs via Itunes. Since her initial audition, Taylor has undergone a beautifying transformation; she looks significantly better now. She messed up her first verse during group day in Hollywood, but she felt like she redeemed herself by not giving up and nailed the harmonies with her group. She is singing an Alicia Keys song because she feels it is totally her and she loves singing it. This could be tricky for two reasons. First, she is singing a recent song so everyone under the age of 50 at home has probably heard the song. Second and more dangerous, Alicia Keys sings very distinctive stylized songs with little room for changes. If you sing the song well you are a copycat, if you change it up and ‘make it you own’ you destroy the melody; this is almost a no win situation. The song starts off a little too low for Taylor. She is hitting the notes, but her voice sounds thin and weak. She sounds much better when she reaches the higher notes. At times she sounds a lot like Alicia, but this is not really a good thing since it makes her a copycat. Why is it a copycat anyway? Why not a copymonkey or a copyparrot, or maybe a copygiraffe? Despite some pretty decent vocals this performance is very bland and a little boring. Kara says Taylor obviously has a voice and hit the notes with only a few issues, but she wants more of Taylor’s personality; she wants more insight into Taylor as a person. She wants to know what it would be like to go shopping with her. Huh? That’s a first. Does anyone else think that when they listen to music? Imagine Ed Sullivan in 1964 decided against having the Beatles on his show because he wasn’t sure what it would be like to shop with Paul and John? Maybe Kara accidentally took a sip of Paula’s happy pill flavored water. Kara says she was left a bit cold by the performance. Taylor, probably confused from Kara’s comments is tearing up. Paula, in her new role as voice of reason, says Taylor is a beautiful girl. However, she cannot understand why Taylor sang a song she already performed in Hollywood. Instead, Paula wanted her to take a chance. Simon is perplexed by Kara’s shopping reference. He wonder if Kara was talking about shopping for food and Randy suggests maybe it was for shoes. Coming this fall on Fox, “Shopping with American Idols.” Kara explains she just wants to know more about Taylor’s personality. Simon jokingly asks Taylor her favorite breakfast cereal and Randy jokes about soymilk. I’m guessing Taylor, no doubt a little devastated, just wants the judges to stop talking amongst themselves and let her get off the stage. Simon says he genuinely could not remember her from previous rounds and now he understands why. She was generic and bland. Like several other younger contestants, he thinks she tried too hard to sound older. The producers forget about the fourth judge as the music starts to play and Ryan walks on stage as though the judges were all done. Randy thanks Ryan for forgetting about him, but Ryan tells him to go ahead. Randy sums up the other judges’ when he tells Taylor that she has a great voice and can sing but she didn’t tell them anything special about herself, making the performance boring. Taylor is crying but she says they are tears of joy. Maybe, but she didn’t start crying until the judges gave her less than stellar reviews. Ryan hits Simon with a pretty decent jab explaining that shopping is where you can find shirts from this decade. I wonder if Ryan prematurely ran on stage because he couldn’t wait to hit Simon with his joke. Like the other younger contestants, Allison notwithstanding, Taylor picked the wrong song. I think Ryan would be thrilled if she did not make the Top 12. Why? Because when she stands next to him people start looking around for the yellow brick road.

ALEX WAGNER-TRUGMAN – I Guess That’s Why I Call it the Blues

Alex is the kind of guy Clay Aiken used to beat up in school. He becomes the first contestant to get a hand job on live television – he is modeling a Coca Cola cup advertising a cup designing contest. Alex, apparently braver than he looks, read about himself on the Internet. Because people said he looked dorky he is now doing short reps of low weight at the gym. He explains Simon and him are tight, despite Simon calling his singing voice only a 3 compared to his 9 personality. He facetiously assumes both of those were on a scale of 3. When he learned he made the Top 36 he gave Kara such a big hug Nancy Grace is probably screaming ‘sexual assaulter’ at the screen right now. He is singing a song about long distance relationships; he has been in one for a while. He tells everyone, not just girls, but everyone in a long distance relationship that he will be their boyfriend tonight. I wonder if he meant to offer his services to men and women. Wow this arrangement is bad. Let’s have the piano play a few notes at the start and then completely disappear. He is singing in a lower voice than I remember from the earlier rounds. He sounds pretty decent, but he starts to go down hill when he over emphasizes the beginning of the second verse. He is trying to add some spunk to the song, but it sounds silly, like a little kid pretending to be a grown up. Halfway through the song, right before the key change, he tries to take the microphone off the mic stand, but it appears he doesn’t make the removal cleanly and the stand starts to fall towards him and he tries to move out of the way. Whoops. He is almost growling on some notes. If he took out the over exaggerated notes this is a pretty decent performance, better than expected, performance. He has a much bigger range than we saw in the early rounds. Paula says Alex is the showman, and he says he didn’t mean to knock over the stand. She says Alex gave them their moneys worth, but she isn’t sure how much will be spent. Simon asks for a refund. Paula asks for a refund sitting next to Simon. She had fun watching Alex and is glad he got to channel his inner rock star on stage. Simon says they had fun watching him, but not listening to him. He calls the growling ridiculous, along with the kicking over the microphone stand. He says Alex is like a little hamster trying to be a tiger. It was stupid and didn’t work. Randy half agrees with Simon calling the whole thing buck wild. He thinks Alex can sing, but screamed that song. Like the other judges, he talks about the microphone stand. Kara likes his choreography more than his singing and suggests he stops the growling next time. Paula is planning to steal all of Alex’s moves. Simon suggests Alex will not be back to sing again and Kara tells him nothing is certain since America is still voting. Sorry Kara, but America could vote for two years and Alex still will not make the Top 12. Alex tells Ryan he was a little softer in rehearsals but was really trying to have fun tonight. If by fun he means unnecessarily growling his way through part of the song, then he is the fun man. Ryan says Alex’s parents are ticked with Simon’s comments and then accidentally breaks the microphone stand or the microphone (the camera never really shows us). Maybe Alex should try his luck on Beauty and the Geek or Americans Next Comic instead of Idol.

ARIANNA AFSAR – Winner Takes It All

During her audition all the judges commented on her looks, but in Hollywood they took her seriously as a singer and complimented her voice. Even though she is one of the youngest in the competition, she is ready to bring 100% to the table and hopes America likes her. She is singing an Abba song. Really? If you absolutely must sing a song from a Swedish band at least pick Ace of Base, then your song is at least a decade younger. How does she even know Abba songs? I bet she saw the movie Mamma Mia and fell in love. She is making a big mistake. Now is not the time to prove you are a serious artist. Instead, she should embrace her cuteness and use it to get as many votes as possible. I’m not familiar with this song, but for her sake I hope it gets a little faster. She is having some pitch problems midway through the first verse. A few times I’m not sure if she rounding off the note or missing the pitch. If I can’t tell, I’m guessing she is doing something not quite right. She hits the one big note, but every note around it has issues. She finishes up going off pitch off and on during the glory note at the end. When she finishes she does not smile. In fact, she looks sadder than the CEO of AIG right now. Her mom and dad also look sad. Simon is starting off the judges. This should be interesting. He says the lyric ‘winner takes it all’ is ironic since she was terrible at parts. The arrangement was so dreary he felt like he was at a funeral. He wonders why everyone went into a time machine tonight. He says if they wanted someone that sounded old and boring they would just bring Barry Manilow back on the show. Ok I made that up, but come on we are all thinking it. Despite her efforts to make the song contemporary, he thinks she failed. Randy wanted the 17 year old to do more vocally and pick the right song. He says it wasn’t good. Kara wants Arianna to be a ray of sunshine again. She says ‘cute as a button’ is a compliment, not an insult. She wants her to be young and touch people. Kara must remember that Arianna spends her free time entertaining elderly people in nursing homes, and let’s face it, they eat this stuff up. No one loves Abba more than those afflicted with Alzheimer and hearing loss. Paula, kinder than the other judges, says Arianna's song had some bright moments, but she did think the song was too old fashioned. She appreciates Arianna's efforts to change the song, but thinks its better to just stick to the melody. Simon and her then debate the proper pronunciation of Abba. Arianna was afraid the song would sound too old, but she tried to make it contemporary. Paula thinks if Arianna had the right song she would be Top 12 worthy. Did Paula just give a Wild Card preview? Maybe in season 9 the young contestants will realize they were brought onto the show because they are young and bubbly, not because they sing bland songs like 50 year olds.

JU’NOT JOYNER – Hey There Delilah

The guy that sounds like movie about the pregnant girl is a business owner and father. He tried to be more current in Hollywood week and it earned him a spot in the top 36. He sounds good when the song begins. The mood lighting is at an all time high, or rather low; all the lights are off. He is singing softly backed with only a piano. The performance has a nice smooth vibe until I see the handcuffs. Yes, he has a pair of handcuffs hanging from his belt. Why? Are they holding his key? Did he just escape from a Federal Marshall? Is he planning on making a citizen arrest? This is taking Chris Daughtrey chain thing to a whole new level. If Ryan asks him about the handcuffs you better believe one of the judges will make a sexually inappropriate joke. I wonder if he realizes he looks a lot like Boston Celtic star Paul Pierce. He opens up his voice and gets bigger as the song moves along. He is transitioning in and out of falsetto nicely. He obviously has a bigger voice than this song demonstrates. His decision to give us only a preview of his abilities is risky but a welcome development. Most Idols use their two minutes of singing to show us everything they can possibly do, but not Ju’not; he believes in subtlety. On a possibly negative note, he is singing the same song he performed during Hollywood week. Otherwise, I’d give him a lot of credit for singing a song few would expect out of an R&B guy. Will the judges give him grief like they did Taylor for singing the same song again, or will they be inconsistent like they normally are and not even mention his repeat. Randy is impressed that Ju’not switched up the song and pulled back throughout; he loved it. Kara likes his smooth fluid sound, but thinks he could bust it out even more on the next song. She wants to hear his ridiculous pipes during his next performance. Paula asks where his son is and he tells her he is with her grandmother. Ju’Not you fool! This is not about what’s best for the child. No, it’s about getting as many votes as possible, and nothing is more effective than a dead wife or an adorable kid. Paula gives him a pass for singing the same song again because he changed it up from Hollywood week, unlike Taylor who sang it exactly the same. She thinks the liberties he took paid off in a nice vocal. Simon already forgets who Taylor is and drifts back into season 5 wondering if they are talking about Soul Patrol again. I don’t think he is faking it either. He really did forget Taylor’s name. As soon as Kara refers to Taylor as shopping girl, it all comes back to Simon. Simon says it was better than he expected, but he wished Ju’Not stripped the entire song down. If he did maybe he could have had a moment. Simon says he knows Ju’Not must be nervous, Ju’Not tells him that he got a cortisone shot right in his butt. Simon says that news is too much information and Ryan runs on stage to get them off the topic of Ju’Not’s buttock. Ryan asks Ju’Not if he intentionally scaled back the song and the answer is yes. He wanted to feature the melody and pay tribute to the original artist. He also explains that the shot was to help his asthma; the smog must be pretty bad in Los Angeles right now. At some point isn’t he legally required to say, “Ju’Not you wanna vote for me.”

KRISTEN McNAMERA – Give Me One Reason

Ryan sells Itunes again. I’d like to be in the negotiations for the arrangement. Do you think Itunes specifies at what times during the show Ryan has to do the built in commercial? Or does Ryan have liberty to bring it up whenever he wants? He is sitting on the hard as wood couch between Kristin and Nate. He asks them about the drama in the Hollywood group. Nate and Kristen, both looking extremely awkward do their best to pretend nothing happened. Kristen is a karaoke host. I guess the judges will be saying she is karaoke no matter how well she sings. Turns out that crazy hair she had in her audition came from a hairdresser mistake. They show Randy saying she is a bold artist. Little does he know the ‘bold’ hair was a mistake. Interesting song choice; a girl with a huge voice is singing a song from an artist with a small voice. This is a very popized arrangement. Kristen acts like a goofy airhead until she sings. Then a deep rich and powerful voice suddenly emerges. She has a very strong lower register and sounds good. This is a horrible arrangement, but we’ve come to expect them during the early rounds. The only problem with this song is it’s small range. Kristen has a big voice and she is trapped within the confines of this song. She tries to finally show off her abilities near the end of the song, but in the middle of sounding great she misses a note. Kara likes the blonde hair more than the purple. She calls her a great singer but wants to see her with more of a rock edge like Kelly Clarkson or Pink. Kara is still unsure of Kristens sartorial choices. Paula wishes Kristen reprised her version of Kelly Clarkson song she performed in Hollywood week tonight. Huh? I thought they were not supposed to do the same song again. Make up your mind judges! She says Kristen has a hell of a range with great vocals. Simon wants the real Kristen to stand up. He is puzzled by her wardrobe choices and song selection, but thinks she has a good voice. He doesn’t think she knows who she is, and is certain he doesn’t know. Randy agrees with Simon. He felt like he was at a karaoke bar because of Kirsten’s attempts to over sing the song. Kristen tells Ryan she is a Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis kind of singer. She says she always had fashion problems and needs a stylist. Ryan promises her she’ll get help if she makes the Top 12. So Kristen knew she was going to be in the top 36 for a month or so and it never occurred to her to get some fashion advice from a decent dresser? Unfortunately for Kristen she didn’t give us one reason to stay here and I don’t think the voters will turn right back around.

NATE MARSHALL – I Would Do Anything For Love

If Clay is the kind of guy that beat up guys like Alex in high school, then Nate is the type of guy that guys like Alex used to beat up. He calls himself this season’s drama queen, but claims the real Nate is goofy and humble. He wants to ‘touch’ America with his music by singing a Meatloaf classic – nothing can go wrong here right? Wow right out of the gate this is horrible. His voice is far too thin for this bombastic song. And he is wearing a blue headband thing on his head. Dude, really? Nate makes Kristen look like Heidi Klum. Unless the Stallone brothers specifically asked him to audition for a Staying Alive remake this is borderline pathetic, maybe even worse than Casey ‘why did I sing the Police’ Carlson. His dance moves consist of snapping his fingers and jumping around a little. So other than the bad dance moves, the horrible outfit, and his tiny voice he is totally touching America. Maybe they could cast him in High School Musical 4: We Just Don’t Care Anymore. He is hitting most of the notes, but even when he does, it still sounds bad. Maybe his agent can get him on next season’s Big Brother, because that’s about his only chance of being on TV after tonight. Simon jokes that Nate would ‘do that.’ He predicts a minority of people will like Nate, but the vast majority will think it verged on excruciating. He can’t get the image of Olive Newton John in a headband out of his mind. On a positive note, he says people will remember Nate since he is a fun person. Randy asks him why he sang this song, and Nate says his mother and him used to dance around and listen to it when he was a kid. He says he can sing, but he cannot imagine what type of record Nate could make. Nate says he wants to make something fun that everyone can listen to, even Simon. Hearing his name he has to speak again, so Simon suggests Nate make work out videos. Hey, it worked for Richard Simmons. Randy, apparently confused by Simon’s earlier reference to Olivia thinks he was talking about Elton John’s Physical headband. Huh? Randy Elton didn’t sing the song Physical, pay attention dog. Nate reminded Kara of an 80's John Travolta with his attire and dancing. She wants to see a more serious side next time, but she does want to go to karaoke with Nate. Simon asks Nate if he is here with anyone. He is, his grandmother and aunt. Ryan walks over to them and asks the grandmother if she liked it and she said yes because she is used to Nathan’s music. Paula thought Nate was bolder during Hollywood week than tonight’s Boy George version of the song. She thinks he lost his coolness factor tonight. Nate appreciates the judge’s feedback, but wants to have fun when he sings. If America wants to have fun every week he suggests they vote for him. Ryan wants to make Simon more uncomfortable so he walks behind Simon with Nate. Ryan takes Nate’s blue headband and threatens to put it on Simon’s head. Simon assumes a defensive posture and tries his best to ward off Ryan. I wonder if they continued battling after the show went to commercial. Unfortunately for Nate, the best part about his appearance on Idol came during the part after he sang.


Next up is Joanna…whoah wait a minute, who is this new girl? Ok, we knew about her since Idol announced the top 36, but being a late addition might make some voters think she wasn’t originally worthy of the top 36, so why should I vault into the Top 12? Continuing this season’s trend of Idol parents, Felicia is a stay at home mom. She was almost a stay at home Idol. The final judgment, when she got eliminated from Idol, was one of the worst days of her life. She is shocked when Kara told her it’s not about hitting the right notes; it’s about being distinct. Felicia might be making the same mistake shopping girl made an hour earlier by singing an Alicia Keys song. She has a nice strong voice. She runs into a little trouble on the first time through the chorus as her voice cracks on one of the higher notes. She is wearing a sparkly top from the Liza Manellia collection. I’ve heard her sing this on youtube, as have many other Idol watchers. I’m curious if she can sing anything else. It’s like these contestants have one or two songs they are truly confident when performing and do their best to keep singing that song. Yes Kimberly Locke I’m talking about you and Somewhere over the Rainbow. Other than the one missed note she is doing a perfect copycat performance. That means she is a good singer, but does it mean she is distinct? She finishes the song with a nice powerful glory note. Felicia is a shrewd contestant; her daughter is in the audience. I bet that little girl is good for a few hundred thousand votes. Paula says all things happen for a reason. She thinks Felicia is gorgoues inside and outside. She calls her gift unbelievable and hopes we bring her back for several more weeks. Simon thinks the first part of the song was better than the back half, but calls the entire thing copycat. Randy is happy she is back, but wants her to go with what makes her different from Alicia Keys. Kara points out Felicia had some problems with the notes, but for the first time she actually noticed her. Randy likes Felicia’s new bangs; she does look a lot better than Hollywood week. Ryan has Felicia recap how Idol brought her back onto the show. She basically jumped on a plane as soon as possible and headed out to Hollywood. At least they put her in the final group of 12 so she had a little time to practice her song.


Scott is doing everything he can to make people forget he is blind. And unlike some other contestants that already advanced into the Top 12, he doesn’t have friends and family holding up signs saying, “Scott is Blind.” Yes I’m talking to you random Danny friend that held up a picture of Danny’s deceased wife…twice! Scott was so excited when he got his golden ticket, but not more excited than when he finally got to use his keyboard during Hollywood week. Unfortunately, he cannot play his instrument tonight because Idol is cheap and is instead using canned music. I wondered how Scott would handle moving around the stage while blind, and the answer is, by sitting on a stool. He has a very nice tone to his voice, but it might be more back up singer than superstar. Uh oh, he is standing up and moving around a little. Despite his blindness, he is doing a decent job finding the camera with his eyes. He is missing some notes in the first part of the song. But when he misses the note he is close enough that it at least sounds decent. When the song picks up steam so does Scott; he is sounding really great now on the bigger notes. I’d like to hear him sing an entire song ‘all out.’ Although not the best vocals, this might be the most enjoyable performance all night. The crowd gives their loudest ovation so far. Randy says Scott is amazing because the vocals weren’t the best, but the parts that were great were really really great. He can feel the passion emanating from Scott when he sings. Kara says he moves mountains when he steps on stage. It doesn’t matter to her when he has vocal issues because the music is coming from his heart. She hopes America gives him the chance to play the piano next week. Paula is so happy and proud Scott made it so far and also cannot wait to hear him play and sing. She calls him one of their finest. Simon wasn’t crazy about the song, but says Scott is growing on him because he is starting to believe in himself. Even though he thinks there might be better singers in the competition, Scott is the only memorable singer in a sea of irrelevance. He will be amazed if Scott doesn’t advance into the Top 12. Scott tells Ryan he also can’t wait to get his piano back. Before Ryan can give the numbers, Scott wants to hit a much belated high five he missed after his audition. Scott’s back story makes Danny’s look like Paris Hilton’s.

KENDALL BEARD – This One’s For the Girls

When they return from the commercial, Randy is acting like Ryan reading the cue cards to introduce Kendall. He gets a little help from Kara as Ryan sits in Randy’s chair. Kendall explains she auditioned in Puerto Rico because she had to fly somewhere to audition, so why not a warm weathered beautiful place with beaches. She says on the “final judgment day she was really nervous.” Final judgment day…what is this a veiled attempt to advertise the new Terminator movie? Her dad has this very odd, slightly scare alligator dance he does whenever Kendall makes it into the next Idol round. I wonder if he’ll do that during the father daughter dance at her wedding. Kendall is going country tonight; can we really have a Top 12 without any legitimate country artists? She is a cute bubbly girl and wisely selected a cute bubbly song. Unlike so many other girls she is not trying to reinvent herself into Norah Jones. She sounds good on the lower notes, but runs into a few problems when she reaches the higher parts during the chorus. Her voice sounds thin on those parts; this song might be too big for her voice. Her pitch problems continue throughout the song, but she is fun to watch. She is a ‘so what’ performance. Kara loves her personality and thinks she is definitely a country girl. She says Kendall had some issues with the notes and had some flat stuff going on. Paula says she takes the prize on the night’s best dressed. Turns out Kendall’s mom picked out her dress. Did you hear that Kristen? Go find Kendall’s mom and have dress you henceforth. Paula calls her adorable and never actually talks about how Kendall sang. Good thing this is not a show about singing right? Simon says she is what she is, a cute girl that loves country music. Half way through, when it got shrilly, he couldn’t wait for her song to end. Since strange things happen on this show he suggests she might make the Top 12. Randy feels like this wasn’t her best vocal performance. But he appreciates she told the judges who she was with her song selection. Ryan, appearing rushed for time doesn’t talk with Kendal and rushes through her numbers.

JORGE NUNEZ – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me

He has worked tirelessly on improving his pronunciation when he sings. If only he could spend as much time on his dance moves. They show his odd dirty dancing like choreography during group day in Hollywood. I wonder if he’ll do similar gyrations during the group number tomorrow night. He is singing ‘Don’t Let the Sun go Down on Me’ so he can give America a beautiful song. He definitely sounds better on his enunciation than during his audition, but I don’t think we are going to see him do “End of the World” anytime soon. He sounds really good on the first verse. He runs into a little trouble during a sustained note in the middle as he goes a little off pitch. Perhaps the only real complaint I might have with Jorge is he isn’t really making the song his own. It’s not a carbon copy, but it’s also not different enough to show what type of artist he wants to be when he grows up. They are using a ‘24’ style split screen effect while Jorge sings. He sounds excellent on the powerful glory note that ends the song. Paula is already standing. Jorge is a very ‘real’ performer. Much like Scott, you can feel his emotion while he sings. Paula is so proud of him because people don’t realize how far he has come working with his dialect coach. She just wants to squeeze him. Simon thinks they were wrong to remove his accent, why shouldn’t he have one? He wants him to be who he is – a very good singer. He tells Jorge to embrace the accent. Randy says accent or not, it’s the vocals that matter. Wait a minute Randy, based on what the other judges said tonight I thought this was a show about fashion and looking good. One of these days I hope Idol figures out if it’s a singing competition, or a popularity contest. Even though Jorge wasn’t perfect, he thinks the vocals were really really good…dude. Kara thinks Jorge was born to sing. We feel his song from his heart because he really believes it; now he is crying. Every now and again Idol delivers emotional moments that don’t feel contrived or forced. This is one of those genuine moments. Jorge has to speak a little in Spanish since when he gets emotional he can’t think in English, only Spanish. Ryan shows off his 10th grade Spanish by saying a couple numbers in the foreign tongue.

LIL ROUNDS – Be Without You

Lil loved her audition and Hollywood week. She has three children and it’s tough to be away from them for such long periods of time. She says she thinks about her children because she cannot be away from them…except I guess when she is in Idol. Hear that Felicia? Take your one kid and go home, Lil Rounds has three! Lil underwent a massive make over and looks great. Her voice sounds strong and full. She has a really confident stage presence and looks more like a professional than any one else tonight. She is hitting the notes, but this is rather copycatish and lacks the original version’s raw emotion. I’d like to hear her sing a song out of her comfort zone to see what Lil sounds like. I already know what Lil singing Mary sounds like – good but not great. Almost done with a perfect performance, she runs into some pitch problems on the last note. She is probably the best tonight. Maybe not the best vocals, but the best overall outing. Simon calls her brilliant. He wishes she picked a different song that showed off her as an individual. He thinks she has great great prospects in this competition and one of the best singers they discovered. Randy also thinks she is one of the best. He likes that she kept her swagger and knew who she was; a girl with unbelieveable vocals that knows who she is. Kara says Lil is still a powerhouse. She has been a steady boat going the same way and Kara can’t wait to see her again next week and the week after that. Paula predicts we will be seeing her for many more ‘lil rounds.’ Get it? I wonder how long Paula’s been waiting to use that line. When she says it she has that ‘look at me I just did good’ smile on her face. You know, the same one President George W. Bush would get on his face when he correctly pronounced the complicated names of foreign leaders. Lil tells Ryan she feels so great and is trying her best not to cry. Hear that Jorge, real men, I mean umm women don’t cry on stage when they get good news.


Von still sounds great in the death spot. Taylor still picked the wrong song but at least looks like a girl now. Alex still isn’t my boyfriend. A little unknown fact about the recap they show at the end – it comes from the run through, not the actual show. You can tell this during Alex’s clip when the microphone does not fall over. Poor guy, if he had executed the move cleanly during the actual performance at least he wouldn’t have to tell each judge he didn’t mean to knock down the stand. Arianna still sounds like she is a member of AARP. Ju’Not still sounds smooth. Kristin still sounds good but misguided. Nate is still impossible to take seriously. Felicia still sounds good but not distinct. Scott is still a joy to watch and hear. Kendall is still bubbly and cute. Jorge is still pronouncing his words properly. Lil is still the frontrunner.

Tomorrow night will be interesting. Two contestants are almost assuredly into the Top 12. Lil Rounds and Lil Scott. Rounds sounded great and had the luxury of the pimp spot. Scott had all four judges practically begging America to vote him into the next round. Based solely on vocals, the most deserving remaining contestant is Von. However, he went first and then had to wait around two hours while America forgot his subtle performance. Also, he is a bit like Adam-light. Does America want two guys with crazy vocal range in the Top 12? A few contestants can be eliminated rather easily, including Alex, Arianna, Taylor, and Nate. However, rest assured Nate will be in the final two with Lil Rounds as if he had any chance of amassing more votes than the lil wonder. Kristin has a voice worthy of the Top 12, but she has no idea who she is as an artist, and neither do I. Ju’Not is pleasant but is he really going to inspire people to vote over and over and over again? Probably not, plus Lil might get all the R&B voters. Felicia will also have to battle for the R&B vote, and she did not actually make the top 36. I am still not sure what effect, if any, her sudden reemergence will have on voters. If Ju’Not and Felicia do not make the Top 12, I think they have an excellent chance at Wild Card redemption. Therefore, and I’m going out on a limp here, I’m guessing Kendall Beard somehow makes the Top 12. Every season there is at least one girl that is there only because she looks good and has a great personality. And every year there is a country guy or girl. This season is still missing both. Last night no one really sang a similar song to Kendall, which means the entire demographic that enjoys the type of music will concentrate their votes into one contestant – Kendall. Plus, if Kendall advances and leaves out Ju’Not, Felicia, or Von, it makes the Wild Card round that much more dramatic.


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