American Idol 8 - First 12
Where to begin? This was a night that wavered between bland and vocal train wreck. The way American Idol is working this season is breaking the Top 36 into groups of 12. For three weeks, the top three will move ahead until there are nine and the judges pick three as "wildcards" to make up the Top 12. If you don't want to read about tonight's horror show, I'll just tell you up front that the top three are going to be Alexis Grace, Danny Goeky and Tatiana Del Toro. The dark horse is Anoop Desai. If he gets cut, he'll be a wildcard pick. Trust me on this. The contestants were given the entire Billboard Top 100 to choose from since the chart began back in 1958. With all of that music at their disposal, the song choices were uniformly vomit-inducing.
Jackie Tohn: Dressed like an extra from Grease, Jackie mugged her way through Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation." It was overblown, fake and, as Simon put it, gimmicky. Randy and Kara called her "entertaining." Community theatre is calling, Jackie.
Ricky Braddy: I still have no idea who this guy is, and even Paula said he was at a disadvantage because he hadn't been "featured." He has a pleasant, bland voice. He sang Leon Russell's "A Song For You," but it was a total charisma-free zone the entire time he was on stage. I hope he didn't quit his job cooking chicken fingers in North Carolina.
Alexis Grace: A shoe-in for the Top 12, this little 17-year-old has a soulful voice beyond her years. She tore up Aretha's "Never Loved A Man," and Paula was gushing and gesticulating to make sure you saw all her cheap jewelry (which she'll be peddling on HSN this Sunday!). Simon called her this season's dark horse.
Brent Keith: He basically said he's on the show for the money, saying he and his family were living paycheck to paycheck. So much for artistic passion. He sang some self-indulgent country song called "Hick Town," and it was bland and forgettable. Randy, in one of the funniest lines of the night, said it was like an act you'd see at a chili cook-off. Ha!
Stevie Wright: The chick named after Stevie Nicks should change her name, because this performance was neck-and-neck for worst of the night. Trying to "young it up," she sang Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" and was so off-pitch and out of tune it was really just embarrassing. It was like a karaoke pajama party after the girls have drank too much Nyquil and are kissing their hands and pretending it's Zac Effron.
Anoop Desai: I'm already over the whole "Anoop Dogg" nickname and his giant eyebrows. He bizarrely chose Monica's "Angel of Mine," and while it wasn't terrible, it was indulgent and a bit High School Musical for me, dawg. However, the judges love him, so if he gets cut tomorrow night in the voting, he'll be back.
Casey Carlson: Here's who Stevie was neck-and-neck with for worst performance of the night and I think she actually won it by a nose. She chose The Police's "Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic," changed it to "He" (because god forbid someone get the "wrong" impression) and then proceeded to slaughter it. I don't think she was on pitch the entire song and was writhing around like a stripper for no good reason. Horrible.
Michael Sarver: The oil roughneck is also just on the show for the money, and decided to sing Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want To Be," which should be banned from Idol for eternity. It was like drunk karaoke at the titty bar. Simon said he was a likable guy and hoped people would call in and save him. Don't waste your long distance or texting minutes.
Anne Marie Boskovich: Her Muzak version of "Natural Woman" sealed her fate as a hotel lounge singer. On a side note, what the hell was Ted Danson doing in the audience? Does he have something to promote?
Stephen Fowler: He fumbled the lyrics in Hollywood and they gave him a second chance. They shouldn't have bothered. A nightmarish arrangement of "Rock With You" was the least of his problems. He was off-pitch and behind the music most of the time. Paula, in possibly her most lucid moment of the season, said the song was "the kiss of death." Simon said he wished Stephen had forgotten the lyrics. Ouch.
Tatiana Del Toro: The best part of the whole show was Tatiana running to hug everyone after their performances insuring her more screen time. It was hilarious! Here's the thing -- she can actually sing. Her performance of "Saving All My Love For You" was one of the best of the evening, and she toned down the crazy, which the judges were encouraging her to bring back. Simon called her a drama queen desperate for fame, which pretty much nailed it. She's portraying a character to get a reaction, and it's working. She's a shameless self-promoter. I kinda have to admire that. While Miss Seacrest was giving her voting number, she earnestly looked at the camera and said, "This is my dream and it's up to you to keep it alive." Work it, Tatty D.
Danny Gokey: They are gonna milk the dead wife for the rest of the season, so get used to it. Randy, Paula and Kara have already crowned him the winner, falling over themselves to overpraise him. He sang "Hero" by Mariah Carey, which is pure corn. Simon, the voice of reason, said he wasn't buying the hype. Exactly.