Let’s just put it out there: Wednesday’s episode of American Idol kind of sucked. First of all, nearly everyone they profiled made it through to the top 24. Second of all, because they rushed through the Hollywood auditions, we hardly knew who any of these people were. Likable faces from the auditions disappeared, and in their stead were new, blank canvases. It won’t matter that much once the semi-finals begin next week, but for the love of all things televised, a little character development would be nice!Anyway, the latest episode wasn’t so much an episode as it was a long string of acceptances with a few rejects scattered along the way. I might as well just start at the top. First up was Sanjaya Malakar, the effete young Indian boy whose sister was cut Tuesday night amidst a shower of tears and sobs. Simon told the kid, “You made it through. She didn’t. Satisfying…” Oh Simon. You’re so cruel. But it’s true. SUCK IT, SISTER! Sanjaya quickly and easily made it through to the top twenty four, and up next was Anna Kearns, a girl most memorable for her height than anything else. I remember her audition and being not totally blown away by her, but somehow, she had made it to this point, which kind of boggled my mind.
Anyway, Anna confronted Simon about him calling her a giraffe, and for a moment, she felt the brief joy of victory as Simon apologized to her. However, her dreams then came crashing down as the judges informed her that she would not be moving on. Anna could not believe it. How could they deny such raw talent? And by “raw talent,” I mean “height”? She told the judges that the show had never seen anyone like her, and when Simon asked if she was saying that because she was tall, she said no. Anna never could elaborate on what the hell she was talking about, but it was clear she felt she deserved a spot, simply for the freakshow nature of it. Tall or short — you gotta sing! DENIED.
We then saw a quick trio of singers get rejected. Gone was Bernard Williams (who?), Eric Davis (who?), and Tammy, the lesbianish pedicab driver. Amidst the hugs, I thought I saw Jenry, but it was merely a Jenry fakeout. He still remains mysterious absent.
Next up was Melinda Doolittle, one of my favorites in the competition. Like I said in the previous recap, if she didn’t move on, this show was full of bunk. Anyway, no need to prolong this. Melinda moved onto the top twenty four and even received a kiss from Simon on both cheeks to boot. I hope she goes far, but her cartoonish face and perma-shrug might cause an untimely exit from the competition.
As for the second backup singer in the competition, Brandon Rogers, I had the illogical thought that he might not go forward because Melinda had already maxed out the backup-singer quota for the season. However, that assumption really made no sense, as evidenced by the fact that Brandon effortlessly advanced to the semis.
Another one of my favorites, Gina Glockson, was up next. I really liked her a lot — both this season and last — but after two “Yeses” in a row, would another person move forward? Sure thing! The Glockson finally made it to the top twenty-four!
Suddenly, it was time for more quick cuts. Jimmy (the guy Simon had called a smaller version of Ruben) got the ax as did some other guy who looked vaguely like Tiki Barber. Around this time, I started to notice a pattern. If we saw a flashback of the singer during Hollywood week, chances are they’d move through. Everyone else was dropped like a bad habit. Or as I like to say, dropped like watching My Network TV.
Next was Haley Scarnato. I had no idea who she was, and her Hollywood week flashback did nothing to impress me. I really disliked her, but she went through to Hollywood; so that shows how much I know.
Phil Stacy, the goofy guy who looks like a human saguaro cactus / penis, showed up next. I wasn’t overly won over by his shaky audition, and I was kind of dismayed that he skipped the birth of his daughter for American Idol. And since I’m a man who easily forms irrational and unreasonable opinions, I decided I hated this guy. Truth be told, however, his Hollywood Week performance was significantly better than his audition, and I could not deny that he deserved a spot in the top twenty four. I guess. Let’s just hope they keep the treacly “I’m a father!” bullshit to a minimum.
Around this time, we were treated to a random semi-preview of The Simpsons Movie, which sadly, did not look promising. Significantly more fascinating, however, was watching the top forty tour through the Simpsons animations studios. I could have watched that for a full hour. Alas, there were more cuts to be made. Back to Pasadena!
Next up was Chris Sligh, the curly-haired funnyman who actually knew how to carry a tune. As he sat down in front of the judges, he said, “You guys are probably wondering why I called this meeting today.” It was reasonably humorous; although, not as funny as his audition. I have a feeling he’ll be throwing deadpan lines for the next several weeks, each one with diminishing comedy returns. Just a hunch.
Anyway, Simon told Chris that he had a great personality, but his voice could still use improving. Did that mean he was going through? “Unfortunately,” Simon began, “you’re going to be seeing a lot more of us.” Oh, the old fakeout. Little did we realize we’d be seeing it with every. single. person.
Next was Blake, the beat-boxer with spiky hair and a dumb smile. I thought for sure he’d be going home. After all, not since Anna at the top of the show had we seen a person truly profiled and then sent home. Everyone who’d been cut had been done so via a montage. Surely Blake would be going home. He didn’t even sing (very much) in the group rounds!
But sure enough, the law of averages did not come into play here. Blake went through to the next round, and I was wrong again.
We then watched for three seconds as we saw Thomas Lowe get cut (huh? Who? Oh, he’s the British guy). Not faring as badly was Rudy Cardenas, who moved onto the semi-finals, but was so unremarkable that I have literally nothing to say about him.
Next was Paul Kim, the rare Asian male to grace the Idol stage. He revealed his two little superstitions, which were mildly less ridiculous than Ace’s lucky beanie last year. Paul’s whole thing was that he was going to go barefoot every week, no matter what. And yes, I’m already looking forward to the day when he accidentally steps on a tack during a live performance. His other “thing” was that he had a pair of lucky underwear that he’d don for every cut day. No word on whether it had to be washed or not, but for his sake, let’s just hope it does.
Anyway, I really liked Paul, but again, we hadn’t seen a good rejection in a while, and part of me felt like this might be the time for one. Nope. Wrong YET AGAIN. Paula did the ol’ fakeout and said, “I’m really sorry. You’re gonna have to come back.” You crafty wench, you!
Next was Jordin Sparks, the young daughter of the NFL star. Okay, she was young and bubbly. She had to be denied, right? They have to reject at least some of these people. Nope!
Oh wait, I spoke too soon. Time for another montage of denials (again, note the montage). Olivia Quiba-Hurst, Tatiana McConnico, and Monique Vieras (who, who and who?) all dropped like flies. Personally, I would have loved Olivia to hang around, just so I could say OLIVIA QUIBA-HURST ad nauseam.
AJ Tabaldo, who kind of looked like Wilmer Valderamma meets Sucre from Prison Break, was up next. This was his fifth time auditioning, and for once, it looked like he might make it. His voice absolutely drove me nuts — I hated it — but it was good enough for the judges. Moving on…
Next was Stephanie Edwards. Okay, she was a goner. Totally. Or was she? Simon said, “You haven’t failed. You’ve made it.” Seriously, this is ridiculous. Everyone’s moving forward.
Maybe the luck would end for Leslie Hunt (yes, yes, I don’t know who these people are either). But alas, she too received an invitation to the next round. Urgh.
Okay, okay. In all seriousness, the trend was about to end with Nicholas Pedro. He was the definition of subpar. No way he was moving on. No way at all, but DAMMIT! Not even he was cut! What is going on here?
Next was Alaina Alexander, a girl who rubbed me the wrong way when she first auditioned. She gave a whole teary-eyed speech about how this was her last audition, and if it didn’t work out, she was quitting singing for good. Like we cared. There was some sort of entitled, haughty element about her that wasn’t necessarily as potent as Katharine McPhee, but it certainly was there.
“I really don’t want to cry if I don’t make it through,” she told us, which meant that she would surely cry if she didn’t make it through. Anyway, Alaina entered the judging room and was so nervous that she couldn’t even sit down. Eventually, the judges coerced her to take a sedentary position, but even then, she appeared to be totally out of sorts. I wanted her rejected so badly. Crush her, judges. CRUSH HER!
But of course, since she got over three seconds of air time, it meant that Alaina easily moved through to the next round. Oh, I’ll get her. Don’t think you’re off the hook just yet, Alaina.
Next was Chris Richardson, who was sort of like a shorter, squatter version of Justin Timberlake. I thought his wannabe-JT looks and style would surely annoy Simon to no end, but apparently not. Chris moved on. At this point, I’m pretty sure I had only accurately guessed one person (Melinda Doolittle).
But what about Sabrina Sloan? Sure she was a goner. I mean, just LOOK at her!
“We have decided not…” Simon started, “…to exclude you.” Congrats, Sabrina. I guess.
Then it was time for another quick rundown of rejects. Jerome, Joelle, and Princess Johnson were all cut. As was cowboy Matthew Buckstein, who deserved to go home, solely for turning his chair around and sitting as if he were Dwayne from What’s Happenin’?
Next was Lakeisha Jones, the single-mother who wowed the judges during the “Best of the Rest Show.” We hadn’t seen her all week, and for a moment, I thought she’d gone the way of Ebony and Jenry. Anyway, this Mandisa 2007 was back, and I knew for sure that she was moving on. I mean, she had a daughter! How could the producers deny that?
Anyway, Lakeisha clacked her way towards the judges in her loud shoes and instantly began crying. Simon told her, “I am sorry to tell you, sweetheart, you’re going to be seeing a lot of us.” Okay, the line is getting old. Stop with the misdirection already if you’re not gonna bother rejecting anyone. C’mon, Fox. How could you make this episode so predictable?
Well, Lakeisha clacked back to the elevator, and behind her, Randy yelled out, “Lakeisha’s in the Idol House!” WHO ISN’T???
Finally, we were down to seven contestants. We burned through the first three very quickly. With barely any sort of hype or misdirection, Nicole Tranquillo (huh?) and Jared Cotter (who?) earned spots in the top twenty four. However, Ryan Seacrest had a very pressing question for us. “Is there still one [spot] for Amy Krebs?” NO! Oh wait, I spoke too soon. We watched Amy sing, which might as well have been her acceptance ticket. Sure enough, she too joined the rest of the semifinalists. Sigh.
“I’m kind of a big deal.”
At long last, we finally reached a dramatic moment in the show. There were two boys and two girls left. For the males, there was Sundance Head, a man who wasn’t afraid to show all of his body hair, and also Tommy, a curly-haired casanova who boasted about being cool under pressure. I was pulling for Tommy, but with the amount of screentime Sundance has received, I already knew how this was gonna turn out.
But until then, we had the ladies: Marisa or Antonella. We all know who Antonella is by now. She blew us away during the auditions, and then she was an accessory to obnoxiousness during the Hollywood rounds. As for Marisa, well, I had no idea who the hell she was. Hmmm… who do you think is moving forward?
Well, the producers set up two chairs in front of the judges, and I personally perked up at the promise that someone would finally be rejected in a suspenseful, non-montage way. In a terrible bit of simplistic misdirection, we learned that Marisa had started strong in the competition whereas Antonella had messed up her words. Who would go forward? Antonella. Surprise, surprise.
Marisa absolutely crumbled under the weight of this news. In the elevator, she fell to her knees, crouching by the door as her dreams evaporated into thin air. Antonella tried her best to comfort her fallen nemesis, but shockingly, the light, insincere pat on the back did little to improve Marisa’s mood. “Some of the best people here get eliminated,” Antonella said, adding, “Except for me. I made it through. Isn’t that amazing?”
Next up were the boys. Again, it was already obvious that Tommy would be going home. In the interviews, he was cocky and self-assured. Sundance was apprehensive and hairy. There was no way that Idol would reward Tommy, especially after he then jumped several times in the elevator. Let’s just be thankful that it wasn’t Sundance who was jumping. Otherwise, we may have had an unfortunate incident not unlike the opening scene of Speed.
Anyway, once the two guys were in front of the judges, we then saw clips of Tommy shining during Hollywood Week and Sundance languishing. Again, obvious misdirection. Sure enough, the judges denied Tommy, which meant we’d have at least one more week of looking at Sundance’s awful, awful goatee.
Afterwards, the two guys shook, with Sundance saying, “I’ll make you my bodyguard.” How about you make him your barber so he can cut that damn Brillo pad off your chin.
So there you have it. Our top twenty-four. I’m fairly sure we only know about five or six of them. It felt like we knew more of them last year. Maybe the producers wanted to cut down on the alleged “lack of screen time” bias. Whatever. Let’s just get to the semifinals.
What did you think about the episode?