On tonight's American Idol, we'll finally see how these finalists, who have been chosen over the past several weeks, stack up to one another.
The judges get a crazy entry -- since when is there an announcer? Announcer then introduces host Ryan Seacrest. That was a little over-the-top, don'tcha think? I guess they're trying to make us realize that they're on The Big Stage starting this evening.
OK, so the flip side of the addition of the 13th finalist -- Simon Cowell announces that two people will be going home tomorrow. Should've seen that one coming.
Tonight, if you haven't heard, is Michael Jackson night. I thought they wanted the contestants to stay away from iconic artists? Well, they always say that, but it's just an easy out when someone screws up a legendary song.
Lil Rounds is up first. In her bio segment, we meet her husband and three kids and are reminded that their house was destroyed in a tornado. She says she always hears from people that it's not OK that she has three kids and wants to try to make it as a singer. However, she says, "The day you let go of your dreams is the day you let go of your life." She's going to sing "The Way You Make Me Feel." It's definitely the right choice for her -- she has a blast, sings it well, and she's so comfortable on this big stage that the judges have made such a big deal about. I don't know about the white pleated pants, though. Randy Jackson says she put a new spin on his song and says this was a great way to start the show. Kara DioGuardi says everyone is probably nervous now because she was so good. She also adds, "I hope we get to hear you on the radio." (Ms. Industry strikes again.) Paula Abdul gives her props for her outfit and calls her a force to be reckoned with, comparing her falsetto to "angels singing." Simon says he thinks it was a lazy song choice, that the first half was worse than the second, and he hates what she's wearing.
Scott MacIntyre tells us he's been almost completely blind since birth, and his parents say they quickly realized how much he liked sounds and music. He performs "Keep the Faith," and he's in a place he's much more comfortable -- behind the piano. This definitely results in a better performance than we've seen from him before, but the song is fairly cheesy. Kara asks him if he learned the song on piano this week, and he says yes. She says it was a good song choice because it was a great message, and he's true to himself every week. Paula: "Scott, it's really magical seeing your instrument at your fingertips." She says, too, that the songwriter, who is in the audience, must have loved it. Simon says sorry to her because he hated the song choice. Scott says he wanted to be a little artistic. Simon says, "It's fine being artistic, just not on this show. ... I like you, I think you're a good singer, I like the fact that you're playing piano, I just didn't like the song." Randy says the performance was good, but it felt really safe, and he wants to see more sparks from him.
Danny Gokey says music was a way of life in his family -- that they sang about everything, if it was time to learn about something or do something unpleasant (like getting up early for school). He sings "PYT." He dances all over the stage and generally kills it, after the first part, which is not entirely awesome. Even Simon is smiling once he gets into the song. Paula tells him to take it all in as the crowd goes crazy. Paula: "The true mark of an artist is when you can hear somebody even with your eyes closed and know exactly who they are, and you possess that gift along with so many others." Then she says she thinks he's going into the finals. Aren't we in the finals? Simon says the vocals were brilliant and compares him to Michael McDonald. But he says the dancing was hideous. Danny says he loves to sing and dance, but when he puts them together, it's really tough. Randy says he's looking for his range as a performer, and he showed it tonight with the uptempo song. He also liked the singing and dancing. Kara says he has joy on the stage and that he should thank his parents for making him "sing his homework."
Michael Sarver returns to see his oil rig coworkers (dressed in their blue jumpsuits, which reminds me of my Granddaddy, who worked in a refinery for decades) and his family for a bit, but his bio segment is really short. We do learn that he grew up without a dad and thus tries to be as good of a father as possible. He sings "You Are Not Alone." It's kind of a goofy choice, but his vocals make it a lot more obvious why he has made it this far -- he really can sing. Simon says he's not the best singer on this show, but he made up for it with passion and heart. "I just wish we knew what you did for a living," he adds snarkily. Hee. Randy says he's one of the best in this so far tonight. Kara says tonight showed her that he really can sing and that he's serious about this. Paula says he picked a song "that was instinctually perfect for you."
Jasmine Murray is really close with all of her family -- her mother and her sisters are all gorgeous, too. She sings "I'll Be There." She has some rough patches in the middle, but she mostly does a good job with it. Randy says she did a pretty good job with a song that has been done by MJ and Mariah Carey. Kara says she's always on the edge, hoping she can get to those notes, and she did. Paula says she has amazing composure and poise, but some of her moments going into the chorus were flat, but she also had some brilliant moments. Simon says he can't add much, that it was a nice attempt and that she needs to start acting her age a little more and loosen up a bit.
Around this time, a friend of mine posts on Facebook wondering if maybe the show didn't secure the rights to all of MJ's songs because she thinks they sure are picking some boring ones. That's a pretty good point -- I'm also hoping some of the rest of the contestants pick some more fun options.
Kris Allen also grew up with music. The rest of his bio segment is about how it's difficult being apart from his wife of a few months. He brings out his guitar for a performance of "Remember the Time." There, that's a little more upbeat. It's a bit weird, because he's dancing around and playing the guitar, and it doesn't really go together, but somehow he makes it work. Kara says the girls love him, and adds that she's glad to see him out there with his guitar because he performs so well with it, even though he missed a few notes. She also says that people should know that he helped a lot of the other contestants prepare for their performances. Paula says he helped them because no one knows MJ's catalog as well as he does. She also says he was adorable and sexy. Simon says it wasn't really a song that suits the guitar, which made it a little "clumsy." He also says he should have kept the wife hidden for a little while longer (I guess so the girrrrrrllllls won't get jealous and decide not to vote for him). Randy says he liked it, calling the performance "a little Jason Mraz-y" and "a well job done" (note: not a typo).
Allison Iraheta is from an El Salvadorean family, and she frequently sings at a local market. She also says she has wanted to be on Idol since she was 9 (I'm so old), and she was lucky to have parents who gave her what she needed to get there. She sings "Give in to Me," which I am not familiar with. She gives it a very rock vibe, and it works for her. It's unreal that she is 16. In fact, the first thing that Paula says is asking if she is really 16. She says she should keep doing what's she's doing, and her hair looks great. Simon says it was a good performance, and that it's clear who she is and what kind of artist she is. He says she needs to lighten up a little, and she says, "I'm not dark, I'm not like cutting myself." She maybe shouldn't talk on national television. Randy says she's born to do this and can sing anything. Kara says she is distinguishing herself as the rocker girl.
Anoop Desai talks with Ryan about how shocked he was to make the Top 13. He says he wants to bring energy and have some fun. His parents say he was very spoiled as an only child and that he is living the American dream. He says he wants to be an artist who has credibility, recognition and good music. He's taking on "Beat It." He has fun and gets way into the performance, though it seems like he loses some words at one point, but it was hard to tell. Paula and Simon spar about who is supposed to go first. Simon makes Paula go first: "Hi, Anoop. I wasn't prepared for this. OK, when you pick a song, it's your gift to show the world what you got. And according just to me, people, here comes the boo, I don't think that, I think that this song is untouchable, it belongs to the consummate artist and anything else sounds karaoke to me." She's proud that she got a boo. Simon says he thought it was horrible because "there was no aggression, it was all very lightweight, and it looked stupid." Randy says it was the wrong choice because it was very karaoke. Anoop says he hopes he's back next week to show what he has. Kara says he didn't get to do any variations or do any riffs or anything.
Jorge Nunez has a big, energetic family in Puerto Rico. He says they broke apart after his grandpa died, but him being on Idol has brought them back together. He's going to sing "Never Can Say Goodbye." I don't love him, but I think he has a pleasant-enough voice here. Randy says this was a weird choice because "it was a little older-fashioned for you." Kara says he's one of the most emotionally connected people, but he didn't really connect with this song. Paula says she loves him, but she doesn't think he was himself and she asks him why he picked that song. He said he couldn't choose, and finally he went with this one because he thought it fit his voice. "I wasn't going to sing 'Bad' by Michael Jackson," he says. "Well, you kind of did," Simon says. Yikes. I don't know -- I didn't think it was fabulous, but I didn't think it was as bad as the judges made it out to be.
Megan Joy Corkrey, a font analyst, is on the show because her family pushed her into it. She also tells Ryan she's never been on a stage performing except for choir. In her bio, she adds that she tried out for the musicals and solos in choir and never made anything, so she gave up on that and focused on her family. That didn't work out too well, and she's now divorced, but she says her son gives her life meaning. He's staying with her mom, and there's a clip of her talking to him on the phone, saying, "I love you, Bubba," and I, being a ginormous softie, totally tear up since I call my kidlet Bubba a lot of the time, too. Then she cries about being away from him. Sniffle. She sings "Rockin' Robin," which the Jackson 5 covered. Really? Of all the Michael Jackson songs in the universe, she picks this? I mean, it works well with her voice, actually, but what a strange way to go. Kara says she puts her signature on everything she touches, but she would like to see more range from her. Paula says she picked the right song, but she didn't really show her quirkiness as much tonight. Simon says, "We like you ... but what a stupid song choice." He calls it clumsy and awkward. He says if this was the first time the audience had seen her, they would think the judges had lost it by putting her on the show. That's kind of weird because even though it was totally strange, I still thought her voice sounded better than in her last two performances. Randy says the song choice didn't allow her to be herself. Simon then asks Gordon Ramsay, who's in the audience, what he thinks, but we can't hear him. Simon says he doesn't know what he's talking about anyway. (Oh, look. The Brits hate each other. Or something.)
Adam Lambert says he moved to Hollywood right after high school and he's struggled to make it. He says he has a thicker skin from his time in Hollywood and that if he had had this opportunity five years ago, "I probably would have crumbled under the pressure." He sings "Black or White." I know a lot of people really like him, but every time he sings, I feel like I'm watching Grease: You're the One That I Want (that's the show where people tried out for the Broadway musical) all over again. Paula says no one has ever been this comfortable on this stage ever in the history of the show. "Your innate ability to know who you are as an artist and to marry fashion with music as you do that, you've got the whole package and I believe with all my heart we'll see you running all the way to the end in the finals." Simon says that was in a totally different league than anyone else so far tonight. Randy says he is the most current, most right now, and that he could make an album right now and go to the top of the charts. Kara: "What could I say that hasn't already been said?" And that's why we don't need four judges. (*rimshot*) I think he looked comfortable on stage, but I can't imagine hearing that vocal on the radio. I think he's screechy.
Matt Giraud talks about going on family vacations and loving spending time with everyone, especially his dad. He's singing "Human Nature" from behind the piano. He's comfy behind the piano, and I think he does a really good job until it goes to the falsetto at the end. Randy says he had some pitch problems, but he has a Justin Timberlake/Robin Thicke thing going on. They are clearly running out of time, as the judges are concise. Kara says he's talented, Paula says she's blown away, and Simon says it was "meat and potatoes, solid," and all the judges agree with "solid." Sorry you didn't get your full moment in the spotlight this week, Matt, but I guess you pay the price for the show running over this time.
Alexis Grace is going last. She says she grew up around the Memphis blues, and her dad has been a musician for 35 years, too. She sings "Dirty Diana," and it's pretty good if a little manic. Kara says they are happy to have her back and that she's a naughty girl. Paula says it was good, but watch the oversinging. Simon says it was over the top and not as good as she thought it was. Randy says something similar. Then Ryan gives her number and emphasizes that the end of the number is "36," not "13." (This is why.)
I miss a few seconds because the show ran over again, and I wasn't all the way caught up, but they are changing things up tomorrow night, I guess, or maybe next week? Did someone else catch that? Were there details?
Tomorrow night: Kanye, Kelly and results.
So ... what did you think? Who'd you vote for?