Let Them Eat Cake Night on "American Idol"

Because these are hard times for so many "American Idol" viewers, the producers turned Final Judgment Wednesday - aka Chair Night - into Let Them Eat Cake Night.

This year, for the first time, the Idolettes did sit on some dumpy chair in some ugly conference room while the "Idol" judges told them whether they would become one of the singing competition's 36 semi-semi finalists.

This year the whole scene moved to Madame de Pompadour's bedroom in what is being called The Judges' Mansion, but which looks like something 19 Entertainment, the company that produces "Idol," picked up cheap on a foreclosure deal from a busted hedge fund manager.

Each Idolette had to make their way through the mansion's extensive grounds and gawd-awful interior to sit in the Faux Chippendale Chair of the Rest of Your Life and await a reading of their fate.

The judges are seated in four oversized wingback chairs, parts of which have been covered in some kind of whore-house- red plush fabric, other parts of which are covered in white damask by an interior decorator who clearly had trouble making up his mind -- kind of like the "Idol' judges this year, which has necessitated the addition of the Sing-Off For Your Life in this year's competition.

The Sing-Off For Your Life is simple: two Idolettes who are similar types - both might be blondes, both might be blue-collar workers, etc - will be called up in front of the judges, and asked to sing something on the spot. The better of the two survives while the other will be tossed into the Great Tumbril of Too Bad. Not every Idolette will be asked to Sing Off For Your Life. Just the unluckiest ones.

"If I lose today, I lose everything," Tatiana the Terrible wails the morning of Let Them Eat Cake Final Judgment Wednesday

Anoopo Desai sails through to the semi-semi finals, as does Von Smith - which is a lucky thing, given he told viewers beforehand, "This is why I'm alive...that's all I'll say."

Amateur horror filmmaker/singer Cody Sheldon will be the first Idolette subjected to the Sing-Off For Your Life. Then Alex Wagner-Truman, Cody's new BFF, is pitted against him. While Alex becomes a semi-semi finalist Cody gets the hook, and Alex looks stricken. Nicely done, judges.

Adam Lambert, who miraculously survived singing Cher's "Believe" in Hollywood Week, compliments the judges on their chairs.

"We're holding court," judge Paula Abdul says cheerily.

"It's not good news," judge Simon Cowell tells Adam. Adam is devastated.

"It's great news!" Simon says.

Sadism: It never gets old for "Idol" judges.

Taylor Viafanua becomes one of the chosen 36, even though she forgot lyrics during Hollywood Week which Simon had sworn would get any Idolette booted immediately.

A mess of Idolettes get pushed through the sausage factory of semi-semi-finaldom.

Then, much time is spent on Joanna Pacitti, who admits she forgot lyrics in every one of her performances in Hollywood. But Simon should not make good on his threat because, she pleads, they haven't seen her best yet. Nor, apparently, did the head of the record label at which she once had a deal. Judge Kara DioGuardi wonders when it will be Joanna's time. It's apparently a rhetorical question because Joanna is named a semi-semi finalist.

In the face of so much happiness, it's time to whack a few Idolettes we can't remember. Like Reggi Beasley and T.K. Hash.

"One by one they exit with their dreams crushed," show host Ryan Seacrest says, earnestly.

Kendall of Texas, by way of Puerto Rico, realizes she blew it in Hollywood Week when she wore black which, the judges tell her from Madame de Pompadour's boudoir, got them totally re-thinking whether Kendall was "commercial" and "the whole package" despite her inherent blondeness.

"I'm afraid answer isn't great," Paula tells Kendall.

Again, Kendall -- devastated.

"It's fantastic!" Paula says.

Yes, the judges have a limited repertoire.

Speaking of inherent blondeness, the night's second "Sing-Off For Your Life" involves Blonde Chicks Jenn Korbee and Kristen "Blonde on Top" McNamara. Since we've never seen Jenn before, we're guessing Kristen is the one who makes it to the semi-semi finals.

Kristen clearly has the better voice, but Jenn is very hot and very leggy and Kristen is very fashion-challenged and stumpy.

Simon and Kara argue a while in re whether they will pick "the very attractive one" or "the other one" and "the other one" prevails. Like we guessed, though, Kristen is warned she is a fashion disaster and needs to fix that fast.

Alexis Grace, role model for single mothers because she stopped at one, receives one of the coveted 36 slots, as does vision-challenged Scott Macintyre, who is told by Kara -- Miss Sensitivity -- "We'll see you again."

Lil Rounds takes another of the 36 spots and we've lost count how many are left.

Three chicks we barely remember do not make the grade.

Two jazzy singers, Frankie Jordan and Jesse Langseth, engage in Sing-Off For Their Lives. Jesse wins. Simon consoles Frankie, telling her "you wouldn't have won anyway" and noting Jesse doesn't have a prayer either.

"Both of you picked songs that would not have saved your lives," Paula chastises. Frankie does not believe there were eight chicks in this competition who are better singers than she is and tells Simon so.

More Idolettes we don't remember do not make it to the semi-semis. Allison Iraheta is this season's dark horse, "Idol" judges forecast.

BFF's Danny "Just Lost My Wife" Gokey and Jamar Rogers are broken up when only Danny makes the cut. Everyone in the waiting room is surprised. So is Jamar. So are we. Particularly given the heap of guys who immediately sail through. Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle, who tells us he will do anything - "even wear a bikini like Bikini Girl" - to me it to the semi-semis. He's not going as Norman today; he's being himself. The judges don't like it. "This is a whole new Norman today..I miss the schtick," Kara says.

Nick tries to explain his reasons for adopting the stage character then realizes he is overestimating their intelligence and gives up when Simon tells him "I'd leave before I could change this lots' mind."

"Can I give you a hug?" Mitchell asks Simon.

"Yes, in a sort of manly way," Simon responds.

Another irksome Idolette gets through - Jackie Tohn. She removes her shoes and races out of the room. Then, the biggest irk of them all, Tatiana, arrives and begins to scream "Oh My God! I'm Alive!"

"Tatiana, just try for once not to be annoying," Simon suggests. She ratchets it down a notch. Paula notices Tatiana is wearing her star good-luck bracelet, part of Paula's jewelry line. Tatiana explains the bracelet is a "message from god" though she would have preferred the star ring, only it was sold out. "I cried," Tatiana tells Paula. Paula stands up, pulls the ring off her own finger and hands it to Tatiana. "Oh, my god, thank you!" Tatiana gushes.

"That was so generous for you to promote your jewelry on television - not many people would do that," Simon sneers.

Tatiana learns she's made the cut, hugs Simon, who tells her Paula is going to want that ring back, then walks down the hall screaming, "ohmygawd,ohmygawd,ohmygawd!!!!!"

"We look forward to seeing what Tatiana will bring to our live shows," Seacrest says as she gets him in a death lock back in the waiting room.

Next Sing-Off for Your Life involves Nathaniel Marshall and Jackie Midkiff. We've not seen Midkiff while Jackie has already starred in some of "Idol's" biggest dramas so far this season. Plus, we learn, Nathaniel's the mess he is as a result of being shuffled around from relative to relative while his mom did time in jail. No drama here: Nathaniel, predictably, wins the Sing-Off.

The final "Sing-Off For Your Life" pits two blue-collar family men, welder Matt Breitzke, and oil rigger Michael Sarver, against each other. Which, Seacrest wants us to know, just goes to show you that no matter what you do in life, you can still aspire to be an Idolette.

That American Idol Moment of Condescension was brought to you by....

Anyway, Michael is the better singer but, because neither has even the remotest chance of winning this competition, the judges put both men through, rounding out the final 36.

Join Lisa for a live discussion every Friday at 1 p.m. ET.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 12, 2009; 2:01 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: Wear a Costume to Work Day on "American Idol" | Next: Idolette Pacitti Vanishes In Middle of the Night


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They put through Norm/Nick and that irritating Tatiana and gave Jamar the boot? What lousy decisions. The judges only have themselves to blame, once again, if someone like a Taylor Hicks wins this year.

Posted by: MILW | February 12, 2009 8:32 AM

Tatiana? Seriously? I'm calling it now, people. She's this year's Sanjaya.

So I went over to votefortheworst.com to see if they are already picking Tatiana and they are announcing that Joanna has been kicked off the show. Very interesting posts on her, many of them calling her a plant. (And not the green variety.)

Was last night's show even necessary? Couldn't they have just canned room 4 and be done with it? When I saw people I never saw before, I knew they weren't making it. It was like seeing all those random people in Lost, you know they are going to be smoke monster or Others bait. I did like the sing-off though.

Didn't Simon say if you forgot words, you were out? I guess he wasn't serious.

I'm currently liking Jackie, but I'm sure it is only a matter of time before I'm irritated by her as well. She's almost the same level as crazy as Tatiana, just in a different way.

Posted by: MaltyCharacter | February 12, 2009 8:54 AM

Lisa....seriously....why do you continue to watch and review a show every week that you hate so much? Why don't you comment on LOST or CSI Miami or something?

Posted by: happydad3 | February 12, 2009 9:07 AM

Jamar Rogers being cut was a bit of a travesty, I agree.

Adam Lambert's rendition of Cher's "Believe" is my favorite performance of the season so far and, no, I'm not a homosexual.

It's difficult to describe my feelings about Tatiana. It's not hatred but something closer to blind rage, I think.

Ang, Amanda comment?

Posted by: mstaines | February 12, 2009 9:28 AM

Add me to the group wondering why Jamar was let go. Tuesday night's performance of the "Delilah" song seemed tuneful, creative, and contemporary, all the things they say they want. Not that I have my finger on the pulse of the American public, but he seems to have more potential for a pop career than some of the others -- along the lines of Neyo, say. BTW, it seems to me that they don't have as many African-American singers as in years past, especially guys -- by design? Ironic in the Year of Obama.

On the other hand, it was heartening to see Kristin get through over the Michelle Phillips-lookalike with the so-so voice. (Although I'm glad they told her to do something about her hair.) Made me like Kara more. Simon is endangering his status as the only judge worth listening to.

Also, note to people who don't get why Lisa is reviewing this: 1) It's the top-rated show in TV. No matter how she feels about it, should she ignore it? 2) You really think that the way they've been conducting the audition phase of this show has been beyond reproach? You see no absurdity or flashes of cruelty in the way they treated some of those poor kids in last night's show (or Hollywood Week in general)? 3) A lot of other people look forward to these day-after columns and find them a whole lot of fun. I watch almost no TV, but do love music, watch AI with my family, and part of the fun is reading this blog and the comments.

Posted by: owingsmills | February 12, 2009 9:52 AM

I'm pulling for Kristen only because Simon was so awful to her. Don't get me wrong: I agree with the Divine Ms. de Moreas that he is usually the only judge worth listening to, but he has a weird misogynistic streak when it comes to attractive women. He admitted that the girl he wanted to put through wasn't as good of a singer, but he liked the way she looked. Isn't he always the one who says, "This is a SINGING competition?" He seems to have a problem with girls who are... stumpy. He was awful to Kelly Clarkson early on, too, don't forget. Kristen isn't fat, but she's short and has a stocky build and isn't a size 0. Simon really seems to hate that build/body type. He needs to get over himself.

Posted by: inkydog | February 12, 2009 9:56 AM

Yesterday's column was the season's highlight (so far), but the WaPo needs to get someone to proofread these columns before they are posted.

Posted by: Booklover1 | February 12, 2009 10:40 AM

I get hooked on "American Idol" every year, against my better judgement, but the best part are the articles written by Lisa de Moraes! I looked forward to the Style section, eager for the latest installment. This year, I missed them, not realizing I had to go online to read them. I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses reading it with my morning coffee!

Posted by: s_tulli | February 12, 2009 11:27 AM

I think the one thing I kept thinking about after last night's show was that I could have really gone the rest of my life without seeing Nathaniel's bulge in his red skinny jeans....

Posted by: pyozzo | February 12, 2009 11:45 AM

"Alexis Grace, role model for single mothers because she stopped at one"

eesh considering we have seen many single mother sob stories with multiple kids this season this comes across as incredibly condescending Lisa. Also wasn't Grace the girl in the infamous audition where Kara told her to go sleep with her military fiancee?

Does anyone else think the producers foolishly stacked the first group? Only three of those people are moving to the finals.

Posted by: repricer | February 12, 2009 12:03 PM

I always look forward to your idol recaps!

I have to say that I too feel blind rage whenever Tatiana comes onscreen. She has absolutely no self-awareness and I purposely avoid people who are even 10% like her in my daily life. If she goes very far, this may actually be the year I quit watching AI.

As for Nathaniel in his skinny jeans--I always think he looks like he went into his bff, sister's, and grandma's closets and makeup bags and took what hit his fancy and put it all on at the same time. Way too much zhuushh going on there...but I like him.

I was shocked they let Jamar go. What a shame.

Posted by: earlysun | February 12, 2009 12:23 PM

When they let Tatiana and "Norman" through, I got up and walked out of the room. I'm through watching for the year. But I do appreciate Lisa's great articles to tell me what I'm (not) missing. Her descriptions of costumes and interior decorating are priceless.

Posted by: AmyH3 | February 12, 2009 1:44 PM

This has probably been discussed in previous entries, but isn't it abundantly clear that the judges are keeping some headcases like Tatiana and Nathaniel; single mothers; and people w/ hard luck stories just to boost ratings?

It's no longer really about singing, it's become a reality freakshow, more similar to something on VH-1.

Though, Norman Gentle is truly talented and funny.

Posted by: bigeugene | February 12, 2009 2:02 PM

actuallynreprice - "role model for single mothers because she stopped at one" was only shocking, because WaPo is SOOOOO liberal that this was a pleasantly accurate, responsible and funny dig!!

It was my fav line I've seen here in a while. Although pyozzo's remark about Nathaniel also was hilarious!

Posted by: Justice26 | February 12, 2009 2:04 PM

I fear that things are going to end very badly for Tatiana. She clearly has some mental illness that's being exploited for fun now.

Posted by: jd121 | February 12, 2009 2:04 PM

Was Nathaniel wearing jeans? It looked like tight sweatpants to me.

Tat the Twit won't last long once the public is voting. Did anyone but me see her glance to her right as she was leaving the room to see if the camera was on her? I hit the mute button after they told her she was through, but she looked like she ratcheted it up a bit once she saw the camera.

The judges shouldn't have split up the BFFs. The drama of who would get the boot first would last longer than Tat the Twit.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 12, 2009 2:48 PM

Lisa - the mansion used for last night's offing was the same used in Beauty and the Geek. Go back and look at the exterior.

Posted by: dietcokeaddict | February 12, 2009 4:03 PM

1) I love American Idol, and I love Lisa's recaps, so there happydad3.

2) I like Norman and am glad he went through. The fact is, he's a good singer, as well as being hilarious. He had the best moment of the show with his bikini girl comment. Please note that this is quite an honor, as I usually award "best moment" to my hero Seacrest. Though he did get second best moment, which was when he was quietly urging the "John McEnroe from hell" kid into (even more) hysterics by whispering how "This will change EVERYTHING in your life."

3) The "new face = death sentence" device goes back at least to the 1960s and Star Trek. If they went down to the surface with someone you hadn't seen before, that person was guaranteed to die.

Posted by: pinkstate | February 13, 2009 8:46 AM

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