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Tatiana No Laughing Matter on "American Idol"


After weeks slogging through auditions and Hollywood, it's finally time to hear some actual singing and do some actual voting Tuesday night.


"American Idol" contestant Tatiana Nicole Del Toro. (Frank Micelotta -- Fox)

Show host Ryan Seacrest kicks things off with the traditional "What do they have to do to get voted through tonight?" poll of the judges. This year, judge Randy Jackson is going with "they have got to blow us away vocally," while new "Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi insists this year's Idolettes they must "be yourself -- be as great as you can be -- and just go for it." I know -- I can hardly believe it myself.

Judge Paula Abdul insists the Idolettes have got to "hit that center stage and make magic happen." And, when Seacrest orders judge Simon Cowell -- the only judge worth listening to -- to say something other than "sing well" he says each Idolette must realize the odds are stacked against them.

The four judges then praise Seacrest's new haircolor. Armed with all this insight, the first 12 Idolettes are ready to perform.

But not before Seacrest explains that this year the 36 semifinalists have been divided into three mixed groups of 12 performers. Each week, the chick who gets the most votes and the guy who gets the most votes will survive to compete and then the next highest vote getter, whether male or female, will also go through to the next round.

After three weeks, we'll be down to just 9 Idolettes, after which the judges will bring back to the competition Jamar Rogers and two more non-starters, during the Wild Card show.

Tonight, the first batch of Idolettes can sing any tune that's cleared from the Billboard hot 100, since the chart began.

Jackie Tohn appears to have come straight from her aerobics workout and does an interpretation of Mick Jagger Goes to Step Class, while singing the Elvis Presley tune "A Little Less Conversation." She's seems totally confident in her awfulness.

"Way to start season eight off!" Randy gushes.

"You can work a stage, girl!" Kara enthuses.

Guess who said this:

"Your voice wasn't perfect, but perfect is sometimes boring. You are a true performer and you make everyone fall in love with you."

Right! Paula! The "true performer" gag was the giveaway, right?

"You played the clown tonight," Simon said -- the first intelligent thing we've heard tonight.

In another first, the producers this week are unveiling the American Idol Insta-Parentanalysis. Not only will Seacrest interview each Idolette after his/her performance, he'll interview that lucky person's parents too.

Jackie's dad is "extremely proud" and mom told her to "be yourself and have the best time."

Ricky Braddy was "serving chicken fingers," Seacrest tells us, when he decided to chuck it all to go audition for "Idol."

"I just woke up and said 'this isn't me; it's not what I love'," Ricky tells us. As opposed to all the other people out there serving "chicken fingers" for whom it is their life's dream.

Ricky sings Leon Russell's "A Song for You." There is an odd disconnect between his polished vocals and his deer-caught-in-headlights face.

"This is the start of season eight right here!" Randy shouts -- again.

"I hope you feel good cause you killed that!" Kara raves.

And, in what may be "Idol's" first public acknowledgment that not getting featured during the auditions or Hollywood Week is the kiss of death for an Idolette, Paula tells Ricky, "You weren't featured in the past three weeks and I'm so proud America gets to see how talented you are."

Simon, however thinks that Ricky's voice is "very good" but he lacks "star quality" and needs to find a way to distinguish himself from the crowd. He's right -- Ricky does need to find a way to distinguish himself, and sandwiching him between Seacrest and his parents for Insta-Parentanalysis is not a good first step. Ricky's parents are walking billboards for the "Braddy Bunch." It's printed on T-shirts they decided was appropriate wear for national TV.

"Braddybunch.com!" Mother Braddy announces. Did no one involved with "American Idol" stop to think that having an Idolette appear with his/her loopy parents might be instant buzz-kill?

When perky little Alexis Grace first auditioned for the judges, Paula told her to "dirty yourself up" to which Kara added, helpfully, "go make love to your fiance."

Armed with that constructive criticism, Alexis has dyed pink bits of her blonde hair and put on a black slip and mom's pearls and red lipstick to sing Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man" fairly well.

"You found the dirt!" Randy enthuses.

"The genie is out of the bottle," adds Kara, while Paula rambles about "tender age...soul, passion...what's inside of you is so large...quiet confidence," blah, blah, blah. And Simon pronounces her the night's best performance "by a mile" which is damning with faint praise.

Ted Danson and Neil Patrick Harrris are in the audience.

Brent Keith sings "Hicktown," which sounds about as good as you'd expect a song called "Hicktown" to sound. Randy says he can totally see Brent at "a chili cookoff with me and Simon." Kara and Paula pronounce it too safe. Simon disagrees calling it "not safe -- it's forgettable."

Teenager Stevie Wright got nicked by judges for singing "At Last" at some point during auditions so she chose a Taylor Swift tune "You Belong to Me" and butchers it. RanKarPau judge it "not hot" and a song that has nothing to do with who Stevie is, while Simon just calls it "terrible."

During Stevie's Insta-Parentanalysis her mom complains to Seacrest that the judges contradicted themselves with the whole young song/old song thing. Mom's right, which
brings us to the point that the addition of Kara as a judge is adding nothing to the show except compounding the whole We Can't Deliver Bad News problem that used to be confined to Randy and Paula. The problem was not that Stevie's younger-song choice did not reflect who she is as a person. The problem was Stevie butchered it.

Anoop Desai should be tossed out for picking the Monica tune "Angel of Mine" as his number. RanKarPau think it's "sharp" -- and not in the good sense. Simon asks Anoop why he picked that song. He explains it's the first R&B song he ever heard and it's all about "being grateful for the people that are behind you." Simon wonders why Anoop didn't just thank the people behind him and pick a better song. You can see his point.

Cheerleader-pretty Casey Carlson bumps, grinds, wiggles and winks her way through the Police tune "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." RanKarPau determines that every little thing about that song was wrong; Simon does them one better and says she could not have picked a worse song.

Michael "Roughneck" Sarver sings the Gavin DeGraw tune "I Don't Want to Be" and RanKarPau likes it-ish, but Simon insists Michael's only here because "we like you -- you're a good honest guy."

Ann Marie Boskovich does the flat version of "Natural Woman" which RanKarPau does not like and Simon believes "destroyed" Ann Marie.

Stephen Fowler, who forgot the lyrics to his tune in Hollywood Week, opts for Michael Jackson's "Rock With You." RanKarPau has an opinion but Simon totally upstages them when he calls it a "terrible song with this terrible arrangement" and "corny."

Tatiana Del Toro delivers one of the evening's better performances, singing "Saving All My Love For You." But, of course, she's been cast as this year's "American Idol" freakazoid, and the judges actually get mad when, this week, she does not laugh hysterically, or weep.

"We miss the crazy!" Paula whines.

"You are a complete and utter drama queen," says Simon, though he admits her performance "wasn't bad at all -- better than I expected." Simon then accuses Tatiana of "marketing" herself.

This from the man who brought us Il Divo.

The judges continue to harass Tatiana for acting all normal tonight, then they demand she do her crazy laugh. When Tatiana declines, Randy, Kara and Paula begin to imitate Tatiana's laugh. Tatiana does not rise to the bait.

"America, please vote -- this is my dream and it's up to you to keep it alive, thank you, gracias," Tatiana tells viewers from the Insta-Parentanalysis room.

Speaking of marketing, last up is Danny "Just Lost My Wife" Gokey who, he reminds us -- yet again -- that when he auditioned for "Idol" his wife had just died:

"Going to the auditions -- it was four weeks after my wife had passed -- but I felt there was new hope on the horizon," Gokey says, adding "so there was a new excitement amidst all the tragedy."

He then sings "Hero," putting the finishing touch on the effect. Really, someone make Danny stop -- it's getting very creepy.

On the other hand, it seems to be working like gangbusters with three of four "Idol" judges.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Kara screeches ecstatically as her buttons are pushed. "Danny, you ARE the hero! You give us all hope!"

"That was blazing hot!" Randy enthuses, while Paula babbles about "sold-out arena!"

"Back to the real world," Simon says when the hysteria dies down.

"It was good but it wasn't fantastic...I like you," Simon tells Danny. "I'm just not buying the hype right now."

Seacrest, feeling Simon is ending the Danny episode on the wrong note, jumps in and asks Danny to please tell us about the "images" he had in his head while he was singing that song.

"I just picture people just coming out of rough situations," Danny begins. " I have to be honest. I just picture people rising above, and knowing there's a future ahead of them no matter how bad the stuff can be in their life."

I'll take Tatiana's laugh any day.

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

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 18, 2009; 7:39 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: Tatiana's Dreams Dashed on "American Idol"

Comments

Based on THEIR performances last night, Can we vote Randy and Kara off?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 18, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

I still like Danny and I hope he made it through. Anoop picked the wrong song but he has a good voice. Ricky Braddy has a decent voice too. Tatiana? Ugh. She can go away.

Posted by: MILW | February 18, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Really, after weeks and and weeks of auditioning & Heartfelt Journeys - this was currently 1/3 of the best 36 A.I. could find? Oi. Half of the Idolettes choked.

What a waste of time. Honestly, it would have been much more interesting to find out what brought Ted Danson and NP Harris (together) to the show.

Posted by: molsonmich | February 18, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

At least I finally figured out your angle Lisa...you have the hots for Simon! I think you figure by bashing eveything and everyone Idol other than him, one day, maybe...he will love you!

Posted by: happydad3 | February 18, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Love the blog. "Song for You" is by Leon Russell, the top-hat-wearing, hip-length gray haired Leon who used to play with George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Leon Harris is on CNN, I believe. I think I'd like him more if he'd ever hung out with a Beatle.

Posted by: mgavaghen1 | February 18, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Looking at the faces and remembering Hollywood week, I thought this could be a very hard decision. How wrong.

I personally wouldn't mind *seeing* Ann Marie some more, but it is time to move on.

I prefer the subdued Tatiana and hate the judges egging her on. If she's got the chops and is going to stick around, calm is the only way I can tolerate her.

I like Danny's voice, but I sense an annoying, producer-led trend of playing up the widow and best-friend-didn't-make-it sob story. Let it go! David Cook played down the bother thing, so I hope Danny can do the same.

Posted by: MaltyCharacter | February 18, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

This new voting format pretty much guarantees that Tatiana won't make it to the next round. Only if the judges pull rank and pick her in the wild card round.

Generally, I was frustrated last night watching the show and trying to accept the voting changes. There was about 5 or 6 good singers/performers that deserve more than one chance to get your votes. And only 3 of those people are going through? What a waste of our time and theirs.

Posted by: sknyluv | February 18, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I forget how the Top 12 used to be selected, as opposed to this new format. Could someone give me a quick reminder? How did they do it the last few years?

Also, did Ryan get Michael Sarver's name wrong at first? I wasn't fully paying attention, but it seemed like there was an awkward moment there.

Posted by: abigail394 | February 18, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Almost all of the bloggers and media already wrote off Jamar Rogers for good. I know he will be back on Wild Card night, but I may be wrong.

Posted by: poresident97 | February 18, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Danny needs to quiet it down about his wife...OR, he needs some therapy. There were only 3 which even made the grade last night; the rest were forgetable.

Posted by: nosurprise2me | February 18, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, Jamar Rogers will NOT be back as a wildcard. The 3 wildcard contestants come from the top 36 who weren't voted forward. His only chance is if someone else is disqualified.

Danny, Alexis and probably Michael Sarvis (or Anoop) go forward tonight. Ricky Braddy has a good shot at one of those wildcard slots; so does Tatiana.

Posted by: Duodenum | February 18, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Old Format: elevator of death lead to 12 guys and 12 girls. If memory serves, boys would sing one night, girls sing the next (or vice versa), and the bottom two of each would get kicked on Thursday. They did this for 3 weeks. At the end of those 3 weeks, there would be 6 guys and 6 girls still left standing.

the new format seems to prevent Vote For the Worst and other anti-idol votes from doing too much damage.

Despite the fact that Tatiana was decent last night, there is no way she'll get any sympathy votes. I don't know how she advances simply because of her personality.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | February 18, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Lisa - How could you have passed over the best exchange of the night? Paraphrased, it went something along the lines of:

Paula (to Brent Keith) - "You could be like Bucky Covington"

Simon (to Paula) - "Where is Bucky now, anyway?"

Posted by: NotDoc | February 18, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Duodenum,

Remember Randy's comment when Jamar got up from the death chair last week when he was cut. He asked him if he would be back next year. That question sounds fishy! The judges never asked this question like that before.

Posted by: poresident97 | February 18, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm a huge fan of AI and all I could think of last night was "are these the best America has to offer out of 100,000+ auditions?" I realize the nerves must have been off the charts, but still...most of them were pretty lame.

I agree with Duodenum's picks: Danny, Alexis and probably Michael Sarvis (or Anoop) go forward tonight.

Having an additional judge is simply an added frustration to get to the real deal -- Simon.

Hey bro - where are you and what do you think?? Sis, what about you??

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | February 18, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Lots of disappointing train wrecks tonight, and I don't think the ultimate winner is going to come from this group. With that being said, I think Danny has the best shot for moving on tonight. Alexis, Anoop and oil rig guy also have a good shoot. And I think Ricky will be back for wildcard--hopefully he'll develop a personality to match his good voice.

And, I hate to say it, but Tatiana's got a shot too--and not just because she is the "vote for the worst" pick...I hated her during Hollywood week, but I actually thought she had the best female vocal of the night last night. And I loved that she toned down the crazy--maybe once she saw the Hollywood week footage on TV she realized how unflattering it was. She seemed embarrassed by her past behavior, like she was trying to be a new and improved Tatiana, and I've gotta give her kudos for that.

Posted by: AmandaLA | February 18, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I am a huge AI fan. All I could think last night was "this is the best of 100,000+ auditions?" I realize the nerves must be tremendous, but I was not impressed. I agree with Duodenum: Danny, Alexis and probably Michael Sarvis (or Anoop) go forward tonight.

Having an additional judge is a waste of time and simply adds frustration to get to the real deal - Simon.

Hey bro - what do you think? Sis, send in your two cents...love you guys, Ang.

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | February 18, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Pookie, I love you, but could we please stop calling him "Danny 'Just Lost My Wife' Gokey"? It seems insensitive to his wife, rather than just snarky to Danny-boy (who does deserve some snarkiness). How 'bout just "Danny the Bereaved"? "Danny Who Has Risen Above Tragedy"?

Posted by: chantooz | February 18, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I just hope the other 24 are a lot better than this group. Wow, did last night suck.

Best part of last night was that NPH was there. Love him!

Craziest part of last night was that, based solely on this round of performances, Tatiana is definitely one of the top three and deserves to go on.

Creepiest part of last night was definitely Danny. He needs to realize the producers aren't doing him any favors by pushing the dead wife angle -- it's definitely backfiring and making him LESS sympathetic.

Posted by: pinkstate | February 18, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I am a huge AI fan. All I could think last night was "this is the best of 100,000+ auditions?" I realize the nerves must be tremendous, but I was not impressed. I agree with Duodenum: Danny, Alexis and probably Michael Sarvis (or Anoop) go forward tonight.

Having an additional judge is a waste of time and simply adds frustration to get to the real deal - Simon.

Hey bro - what do you think? Sis, send in your two cents...love you guys, Ang.

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | February 18, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

sorry for the multiple posts. i kept getting an error message!

Posted by: majorjasoncastrofan | February 18, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

You would think with a choice of 100K+, they could come up with 36 amazing singers. They could if they wanted to, but they waste their time on "characters" and other marginal talent.

One of the biggest problems continues to be song choice. The Idolettes continue to choose songs for all the wrong reasons (inspirational lyrics, tribute to Grandma, etc.). They need professional help picking their songs and they obviously don't get that from Idol. Of course, if they picked appropriate songs, the list of judges' list of feedback cliches would be cut even further.

Posted by: rme465 | February 18, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, God, what a bloated mess this show was last night! It could have easily fit into a 90-minute format instead of two hours.

The parental units were unnecessary, and the setup was clumsy every time the contestant made either a triumphant return or (more likely) a perp walk upstairs. The singer would always walk between Ryan and the folks and have no idea what they were talking about even though Ryan thought the singer was listening all along. And what would the parents be expected to say? "I love you honey, but you really sucked out there."

Tonight I'll just TiVo it and start watching it an hour in.

Jackie looked like she was in a third-grade version of "Risky Business." Ricky is better to listen to than look at. Alexis will go far; she's got a great voice, good looks, and a command of the mike and the stage.

Most of the others were forgettably awwwfull.

Tatiana, though, was one of the best singers, craziness cannot be tamped down for long. I suspect her meds were dosed just right for the performance, but not for the taped interview preceding it because she broke down in tears once again for no apparent reason. She'll make for some great TV if she gets through, but I do fear for that girl.

This format stinks, because it's more fun to speculate on who's getting the boot than which lucky few will survive.

Posted by: jd121 | February 18, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

How about "Rankaula"? So we stay closer to the "Randaula" from last year. :-)

Posted by: anjacarolin | February 18, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

OMG--what a waste--the whole show was a train wreck! Kara makes Paula look good, and that is crazy on every level. I used to have to go to a happy place when Paula would start rambling--now it starts with Randy and goes until Simon speaks. The British Idol has great judges why can't we do better here in the US. As far as the first 12 contestants go I could care less who if any of them move forward. The parent trap at the end of each performance sealed the deal for making this one of the worst AI shows ever--and now we have two more night of the same. My mom would probably look me straight in the face and say honey, you blew it--on national TV--so what do I know. BTW we are British :)

Posted by: amanda3200 | February 18, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Ann Marie Boskovich was one of the best women. Eww I do NOT get why people thought alicia (pink hair) was that good - I had to fast forward after trying to listen to her.

Surprised at how well Tatiana did, but annoyed at the judges trying to get her to up the irritation factor.

Posted by: Justice26 | February 18, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, I wonder why this thing isn't posting my comments? I'll try breaking it up in case there's an unspoken character limit...
---

"Did no one involved with "American Idol" stop to think that having an Idolette appear with his/her loopy parents might be instant buzz-kill?"

I completely agree, Lisa--having to see a contestant's parents after hearing the judges just rip into him is just... awkward. @_@ Part of the fun of the show is having "justice" dealt out by the judges (read: Simon) after a gimmicky Idolette gives a terrible performance and is overly pleased with themselves. But with their parents sitting upstairs, 1) there's a chance the judges might feel restrained in their critiquing (though it didn't seem too much like it last night), and 2) our bit of merry schaddenfreude is quickly and summarily ended. Anyway, what interesting/enlightening thing could the parents or spouse/sig other of a contestant possibly have to say? Isn't it always, "I think you were great, baby!" or something like that? Also, if the tweens were developing a crush on anyone, it was probably quickly ended once they saw their Idolette smooching his wife/girlfriend, etc, right after the performance. ^^;

"RanKarPau"

Noooooo!! Stupid Kara! On top of ruining the fun judges' vibe with her insecurities (yep, the more I see Kara, the more I realize that Bikini Girl was DEAD ON about her!), she's ruined my favorite judge conglomerate pokemon names, Randaula and Randaulamon! ;____; "RanKarPau" just sounds like some kind of Chinese food dish... not nearly as funny as a 2 or 3-headed pokemon... ;__;

Posted by: Kureno | February 19, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@Anoop - I love this guy. This performance wasn't the greatest, but he was amazing during his auditions and Hollywood Week. Also, Lisa, what's wrong with "Angel of Mine?" It's a sweet song and the emotion Anoop Dogg sang it with was beautiful, in my opinion. All my votes totally went to him because I know America will save Danny for me. ;-) (Yes, I know he's a sap who's milking his wife's death in the most awful way, but he's a good singer and deserves to stick around, IMO.)

@Stephen Fowler - I actually think Paula had the best comment for this guy (in fact, Paula sounded pretty coherent last night and showed herself to be a LOT more useful and competent a judge than Kara, that's for sure!): instead of singing a Michael Jackson song that no one but Michael Jackson can ever pull off, he should have sung "Magic Rainbows"--excuse me, "Time of My Life"--again and proven that he *can* actually remember the lyrics.

@Tatiana - Yeah, she wasn't so bad last night. It'll take a while to undo the damage she did during Hollywood Week, but she *does* have a great voice. Just wish she weren't such a psycho under it all...

Posted by: Kureno | February 19, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I think Danny Gokey is one of the more talented male singers, but I didn't think his performance on Tuesday was that good. It wasn't train wreck bad, but it wasn't Mariah Carey good.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | February 19, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

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