Back Stories Triumph on "American Idol"
After a very disturbing performance night, in which "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul started to make perfect sense, we're relieved to see her arrive at Wednesday's results show looking like she's come to the set straight from from a Real Housewives of Sherman Oaks Canasta Party, wearing some deep blue satin ruffled number.
"I think we have an amazing start of the top 12 going on," Paula says thickly, in answer to host Ryan Seacrest's inquiry as to how she'd compare this year's Idolettes to previous years.
"Very good," Seacrest says for lack of any better response. Paula's back!
Seacrest introduces this weeks' How They Got Here video, in which this week's batch of 12 performers vie for Best Backstory:
I'm a stay-at-home mom," Lil Rounds offers.
"I was born almost completely blind," Scott MacIntyre says, totally trumping Lil.
"I'm one of those kids that had been through a lot," Nathaniel Marshall reminds us. He hasn't got a prayer.
And the tears they are crying, it turns out, are real and their friendships are tight, Seacrest reveals. But how is their choreography, he wonders, as this week's 12 Idolettes erupt into a Group Sing of "Hot-n-Cold."
How do you choreograph Group Sing when one of the performers is blind? It involves having the men sitting down, crossing their left leg over their right, then their right leg over their left -- like exercise class at the senior home.
They've "hidden" an actual "Idol" audition into the first ad break, Seacrest says. Yeah, we fell for that once. Okay, we'll fall for it again. Because it's our job.
Wow -- some chick singing the theme song to "The Jeffersons" while Paula, made up as Marian the Librarian, rocks out. That's almost as good as that E*Trade singing-baby ad.
Back from the break. Seacrest introduces this week's How Last Night Went Down.
In "Idol's" altered reality, How Last Night Went Down had started Tuesday with Von Smith. So far so good. But he's followed by Ju'Not Joyner, then Felicia Barton, both representing great performances, we're told, after which everything started to fall apart when Alex Wagner-Trugman came out and imitated a hamster trying to be a tiger. Then, Arianna Afsar tried to kill her inner cute-as-a-button by getting all contemporary with an Abba tune -- one disaster after anther, until, finally, they reached the Land of Perfect Song Choice, inhabited by Kendall Beard and Nathaniel -- apparently Meatloaf tune as Disco anthem is a perfect song choice -- who knew?
But, Voiceover Seacrest explains, it was raw emotions that made the big impression during Tuesday night's performances.
"Raw Emotions" involves Jorge Nunez performing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me," followed by Paula going all cougar on Jorge -- I think it's "puma" in Spanish:
"I am so proud of you fulfilling your dream and I just want to squeeze you!" she squealed.
In response to which Jorge began to tear up and said, in Spanish but tonight translated on the screen: "I am so happy to be here!" to which judge Randy Jackson shouted back "Si! Si!"
We also get to re-live Scott asking Seacrest to give him another high five, and Lil making sense of a Mary J. Blige tune.
Next, it's time for Seacrest's occasional "American Idol" Lawyers Made Me Do It segment:
"We had a little fun with you last night," Seacrest says to Nathaniel, in re Seacrest's and judge Simon Cowell's homophobic cracks about Nathaniel after his performance of the previous night.
"Did any of the feedback offend you in any way?" Seacrest asks Nathaniel, not putting Nathaniel on the spot in any way.
"I took it with a grain of salt -- you guys are amazing," Nathaniel tells the judges, taking the high road which makes him a better man then they.
Seacrest asks Jorge what being here on "American Idol" and having this opportunity means to him as an actual Hispanic person from Puerto Rico. Why weren't they this patronizing to our gal Tatiana Del Toro? She's from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"When you grow up in such a small country like Puerto Rico and see how much talent there is in a small island and you struggle so much...then you get here..." Jorge says, getting pretty choked up. On the other hand, he also says he's pretty annoyed at how cold it is in Los Angeles, because if he were in Puerto Rico right now, he would be basking in the glow of 90 degrees. It's only in the 70's in Los Angeles, Seacrest reports.
Seacrest asks Ju'Not to bring us up to speed on the previous night's cortisone-shot-in-the-heinie storyline. Yeah, cause we really want to hear loads more about that -- no detail to0 small, Ju'Not.
Turns out, Ju'Not had his very first asthma attack in the middle of rehearsal, and had to go a doctor and get that shot. But he's good now.
Only three of this week's 12 will be sent to claim finalists stools which this year look like Lemuel Gulliver's martini glasses -- the Stemware of Massive Opportunity.
Seacrets asks Idolette Lil to stand up. We know she's through, because she won this week's WaPo TeamTV Totally Unscientific "American Idol" Poll in a landslide -- 72 percent of the votes.
FYI, Scott MacIntyre came in a distant second with 9 percent of the votes, followed by Jorge with 4 percent. We'll see how the poll does tonight.
Lil is sent to the Stemware of Massive Opportunity after judge Kara DioGuardi instructs her to bring "ridiculous vocals" every single week. "Ridiculous vocals" is to Kara what "you can sing the phone book" is to Paula.
Next Arianna, Taylor Vaifanua, Alex, Kendall, and Scott are asked to stand up. "Take a good look at these faces -- one of these people is through to the top 12, but who is it?" Seacrest wonders.
"Duh -- Scott," we reply.
After the break, they drop like flies: Arianna, Taylor, Alex. That leaves Kendall and Scott. One nano-second of suspense later, Kendall gets the hook and Scott is through to the finals.
Randy forecasts Scott is "gonna keep it hot always."
"Keep it hot always" is to Randy what "ridiculous pipes" is to Kara, and "you can sing the phone book" is to Paula.
While Scott performs, we close our eyes and listen, so as not to focus on his virtual blindness. Nope, still not that good.
Next, Nathaniel and Kristen McNamara are sent to their doom. Too bad, we liked Kristen -- she was kind of blowsy and real.
Next Felicia and Von must stand. They know they're doomed because two of this week's best backstories -- Ju'Not and Jorge, aka asthmatic dad of world's cutest child, and actual Hispanic from actual Puerto Rico -- are still sitting next to them. Felicia and Von are shot down.
Ju'Not and Jorge come stand at center stage. It's a a very tough call: Ju'Not had an asthma attack during rehearsal, but Jorge cried on-air. We're sticking by the WaPo TeamTV Totally Unscientific Poll and -- we are rewarded. Jorge is told not to sing but instead head straight to the Stemware of Massive Opportunity.
They've trotted out no former Idolette to sing his/her single new single and advise the Idolettes, leaving the producers enough time to unveil the eight Wild Card candidates who will perform Thursday night.
First, Seacrest asks Simon to explain why this is necessary.
"Because the ratings were down last season so we decided we needed to bring the Wild Card back," Simon says.
Okay, we made that part up. What he really says is "Historically, this process enabled people like Jennifer Hudson and Clay Aiken to make it into the 12; if we didn't have the Wild Card pick, they wouldn't have made it...One of these wild-card picks could actually win this show."
Notice how nicely he worked in the reference to Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, even though she did not win "Idol" and wasn't even a runner up -- to "Idol's" everlasting shame.
Randy gives the first Wild Card spot to Von Smith. Paula tells him he "only need to be himself," but Simon advises him to wear a hat.
Kara gives the second Wild Card spot to Jasmine Murray and warns Jasmine she needs to kill them Thursday night.
Paula unveils Wild Card-ian No. 3: Ricky Braddy. Simon announces Wild Card-er No. 4 Megan Corkrey.
They take a break to make some money. We see the E*Trade singing-baby ad. Everybody wins.
Then Randy pulls the stunner of the evening, announcing that, after staying up all night, the judges have decided to bring back the loopy but ridiculously piped Tatiana Del Toro.
This is a brilliant move on the judges' part. Tatiana does a deep curtsy before Seacrest, then begins to emote:
"I want to thank the whole world," she gushes. "I want this so much -- this means so much to me and I worked so hard to be here and I want to sing for you more than anything in the whole world, thank you so much!"
Matt Giraud, Jesse Langseth and, of course, Anoop Desai round out the Wild Card list.
And, as we bid adieu to this night in "American Idol," Jorge sings "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" one more time.
Join Lisa for a live discussion every Friday at 1 p.m. ET.
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