Pretend Judging on 'American Idol'
Thursday is Wild Card night on "American Idol." Tonight the judges will listen to performances by eight ousted Idolettes who have been brought back to compete for three Wild Card spots in the final round of competition. Tonight we will pretend we don't already know that two of the three Wild Card spots are going to go to chicks, because the list of nine Idolettes already chosen by viewers for the final 12 is very guy-heavy. The judges will pretend to critique tonight's performances, faux make up their minds, and then announce their foregone conclusions.
Does anybody really think they're seriously considering Tatiana Del Toro? Do we think Ricky Braddy will finally get a break? I rest my case.
First up. Jesse "Hasn't Got a Prayer" Landseth. She growls and purrs her way through "Tell Me Something Good" and is at least entertaining and looks great. Judge Randy Jackson pronounces it "just a'ight." Judge Kara DioGuardi compliments Jesse on her swagger. Judge Paula Abdul says it's going to be a hard night. And judge Simon Cowell declares Jesse's performance "self indulgent" because she thought more about herself than him. Paula and Kara try to explain to Simon that Jesse's performance was very sexy which, in theory, means she's trying to appeal to him, but Simon will have none of it and is inconsolable.
Matt Giraud is now dressed like Coldplay lead Chris Martin at a coffee house in the Village. But at least he's not singing Coldplay any more, and for that we are grateful. He's singing "Who's Loving You" and he's much improved if somewhat over the top. Kara says he can riff. Paula calls it a much better song choice than the Coldplay number. Simon keeps interrupting Paula, which means he hasn't been the center of attention for at least four minutes. Simon doesn't care about Matt's singing and wants instead to talk about Matt's outfit which he finds dreadful. Simon also slams Matt for having bits of Taylor Hicks in his performance. Simon hated Hicks on "Idol."
"You mean Justin Timberlake," Kara interrupts, leaving millions of viewers at home wondering what she's smoking and how they get some. Randy says Matt just made the nine Chosen Ones scared that he's maybe going to be in the final 12 and give them a run for their money. Matt's in.
Megan Joy Corkrey sings "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" which, mercifully, bears no resemblance to the Katharine McPhee rendition of this tune. For starters, Megan's version involves her trademark Regular Wash Cycle dance. I'd like to see McPhee try to pull that off. Paula declares it "the right song." Simon assures Megan "it wasn't the best vocal we're ever going to hear but it doesn't matter -- you were terrific" because, of course, she's "current." And, he forgets to add, the all-important "female." Kara notes they "need" Megan because "you give some variety to what's already up there" indicating the nine Chosen Ones. Count Megan in.
Poor Von Smith, who hasn't the remotest chance of surviving the night, sings a pretty good version of "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"-- if you like that sort of tune -- but, of course the judges will savage him by way of explaining why he's not going be picked.
Simon goes with "boring" and Randy notes Von once wore a hat and had a "whole different vibe," and Kara called it "dark," and Paula says she's been "studying" Von and he has not let his "pure essence" out yet. The American Idol Decency Police are given orders to put their tasers on "stun."
Jasmine Murray, who's a shoo-in because she's a teenager and pretty -- and the all important not-a-guy -- performs that dreadful tune "Reflections" quite badly. Reaching for positive things to say, RanKara settles on "I'm confused but it was way better than last time" -- a ringing endorsement. Paula says she looks lovely and picked a beautiful song. Simon says that with "the greatest respect" to Paula he thinks Jasmine deserves "more criticism than what you're wearing," assuming viewers at home have forgotten he'd just done exactly the same to Matt.
Simon calls "Reflections" a "very brave song choice" which renders everything else he says about Jasmine null and void.
Ricky Braddy is DOA because, at some point way back, some producer decided to give him virtually no on-camera time, during the flyover audtions or in Hollywood Week. Sure Kara says he sang his "butt off" and Paula says he "nailed it." But Simon knows he has to say Ricky did not make an impression on them and was disappointing. And Randy will use the new expression he's learned tonight, telling Ricky it was "self indulgent."
Tatiana Del Toro is brought back to be tortured one more time. But first, she must set a new world record for most uses of the word "love" in one breath:
"I am in love with everyone and everything that has happened; I have found love and, god, I love what I do and I love to sing so much and I just want to show the world how much I want to sing and how much this means to me and to get a second chance -- nobody gets a second chance -- is once in a lifetime," she says, adding "I'm ready to sing for you, America. Thank you so much."
Tatiana sings "Saving All My Love For You," and she does have a tremendous voice, and were she a teenager and not such a weirdsmobile they'd put her through in a shot. But she's not, and she is, so they won't. Instead, Paula notes "you grew an accent I've never heard before" during her Love Speech. Tatiana's manner of speaking (she's from Puerto Rico like Jorge) seems to wax and wane based on the degree to which she thinks Jorge is getting through to the final-12 owing to his accent.
Simon slams Tatiana for picking a song she's sung for them before giving her a "you're dead to me" look as he asks how many more times she planned to sing it if she's put through. Which is of course hypothetical, since they have no intention of doing so. Randy and Kara fall into step, critiquing everything except her voice. This is followed by a sex joke at Tatiana's expense performed by Seacrest and the judges who ought to pick on someone their own size.
And, finally, Anoop Desai delivers a fun college fraternity interpretation of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative."
Simon calls him an "enthusiastic dog" and admits "we've got to cast this next stage" so as to "not just put the boring singers through," but people who have "personality" of which Anoop has "a lot." He congratulates Anoop on his performance.
Immediately after which Randy lets slip that Anoop also had sung this song previously. But, Randy offers lamely, Anoop did it better this time. Kara goes even further, saying this is the very best "My Prerogative" Anoop has ever done. Paula liked his "nasty" dance moves and congratulates him on going back to the same song again.
One commercial break later, it's time to announce their decision. That was fast!
Jasmine gets a 'yes,' Ricky gets a 'no.' Megan moves to the finals and Tatiana, rejected, kneels down in front of the judges' table while Paula assures her she has an incredible future as a singer and an actress.
With two chicks through to the next round, they can do away with Jesse. Von's out too, leaving Matt and Anoop.
Simon tells Matt he's getting the third spot and Anoop starts to leave the stage when Simon calls out to him and says they have decided to have the finals start with a Top-13 this year.
"An 'American Idol' first!" Seacrest says, on cue.
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