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Seven of the Top 24 named on 'American Idol'

For all the years Fox has been airing "American Idol," the producers have been tinkering with the Hollywood Week format--in hopes of getting it to less resemble a root canal procedure.

This year they've tinkered with it again. Tonight we will actually learn the identities of some -- but not all -- of the competitors who make it through to the top 24.

This should be pretty simple, we think, since show host Ryan Seacrest tells us the judges have deliberated and sent each of the 71 competitors to one of three hideously carpeted holding rooms, which the "Idol" producers have whimsically named Room 1, Room 2 and Room 3.

"Which Room is going home -- 1, 2 or 3?" Seabiscuit faux wonders.

Two hours, about a hundred ads, dozens of heartbreakingly sad back stories, and gallons of dripping mascara later, we have learned the names of just seven competitors who have achieved Idolette status.

Seabiscuit kicks off the show by insisting we pretend we auditioned for "Idol" and have now left our jobs, our families, our homes, and taken a plane trip to the "historic" Kodak Theatre in that shopping mall in Hollywood at the corner of Hollywood and Highland -- across the street from Hooters.

Finding no takers, Seabiscuit moves on and begins to tell a story about how the judges sent one singer to Room 1, assigned another to Room 2, and stuck another in Room 3.

It's a long-ish story -- two hours, give or take a few dozen commercial breaks -- because, in addition to all his trademark Seabiscuit-isms ("71 lives on the line," "Soon, they will learn their destiny," "Today can change lives forever," "no one is safe!" blah, blah, blah) every singer comes with his or her own glutinous back story, which--the singer hopes--will hook voting fans: She came from abject poverty; he had to leave his wife in labor for Hollywood Week. She hopes to cheer up her younger brothers after Dad left Mom; he survived a motorcycle accident but was told he would never play the guitar again.

If you're an "Idol" newbie, you begin frantically trying to track who is sent to which room. If you're an old hand at this game, you follow Casey James.

Conventionally cute, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, easy-going Casey attracted the attention of judge Kara DioGuardi early on in this season's "Idol" -- she asked him to unbutton his shirt and he instead went one step further and took it off entirely. Kara admired his tenacity and immediately recognized his talent, and off he went to Hollywood, continuing a tradition of cute, blonde, blue-eyed, semi-talented young men willing to take off their shirts during auditions who have made it to -- and in -- Hollywood.

All this time later, Kara is still smitten with Casey during Hollywood Week. Follow Casey and you'll find the room of competitors who are going to make the cut. It's kind of like Following the Money in Washington. Really, this is not rocket science.

Casey's sent to Room 1, along with, we dimly recall (but don't hold us to it): Andrew Garcia, Shiobhan Magnus -- who? -- Lilly Scott, etc. Room 1 is also the first room the judges visit as they are delivering the good/bad news. Which means singers in Room 1 will get through, which means the singers in Room 2 will not, and Room 3 occupants also will survive. Like we said -- no rocket science involved.

The real revelation here is new "Idol" judge Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen was supposed to be this season's breath of fresh air. Instead, she turns out to enjoy plucking the wings off little bugs as much as the next judge. Ellen gets to deliver the news to Room 1 and launches into the usual American Idol Judge's Sad Faced Singer-Torturing Talk. You know, "this is so hard," "this is my very first time doing this which makes it extra hard," " I too have been to auditions and been rejected," and so on -- intended to get the singers, who have been sitting for hours on hideous carpeting (really, can't Fox afford to spring for folding chairs?) twisted into knots thinking they're getting the hook.

Ellen continues: "man that is a problem, but not for you -- because you're all GOING THROUGH! " Ellen says.

There it is -- the old American Idol Fake Out. Just as predictable as it was by the time the judges had gotten to the second room, during Hollywood Week in the very first season of "American Idol." Ellen has blended into the "Idol" woodwork in no time at all.

Once the Room 2-ers are sent packing, they're left with 46 singers. But they can only send 24 on in the competition. We remember enough of grade school math to know this means 22 people are not going to be happy. The judges waste no time beginning the process of torturing singers individually, on-camera.

We will not torture you with the details. Those singers who got batted about by the judges but then were handed good news are: Didi Benami, Lee Dewyze, Katelyn Epperly, Todrick Hall, Casey James (shocking, I know), Aaron Kelly, and Michael Lynche.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 17, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: 'American Idol' finds its 24 semifinalists


I kept fast-forwarding through the show, yet every time I went to "play" Seacrest was saying the same exact thing and they were still panning through the rooms. Sheesh! The producers used all the skills they've developed over the years of stretching simple two-minute eliminations into hour-long shows to create the longest, most time-wasting, soporific, repetitive, mind-numbing, and eye-glazing episode ever. And I still don't know if Lilly Scott made it through.

Posted by: chantooz | February 17, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Predictable as always, me and my wife passed the time making up nicknames and were calling that kid who forgot the lyrics "Baby Elmo 2" in honor or David Archuletta and that Casey guy "girl hair" and the guy with the guitar and really stained teeth "Targon", etc.

Posted by: ozpunk | February 17, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Ooops meant to say that Targon was a girl...

Posted by: ozpunk | February 17, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Last night's show was really boring. I fast forwarded through most of it. Hope it gets better soon.

Posted by: anjacarolin | February 17, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Casey James is totally HOT. He's my latest Idol Crush even if I am almost old enough to be his father. And Simon gave him a NO at the first audition, so that's always fun. Hollywood is almost over, so the episodes should start getting more interesting. Assuming, of course, the top 24 and top 12 are a LOT more talented than last season.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | February 17, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

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