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'American Idol' picks its Top 12

At long last it's time to announce the Top 12 Idolettes on "American Idol."

But first we are subjected to a picture of judge Randy Jackson's head on Bikini Boy's body because judge Simon Cowell told one of the Idolettes this week he should picture Randy in a bikini to help him overcome his nerves when performing. And, of course, there's the weekly lesson in How to Lip Synch - such an important skill for today's pop singer.

Breaking news: The Rolling Stones are the latest rock group to succumb to the "American Idol" machine. The top 12 Idolettes will have to choose among Stones tunes to perform next week. Let's all agree to vote for whoever sings "Rough Justice" just to see if the Fox Decency Police zap it, like ABC did at that Super Bowl halftime show -- okay?

Time to whack some Idolettes. Four gotta go tonight.

We see the 12 stools on which the surviving singers will be seated. They will be the ones who received the most votes from viewers this week. Again this year the stools look like martini glasses -- the Martini Glasses of Popularity.

Weepy Benami is called up on stage first. She tells show host Ryan Seacrest how nerve-wracking this has all been for her what with having to performing in front of soooo many people. Seabiscuit asks judge Randy Jackson if consistency is important in an Idolette. "Consistency is everything," Randy guesses. Randy gets to go to the next round. So does Weepy. Weepy, BTW, is wearing a dress that appears to be made of recycled beach balls.

Siobhan Magnus is called up on stage and, in marked contrast, tells Seabiscuit she's having a blast and is utterly comfortable on stage. Undaunted, Seabiscuit asks judge Ellen The Generous to tell Siobhan what she will need to do to impress people going forward "The same thing she has been doing?" guesses Ellen. Correct! Siobhan is told to take a seat in a Martini Glass of Popularity.

Paige Miles and Katelyn Epperly are brought up on stage together. Seabiscuit asks Simon which of the two has the most potential. Simon says that Paige has not gotten her act together at all since the live performance shows started, whereas Katelyn was good until this week when she made one bad song choice -- so Paige clearly has the most potential. Right again! Katelyn gets to pay viewers back by re-singing the Carole King tune they disliked so much. It's even worse than the first time.

Next, it's time to whack a guy. Tim Urban, Todrick Hall, Lee Dewyze, and Casey James are all brought up on stage. Tim and Lee are told they have made it to the Top 12. Tim goes into his "Here's My Shocked Look, Mr. DeMille" routine again. That leaves Casey and Todrick on stage. This means Todrick is toast, of course, because Casey is cougar catnip. Seabiscuit can't think of a question to ask of any of the judges, so he just cuts to the chase and announces that Casey is surviving and Todrick is not. Todrick gets to sing the Queen tune that got him booted, only he does so much better a job of it than the first time around that Seabiscuit makes some crack about taking that performance to the judges. "Fantastic," raves Randy.

One piano duet -- by last season's Idolettes Matt Giraud and Scott McIntyre -- later, Seabiscuit announces that Mama Sox, aka Crystal Bowersox, is safe. Then Michael Lynche, who has been flexing his neck muscles in the background, is brought to center stage so judge Kara can explain why she collapsed, sobbing, into Simon's arms when she heard Michael's scenery-chewing performance the night before. Turns out that when Person A hears Person B singing about something Person B has been going through which is relevant to Person A, it touches Person A. We can't pretend to care. Seabiscuit doesn't much either -- he's more interested in whether Michael can fit in a Martini Glass of Popularity. He can.

Lacey Brown is asked if she knows who she is yet as an artist. Knowing who you are as an artist is the leitmotif of "Idol" this season -- the judges can't stop harping on it. Lacey replies in the affirmative and, asked to elaborate, explains she is someone who is good at an array of things. That's good enough for America, which has voted to put her in a Martini Glass of Popularity.

Aaron Kelly is brought center stage to discuss why he needs more confidence performing. He explains to Seabiscuit that the judges scare the daylights out of him. He gets a place in the Martini Glass lineup.

Alex Lambert and Andrew Garcia are brought on stage. One the one hand, Alex has a distinctive, commercial voice and is consistently good, though nervous, when he performs. On the other hand, Andrew has managed to do one song -- Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" -- well during Hollywood Week and has bombed every week after that. So, naturally, America has voted to keep around -- Andrew. Alex tears up and says he wishes he had been able to break out of his shell, which we hope makes all those who voted for Andrew feel like heels. Seabiscuit asks Ellen The Generous for some advice for Alex. Ellen's command of the music industry involves clicking your heels together three times and saying "I believe in myself." This, to a guy who says he vomits before every performance out of sheer fright. Alex gets to sing "Trouble" one more time and, as usual, he's quite good.

When we come back from commercial break, Idolettes are still up on stage consoling Alex. "You could hear a pin drop during the commercial break," Seabiscuit says, calling it "maybe the most intense few moments" of the show, which is too bad since we didn't get to, you know, see it.

So it all comes down to Katie Stevens and Lilly Scott. As Kara notes, one is a chick who has no idea who she is as an artist -- that would be Katie -- and other is the chick who is maybe one of the two Idolettes this season who knows exactly who they are as an artist - that would be Lilly, with the wonderfully quirky voice. And look where it gets Lilly - she's out. So much for the judges and their "you need to know who you are as an artist" blather.

"I thought I was appealing to a lot of people," Lilly tells Seabiscuit when he asks for her reaction, thinking he's going to get the usual "I learned soooo much, and you have not heard the last of me" nonsense.

"It's surprising -- there's a lot of incredible talent going home tonight. I don't know what America wants to hear," Lilly says, sounding nearly as disgusted as we are.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 12, 2010; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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I caught the last minute of the show, tuning in to watch Gordon Ramsey @ 9. (Lisa watches so I don't have to.)

Who was the chick in the back row on the left who looked like she had been sucking on a lemon? She didn't look at all happy.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 12, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm way not happy about Lily going home. For the first time in the history of AI, I almost don't care who wins now . . .

Posted by: MrsKirby | March 12, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else watch the shark jumping last night? Vote for the worst seems to be in full effect.

Posted by: Duke-Rulz-1995 | March 12, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Uh-oh. I knew after Mini Mullet Man got the boot that something was wrong with the universe so I was worried when Lilly was in the bottom two. That was the final straw for my two kids who left the room in disgust proclaiming themselves DONE with AI. They were still fuming over breakfast.

I will miss Lilly almost as much as everybody on the show will miss Todrick, apparently. He must be a really nice guy. I thought he handled his exit with grace. My husband thought it was cool of the guys to surround Mullet Boy so that nobody could see him crying. That was sad. I was really starting to like him.

Lemon sucker was Crystal Bowersox who, in all fairness, was in the hospital last week and who looks pretty bedraggled and run down. I think she left it all on the stage Tuesday.

And did anybody else notice that Matt the Hat from last season seemed to have misplaced the big ol mole on his forehead? Or was it hiding under that weird patch of hair?

Posted by: buffybot | March 12, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I was sad to see mullet boy go. He was the most interesting male singer to me. Loved his vocal tone.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 12, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Paige & Katie should have gone, Tim & Aaron should have gone.

Lilly's awesome and will do well, but that was really a bad song choice.

DialIdol has so far shown no overwhelming leaders in the competition. The votes by their reckoning have been within the margin of error for everyone and so nobody has been considered absolutely safe for the past two weeks. The votes are too spread out and are likely VERY close, especially once you get past the better peformers.

Now that we're down to 12, it'll be easier for people to focus on their favorites and the influence of Dial For The Worst will diminish (I'm sure it's why Tim and Paige are in the top 12).

I don't get all the hate for Andrew. I think he's fantastic. He has a great voice, much like Sting, and I disagree that his last few songs have been poor. The judges really need to get off the "Straight Up" kick & let him (and us) move on.

Anyway, it's Idol, there are always surprises, and that's part of what makes the show interesting. Maybe Tim & Paige will surprise us. My favorite thing about the show is watching the kids come into their own as the season progresses.

Posted by: Duodenum | March 12, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Lilly did herself in. That "rendition" of Patsy Cline's I Fall to Pieces was Sanjaya/Megan Joy/William Hung worthy.

She butchered it and no amount of "quirk" could save her. Seeing her expression of dismay WILL keep me going back to AI this year, although the "talent" is sparse.

It's unfortunate that Florence Henderson's hair had to go home, though. He seemed to be improving where as Tim "OH MY GOSH" Urban is really getting on my nerves. and the other young kid is just hopeless. Really though, all the guys are hopeless this year.

2010 Finale will be the Female version of Lambert v Allen....Siohban v Bowersox.

you read it here first...

Posted by: cmonkey66 | March 12, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Well, aren't you just the critic monkeyman.

Posted by: MrsKirby | March 12, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Cry over Lilly all your want, the honest truth is that she is not mainstream enough in either the looks or vocal departments to win the AI beauty pagent. Not to disparage the girl, but her version of Patsy Cline sounded like a bad Adelle impersonation. In my opinion that Urban kid did not deserve to make it through, nor did Katie. But AI has never been a pure singing competition, the contestants are weighed and measured on appearance, apparent personality and who has the saddest life before idol montage.

Posted by: ozpunk | March 12, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, I love you and your snark. Hate to nitpick on a minor error in your recap, but I will. The first round of guy eliminations came down to Todrick vs. Lee. Casey was the first guy they sent to the Martini Glass of Popularity, followed by Tim.

I hate myself for knowing this, and then caring enough to issue a correction.

Posted by: BDC241 | March 12, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Once again, AI makes you so irritated you could throw something at the TV set. But it's not the set's fault, so I simply hit the mute button when Katelyn tortured Carole King again and even more off-key than on performance night.

I do think ousting Lily and Alex at this point was a mistake. I'd rather listen to either of them anytime than Katie or Garcia.

Lily can sing jazz - which is really different for AI. But of course, I forgot, this is the age of cookie cutter looks and sounds. Ironically - NOT being a cookie cutter is what got most of the "theme week" artists famous in the first place - certainly The Rolling Stones.

So, since Siobhan has already done "House of the Rising Sun" will the rest treat us to Mantovani Stones next week? Will I have to take medication AND hit the mute button? And if I see another guitar, I just want to shoot it.

Posted by: jqw3827 | March 12, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't put too much stock in DialIdol, as it would rely on votes by phone mirroring votes by text, which we have no way of knowing. I tend to think the distribution would have a much different look (but, again, based on no evidence).

As for the physical attractiveness of the winners, for several seasons, I'd suggest the winner has been less attractive than the runner-up and many of the more attractive contestants have been cut early. But you did say "mainstream enough", and I seem to remember a number of tattooed, pierced, mohawk and guyliner wearers making it pretty far in the competition, unless you're saying body art and male makeup is now mainstream, and preppy isn't.

Posted by: SheldonAlexandria | March 12, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

What a gloomy hour of TV that was -- even the ones who got through looked more upset and miserable than celebratory or even relieved as they watched the results unfold. Instead of calling it "results night" they should have called it "sitting shiva." They had to cut Alex and Todrick instead of the 3 Mediocrities: Tim, Aaron and Casey? I'll miss Lilly, too. Maybe now the judges will shut up about how you "have to know yourself as an artist" since obviously on this show that's irrelevant.

Posted by: owingsmills | March 12, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I will SO miss Lily! AND Toddrick. I don't know what the judges are smoking this year, I disagree with them consistently. I think Andrew is much better than they think he is, I think Tim Urban massacred Hallelujah (How COULD he attempt that song after Jason Castro's rendition? Idiot), I thought Didi-head was atrocious, and I swear mullet hair and Toddrick BOTH gave me chills with their performances. I canNOT believe Aaron is still there. i need a fainting couch and then you could perhaps explain it to me.

And thanks to an earlier poster who corrected Lisa's mistake about the fact that it was Lee and not Casey who were up against Toddrick. Lisa, I love you, I really do, but I swear you are phoning it in this year. Are you perhaps tired of We Watch So You Don't Have To? Say it ain't so. Your wrap up is the reason I still WATCH AI.
Loved your line about Lynch chewing the scenery. And OMG please someone do something about Kara! The crying jag was so FAKE I could scream! She can't hold a candle to Paula's tearfests which seemed to happen at random. Paula could CRY, girl. And DO get off Simon's lap. I was surprised Seabiscuit alluded to it, I thought I was the only one noticed that Kara is trying to build the Panama canal between her and Ellen.

Posted by: tmeintermedia | March 13, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Most every year, one of the best male singers gets booted way too early. That was Todrick this year. His choice of Somebody To Love was interesting and performance very entertaining. Don't get it. That guy is well sung. ;)

I was glad Paula got axed, if for nothing but for the rude, juvenile distractions she and Simon caused. It seems Simon now needs a replacement female to grope, and hopefully Kara will mace him in the face soon.

BTW, "FlorenceHendersonHair" was a pretty funny bit.

Posted by: ILoveToSinga | March 13, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

If you think Alex Lambert deserves another chance (like Anoop, who became #13 of the "top 12" last season), please sign the Bring Alex Back petition here:

Currently, the petition is 7,000 sigs strong -- and counting and some media types are buzzing around the petition starter.

Posted by: earlyburd | March 13, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link earlyburd. I think Alex has a very distinctive, expressive voice. He was able to convey more feeling through his songs than the other contestants. I'll definitely sign the petition. I hope a smart record agent snaps Alex up.

Posted by: nthwoods1 | March 13, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

My God, Lisa -- if you hate all things TV, why does the WaPo pay you to do what you do? I was really into reading your on-line discussion a few years ago -- and contributed too -- but the more I have read, the more i am just bored to tears. Do you really need to criticize EVERYTHING? You obviously HATE watching TV -- why else the endlessly snarky comments? It would be so much more of an interesting discussion if you just spoke to the good and the bad of TV --without the endles sarcasm. It's just not fun to read anymore. (And believe me, I've tried -- I wrote to you about this about this problem a year ago and it hasn't changed.} I think I'm done reading you. I'll just wait for a discussion with Jen Chaney who is happy to say when she enjoys a film.

I really think you'd prefer being able to say when you enjoy watching a TV show, but you have tried to appease the snarky people who write to you during your weekly discussions. A short-sighted move, in my opinion.

Posted by: declaire | March 13, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Missed Idol for a few weeks, just got caught up. Glad to see Andrew Garcia, Paige Miles, and Katie Stevens survive. I think they all have potential. The judges have been rather harsh on Andrew. Sad to see Alex Lambert go. I was hoping to see Aaron Kelly and his embarrassingly bad eyebrow cut.

I will not miss Todrick Hall. I don't think he is that talented. Much like most female contestants have no business doing Whitney Houston, Todrick has no business doing Freddy Mercury.

I will miss Lilly Scott a bit. She wasn't one of my favorites, but I recognize her talents vocally and artistically. I was personally hoping Lacey Brown would go.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | March 16, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

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