American Idol, Episode 8-16

Dan Dougherty tells me that the odds of making the Top 12 is in fact 25% regardless of gender. As he notes:

It’s a 25% chance of moving on. You have a 1/6 chance of being top guy/girl, meaning you have a 5/6 chance of not being.
Then you have a 1/10 chance of being next highest, meaning 9/10 of not. 1 – (5/6) * (9/10) = 1 – .75 = .25

The numbers, obviously, are correct here. I’m still not convinced on the math, but then my strength is more in solving equations, not creating formulae, so I’m going with this unless Charlie, Larry or Amita email me to tell me I’m wrong.

This is the third group of 3, and once again, the hope is that the singers choose a song that is right for them. But with the theme once again being Billboard Hot 100, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Von Smith is first up, and while we’re meant to believe that the singing order is random in the semis, the sudden switch to boy-girl from the previous girl-boy makes me think that they’re saving the pimp spot for someone who deserves it. Anyway, he sings “You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye, and finally we get a decent performance coming out of the gate. Von didn’t set the bar really high, but at least he set it to a reasonable level, and that’s all you can really ask for. 6.5/10

Next is Taylor Vaifanua, who is another 17-year old who was 16 during the audition process. Is she gonna choose a bad song to sing? You betcha. She sings “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, and for some reason fails to bring the power she showed during the audition round. You know, I hated Archie last year, but I have to hand it to him – letting his dad choose his songs was a brilliant move. 4/10

Alex Wagner-Trugman sings “I Guess Why They Call it The Blues” by Elton John, and he mixes about four different singing styles into the song, and it ends up feeling rather schizophrenic. The judges spend way too much time on the failed mic stand toss, but I suppose when the singing isn’t really that great, you gotta go with something. 5/10

Arianna Asfar reminds me of Kelly Kapowski – you know, before Tiffani Thiessen got the boob job and moved in with the Walshes. Her song choice is “The Winner Takes it All” by Abba, and if you think this was yet another bad song choice by a young singer, you’re correct. She actually doesn’t sing this bad, but the song is, frankly, boring as hell, and I doubt it’s gonna help her advance – for now. 5.5/10

Ju’Not Joyner sings Plain White T’s – specifically the heavily overplayed “Hey There Delilah” and I’m guessing that you were dreading this as much as I was. But somehow, someway, Ju’Not’s arrangement made the song not boring and annoying. Like Taylor, he started low key, but here’s the difference – his arrangement allowed for a build to a logical crescendo, so he was able to showcase himself during the performance without relying on power to see him through. 7/10

Kristen McNamara was a part of Team Dysfunction, and speeds up “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman to the point where it’s actually bearable. Like Ju’Not, she does an arrangement that suits her and allows her voice to be showcased. The performance is still a little too cabaret for me, but as far as the women went, this was enough to get her a wild card invite. Also, can I just say her not hiding her dislike of Nate was just awesome? And that she looks a LOT like Jamie Presley. 6.5/10

Nate Marshall is one of those guys who must let everyone know that he is gay, broadcasting it with all the subtlety of a demolition crew. I have no quarrel with his sexual orientation, but he’s absolutely perpetrating a stereotype that must make Mike, Mel and Luke from this season’s Amazing Race cringe. Anyway, he’s singing Meatloaf, and you probably asked yourself: “Self, is there anyway you can condense a Meatloaf song to 80 seconds”? The answer, of course, is “No”. This was YOUR hella-bad performance of the night. Good riddance, Nate. 2/10

Felicia Barton gets to mention that she’s a replacement singer, but much to Joe Corey’s chagrin, does not mention who she replaced. She sings “No One” by Alicia Keys, and it’s actually pretty good vocally (save for the fact that she forgot the words at the start). However, this is a bit of an awkward performance since Felicia wants to rock it out, but she set the arrangement to have only a light keyboard accompaniment. Probably not a good idea, but I think she’ll be back for the Wild Card. 6/10

Scott MacIntyre will clearly have some sympathy since he’s blind. However to go far he will need to sing well, and given that he’s one with a keyboard singing “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby without one proved to be interesting. Scott actually showed more stage presence here than most of the other contestants – and THIS GUY CAN’T SEE. I really hope that Idol will turn out to be a platform for him to be successful a la Jeff Healey – maybe even more so. Now, is it kinda bad that I wonder exactly how he fares in Wednesday’s group number? 7.5/10

Kendall Beard is singing Martina McBride. As the judges say, it’s great that you know who you are vocally and you stick with it, but USA has a country version of Idol, and no matter how cute you are, singing country in the semis won’t cut it here. Also, does her mom look like one of those pageant moms? 6/10

Jorge Nuñez is from Puerto Rico. He sings “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John with a slight accent, and that is actually pretty cool. Also cool – he’s singing well. Well enough that I think the island will give him the Jasmine Trias treatment and get him into the Top 12, which will suck for Ju’Not. If he doesn’t, well, he’s gonna be back next week for sure. 7/10

Pimp spot goes to Lil Rounds, singing Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You”. Hey, remember when Mary J. Blige basically took over her duet with Eliott Yamin? OK, well, that pretty much describes how you have to sing her songs – go big or go home. She goes big, but she lets Byrd and co sing the hook, and that costs her some points, but still, she’s in this spot because the producers knew she’s bring it. She should get the requisite votes to go through. 7/10


Scott MacIntyre
Jorge Nuñez
Lil Rounds

Wild Card (assuming they take four from each flight)
Arianna Asfar
Ju’Not Joyner
Kristen McNamara
Felicia Barton

See you next week.

Speaking of blind guys, Kevin Wong used “Angel Eyes” by Jeff Healey for his wedding party dance song. And he’s glad noone sang Stevie Wonder this time around.