American Idol – Episode 8-16 Review

The final 12 kids are begging for the final 3 lock picks. But after the last two weeks, I’m not holding out too much faith that America is voting for quality programming. How could Nick Mitchell and Tatiana Del Toro get blocked? These two weren’t even real vote for the worst candidates like Sanjaya and other tone deaf fools that snuck onto the show. They have voices, but they were also trainwrecks ready to take us into wackyland. So far the 6 top vote getters have been either sob stories or pretty boring. Do you really want to tune in to see them? Or do you want a sense of danger on that stage? Remember how America tuned in each week to see Sanjaya’s weird hairdo? Don’t vote with your heart.

The show opens with Ryan reminding us how these 12 have abandoned their jobs, families and kids in order to take that shot at stardom. They really should have suicide counsellors backstage. Ryan asks why Simon doesn’t pick the songs. Simon declares he will select the music during the competition on Simon Cowell week. A whole week of Spice Girls, Teletubbies and those opera guys songs is coming!

Has there been a mention of the missing contestant? Hmmm. Shouldn’t a gameshow be forced to come clean on air when a contestant has been proven to be a ringer? The Food Network made it part of the show when they had to bust the guy up for Next Food Star when they discovered he lied about his resume. Denial is the lifeblood of Ryan, Simon and Paula.

Von Smith is first up with his tale of how he was shouting his first song in Hollywood. He’s thankful for getting another chance. He goes straight for Marvin Gaye’s “You’re All I Need to Get By.” He doesn’t have the voice to wrap around the notes. He’s rather thin when he tries for a soulful voice. The mix is once again horrifyingly bad. It’s like an Osmond salute to Motown. He looks more like an Osmond on the stage than the real Osmond contestant. Randy says it’s a hot performance. He thinks its better than Hollywood week. Wow. Kara swears he’s coming into his own. Hmmm. Paula swears America will remember him. Simon says Von reminds him of Clay Aiken. “You have the same dress sense. You look appauling.” Is it really a good thing to be compared to a guy who just got dumped by his label? Von is happy to get the compliments from the judges. Maybe the sound in the studio is better than what came through my speakers.

Once more Ryan tells us we can get the songs on Taylor Vaifanua is the high school who left the islands for Utah. She missed her lyrics in Hollywood, but Simon had forgotten his blow the lyrics, get kicked off rule for her. She’s got leather boots that don’t look too Big Love.  Her pick is “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. She’s doing the sing through my smile routine. My cable just did a weird thing and  split the screen for a second. It’s a nice performance, but it doesn’t take it to any emotional edge. Kara wants more of her personality to come through. “What’s it like to go shopping with Taylor?” Huh? Paula doesn’t like the fact that she sang the same song she used in Hollywood week. Simon doesn’t get the shopping thing. I know what it’s like to go shopping with Paula at Walgreens. Simon couldn’t remember her from the early rounds. He thinks the song is bland. Simon thinks she’s going to struggle. They kick in the music before Randy gets his say. They stop the music. Randy says it was boring. Ryan and Simon talk trash about clothes shopping. She’s probably toast at this moment since it’s hard to see her even pulling a wild card with that ho-hum response from the judges.

The new Perdue Chicken ad with the guy in the drill sergeant uniform reminds me of an old National Lampoon feature about a militant chicken farm. The gag was “100 Chickens will be tested today, but only 3 will wear the Gizzard Beret.”

Ryan says that viewers can design their own Coca-Cola cup for the judges. Randy’s cup should have holes at the bottom. The guy doesn’t need to drink so much corn syrup.

Alex Wagner-Troutman says he went on the internet to see what people wrote about him. I can’t recall if I’ve said anything about him. Here’s a sad rule to people on reality shows – don’t go on the internet and search your name. He goes for Elton John’s “Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.” Why pick a downer song from Elton? Go for a peppy one. He’s growling worse than Joe Cocker with a mouth filled with marbles. He’s like Nick Mitchell without his sweatbands. He looks like the annoying guy on Gilmore Girls. His voice is all over the place. It’s like he drank a pitcher of Pabst before getting up for the Karoake. It’s delightfully hideous. Paula says he’s the showman. She was entertained by him. “We had fun watching you just not listening to you.” Simon declares he’s a hamster trying to be a tiger. Sounds like a Dreamworks animated project. Randy thought it was crazy in a buck wild way. Randy was disappointed because he screamed the song. Kara enjoyed him being Alex. Paula wants to steal his moves. Ryan drops the microphone and it breaks on stage. That’s going to cost him!

The Simpson’s house gets foreclosed. Even in animation, the downturn is happening.

The first Abba song ever sung on American Idol is coming! The Mama Mia crowd will be jamming the phone lines. ARianna Afsar gives us “Winner Takes All.” You really do need two women to do Abba justice. She’s way too theatrical in her posture. There’s no fun in her performance. She does a Whitney note in the midst of this Swedish meatball. The truncated version features her repeating  “There was a certain irony in that lyric…it was terrible in many parts,” Simon bitches. He thinks it sounds like a funeral dirge. Her worst performance he declares. Randy wishes she’d picked a different song. “It wasn’t good.” Kara feels bad that she was a beam of sunshine and went for a dark and depressing song. Arianna is looking dark and depressing looking at the judges. Paula felt she had some bright moments. But believes the song was old fashioned. Paula and Simon argue about how to pronounce Abba. Ryan tries to comfort her without touching her. 

Ju’not Joyner reminds us how he brought his kid into the judges room to sway the judges. Why must he perform The Plain White Ts “Hey There Delliah.” It’s a rather tepid song. he tries to soul it up. But why? The song drags with its pseudo-Leonard Cohen “Famous Blue Raincoat” vibe. Randy likes how he made it his. Kara liked it and knows he’ll unleash it next time. Paula mentions that he did it before. Simon says it was better than he thought it would be. He admits that he took a cortasone shot today. They’re juicing on America Idol like A-Rod!

Why doesn’t someone do Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan?” That’s a ripping song when done just right. You could turn it into a threat when you lock eyes with the camera. 

Kristen McNamara reminds us that she runs a karaoke bar. She also lets us know her audition purple hair was a boo-boo. Why? It worked for her. As a real blond, she’s rather bland. She’s going to “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman. She does this smile with her head roll back that’s really annoying. The song is rather pedestrian. The music sounds like Ray Charles’ band if they’d all shot up smack before a session. Nothing kicks up. It’s not a disaster, but it seems like the 4 a.m. performance on a telethon. Kara didn’t like the purple hair. She thinks Kristen should do more Kelly Clarkson material. Paula liked the vocals. Simon doesn’t like her look and song choice. He’s puzzled about her. Randy also doesn’t know who she is. He drops the karaoke bomb. She has had trouble with her image and admits to wearing stretch pants and a bow in her hair. She needs a stylist. There should be a telethon for such help.

Time for Nathaniel Marshall to give us his drama queen story. Maybe we’ll get the inside story to his headbands. He wants to be able to touch people with music. Can we have  a handi-wipe afterward? He’s going for the Meatlof folks! He’ll declares “I Would Do Anything for Love,” but he won’t do that. A drama queen goes for the dramatic songbook of Meatloaf. The arrangement should have more backing vocals kicking in. He’s rocking out as much as his blue headband. This guy has his style down. Simon thinks he probably would. Simon thinks it verged on excruciating. He can’t get over the headband. Simon admits the guy is fun. Randy likes him, but doesn’t get why he chose it. Randy can’t imagine what kind of record they’d make with him. Simon is extra prickly tonight. Kara doesn’t think the guy wants to be taken seriously. She wants to see another side of him. He’s the guy Kara wants to take to karaoke. They had his grandmother says she likes his music. Paula remembers him singing “Disturbia.” She felt it was a Boy George version of the song. Ryan brings Nathaniel down to the judge’s table to shake hands with Simon. Ryan attempts to put a headband on Simon’s head. He won’t do it. Simon’s implants might fall out.

Felica Barton gets to explain how she didn’t make it. She was shocked when she was cut. Kara talks about how she was cut because she wasn’t distinct. They called her back to be in the top 36. Why? They completely skipped over the scandal. To make her extra distinct, she’ll be the second woman singing Alicia Keyes tonight. This time it’s “No One.” The song doesn’t serve her voice. It sounds too choppy. She busts on a note. She goes for the big note and it plateaus out fast. This is a second chance that really fell flat. They show off her baby wearing a vote “Felicia” t-shirt. Paula thinks all things happen for a reason. She loves her talent. Simon says she came back to prove a point. Liked the second half better. The point being that a plant was nailed. Randy thinks it was hot. Kara says its her best look and mentions problem with the notes. “I noticed you for the first time.” Easy to notice someone when they have a band. Ryan has her recount how she flew out overnight to be a part of the show, but without mentioning the name of the scandalous ex-Annie.

Scott McIntyre recounts how he felt good performing on the show. He sticks with a singing piano player material with “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby. He’s seated on a stool. He doesn’t sound too bad. He gets up and takes a few steps. He really ought to be playing piano while singing. You get an idea he wants to control the musical accents following his voice. The crowd keeps applauding. Randy thought he hit the big notes. He gives props to Scott. Kara swears he moves mountains when he gets on the stage. She wants to see him play and sing. Paula also wants to see him play and sing. Simon wasn’t crazy about the song. He didn’t like the lyrics. He thinks Scott is believing in himself. He thinks he’s the only person memorable tonight. Scott loves to sing with a real audience. Scott gives Ryan a high five. 

Only 3 more to go and Scott is the front runner. This has been a rather lackluster night. No real trainwrecks or worthy replays. Even the ads have been boring. Arby’s will have a Roast Burger? Why has it taken them this long to put bacon on roast beef? At least there’s one less thing to write my Congressman about. Now if only they can figure out how to make bacon into a donut flavor. 

They come back with Randy reading Ryan’s lines while the dweeb sits in a judge’s chair. 

Kendall Beard is back. She talks about why a girl from Texas went to Puerto Rico. It was a smart move since about 20 people auditioned there. She’s doing Martina McBride’s “This One’s for the Girls.” She wants to see her dad do his alligator dance if she makes the Top 12. She does have a bold voice for the country song. She rushes a few notes to get to a transition. While not as golden as her hair and dress, it’s a peppy number. Kara likes her big personality. She had issues with notes. Paula loves her bright outfit. Doesn’t say much about the song. Simon thinks she’s cute. Halfway though he couldn’t wait for it to end. It got shrilly. It’s not his cup of tea. Randy admits to loving country music. Randy also didn’t like the vocal issues. Ryan doesn’t gab too much with her. 

Jorge Nunez recounts how his accent got in the way. He’s also doing Elton John. This time we get “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.” Another downer from the man with the glasses. He’s not quite working the George Michael angle. He milks the pleading in his voice. It’s admirable. Paula giving him a standing ovation. Paula is so proud of him. She wants to squeeze him. Simon realizes it was wrong for him to say Jorge shouldn’t sing with an accent. How noble of the British judge to cut someone slack for their accent. Randy thinks the vocal was “really, really good.” He’s vindicated himself from Hollywood week. Kara swears he was born to sing. Jorge is crying tears of joy. He can’t think in English. He speaks Spanish to the judges. With the bar set so low, he’s easily vaulting to the lead. 

Lil Rounds gets a shot to clean house. There’s no other female performer that’s blown the crowd away. She’s going for Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You.” She’s elevated the night with the sweet soulful sounds. The judges are rocking with the music – even Simon is moving. The woman has power and even pulls off the telephone hand sign. It’s her night. Simon says, “Brilliant.” Once more he wouldn’t choose the song since she sounds like Blige. Randy likes how she kept her swagger. Kara thinks she’s a powerhouse. Paula calls her first class. “I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re going to see you for more lil rounds,” Paula jokes. She’s happy.

We get the recap. Why? The highlight just happened. 

My picks to get the three phone slots: Lil Rounds, Jorge Nunez and Scott MacIntyre.

The folks with a Wild Card shot are Felicia Barton, Kendall Beard, Ju’Not Joyner & Von Smith.

The one and done list is Taylor Vaifanua, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Arianna Afsar, Kristen McNamara, and Nathanial Marshall.

The judges ought to have a trainwreck off with Nick Mitchell, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Nathanial Marshall and Tatiana Del Toro for one spot. Give us a little dose of crazy in what’s shaping up to be a predictable showdown between Gokey, Adam Lambert and Lil Rounds.

The fact that Ryan and the game refused to mention Joanna Pacitti’s disqualification deserves a special mention. He fooled America into thinking the girl merely pulled out because of an illness or she discovered her cable guy conflicted with her performing time. We’ll never get the truth about how this scam fell apart since this scandal has been brushed aside by news of Octomom and face destroying chimps.

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