American Idol – Episode 9-11 Review

Tonight begins the process of giving a sense of identity to the 24 semi-finalists. We’ll separate front runners from seat fillers. It’s the solo song which allows Simon to attack them as still not ready to be true stars like Susan Boyle. Unlike past series, tonight a few contestants will be told they are through to the semi-finals without having to wait for the final “Hollywood” episode. Guess they didn’t want to cram every result into tomorrow’s one hour episode. Plus they need something to keep folks from just watching the Winter Olympics.

The show opens with contestants crying and looking shocked. Pretty much what happens on every episode. Tonight is a two hour torture fest for the contestants. Ryan goes on and on about the burden of being on the stage. We’ve got a weird problem since Ryan said there are 71 contestants, but the Closed Captions print 72. Did someone get yanked early? They edit the show to start with the judges deciding who is in the 24. We’ve missed all the auditions. We see them separate the kids into three different room. We’re shown who is in the first room. It’s a lot of the A-Listers. Room two has a few fence people. Room three has folks who weren’t that great in the group nights. I’m already guessing that Room 1 is through. Room 2 is folks who have to sing off tomorrow night. Room 3 is the killing floor.

Angela Martin works her soulful ways with a hard bass line. She’s all nerves in the green room. Casey James is in room 1. He’s doing Bubbly for the judges. He does the Jason Mraz notes, but he’s not that infectious. Jermaine Purifoy does “Brick House.” He’s rather high in the song instead of hitting those low notes. Jermaine ended up in room 2. They tease us with highlights of their performance and reactions to the judges. Once more Ryan says 71 and the Closed Caption script is 72. Who got erased like Joanna Pacitti last year? Remember how she was put through even though she broke Simon’s “forget the words, you’re disqualified” rule?

Why can’t they give us this episode in linear order? We get more footage of the judges figuring out who goes into the next round. There’s lots of close ups of the “beer” cups with Vitamin Water. Coca-Cola Cups will be back next week.

Jermaine Sellers does Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” He hits a spotty note. He throws the band under the bus by saying that he cut out part of the song that the band included. Siobahn Magnus gets called by old by Ellen. To prove she’s not old, she does a four decade old Stevie Wonder song. Crystal Bowersox does the acoustic guitar and harmonica action to a Sheryl Crow song. She makes “If It Makes You Happy” sound less choppy. Alex Lambert inflicts the ukulele on the judges. He has to do a Jason Mraz number. He lets his cuteness do the heavy work. Bike Mike also does the same Jason Mraz tune. Why isn’t Jason Mraz a night or a new judge? Todrick Hall also does a soulful take of the Mraz tune. He needs a horn section to pump it up on the chorus. Mraz made bank tonight. Thaddeus Johnson’s mom gets a lot of screen time with her celebrations of the kid’s wins. When he walks on the stage, the band plays the wrong tune. He corrects them in a nice way. He does a big throat version of “Man in the Mirror.” He won’t be complaining about the band. Mom is all over him afterward. There seems to be a lot of folks in room 1 so they might not all be sent through.

Ryan takes us into room 2. All the kids are nervous waiting. Charity Vance is a cute 17 year old blond. She’s rather weak in voice. Tasha Leighton did well on day one. But for some reason we don’t see what she just performed. Why? Mary Powers is the rocker chick mom. She thinks it was easy and calls it “cake.” She does OK. Simon says she’s interesting because she’s older. Dock worker Lloyd Thomas gets emotional when thinking of his wife and kids. He’s in tears thinking how much this will change everything. He gets way too emotion on the stage doing “Man In the Mirror.” But Simon likes him. Brian Walker gets a recap as the singing police officer. He thinks he did well in his final performance, but we don’t hear a note. Come on! Tasha Holland and Jermaine Purifory get recapped. Hope Johnson recaps her poverty story. She did well on the first two days. She does Daughtry’s “I’m Going Home.” She’s waving her finger while singing. It doesn’t look too good.

We’re still 90 minutes from the end, but they tease us with Randy holding the Polaroids of the finalists. Or is this for a mystery round? Maybe they’ll have an MMA beatdown to pick the 24?

Room 3 appears to be the holding tank of the doom. Shelby Dressel couldn’t remember lyrics during the band rehearsal of a Boston tune. She’s got way too many nerves with the fear of messing out. The pianist attempts to calm her down. “More Than A Feeling” is guitar driven song, but she remembers her lyrics. Aaron Kelly loses his lyrics. He recaps his life of being adopted by his aunt and uncle. Randy throws him a line. He picks up. He’s doing that song that plays with the adopt a dog ads. Ashley Rodriguez gets dirty funky. She’s not bad. How did she end up in the room of the doomed? She didn’t wear a short skirt. Lee Dewyze, Joe Munoz and Haeley Vaughn are in the room. They didn’t sound that painful on the stage. Haeley gets the “awesome” plug from Kara. Janell Wheeler has her voice go on her before the song. But she won’t give up. She climbs across a Taylor Swift song. Kara thinks it’s the wrong song. Janell fears she blew it.

It’s 11 p.m. at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. They need to get hustling before Ryan has to start setting up for E!’s Oscar Red Carpet Preview show. He must have a cot set up in a backstage broom closet. The judges argue about who they love. Ryan explains the various rooms and we get more clips of the kids singing. Why couldn’t we see more of these kids like Andrew Garcia? This is supposed to be a song about singing and not how they can twist the timeline. Now we get recaps of the previous recaps. The first room entered by the judges is Room 1. Ellen delivers the news. She teases them with the boilerplate about how many good singers there are, but they’re all going through. Lily Scott is through. A few kids get named by Ryan. Maybe that’s a hint who made Top 24? Either way, they’re cutting to a commercial to make us wait longer for rooms 2 and 3.

It’s 11:30 p.m. at the Kodak Theater. Did it really take that long to talk to room 1? The other kids are nervous at hearing the other kids cheering. Room 2 gets the news given to them by Simon. He points out that only 2 rooms will be going through. He’s glad they entered, but he must give them the news. It’s bad news. They haven’t made it. Really? The poverty girl and the singing cop are gone. Mary Powers won’t be rocking us. So many profiled people are getting slaughtered. Way to hype the hopeless. Room 3 survived. Randy gives them the news that they had good days and bad days. Kara interrupts with more tease before she lets them know they’re safe. All the kids come out and celebrate together like there’s something great. Really? They still need to cut 46 down to 24. That means 22 are dancing on their own graves. The final judgement is on the stage of the Kodak Theater. Why couldn’t they just pick 24 earlier? Ryan thinks this will be the most emotional reveal ever. Can it be more than The Crying Game?

The kids arrive back at the Kodak Theater at 7 a.m. to get the most emotional cut. Take a look at the 46 faces. In a few hours 22 of them will be losers. There haven’t been this many losers at the Kodak Theater since the L.A. Clippers team photo day. Ryan pimps the new cups as if we haven’t noticed them. Big Mike is the first guy to go before the judges. He’s nervous cause he’s missing his newborn baby back home. Big Mike ought to be hanging out with the guy who played the President in Fifth Element. Simon wants to know how he’s think he’s done. He’s made it this far so he must be doing good. The judges are spread out in their chairs like a really lame H.R. review. Simon doesn’t have total belief that Big Mike wants to win it all. Simon has made a decision. He’s through with a 4-0 vote. He picks up Ellen. Watch out for her spine!

Didi Benami cries as Simon grills her about her inconsistency. He reminds her there is only 12 spaces. After a long pause, she is one of the 12. She praises Kara’s songwriting. Katelyn Epperly gets to remind us her dad leaving the family. We’re reminded how Simon wasn’t a fan. Ellen didn’t think she connected on day 1. Ellen takes five minutes to explain how she’s not going to delay her answer. She’s doing schtick people. But the pay off is Katelyn is through to the 24. That means there’s more losers in the room at 2 p.m. They did only 3 people in 7 hours? Do these people work at the post office and the DMV? We’re treated to more of Shelby Dressel. Randy lets her know she didn’t make it. Why did we have to get five minutes of highlights for her getting booted? Simon thinks this is a wrong decision. We’ll see her on X Factor auditions.

Casey James gets a flashback to his shirt moving moment. They hint that Kara wants a piece of his man candy. Remember what happened when Paula hooked up with the contestant? Casey is from Cool, Texas. Ellen isn’t quite digging Casey like Kara. Once more they need to work on how to light Ellen. No need to light Casey since he glows when Kara puts him through. Randy insists when Kara hugged Casey, she put up her leg. Replay proves it. She’s got an H.R. issue. How did Aaron Kelly get to this point when he forgot his words? Ellen asks him how the week went for him. Is this an exit interview? She calls him a good guy and that a lot of people at home will like to see him. He’s part of the 24. They’ve had 5 kids go through and only 1 rejection. The percentage of losers in the holding room has gone up. Lee Dewyze gets told by Kara that he has a lack of confidence in being a star on the stage. Kara gives him the good news that he’s still going through. He’s overjoyed, but you still have to make the final 12 and out of that, you have to nail a Top 10 position to get that tour money rolling into your wallet. With only 15 minutes left tonight, it’s going to be a bloodbath on Wednesday. It’s going to look like the slaughter part of The Cove with Simon and Randy as the Japanese fisherman going nuts on the dolphins.

Fox is telling us that he wait for Glee to return will soon be over. The episodes aren’t coming till April. That’s a long time away. The entire NCAA men’s basketball tourney will be over before Glee returns. Speaking of longtime, we’re given a montage of the kids hanging out at the hotel during fun times. When did that really happen?

Todrick Hall gets a chance to show off a pic of him with Oprah backstage at The Color Purple. He’s hooked up. The judges are quiet until Kara says, “Yes.” That’s it. No need to deny this guy a slot. Jessica Furney got rejected in season 8. She wants to take it to the next level. Didn’t help that she was part of a “Sweet Escape” fiasco. But she cut off Simon since he cut them off before she got to her part. She’s got the look of a woman about to snap if her dream is crushed. Randy won’t delay it. He then takes a long pause. That’s a delay. Randy tells her she didn’t make it. She won’t take no. She swears they have no idea. She’ll be auditioning For the Love of Ray J. Simon won’t change his mind. Simon swears he won’t change his mind since they have a set number. Randy swears the talent level is unbelievable. Ellen tells her that this isn’t the end of her career. Jessica does see this as the end of her singing career. It’s probably true in today’s music industry. There’s no future for her as a pop star without the American Idol winner tag. She walks down the stars of Hollywood Blvd. They recap the 7 people who heard yes today. Somebody with a great voice will be shot down. Someone will be crying in a bathroom stall.

The stretching on tonight’s episode was embarrassing. How many times can they replay the same clips? It’s like watching an episode of Entertainment Tonight with a Jon and Kate exclusive tease. It’s so frustrating by how little they showed of the solo songs. This might have been a good thing since it eliminated 26 more people singing a Jason Mraz song.

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