Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top 13 Guys: "I hear that you're the spirit stick of the group."

Last night’s Idol was an educational two hours of television. Our sophomore panel of judges has really settled into the job, developing banter and sometimes completely forgetting that the cameras are taping them. This is great for my job, although I wonder if the judges really want to dive down the rabbit hole this early into the season. How crazy can they get by May? By then, Uncle Steven will be crawling around the stage shrieking songs from his glory days, J. Lo will be wearing live animals as couture fashion, and Randy will finally drop all pretenses of having an English vocabulary and just start talking in gibberish nonstop. Think of what that would do for the ratings!

I mentioned above that the episode was educational, and it totally was. Uncle Steven admitted that was as “confused as a baby in a topless bar.” Randy claimed to be “milk” chocolate but agreed to settle for “dark.” And J. Lo cleared up the question on every Oscar viewer’s mind this year by uttering four delightful words: “There was no nipple!” The more you know, Dawgs. The more you know.

Ryan was feeling impish last night, making a point to hide the reveal of Mystery Guy #13 until the final moments of the show. In typical Ryan fashion, though, he teased the hell out of it with all of his – “Find out who the 13th guy is … after the break. Only after that break. And the one after that.” –  nonsense. But I won’t keep you waiting, Dawgs, because I have too much class for that. The judges brought back Human Tear Factory Jermaine Jones for a second chance.

Monster Credit

How DARE Idol tease me with the prospect of David Leathers Jr. returning and then slam the door in my face? Screw you, Idol. So anyway, the 13 male semifinalists performed last night, and they actually gave some nice performances. The judges, as usual, totally overdid it with their effusive praise. Not to go all “in the old days” on you, but Simon definitely would have had some choice words for a few of last night’s performances. I’m just keeping it real, okay? But overall, I’m feeling pretty good about Season 11. I haven’t reached my meltdown point yet. (You don’t want me to reach my meltdown point.) This … is … American Idol!

Most Likely to Make the Top 5

Joshua Ledet – “You Pulled Me Through”
My early season Joshua Ledet fandom was not in vain. I am so freaking happy about that. Last night, Ryan changed the pronunciation of Joshua’s surname from Le-Day to Le-Debt. Apparently, the show doesn’t check on these things until the person’s important enough to make the live shows. Duly noted. The 19-year-old from Westlake, Louisiana has already been nicknamed “Mantasia,” which is seriously one of the worst nicknames of all time. I can’t believe that his fans did that to him. Stop it, fans. But goodness gracious, Joshua is insanely talented. Even beyond his technical skill, Joshua’s every note and word is flooded with conviction. And somehow, it isn’t cheesy. I have no idea how he manages that, but I approve. How about Randy during this performance? He couldn’t even contain himself. He was moving around, rocking his head, singing Amens and Hallelujahs. J. Lo loved it so much that she threatened to punch Joshua, who looked appropriately scared. Nuts of wonder, violence is not the answer, J. Lo. The judges goaded Ryan into punching Joshua for them, and how nervous was our favorite pint-sized host? “I’m not a fighter, Jackson. I’m not a fighter,” Ryan claimed before tapping Joshua’s arm with a feather-light punch that I’m pretty sure a fly couldn’t feel.

Heejun Han – “Angels”
This 22-year-old from New York officially has the cutest Idol mom this season. Her dancing was too precious for words. “She loves to dance. She loves to sing. But she’s not good at all,” Heejun told the camera. But she’s the BEST, Heejun! The best. We better be seeing lots of shots of Heejun’s mama crying tears of joy in the audience because this guy deserves a spot in the Top 13. Unlike the judges, I thought “Angels” was a great fit for Heejun’s buttery tone. When he broke out into the chorus, I even got J. Lo’s famous “goosies” (ugh, gooseBUMPS) from the sheer musical joy of it. Also, the judges should have noted that Heejun’s pitch was close to Joshua’s as the most spot-on of the night. Pitch is a very important thing during a LIVE singing competition.

Creighton Fraker – “True Colors”
Okay, so I’ll admit that I haven’t been very nice about Creighton Fraker. I called him a douche a few times, and that was very small of me. But he makes it so hard not to make snarky comments when his abysmal hair sports a half mullet and he constantly wears annoying accessories to gain attention. Nevertheless, I feel like I owe an apology to the 28-year-old native South Dakotan living in NYC who often speaks in the third person. Rachel is sorry, Creighton. Rachel doesn’t hate you. It’s just that Rachel wants you to be all you can be without the annoying personality traits. His performance of “True Colors” was really something special, just gorgeous at a time in the show when I needed a person to slow it down and sing me something pretty. He stayed faithful to the original version but didn’t hold back vocally, and it worked so well that J. Lo cried. He made J. Lo cry her own tears! Strangely, between praising Creighton’s exquisite performance and patting themselves on the back for putting him on that stage, the judges made a lot of qualifications. They started blathering about how hard it would be to lose people on Thursday night, and it seemed like they were referring to Creighton. Are they intending to lose Creighton? I won’t accept that. I really won’t. He’s MY strange magical unicorn now, and you can’t take him away, Idol! NEVER!

Jeremy Rosado – “Gravity”
The only way this kid would be more likable is if you dressed him up in a white wool bear suit and made him the new Snuggle bear. Jeremy got the coveted pre-performance Coca-Cola endorsed interview, which gave Ryan a chance to say something wildly inappropriate that was also funny because Ryan was too naïve to realize it until after the words left his mouth. “I hear that you’re the spirit stick of the group.” Oh, fiddlesticks, Ryan. The 19-year-old from Florida reminded me of a crucial fact during his biography segment. He worked at an infectious diseases doctor’s clinic. Is it possible that Season 11’s sweetest, most supportive contestant inadvertently carried the Black Idol Plague to Hollywood? Oh, no! I really preferred blaming that tent girl for it. Jeremy’s performance wasn’t perfect, I’ll admit. He was clearly nervous. But there’s something appealing about his voice and his demeanor. With a few more weeks, Jeremy could bring some really good stuff to the show. Plus, JENNIFER LOPEZ gave him a nickname, Jer-Bear. Who can say that J. Lo gave them a nickname? Only Jeremy Rosado!

Deandre Brackensick – “Reasons”
So I realize that Deandre’s hair is his trademark, but maybe we could think about cutting it? He has such a handsome face, and the hair, while lustrous, kind of gets in the way sometimes. I don’t know. Am I being unfair? I’m being unfair. Anyway, this 17-year-old from San Jose, CA really loves his family. His family, in turn, released some truly precious footage of a young Deandre dressed in a band uniform dancing and marching to “76 Trombones.” Thank you, Brackensick family! Vocally, Deandre’s performance was solid. His control over his falsetto is out of this world, and his range is brilliant. However, I have one problem with the performance. Earth, Wind & Fire? Really? This kid was born in 1994-1995, right? I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. Don’t be offended if you do. But child, your MOM was still a kiddo when they were popular. Luckily for Deandre, the judges could still see his commercial appeal despite the song choice.

Wild Card Possibilities

Aaron Marcellus – “Never Can Say Goodbye”
This poor guy. “I’m a regular dude who has a big dream,” Aaron said in his interview, a perfectly pleasant, perfectly attractive candidate for the American Idol. Sadly, the show doesn’t seem all that interested in him. Last night, I learned that the 27-year-old grew up in Atlanta and moved to NYC to pursue his dreams. He teaches voice lessons and takes dance classes. I’m assuming he probably takes in homeless animals and works at the food bank, too. He’s a totally cool guy, but I keep forgetting he’s a person. The editing on Idol is a real killer sometimes. So I’m not sure if his rousing performance of the Jackson 5 hit will keep him in the competition. It probably should. He hit a blazing falsetto note at the end of the song and worked the stage like a pro, bringing the judges to their feet. Unfortunately, on a show of horrid personalities, Aaron might be overlooked. I don’t know. Maybe America will surprise me and vote him into the Top 5 guys, but I have a feeling that the judges will have to save him with a Wild Card pick.

Phillip Phillips, Jr. – “In the Air Tonight”
It’s probably useless putting Phil in this category. I predicted last week that he’ll likely win this thing, and I’m sticking to that. He’s white, good-looking, plays the guitar, and sometimes sings like he’s giving birth to a sheep. America will love him, and so do the judges. This 22-year-old pawn shop worker from Georgia is Idol’s bread and butter, but I have to take him to task for that performance. It wasn’t very good. In fact, the growling and melodic choices were rather weird. Phil’s obviously a cool guy, but his musical style doesn’t really mesh with my tastes.

Jermaine Jones – “Dance With My Father”
The chances of the judges bringing the Gentle Giant back a second time are slim to none, but Jermaine did deliver one of the better performances of the night. His low voice would really fill out the group numbers, and I love how his mom dresses him in jaunty plaid bow ties. (You know his mom dresses him.) Randy pretended that he’s never heard a low voice until Jermaine joined the show, which is strange because Baby Lock Them Doors won the damn thing last year. Oh, Randy.

And who could forget THIS GUY?
That’s all For Now, Thank You

Reed Grimm – “Moves Like Jagger”
When discussing his hometown of Ellsworth, Wisconsin, 26-year-old Reed mentioned, “We provide a lot of cheese to the Midwest.” Oh, no, Reed Grimm. I believe that YOU deliver all the cheese to the Midwest. Just you. “Moves Like Jagger” is already one of the most overplayed songs on the radio, and Reed didn’t do it any favors by … screwing with it the way he did. I’ll let my un-edited notes during this segment do the talking:
-          What is this skeezy lounge version?
-          Did he swear, or is my TV just rebelling?
-          This is incredibly gross. Stop it, Reed Grimm!
-          Oh, and now he’s playing the drums.
-          Did he just pull something out of his junk?
-          God, that was the worst. What the hell was that?
-          RANDY’S SHIRT! RED POLKA-DOT COLLAR. He liked it.
Seriously, he pulled something out of his crotch, and it was awful. And nuts of wonder, Randy’s shirt. Did you see that atrocity?

Pictured: Randy's hideous shirt
Adam Brock – “Think”
I feel really sorry for that poor large black woman who’s apparently trapped in Adam’s body (according to him) because she must feel like she’s drowning in mediocrity. Oh, I know I’m absolutely horrible for picking on the 27-year-old Washington, PA native. But from one PA resident to another PA resident, you’re kind of boring when you sing, Adam. Sure, he can carry a tune and seems like a nice enough guy when he isn’t exploiting his child. Unfortunately, this becoming a superstar thing isn’t going to work out for him. On the bright side, Adam has a really nice house and a chef’s degree from Le Cordon Bleu. All is not lost in that world.

Colton Dixon – “Decode”
*If you’re a Colton Dixon fan, you may want to stop reading now.*
Yikes, what a hot mess! This 20-year-old who lives out of his parents’ sprawling mansion in Tennessee doesn’t want to let his sister’s elimination drop. Is he using the poor girl for votes? I think it’s time for Colton to cool it with the sister references. If Schyler comes back next year, I don’t want to hate her because he won’t shut the hell up about it. Colton isn’t insufferable like Reed Grimm. He seems to have a nice personality, and I even laughed when he talked about the animals in the forest surrounding his house and said, “I’m sure Skylar Laine would love to come and shoot them.” I bet she would. Alas, Colton gave a very, VERY awfultastic performance. He just screamed and moaned a lot, and most of that screaming and moaning was flat. And still, he worked the stage like a rock star, shaking pre-teens' hands and spreading his skinny legs into a wide base while making sure his disgusting skunk hair caught the lights. Then the music took off without him, and Colton struggled to keep up, screaming some more and even jumping atop the piano. No one has mixed awful singing with such blatant theatrics since James “The Event” Durbin last season. This was the worst. Just the worst. I wish I could have screen-grabbed J. Lo’s expression during the middle part of the song because she did not look pleased.
Don't like what you're hearing, J. Lo? La Lopez makes a face during the Vegas group rounds
Kind of like this, only with less fringe.
After the performance, though, she inexplicably showered Colton with praise. Randy even called him an “indie alt rocker,” and I wanted to punch him in his stupid collar so much for desecrating the good name of all the indie alt rockers out there. Oh, nuts of wonder. Colton’s going to make the Top 13, isn’t he? I can feel the disaster before it happens.

Chase Likens – “Storm Warning”
Ha! This guy! This 21-year-old Marshall University student from West Virginia will only be a blip on your radar. Seriously. He might not even qualify for that. Allen HATED Chase’s performance. He talked all through it. “Oh, he’s terrible.” And then before the judges started their critiques: “They’re gonna act like they like it, but it was freaking terrible!” Ah, from the mouths of husbands who threw a hissy fit because he had to watch Idol.

Eben Franckewitz – “Set Fire to the Rain”
15-year-old Eben lives the type of charmed life that makes his kitchen cleaning duty the most interesting thing about his intro package. He’s such a little gentleman. How much did my heart break when Ryan announced that Eben was singing Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”? So freaking much! “I call it,” Allen said. “This isn’t a good idea.” Indeed, it was a very, VERY bad idea. I have to give Eben credit for trying. He put his whole heart and soul into the performance, but all the conviction in the world couldn’t save that singing. His voice is in that funny transition stage where it’s changed but hasn’t really matured yet, so Eben had to sing in an awkward key that did nothing to showcase his talent. Case in point why 15-year-olds shouldn’t be on the show. Eben could have waited a couple years and really done something. Now his dreams are left to float away into the mystical fog of Idol Contestants Past. This is actually a very sad story. I hate it when Idol makes me think like a real person.

Who was your favorite guy, Dawgs? Do me a favor; look at the right side of your screen and VOTE IN MY POLL. Please and thank you. Tune in tonight to watch the Top 12 girls. I really hope the ladies turn out this season. Idol’s been casting inferior female talent, and I really want to see more than two girls in the Top 10 this year.

And now a pair of fainting kittens ...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Semifinal Picks - Part 2: "I'll bring you some deer meat!"

Another cliffhanger? What be up with that, Idol? So now we’re left to wonder if A) Uncle Steven drowned in the Le Reve pool, B) J. Lo will ever wipe the stain of seeing Uncle Steven in his underwear out of her mind, and C) the maintenance crew at the Wynn ever found enough chlorine to decontaminate the pool. THESE ARE PRESSING QUESTIONS, IDOL!

Oh, and also there was some talk about which of these guys would make the brand new Top 25:

I think MY choice is clear ...

Aren’t you glad these preliminary episodes are over with now? Nuts of wonder, I feel ten years older than I did when this season started. I’ve reached my Randy Jackson quota for the year, thank you. That’s enough for now, Dawg. See you next year. But who made the final cut to sing for America’s votes? More importantly, would we ever find out before that disturbingly emotional giant flooded the holding room with his tears? We’re down to the wire, Dawgs, and that wire’s getting real. This … is … American Idol!

You Will See These People Again

Adam Brock: Although we were left on the brink of the judges’ decision on Wednesday with close-ups of Adam’s tear-stained face, they put him out of his misery on Thursday by putting him through.
My Thoughts: Put the damn baby pictures away, you cretin! It’s one thing to love your child to distraction, but it’s another thing entirely to use her to conjure up sympathy votes on one of the meanest shows in the world. Seriously, Adam, look at what this show does to me. I’m actually a sweet-tempered person in real life. Is it really necessary to expose his kid to the sniveling masses? No. No, it isn’t.

Jeremy Rosado: Marketed as the nice-guy contestant, Jeremy’s a sweet-natured young man with a voice as soft as butter. He was a member of the fantastic “Rockin’ Robin” group in Vegas, and while he might never be a heartthrob, Jeremy’s incredibly likable.
My Thoughts: Early favorite! Jeremy wasn’t even on my map until I heard his exquisite performance of Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t.” Did you hear that final note? Holy lungs, young man! Jeremy had the best reaction to the judges, too. When they told him he made it, Jeremy sank back into his chair a bit and whispered, “Are you sure?” I’m totally sure, Jeremy. See you on Tuesday!

Shannon Magrane: She with the sorta-famous baseball veteran dad made waves in the auditions when Uncle Steven called her “hot, humid and happening.” Since then, Shannon has been a fairly consistent producer-darling. And not to turn all Uncle Steven on you, but you can spot her by looking for the longest legs in the room. TALL. She’s tall.
My Thoughts: I must really be missing something with this girl because her voice leaves me cold. Her wide stance while she sings makes me uncomfortable, and I still don’t believe that she’s this Joss Stone-thing that she wants to be.

Skylar Laine: This ATV-riding, hunting enthusiast teenager caught my attention with her spunky personality. The judges like to compare her sassy country performance style to Reba.
My Thoughts: I genuinely like Skylar even though she’s clearly a BIP carrier. If the show’s handlers are wise, they’ll put her in her own room at the Idol mansion. My relationship with country music is tepid at best, and while Skylar isn’t the best singer in the competition, she’ll probably be one of the most entertaining. We’ll see how she does when the show inevitably pits her up against fellow country singers Baylie and Chelsea. Also: Skylar, thank you for rejecting your baser instincts to jump into that filthy pool that has probably held numerous sweaty Cirque du Soleil dancers. But next time you give Uncle Steven a bad idea, I’ll expect an apology.

Chase Likens, Hallie Day and Aaron Marcellus are apparently through, but the show doesn’t seem to want us to care about them. Poor kids.

Deandre Brackensick: This Michael Bolton-haired young man started his Idol journey last year and was mercilessly cut before the semifinal round. Fortunately, the judges took their heads to work this year and are finally giving America the privilege to vote for the long-named crooner.
My Thoughts: Early favorite! His beautiful performance of “This Woman’s Work” made rainbows sprout from my TV. It made angels cry for joy. It made ponies leap in meadows of buttercups. It made me believe in love again. In short, I really, REALLY liked it.

Hollie Cavanaugh: Although Ryan’s voiceover told us that Hollie’s Idol journey began in Galveston, it actually began in Season 10 when she had a nervous breakdown during her audition. Remember that? Like, she sang “The Climb,” and the judges weren’t sure, and she just started sobbing and shaking like the world was coming to an end. For a show so heavy on back story and redemption arc, Idol kind of dropped the ball there.
My Thoughts: I guess she sounded good in the short clips we saw? But honestly, I was pushing for Ariel Sprague to make the semifinals.

Eben Franckewitz: This tow-headed little Beiber clone was pitted against the delightful David Leathers Jr. in the final elimination of the night. Eben took a crash course in SMUG from Reed Grimm in Vegas and performed a tepid little solo for his final audition.
My Thoughts: WTF, judges? David Leathers Jr. was totally robbed. I don’t believe for a minute that Eben can sing better than David, and he definitely doesn’t have the same amount of charisma. This poor kid will be easy pickings in the semifinal round.

Get ready for a loooonnnnnggg Idol week, Dawgs.

Tuesday: Top 13 Guys Perform
Wednesday: Top 12 Girls Performs
Thursday: The Results

I’m posting two polls on here for you to vote on your favorite guys and girls. Please. Vote. Click on your favorite. Let me know you’re here, okay?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Semifinal Picks - Part One: "Unfortunately, you're gonna be seeing more of us because you made it!"

In the course of two episodes, 42 will become 24, 18 dreams will be shattered, 24 dreams will be shattered in the near future, and 1 spray-tanned host will have the time of his life watching it. “The final judgment starts right now.”

Oh, does it! Does it, really, Ryan? Do you promise? But wait, what about the final judgment next week? And the week after that? And then the week after that? Seacrest! You lie!

The semifinalist reveal episode always tends to be a tedious affair. There are only so many ways Randy Jackson can fake out the contestants (and by “so many,” I mean ONE) before I start getting twitchy and impatient.

Idol once again switched up its location for the contestants’ long walk of shame. Last year’s airport hanger was pretty damn awesome (though not as delightful as the Elevator of Doom), but they couldn’t let a good thing stay tolerable. This year, the contestants were systematically saved or executed on the terrifying … stage of La Reve at the Wynn Casino & Resort. Oh, the horror! The horror! I now dub thee, La Reve stage, The Stage of Sullied Aspirations. So who survived the Meat Grinder of 15 Minutes of Fame, you ask? Read on to find out. This … is … American Idol!

You Will See These People Again

Jen Hirsh – Brunette soul singer with maybe a few self-esteem issues. She was told by Randy, “Just always loosen up. We’re your friends … kinda.” Jen’s shining moment in Hollywood was her goosebump-raising version of “Georgia on My Mind.”

My Thoughts: Jen definitely has a gift, but she tends to overdo it with the grunting and screaming. I’m not sure if she’ll be able to handle the Schizophrenic Carnival of Themes Idol will throw at her in the weeks to come. However, Jen is likable and has one of the more distinctive voices among the females. She could do very well late in the game or crash and burn early.

Creighton Fraker – Nearly as smug as Reed Grimm but infinitely more likable, Creighton’s a hipster transplant from NYC. He usually looks unclean, which finally made sense when we met his metal band lead singer birth father who is equally unkempt. Creighton is one of two preachers’ kids on the show this season. His shining glory was in Hollywood when he sang “What a Wonderful World.”

My Thoughts: I sort of want to like Creighton Fraker, but then Idol shows him doing something annoying like wearing bunny ears or singing like a cat in heat. His La Reve performance of “New York State of Mind” sounded shrill and a bit overdone to me. Are these loud people the trend for this season? If so, I’m not sure I’ll make it through the next few months alive.

Joshua Ledet – Another preacher’s kid, Joshua takes every song he sings to church in the best way possible. After strong performances in Hollywood and Vegas, Joshua proved he has one of the strongest voices in the competition.

My Thoughts: Early favorite! Joshua is personable yet edgy enough to make all of his performances special. I love a performer with conviction, and Joshua has that in spades. I have no idea what he sang at La Reve, but it sounded sublime. This boy better not disappoint me in the voting rounds because I don’t throw my support around freely.

Haley Johnson – She performed in Reed Grimm’s group in Vegas and had to struggle to be heard. Her hair is beautiful. Wavy blonde curls and hip bangs. I think Uncle Steven’s jealous.

My Thoughts: Cannon fodder. From what I’ve heard of Haley, she has a nice voice, but anyone who lets Reed Grimm smarm all over her solo won’t have a chance of standing out in the competition. She’s pretty, but the attractiveness factor rarely works for women on this show. I have to give her credit for running straight into Heejun’s arms after receiving the good news. At least she recognizes awesome things.

Elise Testone – The oldest looking twenty-something woman in the competition, Elise likes to talk a lot. She spent an uncomfortable amount of time telling the judges how when she sings, it just EXPLODES inside of her. I wish people would think before they speak. The judges loved her jazzy performance of “It’s a Man’s, Man’s World” at La Reve.

My Thoughts: No, seriously, why does she look so old? I demand to see this woman’s birth certificate! Luckily for Elise, she can carry a tune. Unfortunately, I think she’ll get lost in the sea of very similar semifinalists whose only dynamics are LOUD and VERY LOUD. If I had to choose between Elise and Jen Hirsh, I’d choose Jen Hirsh each time.

Reed Grimm – His eyes always taking up the title of “Craziest Thing in the Room,” this lifelong perform is an early judges’ pet. After breaking down and calling his mommy in Vegas, Reed’s become very well-acquainted with his drum set.

My Thoughts: It isn’t that Reed Grimm is a bad person, Dawgs. I just dislike him immensely. At La Reve, he sang “It Don’t Mean a Thing” like some smug monster with a pair of drumsticks, and I just couldn’t stand it. Plus, he’s about as relevant to the music industry as my MS Paint art is relevant to the art industry. He puts me on edge, is all.

Erika Van Pelt – Now the most famous Mobile DJ in the country, Erika has struggled to believe in her awesome potential. After Erika’s strong showings in Hollywood and Vegas, J. Lo was strangely underwhelmed with her performance of a perfectly nice Adele song at La Reve. But since Erika’s in a little exclusive club I like to call THE BEST, the judges decided to take a chance on her. “This doesn’t happen to girls like me,” Erika said in awe after surviving the Stage of Sullied Aspirations.

My Thoughts: Early favorite! This SHOULD happen to girls like you, Erika, and I hope it will. Her humbleness will get her part of the way, but she really needs to step it up with her beautiful voice to keep America’s attention. Don’t let them forget about you!

Chelsea Sorrell – A virtual stranger to Idol viewers, Chelsea was pitted against Baylie Brown as a country chanteuse. Her goals growing up were to be a mom AND a country singer, so she’s got that down-home American Girl thing going for her. She forgot the words in Hollywood, but I’m pretty sure Uncle Steven has a tendre for her because he asked her to start over.

My Thoughts: From what I heard, Chelsea has a very beautiful voice. So why haven’t we seen her until now? Two words: cannon fodder. Poor Chelsea will need to pull out the performance of a lifetime next week to stay on America’s radar. I hope she does it, honestly. The underdog thing worked for Kris Allen in Season 8.

Baylie Brown – Proving that five years and a blonde dye job can make your famous, Baylie is Season 11’s comeback kid. This season has been surprisingly uneventful for Baylie (and a little bit boring without those awful Jersey women to terrorize her), but the judges think she’s just swell.

My Thoughts: Chelsea’s a better singer, and she has a more distinctive look. Sorry. Baylie's final performance at La Reve sounded shaky and strained to me. Also, it seems that Baylie has progressed from a teen-bot to a young-adult-bot, and that isn’t promising.

Heejun Han – Season 11’s dependable sound-bite machine, Heejun revealed some secrets last night. First, after struggling with depression in his youth, he works with special needs kids back at home. Second, he’s just a big ol’ softie. J. Lo adored Heejun’s buttery tone during “New York State of Mind,” and Uncle Steven seems to have a fatherly affection for the kid. “He is one ugly great singer, just like myself,” Uncle Steven declared. “You’re a better star than you are a singer. We’re gonna put you through, pal." PAL! I want Uncle Steven to call me PAL!

My Thoughts: Early favorite! Heejun is the most entertaining person in the competition right now. I would be incredibly bored without his delightful sound-bites. Also, he has a great voice. And how about that emotional hug he shared with Phil Phillips in the holding room? OMG, they have to be roomies in the Idol mansion. I vow to ship these two for the season.

Jessica Sanchez – This is a girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Well, at least the weight of about 20 family members, who I’m assuming depend on Jessica’s success so they can keep eating. What’s going on in that family? “My mom is unemployed because of my music career,” Jessica admitted, and she didn’t look very happy about it. Well, I wouldn’t be happy, either. Holy TOO MUCH PRESSURE FOR A 16-YEAR-OLD, Sanchez family! Nuts of WONDER. They’re super lucky that Jessica is tremendously talented.

My Thoughts: Early favorite! Even though I’m concerned that Jessica is ultimately a money train for her family, I adore this girl’s voice. Thank you, Idol, for showing her entire performance of “The Prayer,” which was both dynamic and heart-wrenching. Her vibrato gave me chills. REAL CHILLS.

Phil Phillips – This Midwestern cutie turns into a Casanova when he plays his guitar while he sings. The judges love his different style and hope it translates to the American audience. “I feel like this is my only shot,” Phil said before receiving the verdict. Oh, sweetie, you’ve been a semifinalist since your first audition.

My Thoughts: I like Phil when he’s playing the guitar and I can understand him. When he starts the strange mumbling stuff, I’m not a fan. However, Phil has two things going for him: 1) His ultimate destiny with Heejun Han and 2) the fact that he’s probably going to win this thing. I called Scotty McCreery early last year, and I’m calling Phil now. He’s cute, kind, and sometimes sings well. Idol’s core voting bloc won’t be able to resist him.

Colton Dixon – After being eliminated last year and then outlasting his sister (the only one who meant to audition) this year, Colton has become a familiar Idol fixture. The judges seem determined to encourage his redemption arc.

My Thoughts: I’m still not digging this guy’s voice. It’s so whiny! As he sang “Fix You” at La Reve, Uncle Steven had to put on his glasses to get a better look at him. I think the veteran rocker recognized that Colton is the human/skunk embodiment of the entire emo culture. This will not end well. That being said, I want Colton to stay on this show as long as possible. Richard Lawson at Atlantic Wire writes the most amazing Idol recaps, and he’s fixated on Colton Dixon as a creepy serial killer this year. Check these out. Lawson is hilarious.

Brielle Von Hugel – This young woman and her mother were cast as Idol villains in Hollywood this year. She sang “Killing Me Softly” at La Reve and couldn’t express enough how much she wants to be the next American Idol.

My Thoughts: Look, I’m trying to give Brielle the benefit of the doubt. Truly, I am. I just wish she’d stop being awful for, like, ten seconds so I could find my happy place. Granted, her mother is entertainment gold, especially when she says this about Ryan Seacrest: “I look very fat next to him.”

Left in Limbo

Adam Brock got the dreaded cliffhanger cut for his reveal. Meh. Better than falling off a stage and leaving America to wonder if you survived. But DAYUM, that guy was just a wreck up until the show ended. A hot wreck. The judges hadn’t even said anything, and Adam just cried and cried. “It’s the most complex thing to sum up in three words,” Adam explained. “I have to sing.
Yeah. I could have been classy and let that slide, but I have three words for that: Hell no! (lol)

In Memoriam
Last night, we bade farewell to the following contestants:

*Cue sad music*
Lauren Grey: Sang with her dad in a band, faced Peggi Blu and survived, lacked confidence in Hollywood and Vegas. You will be missed.

Neco Starr: Performed with Heejun’s group, had STAR literally IN his name, choked at La Reve real bad, wore American flag pants for his final appearance. You’re a grand old flag, Mr. Starr!

Caleb Johnson: That guy. He was a stranger up until the end when he totally forgot his song at La Reve.

Richie Law: It was only a matter of time.

Also cut: Blaire Seiber (who?), Naomi Gillies (huh?), Clayton Farhat, and River St. James

Tune in tonight to find out who else lives and dies. It's a tough week at the Idol Corral. Let's hope Adam Brock survives his cliffhanger.

Quote of the Night

"What are you sweating?" - Ryan

"Mostly water." - Heejun


"Can I have some water ... (water) ... (water)?" - Caleb Johnson

Uncle Steven (looking at the aqua-fabulous La Reve stage) - "You're surrounded by it!"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Las Vegas Round: "I was excited until you almost took my neck off."

(Special Note: Blogger's being a bit of a jerk this week. I've been trying to post this for days, and I finally found a way. Unfortunately, it won't let me format my delightful pictures the way I wanted. Since I figured you'd want to see my hard work - especially my Richie Law cartoon - I added them as a cluster at the beginning. With luck, they'll figure out the glitch soon so I can return to my old formatting.)

Dawgs. Dawgs! I’d lost hope in this thing, this Season 11 of American Singers Get Mentally Abused on National Television. Everyone sounded the same to me, which worried me because that could mean one of two things: 1) they all really do sound the same, therefore proving that talent and innovation are dead, or 2) I’ve reached the age when all young people start to sound the same because I don’t recognize trends anymore. OMG, I was so worried for awhile there. For real. FOR REALZ. And then, thank the Idol gods …

"A little less conversation ..."

Las Vegas, or Las VAGAS (according to certain young people on a certain show we might watch every Wednesday and Thursday), for the first time in its long and sordid history, gave America something precious and sacred. No, not showgirls. Music! Real music. And you know what? Season 11’s disturbing collection of narcissists actually contains some talent. So before the judges and producers maim the season with bad judgment, let’s just bask in the glow of Thursday night’s episode for awhile. Let’s give the kids credit for getting on my good side. They deserve it after all they’ve been through. After all, Idol downright plagued them (RIP Black Idol Plague of 2012 and all the animals in Amy Brumfield’s forest) in Hollywood.

Seventy exhausted children, half of them probably being treated by antibiotics and IV drips, piled on a group of buses and traveled to Vegas. How annoying would that bus ride be, do you think? Just imagine riding on Reed Grimm’s bus. Nuts of wonder. By the 57th bottle of beer on the wall, I’d be ready to smash his smug face through a window. Speaking of violence, Richie Law totally punched an unidentified girl in the face when she tickled his ear. I feel like Richie believes he’s surrounded by a force field that prevents others from touching him. He can touch them as much as he likes, but once someone gets within two inches of his pasty flesh, God zaps them. He probably didn’t realize that the force field wasn’t a thing until that moment on the bus, when someone (and a GIRL, to boot!) finally attempted to touch him. It’s been a lonely life for young Richie Law. Really, this could explain why he’s such an insufferable weasel in a big hat.

The judges, our esteemed panel of industry insiders, seriously pissed me off a few times in Vegas. They showed some brilliant judgment. But then the factory of elves operating their tiny brains reminded J. Lo, Randy and Uncle Steven that Idol is a dish best served bitter, and some of that brilliant judgment went flying out the window.

Reality TV’s a real kick, isn’t? A huge box of treats. Then do you know who made an appearance at the Idol party, sporting lots of cool attitude and tasty brownies for all? The delightfully nasty Peggi Blu. Best. Vocal coach. Ever. Once again, Peggi Blu saved the season. This … is … American Idol!

The Performances
It was kind of mean to make the kids sing all of those songs from the 50s and 60s. A few of them lucked out with Elvis tunes, but some of them were really left out to dry. Good thing this generation knows how to use You Tube … and iPhones.

“Dedicated to the One I Love” – Colton Dixon, Chase Likens, Skylar Laine, Cari Quoyeser
I have to address the show’s love affair with Colton Dixon. I don’t get it. His voice has a nasally quality, he pouts a lot, and he looks like a skunk. What’s to love? Anyway. All of Skylar’s friends from Hollywood got the boot, so she was randomly assigned to this group. I was concerned that they wouldn’t treat Skylar, the freaking best, well, but they did. Cari sounded sublime as usual. I didn’t notice Chase. Despite her nerves, Skylar pulled it together just the way her feisty country self could. Then there was Colton. Colton freaking Dixon. I’m over it. Sadly, the judges made the worst decision possible and cut poor Cari, who was pretty and talented. Is pretty and talented. I don’t think Idol took her out back and shot her after eliminating her. I hope not, at least.
Still In It: Colton, Chase and Skylar

“Rockin’ Robin” - Jeremy Rosado, Gabi Carrubba, David Leathers Jr., Ariel Sprague
Caw! Caw! I never expected “Rockin’ Robin” to make a return visit to the show after Megan Joy’s sublimely insane rendition in Season 8. Always remember to caw, Dawgs. ALWAYS. Oh, so Gabi. What an adorable piece of work, huh? All the other members of the group were delightful young people. David Leathers Jr. is quickly becoming the most charming person to ever step foot on the Idol set. Gabi was pouting and making Ariel feel bad about taking more than a minute to figure out her part, and David just chuckled in his interview and was like, “Yeah. Gabi’s kind of a diva. That’s what she does.” The kids on this show are very driven. I still think they’re really androids manufactured out of some warehouse in a secluded part of the country. Maybe that’s what they’re up to in Area 51. Gabi had a major problem with the amount of features she got in the song. With a nearly (but not quite) endearing lack of self-awareness, she complained, “I just wanna shine. I wanna be that girl who gets the standing ovation, but I feel like I don’t get the opportunity with this song.” (See: Picture) Ah, the pleasures of youth, when you still believe the world revolves around your scrawny little form. So karma pretty much guaranteed that Ariel would sound a thousand times better than Gabi, which she did. The boys did a great job, too. Ryan loved those kids so much. Did you see him leaning down to hug them when they bounced backstage?
Still In It: Jeremy, Gabi, David and Ariel

“Great Balls of Fire” – Adam Brock, Erika Van Pelt, Angie Zeiderman, Shelby Tweten
What a diverse group of individuals. We had Adam, this burly man-bear at the piano, just growling away, scaring off all the picnickers and stealing their baskets. Then there was Erika, a human treasure trove of all the best things in life. Enter Angie, this total hot mess dressed in a strange gold glitter top, yowling and screeching in her odd witch ways but still managing to captivate my attention. And finally, there was Shelby, who was kind of a non-entity. She was, though. Everyone else had all kinds of personality, and Shelby was just this polite, friendly thing, singing pretty and living the American Dream. Somehow, this mish-mash of people worked.
Still In It: Adam, Erika, Angie and Shelby

“Why Do Fools Fall in Love” – Schyler Dixon, Brielle Von Hugel, Molly Hunt
Cute outfits, wrong decade, girls. The trio looked stunning in their sexy little USO outfits, but I’m wondering if any of them passed history class. So, Schyler Dixon was still in the competition. Good! As the non-horrible member of the Dixon family, Schyler has my full support in this endeavor. Brielle’s mom didn’t show up for this segment, but I haven’t forgotten that those two ladies are the worst. I totally would have chosen Molly over the abysmal Brielle, but the judges and producers apparently have to keep a hot-mess drama potential to actual talent ratio. Whatevs.
Still In It: Schyler and Brielle

“Night Has a Thousand Eyes” – Reed Grimm, Haley Johnson, Elise Testone, Eben Franckewitz
Nuts of wonder, Idol! Keep Reed Grimm away from the children! Next thing we know, Eben’s sweet childlike nature will turn smug and unbearable. I wasn’t totally buying this performance, even thought the judges liked it enough to give Reed Grimm and The Bops a standing ovation. Too much saxophone, too much cheese, too much Reed Grimm. I felt like I was watching a corny variety show from the seventies, and I’m pretty sure that’s what Reed intended to create because he’s The Worst™. Elise sounded really good. Her part was a relief after Reed smarmed up the camera in the opening. Haley tried to sing, but the group’s ridiculous beat-boxing covered up her part. Do these people think they’re on The Sing-Off? Cool show and everything, but these two things don’t mix very well. Eben sounded a bit shrill, poor kid. I blame Reed Grimm for that, but then again, I blame that smug monster for just about all the ills in this world. He’s a joke, right? We’re going to get to the semi-final round, Reed Grimm will do something unconscionable, and the judges will just laugh and laugh. Uncle Steven will break because he’s always the one to break first and be all, “Gotcha, America! Ha ha! We almost had you convinced Reed Grimm was a real thing, didn’t we?”
Still In It: Reed, Haley, Elise and Eben

“Make It Easy on Yourself” – Jermaine Jones and Richie Law
So these two gentlemen aren’t very likable, right? That’s why they had to bypass the rules and form a group of two, I’m assuming. That Richie Law’s a real piece of work. He got ousted from his origin group, M.I.T., and begrudgingly became partners with Jermaine even though they’re both basses. “The new partner’s gonna go crazy. He’ll lose lots of hair. I feel bad for him,” Heejun Han predicted as Richie dragged Jermaine into his crazy Cowboy den of shenanigans. They did not get off to a good start. Their first practice consisted of Debra Byrd kicking them out because they didn’t know the melody to the song. Granted, who does know the melody to that song? But that’s their job. Richie made it clear that he takes American Idol very seriously. “I didn’t come here to recycle music. I came here to make it.” Ah, that explains it. The performance actually went far better than I expected. I wouldn’t listen to a record by Richie even if someone gave it to me for free, but Jermaine’s voice sounded cool. He has a very rich tone, and I appreciate the way he treated Richie, just one more antic away from naked disdain. Of course, for such a big dude, Jermaine was kind of a wimp about Richie slapping him on the shoulder and hugging his neck. Geez, man, just knock the twerp over and be done with it. Instead, I’m pretty sure Jermaine went to his room and complained to his mama over the phone. You know he did.
Still In It: Jermaine and Richie

“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – Jessica Sanchez, Candice Glover, DeAndre Brackensick
At this point in the episode, I noticed J. Lo’s disgusting pink fringe garment thing. Poor taste, Jenny. You best be takin’ that back to The Block now. Anyway, how happy was I for the return of DeAndre Brackensick? SO HAPPY! Oh, that young man with his lustrous Troy Polamalu hair has talent. Loads of talent. This group of likable kids worked with Katherine McPhee’s mom, Peisha, to update the old as dirt song. Weren’t they the best with their hard work and determination? So cool. Jessica Sanchez was a revelation. I already knew DeAndre was a full bottle of Awesome Sauce, but that Sanchez girl has soul. Candice was just as delightful with her big J-Hud voice that took me back to the days of Idols Past.
Still In It: Jessica, Candice and DeAndre

“Jailhouse Rock” – Curtis Gray, Scott Dangerfield, Adam Lee Decker, Clayton Farhart
When I first witnessed this group marching onstage like prisoners, I thought, “Oh fiddlesticks, another group of smug hams.” Fortunately, this group of boy rockers grew on me. Their energy just went on for days, didn’t it? The cameras followed them around the hotel, bouncing on beds, hanging off of things, saying silly things like spelling Vegas as V-A-G-A-S. (Oh, that is the most unfortunate spelling blunder ever. I won’t expand on why because you already know.) One of them noted what an honor it was to be performing on the same stage as Elvis. In the Aria theater. A brand new casino. Oh, those boys! The singing was good, if you only heard Adam and Clayton. The other two? Not so good. Pretty bad, actually. The judges noted it, but let Scott stay. And that cued us up to the episode’s Best Insensitive Backstage Moment: As the others bemoaned Curtis’ ouster, Scott tried to look appropriately chagrined. Then, just as Curtis walked away, Scott did a little happy dance for the camera. You can’t spell CLASS without ASS, ladies and gentlemen.
Still In It: Scott, Adam and Clayton

More Elvis Songs in a Montage
Dear Idol Editors,
Next time you hide Joshua Ledet away in a montage, I’m going to make a fortune, find William Hung, and pay him an obscene amount of cash to be your personal soundtrack for life. Nobody puts Joshua Ledet in a montage!
There were some other people in this segment, too, most notably Caleb Johnson and Joshua Sanders tearing up “Burning Love.”
Still In It: Joshua, Caleb, Joshua and Shannon Magrane

“Keep Me Hangin’ On” – Britnee Kellogg, Courtney Williams, Jessica Phillips
This group of ladies decided that as singing professionals, they didn’t need to practice with the band. Huge mistake. HUGE. They were like that snobby boutique that kicked out Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Later, Julia came back dressed in Beverly Hills’ finest, and the awful lady there had to eat a huge plate of humble pie. This performance was a big, fat mess. I’ll give the girls extra points for their pink sparkle mini-dresses that they must have bought second-hand from a stage production of Hairspray. The harmonies were off, every solo but Britnee’s was weird, and the judges were NOT impressed. Randy thought that Jessica and Courtney took way too many liberties with the melody, prompting J. Lo to slam the nail in the coffin by saying, “It almost made me feel like you didn’t know the melody.” Ouchies. Courtney made the ill-advised choice to try to argue with the judges but was promptly shushed. I thought she should have gone, too, but the judges only cut Jessica. This gave Jessica, who I only liked in the first place because of her boyfriend, the chance to show her true awfultastic colors. “I’m an actual artist. It doesn’t seem like they’re looking for real artists. If you ask me, they’re not looking for real artists,” she remarked. “A lot of people are making it through because they’re not real artists, and they’re not going to get a record deal, and that’s okay.” I love it when people destroy their careers before they even get started.
Still In It: Courtney and Britnee

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” – Lauren Grey, Mathanee Treco, Wendy Taylor
“There’s no crying in music. Now, sing it again!” Hello, Peggi Blu! It’s been so long since we last met. Who will you beat into not sucking this year? Lauren Grey found herself at the receiving end of Peggi’s wrath. She’d lost her voice and wasn’t prepared for the awesome hurricane that is Peggi Blu. “What you don’t do is listen. Do NOT not sing it. Sing it AGAIN! Okay, are you on Ritalin? Wake up and smell the coffee. You are in American Idol. You came here to be one? Get. A. Grip.” Oh, she’s just the best! Lauren ended up turning out a great vocal performance, thanks to Peggi. Wendy came the whole way out of nowhere and showed off her huge voice. Poor Mathanee, though, ran for mayor of Falsetto-Land and failed to get any votes. Maybe Peggi should have focused her kickass skills on him.
Still In It: Lauren and Wendy

“I Only Have Eyes for You” – Heejun Han, Phil Phillips, Jairon Jackson, Neco Starr Heejun was nervous about meeting Peggi. “I looked it up on You Tube, and she was kind of scary,” he said. Yes, because she’s THE BEST. Heejun had nothing to worry about because Peggi took a real liking to him. Emphasis on REAL. Peggi genuinely adored this group. “Loving it, that’s all I have to say,” she gushed before giving Heejun not one, but TWO hugs. And no wonder Peggi loved those boys so much. They sounded amazing. This was probably my favorite performance of the night. Their dynamics during the verses with the “She-bop, she-bops” were perfect. Jairon, Heejun, and Neco crooned their parts like champs. I was a little worried about Phil, though. Could he sing the melody in a way that I recognized? Would he stop twitching long enough to make some music? He did! He might not be my favorite, but Phil’s going to get a lot of votes, I think. No, I know. I know that Phil’s going to attract votes like bees to honey. He’s cute, good-natured, and sings like he’s being electrocuted sometimes. The ladies will love him.
Still In It: Heejun, Phil, Jairon, Neco

“Sealed With a Kiss” – Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus, Jen Hirsh, Nick Boddington
So the removal of Reed Grimm made this group about 95% less smug. They were still smug, especially that hipster Creighton, but I had to admire their genuine admiration for each other. All four of them did a great job, especially Jen, who grows on me with each performance. Unfortunately, the judges had it out for Nick Boddington. Was it because of his receding hairline and silly nerd glasses? Jen was not kosher with his elimination, either. Backstage, she told the camera that Nick was one of the best and didn’t deserve to go. Oh, Jen, this is just the tip of the iceberg for unfair eliminations. Brace your naïve self for a world of pain.
Still In It: Creighton, Aaron and Jen


The judges advanced too many people to the next round, so they were forced to make some painful cuts. Let me explain how cruel this process was. The contestants had already celebrated because the judges told them they were moving on after their performances. Then, a day or hours later, the rug was pulled out from under their happy feet. These final eliminations weren’t pretty.

In list form, the final cuts included:
1) Gabi Carrubba – There were tears. A lot of tears. I fear that this was foreshadowed at the beginning of the show.
2) Schyler Dixon – Oh, that is just SO WRONG! Look what you did to your sister, Colton!
3) Angie Zeiderman
4) Candice Glover – WTF, judges?
5) Johnny Keyser – I know, right? I was convinced he would win this thing! And who on Earth would prefer Reed Grimm over dreamy Johnny Keyser? Trolls. That’s who.
6) Jairon Jackson – Rachel does not approve.
7) Britnee Jackson – She left us with this heart-wrenching parting words: “My every performance was perfect. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. This is my life. This is what I do. It’s crazy. I don’t wanna go home.” Well, I’d be pissed off, too, if I got cut and my mouthy, less talented group member got to stay.

And that’s how the cookie crumbled. How do you feel about the last minute eliminations? Cruel and unusual punishment or great reality TV fodder? Is Reed Grimm, in fact, a joke created by the murky elf caverns of Uncle Steven’s mind? At least we’re almost to the voting rounds now. I feel like I’ve been recapping nothing forever. There’s nothing like a dependable cast of characters to make me feel right at home.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hollywood Week - Part 2: "I think a little sleep deprivation brings out the best in everybody."

It’s officially happened, Dawgs. The cackling dark witches who run Idol have graduated from simply dashing dreams and causing mental duress during Ryan Seacrest’s favorite time of the year, The Group Round. Now those haggard, wart covered wizards have unleashed a plague on the children for optimum dramatic effect. We’ll call it the Black Idol Plague of 2012. Nuts of wonder, and here I thought the teen-bots were soulless. They’re just collateral damage to the dark witches, those wicked creatures who recite hexes backstage and fill the kids’ food with potions. This has to stop!

A plague on all your Idols!
How about all of those sick contestants? I’m torn about whether they were all afflicted with the Black Idol Plague (BIP, for short), or if some of them were maybe faking it for camera time. Oh, shush! You know you were thinking it, too. Look at how much camera time Symone got for falling off the stage. It was only a matter of time before the narcissists who try out to become America’s Favorite Karaoke Singer would figure out that America loves to watch kids almost die. What does this say about us as a culture? People are the pits, aren’t we? Just the pits. I wonder why we keep tolerating people.

So you’ll notice that this recap is compressing the worthless episode of contestants vomiting all over and sniping at each other, the actual group performances, and the final auditions before the Holding Rooms of Doom. I couldn’t figure out a way to recap Thursday’s episode without hating myself for writing things like, “Contestant X cried and argued with Contestant Y about the key of the song, and then Contestant Z puked in a potted plant. Also: no one sang.” This will be a long recap. Just the longest. I hope you have an appropriate beverage and snack prepared because Season 11’s about to get real. This … is … American Idol!

Last time on Idol … A little girl fell off the stage!
After exploiting the crap out of Symone’s scary tumble, Idol started Thursday’s episode with a thumbs-up. Symone would survive; Idol’s self-respect wouldn’t. Apparently, the little thing hadn’t eaten enough that day. These things are important, children. Proper nutrition prevents freefalls from stages. It actually says that in the food pyramid.

Yes, I'm an artist in my free time. I know. My talents are totally wasted on these recaps. ;)

The Groups

The Betty’s – “Hit ‘Em Up Style”
Members: Jennifer Mulch, Cherie Tucker, Cari Quoyeser, Brianna Bell
BIP Victim: Gabrielle Cavassa
For the first time in their lives, the ladies in this group suffered from a little known affliction named Fatigue. Gabrielle dropped early during their rehearsals, puking into a bucket or trash can or something before the medics rescued her from the dazzling personalities in her group. The ladies couldn’t get their act together, probably because that Jennifer girl was incredibly anal and bossy. Eventually, Cherie, Cari and Brianna broke Jennifer’s manic little heart by going to bed. Jennifer couldn’t believe it, just couldn’t wrap her mind around the implication that the others were giving up on their dreams. She sobbed a bit and called her mommy, all like, “Why doesn’t anyone want to play with me? This is just like that slumber party I hosted in second grade when all the other girls were so bratty and refused to refer to me as Princess Jennifer and bring me Ring Pops. What is wrong with people?” Eventually, Brianna came back, crying, “I’m not leaving!” This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, after all. Gotta respect the dreams.

By the time the girls were up to perform, they all pretended to be best friends and then went on to give a truly dreadful group performance. Poor Gabrielle sounded like she was physically trying to hold back the contents of her stomach. The only one who sounded good was Cari. Even the contestants in the audience gave the camera the side-eye while The Betty’s performed. Really bad. What a way to start off the day. Only Jennifer and Cari moved on to the next round. Oh, and then Cherie came down with BIP, too. “I feel really cheated. I do,” Cherie sobbed after defiling the bathroom. Then she wretched and dry-heaved a little for emphasis, and nuts of wonder, this show. THIS SHOW!

Groove Sauce – “Hold On, I’m Comin’”
Members: Reed Grimm, Nick Boddington, Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus, Jen Hirsh
Groove Sauce had no group round drama, except for the disaster that is their group name. Groove Sauce? Ew. I’m suspicious about the formation of this group. Something tells me that they didn’t toil around the chaotic stage searching for a group, only to come up with a professional level a cappella arrangement of a Blues Brother classic. Producers, is this your handiwork?

I would have enjoyed Groove Sauce’s performance more if all the members weren’t so smug. They were all very pleased with themselves, weren’t they? Especially Reed Grimm. Sure, they sounded amazing, and the harmonies were fabulous. But geez, I’m not feeling their Groove Sauce. And have you noticed that all the contestants sound the same this year? All the boys are trying to be Casey Abrams, and all of the girls are trying to be a mix of Adele and Haley Reinhart. Strange.

6-7-9 – “Hit ‘Em Up Style”
Members: Kyle Crews, Brielle Von Hugel, Joshua Ledet, Shannon Magrane
Brielle’s mom was a character. Stage moms make up my nightmares, but Mrs. Von Hugel still has nothing on Dance Moms. Abby Lee Miller would chew that woman up and spit her out. But since someone had to be horrible, Brielle and mama dearest stepped up to the plate. “She’s bossy,” Mrs. Von Hugel giggled as her daughter forced horrible dance moves on her group members. “She rules the roost.” Brielle rolled her eyes at awkward teen-thing Kyle Crews, apparently because he just didn’t get it. Mrs. Von Hugel agreed, eyeing the inferior young man with a smirk and murmuring, “I don’t wanna be a stage mother, but …”

I wonder who named this group. 6-7-9 doesn’t make sense. Is it one of the kids’ locker combinations? Joshua Ledet blasted onto my radar with this performance. The others sounded okay, well, except Kyle, who was totally ill-fitted to the pop/hip-hop music of 2001. Brielle’s mom looked so smug, standing in the audience, dancing with the other moms. Some people don’t do their kids any favors. Anyways, Shannon Magrane performed with this group, too. You know, the “hot, humid and happening” girl? She’s still around. Only Kyle got the axe in this group, giving Brielle and her mom a chance to be big fakey fakers and pretend to be sorry to see him go. What goes around comes around, Von Hugel family.

Make You Believers – “More Than a Feeling”
Members: Dustin Cundiff, Mathanee Treco
BIP Victims: Amy Brumfield, Jacquie Cera
Oh dear, what a hot mess. Remember Amy the Tent Girl? Well, she was apparently sick. Ryan kept calling her Patient Zero, like she started the outbreak of BIP. I don’t know about that. Amy didn’t show any outward symptoms. While others were puking and passing out, she just complained a lot and pretended to sniffle. I don’t think she’s all that confident. Maybe she wanted to return to her tent in Tennessee. To make matters worse, the normally up-beat Jacquie succumbed to something right before the performance, collapsing in the aisle and sobbing, “I’m so dizzy. I’m so dizzy.”

The others didn’t know how to pull it together without Jacquie, but they didn’t have to worry because the lady wasn’t that dizzy. Their group was a disaster, though. Just the worst. Dustin forgot the lyrics, Amy sounded like a lamb in the throes of death, and Jacquie screeched desperately like a hyena. The only one who sounded halfway decent was Mathanee, who incidentally was the only one to stay in the competition. “This whole group was a bit of a mess,” Randy said, his face lined with judgment. Ryan sure felt sorry for Amy, though. “And a crushed Amy Brumfield has to go back to Tennessee,” his voice-over bemoaned. And her tent. Let’s not forget that the lady lives in a tent. Idol’s so sad sometimes, Dawgs.

Those Girls & That Guy – “Stuck Like Glue”
Members: Christian Lopez, Alisha Bernhardt, Samantha Novacek
There once was a really annoying cop from St. Louis who tormented the people of Season 11’s group round by going around and telling them that she’s a cop. And nobody likes cops. And why the hell don’t they like cops? Reality check, Alisha: I think that, maybe, they just didn’t like you. She searched near and far for the perfect group to sing one of two songs with her, “Joy to the World” or “Stuck Like Glue.” Alisha makes no exceptions. She would not compromise. Thems the breaks, and the others could take it or leave it. Eventually, Alisha found a group of untalented people who delivered the saddest rendition of “Stuck Like Glue” ever. No one survived. Alisha had to return to the streets of St. Louis again, keeping the fine citizens safe and putting away bad guys. What a bummer.

Area 451 – Song Unknown
Members: Johnny Keyser, Kristi Klause
BIP Victim: Imani Handy
These people weren’t even seen on Thursday’s show, and then Imani got a case of the faints. She fainted while they went over the song a final time. Then her mom had to hold her up, carry her around, probably feed her some applesauce until Imani fainted in the auditorium. Conventional wisdom would tell her to give up and go to A) a doctor or B) bed. BUT NO! Imani had a dream, and she was determined to faint all over it until she achieved her goals.

Johnny and Kristi sounded pretty good during the performance, but all of that was overshadowed when Imani fainted while she was singing. Nuts of wonder! She shouldn’t have been up on that stage to begin with, considering that she was fainting at a dangerous rate. Idol is not worth brain damage, you twit. The best part of this bit, though, was the point when Johnny realized Imani was falling and totally failed to catch her. THEN he kept on singing until Randy was like, “Cut the music!” LOL, Johnny. You really didn’t care, did you? Imani was okay, but J. Lo laid down the law. “Baby, I’m sorry. You’re going home.” Best decision of the night.

Hollywood Five – Song Unknown
Members: Eben Franckewitz, Gabi Carrubba, David Leathers Jr., Jeremy Rosado
These kids totally deserved a big plate of cookies for their performance. No drama, no BIP transmissions, no awfultastic meltdowns. They sounded a thousand times better than the older groups. Good for them. I’m glad they all made it through to the next round because they deserved it. I wonder if Davy Jr. picked up any girls after that performance …

M.I.T. (Most International Team) – Song Unknown
Members: Heejun Han, Richie Law, Jairon Jackson
BIP Victim: Phil Phillips
Heejun was not digging Richie Law and his cowboy hat. Richie’s a driven little fellow, isn’t he? He wanted the best for his group, and the only way he knew how to make this happen was by being an annoying little Napoleon. I get it. However, Heejun was on fire when it came to the cowboy. “That kid is crazy. I don’t know how they do it in cowboy town, but this isn’t how we bring it down, man. Cowboy … I don’t even know his name.” As Richie unknowingly sucked away the souls of his group members, Heejun only got angrier. “Phillip had a kidney stone, and Cowboy had a brainstorm or whatever’s wrong with him. Freakin’ cowboys.” Richie was totally clueless, though. He was a hero, damn it! Why didn’t the other get that? “We’re on the verge of killing each other … But again, it’s part of playing nice with other kids, Richie said with a smirk that made his cowboy hat look even bigger. Oh, fiddlesticks. People with other people. It’s complicated.

Somehow, and don’t ask me how, M.I.T. didn’t totally suck during their performance. Sure, they weren’t entirely in sync, but all of them pulled off good solos. Heejun sounded especially fun and raspy, and I could actually understand what Phil was singing. By the way, I’m counting Phil’s kidney stones as BIP, just to be safe. They all moved on to the next round, and as the group pretended to love each other, Heejun decided to deliver either the most fair-minded or the most sarcastic comment of the night: “Richie, I’m really, really sorry about what happened. Maybe you will see on TV, but I said bad stuff about you. So you check Season 11 of American Idol. I talk lot of craps about Richie. I’m really sorry to your parents.” The smirk he flashed at the camera makes me lean toward sarcastic.

Rapid Rundown of Solo Performances

Everyone and His Brother Sang “Georgia on My Mind”
Jen Hirsh gave the best performance of this song. I didn’t like her voice until then. The music seems to possess her when she sings, so she lays it all out there. Adam Brock (who’s a new daddy, you know) gave a competent performance, although I still think he’s about as relevant to today’s music industry as the lint catcher in my dryer. Then the Worst Person Ever Reed Grimm threw a hissy for 30 minutes before his performance when he learned he couldn’t sing a cappella. He annoyed the no-nonsense vocal coach and music director Michael Orland before running off to his hotel room to call his mommy. 26-years-old, ladies and gentlemen, and he ran off to call his mommy. Apparently, that caused inspiration to strike, and Reed decided to play the drums while he sang. It was fine, I guess. I’m just not a fan of Reed Grimm at all. His presence on Idol brings out my bad side.

A Couple Sang “What a Wonderful World”
I’ll give the edge to Creighton Fraker with this song. His clothes are seriously tragic, he has a mini mullet, and his forehead and voice remind of Matt the Forehead from Season 8, but he sang the hell out of that song. Shannon Magrane did well with it. She has control beyond her years and good pitch, but I still feel like she’s trying to sing in the wrong genre.

Joshua Ledet’s the Best – “Jar of Hearts”
Where did this young man come from, and why did I have to wait so long to hear from him? Dressed in a tie and untucked shirt, Joshua took the Christina Perri hit to church. And nuts of wonder, was I ever pleased. At least there’s one guy this year who isn’t attempting to be the love child of Casey Abrams and Taylor Hicks.

Colton Dixon Does the Same Thing as Last Year – “What About Love”
Why do I feel like he performed this song last season? He loves all that Chris Daughtry / David Cook faux rock a whole bunch. His skunk hair does his mediocre voice no favors. He can carry a tune, but the tune tends to be nasally. And really, I call shenanigans on his versatility if he can’t figure out more songs to sing in a whole year.

Colton in my mind

One Country Girl Flies and another Country Girl Crashes and Burns
Oh, Rachelle Lamb, I think you had it coming. Don’t exploit your kids, or the world will smite you. She completely shut down during her solo and asked to start over. Her ouster was a foregone conclusion after that. Skylar Laine delivered another spunky country performance and is slowly becoming one of this season’s most likable contestants.


An Idol season isn’t complete without the producers making the contestants set their pride aside and sit on the floor in a cluster like refugees. The suspense wasn’t killing me this year, though. No, I had a feeling Room 3 was doomed. How awkward was it when that bratty girl snapped at Rachelle Lamb for belching? Nuts of wonder, what an embarrassing way to get in a fight on national television. “Your belch offended me, and I think you should take our inevitable doom more seriously.” People are just the worst sometimes.

But who lived to see Las Vegas? You’re so lucky I can pause my DVR and take down these names. The things I do for you …
Creighton Fraker, Jen Hirsh, Hallie Day, Erika Van Pelt, Adam Brock, Joshua Ledet, David Leathers Jr., Johnny Keyser, Jermaine Jones, Lauren Grey, Phil Phillips, Eben, Skylar Laine, Shannon Magrane, Reed Grimm, Jessica Phillips, Stefanie Renee, Haylie Brown, Angie Zeiderman, Britnee Kellogg, Heejun Han, Richie Law, and Gabi Carrubba
Maybe we’ll learn the rest of their names tonight.

So how did you feel about Hollywood Week, Dawgs? Have you immunized against BIP? Isn’t Reed Grimm the worst? Will Amy Brumfield’s forest home get quarantined? Bambi better watch out for her.