Thursday, March 29, 2012

Idols Sing Songs by Their Idols: THIS EPISODE WASN'T BAD!

Ah, what these non-theme theme weeks bring to the competition! Sing Songs by YOUR Idol week is basically a free pass from the endless gauntlet of public humiliation. The kids actually know their songs, the judges just CAN’T BELIEVE how many standing ovations they’ve given, Randy is certain that every young soldier is more likely IN IT TO WIN IT than IN IT TO LOSE IT. Redemption, moments, tears, brand new fancy stage props. How is Ryan Seacrest supposed to control himself in the glow of so much delight? How am I supposed to write this recap after spending an overwhelming majority of the episode in a great mood? This feeling, Dawgs. I’m not familiar with it. I can’t quite put a finger on it. Could it be … contentment?

It's HAPPY DANCE time!
OMG! I’m turning into the judges!

But let’s get real. What, other than the super easy theme, do we have to thank for last night’s excellent quality control? Why, Stevie Nicks, of course. There she was, sitting next to Jimmy with the same hair she’s had since before every single contestant was born. A rock and roll fairy queen transported from the blissful heyday of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie mothered the contestants in a way no one else could mother them. And of all the amazing things she brought to life last night, the most miraculous was her ability to make Jimmy Iovine likable. I don’t know? It was like one minute I hated the baseball cap wearing gas bag, and the next, I wanted to be his friend because Stevie’s his friend? She worked some really strong white magic on that man, I tell you. If only she could stay on the show forever!

Ambitious song choices and emotional performances were the trends of the night. I liked all but one performance, LOVED over half of them, and only cursed at Randy Jackson once (or twice). Great strides were made! THIS … is American Idol!

Your Top 9!!!!!

Colton Dixon – “Everything” by Lifehouse
*Spoiler: This is the one performance I didn’t like!*
I’m assuming the show aired Colton’s dead weight first so the audience could forget about his stunning mediocrity when the two hours concluded. Was Stevie serious when she encouraged Colton to keep his ghastly hair? Am I seeing something completely different than she is? This must have been a tester segment or something. If a viewer could make it through Colton Dixon’s supersized ego, then he/she was entitled with rainbows and unicorns of awesomeness for the rest of the show. Colton’s performance wasn’t the worst I’ve heard on the show, but it wasn’t good. His voice strained and wobbled off pitch several times, and the band severely overpowered him. I appreciate that Colton was touched by the worship song, but even the most meaningful performance can sound like crap. Strangely – although not strangely at all because the judges have yet to criticize a performer in the First Spot of Death – Colton got heaps of praise for his self-indulgent (you know Simon would have called it that) mope fest. Then Randy created some ridiculous narrative about Colton “throwing down the gauntlet” with that performance because he was “in it to win it,” and CRAP. Randy Jackson, why must you make it so hard for me to love you?

Skylar Laine – “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert
Back to the good stuff! Stevie told Skylar to really tell the story of the song, a moderately pointless suggestion because any country singer worth their weight in gold knows that telling stories is Priority Numero Uno in most circumstances. This did give Skylar the opportunity to address Stevie as “ma’am” several times. Nuts of wonder, I love that Southern firecracker so much. I want to be Skylar’s friend even though I know we’ll never meet. In case you haven’t noticed, Skylar is the only contestant this season who can consistently nail up tempo performances. Her “Gunpowder and Lead” was hard-hitting and energetic. We had to wait until the end to hear Skylar’s signature wailing range, but building up to it was a good time. The judges only had good things to say about the performance, even if Randy failed miserably at noting that Skylar is just as IN IT TO WIN IT as that skunk who performed before her.

Heejun Han – “A Song for You” by Donnie Hathaway
Someone’s been eating some humble pie this week. Stevie Nicks: Mind Reader theorized that Heejun makes jokes because he’s afraid of failing and being hurt. Deep down inside, we’re all a bunch of scared softies. So this week, Heejun was like, “I know I kind of lost my mind last week and insulted the show and pretty much every person who believes in me, but today’s a new day. World, prepare for my emotional ballad!” So Heejun sang a ballad. It was nice, serious, and showed off his buttery tone. I’m not sure if it deserved the first standing ovation of the night. The judges likely wouldn’t have needed to stand four more times if they hadn’t lowered their standards so much. Regardless, they appreciated that Heejun was finally taking the competition seriously. Obviously, Uncle Steven thinks he made the transformation happen with his public shaming of Heejun last week. That’s … a definite possibility.

Hollie Cavanaugh – “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood
That Hollie Cavanaugh’s a crafty 4,000-year-old fairy queen, isn’t she? After Colton’s performance, Hollie’s choice of a song with “Jesus” in the title caught Allen’s attention. Oh, yes, Allen was in the house last night. He was wandering around the living room, making me pause the DVR every few seconds so he could spout all his Allen Sound-bites. Anyway, when Hollie started singing, Allen was like, “Wow, what is this? Church Idol?” Touché, dear husband. However, I like to call it “Wily Contestants Aware of Demographics Idol.” Stevie got all choked up during Hollie’s rehearsal because her mom died, and it was all very emotional. So Hollie performed, and she sounded lovely as usual. Perhaps the song could have been bigger, as Randy noted, but I don’t understand this notion that every performance has to take off into the stratosphere. J. Lo disagreed with him, thank the Idol gods, and noted that this was Hollie’s most emotionally honest performance to date.

DeAndre Brackensick – “Sometimes I Cry” by Eric Benet
Oh, poor DeAndre. He really tries SO HARD, but his performances grow increasingly tedious for me. Lots of high-pitched tedium, hair-tossing in the air, youth never realized. I liked the performance (sort of). He sounded good (compared to Colton). But really, judges, a standing ovation? See what happens when you stand up for Heejun? You end up standing for DeAndre.

Jessica Sanchez – “Sweet Dreams” by Beyonce
Stevie appreciated that Jessica takes direction so well. What she doesn’t understand is that Jessica’s willingness to be managed by less well-intentioned people like Jimmy comes at the sacrifice of any sliver of individuality. But no! I’ll attempt to banish my negativity because I thought Jessica’s performance was very cool last night. Surrounded by creepy red dream doors, Jessica delivered a slowed-down version of the Beyonce tune. Her voice was on-point, under control, and hauntingly understated. The judges loved it but neglected to give Jessica a standing ovation. But … but … I thought it was standing ovation night!

Phillip Phillips – “Still Rainin’” by Jonny Lang
Season 11’s inevitable winner is growing on everyone now. Even Stevie Nicks. Even ME. Not only did Stevie suggest that Mick Fleetwood would have chosen Phil for the band way back in the day, but she also called him handsome. Jimmy was SO jealous of Phil after that. The insecurity he exhibited after Stevie’s pronouncement almost gives him an excuse for wearing a baseball hat everywhere. Almost. I enjoyed Phil’s performance. His guttural singing fit the song well, and he seemed totally at ease with the band. Phil’s probably the most authentic contestant this season. The judges, poor things, had to get up off their asses AGAIN to give Phil a standing ovation. By this point, I know they were cursing their foolish decision to stand for Heejun. I KNOW it.

Joshua Ledet – “Without You” by Mariah Carey
Oh, this song. This song reminds me of a youth spent listening to Mariah cassette tapes (when I wasn’t listening to Celine) and belting along with her in the basement. I LOVE this song. Jimmy and Stevie were all like, “Uh, this is a tough song buddy.” And Joshua’s eyes were like, “Yeah, no big deal. I’m the best. Duh.” And Jimmy was like, “I don’t knnnooowww.” And Joshua’s sparkling smile was like, “No, seriously. I’ve got this.” And, boy, did he ever. I can’t stop loving Joshua Ledet, Dawgs. Every time he adds some gospel flair and shouting to a song, I’m putty in his hands. He cried at the end, too! Cried his very own tears! STAND, judges, STAND! By this point, it was evident that J. Lo, Randy, and Uncle Steven were SO embarrassed to spend that amount of time on their feet. Uncle Steven apparently has a foot spa under the desk, so every standing ovation posed a great risk to his tootsies.

Elise Testone- “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
Okay, night called for Elise. I genuflect at the throne of a real adult on Idol. Stevie was so impressed with Elise that she insisted on singing a duet with the contestant during rehearsal. How awesome would that be to witness in full? Elise had performed “Whole Lotta Love” before, so she wore the song like a second skin. Her integration of organic rock and roll into her superb vocal control gave me so many “goosies” that my arms resembled a picturesque pond. Elise kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way to the end, when she tackled Robert Plant’s signature wailing finish. The guitars. Elise. The lights. Those pants that matched Uncle Steven’s perfectly. Nuts of wonder, I want to keep this performance with me forever! And the judges, of course, HAD to finally stand for a lady last night. Elise worked for that standing ovation, and she is rapidly presenting herself as a real contender. This woman won’t go down without a fight. One might even say that she’s IN IT TO WIN IT.

Group Performances

Colton, Phillip & Elise – Fleetwood Mac: 4 stars
Heejun, DeAndre & Joshua – Michael Jackson: 4 stars
Hollie, Jessica & Skylar – Madonna: 5 stars

My Prediction

Nuts of wonder, I don’t even KNOW, Dawgs. Um … DeAndre will probably be in the Bottom 3, along with (maybe?) Heejun and … (Gah! What the hell?) Colton? Do NOT quote me on this.

Tune in tonight to watch the results! What did you think of the performances? Do you think Jason Derulo’s bedazzled neck brace is hot or not? Who agrees that Stevie Nicks should stick around for the rest of the season?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Erika Van Pelt Gets Shafted

Dearest Erika,

It wasn't right. Heejun outlasted you? In any other competition, this would be reason to titter and clutch our pearls and gather with our friends and family talking about the shocking (SHOCKING, I tell you) results. Alas, this isn't any other competition. This is American Idol, the place where dreams come to die. This is American Idol, the social experiment that looks for reality TV stars in place of actual singers. Sadly, I'm about 4 seasons of shenanigans past getting flooded with righteous indignation every time America makes the wrong choice. It isn't that I don't want to care, Erika. I just can't care. My relationship with Idol doesn't work that way anymore. So, yes, I'm sorry that you were eliminated too early. I'm especially sorry that you got a drastic makeover - the only one of the group, mind you - only to be mercilessly cut the same week. Now you look like Veronica: Princess of Darkness, but you have nowhere to terrorize innocent sprites like Hollie Cavanaugh. That really has to suck. I hope you keep singing. I hope you remember that losing to a fake comedy actor on Idol doesn't make you a bad person. Remember Alexis Grace? You don't? Well, she was a contestant in Season 8. Very talented and very pretty. She got cut around the same time, and the judges, like a bunch of ninnies, didn't give her the Save. Matt "The Forehead" Giraud got it later in the season, and I'm really not sure if he's even alive right now. You're like Season 11's Alexis Grace, a truly talented contestant dealt the wrong hand. So, yeah. This story was supposed to be inspirational, but I'm afraid this will probably make you feel worse. Hmmm ...

Hey! You get to return to Rhode Island! I've always wanted to go to Rhode Island. And the world definitely needs a talented mobile DJ. Don't let the kicks get you down, sister.

Best of luck,

Oh, Dawgs. I knew Erika was doomed, but that didn't decrease my disappointment. Even though Heejun's stunt Wednesday night was a blogger's dream, he didn't deserve to stay over a contestant who actually takes the competition seriously. Erika was the only contestant who really dove into a makeover. She took all the advice that was given to her. She transformed into freaking Veronica: Princess of Darkness. What else do you want, America? The judges didn't even seem to consider Erika for the save. J. Lo just gazed at the stage looking regretful throughout Erika's swan song. Would it have killed them to pretend to deliberate? Paula always used to fake putting up a fight for even the most undeserving contestants. No one else seems to have Paula's flair for the dramatic.

Anyways ...

I sped through the results show on my DVR, pausing to watch about 9 seconds of the group performance before my ears started to ring. Crikey, that was some awfultastic singing. Lana Del Rey gave a strange but captivating performance of her break-out hit, "Video Games." I don't know whose soul Idol sold to get that amount of art on stage, but maybe this explains Erika's transformation into an underworld creature. Then Haley Reinhart returned to flash some leg and sing her new single "Free" from within a bird cage. Haley Reinhart! Isn't that a smash? She sounded good, and I actually liked the song.

And that was about it. Just another results show. Just another exhibition of a broken dream. Just another opportunity for Ryan Seacrest to draw out a foregone conclusion for an entire hour.

Bonus: One of my readers hunted down the website of the people who make Randy's pins. Mysteriously, even the makers of the pin won't give me any answers. What IS it? I must know!

And now, one of the cutest kitten videos you'll ever see:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Billy Joel Week: "I don't even know if he's Asian."

So last night was Billy Joel Idol, which is sort of hilarious because you know that 90% of this season’s children couldn’t name a Billy Joel song to save their lives. “What’s this music we’re singing again? The stuff that used to play on those things my parents call cassette tapes? William Jewel, you say? He was in the Beatles, right?” Thank Billy Idol that Billy Joel’s music is so adaptable. Someone has to teach the young Idol hatchlings about life, and no one does it like a sadistic singing competition.

Yes, Idol wanted the kids to learn last night. Tommy Hilfiger needed to teach them how to dress, whether they liked it or not. P. Diddy (Puff Daddy) had to instruct them on how to groove and not suck so much. Jimmy Iovine continued to teach them that no career can launch in the music business without being publicly humiliated and led astray by an overgrown man-boy in a baseball hat. Billy Joel taught them about life through music – not example. Billy Joel’s example is bad. Above all, the judges got to teach some tough love. ESPECIALLY Uncle Steven. Who is the undead pirate sitting next to J. Lo these days? I don’t even KNOW him anymore. Randy wore a new pin, and my eyes tell me it’s an actual RANDY JACKSON pin with green stuff on the face?  This show is so damn weird.

Evil Randy Jackson wearing green-tinted sunglasses, maybe?

Hey! Remember when J. Lo and P. Diddy (Puff Daddy) were an item? Hollywood’s such a small, small world. I hope they still get along. Maybe meet for lunch once or twice a year. Talk about the kids, the gremlin J. Lo just divorced. Think about youth and 90s things. I bet their lunch dates are really interesting. I bet THEY know some Billy Joel songs. J. Lo’s a Bronx girl, after all. Bronx? Brooklyn? Manhattan? I think Bronx. And you know that little Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanaugh are still like, “The F is Billy Joel?” THIS … is American Idol!

Your Top 10

DeAndre Brackensick – “Only the Good Die Young”
Tommy Hilfiger proved how “helpful” he would be right off the bat. He instructed DeAndre to let his hair down (which, duh!) and then told him that he needs to lay claim to a specific style. Apparently, that meant wearing a snow vest in a Los Angeles studio. Tommy Hilfiger: Dressing sad people in boring clothes since whenever. Jimmy and Diddy wanted DeAndre to have fun with the song, way more fun than a teenager singing Billy Joel should have. So DeAndre, God bless his naïve little heart, went out on stage and bopped around and had a grand old time. Vocally, he sounded solid. Performance-wise, DeAndre’s interpretation was like a vat of Velveeta. The judges gave DeAndre nice feedback, likely not because of his snow vest and maniacal grinning but because he was performing in the First Spot of Death and didn’t smash his face in with the microphone.

Erika Van Pelt – “New York State of Mind”
I love a televised makeover. Don’t get me wrong, Dawgs. What Not To Wear can be emotional therapy for me on slow days. But did Erika really NEED a makeover? She always looks so beautiful and knows how to dress like an adult. I don’t understand why Tommy desired a change. Granted, Erika’s hair-cut turned out very cute. The color, however, sort of made her look like Veronica: Princess of Darkness. Just being brutally honest, here. A little color cut into the black would have been fine, but now all I can envision is spritely Hollie hiding in the Idol mansion from Veronica: Princess of Darkness. During her mentoring session, Jimmy and Diddy basically told Erika not to try so hard. Erika, like DeAndre, takes every bit of advice given to her, so it was no surprise when she took the stage with a solid yet conservative version of “New York State of Mind.” I personally didn’t mind the performance. I think she remained faithful to Billy Joel’s version and sounded beautiful while doing it. Unfortunately, the judges have the collective attention span of a single pea and require fireworks and booms and bangs to give a performance effusive praise. Randy basically told Erika to stop listening to Jimmy Iovine, which is always good advice in my opinion. But she should not, in any way, transfer her trust to Randy Jackson. That way leads to heartache.

Joshua Ledet – “She’s Got a Way”
Were we supposed to take interest in the exchange between Joshua and Tommy about the way the former wears his suits a size small to achieve a fitted look? If a Tommy Hilfiger collapsed in the woods, would anybody care? Full disclosure, here: I freaking love Joshua Ledet. I love the way his speaking voice is practically unintelligible. I love the way he still craves crawfish from home. I love that he knows how to wear a suit without needing Tommy Hilfiger to instruct him. Above all, I love his straight-out-of-church, shake you to your core voice. Unlike the judges, I thought that Joshua’s performance was lovely. He tried to hold in all the awesomeness in the beginning, but when the Giant Idol Screen of Over-Ambitious Graphics opened and presented a GOSPEL CHOIR (Hallelujah!), Joshua let it all loose. He’s a delightful young man. Simply delightful. J. Lo wasn’t as pleased because she thought Joshua didn’t “feel” the music the way Billy Joel felt it. Or something. I don’t even know. I sure HOPE Joshua doesn’t “feel” music the way that Billy Joel does. Awesome or not, Billy Joel has a few issues, to say the least.

Skylar Laine – “Shameless”
Her boots. Tommy Hilfiger fixated on her love for cowboy boots during their entire conversation. She needed to play up those boots, he insisted, with all sorts of fashion. Naturally, Skylar ended up taking the stage in … black high heels. So we spent all that time on the boots for what? What happened to the boots? Whatevs. Don’t judge me, but I’m pretty sure I blacked out during the first half of Skylar Laine’s performance. All I really remember is the assembly of awkward teenage boys who clapped off the beat while Skylar posed on the stairs. First, I know, they found teenage boys in the Idol audience. But second, apparently Skylar was a bit off in the first part? Or so I heard. It doesn’t matter to me because she truly soared in the chorus. Why do we all keep forgetting what a powerhouse this girl is? Her voice can be boundless when she really lets it go. Skylar Laine makes me believe in country music. Like, before she came on the show, I kind of believed that country music was a myth, an old wives’ tale that Froggy 98 kept trying to convince me was real. But no. Skylar Laine has proven that country music exists for real.

Elise Testone- “Vienna”
I think that Tommy Hilfiger was trying to let Elise know that she’s a bit of a fashion wreck. Despite my general feelings of contempt for you, Tommy, I can’t disagree with that. When he asked her to remove the multiple layers of clothes she wore over her perfectly fine dress, it was like watching someone open a box with an endless series of smaller boxes within. I need to know why anyone would wear such a heavy scarf in Los Angeles. Sure, Uncle Steven wears scarves all the time because undead pirates are freezing due to their lack of blood circulation. But Elise Testone is fully alive. There’s no need for all those layers. I feel really sorry for Elise. Not because of her performance, which was nuts of wonderful levels of stunning, but because she’ll probably still end up in the bottom 3 this week. America probably noticed that Elise knows what a Billy Joel is and dismissed her in exchange for one of her fresh-out-of-diapers competitors. Elise deserved every second of her standing ovation from the audience and judges last night. Her voice was flawless throughout, and I still can’t get over that one run at the end. Her control actually makes me jealous. How horrible am I to suggest that if Elise transplanted her voice to one of her adorably weepy students, that creature would annihilate the competition? Think about it. I cannot tell a lie.

Phillip Phillips Jr. – “Movin’ Out”
Sweet, adorable Phil is holding onto his soul SO HARD right now. He will resist Idol’s every attempt to commercialize him! Tommy Hilfiger was like, “Stop looking so scruffy, and gray is the worst. Stop wearing gray.” In response, Phil wore gray on gray to the performance show. During his mentoring session, Diddy forced Phil to get his groove on and presumably conjure the powers to seduce ladies through a TV screen. He also made Phil put down his guitar. There was a really awkward moment in which Diddy made Phil sing to a group of ladies, and I’m pretty sure everyone left the room feeling a little dirtier for it. Especially Phil. In response to that, Phil took the stage with his guitar and let his voice do the seducing. I liked the performance. Phil’s cool confidence is refreshing. It’s so rare to find a real artist on Idol who is unconcerned with fame. Phil’s indifference to the game adds to his appeal tenfold. If he realizes this and is exploiting this indifference to win votes, then he is an evil genius. The judges pretty much celebrated Phil’s stubbornness. Considering that they have occupied vastly different opinion sets than Iovine all season, this didn’t surprise me.

Hollie Cavanaugh – “Honesty”
Can we drop all pretenses now and just call Hollie what she really is, a fairy? She LOVES sparkles, for crying out loud. Something tells me that when she thinks no one’s watching, she floats instead of walks. Tommy told her that she needs to dress a little younger, which was a little insensitive considering that he was speaking to a 5,000 year-old mystical fae creature. The cropped top and high-waisted pants she ended up wearing for the performance weren’t very youthful, either, so I’m not sure if Tommy has no pull with the contestants or is just stupid. Probably a bit of both. Poor Hollie really struggled last night. I’m not sure if she got psyched out during her mentoring session or if she truly didn’t know the song very well. Whatever happened, she was painfully off the melody in parts. The judges hated to admit it. I felt the entire world dim a bit as Hollie’s innate luminescent glow dimmed from the criticism. She’ll do better next week. If there IS a next week. (There will be.)

Heejun Han – “My Life”
Oh, fiddlesticks. Heejun! I know that people who take Idol and its contestants seriously have probably had it up to HERE with Mr. Han’s antics. I’ll even admit that he’s become a caricature of his quirky self. But come ON! Did you see what he did last night? Awfultastic or not, that performance was a menagerie of crazy that only Idol can supply. He spent his interview with Tommy Hilfiger saying he wanted to dress like Jessica Sanchez, Madonna, and Michael Bolton. Then he occupied his mentoring session talking all kinds of nonsense until Diddy couldn’t tell up from down anymore. Did we expect anything else from his performance than that strange false start in which Heejun proclaimed, “I wanna dance!” and stripped off his suit jacket? Wearing every color of the rainbow, Heejun ran around the stage, sang to the judges about not caring for their opinions, and totally devoted himself to making America’s head spin. And nuts of wonder, Uncle Steven was PISSED. Did you see how pissed he was? You’d think that a man who speaks into a microphone adorned with random flowers would have more appreciation for the absurd, but nope. He told Heejun that the music industry would kick his ass because he refused to take it seriously. LOL, Uncle Steven. The music industry will kick Heejun’s ass because he’s on American Idol. His crazy antics are just an extra bonus for the viewing audience. Should Heejun stay on the show after that performance? No. But will he? Probably. And since this is Idol, I just have to laugh about it.

Jessica Sanchez – “Everybody Has a Dream”
Tommy Hilfiger told 16-year-old Jessica to show some more leg. And Uncle Steven thinks Heejun is a disgrace to the show? During the mentoring session, Diddy told Jessica that he didn’t believe what she was singing. So then we all had to pretend that Jessica proved she could sing with enough emotion to make Diddy and America believe. It was very exhausting. But how about that vocal performance? Teen-bot or not, Jessica kicked that song’s ass all over the stage. Pitch perfect and beautiful range on display, Jessica definitely rebounded from her misstep last week. Do I believe what she’s singing? Not really. But then again, I’m just a cranky Idol blogger with the extra time to analyze these things. Jessica can’t really help it if her only life experience comes from dragging her family around America to different singing competitions. Her voice is still beautiful.

Colton Dixon – “Piano Man”
SOMEONE is touchy about his ugly skunk hair. He actually called that mass of human fur atop his head his “baby.” Ew, Colton. Insight is definitely needed in this situation. But let’s talk about how Mr. Whiny McEmoPants made a move on Phil Phillips’ claim to this year’s Idol title. Anyone who remembers Kris Allen (remember him?) can’t deny that America has a soft spot for sensitive boys breaking down sensitive songs at the piano. And despite my hate/hate relationship with Colton’s tone, I actually enjoyed this performance. He’s still a Grade A douche to me, but that was a lovely arrangement of the one Billy Joel song that everybody knows. I was a little surprised when the judges failed to give Colton a standing ovation. They used to eat up stuff like that. Doesn’t matter, though. Thousands of pre-teen hearts melted during that performance, and now young girls will be pursuing other young boys with bad hair. The future does not bode well for us.

My Predictions
I think Erika’s in trouble. It isn’t fair, but her appearance in the Bottom 3 so often doesn’t lend much hope. We’ll throw Heejun and Elise in the Bottom 3, too, but I’m always so wrong about these things. I wouldn’t bet on my predictions. Perhaps they’ll use the Judges’ Save tonight! Oh, my! It’s like the drama is ACTUALLY WRITTEN INTO THE SHOW.

Who were your favorites last night, Dawgs? Who do you think will go home? Any theories on Randy’s pin? I still think it’s a pin of his face. Randy Jackson is the only person on earth who would wear a Randy Jackson pin. Proven fact.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Songs from the Year You Were Born: "Apparently, I was a carb lover."

Okay, Dawgs. I can’t move on with this recap without addressing the 8-foot (Formerly) Gentle Giant in the room. He’s been growling and kicking up dirt since yesterday morning, and it’s seriously time for him to GO. So, unlike American “Let’s Draw Things out until We Regain Every Last Cent of Our Investment” Idol, I’ll start with the bad/good news first. Jermaine Jones, the man who cries three tears and washes out an entire village, was disqualified from the show. Strangely, the whole awkward process of telling Jermain buh-bye was captured on camera and aired for all of America to shake their heads in condemnation or sadness. It actually made me feel a little sorry for Jermaine. How would you feel to walk into a room with two disapproving British men and have your embarrassing past revealed on camera? There sat Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, frowny faces at the ready, reading Jermaine’s outstanding charges to the man like he needed a review of his own criminal record. Ken was all like, “Bloody hell, chap, we have lots of kids come to us with problems. We accept them all like our own bleeding children. But you lied, Mr. Jones. You lied, and I can’t associate with liars.” And Jermaine knew he was totally doomed. He made a half-hearted attempt to explain away the violent crime and then was all, “I didn’t want you to judge me.” And Nigel was like, “You’ve put us in a very awful position. Just the worst. Law enforcement officials want you, and we can’t legally keep you on the show. So I’m sorry to say that we’ll be letting you go.”

Biggest surprise of the night? Jermaine didn’t cry a single tear. Nuts of wonder, he about blew a lid and took out half the audience when the judges gave his performance mild criticism last week. But when the producers basically told him that he was probably going to jail, Jermaine barely even flinched. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? I know the whole Gentle Giant thing was a producer-manipulated act, but is it possible all the tears were an act, too? Wow, Jermaine, feel my American disapproval through the computer screen. Sadly, we never got to watch Jermaine’s full performance of “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail. It probably would have been awesome. Unfortunately, lying convicts cannot prosper on America’s favorite singing competition.

As Ryan said, “When you’re doing a live show, anything can happen. THIS … is American Idol!”

The Top 11 Sing Horrible Songs from the Years They Were Born
You know, there are a lot of songs released every year. Why in Ryan Seacrest’s name did this season’s batch of Pretty Young Things struggle to find any good songs? Even Randy couldn’t believe they were all collectively so dumb!

Phil Phillips Jr. – “Hard to Handle” (1990)
So this kid’s always sick, isn’t he? His parents talked about how he was born with “dead bowels” or something and almost died as a baby. He’s fine now, by the way. Just in case you were worrying. Then last week, Phil had surgery because of complications with his kidney stones. I hope he feels better soon because he looked very pale last night. I enjoyed Phil’s performance. He’s dependably consistent in his strange ways, and I like that. And really, his face always looks funny while singing, so his pain wasn’t too obvious. The judges loved it, of course, fascinated by the ease with which Phil performs. “It just comes out of you … It’s all over you,” J. Lo said, presumably referring to the music in him. (I hope.)

Jessica Sanchez – “Turn the Beat Around” (1995)
Did I mention that is squatting at Idol headquarters again? He is! Last year, he lingered around for at least three months or so. I felt like he’d never leave. He LOVED Jessica so much that he gave her a nickname, “Swaggernaut,” and this is the last time I’ll ever mention it. I don’t care HOW many times Ryan uses it. When Jessica was a baby, she was a bit of a nightmare. “I was such a little diva,” she laughed, and then her parents were like, “She was the worst. EVER. She used to make herself cry hard enough to faint. F my life.” So this song was a bit of a mess for young Jessica; it didn’t fit her at all. Vocally, she sounded great, but as Uncle Steven and J. Lo noted, her rhythms were all off. And on the subject of Uncle Steven, whoa Nelly! Did he take Clarity Pills last night? Some of his critiques were downright biting. “Sometimes you strayed from the rhythm, which was a little shady,” he told Jessica. Shady. SHADY? Like Jessica was beating down acquaintances on the street with Jermaine Jones? Freaking awesome, Uncle Steven. After receiving her first ever wrist-slap from the judges, Jessica complained to Ryan that she didn’t have a great choice of songs. Girl, please! I just Googled “songs from 1995” and found about ten songs I could sing on command on the Billboard Top 100 list.

Heejun Han – “Right Here Waiting” (1989)
Heejun may be the only person on Earth to cause to swell up with righteous indignation. Settle down, Will.iam! All Heejun wanted was Fergie’s number. Granted, I can’t imagine a person in their right mind who would WANT Fergie’s number for real. But I digress. It pains me to admit that this song was a huge blunder for Heejun. He sounded breathy throughout, and his pitch was sorely off for the first half of the song. I’ll give him credit for pulling it together near the end, but overall, this was probably Heejun’s worst performance to date. It was nice of him to sing to his girlfriend (20% to J. Lo and 10% to Fergie), though. I like it when Idol reminds us that these kids are real people with real girlfriends and feelings.

Elise Testone – “Let’s Stay Together” (1983)
According to her parents, Elise was a little hellion as a child. Her mom once had to save her from the ocean. Elise has never been the same since. Determined to hit the stage with a new positive attitude, Elise chose a song that fit her like a glove. She assured America that her performance would put people in the mood to make babies. Ew, Elise. Stop that. Great performance, though. Her rasp and control were on full display, and I like the way she built on the song. The judges loved it, and Randy about went crazy screaming, “Elise is back!” For the 82nd time this season, he compared a contestant to Janis Joplin, and no. That doesn’t fit. Stop trying to put random people in your Janis box, Randy.

DeAndre Brackensick – “Endless Love” (1994)
BWAHAHAHAHA! This song, Jimmy Iovine? REALLY? Poor DeAndre. DeAndre’s first choice was to sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” but was all, “Hell to the no!” And then DeAndre got saddled with a song he clearly didn’t know. These poor kids have no balls when they come up against that creepster in a baseball cap. Fight for your rights, DeAndre! Dressed as an Oxford professor in a strange tan suit, DeAndre looked uncomfortable singing the Vandross/Carey hit. The only reason I know this song is because my mother LOVED this sappy music back in the Nineties, and since I spent almost all of my time with her, that music is now permanently engrained in my mind. But DeAndre was just a sapling when “Endless Love” came out, and I doubt he felt like he was missing much. The judges clearly felt sorry for him, but DeAndre took it like a little man and didn’t blame Jimmy for his despair. I would have blamed Jimmy. Always blame Jimmy.

Shannon Magrane – “One Fine Day” (1995)
When tells a contestant, “You’re going to fail,” that contestant should probably take note. God love Shannon and her determination to practice breathing and singing on her back. She’s an earnest young giant, that one. After last week’s Whitney debacle, Shannon definitely sounded better. She didn’t sound particularly GOOD, but most 16-year-olds don’t when they try to emulate Mariah. The song was a little too ambitious for her. The judges enjoyed the performance, though. I think Randy was just excited to name-drop Mariah again. He LOVES name-dropping that diva.

Colton Dixon – “Broken Heart” (1991)
Colton was very proud of choosing an obscure song for his performance. I haven’t jumped on the Colton bandwagon yet, but if I ever do, I suppose that might impress me someday. The skunk-haired rocker used to play baseball but ended up quitting to pursue his music. I love how the contestants had the foresight to make these BIG DECISIONS at the age when most of us can’t choose between chicken nuggets and grilled cheese on a menu. Okay, then, Colton. His voice, while still nasally, sounded much better this week than last week. He sang on pitch for the most part and worked the stage with his skinny chicken legs. Nuts of wonder, that boy’s legs. I eat a piece of toast, and it goes straight to my thighs. Colton could probably eat all of Joshua’s crawfish and not gain a pound. J. Lo and Randy approved of the performance, but Uncle Steven once again turned strangely critical. He thought the song was “wrong for his voice and passion.”

Erika Van Pelt – “Heaven” (1985)
1985 is the best year EVER! Yay, Erika! Her goal was to infuse some rock and roll into the poppy Bryan Adams tune. I thought she did a nice job. Erika is consistent like Phil. Her voice never fails to distinguish her from the competition. But Uncle Steven (OMG) wasn’t feeling it (OMG). “I think you were too busy all over it,” he complained. Then J. Lo took the opportunity to make a Janis comparison, and seriously, I want to throw that comparison out a twenty-storey window.

Skylar Laine – “Love’s Sneaking Up on You” (1994)
As a child, Skylar used to bang her head on everything – sidewalks, walls, the whole shebang. Fortunately, all that head trauma hasn’t made her any dumber. When Jimmy and started throwing different song choices at her, Skylar was just like, “Mmm, no. I’ll stick with my choice. K, thanks.” GOOD CHOICE, SKYLAR! Sure, this wasn’t her most riveting performance, but the girl really shines in her country/rock genre. “If I gotta keep it real, I gotta say that you killed it,” J. Lo raved after the performance. It’s hard not to fall in love with Skylar Laine.

Joshua Ledet – “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1992)
Before I get to Joshua’s OMG! Stellar performance, let’s talk crawfish. Ryan Seacrest gives the best freaking gifts. Joshua’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. And how about those poor tween girls they dragged up on stage? They couldn’t even muster the slightest bit of false enthusiasm about the crawfish. It’s like they expected the crawfish to come back to life and pinch out their eyeballs. I love how Joshua’s mom admitted that she wouldn’t let him sing in church because he was a “rascal.” At the age of 12, his dad finally gave in, and Joshua’s been singing ever since. Now, most times when goes GAGA over a contestant, I’m skeptical. This time, however, Idol’s resident squatter hit the nail on the head. Joshua sang the living hell out of that song. Halfway through the performance, he stripped off his jacket, and I won’t lie, I was worried that the show would take a dark turn at that moment. BUT IT DIDN’T. YOUR CHILD’S EYES ARE STILL SAFE! When the judges stood as Joshua hit the big part, it was obvious that the Southern gospel singer had nabbed the night’s Moment™. It even returned Uncle Steven to his old, incomprehensible ways. “You gave it up so big, God came through your eyes, man.” Do you think Uncle Steven sees things that the rest of us don’t see? Like ghosts? And Randy Jackson’s worth as a judge on Idol?

Hollie Cavanaugh – “The Power of Love” (1993)
Hollie’s parents are seriously the most awesome people. First, her dad introduced HIMSELF as “Hollie Cavanaugh,” which launched his wife and him into an adorable British giggle fit. Then her mom busted Hollie for being a sloppy mess, and her dad mentioned that HER BATHROOM IS THE WORST. OMG. He mentioned Hollie’s toilet place on TV. Best parents ever! So Hollie chose a Celine Dion song, which worked for her because she sounds remarkably similar to the French-Canadian chanteuse. It still floors me when that huge voice comes out of Hollie’s miniature sprite body. accused her of carrying amplifiers in her pockets, but that can’t be. Hollie’s so tiny that her pockets are probably the size of houseflies. What kind of amplifier would fit in them? There were a few minor issues, including the botched final note. I think she psyched herself up too much for it and ended up straining a bit. But overall, Hollie’s definitely one to watch. Randy thought she “blew it out the box,” and the English language cried another single tear over his destruction of it.

The Results

I’m sorry. I’M SORRY. I had a really crazy day yesterday and didn’t finish my recap. Then I missed the results show. So this is what I’m going to do, and you have to believe me because people are always honest on the Internet. (LOL)

My predictions for the Bottom 3 (without watching the results show, I swear) are: Heejun, DeAndre, and Shannon. I honestly can’t figure out who went home, but I don’t think it was Heejun. His personality will probably get him by for a few weeks.

So let’s see if my predictions are even close! *Scampers off to read results on*

Complimentary kitten video for your wait
*Scampers back*

And … Shannon’s a goner. Well, that wasn’t surprising AT ALL. However … WHAT THE HELL, AMERICA? Why do we hate women in their mid to late 20’s? Elise and Erika did not deserve to be in the bottom 3. Nuts of WONDER.

So that’s how the fat lady sang and all that jazz. I promise to return to my regular format next week. I PROMISE. How do you feel about the results? Why does America hate women of my age? I need to know!

Have a great weekend, Dawgs! And remember, if you commit a crime, tell the police your real name. If you give a fake name, DON’T GO ON AMERICAN IDOL!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Big Season 11 Development: Jermaine Jones DQ'd

Just when we thought this season couldn't get any stranger, a certain giant crybaby's past has come back to haunt him in a BIG FREAKING WAY. According to several sources, included Jermaine's now deleted Twitter feed, the increasingly unlikable mama's boy is set to be disqualified from the show this evening for concealing a criminal record. Apparently, Jermaine isn't as gentle as the producers wanted us to think. He was involved in at least 2 incidents in 2011, one of them violent, and both times gave the authorities a false name. Sadly, Mr. Jones never realized that going on a televised singing competition isn't exactly the best way to keep a low profile.

This mess must be embarrassing for the big wigs at Idol. They're the ones who brought Jermaine back over David Leathers Jr., Johnny Keyser, and that terrible cowboy Richie law. Or did they mean for this to happen? I don't even know anymore, Dawgs. Nuts of wonder, I don't even know.

So what does this mean for the season? Will Jermaine be replaced? Will Jeremy Rosado be brought back, only to suffer elimination again on Thursday night? Maybe they won't replace Jermaine and just let the season play out. More likely, they'll skip an elimination with the judges' save or Idol Gives Back.

I'm curious to see how this plays out on Idol tonight. Past controversies have been briefly addressed and then swept  under the rug, but wouldn't it be spectacular if they made Jermaine apologize to America or something? Moral of the story: Don't go on TV when the authorities are looking for you. Oh, and don't freaking lie, Jermaine! Nuts of wonder, I knew he bothered me for a reason.

What do you think of the drama, Dawgs? Do you think Jermaine's disqualification is the right call? Considering that he's a wanted man, do you think he's going from Hollywood to jail? The plot thickens with every moment! Tune in tonight to find out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Jeremy Rosado Goes Home: "Get to the couches!"

My Dramatic Farewell Letter to Jeremy “Jer-Bear” Rosado

Dearest Jeremy,
At the end of all this, never forget that you were the heart of this season. Unfortunately, where there should be a heart in Idol’s gaping chest cavity is instead a bloody, snake-covered dollar sign. Goodness rarely prevails in this Brave Idol World, Jer-Bear. You gave it your best, though. Every one of your challenges was met with a huge smile and the best hug on either side of the Mississippi. Even when that lecherous Jimmy Iovine came up with a multitude of “polite” ways to call you fat and ugly (because that’s what “doesn’t look the part” means, hon), you didn’t let his negativity influence your attitude (like SOME contestants). Perhaps nerves got the better of you this week, but you STAYED CLASSY. And the only thing I love more than watching Ryan Seacrest giggle is a gentleman. You ARE a gentleman, sir. So don’t let life get you down. Sure, you’ll be going back to your soul-draining job at an infectious disease clinic, spreading the Black Idol Plague to another group of unsuspecting masses. Sure, by this time next year, I’ll have to struggle to remember your adorable face. But take comfort in this: For the briefest of moments, you brought joy and hugs to America. Keep kicking, kid!
Best Wishes,

And then Jer-Bear took to the clouds like the old man from Up!

Que sera sera, Dawgs. Whatever will be, will be. Such is the nature of this terrifying social experiment called American Idol. At least one dream must crash and burn every week as a sacrifice to the Idol gods, who feast on misery like zombies feast on flesh. Although Idol may put these kids on the fast-track to “fame” (flexibly speaking, of course), it comes at a hefty price, for those who rise quickly to national attention must also fall for our entertainment. The Idols are our modern-day gladiators.

The acts they have been forced to do are unspeakable. UNSPEAKABLE.

Was I happy to see Jeremy go? No. Who gets pleasure out of watching a kitten get hit by a car? But it was probably the right choice. Probably definitely. Yeah. It was the right choice. It ended up evening out the field of guys and girls, like I predicted. I definitely thought Shannon Magrane needed the boot, but America disagreed. So sayeth the masses.

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I really like this group of finalists. They’re the closest matched group that I can remember since Season 5. But there were some really stanky attitudes up in the Idoldome last night. Let’s talk about them …

1.       Elise Testone: It started on Wednesday night when she got bad feedback for her awfultastic performance. I noted yesterday that Jimmy Iovine threw her under the bus, but Elise did nothing to save herself. She just glared and scowled and skulked about the stage. Death rays may as well have shot out of her eyes when she found out she was the lowest vote-getter last night. Darling, you’re at enough of a disadvantage with you unfortunate sense of style and sun-baked skin. You can’t afford a bad ‘tude. Lighten up.
2.       Shannon Magrane: “I cracked on only one note,” she complained. Oh, really? So that completely discounts the piss-poor way you sang for the rest of the song? Take the criticism and learn from it, Shannon. Yours was BY FAR the most awfultastic performance this week. Consider yourself lucky that you’re still in this thing.
3.       Jermaine Jones: He was all like, “The judges and Jimmy gave me some valuable advice, BUT I DID NOTHING WRONG BECAUSE I’M A FREAKING GIANT!” Then there was the horrible moment when Ryan sent him to the Couches of Safety, dooming poor Jer-Bear to an early fate, and Jermaine hooted, hollered and carried on even while he was off-camera. Excitement is okay, but that huge guy seems a little selfish. I know that being a million pounds means that he takes up more space than everyone else, but he doesn’t have to act like he’s the only guy on the show with feelings. You’re on notice, Mr. Jones.  
Guest Performances

I see that Lauren Freakin’ Alaina’s performance skills haven’t gotten any more captivating in the last year. She did make me appreciate Skylar even more, though. Poor Lauren looked like they threw her in a Generic Country Star processor with a mix of spray tan and cheap clothes and spat her back out to wreak havoc on our world. Poor Lauren Freakin’ Alaina. It’s like I never GOT her, you know?

Mary J. Blige got her free “Promote your new CD!” moment out of her mentoring gig last night. She did well considering that her ear monitor seemed to be protruding painfully from her skull. No one rocks a power suit like MJB, Dawgs.

In Other News

Ryan was loving his job last night. No one enjoys a results show like Ryan Seacrest. Nothing makes him happier than faking out contestants and then celebrating with them when he gives them the good news. His tiny leprechaun eyes just come to life when he does that. Also: Was Ryan trying to add height with his hair last night? That bouffant was TALL, Dawgs.

The Ford Music Videos are back and as awfultastic as ever. Turning the entire cast into a herd of human godzillas was not clever, Idol. Now I expect you to apologize and send me a million dollars for making me watch Colton Dixon crawl out of a tunnel.

THE GROUP PERFORMANCE! It wasn’t … that bad? Someone is loving the new stage because the choreography was surprisingly complex for Idol’s rhythmically challenged contestants. I haven’t picked out the worst dancer yet, but you know I will. (My money’s on Phil. I think it’ll be Phil.)

And that’s how the cookie crumbled, Dawgs. Do you agree with the results? Next week will be just like this week, only with 100% less hugs. RIP, Jer-Bear!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Whitney Houston / Stevie Wonder Night: "You can practically pet my head at that level."

Dance party in the Idoldome! The kids bopped along, trying to pull off “enthusiastic” and “not stupid” at the same time, as our unflappable host Ryan Seacrest stood at the center of all that business. He did not dance. We’ve seen Ryan dance before, and it isn’t a pretty sight.

Every time Ryan Seacrest moves his feet in a rhythmic beat, a ballerina loses a toe.
And then we saw the judges standing shockingly close to the contestants. Instead of keeping the requisite living room’s length of distance between J. Lo’s beautiful face and the unclean peons they torture every week, Ryan brought them all together. He asked Randy if he was ready and excited for the night, and Randy was like, “Yo, yo, man. This is happening, dude!” And of course everyone’s eyes and ears glazed over because Randy obviously had his “Relevant” switch turned to “Off” at that moment. Then Ryan turned to the old badger with tangled hair and said, “Stevie, are we set?” Replying with his trademark trend of answering questions with answers that don’t quite fit, Uncle Steven crowed, “Loud and proud!”  

But what was with the celebration? LAST NIGHT WAS IDOL’S 400TH SHOW! Can you believe that we’ve lasted through the shenanigans of 400 freaking shows? I believe America needs a commendation for that. YOU’RE WELCOME, Simon Fuller, Nigel Lythgoe, Ryan’s hair stylist, and the fairy tale animals that J. Lo presumably pays with her mountains of money to dress her every day. You couldn’t have done it without us!

The theme of the night was explained away by Ryan as being a Boys vs. Girls showdown. Stevie Wonder for the gents (because it’s not like we’ve heard tons of contestants attempt and fail at his songs), and Whitney Houston for the ladies (because she’s, uh, no longer with us). America’s vote will determine the bottom girl and bottom guy, and then the judges will decide which one goes home. Okay, so that’s perfectly reasona … Wait a minute! What if the person they send home isn’t the actual lowest vote-getter? That hardly seems fair. Are they trying to save the ladies from their imminent doom in the competition? Maybe? Maybe. But if they end up sending a girl home tonight, I’m not sure what kind of game Idol’s playing with this decision. Can they at least give us the illusion of a democracy? To make matters worse, America had some tough decisions to make last night. The show wasn’t particularly memorable, but a majority of the contestants delivered solid performances that will make weeding out the worst a living nightmare. Nuts of wonder, let’s get to it. This … is … American Idol!

Your Top 13!!!!
I will judge the children on a scale of “Yos.”

Warning: I don’t know why, but Jimmy Iovine and his stupid baseball hats with formal wear put me on edge (and NOT the edge of glory). He was lucky to have the sublime Ms. Mary J. Blige by his side last night. She’s always been a concise and helpful mentor to the kids, and her influence really came through last night. So thumbs up to you, Mary J. Blige!

Joshua Ledet – “I Wish”
I didn’t expect Joshua to be so uncomfortable with the music of Stevie Wonder. He already has the inherent soul and punch needed to deliver a convincing version of Mr. Wonder’s songs. But no. Joshua was terrified, and finally, MJB had to be like, “Let’s get some gospel up in here so Ledet doesn’t pass out from nerves!” Once they infused some gospel into the accompaniment, Joshua lit up like a Christmas tree. If performing in the First Spot of Death comes back to bite Joshua, I’ll be mighty pissed. He gave a first-class performance and utterly OWNED that stage. His soul, his tone, his pitch, his EVERYTHING hit the nail on the head. Randy couldn’t believe that this Joshua, this man that he helped pick for the show, could do an up tempo song. OMG, Jackson, it’s like you just invented the light bulb! The boy can do ballads AND up tempo songs? Call the angry mob! He must be a witch! “You just WORE IT OUT at the top of the show!” Randy hollered. J. Lo was apparently so affected by the performance that all she could squeak out was a comment about Joshua’s hand gesture thing he does while he sings. But she tried to mimic it, and with the desk in the way and everything, it looked kind of … dirty. These judges do the darndest things! Then Ryan, never one to be outdone, also tried to mimic Joshua’s hand gesture thing. After failing to look even a little convincing at gospel tics, Ryan simply giggled and said, “You can practically pet my head at that level.”
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Elise Testone – “I’m Your Baby Tonight”
I CALL SABOTAGE! Elise went into her mentoring session with Jimmy and MJB intending to sing “The Greatest Love of All,” which yes I know, freaking HUGE song, but let us not forget that Elise tackled an ADELE song last week and didn’t fall flat on her face. “Nuh uh,” said Jimmy, the evil little gnomes peaking out of the brim of his baseball hat for the briefest moment, “I think you should sing a song you don’t know at all and clearly have no desire to sing. This is all a part of my Master Plan.” Elise, bless her, managed to stay sweet even as her eyes recognized that Iovine was trying to derail her. Oh, nuts of wonder, I can’t stand it when we actually witness the dreams slowly fading out of a contestant’s eyes. Even my heart isn’t that rusty. The performance went pretty much the way you’d expect. Elise kind of chased after the song the whole time, and her voice sounded lovely as usual. The problem was that nothing fit – the song, the way she sang it, her tube dress. Only J. Lo hinted that she recognized the pit of snakes Elise had been thrown into by that troll named Jimmy. Uncle Steven looked sad, and if he were a fighting man, I bet he totally would have taken Iovine out into an alley somewhere and screamed an Aerosmith song at him until the record producer went deaf. Randy, of course, lost his humanity sometime during Season 2 and told Elise that he felt like she was “boxing” with the song. He accused her of not enjoying the song enough, and you know what, Randy? BEEP-BLOOP! I don’t have to listen to you!
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo!

Jermaine Jones – “Knocks Me off My Feet”
You know who loves Jermaine more than baseball caps AND sunglasses? Jimmy Iovine! The man went on and on about how happy he was that the judges brought Jermaine back. Sounds like someone has a crush. Anyways. Jermaine gave a solid performance of the Stevie Wonder tune, his rich tone melting like butter over the melody. The sound of Jermaine’s voice puts me in a very content, VERY sleepy place. And that could be a problem. While I appreciated his technical skill, I couldn’t help but get a little bored. The performance didn’t really go anywhere, and on this show, the best storytellers make the best contestants. J. Lo, who is slowly proving herself to be the best freaking judge this show has ever had (yeah, I went there – bold statements are SO in right now), commented that Jermaine may have been thinking too hard. She encouraged him to connect with the audience more. Bingo, Ms. Lopez. B-I-N-G-O. Randy jumped on the criticism train, too, and tried to make some comment about thinking Jermaine changed the melody of the chorus too much. I don’t even know where Randall Jackson gets his ideas. Maybe from that ghastly pin on his suit? (More on the MYSTERY PIN later!) Also, when Ryan stands next to Jermaine, he looks like an infant dressed as a grown-up. I wonder if Jermaine ever gives him free piggy-back rides?
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Erika Van Pelt – “I Believe in You and Me”
Can anyone resist the appeal of Erika’s voice? It’s like a universal law that people fall in love with Erika Van Pelt. MJB sure did, calling the contestant’s voice “meat and potatoes.” Mmmm, heavy and starchy. That’s a perfect way to describe a person’s voice. Jimmy encouraged Erika to do her own thing with the song because singing it the Whitney Houston way would likely cause a chasm to open up on the stage and drop Erika into the pits of Hell. And really, there was never a doubt that Erika would more than deliver on her performance. Her voice is so intrinsically powerful that she doesn’t have to push it to its limits. On a show of basically 90% infants, Erika sounds like a real adult. I NEED her on this show. The colony of “goosie” eggs on J. Lo’s arms hatched during the performance, even though she made a point of telling Erika that she needs to push it more. DOES she need to push it more? I think she’s doing well just as she is.
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Colton Dixon – “Lately”
So Idol’s going to play skunk-haired Colton up as some type of 21st century heartthrob. That’s so … revealing. During his mentoring session, Colton seemed uncomfortable with singing Stevie Wonder, so Jimmy urged him to sing and play one of his original songs. Okay, I get it. Colton’s whiny voice sounds a thousand times better when set to his whiny music. That was meant to be a compliment. I just can’t type a compliment for Colton without my eyes rolling to the back of my head. The beginning of the song was NOT GOOD. Colton has major problems holding the pitch when he sings quietly, and any good singer knows that the quiet parts are just as important as the loud ones. Once he broke into the chorus, though, that skunk clawed back up the cliff like a little pro. There’s a very nasally quality to his voice, which fits him stylistically but offends me musically, so singing louder forces him to open his mouth more and sing from his diaphragm. When he hits that part, I actually don’t mind his voice. Colton injected a great deal of emotion into the song, and I can almost understand why the teenagers are squealing over him. To Randy’s credit, the Dawg called Colton out on his struggling during the quiet parts. That was the #1 Best Dawg thing he did last night.
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo!

Shannon Magrane – “I Have Nothing”
NOOOOO! Don’t. Sing. This. Song. Resist the temptation, girls! I understand that Shannon likes to do BIG things because she’s, like, a thousand feet tall, but this one thing shouldn’t be done. MJB tried so hard to help Shannon. She immediately recognized that Shannon was like a baby bird trying to fly too early and taught her some helpful projection techniques. Unfortunately, once Shannon hit the Idol stage, all of that technique diminished in the face of nerves. Dressed in a pair of disconcertingly sequined black pants, Shannon did things to that song that probably have the dearly departed Ms. Houston rolling in her grave. She strained against the notes, lost the timing, and looked like a lost little birdy abandoned by her mama in a blizzard. And then there was the transition. By god, the transition was a spectacular display of squeaking and shouting that reverberated through my surround sound speakers with all the subtlety of a screaming banshee. Just not good at all. The judges looked terrified by this. You could tell that they all wanted to die – just die – at the realization that their honesty would crush this child. Finally, J. Lo put on that sad mama’s face of hers and said, “Sweet baby, I think the thinking got the best of you in that song.” And then Uncle Steven actually said the words, “You kind of crashed and burned in the turn-around.” Uncle Steven! I never expected that from you.
Yo Rating: Yo!

Deandre Brackensick – “Master Blaster”
With his hair pulled back in a sensible bun, Deandre had to cut back on the hairography and just be awesome. During Deandre’s mentoring session, MJB urged him to really belt out the song instead of singing everything in his eerily high-pitched falsetto. It was good advice. Deandre didn’t nail everything, but he nailed just enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. That boy is so fearless when he sings, transitioning through various vocal gymnastics and still managing to do his funny, bouncy dance all over the stage. The judges all agreed that they didn’t want Deandre’s performance to ever stop, and this young man may have given America a reason to vote for him.
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Skylar Laine – “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”
This little slice of American pie is rapidly becoming my favorite contestant, and – shock of all shocks! – she’s a country music singer! That feisty spark boiling on Skylar’s surface makes her a very compelling performer. And by golly, that girl can sing! MJB and Jimmy gave Skylar some useful advice about holding back on the notes to deliver a chill-inducing lilt instead of an all-out blast. MJB was so charmed by Skylar. I thought it was adorable. As J. Lo noted, Skylar was a little shaky in the beginning, but all of that dropped by the wayside when she dug into the real meat of the song. The girl oozed charisma, and she sounded like a real star. Randy was all like, “I can’t believe all of these kids that can sing more than one song! This is fascinating!”
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Heejun Han – “All in Love is Fair”
Ryan thinks that Heejun’s Twitter account is the funniest thing ever. Our pint-sized host gets so giddy sometimes, doesn’t he? This gave Heejun an opportunity to say the following: “So I just grabbed a bite of Hollie. When Deandre’s around, I just wanna eat a bunch of noodles.” Oh, no, Heejun, grab one bite of Hollie, and she’ll be GONE. As payback to Jimmy for saying all those mean things about him last Thursday, Heejun brought autographed photos of himself for the industry troll and MJB. His letter to Jimmy, aside from spelling his name wrong (Ivine, instead of Iovine), was nice. But then MJB revealed that hers said, “Mary, I love you more than Jimmy.” Anyone willing to pick on Jimmy Iovine is OK in my book. Heejun’s performance was pretty good. I thought the beginning was a bit of a struggle, but he managed to pull it together. Heejun doesn’t have the most powerful voice in the competition, but he has a lovely grip on dynamics. “I love you,” J. Lo gushed, but Heejun still took her to task for hugging Jeremy on Thursday and not him. Lovey, that’s because Jer-Bear is the cuddliest person in the world. Don’t take it personally. Randy summed the performance up as “not perfect, but really good.” I wouldn’t call this Heejun’s best performance, but I still love him.
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo!

Hollie Cavanaugh – “All the Man That I Need”
Season 11’s delightful woodland creature is at the top of my list with Skylar Laine. Both girls are pint-sized, freaking awesome, and pack a vocal punch that could slay the competition. MJB assisted Hollie with her projection and got so excited by the improvement that she made an embarrassing little hiccup sound and started laughing maniacally. OMG, I totally need to hang out with MJB. I never realized we had so much in common. When Hollie started singing, the first thought that came to my mind was, “Holy guacamole, this sprite sounds like Celine!” Doesn’t she? DOESN’T SHE? For such a fragile looking fairy, Hollie contains a multitude of power. If she wins the season, she could be the first American Idol with the voice of a diva and the face of a Disney fairy tale princess. I’m just a little obsessed. HOLLIE AND SKYLAR FOREVER! “So let me just say this, Man,” Randy said, exhibiting his inability to tell one gender from the next, “you nailed it.” And that got Uncle Steven so, SO excited. He was practically bouncing in his seat for the chance to say, “You’ve been nailin’ it every single time.” Uncle Steven! Stop that!

Jeremy Rosado – “Ribbons in the Sky”
Oh, Jer-Bear, bless him, really wants to please America. He went on and on to Jimmy and MJB about how he wants to earn America’s votes now since he didn’t get enough votes last week. I have an idea for soliciting votes, Jeremy.

I think Jeremy was a little too nervous during his performance. He sounded good, but he didn’t hit me with the emotional wallop he packed last week. By the end, he really pulled out some tricks, though. I’m not sure if it will be enough to keep on the show, especially considering that he got a series of strange abbreviated critiques from the judges. I don’t understand. The episode actually ended ahead of time. What was the big rush? Poor Jer-Bear.

Jessica Sanchez – “I Will Always Love You”
Oh, goodness gracious. Do we have a little Pia Toscano on our hands? If Whitney hadn’t JUST died a couple weeks ago, and Jennifer Hudson hadn’t JUST given a lovely tribute of this song at the Grammy’s, my bar probably wouldn’t have been set so high for young Jessica. Of course, no one stopped her on her one-woman march to Idol Infamy. And if I was like the rest of them, I could appreciate Jessica for the lovely vocal performance she gave. It was lovely. She has a gorgeous voice. However, Jessica somehow managed to suck all of the passion out of that song and made it look and sound like something from a beauty pageant. An upscale beauty pageant, of course. But a beauty pageant just the same. My cats have more soul than Jessica projected in that song. I could put Marshmallow up in front of fan, and his meowing for food would have a greater emotional impact on me than Jessica’s performance. And you’re thinking, “Why is Rachel so worked up about this perfectly adequate performance?” And I tell you, Dawg, that I wouldn’t be worked up at all if the judges hadn’t pretended that the performance marked the second coming of Whitney Houston. And then the male judges started some creepy talk that made it sound like they were celebrating her eighteenth birthday. “Jessica Sanchez is legit!” Randy announced. And then Uncle Steven, sweet, dumb Uncle Steven, earnestly said, “Jessica, you may be the one.” Ew, guys. This is a family show!
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Phillip Phillips, Jr. – “Superstition”
Phil has an advantage over the other contestants. That advantage is being so strange that Jimmy Iovine can’t process any reasons to interfere with his choices. His mentoring session just consisted of Jimmy being like, “So Phil’s ready to go. Nothing to say here. He’s good.” And really, what could Jimmy have suggested to improve Phil’s re-imagined version of “Superstition”? There was some cool, crisp guitar playing and a horn section. Everything was laid-back, unique and very PHIL. And while that Southern cutie played his guitar and growl-sang into the microphone, a little light bulb went off in my head. I suddenly GOT Phil Phillips. But just like Uncle Steven, I can’t find the words to explain WHY I get Phil Phillips. “There’s no words for it. You just are. Do you understand? You’re very welcome.” What does that even MEAN, Uncle Steven? Is he auditioning to become a fortune cookie?
Yo Rating: Yo! Yo! Yo! Yo!

Randy’s Mystery Pin
The silly thing held my attention all night because it was bloody huge and right there. But what was it? The shrunken head of a murder victim? Betty Boop? Sonny Bono? Click here for Randy’s explanation. As expected, he didn’t answer any of my questions. What are your theories?

My Entirely Non-Scientific Prediction
I’m thinking Jeremy will be the lowest vote-getter for the guys and Shannon for the girls. If the judges choose by quality, Shannon will go home. If they choose with the intention of keeping the girls in the competition as long as they can before America starts executing them, then Jer-Bear’s a goner.