Friday, March 06, 2009

American Idol Wildcard Show

Here is a fairly quick recap of Thursday night's special Wildcard Show and the subsequent results... as if the outcomes were not pre-determined.

For the record, I already miss Kendall Beard.


1. Jesse Langseth- "Tell Me Something Good"

She can definitely sing and really looks better than her initial audition, but I was a little surprised they did bring her back over someone like Felicia Barton. She did a competent job tonight, but her song was really wrong and made it hard for her to shine. While it was true she only needed to impress the judges and not America, her fate was probably sealed to begin with. So, Jesse would finish the night hearing a no and her journey has ended. I am sure she thinks she wasn't cheesy enough for the show anyway.

Incidentally, what kind of cross tattoo does she have on her arm? It looked a little suspicious in some ways, but I am sure it was not anything too out of the mainstream as far as tattoos go.

2. Matt Giraud- "Who's Loving You"

I could care less about fashion, but this dude makes some of the absolute worst wardrobe choices. I will not say anything else. As for the singing, I thought it was quite good, although maybe not as amazing as the judges said. Those comments led me to believe that they may have already decided on him. It was definitely a better performance from a technical standpoint than his initial semifinal performance and more in his soulful style. He should be able to play his piano in the Finals now and perhaps can challenge Scott MacIntyre to a dual.

3. Megan Joy Corkrey- "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"

This was maybe not a shocking song choice for her, but I have never understood what the lyrics were all about. I know that many people love her whole style and vibe and all that, but I just have never gotten her and frankly, I thought she was horrible again tonight. Katherine McPhee sang this weird and pretty annoying song much better on American Idol twice (and I had to listen to her do it in person at the tour that year as well). It's almost like Megan just sings two notes at most and is talking in a sing-song way rather than singing, much like a horrible commerical of people singing the same way that I saw twice today and I pray will never see again, but I am sure there will be no such luck.... Simon loves him some Megan though, so I was pretty sure she would be in the Finals. I just don't get it from the singing to the horrible dancing, but I guess America will get to decide now.

4. Von Smith- "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"

Von really should consider himself lucky for the judges giving him so many chances, and advancing him as the only wildcard contestant from Group 3. That was interesting because I am pretty sure he was not the next highest vote getter not to get through in that group and that qualification was supposedly going to trigger an automatic invite. If Dial Idol is to be believed, that might have opened a spot for Ju'Not Joyner, but I wonder if the producers worried about his asthma.

As for the singing, Von who might have taken a little step forward with his upbeat performance on Tuesday night I felt took two steps backwards tonight, picked absolutely the wrong song for him, started off rough, then got weird and shouty as usual, and looked shaky and scared to death. Maybe he was having flashbacks of having to hug Rosie O'Donnell. He got blasted by the judges which made it even more obvious that he would be officially eliminated tonight, but he took the news well, so good luck to him. He will be heard from again perhaps if he can study and learn from what he does right and what he does wrong.

I do wonder though about song choice and this whole wildcard process. Did the eight kids really only have less than a day to pick a song, get it cleared, and rehearse? I have my doubts that was really the case, especially with the first two groups, but if Von had to do a completely new on such short notice, he was probably at a disadvantage.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen some more twists in this wildcard feature, such as all eight of them being on stage together and having to sing portions of songs that were thrown at them without necessarily knowing which ones they would be. Now, that would have been dramatic!

5. Jasmine Murray- "Reflection"

I was really surprised that Jasmine did not take the judges' advice to capitalize on her youth and good looks by doing something like a Rihanna (what's she thinking?) song. It's like they are trying to pigeonhole her into doing the music of African-American artists, but for the second time, Jasmine chose to sing a song that was not by a black artist (both Latin singers I suppose?). If that is what the judges, such as Kara DioGuardi were after with their "package artist" comments, I wonder why they cut that Lenesha girl (or whatever her name was) in Hollywood.

It seems like Jasmine sees herself as more of a belting balladeer than an R&B diva and that niche may be taken by Lil Rounds anyway. With that in mind, I think Jasmine did better than she did in her first performance, and this Christiana Aguilera song she did seems really hard to do as well. Jasmine hit some big notes, but to me it was still a little disappointing. I agreed when Simon Cowell hinted that at this stage in her career she may have to try to hard to pull something like that off. She just may not be ready yet, as Jordin Sparks was.

Jasmine did still get a lot of comments about how marketable she was, and it seemed like it could be that the judges were setting up a justification for a decision they already made to put her through. Indeed that is what happened, and while I think Jasmine has a bright future, she probably is only in the Finals because American Idol felt they needed more than just one African-American. Lil Rounds was not going to be the Roland Burris of Season 8.

6. Ricky Braddy- "Superstition"

Not to harp on the wardrobe thing, but he was wearing the same goofy get-up they showed him doing his Ricky Braddy Dance to after advancing in Hollywood. Singing Stevie Wonder on American Idol can always be risky and Ricky definitely put himself out there for this, but I actually thought it was very good vocally and that he had shown much improvement in confidence and working the stage. I was a little taken aback when Simon was so critical of the performance. Again, it felt like they already made up their minds and had too many males in the Finals to whom Ricky had some vocal style similarities and thus he would wind up being out of luck.

So, sadly one of the best technical singers in the entire Top 36, and someone who had two very good and consistent performances, was booted tonight.

I also wonder what might have happened for Ricky if he had not been in the same Group A with fellow North Carolinian Anoop Desai. Since Anoop was said to just fall statistically short of originally advancing, I think it is a given that all the Carolina votes that went to Braddy were what kept him from beating out Michael Sarver. Anoop was probably the heavy favorite of NC, but Braddy might have gotten a lot of more votes out of that state if he were in a different group.

7. Tatiana Del Toro- "Saving All My Love For You"

Didn't she just sing this a couple weeks ago? Guess she could not get anything else cleared in time that she wanted to do, but she should have known the judges might not have been as impressed the second time around. She surprised many back then by being fairly decent and demonstrating a powerful voice on this Whitney Houston tune, and while it might have started off a little rougher this time than the first time, she once again brought it home at the end, perhaps even better than the first time. Since I have to vote on vocal performance alone, I really tried to not dock her any points for re-doing the same song or for just being an absolute whack job/actress. All of a sudden she has a thicker Puerto Rican accent now. It's similar to how all of a sudden Michael Jackson had a deeper speaking voice in London today than he has ever had before.

It's hard to say that Tatiana cannot sing though and because of the drama factor, I figured that if the judges were to put two females through, she might be one of them, but alas it was not to be, and Tatiana had the predictable breakdown and will now go searching for some reality show deal.

Oh, and her dress was horrible! I'm really worried I am going to wind up on E's Fashion Wrap now or something.

8. Anoop Desai- "My Prerogative"

Last but not least was one of mine and many other's early favorites. He chose a very interesting song choice, one that received great interest when it was shown for about five seconds during the Hollywood episodes. It is true of course that several other contestants in the Top 36 reprised their best Hollywood number during their first performance, so it would have been hard for the judges to to criticize him too much for doing it on the Wildcard Show.

By a clear mile, Anoop was the best entertainer tonight, but as far as the voice alone, I do not think it was as great as many others did or what I might have expected. Anoop may actually not have too much experience at all as a solo singer in front of an actual band (and the band and the backup singers were visible for the first time tonight). Technically, I think Noop Dogg was better on the dreary "Angel of Mine" and that his take on this Bobby Brown number was a little manic and shouty at parts. It was still entertaining though and the irony is that had he done this song in the first place, flaws and all, he would have sailed into the Top 12 back then.

Anoop got great comments from the judges which led to little doubt he would be in the "Top 12", had a little bit of a moment with Kara about the Duke-UNC rivarly (I guess I have always preferred Duke in that from an outsiders perspective) and then gave a shout out to Chapel Hill, as this is apparently the one year anniversary of the tragic murder of the then student body President (and Anoop's friend) Eve Carlson. I thought it was a nice moment, but I wonder how many of the folks who roll their eyes on the whole Danny Gokey Dead Wife thing might have not liked this either.

To rank them:

1. Ricky Braddy
2. Matt Giraud
3. Anoop Desai
4. Tatiana Del Toro
5. Jesse Langseth
6. Jasmine Murray
7. Von Smith
8. Megan Joy Corkrey

Who should have advanced (based on what they said the number would be, ha ha): Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai

I expected the three guys to be the best ones of the evening and they were, but I also knew that there was no chance that three guys would be selected. I thought during the commerical break that Anoop would be a given, and that Megan was going to be chosen as well. I then was somewhat torn about who the third one might be, but I was guessing it would be Matt. I did feel sort of conflicted in knowing that Anoop would go through and wanting to see more of him, while also thinking that two of the other guys were better vocally... and perhaps even wondering if he was really all that much better than Tatiana.

For several weeks now though there had been speculation about a "twist" at this stage in the game, perhaps with their being more than 12 to hit the big stage. That started to feel more and more likely as the night went on as I can read the American Idol Public Manipulation Strategery as well as anyone. I just knew it. Yes, you have to believe me, I just knew it.

So, Jasmine was the first to be put in, in a mild surprise..... Matt Giraud, knowing Simon's love for Megan probably proceeded to feel violently ill....then Megan was matched against Tatiana and made it in herself......and ultimately it came down to two guys... Matt and Anoop.

And as mentioned I saw it coming.... "Matt, you're in... and Anoop... you are in as well." The producers really like screwing with Anoop. It must be Pick on a Hindu Week or something, because they made him the last person to be announced as a wildcard singer on Wednesday, and by that point, Anoop looked like he was about to hurl. Tonight, he appeared to genuinely act that despite all the comments he received from the judges, when his buddy Matt was put through, that he was going home, and started to walk off stage, before Seacrest stopped him or something.

I'll have to watch the sequence of events again to determine if Anoop is really that good of an actor or if he was genuinely shocked that a "twist" could be added with a Top 13 this year. The contestants had to have been speculating about that amongst themselves.

So for all you tristadecaphobics, we finally had our Top 13 and to just make this official:

Who did go through: Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy Corkrey, Jasmine Murray

Next week's show may be a cramped and rushed two hours with 13 singers and four chatty and self-indulgent judges. I have no idea what the the theme will be, but since there are 13, I am guessing it's going to be a double elimination spectacular. Maybe we will get rid of some of the deal vocal weight... I don't know... maybe Jorge and Megan?

Ridiculously early Top Three speculation from me...... Anoop Desai, Allison Iraheta, Lil Rounds

I also think that Kris Allen may wind up sticking around longer than most expect and that Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert will both be so polarizing that they both wind up as "shock eliminations" somewhere between # 6 and # 4..... and assuming the show is not rigged, the Powers That Be will be quite upset.

Let's just enjoy the manufactured rollar coaster ride.