Thoughts On The Choosing Of American Idol’s Top 13 Contestants

March 4, 2011

It’s sad when the results show is longer than the performance shows. At the risk of sounding like Abraham “Grampa” Simpson: “Back in my day the results shows were half an hour. You got your vamping, a musical performance or two, and then you got your results. And we liked it!”

First cut made after: 3 montages or over 20 minutes into the show. Seacrest brings the contestants up in groups of two or three.

  • Scotty vs. Robbie: The cuts kick off with the country boy vs. the city boy. Hopefully they’ll keep up this pairing of similar contestants. I agree with other recappers that Scotty has a George W. quality about him, though I find him more likable than Bush and maybe that’s because Scotty never had the chance to be the President. Meanwhile, the fourth Jonas brother is told to go sit on the stools in the corner until the wildcard vote. The producers should make the people who have to sit in the corner wear dunce caps.
  • Clint vs. Jordan vs. Jovany: Randy gives Clint a great big backhanded complement. Jordan is made to renounce his song choice like a heretic in an inquisition. Both guys are told to sit on the stools in the corner. Jovany is up for another 5 seconds before he is sent packing too.

One perk of DVRing this show is that you can skip the montages! During the women’s confessional montage Steven Tyler confirms that Lauren Alaina is the chosen one and I am reaffirmed in my commitment to root against her. Meanwhile Lauren Turner jokingly threatens to cut American if she is cut and gains a billion points with me.

  • Lauren A. vs. Pia: The chosen one is set against the show’s top pro. When Pia is talking, someone shouts “I love you!” Seacrest brings up a Kelly Clarkson tweet that compares Lauren to Kellie Pickler, and from what I recall from Season 5 Kellie came across as pretty stupid on TV. Both are in. The Chosen One still stands. Grr. But Pia, who seems to actually be talented, is still in. If Lauren Alaina is this season’s Kellie Pickler, then Pia Toscano is this season’s Katherine McPhee.
  • Tatynisa vs. Julie: Julie is also made to renounce her performance. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Tatynisa is sent to the corner, but she might as well have been expelled from school. Julie is also sent to the stools, but Seacrest reminds her of a possible wildcard save, so take that as you may. Her floofy dress is not as pretty as her past outfits, but it’s still kinda cute.
  • Kendra vs. Ashthon vs. Karen: Not a lot of incidence at the start. Ashthon is sent to the stools. Karen is then told she is in, which despite her snoozer of a performance this week, I’m good with. She has potential. Meanwhile Kendra is eliminated, though she’ll be fine. Doesn’t she have the hotel chain to fall back on?
  • Jacob vs. Casey vs. Tim: One of these guys is not like the others, one of these guys is mediocre! Jacob is in, no surprise there, and there rejoicing all around. Casey gets the in almost immediately afterward and gets big hugs from Lauren T. and Julie, so dude is in good company. Boring ol’ Tim has to go write “I will acquire a personality” 100 times on the chalkboard on the back of the stage (I wish).
  • Thia vs. Naima vs. Lauren T.: Seacrest says that one of the women is in and two are out. Ouch. Naima is down first, but gets the wildcard concession line. Lauren T. is also sent to the corner and I’m really upset now. Every recap I have read placed her at the top or towards the top of the pack after her performance.
  • Brett vs. Paul: I still can’t make a call with Brett. Sometimes I admire him for letting his freak flag fly and sometimes I feel like he’s this season’s Sanjaya (quirky and fun, but hit and miss singing-wise). It doesn’t matter, because Paul is in. He looks mostly sober tonight and that’s all I have to say.
  • Haley vs. Rachel: Haley takes the “aw shucks” tack while Rachel looks like a brooding goth. Mush Mouth is in and though I’m not surprised I’m still disappointed. Not that Rachel deserved to move forward since despite being one of my top 3 women contestants, she was just not very good last night.
  • Stefano vs. James: The thing about James that annoys me the most isn’t his out of control yelping but his perpetual joylessness. I understand channeling your anger and depression into your performance can be a winning strategy, but for me the best bummer artists from Shirley Manson to Trent Reznor to Slug smile every once in awhile. Even if that smile is a sarcastic smirk or a defiant sneer it still forms a connection to the audience. It sends a message that you can win or die trying. This is why Eminem’s current music doesn’t draw me in. All the playfulness of his earlier work has gone away. But I digress. And James is in! It’s as though the show wants to make up for Adam Lambert not winning by pushing this low-grade pretender. We’ll see how they reconcile it with Lauren A.’s preferred status.

The Wildcard Round: The judges pick six singers to choose any song that’s been performed up until now and sing for their life! This is a creative way to stretch things out to the full two hours.

  • Ashthon – “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going,” More tired old schlock they trot out every year. At least Ashthon’s pipes are in high gear tonight and her audacity seems earned. Nice use of the drum role for the last run.
  • Stefano – “I Need You Now” I don’t recall hearing this song every year, but basically he’s doing the “sparse arrangement plus a bajillion vocal runs” trick. He looks as though he’s getting kicked in the shins as he sings, but he performs with technical proficiency. He’s more talented than I first gave him credit.
  • Kendra – “Georgia On My Mind” The socialite starts out the performance out in the low end of her range, and when she gets to the belting parts she doesn’t sound like she’s on the Jim Henson Company payroll. The screamy run at the end felt tacked on, but I suppose she could have done a lot worse.
  • Jovany – “Angel” So he’s bringing back the Spanish lyrics (cool), and the bad karaoke music arrangement (which kicked his ass earlier this week). Did I just see a tear? At least that felt real. J.Lo’s “you did all you could do, baby,” feedback spelled the end for him but let him down easy.

Tatynisa, Julie, Rachel and Lauren T. are out. Lauren T. was the one of the best singers of the top 24 and she was robbed. Robbed I tell you! I didn’t place a lot of faith in her at the start but she won me over. The show is worse for losing her. Good luck on X-Factor.

  • Naima – “For All We Know” Naima’s vibrato takes her off the rails. She’s solid, but her pipes are thin.

Clint, Jordan, Tim, and Brett are out. I’m sad to lose Jordan and Brett, who at least was a good sport and went up to the judges to shake hands. You were alright, dude.

  • Robbie – “Sorry Seems To be The Hardest Word” He’s in much better step with the band this time, and he’s totally rocking the Archuleta face which is so inappropriate for this song. I actually liked his arrangement. Then I looked up at him. Bleh.

Before the results, we get to see Jennifer Lopez’s new music video. Seacrest is trying to rush things along. It features Pitbull! She’s so heavily processed that it feels unfair to the contestants. The song is catchy and I love the Todd Terry-esque house production, but if the people whom she is judging don’t get the aid of autotune, a talented rapper, or crisp, clean metallic dance beats, why should she? She should have had to perform it live with the shitty house band (who is surpassed only by the Dancing With The Stars house band in terms of sheer ineptitude).

Afterward, the judges reveal their top three. Ashthon gets picked first and fakes a “who me” reaction. Contrast this with Naima, who looks genuinely surprised and excited, or Stefano, who just looks happy.

The Top Thirteen

  1. Scotty McCreery
  2. Lauren Alaina
  3. Pia Toscano
  4. Karen Rodriguez
  5. Jacob Lusk
  6. Casey Abrams
  7. Thia Megia
  8. Paul McDonald
  9. Haley Reinhart
  10. James Durbin
  11. Ashthon Jones
  12. Stefano Langone
  13. Naima Adedapo

So right now I’ll be rooting for Pia and Casey for sure, with maybes for Jacob and Karen provided they can have more fun. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.


One comment

  1. […] Josh Turner song. I don’t have the antipathy towards Scotty that I’ve seen on other sites, but I reiterate that my reason is that Scotty has never been in a position of power, so he has never had a chance […]

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