I haven't started watching yet, but there's one contestant I want to see and hear more than I've ever anticipated anyone this early in a season: Nick Mitchell. I just . . . I know I'm gonna laugh. Okay, let's press play on the DVR and see who shows up and who screws up.
Oh dear, Jasmine. I guess I haven't heard enough of her from the prelims to really know where she fits, but she's fallen into the other side of the song-picking trap for female Idols. The first (of which we witnessed plenty last week) is when the less-than-diva songstresses try to ascend to Mt. Olympus where only Whitney, Aretha, Mariah, and Celine belong. (The corollary is treading into alternative paradises like Valhalla, where Sting and Bob Marley reside.) But Jasmine, who I think has a potentially bigger voice than some of the other contestants, made the mistake of doing the casual, "strum it out in a coffee shop" song. She bottled up her genie. She's such a cutie, but I don't like her chances. Odds of advancing: 8:1
When I heard he was singing "Viva la Vida," I thought, "Great choice . . . for Week 8." I liked what he was trying to do with the vocals, but the instrumental arrangement didn't change at all. It was like he was trying to improvise over the karaoke track--and as anyone who has ever sung karaoke knows, you can't do that. Oh, man, it hurts, because he is so good. But this performance was in the not-so-good category. Dude. DUDE! Thank Simon for the Wild Card. Odds of advancing: 5:1
Somebody get Jeanine Kate Winslet's shampoo bottle. Seriously, that would have been ten times as good if it had not been on mic. Bad sign #1: the camera cuts to a shot of your friends after your performance, and they look thankful that you're done. Bad sign #2: the judges (and Ryan) all talk about your legs. And they were nice legs. The really weird thing is, I'm pretty sure this is the first time Jeanine has sung this season. The judges look like they're just now meeting her for her long-overdue local audition. She just made the classic blunder of picking a song with notes that had to be sung. Odds of advancing: I think the judges covered that convincingly enough.
Nick Mitchell (a.k.a. Norman Gentile)
Okay. For the very first time I didn't have the slightest shred of disappointment. Holy crap. I've laughed out loud at least a dozen times. And Simon is just playing into his hands. Nick recognizes this show is about entertainment, and Simon is playing the foil. I can't disagree with Randy and Kara more . . . the vocals were hot. Would I plug that performance into my CD player? No. But I will watch that again. Look, the fact is, he sounded better than anybody so far. That's what should be making these judges cry. And he is the only contestant so far tonight who has actually remained true to what got him here. Odds of advancing: 5 to 1. Yeah. They're that good.
A little piece of me dies every time an Idol contestant sings a song by Heart. If Allison were riding shotgun in my car while singing this song, I would say, "Girl, that was awesome. You can sang!" But if I heard that coming out of the speakers, I don't think I would keep listening. In both instances, I'd be wondering what the hell I was doing listening to Heart. Now, Paula just credited her on her microphone use . . . but when she started, I couldn't hear her. Kara seems to have grasped the finer points of mic management, so maybe she should dole out some lessons. There's been some real bad mic work so far tonight. Still, Allison did sound loads better than those who came before, and I like a little raspiness. She wasn't terrible, but I thought she was a little out of control. Odds of advancing: 3 to 1
When Kris announced he was singing "Man in the Mirror," I yelled, "Awesome!" If I were on Idol, I would sing this song every time. But he made the mistake early on of pronouncing a few words like Michael does. Nobody sings like Michael, and nobody pronounces "I see" as "ai chi" like Michael does. BUT, I agree with Kara. I think the lackluster performances of the first half have lowered the standards of the judges. The arrangement was cheesy, and he didn't change it enough to distinguish his vocals from those of the King of Pop. I'm sorry, Kris, but . . . I can't see myself voting for that. Bravo for winning over the judges, but I couldn't wait for that to be over. Odds of advancing: 10 to 1
Megan Joy Corkrey
A tattoo has never seen so misplaced as the sleeve on Megan's right arm as she invoked the spirit of an impish five year old . . . or a doll that sprang to life. I just don't get it. The awkward quarter twirls so perfectly mimicked by Ryan (for real); the cutesy singing that wasn't nearly quirky enough to be considered jazzy; the inability to find the groove; the overconfidence that only seemed to translate after she was finished . . . man, I don't get what the judges are on. A terrible start has thrown off their powers of perception. Odds of advancing: 10 to 1
Aw man, I'm dizzy from the swirling cameras. Yet another song-choice pitfall: the song that doesn't quite rock but doesn't quite roll. Pick a slow heart-wrencher or an upbeat butt-kicker. But don't pick the song that, at a concert, leaves the audience perched near the edge of their seats murmuring to each other, "um . . . are we supposed to stand up?" But he didn't sound bad. It's just not a "hey, look at what I can do" song. Odds of advancing: 6 to 1
Bette Davis eyes? The best part of the song was the rhythmic clapping during Kara's critique. I don't know who to blame for the abysmal band arrangements that have haunted this competition, but they really have been horrendous. It's this bad lounge act vibe, and it's not doing anybody any favors. Back to Jesse, though. I think she lacks the ability to connect with songs that anyone but her misunderstood art-house clique will appreciate. Don't pick a song because of its story when you only have 90 seconds to sing it. Odds of advancing: Infinity to nothingness
The dude wins the name competition hands down, but the "how bad do you want me" look on his face makes Enrique Iglesias look understated. He sang alright, but yeah . . . he was old fashioned. He was boring. He is nice enough to make you want to apologize whilst ripping his performance to shreds, as all the judges did. . . . And he looks 40. Odds of advancing: 40 to 1.
Misha-V broke her promise not to disappoint America before she made it. Drops of Jupiter is just not an Idol song. It didn't cooperate at all with the massive Idol reverb. It doesn't work all too well being sung about a guy. It doesn't capitalize on the fact that she's at least 1/4 elf. But she has a great voice. I wish she had chosen a song that showcased that with more than "Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh." Aw, man. I really like this girl. I didn't hear much from her, but, crap. I wish she was sticking around. Maybe she'll get wild-carded. Odds of advancing: 15 to 1
He was accused of being too dramatic, musical theater, and disconnected. I'll never forget what he suggested as a remedy to that: "Believe," by Cher. If your problem is theatrics, the solution is not Cher. Dear boy. Fortunately for Adam, his problem is also his strength. He's very theatrical. He's very, uh . . . Freddie Mercury, but with the mustache enlarged and draped across the top of his head. You can love it. You can hate it. But the dude has the wow factor. Compared to the competition, he kicked serious Aztec warrior. Odds of advancing: Even money
Whew. Ugh. This was a terrible week IMIO (in my irrelevant opinion). I actually think this is gonna be a tighter race than last week, because there are fewer "definitely not's" and fewer "definitely's." My prediction: Adam, Allison, and . . . Nick. Call me crazy.
UPDATE ***AND SPOILERICITY***
Adam. Check. Allison. Check. And Kris? So far I'm two for two on giving that last guy to make it 10-1 odds. I found it hilarious how poorly the contestants from this week hid their disgust at the material for their group performance. What was that? I did like hearing from Brooke again . . . she's kind of the anti-Idol. And, yes, I posted a picture of Jeanine because it is the last we'll be seeing of her. . . . Unless they come out with Leg Idol. Or Lips Idol. Or Holy Crap, What Did I Just Hear? Idol.