Um . . . okay, that was weird. Apparently they let the Idol contestants run production for tonight's show, because they were cutting to cameras giving us closeups of the floor, mysterious glimpses down empty corridors, and tapes of the wrong contestants. Seacrest also dealt us a bit of a shock: only three contestants will make it out of this round.
And then they started singing to help us feel better about their collective departure. So here are my observations:
Jackie Tohn (-deaf) For some reason she decided to dress like a down-on-her luck Minnie Mouse. Somebody needs to break it to Jackie that gigantic pirate-sash leather belts, spandex glam pants, polka-dotted halters, and untied old-school Jordan knock-offs went out with . . . creation. Her dancing was reminiscent of a little jig I used to do while waiting for my siblings to vacate the bathroom. Not good. The singing and the song choice "A Little Less Conversation" complemented each other quite well in their stinkiness. Even more bizarre was the fact that only Simon had the audacity to tell her the truth. Kara isn't quite ready to judge on live tv. Odds of advancing: zero to zero
Ricky Braddy This dude was good. But I would have to look up what song he did to remember it, which pretty much proves that Simon knew exactly what he was talking about when he called the performance forgettable. Really, I liked him, but in a round where no more than two guys will move on, you should pick a song people will remember. No one, it seems, spent any time with Kara showing her how to use her microphone, because I think she just ate it. Odds of advancing: 5 to 1
Alexis Grace The judges loved her rendition of "Never Loved a Man," but I had to look up that one, too. They said she had soul . . . I neither saw nor heard it in her performance. It seemed like she was hitting a series of notes rather than communicating any actual message or story. Just didn't buy her as the character she was pretending to be in that song, but . . . she's got a chance of making it through. Odds of advancing: 3 to 1
Brent Keith He sang some country song. No power. No soul. I couldn't wait for it to be over . . . and I didn't. I did hear Randy and Kara telling him his true identity is a country singer, which is their polite way of telling him he should have tried out for Nashville Star. After Simon told him the performance was forgettable, Brent said, "I don't think country fans are going to forget that anytime soon." And even though I was watching on DVR, at that very moment, I swore I could hear a throng of people cry out in drawling unison, "Forget what?" Odds of advancing: 2 hundr'd ta one.
Stevie Wright I guess she sang some Taylor Swift song. I wouldn't know, because I spent the entire performance turning up the volume; had no idea the girl was singing. Seriously, she may have sung the entire thing an octave too low. It looked painful, and it was for me. At this point, all the judges remembered what Simon had spent the whole night trying to remind them about: they are allowed to tell contestants they stunk it up. And poor, 16-year-old Stevie did just that. Odds of advancing: No, sweetie. Not this time.
Anoop Desai I was so disappointed in his performance of "Angel of Mine," mostly the fact that it happened. Every time I had heard Anoop-dogg in the past, I've loved him. If he makes it to the next round, it will be on the strength of those brief, pre-recorded glimpses into his earlier auditions. The whole thing just sounded weak, uninspired, and, according to Randy, sharp. He did not get it done tonight. All the judges honestly panned his performance, apologizing all the while because they like him so much. I'm sorry, too, Anoop. That was a big An-Oops. Odds of advancing: 4 to 1
Casey Carlson I won't easily forget her song choice: "Every Little Thing She (He) Does Is Magic." I don't need to tell you what I think of that selection. The most disturbing thing by far was her mannerisms while pseudo-singing. At first, she was winking and beckoning like the strip-tease was about to begin. Then she bared her teeth like she was about to gnaw the midsection out of a gazelle. Next thing I knew, she was doing some bizarre imitation of a centaur's gallop. Crazy. The judges were really hitting their stride at this point. You could tell they were second-guessing their choices, and with good reason. These people were really starting to su-huck. Also, will someone please tell Kara to stop banging the table. It sounds like the auditorium is under attack by something even more dangerous than atrocious singing. Odds of advancing: Only if there's a very large contingent of males with mute buttons and lightning-fast texting abilities.
Stephen Fowler First warning sign as Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" began to play: Stephen Fowler single-handedly demolished every racial stereotype ever conceived about rhythm. As the lyrics tell you, "You've gotta feel that beat." Well, judging by Stephen's right hand snapping randomly at his side as if trying to snatch the beat out of thin air, we can most definitely not ride the boogie. Oh . . . this was just so bad, it hurts to relive it. The judges are dumbfounded, even though this happens every single year. The contestants are just making it too easy to send them all home. Kara is still banging the table. Odds of advancing: Can odds be negative?
Ann Marie Boskovich "Natural Woman." Honestly, I dont' know why women on this show select songs that showcase how inferior they are to real singers. Aretha's hat could have sung better than that. The judges, once again, let her have it. Odds of advancing: 30 to Life (because that was murder)
Michael Sarver He sang Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be." Apparently not. This guy sailed through the audition process singing soul and R&B, and then he ditched it all in favor of a fast song with which he could not keep up. I wanted to see this guy compete some more, but I am just as disappointed as the judges were. This was a serious streak of underachievement and ridiculii song choices. Ugh. Kara, please. The microphone is connected to the table. Odds of advancing: 10 to 1
Tatiana Nicole Del Toro It pains me to say that Tati-ha-ha-HA-ha-HA-na was one of the best female vocals of the night. By now you know that's not saying much. As soon as she appeared on screen, I told Heather, "She makes me want to die." Heather replied, "She makes me want to shoot myself in the foot. I wouldn't die, but it would distract me from the pain in my ears." Her "Saving All My Love for You," was okay, except when she delivered the lyric "making love the whole night through." The moves that accompanied her vocal stylings triggered my gag reflex, and I almost blew pretzel chunks all over myself. Fortunately, I looked away just in time, and a pukey mess was avoided, albeit narrowly. As was the case a few times, the strangest part of her performance came after the singing was over. She did her very best to appear normal, professional, and reserved. It was scary. Like when Glenn Close would get quiet in Fatal Attraction. Please, America (and I'm looking at you, too, Puerto Rico) don't let her pass. Odds of advancing: 4 to 1 (nooooooo!)
Danny Gokey The guy lost his wife right before the first audition. Then his best friend got eliminated at the final cut. Plus, he's a really good singer, and he looks like Robert Downey Jr. with the creepy dialed down a notch or two. But his performance of Mariah's "Hero," was a bit off. He tried to do too much with it, and it really felt like he got detached from the song in a couple places. But somehow, he launched a major fan-crazed freakout from the female judges. Kara almost cracked the table in half and destroyed her replacement mic with a series of booming Woooooooooooo's. Paula couldn't stand up high enough . . . didn't even sit down for her commentary. Randy thought the performance had been dislodged from the proverbial hook. I think Kara proposed. And like the other bookend to one of AI's oddest shows, Simon once again gave the only genuine critique: it was good, not platinum record good. Odds of advancing: Even money.
Okay, that's it. I hope next week's round is better. And I can't wait to see nine of these people get the old heave ho.
UPDATE (AND ****SPOILER WARNING****)
So Alexis (3:1 odds), Michael (10:1 odds, the longest shot of any of the people I gave realistic odds at advancing), and Danny (Even odds) are in the Top 12. It's still possible that Anoop or Brent might be saved by the Wild Card round, but I don't think any of the girls have a shot.
And where in the world do AI producers get the nerve to make these people perform group numbers with the knowledge that two-thirds of them are about to make an exodus straight out of their 15-minute fame window? One last time in the spotlight must be worth a lot to them, because they were all smiling (although Jackie Thon was clearly not singing . . . was that her choice, do ya think?).