Well, well, well, Idol saved its best for last in the mass-elimination, Godfather-style bloodbath that has been the round of 36. If you watched the show, you've suffered through more than enough painful introduction, so let's get to it.
I dub thee, Von-due, because that performance was dunked, covered, and simmering in a big ol' vat of cheese. It wasn't just that he saturated "You're All I Need to Get By," with overdone theatrics and under-thought style, the dude lit up the cameras with the facial expressions of Japanimation heroes in shock. At one point I almost yelled, "Speed, Trixie, Spritle and Chimp-Chimp are in the trunk!" at my TV. In an effort to convince us this show won't suck (which turned out to be completely unnecessary) the judges collude to praise Von for not disrupting the space-time continuum. If they were being genuine, Von must have rocked out in rehearsals. Not according to Seacrest, though, who seemed to wonder if Von-due had rehearsed at all. Odds of advancing: 25 to 1
I'm amazed by her boots . . . or are they pants? What in the world is causing that patent shine, because I am entranced!?! Oh, yes, she's singing. If I ain't got you. Alicia Keys is a great artist to cover, because her songs are much better than her voice (more on that later). Taylor is almost there, but not quite. Too bad, I like her, I love her boot/pant/leather action (Paula has informed me those are leggings . . . I shouldn't want to try on a pair, but I'm absolutely fascinated) . . . um, where am I? Oh, yes, sorry, Taylor, you couldn't hit those low notes (a very common problem among the ladies this year) and you can't afford to show America which notes you can't sing. Not this time, but she seems like something great could develop if she only had more time. Odds of advancing: 15:1
It's called the giggle test, Alex. And you did not pass. I have to confess that when I'm pondering my own American Idol song choice, I frequently settle upon "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," but this did not work. OMJ! He actually did the Michael Jackson thigh slap! That is brilliant. Eliminate the strange growling and the scary moments and the whole Freaks & Geeks vibe, and Alex might have something. He needed to play it meek and smooth. He opted instead for the Austin Powers meets Doogie Howser vibe. And there, look, the judges are giggling. And I guess that's why they call it the giggle test. Odds of advancing: identical to the odds of nine of the contestants dying from a real bad case of the giggles
Abba. I don't even know how I should punctuate that. Abba? Abba! Abba . . . hmm. Oh, sweetie, you took a risk, and for that I applaud you. For everything else, though, not so much on the applause. If she could have edited out all but 30% of the notes she sang, it might have been great. But you have to be really sure of yourself to sing that song, and ironically the only parts she really managed to deliver correctly were the phrases about losing and being judged. Now, if sitting there looking cute were the only factor, Arianna's puppy-dog eyes would have been enough to get me dialing and texting and wishing and hoping and praying. But this is not Puppy Dog Idol. But there should be a Puppy Dog Idol. Odds of advancing: 1,000 Puppy Dogs to 1
I kinda hope we haven't heard Simon butcher his name for the last time, but I'm afraid that just might be the case. "Hey There, Delilah," is one of those songs that, when you slow it down, really gives you time to reflect on how devoid of substance it really is. By comparison to those who sang before him, Ju'Not is awesome. And looking forward, he could be the leading vote-getter for the guys . . . it's possible. But he did hold back and play it safe (until he told the world he just got a cortisone shot to the butt). If this is Ju'Not hyper, he must be a zombie on a normal day. He really seemed to be holding back, which is too bad. This is so not the hold-back round. Odds of advancing: 8 to 1
Kristen is the Tonya Harding of the competition (watch your knees, Lil). Okay, I think she's much, much sweeter than that, but she's . . . I don't know, the girl with Macy's talent at Big Lots prices--she eliminated the expensive ads and fancy packaging and passed the savings on to you. Because of that, something inside me really wants her to get another chance. Tracy Chapman is another good artist to cover on Idol because her songs are all beautiful and her performances understated. But Kristen went a little chintzy and came off looking like she had just won the talent show at the County Fair. But her voice is sooooo good and pure, and I truly believe she has a chance to find her voice and connect with America. I really hope she gets another chance. And hey, look, it only took Kara one week to forget everything she learned about live television. Odds of advancing: 6 to 1
Okay, call me crazy, but Nathaniel somehow managed to seem more comfortable on the big stage than anyone else has so far. If that comfort had translated into awesomeness, he'd be guaranteed a spot in the final 12. Unfortunately, he looked like Simon LeBon dressed as Olivia Newton John for Halloween (when Simon stole this comparison, I peed a little . . . I guess it wasn't as clever as I thought). Somehow he managed to make "I Would Do Anything for Love (but I won't do that)" sound even more campy and fruity than Meatloaf did. (Aside: Hey, check it out! Paula brought her notes and took her meds tonight!) Odds of advancing: Slimmer than his headband
I was so excited for a chance to finally hear someone sing "No One," on key that I almost forgot to pay attention to Felicia's performance. Unlike Alicia Keys, Felicia didn't miss all the notes, but she didn't quite hit the big ones. She also got a little sloppy with her diction, at times turning into a jumbled mess of breathy vowels. The judges loved her, and she had her moments, but I don't see this translating into a repeat performance. Still, she was good enough to make me wonder how many other possible finalists were sent home way too soon. Odds of advancing: 10 to 1 (take heart, Felicia; that's been a great omen the past two weeks)
I'll admit, I was a little nervous for Scott, as I always am. I feel like there's more pressure on him than anyone to validate his place here. There's just no getting around it: everybody wants him to do well, not just because he's blind, but because he seems like such a great person. I liked his choice of Bruce Hornsby. I didn't like the overpronouncing, the straying notes, and the choppiness. But Scott is another person who seems like he has so much more to offer than what we've seen and heard so far. I have a feeling America loves him as much as the judges do, though, and I don't think anyone should apologize for that. Odds of advancing: 5 to 1
With a strong voice (that weakened as the song went on) and a sharp dress, Kendall brought her A- game on "This One's for the Girls." The main problem with Kendall is the simple fact that I think this was probably the very best she could do. It wouldn't be a shock to see a country hopeful advance on the strength of a grass roots campaign, but it would be disappointing in light of the superior competition. Odds of advancing: 11 to 1
Jorge can sing beautifully. I wish he hadn't looked hypnotized at the outset of his performance, but other than a lack of a truly breathtaking finish, the dude really represented himself well. He had a memorable post-performance interview ("When I get this emotional, I can't think in English") that should help him. I was impressed, and I think he has something more to offer as well. Hmm . . . man, he truly is a wild card, because he really seems to have a unique style in this season and in American Idol history. Very interesting. (Stop banging the dang table already, Kara!) Odds of advancing: 6 to 1
We knew the judges wanted her in the finals from the beginning. But this is the first time I've fully understood why. Holy moly. She has it all. The clothes, the voice, the presence, the rhythm, the hair, the lipstick, the flair, the ease . . . she has it. Every single week the show has managed to put the clear favorite in the final slot. Random? Um, no. But who cares. Lil needs no preferential treatment. I can't wait to see what happens when she actually tries. The only questions at this point are 1) Will anyone this season manage to compete with her at all? 2) Will America remember to vote for her? I hope the answers to both questions are yes, but we shall see. Odds of advancing: 1 to 1. She's advancing.
I'm not even going to give predictions, because aside from Lil, it seems pretty wide open to me. I do think we're going to see two ladies advance, but I'm just not certain. Good week, AI, good week.
***Update with Spoiler Warning (Also, this update was made with equipment that may have come into contact with peanuts)***
Jorge, Scott, and Lil. I can't say I disagree with any of those choices. What I will say is I'm shocked just a little bit by the judges' Wild Card selections. Group 3 was, in my arrogant opinion, clearly the best of the bunch. The judges clearly disagreed, sending one of the worst of the bunch back to torture America's auditory sensibilities once more. Seriously, Von Smith's singing career should have been shut down along with Gitmo. And Tatiana? I seriously think they picked her just to prove she really is that crazy. I'm thinking about voting for her just out of spite. The other choice that can be explained only by one of two possibilities 1) Crack, or 2) General Juma was about to dismember Emilio Estevez (yes, their relationship is now strained, but she couldn't let that man hurt her baby) unless they put her through . . . is
Marilyn Manson Jesse Langseth. Gimme a W . . . W! Gimme a T . . . T! Gimme an F . . . F! What's that spell? Jesse Langseth!!!