After a horrible, seizure-inducing Hollywood Week, I was actually sort of excited to get this show on the road and hear the offerings of The Best Singers in All the Land, as decreed by the "experts." I should have known better than to be optimistic. Have I learned nothing over the course of eight seasons? Two hours and 12 singers later, all I wanted to do was lie down, put a cold compress on my head, and call my mom and have her tell me everything was going to be all right. Let's review, shall we?
Jackie "Cameltoe" Tohn: When the first singer busts out the black spandex leggings and a scream-y rendition of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation," you know it's going to be a bumpy night. If I knew then what I know now, I would have given her some more props at the time, because she ended up doing a hell of a lot better than some of the other chicks. And Kara is right: Sister does know how to work a stage. And Simon is also right: She played the clown. I'll be surprised if she moves on. Her parents are cute, though.
Ricky Braddy: It took me a full 30 seconds just now to remember who Ricky Braddy is. That should tell you something. He actually had the best vocal performance of the night, but other than his awesome velvet maroon suit jacket, watching him was like taking the fast train to Snoozetown. Paula tells him he deserves to go very far in the competition, but I think he deserves to go very far out of the Kodak Theater and back to his house in Nashville. His parents were cute, though (how long do you think it took them to think of the Braddy Bunch t-shirts they were wearing?)
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Alexis Grace: The 21-year-old single mom (Did she mention that she's a single mom? Because she is. She raises a kid. By herself. In case she hasn't mentioned it.) made like a sexy punk rock housewife and performed in lingerie and pearls and that stupid pink streak in her hair. She also delivered the only truly good performance of the night, singing Aretha's "Never Loved a Man." Simon calls her a "dark horse" in the competition, and I agree with him. Randy tells her she "worked it out," and I agree with him, too. And her dad looks like the fifth lost member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. And I have to wonder: Why isn't she pimping out her daughter to the viewers by having her parents bring her backstage?
Brent Keith: Brent tried to capture the country vote by singing some song called "Hick Town," and it's OK. It bored me a little, but maybe that's because I'm not a country music fan. Maybe middle America will lose their shit over Brent Keith. It wasn't a horrible performace, just not a great one. Randy tells him he can imagine him at a chili cook-off, which doesn't sound like a compliment to me. Paula tells him he could be bigger than previous contestants Bucky Covington and Josh Gracin, which definitely does not sound like a compliment to me. Ricky Braddy had a better performance, but so far I'm remembering Brent's more.
OMG, Neil Patrick Harris is in the audience! Squeal! This night just got infinitely better. Though now I have to question NPH's judgment for voluntarily attending a live AI performance. He doesn't need the publicity, so...he must actually be a fan? Weird. Also, are him and Ted Danson, seated next to him, BFFs, or did the Idol producers just stick the two celebrities together? Oh NPH. You're so much better than this.
Stevie Wright: The Trainwreck of the Night Award goes handily to Stevie Wright, who took the judges previous advice (I know she's only 16, but doesn't she have sense enough not to take any advice ever from Paula Abdul?) to be more young and sang some Taylor Swift song. She looked like a Saved by the Bell revival reject and sang completely off key the whole time. I don't think I've ever seen someone look so uncomfortable on stage in my life. She seems sweet, but really? There were worse people than her during Hollywood Week who didn't make it into the Top 36? I shudder to think.
Anoop Desai: I love Anoop. I am a huge Desai-a-phile. My regular viewing friend Jenifer wants him to be her baby daddy, and I want to be next in line if it doesn't work out between them. He sang Monica's "Angel of Mine," which was a blast from my past, but which I agree with the judges wasn't the right song for him. He looks adorable, though, and his parents are the cutest things ever. I want to be a Desai! Not the best performance, but I still hope he makes it through.
Casey Carlson: I didn't think it could be done, but Casey Carlson actually managed to tie Stevie Wright for trainwreck status. The bubble tea shop employee completely butchered "Every Little Thing She (though she changed the words to 'he') Does Is Magic," and I could just feel Sting wanting to strangle the bitch for mangling his genius. She made like a porn star, winking at the camera and touching her neck all sensuously the whole time, and sang off-key the entire song. As my friend Josh pointed out, "The only way she could salvage this is if her boob popped out right now." Alas, a boob did not pop out, the judges all thought she sucked, and I wanted to punch her for taking a spot from somebody more deserving (Jamar Rogers, perhaps? I know he's a guy and she's a chick, but still).
Michael Sarver: The sensitive-but-tough roughneck and dedicated father sang "I don't Wanna Be" by Gavin DeGraw, and it pretty much sucked, but if there's anybody you want to perform after, it's Casey Carlson,. Compared to her, he sounded like the angel Anoop sang about earlier. As Simon points out, he's likable, and he has the "aw, shucks" thing working for him, so maybe he'll make it through. His wife seems sweet, too.
Ann Marie Boskovich: She played her insecurities up during her audition, but now all of a sudden she thinks she's the effing Queen of Sheba, singing Aretha's "Natural Woman," and sassing the judges. She looks cute, but the song was pretty boring and she's starting to annoy me. Simon calls her a good hotel singer. That's a pretty good way to put it, Cowell.
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Stephen Fowler: I love Stephen Fowler, but he really effed it up last night. The whole thing was off-key and cheesy and the judges kept reminding him (an the viewers) that he got another chance after he forgot the words to his song during Hollywood Week and that he should be grateful and he messed up, blah blah blah. As a not-so-wise man once said, "It wasn't good for me, dog."
Tatiana del Toro: The normally over-the-top drama queen kept it demure and sedate for her performance of Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love." It actually wasn't half bad, definitely the second best female performance of the night. I think she smartly realizes that if she has a snowball's chance in hell of making it into the Top 12, she'd better quit the theatrics and tone it down for a little while. Then, once she makes it in, she can bust out with Tatiana 2.0, an even more annoying, dramatic version of her Hollywood Week self. I can't wait!
Danny Gokey: Did you know Danny Gokey has a dead wife? His wife died. He has a dead wife. In case you missed it the thousand times he or the Idol producers have brought it up. Anyway, his performance of Mariah's "Hero" was pretty annoying, though Kara, Paula and Randy and to some extent Simon lost their shit over it. He kind of creeps me out and I'm sorry his wife is dead, but the whole inspirational pep talk into the camera thing is getting pretty old.
Results show tonight.
Who should make it into the Top 12 (based on vocal performance alone): Ricky Braddy, Alexis Grace and Anoop Desai
Who will make it into the Top 12 (based on pretty much everything except for vocal performace): Anoop Desai, Michael Sarver and Ann Marie Boskovich