Last night’s American Idol showcased the varying talents of eight singers who the judges liked but who for whatever reason (demographics, tattoos, outright lousy performances) weren’t embraced by the calling and texting public. Only three of them were supposed to make it into this year’s group of Idol finalists—or so the viewers thought, until Simon Cowell revealed that this year, the “top” would number 13, not 12. Ooh, Idol, you really mixed it up! Especially for those people who DVR’d the show and missed the big “actually, we’re going to have a top 13 this year” announcement because your judges were too busy braying about commercialism and making questionable decisions to notice that they were running over the allotted time slot. (Never would I have thought I’d be professionally relieved about being a Hell’s Kitchen fan.)
You’d think that in a season where the show’s ratings are down from last year and the record industry that Kara DioGuardi loves to bring up is in turmoil, bandying about the number “13″ would be seen as tempting fate. Idol, it seems, knows not of your superstitions, and will even go so far as to harangue people whose songs even mention the word—even if their performances aren’t lousy as much as they are kinda awkwardly white-boyish. (Ricky Braddy, we knew you when.)
I watched last night’s episode with my pal LeBron, an Idol fanatic who’s watched me come around to the show’s charms (dubious as they may be at this point) over the past few years. He’s with me on the opinion that Ju’Not Joyner got hosed earlier this week, but his gripes with this year go back even farther, to when Pal Of Danny Gokey Jamar Rogers got shown the door during Hollywood Week. (At least he’ll have a great redemption story for his inevitable audition next year.)
So what of Jasmine Murray, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy Corkrey, and Anoop Desai, then? Well, I don’t think it’s impolitic of me to say that thanks to the judges’ decision to fatten the field at the last minute, my predictions were pretty much right on the money. Not that it was rocket science—the judges pretty much telegraphed their love for Jasmine despite her hollow version of Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection,” and Anoop and Megan were pretty much a given. I actually liked Von’s performance (again! I know!) because of its obvious parallels to George Michael, but the person whose fate was most disappointing was Jesse’s: She has chops, but Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good” was a brave choice that didn’t quite pay off, as far as its melody being real tough to nail. I still like her voice, though, and think she can parlay her Idol screen time into something beyond her brother’s shadow.
A final note: Can someone please teach Matt the “take one accessory off before you leave the house” trick, though? Dude looked like Joel Madden up there while singing his indulgent version of the Jackson 5′s “Who’s Lovin’ You.” For real.