“American Idol” Goes Through The Looking Glass

noah | March 4, 2009 11:00 am

A performance of “Hey There Delilah” being my favorite of the night. Von Smith not being annoying. An 18-year-old with a neck tattoo. Last night’s American Idol, in which the last third of the Top 36 competed for America’s phoned-in affections, was full of odd things, and made me wonder just how the other two episodes airing this week—tonight’s finalist announcement and tomorrow’s Wild Card round—would out-weird the two hours that aired last night. Rankings and reactions after the jump!

12. Alex Wagner-Trugman. Imagine going to a karaoke bar and being forced to watch a guy who was tipsy on a lite beer and a half sing “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” and who was suddenly emboldened to embellish certain lyrics and gallivant around the stage so much that he knocks over the microphone stand. Yeah. I guess he figured that he had no chance, so he should perform in such a way that would get him noticed by the Internet?

11. Kristen McNamara. The beauty of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” is its minimalism. Turning it into a version appropriate for a wedding band’s dinner music not only torpedoes the song’s reason for being, it makes the singer seem much older and more… tawdry, I guess?

10. Taylor Vaifanua. Didn’t she perform Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” at Hollywood Week? This version was pitched just differently enough for the lower register to give her problems. She hit the glory note, which I guess was the reason for the recalibrating, but there were no other high points in her performance.

9. Kendall Beard. The adjective “pageanty” was invented to describe every aspect of her performance, from her Big Bird bubble dress to her bottle-blonde hair to her cheesetastic performance of a Martina McBride song, which was accentuated by a botched glory note. Blech.

8. Nathaniel Marshall. Was too distracted from his capable, if sorta boring, performance of Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”: “Isn’t this kid 18 years old? How does he already have a neck tattoo?” I guess people have to stand out in any way they can.

7. Arianna Afsar. Protip: Don’t sing songs about winners taking it all until you’re through to the top six. Although it’s exciting that Abba is now in the Idol mix—let’s see a “Waterloo” group-sing on Wild Card night!

6. Felicia Barton. The last-minute replacement muffed a couple of notes on her overly exuberant version of “No One,” but I’m going to hazard a guess that she’s a lock for at least one more performance; if she doesn’t make it into the Top 12, she’s definitely going to make it into the Wild Card round, judging by the judges’ bubbling over her Comeback Kid status.

5. Scott MacIntyre. What is with the dreary song choices? Seriously, my theory that the backing band for these semifinals was picked up from Freddy’s Wedding Band Emporium is being borne out by songs like Bruce Hornsby’s nice-on-the-radio, not-for-a-one-shot-performance “Mandolin Rain.” A lock to make it through to the Top 12, what with the judges saying they can’t wait to see him next week and falling at his feet to be condescending toward him, not to mention him lapping the competition on DialIdol.

4. Von Smith. Bigmouth didn’t strike again this week (he said in his pre-performance package that he didn’t want people to think he was yelling at them!), and his version of “You’re All I Need To Get By” was capable. A little straight-laced, which no doubt inspired Simon’s comparison between him and Clay.

3. Jorge Nunez. His version of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was more inspired by George Michael than Elton John, but who’s to complain about that? Also he was the recipient of some crazy accent-related comments from Paula, and I suspect the producers will feel bad enough about that to let him perform in the Wild Card round on Thursday.

2. Lil Rounds. This week’s recipient of the pimp spot—the final spot on the show, right before Ryan officially opens the phone/text lines—will definitely sail through to the Top 12, thanks to weak performances by pretty much every woman in the field and her being fawned all over by the judges. But if you’re going to take on Mary J. Blige, shouldn’t you be able to match her lower register as well as her glory notes? (Plus, her changing a line to a plea for phone calls was cheesy enough for her to be docked.)

1. Ju’Not Joyner. In theory, turning the Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” into a Quiet Storm track is a somewhat interesting idea. In practice? Sure, it’s better than the original, but I would have much rather heard his voice—which I like a lot!—take on something like “Piano In The Dark.” Perhaps in the coming weeks?

WHO I WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR: Ju’Not, Jorge. (Lil kind of doesn’t need my call.)


REVEALING DIOGUARDISM OF THE NIGHT: “We don’t know about that, Simon. America is still voting.” — Kara on Alex’s chances for coming back, even though she didn’t like him very much. Someone’s still bitter about “Disturbia” being popular!

American Idol [Official site]

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