But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s talk about the performances. Tuesday night, I returned home from a friend’s birthday party under the influence of ... stuff, and proceeded to watch the top 12 boys put on a show. Here are some excerpts from my notes:
As Randy alluded to, karaoke host Clint Jun Gamboa sings a karaoke song: Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” I don’t want to hear a song I’ve heard 10 times before on the Idol stage.
Ship builder. Someone who’s good-looking in theory. Smooooth. Edwin McCain — really!? He looked small on the stage. A limp choice. Are these judges going to be able to get tough? Are we gonna start missing Simon? Randy finally calls him out on a totally generic performance. This isn’t his first rodeo.
Jordan Dorsey. Singing Usher. Is this a singer’s song? What isssss this!? Is this appropriate for family hour? Cheeeeesy. Randy is like, WTF?! Dorsey acts like he was saddled with this track.
Rob Thomas' "Street Corner Symphony." Tim Halperin. Is anyone gonna pick it up?
Brett Lowenstern. Whyyyyyyyyy??? “Light My Fire” — a sultry song, performed by the least sexy dude ever. I do appreciate the Star of David necklace.
I hate James Durbin so much. At least his hair is sorta better? What is this song? His pose at the end of the song? Like he’s already a star. Still has the tail. Judas Priest ... sooo gay (Note: I actually mean this in the best, most literal possible way — I wrote a paper in college on Rob Halford coming out, and the fact that he based his whole image on gay BDSM/leather culture and straight people lapped it up. It’s awesome.) The earring!!!!
It’s my boy Robbie. Ryan calls him the “Pride of Long Island.” Is that a euphemism? Sarah! (Note: The fact that I had nothing else to say here probably didn’t bode well for my little MOT; the Sarah in question is McLachlan. He sang the SPCA song.)
Scott McCreary. Baby Lock Them Doors. Sitting on a stool! It felt authentic. How many times can Steven Tyler say “beautiful.”
Stefano Langone. Boy band-tastic. Bruno Mars. “Just the Way You Are.”
Paul McDonald. “Maggie May!” Tuxedo jacket. One of those guys who doesn’t seem to know what to do without his guitar. Lounge-y and awkward. (Note: Paul is one of those guys I think I’m supposed to like every season — the quirky, “indie” one — but I don’t watch Idol for that. Not yet on board with this dude, despite his Nashville provenance. Everyone is still talking about the Nudie suit.)
Casey looks gooood. He got the pimp spot. (Note: I was fading fast at this point.)
Let’s take a more straightforward look at the girls who performed on Wednesday in front of a sober America.
Ta-Tynisia (this new spelling irks me) sings Rihanna and sounds terrible. The whole thing felt very ’80s — the outfit, the backdrop — which is ironic, since it’s a contemporary song. That said, her body looks banging. As with the night before, Jennifer and Steven have a little trouble getting tough, leaving Randy to act as the voice of this-is-my-10th-season-bitches reason. The live shows are the first time I miss Simon.
Naima, one of my early favorites, puts a big band arrangement on “Summertime.” She sings her guts out, but the whole thing feels incongruous — and don’t even get me started on that dress.
Kendra Chantelle has a great voice, but hasn’t really shown enough of her personality. (Yes, this is probably the producers/editors’ fault.)
OK, this was the trainwreck that hurt: Rachel sings Fiona Apple — which is awesome — but buries the song, “Criminal,” (and its slow-burn eroticism) under an ugly cape and stupid Broadway arrangement. It took me a minute or two to even realize what song she was singing. She takes a risk, and fails miserably. The judges hate it.
Karen Rodriguez dons the big ballad gown, pairs it with boring ballad hair and sings “Hero.” This makes me want to hurl/play Tetris on my phone. I don’t even know if she hit the notes — I was too busy wallowing in my boredom and disgust.
Ashthon Jones claims she’s “not going back to Nashville.” She borrows Sandra Dee’s pants and sings a smooth jam I don’t recognize. Still bored.
Pretty pretty princess Julie Zorilla breaks by heart by singing karaoke on a Kelly Clarkson song. She brought the hair stylist a magazine called Hot Prom Looks 1999 as inspiration.
JLo told former maid (or maybe current — she didn’t make it) Lauren Turner that she reminded her of a “young Bette Midler.” This means she has a prominent nose, curves and will be beloved by bathhouse audiences everywhere. I liked her performance — it was campy but fun. The demographics of this show will not get her.
Haley Reinhart says she wants to be a “visionary to people all over the world.” That’s all I have to say about that. Speaking of precocious teens, Thia looks like a little girl playing dress up and sings a stupid, boring song. The judges lurve it.
Lauren Alaina sings a fun, sassy song by Reba. I like it despite myself.
Pia, the “former makeup artist,” sings the type of big gooey power ballad that I hate, but she makes some interesting choices. Also, she’s so nice to look at and hits some big notes.
The results show on Thursday was less boring than usual — we got to hear six singers “sing for their lives” to win the judge’s wild-card picks. This was after the top 10 were announced: Scotty McCreery, Casey Abrams, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Lauren Alaina, Karen Rodriguez, Pia Toscano, Thia Megia and Haley Reinhart.
The performances all had welcome immediacy. Though he sang a song all about G-d, Stefano Langone was my favorite. He’s so earnest, like a puppy. The last spots went to Stefano Langone, Naima Adedapo and Nashville’s own Ashthon Jones.
See you guys next week when the real fun begins. And to you, Robbie, my little matzo ball, a shot of Slivovitz will make the pain fade, just a little.