American Idol: "Finalists Chosen"
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American Idol: "Finalists Chosen"

B+

American Idol

"Finalists Chosen"

Season 10, Episode 15

OK, I had no idea what was going on tonight until the episode’s plans were being revealed in real time. For some reason, I thought that only four people were going to be eliminated tonight, not half the contestants. And then I had no clue how the Wild Card worked until it was explained, and even then, I wasn’t really sure. (Did the judges decide spur of the moment tonight how many potential Wild Card choices they would audition? Or was that planned ahead of time?) But despite the confusion, with actual live performances and the judges’ spontaneous decisions, it was a more dramatic results show than usual. 

Of course, the show began the way every goddamn results show does: with flashbacks of flashbacks to auditions and to the last two nights. What would this show be without assuming that we all have terrible short-term memory? The only thing I got from the footage was that Brett sounded even worse Tuesday night than on the first pass.

The boys were the first group to get cut, but first, we watched a video of them being interviewed, all acting so innocent and new with this crazy fame thing. Scotty broke the news that in order to sing country you gotta be a country boy.

The first results of the night were announced, which is that America prefers a country boy over a Jewish boy, that is to say, Scotty made it to the top ten while Robbie didn’t (although Robbie still had a shot at wild card contention, as did everybody else who wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the top ten.) 

Then Clint, Jordan, and Jovany were all brought out. Clint looked quite unwell during this part of the show, as if he were going to vomit, cry, or have a heart attack, maybe all at once. He started to cry before the results were read, which for some reason made me cheer against him (I think his huge glasses magnified his watering eyes, and the results were grotesque). Fortunately for me and my black soul, he didn’t make the top ten. And neither did Jordan or Jovany. Jordan did reveal that if he got a second chance he would sing John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” but still, he didn’t flip on whoever allegedly made him sing “OMG.” 

Then the girls were brought out and Ashthon lied through her teeth when Ryan asked if they were as tight as the boys. According to her, all 14 of them are best friends. Well, at least now we know who the fake one is. The girls’ interview video wasn’t as funny and charming as the boys’: They said thank you to their fans and got sad over the thought of leaving the show, and then Karen threatened the country with a Latin-American invasion, so she will be voted off next week. 

Pia and Lauren Alaina came onstage and, not surprisingly, they both made the top ten. I found it more intriguing that Ryan said Kelly Clarkson Tweeted a comparison between Lauren and Kellie Pickler, which is a backhanded compliment if ever I’ve heard one. 

Ta-Tynisa and Julie were then brought out. Julie seemed quite contrite about last night’s performance: We saw footage of her crying afterward, saying “I really wanna be here!” and she said she wished she had been able to perform the song on her guitar (which I don’t think would have helped her, but whatever). My guess was that neither singer would make it to the top ten, and I was correct.

Ryan called up Kendra, Ashthon and Karen. Of the three, I hoped Karen would be the only one who’d make it to the top ten, and once again, my wishes were fulfilled. Karen’s mom (grandma? aunt?) went into a state of religious ecstasy at the news.

Tim, Casey, and Jacob were all up against each other. First, Jacob made the top ten, no surprise, and then Casey had to pretend to be nervous about the results for a minute until we learned that he made the top ten as well. No Tim, though, and no surprise there either.

Naima, Thia, and Lauren Turner were then brought to the stage. I wasn’t sure how this round would turn out—I had hopes but low expectations that Lauren would make it, but she looked sad like she knew it wasn’t her night. Of the three, only Thia and her Esprit sweater made it through, and I hoped that Lauren might have a shot at the wild card. 

Then we got to the one cut of the night I actually cared about: Brett versus Paul. I was going to kill myself if Brett made it to the top ten over Paul (“kill myself” meaning “be bummed for part of the rest of the evening”). You never know with America: they could go for the former bullying victim over that crazy bearded guy (terrorists wear beards!). Fortunately, the country made the right choice. Good job, country! There was something endearing, after the cut, about seeing Jordan hug Brett. Then again, no one escapes a hug from Brett.

Haley was up against Rachel. I wanted neither of them to make it to the Top 10, especially after the way Haley laughed when Ryan read Randy’s criticisms back to her. I’m sure she was trying to seem lighthearted, but it read more like “Ha! What a fool that Randy is!” I wasn't shocked, though, when Haley made it to the Top 10 and Rachel didn’t. But I did notice that Rachel has an interesting scar next to her eye, so even if she didn’t go on in the competition, she has that going for her.

Then it was Stefano vs. James. It seemed pretty clear to me that James would make the top ten, but if Stefano were up against, say, Jordan I would have thought he’d be a sure thing. You could read the stress of the whole moment on James’ face (although I wonder if I would have noticed the tics if we didn’t know about his Tourette’s). I was kind of hoping at this point that Stefano would get the boy wild card. 

And so we had our top ten. While I’m not the biggest fan of Haley, at this point, the only person who really didn’t seem to belong there was Scotty, although it’s not a shocker that he’s there. He’s fine at what he does, but I just think he has no chance when it comes to singing anything other than the very specific type of song we’ve heard him sing so far, and you can’t go far on Idol on one song.

The judges revealed that they’d be giving six kids the chance to sing again, live, although I still wasn’t sure at this point how many would actually be getting the wild card. Ashthon was the first choice which was no surprise, since she’s a clear judges’ favorite. She sang “And I Am Telling You” (which has turned into a Jennifer Hudson song). I think Ashthon is technically fine and obviously appealing, but I don’t really think she brings much new to the show, and I can’t see her posing real competition as the potential winner of the show. But she has a cute bubble butt. The judges all loved her performance.

Also no surprise was Stefano as the second potential wild card performer. He sang “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful and opened his mouth up so wide when he sang I could see his back teeth and upper intestine. Also, I hate his facial hair. But I do think he’s a really strong singer, if a tad more boyish than mannish for my tastes. He definitely was working as hard as he could onstage. Randy said that he was happy that Stefano “chose this song to anoint this moment,” and Steven said that Stefano “gilded the lily of your own passion,” and Jennifer boringly said something that actually made sense. 

Kendra was the next girl to sing for a wild card chance, going with “Georgia On My Mind.” I’d decided based on last night and tonight that I don’t like her voice so much: She gets nasally at times, and all the runs and R&B filigree don’t do it for me. Also, she resembles Paris Hilton’s sister, which is not really a criticism but something I just wanted to throw out there. Hearing her again made me think that I don’t need to hear from her a third time.

I felt the same way about Jovany, who I was surprised to see get a second chance: I don’t think America is really in the mood for his heartfelt ballads. Even though his rendition of Jon Secada’s “Angel” was only about a minute long, after a while I was more interested in how my dog was enjoying his chew toy than Jovany’s performance. Jennifer said, “You did all you could do,” another one of those sayings that could be a compliment or not.

Naima got the last go at the girls’ wild card. I like her, but I wish Lauren Turner had gotten an extra shot. I noticed that when the eliminated girls were all brought out, nobody seemed to want to hug Julie. Naima sang “For All We Know,” a great song for what might be your last moment on a singing competition. I don’t think it was the most in-tune performance of that song, but she sounded good when she hit the high notes and seemed rather stressed as she was performing (she cried afterwards). I figured that between her, Kendra, and Asthon, I’d most like to see Naima get the Wild Card.

The judges brought another one of their pets, Robbie Rosen, out for the last Wild Card shot. He sang “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” He was fine, I guess, but I found it a little boring, although the contestants weren’t singing for us at this point; it was for the judges, so he was probably giving them what they wanted. Of the top three boys, I picked Stefano as my wild card.

It was perfect timing that the judges hadn’t come to their decision after the commercial break, but we did have time to catch the premiere of Jennifer Lopez’s new music video, “On the Floor.” I’m just going to paste my notes from the video right here, and you can tell me whether you agree or disagree (or understand what I was trying to articulate as I typed):

Her body looks good. Not a lot of her singing.  Better than Paula Abdul’s video. Nothing special. People posing in a club. Pitbull saying “Dale!” Jennifer on throne sees urban Jennifer walking through club. Queen Jennifer likes what she sees in peasant Jennifer. Club song. Diaper butt pants. “Dale?” Reminds me of Madonna “Ray of Light” album shit. Pitbull likes talking about donkeys and trucks. Wind! Her body is back.

I learned, by the way, that “Dale,” which is a phrase Pitbull drops about five times into each of his songs, means something along the lines of “Give it to me," "Go get it," "Go on," or “Come on.”  Further proof that Idol is part of a secret plot to try to force us all to learn Spanish.

Anyway, let’s get on with it: Ashthon, Stefano and, then, surprise—Naima, too—were all chosen as the Wild Cards, thus turning our Top 10 into a Top 13. 

All in all, I’m okay with the top group: I wish Lauren Turner had made the cut, but I realized tonight that all I really care about is Paul McDonald (which means he’ll probably get eliminated next week.) 

Now let’s get some sleep. Sleep forever.

Stray observations:

  • Steven advised Tim that he should sing more “alt” stuff, like “Jason Mran.”
  • Jennifer was dressed like Poison Ivy tonight, while Steven resembled a flamboyant but harmless pirate. Brett wore hair feathers like Steven’s but to no avail.
  • I wonder if Stefano feels like an asshole for saying at the top of the show that Robbie might be going home.