The wild card round. All about second chances, redemption, tenacity, and not at all pre-determined, right?
Jesse Langstreth sang first. Man, that girl loves her some chunky knits. Anyway, she wanted to show her range and sang "Tell Me Something Good." I thought it was a bad song choice—it was hard to tell whether she was in tune or not, which Randy interpreted as "interesting note choices." Kara noted that Jesse wasn't on key but that "You don't care what's going on." Shut up, Kara—I'd rather listen to someone who can sing than someone whose only qualification is swagger. Simon found the singing indulgent. I felt like I could live without Jesse in my life at this point.
Matt Giraud was one of the contestants who actually seemed to listen to the judges and take their advice. He dropped the Coldplay thing and sang "Who's Loving You" by the Jackson Five in his Justin Timberlake manner with a bit of a Ray Charles lean (or, if you like, a bit of Taylor Hicks, as Simon pointed out). This was much better than his last performance and more important for him, just what the judges wanted to hear. Simon hated his clothes though (and I didn't totally disagree. You can pick a hat or a hipster scarf but not both). Maybe it was just me though but Matt seemed a little bummed, doing this thing that he's pretty good at, instead of singing Chris Martin. I picked him at the time to be a definite “yes.”
Megan Corkrey came next, singing "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," which she described as "one of the jamsiest songs around." She did her little dance but again, like Jesse, I didn't think it was a great song for her—it didn't particularly show off her voice that well, especially in the verses and I thought her last note was weak. The judges seemed to be unimpressed during her performance but to my surprise they all kissed her ass, even with Randy saying that it wasn't the best vocal either. How come the judges suddenly don't care about singing anymore? Kara said "We need you" and I had the feeling that it was done and decided: Megan was a wild card choice. Whatever.
Then Von Smith sang "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word." The first thing I thought was "He's not wearing his hat. Simon told him to wear a hat. Dumbass." Then I thought, "Wow, this song choice is awful." Off the bat it was high and wimpy and dreary and nobody liked it.
Jasmine, also bucking the judges' advice, sang Christina Aguilera's "Reflection," instead of a Rihanna song. I thought it was cheesy and Randy thought the song was too big and she fell flat and sharp on many notes but Kara thought that Jasmine has a "big voice". On the one hand, Simon started kissing Jasmine's ass but then said that Jasmine sounded like a little girl trying to sound more grown-up. So it was conflicting feedback from the judges but my impression was that she especially was bringing nothing special or new to the competition. Also, her mom would be so much more beautiful with different hair.
I still don't get what Ricky Braddy is all about, except "skinny" fit clothes and turquoise jewelry. He sang "Superstitious" and did a good job but I never had much of an impression of him, or, as Simon said, the singing was good but the song/performance weren't great.
Tatiana was totally speaking with a thicker, stronger accent (Puerto Rican or otherwise) than at other points in the show and even Paula Abdul noticed. I thought she looked nice, actually, and she sang "Saving All My Love For You" again. As I contemplated that she actually has a voice, I also couldn't believe that that crazy lady from the auditions made it this far. You will probably throw things at me for saying this but I thought she was the strongest singer of the girls tonight. But then she went all Tatiana and I think the main reason the judges decided they can't have her is that there is literally not time for her on the show. It never occurred to her that it was time to not-talk, even when it was clearly getting her in a hole, like when she claimed that she couldn't pick a new song because of clearance and Simon called bullshit on her. Then she knelt down in front of Ryan Seacrest for a second but for Tatiana that's one of the less unusual things she's done in a while. I really wish one of the judges had said "Honey, you need to SHUT UP," and I'm saying that it would actually be for her benefit, not to be mean.
Anoop sang "My Prerogative," busting out a lot of face and dance moves, some of them, like the defiant plucking of the shirt, more than once. Are you allowed to sing "I don't give a damn" in Idol? I also enjoyed him singing the lyric "I'm a brother trying hard to make it right." The performance bordered on the over-ly hammy for me, with the high-fives to the audience and everything and honestly it wasn't a great song for Idol since you don't hear him sing that much, but whatever, Anoop was kind of gangsta. His father looked a little bit resigned. Simon pretty much summed it up by again saying that Anoop's not the best singer (boo! hiss!) but they have to put some personalities through in addition to the "boring singers." Ugh, I don't know about this season. Then Randy named him "Anoop Brown Dawgg" and I think for a second Anoop thought Randy meant brown as in skin color, not Bobby Brown. Then Anoop kissed Kara's butt by talking about her alma mater (Duke, which sucks, since they rejected me lo over a decade ago when I applied). Also he gave some words of encouragement to UNC but I’m not sure what for.
While I really (really, really, really) appreciate how quickly the episode moved, I felt a little duped by the whole process since it only seemed to take the judges 120 seconds to decide who was going to make it through. Jasmine was the first, getting an annoying "I'm sorry but…you're going to be seeing a lot more of us" fakeout from Randy. Then Paula broke Tatiana's heart and gave her a little pep talk as Tatiana stood, sobbing, in front of the judges panel, looking like she was about to be led to the guillotine. Poor, crazy Tatiana. She did want it. She did sing. But she was going to make every episode go overlong and Ryan couldn't handle that.
Um, so speaking of going overlong my DVR cut off right about here so the remainder of this review is based on my eagle-eye reporting and asking people. Even before the ep cut out I wondered whom, between Anoop and Matt, would make it, since Matt clearly is a better singer but everyone loves Anoop. Well, guess what everyone: they both made it. For the first time in Idol history, instead of a top 12 it's a top 13. Get the hell out of the way, Barack Obama, because there's a new history being made.
I’m so glad this part of the show is over.
—The coolest person tonight was the the backup singer wearing the scarf on her head and the sunglasses.
—I don’t think we were supposed to see it but I loved that PA shoving two audience members (contestants?) together on one of the balconies.