It's strange...watching American Idol the last few days, I felt like there was definitely more talent this season than last, and even was excited by a number of the performances (more on the guys' part than the girls'). And then by the end of the results show, my enthusiasm had kinda waned. I'm guessing it's because of the judges' wild card picks (one in particular), but more on that later.
For the record, I HATE results shows. I appreciate they're ratings grabbers, but I am at the point where every "after the break" and every fakeout makes me want to crawl through the screen and mangle "Peaches" Seacrest. (Can that nickname die a quick and horrible death? It did not need to be on an audience sign.)
That being said, last night's show was a little tighter, with the filler mostly coming at the beginning and at the very end (J.Lo video, cough, cough).
Then we "dimmed the lights and got down to the results." The following contestants were invited to visit the stools of success:
Scotty "Alfred E. Newman's Love Child" McCreery (like you didn't think it?)
Lauren "Like Kelly! And Carrie! And Jordin! And Fantasia" Alaina
Pia "Lauren's Biggest Threat" Toscano
Jacob "Less Can Be More" Lusk
Casey "This One Time, at Film Camp" Abrams
Karen "Can I Have an Intrepreter?" Rodriguez
Paul "Footloose" McDonald
Thia "Better Than Lisa Tucker or Katie Stevens" Megia
James "Lambert Lite" Durben
Haley "Growl and Wiggle" Reinhart
I was most surprised by Karen's inclusion in the top 10, but clearly her bilingual singing and her mother's clutching and waving the Puerto Rican flag was more savvy than I thought. I was tremendously upset that Kendra "Just Let Me Sing, Don't Make Me Talk" Shontelle didn't get in on the viewers' vote, although I wasn't surprised.
The top 10 complete, the judges were then asked to "suddenly" select contestants to sing for a wild card slot. They chose Stefano "Wanna See My Scars?" Langone, Robbie "Outlaw the Mullet" Rosen and Jovany "Killer Abs" Barretto for the guys, and Kendra, Naima "Exotic Flower" Adedaipo and Ashthon "The Extra H is for Hair" Jones. I wasn't completely surprised by these choices but had hoped we'd get one more chance to hear from Tim "Urban Did Better Than Me" Halperin and Lauren "Mini-Midler" Turner, but alas. (Kudos to Brett "Whip My Hair" Loewenstern for hugging the judges before he left the stage.)
Wild card contestants could sing any song they performed during their "Idol journey," whether or not we saw them sing it. Ashthon chose to "sing some Jennifer Hudson," breaking out And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going. (Ashthon, better hope you don't run into Jennifer Holliday.) Her performance was high on attitude and screaming, low on actual melody. Steven told her "she brought it like she did before," J.Lo said "she sang like she needed to" and Randy said he liked her attitude. Mm-kay.
Stefano and his adorable mini-soul patch sang Smokie Norful's religious song, I Need You Now. He was absolutely fantastic. To have delivered a performance like his, at (sorry, Kelly) a moment like this was pretty phenomenal, and the judges gave him the appropriate praise.
Kendra revisited Georgia on My Mind. The first few notes seemed too low for her, but as she hit the middle of the song, her amazing voice really kicked into gear. It took her a while to bring the song in for a landing, and Ryan tried to cut her off once or twice, but the judges gave her a lot of positive feedback, although Randy did mention the low start.
A scruffy, henley-clad Jovany opted for Jon Secada's Angel, following Karen's bilingual route. This number showed off his voice much better than I'll Be did on Tuesday. J.Lo told her beloved, "You did what you needed to, baby."
Naima (who nearly fell apart when Steven picked her to sing) pulled it together to sing Donny Hathaway's For All We Know. It started out shaky but when she is in control of her voice, as she was in the middle and at the end of the song, she is terrific.
Soft-rock Robbie opted to sing Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. He really was spot-on with his falsetto and his earnest smiling, although I realized that his need to do a run on nearly every note may be a little excessive. Judges loved him, though.
The judges then
Following the video, the judges announced that they had picked Stefano, Naima and, much to my chagrin, Ashthon. Ashthon reacted in a way I haven't seen since Kristie Glakas was crowned Miss Virginia 2005. (Watch this, it's priceless.) I felt doubly robbed, because either Kendra or Robbie deserved a spot over Ashthon. But the show's rules mandate there has to be at least one contestant whose attitude far outweighs their singing ability. Let's see how long she lasts...
And that's a wrap, until next week. I'll try to muster up a little more enthusiasm for the fact I'll only have to give up two nights instead of three!