Friday, March 8, 2013

AI Recap: The Power of 10

Did we really have a top 10 results show without unnecessary drama (save the forced histrionics of another overblown Curtis Finch, Jr. performance)?

Is it possible that, although I'm not crazy about a few of the contestants, this is a top 10 that doesn't incense me?

Were we really spared any non-prerecorded moments of Zoanette- or Charlie-related madness?

Hold on to your hats, kids, this may be the end of days. Or a harbinger of the madness to come. But whatever it is, I found last night's results show far less annoying and crap-filled than I know future results shows will be. Although if some of the top 10's "victory performances" are any indication of what they're going to sound like in front of a live Hollywood audience, we may be in trouble.

I'm not sure who thought of the design of this show, but it was horribly stupid. The contestants were kept backstage in this weird holding room, seemingly miles away from the stage. The audience in the theater couldn't see them, but we could at home. Ryan started by telling the guys which ones made it into the top 10 (and secured a spot on the summer tour—oh joy, oh rapture), and when he'd call someone's name, they'd walk all the way to these dramatic-looking doors to the stage, and then Ryan would announce their names to the crowd, into which they'd walk, to rousing applause.

If it sounds confusing and unnecessary, it was even more so, but to be spared the ridiculously non-dramatic fakeouts of who made it and who didn't, I was willing to endure. Plus, I watched it on my DVR, so I fast-forwarded through anything the judges had to say when they gave their so-called "advice" to the contestants.

Shockingly, the overly theatrical "guy Taylor Swift," Paul, was the first contestant named into the top 5. He was shocked and said he wondered if Ryan was playing a joke on him. He screeched and stumbled through a (surprise) dramatically oversung version of Alone, performed on this show far too many times to count, none greater than one of Paul's idols, Carrie Underwood.

Burnell, rocking an ensemble last worn by Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was next to be named into the top 5. He sang India.Arie's Ready for Love, complete with his soon-to-be-trademarked hand gestures. The amazing Joshua Ledet sang this song last season (although only the studio version can be found on YouTube). Burnell, I loved Joshua Ledet, and you are no Joshua Ledet. Don't try.

To the surprise of no one (not even him, no matter how much he playacted humility and shock), Curtis also made it into the top 10. He sang John Legend's So High (again with the flying theme), and he started in with the Burnellisms, too, pointing "high", etc. I didn't think his performance was as strong as some of his others, and I hope (although I doubt) the judges will tell him that every note, every gesture doesn't need to be hammered to death. Subtlety can be wonderful sometimes, too. (Stop looking at me. Remember, those who can't do write about others who can't do.)

Who's next? Our own "Spanish Ken doll," Devin. I'm seriously liking him more and more every time I see him. He sang Israel Houghton's The Power of One (all in English this time, although in her post-performance "advice," Nicki suggested Devin stick with the English/Spanish hybrid), and he sounded great (mostly) and showed more performance skill than we've seen from him yet. Hoping he goes far.

I wondered who would be the final guy in the top 10. Marketable, ladies-loving Elijah? Early favorite Vincent, whose last performance knocked him off his pedestal? Chapeau-topped Nick? "Jean vest" wearing, pelvis-thrusting Cortez? No. The final slot went to the one with the amazing smile and the great story, Lazaro, this time surprisingly dressed in all black save for white sneakers. He apparently didn't know the last few notes of his victory song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, despite it being the song he sang for his audition. (Of course, AI lovers remember this as the song that should have won Clay Aiken the title in Season 2, and Season 10's Curtis, Jacob Lusk, also sang it.) Vocally, Lazaro was a little bit of a mess, sometimes good and sometimes fairly bad, but I love him. It will be interesting to see how long he lasts if he doesn't continue improving.

When they brought the five guys who were cut out onstage, I waited for the moment the judges or Ryan would announce wildcards. Nope.

Time for the ladies to enter the holding pen. First into the top 10, the constantly underwhelming Janelle, who underwhelmed again with her rendition of Dierks Bentley's Home. I like that she sounds like Jewel without the twee lyrics, but she doesn't wow me in any way, kind of the way the judges and everyone kept telling us how amazing Lauren Alaina was in Season 10, but she never seemed to wow anyone. I predict Janelle will soon be the Kristy Lee Cook-ish bane of my existence.

Candice was next. Still cannot believe she was cut last season, because she would have chewed up and spit out Jessica Sanchez like Jennifer Holliday nearly did during last season's finale. She sang Mary J. Blige's I'm Goin' Down and was Ah. Ma. Zing. Can she just be declared the winner and give me my nights back?

Piano-playing, original song-writing, Angie made it next. She looked great but didn't sound so great on a somewhat overblown and screechy I Was Here by Beyonce. Let's hope it was just nerves. And did you know she wrote and performed an original song?

When Ryan announced that Amber was the next contestant into the top 10, she looked like she might pass out. Nicki is right: the girl has legs for days, even if I feel like a bit of a perv saying that. She showed a bit more personality by singing another Whitney Houston song, this time I'm Every Woman, which Trenyce sang in Season 2, Mandisa sang in Season 5, and Lil Rounds sang in Season 8, but apparently none of those are available on YouTube. It will be interesting to see if Amber can stand out this season.

Would the final spot in the top 10 go to one of our beautiful, marketable contestants, Breanna or Aubrey? The hot mess of Zoanette? Future Miss Alaska Adriana? I'll admit, I sweated through this one, until Ryan announced that Kree made it into the top 10. I take back my earlier comment: can Kree win now? Her performance of Susan Tedeschi's Evidence showed fire, sass, and amazing vocals...and the camera pan showed she has a pretty hot boyfriend. How can you miss?

Again, I expected an announcement about wild cards. Nope. But apparently the sixth-place finisher on both the guys' and ladies' sides will compete in some sort of pre-determined sing-off to determine who gets a spot on the summer tour. It will be interesting to see who they pretend finished sixth—I can't imagine they won't want either Charlie or Zoanette to be that person, for the drama factor alone.

And there you have it...the 10 people sure to make me crazy one way or another over the next nine or so weeks. (Fifteen people total, counting the judges and Ryan. Oh, and Jimmy. Sixteen. Sigh.)

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