Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Idol - Top 36 Group 3

Hello Idol Addicts! One final push this week and we can collectively breath a sigh that the semi-finals are over! I've made it no secret that I'm no fan of this switcheroo back to the semi-finals of old. Our producers seem to have way too much control, and it was yet again on display tonight with the final performance of the night. Tell me, don't you find it a little odd that 3 weeks straight, the final performer of the night will be in the top 12? I'm telling you, this conspiracy is bigger than JFK and WATERGATE! Alas, this is only a TV show. I must say, tonight there seemed to be a few better performances to choose from than week's past. Although, it does seem pretty clear who will be the favorites to get through tomorrow night. Things could get interesting for wildcard night. And I wish for once someone would explain how it's going to work!

But for now, we have some work to do so on with our analysis of tonight's 12. My picks to follow at the bottom!

  1. Von Smith - 22 from Greenwood, MO - He can try to lose the name all he wants. But when history looks back at American Idol season 8 and if they even remember ol' Von, he'll be remembered as "The Screamer." Of course, now after tonight's performance he shall be "The Screamer with Ronald McDonald's Shoes." I mean...whaaaat? What on earth was that crazy outfit? The V-Neck with the Suit, and those ruby red Dorothy shoes! His rendition of "You're All I need to Get By" was interesting to say the least. He sang it all in tune. But he seemed too impressed with himself with those high notes. And it's just an annoying voice in my opinion. The judges went easy on him. But do they really think he has a shot? I don't think so. They may try to scare us with a Wildcard night appearance though.
  2. Taylor Vaifanua -17 from Hurricane, Utah - Well, now we know why Taylor didn't get much press-time in the earlier rounds. Her performance of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" was really "breathy" and she tried to over sing it a bit. The whole thing felt forced. It sounded like a Saturday Night Live character doing an impersonation of someone over singing. Does that make sense? Didn't think so! Well, neither did that performance! Oh, fun thing to note. When Ryan was giving out the phone number for her fans to dial? You know, it ended in 2. So she put both hands up with 2 fingers each and held them together. Um, my dear, that looked like 4!!! So if Arianna Afsar gets in, it's your fault!
  3. Alex Wagner-Trugman - 19 from Studio City, CA - Well, our resident fitness champion took a break from muscle beach to bring us a rousing rendition of Sir Elton's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues." Seriously? He started lifting to get rid of his dorky persona? I felt bad for the guy. I laughed through his entire performance for all fo the wrong reasons. But I think we all did. The theatrics were hysterical. But nothing will surpass the GROWL!!!! I literally screamed out loud when he did it. I couldn't contain myself! And folks, if I can find it on youtube, it might just have to eventually make it's way onto this blog. rooooowl!!!!!!!! And then the Mic Stand fell over (but it soooo looked like it was intentional!) The dude has no shot at all to move on, but man was that entertaining!
  4. Arianna Afsar - 17 from San Diego, CA- I'm totally confused by this one. She sang Abba's "The Winner Takes it All" or did she? I couldn't make out a song in any of that performance. Maybe it was the arrangement, but she seemed "off" with the music the entire time. It was pretty boring, uninspiring and well, the judges hated it. I don't see anyone really rallying to her cause!
  5. Ju'Not Joyner - 26 from Bowie, Marlyand- A little bit of hypocrisy here with Paula. She told someone earlier that they did the same song in Hollywood week but then complimented Ju'Not for doing the same thing. We heard his spin of the Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" a few weeks back and enjoyed it then. This was a little more subdued. Apparently he wanted to show respect to the artist and not change the melody up too much. I dunno, he sounded good. His talk about the cortisone shot probably won him some points and showing clips of his kid never hurts either. If anything, he might be back Thursday night for the Wildcard show. I think there was too much talent at the tail end of this night for him to remain in the running. But I like him, for the record!
  6. Kristen McNamara - 23 from Napa Valley CA - Well, we've seen quite a bit of drama from Kristen in Hollywood. We've seen some crazy hair style changes. We've seen her butcher Kelly Clarkson (although some would beg to differ including the judges). But this Karaoke host dug up something you might see in Vegas or Simon's favorite "a cruise ship!" If you're gonna do Traci Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" just do it straight up bluesy! Don't turn it into a Disco! Her voice was pretty decent, but the arrangement was a disaster. I think the judges may like her too. I'm really interested to see how Thursday pans out. If they're going to pick one from each semi-final week then it's gonna be tough to figure it out!
  7. Nathaniel Marshall - 19 from Malone, NY - I really hope this is the last week we have to see this dude. Ever since we saw his Hollywood soliloquy of how the music "COMES FROM HIS SKIN!!!" people have been forcing their dinner up across America. Well, kids you ain't seen nothin' yet! For his final act, he pulled out all of the stops for the grand workout video that might even get Meatloaf into shape! I'm a little annoyed at Simon and Paula for stealing my thunder on this one. As I was watching I took notes saying how he turned "I Would Do Anything For Love" into a Richard Simmons' video. Darn it all! And a one and a two and a one two three! Move those Hips ladies!!! Man was it bad!! And all of the headband antics and inside jokes with the judges afterwards was a little over the top. I don't think Nathaniel has an ice cube's shot in Hades of making it to the next round (went all Greek Mythology on you for a second!).
  8. Felicia Barton - 26 from Virginia Beach, VA - Well Felicia sure looked glad to be there. And she should! She was originally told she was not in the top 36. But then the Joanna Pacitti scandal happened, and she was on the next flight back to L.A. She sang Alicia Keys' "No One" like she was out there with something to prove. (wow, 2 Alicia songs and 2 Elton songs out of 12 total. Crazy!) She did sing it pretty well. I agreed with Simon that it might have been a little "copy-cattish." Again, maybe a wild card, but I think I've already made up my mind on the 3 that get in.
  9. Scott MacIntyre - 23 from Scottsdale, AZ - I mean, how can you not like this guy? We all know he doesn't have the perfect voice. But you had to feel for him when all he wanted was his piano. His best alternative was to sing something from a fellow piano guy. I don't know much about Bruce Hornsby's "Mandolin Rain" but I do know that Scotty here loves music. And just like the judges said, you can just feel his enjoyment as he's singing. If the voters are made of stone, then the judges surely will put him in Thursday. But as Simon said, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he's in. Get this man his piano!
  10. Kendall Beard - 24 from Lufkin, TX - Well, what do you know? There WAS a Country Girl this season! It was tough not to like her from her interview segment tonight. And tough not to root for her as we now want to see her dad do the alligator dance. Do you smell a BUT coming? Well here it is. BUT!! I don't know if her rendition of Martina's "This One's For the Girl" will be enough to cut it tonight. This would be a case in the past 3 season's top 24's where she'd be safe and moving on to the next week. But when we can only pick 3, she just doesn't quite make the cut. As Simon suggested, there really wasn't much else she could have done better. Maybe they'll want to get a country girl into the competition on wildcard night. But let's be honest. I think American Idol has cornered the Country Market as of late (Carrie, Pickler, Gracin, Bucky, Phil Stacey, etc...). And let's be a little more honest. It only goes downhill after Carrie!
  11. Jorge Nuñez - 21 Carolina, Puerto Rico - I am so glad I finally figured out how to type an "ñ" on my computer! Because Jorge just might be sticking around a bit longer. Is there anyone out there that didn't get a little teary-eyed when Jorge was so pleased with the judges' comments that he started crying and "thinking in Spanish?" He sang the heck out of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" and apparently worked on his dialect. I agree with Simon though. Why would they go to Puerto Rico to find a contestant if they wanted them to sound like they had a Standard American Dialect? I wasn't sure if I was going to like Jorge after his audition. I knew that he sang Jon Secada's "Angel" better than Sergei Federov (I just can't call that crazy dude Anthony!) and I still keep bringing it up because of the anonymous disgruntled reader who apparently was offended. (you just don't know where those Sergei fans are hiding these days!) Anyway, Jorge is growing on me. If the performance alone wasn't enough to get him in, then it was his reactions afterwards that will help seal the deal.
  12. Lil Rounds - 24 from Memphis, TN - And then here it was. The moment we were all dreading. We knew she'd be 12th. We knew she would get into the top 12 no matter what. We saw the clips of her being compared to Barftasia and Mary J. Blige. She decided to sing a song by the latter "Be Without You." What we got was a ridiculous clone version of Miss Blige's tune. When I say ridiculous I mean that in 2 ways. I meant that she was really good. But at the same time it was an exact carbon copy! We saw the Judges drinking the Kool-Aid and bobbing their heads along. We saw Kara trying to talk like Lil to show how hip and cool she is. We saw how Lil needs to PROVIDE for her struggling family. Ugh....we saw Fantasia 2.0. I was no fan of it the first time around, and it ain't gonna change this time around. Lil Rounds is officially my enemy! And just like I successfully convinced America that David Archuleta was not fit for the Idol crown, I accept the challenge to start my campaign to do the same for LIL! Even though, yes Paula, we will see her for "many 'lil rounds' to come." See my eyes folks? Watch them rooooooollllllllllll!!!!!!!!! (whoops, just thought of Alex Wagner-Trugman again!)

Oh and of course after all of the Judges' praise for Lil, it only egged her on to start her Grammy Thank You's a bit too prematurely. That has to be enough to turn anyone off! But, I've got plenty of time to get back on that soapbox. I gotta dish out some picks! This one is easy to me, which means I've probably got it all wrong!

Top Female Vote: Lil Rounds
Top Male Vote: Scott MacIntyre
Next Top Vote Getter: Jorge Nuñez

Bonus Picks: Ju'Not Joyner, Kendall Beard Long Shot: Felicia Barton

The bonus picks are for my sanity only. I never take credit for getting it right if they're picked! Anyway, here's my first stab at the Wildcard. I will revisit this tomorrow if they give us more information. But if they take one from each week. Here are my picks:

Week 1 - Anoooooooop Desai
Week 2 - Matt Giraud
Week 3 - Kendall Beard

I would've went for Ju'Not for week 3 but that is one Male-Dominated top 12! I don't know if they'd do that or not. Maybe Jasmine Murray gets a 2nd shot over Matt. Maybe Jackie Tohn gets in over Anoop (really??? naaaa). Or maybe it won't be one per week! There has to be some kind of performance Thursday for them to make a final decision. Oh well, I made my early picks and we'll get more information after Wednesday Night's show.

In the meantime, hope you enjoyed my ramblings as always and I'll see you after the results!

This blog can also be read and discussed on
Gather.com. Come check it out and throw some votes my way if you have spare time!


Anonymous said...

Loved the show for the most part tonight Mike. After razzing on Lil Rounds earlier, how does she sound for you now?

I'm thinking she'll definitely advance along with Scott. People, I suspect, are very intrigued with a possible blind American Idol winner. He's got mad skills and I can't wait 'til we see him being a piano.

As for my third choice, it came down to Kristen, Ju'not or Jorge. I'm really loving on Kristen right now--love her voice, love her pipes, even loving the fact that a Nashville Starlet can make it far in Idol! She'd be my third pick.

I certainly believe that Jorge will be picked up for the top 12 as well. If he's not picked by America, then he's certainly has a more than decent chance at being one of the judges wild cards.

Good show tonight and another fine blog by Mike V! All is well. Let's hope that Lost doesn't disappoint tommorrow either.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff as usual, Mike! I picked Scott, Lil and Ju'Not to advance, but I could see Jorge making it instead of Ju'Not.

I loved Alex Wagner-Trugman's performance. It was even better on second viewing. I know he probably won't make the Top 12, but then, my favorites rarely make it very far. Just once I wish someone who's both funny and creative could make it deep in the competition.

I'm with you on the anti-Lil wagon. I seriously doubt she has any chance of winning though.

Unknown said...

Lil's performance just didn't impress me that much. She has a good voice, but it's nothing special that we've never heard before. She sounds like every other successful R&B artist out there.

Anonymous said...

Um.........WHAT????? Doesn't Idol WANT a success recording artist to come out of this season? I thought the whole purpose of Idol was to find a relative unknown, give them a chance and see if they could make it out in the big, bad world of the music business.

Lil's got the pipes, the 'tude and apparently the skill that would lend itself readily to the music industry. I'm quite okay with her at this time.

Unknown said...

Yeah, they do. But they are usually looking for something unique. I'm just saying there is nothing that would make her stand out in the crowd. It's fine for you to like her. I'm sure you won't be the only one, but I'm entitled to my opinion too. And my opinion is that she's not the best contender for the title this season.

Anonymous said...

Shanna, No problem here. But when you say that there is nothing that would make her stand out in the crowd, did you NOT see her, ahem, backside. : > )

Mike V. said...

Yeah, I can understand why people will like Lil Rounds. She has a really good voice. The name itself is UNIQUE and catchy if not utterly ridiculous! She's personally not my cup of tea though. I don't even like tea!

Fantasia had talent and attitude as well. And look what she turned into. An utter disaster! And she's not really lighting up the charts either, never really did. LIL does seem a little more "put together" than Fantasia was (little being a key word!), but I still see a lot of similarities to the winner of American Idol's worst season.

I agree with Shanna right now though. I'm not a big fan of Carbon Copy performances! Sure, we know she can BE Mary J. Blige. Let's see how she can change the game a little bit before getting too excited about her vocal chops. Let's see how she does on Country Week! Many "power vocalists" have fallen on such nights.

That's all I have for now.

Thanks for the props on the blog!