Sharyn Jackson is your American Idol host for season eight. This week: the Top 13.
Lucky 13! The only surprise that came out of last week’s Wild Card Round–when the judges pre-selected the finalists but tortured them and millions of Americans with a last-ditch performance that ultimately meant nothing–was that Anoop “Dawg” Desai would become the 13th person in the Top 12–to make things a little more interesting, or to provide Coca-Cola with one more week of national advertising. But no! Two will go home this week instead of one, thus bringing us back to Idol regularity. Whew!
So now we’re on a pimped out stage with 13 people who may or may not deserve to be there (ahem, Megan Corkrey), the screams of hundreds of tweens, and some disembodied voice who announces the judges and Ryan–what’s that about? Even Seacrest’s job is being outsourced to robots? Everyone dressed up: Paula’s wearing a Bjork-inspired golden bird thingamajig, Kara’s got a black satin bow coming out of her throat, and Simon’s wearing a…black sweatshirt.
Another surprise: the theme is Michael Jackson! He’s not here as a mentor in the flesh, sadly, but his canon provides the pickings for each singer. Instead of a video where the mentor talks about how good it feels to hear karaoke versions of their music on the show, we’re getting bio info before each performance. The reasons for this are obvious.
She’s got the opening slot–a coveted spot, for sure–and we learn that she’s a mom of three. She’s wearing a combination of Kara and Paula’s outfits, with intense ruffle action on her left shoulder. She does a great job on a soulful rendition of “The Way You Make Me Feel,” the judges all enjoy her, and Paula congratulates her on her ruffles. That oughta knock some sense into Lil.
Scott’s sister is also blind, according to the biographical video. The siblings rock out together in a band–that includes the hot brother/stage guide. But Scott takes the stage alone on the keys with “Keep the Faith” (of course) and it’s a huge improvement over last week’s atrocious performance, but there’s still something cheesy and painfully inspirational about it. Kara says people like to hear his “message” as opposed to his voice. Simon says he should have picked a more recognized song than this, “the biggest selling record in Norway,” according to Paula. Scott counters he was just trying to be artistic. But, says Simon, “It’s fine to be artistic, just not on this show.” Well, that speaks for itself.
Danny’s intro doesn’t mention his dead wife, so I feel like I am in the mental space to like him. And then he sounds fantastic screaming out “I want to love you!” to start off “P.Y.T.” and rocks to the end. He’s got this older sound to his voice, like a cigar smoker. In this contest of little children, that’s much needed. Paula declares him the winner, Simon says vocals were brilliant. I like his red glasses. Ok, Danny Gokey, I’m buying it.
Crazy Christian Texas oil rigger. He sings “You Are Not Alone”–’cause God is watching you all the time. Or is that the paparazzi? The song is just too big for him. Michael cannot carry any of the long notes, which is like all of them. He does his ending glory note just fine, but don’t they all? The contestants have to learn there’s a whole minute and a half of song that comes before that. Simon likes his passion. Whatevs.
The black Fergie is wearing something way too slutty for a 17-year-old former pageant queen. Her mom and all of her sisters are all gorgeous, and love red lipstick. “I’ll Be There” is beyond her, and the tone of her voice is so irritating. Paula’s actually the only one who points out that she was flat throughout. Simon says she wasn’t acting her age, yet again.
He and his newlywed are already having marital problems now that he’s a big B-list superstar. He needlessly plays the guitar on “Do You Remember the Time,” which is still plenty synthesized. It’s a pretty hokey performance. They don’t shoot the wife’s reaction when Paula calls him sexy. But they do show her looking seriously pissed when Simon says Kris should have kept the wife hidden for a few more weeks.
The 16-year-old got a new accent this week–like Tatiana picked up last week, trying to ride the wave of popularity that Jorge Nunez has won for speaking Spanish when he’s excited. Allison is this season’s rocker chick. On “Give Into Me,” she sounds a lot like last year’s Amanda Overmyer, but is eminently less frightening. Simon tells her to lighten up, but overall she gets great feedback. And did I mention she’s adorable?
The wild Wild Card is an only child with super sweet parents. He seems like a really good guy. Finally, an MJ classic: “Beat It.” There’s potential for something with no melody to be atrocious, and his voice cracks a few times, but he’s got enough stage presence to at least make it fun. Paula gets booed saying it was like karaoke, Simon regrets putting him into the Top 13, and the spark in Anoop’s eyes fades, his jaw hardens, and we see his dreams get crushed before us.
Jorge takes it back to Jackson 5 days with “Never Can Say Goodbye.” I like his voice, and his eyebrows have more personality than any single contestant this season. He’s “pitchy,” as they say, but still so likable. Paula asks why he picked this song, and Jorge says it was because, “I was not going to sing ‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson.” “You sort of did,” says Simon. And you set yourself up for that one, Jorge.
This girl just rubs me the wrong way, especially in a too-tight red dress accentuating her enormous boobs, like she’s preparing for the cocktail waitress gig she’ll get once she’s kicked off the show. She sings “Rockin’ Robin.” What? Again, she stands in front of a mic and just sort of twists and flails. Then she walks a little, and twists and flails some more. It’s so awkward, so cheesy, so far from pop. Simon and Randy call her on it, thank you very much.
The token gay–and can I just point out here that I called it long before the male-on-male make-out photos surfaced on the Internet? Thank you. So if we know America at all, he’ll be one of the two kicked off this week. Come on, America. Put your Prop 8 hate away in the name of pop music and keep this flamboyant creature around another week! Appropriately, he sings “Black or White,” and I hear a nice little emphasis on “equality.” He’s delightfully over-the-top, and he seems like he’s actually performed before. Paula likes how he marries fashion and music. Good thing, since he can’t marry his boyfriends. Simon and Randy love it. Kara wants to be his fag hag.
He plays ping-pong topless, or at least I think that’s what I just saw in his video. He plays piano on “Human Nature” which is the perfect song choice, although he goes a little too far into a falsetto at the end. The judges’ comments are short and sweet, and Simon calls it “meat and potatoes.”
She has an adorable little daughter and she’s cute as a button, but on “Dirty Diana,” this blues singer is all hotness. Her baby is looking on from the audience in pure bewilderment as Kara calls her naughty. Simon says it was “not as good as you thought it was.” But it was certainly better than Simon thought it was.
Who should go home this week?
Michael Sarver and Jasmine Murray