American Idol Top 11: Country Night Always a Bad Idea, Anoop Rises Again, I Hate Megan Joy


Sharyn Jackson is your American Idol host for season eight. This week: the Top 11!

Welcome to another two hours of Tuesday night Idolatry. We start with a dramatic opening monologue by Ryan Seacrest and then, once again, the judges are announced by that voice from The Price is Right. Kara’s gussied up like a hologram in a shiny cocktail dress, and Paula’s received word that there’s a pregnant-dress fad going on and attires appropriately in a long and figure-concealing, flowery, white number. Each judge waves adoringly at the camera when his or her name is called, except Simon, who sticks his tongue out like he’s got a bad taste in his mouth. Yeah, it must be such a chore to sit there for an hour every week, wear whatever you want, say what everyone’s thinking, and walk away with millions of dollars. Poor Simon Cowell.

The stage goes all green and shamrocky in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I wonder what they’ll do in two weeks for Passover! Will they find funky graphics to symbolize the Angel of Death? Will the judges’ Coca-Cola glasses be filled with Manischewitz? Ooooh.

It’s Country Night. Where’s Kristy Lee Cook when you need her? Maybe on tomorrow’s results show. They blew their wad with Dolly Parton last year and Martina McBride the year before, so what’s the angle? Grand Ole Opry, the historic Nashville radio broadcast that has become an in club for bestselling recording artists. And Randy Travis is in tow to help the Idols cause irreparable harm to the country songbook. And Omigosh, the woman sitting next to him looks like Warholian performance artist Penny Arcade! Awesome wig, lady. Showtime!

1. Michael Sarver

Unless he royally fucks up, he’s gotta be safe tonight. He’s from Texas. There’s a guy on the edge of the stage–is that Blind Guy’s bro? Ah, it’s a harmonicist. Michael sings “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” and I think it’s good–if you’re into this kind of thing. Randy’s not into the vocals. Kara misses the big notes. Paula boxes him into the “country artist” category forever. And Simon says it was clumsy. Wow, how’d Michael suddenly get on the judges’ shit list?

2. Allison Iraheta

Oh no, the rocker chicks don’t last long on this show. But in the intro video, Randy Travis likes her rendition of Patty Loveless’s “Blame It on Your Heart.” He creepily let’s Allison know, “You’ve got great pipes.” I don’t know the original (which I most likely won’t for any songs tonight), but Allison delivers it like Heart via the Care Bears. Kara says she made it her own. Paula seals the tape on the “rock artist” box. Simon says she’s verging on precocious, but that could be good. Randy says it was dope.

3. Kris Allen

It’s hard to remember who this guy is week to week, and his video says something forgettable. Sorry. He’s perched on a stool to sing a Garth Brooks ballad, “To Make You Feel My Love.” Kris has a boy-band face; too bad boy bands crested when he was a tot. He ends on a tender high-note. Yeah, it’s fine. Next, please. Paula says it was vulnerable . Simon lauds the song choice. Randy calls him “tender-dawg.” Kara says she couldn’t tell it was country and she means that as a compliment. Ok, we have a front-runner.

4. Lil Rounds

Last week’s superstar is up next for a little interview with Ryan. They chat about down-time, and she’s quick to mention the contestants’ hot tub. So Real World. Lil says she doesn’t know country, and in her video we learn she takes on a big Martina McBride song (“Independence Day”). Randy Travis again with the nasty: “She’s got pipes on top. I mean, big pipes on the top!” The song is pretty patriotic, that should help Lil’s case. Otherwise, it’s not the most natural fit. Randy calls it uncomfortable. Lil tries to defend herself and sells her soul to the WTC site-visiting masses, saying she chose the song because it’s really relevant right now. Ugh. Kara’s glad she followed her instinct. Paula says she looks great. And Simon calls her “Little” (“Lil is short for little”) and asks her to go back into the Mary J box.

5. Adam Lambert

The only finalist that’s really worth anticipating–what will he do? Ryan asks him if it will be “signature Adam” and Adam gives us the affirmative. In the video, Adam tells Randy Travis he’s doing “Ring of Fire” with a Middle Eastern arrangement. “I’m guessing your not going to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry,” Travis says. The black nail polish was the hint. Oh my gosh, this could be awful. Adam particularly relishes the line “went down, down, down,” but the rest of it isn’t gay so much as Nine Inch Nails, plus a dramatic wail at the end. Randy Travis’s gal pal doesn’t seem so into it. Kara calls it strange and imitates Adam’s crazy eyes. Paula says Adam is true to himself, and did a Led Zeppelin “Kashmir,” which is exactly the kind of reference I wanted to make earlier but couldn’t think of. Simon calls it indulgent rubbish. Randy says it was like Nine Inch Nails! I got one!

6. Scott MacIntyre

Seacrest gets swallowed up in the audience, and to spare us the carnage, they cut right to the video. Randy Travis hates Scott’s song choice of Martina McBride’s “Wild Angels.” Again, don’t know it, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s inspirational. And…I got that one right, too. Sorry, Blind Guy fans, but this performance is just as cheesy as all the others. But the applause won’t stop. Paula tells him the piano’s becoming a crutch, and he’s gotta mix it up. Simon says that’s a stupid thing to say and somehow compares Scott to Elton John. What? But says Scott sounds the same each week. Randy says the vocals are not great. Kara says to step it up. It’s only taken the judges six weeks to figure this out?

7. Alexis Grace

Hot mommy in the house. In the video, she seems to be the first contestant who reveres Randy Travis. Finally a Dolly song! The one country artist I know! Alexis is singing “Jolene.” But it’s another power blues number starring a bruised, yet super-sexy woman. Hope Alexis avoids becoming completely one-note and mixes it up next week–which she has to get to, because she’s the best girl on the show. It’s a crazy arrangement and there’s some weirdness in the middle and Randy doesn’t like the changes she made to the song. Kara says it wasn’t angsty enough! Paula says it was effective, and glad it wasn’t “down and dirty” like in previous weeks. Alexis chimes in that she was showing her soft side. Simon calls it “soundalike” and says we’ll forget it in 10 minutes. That’s pushing it. Alexis promises to bring back the dirty next week. This is filth.

8. Danny Gokey

Teaser! Ryan says Danny will be singing Carrie Underwood? Who is he, David Cook? Awesome. Oh, but it’s not “Before He Cheats” which would have been awesome. It’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” which makes sinners like me uncomfortable. To get serious, Danny wears rimless glasses and a figure-flattering girly jacket. And I feel like I’m at a born-again induction ceremony. Shudder. Kara says half-way through “Danny came out [pause] of his shell.” Paula babbles something about it being brilliant. Simon hates Danny’s outfit. Randy says the verses lagged.

9. Anoop Desai

Anoop’s singing “Always On My Mind,” and Randy Travis has a good point–that it’s going to be hard to take it out of Willie Nelson’s voice. I think his version sounds pretty smooth, and contemporary. Anoop’s gotta work on the outfit, though. Hoodie’s aren’t going to cut it. Paula says he touched her heart. Simon says Anoop went from zero to hero. Randy liked the arrangement. Kara says it was the biggest surprise of the night. Another front-runner, this one deserved.

10. Megan Joy

So “Corkrey” is officially dropped from her stage name. Take that, ex-hubby. She sings “I Go Walking After Midnight” and then she says that dreadful phrase, “It is what it is.” Ok, I hate her more. Her signature affected voice and stupid accent is all over the performance. The judges are going to eat this up even though girl can’t sing. She stands at the mic and flails once again in a puffy, shapeless gown, and doesn’t hit a single note outside of her talking range. Oh, it’s ’cause she has the flu. Well, that’ll buy her another week on pity alone. Randy says it was better than a trainwreck. Kara congratulates her on performing while sick. Paula calls her a fighter. Simon tells her to get the flu every week. I’m all for it, s’long as she gets it in the privacy of her own home, far away from amplification.

11. Matt Giraud

Also singing Carrie Underwood–“So Small.” Again, I’m unfamiliar. Randy Travis is into it. It’s a ballad, and it sounds pretty good! Matt’s looking handsome at the piano. Kara says, in her new Western twang, “There ain’t nothin’ small about you.” How does she know? Paula says Matt’s piercing through hearts. Simon praises Matt’s vocals and puts him into the Michael Buble box. Randy says it was his favorite performance of the night.

Who should go home this week?

Megan Joy is ridonculously irritating, and it is what it is.
Adam Lambert might just be too weird for America.
Scott MacIntyre is the worst singer remaining.

Coming tonight: the results show live-blog.

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