Wednesday, February 21

AI Semifinals - Top 12 Guys

We get minute clips of everyone's 1st audition (entrance & exit), plus some of The Chair (& elevator), but no singing. As each is introduced to sing they get a video clip showing their 1st audition (singing) and comments about the process thus far.

Rudy starts the show with a very high-energy "Free Ride." He's a tad too high-energy (Randy calls it corny), but the crowd seems to really love it. The song actually shows his vocal ability much better than I thought it would, partially due to a few glory notes he manages to fit in. Simon says there wasn't anything unique or memorable. I hope he's wrong, and that he's had enough screen time and has enough of a previous fanbase (from M-Pact) that he doesn't get "Patrick'd" (1st up, doing a rock song instead of highlighting balladeer vocals we've heard a bit of before...). I voted for him and have my fingers crossed.

Brandon sings "Rock with You" and is good, but nothing special. Randy says he's pitchy; Simon says safe & predictable (song choice). I was a bit disappointed considering his buzz (as in talk around the 'nets, not his hair, he's one of the few that has some!).

Sundance's song choice of "Nights in White Satin" would have been awesome *if* he'd sung it well. However, he sounded out of tune throughout. Randy said they missed his early bluesy sound; all 3 judges were disappointed and Simon flat-out said "I didn't like you tonight."

Paul is still barefoot and sings "Careless Whisper," which was not a good choice for him. Paula said he oversang & was pitchy; Simon just called it ordinary. I didn't think it was bad, but he could've been a lot better on something different.

Chris R. sings "I Don't Wanna Be" and would've been really good if not for the bobbing (he makes George Huff look like a statue). I was disappointed vocally though there's nothing I can specifically criticize. Randy & Paula enjoyed it but Simon said his vocals were bad & that his voice seemed "small" compared to what we've heard from him before.

Nick sings Richard Marx's "Now and Forever" (and "California Dreaming" in his video clip which I don't think we'd seen before). He's good; he seems comfortable and confident on stage, and has a nice falsetto. Randy disagrees, calling him boring and pitchy. Paula misses the nice "tone" in his initial audition. But Simon says it "wasn't that bad." (which is the closest to a compliment he's come so far!)

Blake answers one of the biggest questions everyone's been asking: Yes, he can sing!! He actually says he didn't want to beatbox in the group part of Hollywood for fear of being pigeonholed, but the others talked him into it. Anyway, he does Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" sitting on a stool and is very, very good! Great tone, control, variety, stage presence... Simon said he was the first of the night to sound "like someone in 2007." He turns out to be the best of the night and is the frontrunner to win at this point IMO.

Sanjaya sings, predictably, Stevie again: "Knocks Me Off My Feet." I thought it was good; Randy strongly disagreed. Simon was bored. He made a sad puppy face but overall took the comments very well (considering his age & inexperience). In his video clip he mentioned that he just got his GED and that his sister suggested the song. Kid is adorable and the only teen boy so he's not going anywhere.

Chris S. talks about his strengths being his strategy and song choice. That being said, I have no clue what he sang, but it was a contemporary rock-ish tune about being "Typical" (or not). Very, very good. Randy & Paula said he rushed the chorus but his voice is good & they still enjoyed it. Simon reiterated that he likes his personality but he didn't care for the song. We get our first real 'talking back' of the season when Chris says that while he "may not sing Il Divo or Teletubbies, that doesn't mean [he] doesn't have a good voice." He said the style of music he did is very popular right now. I don't think he's in danger yet as he's definitely one of the most talented (& well-liked), but he should be careful.

Jared is shown singing "Premonition" in his 1st audition (& "Cupid" in H'Wood) and sings "Back at One" tonight. It wasn't pitch-perfect, but I really, *really* like the sound of his voice. Not to mention he's model-gorgeous (heh, Simon said his song choice was safe but that he looks good!). I hope he sticks around.

AJ "Never Too Much;" he's ok, but has the same seemingly vapid grin on his face during the whole song and doesn't bring anything to the table that we haven't already seen tonight. Randy says he thinks he's a "really, really good singer" but there was nothing special tonight; Simon agrees: "good, nothing great, nothing terrible." At least he had fun and has a decent stage presence.

Phil is last, and we do get confirmation that his wife went into labor early and he did not at all intend to miss his daughter's birth for the Idol auditions! His 3 'girls' are there tonight and we get several shots of his proud wife during his performance of "Could Not Ask for More." He started off very rough in the soft verses, but switched to full voice on the chorus and was excellent. Randy said it was the best vocal of the night; Simon said despite the horrendous beginning, the chorus was ok. Ryan asks Phil what he thinks & he agrees with Simon, saying he'll work hard to improve.

So, in summary:

Best vocals: the BFF Blake, Rudy, and Chris S. (then Brandon, Nick, and Sanjaya)

My favorites: Rudy, Blake, Sanjaya, Chris S., and Jared (then Phil and Nick)

My bottom 3: Paul, Sundance, AJ

My prediction to go: Paul and Sundance.

It's going to be an interesting week. From what I'm reading there are a wide range of opinions on who people liked (though most were disappointed overall). A few disappointed me, but some that I hadn't heard (or expected much) from before I really liked, so I'm optimistic. We have several very good-looking guys, and from what I've seen at least 10 of them have decent dancing ability (really rare!). Maybe (*crosses fingers*) they'll bring back 'real' group numbers with choreography and pointy poses!! (Hey, a girl can dream....)

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