Thursday, February 26

AI8 - Group 2 Results (2/26/09)

25 Million votes this week! And some surprising results IMO...

Group song: "Closer." Nice! Though I really wish we could hear them singing solo instead of in pairs.

Ryan mentioned a "hidden unseen audition" that was going to air during the commercial break - did anyone see this? I was flipping back & forth to Survivor and didn't tape the commercials of Idol so I have no clue....

Recap... didn't really highlight or swoon over anyone like they normally do, interesting.

For tonight's results Ryan is bringing people down to the stage in groups. First he brings Allison down alone and goes over the comments she got last night, but before reading her results he then does the same for Jesse and Matt B. (When I see Jesse come down I know she's not getting through because I'm sure Allison is - bummer!) Then says one of the three will advance - it's Allison. She sings and is cute and definitely deserves the spot.

Next Megan & Kris are brought down; Ryan reads their comments. Then brings Matt G. and Jeanine down, saying only one from this group of 4 is going through. I assume it's Megan, or possibly Matt G. because he had an earlier fan base. Ryan says it's not Jeanine... then says it's not Matt... so, must be... Kris?! Whoa! I'm wonderfully surprised, because he's just adorable, and Megan really, really annoys me... but I'm in shock! And so is Kris! Kara said that his Hollywood performance of Michael Buble's "Everything" was almost better than the original; I wish we'd gotten to hear it! Kris sings, and is excited like a little kid. He's going to be a fun contestant. Good for him! (For those who don't remember even seeing him before this week, we got a very short clip of his initial Louisville audition where he did "A Song for You." Then he was in the "White Chocolate" group in Hollywood along with Matt G, with the rapper and the beatboxing... and I thought he was better than Matt in that, but most people only noticed Matt.)

Then Ryan says something about the montage of moments from past seasons with which they opened this season's first show & how they've gotten lots of letters & emails about it, so they replay it. It is kind-of cool how at the end they show each of the 7 previous winners at the winning moments.

And our guest performance this week is... another contestant from last season! Brooke White performs her first single, "Hold Up My Heart," which she cowrote. I really like the music, but the lyrics don't make any sense to me. (Chorus: "Please hold up my heart; give me a reason for this empty silence. Please hold up my heart; I'm changing, but everybody's changing too." Huh? lol)

Ok, back to results... the last 5 contestants are called down by Ryan: Mishovanna, Kai, Nick, Adam, and Jasmine. He reads comments for Mishovanna, then Kai, skips Nick & Adam, and gives comments for Jasmine. Then announces all 3 are out, so it's down to Nick and Adam! Not much suspense, but jokes w/Simon about his comment that he was praying... Anyway, the last finalist is... Adam! Yay!!! He & Nick hug & Ryan asks him what he was thinking; he says he thought Nick was hilarious so had no idea which way things would go. Obviously he's happy to be in though and he sings... which means I get to see the whole song for the first time! I didn't really notice the techno edge last night, but that kind-of goes w/his glam side... as does the funky 70's middle part. Wow. And we used to think Constantine's performances were edgy for Idol! ;-) Some folks on one message board were saying Adam remind them of MiG (from RockStar), and I see a bit of that. Whatever... I love him and am glad we've got him in the Top 12! The other contestants seem very appreciative of his talent as well, which is nice to see.

Ok, one more week! The next group is: Arianna, Kristen, Lil, Kendall, Felica, Taylor, Ju'not, Nathaniel, Jorge, Scott, Von, and Alex. And then we'll have the wildcard episode next Thursday where the judges pick the last 3 finalists - hopefully Anoop will be one of them!!!

Tuesday, February 24

AI8 - Semifinals, Group 2 (2/25/09)

No families in the Red Room tonight. And we jump right in...

Jasmine Murry (17, MS) "Love Song" (Sara Bareilles) - Why is she singing a bouncy pop song like a belting diva? Sigh... song choice, song choice, song choice! Now if she'd done something by Fergie... seriously, does she remind anyone else of a cross between Paris Bennett & Fergie? ;-) Anyway, she was one of the most promising females this year & just totally threw her chances away with SONG CHOICE! She did have great stage presence. Randy said it was pitchy & too embellished; Simon said he's disappointed, her voice wasn't that good & she's not ready.

Matt Giraud (23, MI) "Viva La Vida" - Ok, again, people! Have you never ever watched the show before? SONG CHOICE! He said this is the style of music he wants to do & that he was trying to put a "soulful twist on a white boy rock song," but it just. didn't. work. Judges totally agreed. He's gone.

Jeanine Vailes (28, DC) "This Love" - The only female semifinalist we haven't heard yet. Great, long legs... but not great singing. She has a good voice but had some off notes & embellished too much (why do they keep doing that on fast pop songs?). Simon said it was terrible, she picked the wrong song & seemed to struggle through it. (She'd said she picked it because she was comfortable w/it.) Randy agreed & called it pitchy. Kara said it was overdone; Jeanine replied that she knew she needed to "come out strong" since she hadn't gotten any previous screentime and admitted she probably overcompensated. Cannon fodder.

Nick Mitchell / Norman/Normund Gentle (27, CT) "And I Am Telling You" - Well, we've already heard him sing this, but perhaps he's most comfortable w/it & figures if it got him this far... but the vocal wasn't nearly as good this time and the surprise factor was gone. Still had his hilarious moments; like when he sang to the Idol sign and called out "Doogie" in the audience. ;-) Simon said it was atrocious & Nick said the vocal had been much better in rehearsal, he knew something went wrong in the live performance. Randy said it was funny & one of the most entertaining performances (ever on Idol). It was fun, but I think his time has come to an end.

Allison Iraheta (16, CA) "Alone" - YES! Girl. can. SANG. Needs to tone down the gestures but still has decent stage presence & confidence. Judges loved her; Paula & Simon both said she's by far the best so far tonight).

Kris Allen (23, AR) "Man in the Mirror" - really? Sigh. I mean, it wasn't terrible, but unless you're going to do something wackily brilliant like David Cook's "Billie Jean," please step away from the Michael Jackson. We did get a short clip of him doing Michael Buble's "Everything" on guitar in Hollywood, which was nice. Kris is just so adorable and really does have a good voice & can dance and such, but this just wasn't good enough for this stage of the competition. Kara said the front was rough but the end was decent; still prefers the soulfulness she saw in Hollywood. Paula disagreed & thought he "nailed it;" Simon agreed! Simon & Randy both complimented his confidence (something they'd told him to work on).

Megan Corkrey (23, UT) "Put Your Records On" - Goodness, she's strange! Vocals were ok, sometimes very good but other times weak and occasionally annoying. Then there's the wigging, swinging and gesturing she did... that Ryan thought was cool? Um, no. (And Ryan, don't dance, there's a reason you're on radio, lol.) However... the judges absolutlely *loved* her!! I don't get it. Paula said she did everything right & that she's interesting and relevant; Kara called her a "package artist." Simon did think she oversang the 2nd half. I hope she doesn't get through over someone more deserving just because of extra screentime.

Matt Breitzke (28, OK) "If You Could Only See" - When he started I really thought this fit his voice perfectly, and it was good on the softer parts. But not in the louder, more rock-ish parts. I think he's pretty much cannon fodder at this point. Simon said he likes Matt but hated the performance, it was boring & a bad song choice. Kara agreed, saying it really didn't show us anything of what he can do.

Jesse Langseth (26, MN) "Bette Davis Eyes" - LOVE!!!!!!!!! I've loved her voice ever since we first saw her (well, I guess we've only seen her during group round and The Chair sing-off) and I absolutely love this song and she. was. awesome. So professional, polished, knows what she can do well and plays to her strengths... the only possible weakness was that she had her eyes closed too much instead of trying to connect w/the audience & camera. But as a musician loving a song (she said she loves the story & thinks it's "one of the greatest songs ever written"), I can understand just getting lost in the performance itself. She also commented that she liked Simon's comment after the singoff that she couldn't have won w/that performance, because it excited her to fight back & do better! Which IMO she definitely did. The judges seemed underwhelmed though; Randy said it was just ok, nothing exciting. Kara said she looked better than before & took some risks but hit some wrong notes (really?). Paula liked her, complimenting her unique phrasing & identifiable sound. Simon, however, said it was too 'cool' and forgettable. So I voted, a lot. :-)

Kai Kalama (27, CA) "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?" - Well, if they keep singing standards instead of something current, they often get voted off (unless you're Melinda, but not many are that talented). He really is good (and attractive, and can dance) and I would have loved to have heard him do something more recent; I'm afraid this did him in. Kara agreed plus said there were pitch issues. Simon agreed it was old-fashioned, nothing original, and even "corny"; Randy said it was too safe. At least his mom could come out for what will probably be his only live performance.

Mishovanna Henson (18, CA) "Drops of Jupiter" - Again, not a great song choice. She sang most of it well and you can tell she has a good voice, but I don't think it was enough, especially w/Allison & Jesse in this group (and Megan whom the judges inexplicably love). Paula said what I did; Simon said it (she) was too serious/old seeming and that it was technically good but left him cold. Kara said she seemed too "put together" (wanted her to loosen up more) and that she's not sure where she fits musically.

And Adam Lambert (27, CA) gets the pimp spot and chooses "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." Sigh. I hate the Stones & really don't like this song. And then my stupid tape cuts off right in the middle of Adam's performance! Yikes. So I saw the first third or so and the last couple phrases. I love how he started it out slowly, and I agree w/Kara that it showed his range well (the lower stuff is very nice!). Oh, in his preview clip he said he appreciated Kara's advice and would try to connect more w/songs personally & internally rather than on the theater level that he's so used to. Anyway, the crowd seemed to love it and Paula gave him a standing ovation. She said that he's in a league of his own and it was more like a concert than part of a competition. Simon said parts were "excruciatingly bad" (toward the beginning) but other parts were "brilliant." Randy said he's one of the most current artists they've ever had on the show, comparing him to a mix of Steven Tyler, Fall Out Boy, Robert Pattinson (played Edward in the Twilight movie) and My Chemical Romance. ...Yes, I voted, though not as much as for Jesse because I think he's got a lot of fans (and possibly cemented more after admitting he's a Twilight fan himself!).

My predictions: Adam and Allison for the top gender spots. The 3rd will probably be Megan though I really hope it's Jesse instead!!

Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, February 18

AI8 - Group 1 Results (2/18/09)

Over 24 million votes last night - wow! We get a montage of short clips from everyone's "journey" (initial auditions, mostly). Then a group song, yay!! "I'm Yours" - but, it's the whole group, the whole time - no one gets solos! :-( Would've loved to hear Anoop solo on this.

Recap - highlighted Alexis, Tatiana & Ann Marie for the girls, Anoop & Danny for the guys. Not surprising there.

So for the first stretch, Ryan brings contestants down to the stage to give them their results. Some solo, some in pairs.

Casey - no ("You're not in the Top 12")
Stephen - no
Alexis - yes! 1st through, and she gets to sing again. Yeah, I guess she's good enough to be a finalist, sure.

Brought down together:
Jackie - no
Ricky - no

Now Michael & Anoop are brought down together, but only one of them get to go through... wow, Anoop is really tall (no wonder I like him, lol!). Unfortunately it's Michael and Anoop is sent back to the couches. They'd better bring him back for wildcard!!!! Oh Ryan says he only had 20,000 fewer votes than Michael did.

Short video from the "American Idol Experience" premiere at Disney, Florida. All 7 winners were together. The finale was a performance by David Cook & Carrie Underwood dueting on "You Can Go Your Own Way," and from what we see it was awesome! Now *that* they should sell on iTunes!

After the break Ryan calls down "the next 2 contestants"... and it's Carly Smithson and Michael Johns, back to perform for us. Michael says his single will be out soon and his album drops in May. They sing "The Letter," just like on tour.

Ryan now has the following stand up at the couches, and all find out they're done: Ann Marie, Brent, and Stevie. Which leaves...

Danny & Tatiana to come down on stage. One of them will advance... like we don't know which one? Sheesh. Well they still drew it out, but of course it's Danny. Tatiana manages to hold it together until about half-way through Danny's song, but then she starts sobbing.

And that's pretty much it!

Next week, Group 2:
Girls - Megan Corkrey, Mishovanna Henson, Allison Iraheta, Jasmine Murray, Jesse Langseth, and Jeanine Vailes.
Guys - Kris Allen, Matt Brietzke, Matt Giraud, Kai Kalama, Adam Lambert, & Nick Mitchell. Theoretically, more talent than this week, so let's hope the performances show it! Can't wait to hear what Adam will sing....

Tuesday, February 17

AI8 - Semifinals, Group 1 (2/17/09)

Woo-hoo, 1st live show! And there's a bit of a 'theme' - Billboard Top 100 hits. Also all performances will be available on iTunes - they have high expectations, apparently!

Jackie Tohn (28, NY): "A Little Less Conversation" - Just ok overall; the tight black pants didn't help. Randy said she's a good entertainer; the judges agreed it wasn't her best vocal, and Simon didn't like it at all. Ryan had her parents in the Red Room (as he did w/most contestants) so she returned there to join him to give the voting phone number.

Ricky Braddy (26, NC): "A Song for You" - We get some background, finally! He attended music school but wasn't pursuing a career until recently. They played a short clip of one of his solos in HW, an Alicia Keys song. His performance tonight is very good! Too bad his voice isn't "unique" and that we haven't seen him before tonight - I think he could have been very popular but there are people the audience already likes singing the same type of music. I threw him a few votes though I think he's cannon fodder. He was definitely the most fun balcony dancer of the night! (I love watching them during each others' performances!) The judges liked him; Paula acknowledged his lack of screen time & Simon said he has the voice but not enough confidence/star quality. (Anoop is also from NC so they'll be splitting home state votes, one thing that might've given him an edge.)

Alexis Grace (21, TN): "Never Loved a Man" - decent, and very cute in her little black dress & pink-splashed blonde hair. Randy loved her; Simon said the best so far tonight & that she has soul plus confidence.

Brent Keith (29, OH): "Hick Town" - Apparently Brent has dropped his last name (Smith). Talks about how he & his wife have been living paycheck-to-paycheck (yeah, join the rest of the country). Performance is good, not great. Kara & Paula say it was too safe; Simon dubs it forgettable. His wife meets him in the Red Room w/Ryan.

Stevie Wright (17, CA): "You Belong With Me" (Taylor Swift) - Just. no. She wanted to show her young, fun self, but it was pretty terrible. To go from the soulful "At Last" in her 1st audition where she wowed a lot of us to this... all the judges said it was a bad song choice. At least she can hope for a Wildcard spot.

Anoop Desai (22, NC): "Angel of Mine" - We get a small clip of "My Prerogative" from HW and he says he picked it because it's a fun song; he explains that he wants to perform songs that he's always wanted to see done on Idol as he's watched over the years! (Cool perspective!) & He also wants to bring energy to the stage. Tonight's performance is good; I love him so I enjoy it, but it's not the best vocal I've heard him do. Randy says he was a bit sharp & good but not his best; Paula notes that thankfully "America has connected with you already." Simon said the song was too "grown up" (Anoop points out it's from the late 90's) & serious for him, but that he's likeable. I definitely gave him some votes.

Casey Carlson (20, MN): "Every Little Thing [He] Does is Magic" - I didn't think she should've been put through the very 1st time, and this performance totally confirms that opinion. Way out of her league, and the judges call her on it. Bad song choice all around; Kara said "everything about that was wrong." (hee!) Bye Casey!

Michael Sarver (27, TX): "I Don't Wanna Be" - Ah, what would an Idol show be without this song? ;-) It's ok, but I don't think it's a great fit for his voice. He seems to pick R&B-ish songs so if that's what he wants to sing, there are others better for the job. The judges are disappointed though Kara & Simon talk about his likeability. His wife & Mom are in the Red Room.

Ann Marie Boskovich (22, TN): "Natural Woman" - Well, she's not Kelly. But, she did surprisingly well! Actually turns out to be my favorite female performance of the night. She knows her limits & didn't go for the high notes, but was very strong w/what she did. Judges disagreed w/me though; Randy said it was a bad song choice, Kara wanted something younger/more fun, and Simon said her voice isn't good enough for that song. Mom & sis in Red Room. I tossed her a couple votes & think she has a decent chance of making it through (I know a good number of people impressed w/her earlier performances as well).

Stephen Fowler (26, OH?): "Rock with You" - Showed a tiny clip of his initial audition, then the HW disaster. Weird song choice - I can tell he has a good voice, but not the best song to show it (I was disappointed after hearing some buzz on the 'net about him). Randy said it was a bad choice & he was pitchy; Paula actually said that doing this song was "the kiss of death"! Simon said it was corny. His wife was at home so Ryan came down to the stage to give his numbers instead of having Stephen go up to the Red Room.

Tatiana Del Toro (23, PR): "Saving All My Love for You" - If you'd told me Tatiana would pull off a Whitney song, I wouldn't have believed you; but she did! She was all teary in her clip talking about how hard HW week was, being judged (by other contestants), etc. During her performance she mostly stood still & was very serious (despite the horrid orange & purple dress). It was very, very good! Kara said she doesn't know who she is as an artist & that she's a roller coaster ride; Paula said she's definitely the "most talked about" contestant, and that there were some pitchy moments but some beautiful moments. She had 2 (male) friends w/her in the Red Room & said that her HW behavior wasn't her norm (we can only hope!).

Danny Gokey (28, WI): "Hero" - Gee, I'm so surprised the producers gave him the pimp spot (not)! ;-) Says he's a church music director, and that he picked this song to hopefully inspire other people to rise above difficult circumstances (such as he has, though he doesn't specifically mention the dead wife nor do the producers, this time). It's very good, of course - how can you not love Elliot's voice in a Robert Downey, Jr., wannabe body? All the judges love him, though Simon is (of course) less enthusiastic than the others. Kara was very excited, Paula gave him a standing ovation, and Simon said he's a very good singer & that while it was good, it wasn't fantastic. Jamar is shown in the audience but Danny has no family there, so we finish up w/Ryan on the stage to give Danny's numbers before the recap of the night.

My predictions: Danny, Ann Marie, and Anoop will advance. Tatiana or Alexis could slide in for the girls and I wouldn't mind if Ricky got in for the guys, as I think the judges would bring Anoop back for the Wildcard.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 16

AI8 - Hollywood: The Chair (2/11/09)

(Sorry for the delay - I've not had a good week.)

It's the "Last Day of Hollywood," which really means it's a couple months later after background checks and the 54 remaining contestants have been brought back to find out who will make this year's semifinals! This year we will have a Top 36. And instead of riding an elevator up to the judges' room, contestants will walk through an outside garden, then down a hallway and around a corner, where they'll find the judges in big red cushy, thronelike chairs. Also new this year are "singoffs"- instead of just pitting the last 2 of each gender against each other, there will be several pairs of similar contestants (i.e. brunette pop singer, blond country singer, geeky teen boy) who are each forced to sing one last time so that the judges can pick who's advancing.

Anoop Desai is first! We (finally) see a clip from his group, who sang "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." The decision is unanimous and he's through.

Von Smith - we get a bit of backstory and learn that both of his parents sing, and they weren't happy with his song choice for his Hollywood solo: "You Can Feel It All Over" (from the clip it seemed very toned down from his other performances that we've seen). Simon said that decision gave the judges their decision - and he's through! Whew - hopefully this means he'll keep it toned down from here on??

Our 1st singoff will be between Alex Wagner-Trugman (closet singer) and Cody Sheldon (horror movie boy). Cody is 1st and sings Gavin Rossdale's "Love Remains the Same," a bit shaky. He leaves and Alex comes up, shocked and upset that he & Cody are being pitted against each other. Alex sings "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and is very good. His attitude was wonderful during the whole thing, even when told he was through he was more concerned for Cody (who was very upset) than happy for himself. Jackie Tohn is shown being surprised that Cody didn't make it when they return together to the holding room.

Adam is up next. Apparently HW was somewhat of a rollercoaster for him - his 1st solo was shown but just the video, no audio. Kara commented (in the clip) that he was still "too theater" and wasn't "touching" her. Simon tried to draw out their decision, saying that he might be surprised with Simon's decision, and that while they all liked him in HW they had to consider whether they thought he could win the show and be a good recording artist... and that it was a unanimous yes!

Taylor Vaifanua was one (of too many) who struggled w/words but was kept in based on earlier performances. She advances again.

Several quick yeses follow:
Jasmine Murray
Arianna Afsar
Casey Carlson
Megan Corkrey
Mishovanna Henson
Stevie Wright

Joanna Pacitti - She was in Adam's group & they show a bit of "Some Kind of Wonderful." She forgot her words there too! The judges (mainly Kara) talk about how they're concerned that she hasn't made it w/so many past opportunities, and that she doesn't seem to know who she is as an artist. Simon strangely replies that she just needs "someone" to "give her a break" and that they think this is her chance, so she advances. Interestingly, the next day on the Fox site it was stated that she was found ineligible and disqualified from the competition. (She knows several 19E employees, and her boyfriend's new band's 1st single was written by Kara - among other things!)

T.K. Hash - no
Chris C (?) - no
Reggi B (?) - no

Kendall Beard - shown singing "Angels" - yes

Singoff between Kristen McNamara and Jen Korbee (the wife of the couple who both advanced, shown kissing at the NY auditions). Jen was in Adam & Joanna's group as was her husband, who was cut then. She sings something I don't know. Kristen sings "I Will Always Love You" and I thought she was better than Jen. Kara said that Jen doesn't connect well w/her songs, but Simon wanted to keep her (she's much more attractive); Paula said Kristen seems to have an "identity crisis" and it shows in her poor wardrobe choices. Regardless, Kristen is through and Jen is out.

Alexis Grace - HW clip shown, good- yes

Scott MacIntyre - repeated the clips we've seen before - yes

Lil Rounds - yes

Felicia Barton - not a unanimous decision, but she's out. Until Joanna got pulled the "next" day, and now she's back in! Yay, Felicia!

Ashley (not sure which one) - unanimous no

Devon Baldwin - no

Singoff: Frankie Jordan and Jesse Langseth - bummer, 2 of my top 3 girls! Apparently Frankie struggled during HW Week and her singoff song was just ok. We finally get to see Jesse's K. City audition where she sang "The First Cut is the Deepest," as well as her 1st solo in HW. Her singoff song was confident and much better than Frankie's. Jesse advances, Frankie is sent home. Bummer.

Shera L. - no

Derek Lavers? - no

Allison Iraheta - HW solo clip singing "Because of You." I didn't really like it, but the judges say she has "raw, natural talent" and she advances.

Danny Gokey - Simon said he needs to be relevant (not sure which way he meant it) & he's through (duh).

Jamar - we see the "Hey There, Delilah" clip again. The judges mention that he "took risks," but apparently they didn't pay off as he is cut, though encouraged to return in the future. The holding room is surprised he didn't make it.

Ricky Braddy - the only male semifinalist we've yet to hear sing! We are told, at least, that he auditioned in Louisville. Advances.

Matt Giraud - yes
Ju'not Joyner - yes
Jorge Nunez - yes
Brent Keith Smith -yes
Stephen Fowler - despite blowing his lyrics (at least twice), yes

Nick Mitchell - Torn about what to do but really wants it; says "I'll do anything to get through." Said his dream is to perform as the character Norman (Normund?) because his 2 passions are singing and making people laugh. The judges said that's exactly what they want, and he's through!

Jackie Tohn - shown playing guitar on Day 4 of HW, singing "I Hope You Dance." It was decent but I still don't care much for her. She's through.

Tatiana Del Toro - sigh. Her solo on Day 4 was very good!! The judges were not unanimous, but she advances.

Singoff between friends Nathaniel Marshall and Jackie Midkiff, whom we haven't seen before. Jackie gets a HW clip of "Superstitious" and does "When a Man Loves a Woman" for the singoff (I thought it was just ok; Kara loved it). We get backstory on Nate, who's mom was a druggie & not around so he was raised by his grandmother & aunts (moved around quite a bit between them). Simon asks about his outfit and he said that if this is his last day, he just wanted to be "true to himself". For the singoff he chooses "I'm Already There" and it's very strong and probably his best performance that we've seen! Definitely good enough to advance. Hopefully he'll let the stylist have some say in the future, because he's through and Jackie, not surprisingly, is cut.

Jeanine Vailes is the sole female semifinalist we've yet to hear sing (nor have we even seen her before that I recall, but then I pay more attention to the guys & had noticed Ricky before). The judges say the decision is not unanimous but she's through. Read, cannon fodder.

Kai Kalama - unanimous yes

Ann Marie Boskovich - yes

Kris Allen - yes (yay!)

And the last 2 guys, set up for a singoff: Matt Brietzke and Michael Sarver, the blue collar dads. Simon didn't like his group performance but I think Paula did & wants him to go through. I didn't know his singoff song but thought it was just ok. Just the comments are shown for Michael's HW clip but his singoff is very good! Kara & Randy want him to advance. Well the editing was good this year because we (supposedly) haven't figured out how many spots are left; but, turns out there are two & they're both through!

Whew! So there's our Top 36.

The 1st group of 12 who'll be performing for our votes next week are below! The top vote-getting male & female will advance, as well as the next highest vote-getter regardless of gender. This 1st group is a tough one!!

Girls: Casey, Jackie, Ann Marie, Alexis, Stevie, & Tatiana
Guys: Stephen, Ricky, Brent, Michael, Danny, and Anoop!

Tuesday, February 10

AI8 - Hollywood, Round 3 (2/10/09)

There are 72 contestants who will be performing solos in hopes of making the Top 50. This year the judges are breaking them up into 4 rooms, and we see them deliberating throughout the show, with 'flashbacks' to earlier performances. Otherwise there wouldn't be any drama, right? Well, at least we get to see a lot of singing....

#1 is Adam Lambert. There is a clip from earlier in the week of Kara saying he's still too "musical theater." He says he wants to take songs that we've heard over & over and do them in a new way; and that he "can" do that. Segue to his solo of Cher's "Believe" slowed down a bit - very nice!

Matt Giraud is shown next and plays keyboard for "Georgia on My Mind." Gets standing ovation from all judges except Simon.

Jamar sings "Hey There, Delilah."

Danny- "I Hope You Dance" - probably my least favorite of his performances so far (the mannerisms/gestures are a bit annoying) but still decent vocal. Paula *loved*.

Anoop sings "My Prerogative."

Jorge - "I Just Can't Stop."

Scott McIntyre - plays keyboard (as promo'd) and sings Daughtry's "Home." Good.

Kendall Beard - "Before He Cheats."

Stevie Wright - "Bubbly"

Lil - "If I Ain't Got You"

Kristin - "Because of You" (lots of past Idols' songs!) - still love her!!

Mishanoma Henson (new) - made it to Hollywood last year as well. Sings Michael Buble's "My Everything."

Tatiana sings Mariah, surprise surprise.

Alexis Grace - "Before He Cheats"

Kenny H - "I'm Yours" (a repeat for him I think)

Jasmine - "Tattoo" - my least favorite of hers (not bad, just nothing remarkable)

Nathaniel - plays acoustic guitar and sings "Disturbia"! Well at least he's not predictable...

Joanna - not sure what she sang but she forgot her words.

Casey Carlson - "Tattoo" & also forgot words.

Stephen Fowler - "Time of My Life"; played keyboard; messed up (lyrics) twice & walked off.

Nick decides to sing as Norman (or Normund?) and does "Georgia on My Mind," mostly singing it straight (well, you know what I mean!). ;-) Pretty good.

Ann Marie - "I Hope You Dance"- nice but I don't see her making the finals.

Junot Joyner (finally!) - we've seen him in past years but this is the 1st they've shown him this season. Sings "Hey there, Delilah."

Kaylan (a girl) - "If I Ain't Got You"

Leneshe - "Love Song" (Sara Bareilles-sp?) - good

Kai - Stevie Wonder song? Played guitar; voice is very tired/strained.

Michael Sarver - not sure of his song either.

Room 2 is the first to hear their fate; there are many people who excelled early on but have had "sporadic" performances. Nevertheless they advance! Includes Casey, Alexis, Arianna, Jasmine, and Kai. (I'll fill these in more if possible after I review the tape.)

Room 3 has the group that is eliminated (so about 22 people): India (shown singing a rough "Disturbia"), Michael Castro (wonder why we didn't hear him at all in Hollywood??), Kaylan, Leneshe, and I think I saw Ryan Johnson.

Room 1 advances: Anoop, both Danny and Jamar, Kristin, Adam, Matt G., Lil, Scott, Jorge, Jackie.

Room 4 also advances: Nick (!), Cody (shown but we still don't get to hear him sing - maybe tomorrow!!), Tatiana (who freaks out during the fake-out, assuming it's a 'No'), Junot, Kris, Matt B, Jackie (a guy), Ann Marie, T.K., and Felicia.

Tomorrow, the Chair episode - filmed in "the judges' mansion" - Wha?

Thursday, February 5

AI8 - Hollywood, Round 2: Groups (2/4/09)

Full recap tomorrow- lots to write! Of course I wish we'd seen 5 times more singing and a fifth of the drama, but the singing we did see? (Much of it, anyway-) Awesomeness!!

Here's a brief run-down of who's in, who's out, and who(m) I didn't see...

Through to the next round:
India Morrison, Justin Williams (new), Kris Allen, Matt Giraud, Jorge Nunez, Nick/Norman, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Ann Marie Boskovich, Danny Gokey, Jamar Rogers, Taylor Vaifanua, Jeremy Michael Sarver, Adam Lambert, Matt Breitzke, Jesse Langseth (a girl, new), Jasmine Murray, Muna Hiluf (new), Tatiana Del Toro, Nate/Nathaniel Marshall, Kristin McNamara (new), Scott McIntyre, Von Smith, Arianna Afsar, Ryan Johnson, Jackie Tohn, Michael Castro, Kai Kalama, Cody Sheldon. And Anoop Desai was shown in the preview so I assume he's through as well.

Out: Julissa Veloz, Ryan Pinkston (new), Emily Wynne-Hughes, Lauren Barnes (new), Rose Flack, Katrina Darrell, Austin Sisneros, David Osmond, Deanna Brown, Nancy Wilson (new).

Advanced to groups but don't know after that: Frankie Jordan, J.B. Ahfua, Lil Rounds, Joanna Pacitti (pretty sure I saw her tonight but not certain), Alexis Grace, Megan Corkrey, Stephen Fowler

Haven't seen what happened to at all in Hollywood:
Stevie Wright, Brianna Quijada, T.K. Hash, Ashley Anderson, Casey Carlson, Leneshe Young, Asa Barnes, Monique Torres, Ashley Hollister, Joshua Ulloa, John Twiford, Allison Iraheta, Raquel Houghton, Felicia Barton, Shera Lawrence, Jarrett Burns, Melinda Camille, Kenny Hoffpauer (maybe in groups?), Kendall Beard

Hopefully everyone who's been featured so far is listed in one of these 4 groups! (I'll update later after checking some other sources.) And I'm not using any spoiler knowledge, just what I've seen on tv so far. I'm really excited about the potential finalists this year!!!

Ok, Recap!

It's 9 pm on "Day 2" of Round 1 in Hollywood. Contestants start to choose groups; a few are shown having a hard time, specifically Tatiana (gee, I wonder why) and Megan C. By 11:15 many groups are practicing w/the band (there are a limited # of songs, so many groups can practice together).

They focus on 3 groups that have D.R.A.M.A. The 1st is "The Divas" which includes Rose, Lauren Barnes, Jasmine, and Katrina. At 4 am Katrina leaves to go to bed even though the group hadn't finished practicing (apparently 7 hours wasn't enough). In the morning they go to fetch her and she says she needs more than 2 hours of sleep, so they go on without her assuming she has dropped out. She does finally show up though.

The 2nd is "Team Compromise," comprised of Nathaniel/Nate, Nancy Wilson (new), and Kristin McNamara. Kristin wants to take a break (around 2:30 am I think) and Nancy comes over and starts yelling at her about how everyone else is still working and not taking breaks and she needs to get back to work. Whereas really, if Nancy had actually let Kristin be alone and *have* 10 minutes of (relative) quiet, she might have come back refreshed & ready to go. Hounding her, not surprisingly, had just the opposite effect. Nate of course tries to mediate & then is upset that they're not practicing as well.

We don't get a name for the other group other than "Tatiana's group," which contains Muna Hiluf and 2 unnamed girls. At one point Tatiana jumps ship and wants to join Team Compromise, adding to their Drama (Kristin said yes, the others weren't so sure). After a bit of rehearsal Tatiana doesn't think this group is any better than her other one (i.e. they're not giving her total control) so she jumps back!

On to the singing!

First we hear Simon telling everyone how important lyrics are - so important, in fact, that if you forget your words today, you are automatically cut. Ouch! (Bucky certainly would have been cut if they'd done that his season, and probably quite a few other finalists!)

1st up is "White Chocolate": India Morrison (one of the sisters), Justin Williams (new: 26, AZ, teacher), Kris Allen (we saw him briefly in Louisville doing "A Song for You"), and Matt Giraud (Dueling pianist). They sing "I Want You Back" and start and end with India rapping while the guys beatboxed & such. They were all good; to me Kris stood out as excellent. They all made it through and set a very high standard for everyone else!

A group is shown with Austin (class pres.), J.B. Ahfua (16-year old from 1st audition ep), and a girl named Shelby. We don't hear them sing and later are told that Austin was cut, but we don't know about the others.

Another group contains Jorge, Julissa, Nick ("Norman" but serious this time), and a blond girl I don't recognize. They sing "Get Ready" but we don't hear much. Both girls are cut, both guys advance.

"Action Squad" is next: Alex (closet singer), Ann Marie (got 2nd audition chance), Emily (pink-haired rocker), and Ryan Pinkston (new guy). They have "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow." Emily forgets her words! She & Ryan are cut; Alex & Ann Marie are through.

"Rainbow Coalition": BFF's Danny and Jamar plus Taylor (tall Samoan 16-yr old) and another girl. They sing "Somebody to Love" a cappella and rock it! Very, very good. All advance.

Several good singers are then highlighted in a medley of "Some Kind of Wonderful." The first is Jeremy Michael Sarver (oil rig guy) & the 2 other guys in his group are not shown. Next is Adam Lambert (musical theater guy, sang BoRap for audition & I loooooove him!), the only one shown singing of his group with Joanna (girl w/past record deal) and 2 others. Last are Matt Breitzke (married welder) and Jesse Langseth (new: 25, MN, and Johnny Lang's little sis), who are both awesome (we don't see the 3rd group member). Adam's group closes out the medley; they're all back in one group singing but he's having a blast and really showing his skillz while the others are kind-of backing him up. I know some think he was too annoyingly over-the-top (a la Von), but I thought it fit in this context. This whole medley was very, very... well, wonderful! ;-) I'm assuming everyone highlighted made it through.

"The Divas" are shown next; they have Duffy's "Mercy." Lauren is decent, Katrina & Rose both just ok... and Jasmine is Awesome!! Vocally incredible, and socially seems to have totally stayed out of the Drama stewed by Katrina & Rose. So much more maturity at 16 than many of the contestants 10 years her senior. Jasmine is the only one to advance.

Cut, but not shown singing: Austin, David Osmond, and Deanna Brown (grabbed someone else's family in 1st audition ep because she didn't have anyone w/her).

2 groups left. First up is Tatiana's, and we see way too much drama. They sing "I Want You Back" and Muna (new: 16, NV) is good, Tatiana's vocal was decent, and we didn't hear the other two. All of them advance and afterward Tatiana goes on and on thanking Jesus, her group members, and any and everyone involved in any way in the show. And on. and on....

"Team [they didn't] Compromise" is last and they sing "Mercy." Nate is very stressed beforehand and leads the group in prayer. He starts out singing and is overly dramatic with his choreo (not too surprising; some of the judge laugh but goodheartedly I think). Nancy flubs her words but her voice isn't that great either. Kristin (new tonight: 22, CA), however, can sing! I can't wait to hear more of her - and when she's had a bit more sleep and much less stress. They finished and Simon commented, "You really don't like each other, do you?" Heh. Nancy was cut and didn't even let Kristin touch her, though Nate went & consoled her afterward and Nancy did admit that she was at least partially to fault for letting things "get to" her. Nate & Kristin advanced.

In total "about 75" made it through to the next round. They showed a few others and I caught Scott (blind guy), Von, Joanna, Arianna (16-yr old "Adopt a Grandfriend" founder), Michael Castro, Ryan Johnson, Jackie, Kai, and Cody (horror movie boy). Anoop is also shown in the preview for next week so apparently he made it though we never saw his group. Next week we get longer solos (with instruments!) and the announcement of the Top 36!!!

Tuesday, February 3

AI8 Hollywood Week - Days 1 & 2 (2/3/09)

We get 4 episodes of Hollywood Week this year instead of just 2; yay!! And the 147 contestants got something new as well - a "Boot Camp"! Time with stylists, vocal coaches, and a famous mentor - Barry Manilow! He sure does love Idol now, lol. How fun for all the contestants though!

The format is familiar - Contestants go on stage in groups ("lines") of 8, each singing a cappella for the judges, & are then divided into one group that advances and one group that goes home - I guess last year's '2nd chance' idea is gone. So, Day 1 we have 64 up...

The first group includes Dennis Brigham and Lil Rounds.
- Lil sings "I Will Always Love You" and gets a standing ovation from the judges; Kara calls her "bold and brave." She's through.
- Dennis: "For Once in My Life" - just ok, vocals definitely not up to finalist level. Is cut.
- An Asia and Alexander (tall guy w/beard from NY, we haven't heard sing) also advance from this group.

Frankie is shown with Simon saying "that was way overcooked." Some of the Day 2 group (out sightseeing on Day 1) is shown, including Brent Keith Smith.

Next group shown:
- Nathaniel Marshall (new- 18, NY, 103187) - Sings Ray Bolz's "The Anchor Holds" and my brain is confused, lol. This is a conservative Christian song being sung by a guy with tats and piercings; I'm interested, anyway!! He's got a good voice, but seems to have emotional issues (after being asked why he chose the song, he goes on a bit long & starts sounding desperate). We shall see.
- Anoop Desai: "If It's Magic" - LOVE!!! - through.
- Jasmine Murray: "The Trouble with Love" - very good; though.
- Rose Flack: "Dock of the Bay" - just ok; not up to par w/most we're seeing. Gets through this round though.
- Michael Castro: not shown singing; is through.

Another group:
- Stephen Fowler (new- 26, OH, 98158) "Superwoman" - Randy says this is one of Stevie Wonder's toughest songs to sing; Stephen is very good. He's through.
- Jorge Nunez: "Angel" (Jon Secada) - very good; through.
- Von Smith: "If the Rain Must Fall" - sigh, just as OTT and annoying as before. Simon calls it "indulgent nonsense" and "horrible." Von is humbled; is through and doesn't even celebrate, saying he knows he has to work harder to make it next time. (Unfortunately I'm afraid that for Von, "work harder" means sing louder and emote more... NO!!!)

We see Nick Mitchell / Norman Gentle after his initial audition, saying it's time to ditch the Norman persona & get serious. Not. Norman comes out (no pun intended) in the same shiny outfit and headband to sing "And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)". He's still the entertainer, even shouting up to folks in the balcony (and "Seacrest!"), but ending with some very nice, strong vocals. I would love to hear him just sing a song; I do think he's talented - Paula says the same thing. Simon says he's boring as Nick and a joke as Norman. But he gets at least one more chance as he's sent through to the next round.

We're also told Scott McIntyre and Frankie Jordan advance but we don't get to see them singing.

Day 2 - the other 83 get their chance!

Jackie Tohn: "Rock Me Right"- the more I hear, the less I like (too affected, reminds me of Amanda last year who got old fast). Paula says she remembers her most out of all the auditions. She's through.

A tall black guy is shown getting cut - Asa (music teacher) perhaps??

- Jamar Rogers: "California Dreamin'" again - borderline IMO. Advances. Next is bff...
- Danny Gokey: "Kiss From a Rose" - wow, can you say *perfect* song choice for his voice?! Sounds awesome, and they show his whole clip (more of the song than most others). Through!

Some more a shown advancing though we don't get to hear them sing: Matt Brietzke, Matt Giraud I think?, possibly Leneshe (cute young black girl), and Julissa.

Time for Bikini Girl Katrina: "Breathe" - just so-so. Lots of air time as the male vs. female judge differing opinions are shown, but she ultimately advances.

Some who get cut: Jessica Furney (lives w/grandma), Sharon Wilbur (brought dog), and Patricia Roman (large family in P.R.).

Then we're shown 2 dads:
- Jeremy Michael Sarver (oil rig guy): "More Than Anyone" - good; Randy said he was one of the best they'd seen that day. Through.
- Jesus Valenzula (2 boys got him through 1st audition): "Lately" - just ok and is fittingly cut.

The last group of Day 2:
- David Osmond: "The Way You Look Tonight" - nice; through.
- Erika Wesley, an FBI agent from Oregon I don't think we've seen before, is cut.
- Emily Hughes (early rocker girl) practices a 40's song but at the last minute switches to No Doubt's "Excuse Me, Mister". Sounds decent to me though the judges all say they're disappointed. She's through to the next round.
- Alex Wagner-Trugman (sang in closet) advances as well but we don't see him sing.

A few more that we're told are through: Alexis Grace (blond mom), Brent Keith Smith, Ann Marie Boskovich, and Adam Lambert (they do show Randy complimenting him).

Altogether 104 advance to the next round: Groups!! Bring on the drama and awesome harmonies!

(It's late & I'm not proofreading this - let me know if there are mistakes!)