American Idling | 09.11

american-idol_sm.jpg"Where’s my cortisone shot in my butt?"







Safe (good chance of securing one of three slots to the Final 12)

Lil Rounds. A popular and jury favorite, there is nothing that can stand in the way of this woman—no tornado, no crappy motel, no zombie-husband. If she makes it to Top 12—and all systems at the "pimp spot" point to "Go"—it would serve her well to temper her performances to avoid any backlash. American Idol viewers, in spite of themselves, get bored with consistency (see "Melinda Doolittle").

Von Smith. Smart guy. I was not the only one, I’m sure, who held on to a heavy item of furniture when he took the mic. But, surprise! He embraced the notes about managing his chronic shoutysm to heart and delivered a memorable Marvin Gaye number. The road to victory requires a degree of compromise that green-headed wannabes dismiss as "selling out". The goal is to be King of the Mountain; when you beat the others to the flag at the top, then—then!—you win the right to the Tarzan Yell. Oooh, and he did sound a lot like Clay Aiken…

Felicia Barton. As we get to fuzzier territory, the singer-previously-known-as the one who gained from poor Joanna Pacitti’s loss didn’t squander her second chance with a slightly unrisky cover of Alicia Keys’ "No One". She has a decent opportunity at becoming the latest addition to this season’s growing stable of dark horses (Alexis Grace, Kris Allen, and Allison Iraheta), finalists who was given a half-second of a half-second of screen time during the audition and Hollywood episodes.

Ju’not Joyner. Another second-chancer, but his took another entire audition cycle. I didn’t fall in love with his redux of his Hollywood Week song choice (Plain White T’s "Hey Delilah"). It’s still a lazy approach that, if I were Taylor Vaifanua, I would call the jury into question. I originally placed Jorge Nuñez in this spot, but, assessing vocal performance alone and recalling how much love was given to him by Paula, Randy, and Simon, my instincts behoove me to place my chips on black.

Eh (good chance of securing a second try in the Wild Card round)

Kristen McNamara. If only she had stepped into the spotlight naked, then her clothes would not have impeded the flow of rational criticism. Following the disappointments that were Taylor Vaifanua and Arianna Afsar, Kristen nailed the most exciting (because it was somewhat surprising) female performance of the night. The fact that both Simon and Kara all but ignored her vocals and focused on her unfortunate fashion choice (which we all know will be corrected in the course of the Finals, duh! Hello, Clay!…) is a reminder that, for all its worth, the show is ever a deep well of shallow.

Jorge Nunez. For all the melted cheese he brought to the party, at least it wasn’t the Velveeta at Hollywood Week. And can we please add "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me" to the list of song choices that do not see the light of day ever, ever, ever? Please: let the sun go down on "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me"? Let the sun go down and melt the song into a poof and release it to the wind. Resurrect only to torture terrorists, hostage takers, and self-centered hotties who have yet to acknowledge that I—I mean, you exist!  

Scott MacIntyre. Lifeless. Amateurish. Sad. But he’s blind, so let’s put on the kid gloves. Sensitivity be damned—Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, now they’re a couple of take-no-pity-on-me sightless bad-asses! I just don’t see Scott going anywhere except the bargain bin at the Virgin Megastore. Right there with Nathaniel Marshall’s "I am Sasha Fiercer" CD. (More on that disaster soon enough.)

Kendall Beard. I would like to further elaborate what I said in a previous write-up. She reminds me of Carrie Underwood in a Carrie Underwood tribute band. And… No, no, that’s all.

Not Safe (good chance of securing free airfare back to the suburbs.)

Taylor Vaifanua. What’s it like to go shopping with Taylor Vaifanua? Well, you’ll have lots of time to find that out because she’ll have lots of time to show you.

Alex Wagner-Trugman. Cody Sheldon would never have ended up like this. At least, not without a shockfest of stage blood and spewing body sores.

Ariana Afsar. The loser standing small. Like a cute little button!

Nathaniel Marshall. If I was a disciple of VoteForTheWorst.Com, I would genuinely, honest-to-goodnessly place myself down in a quiet room and consider: Could I seriously allow myself to unleash this scary, scary boy to face millions of Americans—Americans who voted for Obama, Americans who are prepared to stick this economic crisis through, Americans who are still mourning the death of Circuit City; could I respect myself if I did my part in bringing this emotional paintball to wreak havoc week upon possible week, in high-definition close-up? The kid is Pain incarnate. The answer is: No, I would not respect myself; but I’m going to Hell anyway, and it would be kinda fun! | Alan Quisimorio

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