Your final 12 victims took the stage last night
This week we’re treated to a triple cocktail of Idol—last night’s performances by the Top 36’s final group of 12, tonight’s results show, and Thursday’s one-hour wild card show, where the judges will bring back their favorite performers who missed the cut when it came to America’s vote. I thought this group graced us with more quality performances than the first two combined. Sure, there were a couple of hot messes but I found myself pleasantly surprised by performers like Ju'not Joyner, Jorge Nunez, and Lil Rounds. So how’d they do?
Von Smith - "You're All I Need to Get By" Von had the unenviable task of opening the show and I thought this was actually an inspired song choice. . It was rangy, it let him belt a little and have some quieter, more emotional moments as well. There was hardly any sign of the crazy gay musical theatre guy that blasted away the straight-tone tenor notes at the first audition. Though I’m really not buying his whole “ZOMG I HAS NO IDEA I WUZ CLAY KLONE” routine.
Taylor Vaifanua - "If I Ain't Got You" Yeah, Taylor rocked the vocals on the chorus but there was something so vanilla and cabaret about the whole thing. She may have a standout voice somewhere in there, but didn’t give a standout performance. Paula actually pointed out something interesting in her pharmaceutical haze - Taylor actually sang this song during Hollywood Week. Now tell me something-- why on earth would you trot that one out again when you have the opportunity to pick any song out there? And wow is she tall… she dwarfs Seacrest like Jordin Sparks did two years ago.
Alex Wagner-Trugman - "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" Dude… the dorky dancing, the faux-growl in his voice… I didn't remember this guy from Hollywood Week and I tuned him out after about 30 seconds of his schtick. I thought his whole neo-Joe Cocker thing was affected and stagey. That performance might be OK if it was given by Michael Cera in the second act of a Judd Apatow movie, but not on American Idol.
Arianna Afsar - "The Winner Takes it All" This poor girl was so far behind the band and never was able to get back on the beat. She obviously has a great voice judging by the few money notes she did get in there (though she cracked at the end), but this was a disaster of a song choice. I mean…when they cut to your parents in the audience and even they look like they know you fucked up, well… that’s bad. The judges were right on target, criticizing her dated song choice. It's a shame her performance was so dreadful because it's easy to see she has a really good instrument.
Ju'not Joyner - "Hey There Delilah" I kinda dug this one, dawg. There were some moments in this song when he was really moving and effective. Ju’not did quite well done. The guy whose cute kid got him the sympathy vote to Hollywood actually turned out to have some decent pipes. He could be a dark horse in this competition if he makes it through to the Top 12.
Kristen McNamara - "Give Me One Reason" Kristen is a karaoke host and after this we can really see why. Everything was wrong about this, from the song choice, to the little orphan Annie dress, to the affected performance elements. This is not a difficult song. I can get through it on key and almost remember all the lyrics even after five cosmopolitans. Memo to Kristen: If you have the voice to take on a big-ass song, why not do it? It's now or never baby! Unfortunately, I don’t think this performance will stand out enough to let her advance.
Nathaniel Marshall - "I Would Do Anything for Love" Crazy pierced emo kid hit the stage dressed like it was Saturday night at Limelight in 1987. It was all very weird and gay and retro-disco and odd. Kara did declare that he was "the guy I want to go to karaoke with!" Well yeah, everyone wants to go to karaoke with the weird gay kid, especially if he has good drugs. Don’t think we’ll be hearing from Boy George Jr. again anytime soon.
Felicia Barton - "No One" You’ve gotta love how there's no mention of exactly WHY Felicia ended up back in the top 36 after being cut in the final round of Hollywood Week (thanks Joanna Pacitti!) but lemme tell you, this girl has a VOICE. I'm down with the styling, I'm down with the vocals, I still don't really know what kind of artist she'll be, but it's a vast improvement over the last time we saw her. I don’t think she’ll bet the votes, but she could be a wild card candidate.
Scott MacIntyre "Mandolin Rain" I was sort of over Scott when he did Daughtry's "Home" at the piano during Hollywood Week. Yeah, he's blind and everything but his vocals just can’t compete with this crop of singers. I do think Simon is dead-on when he says Scott will sail through to the Top 12—the sympathy vote from kids and old people alone will get him there, but it won’t benpurely on the strength of this performance. Yeah, I’m picking on the blind guy, but c’mon, you’re all thinking it too, right?
Kendall Beard "This One's For the Girls" Kendall looked like a little yellow ray of sunshine in that dress didn't she? Too bad she ended up delivering a tight, scared vocal and a stiff performance. This was actually a good song choice for an aspiring Carrie Underwood like Kendall, but she just doesn’t have the vocal chops to execute it properly. Kudos for defining yourself as an artist, babe, but sorry, you don't have the talent.
Jorge Nunez - "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" Tonight's Randy Jackson "Blow it Out the Box" award goes to Puerto Rico's Jorge Nunez, who exploded said box with a thrilling vocal and a commanding performance of the Elton John classic that has become an Idol standard for guys with big voices. If Jorge doesn't go through after this performance, I don't know what the fuck is wrong with you people. PLEASE put him through instead of the blind guy! Viva la Jorge!
Lil Rounds - "Be Without You" After being compared to Mary J. Blige by Randy Jackson, why not sing Mary? Lil delivered a solid vocal and defintiely threw down, saying “here's what you're gonna get if you record an album with me.” What a way to close the show. Great dress, great styling, superstar performance. It's gonna be a horse race tonight, folks.
My predictions – I think Lil and Blind Guy are shoo-ins. The third slot could go to either Ju’not or Jorge.