So the big surprise of the night, other than the completely weird introduction of Ryan and the judges, was that two people will be eliminated from the top thirteen tomorrow, basically kind of undoing whatever went on during wild card night. However, I noticed that while Ryan seemed to expect a lot of booing when he announced that two singers would be going home, nobody seemed to care that much.


The kids sang Michael Jackson songs tonight, and my first thought was "This could be terrible," followed by "I hope someone sings 'Smooth Criminal,' and 'Thriller.'" Then I hoped that Michael would be on hand to mentor the singers but no go.

We opened it up with Lil Rounds, who gave us the first of the sob stories (tornado + house) and trite sayings ("The day you let go of your dreams is the day you let go of your life") of the night. She sang "The Way You Make Me Feel" and I felt let down from the beginning when she called out "Go on, boy!" The sex change on the song is so unnecessary, especially the way the line about the "high heels on" was pretty much re-written. It drives me crazy. After I calmed down from that I realized Lil's performance was kind of boring, maybe partially due the band, which was playing a dull, Muzak-sounding arrangement. Lil can work the stage but her high-waisted, pleated pants really couldn't. She seemed to warm up maybe a little more towards the end but otherwise it was a disappointment for me. "The Way You Make Me Feel" should be a flirty, light song, or otherwise maybe Lil just failed to impress me with her bluesier take on it. Randy lost all credibility with me when he said "This is the way we kick off season eight!" Maybe he hasn't been watching the season as long as I have. Guess which of the judges I agreed with? Randy: "You make the song new again."   Kara: "The other contestants have got to be like 'uh-oh' now that they've heard you!"    Paula "Like an angel singing." Simon: "I hate what you’re wearing."

I'd like to point out that last week I called that that particular young lady cheering on Scott (who some of you, not me, called "googly-eyed") totally is his sister and is also visually impaired. He sang MJ's "Keep the Faith" which I don't know that well. He sounded pretty on the pianey but it was a treacly performance from the top, a very "We Are the World" scenario. I got annoyed by the audience trying to keep Scott alive with its applause. Kara once again admitted that Scott's not a great performer but "you’re true to yourself." Yeah, way to stay true to being okay. I love Simon for having the balls to say "I hate that song" with the songwriter IN THE AUDIENCE. Paula shut him down by saying, I believe, that that was the "biggest selling record in history in Norway." By the way, in case you couldn't tell by the shred of Bjork's swan costume she was wearing, Paula seemed "back" this episode more than any other this season.


When Danny Gokey grew up he didn't have much materially but he had a lot of love. Now you know. He sang "PYT" and I, being a hater-bitch, mentally made fun of his matching glasses and shirt and what I considered to be a "creepy falsetto" and a super white performance but then I noted that he’s “a good singer…like Michael McDonald. Ugh." You know? He didn’t move me but I had to admit that he’s good, and that Mr. Gokey had a lot of stage presence, despite the quasi air-grinding. I actually thought that it was the first decent performance of the night. Paula almost cried and told Danny she'd see him in the finals. Simon loved the singing, hated the dancing.

Michael Sarver who works on an oil rig (remember?) grew up without a dad, which made him strive to be the best dad he can be and now you know what you need to know about him. Again, I thought between his choice of "You are Not Alone" and his sitting-down pose, this wouldn't be good but Michael was a stronger, more controlled singer than I thought he would be, especially on the verses. I can't see him going super-far in this competition but he did pretty well for himself. I loved that Simon snarked on all the rough-neck worship: "I wish we knew what you did for a living." Also, Michael's daughter is cute.

Jasmine Murray has a very good-looking family. She mentioned that she'd be singing "I'll Be There" and my note was "Why is everyone choosing these pussy songs?" I thought she did better than her last performance but Jasmine so far hasn’t proven to be all that, to me. Maybe she'll be most-improved or something. Randy waited until now to mention that he worked with the legendary Mariah Carey and then praised Jasmine with "It wasn't that bad, it was pretty good." Paula didn't think it was the shit but still gave her encouragement, the way she always does. Simon thought it was a little robotic.


Kris has a wife and they have matching aprons. He did "Remember the Time" with his guitar, and his was the first (to me) performance to do something a little different with the arrangement/performance. I got kind of a Jack Johnson/Dave Matthews thing from him (Randy mentioned Jason Mraz, too). You know, Kris could be a dark horse in this competition—we haven't had a 'type' like him yet. And I thought "The chicks will like him," which was the first thing Kara noted (and also that he helped the other performers.) Paula nailed Kris's look with "adorable-sexy." Simon, after toying with Paula's ridiculous top, said, "I don't know I would have brought the wife out so early." Cut to the wife and she looked pissed. Somebody give her Cynthia Lennon's phone number so they can go get drinks together. Randy's feedback, surprisingly not a Japanese-to-English translation: "Very well job done baby."

Allison apparently had baby dreads when she was nine years old? I'm not surprised, there's something about her that's a little goofball, like, I wouldn't want to see her when she's actually high. She sang "Give In to Me" which is a song I am not familiar with at all so I couldn't tell if it was revamped a little bit for her Pink-ish way of singing, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was. She really sings like a 45 year old whiskey-soaked lady, not a 16 year old. I kind of like Allison and she was definitely the best girl so far of the evening. I don't know that I'd agree with Simon's advice for her to lighten up (I wasn't sure if he meant her clothes or her general schtick).

Anoop was wearing a dumb jacket—the guys keep getting put in these stupid military-style jackets this season and I'm sick of it. I was psyched to hear he was going to sing "Beat It" but unfortunately it showed Anoop's weaknesses, which are kind of fatal. He's not Sanjaya-bad but the performance was cheesy and he's clearly not nearly as good as a lot of other people this season. We all like him because he reminds of us someone we know but that doesn't translate well to the big stage. Paula ripped him a new one: "I think this song is untouchable and anything else sounds karaoke." Simon: "Wow." (He agreed, of course, only moreso).


Jorge's thing is that his presence on Idol saved his family from falling apart after his grandpa died. I didn't really think it was necessary to put the subtitles on his relative's commentary but whatever. Jorge sang "Never Can Say Goodbye," yet another song I didn't really know, and I found the performance strangely cheesy-erotic. He was better than a few of the other folks but not by much. When the judges asked Jorge why he chose that song, he admitted that he didn't really have a choice. "I was not going to sing 'Bad' by Michael Jackson" and Simon zinged "You sort of were." He found it corny and out of Jorge's depth and absolutely awful.

I'm not even going to pick on Megan's dress because her performance was cringe-worthy, to me. I don't think she's a bad singer (or great, either) but why "Rockin' Robin?" I know Michael Jackson sang that as a kiddie but that's not his song. It felt like she should have been singing at a Johnny Rocket's or a kids' concert, and she didn't look like she was having a lot of fun either. The judges hated it—Paula felt disconnected form it and Simon thought it was a STYUPID song choice.

People seem to have very strong feelings about Adam Lambert and apparently I am in the minority. I thought his performance of "Black or White" was over-the-top and Axl-Rosey. "This style of his is going to get really old after a few weeks," I thought. Basically he sings the way a trumpet player would play if the trumpet player periodically liked to blow as HARD AS POSSIBLE a few times into the instrument each song, thereby ruining a decent performance with theatrics. But Paula didn't agree with me as she was near-tears telling Fall Out Man how he'll be in the finals and even Simon thought it was amazing which was a letdown to me. I believe that Adam can sing but his style annoys the crap out of me.


Matt Giraud did "Human Nature" which was a nice song choice for him, his voice and his piano-playing skills. Paula was blown away (but not crying) and Simon basically said "Anything that follows Adam sounds like crap but you were OK whatever."

I would like to hear Alexis sing "I Can't Stand the Rain" sometime on the show since she sounded good singing it in her package. She's a mom, blah blah (among the females there are more moms this season than non-moms, if that means anything). She sang "Dirty Diana", dressed like she was in the cast of "Chicago." She blew it out, as Randy would say, although Paula chided her to watch her oversinging. Simon was a little nastier: "Very over the top and probably not as good as you thought it was." Although I have to hand it to Simey, on second listening at the show's recap I saw what he meant more than I noticed on the first go around.

So, kind of an interesting night—I think the wheat and chaff are fairly clearly defined but who knows if that means anything ot America. Who will be eliminated tomorrow? I think Anoop and Scott SHOULD go home but I doubt either will. Jorge and Jasmine might be done and there could be a surprise in there like Lil, too. By the way, I'm psyched for Kanye and Kelly tomorrow.


Grade: B

—If you’re wondering why Ryan made such a stink about dialing carefully tonight, here's why.

—How awful does that Osbourne show look?

—Are all those lights and strobes really necessary, producers? Someone's going to have a seizure.