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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iAmerican Idol/i: Hollywood Round #3
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Was it me or was the pacing of the top 24 a little different than usual this year? It feels like the reveal of the rooms full of winners v. losers typically concludes an episode like this, instead of occurring early on. I think in order to fill up two hours against the Olympics, FOX overstuffed this episode of Idol. While I was annoyed I had to miss the first half of men's short program figure skating, the episode wasn't as tediously overlong as I expected.  I think I could have used without a lot of the "I wonder how I did" out-loud thinking going on from the contestants and the echo…echo…echoing judges' comments but that was the worst of it.

There were two eliminations tonight: first the singers performed with the band and backup singers and got sent to the famous rooms, after which the judges reviewed all the auditions and made their final decisions with some drawn-out interviews.  I found the last-chance performances unexpectedly enjoyable, I think because some people didn’t make a good transition to the big stage with the backup.  One fella, for instance, probably blew it for himself by complaining about how the band screwed up.  Not only is that not classy, to say the least, personally I find the band leader/keyboardist terrifying. That guy does not seem like he tolerates 'tude.  I also didn't have high hopes for Siobhan Magnus, who was encouraged to "lighten up" by Ellen and did this by putting on a pair of leg warmers and singing like Adam Lambert.

I do like Crystal Bowersox despite her dreadlocks—I thought her decision to sing "If It Makes You Happy" was a good one even if she wasn't hitting the high notes exactly right.  I believe Randy declared her a "real indie girl" for playing a harmonica and guitar at the same time.  Bob Dylan was also a real indie girl.

I wasn't a fan of Alex Lambert and his ukulele—he was one of a million people who sang Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours.”  With his bored expression and '80's style sunglasses I liked him more as a Steff from Pretty In Pink impersonator than thrilling stage presence. 

It's interesting how many singers chose that Jason Mraz song and how out of favor tunes made famous by people like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are right now.  The one R&B song that seemed popular was "Man in the Mirror," which I thought seemed dated and cheesy, despite the relevance of Michael Jackson.  I do admit though I was a sucker though for Shelby Dressel singing "More Than a Feeling" because that songs just describes how I FEEL: only MORE! No, seriously, I will probably always love that tune since it's the song on which Keith Phipps introduced me to Rock Band.

The first (room) elimination didn't cut too many of the people front and center of the audition process aside from Mary Powers, the P!nk-wannabe. I liked the way she looked and some of the songs she chose and I thought her daughter was cute but I don’t think she ever transcended a cliched rock-chick prototype. I was over her anyway when she declared, "People are intimidated by me."  I also think it was bad luck for her to sit next to a white girl with a weave in the waiting room.  Part of me wishes Mary had made it through though since she was one of the biggest pains in the ass in the competition and that makes it more fun.

The judges then began the excruciating process of telling each of the leftover contestants whether they made it to the top 24 or not. Ellen was actually kind of funny about how deliberately awful they are about not just getting to the point already and telling the singers whether they're in or not.  This is where we learned that Shelby didn't make it, but bare-chested Casey did, as did Todrick Hall. I'm curious about Todrick, the dancer who claims to never have taken a voice lesson before.  Simon seemed to find him annoying and I wasn't sure what was dangling off his jeans but I liked what he did with that universal Jason Mraz song. 

Only one person so far seemed to take her news extraordinarily badly: a girl named Jessica who thought she could beg her way into the competition, specifically by giving the word "please" more than one syllable. She put Simon in his element: when she asked what she did wrong he answered, "You didn't sing as well as the others," and when she pointed out that none of the other singers had to deal with losing their voices like she did, Simon told her she was wrong. 

But there's time tomorrow for more pouting and wheedling as 17 more finalists are revealed. I really wish the two-hour episode was tomorrow night, when the ice-skating wasn't going on because right now I'm watching a guy about to skate to "Night on Bald Mountain" in a glittery skeleton costume so clearly, I am distracted.

Stray observations:

—Jermaine Purifoy wanted to know why nobody sings "Brick House" on Idol: it's because it makes you sound like a wedding reception.

—I had lunch with a friend of mine today who said "I like Crystal Bowersox, but man, her teeth—it's like I'm watching John Adams."

—I don't know who the guy was who shook Simon's hand after he was told he didn't make it to the final round, but I thought he was classy.

—So far I don't care for the hats favored by people in the top 24: tiny fedora or big floppy knit.  How about a beanie with a propeller on top?

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