American Idol Top 36Now that the live singing portion of the show has begun, Season 8 of American Idol has officially started for me.  With Nigel Lythgoe out as executive producer, producer Ken Warwick steps into the driver seat. Trying to keep the show fresh, Warwick has decided to change this part of the competition.  Rather than having the girls sing on one night then the boys on the other and the bottom two of each group getting the boot each week until the top 12 are reached, this time the top 36 are divided into 3 groups.  A different group of 12 will perform each week with the top boy, top girl  and the next top vote getter proceeding to the final 12.  This format makes it nearly impossible for contestants who’ve received little or no airtime prior to this point to advance while other contestants who have received tonnes of airtime and built up their fan bases already have an easier path to the top 12. I usually like to reserve judgement after watching the entire show twice since you have a clearer picture of truly who is better after seeing everyone perform once already.  I find it unfair that contestants who perform early in the show usually get the short end of the stick because you have no one to compare them to while the latter performances always get more votes since they are fresher in the viewers mind and pimped by both the judges and producers.

GALLERY: Images from American Idol 8 – Round 1. Click Here

Here is my list on whom I thought performed worst to best which was hard considering the night in general was mediocre at best.

Stevie Wright12. Stevie Wright
You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
Trainwreck #1.  I’d place her 13th but that would just be mean.  How bad was this performance?  It’ll probably go down as one of the worst performances ever witnessed on this show.  Looking like she stole rejected wardrobe from High School Musical 3 – Senior Year, Stevie danced awkwardly while totally butchering this lame Taylor Swift song.  From the onset she didn’t hit the right key and unfortunately during the 1:20 minute performance she never was able to find it.  Girlfriend needed a GPS to find the notes. I feel so bad for her since she seems like a really nice girl and was a pre-show fave of mine. I hope she gets a second chance during the wild card show but I highly doubt it.  PS.  Why was Jackie Tohn hugging Stevie’s mom and telling her she loved her?  WTF.

Casey Carlson11. Casey Carlson
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – The Police
Trainwreck #2.  Honey it’s not America’s Next Top Model.  Chicka was too busy mugging for the camera instead of singing on pitch.  I found her weird eye-winking, flirty smiling, and odd nose crunching totally distracting.  Who knows, maybe this was her strategy so that we wouldn’t focus on her vocals.  If she was going to take a Police classic, she should have totally stripped it down and sang it a la Vanessa Carlton or sang a girl anthem-ed song as Kara suggested.  To add insult to injury, both Kara and Randy sang their feedback – “(8)Everything about that was wrong(8)“.  Eeks.  It’s a shame she won’t be going through since she’s a pretty and marketable girl that could make 19 Entertainment lots of money.

Brent Keith10. Brent Keith
Hicktown -Jason Aldean
I guess the technical glitch prior to showing Brent’s interview package should’ve been a sign that his performance would suck.  Technically he sang the decently enough but the song sucked chunks. It’s too bad he won’t be advancing since this season doesn’t have much guy eye candy.  The best part of his performance was the judging feedback.  I mean how insane was Randy’s comment about envisioning Simon, Brent and him chillaxing at a chili cook off.  Once again, Simon stole the show with one of the most interesting comments of the night… “What has happened to Bucky Covington?”

Stephen Fowler9. Stephen Fowler
Rock With You – Michael Jackson

Really, you’re going to tackle this song. It’s the ‘Kiss of Death’ as Paula mentions and belongs only to Michael Jackson.  Don’t these contestants do their research?  No one on this show has ever sang this song well.  Stephen has a really amazing voice but all that was lost during his cheesy performance.  It wasn’t believable nor relevant.  Ironically enough, he mentions in his clip that he chose this song to show what kind of artist he’s going to be.  Am I that daft cuz I just don’t get it.  How insulting was it when Kara said she got more from him when he forgot his lyrics on the piano during Hollywood week. Like Michael Jackson’s career, Stephen you ain’t coming back.

Michael Sarver8. Michael Sarver
I Don’t Want to Be – Gavin DeGraw

Likeable guy but I found his performance expected.  It was neither God-awful nor was it great.  He might squeeze in through because he is so likeable and probably has accrued a fan base due to his previous air time and being featured as one of the last two picked for the final 36 on last week’s mansion episode.  As noted by Paula – Bo Bice, Elliott Yamin and Chris Richardson all sang this song in previous seasons which in turn reminded me just how Michael’s version paled in comparison to all three.

Ann Marie Boskovich7. Ann Marie Boskovich
Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin

Why do these girls continue to think they can handle Aretha songs?  I love Ann Marie and was rooting for her to do well but this song was way too BIG for her.  When she got to the money note and didn’t go for that big falsetto note I knew her chances of advancing would be slim at best. If she gets a second chance at the wildcard show she should heed Kara’s advice and sing something like Sara Bareilles’ Love Song.  Her best quote during her segment was “I just sat on the hard part – a big thing of wood and it hurt” as she sat beside Ryan Seacrest. “That’s what she said”.  LOL

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Jackie Tohn6. Jackie Tohn
A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley

Coming into this show, Jackie, was another one of my pre-show favorites.  As much as I wanted to like Jackie, her performance didn’t live up to my expectations.  Initially when I first watched her sing, I was not a fan but after seeing all the performances and re-watching her again she moved up on my list.  Looking like a modern hip-hop version of Olivia Newton-John in the finale of Grease complete with high-top sneaks , she playfully made the song her own in her gravely singing style.  In the old format, she would have no trouble advancing to the next week but with the new format, there is no way she is the top female vote getter nor even the top 3.  With comments like “The trousers like you, too! Thank you for lending me these!” to whom she directed to Randy, she’ll definitely keep the show interesting for the remainder of the season.  Hopefully she’ll return for the wildcard show and make the Top 12.

Anoop Desai5. Anoop Desai
Angel of Mine
Anoopi, Anoop Dawg, Sanjaya 2.0′s or whatever you want to call him strategy is to sing songs that he’s always wanted people from previous season to sing.  For this, he earns bonus points with me cuz I’m tired of contestants singing the same songs over and over again.  If I hear Against All Odds one more time on this show, I’ll personally have to hunt Phil Collins down for writing this song.  Anoop chooses one of my favorite R&B ballads of all time.  He sings it well but the song and arrangement had too many segments with weird karaoke backing vocals which made his performance seem cheap.  Hopefully he’ll either be the next 3rd highest vote getter since Danny Gokey has top male voter wrapped around his chubby little finger or be included on the wild card show.

DannY Gokey4. Danny Gokey,
Hero – Mariah Carey

Speaking of chubby himself, I just don’t get the love the judges and producers have for him.  If I felt I wasn’t being brainwashed by the producers to love him, I might actually like him.  I like his voice but tonight was not his best performance nor was it the best of the night as the judges kept telling us.  They act like he’s the second coming or something.  Sold-out arenas – I think not Paula. How sad was it when the camera panned on Danny’s best friend Jamal Rogers in the audience.  He definitely should’ve made the top 36.  Thank God, Simon told it like it was and didn’t buy the hype.  Sadly though, Danny will make through easily and will be singing probably til May with all the pimping he’s received.

Ricky Braddy3. Ricky Braddy
A Song For You – Leon Russell
If Ricky had at least 1/10th of airtime like Danny Gokey and gotten the pimp spot like him, it would be a no-brainer that he’d easily advance to the Top 12.  Unfortch for Ricky he did not and he needed to be GREAT and not just GOOD to help his cause of getting through.  Don’t get me wrong, he ‘killed it’ (as noted by Kara) but it was a tad boring and didn’t make me jump out of my seat.  He was Elliott Yamin lite with a bit of Clay Aiken thrown in but singing 2nd of a 2 hour show he became forgettable.  Like Simon stated ” He’s a nice shy guy with a very good voice but no charisma”.  Being absolutely one of my fave songs ever, you should check out Christina Aguilera’s version to witness how this song should really be sung.

Alexis Grace2. Alexis Grace
I Never Loved A Man – Aretha Franklin

Despite not being as good as Sabrina Sloan’s (Season 6) version of this song whom by the way was ROBBED, Alexis benefited from trainwreck performances from most of the girls and will likely be the top female vote getter thus securing her spot in the top 12.  For being such a tiny “white” girl, Alexis has a big booming soulful voice.  During her segment there were several subliminal references to Christina Aguilera.  Not only did her hair color remind me of Aguilera circa 1999, Kara also mentioned that Alexis has come out of her shell and let the genie out of the bottle.  The judges then mention another Aguilera song by telling Alexis during her audition to make love to her fiance and dirrrty herself up.  I agree with Simon that she is a dark horse and could sneak up on the competition and be a contender.

Tatiana Del Toro1. Tatiana Del Toro
Saving All My Love For You – Whitney Houston

What?!?!?! I put her as the best of the night. That’s right.  Girl killed it tonight.  Maybe it was my low expectations of her singing capabilities but I was floored on how well she did with this song.  She totally exceeded any preconceived notions I had.  The judges totally didn’t give her enough credit though – she had way more that a ‘few moments’ of brilliance.  Probably the most polarizing and controversial contestant ever on the show, I personally I hope she makes the Top 12.  If she does, the psychic who predicted her making it will be seeing alot more business because no one in a million years would’ve thought Tatiana had a realistic chance of advancing.  The more I see her, the more endearing I find her. Tell me you didn’t’ smile or laugh when she pleaded “America to please vote.  This is my dream and it’s up to you to keep it alive.”  No wonder, VoteForTheWorst.com is backing her for the Top 12 – the girl is too much.  Tatiana FTW (for the win).

Overall, most people choked and didn’t fulfill their potential.  I leave you now with a few random thoughts and observations.

  • Did you notice Paula had a glittered star ring from her jewelry collection back on her finger?  Did she take back the one she gave Tatiana during the mansion episode or did she make more since Tatiana mentioned that QVC had sold out of that item
  • I don’t understand why they brought back the whole family & friends interview as filler while waiting for the contestant to come back after judging.  I found them all awkward and pointless.  How sad was it when Stephen Fowler didn’t have anyone there for him.  Maybe in addition to forgetting lyrics he forget’s people’s phone numbers. Ouch.
  • Why were Ted Danson and Neil Patrick Harris sitting together?  Did they come together or was it some weird promotional stunt.  “Three Men and A Little Lady”
  • Best-dressed of the night was Casey Carlson.  She looked adorable in that gold ensemble.  Too bad she didn’t sing as well as she dressed.