Tuesday, February 17, 2009

AI- Top 36, Group 1 Performance

Ryan, looking nattily preppy tonight, tells us that we’re going live, though I think he means live in that he is actually alive at that given moment. The judges are all dressed in black and white, except for Paula, who is florally orange.

Ryan explains the new semi-final elimination system this year- each group of 12 (not 8 as I thought last week) will sing, and the top vote getting guy and gal will move forward, as well as the next highest vote getter (boy or girl). At the end of these three weeks, the judges will choose 3 Wild Card kids to complete the Top 12. No one is saying whether or not those Wild Card choices will come from the 36. I would like to assume that is the case, but I remember Carmen Rasmussen.

First up is Jackie Thon, 23 from New York. She’s wearing an odd quilted purple thing with puffy sleeves and shoulder pads, in her interview, and I think to myself that whatever she wears for her performance will be better. I am wrong. OMG, is that a black spandex, strapless jumpsuit? With a wide red belt and polka dots? And tennis shoes? Unfortunately, I think it is. She’s singing Elvis’s A Little Less Conversation, and she sounds bluesy and isn’t too bad, though I agree with Simon about the ungainly dancing. Mama and Papa Thon wait for her on the Red Couch of Jubilation (or Doom, depending on the performance). Mama Thon has some sort of towel or blanket draped across her lap.

Ryan says we’ll be back with Ricky Someonewe’veneverheardbefore. Turns out to be Ricky Braddy, 26 from North Carolina. Ricky’s speaking voice is nasal, and he needs a shave. He’s singing that Leon Russel song about singing a song for you, but I am too distracted by his fuzzy ears to listen too closely. His voice is okay, but singers like him are a dime a dozen on this show. His rhyming parents, Vicky and Ricky Sr. are wearing dorky t-shirts and evidently have a domain name (The Braddy Bunch).

So why do hard-edged rocker type girls always go with pink hair? Why not blue? Or green? Alexis Grace, 21 from some place I didn’t catch, has a cute little girl who she is nonetheless willing to leave for the duration. She’s singing Never Loved a Man, which would generally be a mistake (note to most AI hopefuls: avoid The Aretha), but she’s doing well with it, while wearing a lacy black slip and bright red lipstick, and materially subdued pink streaks. Oh look, there’s Ted Danson and Neil Patrick Harris in the audience. If they’re there to shill for some show, we never find out. Maybe they’re just AI fans. Alexis’s father appears to be Penn Gillette, and her mother is perhaps an ex-flower child, but at least they’re not wearing self-promotional t-shirts.

Oho- the show is live after all, and someone botched Brent Keith’s (29, Ohio) intro tape. He and Ryan try and fail to recreate the interview on the stairs to the stage. Brent sings a country ditty called Hick Town, and is pitchy dawg. My guess is that this is the last time we’ll be seeing Brent.

17 year old Californian, Stevie Wright, has taken the judges’ advice to heart. She auditioned with At Last, and is now trying to skew younger with Taylor Swift. This is not a good decision- Stevie is purely awful from beginning to end, and I feel purely awful for her, but Stevie, who looks a bit like Scarlett Johanssen, deals with it well.

Next up is Anoop Desai, 22 from NC, who seems to be one of The Annointed Ones.He has carefully sculpted hair, and charisma to spare, which is good because his version of Angel of Mine isn’t great. He miffed the key change and was rather blah throughout. My guess is that he’ll make the Top 12 one way or another, so it doesn’t really matter.

Casey Carlson, 20 from Minneapolis, wears a stupid hat and makes a living preparing and serving something called bubble tea. She oh so foolishly attempts to sing Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, in elf booties, a wrinkled gold dress, and big hair. She vamps and grins and winks her way through the song, and it is a disaster (though I want to smack Randy for his post-song nastiness). Even her nice Mama can’t put a good spin on that train wreck.

Roughneck, Michael Sarver, 27 TX, with two adorable little girls, and terrible taste in shirts, tries Gavin DeGraw’s I Don’t Wanna Be, which was one of Bo Bice’s signature songs. Michael does not do the song (or Bo) justice. He’s likeable but it just wasn’t good enough, even with Stevie’s Balcony Dance of Support.

Anne Marie Boskovich, 22 Nashville, of the audition mini-makeover, sings Natural Woman (which most people identify only with Aretha, forgetting that Carole King wrote it). It’s a little thin in the middle, but I liked it anyway, a lot more than the judges did.

Stephen Fowler, 26, Ohio, promised not to forget the lyrics this time, though it would probably have been better if he had since Michael Jackson’s Rock With You was absolutely the wrong song for him. His rhythm was totally off- either speeding ahead of the band, or lagging behind throughout . Good-bye Stephen.

I am not surprised that they saved Drama Queen Tatiana del Toro (24, San Juan, maniacal laugh, deeply unflattering dress), for the end. She has chosen to sing Whitney, which should be the kiss of death, but dammit, she’s good. There were some odd moments, but she totally and absolutely nailed that high note. Tatiana has probably been reading about herself on the Interwebs, and is much more subdued than we’ve previously seen her. Will she make it through? Maybe.

And finally, 28 year old widower from WI, Danny Gokey, steps on stage. Choosing Mariah Carey’s Hero is a smarter choice than it first appears since he can’t be compared to the original. I am relieved to hear how good he sounds (some of my other season audition favorites crashed and burned spectacularly in the early rounds- Sundance Head, anyone?). Pay attention Anoop- that’s how you do a key change. I don’t think this performance was quite ovation-worthy, but it was plenty good enough to earn him a spot in the Top 12 (again, one way or another).

On the recap, I notice that Alexis Grace has the best stage presence of any of them.

My Top Girls: Alexis Grace and Anne Marie Boskovich, with reluctant props to Tatiana. My Top Guys: Danny Gokey and Anoop Desai, with a minor nod to Ricky Braddy.

Top 3 Vote Getters: Danny, Anoop, Alexis

Am I voting tonight? Nope. I’ll let these rounds fall as they may.


dawn draper said...

You and I totally agree on the favorites from last night. I hung my head in shame after hearing Tatiana. She was good, and I wanted her kicked out! In fact, I liked her singing better than Anne Marie's (who reminds me a bit of Celine Dion), even though Tatiana kind of lost it somewhere in the middle. Alexis was the best of them, in my opinion.

I'm having a hard time getting excited about the guys. Danny was good, but not worthy of the gushing from Kara and Paula, I don't think.

Charles said...

Just thought I'd post here on your Idle review, but I just found interesting news about Taylor Hicks. He has been busy, as another Idle singer ends up on the Broadway stage.