American Idol 2009 - Top 36 give their first performances
American Idol's Season 8 hopefuls kicked off the first round of performances tonight. Only 12 of the Top 36 performed tonight, we'll have to wait a couple of weeks to get a glimpse of all of them.
The show began with some advice from the judges. Randy Jackson told them to be in it to win it and blow us away. Kara Dioguardi told them not to let the nerves get to them. Paula Abdul told them to make the magic happen. Simon Cowell told them that the odds are stacked against them this year. He also told Ryan Seacrest that he likes his new hair.
Ryan tells us how we will be building the Top 12 this year. We'll have three mixed groups, with the top girl and top guy moving on as well as the second highest vote getter. They will have a wild card show to get to the final 3 of the Top 12.
The first performer up was Jackie Tohn, an entertainer from New York. Her performance goal was to get Paula up on her feet as she sang "A Little Less Conversation." She turned the song into a soulful Jazz kind of number. It was creative but I'm not sure I liked it. I do love her personality. She did indeed get Paula up and moving. Randy wasn't blown away but he thinks she's a good entertainer. Kara didn't think it was the best vocal, but it showed who she is. She thinks Jackie has a big personality and can work a stage. Paula says that perfect is boring, Jackie is a true performer. Simon thought the song was gimmicky, the performance was ungainly and Jackie didn't do herself any favors.
After each performance, Ryan talked to the contestants' families who are waiting. This part was hard to hear and difficult to recap, so we're just gonna skip over these little filler parts.
Ricky Braddy was serving chicken fingers not too long ago, but then he decided to do what makes him happy. Ricky chose to perform "Song For You" by Leon Russell. He has a good voice, but is boring beyong belief. He wasn't featured at all in the audition or Hollywood rounds. If you combine that with the boring performance and bad song choice, we can bid Ricky a fond farewell. Randy thought it was unbelievable. Kara tells him he has an incredible gift. Paula is proud that America gets to see how talented he is. Simon wasn't as bowled over as the other three. He doesn't think Ricky has the star quality or charisma. He says Ricky is a nice, shy guy with a good voice.
Alexis Grace paid attention to the earlier advice from the judges. She changed her look like they wanted her to. Alexis performed Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man." It's never wise to do Aretha, though the judges didn't point that out for once. I wasn't crazy about her performance. Maybe I'm just too picky this year...I also didn't like her new Cheap Crack Ho' look. Randy loved the performance. Kara said she released something inside (yeah the Cheap Crack Ho') and said she's a new girl (yup, Cheap Crack Ho'). Paula didn't expect her to have the soul and passion she has at her age. Simon says she does have soul and confidence. He compared her to Kelly Clarkson.
Next up was Brent Keith. They had an issue with his tape, forcing Ryan to ad lib. He takes Brent down to the stage and talks to him. Finally they have the tape. Brent has decided to return to his roots and perform "Hick Town." It wasn't bad but it was forgettable. Randy like that he returned to his country roots. He says he can see Brent as a country artist. Kara thought it was a little safe because he has a lot of soul. Paula told him that he took more risks before. Simon flat out told Brent he blew a massive opportunity by being forgettable.
As a side note - is the person who decided to do live interviews with family members fired yet? What a massively horrible idea! This was a train wreck, and one I'm glad I decided not to try to recap. For those who didn't watch, I'll try to describe the horror. Ryan is seated upstairs, talking to family as the contestant comes upstairs. The family naturally wants to greet the contestant. The contestant also wants to talk, but they don't have a microphone so it's hard to hear them. It's just terrible.
Stevie Wright has wanted to sing since she was 9 or 10. She impressed everyone but Simon so far, so she's going to showcase herself as the young bubbly 17-year-old she is. She performed "You Belong to Me" by Taylor Swift. Mere words can not describe the horror of the performance. It was off-key. I've heard drunks do karaoke better than that. I'm really glad it wasn't longer than what it was. Randy tells Stevie that she is a better singer than this performance. Kara thought she picked a song that had nothing to do with her. Paula didn't think it was the right song. Simon tells her that it was terrible and she has no chance of going on.
Anoop Desai was next. He starts by telling us that he wants to bring energy to his performances. Then he picks a slow ballad by Monica called "Angel of Mine" to perform. Despite that, he was good. He has a good voice. Hopefully he moves on. Randy thought the whole song was sharp, but he's a fan. Kara wasn't sure Anoop had the ability to nail that one. Paula points out that America has already connected with Anoop. Simon asked why Anoop picked that song. Anoop said it was the first R&B song he remembered hearing on the radio. Simon thought it was too grown up, which is odd considering Monica was what, 18ish? Anyhow, Simon says Anoop's likeability goes in his favor.
Casey Carlson picked "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police. It was off-key and a very bad choice. Randy didn't like it and called it weirdly karaoke. Kara said everything about that was wrong. Even the weird motions and dancing was wrong. Paula didn't like it either. Simon told her to find something positive about the experience because the singing was terrible. He added that apart from that it didn't tell them who she wants to be as an artist.
Again, let me insert a comment about the whole live interview thing after the performances. Can we not do these segments next week? At least by this point they finally get a microphone close enough to hear the conversations.
Our oil rig roughneck, Michael Sarver, was next. He picked Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Wanna Be" to sing. I like the song, but it doesn't show off any vocal ability. It's just the wrong song for this early in the competition. Randy likes him better doing soul. Kara didn't think he was being true to himself. Paula liked that he showed a different side. Simon told him if he gets through it's because people like him. He hopes that America gives him another shot.
Ann Marie Boskovich also picked an Aretha song, "Natural Woman." See my earlier note about not picking Aretha. To illustrate how not good it was, let me tell you about my cat Skeeter. Whenever I sing along with my mp3 player and hit a particularly painful note, Skeeter comes over to me all concerned that I'm dying...I'm not a singer at all, I suck, but I will sing along with my mp3 player. When Ann Marie was singing, Skeeter came over to me with that same look on her little face, like I was singing. Skeeter thought Ann Marie was dying. Randy didn't think it was the right choice for her. Kara thought it was old fashioned. Paula says the song requires tremendous soul. Simon doesn't think that her voice was good enough for that song.
Ann Marie may have killed off the post-performance family interviews. After she sat down, she said something about sitting on something hard. Then she realized what she said sounded bad so she clarified that she sat on some wood. Ryan immediately dropped the interview and went to the voting numbers.
Cleveland's Stephen Fowler promised to remember the words to "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson. The background singers were off, but he did not forget his words. I thought it was one of the better vocals we heard tonight. The judges hated it, though. None of the judges thought that it was the right song.
My least favorite moment of the night was finally upon me. Tatiana Del Toro said that Hollywood was full of drama, but it hurt to have people call her names. She decided to sing "Saving All My Love For You" by Whitney Houston. I was so excited she picked a big song to die on. Then she sang and it was the best female vocal of the night and the best vocal, period, to this point. It wasn't perfect by any means, but compared to the rest of the crap we heard it was awesome. Yes, I said it, Tatiana was good. I've never doubted her ability to sing, I just hate the drama. If she makes it through tomorrow though I may have to resort to a hunger strike until she leaves. Randy was impressed with some moments. Kara thought she was very reserved tonight. Paula isn't sure she likes the demure Tatiana. Simon thought it was better than he expected. He told her to lose the weird demure thing though.
Last up was Danny Gokey, the church music director who auditioned just 4 weeks after his wife died. He picked "Hero" by Mariah Carey" to encourage people to find strength. Danny saved me, he had the best vocal of the night. I loved his performance. Jamar Rogers, his friend who auditioned with him, was in the audience. Randy called him the redeemer of the night. Kara said he was great. Paula told him he was stellar. Simon didn't think it was that awesome but thinks Danny is a good singer.
So I would send Danny and Tatiana on to the next round for sure, though I'm still not happy about Tatiana being the top female and I'd much rather be able to say it was Ann Marie or Alexis or Jackie. I will be perfectly happy if one of them makes it through instead of Tatiana. But if I'm being honest, Danny and Tatiana have passes to the next round. I'd give the third spot to Anoop or Stephen.
You know Danny Gokey came through wow! This is a really hard season because I also liked Anoop. I really don't like how this season is being handled. Danny gets my vote, but Anoop should be there too. Sorry none of the ladies did it for me tonight. Very poor to say the least
I think your the next American Idol...Your performance brang the best out of yourself and I'm sure out of everyone....Everyone has a good and bad past but under your cecumstances it was the best performance at this time and for sure the right place...your already a star in my books..
Mr American Idol of 09
I hope AI picks up this season. I haven't been interested enough to watch the show until half way thru todays show. Wow, the girls don't seem to be in it to win. I'm in my 50's and haven't heard some of the songs they picked today for many years. Why do the judges have to tell all the singers season after season that they need to sing as if THIS preformance will be there last? Have'nt they been watching the last 7 seasons?
Guest said: anoop is waaaay better than michael who totally botched gavin's song. he should not have made it to top 12. and kill the hype over danny he wasnt that good either.
well it's your own fault he didn't make it. As I said in my recap of the show tonight, I expected more cultural loyalty. y'all have a ton of call centers there in India (I know I've been on the phone with them for a month now) you should have put them to work. *grin*