Notes after the jump ...
I'm about halfway through tonight's two-hour telecast, and it's apparent that the judges are being much more selective in their nastiness. Yes, they will take down incompetent singers. But after the discussion last year that they were turning the innocent into punching bags, there have been a couple of cases where -- while saying no to Hollywood -- they made clear they found the contestants personally likable, and kept their criticisms gentle.
Then, though, there was the sparkly "Somebody to Love" woman from Allentown, pictured below.
She was far from the worst singer I've heard on the show -- somewhat competent, in fact. And Simon was nice when she was in the room, and she took it OK until she was in the hall. Which suggests that she just amped it up for more camera time -- and she got it, including all those promos for her meltdown.
There were other stagy moments, like throwing the "No Sex Allowed" guy at the judges even though he was ineligible for the show. Or the guy with the stalking song -- way too creepy, as the judges said.
And, for very personal reasons, I don't even want to think about the guy who got rid of his body hair. As Paula said, "You know that hurt."
But there has also been a sweetness to tonight's show that I don't really remember from a lot of previous audition telecasts. Plenty of heart-warming stories going into the later rounds, and a first step toward the show achieving its goal of emphasizing contestants' personalities more this season.
And 29 people got a trip to Hollywood.