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"American Idol": 12/36 Phase Two

By admin Published: February 25, 2009

In-progress notes from the telecast, after the jump. ...

Randy says, "Come on now, bring it." Kara says "there are no second chances." Paula says "I hope you pick the right song." Ryan notes Simon is on a different side of the table. Blah blah blah.

Looks as if Adam Lambert will close the show. Same theme as last week: Songs from the Billboard Hot 100.

Jasmine Murray leads off. Song: "Love Song." Poor start, can't seem to breathe right. Ouch parts. Shouting more than singing. Gets some control over it, but the vocal is really wobbly. Sets a very low bar for the rest of the show. C minus. Randy says good moments and bad moments, pitchy throughout, not sure if it was the right song for her. Kara says it was really all over the place, and she started too low in her register. Paula says she wants to disagree with R&K but she agrees, still says J's confidence was great. Simon praises confidence and attitude but she doesn't have a great voice. Boos. Simon rightly notes that he said the same thing as the other judges, but he got booed. J says she thought she did really well.

The bride notices they're not doing the couch-sit with family.

Matt Giraud. "Viva La Vida." Love Coldplay, but he's smoothed down the corners. I was thinking during his clip from Hollywood that he's your standard piano-bar guy, and this isn't changing my mind. Snooze. C. Kara says Matt blew her away in Hollywood week and she's not blown away tonight. Says his "bluesy soulful" quality was lost on the song. Paula says it was a risky song, and that he was better than in rehearsal, but she hopes he'll be back. Simon says "it was verging on a horrible performance" and, again, that he sounded better in Hollywood. Randy dittoes, including that Matt has "mad talents." Ryan fills his usual role of defender/sympathizer against the judges.

Jeanine Vailes. "This Love." Another wobbly vocal, some terrible parts. Man, what is with the semifinalists this year? This show may be worse than last week's. She recovers briefly, but shrieks on the chorus. D. Paula says she has great legs and passes to Simon. Who calls it terrible, "painful" and "completely the inappropriate song for you." He and then Randy still praise the legs. But Randy also says it's the wrong song. Randy gets booed! Kara looks for something other than the legs that is pretty to talk about. But calls the performance "very overdone, hon. Everything about it was wrong." JV says she felt she had been under the radar and had to come out strong. Simon says she would have been better off under the radar. Ryan gives her a chance to beg for votes. Really, really beg.

Nick Mitchell as Norman Gentle. Doing "And I Am Telling You." Shot of an adult -- relative? -- in the audience who is not pleased. Then looks cheerier when the camera returns, and he's looking toward it. All right, this is kind of hilarious. But could we just agree that he can't sing? Still, for chutzpah he gets a C plus. Simon says "I pray you do not go through to the next round" -- and hopes he is speaking for America. "Arguably one of the most atrocious performances" ever, adds Simon. Nick/Norman responds sassily. Randy calls it one of the most entertaining performances, and "I was laughing, dude." Kara says "at least we remember him" and he wears the same shirt every week "like Simon." Paula says "you are a true performer [but] I don't know if this is the stage for you."

Here's the thing: If I had heard a really good singer tonight who was then eliminated while Nick/Norman went through, that would be lousy. But no one has impressed enough so far that I would see an injustice in his/her elimination. But even Ryan thinks he probably shouldn't be top 12.

Allison Iraheta. Chatting with Ryan, she seems extremely nervous and uncomfortable. Song: "Alone." I concede this song is a giant piece of a cheese, and that I find it irresistible. And that young Ms. Iraheta kicks ass. First real vocal performance of the night. Major goosebumps. A little screechy near the end, but she's a major singer. B plus. Randy says "you just blew it out the box." Says "blew it out the box" two or three more times. Kara says "you don't even know how good you are" and "you're great." Paula pulls out the old "you can sing the telephone book" line, and she's "by far the best we've heard tonight." Simon says "you're the best tonight by a clear mile" -- even after being "so boring upstairs with Ryan."

Kris Allen. "Man in the Mirror." Bad start. No range. Gets a bit of grip on the chorus. Improves in the latter stages, and manages the big finish. But he's still bland. C plus. Kara says the back half of the performance was better than the front, but not close to what he did in Hollywood. "This was just the wrong song," she says. Paula says "you nailed it," and Simon agrees. Though, per Simon, he's not as good as Danny Gokey, "you may have put yourself back in the running." Randy is proud of him for singing without his guitar. A lot of audio glitches.

Megan Joy Corkrey. "Put Your Records On." She hasn't the voice for it. Good on the tempo, fair on the phrasing, poor at staying in tune. Even the big finish is yawpy. And the twisty/twitching is tiresome. C/C minus. Paula loved her. Simon calls her "a funny little thing," that it started off really well but she oversang the latter part. Still, he hopes America will vote for her; he just wishes the vocal was better. Randy likes her vibe and loves the "smoky jazz" tone of her voice, calls it "a nice nice job." Kara calls her "a package artist": pretty, stands out, could be a hit with the right song. But that could be true of almost anyone, and I think Kara even said the same thing about someone else tonight.

Matt Breitzke. "If You Could Only See." His phrasing is really odd. I could hear him singing "Chopping Broccoli." He's OK but there's no -- what? charisma? Energy. Just not sold on him. C-ish. Simon likes Matt but hates the performance. Matt disagrees. But Randy also thinks Matt was boring and "just OK," too much "cool Matt" for a rock song. Kara says "we all like you" and "it didn't show us any side of you. ... It felt really flat." Paula says she knows he put his whole guts into it but "the song didn't celebrate who we all fell in love with." And Matt still disagrees. The bride is reminded of Scott Savol and this is not a compliment.

Jesse Langseth. "Bette Davis Eyes." Not a great start, then a point where it appears she's got something going, then not so much. And her eyebrows disappear in some shots. And this isn't really a singer's song. It's more about the tune and the arrangement. Still, C plus. Randy thinks it's OK but that everyone should "blow us out the box" and this "wasn't really exciting." She asks what else he would like to have seen; Randy says he wants a vocal that will stretch her. Kara concurs. Thinks Jesse has "your best look" but "you definitely had some issues with a few notes." Paula finds her "captivating" and "cool." But Simon thinks "you're forgettable" even though Jesse has a nice voice. Jesse thanks Randy again for answering her question.

Kai Kalama. "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted." Bad sneer. Fighting the backing vocals. His gestures manage to seem both calculated and awkward. High C plus (C plus plus?). Kara thinks he had some pitch issues but he "gave it your all." Found the song "a little old-fashioned for me." Kara does not realize there are a lot of older people watching. Hello! Paula thought he sounded good except when he fell off pitch. Simon found it corny, "nothing distinct, nothing original." Thinks he would be a very good backup singer. Randy found it too safe.

Mishavonna Henson. "Drops of Jupiter." Good voice, but I'm waiting for her to sell the song. There it is. Solid B. Second best vocal of the night.
Resuming after some technical difficulties: Judges basically don't get her, find her cold, not crazy enough, anything vague they can come up with to balance that she is a quite capable singer.

Adam Lambert to close. "Satisfaction." Will someone call him old-fashioned? It is, after all, by his mother's favorite band. And he's making it partly into an Elvis performance, with a little bit of Judas Priest in the vocal. I sald a little. For some reason, maybe all the musical-theater background, I see him doing this in a costume from "Cats." Not to my taste, though. Of course, Paula is standing. And he's closing the show. I guess I would give him the men's slot, but I have no strong feelings about the performance at all. Paula says "I'm watching the Adam Lambert concert. ... You're in a league of your own." Simon says there were excruciatingly bad parts, and others that were brilliant, and this is one of those "love it or hate it performances." Randy loved it, and calls him "one of the most current artists" we've had -- Steven Tyler, Fall Out Boy, Robert Pattinson in "Twilight." Huh? Kara says his vocal technique and ability is "outrageous. ... That's some crazy stuff he's singing."

And so we're done. I send Allison Iraheta and Mishavonna Henson, two best of the night, to the next round. From the guys: I was most entertained by Nick/Norman, but I'd almost rather send him to the wild card just to force the judges to make the call. But which guy do I send? This is where the gender requirement really eats it. Adam has an interesting voice and was certainly set up to get the guy's slot, but if it was Kai or Kris instead, I wouldn't care.

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