American Idol 2011 – From An Aircraft Hangar In Vegas

Steve tackles another thrilling two hours of people sitting in a chair and being told yes or no.

Brett Lowenstern, “Colton Dixon” & Jacee Badeaux : First of all, let’s just get one thing straight. Aiden Grimshaw, you are fooling no one. You had your chance on X Factor, they even bent the rules for the tour to let you take part – and now you turn up on American Idol pretending to be called Colton Dixon and expect us not to notice? Sir, you insult our sense of reason. Obviously Steven, Jennifer and Randy were too smart for such shenanigans and promptly eliminated him from the competition. Which leaves us with Jacee and Brett. Poor, mathematically-challenged Brett, who spent his pre-chair moments arguing with Seacrest about how many places were left (he swore blind there were two, Seacrest assured him there was only one). It was a toss-up over which one of these would get through, as either one is an appropriate Idol archetype: Brett’s the shiny misfit with a tendency to say inappropriate things, and Jacee is the sweet manchild whose worldy inexperience is offset by a strong set of pipes. In the end Jacee was cut free after some inconsistent performances, leaving Brett to proceed to the Top 24 and say earnest but inappropriate things like “it doesn’t matter which of us made it, because we’re all shining stars” in front of the other two. Easy for you to say, kiddo, you’re the one who made it. Still, I love ending things on a spectacular moment of AWKWARD, so naturally I approve.

Casey Abrams : It’s pretty much an Idol tradition that Chris and I will have one contestant who we just can’t agree on, and Casey seems to be filling that role this year. Chris quite likes him, I cannot stand him. I hate watching him play the double bass, I hate the way his face goes all red when he sings, I hate his sub-T4 attempts at humour…need I go on? No doubt we’ll be having several heated exchanges of this nature over the coming weeks, because Casey’s in the top 24 and he’s not going anywhere for a while. We all know of the overwhelming power of the White Guy With Guitar, so who knows what kind of supernatural tenacity a White Guy With Double Bass will have? Also: he totally attacked the chair when he got through. Poor chair – what did it do to deserve that? JUSTICE 4 JUDGEMENT CHAIR!

Jacob Lusk : OH JAYSUS. For all that Chris and I are unlikely to reach consensus on the strange case of Casey Abrams, we are at least in agreement that Jacob Lusk is, so far, the most compelling reason to tune into Idol this year. Not just because of his super-awesome power-gospel voice, but also because of his general cray-cray demeanour and tendency to scream and shout OH JAYSUS at regular intervals. Being a larger-than-life contestant is a difficult thing to pull off, because there’s a very fine line before you start to get seriously grating, but so far Jacob’s managed to keep us both on side. Also, in an episode positively brimming with excellent reactions to the announcements of who was through, his stood out as one of the best: he screamed so loudly that Seacrest ran in to see what happened, then Jacob whooped and hollered and ran around the room so fast that Seacrest and the camera crew couldn’t catch him, did a spot of chorus line dancing, grabbed Seacrest and whirled him around in the air. I don’t know how he’s going to top this next week, but I’m sure he’ll find a way.

Jennifer Lopez : Yesterday’s cliffhanger ran something along these lines: “Jennifer Lopez is crying! She says she can’t go on! Will she in fact not go on? Will we have to just cancel the rest of season ten? Tune in tomorrow to find out!” And she didn’t go on, and the show ended. Just kidding: she popped off for a little while to collect herself, squeezed out a few tears, and then came back and got on with things as though she’d never heard of Chris Medina. Still, credit to Jennifer Lopez for being far more convincing as someone who gives a shit than Cheryl Cole has ever managed to be. This is what comes of casting judges with a background in acting.

Jessica Cunningham & Thia Megia: Before tonight, I could not have told you who Jessica Cunningham was. After tonight, it’s not going to matter, because she didn’t make the Top 24, but I’m feeling a pronounced sense of loss. Poor Thia Megia (With Coke!) – she didn’t get a word in edgeways once Jessica got into that room and decided that since she clearly wasn’t going in over the wünderkind, she was going to be as brittle and as talkative as possible and make up for the screentime she wasn’t going to get in the live shows. She scored particular bonus points with me for trying to make the judges feel guilty for cutting her on her birthday (though I feel she would’ve done well to study TAR12’s Jennifer in order to see this tactic in full effect). After being cut, she informed the cameras in no uncertain terms that the judges had RUINED her 25th birthday, that she would basically now look back on this day as Cut From Idol Day instead, and stuck her fingers up at the camera despite knowing full well that she’d get “Idol bubbles” over them. I think she would’ve been fun to stick around, though I wouldn’t blame her for not wanting to make an 8th attempt next year. Still, Thia Megia – this is the gap that you now need to fill. BE MOAR CRAZY, please.

Julie Zorilla : The show was very keen to remind us of Julie’s Very Special Backstory, though frankly I think time would’ve been better spent on exploring why she gave the judges that cutesy little nod after she finished her final aircraft hanger performance. I was really fascinated by that. Anyway, Jennifer pegged this girl as the winner in her first audition, and I doubt that’ll prove to be prophetic, since she is neither white nor a guy nor in possession of a guitar, but she’s good enough to stick around for a while. Also, she had Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ as her triumphant exit music – is the show trying to tell us something? Is she Lebanese, or Orient? Like Jacob, she also tried to pick up Seacrest in excitement. Unfortunately, her attempt was less successful than his, and she ended up on her knees in front of him. Still, at least it was only Seacrest, so we know nothing untoward happened there.

MySpace Sensation Karen Rodriguez : If anyone’s asking, yes, that is her official name from now on as far as we’re concerned. If she wants to progress in this competition, though, I hope she starts embracing some newer social networks. MySpace is so 2007; when she’s Twitter Sensation Karen Rodriguez, perhaps we can talk. Admittedly the most interesting thing about her at the moment is the fact that she has a BIG LESBIAN CRUSH on Jennifer Lopez, which should be fun to see unfold/unravel/unhinge as the live shows progress. She’s also been taking pages out of the notebooks of last year’s Idols (perhaps not the brightest of ideas, all things considered) – drawing inspiration from Andrew Garcia by taking a popular song and singing it very slowly and acoustically, and from Didi Benami by singing a song belonging to one of the judges and going “LOOK I AM SINGING YOUR SONG, NOW PICK ME YOU HAGS”. It got her into the top 24, so mission accomplished.

Pia Toscano : I developed a bit of an attachment to this girl during Hollywood week. Chris asked me what I saw in her, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure I can give a straightforward answer. I just think she’s got a lovely voice and a decent helping of stage presence and ought to be one of the contenders this year. One thing that made me warm to her even more was that as she took the long walk to The Chair. the little voiceover piece where Pia talked about how ready she was for this opportunity had a pleasingly intense Rachel Berry-esque quality to it. The judges didn’t even bother fucking with her, that’s how much of a foregone conclusion her acceptance was, and I hope she’ll be sticking around for a bit, because seriously, America, even if you think about Katelyn Epperlying her in the semi-finals, I am going to come over there to demand answers.

Rachel Zevita : So much crazy for one so young. I take this to be a very promising sign indeed. She gets bonus points for bringing her mum and grandma along to wait to hear the results, since they went into super-maternal mode with Seacrest outside and started worrying whether he was eating enough. Also, her grandma said “thank God and bless you, Ryan” when she got through. Is Ryan actually Jesus now? Rachel gets super-extra bonus points for singing ‘Speechless’ by Lady Gaga for her final audition (though I was disappointed that there was no contemporary dance piece involving a bed taking place on the stage while she sang it), and double super-extra bonus points for wearing feather shoes. Forget what Chris said yesterday, let’s not bother handing Naima Adedapo over to the Idol stylists, let’s just let Rachel take care of her. I think we’d be in for something very special then.

Tim Halperin : He had a lot of dry ice for his performances in Vegas, which is generally quite promising to my point of view. Jennifer asked him what his message was as an artist, so he came back and sang an original song for his final audition. As Chris pointed out, it seems that his message as an artist is “I want to be played over sad montages of people being eliminated in future series of this show.” A noble ambition, I feel. He may well be a contender for the title since he has WGWG-ability, and I think he’s kinda cute, but I’ll kind of need him to really wow me musically before I can really throw my support behind him. Not that that ever stopped Lee Dewyze, mind.


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