I missed most of last night's introduction because I was still trying to get my head around how they're going to milk tonight's selection show for two freaking hours. American Idol is just another example of domestic inefficiency: take what should be -- at best -- a 30-minute program and bloat it out with human interest garbage and car commercials. I'll bet Chinese Idol runs a lot more lean.
But then, they probably shoot the losers.
It's truly inspiring how freely the bullshit flows when we're still 23 people away from a winner. Because really, they're all "supremely talented" and "beautiful inside and out." But even so, we -- the American Idol voters -- have to choose the next person to get dropped from their record label in 2014.
Last night was ladies' night, and Randy and Steven's attempts at improv aside, Ryan Seacrest was not going to go off script for any ad lib or innuendo. Let's -- as somebody once said -- get it started.
When did Ta-Tynisa Wilson get that hyphen in her name? Has it always been there, or have I been distracted by her "ta-tynisas?" Irregular punctuation or not, it was a tremulous rendition of Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)," but the judges (aside from Randy) and the audience seemed to buy it. I'll give her this: She looks the part.
Naima Adedapo is graced with the Seacrest interview treatment, which reveals little more than that she likes to design her own clothes. Never mind that, because she basically kills "Summertime" (from Porgy and Bess). With her stage presence and effortless vocals, she has to be considered a preemptive favorite at this point.
Did I just was unironically wax rhapsodic about an Idol contestant. Time to get another drink.
Nashville's Kendra Chantelle is still a cipher at this point. We know she has a smoky set of vocal cords, and apparently she likes leather pants. It was also a bold choice of song ("Impossible"), standing tall with Christina Aguilera so soon after her PI arrest.
More likely she was gnawing her fingernails to the quick all day.
Few things are creepier than looking younger than Fiona Apple while singing "Criminal," but Rachel Zevita managed it. She reminds me of nothing so much as Juno-era Ellen Page, and the judges agreed, bringing her the closest to tears of any contestant so far. Simon would've been proud.
Karen Rodriguez (finally shedding the "MySpace" sobriquet) puts a Spanish-language slant on Mariah Carey's "Hero." For someone allegedly bringing some "Latin fire" to the show, she picked about the most Wonder Bread and mayonnaise selection possible. It didn't hurt her chances much, as far as I can tell. Karen's in.
There's little doubt that Lauren Turner's take on "Seven Day Fool" impressed, but I suspect she may be too...unconventionally attractive for the voters. It sucks for her, because she possesses one of the better voices remaining.
Does Ashthon Jones have a great voice? Sure. Is she deftly manipulating the judges -- and America -- into falling in love with her "diva-ness?" Mos' def. Jones is as expertly manufactured as a Stihl chainsaw. Hence, she's probably going to win.
Speaking of expertly manufactured, Julie Zorrilla commits the potential faux pas of performing a former Idol winner's tune (Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway"). It's not very strong, however. Shockingly, she may be in actual jeopardy.
Randy is the only judge whose negative opinion gets booed. Because the audience is apparently terribly racist, I guess.
Haley Reinhart continues her habit of singing solely to Steven Tyler, which Randy apparently takes offense to. He even has the temerity to make a derogatory karaoke contest reference, because god knows this is nothing like that at all.
Thia Megia sings some Irene Cara song (no, not that one), and gets the night's first, no wait, eighth standing ovation. The way these guys are, they'd applaud Seacrest getting kicked in the nuts.
Then again, who wouldn't?
I'm like the credits to Gilligan's Island at this point, talking about "the rest" (Lauren Alaina, who drew comparisons between Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood) and Pia Toscano, who got the first judges standing O of the season. I don't know if she was that good, but...she's certainly very tan.
Here are my picks for the next round, using highly scientific criteria including vocal performance, stage presence, and likelihood that they've slept with Steve Tyler.
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Naima Adedapo Karen Rodriguez Ashthon Jones Thia Megia Lauren Alaina Pia Toscano
I'm not completely sold on Jones or Rodriguez, and could see either Chantelle or Turner sneaking in, but we'll find out tomorrow. Unless the Yellowstone Supervolcano mercifully decides to erupt tomorrow morning and save us all the trouble.