Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Top 11...Part Deux.

Did anyone notice, Ryan is growing his hair out?

Overall, I thought Elton-John-Song-Night was very entertaining. Our Top 11 separated themselves into three clear talent buckets for this one night:

SUPER-HOT: Casey, Haley, Lauren
LUKEWARM: Scotty, Naima, Pia, James
WEAK: Paul, Stefano, Thia, Jacob

Shout out to Grandma
SCOTTY - The entire state of North Carolina is voting for you. I'm excited for your future in country radio. That last, low note of "Country Comfort" was a thrill. And I really enjoyed the performance, considering I've never heard this song in my life. But I'm putting you in the middle because we've seen this performance before; NOT that it isn't great, radio-ready, and charming. But we see it every week.

Givin' it that ol' reggae swag
NAIMA - I  know I'm supposed to love your individuality, your courage, your flava. But you are not my American Idol. Sorry. You looked great in your reggae-jumpsuit. And you are clearly not afraid to go home, given the way you put it all out there every week, whether we like it or not. (Not). But it's only a matter of time before you have to go. "I'm Still Standing", the reggae version...if I were in Jamaica and the bar-band kicked into this song...maybe. But for AI? Not so much.

Houston, we have a problem
PAUL - I'm going to say it out loud. This show is not for you. Your sweet, subtle, breathy, whispering-tone of a voice is not translating onscreen. I know what you are trying to do. I love the genre that you represent, my iTunes is filled it. But for American Idol, you are just getting lost in this deep talent pool of big voices. Every week, I wait for your voice to explode, to take off into outer space, for you to have your moment. It should have been this week with "Rocket Man.". But dude, you were stuck on the launch pad this week. Houston, we have a problem.

Deja vu?
PIA - I might as well upload the same photo of you every week. And write the same review. I love you, your voice is a powerhouse, you look amazing. But your performances are feeling very...familiar. Man cannot live on ballads alone. Please, please, please...shake it up a bit. You promised us an uptempo number this week. You lied. And now you've promised the same thing again for next week. I'm sure America will give you a chance. But don't go lying to us again...we may get mad at ya.

"I don't need a makeover!"
STEFANO - sorry, but you DO need a makeover. This competition is more than a voice, it's how you choose to use it. And I've figured out what I don't like about you. Your phrasing choices on "Tiny Dancer" were downright awful. Cheesy. Painful. You took this incredible song and covered it in syrup. I hated it. Your voice is so gorgeous, but that's only part of the story. I think maybe you should have listened a little more to Jimmy Iovine. Maybe.

Let's hug it out.
LAUREN - I will say this now, with 11 people still standing (and NOT the reggae version): I want YOU in the finale. I love you. You do it for me. I didn't cry during this performance...but almost. Your voice is so pure, so rich, so strong...oh stop, I'm GUSHING. I need to search through my music catalog and figure out who you remind me of...because whoever it is, I'm LOVING it. I love how your eyes expressed the emotion of "Candle in the Wind" just as much as your voice. You are the country BOMB. As J Lo said, " that was IT, baby!"

Um, James...your piano is on fire
JAMES - a performance complete with pyrotechnics. Just another day at the office for James Durbin. I love your enthusiasm, you are a big kid onstage. Your antics and strut on and off the stage wouldn't work if you couldn't sing. But we know you can. You are the most consistent performer on the show, you rock it out hard every week.  So what if you don't know that Coke is paying for that mansion you're living in right now. Let Seacrest and his new bangs worry about that. You just keep being you.

I love my brother, damn it!
THIA - you are a baby girl in a competition of women. Your "Daniel" was not believable. I'm sure you do love and miss your brother. But your pathetic, literal translation of this classic song was just wrong on all levels. Let's remind ourselves, Lauren is also 16 years old. Hmm, makes you think. I know I'm being hard on you, you are so young. But you need to go. This has got to be anguish for you, trying to compete with the Big Kids. Bottom Three.

No, this is YOUR song
CASEY - You. Had. Your. Moment. Made. Me. Cry. Best. Of. The. Night. Or. Maybe. The. Season.

JACOB - "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word" for your performance last night. This was so overdone, so affected, so over-the-top...I HATED it. Like Stefano, it would have helped you to listened to Jimmy. Pick a different song that didn't require you to make that freakin' CRY-FACE through the entire performance. Ugh. Awful. I'm trying to forget this one ever happened.

Bennie and the Jetssssssssssss

HALEY - the judges called you the best of the night. Not for me. But I do feel that you came into your own with this performance. Finally. I almost expected to see you crawl across the piano a la Michelle Pfeiffer in "The Fabulous Baker Boys". And it would have fit your personality, because as Steven says, "You. Sing. Sexy." Good for you. Your version of "Bennie and the Jetssssssssss" was pretty darn entertaining.

My bottom three: Stefano, Thia, and Jacob

And remember...TWO GO HOME TONIGHT!!!! Bring on the drama!

What did YOU hear last night?!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's a Motown Throwdown.

I stopped getting excited about Motown Night about 8 seasons ago. But last night's AI show was pure entertainment from beginning to end. Cheers to our Top 11! And it proved once again - this competition is wide open; it's impossible to pick a winner so soon.

Harnessing the Beast
CASEY -  you redeemed yourself after last week's train-wreck of a Nirvana song. You grunted and growled through Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine" and made the song interesting again. You kept your "crazy-ass-out-of-control-ego" under control, and I loved the restraint. You're back on track. And I didn't think of Taylor Hicks even once during your performance.

Waking from the Dead
THIA - you are alive! You have a pulse! For that, I congratulate you. But here's my problem with you: every time I want to give you a compliment, I have to caveat it with, "...for a 16-year old." Your performance of "Heat Wave" was great...for a 16-year old. Your connection to the lyrics and music was admirable...for a 16-year old. I noticed you forgot the lyrics in the middle of the song - did anyone catch that? If you aren't in the bottom 3, you're dangerously close. In my opinion.

Waiting to Exhale

JACOB - you were in your zone last night. "You're All I Need" was incredible. You had the groupies jumping out of their seats to touch you. You had J Lo begging for more. Steven Tyler got out of his seat to hug you! That's a good night. You're a natural, you were feelin' it. And I loved it.

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk

LAUREN - "You Keep Me Hanging' On" was a great song for your sass and swagger. A crisis of confidence? I certainly hope not. You've got it going ON, girl!

Coming to a Cruise Ship Near You

STEFANO - sorry dude, this wasn't good.  Do we all remember when David Cook performed this song and killed it? Not so for you, Stefano. I'm pretty sure that if Simon were still around, he'd be encouraging you to fill out your application for Carnival Cruise Lines. Yes, I'm glad you kept your eyes open. But I'd rather have you shut them...and sing a great song. Oh and PS, my mom still loves you. She's a cougar.

We're getting warmer
HALEY - I want you to stay. But you'll be in the bottom three this week. Again. As much as I love your smoky rasp, you just get lost in the shuffle with these eh performances. You did better this week, "You Really Got a Hold on Me" sounded perfect for your voice. Steven intoned, "You don't look a day over fabulous." But honey, we all know your days are numbered. The competition is just too fierce this year.

George W does Motown
SCOTTY - what's that saying? You could sell ice to an eskimo? That's you. Everyone has bought in to you, you can do no wrong. Your vocal wasn't that strong this week, we all heard some seriously off-notes, but guess what? No one cares. That deep, soulful stare into the camera at the end of "For Once in My Life" was pure genius. You've got the girls lovin' you.

PIA - "All in Love is Fair". All in this competition is NOT fair, however. Because your voice is just superior and no one else can do a damned. thing. about. it. So what if you sang another ballad? When it sounds that good, when you look that good, I could care less. As Steven says, you are "the closest star in the AI universe." Beauty. Grace. Talent. Humility.

Motown. Is. Good. Times.
PAUL - thank god you finally strapped on that guitar and got yourself contained behind a microphone stand. This was your best performance yet. "Tracks of My Tears" is a song that no one can get sick of, it's just too good. Seacrest says you are going for the Cougar vote. That's ok with me. You looked great, sounded great. I HATE to bring this up, but my only criticism: when Adam Lambert performed this song, it was a watershed moment - both for him AND American Idol. No one will ever do it better. So while I really liked the Paul'll never own this one.

Naima wants us dancing in the streets, damn it!
NAIMA - try as you might, I think you're still in the bottom 3 with this one. I liked your energy, your personality, showing your flava, as J Lo would say. But it just doesn't work for me. Your African dancing was quite beautiful, but this is a singing competition. And although this song showed off your voice to its best ability, you can't compete with Pia. Or James. Or Jacob. Sorry girl, you may be going home.

I see a Finale in your Future
JAMES - your "Livin' for the City" was so entertaining to hear and watch. You are getting quite comfortable up there, aren't you? It bugs me when you bask in your post-performance glory a little too long onstage, but I'll forgive you. Awesome.

My bottom three: Naima, Haley, and Thia.
Who goes home? Haley.

What did YOU hear last night?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lusky Stank. Shrek. Aliens from Mars. That's our Top 12, America.

Every season, the contestants participate in the "Year You Were Born" theme week. And every season, it's awful. Uninspired. Boring. Total snooze-fest.

And this year was no different.

Lucky for us, we have the heavy-lidded, irreverent, glamorous STEVEN TYLER to rescue us from complete and utter boredom. Even if I didn't enjoy most of the performances, I enjoyed the juicy sound bites that our beloved Steven threw out for all to savor.

Our Rock Savior

What the hell happened?!

NAIMA - What's love got to do with it? What's TALENT got to do with it? You wouldn't know, because you got the short-end of the talent stick in this particular competition. Your version of Tina Turner's classic wins for most awful arrangement of the night. You are in the bottom 3. Again.

PAUL - you are starting to wear me out, my pretty boy. Steven called you "a cool dude in a loose mood." Ok. You'll skate by this week by the skin of those beautiful teeth, because your song choices are NOT what is keeping you on the show. I really hated your arrangement of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," by Elton John. I give you one more week to prove why you're on the show. After that, I have to break up with you.

THIA - you sang the theme song to Disney's "Pocahontas". My 6 and 4 year old daughters love "Colors of the Wind" and if they had seen you perform it, they would have loved that you stole a dress from Pocahontas's closet for your performance. "Is this really who you want to be?" asks Steven Tyler. And honestly, I don't care enough to know the answer. You bore me to death and I think you'll be lucky to avoid the Bottom Three tonight.

Crazy Town

JAMES - thank you for at least trying to put on a show last night. Steven appreciates your "rich vein of inner crazy" and has promised to perform with you at the Finale. I will certainly keep voting for you. Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There for You" isn't my favorite song, but YOU are my favorite contestant right now. Keep it up, Crazy Town.

Get this girl a Kleenex

HALEY - Hot pants. Lipstick-smeared teeth. You've got that whole cute 'n trashy thing down. But what you don't have down is song choice. I wish you could take that soulful, blues-y voice and do something great with it, but you're too busy shopping for Maybelling at the drug store. You'll be in the dreaded Bottom Three, too. "I'm Your Baby Tonight" isn't going to work for you this time.

STEFANO - you have a super-cute dad. I enjoyed your sarcasm as you described the process of choosing a song this week. You have a beautiful voice. Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me By Now" was one of the best song choices of the night. So for that alone, I applaud you. You'll be sticking around.
I forgot to attach the doughnuts to my head

PIA - again, you are a smart girl. You choose songs that show off your big voice. You aren't afraid to tackle Whitney's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and pull it off. You've now stuck a fork in Celine AND Whitney. What will you do next? Except for the Princess Leia outfit, you were great. Again.

Recognize me?

SCOTTY - has anyone noticed that you look like the love child of Alfred E. Neuman...and George W. Bush? I'm just sayin'. You crushed Travis Tritt's "Can I Trust You With My Heart." Someone, please just put you on country radio now. You don't even need American Idol.
E. T. Phone Home

KAREN - no no no. You represent what was WORST about last night. Boring. Uninspired. Steven may love it when you "break into your ethnic what-it-is-ness", but that Spanish you were singing last night? It translates to, "I'm in the Bottom Three and I'm going home." Sorry, Karen. I hope you left the tags on that Star Trek outfit you had on last night. As my mom says, "Send her back to Mars."

Yep, that's the GOOP alright

CASEY - that crazy green-and-yellow ADD Shrek lighting didn't help your performance. But your performance couldn't be helped. I may just be an uncool soccer mom who's not down with the kids these days, but I'm not afraid to say that your performance of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was NOT. COOL. I like risk takers, contestants who are fearless, but only when the performance WORKS. This one came across as screechy and psychotic. Steven says you are "the goop good stuff is made of" but last night, you were just plain GOOP. You better make it up to us next week.

LAUREN - I still love you. Even with the flu, your voice is strong and lovely to listen to - even when you are singing an angry song like Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One." Good job, girl. Now go get better, so you can crush it again next week.

Gospel had a baby...

JACOB - every performance of yours is like an outer-body experience, and we are just along for the ride. And you did threaten to put your "Lusky Stank" on it. But I have to say, I didn't love your version of "Alone" by Heart. I remember when Carrie Underwood did this song and it was incredible. You are an incredible singer, but I was so distracted by your swinging and swaying on the stage, your awkwardness, I couldn't completely enjoy it. But you are amazing, and apparently, you are GOSPEL'S BABY, according to Steven. Can't mess with that.

My bottom three: Karen, Haley, and Naima
Who's going home: Karen

What did YOU hear last night?!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crazy talent...and a few duds.

I am left with a few burning questions after last night's performance of the top 13:

1) Is American Idol a promotional tool for J Lo's singing career?
2) Was anyone else distracted by her red lipstick?
3) Do we like the idea of exit interviews after each performance?
4) Where did they find such crazy talent this year?!

I loved last night's episode and its parade of big-time producers - Don Was, Rodney Jerkins, Jimmy Iovine, to name a few. The bad-asses of the music industry. So how did our kids do?

Toughen up, Peaches
LAUREN - our budding country diva, you know I love you. But Shania's "Any Man of Mine" did nothing for your voice, it was rushed, I could barely hear you. I agree with Steven, I just wanted the whole thing to be "more kick ass." Please pick a better song next week. And please don't cry at your next exit interview. I realize you are only 16, but you can't tear up at the first spot of criticism from the judges. But I think you're safe for next week.

"I want you to feel me"
CASEY - it seems the entire world has fallen in love with you. But can I please offer a contrary opinion? What am I watching when I'm watching you, Casey? A gimmick? Taylor Hicks (gasp!), Part Deux? I'm not going to fall for it. Maybe it's going to take pulling out that bass again, but you are 80% show and 20% singing for me right now. I know everyone is going to howl in disagreement. Your flirtatious, yet growling performance of Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends" just didn't impress me. You are charming and funny, but I'm not buying it...especially when there are so many amazing singers in the competition this year.

At least you LOOK hot
ASHTON - do we need another second-rate R&B diva in this world? That's what Brandy is for, so please, spare us. Worst performance of the night for me. You channeled Diana Ross in your hair and dress, but that's where the comparisons have to end. All I could thing was, too bad Jennifer Hudson isn't up there, CRUSHING this song right now. Girlfriend, I think you may be in big trouble tonight. 

Love the Sgt. Pepper get-up
PAUL - I love you. I think you may be my musical soul mate. Wilco, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams - I get it, they are my faves, too. "Come Pick Me Up" is one of the best Ryan Adams songs, but NOT for American Idol. You somehow made that song lose its entire melody. All I could think of was those legions of teenage girls watching you and thinking, "I've never heard this Bryan Adams song before! Doesn't he sing "Summer of '69"? My mom loves that song!' " Paul, you may be in trouble tonight. I hope you get to stay another week, to show that you can learn from your mistakes and choose better songs. 

PIA - classy, beautiful Pia. It was so great to see someone tackle one of the "big three" - Celine Dion - and nail it. All I could say was "DAMN!" All Michael could say was, "She's HOT!" You are 2 for 2, baby. Keep it up.

James sings Sir Paul

JAMES - "Maybe I'm Amazed" at this smooth, understated, beautiful performance. The best of the night. Or maybe the season to this point.

Another diva-in-training
HALEY - how you manage to be sexy and silly at the same time, I just don't know. But to quote Randy Jackson, "I kinda liked it." Your performance of "Blue" was all over the place, but I give you props for yodeling in front of the entire country. You don't take yourself too seriously. I like it.

Hot and fresh out the kitchen

JACOB - when we heard you were singing R. Kelly, I was like, "Yes! He's going to get dirty and sing IGNITION: REMIX on American Idol!" But no, it was "I Believe I Can Fly." A great performance, you are an amazing singer. I'm just over this song.  It seemed a little early in the season to bring out the back-up gospel singers onstage, but for you, Jacob, I guess we'll break all the rules.

Smile, though your heart is breaking

THIA - Do you have a pulse? I'm so glad we saw you cry in your exit interview, otherwise, I'd be convinced you were a robot. The judges could tell you that your performance was awful and I think you'd still just stand there and smile blankly. It's Charlie Chaplin, not Charlie Chapman. All you did last night was reinforce that while you are a great singer, you are not an artist yet. That's asking for a lot at 15 years old. And that's why you won't win.

Reminiscent of J Timberlake
STEFANO - I want to say your dance remix of "Lately" by Stevie Wonder was awful...but it wasn't. You sold it to me, showed me what kind of artist you want to be, and I bought it. You are brave for this performance, and you're just so stinkin' cute, I can't help but root for you. And oh yeah, your voice is gorgeous. The chicks are digging you.

Nap time

KAREN - I'm pretty sure I fell asleep during the 01:40 that you were onstage for this one. Lucky for you, Ashton stunk. I like your Latin "flavor", but you may want to move beyond Selena for next week.

It's just humble 'ol me again
SCOTTY - here's my theory on you. As long as there are country music fans watching the show, you'll do fine. It's still early in the season, so the fact that you are performing these songs verbatim to how they were originally recorded isn't bothering anyone. Yet. But if the judges DO their jobs, they will tell you that eventually, you're going to have to stick some of your own originality into these songs, otherwise, we're going to get bored. "The River" was another great choice for you. But are you an artist? Or a great karaoke singer? Only time will tell.

No, Naima, No
NAIMA - the judges can keep telling us how great you are, what an amazing singer you are, but until you show us, I'm not believing it. That five seconds of reggae that you inserted into the middle of Rihanna's "Umbrella" did not convince me. This is NOT "So You Think You Can Dance." I don't care about your dance moves. I care about the fact that you've been NOT GOOD for two weeks now. It's a race between you and Ashton to see who goes home first, honey.

Who's going home tonight? For me, it's Ashton or Naima. And I think Paul will round out the bottom three.

What did YOU hear last night?!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

There's a tear in my beer...

Unless you live under a rock, you know who made it into America's top 10 for this season. You also know which three lucky singers were chosen as the judges' "wild card picks."

Our fresh-faced final 13!
Results shows are emotionally draining, and not just for the contestants. As each singer's fate was revealed, my heart was racing, I felt sick to my stomach, and in some cases, I was absolutely jubilant over some of the results. Most of us chose the top 5 guys correctly: Paul, Jacob, James, Casey, and Scotty. The girls were a little more dramatic: Haley, Pia, Thia, Karen, and Lauren A made it through, leaving some of us surprised that Ashton and Naima were left standing on the "wrong" side of the stage.

The judges had the tough and emotional task of choosing the 6 who would sing for their lives, and then choosing the final 3 wild cards from there. I have to say, I was feeling very eh about Stefano until I saw him sing for his life with Smokie Norful's "I Need You Now". By the end of that performance, I was crying like a baby and high-fiving myself, since I was the only one watching. He may have turned himself into a front-runner with that single performance.

And although Ashton's over-confidence is a bit of a turn-off, her performance of Jennifer Hudson's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" earned her a spot in the top 13. As for Naima, I'm glad she made it, otherwise, I think we would have seen a Grade A-Mach 5 Emotional Breakdown from her onstage, and no one wants to see that. She's going to have to pull it together to survive three more months of result shows!

Watch and learn

Word on the street is that Adam Lambert will perform at next week's results show. I look forward to my Ultimate Idol showing these kids how. it's done.

Until next week!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Top 12 Girls...and Jordan.

(A note before we get started: I've renamed the title of this blog to All Things Idol Season 10. Largely because I realized that it's Season 10, not 13. I blame this error on the fact that I have three children under the age of 6.)

Ok, let's get to it: last night was your standard-issue, first-performance night for our top 12 ladies. If you've been around the block a few times with American Idol, you know that we're supposed to learn who you want to be as an artist from these ladies tonight.  AI veterans know you'll come away from this night with the following information:
1) there are 1, 2, or 3 standouts in the group
2) there's a larger group of confused girls who are suffering from the classic American Idol identity crisis
3) you're not sure how 1 or 2 of these ladies even got this far, and woe the ones who were cut to make room for them
4) you're so underwhelmed by most of the performances, you had to eat a late-night Snickers bar just to feel satisfied...(or maybe that's just me).

Whatever you're feeling today, here's what I saw and heard last night:

Rihanna's not worried

TA-TYNISA - who knew you had a hyphen in your name? But I digress. What a bummer way to kick off the season for the ladies. No one will accuse Rihanna of being an incredible singer, with the prevalence of Auto-Tune in all her songs, but damn, T-T makes RiRi sound amazing! Sure, you were cute strutting around in your zebra-print tutu and all, but T-T is clearly out of her league. J Lo told her she "brought it home." Well, unless she lives under a rock, I have to disagree.

That's one fancy banana!

NAIMA - her name means "exotic flower", but she was looking more "fancy banana"to me. What did we learn about Naima last night? She made her own dress. She really can sing. I have to admit I enjoyed her swinging version of "Summertime" and felt a huge sense of relief when she hit that last high note. And I wish Randy would quit bringing up Fantasia's version of the same song from 8 seasons ago. Sigh. Anyway, I like Naima and want her to stick around, but if she doesn't, maybe she can be a disgruntled Project Runway contestant, or a Carmen Miranda impersonator. Don't forget to add the bag of fruit to your head.

She is not a Hilton sister

KENDRA - I thought her performance of "Impossible" was excellent - every note was perfect, she was sultry and sophisticated (even in skin-tight leather pants), and the fact that she looks like Paris Hilton's younger sister Nicki didn't even bother me. I'm afraid this girl, who is clearly very talented, is going to fly under the radar and be forgotten. I hope she got the votes she deserves.

Girl on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

RACHEL - there was so much that was just wrong here, I don't know where to begin. What do we know about Rachel? She's very serious about her singing. She wants this very. badly. But here's what I saw and heard: a poor girl who is trying too hard, verging on desperate, singing a song that has nothing to do with her as a singing talent. As Michael noted, "that girl's never been on a date." Fiona Apple's "Criminal" never sounded so... sad and unrecognizable before this. Rachel just doesn't have that "it" factor. Frowning at the camera and the judges doesn't help, either. Buh-bye, Rachel.

That's one smart girl
KAREN - you smart, smart girl. Switching between English and Spanish during "Hero" - Randy can't accuse of you of not putting your own spin on things. Plus, you made J Lo melt by showing your "flavor". I'm guessing you are pretty safe tonight.

This girl's got IT

LAUREN T - girlfriend knows how to break it down onstage. I was so busy enjoying her performance, her sass, her strut...Lauren was too busy making me a fan to take notes on her. Her version of "Seven Day Fool" was just plain hot. It makes me sad that she received almost no coverage during Hollywood Week and hopes it doesn't hurt her chances, because Lauren, for me, was definitely one of the standouts last night.

Diva in Training

ASHTON - do you even need American Idol? You are clearly a diva and a legend already, in your own mind. I appreciate confidence onstage, but to me, there was a lot of R&B screaming going on up in this joint. I'm pretty sure only Randy knew that was a Monica song, and I'm pretty sure Monica hasn't had a hit since 1996? Come on, girl - you're hot, you can sing, but please pick a song that makes us believe there's talent and brains under that awesome head of hair! Like the judges said, aim higher. Why sing Monica when you could sing Diana Ross?

She'd make a great Disney princess

JULIE - I'm going to keep this short and sweet, because you are sweet. You belong on the princess float parading down Main Street at DisneyWorld. Your voice is thin and powerless. But 6-year old girls will still love you. Your version of Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" was the worst of the night for me.

Separated at birth?

HALEY - here's the thing. You look just like Mariah, circa 1996, during the "Vision of Love" era. And you could probably sound a lot like her, too. But can we just take Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" off the list of AI songs? It's so overdone, no one can really perform it, and for Haley, it just left me confused. I know this girl can sing because I watched Hollywood Week, but if you were basing your vote off last night's performance, it probably left you feeling a little eh about the whole thing. If you get to stay, I hope you'll give us something better next week!

Big fan of the feathers

THIA - for a 15-year old, this girl has remarkable poise and composure onstage. Her version of Irene Cara's "Out Here on My Own" was haunting and beautiful, and was well-served by the spare musical accompaniment and single-spotlight effect. But here's the thing: I like my Idols with some personality, some spunk. I'm not sure Thia has either of those things, she's just a damned good singer. So I'm hoping she'll show us more of who she is as a person as the weeks go by. This little girl is definitely sticking around.

You were born this way, baby

LAUREN - it's Cowgirl Barbie! Idol clearly wants us to love you because you got more air-time than any other contestant, leading up to last night's performance. And you know what? They don't have to work so hard. We DO love you! Unlike Thia, the other baby-girl in this competition, you have personality spilling out of your (usual) bustier! Your performance of "Turn on the Radio" was one of my favorites - your throaty, country voice reminds me of a young Bonnie Raitt. You could be on country radio right now with that voice. Keep doing what you do. Like J Lo said, you're a natural. And I'm lovin' it.

This chick consistently rocks 5 inch heels

PIA - her choice of "I'll Stand by You" was restrained, beautiful, and she didn't go crazy on the vocal gymnastics, which would have been flat-out annoying. One of the three best of the night for me. It seems a little early in the season for a standing ovation, however, so I take exception to that. But she should breeze through.

And lastly, because I forgot him yesterday...

Keep your day job
JORDAN - what a disaster. If singing Usher isn't your thing, if dancing onstage like Usher isn't your thing, then WHY did you choose this song by Usher? Plus, as a rule, avoiding songs with lyrics like, "Honey got a booty like pow pow pow" is usually a good idea. We'll be seeing you, Jordan...just not next week on American Idol.

That's my recap for today. If I'm being thorough, I should at least say who I think will make it through to next week. But let me preface it with this: these are the people I want to see next week, not necessarily the ones who I think will get the votes. I'm going to be selfish here.

WILD CARDS: I don't know how many the judges will have, but I hope they save HALEY, KAREN, and ROBBIE (for my mom's sake).

What did YOU hear last night?!