American Idol -- the more things change, the more things stay the same. Yes, we have new judges, but they still pull some of the same old gimmicks (like the fake out "Both rows are going through!"), utter the same critiques ("You know you were a little pitchy, right?"), and lord over the room like kings and queens. Seriously, if you removed Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez from the equation last night, was anything really THAT different for the presentation of Group Day, the day the contestants dread but the people at home LOVE because it is amped-up drama like you've never seen. Oh, sure, the producers threw some contemporary music in there (Love you, Bruno Mars!) to shake things up -- which I find ironic since that will most likely be the LAST time we hear any contemporary music coming from these kids for the next three months. But for the most part, it could have been just about any season of Idol last night with the rehash of the same old dramas.
And yet, I ate it up like it was a giant bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream (which, interestingly enough, I was also eating while watching the mayhem in Hollywood.)
Last night, we had the usual -- group rivalry, exhaustion, divas, forgotten lyrics, complete and total emotional breakdowns. We had the elimination of some favorites but no indication as to why. I mean, let me hear Emily Ann Reed's performance so I can decide if it's okay to be mad she's been eliminated. We had the tantrums, like Devyn Rush begging to be let back in to plead her case to the judges. (I have to say, Devyn at least had a point. The judges said that past performances WERE being taken into consideration, and all we'd seen from Devyn before last night had been tremendously strong. I also didn't think last night's performance from her was all that bad. How do you justify eliminating a Devyn Rush, who was a bit over the top, and keep the truly insane Jacqueline Dunford, who seemed to me to be the very definition of a train wreck audition as she butched "Fuuuc-get You"? Add to it that Devyn was in the same group as Carson Higgins, who DID make it through, and was so clearly over the top that it sort of pained me to watch, and yeah, I think Devyn has a right to be a little confused.
Okay, Train Wreck of the Night was probably Tiffany Rios who wandered aimlessly in search of a group only to face rejection after rejection, prompted by her bitchy comment before singing earlier. Once she stole a partner from another group, the two of them gave one of the WORST Hollywood Week performances I've ever seen as they sang notes that I'm not sure exist in nature and most definitely do not exist in Beyonce's "Irreplaceable." Second place goes to the clearly emotionally unbalanced Ashley Sullivan. Ashley looked about five seconds away from slitting her wrists the night before the group performances. She was so emotionally ravaged that she decided to quit the competition, only to have her boyfriend (clearly thinking he'd hoped on a potential gravy train) talk her back in. (And bravo to the girls in her group for welcoming her back with such love and dignity. I don't know if I would have been that cool. Truth.) Ashley is saved from winning the TWN award mostly because, when the time came to actually perform, she nailed it and performed like a champ. Of course, as soon as she learned she was moving on, she seriously looked like someone was about to die from being, perhaps, squeezed to death. For someone who wants to bring a little Liza to American Idol, Ashley needs to develop that thick diva skin or she will be completely destroyed. I worry for her. Seriously.
Some of my favorites did not survive last night, and I'm definitely disappointed that we won't be hearing more from Emily Ann Reed, Adrienne Beasly, and Rob Bolin (who was a victim of the exhaustion/forgotten lyrics syndrome, although why HIS improvised lyrics for "F*** You" were deemed inexcusable but Jacee Badeaux's same approach when he forgot the lyrics to "Mercy" gave him a free pass is sort of beyond me other than the Jacee is young and lovable and Rob is old and not marketable...oh, ha, yeah, I just answered that question.) But there are definitely some performers we saw last night that have me jazzed for what lies ahead over the course of the next several weeks, if not months. And so I'm going to institute here my first ranking for this season. Here are the ten performers (in no particular order) who are still in it that excite me the most right now.
1. Naima Adedapo 2. Casey Abrams 3. Caleb Hawley 4. Chris Medina 5. Brett Lowenstern 6. James Durbin 7. Karen Rodriguez 8. Jacob Lusk 9. Denise Jackson 10. Frances Coontz (although this may have more to do with her cool glasses and potentially naughty last name than anything else).
Likely contenders that I don't particularly relish seeing: To be honest, I have a hard time imagining that we won't see a run for the top ten by Lauren Alaina (whom I want to like. She reminds me so much of a former student, but there's just something about her ... maybe it was that willingness to pretty much give Steven Tyler a lap dance ... that seems just so self-serving.... maybe with time, I'll warm up to her, if only to honor Lexi, the student that she reminds me of), Jacee Badeaux, one of the obnoxious kids with the stage moms from hell (no comment on those ladies. I wouldn't want to be on their bad side, that's for darn sure!), and Jordan Dorsey (who came across like the biggest diva douchebag in the history of American Idol last night. Here's hoping he pulls a Mario Vasquez and drops out early to pursue his career rather than unleash that dickery on innocent people much longer).
Tonight will narrow things down and surely give us the emergence of some previously unmentioned superstar in the making, but for now, I think the folks listed above have a lot of top
Who WON'T make it? I think anyone putting money on another Ashley Sullivan meltdown should start making reservations for a pricey steak dinner, because I am telling you, that chick is unstable. There is no way that girl can handle the rigors of the competition much longer. I also see a short stint for the sweet but lacking in versatility Scotty McCreary (sweetie, that voice worked for Randy Travis once upon a time, but do you really think pop radio is going to cotton to that sound in 2011? Um, no.), Jacqueline Dunford (pedal it somewhere else, honey), and Chelsee Oaks (who gets less impressive to me with each performance. Plus, I'll be honest, I thought she came across a little bitchy last night when she kept insisting that she and Rob would NOT EVER be getting back together right after the poor guy had been eliminated from the competition. Way to kick a guy when he's down, Chels). I also predict that at least ONE of "The Minors" will be heading home, because it will be hilarious to see one of those stage moms "Oh, Hell No"ing her way out of the Kodak. And the producers know how to make memorable moments, if nothing else. (And I'm not sure there IS much else they know.)
Hey, did White House Intern Molly Swenson DeWolf make it through??? What about that adorable John Wayne?