With that said, onto the Idol chatter....
After missing the epic cliffhanger of JLo breaking down and declaring she couldn't do "this" anymore (this following the shocking elimination of Chris Medina), I sat down to watch Thursday night's episode with an enormous chip on my shoulder. If there's anything I hate, it's missing a classic diva breakdown. I'll never quite forgive myself for missing the night Paula critiqued a performance BEFORE it happened, and now, I've missed JLo seemingly threatening to walk. Darnit!! (Watching my language from here on out, too...)
Instead of JLo drama, I got roughly two hours of lame psych outs ("I hate to tell you...that you're staying in the competition...") and minimal drama. Really, the only really nailbiting moment of the night came when there were three guys left for one spot left and the three guys in question were Justin Bieber's chubby Southern doppleganger Jacee Badeaux, the kick-buttedly named (and coiffed) Colton Dixon, and one of my personal favorites so far this season, future star of the Broadway revival of Godspell, Brett Lowenstern. My money was on Brett. There is something about that kid that really touches my heart. He seems like such a sweet, kind soul, the kind of kid I would love to have in the classroom. Yeah, I know that the music business will probably destroy this gentle guy, but darnit, I love him and his amazing voice. My sis had her money on Colton Dixon and pointed to the fact that, of the three kids sitting in those chairs facing the judges, Colton was probably the most marketable. I was thrilled, then, when Brett was the one to get the ticket to the next round, although I do kind of feel like Colton maybe got the shaft. (And judging from the look on Colton's face when Brett sweetly threw his arms around both losers and said, "We're all winners!", he thought so, too. Memo to Brett: you need to check out the definition of "winner" in the dictionary, sweetie. Neither Colton nor Jacee are winners in the technical sense of term since they have tickets to go back to waiting tables and napping through study hall and YOU have a ticket to Hollywood. Just saying...)
As Ryan rattled off the names of the top 24, both my sister and I noted the high number of strong male contenders and the equally high numbers of women we'd never heard of and who seemed utterly disposable. My sis referred to the girls as "Red Shirts." My Trekker fans will certainly know what this means, but for those of you who are not as nerd savvy as my sis, on Star Trek, when Captain Kirk would assemble a team to go investigate some strange new planet, you always knew who was going to die based on who was wearing red shirts. The point with these women, then, is that many of them are basically being set up to die (in a figurative sense of the word, although wouldn't it be cool if Ryan Seacrest looked at someone and said, "You're not going home, sweetheart. You're going to die" and then pulled out a sword and stabbed some young Idol? Am I the only one who would think that rocked? Yeah? Okay, then. Fine! Be that way!!) It does seem, though, that the young women with whom we spent the most time leading up to Thursday night's elimination round are largely gone while many of the men left have gotten a lot of screentime and have well-developed backstories and narratives working in their favor. I had heard that Idol was eliminating the gender equity approach to the finals this year (although the format of next week's voting doesn't seem to support this rumor), but it sure seems like it's going to be another banner year for the guys while the girls flounder around on their high heels and short skirts.
So who will we spend the next several months voting for (and, in my case, both mocking and celebrating)? Here are my predictions (which are predicated on the assumption that six men and six women will be allowed to proceed):
Lauren Alaina: The judges love this chick and have been pimping her big time since she walked into the Nashville audition. She also has probably the most screentime so far of the ladies, and that plays a huge part in how people vote. We vote for the ones we know, and man, do we know Lauren.
Julie Zorrilla: Julie has also had a lot of screentime and may be the most talented girl in the competition. (Sorry, Lauren) She also has that sort of perky adorableness that people love.
Karen Rodriguez: I'm a fan of Karen, and I love the idea of Idol getting a more multi-ethnic look this year with the inclusion of someone who is not only Latina but is willing to embrace her ethnicity. Her Spanish-language performance was pretty stunning. Add to it a spunky character, and she has America's Sweetheart written all over her.
Thia Megia: I'm not a big fan of Thia's. I find her voice affected (although my sis wonders if it's not an ESL thing....if her weird articulation when she sings comes from English maybe not being her first language). She's one of the younguns still left around, though, and I could see America latching onto her especially if she nails her performance next week.
Rachel Zevita: Okay, I will admit this one is more my HOPE than what I really think will happen, but there's something really satisfying to Rachel's narrative -- the girl who was rejected in Hollywood has now triumphantly returned. Plus, I like Rachel's jazzy vibe that seems to come from a genuine sort of place despite her young years.
Naima Adedapo: Again, this is more of a hopeful pick. I think Naima could bring a really cool vibe to the finals this year and be the sort of spoiler that could shake things up. Idol has struggled in the past couple years with women of color, and Naima could be the one who ends that struggle.
Casey Abrams: Not only is Casey my favorite contestant this year, he might be my favorite contestant of all-time. I am rocking a hard core crush on this guy who can seemingly do absolutely anything. I can't imagine this season without him, and I hope his recent trip to the hospital is a minor stumble in his triumphant race to the finale in May.
Jacob Lusk: If Idol has struggled with women of color lately, it has downright failed with men of color. Since Ruben Studdard's win in season two, no black man has seemed a legitimate contender for the title. Yeah, there have been some talented guys -- George Huff, Anwar Robinson, Mike Lynche -- but I don't think anyone really thought these guys were going to actually win the whole thing. I don't, however, have a hard time imagining a Casey-Jacob finale. My only worry is that Jacob seems, um, overly excitable and that the excitement of advancing beyond next week just might cause the guy to explode mid-happy dance.
Tim Halperin: Tim LOOKS like an American Idol. Think of the past several years' winners -- David Cook. Kris Allen. Lee Dewyze. Now look at a picture of Tim Halperin. Yeah... I know. There has to be a "safe" heartthrob who can appeal to both the tween girls who text until their fingers bleed as well as the mom's who are speed dialing between picking the kids up at soccer practice and fixing them their Hamburger Helper. Tim might be just what the doctor ordered. (Or maybe Paul McDonald, who might be a little cuter....)
James Durbin: You've gotta have a rocker, and this year, it looks like James is the guy. His What Would Adam Lambert Do schtick is already growing tiresome, though, but the fact that the guy is rocking a good backstory may be enough to keep him going, especially since we lost this year's King of the Sob Story in Chris Medina. James just might have to suffice.
Jovanny Barreto: Is is bad I'm picking Jovanny because he kind of reminds me of a former student of mine? Well, too bad, because I'm picking him!
Brett Lowenstern Come on! You've gotta have this kid in the finals if only to see the major meltdown he'll have as the eliminations become more and more shocking and emotional!!
Of course, if the producers go forward with gender equity, my list above means that we lose some incredibly talented men -- like Stefano Langone , Robbie Rosen, and Paul McDonald -- not to mention talented men that I don't particularly like, such as Jordan Dorsey and Clint Jun Gamboa. (Sorry, guys, you were both d-bags during group day. I don't forgive too easily!!) I also still have a hard time imagining that Scotty McCreery can last much longer. It's not that I don't like the kid -- I do. It's just that pesky versatility thing that the structure of this show seems to demand. You can't sing Randy Travis and Garth Brooks every week, son. I would happily sacrifice, say, a Thia Megia or even Rachel Zevita if it meant keeping Robbie Rosen or Paul McDonald around.
Oscar predictions will be up tomorrow afternoon sometime. I'm going to spend the rest of the weekend before tomorrow night trying to cram in as many Oscar movies as I can. Let's keep my streak alive!!!