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So let’s get right into it. This season is way different than previous ones. Of the twelve people singing tonight, only THREE will make it through. This will happen three times so that the nine people with the highest votes will be part of the top 12. Then, three more people will be chosen in a wildcard episode. Hit the clicky thingie to read the play-by-play…

First up tonight is Jackie Tohn, singing Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Egads, it’s not good. I’m not sure how she picked her clothes, but she looks like a reject from an Olivia Newton John action figure lookalike contest. The vocals aren’t great…I think Elvis might actually make the effort to come back to life and work out enough so that he could go back into his grave and roll over. Randy thinks she’s a good entertainer. Kara says Jackie can work a stage and has a big personality. They both think the vocals weren’t the best, though. Randy likes the trousers and Jackie says they like him back. Paula commends Jackie for getting her up dancing. Like she doesn’t do that all the time anyway. All of the judges are popping their p’s and b’s…I think AI needs new mics or new pop filters. Simon says Jackie “played the clown” and that the performance was ungainly and gimmicky. As usual, Simon’s right. And Simon doesn’t like the trousers. Personally I could do with less use of the word “trousers”. Ryan’s talking to Jackie’s parents in the red room. Jackie says that all the singers here are “bangin”.

Next up: Ricky Braddy, who we’ve never seen / heard sing yet. Ricky gave up serving chicken fingers. My wife Amy chimes in with “Yeah, that must’ve been a really hard decision.” Ricky’s mic isn’t on. Not a good omen. They’re showing a clip of him singing an Alicia Keys song and he’s pretty good. Tonight he’s singing “A Song For You” by Leon Russell. Ricky’s popping his plosives, too. WTF is with the mics on AI this season? I think his voice is really nice; Amy thinks the song is too old, but likes his voice, too. Not sure why they didn’t focus on him before…the guy’s a good singer. Kara lets loose with a “Wow!” when he finishes. Ricky’s parents are on the couch with “Braddy Bunch” t-shirts. Randy: “Dude! That was unbelievable right there!” Kara calls him “Effortless” and tells him he has an amazing gift. Paula mentions that he wasn’t featured in the past few weeks and that she’s glad he showed America how great he is. Simon’s not “jumping out my chair” as much as the other three, and thinks he doesn’t have any star quality. Agrees that it was a very good vocal but that he needs more charisma. I’m gonna go on record as saying that I’m not at all into this whole “come back to the red room and talk to the parents” thing. It’s boring. We don’t care about the contestents yet…why would we care about their parents? Oh dear, Ricky’s mom just plugged

Now it’s Alexis Grace singing “Never Loved a Man” by Aretha Franklin. Hair’s cute; makeup’s morguetastic. Amy thinks she looks like Hillary Clinton and that she should be a country singer (Alexis, not Hillary). The vocal’s pretty ok, aside from a couple of pitch crackles, but the performance is borrrrrring. I think she’s a very old-fashioned singer, and traditionally they don’t do well on Idol. Randy loves Alexis. Kara says the genie is out of the bottle with Alexis. I don’t know what that means. Kara calls her a new girl. Paula can’t believe a 21-year-old can present so much soul, passion and confidence.  The judges are way into her so far. Simon says she’s the best so far of the three, that she has soul, and that she has self-belief. Finally he calls her a dark horse who’s like Kelly Clarkson was 8 years ago. Then the camera cuts to the audience where we see Neil Patrick Harris and Ted Danson. Cuddling. Alexis says that what the judges said about her feels like a dream. Amy’s hoping to wake up soon.

Brent Keith is up and the show’s producers have screwed up. They couldn’t roll his tape. Wait, now they can. We get to see the four judges fighting and Paula and Kara going under the table. Bawowowow. Oh, gawd, not another sob story about living paycheck to paycheck. He’s gonna sing “Hicktown” by…I dunno who. He sounds very karaoke to me. He’s gone. That’s all’s I’m sayin’. And Jamar was cut? I’m gonna keep going back to that, so get used to it. The song is by Jason Aldean. This is an uncomfortable performance for me. And I’m not even from a hicktown. If the judges praise him then there’s definitely something wrong. Randy likes that he returned to his country edge. Returned? From what? Randy wants to have a cookout with Brent and Simon. Kara likes him but thinks he was safe tonight and not range-y enough. Paula’s reminiscing about his auditions and him hitting the high notes with his falsetto. Simon said it wasn’t safe…it was forgettable. He says it had no impact and that Brent has just blown a massive opportunity. Brent’s wife Nicole is in the red room. He’s hugging all the pretty contestants while his wife talks to Seacrest. She stops the interview to hug and kiss her husband. Amy thinks his wife looks like she could be his mother and that if he becomes famous, he’s gonna dump her like a hot rock. Amy’s vicious tonight.

Stevie Wright takes the stage next. She looks like a female Jason Castro. Without dreads. But she talks about 4000% faster than Jason. She says she’s gonna try to be the young and bubbly 17-year-old that she is. She’s singing “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift. What is this…country idol? She is NERVOUS. Oh dear, it’s not good. Her voice is pitchy and shakey. Really pitchy. And really shakey. If two of the other performers have sounded karaoke-ish, she sounds like she’s parodying BAD karaoke. I feel bad for her. Ouch. Randy says that if he saw this performance during the auditions, she wouldn’t be here. Kara says she picked a song that has nothing to do with her and that Stevie now has an identity crisis. Paula agrees…not the right song. The low range was too low and it wasn’t the Stevie Wright they fell in love with. Maybe she should change her name to Stevie Wrong? Simon: It was terrible; you were out of tune; you looked really nervous; you have no chance of making it through. At least, he says, she got the experience of singing in front of 25 million people. She’s only 16. Stevie’s mom thinks the judges are confusing because they said she was too old-fashioned, and now she picked a song that didn’t work for her.

“Now it is time for the sweet, soulful sounds of Anoop Desai” says Seacrest. He’s gonna sing “Angel of Mine” by Monica. He sounds…hmm…I can’t place it. He sounds like maybe he should be singing duets with Luther Vandross or something. He really does have a nice tone to his voice, but I think he was kinda pitchy here and there. Amy thinks his voice is “pretty”, which menas that teenybopper girls will dig him. Randy says the whole song was sharp. Kara agrees with Randy, but “believes” Anoop and says that he really connects with his songs. Paula says that she feels America has also connected with Anoop. I don’t know where she gets her info, but she never asked me so I feel like she’s putting words in my mouth. She compared him to Brian McKnight. Simon thinks it was too grown up and serious for Anoop Dog. Now Anoop’s telling us that the song was all about thanking people. I for one don’t care. Simon says that Anoop is massively likable. Anoop’s parents say that their son’s singing is touching and moving. He said he blacks out when he gets on stage. Was he referring to the style of his performance or does he have a medical issue?

Casey Carlson is up next. She’s so cute this kid. And she’ll be singing “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police. This is probably one of those songs I think should never be sung on Idol. Amy thinks Casey is Playboy pretty. Yipes she’s vamping it up on stage. She’s making goofy Terri Hatcher faces. She’s winking and doing little dippy moves and stuff. And she’s off-key. She’s trying to be sexy and it’s just very awkward. If she needs a lesson in what’s sexy, she should just look at those calendar pictures that she shot, because those were sexy, but this was just bad. Randy calls her out on being bad. “Completely wrong for you and weirdly karaoke.” Kara says “Everything about that was wrong” and Randy and Kara start singing “Everything about that was wrong” to the tune of the song she just sang. Kara says the dancing was weird. Casey looks like she’s gonna cry. Paula tells her that guys think she’s exquisitely beautiful but that that’s only part of the package. Simon says he’s glad she had fun because the singing was atrocious. Again, he says she’s blown a massive opportunity, because she didn’t show us what kind of artist she is. Her mom says she’s very proud of her. Her mom is really annoying. Amy wants to know how this Playboy-pretty girl came from those two parents. Casey admits she could’ve chosen a better song. I admit that I enjoy that Casey likes to show off the twins. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more of them after this.

It’s time to hear Michael Sarver the “roughneck” sing. He’s singing “I Don’t Want To Be” by Gavin DeGraw. Country Idol, ladies and gentlemen. He doesn’t want to be anything other than who he is right now. That’s sweet, Michael. I think he must have been watching Casey Carlson’s performance during the commercial break, because he’s winking at the camera, too. The low end of this song is too low for him. Another not-great performance, although not as bad as Casey’s or Stevie’s. He keeps making growly grizzly bear faces. He’s got decent stage presence, but the vocals were pretty flat. Not pitch-wise, just interest-wise. Kara says it’s a great crowd-pleaser song but it wasn’t his best performance. She likes that he was singing something true to him, but that it wasn’t the best. Paula thought it was better than what Randy and Kara said. Paula was distracted by the fact that he passed the mic back and forth from hand to hand. She was also distracted by clouds, traffic lights and other miscellaneous and sundry shiny baubles. Simon thinks that he’s very likable and that he hopes America gives him another shot. His wife tells Seacrest that she always tells him to “sing pretty”. Ryan says that Michael is a “nice guy and there’s something good that comes from you.”

Ann Marie Boskovich’s turn is at hand and she’s gonna sing “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin. She’s got no problem hitting the big notes but she’s pitchy here and there. Not enough to make it a bad performance, though, and it’s not a typical version of the song. A big finish…oooh, and Ted Danson gave her a standup. Randy didn’t like it…he said it wasn’t the right choice for her and that she was sub-par. Kara thinks the song feels too old for her and would rather hear her sing “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles or something like that, to which Ann Marie says “Something that’s not as good…and classic?” Randy lets out a “Whoa!” and Simon laughs a big laugh. Paula says that compared with what they’ve heard before, that she actually did better and gave it her all. Simon says that if they were searching for the best hotel singer in California that it would’ve been great. But he thinks that her voice isn’t good enough for the song. Then he insults the audience by saying that they’re too easy to please. Ann Marie’s mom and sister are talking to Seacrest…Ann Marie comes in and sits down to a crunching sound, as she looks uncomfortably past the camera and says “Ooooh, I just sat on the hard part.” Guys will be dreaming about that line tonight. Even Seacrest stops and says “We can hear everybody’s joke.” Heh heh.

(It’s time for a Wolverine movie trailer in this commercial break. Amy can’t wait for it and asks “How do people not like these movies?!” and then says that our 1-year-old son will see it as his first theatrical film…she’s kidding)

Seacrest just jinxed Stephen Fowler by saying that he “will not forget the lyrics this time.” He says that after forgetting his lyrics in Hollywood week, he feels like he was given a second chance. Maybe that’s because he was given a second chance. He’s singing “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson. Not only has he not forgotten the lyrics…he added a couple extra words in a bit of a false start. It’s really terrible. He’s got a good voice, but it’s just off-key and weird and uncomfortable. And cheesy. Ugh. Randy says he never would have thought Stephen would have chosen this song. “It wasn’t good.” Kara said she got more from him at the piano when he forgot the lyrics and that he connected with that song more than he did tonight. Stephen says he’s not very comfortable singing without playing. Paula says she wished he would have sung the David Cook song that he forgot the lyrics to in Hollywood week, and that “Rock With You” is the kiss of death because it belongs to one person. I’m pretty sure she meant Michael Jackson. Simon, of course, says what we’re all thinking, and that’s that he wished Stephen HAD forgotten the lyrics tonight because it was such a pointless performance. Then he disses the band and the terrible arrangement and terrible keyboard. He says it was corny. Stephen has nobody here to console him after the reaming.

I’m starting to feel sick to my stomach. Either because I had too much pizza, or because Tatiana Del Toro is up next. Seacrest is giving Kara a shoulder massage. Tatiana is all of a sudden speaking with an accent and rolling all of her “r”s. She’s gonna sing “I’m Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston. I would rather have her save old moldy fruit for me than her love. She’s wearing a table cloth I think. Fortunately she’s very pitchy and in combination with her amazing unlikability factor, I’m hopeful that she doesn’t stand a chance of making it past tonight. I think she might be a fembot…there’s nothing behind her singing. Oh noooooo, people are giving her a standing ovation. What is wrong with this country?! Randy says she didn’t pull it together but that she had moments where she can actually sing. Kara says that Tatiana is like a roller coaster ride and tonight was very reserved, but she has no idea who Tatiana is. Is she a character or an artist? Tatiana says she’s “Everywhere. It’s world music. It’s all genres.” Paula says she’s the most talked about contestant on the show, and that she’s not used to this demure Tatiana, and that she doesn’t know who she is. Simon says she’s a complete and utter drama queen. “You are desperate to be famous.” Simon says the singing “wasn’t bad at all” but that she has to lose the “slightly weird, demure thing, because it’s making me slightly nervous”. Then all of the judges make fun of her laugh, which is pretty funny. Tatiana’s cousins are here but they’re not really her cousins. One of them looks like Ponch. Now Tatiana is saying stuff that makes no sense and my head is starting to hurt. Seacrest says there’s more to the psychic story than we’ve heard. Then Tatiana pitches us another “this is my dream, please keep it alive”. Puke.

Saving the best for last hopefully is Danny Gokey. He has a weird new haircut. He’s gonna sing “Hero” by Mariah Carey. He wants to encourage people to look at his situation and say “If he can do it, well then so can I.” He’s got a great voice and looks comfortable up on stage. When he pushes through his rasp it’s really cool. He sounds a little bit like Elliot Yamin, but it’s different. And he’s likable. Great performance. The judges loved him. Jamar is here clapping for his buddy. “That was so hot!” says Randy. “Danny, you are the hero, man! That was incredible!” exlcaims Kara. “Danny, you’re stellar and I have two words with a hyphen,” says Paula. “Sold-out arenas.” Then comes Simon with “Ok, back to the real world…it wasn’t fantastic…it was good,” but admits “You’re a very good singer. I like you, but I’m just not buying the hype right now.” I dig this guy, but I just hope he doesn’t get too preachy.

Ok, so that’s it. Best of the night: Danny for the guys and Alexis for the girls. Ricky and Anoop were also really good although Anoop has much better stage presence than Ricky. I have a feeling Ann Marie will make it through just because I think she’s got tons of fans, compared with Alexis. I just hope America has the good sense not to vote Tatiana through. My prediction then for the voting is that Danny and Ann Marie will make it through and Anoop will have the next highest number of votes and so those three will be going onto the top 12.