Thursday (March 5) night's Very Special "American Idol" is a results show and a performance episode all-in-one, as the eight Wild Card contenders sing and the judges will make their picks in a single action-packed hour.
As a result, this will likely be a hybrid recap, shifting from performances to minute-by-minute results as they occur. Bear with me here...
The full excitement after the break...
Singer: JESSE LANGSETH
Song: "Tell Me Something Good"
My Take: Jesse's opted for a slinky, short back skirt and knee-hightboots tonight. Do we think, though, that five minutes before show-time she got a little self-conscious and asked to borrow her grandmother's sweater? The sweater messes up the sex-kitten image she'd otherwise be cultivating with her performance, which is all purring and almost no singing at all. There's attitude aplenty, but no vocals to speak of. The judges keep referring to her range, but this was bluesy, but limited.
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: Randy gives her props for the song choice, but says that it was just aight for him. Kara likes her swagger, even if her notes are on key. Paula's impressed with her tenacity, saying that the song showed Jesse's soul. Simon's glad they put Jesse in the Wild Card at the last moment, but he calls it self-indulgent.
Singer: MATT GIRAUD
Song: "Who's Loving You"
My Take: Yes, Matt made a poor choice in his group, but he also sang it really poorly. That's just a warning for what will happen eventually once he gets into the Top 12 and the theme nights start throwing up their particular roadblocks. Tonight's song and performance are obviously a better choice on every level. Well, maybe not every level. The hat pulled over his brow and triple wrapped scarf around his neck suggest he may be prepared to go rob a bank, if the Wild Card doesn't work. It's affected on nearly every level, but he sells the affectation pretty well.
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: Kara's glad that we brought back the bluesy, soulful Matt. She acknowledges he was "a little bit over-the-top at points," but you can hear Simon in the background saying, "A little bit?" Paula thinks he was amazing and that America's loving him right now. Simon calls it a billion times better than last week and warns that there are bits of Taylor Hicks that come through. He's right. That's what I'm referring to in terms of the affectations, the lurching, the spinning, the runs-upon-runs. Randy calls it hot and says Matt's got everybody else worried. After that performance, it's going to take something incredible to keep him out of the Top 12.
Singer: MEGAN JOY CORKREY
Song: "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"
My Take: This is not the Katharine McPhee "Idol" version of this song, but is that necessarily a good thing? This is a song that shows how distinctive Megan's voice is, but it takes a while to get range-y enough to really show off how much she can do. I continue to be entranced by just how incapable she is of controlling her body. She tries shaking her finger on the "No... no..." part of the chorus and instead her arms waggle one way, her finger goes another and her hips try to run away from them both. Keep Megan around!
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: Paula thinks she picked the right song. Simon's always liked Megan and he still likes her, repeating that Megan is current and won't tend toward karaoke. It wasn't the best vocal Randy has ever heard. You know what's cool, though? This is the kind of music she should be singing. Kara thinks we need Megan and that she hopes Megan stays.
Singer: VON SMITH
Song: "Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word"
My Take: Dear Judges... The decision to bring back Von for the Wild Card rather than Ju'Not will shame you for weeks. Or at least for the next 90 seconds. Von sings the entire song out of his nose, starting with a weird sniveling falsetto that carries tunelessly almost through the chorus. He closes decently, but it's low-rent cabaret. Then again, I said Von was theme park on Tuesday, so I guess he went with something moodier and more intimate tonight?
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: It didn't start well for Simon, who says Von's beginning to become boring. Gee, then maybe you should have brought Ju'Not back. Randy thought Von had a different vibe on Tuesday and that tonight he was too serious. Kara's sad, because Von has what it takes, but he hasn't hit his stride. Paula's been studying Von, telling him that when he's too concerned with technique over feelings, he gets lost. This is a surprisingly good point from Paula.
Singer: JASMINE MURRAY
My Take: Jasmine's gone properly contemporary tonight, with a Christina Aguilera joint. This was the kind of performance she should have given in Group Two, when she gave no indications that she was ready to be on this stage. Tonight she seems composed and strong. Is it flawless? No. I don't suspect she'd have a long run in the Finals, but she's probably good enough to be there.
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: Randy thinks she improved 100 percent, but that the song was still a bit big for her. Kara didn't know Jasmine had that big of a voice and she's confused. Paula says Jasmine was determined, but "wonderful." Simon calls it "pretty special."
Singer: RICKY BRADDY
My Take: Here's where I continue not to get the fact that Kris Allen coasted into the Top 12. Ricky is Kris Allen only less pretty and much better, or at least his white soul version of this Stevie Wonder track is in every way superior to watch Kris did to "Man in the Mirror." The problem is that the judges don't want Ricky tonight. They want Matt and/or Anoop. They didn't want Ricky to advance out of his group either. They wanted Anoop and/or Michael the Oil Man. Ricky's better than Michael, Kris or Scott, but there isn't a chance that he's going through to the Top 12. This disappoints me a little.
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: "You can sing your butt off," Kara raves. Paula's happy. Simon wanted Ricky to show a different side and that he didn't make the right impression. Randy though it was a self-indulgent song.
Singer: TATIANA DEL TORO
Song: "Saving All My Love For You"
My Take: Tatiana is an actress giving a horrible performance as Tatiana. As such, she makes me giggle. Tonight, she's giving a bad performance as Tatiana performing a Whitney Houston song. If I close my eyes, she's pretty decent, until the pointless upper register ending. But watching her is hilarious, it's like she's playing Momma Rose in a high school production of "Gypsy."
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: "You grew an accent I've never heard before," Paula muses. Paula's impressed with her power voice. Simon's tired of hearing her sing this song again. The get into a cringe-worthy fight. It was a mixed bag of tricks for metaphor-mixing Randy. Kara's just convinced Tatiana is bi-polar. Tatiana's interview with Ryan degenerates into a blow job joke that was... again... cringe-worthy.
Singer: ANOOP DESAI
Song: "My Perogative"
My Take: This shouldn't work. This shouldn't work at all. There's no way on Earth that Anoop should be able to get away with singing Bobby Brown. But he doesn't do it as comedy. This isn't a Jon Peter Lewis or Norman Gentle or Sanjaya performance. He's utterly earnest and utterly fun and awesome. He SELLS it, vocally and in terms of performance.
Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Simon Say: Simon compares Anoop to an enthusiastic dog, but that people like him. Simon acknowledges that their decision won't just be about vocals, but about personality as well. Randy was like "Yo, what?" He calls him "Anoop 'Brown' Dogg," which is either funny or racist. Kara says Anoop made her dance and Anoop is pleased that a North Carolina guy like him could make a Duke girl like her dance. Way to do your research, Anoop! If you're curious what Anoop was referring to after his performance... HERE. He's a good kid, Anoop.
8:52 p.m. Tension building. The judges might have wanted to do a little gender equalizing with the Wild Card round, but they may not have any choice but to put through more guys than gals again.
8:55 p.m. This format isn't going to work. Ryan brings Jasmine to the stage. Randy says "I'm sad to say, Jasmine... You're going to be seeing a lot of us. Welcome to the Top 12." That's one.
8:56 p.m. Kara has to tell Ricky that he's getting hosed. Again.
8:57 p.m. Megan and Tatiana share the stage, with Megan cradling the quivering Tatiana in her tattoo-sleaved arm. Paula tells them that they've decided to go with Megan. It's a decision that makes Tatiana miserable, but which makes Kai Kalama mighty amused. Tatiana comes and genuflects at the feet of the judges. Paula tells her she has a future in both singing and acting. In all of this, there's no time to put a camera on Megan, the girl who actually advanced.
8:58 p.m. More padding? Chef Gordon Ramsay's ratings will be pleased.
9:02 p.m. With two girls already through, you know Jesse just doesn't stand a chance. "You nearly did," Simon says. She didn't hear him and briefly thought he signed off. But no.
9:03 p.m. Up next is Von, who already knows he isn't going any place but home. He smiles and nods.
9:04 p.m. It's down to Matt and Anoop. "Matt, you've made it through to the Top 12," Simon says quickly. Matt is pleased. Anoop looks unhappy, but hugs the winner. But THERE'S A TWIST!!! "We decided, recently, we're going to make this a Top 13." Anoop's reaction is priceless. It's half "I'm having a heart attack," half "You've got to be kidding me" and half "I'm going to kill you, Simon!" Yes, it's a 150 percent reaction.
What'd you think of the Wild Cards? Should one have gone to Tatiana?