AMERICAN IDOL Season 8's Top 36!

Tonight, 54 contestants found out if they made it into the top 36. Producers made some changes to the ritual (no elevator, nicer mansion, better chairs, sing-offs) but it was still nerve-wracking for the wannabes.

I have mixed feelings about the sing-offs. It’s always nice to hear some singing in a singing competition but I hated who they chose for them. It seemed they picked good friends and pitted them against each other, making the victory bittersweet for the one who made it. I mean, wouldn’t you want to go out and celebrate with your friend if you’re in? Nope, he/she didn’t make it so you’d better find someone else to party with.

There wasn’t a lot of suspense in tonight’s show. Generally, if you’d never seen a contestant before, he/she wasn’t going to make it. Let’s break it down. (Bolded names are people who got through.)

Anoop Desai was shown going into the Chamber of Fear first. He’s awesome so he’s in. I think he’s gonna crack the top 10, at least. Next was Von Smith, cute as a button but a mass murderer of notes when he sings. He was given another chance to “blast” us all (his word).

The first sing-off was between good friends Cody Sheldon and Alex Wagner-Trugman. Alex was clearly the better singer (he sang “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down”) so he won. I hated how the judges put Alex in a position where he just couldn’t give in to his joy because his friend was crying beside him.

Adam Lambert, who wears more makeup and hair products than most of the girls, made the cut. Taylor Vaifanua walked in next and looked so much better with her makeover. The bangs actually made her look her age (17), whereas she looked 30 in her original audition with the big hair. She’s through to the next level.

Next was a montage of a bunch of very pretty and talented girls who made it: Jasmine Murray, Arianna Afsar, Casey Carlson, Megan Corkrey, Mishavonna Henson and Stevie Wright. I was happy to see Megan, who needs more air time, and Stevie, too, because I love her fresh-faced, free and hippie vibe.

Then came Joanna Pacitti‘s turn. They let her through and I thought that was B.S. Unlike some people, I’m not hatin’ on her because she’d already had a recording contract and failed album. I was annoyed because that girl repeatedly forgot lyrics—sometimes a whole chorus, it seemed—and Simon had announced his strict rule that if you forgot the words, you were done. That’s why he sent home really interesting singers like Emily Wynne-Hughes and Rosa Flack. But they let Pacitti stay, who’s attractive but in an unremarkable way and has a forgettable voice. UPDATE: The producers have just disqualified Pacitti and picked Felicia Barton to take her place! Yay! Give some other girl a chance.

A montage of guys being rejected came next: T.K. Hash, Chris Chatman, and Reggie Beasley. Except for Hash, who sang “Imagine” with too many runs in his original audition, I’d never seen the other guys before so I knew they were toast.

Kendall Beard came in and was put through by Paula saying, “It isn’t great [news]. It’s fantastic.” Huh? I hate when they play those stupid word games to mess with contestants’ heads. If something is fantastic, it isn’t great?

Time for another sing-off, this time between Jenn Korbee and Kristen McNamara. I’d never seen Korbee (or her fine husband Tom!) while McNamara had been given lots of screen time during group day so it wasn’t hard to figure out how this would go. Korbee is very attractive, like Simon kept saying, but McNamara was obviously the better singer (with a few notes of “I Will Always Love You”) so the right girl was chosen, even if Simon pouted about it.

Three more people made it through: Alexis Grace, who stands out with her pink-streaked, jagged bob and adorable Gerber baby girl; Scott MacIntyre, whom I’m just not crazy about, despite my respect for his overcoming his handicap; and Lil Rounds, whom I haven’t been that impressed with since her original audition.

Then a bunch of people got kicked out: Felicia Barton, Ashley Hollister and Devon Baldwin. I had no idea who they were so I had nothing invested in their leaving. But like I said in the update above, Barton is coming back after producers disqualified Pacitti for reasons they won’t reveal.

Next up was another sing-off that really annoyed me: Frankie Jordan vs. Jesse Langseth. Both girls were talented and shouldn’t have been in the position where one had to go. That said, I knew Langseth had to make it. That girl came out of nowhere to wow me in a brief snippet singing “Some Kind of Wonderful” on group day and tonight she impressed me even more with her soulful voice and funky vibe. She’s a confident, fiery female amidst quivering, crying girls and I like that. I was sorry to see Jordan go, though it was ridiculous how she said she was getting older and wouldn’t get many opportunities like this. She’s 23, for goodness sakes! She could come back next year and 5 years after that if she wanted.

Another two were sent home: Shera Lawrence and Derik Lavers. Who? Exactly.

But next up, red-headed Allison Iraheta was the exception to the rule. They’d never shown her before but she made it. She sounded good in the few clips shown tonight so I’m okay with her staying.

Then it was Danny Gokey‘s turn. C’ mon, was anyone even wondering if he’d make it? This guy was a sure thing. Shockingly, his BF Jamar Rogers was cut, which was so sad. Jamar used to be one of those REALLY LOUD singers who make me scramble for the mute button but he’d gotten much better at moderation. Plus, he’s got stage presence and puts together cute ensembles. This was easily the biggest upset of the evening.

Next, several guys were shown getting yeses: Ricky Braddy (who?), Matt Giraud, Ju’Not Joyner, Jorge Nunez, Brent Keith (what happened to the Smith?), and Stephen Fowler.

And then a rude thing happened: Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle made it through. They cut Jamar to give this guy a spot? He said, “I’d do anything to get through to the next round.” Really? How about taking the competition seriously and just singing for a change?

I have no objection to the next person who made it: Jackie Tohn. She’s like a brunette Sheryl Crow and she’s a bit quirky but I like her energy.

The next person, though, has too much energy. Tatiana Del Toro made it through, which was no surprise because the producers have already given her so much air time, but it was disgusting nonetheless. She screamed so loudly you’d think she was being assaulted, which is what happens to my eardrums every time I hear her sing. My only consolation is that after tonight, the judges can’t keep her safe anymore. America is gonna kick her to the curb.

Another sing-off: Jackie Midkiff vs. Nate Marshall. Oh goodness, Nate cries way too much but his mama is in prison so I’m not gonna say anything else.

Jeanine Vailes, Kai Kalama, Anne Marie Boskovich, and Kris Allen are shown in a montage of yeses.

Final sing-off of the day: Matt Breitzke, the welder, vs. Michael Sarver, the roughneck. It was such a cliche to put these guys against each other and there was no suspense. If you were keeping tabs, you would’ve known there were two spots left so both of these guys would make it through and that’s what happened.

Now that the top 36 have been determined, 3 groups of 12 will be performing in the next 3 weeks for America to vote. First up: Carlson, Tohn, Braddy, Boskovich, Keith, Grace, Sarver, Wright, Gokey, Del Toro and Desai. This is a really strong bunch and I predict the bottom 2 will be Del Toro and Braddy.

UPDATE: I just learned that only 3 from each group of 12 will move on! That’s crazy! They’ll take the top male and female vote-getter and then the next person of either sex who got the most votes. This is grossly unfair. This means we may have to choose between Danny and Anoop or Anne Marie and Alexis or Jackie and Stevie. I know producers are trying to change things up but this is nuts. Lots of really talented people are going to be eliminated before their time.

What do you think this new voting system and the semi-finalists? Did the judges get it right? Who do you think will be first to go next week? Post a comment!



  • Reply
    February 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I was fine with the decisions until they cut Jamar Rogers. I wallowed in misery until they kept Tatiana, then I just left the room.

  • Reply
    February 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Tatiana Del Toro is still in? WTF!!!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I think there are some really strong performers this year, especially when you think of Season 1. Woo-Hoo! Oops, did I just sound like Headband Guy?

  • Reply
    February 13, 2009 at 8:18 am

    i can’t believe that that tatiana is still there

    how could the judges possibly let cody Shelton go
    he was amazing but so was alex
    they both should have stayed

  • Reply
    February 13, 2009 at 11:28 am


    For sure, the judges made some wrong decisions in keeping Tatiana and Nick/Norman while sending good people home. But Tatiana will NOT survive next week since only the top female vote getter will go on and it’s not gonna be her!

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