AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 — Group 3 of Semi-Finalists

During the first half of this show, everyone was so boring I felt like we didn’t need this group at all. There was enough rejected talent from the first two groups (Anoop, Jesse, Megan, for starters) to stock the top 12. It wasn’t until Felicia Barton came out to sing Alicia Keys’s “No One” (she was 8th) that the show kinda got started for me. But let’s start at the beginning.

  • Von Smith, the loudest kid in town, went first. He sang “You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and was surprisingly, thankfully restrained (I can cancel my appointment for the ear doctor tomorrow). He’s got a good voice and is awfully cute—I kept thinking Donny Osmond circa 1976—but he’s just not special enough for me to root for.
  • Taylor Vaifanua covered Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You” and made a huge stinkin’ mess of it. It was too low for her in the beginning and then too high when she got to the chorus. Oddly, she was passionless throughout her performance but then cried rivers after she was done. If she’d put that much emotion into the song, maybe it would’ve been better.
  • Alex Wagner-Trugman. I actually like this kid’s “dorkiness” but oof, that performance was all wrong. He sang Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” while dancing and kicking over the mike stand, which didn’t fit the song’s content at all. His voice isn’t bad but I don’t think he had any idea what he was singing about. Simon said it best when he said, “You’re like a little hamster trying to be a tiger.”
  • Arianna Afsar didn’t like getting this far just for being “cute as a button” so she attempted ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All.” Ooh, no—bad song choice. Afsar doesn’t have enough life experience for this song, though her voice is powerful and has lots of range. The slow, dreary arrangement did her no favors and the poor girl looked like she was going to cry during the judges’ comments. I thought I was gonna cry if tonight’s show didn’t get much better.
  • Ju’Not Joyner turned Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” into a smoof, R&B slow jam. It was nice but not electrifying enough to make me start dialing. He was entertaining when he admitted he’d gotten a cortisone shot right in his butt and that it hurt.
  • Kristen McNamara spunked up Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” by making it more uptempo. I like her big, booming voice and sassy personality but not her Stepford-wife look.
  • While listening to Nathaniel Marshall butchering Meatloaf’s “I Will Do Anything for Love,” I thought, “I would do anything if you’d just stop the torture.” His voice just doesn’t have enough heft to carry off this big song. He was nowhere near Meatloaf territory, more like a ham sandwich. The entire performance with the gawky dancing was so disastrous it would’ve scored a 10 on the Richter scale if it were an earthquake. Consider this a flood warning ’cause he’s gonna let loose the waterworks when he gets kicked off tomorrow.
  • Felicia Barton, who got brought back after Joanna Pacitti’s disqualification, sang Alicia Keys’ “No One” and made me wonder what the dickens the judges were thinking when they sent her home originally. This girl was hot! Her voice cracked a little and she went off-key on a few notes but whoo, she’s got pipes! Paula said, “Isn’t it funny how the universe works?” I thought, “No, it’s funny how YOU work, dismissing her in the first place.” Sheesh.
  • Scott MacIntyre covered “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Sorry—I think the judges are being overly nice to him because he’s legally blind, which is rather patronizing. He seems like a nice guy but his voice is bland and utterly forgettable. No way I’d recognize it if I heard it on the radio (like I would Kelly’s or Carrie’s or Clay’s) but the judges raved about how he moved mountains (what?!) and his passion and how much he wanted this. Doesn’t everyone?
  • Kendall Beard sang Martina McBride’s “This One’s for the Girls.” Well, at least she knew her audience. I think she’ll advance because she’s very pretty, dressed well and little girls probably love her the way they love Barbie dolls and princesses. There’s nothing wrong with that—I’m just a little old for it. She sounded decent enough but came across processed like a beauty pageant contestant.
  • When Jorge Nunez said he selected Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” I groaned. Why do so many contestants pick this tedious song? I thought Jorge’s passionate voice deserved something spicier. But wait—he blew it up! He injected some fire and emotion into it and was easily the best male vocal of the night. By the way, what’s with the fuss about his accent? I love it and hope he speaks and sings however he does naturally. Also, Drama Queen Nate can take lessons from Jorge on how to cry endearingly on camera instead of making us want to slap him.
  • Lil Rounds. I’ll admit—she looked great and sang great, but I wasn’t blown away by her rendition of Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You.” She was technically on point but her interpretation didn’t give me goosebumps or evoke any kind of emotion in me. Remember when Fantasia sang “Summertime”? Or even when Jason Castro sang “Hallelujah” last year? Lil never makes me feel like that. It was clever how she worked in the line “Call this show if you can’t be without me” and the judges have been force-feeding her to us so she’ll probably make the top 12.

In the end, best for me were Felicia, Jorge and, technically, Lil. I wish there were room for Kristen, too.

Who did you vote for? Where you as bored by this show as I was? Post in the comments!



  • Reply
    March 4, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I haven’t watched for a few weeks but thanks to your vivid descriptions, I feel like I have! Time to get serious about following it again, though. I will do better. American Idol placed top and second spot for prime time in the US in Nielsen Ratings for Feb 23 – Mar 1. Still kicking @55.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    PCN, I caught it today! I’m not sure why – maybe the headband – but I had visions of Flashdance when I was watching Nathaniel’s version of “I Would Do Anything For Love”.

    My picks match yours, though I thought Kendall was a perky little thing if you like Country {which I don’t}.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2009 at 1:22 am

      It was hilarious how Randy kept calling Nathaniel’s headband the “Elton John” look when I think he meant Olivia Newton-John during her “Physical” phase. Glad we don’t have to be subjected to his bad ’80s fashion sense anymore. And no, I don’t like country, either.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2009 at 1:39 am

    So glad to see Nathaniel leaving the show…that dude suuuuucked. I mean, you gotta be really bad to ruin an awesomely bad Meatloaf song like that.

    Don’t let yo headband hit you on the way out, beotch! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 5, 2009 at 9:56 am

    PCN, you and I need to sit down and hang out during the show one night because the two of us are like one with our opinions. Only you are way too nice.

    Nathaniel should join a drag queen review. That is his true calling.

    Yeah, the producers seem to be grooming Lil Rounds. Still not sold on her either.

    Von Smith? The only way this guy could be more bland is if he changed his name to John Smith.

    I’d be okay if Jorge, Ju’Not and I guess Lil went through.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2009 at 10:43 am

      Your observations are hilarious. And 2 out of your 3 choices went through!

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