Season 8 Index | February 25 Review

 

American Idol Season 8 (2009)

 

February 17 - I'm saving all my snores for you (Semi-Finals: Group 1)

 

Right.  We're off and running with a new season.  Isn't the boredom...um...excitement just killing you?

 

This year, a different set of twelve singers will perform each week for three weeks.  After voting, the top guy and top girl, along with the person with the next highest number of votes, will advance to the finals.  The judges will choose the final three to round out the top twelve after a wild card sing-off on March 4.  Clear as mud, right?  I'm thinking that it must suck to be a semi-finalist this season.  In the past few years, you had a fifty-fifty chance of making it to the finals, along with plenty of screen time to build a fan base.  This year?  You have one shot on screen, less than a one in four chance on that night (because at least one top vote-getter must be the opposite sex from you), and a one in three chance overall.  Not pretty.  Then again, we're talking about Idol.  There's nothing pretty about it.  Except for Ryan Seacrest.

 

Tonight's theme is nice and broad: hits from the Billboard Hot 100 since the beginning of time.  Our first set of unfortunate wannabes includes:

 

Jackie Tohn (sings Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation"):  Oh, dear.  She's wearing pants so tight I think she's playing Sandy from Grease after the character turns bad.   She turns in an energetic performance, with a rough, rock-n-roll voice that's at least different if not great, but that outfit is totally distracting.  Randy calls her a good entertainer.  Kara says she knows how to work a stage and has a big personality.  Paula says she got her dancing, and a voice doesn't always have to be perfect.  Simon thinks she played the clown tonight and the song was too gimmicky.  Jackie talks and talks and claims she got the pants from Randy's Journey days.  Eeuw.  And now we have to see her with her parents, and Jackie takes over the interview.  Sigh...

 

Ricky Braddy (sings Leon Russell's "A Song For You"):  Surprise!  He's got a nice voice.  It's a shame we never saw anything about him in any of the audition and Hollywood shows, or he might have a shot at this.  As it is - he's toast.  Randy says that this is what he's talking about and calls him unbelievable.  Kara says he killed it (um, in a good way).  Paula is glad that America finally gets to see him.  Simon says his only issue is that Ricky doesn't have any star quality.  And now Ricky gets to sit with his parents, who are wearing "The Braddy Bunch" T-shirts.  Wow - a fan club of two! 

 

Alexis Grace (sings Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man"):  Okay, is anyone going to sing something current tonight?  The vocals are pretty good, although it's a little disorienting to hear such a big voice out of such a small woman.  Randy says she's found dirt and soul.  Kara says the genie is out of the bottle.  Paula is impressed that Alexis is presenting so much soul at the tender age of 21 [snort], and then goes on her first honest rambling session of the year.  Oh, yay!  I was so worried that Paula was going to have a coherent season.  Simon calls Alexis the best contestant so far (out of a total of 3!), compares her to Kelly Clarkson, and says that she could be the dark horse in this competition.

 

Brent Keith (sings Jason Aldean's "Hicktown"):  Technical problems in this live show delay his intro tape.  Oops.  He's got a decent rock country voice, but his delivery is so...blah.  Like he's thinking about something else.  Is this really how you get down in a hick town?  Guess I won't be visiting one any time soon, unless I want a cure for insomnia.  Randy sees them together with Simon in a chili cook-off (??).  Kara thinks he has more in him than that.  Paula agrees that it was a safe song for him.  Simon doesn't think he'll have any impact on the viewers with that song.  Brent doesn't believe that country fans will forget him.  Um, okay, but this isn't Nashville Star, honey.  Buh-bye.

 

Stevie Wright (sings Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me"):  Ick.  Not a good song at all.  She's trying to be current and show she's a hip 16-year-old, but her vocals are all over the place.  Nerves, nerves, nerves.  This is painful.  Pardon me while I turn down the volume.  Randy says he wasn't feeling it at all.  Kara says that Stevie picked a song that has nothing to do with her as an artist.  Paula says this wasn't the Stevie they fell in love with.  Simon just says it was terrible, but he tells her that she at least got some experience singing in front of millions of people.  Sheesh.  Everyone comforts her, because they know we'll never see her again.

 

Anoop Desai (sings Monica's "Angel of Mine"):  Hey, nice bass.  Oh, I'm supposed to be listening to Anoop.  Nice voice.  Gee, I'm saying that a lot tonight.  It's going to be a rough competition for the guys this year.  Oh, wait, hold on - he's got some pitch problems going on.  Whew.  Now he stands out a little.  Randy says Anoop Dawg is in the house, but he thinks he was a little sharp throughout.  Kara isn't sure Anoop has the capability to nail that song, but she believes in him.  Paula says that America has already connected with him and that he has a Brian McKnight feel to him.  Simon thought that the song was a little too old and serious for him, but he has a massive likeability factor.

 

Casey Carlson (sings The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"):  Okay, people should be banned from singing Police songs on this show.  The songs don't have a terrific range, and with the exception of a couple of established singers, Sting is the only person who can carry them off.  This performance is just so mind-numbingly dull.  Really.  Randy says it was completely wrong for her and weirdly karaoke.  Kara says that everything about that was wrong and that Casey should have done a girly anthem.  She also says that no one touches Police songs, but I know I've heard a female cover of this recently, so shut up Kara.  Paula calls Casey beautiful, but the song didn't work.  Simon calls the singing atrocious and claims she shouldn't have been allowed to sing that song.  Ouch.  Casey looks like she's about to burst into tears.

 

Michael Sarver (sings Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want To Be"): This is another song that should be retired from Idol.  It's been done every year since Bo Bice, and no one's done it better.  And I was expecting something more country from this guy.  A big meh for me.  Randy says he can definitely sing, but he doesn't think he performed it that well.  Kara calls it a crowd pleaser song but it wasn't his best performance.  Paula says he did a good job and showed them a different side of him.  Simon says that if he gets through, it's because people like him, and he hopes America gives him another shot.  Because this show is all about being nice, dontcha know.

 

Anne Marie Boskovich (sings Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"):  Two Aretha songs in one night automatically invite comparisons, and, frankly, Alexis's song was better.  Anne Marie isn't as powerful of a singer.  She's pretty, though.  Randy doesn't think this was the right choice for her.  Kara thinks the song is too big and too old fashioned for her.  Paula thinks she did better than her audition and Hollywood week.  Simon compares her to a California hotel singer and says the song destroyed her.  She's sent back to the ready room to implode.

 

Stephen Fowler (sings Michael Jackson's "Rock With You"):  Oh, please.  Of all the Michael Jackson songs out there, he picks this one?  He sings about feeling that beat, but he's off the beat.  He's off the pitch, too.  Egads, even the background singers sound like they hate this.  Make it end.  Please.  Randy once again points out it was a wrong song choice.  Kara doesn't think he was connected to this song.  Paula says it was the kiss of death.  Simon wishes he'd forgotten the lyrics as he had in Hollywood, because this was atrocious and corny.  Yep.

 

Tatiana Del Toro (sings Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You"):  Twitchy eyebrows, a dress that makes her look like a Puerto Rican hausfrau, and a personality that grates on my everlasting nerves, but the vocals are remarkably okay.  Well, compared to most of the other women, anyway.  It's nothing spectacular.  Randy says she could actually sing during a couple of moments.  Kara says it's like a roller coaster ride with her, and she doesn't know where Tatiana fits in the music business.  Paula calls her the most talked-about contestant, but Paula doesn't know who she is.  Simon says that Tatiana's a complete and utter drama queen and says she's desperate to be famous.  He also says the singing was better than he expected, but he wants the demur girl to go away.  Tatiana remains subdued until she gets back to the ready room and chats on and on and on.  Shut.  Up.

 

Danny Gokey (sings Mariah Carey's "Hero"):  Oh, gawd.  I hate this song.  But I like his bluesy voice.  In fact, he's probably the best performer of the night, which is probably why they stuck him last.  Most of the judges drool all over him.  Randy calls him blazing hot.  Kara says she gave them all hope.  Paula thinks "sold-out arenas" is two words with hyphens.  God bless her.  Dashing a bit of cold water on the scene, Simon calls Danny good, not fantastic, and he's not buying the hype right now.

 

My ranking:

 

1.  Danny Gokey - hands down the best of the night

2.  Alexis Grace - hands down the best girl of the night

3.  Anoop Desai - good vocals, nice guy

4.  Ricky Braddy - good vocals, but who is he?

5.  Jackie Tohn - not the best vocals, and the outfit was hideous, but she was entertaining

6.  Anne Marie Boskovich - on pitch, but the song was way too big for her

7.  Michael Sarver, Brent Keith - all sorts of meh

9.  Tatiana Del Toro - not bad, but not great, either

10.  Stephen Fowler, Casey Carlson - they had some on-pitch moments, unlike...

12.  Stevie Wright - just bad

 

And that's it for the first show.  Pardon me while I catch up on my sleep now.  Zzzzzz....

 

Proceeding to Finals (in order announced):  Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Danny Gokey

 

Review 2009 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

 

Season 8 Index | February 25 Review