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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Semifinals Round 1

Danny-Gokey.jpgYou know how Simon is always telling the contestants that they remind him of bad karaoke singers or hotel lounge crooners? Well that comparison seemed to fit the bill tonight as I quickly felt like I had made a wrong turn at the American Idol sign, and somehow waltzed into the lobby of a Holiday Inn during Happy Hour. There was bad singing, bad background music and horrible graphics displaying behind them on the overhead screen. All we needed was someone to refill the bowl of peanuts while Poison's Greatest Hits played in the background and it would've set the scene.

It seemed the biggest problem plaguing contestants tonight was bad song choice. From Jackie Tohn's horrible decision to sing Elvis to Stephen Fowler's misstep in choosing a Michael Jackson song, the members of this week's dirty dozen were almost completely unable to choose a song (that is, except for a select few who I discuss in my predictions section below.)

Tohn will most likely be headed home after her performance tonight. Singing the Elvis classic "A Little Less Conversation," and wearing a spandex creation Cyndi Lauper probably designed when "The Goonies" was still showing in theaters, Tohn sang the whole song in one tone, and then threw some completely useless "eeee's" and "aaaah's" into the mix. The judges believed she was a good performer, but not the greatest singer.

Then there was Ricky Braddy, who I knew nothing about until tonight. Apparently he's one of the few contestants who's received little to no screen time, thus affording the audience no chance to bond with him. So even though he sang beautifully on "A Song For You," Braddy may not have established enough links with the audience to make it through. Hopefully if he doesn't make it, he'll still have a chance to be brought back by the judges in the Wild Card Round.

Some people may remember Brent Keith as a contestant on "Nashville Star," which is essentially the country version of "Idol." He made it to the finals on that show, but ultimately didn't win. I think he has a good sound, but he shouldn't have sung "Hicktown" tonight because I don't think he stood out to the audience.

Also failing to connect with anyone were 17-year-old Stevie Wright, 20-year-old Casey Carlson and 27-year-old Texan Michael Sarver. Wright's take on a Taylor Swift song ended in disaster as almost the entire song was performed out of tune. Carlson sang a flat version of a Police song. And Sarver had a musical identity crisis when he sang Gavin Degraw's "I Don't Wanna Be," but sang portions of the ditty in both a country and pop style.

And one person who I was hoping would be good but only turned out to so-so during tonight's show is Anne Marie Boskovich. She wowed me and the judges back in her initial audition, but only slightly impressed tonight on "Natural Woman." I think she'd make a great addition to the finals, but that's up to America.

Now that we've taken a look at how almost everybody performed, here are my predictions for who will make it to the finals from tonight's show:

1) Danny Gokey: Unless America totally gets it wrong, this choice seems like a no-brainer. Gokey closed the show with a nice, soulful take on Mariah Carey's "Hero." He got a standing ovation from Randy, Kara and Paula, who said he was "blazing," "incredible" and "stellar" respectively. Simon, who always manages to find a little cloud in someone's silver lining, was a little more subdued and said that while Danny is a very good singer, he isn't "buying the hype right now." Personally, I think Simon just wants to make sure Danny is making it through because of his talent, and not his back story. In the end, though, I think his back story is going to play a major part in why he gets votes. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that he's a phenomenal singer either. My prediction is Danny will walk away with the top male spot on Wednesday.

2) Anoop Desai: He sang Monica's "Angel of Mine" and proved he's a true contemporary singer. Paula compared him to Brian McKnight, and I'd say she's right on the money. He's proved he's got the chops to sing smooth R&B-style (remember his Hollywood presentation of "My Prerogative?"), and he has a good measure of stage presence. The judges said he wasn't perfect, especially with off-key notes, but said he has great potential. Simon says he'll probably make it on his "massive likeability," and I think he's right. Anoop-Dogg seems like a sure bet for the Next Top Vote-Getter spot.

3) Alexis Grace OR Tatiana Del Toro: The female category is basically a toss-up, with so many marginal female singers taking the stage tonight. So, if America were to vote strictly on vocal ability, which it rarely ever does, then Alexis and Tatiana would be fighting for the last spot in the Top 3. Alexis, the 21-year-old single mother from Tennessee, belted out a very strong version of Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man." And despite her weird snarling facial expressions and difficulty hitting the low notes, she clearly had the best vocals in this category. And it doesn't hurt when Simon declares you the dark horse of the competition and says you're just like Kelly Clarkson was at that stage. Then there's crazy Tatiana Del Toro. The judges called her crazy, the media is calling her it makes it that much crazier to learn she actually has a very good voice. Continuing her odd streak, she decided to tackle a Whitney song, which has signaled the death knell for everyone before her who has tried. Surprisingly, Tatiana can compartmentalize the crazy, put it in her back pocket and belt out a great version of a song. The judges admitted she was good, but decided her subdued demeanor was just an act and requested she bring Crazy Tatiana back. My prediction is Alexis has the upper hand in this category and will soon move on to the finals.

So, how do you think tonight's 12 performers did compared to each other? Do you agree with my predictions or are there others you think should have the shot at the finals? Post your comments below and remember to be back here on Wednesday for the first results show! -Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on February 18, 2009 6:19 PM
Permalink |

I think that there are too many judges on
the American Idol. Three were plenty,
now all of them seem to be trying to
talk over the other one.

-- 1. Posted by: Donna at February 18, 2009 7:45 PM

I agree with you 98% - except I'm sick of Danny being stuffed down my throat! His vocals are good, but not as great Randy, Kara and Paula made him out to be. I think AI's plan may fail and I know Danny may face some backlash. I won't be voting for him. I would have preferred Ricky Braddy and of course Anoop Dog! I'm sure Anoop will return as a wild card, I hope Ricky will too. Thanks for the recap.

-- 2. Posted by: lunagrl at February 18, 2009 11:34 PM

We only get this episode tonight in the UK, so I'm dying to see who gets kept on and who leaves. Frankly, it's at this point that it's finally worth remembering the contestants' names!

-- 3. Posted by: Gerard at February 19, 2009 12:11 PM

Danny Gokey seems like a solid guy, aside from the fact that he's a great singer

-- 4. Posted by: coffee at February 22, 2009 11:52 PM

I personally loved Danny. He is not only an amazing singer, he is a great guy. His voice is amazing. I think he can go right through to the finals. Danny your the best!

-- 5. Posted by: brit koz at March 23, 2009 3:37 PM

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