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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Semifinals Round 3

Nathaniel-Marshall.jpgTonight's episode of "Idol" was all about highs and lows. And I'm not just talking about Kendall Beard's disparate upper and lower registers. Or the way early fav's, like Alex and Taylor, totally blew their chances. Or even the way Nathaniel looked like an extra from an 80's-era Olivia Newton-John music video. OK, you caught me, I'm talking about all those things and more, as "Idol" displayed the television version of multiple personality disorder on the third and last semifinals round.

This episode felt more like a combination of what made the first and second rounds so interesting. It had some really good singers, some who were a surprise, just like the first round (i.e. Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace). It had some really awful, yet entertaining, performances, just like round number two (i.e. Nick Mitchell, a.k.a. Norman Gentle). Toss in a bunch of so-so singers and you've got tonight's heaping helping of symphonic stew.

So, with such a disparity between the singers, it only made sense to group this week's singers into three distinct categories: The Good (performers that either blew me away or have a giant fanbase), The "Eh" (singers who were just OK, not quite good enough to win, not quite bad enough to lose), and the Ugly (includes people who wear headbands and people who sound like howler monkeys, or the double threat of howler monkeys WEARING headbands...shudder):

The Good

-Von Smith: The guy who was once called an "indulgent child" by Simon, seemed to win the crowd, and the judges, over tonight. He's got a good chance of earning a spot in this week's Top 3, but if he doesn't, I'm sure he'll be on the judges' radar for the Wild Card round.

-Lil Rounds: There were a lot of good female singers tonight. And then there was Lil. She's my pick for the night's top female contestant. She confidently hit all her notes, ALL of 'em, and strutted around the stage like she just bought it from 19 Entertainment and was marking her territory. This 24-year-old singer effortlessly sold her rendition of Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You." And while it wasn't as magnificent as the judges said it was (they all anointed her as "best singer"), it was still pretty darned good. I agree with Paula that we'll be seeing her for many more 'lil rounds' on the show.

-Scott MacIntyre: Singing "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby, Scott actually worked the stage. His voice wasn't perfect, as evidenced by his shaky upper register, but he still has a nice tone. Kara and Paula were impressed that he hadn't let his blindness become an obstacle to being on the show. I think two guys outsung him (in particular: Von and Jorge Nunez), but this guy's got a massive fanbase. Expect to see him in the finals.

-Felicia Barton: The odds were not in Felicia's favor. They almost never are for "replacement" contestants. See, Barton replaced Joanna Pacitti in the Top 36 after Pacitti was disqualified a couple week ago. And almost 90 percent of the time, these replacements fight an uphill battle of little screen time and a nonexistent fanbase. But listening to Felicia sing, I think she broke the curse. Her cover of Alicia Keys' "No One" was spot on, and she kept changing some of the arrangements just enough to keep it interesting. Plus, she had a few amazing power notes at the very end that seemed to signal greatness. I think she has a great chance of moving in to the finals.

The "eh"

-Jorge Nunez: There was nothing wrong with Jorge's performance, but I placed him in this category because he was outsung by a few other male singers. His tone was very nice, he correctly pronounced all the words even though he's from Puerto Rico and he displayed huge amounts of personality. I think he won bonus points from everyone when he got so nervous/excited after his performance that he started talking in Spanish. He's got a good chance at a Wild Card spot.

-Taylor Vaifanua: She was an early judges' favorite in Hollywood, but she didn't nail her performance of Alicia Keys "If I Ain't Got You." The entire song was a little too monotone and very, very forgettable. She'll have a hard time standing out from the crowd.

Ju'noth Joyner: I'm torn about this guy. I haven't been his biggest fan, but his take on the Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" grew on me more and more as I thought about it after the show. His voice was a little all-over-the-place, but he wins points for his creativity in changing up the arrangement of the song. He slowed it down and put a slight R&B tone on the song, just enough to make the judges notice him. He may also have a shot at a Wild Card spot.

Kristen McNamara: Oh, Kristen, what are we supposed to make of you? Are you a rocker chick as past pink hairstyles and Kara would have us believes? Are you a country star just waiting for her shot at the Grand Ole Opry (as evidenced by her former participation on sister TV show "Nashville Star")? Or are you just a kid playing dress up with your "mum's" wardrobe (as Simon so eloquently pointed out while discussing her outfit)? I think you won some favor with a Tracy Chapman cover, but America may be just as puzzled as Simon Cowell about your true personality.

The ugly

-Alex Wagner-Trugman: Alex really likes Elton songs. He won a sing-off in the Judges' Mansion episode by singing Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Tonight he sang "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues." Alex, step away from the giant sunglasses and sparkly jumpsuits, you need to pick somebody different buddy. But aside from his repetitive music tastes, Alex totally ruined his former Joe Cocker-esque vibe with all his growling and screechy notes. Fare well Alex.

-Arianna Afsur- Mistake number one for this 17-year-old: choosing to sing anything by ABBA. They have now been placed on the Do Not Sing list (along with Whitney, Michael Bolton and the song Bette Davis Eyes). Mistake number two: hitting a few notes and then losing all your confidence. Seriously, the look of pure fear increased so much that I was pretty sure Arianna was going to run off the stage in the middle of her performance. Everyone pretty much agreed, this reluctantly button cute singer bombed big time.

-Nathaniel Marshall: Better known to his fervent fans as "the kid who cried too much," Nathaniel sang a Meatloaf song while wearing a headband that belonged in a jazzercise video. Must I continue? Fine, Simon called the majority of it "excruciating," though he also said Nathaniel was fun, and that people will remember him.

-Kendall Beard-Embracing her country roots and slightly twangy voice, Kendall attempted a Martina McBride song, but it was just OK. At times it was either too low, too quiet or too shrilly. The judges said she looked pretty, though.

To review, here are my predictions for who will make it to the finals from tonight's show: 1) Scott MacIntyre, 2) Lil Rounds, 3) Felicia Barton OR Von Smith.

So, how do tonight's 12 singers stack up against each other and the singers who've already advanced to the finals? Do my predictions sound accurate, or do you have your own ideas for how Wednesday's show will play out? Post some comments below and be back here same "Idol" time, same "Idol" channel on Wednesay!!! -Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on March 4, 2009 3:47 AM
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