Our mission tonight on “Idol XI” is to eliminate 12 of the 25 contestants in two hours and, since show host Ryan Seacrest hasn’t been teasing any guest entertainers, looks like we’re going to have to do it all ourselves, America.
Let’s bring out our judges. Steven Tyler has come as Cowboy Curtis. Randy Jackson has come as a bad boy from Choate, with his shirt hanging out of his pants but a tie, plaid jacket, and yellow boutineer. Jennifer Lopez is dressed in a golden sort of bag – hey, she’s wearing her swag bag from Oscars! Way to recycle, JLo!
Over 33 million votes came in, says Ryan, and that will decide the five male and five female singers to go through. Then the judges will select three contestants to send through as “wild cards.”
Good news! Veteran Jimmy Iovine, the CEO of Interscope, is back this year to second-guess the judges with astute critiques of the Idolettes after the judges have told the contestants they’re all great in their ways. We like Jimmy because he talks fast and really moves the show along and he’s never afraid to embarrass anybody. He’s like a cross between Martin Scorsese and Ron Paul.
Ryan calls forward Care Bear Jeremy Rosado, This Year’s Country Crooner Chase Likens, and This Years Scruffy Guy with Guitar Phillip Phillips.
We see tape from Tuesday of the judges loving Jeremy and Chase, but having issues with Phillips “reharm.”
Now let’s hear what Iovine has to say. In a taped bit, Iovine says
Jeremy sings well and is a very nice guy, Iovine says in a taped bit, adding “This isn’t going to cut it on this show. You need to have much more.”
“Chase is a good looking guy but there are plenty of those on TV now. To win this show you have to bring something fresh, original, exciting, I saw none of that,” Iovine says.
But he loves Phillip. “We desperately need originality on this show,” Jimmy says like he means it to sting the producers. “I believed every word he sang. I’d sign this guy on the spot.”
Now, this is a bit awkward for JLo who proclaimed Jeremy was “blessed by God.” So Ryan asks her if her faith is strong. It is. “It’s true we’re looking for the full package but at the end of the day I believe Jeremy has it,” JLo.
The voters speak: Jeremy, no. Chase, no. Phillip, yes.
Phillip is sent to – yes, some thing never change. Though “Idol” has a new set, somebody salvaged the Martini Glasses of Safety or “The Stools” as Ryan calls them less felicitously, stage right where the winner go to sit.
Let’s have the wonderfully talented Jessica Sanchez take the stage, and three others several rungs down the evolutionary ladder: Hollie Cavanagh, Brielle Von Hugel and Hallie Day.
Iovine speaks. He likes Hollie -- the petite18-year-old with the Broadway voice. “Given the right material she could do some real damage in this thing,” he predicts.
Brielle: “Why pick ‘Dock of the Bay’? Why not pick something contemporary?” he says.
When it comes to Hallie, the Baltimore waitress, Iovine seems affected by blonde blindness. “Really poised, lot of tone in her voice…but there are a lot of blondes on this show,” he admits.
Jessica: “She has talent from A to Z. I’d sign her on the spot tonight!” Iovine says, adding, “She’s the one to beat!”
But what do the people say? Brielle and Hallie, no. Jessica and Hollie, yes!
Adam Brock -- who has given us so many self-descriptions, he sounds like a marketing campaign: White Chocolate, Large Black Woman Trapped Inside a White Man’s Body -- is next up, along with class clown Heejun Han, and sure bet Joshua Ledet of the powerful gospel/R&B voice.
Iovine on Joshua: “The real deal…I’m really looking forward to working with him…Need to make sure we don’t turn it into ‘Sister Act Three’.” (That’s a reference the Whoopi Goldberg-hiding-out-in-a-convent flick)
On Adam and his multiple personalities, Iovine says: “Right now he’s not pulling them off at the same time.”
In re Heejun: “This isn’t ‘American Comedian’ -- this is ‘American Idol’.”
Back to live show, Ryan extracts a promise from Heejun that he’s going to work hard on his singing. “Along with comedy,” Heejun adds.
Heejun gets sent to The Stools, through so the whole “comedy” thing must be working for viewers. Joshua is also voted through, but Adam and his inner Aretha are not.
Next Baylie Brown, the pretty country singer; Chelsea Sorrell, the forgettable country singer; and Skylar Laine, the Reba McIntire cum Tina Turner singer, come forward. Also hitting center stage: Shannon Magrane, the very tall 16-year-old daughter of the former pro pitcher, so we once again roll tape regarding The Incident Between The Pitcher And Steven Tyler, which we have sworn will no longer waste space in this blog.
Iovine loves Skylar: “She blends soul with country...I would have voted for her!”
Baylie: “[She] has all the pieces but they didn’t come to together…out of tune and, I believe out of here.”
Chelsea: “Carrie Underwood karaoke is not going to fly.”
Shannon: “I really like her…but she was dressed more for a prom than a performance -- needs help in the styling department.”
Viewers who voted: Baylie no, Chelsea no, Skylar yes, Shannon yes.
Let’s get the results on Reed Grimm, the engaging jazzy performer who’s fun but we all know not pop enough for “Idol XI.” Also, the excellent, and yet forgettable, Aaron Marcellus, and street performer Creighton Fraker.
Iovine on Reed: “Real talented…way too kitschy for me. “
Aaron: “This confused me. the judges gave him a standing ovation and I’m watching and saying ‘this is cheesy….this is Don Cheadle.”
Creighton: “At the top end screechy…The judges loved him. I didn’t.”
Just how much second-guessing can the judges take? Ryan takes their temperature.
JLo actually blames the discrepancy in opinion on the fact that Jimmy isn’t in the hall hearing it live, but in some “little room” listening on what’s probably some very good sound system.
Randy turns craven, saying he too thought the boys were not so good when he went home and played back their performances.
Tyler says something that gets bleeped.
Anyway, none of these three singers makes it into the Top-13.
Whack which girl: the colorless Elise Testone, the breathless Erika Van Pelt, Haley Johnsen and her Annie Lennox tribute show, or the disappointing Jen Hirsch who’d looked better in auditions?
Jen, according to Iovine: “A lot of vocal pyrotechnics in place of soul.” Plus, he warns, there are way too many Adele wannabe’s in this edition of “Idol.”
Haley: “She sang out of tune the entire song…Robotic mimicking is going to kill you every time.”
But he likes Elise: “A lot of character.”
…and Erika: “I like this girl, she has music in her blood. She has great restraint -- something this show needs more of. “
Only Elise goes through.
How about Jermaine, the deep voiced Gentle Giant? “I could listen to an entire album of that voice,” says Iovine. “We’ve got to figure out how to get him through this show.”
And what about Deandre Brackensick, who Randy called “one of the most commercial guys I’ve seen”? Iovine says he wasn’t ready for the song he performed, and needs a coach.
Well, how about sweet-faced teener Eben Franckewitz? “Not ready for primetime,” Iovine pronounces.
And yet, Iovine thinks Colton Dixon, the raccoon-wearing alt-rocker “could really win this thing.”
Colton and Jermaine are through to the top 10 -- Eben back to school. Deandre’s a non-starter as well.
So that leaves 15 eligible for the wild card round -- eight guys, seven girls. The judges will pick a handful of them to sing and then choose the lucky three.
Jen Hirsh knocks herself out performing the Beatles’ “Oh, Darling.”
“We like it when you guys come out and sing for your lives!” Randy enthuses. But JLo appears to be stricken with Iovine-itis and is now non-commital. “We have five more people to go, we want to try to be fair,” is all she will say.
Jeremy Rosado does a breathy Carrie Underwood number that has Jen in tears, and then Jeremy is in tears and can’t finish the final notes. “I believe in this kid,” JLo says, suddenly not impartial at all.
Brielle von Hugel gets another chance, surprisingly, and practically knocks Ryan over with a hug. She’s so weak -- on an Adele number -- that even Randy and Tyler go negative on her. “A little pitchy in the turnarounds,” says Steven, which actually we thought was a steeplechase term.
Deandre gets another shot and does “Georgia On My Mind” with a lot of attempted range, from hoarse bass notes up to hard-edged falsetto. Kid’s got great hair, though. “I’m feeling the fire from you and everybody, “ says JLo.
Erika Van Pelt does Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” but unevenly. Still, the judges love her. “She singing like she’s got to have it!” Randy shouts.
Reed Grimm goes with Bill Withers’ “Use Me,” and he’s all over the place, except for advancing his “Idol XI” career. “One of the most different artists” ever, says Randy, which is not a good thing at all.
And the wild card winners are:
Jeremy Rosado, who breaks down crying and gets sent to the judges’ table for a crushing hug with JLo.
Also, Erika Van Pelt and Deandre Brackensick.