The "American Idol" Top 36 list is mere hours away from revealing itself and all I can think about is Leneshe Young. Before we get to tonight's "Idol" live blog, I just want to say it's unfair that she got cut when a host of singers who flubbed lyrics (a-hem Joanna), and acted like psychopaths (I'm lookin' at you, Tatiana!) skated through to Judge's Mansion.
And let's talk about Judge's Mansion for a moment. This "the judges live together" joke might have worked in season 1, but we all know Simon, Randy, Paula and Kara ain't shacking up together while they decide on "Idol"s new cast. Puh-leaze!
Tonight "Idol" is mixing things up with a new "Sing for Your Survival" round stolen from "So You Think You Can Dance," except instead of doing a desperate modern dance solo to a Sia song, we'll watch contestants desperately sing "Aint No Mountain High Enough." Hope you have popcorn ready!!
Lastly, before the live-blogging begins, I have to give a shout-out to MTV.COM user Andrea, who highlights an amazing irony surrounding ridiculously dramatic TV production. She writes, "'American Idol' shows us all these sob stories about being blind, losing wives and being poor, and then has the balls to say that Hollywood Week is 'the toughest week of their lives'? What gives, AI?" Right on, Andrea!
Okay, now let's get blogging!
7:59 pm - I wonder how big Paula's closet will be in Judge's Mansion.
8:00 pm - And so it begins! The judges have magically appeared on set in giant red sofas.
8:01 pm - You know your idea is stupid when even Ryan Seacrest can't even say it with a straight face. "This is Judge's Mansion!" Mm-hmm.
8:02 pm - OH boy. So, there are big changes in "Idol" land! Instead of having the contestants walk down a long hall, they're going to walk down TWO long hallways, and a garden! Oh "Idol."
8:04 pm - Anoop made it into the Top 36! How long before Randy makes an "Anoop Dogg" joke?
8:05 pm - Von Smith just dissed his parents in front of the judges by saying they make him sing self-indulgent songs, which is why he chose that awful song the first day of Hollywood Week. And then he made it to the Top 36, and hugged his mom in front of Seacrest. I wonder if they're hugging each other tonight as they watch this episode together. "You said WHAT about me to Simon?"
8:07 pm - So both of Von Smith's parents are singers. Remind me never to go Christmas caroling with the Smith family without my ear plugs.
8:11 pm - Back at Judge's Mansion. They're setting up the sing-off. This is gonna be awesome! I bet Kara came up with this.
8:12 pm - First sing-off: Cody Sheldon vs. Alex Wagner-Trugman. Cody is nerrrrvous. Choke! Alex is nailing it!
8:15 pm - The judges deliberate. Cody and Alex are buddies. This is mean! So cruel! I LOVE IT!
8:17 pm - Aw, Alex is comforting Cody. "This is not how I wanted it to be." Alex is a class act, folks. I'm a fan.
8:18 pm - Question: if the judges told you that you were too theatrical, would you then turn Cher's disco hit "Believe" into a heart-wrenching cabaret show-stopper?! If you're Adam Lambert, the answer is "Hell to the yes!" And it worked! The judges love Adam Lambert. I can't wait to hear him transform "Material Girl" into an emo number.
8:24 pm - This "sing off" idea is absolutely brilliant. It's mean, especially if they keep pitting friends against each other, but it makes for insanely awesome television. Yay, "Idol" still has it!
8:25 pm - Taylor Vaifanua is up next. Her "If I Ain't Got You" sounded awesome. She's definitely going to get criticized by Simon for not acting like a 17 year old.
8:27 pm - I'm still not sold on Jasmine Murray or Arianna Afsar. Or Casey Carlson. Yet. But I guess I'll have more time to decide in the coming weeks.
8:27 pm - MEGAN CORKREY MADE IT! WOOT! Except, seriously "Idol?" You're still not gonna let me hear that girl sing? BOOO!
8:29 pm - Joanna Pacitti, who apparently thinks every song lyric is "ba da da da da da," is sitting before the judges. They're giving her another (another another another) chance. Sure, she's had record deals up the wazoo, and sure, she messes up almost every time she auditions, but she deserves another shot, right? [Crickets.]
8:30 pm - Remember at the beginning of Hollywood week, when Simon gave that huge speech about "Forget the lyrics, you're out?" Apparently he was lying.
8:33 pm - So...what other reality shows do we think filmed at this mansion? It looks a little too nice for a Vh1 show. Probably "The Biggest Loser," or "The Bachelor" or "The Littlest Groom."
8:36 pm - A bunch of people I could care less about just got cut. And now we're finding out about Kristy Lee 2.0, Kendall Beard, who sang "Angel" in Hollywood. Paula disses her song choices as being "kinda boring." Wow. Paula obviously has a chip on her shoulder about Sarah McLaughlin never inviting her to play Lilith Fair.
8:37 pm - Kendall made it! She seems like a nice girl. Her mom has matching hoochie hoop earrings.
8:37 pm - Um, so now there's a married couple we've never met? Hubby got cut in Hollywood. Why didn't see that plot line play out before tonight?! [Slaps forehead.]
8:38 pm - Sing off round 2! Married lady vs. Kristen McNamara. Married lady sings Dixie Chicks. My friend just texted me: "Kristen McNamara is totally the next Jessica Sierra." I hope not, for Kristen's sake.
8:40 pm - OMG! Kara just said, "She has a nice voice but what she is wearing?!" Catty! (Although I was thinking the same. exact. thing.) Simon doesn't want to lose the hot married lady. And we'll find out...after the break!
8:46 pm - Seacrest, "Before the commercial break, Kristen and Jen had to sing for their life." My wife, who is getting her PhD in English, just hilariously corrected Seacrest's grammar from the next room. "LIVES!" She's right. Kristen and Married Lady aren't sharing a life.
8:48 pm - Kristen made it, although Simon said, in so many words, I disagree 100% because I think you're ugly as sin. Kristen ain't that bad lookin'! She's got a cute quirky quality about her. Sort of like Rachel Dratch!
8:49 pm - Alexis Grace is torn. If she gets through, she won't see her baby as much. However, she obviously ain't spending that much time with her baby since she's so busy doing her pink streaks in her hair. That's gotta take time!
8:50 pm - Scott "Visually Impaired" Guy - who I'm going to call Selma from now on, as an homage to "Dancer in the Dark" (rent it ASAP!) - is up next. Kara couldn't help but rub it in again. "We want to SEE you again!" Luckily, Seacrest didn't try to high-five the dude this time.
8:52 pm - Lil Rounds is definitely in. She's gotta be! Paula just won't be able to resist putting costume jewelry all up on her. She's through! Yay!
8:53 pm - Speaking of Lil's, thank the gods of reality tv for casting Lil Kim on "Dancing With The Stars." I've always wanted to see that hot mess on live TV doing the paso doble.
8:58 pm - Three more people I've never heard of are getting cut. Hello! Annnnd goodbye!
8:59 pm - Frankie "Amy Winehouse/Sarah Silverman" Jordan is freaking out. OMG! Another sing-off! With some hot mess girl we've never seen, but man, she sounds terrible!!
9:01 pm - Kara just said told Frankie, "You've had ups and downs during this competition." She's obviously referring to Frankie's chest, which just suggestively bounced into the room. Wear a bra, girl!
9:02 pm - Ooooh, I like Frankie's performance. So emotional. The other girl is all show and no feeling.
9:03 pm - My wife's 2 cents: "I would hate to be a PA on this show. You'd have to drag chairs around all day."
9:04 pm - Frankie is out! Random girl I don't know is in. I liked your last audition, Frankie. As Simon said, if it's any consolation, you wouldn't have won, anyway. We already have an Amy Winehouse. Until that mess drops dead, we'll keep your name on the wait list.
9:10 pm - Shera and Dereck nobody are both gone. They are sad. I'd be sad, too, if "Idol" let me meet them before right now.
9:11 pm - Alison is my favorite 16 year old contestant ever! She just ripped through "Because of You!" LOVED IT! She made it to the Top 36! I LOVE HER! She has some serious potential. She's either going to be amazing or she's going to crash and burn. Hot mess potential is through the roof!
9:13 pm - Raise your hand if you're over the Danny and Jamar plot line.
9:14 pm - I'll give it to him, Danny Gokey can sing.
9:15 pm - Danny made it and Paula gave him a standing ovation, revealing her mini metallic blue potato sack dress.
9:16 pm - We won't know Jamar Rogers' fate until after the break! My vote says "yes." What do you guys think?
9:19 pm - I'm so relieved that "Idol" is good tonight. It only took them 7 episodes to get it right this year. Whew! This is gonna be a great semi-finals round!
9:20 pm - That being said, I'm kind of tired, and we have 40 more minutes of this?
9:21 pm - Jamar Rogers got cut! Oh no! What's Danny Gokey going to do? He's going to have to make a new friend. He should be friends with Alex Wagner-Trugman. (In case you haven't noticed, I have a friend-crush on Alex Wagner-Trugman. Dude! Come on "Detox" when you get kicked off and/or win "Idol!")
9:23 pm - They just showed Megan Corkrey in the waiting room. But we already saw her get through? Good news for faux-hawked Ricky "Who?!" Braddy, Matt "John Mayer" Giraud, Ju'Not "Not Diaz" Joyner, Jorge "Not Marc Anthony" Nunez and Brent "I Think He's Going to Win" Keith.
9:24 pm - Some "Idol" math for you. George Huff - the personality + Justin Guarini's hair X Joanna Pacitti's lyric-retaining ability = Stephen Fowler. He made it!
9:25 pm - Nick "Normund Gentle" Mitchell is up next, but now he's serious. I really love this guy. "I'll do anything. I'd clean Simon's 20 cars. I'd be Paula Abdul's butler! I'd even wear a bikini like bikini girl." Note to self: Make a Nick Mitchell FTW t-shirt.
9:28 pm - Nick Mitchell made it! Performance art is going to come into our living room every week. Andy Kaufman and Andy Warhol would be proud.
9:29 pm - Does it get any better than Alec Baldwin Hulu ads? I don't think it does.
9:33 pm - Jackie Tohn doesn't look like she's wearing pants in this Hollywood Week clip. Probably why she made it through to the Top 36.
9:35 pm - Wow. Jackie took off her shoes and ran out of the room like a nutcase. Speaking of which...Tatiana is up next.
9:36 pm - Tatiana is wearing a Paula HSN bracelet. She's upset that she couldn't buy the matching ring. So Paula gave up her own to help Tatiana complete her set. I'm gagging. Time to highlight another MTV.COM comment. serusek wrote last night, "Paula should have taken one of those throwing stars off her necklace and chucked it towards Tatiana. That would've boosted ratings and my opinion of Paula."
9:38 pm - She made it through. Nobody is excited about this. Nobody. Did "Idol" just jump the shark? (Again?)
9:40 pm - Sing off round 4: Jackie Midkiff (who?!) versus Nathaniel Marhsall. Jackie is doing well. Random note: it looks as though he gained a tremendous amount of weight since Hollywood Week?
9:41 pm - And now we're hearing Nathaniel's sob story. His mom is in jail for drugs. (She shoulda been jailed for that mullet! Sorry, too mean?) Does this mean he's in the Top 36? His final audition is okay, but very very loud. Do they need another Von?
9:43 pm - It's Nathaniel! What a dramatic Top 36!
9:48 pm - Jeanine Vailes makes it. I don't know who she is, but I love her lime green fingernails! Kai Kalama makes it, too. I like saying his name. Anne Marie Boskovich, as well. (Although I don't like saying her name.) Some dude named Kris Allen made it. He doesn't look happy about it!
9:50 pm - And now it's between the oil rigger and the welder. Sorry guys. "Idol" only has room for one blue collar stereotype.
9:51 pm - Sing off #5: Matt Breitzke is up first. I'm bored. Simon hated the song. Me too.
9:53 pm - Michael Sarver delivers his goods. Oh, he's good (and so polite)! Sorry, Matt, it's back to the grind. Or is it?
9:55 pm - Chair PA sighting! My wife echoes her sentiment, "Forget these oil rig dudes. That chair guy's job is grueling!"
9:56 pm - THEY BOTH MADE IT! I didn't see that coming!!
9:57 pm - Whoops! Randy already made the "Anoop Dogg" joke in his initial audition.
9:58 pm - I'm still in shock about Tatiana. Do we think "Idol" producers are padding the Top 36 with wackadoodles so that their favorites (Joanna Pacitti) definitely get through to the Top 12? I think maybe...
9:58 pm - First group next week: ouch. That's hard. Casey Carlson (goodbye), Stephen Fowler (goodbye), Jackie Tohn (goodbye), Ricky Braddy (goodbye), Anne Marie Boskovich (see you in the wild card round), Brent Keith (hmm), Alexis Grace (goodbye), Michael Sarver (Top 12!), Stevie Wright (yah right), Danny Gokey (top 12), Tatiana Del Toro (good riddance!) and Anoop (top 12).
So what do you think "Idol" junkies? Did "Idol" redeem itself for you tonight? (It did for me!) Finally, we got some awesome TV. And it is certainly shaping up to be a talented batch of contestants.
What do you think about Tatiana and Nick Mitchell? Did anyone get cut loose that you cared about? And when will we get to see Megan Corkrey again?!!
Hit me up in the comments! My fave one will get a shout-out next week during my first "American Idol" semi-final live-blog. I can't wait to dish about the performances! These early episodes were mere warm-ups!!
Thanks for watching and reading.