We’re Live-Blogging The Final 12 ‘American Idol’ Performances!

Jim CantielloResident “American Idol” expert Jim Cantiello brings you a minute-by-minute recap of every episode right here! Keep checking for updates throughout the show, and don’t miss out on his previous live blogs and other “Idol” news.

Live-blogging “American Idol” time! The final week of “Idol” semi-finals is upon us, and I am happier than Adam Lambert on Fire Island. (In case you haven’t visited a blog in the past few days, dude’s been sucking face with other dudes in pictures. Have fun swallowing that, homophobes!) We have 6 out of the 12 finalists selected, and by the end of the week, thanks to Thursday’s mysterious Wild Card show, we’ll flesh out the rest if the singers worthy of our votes. It will also reveal 18 people whose dreams are crushed thanks to “Idol” making the show 8000 times harder thanks to a frustrating and inane semi-finals, where they lumped a crapload of singers together each week. (Poor Mishavonna Henson. That girl was robbed! And don’t even get me started on my girl Megan Corkrey…)

So, after this week, the blur of a Top 36 will be behind us, and then we’ll get to the weekly shriekfest of Adam Lambert, who, as MTV.COM user Peggy Sue’s 15 year old son astutely pointed out, would be better suited playing Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I agree. I don’t know how to love him. (Great, now that score is stuck in my head again. “Tables, chairs and oaken chests would have suited Jesus best…” GAHHHHH!)

Enough with the show-tune quotations. Let’s live-blog “Idol!”

7:55 pm – Miss last week’s episodes? Catch up real quick with my “Idol in 60 Seconds” recaps here!

8:00 pm – This…is American Idol! Judging from the Brady Bunch staircase formation, Lil Rounds is going last. Are we not surprised?

8:02 pm – My favorite part of the show: where the contestants awkwardly walk up the stairs and wave! Scott MacIntyre has a seeing eye man. That’s nice of “Idol” producers. (Will he have him for choreography in tomorrow night’s group number?)

8:03 pm – Von Smith is up first, and in his interview package he promises viewers that he won’t scream at us. Not since Michael Phelps hosted “SNL” and said, “We have a great show tonight” have I scoffed so hard at a television.

8:04 pm – Von is wearing Pee Wee’s gray suit. Instead of shouting, he’s breathily moaning into a microphone. Upgrade?

8:05 pm – Okay, he’s not doing so bad…except he looks like he’s reallllly focusing on not shouting.

8:06 pm – Kara DioGuardi likes the tamed down Von. “It’s not about how high you can go and what you can do, it’s about doing it when it has meaning.” This coming from a woman who flipped her wig over ADAM LAMBERT. Hypocrite!

8:07 pm – Simon: “You remind me of Clay Aiken.” Von doesn’t know how to react. Well, buddy, it means you’ll have a following of delusional 49 year-old shut-ins. Get ready to pimp your CD on QVC. [Go ahead and rip me apart, Claymates. Leave a comment or 200 below.]

8:07 pm – Ironically enough, hearing Clay’s name reminds me that I forgot to mention that Von sang a Marvin Gaye song. Sorry. I’ll get better about recapping for those of you reading this after-the-fact.

8:12 pm – Taylor Vaifanua is up next. She’s “the pride of Hurricane, UT,” according to Seacrest. It was either her, or a giant ball of twine. Good job, Taylor.

8:12 pm – Is it bad of me to not want her to make it through, only so I don’t have to pause her name every time it’s flashed on screen? It’s hard to spell, kids!

8:13 pm – She’s tackling Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.” There is more personality showing from Taylor’s black leather leggings.

8:15 pm – Kara started judging her and Taylor is already crying. Holy Brooke White! Kara just said she showed no personality. I should be a judge on this show!

8:17 pm – Right now the giant ball of twine in Hurricane, Utah is rejoicing. “Finally, I’ll be top dog again! Bwahahahaha!”

8:23 pm – We’re in the Coke room with Alex Wagner-Trugman. Alex is pimping a Coke cup. We can design our own and have Paula sip out of it. Dream come true! Judging from this charming little interview, my Coke cup would say, “I heart Alex Wagner-Trugman.” Although his name is long, so I’ll probably only be able to fit “I heart Alex Wagn” on it. He said he reads internet comments. Alex, if you’re reading this, come on “MTV Detox.” We’d love to have you! Last night’s episode featured an extended bit with talking cakes. Trust me, we’re your people.

8:24 pm – Alex is in a long distance relationship, so he’s singing “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” Nothing says “I miss you” like singing a song by an artist who once holed himself up in his room on a coke binge for 2 weeks. (Don’t yell at me MTV lawyers. Elton talked openly about that in some special I watched on MTV HD this weekend. Sheesh.)

8:25 pm – Hmmm. His performance is…interesting. He’s hitting some notes well, but occasionally he rips into a few with a severe growl. Very Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. But let’s put it in music terms… It’s like half John Denver, half Tom Waits.

8:27 pm – The judges weren’t feeling it, but the audience LOVES this kid.

8:28 pm – LOL. Alex just said he kicked over the microphone stand by accident.

8:28 pm – Hot mom alert: Alex Wagner-Trugman’s mom is a hot totty.

8:34 pm – Arianna Afsar is our next victim. She’s popping the Abba “Idol” cherry. Let’s hope it’s not “Dancing Queen.” Egads.

8:35 pm – “The Winner Takes It All.” Whew. You gotta give her this: it’s gotta be better than Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan’s rendition.

8:36 pm – Whoops! It’s not. In fact, it’s making Meryl and Pierce sound like Paebo Bryson and Celine Dion. And now she’s YELLING. This is miserable! Poor thing! Poor us! Eeek – even Arianna’s parents look depressed.

8:40 pm – This show is so sad sometimes. But Ju’not Joyner is coming up after the break, reprising his “Hey There Delilah” which we saw in Hollywood Week.

8:43 pm – Kmart is advertising lay away. God bless this economy!

8:45 pm – Ju’Not Joyner has an adorable baby and a John Legend-esque voice.

8:46 pm – He’s turned “Hey There Delilah” into a slow-burning r&b smoove jam.

8:47 pm – I am throwing my panties at the television, even though the vocals are a solid “B.”

8:49 pm – The judges like him! Ju’not just admitted to having a cortisone shot in his butt to help his voice. Cortisone shots on “Idol” are just like steroid shots in baseball. I do not appreciate that. Ju’not is a cheater.

8:52 pm – This Discovery Cove commercial makes me think of the Pink Dolphin that was discovered recently, which makes me think of Tyra Banks. Do you think she’s scared of that pink dolphin? Better commercial break question: how excited are you for tomorrow’s “America’s Next Top Model” premiere?

8:55 pm – In the Coke room with the drama queens: Nathaniel, Kristen McNamara and Ryan Seacrest. Kristen unconvincingly assured us that she loves Nathaniel despite all the Hollywood week drama. So high school. Love it!

8:56 pm – Kristen was on “Nashville Star” back on the day. So obviously she’s singing Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.”

8:57 pm – Kristen works as a “karaoke hostess.” She and Seacrest have a lot in common.

8:58 pm – I’m not feeling this at all.

8:59 pm – She just hit a crazy high note. Still not feeling it. Why sing such a tuneless song? No matter how many runs she does, it’s still tuneless.

8:59 pm – Her dad has an awesome handlebar mustache. I like her now.

9:01 pm – After all the judging, Paula is inexplicably pointing at her lips. Am I the only one noticing this? Is she doing that just for me, like some kind of Carol Burnett ear tug? Thanks, Paula!

9:02 pm – Kristen sees herself singing Kelly Clarkson/Leona Lewis type stuff. I see that in her future, too…at a happy hour.

9:02 pm -Woah, her post-performance interview is a little twitchy and awkward. Anyone else getting a Wanda Henrickson “Big Love” vibe from her a little? She’s totally going to poison Seacrest.

9:02 pm – Nathaniel Marshall is next. He wants to be able to touch people with music. Easy, buddy. Michael Jackson allegedly got in trouble for that.

9:03 pm – He’s vamping it up with Meat Loaf’s “(I Would Do) Anything For Love.”

9:04 pm – Awkward pointing? Check. Flat notes? Check. Poor song arrangement? Check. This is a hot mess of epic proportions.

9:06 pm – This judging is painful. Simon started by being mean. And then he started praising him. Then Randy pointedly asked him why he chose that song? Cause him and his mom used to sing it (before she was put in prison…) Kara wants to go karaoke-ing with him. Seacrest is talking to his memaw grandma in the audience. And now he’s dragging Nathaniel over to Simon for some reason. Why is the show trying so hard to put this kid through to the Top 12? Holy manipulation!

9:15 pm – Felicia Barton is the girl who replaced Joanna Pacitti. Randomly, there was an obvious voice-over where she said her song choice. Huh? This is like an episode of “The Hills” all of a sudden!

9:16 pm – Yes! Felicia’s doing “No One,” which we know she can slay thanks to a YouTube video. Hope she can kill it tonight.

9:16 pm – I HAVE CHILLS! She’s singing it better than Alicia Keys ever did.

9:16 pm – Ouch, her voice just cracked.

9:17 pm – Ouch, the wheels are coming off. Another screechy note. A flat note.

9:18 pm – Strong ending! And her baby is the cutest! Best girl of the night so far, bum notes and all.

9:19 pm – The judges are happy she’s back. I’m happy she’s back with a hot new look. Forget Alex’s mom. Felicia is the new MILF of the night. [Cat growl noise.]

9:21 pm – Scott “Blind Guy” Macintyre is doing “Mandolin Rain.” Very adult contemporary. My mom’s gonna love this guy. I was bored a little. I wish he could play the piano tonight.

9:23 pm – Randy is soft-balling him. I guess the judges are scared to dis a handicapped man.

9:24 pm – The judges are so patronizing. This is driving me nuts! Hopefully Simon speaks the truth.

9:25 pm – Simon wasn’t crazy about the song.

9:25 pm – Annnnd now he’s pimping him hardcore. “You’re growing on me!”

9:26 pm – Scott cracked a joke about Seacrest’s failed high five from the audition episode. This guy’s growing on me, too.

9:31 pm – Kendall Beard is the resident country girl. She’s doing “This One’s For The Girls” by Martina McBride. OMG her dad does an “alligator dance” when she gets through. I wanna see that live! Don’t fail me, Seacrest!

9:33 pm – Kendall Beard = Kristin Chenowith.

9:33 pm – Did she just sing “Yeah, we’re all semen sides?” Huh??

9:34 pm – Oh, it’s “we’re all the same inside.” In her interview package, she said everyone can relate to this song. Count me as one who does not relate.

9:34 pm – Wait, is Kendall’s mom wearing the same microwavable space jacket that Jasmine Murray wore last weeK? I think so!

9:35 pm – Kara was iffy, but liked her personality. Paula liked her outfit, (and then coldly said, “I hope you had fun tonight…”), and Simon is saying she’s going through because she’s singing a country song. Let’s call it the Kristy Lee/Bucky Covington/Josh Gracin effect.

9:40 pm – These commercial breaks are brutal!

9:42 pm – Jorge Nunez is singing Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” really well. The judges have given him crap for singing with an accent (the horror!) but he’s doing a great job.

9:43 pm – Insensitive lyric alert: “…closed the door and left me blind.” Whoops!

9:44 pm – Great glory note. So Marc Anthony.

9:45 pm – Simon is apologizing for complaining about the accent. Well done, Simon!

9:45 pm – D’oh! He just called him a “Spanish” artist. Technically, Puerto Rico isn’t Spain. So…Simon’s racist again.

9:45 pm – And now I get to be insensitive: what’s with Jorge’s wonk eye? He’s got a Thom Yorke thing going on. Is it a glass eye? I love that!

9:47 pm – Bold prediction: After that charming post-performance interview en espanol, strong vocal showing, and judges major pimpage ,Jorge Nunez is totally going to win “American Idol.”

9:50 pm – Last but not least, Lil Rounds! Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You” for the children. Cute.

9:52 pm – She’s got the same problem that Anoop had in week one: she picked a song where she let’s the background singers sing the hook.

9:53 pm – She changed the lyrics! “Call this show if you can’t be without me baby!” I LOVE HER!! Yesss, Lil Rounds! That woke me up!

9:54 pm – Simon called her brilliant despite a poor song choice. Randy loved her swagger. Kara said “blah blah blah.” And Paula said “bleep bloop blop.”

9:55 pm – Let’s hear it for Lil Rounds’ fabulous flattering dress.

9:56 pm – Phone numbers time! Von “Muggy” Smith, Taylor “ZZZ” Vaifanua, Alex “Related to Paula Wagner?” Wagner-Trugman, Arianna “Pierce” Afsar, Ju’not “Au Jus” Joyner, Kristen “Karaoke” McNamara, Nathaniel “Noriega” Marshall, Felicia “HOT!” Barton, Scott “Phil Spector Fright Wig” MacIntyre (shout out to Tim Kash for texting that to me), Kendall “Country” Beard, Jorge “Sacapuntas” Nunez, Lil “Big” Rounds. Dial carefully! 866 numbers, not 800 numbers. And we’re out!

I wanna know what YOU all thought of tonight’s final twelve performers? Who made you grab the phone and dial? Is Alex Wagner-Trugman the Jon Peter Lewis of Season Eight? Does Jorge’s accent (or eye) bother you? And were you as proud of Paula as I was when she kept remembering all the contestant’s Hollywood Week performances? She’s part elephant, I say!

Hit me up in the comments. I love reading them all, even the spammy ones! (But I will NOT go to www.wehateidol.com no matter how many times you post it “neoknows!”) As always, my favorite comment will get a shout-out in next week’s Tuesday night blog. I’ll see you all Friday morning with a super-duper “Idol in 60 Seconds” which will recap tonight’s performances, tomorrow’s results show AND Thursday night’s secretive Wild Card bonanza. That’s a lot of words to say in only a minute. Better start warming up my face muscles. I’ll just imitate Von Smith for an hour. That should help.

Thanks for reading and watching with me!