We’re Live-Blogging The Top 13 ‘American Idol’ Performances!

Jim Cantiello

Before we get to tonight’s “American Idol” live-blog recap, I just want to say that I feel sorry for “Idol’s” producers. They just didn’t know what they were getting into with this Top 13 business, did they? Apparently, the “Idol-13″ phone number actually leads to a phone sex line. (HA! I didn’t even know those existed anymore!) And the dude who is in charge of putting all the phone numbers up on the screen now has an entirely new number to worry about. Here’s hoping he doesn’t put up the wrong number…again.

The other challenge is finding a theme that will be strong enough for 13 singers! Last year, we kicked off the finals with The Beatles, and now, “Idol” is beginning the competition with Michael Jackson. If someone sings the MJ/Macca collabo “Say Say Say,” my mind will officially be blown.

But MJ is an odd choice, no? (And I’m not even talking about those allegations, or that baby dangling incident, or, you know, EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THAT DUDE BESIDES HIS MUSIC).
Just three weeks ago, the judges ripped apart semi-finalist Stephen Fowler for singing a Michael Jackson tune, so now producers decided it would be a good idea to let all 13 finalists do their worst? Okay…

But the more I think of it, the more I’m happy with their choice. In my crystal ball, I see Michael Sarver grabbing his crotch, Adam Lambert non-ironically shrieking “Sha’Mon!” and Scott attempting to moonwalk. Those all sound like bad things, right? Yes, but those disasters would be good for my girl Megan Joy (formerly Megan Corkrey), which will help her to victory.

Before I start going on and on about her lovely tats, let’s ease on down the live-blog.

7:55 pm – Anyone miss last week’s “Idol?” No worries! Catch up real quick with my “Idol in 60 Seconds” recaps by clicking here.

7:58 pm – There’s a talking monkey on an AXA Equitable commercial. It makes me miss Bubbles. (Is Bubbles still with us?)

8:00 pm – EXTREME ZOOM IN on Seacrest above all the contestants. This is so Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

8:01 pm – There’s a weird voice of God announcer introducing all the judges (Paula loves feathers!) and Seacrest, who stepped down a magical staircase. This is blowing my mind.

8:03 pm – Remember that old tale about the woman who had a ribbon around her neck? And then her husband finally untied the ribbon and her head fell off? Kara DioGuardi is that woman tonight.

8:04 pm – Paula Abdul’s advice to the contestants: “Don’t let the stage consume you…the way this wackadoodle feather ensemble is swallowing my upper torso and neck.”

8:04 pm – Justin Guarini alert! He’s sitting behind Simon, just barely making it onto the frame. (I knew this HD TV would come in handy while live-blogging “Idol!”)

8:04 pm – The contestants’ entrances are mad awkward. They’re each standing at the bottom of the stairs, and waiting for their names to wave. Out of 13 contestants, not one of them did this gracefully. Can’t wait for the group number tomorrow night!

8:05 pm – SAY WHAAAAAT??? Simon Cowell: “Two of you will be going home tomorrow.” Well, that makes the whole Top 13 stunt feel pointless, doesn’t it?

8:06 pm – It’s Michael Jackson night! $50 says they make no mention of his pajama perp walk in the taped package about his career.

8:07 pm – Lil Rounds is up first. (That’s rough!) She’s a tornado survivor. Eek! I thought these sob stories were going to end after the audition episodes!

8:08 pm – Lil Rounds is singing “The Way You Make Me Feel.” She makes me feel very, very happy. Her white pants, however, make me feel uncomfortable. (Is that a diaper?!)

8:10 pm – Great way to kick it off! I loved it! Not karaoke in the least bit. Sassy, fresh, original.

8:11 pm – Paula is talking about the palette of Lil’s outfit. So….with Kara on the panel, I guess Paula feels like she’s the fashion expert now?

8:12 pm – Simon didn’t like the first half and hates her clothing. When asked by Seacrest what he’d rather see her in, Simon quips, “Give me five minutes with Lil and I’ll sort you out.” Does “American Idol” have a Human Resource department? ‘Cause if so, they’re about to have a sexual harassment suit on their hands.

8:13 pm – Scott’s coming up after the break. And he’s, uh, randomly backstage singing to himself. It’s soooo “St. Elsewhere” finale.

8:17 pm – Scott MacIntyre is up next. His sister is a visually impaired singer, too. See you in Season 10, girl!

8:18 pm – He’s singing (and playing piano) on “Keep The Faith.” Although this crappy song sounds a lot like “Butterfly Kisses.”

8:20 pm – His falsetto is a nice unexpected surprise. Doesn’t help the fact that this song *might* be the lamest song ever written in the history of music. (And that includes Katharine McPhee’s “Open Toes.” If you haven’t downloaded that song already, do it at once.)

8:21 pm – And the pimping begins. Kara: “Scott, did you just learn that on piano this week?” COME ON!

8:22 pm – At what point do you think the judges are going to stop walking on egg-shells around this mediocre singer? Anyone else find it insulting? Paula just pointed out that the songwriter is in the audience. Quick, audience! Throw tomatoes at her!!

8:22 pm – Wait a second! Apparently, the songwriter is Elisabeth Hasselbeck?! Quick, audience! Throw tomatoes at her!

8:22 pm – Simon and Randy are hating on the song. Thank you, gentleman.

8:23 pm – Paula swears that this song is the best-selling single in Norway. This is sad.

8:24 pm – Danny and Michael are waiting in the wings. Sample conversation. “Hey, man. Did you know my wife died?” “Were you talking to me? I’m sorry. I was too busy thinking about being a rough neck.” These contestants only talk in back-stories, right?

8:28 pm – Danny Gokey grew up in Wisconsin with, apparently, 75 siblings.

8:29 pm – Danny’s singing “PYT (Pretty Young Thing),” perhaps the most unfortunate song in Michael’s catalogue, given his alleged proclivities.

8:30 pm – More unfortunate? Danny’s part-Riverdance, part-James-Brown, part-Taylor Hicks dance moves.

8:31 pm – Woah! That was the definition of HOT MESS. He just shouted the entire song, half of it was sharp.

8:32 pm – Simon thought his vocals were brilliant. Hell to the no. But he didn’t like his dance moves. I didn’t like any of it. From the schmaltzy slow-down opening, to the pandering to the judges in a call-and-response, I thought this was l-a-m-e lame.

8:35 pm – Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Michael Sarver is back in Jasper, Texas. Tonight he’s singing “You Are Not Alone.”

8:36 pm – Michael Sarver = This Season’s Josh Gracin. The background video monitor shows red curtains behind him. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll be curtains anytime soon for this dude. Worst part of the Recession? Michael Sarver’s inevitable durability.

8:38 pm – The judges are now convinced that he can sing. He can. I’m being hard on him. He hit some dang big notes.

8:39 pm – Okay, for real, how is Paula’s feather blouse not tickling her neck? That looks so itchy!! (Side note: her face looks extra taut tonight. Just sayin’.)

8:44 pm – Whoops! Our first real snafu of the night. Seacrest is looking in the room camera, resulting in a weird 2-shot that makes it look like Seacrest is blatantly snubbing Jasmine Murray. HA! Our first Coke “Real” Moment is about the “Glam Squad!” Shopping is fun!

8:45 pm – Jasmine is a Memphis girl. Ooooh, I LOVE Jasmine’s mom. She has all the personality that Jasmine lacks.

8:46 pm – Jasmine’s tackling “I’ll Be There.” Fail.

8:47 pm – AHHH! The new stage in front of the judges is actually a giant monitor. So Jasmine is stepping on her own face! Is David Cronenberg producing “Idol” now?

8:48 pm – The judges are surprised by how she somehow pulled it off. Except Paula, who called out her “under” notes. If Paula says you’re out of tune, you’re out of tune.

8:50 pm – Allison and Kris are up next, and they just did an adorable little schtick going to commercial, a la Blake Lewis back in Season Six. I love that! In 4 seconds, they just told a complete story! Kris and Allison arm wrestle. Kris becomes distracted by the camera. Allison takes advantage by using her other arm to win the arm wrestling match. Hey guys, if “Idol” doesn’t work out for you, you should get a job on Madison Avenue in an advertising agency. That was impressive!

8:54 pm – Weeee! A new show about a glee club? From Ryan Murphy? Heaven!!

8:55 pm – Kris Allen is from a small town in Arkansas. His first on-screen appearance prompts every little girl in the audience to shriek. Sorry ladies, he’s a newlywed! Complete with matching aprons!

8:56 pm – Kris is rocking out to “Remember The Time” with a guitar. This is fantastic! Somehow he’s doing a Janet Jackson “Nasty Boy” neck-snap move while dancing like Dave Matthews. Impressive!

8:58 pm – Simon Cowell: “I wouldn’t have brought out the wife so early.” Simon is evil. I love it. he is the epitome of smarmy music industry exec. (OMG and he’s sexually harassing Paula now. HR!)

9:01 pm – Allison’s parents are El Salvadorian. Her father is a camera-man for Lars von Trier movies.

9:02 pm – Allison is singing “Give Into Me.” Do you think Slash is watching?

9:04 pm – I’m not so sure I liked that. Lots of shouting, a very tuneless song. I’m totally confused. Oh no! But the audience gave her a standing ovation. So maybe it played better in the room.

9:05 pm – Allison, to Simon’s “lighten up” comment: “I’m not dark! I’m not, like, cutting myself.” Kids say the darndest things! I will never tire of Allison’s psychotic interviews.

9:07 pm – “Anoop Dawg” is after the break, and he’s doing the “Thriller” dance as we go to break. Foreshadowing?

9:11 pm – Second Coke Real Moment of the night! This time, it’s Anoop. It’s Real, alright. Real boring. (Rimshot! Showbiz!)

9:12 pm – Adorable Indian Parents alert!

9:13 pm – Anoop isn’t doing “Thriller.” Instead it’s “Beat It.” There’s a lot of nostril flaring.

9:14 pm – Squawky note. Whoops! Gah, I really like Anoop, but these last two performances have been drunken frat boy karaoke to me.

9:15 pm – Paula hated it. Simon called it stupid. This isn’t going well.

9:17 pm – Simon says he regrets bringing Anoop on as the thirteenth contestant. Harsh! It wasn’t that bad!!

9:18 pm – Commercial break rant: COME ON ANOOP! You need to step it up, bro! It feels like you’re coasting on the fact that you’re name is fun to say. I hope you make it into the bottom three, only because I think it will be a much-needed wake-up call. You’re not as adorable and untouchable as you think.

9:20 pm – If John Holmes was still alive, do you think he’d be the spokesperson for Subway’s $5 Foot Long campaign?

9:22 pm – Jorge Nunez is singing “Never Gonna Say Goodbye.” It’s a shame Paul Simon’s “The Caveman” closed on Broadway, because Jorge would be perfect in the lead role.

9:24 pm – I will have Jorge’s “no no no, no no no, no no no’s” in my head for the next 24 hours.

9:24 pm – Stop the presses, I am agreeing with Randy Jackson. The song was old fashioned and he was a little flat. Kara wishes he picked a more emotional song.

9:26 pm – Jorge, on his song choice: “I’m not gonna sing ‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson!” Simon Cowell: “Well, you sort of did.” Well said, Simon. You beat me to the punch.

9:27 pm – After the break, my future girlfriend and my arch nemesis! Megan Joy Corkrey and Adam Lambert. Appropriate that Megan and Adam are in makeup chairs. Adam has on twice the foundation.

9:31 pm – Coke moment with my future girlfriend Megan Joy Corkrey! Her brother, CJ, sitting in the audience, turned 21 today. He is so wasted right now.

9:32 pm – Megan used to wear a lot of eyeliner. I’m glad she ditched that trend. And she misses her adorable little baby boy. Awww!

9:33 pm – Megan is singin’ “Rockin’ Robin!” This is the cutest thing I’ve ever witnessed. She needs to work on looking in the cameras, though. Her vocals were the best they’ve been yet!

9:34 pm – Yikes! She just ended the song with a “Caw! Caw!”

9:35 pm – Kara and Paula want her to do more. Simon thought the performance was “clumsy and awkward.”

9:36 pm – And now Gordon Ramsey is in the audience judging. We can’t hear what he said but luckily I’m an expert lip-reader. He said, “Beef wellington! Donkey! Risotto! Shut it down!”

9:37 pm – Adam Lambert is a struggling singer in Hollywood. His parents names are Leila and Eber. Wait, Jose Eber is married?

9:38 pm – Adam’s singing “Black And White.” If he was in that music video at the end when all the faces are morphing together, he would probably fall in between Tyra Banks and that Asian dude with the middle part.

9:39 pm – I don’t hate this! Neither does Paula, who is seen standing with her mouth wide open. She looks as stable as a Jenga tower. Don’t fall over, girl! Or if you do, please do it while the camera is on you!

9:40 pm – Paula’s head is exploding. Allow me to transcribe. “ADAM! TAKE IT! TAKE IT ALL IN! WOW! HUH! Okay, alright, Adam. I’m gonna say this and this, this is my opinion. Never in the history of “American Idol,” all seven seasons leading up to now [holding back sobs, clutching her throat] have we ever, and I believe this truthfully, ever seen somebody so co- [gasping for air] comfortable, seasoned on that stage, I don’t even notice the stage because my eyes are transfixed on you! Your innate, your in, your innate ability to know who you are as an artist and marry fashion and music as we do that, you got the whole package going on. ANNND I believe with all my heart that we’ll be seeing you running [does a running hand gesture with her fingers] all the way to the finals.”

9:41 pm – Okay, Adam Lambert did a pretty spectacular job tonight, don’t get me wrong. But I still don’t think of him as a “current” artist. As EW’s Michael Slezak said, his vocals are more reminiscent of Kip Winger than, say, Chris Martin or Chad Kroeger.

9:42 pm – Kara hopes that Michael Jackson is watching tonight. I hate to break it to you, Kara, but on Tuesday nights, the leopard gets to control the remote at NeverLand, and he’s a diehard “Mentalist” fan.

9:48 pm – Matt Giraud is from Kalamazoo, and he has the most normal home life ever. Ping pong with dad, proud mom. Snoozeville!

9:49 pm – Matt’s performing “Human Nature” on piano. Paula is looking into the audience. Does that mean she’s bored? Or was she just distracted by a shiny object?

9:50 pm – I think Matt’s much more contemporary than Adam Lambert. This song is a big ol’ pile of goo, but he did his thing. If he was earlier in the night, he’d be in jeopardy, but in the twelfth spot, he’s safe. Nice job, Matt! You have atoned for your Coldplay disaster in Week 1.

9:56 pm – Alexis Grace’s daughter is cute. OMG, how amazing would it be if Megan’s Ryder eventually married Alexis’ Ryan?” “Idol” baby alert!

9:57 pm – Alexis is singing “Dirty Diana,” the ode to a fame-hungry slut. Although on the “Idol” stage, every time I hear Alexis sing “Diana,” I picture Diana DeGarmo. It’s off-putting.

9:58 pm – Alexis is killing it! There’s nuance and subtlety amidst the belting and shouting.

9:59 pm – The judges say “Attitude: 10, Vocals: 7.”

10:00 pm – Her phone number is “IDOLS 36.” Egads, the thought of a 36-contestant-long episode is making me break into cold-sweats. What would that be, 10 hours long? That’s a lot of melisma.

10:01 pm – Seacrest and Cowell are talking about a dramatic “change in the rules” in tomorrow night’s results show. I don’t like the sound of that. I bet they’re going to pull an “America’s Best Dance Crew,” and there will be a bottom three, and then the judges will pick the eliminated contestant. “So You Think You Can Dance” does that at the beginning of their season, too. Oooh, you think the “Sing For Your Life” thing will return? Here’s hoping!

10:04 pm – And that’s a wrap. Watching back everyone’s performance snippets during the “phone number montage” has me feeling like our Top 13 fell a little flat tonight. Kris Allen looked like he had the the 11am spot at Lollapalooza, Allison and Alexis sounded out of tune and shouty, Scott, Michael, Matt and Jorge all blended into each other, Anoop sounded better than I remembered and Jasmine sounded worse than I remembered. Hmmm. All in all, I think Lil Rounds and Megan brought me the most joy tonight.

So what did you think? Are you happy with the Top 13? What do you think Felicia or Ricky would have done if they were given the big stage? Did you think Megan’s goofy performance was charming or absurd? And are you totally freaked out by “Idol” changing the rules on us?? (Bonus question: well, for fear of being sued, all I will ask is Paula Abdul?! I think you can assume what I’m asking.)

HIT ME UP IN THE COMMENTS! My favorite commenter will get a shout out in next week’s live-blog, just like MTV.COM user serusek, who wrote last week, “Was I the only one who got nervous when Scott rose from his chair to really start performing? I bet some stage hand was sighing with relief that he put the stool so far back. Way to take chances Scott!” I’m glad that I’m not the only jackass out there making jokes about the handicapped. Thanks serusek! Much love.

See you all Thursday morning with a brand new “Idol in 60 Seconds,” and keep watching MTV Detox! New episodes premiere every night (Sunday – Thursday) at 11pm at http://detox.mtv.com.