Wednesday, February 23, 2011

'American Idol 10' - What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas

Last week, 'Idol' narrowed the field down to 61 contestants who will now travel to Las Vegas and perform Beatles' songs. By the end of the first hour, 61 will have become 40, and then the first part the "green mile" episode will begin. For those of you uninitiated in 'Idol' lingo, the "green mile" or "chairs" episode is the one where the semi-finalists (24 this year are named).

If you've been paying attention to the spoilers, none of this will come as any big surprise. But let's pretend for a moment that we know nothing, and relax and enjoy the show!

We watch as the contestants travel to Vegas on buses. They divided themselves into duos and trios. Ryan tells us that one-third of them will be cut. After they arrive (10 a.m.), the weary travelers begin rehearsals. New vocal coach, Peggy Blu, tells them "this is a gig."  Ken Stacy is stuck working with Lauren and Scotty's group.

Of course, everyone is overwhelmed. Katharine McPhee's mother is one of the vocal coaches. Peggy Blu turns out to be a real drill sergeant. She tells Thia Megia that she's going to be watching in her bed, croaking. She even cusses. What a meanie.

Some of these contestants tell us they've never heard a Beatles' song in their lives. Shame on you Jacob Lusk. New music adviser, Jimmy Iovine is on hand to school them. Lauren's group is advised to find another song. Jimmy tells another group they're not looking for wedding or karaoke singers. All the contestants cry.

They get a break to see the show, The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil.

It's now morning and the groups are on stage to iron out the kinks. Ryan explains the 61 remaining contestants will sing for an audience. Steven tells us Beatles land is where he lives. 

James Durbin and Stefano Langone sing "Get Back." Lots of screaming and melisma as expected. But the crowd likes it, and more important, the judges like it. Karen Rodriguez and Pia Toscano are high school friends. They were in a group together and say they were inseparable. How bizarre. They sing "Can't Buy Me Love."  Their harmonies are decent and they sure seem comfortable on the stage. JLo, whose lipstick is waaay too red and distracting, says she feels like they get it.

Naimi Adedapo, Jacob Lusk, and Hayley Reinhart are singing "Long and Winding Road."  Their voices don't blend very well. Jacob oversings and Naimi gets a bit out of control. Hayley is the best of the group. Jacob really reminds me of George Huff. JLo says, "Very, very nice." She seems gleeful. Maybe it's because her lipstick has faded a bit. Steven is ebullient. Randy tells Jacob never to hold back. Stupid Jacob says he never sang a Beatles' song and tried to hold back. Randy says, "Do you."

We see clips of Rachel Zevita ("Eleanor Rigby) and Lauren Turner ("Let it Be"). Tim Halperin and Julie Zorrilla duet on piano and sing "Something." This is actually rather amazing.

We go to break with Ryan promising more great performances and the most emotional 'Idol' elimination ever. I bet I know who.

Lakeisha Lewis, Tatanysha Wilson, and Jerome Bell do "I Saw Her Standing There." A little off-key, but certainly energetic. JLo thinks Lakeisha is holding back and isn't impressed by Tatanysha. Steven says he thinks they nailed it.

Paul McDonald and Kendra Chantelle sing "Blackbird." Kendra has a sweet voice. Paul, who's had some vocal problems, has nice intonation. Their harmonies are lovely. Nice job. JLo loves it. She got goose bumps. Steven likes that Paul's voice is different. Randy loves their choices with the harmonies.

We get some clips of a few more groups, probably all fodder since none of their names are posted.

Here's crazy Ashley. She's getting married? Today? No kidding! We see her trying to find a dress for her wedding. She chooses a white pleather top and black pants They are getting married at the chapel where Brittany Spears got married. Dave the camera guy is their witness. No shit. That's a first.

It's Day 2 of the Vegas round. First up are Thia Megia an Melinda Ademi sing "Here Comes the Sun." Despite the warnings of mean vocal coach Peggy Blu, they do pretty well. Randy says Melinda started shaky and Thia found a way to keep the phrasing consistent. Steven says Melinda was behind in her phrasing and Thia's performance was "just okay" for him.

Ashley Sullivan and Sophia Shorai chat with Ryan. Of course they have to talk about her wedding. They are singing "We Can Work it Out." They both sound the same. Kind of nasally. Steven says this wasn't their strongest performance. He doesn't think Ashley sang it very well. "It was not hot" for Randy.

Lauren Alaina, Denise Wilson, and Scotty McCreery sing "Hello, Goodbye." They do a little acting with an old phone booth. Denise is awesome. Not buying Scotty. Lauren, just okay for me. JLo doesn't think the song was good for any of them. Randy says it was funny and entertaining, but not a "singer's dream."

Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley go slightly berserk on “Please Please Me.”

Casey Abrams and Chris Medina camp it up on “Hard Days Night." Steven calls them “Freaks.” That was not good.

After the break Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders, and Jordan Dorsey do "Get You Into My Life." They put a little R&B spin on it and it works really, really well. Randy says it wasn't Jordan's best. JLo was surprised by Aaron, but has high expectations of Jordan. Steven is impressed by Robbie.

The performances are over and the stage is clear. "Brutal cuts must be made," says Ryan. Magically, the contestants reappear and give themselves a hand. The judges call people forward - Thia, Scotty, Jordan, Ashton, Robbie, and Lauren all step forward. Randy say this is the hardest. The front seven are through. Who's in the back?

We say goodbye to Molly the White House intern, Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley. The cuts keep on coming. The journey ends for Denise, Ashley, and Melinda. Ashley says, "I've been to 'American Idol.' That's sick!" Farewell Ashley.

The contestants have cause to celebrate, but not for long. The remaining 40 must sing one more time and then it's' the "green mile."

We get another cold intro. Weird. It's like they're starting the show all over again, theme song and all. The final 40 are performing in some kind of hangar. The "green mile" is illuminated with circles of light. Ryan says the cuts will be very difficult. "The final judgment starts now."

First up, Naima Adedapo. We see her initial audition footage where she was cleaning a stadium and dreamed of performing there. In her final performance, she sang "Put Your Records On." I am totally reminded of Lauryn Hill. Naima approaches the judges. She dressed in sequins with a flower in her hair. She's crying already. JLo says she hasn't been consistent. Steven torments her a bit. "I'm sorry I have to say..." and she's made it to the Top 24. She tells JLo when she was younger she used to was 'In Living Color' and wanted to be a Fly Girl. The judges say she deserves a shot.

As we go to break, Ryan teases us saying not everyone can make it. Once again we see JLo sobbing and saying, "I don't want to do this anymore." Will they show us who causes this meltdown or will we have to wait until Thursday? I bet they'll keep us hanging.

Back from the break, we see the remaining 39 waiting for their fates to be decided. Hollie Cavanaugh is next. 'Memba how she cried during her audition? She takes the long walk. For her final audition, she sings "No One." I'm not wild about her voice. She also has a strange way of talking.

The judges remind her of how far she's come. JLo says Hollie was a standout during Hollywood week. Hollie is thankful. But will she make it? JLo thinks she isn't ready. She thinks she needs to grow a little. Awww, poor Hollie. Randy tells her to come back and try again. Can they do that if they were in the Top 40? Steven says he doesn't think he can do this anymore.

Lakeisha Lewis is cut as is Alex Ryan. Alex says the toughest part will be watching the show and seeing all the people he became friends with. Clint Jun Gamboa is overwhelmed. But he doesn't have much time to mourn, because he's up next. Of course we have to rehash his kicking Jacee out of their group. He sings "Hello." I don't like this guy at all. I want him gone. He tells the judges he's heartbroken over Lakeisha. Randy asks him about the group thing again. Clint blabbers. The decision is... Clint's in! Boo. Clint celebrates with him family. Jacee claps halfheartedly.

Returning contestant Hayley Reinhart takes the long walk. She was devastated when she didn't make it last year. She stumbled on the group song, but turned it up for her solo performance. I can't wait for the stylist to ruin her pretty curls. We see her scream her way through her final performance. Her singing is gonna get old real fast.

Hayley tells the judges it's been extraordinary so far. Steven reminds her she tried out before. She thinks she's grown a lot in the past year. Steven is afraid to says that she's a yes! It takes a minute for the news to register. She won't make the Top 12, I predict.

Deandre Brackensick is next. He did great during group night, but his solo performances weren't memorable. He plays a ukulele for his final performance. Eerie Jason Castro flashbacks. He looks like a girl - a pretty girl, but a girl nonetheless. He says there were times he didn't show his best. Randy warns that it's about being consistent. It's the end of Deandre's journey. Randy wants him to continue and come back. JLo thinks he could be a recording artist. So why not keep him, then? JLO won't shut up. "You have a magic little voice," she says. "I hate letting him go," she finishes. "Somewhere over the Rainbow" is playing in the background. Deandre says, "Next year I'm gonna bring it." I think we'll see him again.

Will Chris Medina make it? What about James Durbin? And who is causing JLo to weep? This is when I wish I hadn't read the spoilers?

Paul McDonald (another Birmingham native) is next. White Guy With Guitar. He can't win. He sang an original song for his final audition and wore an embroidered white jacket with matching jeans. Ugh. JLo remembers Paul's first audition and wondering where he will fit in. Randy reminds us he's been there for ten seasons. "American Idol material is anybody great, unique, with talent." He and Steven like Paul's quirkiness. He's makes it through. He doesn't seem all that excited.

Ashton Jones takes the long walk. She sang "I Want to Dance with You" for her last shot. She's about to cry. She's excited to see the judges again. She's crying and giggling. JLo has had her eye on Ashton from the beginning and says she's been consistent. They have wondered if she can handle the pressure. JLo says they want to find the "whole package." She feels they've found it in Ashton. She makes the cut. She seems more stunned than excited. She cries with her mother and fakes her completely out.

We return from the break and get a little video recap of the action so far. Chris Medina is up next. He says he's scared. He says he did more than he though he was capable of. We see Juliana again. His last audition is "Stuck in Reverse." Chris has his hair pulled back in a ponytail. He tells them Juliana is more popular than he is and that the best moment of her life was meeting the judges. JLo says that moment was a blessing and a moment that she'll always remember. She praises Chris. But, at the end of the day, it's about singing. She doesn't want to draw this out. She says he had some good and bad moments. There are only 24 slots and it breaks her heart to tell him he didn't make it into the Top 24.

Chris takes it well. Better than Jennifer, who cries and sobs, and doesn't think she told him the right way. Steven and Randy console her and assure he she did it the right way. I mean, she's really crying hard. Meanwhile, we see Chris get in the limo and wave goodbye.

Thursday, the slaughter will continue. Can you stand it?

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