Thursday, March 31, 2005

Jessica, we barely knew thee . . .

So Jessica's gone.

It's not a surprise, really, but it's too bad because there are worse vocalists in the competition. So why was Jessica voted off?

She had a week performance this weak, but so did some other people who weren't in any danger (Scott, Anthony) and some people we usually expect strong performances from (Anwar, Bo).

My theory is this: Jessica is gone because she didn't get any TV time. I hate to keep harping on this, but consider: All of the people who received no TV time during the auditions/Hollywood phase of the competition are gone. Judd, Jared, Aloha, Celena, Melinda, Joseph and now Jessica have all been eliminated.

When Simon told Jessica that she lacked the "likeability" factor, it was because she was passed over by the American Idol producers and not exposed to the audience as were some other contestants who are vocally inferior, but were given some TV air time (Anthony, Nikko). There are people who are less likeable still in the competition, but they're still around because they were able to build a fan base going into the semi-finals.

As far as the other contestant in the bottom 3, Nadia and Anwar, both were surprises. Anwar had an off night, but I expected his fanbase to come out and support him anyway. Nadia had a good performance; she is not the strongest vocalist, but she commands the stage and she is more of a rocker than FRC.

This competition is deeper than any year before and we saw last year how influential the powervoters are. That means that even the most minor slip-up can cost someone votes and that after someone is elminated, the remaining contestants need to scramble to get their votes, which may prove difficult for some contestants who are very stylised performers (Anthony, Nikko).

For this week, the big beneficiary is Carrie, who is going to pick up the bulk of the Jessica voters (not that CMG needs any help right now). I think the big loser is Nikko who won't pick up many of Jessica's voters, but after being eliminated once, his own powervoters have shown up in force.

So after this week, here's how everyone is doing:

↑ CMG, Vonzell, FRC

↔ Anthony, Nikko

↓ Nadia, Anwar, Bo, Scott

Out: Jessica

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Top 10

I've got my mother watching American Idol now. It's kind of scary.

The Good

Carrie, Vonzell

These two girls blew everyone away. Carrie got to show off her voice and picked The Perfect Song. If you didn't rate her a 10 out of 10, you're insane.

At first I thought Vonzell was going to self-destruct because she violated the cardinal American Idol rule, "Thou shall not sing a Whitney, Celine or Mariah song unless you are Whitney, Celine or Mariah". Thankfully, she not only didn't sound horrible, she sounded about 80% as good as Whitney.

Vonzell needed this night because she has been largely unremarkable and Carrie only increased her lead over the other girls.

The Bad

Most of the folks were between good and very good. Nadia was at the top of the second tier, not because of her vocals but because she turned in a good rockin' performance. In fact, she rocks more than the faux-rocker Constantine (henceforth to be known as "FRC").

Bo and Anwar were also okay, which means they underachieved. For the first time, Anwar was out of tune and Bo was overpowered by the band. I wonder if it's the way Fox mixed the sound because other people sounded like the music was too loud, too.

FRC was also okay, although if he is going to have the rocker image, he need to pick "rocker" songs, not chick songs, which is what he has picked so far. It's going to get him far in the competition because he's a good performer and it's going to get tween girls to vote for him, but it only makes him look like a poser.

Nikko was also good, but his problem is that it was very much in character. His song choices are very predictable, which makes him sound basically the same week to week. I think he's flirting with the bottom three.

The Ugly

Jessica, who can't afford an off night, had an off night. She sounded over matched by the band and her song choice was too passive. The thing is this: she can rock. She should rock. But she picked a soft song, didn't sound in tune and it's going to hurt her.

Anthony also picked a bad song. He looked and sounded like he was trying to be Clay. He needs to not try to be Clay because the Claymates (who are watching this year, too) are lambasting him for it. He's been good the past few weeks, but last night was not great.

Scott, Scott, Scott. Private Pyle is another one who can't afford a bad performance, but he was horrible. The song choice was bad, the singing was bad, the performance was bad.

I think the bottom three this week will be Anthony, Jessica and Scott with either Scott or Jessica going home.

One thing I have to keep telling myself is that while some people are clearly better than others this year, as a group, everyone of these folks could have been in the top 5 of years past. Even the 10th place finisher is better than JPL, Camile or John Stevens from last year. So everyone had a good performance, but this year, "good" won't cut it, "excellent" is needed.

Friday, March 25, 2005

She's gone!!!!!!

Thank Gawd!

With Lindsey and Annoying Prom Girl gone, that leaves us with a field of ten that is actually pretty good, and deeper top to bottom than any 10 before.

There are still some clear favourites, so let me sumarize who's left.

Who's Not Going to Win

Anthony, Nikko, Scott

All these guys are good, but none are outstanding. Despite his pipes, Private Pyle has an image problem. Anthony reminds people too much of Clay (which works both for and against him), his vocals are not as strong as some others and he is only a mediocre performer. The once-elminated Nikko has a very narrow range, and while he's winning votes as he's melting Paula's heart, won't make it more than another 6 weeks.

Who's In Play

Constantine, Jessica, Nadia, Vonzell

At the beginning of season 2, with Frenchie Davis being asked to leave before the top 12 began, everyone knew that either Clay or Rueben was going to win. It was only a strong showing by Kimberly Locke at the end of the competition that even made a game of it. One of these folks could fill that role again this year.

Constantine has a following of girls who think he's cute, but there are also a lot of folks who think he's annoying and patronising, and that his "rocker" image is completely contrived. C'mon, picking "I think I Love You" and "You Make Me So Happy" win scores of chick votes, but do nothing to endear him to the "real" rockers.

Jessica has a strong voice but her appearing in the bottom 3 last week will hurt her a little and she has not had the TV time others have had. At this point, she has her own fan base, but it is put her behind others like Vonzell and Carrie.

I like Nadia, but she needs to pick better songs that are more familiar to people. She definitely has her own groove, but her stock is droppig.

Vonzell has had plenty of TV time, but she hasn't blown anyone away. As opposed to Kimberly Locke, Vonzell is more like Jasmine Trias, who hung around to the top 3 instead of charging into it.

Any of these four could make a charge at the winning spot, but they have lots of ground to make up against the next three contestants.

The Front Runners

Anwar, Bo, Carrie

Barring a major stumble, in my opinion one of these three is going to win. At one point Simon told Bo, "This is your competition to lose" and this week Simon predicted that Carrie would win. Simon is usually right (but remember he did pick Carmen Rasmussen as his wild card in Season 2), so that gives those two a leg up on everyone else.

Bo is the most seasoned performer of the contestants, which is a tremendous advantage especially compared to people who have looked nervous on stage (Anthony). Carrie has the most powerful voice, something we just got to see this week. She also has a tremendous amount of control over that voice.

To me, Anwar took a hit this week by picking a bad song, but he's still going strong. It was out of the box for him, but it didn't highlight how rich his voice is and just how much range and control he has. His technique is the most polished of anyone, probably the result of being a music teacher. If he were a football team, Anwar would be the Patriots; he says all the right things, doesn't make a lot of mistakes and in order to beat him, one of the other contestants will have to really raise their game as opposed to waiting for him to slip up.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

11 to go (v2.0)

No surprises and I'm not changing any of my opinions after seeing people the second time around.

A buddy of mine said when he was watching on Tuesday that he had to cover his kid's eyes when Private Pyle was humping the microphone stand, so that jumped out at me in that "someone pass me a fork so I can stab my eyes out" way.

I also loved Mikalah's "My job is to annoy you" shirt.

Now if only we can send her home tonight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

11 to go

I must say that overall, the performances were much, much stronger (with one ghastly exception). Some people still underachieved, but the field is tightening up.

The Good



In opinion, the people who had the strongest nights were some people who have, until now, been underachievers. For the first time I liked Nikko, although he has yet to step out of character. He's doing a reasonably good job of making the most of his second chance, although I still don't think he's got a real shot at winning.

I also thought Constantine had his second good week in a row; at first I thought his song choice was horrible, but he turned it into a fairly original rendition. I also think he's the biggest "sell-out" of the competition. His last two songs are totally un-"rocker", but the girls like him, so he'll stay for a while longer.

Carrie was seriously representing with the 80s hair and she got to use her big voice for the first time. Next to Anwar, she has the most vocal control and could, if she really wants to, come close to pulling off a Celine, Mariah or Whitney song. It was also good to hear her without the country twang.

Bo was also good, although in a surprising way. I thought his song choice was odd, although considering the type of music he likes and his age, Jim Croce was a good choice to show the "kinder, gentler" Bo. His rendition was haunting and I liked it a lot. Plus, the facial cleanser and shampoo they're giving him is really working.

The Bad



A lot of folks were okay. Anwar was the biggest disappointment. I thought he seriously underachieved. With such a wide range of songs to choose from, he could have done soooooooooooooo much better. Still I don't think he's in danger of being eliminated, although with a few more yawners, he could be gone.

Nadia brought the big ugly mohawk that was very in character for a Cyndy Lauper song, although I though it would have gone better if she had sung say, Flock of Seagulls or Duran Duran. Her performance was very much over-the-top, something all of the judges told her, but you've got to give her props for representing the 80s, but unfortunately it wasn't 80s night.

Vonzell was also good, although not great, as was Jessica. Vonzell's problem is that she is overshadowed by Nadia's uncanny stage presence, Jessica's bad girl image and the power of Carrie's voice. She needs to start bringing it or she'll be gone in a couple of weeks.

Anthony and Private Pyle were both on the upper edge of good. I didn't care for either's song choice, although they did well. They have yet to separate themselves from the rest of the group.

The Ugly



Mikalah. Yech. Someone please put her out of my misery. Is her problem song choice? They're definitely coaching her to be less annoying, but they're putting us to sleep and they have yet to rid her of that annoying nasal accent. She was clearly the weakest performer of the night, so I can only hope "America" gets it right and sends her home tonight.

I think this year's field is definitely deeper than any other year, although they still have some people I don't care for, but everyone seems to be taking the competition seriously and bringing their game.

If I were picking the bottom 3, they would be Mikalah, Anwar and Nadia.

Please, please, please . . . let's eliminate Mikalah.

EDIT:

According to the American Idol website the wrong numbers were displayed at the end of the show, so they're re-broadcasting last night's performances again tonight and letting people vote again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Idol Contract

I found an interesting article about the contract American Idol contestants are forced to sign in order to be on the show. It calls the contract among the most restrictive of any in the industry.

On the one hand, American Idol gives folks an opportunity they would not have otherwise. On the other, though, does providing an opportunity give someone carte blanche on running the rest of someone's public life?

Please pull the plug

The bruhaha surrounding Terri Schaivo has brought everyone out of the woodwork. The Republicans are pandering to the fundy Christians. The supporters of individual rights are rallying behind Terri's husband Michael.

And people are filing living wills left and right so that if they are relying on life support machines with no hope of recovery, people who don't even know them don't try to keep them alive against their wishes.

I've been looking into filing my own living will, but in case I get hit by a bus between now and then, I'd like to state for the record (since Terri Schaivo left no written record of her wishes) that if I am ever needing to be hooked up to a life support machine and there is little or no chance of recovery, the plug is to be pulled on me. I will not live like that.

And if anyone tries keeping me alive, I swear that when I finally die, I will come back from beyond the grave and plague everyone who had a hand in extending my life unnecessarily, and if they are dead, I will haunt their children and their children's children.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sorry for the delays

I have been negligent in updating my blog because I've been out of town and just got back last night (in time to see Lindsey get eliminated).

American Idol was just teasing me last night.

Mikalah, bottom three. Yes!

Jessica, safe. Yes!

Mikalah. Safe

Dammit!!!!

I'm sure they could hear me down the street.

Nobody should be surprised Lindsey was eliminated. After a strong showing in the auditions, her performances have been consistently below average, better than say Travis or Janay, but she clearly lost something when put on stage next to people like Anwar and Carrie. She never really had a chance at winning, but to finish 12th isn't too shabby.

Of the Wednesday performances, as much as I hate to say it, Constantine had a good performance of a song I never would have pictured him singing. Vonzell wasn't nearly as good as the judges thought she was, and Anwar and Bo performed with their usual consistency. I would caution them to not become complacent like Clay and Ruben did in the later weeks of season 2, but they'll go far.

Carrie did better and I liked Jessica's performance, too.

The more I see Mikalah, the less I like her (and I didn't much care for her to begin with). I only hope they put her out of my misery soon.

I'll try not to be late with my review next week.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

No surprises

I think I called it exactly as it went down.

Amanda, Janay, Nikko and Travis are gone.

I can't say there's really any arguing with the way the vote turned out. The weakest performers went home.

Janay and Travis were the "for sure" goners. Janay because of her age and immaturity and Travis because he is simply the weakest vocalist left. Nikko and Amanda both lacked the "full package". Both are good looking, sing reasonably well, but neither stand out.

That leaves us with Anthony, Anwar, Bo, Carrie, Constantine, Jessica, Lindsey, Mario, Mikalah, Nadia, Scott, and Vonzell.

Some of the finalists are clearly better than the others, and with a couple of exceptions, the contest is now wide open. I think the people with the most ground to make up right now are Constantine, Lindsey, Mikalah and Scott.

Constantine has been shown up by Bo, Lindsey hasn't quite found her groove and she has also been shown up by Jessica and Carrie, Mikalah is in the midst of an identity crisis and Private Pyle has an image problem.

Anthony and Jessica each won a lot of fans last week and the constant performers are all riding high going into the top 12. As American Idol tweaks its format, the pool of finalists get better and better; top to bottom, these 12 are probably the best we've had, and it's because the judges picked top 12, not "America" choosing the top 12. I don't think anyone is necessarily better than Clay, Rueben or LaToya, but there are no JPLs, Camiles, Carmens or Vanessas in the group.

I'm still not sold on the even mix of guys and girls, but I do like the current format a lot better. I'd still rather vote people off than vote to keep people on (which enables powervoting; more on that in another column).

As a side note, I'm going out of town this weekend and won't be back until late Tuesday night, so I may not have an American Idol column for next week's show until later in the week, but I'll do my best to keep up.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

8 Girls

Who's going home?

Like the guys, there is one person who is so bad they are begging to get sent packing, there are three shoo-ins and everyone else is at the mercy of the powervoters.

The Good

Jessica was easily the best of the night; she is the singular argument that people who didn't get face time on TV are hurt by the process. Everyone else who was not shown during the auditions and Hollywood has been eliminated. I think she knows that and used her cleavage to get a couple of extra votes, but she had the most impressive performance of the night. While other people played it safe (Cow Milking Girl, Annoying Prom Girl), Jessica went for it all and showed off a little bit of Gretchen Wilson (Tanya Tucker to the older fans). I like her a lot (and not just because of her outfit.)

Vonzell was also good, although I didn't care for the outfit. She is another consistent performer and while she doesn't hit one out of the park every week, she comes to play.

The Bad

Lots of people underachieved (again). After coming out swinging in week one, the girls seemed to have cooled a little. Some of them are either sandbagging or just not trying to be too different.

Cow-Milking Girl has the best voice among the girls. Despite her claims of not having any formal singing training, she has the second most control over her voice of anyone in the competition (Anwar is first and she's a distant second). I have been underwhelmed by Carrie the past two weeks, but she'll sail through to at least the final six.

Nadia is going to make it through because she always finishes strong and because she has a lot of charisma. Mikalah also has a lot of charisma, but the past two weeks she hasn't shown it. Her voice was flat last night and I rated her voice with the lowest score among the girls last night; she was only slightly better than Janay.

The other two girls, Amanda and Lindsey, were bland and unspectacular. Lindsey sounds a lot like Kimberly Caldwell from season 2 and Amanda always seems to be over powered by the band. I don't know if that's her fault or if it's Fox's sound mixers (not the first time they've tried to make someone sound bad).

The Ugly

Easily the worst performance of the night was Janay. She was scared. Again. Her voice was flat, she was visibly shaking (again) and I thought in a couple of spots she was going to forget the words. Janay needed to go home after week one. She needed to go home after last week. I hope the powervoters that are keeping Janay around are drowned out and they mercifully end her suffering.

Who should go home: Janay and Amanda

Who will go home: It's hard to say given the voting patterns for the girls. I think Amanda is going home because she has been inconsistent. If Janay doesn't go home, the other person will probably be Lindsey or Jessica.

The good news is that the local Fox affiliate hasn't notified us that they're pre-empting American Idol for meaningless SEC basketball, so I may get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

8 Guys

One of the benefits of not letting "America" select the finalists is that there aren't any truly bad people left. All of the finalists are at least above average and none of the guys are truly horrible. That said, there are clearly some front-runners and some others who are playing catch-up.

Private Pyle was first and has been disappointing throughout the pre-liminary rounds. At first I thought he was sandbagging, but he was on the bubble this week and needed to come through big and unfortunately he fell flat. Scott's biggest problem is song choice. He's got a big voice; we saw that in the audition and in Hollywood. Unfortunately, he's not picked songs that showcase his talent and his stage personality leaves much to be desired.

Next up was Bo, my personal favourite from the guys and according to Simon, it's his competition to lose. Bo is the model for picking the right song. He clearly knows what his limitations and assets are and he picks songs around that. Bo is not the best vocalist in the competition, but his song choices have been so flawless, you can't tell because he is never out of tune.

Anthony is one of my least favourite contestants, but I've got to give it up for him this week. He picked the right song (got away from power ballads) and sounded very good. He is easily the most improved for the week, something he needed badly to hang around.

One of the guys who is hanging around is Nikko. There's nothing about him that is outstanding. He's got a good voice. He looks nice. That may carry him into the top 12, but he's not going to win.

There's a dead man walking among the guys and that's Travis. He's the weakest vocalist among the men and it clearly showed this week. He's very entertaining, but that's not what this competition is about.

Fez is another contestant I don't care for, although the girls like him because he's cute. I thought his vocals were a little weak, and his song choice was not very good. I don't know why I don't like him, but I wish that he and the next guy would go away very quickly.

The more Bo kicks ass, the weaker Constantine appears. Of the so-called "rockers", Bo is clearly the stronger. Constantine is a good looking guy who milks that for all he can, but he only appears as a poser next to Bo. Personally, I can't stand him. I think vocally his is inferior to several other contestants and I don't care for his stage act.

Closing out the night was Anwar. If I were picking one of the guys to win, Anwar gets my bet. He is technically the best vocalist (guys or girls) in the competition and he is never out of tune. He must be a very good music teacher because he has a lot of control and like Bo, he knows exactly what song to pick. Not only does he sing well, but he takes ownership of the song with creative arrangements without being overly dramatic (Constantine's out of tune screeching) or boring (Fantasia's "yeah, yeah, yeah").

There are three people who are safe this week: Anwar, Bo and Mario. Anwar and Bo are the front-runners and Fez has enough fans to be vault him through. There is one guy who is definitely going home (Travis); everyone else is in play.

Scott, Anthony, Nikko and Constantine have all basically under-achieved. Scott, Anthony and Constantine have all had considerable fact time on TV so that may leave Nikko standing when the music stops. On the other hand, he really only has himself to blame because he is not a distinctive singer who really elevated his game like Bo and Jessica have done.

Private Pyle could be going home because he's looking like a scary serial killer again and he's picking the wrong songs. Anthony could be going home because the Claymates hate him. Constantine could also be going home because everyone sees how bad he is compared to Bo and Anwar.

I think it's going to come down to this: Anwar and Bo are staying because they are the best of the guys. Fez, Constantine and Anthony are going to stay because girls think they're cute. Travis is going home. The other spot is going to be villed with Scott or Nikko and I'm betting it's Nikko, because Scott has had too much TV time (what apparently puts people over the top this year).

We'll see how it plays out.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Entertainment Weekly ran an article that thinks there are six shoo-ins for the Top 12: Anwar, Bo, Mario, Carrie, Mikalah and Nadia. The rest of the contestants are fighting for six spots and EW is speculating on their chances. The article was written before Aloha was eliminated, so read it with a grain of salt.

They also placed odds on who was going to win out of the six front-runners they selected.

Nadia 3-2
Mario 2-1
Carrie 3-1
Anwar 9-2
Bo 6-1
Mikalah "We aren’t that cruel"

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fox attempts to atone

I must say Fox did something right with the results show this week. The half-hour show was quick and to the point, but they did manage to inject a fair amount of suspense. I hope they keep it up.

Once again, the crack smokers at the local Fox affiliate WVAH pre-empted American Idol for SEC basketball, so I logged on to a message board at 9:35 and found out who was eliminated and to see if there was any deliberately deceitful drama on the show. After hearing that everything was fine from that end, I tuned in at 10:30, when they showed the results here.

Of the eight people who have been eliminated, we'd only seen two sing in the auditions and Hollywood stage, Sarah and David. The rest: Aloha, Celena, Jared, Joseph, Judd, and Melinda, we'd never heard sing before the Top 24 started.

I don't think this is a coincidence, and is something both Melinda and Joseph rightfully brought up as a point of concern after being eliminated. I think Fox either needs to show us fewer of the bad auditions and more of the good singers or give up any pretense of the show being rigged in favour of certain contestants by giving them more face time.

Now on to who was elminated.

I was surprised at both Aloha and Celena being elminated. I thought they both had strong weeks, but disparaging comments by the judges combined with no TV time was the doom for both.

David's elimination was no surprise nor was Joseph's. David had a lot of promise in the auditions, but I think the bright lights got to him. Joseph, who spent a little too much time in George Hamilton's tanning booth, was okay on both nights we saw him, and thanks to AI's producers who never showed his face until last week, got the boot. I think Joseph was not the worst of the guys, although he certainly wasn't going to win, and he did better than Private Pyle for at least this week.

The one person I really think should be elminated is Janay, and I'm not knocking her talent. She certainly is good enough to have made it this far, but she is too young.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; the minimum age for auditioning should be 18. Period. The only kid who has done well was Diana. Everyone else: Carmen, Camile, John Stevens, Leah, Jasmine; they all cracked. And I don't think Mikalah is going to make it through unscathed, either. The bright lights are going to get to the kids; hell it even gets to the 24 year olds.

16 and 17 old kids simply are too young for the pressure. The lone exception is Diana DeGarmo, who had the completely unnatural experience of being the runner-up Miss Teen Georgia and has been bred to be on stage. All the other kids looked wide-eyed and lost. Some cracked sooner than others (Camile, Leah) but it finally got to them all.

Janay needs to be sent home before American Idol breaks her, too. Getting cut was the best thing that happened to Jaclyn Crum; she can come back in a couple of years and do very, very well. Janay looked scared on stage this week and was shaking last week. She simply cannot do this week in and week out.

Her friends and fans think they're doing her a favour by keeping her around. In the long run, they're really hurting her. She is another John Stevens in the making. I say this and I liked John Stevens. He's a good guy. He's a nice kid and he has a stylised talent that he can groom and do very well. He is not American Idol material. Janay isn't either, but her powervoters are going to keep her around for too long and other--better--people are going to be sent home in her stead.

I remember when Jennifer Hudson was eliminated last year. They cut to a shot of John Stevens and he had a look of pure disbelief on his face because he knew she outperformed him and was more deserving of staying. It was like someone ordered a hit, showed up at John's house and then shot his neighbour. The I-can't-believe-I-didn't-get-whacked look on his face would have been funny if it weren't so tragic.

Janay could do well in a couple of years, but for now she needs to be mercifully sent home or her self-esteem will be destroyed and she will implode on stage.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fox sucks

Once again, Fox is trying to figure out a way to keep me from seeing the American Idol results show live.

Throughout the girls show last night, WVAH, the local Fox affiliate ran a banner across the screen that read, "Due to contractual obligations, American Idol will not be seen Wednesday night at 9:00 pm. Instead we will be bringing you SEC basketball. American Idol will be show in its entirety at 10:30 pm after Eyewitness News."

I am pissed off beyond belief about this. I am a short asian man; why does anyone think I want to watch basketball. I couldn't give two figs about SEC basketball. Why do they plague me with this crap?

On the up side, it means that if Fox is going to pull more stunts this week like they did last week, I won't have to watch. I think I'm going to log on to a message board at about 10:00 and see who was eliminated and if they don't pull any crap on the contestants, I'll watch the tape.

If they do pull another tasteless stunt, I'll watch the episode to say I saw it, then bombard Fox with lots of nasty emails and I simply won't watch any more results shows. I hope other viewers will do the same if Fox doesn't treat the people feeding their cash cow with a little respect.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

10 Girls

A couple of quick thoughts:

1. If the guys all raised their game from last week, the girls faltered. It may have been because most picked ballads or maybe it was because they all felt safe, but only a couple of folks really improved (Amanda, Jessica). Everyone else either did about the same or worse.

2. Most of the girls were overpowered by the band. Only a couple of girls didn't get lost behind the music and I think those are the ones who will be moving into the top 12.

3. There has been a lot of discussion about a bias in the judges, and tonight it was the most evident. Maybe they were all in a bad mood or maybe they were all disappointed, but they gave some girls who had very good nights disparaging comments and gave others compliments who did not deserve them. We'll see how this plays out.

The Good

Celena, Vonzell, Jessica.

I'm not a Vonzell fan, but she was good. Celena, one of the people the producers don't want to win (How do I know this? Because they hadn't shown her on TV before last week), also not only did far above and beyond her performance last week, she blew away everyone else.

Jessica, another girl who got not TV time, had a monster night, although she'll probably be sent packing because she doesn't have a fan club.

The Bad

Most of the girls fall into the middle of the pack. Amanda, Aloha and Lindsey all did very well, especially relative to their performances last week. Amanda was helped the most; she is very pretty and her performance this week will stave off elimination (for the time being).

Nadia was also good, not as good as last week, and she ended badly, but she'll do fine. Cow-Milking Girl was also only okay, although I believe that she is sandbagging like Private Pyle.

Ugly

Janay, as much as I like her, is too young for this competition and only boosts my argument to keep kids under 18 out of the competition. She is still far too nervous to be a strong contender.

Mikalah was simply awful, although it is a measure of how much the producers and judges like her that they all gave her compliments even though I thought her entire song bordered on being unintelligible. To her credit, she got rid of her nasal accent and as Simon said, wasn't the least bit annoying.

Who should go home: Janay, Mikalah

Who will go home: Janay, Jessica

10 guys

First off, big props to Bo for sticking it to the man while he's an American Idol contestant. You go on with your own bad self Bo, and get that unemployment while you're on American Idol.

Second, the guys all picked better songs. No power ballads except for Anthony, who was one of the two worst of the night.

Third, I know I've been reading too much of my friends at Idolrant because I've started referring to people as nicknames instead of their real names. God help us all.

The Good

Anwar was good and Bo was good.

I think Bo would be a blast to hang out with. He reminds me of one of my neighbour's kids and seems to have a good grasp of who he is and what he wants. He's also 28 and has some experience performing, and in my opinion, that gives him a tremendous advantage at this stage in the competition.

My nickname for music teacher Anwar would be Milli or Vanilli except that he sings his own songs. Technically, he is is probably the best pure vocalist in the competition, although Cow-Milking Girl is a close, close second.

The Bad

Most of the guys again finished middle of the pack.

Fez was okay. Nikko was okay. Private Pyle was okay. I think Scott is sandbagging and holding back. He could do soooooooooooo much more, but I think he is deliberately not doing as well as he could. This is a dangerous strategy and could backfire on him. There are three or four guys who know they need to go for the jugular each week and if Scott gets careless, he could end up paying the price.

Of course, Pyle has had plenty of air time, so I don't think he's truly that worried about not making the final 12.

There were two guys who absolutely needed last night and they came through. Travis and Joseph were very weak and Joseph knew he was a dead man walking if not for the the American Idol producers screwing Judd over at the end. Neither are outstanding, but both had solid performances and dramatically increased their stock last night; Travis with the breakdancing and Joseph with a good song and a trip to George Hamilton's tanning bed.

Who would have thought that a 20 year old Lionel Richie song would ever be good for someone?

The Ugly

I don't know who was the worst of the night, Anthony or David. Both were absolutely horrible. David had the gospel-singer-in-pain look throughout his performance and after starting out of tune, I was in almost as much pain.

Despite comparisons to Clay, Anthony is shaping up to be this year's John Stevens. His voice simply isn't strong enough. He doesn't have the volume of Bo, the technical skill of Anwar and the stage presence of Mario.

The Underachiever of the Night Award goes to Constantine, who I am going to start referring to as "Screech". His voice is much weaker than others (Anwar, Private Pyle) but he looks good on camera and works the audience, so that should keep him around for a while.

Who should be sent home: Anthony and David

Who will be sent home: Joseph and Travis