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With the new season of American Idol (that's season nine for those counting) now upon us, we thought we'd repost our episode-by-episode rundown of the previous season that saw Kris Allen crowned as the new American Idol. As expected, runner-up Adam Lambert quickly overshadowed the more understated Allen and has sold more than twice as many albums so far. Still, Kris gave some memorable performances in his own right last season, so let's take another look at the triumphs and tragedies that collectively came to be known as American Idol Season 8. We'll begin with semi-final round 2, which is the round that introduced Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, Matt Giraud, Jasmine Murray, and Megan Corkrey -- all six of whom made the top 13.
American Idol 8: Semi-Finals Round 2 Performances, 2/25/09
Round 2 of the semi-finals was last night, and just like the week before, the performances were a mixed bag. Overall this year, the contestants are not as strong vocally as they were in years past, particularly in comparison to last year. Thus far, the new Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, or Carrie Underwood has yet to reveal him- or herself.
Let's take a look at each of last night's performances along with our predictions of who the next 3 contestants will be to make it into the top 12. Each contestant had to sing a song from Billboard magazine's Top 100 chart.
(1) Jasmine Murray sang "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles (2007). In general, this was a good, but not stellar, performance. A couple of notes fell out of key, but she worked the stage well and showed a lot of charisma. The judges all seemed disappointed, and she said she was surprised by their feedback. Given some of the dismal performances that followed, Jasmine still has a pretty good chance at getting into the top 12. Failing that, she would be a shoo-in to be brought back during the Wildcard show.
(2) Matt Giraud sang "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay (2008). It was clearly the wrong choice of song for his voice. His husky tenor was simply inappropriate for a Chris Martin pop song and suffered in comparison especially since Martin just gave a rousing performance of it at the recent Grammy Awards. We don't feel that Giraud will be selected in tonight's results, and his best hope to land in the top 12 will be to be selected to appear in the Wildcard show.
(3) Jeanine Vailes sang "This Love" by Maroon 5 (2002). Easily the worst female vocal of the night. Vailes is at a double disadvantage in that she had not been featured on the show up until now, so we as the audience are just coming into this performace cold with no built-up goodwill toward this contestant. Even Paula, who can usually find something good to say about everyone, just commented on her nice legs and then handed it off to Simon. In our estimation, she has absolutely no chance of making it into the top 12 tonight nor being asked to come back for the Wildcard show.
(4) Nick Mitchell sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the Dreamgirls soundtrack (1982). Unfortunately, Nick sang in his "Norman Gentle" persona. Can he just go already? At least his mom and dad seemed to like it, although when he first came out Dad had a look on his face like he wanted to punch him. It's true that Nick does not have a bad voice when he actually decides to sing some actual notes, but his clownish performances overshadow that and there is simply no way he can make it as a serious performer. It's also true that he's perhaps the most memorable contestant in Idol history, and given the likes of past trainwrecks like William Hung and Sanjaya, that's saying something. However, we don't want those memories. Memories like this are what people pay good money in therapy to get away from.
(5) Allison Iraheta sang "Alone" by Heart (1987). Allison gave the strongest female vocal of the night, and was the clear judges' favorite. Allison came to the show ready to compete for a spot in the top 12. She worked the stage like a pro, and while there were a couple of moments where she smiled inappropriately given the fact that the song has a melancholy edge to it, she did successfully belt out the difficult chorus, and all things considered, she should land a place in the top 12 when the results are revealed tonight.
(6) Kris Allen sang "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson (1987). Kris started out too low, which made the first verse rough in spots. He recovered by the chorus, and finished strongly. Kris was at a disadvantage because he wasn't really featured prior to tonight, and there are guys who can sing just as well and are more memorable. Kris is okay as a singer and performer, but we saw nothing that popped off the screen at us. He's good. He's solid. But he's not exceptional. Because of that, we don't feel that this one performance made enough of an impact to secure the necessary votes to land him in the top 12. Even coming back for the Wildcard show seems like a longshot.
(7) Megan Joy Corkrey sang "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae (2006). Corkrey made a strong impression based more on her physical appearance than her actual vocals. She gave a B+ performance on the actual song, so she does have a shot at making the top 12 just on her talent. However, since she is unquestionably the most gorgeous female contestant the show has had since Carrie Underwood, look for her to be called back to the Wildcard show if she doesn't make it through tonight. Failing that, she should try for a career in commercials. She's a Noxema girl in the making.
(8) Matt Breitzke sang "If You Could Only See" by Tonic (1996). This had the potential to be a breakout performance of a cool rock song by a cool guy, but Breitzke's tentative performance was deflating. After lockstep criticism from all the judges, Matt still didn't seem to get the point: the song was not really the problem. It was his flat, boring interpretation of it that was at issue. We feel as disappointed as the judges did because he is very likeable as a contestant and he does have a good tone to his voice. Still, he's been featured enough in the leadup to last night's performance that he has a shot at being voted through by the audience. If not, he would definitely be called back for the Wildcard.
(9) Jesse Langseth sang "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes (1981). We felt it was one of the weaker performances of the night. Her voice was too weak for the song, and she fell out of tune at several points during her rendition. The song really worked because of the husky quality that Kim Carnes brought to it, and Jesse's rather ordinary voice fell far short in comparison. As Kara stated, her stage presence was cool, slinky, and sexy, which was appropriate for this type of song, but the vocals weren't there to back it up. She has zero chance of making it into the top 12 and zero chance of being asked back for the Wildcard show.
(10) Kai Kalama sang "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin (1966). It was a good performance, but it wasn't a standout interpretation. Falls into the "good, not great" category. Kai is a solid vocalist, no doubt about it, but we don't feel he's quite distinguished himself enough to justify his landing in the top 12. However, he deserves to get a second chance and be called back to the Wildcard round.
(11) Mishavonna Henson sang "Drops of Jupiter" by Train (2001). This is a deceptively simple song that has both quiet parts and places where you really need to belt it out. In our estimation, Henson's voice wasn't up to the task, and she fell out of tune toward the end. She doesn't deserve to be put through to the top 12, nor does she deserve a second chance in the Wildcard round.
(12) Adam Lambert sang "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (1965). This was a very schizoid performance for us. Vocally, Lambert delivered the power that we've seen from him at his audition, but, like Simon, we found some parts of it excruciating and reminiscent of a 1980s heavy metal singer doing his strangled testicles wailing. Further, we found the actual stage performance to be a little too Vegas-y and corny in places, which betrayed his musical theater background. This was particularly true at the beginning with the smiling into the camera and the shoulder-dancing. Adam has undeniable vocal skills and a definite distinctive marketable look, so when all is said and done, he does deserve to be in the top 12 whether it be tonight or in the Wildcard show.
In summation, the likely top vote getters are:
- Jasmine Murray
- Allison Iraheta
- Megan Joy Corkrey
- Kris Allen
- Matt Breitzke
- Adam Lambert
Of these, we'd expect Allison to be the only definite in the top 12. If pressed, our picks for the 3 contestants to advance tonight would be: Allison, Megan, and Adam.