American Idol
Semifinals, Week 1: The Results

Episode Report Card
Joe R: C- | Grade It Now!
Suck It, Sasha Cohen! Part III

Back from the commercial, everybody's in the lounge and Ryan kicks us to an über-video package of all twenty-four performances. Ryan's voice-over groups them all into helpful categories. Under the "rock" banner are Bucky (playing the Skynyrd card early), Mandisa (over-singing, but awesomely), Patrick (ruining things for the both of us), Becky (wussing out at the end there), and Chris (damaging his insides, not that it wasn't fantastic). Going the "country" route are Kellie (doing that annoying zero-to-sixty voice climb) and Melissa (borrowing the Phoebe-with-a-cold sexy rasp). Bobby "took on Barry," and David "took on Queen." In case you were wondering, Barry and Queen won, the viewing public lost. Paris and Elliott fared better with their Motown interpretations, though Simon lied egregiously to Elliott in the process. Brenna bored the shit out of us with her Motown, but it was okay because then Simon gave her permission to be the world's biggest asshole, so it worked out. Under the heading of "great performances" we get Taylor (grudgingly, I will accept that assessment), Ayla, and Kinnik (which kind of glosses over the criticisms both received, which is fine, because they were both easily among the better half of the performances), and Lisa, who gets the Paula Abdul "star" label. Stevie and Sway are grouped together for their "high notes." I love seeing Brenna in the background of Stevie's performance, because she is either grimacing, or singing along, or both. "Low points" -- determined by who Simon liked least, obviously -- were Heather (totally), Kevin (I disagree, but I can see Simon's issues), Gedeon (and his runaway train smile), and Will. Oh, bullshit. First of all, Simon called Will "average." That was the complaint. It was an awful song choice and it put him in a box he is way, way too good for, but it was not one of the low points. Screw you, Seacrest voice-over! Finally, Kat and Ace are grouped together under the "smoldering looks" category. Okay. Was Kat really smoldering? Or just mesmerizing? Ace was certainly smoldering, but I wasn't paying as close attention due to "Father Figure" being the grossest song ever written, ever. I'm cool with Ace for now, but he's going to wind up bugging me with that wide-eyed lost puppy look, I can tell. ["I read that sentence initially as 'wind up hugging me,' which…Ace showing up at your house? And you're trying to eat cereal and he's clinging to your leg all 'please love me'? Brilliant." -- Sars]When we re-convene, we're back on the stage, and it's just Ryan and the girls, who are situated in the two rows. In the back row, also known as the "We Won't Even Try to Bullshit You" row, are Mandisa, Kellie, Paris, Ayla, Lisa, and Katharine. In the front row, or the "Nip/Fucked" row, are Heather, Stevie, Melissa, Kinnik, Becky, and Brenna. Swap Kinnik for Kellie and yeah, that's pretty much the division of best/worst performances, so there's minimal fudging with our perceptions so far. Brenna is seated closest to Ryan, the better for her to aggressively preen and pose. She's got her hair all blown out and fabulous-looking. She explains to Ryan this little metaphor she's worked out, where you have to be like a duck: calm on the surface yet paddling fiercely underneath. As metaphors go, I've heard worse. Especially on this show. Thing is, Brenna's appeal is exactly the other way around. Her fierce paddling is always on display, and it's only when we see her duck-like calm underneath that we like her. Or I like her. Or maybe I don't. It's exhausting, keeping up with my opinion of Brenna, minute-by-minute. Ryan's angle here is that Brenna is talking the crazy talk, with the ducks and the paddling, but Brenna manages to keep cool and be charming for a bit. She always says Ryan's name, I've noticed. Is that a power thing? Like, the more familiar she can be with Seacrest the more it'll seem like she belongs? Next, Ryan turns to Paris, who's dressed like she's in mourning. In a Tennessee Williams play. She tells Ryan she had a dream where she flashed forward to the finals, where the confetti was showering down on the winner, but she woke up before she could see who it was. Eh. I prefer the duck story.

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American Idol




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