American Idol First 12 Sing For Their Lives

by Ruth Anne Boulet

Jackie Tohn – A Little Less Conversation
What. The. Hell. Jackie selects an outfit that was ugly in 1985, and it’s still ugly today. I can hear Stacey London in my head screaming about the skin-tight leggings and high top shoes. Jackie looks like a cross between Minnie Mouse and Janet Jackson in her Rhythm Nation years. I’m also hearing my co-worker Bex muttering about punching her in the throat. Of the judges, Simon speaks the truth. He doesn’t think America is going to like her. I see it two ways – either she’ll do well because her song was upbeat, and usually those are more memorable in the sea of ballads. However, she did go first, a.k.a. The Death Slot. We’ll see how it all comes together for Jackie tomorrow night. She’s no Pen Boy, that’s for sure.

Ricky Braddy – A Song For You
I wrote a good portion of Jackie’s recap while Ricky was singing. This should indicate to you, dear reader, how memorable he was. Randy thinks it was un-believable and gives him a ‘yeah.’ Kara has turned into a Paula-bot & raves about him. Simon thinks he was very good, but he’s not jumping out of his chair. Simon also thinks he doesn’t have star quality. I agree, Simon, but it’s rare when I don’t agree with him.

Alexis Grace – Never Loved A Man
Or as Kathy calls her ‘trailer park cutie.’ She’s also opting for an ’80s look, with the slip dress and long ‘pearls.’ Kathy kept hearing Aretha while she was singing. She wasn’t bad & I like the tone in her voice, but yeah, she’s no Aretha. I should also note that in HD she looks like she’s got an absolute mask of makeup.  The first 3 judges rave, and Simon thinks she’s the best of the night so far. We get a shot of Neil Patrick Harris and Ted Danson in the audience.

Brent Keith – Hick Town
Ok, the song title alone makes me want to dislike Brent. But I’m not a country fan. Obviously. The song references White Rain. Ew. My urban sensibilities are recoiling. I feel like I should read a copy of The New Yorker to try and cleanse, and I live in Milwaukee. Lots of folks would consider Milwaukee a Hick Town. It’s not, though. Randy can see Brent at a country barbecue. The girl judges think he should’ve taken more of a risk. Paula mentions the successes of Josh Gracin and Bucky Covington. Simon asks what happened with Bucky. Simon thinks Brent just blew a big opportunity. Brent thinks country fans are going to remember. We’ll see Brent, we’ll see.

Stevie Wright – You Belong With Me
She’s 17 and has wanted to do this since she was 9. That’s an eternity! Poor Stevie sounds like bad karaoke. I know I’ve heard her sing better. I think she got hung up on Taylor Swift being her age, so the song choice would make her seem more her age. Not working, Stevie. She’s also working the ’80s redux fashion again. Even Randy doesn’t like it. Kara goes on & on about Stevie not knowing who she is as an artist. She’s 17! It is one rare teenager that has that strongly established sense of self. Simon cuts to the chase & says it was terrible.

Anoop Desai – Angel Of Mine
Anoop Dog is going with a slow song. Oh, Anoop. I like you better when you’re singing Bobby Brown. I still like the Noop Dog, I just wish he has selected something a little less blechy. He does a decent job with it, though. Randy thinks it’s an interesting song choice, but he’s got mad love for the Noop Dog. Kara didn’t like the song choice, but she believes him when he’s singing. Anoop fans, heck, even call centers in India if they can — unite for Anoop! Didn’t that help Sanjaya? And Anoop can actually sing!

Casey Carlson – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Casey makes bubble tea for a living, or tea with dumplings as Sarah Vowell put it. Casey seems to be relying on her looks to get her through, as she didn’t seem to work on her vocals. It may work for her. She also holds her hands like she just got her nails done and she doesn’t want to ruin her manicure. Another tactic is whipping out plays from the Sarah Palin playbook — winking at the camera, smiling, looking like she was going to swallow the microphone. Ick. The only thing she doesn’t whip out is a Katy Perry attempt by keeping the pronouns female. I wonder if she thinks she should’ve tried that. None of the judges like her. At all. Not the song for her, phrasing was weird and she just plain sounded bad. Her mom runs up to her & gives her all sorts of positive strokes and says ‘vote for Casey!’

Michael Sarver – I Don’t Want To Be
Michael is smiling just about as much as Matt Rogers – queso – did in his time on American Idol 3. It’s ok. I’d like to see him go on, but with only 3 people going on from this group, I don’t know if it’s good enough. Randy and Kara think he could’ve done better. Paula thinks he did a good job, but he moved the mic around too much for her taste. Simon thinks if he gets through it’ll be because folks like him. For that reason alone, Simon hopes he makes it through to the next round. That’s kind of impressive, really. Michael must really be a nice guy.

Ann Marie Boskovich – Natural Woman
The second pretty brunette is up to throw it down. She doesn’t wink at the camera, but she sounds better than Casey. Kathy calls her good in the belt zone. Randy doesn’t think it was the right choice for her. Kara thinks the song is a little old for her. Ann Marie thinks Natural Woman is a good song, and she wanted to sing a good song, and not something younger just because it’s younger. Simon whips out the hotel singer comparison. Not good enough. I like her, personality-wise, as she comes across as a pretty dork.

Stephen Fowler – Rock With You
Stephen is the guy who walked off stage during the final performance of Hollywood week. I have no idea why he’s here. Seriously – he walked off. He’s ok, but he would have to completely blow me away to have me vote for him. Randy doesn’t think it was good. Kara got more from him when he was singing while playing the piano. Paula calls “Rock With You” the kiss of death because it’ll always be associated with Michael Jackson. Simon thinks he just gave up his chance.

Tatiana Del Toro – Saving All My Love For You
Tatiana seems to have her lips sewed shut for the past hour & a half. That’s the only explanation for the lack of screaming. She felt attacked in Hollywood, and starts crying during her taped segment. That’s 1. We’ll see if she cries on live TV. Talk about a kiss of death — doing a Whitney Houston song. She looks scared and frozen in place. She gives a Telenovela look at the end. Randy was impressed at moments. Kara notes that she’s very reserved tonight & is wondering if she’s a character. I’m wondering now too. Simon calls her a complete and utter drama queen. He thinks her performance was weirdly good. The judges want weird Tatiana back. I kind of do too, and I didn’t expect that.

Danny Gokey – Hero
Hometown boy gets the coveted final spot. It’s pretty much reserved for those the producers want to get through. Oh, I mean, it’s decided randomly. Yeah, right. Why did he pick a Mariah Carey song. Kathy hates this song, but she hates most Mariah Carey songs. I tend to agree. At least with a guy singing this song, it doesn’t get up into the Mariah Carey dog-call range. He’s good, but he’s Mawakee (that’s how lots of us Wizconsonites pronounce it) nasally. Paula and Kara are going ape-crazy. Paula has 2 words with a hyphen – sold-out arenas. Simon thinks it was good, but not great. Jamar is in the audience, looking like he wanted to shove Stephen Fowler off the stage.

And that’s it for round 1. Tomorrow, we find out which 3 get to stay. Stay tuned to American Idol.