Tonight's the night that we find out our top 36. That's right, this season we're being given 36 people to choose from. As if choosing between 24 wasn't hard enough. Next week, we vote. One more night of the judges' absolute control.
We begin with 54 contestants who have made it this far. Tonight the remaining 54 will come into the judges' chambers where they'll sit in the hot seat. Our first victim is Anoop Desai from Chapel Hill. Anoop is the first person in our top 36.
Von Smith is next and says he's more prepared to get a no than a yes. He's had a rough Hollywood week, but still dreams of making it big. I personally wouldn't have put him through, but the judges are still calling the shots this week.
Cody Sheldon, the amateur horror filmmaker is next in the hot seat. He's balancing on a fine line between making it or going home, so the judges ask him to sing once again. Meanwhile, Alex Wagner-Trugman has been chosen for a sing-off against Cody. Before Alex arrives, Cody sings and it honestly doesn't sound great. Alex arrives and realizes that he's part of a duel. One of them will be going home. Alex sings Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me. If I was choosing, Alex would make it to the top 36. So let it be done. Cody will be going home while Alex will be moving on. What an awkward moment. Way to go producers. Trying to create drama.
Adam Lambert is up next. I thought that he had a rough week in Hollywood, but the judges did like him in Hollywood. Despite Simon informing him that he thought he had a great Hollywood week, Simon cranks up the suspense by telling him he doesn't have good news. Pause for effect. He has great news. Adam is number 4 in the top 36.
17-year-old Taylor Vaifanua had a difficult time on the Group Day when she lost her lyrics. That day, Simon told them if they forgot the words, they were gone. But tonight, Randy lets her know she's going through. Jasmine Murray, Arianna Afsar, Casey Carlson, Megan Corkrey, Mishavonna Henson, and Stevie Wright all make it through as well. That's 11 so far.
Up next is another lyrical loser. How has Joanna Pacitti made it this far? She forgot the words in just about every Hollywood performance. So she's had a label deal in the past. It's one thing to be a studio singer, but it's a completely different thing to be able to carry yourself in front of a live audience. The judges give her yet another break. That's 12.
T.K. Hash, Chris Chatham, and Reggi Beasley all get sent packing. Kendall Beard is worried that this latest trend from the judges will continue as she strolls in. Paula tells her that even though she is very commercial, they were disappointed with her song choices in Hollywood. They keep her hanging for awhile, but eventually say she's sticking around.
Jenn Korbee was part of a husband/wife team that made it to Hollywood. After Group Day, Jenn was forced to go on alone. Waiting outside, Kristen McNamara listens to Jenn sing for her position. Again we have a sing-off. Kristen pulls out I Will Always Love You for her last chance song. This was her final opportunity to show off and she pulled out Whitney Houston. Bad idea jeans. The judges deliberate and then take a really long time to explain their decision. Simon finally breaks the news that Jenn will be going home, but also makes it clear that he disagrees with the decision. That's 14.
Alexis Grace is up next. She dreams of being a part of this, but is struggling with the idea of leaving her daughter at home while she's on the show. The judges don't tip-toe around the decision with her. She's in. That's 15.
Scott McIntyre is next in the hot seat. Scott is someone who has proven himself against difficult odds, being that he's visually impaired. He showed that he was much more comfortable behind a piano during Hollywood week. He'll be part of the top 36. That's 16.
Lil Rounds is up next. She has been a constant favorite of the judges from her first audition. Once again, the judges make it sound negative, but then inform her that she'll still be on the show next week. I think the judges actually get an adrenaline rush from doing this to the contestants.
Felicia Barton, Ashley Hollister, and Devon Baldwin are all sent packing. Frankie Jordan, who was a stand-out in her initial audition, has had a difficult time since getting to Hollywood. She will be having a sing-off with Jesse Langseth. Personally, I'd send 'em both home. But they have to pick one, and Jesse's the one they're going with. But Simon does throw this one out... Neither of them would win this competition. Ouch.
We say good-bye to a couple more kids while 16-year-old Allison Iraheta nervously awaits her fate. Allison is part of this season's top 36. That's 19.
Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers are best friends and have been taking this journey side by side. Now the question is raised, will there be room for both of them in the top 36? Danny is first in the hot seat. Danny's going on. If I had to pick an early winner, it'd be Danny. Jamar goes in next and receives some bad news. So one friend continues while the other will give support from the audience. That's 20.
Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud, Ju'not Joyner, Jorge Nunez, and Brent Keith all make it through. That's 25. Stephen Fowler is not very hopeful as he takes the chair. Stephen's final performance in Hollywood was really bad. He got two chances to sing his song and lost it during both tries. He ended up walking off without finishing. Believe it or not, he's still in the top 36.
Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle, enters the room in serious mode. No headbands, no wristbands, no shiny goofy shirts. Norman Gentle will be making it through to the next round.
Jackie Tohn is up next and is really nervous to sit in front of the judges. Once again, Randy makes it sound like this has been a really tough decision and she might not make it. But then she does. The judges really do get off on this.
Next we see our most annoying contestant this season. There's usually one in every Idol cast. Season 6 had Sanjaya. Season 2 had Michaela Gordon. This year we have Tatiana Del Toro. I'd really like to slap that kid. She's crying over some ring that Paula's wearing. She says she's being ridiculous for crying over a ring. She cries over everything, are you kidding me? Well, get ready for some more tears, she's part of the top 36. Anyone else think she'll be a part of Howard Stern's "vote for the worst" website. God help us all, she'll be on this stupid show for weeks to come. Do the right thing America. Get rid of her early! That's 29.
Next we have another sing-off with Jackie Midkiff and Nathaniel Marshall. Jackie sings When a Man Loves a Woman and does a very good job. Nathaniel sings Lonestar's Already There. Of these two, I like Jackie's voice better. But the incredibly emotional Nathaniel will make for more dramatic television in the weeks to come. I think the judges are taking that into consideration and send Nathaniel through to the next round.
Jeanine Vailes, Kai Kalama, Anne Marie Boskovich, and Kris Allen are all staying in the competition. That's 34.
Seacrest reveals that there are only two contestants left and they will be taking part in a sing off. Now, if you've been keeping count with me, then you know there's room for both Matt Breitzke and Michael Sarver in the top 36. If you haven't been keeping count, then just look at that previous short paragraph. Now, do the math: 34 from 36 is... wait for it... 2. So the producers are putting them through this sing-off as part of some definitely unnecessary drama. Both sing there hearts out. Michael does better than Matt, but both clearly sail through to the next round.
So there we have our top 36. This is definitely more people than we've been given the opportunity to vote for in the past. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks play out. In the past we've seen the girls singing on Tuesdays, the guys singing on Wednesdays, then bid farewell to four singers on Thursdays. Over the next three weeks, we'll be exposed to three groups of 12. The first group consists of: Casey Carlson, Stephen Fowler, Jackie Tohn, Ricky Braddy, Anne Marie Boskovich, Brent Keith, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Stevie Wright, Danny Gokey, Tatiana Del Toro (I'll have my barf bag ready), and Anoop Desai.
I'm sorry. Was that mean, what I just said about Tatiana? Tough. I don't like her. I'm pretty sure there's nothing that can be done to make me like her. So let's just get that in the open now. If you don't like my opinion of this year's basket case, then go read someone else's American Idol thoughts.