‘Idol’ Worship: Leaving Las Vegas

Week six of ‘American Idol’ found us in Las Vegas, where the remaining contestants sang Beatles song on the set of Cirque de Soleil’s ‘Love at the Mirage’. After that, the judges made a few cuts. Then it was back to L.A., where the contestants were put in an airplane hanger and made to “sing for their life.” The pressure is building, and we’re starting to see favorites and top contenders emerge.

Taking on the Beatles is no easy feat. In past seasons, ‘Idol’ has waited until farther along to test contestants, but this is a talented bunch. Contestants teamed up in pairs of two or three, apparently with no controversy at all. This week, the drama came from the vocal coaches and Jimmy the producer. Teenyboppers Thia and Melinda got smacked around by their vocal coach, Peggy Blu. At one point, she described how she’ll eat crow if they performed well. I’m sure they had no idea what she was talking about.

We got several clips with Jimmy and a bunch of producers critiquing the teams. We had our first statements like, “If you sang it at karaoke or heard it at a bar, it’s not going to work here.” This is basically akin to Simon’s standard statement: “You could hear that on any cruise ship.” You know what? As much as I thought I liked Simon for his honesty, I really don’t miss him at all. We’ve got judges who can be honest and yet deliver criticism with light humor or kindness. When Jimmy showed up, I really had no use for him and hope he fades quietly into the background.

Now on to some of the performances. Stefano and James performed “Get Back,” and did a pretty good job. I wish James would stop wearing the scarf tails. I’m bored with them already. Pia and Karen sang “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Turns out they went to a performing arts high school together. They did really well. Hailey, Jacob, and Naima sang “The Long and Winding Road.” They did a really good job, but boy they all made some crazy faces when they sang.

Rachel and two others sang “Eleanor Rigby.” They didn’t even bother introducing the others in the group; they’re apparently going home. Dark-haired Lauren and Jovany did a strong version of “Let It Be.” Tim and Julie sang “Something in the Way She Moves.” Great performance. I hadn’t really noticed Tim before, and Julie continues to be strong. Lekisha, Tatynisa, and Jerome sang “When I Saw Her Standing There.” I thought it was fun – judges not so much. Kendra and Paul sang “Blackbird” and did a beautiful job. I haven’t decided where I fit Paul. Is he a Kenny Loggins clone or a young Jack Tripper? Whatever the case, he’s straight out of the ’70s.

We then got to follow Ashley and her boyfriend as they tied the knot at the same chapel where Britney Spears got married. Really, who cares? She and Sophia sang “We Can Work it Out.” They tried to make it their own and fell flat. This was one of a few points where you could tell that hearing Beatles half-assed and misinterpreted was grating on the normally patient Steven.

We saw the rest of the performances, but nothing really stood out. Judges made a round of cuts. We still have so many people left that it wasn’t entirely clear how many got cut or who they were. The ones sent home that we’d seen are: Carson (darn, I like him, but he is pitchy, dawg), Molly the White House Intern, and Ashley. All were upbeat at having made it this far.

Back to L.A., where the remaining contestants sang for their lives. Essentially, this was three long hours drawn out over Wednesday and Thursday, watching to see who made the Top 24. Naima made it through, but Holly’s going home – as are Lakeisha and Alex. The judges put Clint through the ringer (deservedly), but he got through (also deservedly). Casey got through. Deadre is going home, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him again. Tim and Ashthon get through. And then Chris, sweet Chris, he’s going home. Judges delivered the news kindly, and he took it well. But it was too much for Jennifer, who broke down crying. It was a surprisingly real moment when she uttered, “I didn’t tell him in the right way. I just didn’t want to tell him no.” Steven and Randy were supportive. This was a great Reality TV moment. Of course, the show left us at that cliffhanger until the next day.

When we returned on Thursday, we saw the entourage around the judges. Jennifer pulled it together with the help of her makeup and hair team. We then went through two more hours of yeses and nos.

Karen sang Selena and went through. Robbie Barbarino is through, no question. Tatynisa continued to be pitchy, but somehow got through. She must have done something well that we didn’t see, because I can’t figure out how she made it. Ricky and Jimmy went home. I don’t recall seeing these guys. Also, Jimmy has a tattoo of a G-Clef on his arm that’s backwards. Bad move.

Tim and Julie got through. I thought Scotty might be going home, but he really pulled it out for his audition. Jennifer commented, “You make a Bronx girl love country music!” Scotty told her, “My grandmother told me to tell you, even though I don’t look it, I’m a quarter Puerto Rican.” Adorable. He went through. However, John Wayne was not so lucky and went home.

Jovany went through. Ehh, I don’t have much use for him. Dark haired Lauren is through. Taiwon and Aaron didn’t make it through. Rachel wore a ridiculous outfit. She’s got serious abilities, but just seems lost. The judges also commented that she doesn’t know who she is, but they put her through anyway. Kendra and Jordan got through. Lauren showed up in a rancid dress, pink cowboy boots, and orange spray tan. They’ve apparently called in a pageant coach. But she can sing and so she’s through. Stefano warbled a lot and got through. Jackie’s out. Jacob’s in. Pia’s in. James had a good audition and is through. Casey had another slamming audition and sailed through. Randy told him that he thinks he’s the best musician they’ve every had on ‘Idol’. I concur.

Lastly for the girls were Thia and Jessica. It was Jessica’s birthday and she went home. Bummer. Colton, Jacee, and Brett were last up for the guys. Only Brett got through. Too bad. I liked all three, and I thought that Jacee’s audition was good. I just love his voice, and hope we see him again.

We concluded with a montage of each of the Top 24 dancing it out. I don’t know why I love that bit, but I do. For next week, we’re up to three days a week of ‘Idol’. On Tuesday, we get to see the guys, Wednesday the girls, and Thursday we see the results.

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