So tonight, the first three finalists to make the all-important top 12 were announced, and I for one was surprised by how much I actually cared. I mean, after seven-and-counting seasons, gawd knows how many blogs on this subject, and several alleged vote-rigging scandals that would presumably render all results shows obsolete anyway, you'd think I'd be a jaded industry schmuck by now, instead of some dorky fangirl. But no. I was actually one of the 24 million voting last night, and tonight I was still very excited to see if all my speed-dialing efforts paid off.
But first, I had to be subjected to one of the show's patented painful cruise-ship-style singalong numbers--you know, the ones in which a bunch of supposedly talented singers join forces, somehow manage to completely cancel each other out and drag the overall onstage talent level down to that of a remedial junior high production of Rent, and make me question if I should have speed-voted for any of them at all. The song destroyed tonight by the 12 hopefuls was Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," and it was, well, hopeless. But hey, at least it was one more chance for hopeless cases like last night's ball-droppers Stevie Wright and Stephen Fowler to sing for millions of people one last time.
So after that stall tactic came some pointless recaps of highlights and lowlights from last night's "raw" show. (Note to Idol producers: Come on, can't you just assume that the people watching the RESULTS show are already familiar with what transpired the night before? Must you make me watch Casey "Every Little Thing She Does Is Tragic" Carlson's dream die onstage again?) Then Ryan Seacrest queried all the contestants about how they thought they did last night, making poor brave-faced Stevie Wright relive her agony one more time.
Ryan kept us all guessing by first calling Casey and Stephen (two guaranteed-to-go-home contestants) to the stage. No one really expected either to make it--and guess what, they didn't! No suspense there. I wasn't surprised, and Casey and Stephen didn't seem too blindsighted either. Sure, they seemed sad--but not shocked.
Next up to meet her Idolmaker was Alexis Grace, and it was immediately obvious from all the loud whoops and hollers she elicited, when her name was called, that she'd already quickly become an audience favorite. And the loud whoops and hollers got a whole lot louder when Ryan announced that Alexis was the first contestant to make the top 12. Alexis then reprised her song from the previous night, Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved A Man," and proved with her awesome encore performance that America had gotten it right. And so had I! Yes, that was one of my predictions correct, two more to go...
After Ryan's amusing post-commercial announcement that "Alexis has earned a stool," he called up two contestants as a duo, Ricky Braddy and one of my faves, Jackie Tohn. Guess he realized he had wasted too much time, so now he had to rush and call the contestants up in pairs in order to get through them all. Ricky didn't make the cut despite a solid vocal last night--I chalk this up to his old-fashioned delivery and, more importantly, his utter lack of pre-top 36 screen time--but I wasn't too bummed about this. What bummed me out way more was when Jackie got axed, proving Simon Cowell's "clown" putdown was shared by millions of humorless Idol voters. I hope she and her sequined fanny-pack come back as a wild card, but as Simon would say, we shall see.
Then my heart sank a little more when Michael Sarver and Anoop Desai, another one of my faves, were called up together. I always considered Anoop a frontrunner, but I knew working-class hero Sarver definitely had his stubby finger on the pulse of middle America. And so it turned out that--with only 20,000 votes separating them--Michael edged Anoop out. Noooo! Not only was one of my favorites going home, but one of my predictions from last night had been proven incorrect.
Oh well, maybe Anoop can come back as a wild card too. How many wild cards are they giving out again? Only three this season? Dang. I've already allocated two of them already, tonight, and season 8 is far from over.
Next Ryan faked everyone out by calling up the "next two contestants," and out walked last season's Carly Smithson and Michael Johns. I was kind of hoping Ryan wasn't kidding and Michael would be reinstated after his cruel ousting last year (I was NOT holding the same hope regarding Carly). I was also wondering if past major-label darling Carly felt the SLIGHTEST bit guilty about being allowed to make it all the way to sixth place last season, while former Geffen Records signing Joanna Pacitti was disqualified early this season amid a very similar scandal. But anyway, Michael just pimped his upcoming album, Carly told a bizarre and unfunny anecdote about having to go to an "Asian neighborhood in Orlando" to find a last-minute hair-weave replacement before a Disneyworld performance, and then the two duetted on "The Letter." They also didn't address those long-standing rumors about their alleged affair, but as far as I could tell they both were still wearing their wedding rings, so I'll let that one slide.
Three more were quickly pushed aside--forgettable also-rans Stevie Wright, Brent Keith, and Anne-Marie Boskovich--and then, in perhaps the biggest good-versus-evil battle in AmIdol history, the last spot of the night came down to...Danny Gokey and Tatiana Del Toro. Tatiana was immediately too choked up to even politely answer Ryan's questions, as she fanned her face to keep her eye makeup from running and babbled something about fate/God/psychics/Paula Abdul's jewelry line.
Meanwhile, much of America was probably crying over the prospect of this shrill drama queen displacing lovable, church-going, widow-grieving, good-singing Danny Gokey. It seemed unlikely that Tatiana would get more votes than America's sweetheart Danny...but then again, the Vote For The Worst contingent is a strong speed-dialing army, and they had Tatiana's back last night.
All of America braced itself during the commercial break...
"I just want to find out," Danny said impatiently when Ryan asked him how he was feeling at this moment. So thankfully, Ryan cut to the chase. The final person to get through was...DANNY GOKEY! Phew. That was a close one.
Of course, Tatiana's post-results meltdown nearly upstaged Danny's big moment, but luckily she was ushered off the stage in a crumpled, crying heap just in time for Danny to reprise his winning anthem, "Hero."
So I did get two of my predictions correct: Danny and Alexis were no-brainers, really, though I am still a little surprised Anoop did not make it through.
But never mind that--I'm already excited for next week's dozen, and I've already decided, sound unheard, which three I think should triumph next Wednesday: my faves Adam Lambert, Megan Corkrey, and (yes) Nick "Norman Gentle" Mitchell.