Ten is such a nice round number. Now Idol won't be confusing to me anymore. Although with only one fewer contestant, but sixty fewer minutes this week, maybe it will be confusing after all. For all I know, they'll have two people sing at once to avoid a time crunch. I just hope I can focus.
Ryan tells us that ahead of the contestants is one of the most demanding nights of their lives. I guess everything up until now was fairly simple, and the last eight weeks will be basically routine. But tonight - TONIGHT! - this is where the real trouble is.
First up tonight is Lisa Tucker, singing an old classic from...American Idol. Ah, the circle continues. A show to create pop stars is now creating pop music for future singers to use when trying to become a pop star. It's like somebody writing their college thesis about their process of writing a thesis. Boy, that was a quick hitter. Half a verse and a brief chorus. Of course, if you do the math...ten singers, sixty minutes, Seacrest insulting Simon, people going whoo and stuff like that, you looking at under four minutes per contestant. Throw that guitar solo out tonight! Randy was not at all impressed by Lisa's performance. Paula said it didn't compare to Kelly's original version. Of...um...two days ago. Simon said it was downright painful to hear. For once, Lisa is not so chipper. After the song, Ryan burns up precious seconds engaging Simon in a battle of semantics. Useful.
Next up is Kellie Pickler, singing a song she says is a fairy tale about taking a pickup to Vegas and eloping. Hmm. I guess some little princesses have grand dreams and some little princesses have modest dreams. Kellie sings about a girl who grew up in the blink of an eye...and then she winks at us. Uh, I know that...um...you know what? Let's just drop it. Out in the audience after Kellie's song, two women strategize about something or other. The Idol light graphic tries to identify them for us, but can't figure out who they are in time. Randy thinks Kellie could've picked a better song. Paula thinks Kellie is actually better than the song, and Simon agrees with all of that. With a staggering six years of songs to choose from, Kellie could've done better than that. Kellie can't believe it. She says the song is kyooooooooooote!
Brett says he's going to show us a little rock edge this week with a Grammy-winning number from Train. Yes. The Grammys and Train, they pretty much define rock for all of us, I think. This isn't rock, Brett. This is John Mayer in a bad mood. Brett is reaching for us! Brett is pantomiming a shooting star! Brett is very active! Brett asks if we're lonely looking for ourselves out there, a deep question indeed. As the song ends, he shudders and stares blankly at us. Randy again hates the song choice. Paula's bad vibes aren't that strong, but she still wasn't crazy about it. Then Paula asks where Brett got that scar. I'm pretty sure he got it last week when he blew out his chest reaching for the audience. Simon tells Brett that the point of tonight's theme is to show that the Idols can hang with the best modern singers. And Brett did not. Ryan asks Brett if he's surprised by the judges' negative words since he put his heart into the performance. Yes, Ryan, when one tries hard, they simply cannot fail. Except when they do.
Taylor, who rode his motorcycle to the studio tonight, sits with Ryan before his song. The two of them point out a little powder kid in the audience. Taylor tells us he's going to perform a song never heard on Idol before. Of course, the song is only two years old, so it only had one season to make it. Still, credit for the upsell. George Huff! And, um...that brunette girl. She used to be on the show, too! Randy thought Taylor could've done a little more with the performance, but Paula appreciated the stripped-down ethos. Simon did like the song, but he's not crazy about the leathers. Simon describes the look as Clay Aiken
Mandisa is dedicating her performance to God tonight. If an earthquake happens somewhere because he was paying attention to the song instead of fault lines, I'm blaming her. Wow. This is clearly the most overtly religious performance in Idol history. Knowing the audience, it should play well. And it was certainly energetic and enthusiastic. But even then, Randy still isn't digging the song choice. Paula loved the whole thing and suggests breaking ground on the new Church of Mandisa. Paula! Thou shalt not worship false Idols! Although Mandisa is pretty much the real deal. Simon, hailing from a more secular land, thought it was a little self-indulgent.
Time for Chris Daughtry. For the record, before Chris sings, somebody else did this song first. So don't get all bent out of shape, folks. Creed? Aw, Chris. I know Scott Stapp is a genius artist and all, but geez. See how angry and intense Chris is right now? This is how I feel inside whenever I think of Scott Stapp. After the song, Chris struts off some of his leftover energy, then bows to his sensei. That was the first song choice Randy liked tonight, but this time he didn't like the vocal. Paula seems to really like Chris. Simon seems to have had enough Chris and asks to see something new from him. May I suggest sideburns shaved into an X instead of a Z? That would be different.
After telling us that nobody can be trusted - I've got my eyes on all you! - Kathy explains she's going to handle Xtina tonight. Actually, this is older. I guess she was still Christina at this point. Hmm. You know, as much as it pains me to say anything bad about Kathy, what the heck is she wearing? Two vests? She looks like she just came from a dinner theatre performance of Pocahontas. Randy wanted a little more from the performance. Paula thinks Kathy was at her best. Simon thinks it was the best performance of the night. I'm not sure how much of a compliment that is.
In case you didn't understand any of Bucky's pre-song piece, he's singing some country tonight. And dressing really country tonight. This almost qualifies as a Halloween costume. You know, I think Idol has taught me that country is the easiest to sing of all genres. Ah! Randy likes a song choice! Of course, he said nothing about the actual performance. Paula tells Bucky to not be so cornpone. Simon is no fan of Bucky. Maybe that was actually Rocky up there.
Is Paris going to sing tonight? Does she like any songs from this decade? Paris, emerging directly from an exploding supernova, struts out to start her song. Apparently this is Paris' first ponytail, as she has no idea how to control it and keep it out of her face. She'd better be careful with snapping and rolling her neck. Her extensions might fly clean off. It took all night, but Randy finally found something he liked. Paula loved it so much she had to stand up. Simon thought it was like a little girl pretending to be Beyonce, which, um, is exactly what it was.
Finishing off the evening is Elliott, who is dressed like Tupac in Juice. Well, Elliott's knees definitely work, there's no question about that. Hmm. Not sure how the judges are going to feel about this one. Randy thought it was fantastic. Paula loved it. Simon loved half of it and hated half of it, but the parts he loved are the important parts.