AMERICAN IDOL: Wake me up in May?

American Idol has gone live (clips below where I could find them), and I’m as interested in seeing who gets sent home tonight as I am in women’s curling (sorry curling fans). This season has been problematic for my second favorite reality-competition show (sorry Idol; Top Model wins out because it stands up to repeat viewings). The cracks began to show during the auditions. Those who were good weren’t mind-blowing and, for the most part, those who were bad were not bad enough. Without those extremes, I doubt I was the only fan longing to leave Denver and Boston and the rest and simply get to Hollywood. Surely they wouldn’t muck that up? Well… uh… yeah. They kind of did. True, that Mary Powers chick was exposed as all kinds of crazy during the group performances and the unfathomable rejection of Angela Martin worked in much the same way that a car crash provides a perverse thrill to passersby. But spreading the semi-final results over two episodes? It made for a jarring first night and a long, drawn out second night. But my hopes were high that once the contestants started singing for our votes, the Idol ship would right itself. Um… no.

Tuesday was Ladies’ Night. Now the judges are pimping hard for a female winner this year to the point where they’re basically telling the country that it’s a foregone conclusion. In theory, I don’t have much of an issue with this. After David and Kris, it’d be nice to see a girl take the confetti shower while singing an insipid ballad about climbing mountains, reaching for rainbows, feeling eight feet tall, etc. But if Tuesday night was any indication, there are only two or three girls who have any shot at victory. Crystal Bowersox and Siobhan Magnus did their thing. So too, although to a lesser extent, did Lilly Scott. But Ashley Rodriguez making like she was Leona Lewis and especially Janell Wheeler’s ill-advised take on Heart sapped much of their momentum. And the less said about Lacey Brown’s “Landslide” the better. The majority of these ladies have a long way to go before getting my vote, and when Tuesday’s live show ended, I thought that if it wasn’t for the producers’ insistence on 6 guys and 6 girls, we’d weed out even more of these singers before moving to the big stage. Because the boys would have to have a stronger outing on Wednesday, right? Right?

Boys, boys, boys! What were you thinking?! Casey James won the night by default for simply being okay in a sea of god awful. Todrick Hall needs to return to the set of Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “Feels Good” video. Tyler Grady is going to need more than a mall makeover to improve his chances of taking the title. And what of poor Tim Urban, the kid who got a second chance in the wake of the Chris Golightly controversy? His take on “Apologize” might go down as the single worst live performance in the history of the franchise. We get that you want a girl to win, but letting Tim sing a song where he could barely sing 40% of the notes? Have you no shame?

As for the judges, well Kara is bitchier this time around and Randy is a tad more coherent (but just a tad). Simon seems bored, already counting the days until he can wash his hands of the whole damned thing. And Ellen? I love her, love her show, but she reminds me of Kara from last year. When Kara first appeared in Season 8, she was a breath of fresh air for about half a second. Initially Ellen had the same effect, but now she’s just sitting there, not contributing anything particularly useful or insightful. Is it too late for Paula to come back?

Anyway, four singers will exit stage left before tonight is out. I’m not even going to guess who’s going home because so many deserve to be put out of their (and our) misery. Let’s hope these past two nights can be attributed to nerves. Because if things keep up like this, I don’t know if I can hang in there until May.

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