Quick spoilers for American Idol coming up after the jump:
Because there is just so much incredible talent on season 8 of American Idol, the producers are going with 13, count ‘em 13, finalists this year. Last night’s wild cards included Megan and Jasmine (as I predicted) and (as I did not predict) both Matt and Anoop, selected in a last-minute twist thrown in to screw over those of us who did not pad out Tivos with a few minutes’ extra recording time.
None of the choices was really outrageous, though I believe Jesse was royally screwed over,having delivered one of the best vocals and the best song choice of the night with “Tell Me Something Good.” (Mainly, I think, I was rooting for her because she at least seems to have some musical taste.) But as I wrote yesterday, last night seemed to bear out that the judges were just looking for rationalizations to pick who they were going to pick. Jesse clearly couldn’t make the cut because she fell into the same quirky-sultry-voice niche as Megan, but is not blonde.
Thus you had the judges weirdly denigrating Jesse (Randy at one point used “interesting,” which her performance actually was, as a criticism), while praising Megan without having much good to say about her actual vocal. To quote Simon (who was at least honest): “It wasn’t the best vocal we’re ever going to hear, but it doesn’t matter. It was terrific.” Which would make sense if, for instance, Megan—whose vocal tone I actually like—had some dynamic stage presence beyond swinging her arms like a landed octopus. But: pretty pretty pretty!
Tatiana, meanwhile, was unsurprisingly eliminated after the judges got her to turn on the waterworks one more time. In what might have been an embarrassing moment if the judges had any self-consciousness about this sort of thing, they roundly criticized her for performing a song she had earlier, minutes before having to praise Anoop for doing the same thing. (Mind you, I’m glad Anoop got through, because I think he works the stage better than most of the rest put together, and I don’t think Tatiana had a shot in the first place, but still.)
The person I felt sorriest for last night, though: Taylor Hicks, who won a season of Idol, yet whose name is now universally acknowledged as an insult—when Simon compared Matt with him, the crowd booed. Booed! I just hope the poor guy wasn’t watching.
That said, the wild-card round has me feeling slightly better about the finals being able to hold my attention. Do you feel the same? Should they have gone for 14? And who’s your pick to win it all now?