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Haterade's Idol Anal-ysis: Round of 13

We have our final 12..er...13. But for Haterade, it's just more people to scrutinize as he doesn't know what's more painful - 13 raw performers or 13 people singing Michael Jackson.

So we've upped the ante, and upped the budget, getting who I believe is Mark Thompson doing the intros and having Ryan Seacrest walk down a flight of stairs. I'm waiting for Seacrest to pull a Jim Peck moment on 'The Big Showdown' and cascade head first into a crumpled heap on the floor.

Something that I've always dreaded, and dreaded continuously in the history of this show is people singing Michael Jackson. So imagine my lack of enthusiasm when we see that this week is the week of the King of Pop. Don't get me wrong. Michael Jackson, as eclectic as he is, is amazing, but no one should be attempting his songs. Yet 13 of these singers will, and I can only wonder what mess we will be getting this evening. Jason Block is also joining us so I can have someone to endure the potential horror with.

Lil Rounds starts us off this evening with 'The Way You Make Me Feel'. At the end of this, I hope that I don't feel like I need an enema.
The Good: She makes the song her own and saves it from going into Karaoke land. She also brings the attitude to the song the way that it needs to go. It's a nice spunky rendition of this song. And she snuck in a nice little money note at the end.
The Bad: It would be a better rendition if she didn't noticeably screw up a few musical passageways. She did not hold all of the pitches correctly. And Im wondering what part of a dead flamingo she's got stapled to her shoulders.
The Jason: Above average Karaoke-esque performance. I liked the way she changed the lyrics (again). She will pass into next week with no problem.
The Verdict: Paula thinks she's going to the finals. Not so fast, but a good start. Besides the fact that Simon Cowell is getting very close to playing pattty cake with the contestants ('Give me 5 minutes with Lil and I'll straighten her out', Simon? Really?) It was a good performance. I don't think she'll win best of the night, but she is not going to have a problem this evening.

Will Scott MacIntyre have any problems this evening? He's going to try to sing 'Keep the Faith', and he hopes you voters do as well.
The Good: I guess this is a good song. I guess he sings it well. I like the piano playing. I do like his singing in the middle of the song and I think he hits the high pitched section. I guess he hits the right notes...
The Bad: ...because this is around as obscure a song selection that you can get. Simon nailed it on the head. You can be artistic, but American Idol is the place where you have to be artistic in a mainstream sense, not artistic in a 'let's find an old song and try to make people remember it' sort of way. And too many of those this early in the season puts you at risk to get your walking papers prematurely. Just ask Mandisa.
The Jason: Loved the piano blues inspiration of the arrangement. Definitely made it his own. Moves on easily.
The Verdict: It's amazing that he gets to play the piano that well and he can deliver it. Again, not the best performance, but I don't think he has a problem surviving the week, either.

Danny Gokey had a lot of love in Milwaukee. Now he's going to do 'Pretty Young Thing'...in an R&B style? Ooookaaaayyyyy....
The Good: If we can forget the first 60 seconds of the performance, it wasn't awful. He does bring an energy to the song that needs to be there. The vocals were very good after the first minute.
The Bad: A for Effort. D for Execution. What was that? Taking a page from the Adam Lambert book of smoldering at the start of a song is not a good thing. Missing the notes doesn't help. Pondering to the female judges doesn't help. Pondering to the crowds doesn't help. And as for the choreography, he didn't need Paula to teach him, he needed Paula to dance for him.
The Jason: If he kept it slow throughout the piece (a la Junot Joyner), I would have liked it a lot more than I did. This is a Taylor Hicks-like mess. This was a major disappointment. Although the judges loved him, I wasn't thrilled.
The Verdict: Paula also thinks he's going to the finals. Not if he keeps doing this stuff, Paula. Sure it's joy and he's a very charismatic person, and sure the performance won't hurt him, but he should be really happy he has a wide fan base here.

Someone that doesn't have a wide fan base is Michael Sarver, and unlike the first 3 singers, he has little margin for error. He needs to blow this song out of the box. The selected song? 'You Are Not Alone'.
The Good: He can sing. He can hit the money notes, and what he did was a very nice, passionate effort. He did the best he could do...
The Bad: ...with a song that I can use to replace Ambient. What sort of boring garbage is this? Another bad song choice. And again, it doesn't give you an opportunity to get a vocal range. He also screwed up the key transition, and the cracking in the voice when he switched keys was very noticeable.
The Jason: It felt robotic and passionless. His arm movements were weird and all over the place.
The Verdict: He can sing. But we know that all of them can sing. The problem is that I don't think he was as ambitious as everyone else so far, and unless some people stink up the joint later on tonight, he could have some issues. That being said, I am convinced that we will be hearing worse.

Jasmine Murray is also on the bubble, but being an R&B singer in an R&B themed night, she should have no problem with 'I'll Be There', which of course was sung by Michael Jackson long before Mariah Carey got her hands on it.
The Good: She hit the money notes as well as she could hit them. Now why do I say that?
The Bad: Because she shouldn't perform a song like this if she can't hit the high range. Bringing the song down to her octave level is not a great idea, because we just heard Mariah Carey sing that song better, and Jasmine's version sounds watered down. What Jasmine really needs to be there for her is one of those digital analoguers that helped Cher in 'Believe', because she needs the same thing to help fix all of those flat notes she was singing the entire song.
The Jason: Something about the performance didn't click for me. No passion. Nothing. It seems like she was trying to prove her worth in the competition. Too safe of a choice, and not safe in the competition.
The Verdict: Hey Michael! Here's worse! She better hope some of the other Wild Cards falter, because she's going to be sitting in one of those bottom 3 or 4 stools if they don't.

Now if there's anyone who should have no problem with Michael Jackson, it's Kris Allen, who took the Wild Card with 'Man in the Mirror'. Now he brings his guitar with 'Remember The Time'.
The Good: Now THIS is how you change up a vocal. Take a well-known R&B song and infuse a Country/Rock vibe into it, add guitar, and make it relevant. Scott MacIntyre needed to take notes of this performance.
The Bad: But one thing that Scott had all over Kris was the pitch, which didn't remember the time on the second half of the song. He completely flubbed the money note and the pitch took a nosedive. And there's NO WAY that you help people look better, because in this competition, when you make people look better, all it does is make you look worse.
The Jason: Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong song choice. And you don't walk away from the microphone when the song starts. He could be going home.
The Verdict: Despite the wacky pitch, I think he pulled the song off enough to be safe. The screaming girls in the background will prove me correct here.

Can rock chick Allison Iraheta do Michael Jackson? She's going to try with 'Give Into Me'.
The Good: She did the only thing she could do with this song, which is to rock it out and give a completely different take on it.
The Bad: However, the only way this works is if you can understand what she's singing - which you can't. Another issue that I have is once again, people don't know the song and they don't know if she's singing it well. There's so many good songs that she could have selected which makes me wonder if this is going to come back to bite her.
The Jason: What the hell was this mess? A mumbly out of tune disaster. Her look comes straight out of 'Little Girl Trying to Be Big' School. I think she just sang herself out of the competition.
The Verdict: It's a fair performance. I don't like the song choice, but if she's the only person who rocks it out, then she should be safe. The problem is that if Adam also rocks it out, she can be in a world of hurt. We'll see later on in the show.

Anoop Desai wants to bring energy, and he decides to do...Beat It? Hoo boy...
The Good: ...the jacket makes him chic.
The Bad: Plenty here. For starters, he sang it back by the numbers, which makes it a pure Karaoke effort. If you check out what he says, notice 'It's my favorite', not 'it's something that I think the crowd will enjoy'. That screams self-indulgence. And both the outfit and choreography make him look more apt to sing 'Thriller'. Speaking of which, most zombies that I know of usually don't remember the lyrics or sing in pitch, so this evening, Anoop could definitely be considered one of the walking undead.
The Jason: One of the rules in this competition is to be either really good or really bad and still make it through if you have a name or face time. This is Anoop's one mistake. Any other week he would be gone, because this was A-wful.
The Verdict: A-Nope. That was a ghastly mess. Yet, the screaming audience and VFTW crowd may make him safe by default.

Jorge Nunez hopes he can do better than Anoop Desai (and face it, he can't do much worse) with 'Never Can Say Goodbye'.
The Good: As an R&B singer with pop roots, and for someone who has a high vocal range, this is a great song selection. He nails the chorus and the high register, which is what made it a great song choice.
The Bad: However, getting to said chorus was bordering on excruciating. He was really pitchy and the version of the song was really old. For someone who didn't have screen time and who couldn't afford a bad performance, this was really ill-timed.
The Jason: Right song choice, but something was missing. I don't know what, because he proved that he's got a killer voice. If he could find who he is, he can be a force to be reckoned with in this competition. I liked it. I didn't love it.
The Verdict: Jorge, 'I didn't want to sing 'Bad'". Simon, 'You just did'. Unfortunately, Simon hit it on the head. And now that he's competing with the big boys, and probably not getting the votes (which will be going to said big boys), Jorge may wind up saying Goodbye much sooner than planned.

Megan Corkery says hi to CJ, hi to her kid and hi to her song, which is 'Rockin Robin'.
The Good: I like the dress. It was nice and frilly. A nice 1960's dress contrasted with her 2000's grunge tattoos, 3 centimeters away from each other.
The Bad: If Jorge's song made him look old, Megan's song and accompaniment makes her look like Grandma Moses. What was that? And I think if real robins heard that song, they'd be attacking Megan a la Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds'.
The Jason: One word. Huh? This had an 'Up With People' performance all over it. I felt nothing from this performance except wanting to vomit. She is definitely one of the candidates for elimination.
The Verdict: She needed to have a great performance. This was probably the second worst performance of the evening (to be only worsened by Anoop). The song choice was terrible and the performance was worse. Megan may be replacing 'Tweet' with 'Croak'.

Adam Lambert is looking for his big dream. Can he do it with 'Black and White'?
The Good: From a pitch standpoint, he nailed the song. He was able to make the vocal embellishments his own, while staying within the style of the song. Him bouncing around the stage like Super Prozac Bunny didn't hurt his cause.
The Bad: I actually thought this was going to be a good song choice, but the problem is that his vocal tone doesn't go with the arrangement of the song. We have Broadway/Rock Out Adam singing a popped out version, which naturally clashes. It feels like squeezing an orange in your chocolate milk - it tastes ok but it makes you feel queasy. And a special boo to Paula, who's now put Adam, Danny and Lil in the finals - which makes 3 people in a 2 person finale.
The Jason: Same problem as Anoop. While the judges were fawning over him, I was wondering if they sipped Paula's Coca-Cola cup. Oversang, overblown performance. He will get by this week on reputation only.
The Verdict: I was not as in love with this performance as the judges were, but he rocked out the song. He did perform as a seasoned veteran, and that plus the judges heaping of praise upon him means he'll be fine tonight. But someone who may not be - Allison. Why? Because if Adam drew all the rock vote, then people will forget what Allison did and will not vote for her.

Matt Giraud credits dad as his biggest fan. How will daddy react when he hears his son sing 'Human Nature'?
The Good: He actually uses the tremolo in a good way this time. I like the song choice for him because it allows him to play the piano and do his own renditions at the end - a trill rendition that he performs nicely to complete the song.
The Bad: And it's good that the piano playing will mask his pitch. It's a good song because it's well known, but it's not completely suitable for his voice.
The Jason: Nice performance of one of my personal favorites off the Thriller album. Has no worries for next week.
The Verdict: Unfortunately, he's right behind Adam with the performance and he was rushed quickly - sort of like an afterthought. And that's too bad, because since he was selected by the judges as a Wild Card, he needs all the screen time that he can get. The lack of it and that afterthought mentality may get him sent to the bottom stools.

Alexis Grace closes us out tonight with Dirty Diana, which is appropriate because she had to dirty herself up just to get to this point in the competition.
The Good:Great song for her to select. She really brought the fire as well. She also nailed the pitch at the end.
The Bad: Simon was right. it was over the top and she oversang the song. Maybe it was the nerves and adrenaline - or maybe it was that the song was taken a little bit quicker than it should have been, because it seemed like Alexis was trying to catch up to the rest of the band in the lyrics, which may have led to the oversing in the chorus.
The Jason: Cemented her place as a favorite to win the competition. She has it. She has the swagger, stage presence and the singing power to make it very far in this competition.
The Verdict: Not the best performance of the night, and actually it was one of the weaker ones. That being said, I think she won't have a problem tonight.

Overall Verdict: I always like the first Finalist round because it sets the tone for what you are going to be hearing this season. You had a bunch of solid performances from some, and for others...not so much. Most of the front-runners did their thing, and won't have problems. Anoop, though dreadful, is also going to be ok.

Historically, in the first week of the finals (when you had this format), usually a Wild Card or a judges pick falls. That points us to Megan, Jasmine, and Jorge, the 3 people who had far and away, the worst performances. I also think you can throw Allison in there too, because Adam wiped the floor with her.

However, we have a 'twist' this year. From what my spies have been telling me, the twist is that America votes the people in the bottom two, but whoever gets eliminated IS DETERMINED BY THE JUDGES. Why? Because 1. The 'Sing for your Lives' theme that's been prevalent in this season of the series and 2. it effectively gives people a reason to watch the show and listen to the performances, instead of 55 minutes of filler and 5 minutes of announcement. I do not like this idea at all, because now you don't just sing for America, you sing for the judges, and the thought that 'Anyone Can Win' has now gone down the toilet. It's now anyone can win...as long as they make Simon, Randy, Kara and Paula happy (and maybe it's a silent message from the producers to the public that they no longer trust your opinion as to who would make them the most amount of money).

If that rule is in effect, that means that Allison is going to be safe. That also means that Jorge and Megan, who both got lambasted by the judges, are going to be in deep trouble. They better not fall in the bottom 4, because if they do, it's game over. I have a hunch though, that both scenarios will play out.

TROUBLE: Jasmine Murray, Megan Corkrey, Jorge Nunez, Allison Iraheta

OUT: Megan Corkrey, Jorge Nunez

The Jason:

TROUBLE: Jasmine Murray, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, Megan Corkery

OUT: Jasmine Murray, Megan Corkery

Join us in 24 hours to see what the judges decide.
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