I’m trying hard to take a ”glass half-full” view of tonight’s episode of American Idol. After all, during the course of the one-hour telecast, we got to see 29 individual contestants singing, a particularly insane piece of sculptural jewelry from Paula Abdul, and the introduction of ”Believe” to the Idol oeuvre — signaling what I can only hope will be an inevitable guest-mentor appearance by the remarkable, unsinkable Cher.
The problem is, though, I can’t shake the suspicion that the show’s producers are spiking the Idol punch with a drop or two of musical arsenic — in the form of Tatiana Del Toro and that recurring ”joke” with the headband — and that’s making me reluctant to pick up the aforementioned glass, to emotionally invest in season 8 with the kind of unhealthy enthusiasm that’ll have me shedding tears over performances (and ousters) no later than early March. And it isn’t helping that Fox is doing everything short of hurling its pre-determined house specials in my face: ”Order the Adam Lambert-tini! Here, drink the Danny Gokey Kool-Aid! And how about another round(s) of Lil?” Note to Idol‘s production team: I’m still perusing the cocktail menu; please put away the drink funnel and stop trying to force your personal favorites down my gullet!
Okay, but my glass is supposed to be half-full right now. My. Glass. Is. Half. Full. (Or at least it will be for the first third of this column.)
So on that upbeat note, let’s talk about what went right on Idol tonight. After last week’s ”group performances” debacle — you remember, the episode where we got 30 minutes of yelling and crying without a single note of singing? — episode 3 of season 8’s extended Hell Week proceedings (focusing on the final pre-top 36 auditions) was packed with music. And some of it was quite good! Which brings us to our breakdown of tonight’s performances, starting with…
The Rising Stars: Let’s put our hands together for Anne Marie Boskovich, Anoop Desai, Kristin McNamara, Nathaniel Marshall, and (I didn’t see this one coming) Matt Giraud!
Of the quintet, I’d say I’m closest to becoming a fan of Anne Marie and Anoop. The former may not have the biggest voice of this season’s female contestants, but from what I’ve heard thus far, she’s got one of the most pleasing, a point she underlined with her sweet, unforced (an adjective that’s all too rare in season 8) rendition of ”I Hope You Dance.” In a weird way, I kind of liken Anne Marie to an organic chicken farmer; her product might not be as big and burly as the hormone-injected behemoths cranked out by the poultry plants, but you can’t argue with its flavor.