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American Idol recap: Underdogs To the Rescue?

On a night of solid semifinal performances, here’s hoping at least one under-the-radar contestant sails through to the top 12

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American Idol 0303
Ju'Not Joyner: Frank Micelotta/American Idol/Getty Images

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

Maybe it’s the chest cold I’ve been fighting for the last five days, or maybe it’s overriding concern/excitement/bewilderment regarding American Idol‘s upcoming Wild Card round, but somewhere during tonight’s Group 3 semifinal telecast, I ran out of cynicism. Oh sure, it wasn’t lost on me that the producers handed the pimp spot (shocker!) to Lil Rounds. Or that Jorge Nuñez was treated to adoring close-ups and ridiculous split-screen action. Or that the judges somehow managed to subtly campaign for Scott MacIntyre despite their criticisms of his song choice and his vocal performance.

You see, normally, any one of those manipulations would send me into a white-hot rage, especially considering three other terrific contestants — Ju’Not Joyner, Kristen McNamara, and Felicia Barton — saw their own hopes for the season 8 finals dimmed by said imbalances. But tonight, I’m oddly calm. And when I think long and hard about it, it’s because deep down, I know it would be insincere for me to argue against any one of the six aforementioned contestants scoring a spot in the final 12.

Oh sure, for my money, I’d take Ju’Not’s gorgeous restraint over Jorge’s unrepentant bombast, and choose Kristen’s saucy vocal stylings over Scott’s pleasant but milquetoast tendencies. And, well, if I’m going to get behind a sweet diva mom who offers powerful (if not entirely original) renditions of recent R&B hits, there’s part of me that wants to crankily side with the one who hasn’t been forced on me like lima beans to a grade-schooler, even if the more hyped one sang better.

But whatever. When it comes to Idol heartbreak, there are far worse cases than a ”Lil-or-Felicia” death match. Heck, this season alone, we’ve seen Michael Sarver (how lucky does dude look now?) pilfer a Silver Stool of Safety that should’ve gone to Anoop Desai or Ricky Braddy. And looking back on the show’s long and controversial history, outrage in the Idol nation over a ”Jorge-over-Ju’Not” (or ”Ju’Not-over-Jorge”) vote-off would be infinitesimal compared to the Doomsday scenarios of yesteryear — like Jasmine Trias over Jennifer Hudson, or Haley Scarnato over Sabrina Sloan. (Yeah, the latter decision still stings.)

In other words, when I finish an Idol semfinal telecast and realize I’ve gotten at least some enjoyment from nine of the 12 performances, I know I’d better stifle my inner Cranky McCrankenpants, try to tune out the off-key caterwauling of the Idol backup singers, and let my inner Paula go run through the poppy fields. (Blame that last sentence on the Mucinex, people! I told you I have a chest cold!)

NEXT: Ju’Not, your are good