In American Idol‘s previous seven seasons, Hollywood Week has often unfolded like a ridiculous soap opera, so I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the first night of season 8’s edition tried (with varying degrees of success) to follow a script straight off the set of daytime drama. There was the plucky heroine with the big smile (Lil Rounds) and the leading man with the tragic past (Danny Gokey). There was the adorable ingénue (Jasmine Murray) and the sexy geek (Anoop Desai). And with the presence of ”Norman Gentle” and ”Bikini Girl,” the roles of ”comic” relief and trashy villainess were covered. Heck, even the cannon-fodder came through brilliantly, popping up out of nowhere, then getting dispatched with all the fanfare of an extra on Lost who utters a line or two, then ends up with a flaming arrow sticking out of his chest.
Still, what makes for a great scripted drama doesn’t always work in the world of reality television, and missing from tonight’s telecast was a sense of the unexpected, the possibility that you might be about to witness the painful downfall of one of the promising contestants the producers made you fall in love over the last three weeks. At the same time, Idol whiffed when it came to introducing those dozens of Hell Week participants who hadn’t gotten a stitch of airtime during the audition rounds. Really, are we supposed to believe we’ve seen — and more importantly, heard — from every member of the top 36 by now? (Well, actually, you can answer that question with confidence if you happen to read — and more importantly, believe — online spoilers. Which kinda makes me wonder why Fox doesn’t announce its 36 semifinalists in a live broadcast, instead of taping the ”elevator of doom” episode weeks in advance.)
Anyhow, before we take a deep dive into episode 8 of season 8, I’d like to share the list of name-brand contestants who I determined — using my DVR’s pause and rewind functions — to be among the 104 singers who survived into the group-performance rounds (without scoring any significant airtime tonight): Deanna ”husky voiced” Brown (yay!), Megan ”tattooed arm” Corkrey, Michael ”Jason’s bro” Castro, Joanna ”I was once signed to A&M” Pacitti, Arianna ”adopt a grandfriend” Afsar, Matt ”dueling pianos” Giraud, Leneshe ”Nati” Young, Matt ”welder dude” Breitzke, Alex ”eyebrows” Wagner-Trugman, Brent Keith ”country dood” Smith, Anne Marie ”makeover” Boskovich, Adam ”too theatrical for Simon” Lambert, Alexis ”hubby at military academy” Grace, Scott ”legally blind guy” McIntyre, Melinda ”almost naked” Camille, Austin ”class president” Sisneros, David ”yeah, those Osmonds” Osmond, and Frankie ”Winehouse impersonator” Jordan.
NEXT: Lil bit too much love for Lil Rounds