AUTHOR'S NOTE: Because this is already going to be long enough, and because there may be a large number of new readers reading this, I'm going to cut back on the jokes and the snark. (For snark and jokes, see the History of Episode Summaries here.) Also, because this is the first time we've done AI summaries, we're kind of inventing the format. Finally, where possible I'll put the song name and original performer, although since AI doesn't do anything helpful like, oh, show the song name and original performer, this might get tough at times. So let's get on with it!
Monday Night - Men
We open with Seacrest blathering about the voting, the audition process, and the fact that we, the audience, are in control. He introduces the men individually, points to where the women are sitting in the audience, and then describes the method by which we will get to twelve finalists. Ryan finishes by introducing the judges, then gets right into the singing. Each singer gets a brief black and white film clip from their audition before starting to sing.
Contestant: Nikko Smith
Song: Part Time Lover - Stevie Wonder
Randy's Comments: "You'd make Stevie proud. One of the best boy performances I've ever seen."
Paula's Comments: "Strong out of the box with an up tempo song."
Simon's Comments: "A background singers performance - the viewers will forget about you in six weeks."
My Comments: I admit, I'm biased. I've been a Cardinals fan for almost 40 years, since 1967. When I see Nikko, I see his dad. Not just the face, but the body and the movement. I want to like him before I hear him.
But I like him after I hear him too. A great rendition of one of my least favorite Stevie Wonder songs. Up tempo, peppy, well sung. If he had done a backflip before he sang, it would have been perfect. Should be a shoe-in for the final 12, in a fair world would make at least final 6.
Contestant: Scott Savol
Song: You Are My Lady -
Randy's Comments: "Not your best performance, not good song selection. Just all right for me."
Paula's Comments: "Good song choice because people wouldn't expect that from you."
Simon's Comments: "It will be interesting to see what the audience makes of you. You don't look like an American Idol. Good, not fantastic."
My Comments: Simon's right, but not in the way everyone thinks. Scott Savol doesn't look like an American Idol because Scott is a big guy, Scott doesn't look like an American Idol because he looks menacing. He looks like he could be the keynote speaker at an Aryan Nation convention. Rueben? Big guy, but looked like a teddy bear. Scott? Big guy, looks like he would cut you soon as look at you. If you're casting Gacy: The Musical Scott Savol is your man. American Idol? Not so much. Nice voice, but that's all. A shot at the final 12.
We come back, and Ryan is interviewing Bo Bice. Seacrest points out that Bo is a rocker. Bo points out that he would enjoy it more if he could do original material and be onstage with his guitar. Bo should have tried out for Nashville Star.
Contestant: Anthony Federov
Song: Hold Onto The Night - Richard Marx
Randy's Comments: "Good, boring, safe."
Paula's Comments: "Safe."
Simon's Comments: "Dull as dishwater. Predictable, left me completely cold."
My Comments: Back in my karaoke singing days, we had a standard game we would play anytime a guy would sing a Richard Marx song. That game? Sensitive or Just Trying To Get Some? We would place bets on whether or not the singer was just a sensitive guy or if he was just trying to hook up. Anthony Federov? Sensitive guy AND trying to hook up. Dull, boring, forgettable performance, but we've had so much of his story thrown at us that he's still going to get votes. A shot at the final 12, doesn't deserve to go far beyond that.
Contestant: Bo Bice
Song: Drift Away - Dobie Gray (others have covered it, but the only version worth listening to is Dobie Gray's version)
Randy's Comments: "I love people who know who they are. That was hot."
Paula's Comments: "Your voice feels good to the soul. You felt like a perfect pair of jeans."
My Comments: I know Drift Away. I love Drift Away. Mr. Bice, this is not a good version of Drift Away. There has to be some underlying pain to make Drift Away work. None in this version. Nice voice on Bo, but man. Watching him is as boring as watching, well, something really boring. He'll make the final twelve, and probably the final eight, but no farther.
Straight back into a contestant.
Song:My Cherie Amour - Stevie Wonder
Randy's Comments: "Here's the deal. Safe song. Good voice. Boring."
Paula's Comments: "You're magical, but not the right song choice for me."
Simon's Comments: "Out of tune, boring, and not even good enough for a hotel lobby."
My Comments: There's good versions of Stevie Wonder songs (see for example Smith, Nikko). There's bad versions of Stevie Wonder songs. And then there are mediocre versions of Stevie Wonder songs. This is a mediocre version of a Stevie Wonder song.
I think it's the case that once the cameras start rolling and contestants realize America is voting, one of two things happen. Either they realize this is it, kick it up a notch, and take flight, or they panic and start playing it as safely as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes the folks playing it safe can get pulled along for a long time (cough *Jasmine* cough). We'll see how far Travis gets pulled along. May make final twelve, shouldn't go far beyond that.