Cardinmckinney_240It’s a truth universally acknowledged that it’s almost impossible to win on American Idol if you aren’t featured in some prominent way in the heavily watched American Idol audition episodes. That’s why Wednesday (Feb. 6) night’s Best of the Rest clip show was so important.

Basically, for more than a few members of this season’s already selected Top 24, singers who watched their respective audition cities with increased disappointment and desperation, Wednesday’s hour was the last chance to get exposure before next week’s quickie Hollywood round and the start of live voting the week after.

No pressure or anything.

So who did we meet on Wednesday’s Idol who we’ll probably see again?

Well, after an unusual rush of pre-show hype nearly unparalleled in the show’s history (I even wrote about it in a post outlining this blog’s feelings on Idol spoilers), we finally got an actual glimpse at Cardin McKinney. I don’t know if Cardin had a thing to do with her premature coronation, but it did her no favors. Her version of "One Night Only" was stagy and a poor selection for an Idol showcase. If I were auditioning for an all-white touring company of Dreamgirls — I can’t think of a stupider thing I could possibly be doing, but whatever… — I’d cast Cardin in a second, but I was led to expect a future pop sensation and not a future Broadway understudy.

Another known quantity who wasn’t quite as good as the buzz suggested was JoAnne Borgella. They mentioned that JoAnne is a plus-sized model and a singer, but somehow nobody thought to include her status as winner of Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance, a plus-sized beauty pageant that aired on Oxygen. As the judges pointed out, JoAnne made a really dumb choice in trying to sing a Celine Dion song through her nose. It’ll be interesting to see what she can do if she picks better pieces, because she’s definitely attractive and confident.

Also fitting into the "attractive and confident" camp was Amy Davis, whose story about overcoming a lower-than-lower-middle-class upbringing wasn’t especially entrancing (you have to do better than "I’m ever-so-po’" to get the Idol love), but the cameraman and Simon seemed equally entranced by Amy’s, um… other assets. Her mammaries. Her breasts. Her chest. Sorry. Let’s go back to euphemisms. They were entranced by her "obvious talent" and "dangling earrings." Randy said he liked the "possibilities of her voice" and wanted to see her "bigger repertoire." I can’t help but feel like every word anybody said to Amy was meant as a smutty double-entendre.

The judges also found themselves doing double-talk with Danny Noriega, a 17-year-old who apparently bombed an audition last year. I’d prefer not to talk about Danny’s sexuality, but when he said he was singing "Proud Mary," Randy snorted "Of course." It was a good audition, albeit flamboyant, which is the same sort of euphemism the judges were hinting at when they talked about Danny being confident in himself and knowing who he is. To my mind, the guy looked talented, but he also seemed like an outcast from that odd year (Season 5) when the judges went with a teenybopper-friendly Top 24 that included Will Makar, Daniel Radford and Kevin Covais.

Who else looked interesting? I like Chikezie Eze’s name more than his voice, but if he makes it far enough we can start calling him either the Velvet Teddybear II or the Velour Teddybear. He has that Studdard kind of vibe.

And even when she sang Dolly Parton, I didn’t think Alesha Stelzl was any good at all, but I loved the revelation that when prodded, Ryan Seacrest can break into an extended medley of Parton tunes.

I think those were the Hollywood-bound singers we caught.

For the most part the rejects felt like the rejected-rejects they were.

If Jay Smoove hadn’t pulled a handful of glitter, rose pedals and lint from his pocket and tossed it limply on the floor mid-verse, would have have been notably bad enough to make it on TV? Probably not, though at least one Idol production assistant got a silent on-screen cameo out of the deal, cleaning up Jay Smoove’s mess.

And yes, Tiffany McCampbell’s voice was pretty poor and her forehead was gigantic, but would anybody have felt the need to mock her if she hadn’t decided to write down on her audition form that her voice came from God?

The only freaks and geeks who I found entertaining were twins Cory and Chris Lane and their passed-around girlfriend Ashley Lawing. The meat-headed twins tried doing a battle rap aimed at the Brittenum twins, except that whichever twin had the rhyme-spitting responsibilities got stuck on "Here we go… Let’s go… Here we go…" as Paula watched quizzically. Ashley was far better, if only because she serves as a prime exemplar of a certain kind of bubble-headed beauty capable of getting by on her tight skirts and Southern accent alone. When she passed her tiny Pomeranian Panda over to Simon and said, "As long as you put me through to Hollywood, you can have whatever you want," I half-expected him to put her through to Hollywood on the spot. Who knows how far she could have made it if she didn’t sound like a ditzy sorority girl singing karaoke after one-too-many rounds of quarters, but even after being eviscerated by the judges, her incredulous "Excrutiatin’?!?!?" was a hoot.

Even though reports say that the Hollywood round has eliminated the always entertaining trio performances, I’m mighty excited to start getting to the good stuff. How ’bout you?

Did I miss any of tonight’s winners or losers? And who are you looking forward to seeing in Hollywood?

And check out all of our American Idol coverage over at the appropriately titled Zap2it’s Guide to American Idol.

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg