We join out final 54 American Idol contestants at the [dun dun dun] Judges’ Mansion. 18 of them will have their dreams crushed, as 36 others get to continue on in front of the American Public. Who will it be? THIS… IS AMERICAN IDOL! [bah dah da-da-da-da-da-da buhhhh dahhh]

There’s a new twist on the Chair of Judgment segment. Each contestant will walk down a garden path and into a large room, where they have to sit on a cushy throne in front of the 4 judges and some of them will have to “sing for their survival.” Intense. The first one up is Anoop Desai. He is unanimously through and he cries. “Make me wan’ Anoop.” [Salt n Pepa]

Von Smith (hey, we haven’t seen him in awhile!) is our second victim. We relive his “indulgent nonsense” from the first day of Hollywood Week. Sometimes Simon reminds me of Professor McGonagall. I half-expect him to turn into a kitty cat. Anyway, Von is another of our Top 18 guys. I think that’s a solid choice, but he better bring it in the first group of 12 week.

Next is Cody Sheldon and I don’t believe we’ve really seen him since his initial audition in Phoenix. They ask him to sing one more time BUT THEN they bring Alex Wagner-Trugman in to “sing-off” with Cody. So this isn’t jsut “sing for your survival,” it’s like THUNDERDOME! Two men enter, one man leaves. That is SO harsh. I LOVE IT!

Cody sings “Love Remains the Same” and then Alex sings “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and I’ll admit, though I like Cody’s look better, Alex does a better job in the sing-off. I’m not sure how they decided it had to be between these two, though. I could see them both making the Top 36. They come back in and the judges let them know that Alex is through and Cody is out. Bummer, but based on the sing-off that’s the right decision.

Adam Lambert is our next throne-sitter. I’ve said before, his voice is too high for my personal taste, but I have no doubt that he’s through. He’s all “edgy” and “different” without being “ugly” and “creepy.” Adam is unanimously through to Hollywood (after some screwing around from Simon).

Our first girl of the night is Taylor Vaifanua and she kicks off a montage of girls getting through that include Taylor, Jasmine Murray, Arianna Afsar (who?), Casey Carlson, Megan Corkrey (yay!), Mishavonna Henson, Stevie Wright (yay!), and Joanna Pacitti (try to remember the words on live TV, dummy).

We now have a montage of rejections with TK Hash, Chris Chatman, and Reggi Beasley. Well, I can’t cry too many tears over guys I’ve never seen before. I hate the way this show is edited sometimes.

Kendall Beard is our next girl and, frankly, a pretty, long-haired, tan girl who can pretty much sing will almost surely get through (see: Haley Scarnato, Antonella Barba, and the other long-haired waifs from that season). Sure enough, Kendall is through.

We now get our first sneak peek of a married couple who auditioned together. Wow, where did these two come from? I wish we’d seen them before now. The husband, Tom Korbee, was sent home after Group Day, but the wife, Jenn Korbee, is still in it. She is in a sing-off, so she sings “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice.”

The other half of the sing-off is Kristen McNamara and even though I haven’t seen Jenn before, I’m rooting for her. She’s good. Kristen sings “I’ll Always Love You” and she does a nice job, but she has too many vocal affectations for my taste and not enough support. From the diaphragm, girl! Also, she appears to be wearing two shirts, an ugly belt, and seafoam green cowboy boots. NO NO NO! The judges are split, but eventually go with Kristen. Simon makes his feelings known about it being the wrong decision, which isn’t super-nice to Kristen, but at least he’s honest. They also advise her to work on her image. YES!

Alexis Grace, the hottie pink-haired mom, is up next. She’s through! Yippee! So are Scott MacIntyre and Lil Rounds. So we got all of our sob-stories over in one fell swoop. That’s good. Don’t want to get diabetes or anything. Hahaha.

Montage of Rejections: Felicia Barton, Ashley Hollister, and Devon Baldwin. All together now, “WHO?” Exactly. Good lord. ARGH.

Our next Thunderdome is Frankie Jordan versus Jesse Langseth. I really like both of these girls, their voices are so unique. What a bummer. Frankie sings “The Story” and Jesse sings “Like a Feather.” They are both terrible song choices and Simon says, “Neither.” Seriously. I like them both, but that sing-off was terrible. The one who makes it through is Jesse. Simon makes sure to tell them that neither of them could win. He’s so great. 

Montage of Rejections: Shera Lawrence and Derik Lavers (whooooo?). Their montage is punctuated by what might be the greatest exchange on this show EVER:

Shera: This has been very emotional, ya know. You see people and you think to yourself maybe this is the last time you’re going to see them.
Simon: Uh, Shera… it is.


Now we have Allison Iraheta, a 16 year-old with a nice smoky voice. She is through. It’s not part of a montage. It was just there. Huh.

We move on to friends Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers. They are worried about one of them going home and one of them staying, which might be some big foreshadowing. Yikes. Danny is up first and he’s through. Jamar is not. SAD DAY! I wanted to see them continue together. Plus, Jamar is better than some of the guys who get through (spoiler!).

Montage of Yesses: Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud, Ju’not Joyner, Jorge Nunez, and Brent Keith. Really? No Jamar Rogers? Hmmm.

Stephen Fowler (the guy who had a keyboard meltdown on the last day of Hollywood) is up next. Inspite of his little mishap, he’s through because of “his talent,” according to Paula. That’s all well and good, but I don’t want to hear any more “Forget the words and you’re out” crap.

Sigh. Now we get Liza Minelli Dame Edna Rupaul Norman Gentle/Nick Mitchell. I’m torn on this guy because there are moments of a nice voice, I’m just sick of his schtick. Fortunately, he is through! Wow, I’m surprised. He could be Vote for the Worst trouble, but I’ll give him a chance if he reins in the schtick. I can’t believe, though, that Jamar Rogers is out and Nick Mitchell is in. Hmmmm.

Jackie Tohn is up next. She’s the resident Rocker Chick. I enjoy her immensely, she’s like a more-talented Amanda Obermeyer. Luckily, the judges agree with me and put her through.

We now have to deal with the trainwreck basketcase freak-show that is Tatiana del Toro. She is disgusting and needs some serious help. I don’t even care that she can pretty much sing. She scares me. Unfortunately, we have at least one more week of this lunatic. Blargh.

Our last sing-off is between Jackie Midkiff, a guy we’ve never seen, and Nate Marshall, a crying drama queen. Jackie sings “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Nate sings “I’m Already There”. I can’t really pay attention, though, because he’s dressed like an extra from Flashdance. Yikes. The boy can sing, though. I’m just going to get reeeeaaaal sick of the crying. The judges agree and put through Nate Marshall.

Montage of Yesses: Jeanine Vailes (oooh,
she’s purty!), Kai Kalama, Anne Marie Boskovich, and Kris Allen.

There are two contestants left, Michael Sarver and Matt Breitzke. It’s the Thunderdome of the Tough Guys, with Michael the Oil Rig Guy and Matt the Welder. Matt is up first and he sings “Satisfied.” It’s a weird song choice. Michael sings “Something Very Pretty That I Can’t Find Even Through the Use of Google.” Awesomely enough, they are BOTH through. I love it. Big cute teddy bear guys who aren’t creepy (coughScottSavolcough) are fantastic. Yay!

Turns out our leaked Top 36 was spot-on. Nick Western is Nick Mitchell and Nate McGee is Nate Marshall (we were iffy on those names anyway).

Also, there is BREAKING NEWS regarding the Idol Top 36, so check it out here. Someone is out and someone else is in. Oh, the drama!

Tune in the next three weeks for the Groups of 12. Seacrest tells us that our first group is Casey Carlson, Stephen Fowler, Jackie Tohn, Ricky Braddy, Anne Marie Boskovich, Brent Keith, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Stevie Wright, Danny Gokey, Tatiana del Toro and Anoop Desai.

Wow, that is a lot of my favorites! I predict the top girl is Anne Marie, the top guy is Danny Gokey and the next highest vote-getter is Michael Sarver. We’ll see how I do. If you want to receive updates of the Zap 2 It Guide to American Idol, subscribe to our Twitter feed here.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."