The Last of the Top 36 Compete

It’s difficult to say which “Idol” news is bigger this week: the upcoming Wild Card round or the homoerotic photos of Adam Lambert flooding the web.  In either case, today’s biggest story is the last round of semi-final performances.  Here’s how it went down:


Von Smith: He toned the singing down about 30 decibels and turned the wardrobe up 50 more, sporting a “Miami Vice: Millennium Era” suit, complete with red sneakers instead of loafers.  While his vocals were good, he blends in much more when he’s not belting Judy Garland. I miss the cabaret, old chum.


Taylor Vaifanua: America may think they heard Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You” one too many times during Hollywood Week….but giantess Vaifanua just wanted to make sure. Kara said she wanted to know her, go shopping with her. But who wants to shop with a 17-year-old? Besides, I already own all three “High School Musical” albums.


Alex Wagner-Trugman: His performance of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” started off innocently (and geekily) enough but then turned into a bizarre demonstration of growling techniques, complete with mic stand abuse to better punctuate the song’s climax.  Has he been getting into Paula’s (alleged) pills? Let’s hope the Vote For The Worst succeeds in getting him through this week so that we can find out!


Arianna Afsar: Arianna seemed to be channeling Britney with her vocals on “The Winner Takes It All,” albeit the depressed “I’m sa-yad” version of the pop tart from MTV’s “Britney: For The Record.”  Meryl Streep did a far better rendition in “Mamma Mia!”….and she’s not even a singer.


Ju’not Joyner: Ju’not reprised his creepy bump n’ grind Hollywood Week version of “Hey There Delilah.” (Note: the superior Jamar Rogers performed a less disturbing version of the same song, yet got axed before making the Top 36.)


Kristen McNamara: “The Artist Formerly Known as ‘Neopolitan’” has gotten rid of the three-toned hair but is nevertheless having an identity crisis. While everyone agreed that she was a good singer, the judges’ bigger concern seemed to be her lack of fashion sense. (Even Paula! PAULA!) Makes you wonder what she wore when she was a contestant on “Nashville Star.”


Nathaniel Marshall: He sported his signature headband as he did what seemed to be Wham!’s cover of “I Would Do Anything For Love.”  Let’s hope the contestants don’t have to go through a metal detector at the studio because Nate would hold up production for hours. Crazy face jewelry aside, there’s something likable about this drama queen.


Felicia Barton: She had a lot to prove, seeing as most voters will know her only as the girl who replaced ousted Joanna Pacitti.  While she undoubtedly has a great voice, was she really good enough to beat out say, Jamar Rogers, for a spot in the Top 36?


Scott MacIntyre: Let’s face it: he’s here because he’s blind.  His voice is lovely but is it “Idol” material? Kara flat-out said that when he has problems with the notes it “doesn’t matter” because it comes from his heart. Huh? Is this a passion competition? If so, bring back Tatiana!


Kendall Beard: She’s tried to position herself as this year’s country music breakout by singing Martina McBride.  While she wasn’t the strongest singer in the bunch, she was definitely cute as a button and has the potential to be this year’s Kellie Pickler or Kristy Lee Cook, cute blonde “Idol” losers who went on to have careers in Nashville.


Jorge Nunez: Jorge gave the strongest male vocal of the night with his rendition of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” The judges noted that his accent was all but gone in his singing but Simon kinda missed it. So did I. Bring back the Latin flavor!


Lil Rounds: She was lookin’ “fly” in her black and yellow dress.  While the song itself is not a favorite of mine, she actually performed the hell out of it and even got some audience participation going.  I was an anti-fan during Hollywood Week, where she “screech-sang” but she may grow on me.


If the other two semi-final rounds are any indication, tonight’s show will, no doubt, be a shocker on some level.  The top men will most likely come down to Jorge Nunez and Scott MacIntyre, though it would be entertaining to see the two drama queens, Smith and Marshall, progress. The judges all but guaranteed Rounds a spot in the Top 12 but McNamara may prove a formidable opponent, as may Barton, if America feels a connection with her.