So this is it. By the end of tonight we'll know the Top 12. But first, eight contestants -- Tatiana's eyes locked on the camera like a hawk staring at a rabbit -- will sing, for no reason at all. While Ryan does his very dramatic intro, Simon makes fun of him off-camera, so part of his big "this is American Idol" speech is a very dramatic and awesome, "Simon. Be quiet." Then he says it's good to be with us again. He's wearing a really well-cut, angular three-piece with jeans and no tie; that one guy is wearing an ugly cardigan, Paula's dressed like a Bratz doll with pink leopard and a bright pink scarf, and Simon's wearing a lovely baby blue sweater. That guy we used to acknowledge boos when they say Simon's name but he is too stupid to have a reason why.
And here they are: Jesse looking lovely and normal, Matt G dressed like Marlene Deitrich for some reason, Megan all kinds of tarted up, Von looking and being completely fantastic as always but with a little more gayface than usual, Jasmine wearing a lovely evening gown even though it's like barely the cocktail hour, Ricky Braddy being spazzy as ever, Tatiana looking like the opening credits of a telenovela called Tatiana La Loca, and then Anoop, still bemused as to why he's here.
So eight people equals out to about five minutes a person, not counting the judgery and show drudgery. Jesse gives us a cute little video appeal even though this is the one time we're not voting, and then sings that Rufus/Chaka song "Tell Me Something Good," I think. It's nice because the performance is very Jesse, but really it's a smart choice because the whole song is about the funky bassline, that's how you identify whether you've heard the song, so she can just do whatever she wants. And the backup singers can get totally intense and have orgasms, which works in her favor too. It's a really polished, lovely performance, and for her first trip to the stage surprisingly comfy and not affected.
Kara admits there were key issues, but loves her "Sasha Fierce" swagger; Paula loves her tenacity and determination, and talks about her "soul" and her "whole unique thing," and notes the way she owned the stage basically; Simon tells her she was the mystery last-minute choice, and says she was pretty awesome. His only criticisms were the indulgent song and performance: "more about you than anything else." Paula says that's how the song works, and Kara agrees: it's about being sexy and awesome, not begging. I'm with the girls, and not just because I loved her before I ever heard her sing. Ryan tries to start shit and she doesn't play into it, and Simon's like, "I just said I was glad you're back." Good point.