Seacrest finally reveals the other big format change: the final 24 will be made up of 12 "boys" and 12 "girls." The only young woman here who will potentially still be a "girl" at 28 is Elizabeth Pah!, and that's not exactly a good thing. Shunta still won't be, and Farm Boi (and yeah, he's still wearing the overalls) might well be, but those are just the exceptions that prove the rule. Most of the people that we see, we've never seen before, and almost all the people you think are going to get through this round, do, while most of the people we've seen and assumed wouldn't get through, also do. So that's nice.
The Good: Blondes Carrie Underwood (21, farm girl from OK), and Jaclyn Crum (16, basket case from OH), whose mom is embarrassing to a heretofore unknown degree. Sarah Mather (the one that looks like Kristen Kreuk, 22, Wilmington NC) sounds better than I remember. Anthony Federov (19, Trevose PA), sounds worse than I remember, but still talks like Tony Micelli. Amanda Avila (23, Vegas showgirl) and Travis Tucker (abs guy, 21, Manassas VA) may have actually gotten even hotter, and cute little Lindsey Cardinale (19, Ponchatoula LA) has improved greatly.
Beavis-looking crooner Ross Williams (26, Portland OR) sings the obvious, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," sticking a big sign that says "Ask Me About My Inability To Be Anything Other Than A Ten-Year-Old ClichÃ©, Daddy-O!" to his freakishly square head. Jamie Koehler, the "crooner" that I actually like, is still in, but yikes because we don't see or hear his name over and over like Anthony Federov. Sean McNeill (27, Plymouth MA), the nice bald youth pastor, sings pleasantly, and gets through.
It's mostly a no-brainer. Nadia Turner (27, Miami, with all the hair and the poise), David Brown (19, New Orleans, to whose church we went), Anwar Robinson (26, with the long braids and the awesome clothes and the working with kids, Newark NJ), and Scott Savol (28, "Tell me about the rabbits" Guy from Shaker Heights OH), who sounds amazing, of course. Melissa Figueroa (26, Cleveland OH) is both likeable and polite, and so far forgettable. Vonzell Solomon (20, Fort Meyers FL) seems to be an early favorite, though she's kind of screamy and overly dramatic in her presentation.
It's kind of boring because they're good singers, mostly, but they're all pretty much the same amount of good, and in the same way, and we haven't seen enough of them to be rooting for anybody except for the really freaky ones that are going to lose anyway, like Scott Savol, or the pop idol-looking ones that you already know are going to be in the top 12 anyway, like David Brown. Or the hot ones that you thought were ringers and instead get kicked, like Jeffery Johnson, which adds a fun little suspenseful spice to it.
Mario Vasquez (27, NYC) is damn tiny when you stand him next to other people, but he sounds and looks really good. Mikalah Gordon (16, the Vegas) dresses up in normal child costume and sings a hell of a lot better than she did before, but I'm not convinced it's not all an act and she's not just hiding something even worse to spring on us later, so I'm not going to change my mind about her just yet.
Three "rockers" all get through, including fucking Constantine (28, NYC), who goes full nasal Broadway, predictably. Now I know what the people who just gut-level hated Justin from the beginning felt like. The othersâ¦well, Bo Bice (28, Helena AL) looks like a crazy survivalist who eats beetles for protein and yells Bible quotations at the people chained up in his basement. Aaron Kelly (24, St. Louis) looks and moves around just like Andrew WK. I don't know which of those is more appealing to you personally, but I love Andrew WK because he once did me a kindness, and I really like Aaron Kelly.
Janay Castine (17, Lawrenceville GA) sings with the most boring pastiche phrasing imaginable, but gets through because it's not her voice's fault she's a buffoon. Daycare Lady and that guy whose dad is the Emperor of New Jersey -- who looks one hundred times better these days -- get through. We don't see their names either. The best, though, is Marlea Stroman, because she gets in, but spends the entire episode in total meltdown about this and that, and then justâ¦leaves. What's great about never having to see her again, though -- and if you'll remember, I really like her -- is how ubiquitous she and her stress level get in this episode. It's unending. The whole thing is like this:
First Regina Brooks saying "I'll probably die." Then Marlea stressing out about something. Then something actually happens. Then this drag queen Shunta Warthen is lost and wandering around L.A. Then bumper to commercial, in which Regina once more threatens to perish, and Marlea continues to be slightly stressed out. Then after commercial, the drag queen is still wandering around town trying to find "Hollywood," and then something might happen, but then Regina might die, and Marlea is stressing out, and then something else might happen.
And I don't really want to talk about Regina Brooks beyond that just yet, because she made me really, really sad tonight, and I'm still kind of bummed out about it, to be honest. Suffice to say she didn't make it, but neither did she die. Instead, we celebrate Rashida Johnson (28, South Ozone Park, some state offscreen). She's adorable and her voice is gone, okay, but so she reaches down into this, like, place that Ashlee I guess doesn't have, or doesn't know about, and rocks out anyway. And then Shunta (23, Burlington) sings "Young Hearts Run Free," being a drag queen, and is in.
The Bad: Tamesha Foote (twin daughters, side ponytail, 23, St. Louis) sings pretty terribly, and then bitches about being started in the wrong key by the pianist, and about a bunch of other stuff, and Rashida clearly thinks she's classless, which is hilarious. The judges realize they screwed up on Michael Luizza (22, New Orleans), who sings like a scary lady again. He's out, which sucks, but only because I like him, because he is terrible tonight. He's pretty cool about the rejection. Most of them are. Jeffery Johnson (27, Irving TX) is still quite Christian, still hot as hell, and still sings better than many people, just not the ones on this particular show. Gone.
Effing Richard Molfetta compares Boot Camp to "Hell Week," okay, and then pins his contestant number next to his crotch. I'm so sure, Rich Molfetta. He's so one-note. I mean, it's the right note, but every pony should know at least two tricks. Just in case something goes out, at the least. You know?
Farm Boi Patrick Norman (18, "A Farm," OH) of course does not get through, and is three times worse than before (although he's six times less orange, so he kind of wins even as he loses). Francisco Torres (26, Brooklyn, called "Jose" by Paula for reasons left unexplained) weeps at the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and for a multitude of other reasons, and then sounds terrible. Briana Davis (18, Thornville OH) still looks like a super space clown in silver space boots, but this time she super space sucks, and it's a total bummer, but remember: it's not how much you like them, it's how well the Man thinks they can sing, or else Adam Pratt would trade places with Three Doors Down forever. Anyway, I think 95 people get cut, which plus the Passion of the Marlea equals 97 total hopefuls left.
But tomorrow are the group performances! And another girl might die and Elizabeth Pah! gets Mean Girled and all the teams turn on themselves. THE BEST PART! Some guy who looks and prances just like Farm Boi is on a team with Constantine! I'm psyched. Scott Savol gets pissed, Paula screams incoherently at Simon, and we're left with quick worried faces of Jamie, Jersey Guy, the Daycare Lady, Jaclyn Crum I think, and Mikalah, who is back to looking disgusting. Which somehow reassures me.
Nadia with the hair is grouped with two scary girls and we don't see her again, but she's fine. Lindsey Cardinale teams up with a gross girl from a Girls Gone Wild video, but she's fine. Daycare Jennifer and Beavis Crooner Ross are grouped with some guy who gets cut, but they're fine. Ditto Anthony Federov, although the snippet of practicing we see is kind of horrible. Angel Kay LeTourneau gets through. There's a hotness-and-talent bunching (even though the teams were randomly drawn) as Anwar, Jamar Twin, and Mario continue to rule separately and together.
Scott Savol is with two people we've only seen briefly before, Matthew Meyers (28, Jonesboro, GA) and Danny Steward (25, Sylmar CA), and we learn that he doesn't really play well with others. Matt seems to be a dick at first (bad), but then you realize he's just frustrated and wants to do well (good), but then he carries a teddy bear onstage (bad), and then he gets cut and is pretty cool about it (good). It's confusing, but that's okay because of the three, he's the only one gone. Scott, awesome voice notwithstanding, is kind of confusing again, though, due to his exceeding creepiness tonight.
Jaclyn Crum's mom collapses but it's not MS-related, it's food poisoning, which is I guess nice? Jaclyn keeps it together surprisingly well, and is teamed with Rashida, the girl with a cold who rules AGAIN, and Faith Gatewood (21, Bay City MI), who once worked in a hotel, if you recall. Having spent the whole night in hospital, Jaclyn seems to have doomed the group to failure, but just as Faith is busy throwing her team/herself on the judges' mercy, Paula tells her to shut it because they were really good. And they were! Also, Rashida emailed me today that she has no negative thoughts or feelings about Tamesha Foote, my misread of the situation last night to the contrary. To clarify: Rashida enjoyed meeting Tamesha Foote, and wishes her luck. To clarify further? I do not. I still think she's classless and a blamer.
Aaron, the Andrew WK guy I love, demonstrates that he should not be there, and teammate Timothy Sauer (20, Ballwin MO) gets through because he's pretty (if yelpy). Lamar Twin is now being calledâ¦something else, and he's terrible, and he causes not only the ruination of the rest of their routine, but also Paula's best breakdown yet.
Constantine continues with his flagrant asshattery, but gets a little back for his sweetness with the hapless William Blake (22, Plano TX), whom we hear for the first and last time. (Also for his exasperation with Crazy Legs Dezmond, whom I can now confirm works my nerves in a major damn way.)
Janay from last night joins Gina McFadden (20, Overland Park, KS) and Natalie Weiss (19, Manalapan NJ), but the three are utterly undermined, irritated, Showbiz Mommed and Dadded, and generally fucked with by Gina's father, the most obnoxious person to appear on this show since Gene Simmons. Janay and Gina get through.
John Jersey Guy Zisa and Jamie Crooner Koehler -- now to be called JP -- are teamed with Kurtis Parks (22, Salem MA), who looks exactly like Zisa, only incredibly hot. They skive off the night before and half-assedly practice all day, justifying it with the Gettysburg Address somehow, but end up forgetting every single word of their crazy song. They are finally reduced to just singing random words at each other, and it would be funny except how JP pretty much cries the entire time, which is unbearable. The judges keep all of them in the game for some reason; the men think it's because they bravely took a risk on a hard, weird song, but I think there's more to it. JP then loses his emotional shit some more, and Kurtis and John and even Seacrest find him utterly adorable. He is!
Finally, Elizabeth Pha gets her comeuppance at the hands of the lovely Rachel Leslie (28, the Vegas) and the very awesome, very mean, very cool Carrie Zaruba (22, Philadelphia), who would look a whole lot worse here if Elizabeth weren't begging for it every single minute of every single day in perpetuity. However, since she doesn't really have a cross to hang on, you can just sit back guilt-free and enjoy the most subtle, delicious assisted suicide in the history of television. And now I'm in love with Carrie Zaruba, which is, at best, confusing.
I wish the teams round went longer. I always like how much most of them grow to like each other under all this pressure. This was the best episode so far, by a long shot. Ah, well. 75 total to next week, when the individual auditions whittle us down further. Carrie, Justin, Anthony, and the 21 other obvious winners pretend to be nervous, and then they split them into the rooms of losers and continuers and they have to sit there biting their nails to the quick for hours and hours and slowly go insane. Which is a part of the season I very much enjoy. Won't you join us?
Creepy doom music as Seacrest reviews some uninteresting statistics. Note to show: not everything is suspenseful. In fact, none of it is, given that we've been watching for a month and still don't know anybody's name, and we're scared to get attached because we might never see them again. So the suspense is less focused on anything in particular and more moment-by-moment, which is less like the narrative drama you wish to create, and more like having dinner with McG: Irritating and jittery and a little gay.
So we've traveled 10,000 miles, to seven different cities, and then we name the cities and show their stupid landmarks, and I'm sure it is in some totally fake order that is neither the order we saw them on the show nor the order that they were actually visited, because for some reason this show would prefer to be fake and jacked-up when it would actually be easier to show things that happened in the order in which they happened. If all this were for any real reason, well, the show would be effective then, wouldn't it? Needless Seacrestiana about how there were some good singers, and some bad singers, and some that were "just plain weird." The accompanying shots are of, I think, Sarah Mather (you know I can't identify any of the good singers yet), Good Old Dirk, and Mary Roach Guilbeaux.
You know what? Imagine growing up with the last name "Roach." Girlfriend has done okay, on review. I'd so be in jail by now, especially if I were also congenitally a weirdo. You go, Mary Roach Guilbeaux. Happy Valentine's Day, to you from me.
So now we're in "Hollywood," to face the "most intense" week of their lives. Twin Richard, perhaps inevitably, likens it to "Hell Week." His entire life is like this. I love it. Hopefully there'll be no elephant walk necessary to enter this esteemed brotherhood. Although honestly, he'd probably have a better chance.
Seacrestiana about the "roller coaster of emotions" and how there will be eventually 12 "boys" and 12 "girls" going into the finals. And by the way, that's an insult. Apparently you didn't know that calling a 28-year-old woman a "girl" is bad? It is. Don't do it. I mean, I know there's a whole Peter Pan lesson to be learned here about how Ryan is something like 75 years old and still trying to look like a Mining Company go-go dancer but, like, your life is calling, Seacrest. Okay?
We see the past winners yet again and some confetti, but I still can't care because none of the hopefuls matters so I can't imagine them singing whatever thinly-veiled coronation song Tamyra will write this year, and then the credits, which are also mostly about the past winners, and you know? It's kind of like those light shows in wrestling where the fireworks go off and the people scream and it's very loud and pyro and the man in his underwear, only all digital. The credits get more confusing the more times you see them.
So everybody gets there on Sunday, and they all scream into the camera, and of course we've never seen any of them because all that mattered was that people are weird and want to be on this show. I mean to say that I've now recapped seven hours of this show and I recognize three people in this whole unending montage: Richard Molfetta, Scott Savol, and effing Constantine. None of whom are going to win anyway. That's just dumb. But anyway, it doesn't really matter, since they don't even really want us to know any of the people until they've thinned out the herd considerably. What did I say? A hundred and ninety-three people in "Hollywood"? Yeah. It's going to be a while before I give a damn. Assuming that ever happens.