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American Idol 8 Recap: The First Group of 12

American Idol Rundown: The First Group of 12

After weeks of waiting and watching, we finally got to hear some American Idol contestants actually, y'know, sing on Tuesday. Full songs and everything!

Unfortunately, so many of them were the wrong songs. Especially in the second half of the show, the formula went something like this: Contestant sings underwhelming song; judges bash him/her for song choice; repeat. I hope the second and third groups of 12 will learn a little something from that experience.

You should go vote and tell me which contestants will make it through, but first, for a rundown of each singer, just


Jackie Tohn: I was so distracted by her shiny pants/cummerbund/strapless top outfit that I could barely concentrate on "A Little Less Conversation." Her voice sounded a little growly, and she has a lot of energy, but I'm not sold on her act yet. Randy didn't love the vocals but said she was great entertainment; Simon called it gimmicky and ungainly.

Ricky Braddy: He said he wanted to show America who he is, and apparently who he is is a loungey, Josh Grobany singer. His voice was smooth and rich on "A Song For You," but I'm not convinced I'd buy an album from him. Also got a chuckle out of him calling the Idol band the best in the world. Randy, Kara, and Paula loved it; Simon worried he lacks star quality.

Alexis Grace: It still weirds me out to have such a smoky, dirty voice come out of such a tiny, motherly package. Not convinced that a pink streak in one's hair equals dirtying oneself up, but whatever: Her performance of "Never Loved a Man" was probably the best of the night on the girls' side. Kara loved seeing her come out of her shell, and Simon referenced Kelly Clarkson.

Brent Keith: Brent, who looks exactly like Spencer Pratt to me, went country with "Hicktown," and while it was nice to have someone do country, the song was also pretty forgettable and he didn't do much to make it his own. Randy said he was a new spin on classic country, but Kara wanted more range and Simon doubted anyone would remember him.

Stevie Wright: And the first of my top 12 predictions kinda bites the dust. She went for something contemporary with "You Belong With Me," but it was just so wrong for her — so many missed notes, so much awkward dancing. The judges all said she was better than the song, though, so maybe she'll be back for the wild card?

Anoop Desai: Ha, favorite part of this was Simon thinking Monica's "Angel of Mine" was a song from the '70s. But he had a point: In Anoop's hands, the song did sound a little old-fashioned. I did love his voice on the verses, though. Randy and Kara said it was a little sharp and pitchy, while Paula thought he could be the next Brian McKnight.

Casey Carlson: Every little thing about her "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was so wrong. The dancing was uncomfortable, the vocals were all over the place, and her mouth looked like it was angry at the rest of her body. Randy called it karaoke, and Paula went for the "you're a beautiful girl" praise, which clearly made Casey want to die.

Michael Sarver: Of course he sang "I Don't Want to Be" — most obvious choice of the night, I think. It was exactly as I imagined it would be: A little shouty, a little bar-singery, but a little intriguing and gravelly in parts. Randy wanted him to go back to soul, Kara thought the performance didn't do him justice, and Simon said he's a good, hardworking man who deserves a shot.

Ann Marie Boskovich: Again with the awkward faces! Honestly, her "Natural Woman" wasn't terrible — it was just weak, and that's the kind of song you really have to be able to do powerfully to do it well. Kara said she'd rather hear her do something like Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" ("something that's not as good?" snapped Ann Marie), and Simon said she'd be a great hotel singer.

Stephen Fowler: I think I unfairly hated Stephen's "Rock With You" because the arrangement and background singers were so bad — I couldn't tell whether he was off or they were. Maybe both, though, because Randy said it was pitchy, Kara said he didn't seem connected, and Simon said it was a pointless performance. Another of my top 12 in danger.

Tatiana Del Toro: It's upsetting to say this, because I find her so obnoxious, but this really wasn't that bad. She actually managed to hit most of the notes on "I'm Saving All My Love for You"; the problem was that it was deadly boring. Randy said there were moments with potential, but Kara, Simon, and Paula seemed disappointed that she wasn't acting crazy.

Danny Gokey: And the judges go wild. It was weird and kind of cool to hear "Hero" in a gruff voice, especially because the arrangement was so faithful to the original, and just by the fact that he managed to stay on pitch, he vaulted into the top tier for the night. Randy said it was blazing hot, Paula just said "sold-out arenas," and Simon came back to earth and said it was good but not amazing.

Here's my guess for now the night will turn out:

Going through: Danny, Alexis, and either Michael or Noop Dogg.

Potentially back for the wild card: Noop/Michael, Stevie, Ann Marie, Jackie, Ricky, maybe Tatiana?

What did you all think?

Photos courtesy of Fox

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