It was a tough pool to pick from on American Idol as the last group of Season 8 semi-finalists competed for their shot at the coveted Top 12.
With so many contestants and so few slots to fill it was bound to be difficult to part ways with some, but with so many contestants winning me over Tuesday in one way or another, my separation anxiety is about to hit an all-time high.
Alex Wagner-Trugman, for example, probably had the worst vocals of the night, and yet the song he sang, "I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues" is the one that I can’t seem to get out of my head. Thanks to me, same goes for my co-workers.
While it could all be due to how hard we focused to recall the original during Alex’s performance to cover the strange growling sounds he was making, I think the real reason my office sounds like a humming Elton John choir is because of how well Alex sold the song. What he lacked in smooth singing he made up for in humor and charisma that had me watching and smiling through his entire performance.
What was even more endearing were his interviews before and after his performances when his personality really shined through. With quips like how Simon must have been using a scale of 1-3 when saying earlier that Alex’s voice was a three and his personality was a nine, Alex might not have done enough to win America’s vote, but he certainly won over a lot of hearts.
The best part about Alex is without the growl – which isn’t hard to lose -- he’d be a phenomenal singer. The worst part about Alex is despite all these great qualities he probably still won’t even make it to the Wild Card round, let alone past it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Arianna Afsar and Kristin Mcnamara, two of the best female voices in the competition, and two more voices that will probably never again be featured in it. With only an ounce of Alex’s personality and a better grasp on song choice, these pretty sopranos would have been major threats.
But with only one spot guaranteed for a female in the group and Kendall Beard, Felicia Barton and Lil Rounds in the competition the best Arianna or Kristin can hope for is a Wild Card miracle.
It’s interesting because Kendall doesn’t have the kind of pipes that either of those two bring to the table, but what she does have is a better grasp of who she is as a person and an artist than just about anyone in this competition. Oh, and she’s the token hot girl.
Her song "This One’s for the Girls" was as perfect for her as the cute yellow dress her mom picked out for her and she sort of reminds me of Kristy Lee Cook … but better. She looks like Kristy but prettier, she sounds like Kristy but smoother and she’s got that southern charm like Kristy, only Kendall’s more likeable. She’s like Kristy Lee 2.0, I’m just waiting for her to break out a story about how she had to sell her unicorn to pay for her Idol audition.
For her part, Felicia Barton has already been resurrected once in this competition and it looks like she’s may make Idol history by accomplishing that feat one more time. Felicia was granted her first second chance into the competition after original semi-finalist Joanna Pacitti was disqualified from. Now, having proved that she certainly belonged their with a powerful rendition of Alicia Keys’s "No One," Felicia probably hasn’t done enough to secure a spot in the week’s top three but she likely has done enough to secure one more second chance as a contender in Thursday’s Wild Card round.
And in case your wondering why someone as good as Felicia would have a hard time making it to the Top 12 Wednesday, look no further than Lil Rounds. The so-called "powerhouse" proved that like Kendall, she knows exactly who she is, like Arianna and Kristin she can sing just about any other girl in this competition under the table and like Felicia she’s not taking a single second of this competition for granted. Oh and she’s pretty… and likeable… and knows how to work a stage.
Considering how well Lil did it’s hard to believe it would be possible to remember any other performances from the night , unless of course you saw Scott McIntyre’s and Jorge Nunez’s.
Despite my doubts about Scott’s ability to hack it vocally at this stage in the competition, the crooner was one of the best of the night, even with out the blind sympathy card.
And despite my fears that my latin love Jorge Nunez would fall victim to the song choice predator, he nailed it once again, singing "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me." And even hired a speech coach to teach him to mask his accent when he sings.
With a good combination of talent, passion and work ethic, I think Lil, Scott and Jorge will end up taking the top three spots. And if America happens to stiff any of them the judges will have a very easy pick ready to go for their Wild Card rounds.