Reality Check: On 'Idol,' Second Time's a Charm

Life doesn't always provide us with second chances. But considering the "best of the rest" episode of "Idol" — essentially, whatever was entertaining in the seven audition cities that didn't already make it on the air — it seems like "American Idol" is looking to wrong that right.

Take what happened with 19-year-old Alesha, a California bleach blonde who had her similarly haired mother in tow. The girl, who wasn't exactly bubbling over with performance presence, busted into a Celine Dion number that Simon deemed "painful" and "dreadful."

But Randy and Paula were really into her, insisting that her vocal tone was similar to Dolly Parton's. Still, when the judges suggested she go learn a Parton song and come back, I was positive we were only being given this story line so that we could witness the kind of humiliation that comes along with picking the wrong song.

Despite the fact that Alesha gave the distinct impression of not seeming to understand what was happening, she — with the help of YouTube — dutifully learned "Islands in the Stream," which she then returned to the room and sang. And not only did she make it through to Hollywood, but she also caused a heretofore unprecedented event — that is, Simon admitting to Paula that he'd been wrong and she'd been right.

Then there was Chikezie — who, yes, takes the prize for most interestingly named contestant — and his Luther Vandross number. While he'd been rejected last year because, he said, the judges "weren't feeling" him, he sounded good enough for us to wonder how that could have been the case.

The same went for Danny, a 17-year-old whose slight build and over-the-top manner of communicating was oddly reminiscent of Sanjaya and who claimed that his nerves got the best of him last year. While he was a bit precocious and he snapped his hands while he sang — two "Idol" kisses of death on their own, let alone together — the kid gave it his all on "Proud Mary," and was rewarded for it.

Someone who clearly wasn't ever going to get a second chance with our judges was 25-year-old Joshua, who went by the nom de plume of Jaysmoove. With his red hoodie, sunglasses and insistence on doing push-ups in the holding room, Jaysmoove was all Kanye West swagger — that is, until he started talking and flashed one of the goofiest smiles yet to be displayed on the show (and that's saying something).

Jaysmoove also went for some moves that tend to make people go straight to jail without passing go — he sang an original number during which he threw a handful of glitter and kneeled at the most earnest parts — but this guy just couldn't defy the odds. He did manage, however, to get Paula to say a multi-syllable word — "accoutrements" — which I feel should have earned him extra credit or something.

How will our second-chancers fare during Hollywood Week? Well, based on the tears and tantrums we've seen from multiple contestants in previews, I'm going to guess that they may well be wishing they hadn't been so lucky this time around.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.