When does 12 equal 13? Apparently, the answer is “When 'American Idol' selects its finalists.”
Thursday’s wild-card round was supposed to send three singers on to complete the traditional group of 12 finalists. But a last-minute curveball delivered by Simon Cowell offered up extra-special news for one of the audience favorites.
Lucky 13: Anoop Desai suffered the unkindest cut in his semifinal heat, falling about 20,000 votes short of Michael Sarver for the final spot. It looked for a moment like Thursday would be déjà vu all over again, as Desai stood onstage with Matt Giraud and saw Giraud celebrate at what he assumed was his expense. But just as he was about to shake hands and congratulate the finalists, Simon stopped him in his tracks. It’s a 13-singer finals this year, and Anoop Dog is the lucky beneficiary.
Surprise and advance: Jasmine Murray was one of the favorites from the auditions, but struggled in her semifinal and didn’t make the cut. The judges wanted to see her skew younger and more commercial, and she split the difference by singing “Reflection” by Cristina Aguilera. The judges appeared impressed and surprised Murray's big voice, and though the notes were uneven, her performance earned her a spot in the finals.
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Commercial appeal pays: The judges obviously see a lot of potential in Megan Joy Corkrey. Her performance of “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” wasn’t anywhere close to that of Katharine McPhee when she sang it in season five, nor is McPhee a singer anyone would be trying to mimic anyway. But Kara DioGuardi told her, “I think that we need you. I hope you stay,” and stay Corkrey did.
Slideshow: The ‘Idol’ final 13
Viva la Vida:
Viva la Vida:Dueling pianist Matt Giraud did exactly what the judges asked, ditching the Coldplay act, going back to his old sound and taking full advantage of his second chance. “Thank you for bringing back the bluesy soulful Matt. He left us for a week, but now he’s back, thank God,” Kara gushed. The judges later showed their gratitude by granting him a spot in the finals.
So long to the drama queen: The odds of Tatiana Del Toro going away quietly were zero, and yes, she turned on the waterworks one last time. In hindsight, singing Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You," the same song that got booted in week one, wasn’t smart. Eventually, Del Toro stopped interrupting and let the judges speak long enough to criticize her for it. When she got the bad news that she was going home, she broke down again and actually knelt down in front of the stage. Unfortunately for her, the judges weren’t inclined to answer any prayers.
No respect for Hicks: Taylor Hicks has officially reached rock bottom, as the show that crowned him its champion in season five turned its back on him Thursday. Simon praised Giraud’s song choice but not his theatrics, saying “I saw bits of Taylor Hicks coming through.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment. Worst of all, the crowd took it as an insult as well and booed. It seems like the Soul Patrol has gone underground.
Last in, last out: Jesse Langseth was told that the judges picked her as a wild-card contender at the last minute, and she nearly made that pay off huge with her version of “Tell Me Something Good.” The judges liked her swagger, but ultimately not enough, and Simon told her that she didn’t make it. “You nearly did. But you didn’t,” he said, confusing her for a second before Ryan confirmed her ouster.
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.
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