On Wednesday night, more than 160 female contestants descended upon Hollywood to begin their quest to become the first female American Idol in five years. But before they can take on the boys, the girls must duke it out amongst themselves and it wasn't going to be easy – or pretty. With more females than males earning tickets to Hollywood, the cuts would have to be deeper in order to winnow down the pool of American Idol contestants. This meant added pressure on the girls.
But let us not forget that such intense eliminations are also a burden on our poor American Idol judges. Mariah Carey was obviously feeling under-appreciated when she lamented, "Nobody understands what we endure." Thankfully, she managed to muster up the courage to make it through the day. Perhaps in an effort to make herself feel better, Mariah arrived the next day practically dripping with diamonds. So, while we may not understand what Mariah endures, we certainly understand why she endures it.
Some American Idol contestants went home on the first day and never got the chance to see Mariah glitter – not to be confused with never getting the chance to see Mariah's "Glitter," which is something we should all pray for. Those who missed the former opportunity included early favorite Mariah Pulice, whose struggle with anorexia pulled at many heartstrings during her Chicago audition. Of course, pulled heart strings can't compare to the anguish endured by her sister, who seemed to be in constant tears throughout her Mariah's short Idol career. Also joining Mariah and her soggy sister, was Megan Miller. Viewers might remember that Megan was the contestant on crutches who broke out of the hospital right before surgery to audition. Thank goodness Miss Baton Rouge's decision to do so didn't cause any permanent damage, otherwise her walk of shame in Hollywood (sans crutches) would have been that much more painful.
On Day Two, the 76 remaining girls were divided into 19 groups but for possibly the first time in American Idol history, the judging went on without Randy Jackson. According to host Ryan Seacrest, Randy was busy in the studio. Guessing that viewers might doubt this implausible story, American Idol accompanied the claim with what appeared to be images of Randy actually in a studio. (Apparently the Obama Administration strategists are now consulting for American Idol.)
Regardless of where Mr. Jackson was, it was an unfortunate time to go MIA since he missed the opportunity to see Candice Glover perform with her group, "The Swagettes," and while the group's other members, Melinda Ademi, Denise Jackson, and Kamaria Ousley, were all good enough to advance, Candice Glover was to "The Swagettes," what Beyonce was to "Destiny's Child."
While "The Swagettes's" success was not a total surprise, there were other groups whose success was not expected. Take "The Misfits," for example. "The Misfits," included Kez Ban, so right off the bat, you know that the group couldn't have been more aptly named unless they dropped the "s." Kez's eccentric personality and inability to focus on anything other than food and "California Dreamin'," pushed the entire group, including Massachusetts's own Angela Miller, to the brink. (I am mentioning Angela not only because she's talented and happens to live in the town right next to mine, but more importantly because one of her friends, who accompanied Angela to her audition in New York, happens to be our local barista. Which is to say, he has unrivaled power and influence over my life.)
Anyway, back to "The Misfits." Despite being pushed to the brink of disaster, the members of the group all maintained a relatively positive attitude and managed, against all odds, to deliver a strong performance, earning each of them another opportunity to make it to the American Idol live shows.
Even more shocking was when all of the members of, "The Dramatics," made it through to the solo performances. These girls set out to prove that anything boys can do, girls can do better; including forgetting their lyrics. But for some reason, Nicki Minaj loved them, especially Janel Stinney, who didn't even attempt to remember the words but just hummed her way through her solo portion. Neither Keith Urban nor Randy enjoyed the performance but Nicki exercised her unexplainable sway over the panel and got her way again. Rooting for the underdogs and outcasts, like Papa Peachez and Kez Ban, is one thing but this isn't the first time Nicki has rewarded an entire group after they completely botched their performance.
In other news: in addition to winning a Grammy for Best New Album on Sunday, Gotye managed to also earn the distinct honor of single-handedly bringing about the demise of the most groups on Wednesday night with his song, "Somebody That I Used to Know."
Why so many groups of females would choose to sing a song that is far better suited for a male-female duet is perplexing but not as perplexing as the sheer number of contestants who managed to forget the lyrics to one of the most overplayed songs on the radio. Shira Gavrielov was but one of the contestants to mangle the song, but unlike the others, Shira was not about to go down without a fight. After her group, "Handsome Women," received their verdict and left the stage, Shira returned to ask the judges to explain why they sent her home. This was a golden opportunity for Nicki to tell off a contestant who truly deserved it - the entire viewing audience held their collective breath waiting for Nicki to open up a can of, "Oh No You Didn't" on Shira. Instead all the judges seemed to empathize with the audacious contestant and wasted everyone's time by actually trying to convince her that her performance was dreadful.
Ugh, these judges simply do not understand what we viewers endure – and we don't have Mariah Carey's comfort diamonds.
On Thursday, the girls will deliver their solo performances and try to live up to the premature hype about being stronger than the boys. The Top 40 contestants will also be revealed...supposedly. But you never can trust that Ryan Seacrest.