American Idol crammed eight performances into the Wild Card show last night, and at the end of the hour Jasmine Murray and Megan Corkrey were announced as finalists. One minute after the episode's official end time, the judges revealed that both Matt Giraud and Anoop Desai would be joining them — good news for the dueling pianist and North Carolina college student, bad news for anyone watching the show on a DVR.
So the big twist was a Top 13 instead of a Top 12 — not so shocking. What was truly astonishing was Simon Cowell's note during Anoop's judging: "Not the best singer we're going to hear, but people like you, and that's important. One of the jobs we've got to do tonight, we've got to cast the next stage so we don't just put the boring singers through, we've got to put some personalities through, too." How many times have we heard Cowell drone "It's a singing competition" throughout the past seven seasons, insisting that hopefuls shouldn't get extra points for likability or looks? Perhaps his tune changed after past Idols starting falling off the charts and getting dropped from their labels. Do people still "like" Taylor Hicks? Cowell certainly doesn't seem to think so. When he told Giraud he was seeing strains of the Soul Patrol leader in his performance, the audience booed and Cowell felt he made his point.
Also expected: a Tatiana Del Toro meltdown. The Puerton Rican singer delivered on the drama, prefacing her song with "I am in love with everyone and everything that has happened." That love was soon lost when Paula delivered the news that Corkrey would be advancing to the finals. Tatiana was tearful before the verdict was read, and stole Corkrey's moment of celebration, collapsing in front of judges in a moment worthy of a Razzie.
But what about the performances? Here's a quick rundown:
• Jesse Langseth went for the power of positive thinking with "Tell Me Something Good." The backup singers got their funk on and Kara praised her "Sasha Fierce"-like swagger. Uh ... let's see this chick do the "Single Ladies" dance, then we'll talk.
• Matt Giraud raided Justin Timberlake's closet before performing the Jackson 5's "Who's Loving You." Now he's going to be all neckerchief, all the time.
• Megan Corkrey's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" was a little meh, but Simon praised her quirky originality. How long until he turns on her a la Carly Smithson (last season's tattooed finalist)?
• Von Smith sounded more George Michael than ever on "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word."
• Jasmine Murray showed off her big voice on Christina Aguilera's "Reflection," which was enough to counteract the damage she incurred doing Sara Bareilles' "Love Song." Note to Jasmine: you don't just have to cover skinny white girls' songs.
• Ricky Braddy must have been hoping Matt Giraud would get hit by a falling piano. Had Giraud been out of the competition, Braddy (crammed into Pete Wentz's girl jeans) surely would have advanced on the strength of his "Superstition."
• Tatiana Del Toro sang "Saving All My Love For You" — again. And developed a new accent. Both things seemed to infuriate the judges.
• Anoop Desai busted out "My Prerogative" and survived a dodgy racial moment during judging when Randy referred to him as "Anoop Brown Dog" (he quickly clarified "Bobby Brown's cousin!"). Sanjaya nation, you have been absolved.