Dear readers: By sticking around with our power rankings up to now, you've shown more perseverance than 50% of American Idol's former audience! We are truly proud of you. we'd like to bestow a gift upon you, by which we mean we'd like to recruit and badger you into helping us coin a new word. That new word is Krajciking: singing like The X Factor's Josh Krajcik, i.e. burly, growly, a big ol' voice that could plausibly belong to a big ol' dude named, I dunno, Wolf. (Idol's dude named Wolf, sadly, did not make the cut. Maybe he ran out of animal puns.)
See, you almost need shorthand like that to make sense of Hollywood Week, always the most chaotic part of Idol. Entire segments are strung together from five beady little notes per vocalist and maybe one or two showcase pieces, until hundreds are axed but maybe a dozen are seen. You cannot capture a Kelly Clarkson or Fantasia Barrino in five beady little notes; they all blend together into one adequate wash of decent-to-good singing. Even the faces start to look the same, although that part might be Steven Tyler's influence. This means that given another producers' cut, our Power Rankings could look totally different and yet still be just as accurate! Well, almost; the horrific parts would probably remain just as horrific. And most of them belonged to Idol's inner ticking workings. Witness:
THE HOPELESS: 38-30
38. Nigel Lythgoe: Joined the world on Twitter with his so-called "tweet-a-long" (the British term for "live-tweet," surely) even if he used his one Adele-comparison allotment and compared someone to Gokey as a compliment. Then he killed that by being all smug about the Symone Zaire cliffhanger. And then became all smug about that: "It's not a "cliffhanger." She didn't hang, she fell." #classy
37. These Two Quotes: “The one, the only, Hollywood Week!” Well, other than the ten Hollywood Weeks that came before, that is. And later: "After the break, the best singers of season 11 stake their claim to becoming the next American Idol.” In other words, the premise of American Idol will not change after the break.
36. Coca-Cola: Fox, to the college kid who answered their want ad weeks ago: “Here’s a lot of money. Now just film some extreme close-ups of the judges’ hands fondling mugs of Coca-Cola®. No one will notice.”
35. The Woman Who Sang One High Note To Redeem Her Bad Audition: See, but Christina Aguilera sang other notes in "Reflection." Adele had other things before she had it aaaalllll. Whitney Houston did an entire verse of a Dolly Parton song before AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII. Johnny One Note is fictional. Your plan was doomed from the start.
34. Steven Tyler: His speech quoted and recalled the Cowardlyj Lion, if the Cowardly Lion's mane was made of the entire JC Penneys jewelry section and if he spent the entire movie hitting on Dorothy and Glinda. This extended act made his "deliberations" rather unconvincing; he probably wished he had contestants' photos like on X Factor.
33. Randy’s Necklace: Randy accidentally stumbled into Steven’s necklace nook and this blue and white pearl crucifix accidentally fell on him. That’s the only explanation. Thank goodness this didn’t also fall on him...
32. Steven’s Shiny Silver Shirt: No.
31. Shannon Magrane, Who Started With The Worst Possible Section Of "Fallin'": NO.
30. Jeremy Rosado: A newbie! He got the nickname "Dirty" because he is dramatically ironic (he works the front desk at an infectious disease clinic! But he hates germs! Somewhere out there is his soulmate, a receptionist at a dentist's office with terrible hygiene.) And he gave Randy the nickname "Dawg" because he is dramatically unoriginal. Anyway, he's off-key and whiny and does nothing Aaron Marcellus hadn't done a lot better before him.
For quotability, quirkiness and gimmicks that don't quit, click NEXT.
THE HAPLESS: 29-22
29. Quote Quiz: Match Steven, Randy, and J. Lo to one of these pep talk quotes. 1. “What makes the dawn rise with thunder?” 2. “Don’t let the nerves get to you. Love you guys! I hope you do great!” 3. “Season 11 is ON, y’all!” (Answer Key: Come on...)
28. Unintentional Duets: J. Lo inappropriately sang along with two contestants during this episode. Somewhere cushy, Marc Anthony watched this episode and nodded.
27. Randy’s Attention Span: “This girl has GOT it! I feel like I could listen to the whole song!” That’s like saying, “This book is amazing! I feel like I could read it!”
26. Reed Grimm: Song from Willy Wonka, because his entire repetoire consists of watching TV as a kid and YouTube as an adolescent, shirt from Wonka's factory, storyline (he's got a golden ticket! And he'll bestow thousands more upon the city at the end of his song! And he scats, for some reason!" inexplicably not from audition footage. Chris Rene and Normund Gentle's fans probably loved this.
25. Lauren Mink: Heart's "Alone" was a terrible choice for two reasons. First, it's as overdone as Aretha and Alicia (both represented this episode); second, it's a rocker's song, or at least a country-rocker's if you liked Carrie Underwood's version. Lauren Mink isn't a rocker. Her version is roughly as impassioned as Alyssa Reid's. In her modified words, it may have killed her chances to the bone.
24. Creighton Fraker: Could win America's Next Top Rascal Flatt. The non-existence of that show should be a lesson for him. Also, did anyone notice that his triptych actually said "Starving Artist"? This is like in The Westing Game (anyone?) where Angela put her occupation down as "none," which can only mean Creighton Fraker will have an epiphany somewhere around the final five and make his triptych say "Artist, Fulfilled." Or he'll get eliminated first. Probably that.
23. Jennifer Lopez: Her role on Idol, as seemingly in life, is to purse her lips and lovingly tell people to fuck off.
22. Travis Orlando: Like so. The only thing more cutting than Travis's quote “My mom walked out. She found another relationship that she obviously loved more than her family" is Idol cutting his perfectly adequate soul voice a second time after giving him the piano soundtrack and full producers' package and everything, capped with a "sorry, baby, not this year"? There aren't that many years to throw around, J. Lo!
For Bizet, smawesomeness but sadly, no Jim Carrey, click NEXT.
THE HARMLESS: 21-13
21. Ryan Seacrest: Maintained a stage whisper all episode, with good reason; he knew that if he spoke too loudly, he’d awaken the “X Factor” executioners from their post-firing slumber. He’d heard what happened when Steve Jones got snippy. He’d seen those brief, fleeting looks of horror on Randy’s face. Even likability couldn’t save Paula. His only hope was to be harmless.
20. Jane Carrey: We are reminded that Jane Carrey is Jim Carrey's daughter, that she has resulting identity issues, and that she was just OK. Her expectations are to stay in Hollywood, which is probably doable by default as Jim Carrey's daughter. She was eliminated--unsurprisingly, because Fox would never bring that much VFTW freakoutery upon themselves that deliberately--but the cruelest part? Making her paraphrase Jim's words instead of letting us hear them.
19. Home Videos: Looks like the home video footage segment of the contestants being woken up in the morning is now a weekly thing. Clearly the brilliant producers are keen to the fact that there’s nothing we want to see more than the groggy faces of people we don’t yet care about!
18. Adam Brock’s Lady: Singsong over Skype: “We knew it! We knew it! We knew it knew it knew it!” Smug? Awesome? Smawesome?
17. Bizet’s Carmen: Last week was the “March of the Toreadors.” This week was the “Habanera.” The music coordinator’s fascination with Bizet is bizarre.
16. The Only Dude Giving Johnny a Standing O: We were standing up along with you from home, our plaid-vested compadre.
15. Randy Jackson: Randy, on the other hand, emerged from weeks of critical and personality hibernation to deliver the episode’s only real talk: “Listen, none of you should ever have to be on that stage and beg.” This is probably the highest rank Randy will earn all season; savor it.
14. Lauren Gray: Hollywood Week isn’t great for truly judging contestants’ voices. First Lauren sounds like she’s got soul, then like maybe she just watched a few Etta James videos on YouTube, then pretty soulful again, then just scratchy, and then you realize how many “then”s you’ve just read, because it’s gone on long enough that Randy Jackson has managed an entire mime-in-a-hamster-wheel sketch.
13. David Leathers: Nobody wants to be the one to tell him that girls are fawning over him and pinching his cheeks because they find him adorable, not attractive, and that joke smooches don't count toward your lifetime kiss total. His tux helps him a bit; singing Celine Dion does not. Surely there are a few ladies' men in the R&B canon?
For basically all the good-to-great singers, click NEXT.
THE FLAWLESS: 12-1
12. and 11. Phillip Phillips and Adam Brock: The night's two best displays of Krajciking. There, we've said it all! Fine, two more tidbits: Phillip's being renamed Phil, which is the nomenclature equivalent of cutting Samson's hair. Adam Brock needs to pay a visit to yoisthisracist.tumblr.com before he speaks on national TV ever again.
10. 9. and 8. Baylie Brown, Hallie Day And Erika Van Pelt: Check, check, check. If the judges can limit themselves to "yes," "no" and "maybe," so can we. Ugh. We need a counterpart term for "Krajciking." Suggestions?
7. and 6. Heejun Han and Johnny Keyser: We refuse to play the "but nobody expected Heejun to be good!" game, because we already expected him to be good, by virtue of his being at Hollywood Week. We also refuse to take part in the Johnny vs. Heejun pretty-boy-off that the producers set up. Both were good, both falsetted themselves nicely, let's move on.
5. Jen Hirsh: Her game plan is not to fidget or touch her hair, which must be hard considering there’s a fidget-cam swooping diagonally across her face. Fortunately, she chose “Up to the Mountain,” a serious song demanding serious hand gestures, and her flibberty-gibbet ways only returns after she teases Steven at the end -- an act that would make anyone fidget. Her singing was so passable, it earned the following high praise J. Lo: “Melody.”
4. Elise Testone: How to breed an Idol dark horse: Televise four fantastic notes during auditions, then four fantastic bars during Hollywood Week, all while ensuring the audience knows absolutely nothing about her except her punchy name. (She’s a Charleston bar-band singer whose music hasn’t been yanked offline yet. Supposedly she makes it to the top 24.)
3. Jessica Phillips: There's also the route of merely letting her sing; Jessica reminds us of Heather Headley, and she actually gets double digits' worth of bars with which to prove it!
2. Aaron Marcellus: Nigel talked up the women, which is odd considering the show's track record with female finalists, but this guy outdid maybe 75% of the ladies. He's possibly the best male vocalist of the night, even if and/or his performance was one big Slip 'N' Slide of malesma.
1. Symone Zaire Black: So Symone provided one of Idol's most shocking moments ever, which we know because Idol told us it was one of its most shocking moments ever, but let's be real: on a scale of Rachel Crow (shocking) to ratings rot (never shocking), falling offstage perhaps ranks around a bum note. (She's fine--earlier this week, she was favoriting Floetry videos and everything!) We'd say we're more shocked that her winsome take on "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" didn't earn more--or any--praise, but her uttering the words "stage dad" must've struck fear into all three judges. And Ryan must've noticed that fear and withdrawn even more as a host, becoming a man with hair gel and hand gestures but no more soul. Will he be OK again? Tune in tonight!