Hollywood Week is officially over. Over. And see what it's left in our wake? Our brains have been melted over the course of hours to putty, incapable of processing any sound without Ryan Seacrest telling us how amazing it is first, incapable of taking any statements at face value without waiting for Steven Tyler to slither up from some corner of our brain (as he does), flip it and reverse it, incapable of taking in experience without Fox first pulping it into easily digestible story arcs, incapable of visualizing anything other than what Steven Tyler did to our sensibilities, still. Who knows what the live rounds will do to us? By May ours brains are going to register nothing but confetti and high notes. Please follow along while this happens. It'll help us cope.
Anyway, we'll just go ahead and spoil the big ol' twist of the night, which is that it's not over. You--and we--have now got to watch Idol on Tuesday as well to figure out whether David Leathers, Jr., Johnny Keyser, Richie Law or Jermaine Jones will be the 25th semifinalist. What a twist! What a potentially completely pointless twist after you realize that every top 24 contender has a Facebook page, as do only two of the final four. (Yes, you can make fake Facebook/Twitter accounts, but Twitter's been quick about suspending certain names, and Facebook requires you to have 25 likes on a page before you give it a custom username, which we found out while trying to make a fake finalist page for research. We have done more research on this than we ever wanted or needed to do, and please thank us.)
There. That was the twist. Your world is hopefully rocked. While you put it back in order again, here are...
THE HOPELESS: 24-17
24. This Upsetting Fact: The top 12 women are almost all white, and it was not for lack of talent. At all. Blergh.
23. Steven Tyler: Watch Jennifer's face closely as he begins his three-quarter monty. It is the truest thing in the show's history.
22. Jennifer Lopez: Not that we're going to un-dock her points for her Erika Van Pelt bodysnarking on Wednesday. Especially when her presence last night could be replaced by an emoticon without anyone noticing.
21. The Twist: “A shocking turn of events that will change everything.” To be sure, a new era in history is born every time a previously rejected guy on American Idol is added to the top 24.
20. Obvious Desires: 1. “I really hope that the judges see that from my past performances that I’m worth for the top 24.” --Shannon 2. “I hope that what I did was enough to get to the next round.” --Jermaine 3. “I hope that these contestants get a little more interesting.” --Us
19. This Quote: “It’s the most important night yet, and the Vegas strip is buzzing with energy.” Bless you, Idol, for finally taking the stick out of Vegas’ ass. This “energy” has everything to do with you and nothing to do with alcohol, drugs, sex, or money.
18. Multi-Person Dismissals: How dare you consolidate the final judgments of the youngest contestants?! David, Ariel, and Shelby had to witness someone’s celebration at the same moment as their defeat. Teenagers already have enough complex emotions to handle! God, Idol! I feel like you don’t understand me! No one understands me! #emo
17. Scott Dangerfield: Sings, looks and is presented like footage of a boy-band member ten years later. It's not that he's bad--he's one haircut and one visible guitar away from Phil Phillips--but he's clearly superfluous. But J. Lo said she wanted him to audition again anyway, which for those counting would be his third try. We get what the producers are doing. In 2025, once Idol is somehow still going with a judge's slate of Mandy Moore, Fred Durst and Randy Jackson and with cyborgs eligible to participate, Scott Dangerfield will get a big, juicy audition package about setting the world record for most Hollywood Week appearances.
For theology and Transcendentalism, click NEXT.
THE HAPLESS: 16-13
16. Randy Jackson: Anyone noticing his habit of commenting mid-performance? Punctuating every note and rest with applause? It kills the suspense, right? Is this some kind of producer deal, where for every cheer he forfeits one word of critique? Randy, you leave us with so many questions.
15. Theology: If you ever felt the urge to repent during tonight’s episode, it could be because the phrase “The Final Judgment” was uttered no fewer than eleven times. Or because you looked at Steven’s full moon a pinch too long.
14. Ryan Seacrest: Comment during show: "I just think Ryan's so nice." Yep. So nice, and so inobtrusive.
13. Jeremy Rosado: Is "transcendental," according to J. Lo. Transcendentalists: Emerson. Thoreau. Jeremy Rosado. Richard Marx, judging by what he does to "Angel." But don't listen to us; listen to Ryan, who explained to the world how Jeremy has become a star. Brook Farm never saw such so brilliant--well, at least not since the place got torched.
For Shannon's worst things ever, which do not include man tears, click NEXT.
THE HARMLESS: 12-8
12. Shannon Magrane: Worst things ever: genocide, suffering, Shannon Magrane replacing lyrics with deedle-deedle-dee on group day. But never mind the script; she puts a close enough approximation of soul, or at least of Joss Stone, into "What a Wonderful World" and is old enough for Steven to do skeevy calculations in his head, so she's through.
11. Man Tears: “I love to watch a man cry.” --Steven Tyler. Well, it was Stevey’s lucky night! Between Adam Brock and Jermaine Jones, we witnessed a moat’s worth of salty man tears.
10. Alliteration: "Now we jump to the judgment of gentle giant Jermaine Jones." This isn't exactly judicious.
9. Jermaine’s Mom: Jermaine and his mom call one another “my beautiful” and “my handsome” respectively, which straddles the border of “Cutesville” and “Too Cutesville.” She’s exactly the mom you want to see after facing rejection, so lucky Jermaine?
8. Jermaine Jones: Was anyone else dreading that Jermaine's palpable fear, visible shaking and audible breathing and all, would lead to another medic with smelling salts and Coke? That didn't happen. Nor was his performance worth elimination; it's a showcase of the bass clef and baritone voice almost as good as his sublime basso duo with Richie Law, but Idol values that like it values female rockers (i.e. it doesn't.) We will note the "gentle giant" thing here one more time and then bid it good riddance until Ryan invariably utters those exact words Tuesday.
For Bieber's long-lost quote, some long-lost spontaneity and one long-awaited breakout performance, click NEXT.
THE FLAWLESS: 7-1
7. David Leathers, Jr.: David singing the Jackson 5 is almost too easy; it's so easy he didn't bother taking it above good karaoke. And he does not make it, and he is mobbed in the holding room by approximately zero girls. David "Mr. Steal Your Girl," outsmarted by Nigel "Mr. Steal Your Swag" Lythgoe. (I really advise you to do that Facebook test, though! Ahem.)
6. Eben Franckewicz: It was time for Justin Bieber's bi-monthly cloning session. The scientists took a clipping of his hair to replicate its flipping aerodynamics. They measured his larynx to record the precise proportions that'd make his falsetto melt instead of wavering or keening above the staff. Someone in the lab was a jackass and gave him a tuxedo instead of kid clothes, but there's no reason Idol can't hire a swagger coach. Probably Bieber's, because after that session he said "fuck it" and turned to Drake and LMFAO while the scientists were forced to cobble together a replacement Bieb, who is Eben Franckewicz. The process worked, but only just; if you watch his face closely during his last smooth note, you can practically see all the subroutines firing and the processor chugging to make his bottom lip quiver and eyes squinch. Nevertheless, when he sings "you are so beautiful," it tugs at all Fox's purse strings. Oh, also, you know what you just did, Idol? You just made me write Justin Bieber fanfiction. This is what you have done to my brain. At this rate I'll have fully regressed by age 30 to whapping the Twitter refresh button with my baby rattle.
5. Deandre Brackensick: Falsetto has done wonders for Usher and for multiple Boyz II Men. It does wonders for Deandre, too, whose performance gets ample screen time and judge approval. And he's distinctive enough to overcome getting essentially none of either before Hollywood Week. Hooray! People are starting to become good!
4. Skylar Laine: Says she doesn't think two country artists would be allowed into the top 24, which proves she has never watched American Idol before. Her performance was less Miranda Lambert than Laura Bell Bundy, her twangs and growls less natural than hairsprayed on. But it was compelling--a quality in singers talent shows tend to disregard by the semis, what's up Angie Zeiderman, hi there Rachel Zevita, what's up, Tiah Tolliver and Rebecca Loebe--which means we are rooting for Skylar. Randy's deployment of the phrase "young Reba" suggests that the producers are too.
3. Hallie Day: Extent of screen time: “I’M SO PUMPED RIGHT NOW! GOD!” Extent of our caring: nil.
2. My DVR: The closest I’ve ever come to straight-up making out with my DVR was tonight when it cut off right before Steven’s skeleton panties came off.
1. Hollie Cavanagh: Hi, Nigel Lythgoe. Now that we've got your Google Alert attention: this is how you make a breakout. Backstories don't matter, because I'd know fuck-all about Hollie Cavanagh without extensive Googling or sad amounts of DVRing. Staging doesn't really matter, because I was typing up notes when she began to sing and was jolted from my laptop. at what I heard. (Related: Halfway through her performance, J. Lo reached for Randy's arm like there was a Voice buzzer there.) Perfection doesn't matter; Hollie was juust close enough to being sharp (but wasn't) and too rough (but wasn't really.) High notes do matter, because her last one was flawless. There's just one thing missing from Hollie: a proper rock song, or at least a proper "Rumour Has It." Let's have more of this. Please. The live rounds are a-waiting.