Last night was the first results show of season 9 on American Idol. In it, the first group of 12 semifinalists learned their fate. Three would advance to the next round: the girl with the top votes, the guy with the top votes, and the next highest vote winner. The results were based on 24 million votes, which was 10 million than this time last year.
The producers always find interesting ways of filling the hour, because otherwise it would be a five-minute show. The semifinalists performed a group number, "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.
While there was some choreography to the piece, many of them took the opportunity to mug for the camera, including Jackie Tohn and Casey Carlson. Tatiana Del Toro in particular looked very nervous.
Another interesting moment came later in the show, when host Ryan Seacrest called for the next two contestants. Instead of the two more season eight contestants, two finalists from last season walked in: Michael Johns and Carly Smithson. They did a duet of "The Letter," with a really strange arrangement. Michael took the opportunity to promite his new single and album, coming out soon.
There were also several video packages, including a look back at these 12 semifinalists so far and a video recap of the new American Idol Experience attraction at Disney World.
Usually with the results shows, I share my thoughts on why people were eliminated. This time, since most of the contestants were essentially eliminated, I'll focus on those who made it through. Unlike most results shows, the people who made it through were the ones who sang. It made for a different dynamic, watching someone who was happy, rather than someone who was holding back tears.
To deliver the results, host Ryan Seacrest went down the list, one by one. The first to get good news was Alexis Grace, who was definitely no surprise. She did an excellent job with her performance the night before and was undoubtedly the top female singer. Alexis was gracious about the news (results and performance).
Next through was a little bit of a surprise. Michael Sarver beat out Anoop Desai, according to Ryan, by just 20,000 votes. Given this assertion, it seems that Michael was the third contestant, not the top male vote-getter. Otherwise, Anoop wouldn't have been told he was going home at this point. Michael gave one of the better performances of the evening and also has a very likeable personality (results and performance).
Finally, Ryan had worked his way down the list, leaving only Danny Gokey and Tatiana Del Toro to sweat it out on center stage. Tatiana looked like she would crumble under the pressure. When Ryan asked her to give her thoughts on the situation, she could barely speak. Danny didn't have much to say either, saying he just wanted to hear the results. At least he was much more composed.
For a brief moment, since I hadn't realized the significance of the way Ryan delivered Michael's results, I wondered what would happen if Tatiana got in. While that would make Danny a sure thing for the wild card round, it could also be a precursor of strange voting results for the season, implying that people were voting for reasons other than singing ability. But Danny was the one put through, to audience cheers. He was pretty much a lock, since he has the entire package: he's got a great voice, is comfortable onstage and has already built a fan base through his appearances in the audition shows. Tatiana looked like she might faint, but she held it together, tears streaming down her face as Danny performed, while the rest of the eliminated contestants forced a smile (results and performance).
Tatiana might have expected this show to send her to the top, but she certainly got her 15 minutes of fame. If she's smart, she'll ride that into further opportunities. I'm sure, for example, she'll get all kinds of offers to go on talk shows to describe her experience.
The judges will choose three wild cards at the close of finals. They have not announced what their process will be, since they are probably waiting to see what the mix will be. If too many of a specific gender get through, I'm sure that will factor into their decision, and they'll make an effort to balance it out.
Provided that at least one female gets through as a third place finisher in the coming weeks, they'll probably put Anoop into the Top 12. Paula has already predicted he'd go far, and the judges seemed to think he didn't live up to his potential this week. Or who knows? Maybe they'll put Tatiana through, in hopes of building more buzz for the finals.
The next group of 12 will perform next week: Megan Corkrey, Kris Allen, Mishavonna Henson, Matt Breitzke, Allison Iraheta, Matt Giraud, Jasmine Murray, Kai Kalama, Jesse Langseth, Adam Lambert, Jeanine Vailes and Nick Mitchell (dance video). I'm eager to see what Nick "Norman Gentle" Mitchell does on-stage. Will he be as entertaining as he was during the auditions, or will he tone it down, like Tatiana?
Viewers are more interested in talent than in drama.