The Mentors -- The results show begins with a list of all the mentors who will appear this season. (The producers felt they spent too much time with the superstars and not enough time with the kids, so this season there will be fewer mentors and they'll be focused more on helping the singers get ready.) The list is weighed a little towards mom and pop type acts, I guess, but it's a fun group. Dolly Parton should be a blast and I'll bet she's a terrific mentor who really helps them with singing and arrangements and performance. Mariah Carey one assumes would be useless -- doesn't she need six assistants to get up in the morning? But you never know -- plus, it would be really fun if she pretends not to know who Randy is. Andrew Lloyd Webber has been a judge on a UK reality series and since he has Middle America tastes when it comes to big notes and big performances, he could be a real help. And finally Neil Diamond, who has a new album coming out in May to follow-up the best CD of his career.
The Song Contest -- They're going to try again with the song contest. They held it last season but spent so little time promoting it, the event might never have happened. Songwriters definitely have an edge this year: they KNOW they need to write a ballad that's in David Archuleta's wheelhouse.
Group Sing-Along -- Another Up With People moment in which the camera got lost and most everyone sounded flat and off...except for Kristy Lee Cook of all people.
Carly Smithson/Bottom Three -- I've been so used to people loving her, that I didn't expect this at all.
Brooke White/Safe -- She told Ryan that "Here Comes The Sun" was out of her comfort zone. Why? Because she was standing up? The song is a singer-songwriter ballad perfect for her that she bungled. Is she clueless or just defensive? I'd say defensive since she can't shut up when the judges are critiquing her.
Ford Commercial -- Now we don't just watch the Ford commercial, we also watch a making-of short. Good god. And while I love Idol, hearing them chirp The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" was a little soul-crushing. Unquestionably that's the least cool version of that song that we'll ever hear. (I'm including the future and other alternate universes in that statement).
Kristy Lee Cook/Bottom Three -- Duh. At least I got one right.
Live Phone Calls -- Oh Lord, this is an unforgivable time waster. The only saving grace was that Simon said he'd lock lips with Paula again because she's a very good kisser. When they cut away to the kids, we heard Simon say off camera, "Get your lip gloss out, baby."
Kellie Pickler -- Sang "Red High Heels" and wore a more demure dress this season. It was a formulaic tune, even by country music standards. (I love country music as much as any other genre, but they can really cobble together some anonymous tunes.)
Amanda Overmyer/Bottom Three -- And is America waking up to her narrow range, too?
All women in the bottom three and though I think Amanda deserves to go most, I'm hoping it's Kristy since she was the only person in my bottom three (along with Michael Johns and Ramiele Malubay). So of course I'm almost completely wrong and it's Amanda that says goodbye. To her credit, Amanda remains unflappable. Carly tears up at one moment, but weeping seems wrong for this biker chick. The group hug at the end looked as awkward as possible.
Top Ten -- So the top ten is David Archuleta, Michael Johns, Brooke White, Syesha Mercado, Ramiele Malubay, Carly Smithson, Kristy Lee Cook, David Cook, Chikezie, and Jason Castro. Five guys and five girls. The only ones I expect to give a good performance are David Archuleta, David Cook, Syesha Mercado and maybe Brooke White. Carly Smithson has tons of support and a solid voice. But the rest - Kristy Lee Cook, Chikezie, Jason Castro and Ramiele Malubay are just biding their time until the tour begins. None of them will be in the finals. And my prediction right now (and please ignore it since I've been so wrong this season) is David Archuleta (of course) and David Cook.
Who's your pick to join Archuleta in the final? And who is going home next week?