Well, here we are…the last group of 8 semifinalists. After tonight's show, we will have heard from everyone who made it into the Top 32, and, by tomorrow night, 8 of the 10 finalist slots will have been decided. Tonight's show opens with Ryan standing center stage as usual. But, before he goes any further, he wants to make sure his microphone is working properly (unlike last week). So, he asks someone off-camera, "Is my equipment good?" Now, I don't know who it was that he was asking off-camera, and I'm sure he was talking about his microphone, but if I had been there, I would have said something like, "I don't know Ryan. Why don't you show us and then let us decide?" I guess it's probably a good thing I wasn't there, huh? We say hello to the judges, and Ryan and Simon both bet Randy $100 that he can't make it through the show without saying "dawg", "dude", or "man". Randy takes that bet, and it isn't even thirty seconds before he says "dude". Honestly, though, did anyone think he could make it through an entire show without saying one of those three words?

First up tonight is Sylvia Chibiliti. In her pre-song video, Sylvia tells us, "My goal is to be a diva, because they get everything they want", and I'm glad to know that Sylvia has all her priorities in order (:rolleyes). Sylvia launches into "Didn't We Almost Have It All?", and I immediately notice that she's over-enunciating her words and isn't even completing them in several places. This isn't lost with the judges, because when she's done, Randy tells her, "That was pretty good, but your pronunciation threw me off." Paula says, "You have a sultry, sexy voice, but you oversang that song." Simon delivers probably the harshest criticism of all (and what a surprise that is) when he tells her she "sang like a ventriloquist's puppet". This doesn't sit well with Miss Sylvia and she tells Simon, "Well, I disagree." Sylvia then wins this year's Kristin Holt Award for trying to sling out an insult and failing when she tells Ryan back in the Red Room, "I don't think Simon has ever been to a black church, because he don't know nothin' about singing. THAT was singing." OK, first of all, I'm not sure what a black church has to do with any of this, because she wasn't singing a rousing rendition of "Oh Happy Day" or something like that. Secondly, given Simon's background in the music industry, I'd say he probably does know a little something about singing. Sylvia, if your goal is to be a diva, you've got the attitude part down pat. But, you still sound like Buckwheat when you sing.

Our next hopeful tonight is Chip Davis. Chip launches into his song, and right away I notice that he's constantly licking his lips. It's as if he hasn't eaten for days and someone is holding a big rib roast right off-camera. As soon as he stops that, he starts moving his left hand back and forth like he's behind the turntable for some rap group or something. Chip does a decent job, but he seems very disconnected from his song and the audience (well, us, the viewers). Randy even picks up on this when he says, "Yo, dude, you sang with no emotion, man." Paula tells Chip, "I like your voice", and Simon says, "That was interesting. You looked like you were miserable at the end. You sang better than Rickey did last week, but you showed no personality." Back in the Red Room, Chip tells Ryan, "I have personality; I just have to find it." Um, Chip, don't you think you should have found it before you went out on stage?

Our third singer tonight is Juanita Barber. For those of you who don't know, Juanita is the contestant picked to replace Frenchie Davis after Frenchie was dropped from the show, so she already has points against her in my book. The two things I notice about Juanita right away are that she has a rather pronounced lisp when she sings and that she apparently applied her lip liner but forgot to put on her lipstick. Anyway, Juanita sings "What About The Children?", and I'm thinking to myself, "What about me? Why do I have to listen to this awful performance?" When she's done, Juanita heads over to the judges. Randy tells her, "The song was good, but you didn't perform it well." Paula says, "Once again, I’m seeing oversinging." Simon concludes with, "You chose the wrong song." This sets Juanita off, and she comes back with "Well, America chose the wrong judge." Um, Juanita, that is the wrong thing to say to the person who will be signing you to his record label should you win the competition (Of course, after Juanita's little scene, the chances of that happening are about the same as my chances of being elected President, but I digress.). When Randy tries to interrupt and calm things down, Juanita goes off on him, too, saying he doesn't know anything about music. Randy says, "Do you know who I am?", and Juanita comes right back with, "Do you know who I am?" Yes, Juanita, we know who you are. You're a last-minute substitute in the semifinals, and you're only there because someone much more talented than you isn't.

The next person hoping to make it to the finals is Patrick Lake. Now, we all know that Patrick is a rock-and-roller, but based on his outfit tonight, I would have thought he had come to the show straight from a biker bar or something. Anyway, Patrick does a fairly decent job with "When I See You Smile", and he heads over to hear from the judges when he's done. Randy tells him, "That was not quite the song to do." Paula says, "That was very refreshing." Paula, Patrick is a rock singer, not a can of Fresca. Anyway, Simon finishes with, "We made a mistake putting you here. If this had been a rock-and-roll contest, you wouldn't have made it through." Apparently Patrick learned nothing from the Sylvia and Juanita scenes that came before him, because he goes off on Simon, too! He says, "This isn't 'Rock Idol'. This is 'AMERICAN Idol'." Well, yeah, and what's your point, Patrick?

Next to sing is Nasheka Siddall. Nasheka (she's apparently dropped her last name somewhere along the way, because she now only goes by "Nasheka") launches into her song, and I'm distracted because she hardly has any clothes on. I guess she's going for this year's Ryan Starr Haute Couture Award, too. I don't know the name of the song Nasheka's singing, but it's some sort of religious/gospel song. I can't help but notice that she's singing a song about God, but she's dressed like a hoochie mama. When she's done, Randy tells her, "That was very beautiful, but I really didn't feel anything." Paula says, "You have a real nice voice, but you need to work on your showmanship." Simon tells her, "You have a good voice, but you were singing the wrong kind of song. Tamyra Gray could have handled that song; you couldn't." Nasheka must not have learned anything from those who went before her, either, because she feels obligated to talk back to Simon, too! What is this? Did someone tell these guys that talking back to the judges would get them votes or something? Anyway, what Nasheka didn't really realize was that the judges weren't trashing her performance; they just all felt she could have done better. Nasheka, you need to learn when to just shut up and walk away.

The next person to sing is Joshua Gracin. You remember Joshua—he's the Marine who saluted Simon during his first audition and then again at the Hollywood auditions. Well, he doesn't salute anyone tonight, but you could tell he was a soldier by the way he carried himself as he casually marched out onto the stage. Joshua sings "I'll Be", and he puts more passion into his performance than anyone else to that point. Randy certainly echoes my sentiment when he says to Joshua, "Finally, a good singer." Paula adds, "After what Edwin McCain said last week about people butchering his song, you took a big risk. Edwin would be proud." Simon concludes with, "You out on that stage that says 'American Idol'…it just looks right. You deserve it." Joshua says a very polite "thank you" and heads back to the Red Room, where he breaks out into a grin that stretches from ear to ear. Go ahead, Joshua. You should feel good about that performance.

Ashley Hartman is the second-to-last performer of the evening, and in her pre-song video, she talks about how the outfit she'll be wearing seemed a bit risqué at first but that it fits her song perfectly. After seeing her walk out onto the stage, I was expecting her to sing "Naughty Girls Need Love, Too" or something like that. I certainly wasn't expecting to hear "Touch Me In The Morning". Ashley starts singing, and I immediately notice how high her voice is. It like I'm watching a Barbie doll on helium or something. Apparently Randy feels the same way, because he tells Ashley, "You're very beautiful, but that helium voice…I don't know…it threw me." Paula says, "You are stunning" and mentions nothing about her performance. Simon finishes with, "At first, you sounded like someone who should be singing on a cruise ship. But then about halfway through, I saw the ship sinking." Ouch! Ashley puts on a brave face while she's out on stage, but the tears start to flow once she makes it back to the Red Room. She tells Ryan that she gets tired of hearing, "You're beautiful, but…" Oh yeah, Ashley. I can see how constantly being complimented on how good-looking you are can be such a downer…

The final performer of the night is Corey Clark. Yep, this is one of those guys that went out the night before the group auditions in Hollywood. You remember Corey…he forgot the words to his song and then turned on the cheesiness by walking off-stage and over to give Paula a private serenade. After that, I really didn't think Corey deserved to be in the Top 32, so I'm anxious to see how he does tonight. Corey sings "Foolish Heart", and I immediately take back what I just said. He does a great job and definitely deserves to have made it this far. In fact, he does such a good job that he gets a standing ovation from both Paula and Randy when he's done. Randy tells him, "That was sensational." Paula says, "That was unbelievable. You blew me away." Simon tells Corey, "You put me in a good mood. Thank you." Corey, I'd say you definitely redeemed yourself tonight.

Well, the last group of 8 is finished, and now it is up to us to put two of them through to the finals. Who do I think will be in the Top 3 tomorrow night? I'll go with Joshua, Nasheka, and Corey. I don't think the third spot will really matter, though, because I think Joshua and Corey should move on without any problems. Of course, if Frenchie had been kept on the show, things might have been quite different. However, since she's not here, I think Joshua and Corey should advance easily. We'll find out who does go on to the finals tomorrow night…


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