Idol Live Blog: The Top 11

7:50: Good evening! We’re ten minutes away from our Top 11’s vocal assault on the Billboard’s #1 hits. I am attempting to remain calm, even-tempered and open-hearted. Bring on the wit and wisdom of Hannah Montana!

7:56: The television gods have seen fit to assuage me by playing the “Hugh Dancy in a Prada tuxedo” scene from Confessions of a Shopaholic on Starz in the minutes leading up to Idol. Well played. I’m in a better mood now.

8:00: Ryan’s Big Brother intro on the huge screen was reminiscent of the Apple 1984 commercial, no? That was vaguely terrifying. “THIS….is AMERICAN IDOL!”

8:01: Who else thought that the judges’ entrance looked like The Wizard of Oz? It kinda makes sense, right? Kara has no brain and Simon has no heart. Ba-dum! Okay, that was mean. So much for open hearted.

8:05: And we see the contestants waiting for Miley Cyrus. I’m waiting for the horrified looks of “I have to be mentored by a preschooler?!”

8:07: Adam Shankman, I continue to be disappointed in you. (Shaking my head sadly).

8:08: Why is there no music yet? I’m done with the talking.

8:09: Lee singing “The Letter (Joe Cocker edition)”? Awesome choice. Knock it out, kid.

8:10: Much more showmanship than usual, but at the expense of pitchiness. Dawg. Remember when Michael Johns and Carly Smithson sang a duet of this a couple of years back? Yeah, that was better.

8:12: Simon’s a peculiar shade of red tonight, no? Or is it just because I’m watching in HD? Or were my retinas burned when Kara pulled down his shirt in the opening?

8:16: On this first commercial break, I shall give credit where it’s due: Miley was coherent and helpful in her session with Lee. If she keeps this up, I will have gained more respect for her as a person/performer. Not so much as a singer, though.

8:20: Against All Odds? Really, Paige? That’s been sung 842 times on the Idol stage.

8:21: This is downright painful. Pitchy was an understatement. Did Miley just nail it with the “watch her pitch” critique? Gulp.

8:23: “Yo, man. Yo. Wow.” Well said, Dawg. No, it was definitely dreadful. It’s okay to say it.

8:25: “It was the worst vocal, maybe of the season.” Well, that was direct, Kara. And how quickly we forget Tim Urban’s “Apologize.”

8:27: Against all odds – see what I did there! – I feel kinda badly for Paige. That was awful, but the judges did a pretty thorough job of sucking the soul right out of her. Just like dementors. Sorry, I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series. Moving on.

8:30: If Tim stomps on the memory of Freddie Mercury I’ll be wildly depressed. Just saying.

8:32: When Tim slid across the stage right there, I was kinda hoping he’d slide right into the camera, a la Bruce Springsteen at the Super Bowl last year. That would have been HILARIOUS.

8:33: Tim’s not murdering this but he seems to be loitering in the “not atrocious, not memorable” zone right now. His floppy hair and abs will keep him around for a while, I’m sure, but I want to be entertained, dammit! And sliding/jumping does not an entertaining performance make.

8:34: Ellen’s right – Vanessa and Troy did go to college. And actually, it’s Gabriella – Vanessa’s the actress. Wait, did I just admit that I knew that? Oh God.

8:35: Um, Kara? The director of Hairspray IS SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE. Maybe not so much with the bitch-slapping of that movie, okay?

8:37: Terribly important question: IS AARON OR CRYSTAL SINGING THE JANIS JOPLIN SONG? I’m hoping it’s Crystal because if Aaron’s attempting Joplin I’m going to start hyperventilating.

8:39: I just looked up from my Joplin remark to see a pillow wearing glasses and a Snuggie in a Vitamin Water ad. What in the hell is going on?

8:40: This H&R Block ad reminds me: Official b-roll round of applause to my dad for doing my taxes.

8:41: That joke might have worked if the camera had zoomed in. Nice work, everyone.

8:42: Oh, thank God. Aaron’s singing Aerosmith. Of course, he’s singing one of their lesser hits – seriously child, go search their iTunes catalogue – but still. Crisis averted.

8:44: So far, Miley’s 3 for 4. Telling Aaron that he “literally” has a great voice (as opposed to his figurative voice?) has brought her batting average down.

8:45: Fellow longtime Idol fans: Aaron Kelly = Anthony Federov, yes? Just so we’re clear. That wasn’t bad – for laryngitis, he did okay – but it was pretty boring.

8:47: And somewhere, David Archuleta’s father screams in horror…

8:49: Miley knows/loves “Bobby McGee.” b-roll Respect-meter rising.

8:50: I’m glad Crystal’s turning this performance up in the back half. The opening was well-sung but a touch boring.

8:51: Wow, that killed live, huh? I loved the up-tempo section especially; that was a very nice change.

8:53: Crystal better nail it next week, because the expectations are a touch high now. Not that they weren’t already, but still…

8:55: I really would’ve liked to see the Idol production staff when Crystal put in a request for a throw rug. “She wants a what?!

8:58: So, everyone who gave permission for their music to be used in Alvin and the Chipmunks movies: Are you properly ashamed? And well compensated? Because, wow.

9:00: Miley saying that Big Mike “sang the song to her the entire way” – yeah, she looks kinda uncomfortable. I don’t blame her.

9:01: Mike does have a lovely voice. This was beautifully sung. And anything that helps wipe Michael Bolton from our collective consciousness can’t be a bad thing.

9:04: Kara’s not wrong – it was lounge-y. But so’s Mike. Hasn’t she been paying attention for the past several weeks?

9:06: GLEE IS RETURNING SOON! GLEE IS RETURNING SOON! Sorry, I couldn’t contain myself.

9:10: How does one not know the words to “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”? Especially if you want to be a, you know, singer?

9:12: Well-intentioned advice gone awry, Miley. He’s sort of stiffly wandering around the stage, rather than stiffly standing with his guitar. Good idea, bad execution.

9:14: Randy: “This isn’t the kind of vocalist you are.” When your shining moment is a Paula Abdul song, and you’re told not to sing Motown… I mean, that’s gotta hurt, right?

9:15: And Simon smashes Andrew straight. into. the. ground. That wasn’t good, but I feel for the guy. He looks devastated.

9:19: GLEE IS RETURNING SOON! Sorry, another new commercial. Only three more weeks!

9:21: “Just edge it up.” Yup, that sounds like a Miley-esque critique.

9:22: Why would anyone ever name another song “Big Girls Don’t Cry”? Fergie knew this was already the name of a classic song, right? It’s not like this version is an homage to the other one. I’m confused.

9:23: Katie’s not terribly in tune. Again. It’s time to classify this as a chronic condition.

9:25: “You’ve still got mad pitch issues.” Let’s stop acting like this isn’t a problem, shall we?

9:26: And now for my weekly appeal to Subway: Ixnay the “5 dollar foot long” jingle. PLEASE.

9:29: Oh, crap. The McDonald’s “filet-o-fish” song. That will be in my head for days now. Thanks, fellas.

9:31: Casey singing with hair down this week. I think this information is almost more important than the song choice.

9:32: “I’m a big fan of…your dad’s.” Ha! And Miley’s ego deflates ever so slightly.

9:33: Okay, I know I’m slightly blinded by his adorable-ness, but is anyone else getting a slight David Cook-vibe from Casey? Just a little one? Maybe?

9:35: I can see their song choice comments; there are far better songs out there in the world. But he did rock out, yeah?

9:42: Ryan, you have two jobs: walk without falling down the death stairs and introduce contestants. Epic fail.

9:44: Either the song’s more repetitive than I thought or she cut out several verses.

9:45: Agree with the comments – I wanted to like it, but it wasn’t quite there. That’s sad – I like Didi.

9:46: Simon doesn’t even know Lacey’s name? That’s cold.

9:47: Congratulations to Siobhan for resurrecting Sanjaya’s hairstyle-a-week routine. That’s a gutsy choice.

9:52: “She’s younger than me but she’s SUCH a big star.” That’s a really diplomatic way of saying “I suppose this is why she’s mentoring me right now…”

9:53: I love this song, and I like Siobhan. And the musicians look like they’re having a blast. Just don’t try for the big note again, sweetie – the tinnitus from last week’s attempt is just now wearing off.

9:54: And there it is. Goodbye, eardrums. I’ll miss you.

9:56: Can I take a moment to remind the judges that Adam Lambert used to do that sing/scream thing much better last year? He was more musical, less shrieky, and it was actually kinda original. I like Siobhan; let’s just not act like this is the first time we’ve ever seen this on Idol.

9:57: “I can’t describe the feeling when I hit those notes.” Nor can I, Siobhan.

9:59: So, final impressions: Pretty lackluster overall. I was more impressed with Miley than I thought I’d be. Crystal was great, and I liked Casey (shocking on both accounts, I know). And I do believe that Paige has punched her ticket home. Adios, m’dear.

See you tomorrow for the results show! I’ll be live-blogging as the Jonas Brothers sing (oh no) and Demi Lovato (oh God, really?). Apparently Miley Cyrus will also perform, which should bring my opinion of her crashing back down to the earth, right where it belongs. See you then!

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