I wish I could quit you Idol. After seeing the grown-ups on Rock Star this summer, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to Idolback Mountain this year. The usual warm-up hoopla has been pumping for weeks now. “It’s the best Idol, ever”. Should we quit watching after this year? Even though they’ve extended their contract until eternity. I can’t wait till the first offspring of an Idol wins Idol.

The first lady up tonight is Mandisa, a hometown Nashville girl for me. She is the one that Simon dissed about her weight early on, who went on to forgive him on national television. Mandisa chooses the Heart song “Never” because it’s unexpected. She likes to take a rock song and “trick it around”. She’s does a damn good job too. She rocked it expertly, without fear or nerves showing. It wasn’t perfect, but she sang uniquely, not mocking anyone else’s style. Good job and everyone knows first is hardest.

Next up is Kellie Pickler. To me is she this year’s Carrie with a more tragic back-story. I’m irritated already. I don’t want an entire season of references to her imprisoned daddy. I just don’t. We’ve all got problems of our own. I say send the country girls to Nashville Star and leave Idol the hell alone. Living in Nashville and having seen thousands of country starlet hopefuls, she doesn’t stand out to me. She chooses the Martina McBride song “How Far“, but sounds more like a nervous Reba McEntire on a bad night. How Far? Not far from boring. When they revive Hee-Haw, sign this girl up.

Becky O’Donohue shows a lot of personality before singing. She’s the hot singing twin. She is singing a song from the first CD she ever got, at Christmastime. It’s “Because the Night” by Natalie Merchant. I guess you had to be there, or a child of the 80’s to appreciate it properly. She’s kind of a rocker chick that looks like a model, or a model that looks like a rocker chick. Anyhow, she could skip over to America’s Next Top Model if this gig doesn’t work out, and it looks like it might not. Paula is the first one critical of her lack of pitch. Takes one to know one, but she is correct. Simon says visually a 10, but singing-wise a 6 1/2 and that’s about right.

Ayla Brown talked about getting the dignity and respect she deserves. She better sing like an angel if she’s so expectant. Her song choice is "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera. She’s got some power. She’s uneven at times and obviously loves Christina just a tad too much. She said she felt complete afterwards. I felt not quite finished with it, but that’s not the first time. She has potential, but if a diamond, she’s still in her rough.

Paris Bennett’s speaking voice is the most deceptive thing about her. It’s a tiny, mousy, Prissy from Gone With the Wind speaking voice. In fact, she’s from Georgia, singing “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and she’s this year’s cutest, liveliest, most entertaining contestant so far. She has that unique ability to make herself the center of attention and yet make everyone in the room feel included in the performance. I have a feeling she’ll never go hungry again. Her voice assumes sophisticated adult tones when singing that belie the childish nature you might expect. I was surprised, amused, and entertained. The main reason I can’t quit you Idol is surprises like Paris.

Stevie Scott trained in opera, so who knows what to expect. She also has a childish quality to her speaking voice. I think it’s called affectation. Her song choice is by Josh Groban, "Where You Are". I can honestly say I’ve never heard one of these songs that I didn’t change the channel, whether on radio or television. Maybe girls connect with this kind of thing, but I think she is writing her ticket home with each climbing, whining, wispier yet note. It’s nearly supersonic toward the end, and my cat Billy was irritated enough to leave the room before it was over. Billy is an expert when it comes to these things. He says she is going home.

This year’s big mouth, show off girl is Brenna Gethers. We’ve seen the drama, now we get to hear her voice singing Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”. For me she is this year’s Mikayla. All talk and not enough talent to back it up. She is mediocre at best singing, but expert at making strange faces while doing it. It’s not a big selling point for me. If she doesn’t go this round, it won’t be long. Her back and forth flirting with Simon is just as boring as last year’s bigmouth flirting with Simon. Talk to the hand. Please don’t sing to it.

Heather Cox nearly lost her voice in Hollywood and barely got through. She is singing, “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” from last year’s finale show. She loves Idol so much she’s like a stalker. Didn’t anyone tell her the songs that they make you sing for the finale are the suckiest songs you will ever be forced to record in you career. Evidently not. Also, I’m not sure she found all her voice since Hollywood. It goes high, but it cracks a lot, like a boy going through puberty. Weak. Another one that is going sooner rather than later. This week or next or next, but not final twelve. Good luck Heather.

Melissa McGhee has participated in beauty pageants, but they are more catty than Idol. Little does she know. Check the boards, babe. She is singing Faith Hill’s, “When the Lights Go Down”. Country is pop and Pop is country and so forth and so on. It’s one of those drama songs, pleading in tone, and irritating in some harmless way nonetheless. It sounds so desperate. It sounds more like what country singers do for money than what an Idol should do for fun. Eh. Not exciting to me. Someone must like it. It sells. Paula used the phrase “Made it Your Own” and I imbibed. Here’s to you. Cheers!

Lisa Tucker is the 16 year old standout with the curly hair. She is singing, “I Am Changing” by Jennifer Holiday. It’s an adult sophisticated sort of song with unusual phrasing. This girl of sixteen sings like a natural woman with years of experience. How would you like a Paris/Lisa finale? Till the boys show us their stuff, it’s all I can imagine. It’s nice to finally see the singers singing. It’s what really counts. Those few moments are what keep us coming back, looking for that little spark. It’s about newness, discovery, passion, and fate. I wish I could quit you, Idol.

Kinnik Sky looks like she is going to sing at the jazz club tonight. Her song is Oleta Adam’s “Get Here” and it seems a bit ambitious and over the top. You can barely find the song among all the vocal tricks and it wanders far from home. Sometimes you just need to sing the melody and shut up the rest. She was trying to keep up with Lisa’s energy, but her car ran off the tracks before she got to the end of the line. Probably not a finalist.

Katharine McPhee was a standout at the auditions early on. She is singing a Streisand song, “Since I Fell for You”, which seems a little old for American Idol but what do I know. I’m old and it bores me. Maybe it feels new to the younger kids. The girls sometimes make a big effort to appear grown up, but it comes off like an outtake from a bad musical. Maybe after 2 hours, I’m so tired I just don’t care. Randy loved it. Paula says this is the greatest show on earth because she “gave it her all.” I imbibed again. Hope you did too. Simon says it was the best of the night, but I think his medication kicked in sooner than mine.

Anyhow, five hours of Idol a week is just too much. It’s like the first days of a diet or a new exercise program when everything hurts at first and it seems to take forever just to get through it. Billy had the best idea and slept through the rest of it in the backroom. I should have taken his advice, but here we are again. I wish I could quit you Idol, but you know I won’t. Songherding time is here.