The real American Idol starts tonight with 13 finalists who look awfully familiar
We're past the pathological thrill-seeking oddballs clogging the cattle call auditions and the weak performers who bring the drama that makes Hollywood week barely tolerable. Theoretically, we're now down to the best singers winnowed from a field of more than 100,000 people who lined up for a shot at reality TV immortality just a few months ago.
And these 13 semi-finalists look an awful lot like some people we've seen before.
I asked judges Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul about this in January; if Idol's such a huge talent search, why do they end up with a similar, uneven mix of singers, season after season? They didn't have much of an answer, but many on the list of semi-finalists taking the stage tonight remind me of last year's competitors, and the contest is only just getting started.
Jasmine Murray = Syesha Mercado
Cute, telegenic and youthful with a strong voice and a performing style that could get better. Writing that sentence today feels like an echo of something I wrote 12 months ago on a certain Sarasota native.
Megan Joy = Kristy Lee Cook
Like Cook, Megan Joy is a so-so singer with a marketable look that could work well in folk or country circles. Every time Simon Cowell looks at Megan, I see the dollar signs flashing in his eyes -- just as he did with Cook.
Iraheta's got more skills than Malubay had. But if she doesn't develop more charm offstage, viewers will tire of her.
Adam Lambert = David Cook
Both of these guys are skilled rock 'n' roll singers with an unlikely background in musical theater. But Lambert's taken it farther, working a professional in the touring company of Wicked. Which means he'll have to work harder to shed it on Idol.