Lame, lame, lame, good, lame, lame, lame ... There's a lot of fat on American Idol's Top 36 list, which starts getting trimmed to a tidy 12 tonight. Season Eight has proved a flabby mess, but we see a few worthy challengers — and more than a few with a bright future in food service. So get your dialing digits ready, boys and girls! It's time to whittle down the warblers. Herewith, a quick handicapping of Idol's Top 36:
Shoo-ins for the semis
Danny Gokey: He looks like Robert Downey Jr. His backstory weeps of Hallmark movie of the week. And both Paula and Kara wanna jump his bones. His bromantic bud Jamar got bounced, but no matter: Danny is gold.
Jasmine Murray: There are certainly pretty people in the remaining group (I'm looking at you Casey Carlson, rawr!). But Jasmine oozes starpower — and sexy starpower at that. She's smooth, stealthy, lethal.
Adam Lambert: This operatic hellcat dresses like the Sunset Strip, sounds like Sunset Boulevard. There's Broadway beneath the eyeliner, but Lambert's Axl-in-mantyhose wail works.
Lil Rounds: Honestly, I can't remember her actually singing anything. But her name is so killer — a lil rap, a lil gunplay, a lil old-school cool — that Lil Rounds gets my vote. Kapow!
Crazy enough to last
Tatiana Del Toro: She brays like a burro and hyperventilates like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. But remember Sanjaya, Kevin Covais, Kellie Pickler? Sometimes the weird ones stick.
Alex Wagner-Trugman: This bug-eyed outcast, a k a "Closet Mold Boy," is a nervous, nerdy wreck — but a perfect choice for those who "vote for the worst."
Jackie Tohn: A cross between Janis Joplin and Rhoda Morgenstern, Tohn sings like a hippie and zings like a Borscht Belter. I see her getting the feminist vote. Or at least the Carlton Your Doorman vote.
Michael Sarver: "Big Oil" Sarver isn't as good as you think. But he's a muscular "roughneck," he works on a rig and the ladies loooove him. His brawny backstory takes him far.
Maybe Fatburger is hiring?
Nick Mitchell: Sometimes Idol lets in a freak 'cause everyone else is boring. Nick, whose alter ego is the Birdcage-y Norman Gentle, gets doinked soon.
Kendall Beard: The blond, pin-up-worthy Beard is a goner, too, but mainly because the borderline-talented hottie always suffers a cruel fate in this round. Take it from me, being incredibly attractive is a gift and a curse.
Anoop Desai: If I'm Anoop Dogg, I totally bust out the Jai Ho dance from Slumdog Millionaire. But alas, he thinks he can croon. Hang on, Noopy.
Von Smith: He looks like a smirky child star all grown up, like someone who drove Mr. Belvedere crazy. That faint whiff of Aiken could help him out, but I don't think so. Von voyage!
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.