I wish every week from here to the rest of the end of American Idol would be a night of solo performances and then duets, because this format is gold. Gold! It’s not just seeing Idol legends that has me saying this. This is quality entertainment. And where last night when about nine of the twelve were underwhelming, the duet night gives everyone a second chance.

We welcomed back David Cook, Haley something (Great Legs), Jordin Sparks (did I spell that right?), Daughtry (he was a hit-maker for a good year or two), and Kelly Pickler (such a sad back-story, I’m not allowed to tease her), and I may or may not have hugged my TV.

Amelia Eisenhauer and Kellie Pickler – Forgive me but I haven’t followed Kellie’s career all that closely, but I think they covered Kellie’s “Suds in the Bucket”. A song about a country girl who up and left her white trash life and didn’t even bother to drain the washtub or fold the laundry, and that is a recipe for a great, schmaltzy Country song. Amelia struggled last night, and while we all appreciate she plays a mean fiddle, this wasn’t the right song to showcase what Amelia’s strength is – which is her voice and her mood. She’s a bit brooding. She’s the not-so-pretty girl who buried herself in her music. The song works for Kellie Pickler because Kellie is gorgeous and talks like she’s from the Ozarks. The saving grace is, Amelia showed she’s not overly serious and actually, with the judges, that might’ve worked in her favor.

Kory Wheeler and Haley Hot-Legs – Sigh. I looooooved Haley Reinhart. I’d link to the blogs I wrote during her season, but spunkybean was hacked by Isis about 6 years ago and all that gushing and brilliance is long gone. I don’t know if she’d won she would’ve been able to do what Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood did, but I have this theory that really pretty girls with great legs who have modest singing talent can go really, really far (see ‘Selena Gomez’). Kory and Haley sang Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” and it didn’t do much for Kory, but maybe the judges will vote Haley through to the Top-12. She was great. He was her back-up. Un. Im. Pressive. The judges were nice, but Kory didn’t get a standing ovation.

Lee Jean and Chris Daughtry – I think Daughtry doesn’t get enough credit or love for his success following Idol. We always point to Clarkson and Underwood. And then we talk about Jennifer Hudson. But Daughtry had two huge albums and probably a half-dozen top-10 hits, and he’s just kinda cool. That song, Home, maybe because it mostly gets played on Adult Contemporary stations, only gets that treatment because he’s an Idol alum. It could play on Top-40 and Adult Alternative if he came up through the ranks. Now, as for the duet …it was cool. Plain old cool. Lee Jean has a cool, effortless voice and I’m not saying he’s Ben Harper, but this is what I imagine a Daughtry-Ben Harper duet would look like on, say, The Grammies or something. The judges will def’ put Lee Jean through.

CJ Johnson and David Cook – Together they performed a somewhat cool version of Collective Soul’s “World I Know” and it was good for David Cook (who has a better, bigger voice than I remember) and it was not good for CJ Johnson, who has a weaker voice than I realized. He struggled to get noticed and David Cook smothered him, even thought Cook gave CJ the last, big, final high note …it was breathy, whispery, and weak. They asked David, “wasn’t that the very last song you performed on Idol?” But they should’ve been asking CJ, “can you believe that’s the last song you’ll be singing on Idol?” If you thought that was funny, well, my nine-year-old daughter wrote that joke. Not too shabby, eh?

Manny Torres and Jordin Sparks (aka The Gentle Giant) – I don’t care what the Chris Brown fans say, but Manny Torres’s duet with Jordin Sparks on her hit “No Air” was a hundred times better than her version with Chris Brown. So good, in fact, it should be released as a single tomorrow! It. Was. So. Good. No. It. Was. Great. I. Love. One. Word. Sentences. I liked their performance so much, I watched it twice. Jordin is the real deal and she should be pissed at anyone writing her songs and managing her career, cuz those people are fuckin’ it up. Jordin is beautiful, her voice is amazing, and she should be more famous and more wealthy. Wow. I’m worried the judges don’t love Manny like I do and I’m worried I’m going to be heart broken tomorrow if they don’t pick Manny. I love Manny. Keith called it right …”powerhouse duet.”

Jenn Blosil (aka Singing Drew Barrymore) and Constantine Greek-Last-Name – I don’t know what to do with Jenn. I like her style and quirkiness. But I don’t know if I love it. I don’t know if the judges look at her and say, hey, she could be an American Idol and sell a million records. They might think she’ll be fun and entertaining and a good side-show to Blonde-Handsome-Guy (aka Dalton Rappatoni) and Tristin McIntosh (aka Army Brat). I don’t mind her. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jenn some more. But she can’t win. Constantine is actually pretty damn funny. Harry thought he led Jenn astray by changing “My Funny Valentine” too much. My only complaint is that Constantine should’ve worn a slick, Italian suit.

Tristin McIntosh and Kellie Pickler – Tristin is perfect, and I will fight any man (or woman) who disagrees with me. She’s only 15, which might be her biggest obstacle. With Kellie, she sang “Best Days of Your Life” and all I could think was, hey, Kellie, could you please shut up. And if Kellie’s being honest, I’m guessing she kinda wished she wasn’t on stage with Tristin because it kinda reveals we don’t like Kellie for her voice as much as for her funny, hillbilly charm and her pretty face and nice legs. Tristin, Tristin, Tristin. That is a talent blossoming before our eyes. Tristin can’t wait for this Top-24 nonsense to end. Harry legitimately coached her on stage presence and performing …good move …because they need to engineer Tristin to the finale. She needs to win.

Olivia Rox and David Cook – Together they sang “Light On” and I’m can’t figure out if Olivia is acting cute and innocent but actually she thinks she’s “all that” or if she’s really and genuinely humble and not aware of the talent she has? As much as I think Idol blew it with so many guys-with-guitars winning in recent seasons, David Cook was very clearly the best of his season. “Light On” is a great song with some tricky parts, and they were like a rock-opera finale performing together.

Adam Lasher and Haley Hot-Legs – Can I skip this one? Adam doesn’t belong here. I enjoyed the performance for the 2-minutes I got to stare at Haley. I’m creepy. Haley might not be as big a star as she could be because she seems just kinda ditsy.

Dalton Rapattoni and Chris Daughtry – Both guys might’ve got lost in the bigness of the song, but both guys were probably the only two guys who could even come close to nailing the Chili Peppers’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” As they rolled out the commemorative framed recognition of Daughtry’s 8-million albums sold and his four #1 hits, Harry pointed out, again, why Idol has been so great …it’s made big stars. Dalton might be the next.

And then Ryan Seacrest twerked. And J-Lo once again flirted with Dalton.

Trent Harmon and Jordin Sparks – After seeing he and Jordin perform “To Love Somebody” together and how much I liked it, something wasn’t right last night. Maybe the sound mixing? Maybe everyone’s in-ear monitors weren’t giving them the right feedback. He and Jordin were like hearing Mariah Carey and Smokey Robinson perform. He’s like the male Jenn Blosil …extremely talented and entertaining and yet, he doesn’t have a chance at winning. As harsh as the judges were yesterday, they were over-the-top gushing this night. Of course, it could be because the Idol alums dragged them along and taught them and showed them how to be bigger-than-life.

Shelby Z. and Constantine – I can’t deny she can sing. But I can’t deny she annoys me something fierce and it’s always additionally annoying when anyone sings “Bohemian Rhapsody”. And Constantine butchers the opening, and they didn’t blend well. It sucked. I wish I didn’t have to listen to her anymore, but, by the math, she will probably make it.

And then came the results. Swiftly and harshley. Onto the Top-14 are Lee Jean, Olivia, Jenn, Dalton, Manny (yes!), Tristin (phew, I didn’t have to quit watching Idol), and last but not least, Trent.

A perfect slate. It’s exactly who should be on our TVs next week. Thank goodness it wasn’t a fan vote. We never would’ve gotten it right.

Next week we’ve got 14 that I think the judges will cut to 10 and then we’ll start voting. I like this group. This is going to be fun.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

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