And so the final 13 begins. With both bangs and whimpers. There were some pleasant surprises (go Kris Allen!) and some predictable disappointments (fail, Danny Gokey). Let's discuss further after the jump.

For the uninitiated, if you're out there, we've finally arrived at the final round, when 13 singers will belt every week in the hopes that some large pocket of teen girls or some long-forgotten state will rally behind them and vote over and over and over again. It was a Michael Jackson-themed kickoff, though they dipped into strange parts of Wacko's catalog. Folks sang some seriously random MJ songs and the ever-swaying audience pretended like they recognized them. Another sad Idol sham.

Allison and Alexis obviously were good, with nearly note-perfect renditions of "Give it to Me" and "Dirty Diana," respectively. Alexis teetered on the brink of campiness with her silly, revealing black halterwhatever outfit, but that's mostly excusable when the vocals are so 'out the damn box', or whatever garblegook is tumblinging out of Randy's mouth these days. Nice country boy Kris Allen did a very good job with a funked-up, sex-groove edition of "Remember the Time." He seems energized, now that he's reunited with his precious guitar. Girls swooned, I swooned, everyone swooned. The judges weren't quite as effusive about his breakout performance as I'd hoped, but again with the swooning. That's carried many a contestant quite far. Though, Simon was right to say that it was a bit early for Allen to trot out the wife. You're killing the dream, dude!

Least Favorites
Adam Lambert. Can one really call what he does singing? Isn't there better nomenclature for the satellite rocket screeching he exhibited on "Black and White." Our most boy kissingest Irdol contestant tramped around with ludicrous hair and horrid clothes and growly "who are these supposed to be directed toward?" sex snarls. Sigh. Other than being repulsive, it's just boring. Of course the judges absolutely blew praise all over his face. See if you agree, above. Also on my shitlist was Danny Gokey. The judges lurve him, though Simon wasn't quite as slavish in his adulation as the rest of the bunch. He compared him to Michael McDonald ("white... with soul"), which for a twenty-something aspiring pop singer should be considered a thinly-veiled insult. By now it should be evident. The ones I truly hate aren't the least talented. I just hate them because their personalities are annoying. The other also-rans are just:

Roughneck Matt Sarver, the always just-OK Jasmine Murray, and Snoop Anoop were just meh. Jorge Nunez continues to be beguilingly skeletal. Lil Rounds was heavily praised but didn't really deserve it. Her "The Way You Make Me Feel" was just Loud more often than it was Melodic. Also, her pants were fitted with a crotch that one could only call 'insane.' Megan Joy Corkrey was fine, but doesn't belong in this competition. (Also, what's the deal with all the single momz on this show?) And, finally, poor Scott continues to be vaguely menacing and completely out-of-time. When is he from? Not just his music. Him.. When is he?

Those Who Are About To Die
Sorry Sarver and Jasmine. Was nice knowing you.

OK. Enough of me. What'd you think?