Okay, so I know it’s only week one of the American Idol semifinals, and I’m aware that patience is a virtue, but yikes! I’m slightly scared (possibly even scurr’d) that the first 24 performances of season 9 are an omen of 13 long and arduous weeks ahead. [Minor SPOILERS ahead, so west coasters may want to cover their eyes and/or run screaming from the Internet.] I mean, seriously, when the judges are scrambling to heap praise on hapless Alex Lambert — possibly the most petrified Idol contestant since Garrett Haley (click here if you don’t remember him) — you know there’s been trouble in casting paradise. And with Jermaine Purifory, J.B. Ahfua, Angela Martin, and Tasha Layton watching from their couches, is it possible we’ve accidentally stumbled into casting hell?
And yet I know in the back of my brain that we dance this dance every Idol season: Staring deeply into our television sets and wondering “How many seasons can this show sustain before it all goes kaput?” But the cold hard evidence tells us that even standout Idol contestants sometimes need a one-week pass before they really bring the brilliance. Look back at season 7 of Idol: David Archuleta didn’t break out “Imagine” till week two. In season 4, Bo Bice didn’t really look like a true contender till his sophomore effort, the Allman Bros’ “Whipping Post.” Ditto for season 5′s Chris Daugtry, whose maiden voyage of “Wanted Dead or Alive” paled in comparison to his followup, Fuel’s “Hemorrhage (In My Hands).”
So even if the “good” performances tonight lacked the basic snap, crackle, and pop of Allison Iraheta’s “Alone” (yes, I went there, obvs), I need to remind myself to just chillax and repeat my daily anthem: It’s only week one, it’s going to be okay. It’s only week one, it’s going to be okay. It’s only week one, it’s going to be okay.
Of course, if week two is this much of a hot, buttered wreck, then I’m hitting the panic button. What did you think of tonight’s performances? Who was your favorite? Who’s on the chopping block? Post your thoughts below, then come back to EW.com in the morning for my full TV Watch recap. [UPDATE: Check out the full recap here.] And to get all my Idol news and views, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!