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Archive for the ‘American Idol’ Category

Sorry for going four weeks without a blog post. I wrote two others over that last few weeks but my busy schedule kept getting in the way of me posting them. I was happy that MacKenzie left after the hometown visits and while he didn’t have the vocal perfection of the other two I kept rooting for Dalton because that boy has the potential of being a great performer. Going into tonight’s Final 2 showdown I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best for him, but being the realist that I knew that America might not agree with me.

Like the 14 Season Finales before it, this one began with Ryan whipping up the crowd for what was to come, but melancholy hung in the air everyone knew this was the end of an era. The traditional three rounds would bring us all to the final voting opportunity — and here’s how it all came down…

Round 1: The Potential Winner’s (Coronation) Song

Trent HarmonFalling

In 15 years of Idol Winner Songs this is the FIRST ONE that I could actually buy and enjoy listening to in my playlist more than once. Perfect for radio play right now and he sounded great on it.

Dalton RapattoniStrike a Match

Even though it has a definite pop hook, it comes from the standard Idol schlock song pile of “meh” finale songs. It didn’t do the kid any favors and at times he sounded a little flat in the lower register.

La’Porsha Renae – Battles

Another bad winner’s song that she struggled to “never give up” and make something more out of it. The song really didn’t help her cause any and if she wins it won’t help her win any more fans, that’s for sure.

So when the lights were dimmed for the results, it was no surprise the La’Porsha was the first one through to the final two rounds. I kinda figured the boys would split the “teeny bopper” vote with Trent moving forward and making Dalton this year’s Jax. For a 19 year old he showed a lot of talent, guts and sheer determination to always put forth great performance week after week. I admire that and I hope someone signs him up and works with him to reach his full potential.

So it now becomes a battle of the great voices…

Round 2:  Simon Fuller’s Final Choices

Trent HarmonIf You Don’t Know Me By Now (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)

This dude was on FIRE and with that  pristinely clear falsetto he made a huge lasting impression. Unlike La’Porsha who’s been consistently good, he is peaking at the right time and who know’s – he just might be able to win (and he might have my vote). Perfect song choice!

La’Porsha Renae – A House is Not a Home (Dionne Warwick)

WHOA! She is just killer on the old school songs and this time was absolutely no exception, grinding Tamara Gray’s Season 1 rendition into the ground. Another perfect song choice and the battle is on!!! Keith Urban’s remarks were priceless, too!

Round 3: Contestant’s Choice from the Season

Trent HarmonChandelier (Sia)

Gutsy move to repeat a song he got great reviews on the last time he sang it – but this time…HE CRUSHED IT COMPLETELY!!! The move from his natural tenor to falsetto was as smooth as glass and the emotion he poured into the lyrics painted a beautiful melodic picture. He HAS my VOTE! His peaking now at the very end is what Idol has been about for the last 15 years – I’m gonna miss that about this show.

La’Porsha RenaeDiamonds (Rhianna)

I don’t usually like when she sings songs by current artists and tonight was no exception. She would have done ten times better if she had picked PROUD MARY and wiped the floor with some old school vibe. She might be America’s sentimental favorite and she does have a priceless instrument but I’m not sure she should win.

So, after 15 years it all comes down to this final vote tally. I’ve done my part for Trent – now it’s your turn one last time to vote for your favorite. Tomorrow night’s final 2 hours should be a tearjerker for us long time fans but the ride has definitely been worth it. I’m gonna miss this cheesy show…

I’ll post final thoughts after the winner is crowned. Thanks for hanging in with me all season. It’s been fun.

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Eight go to six on this week’s rapid fire installment and I am still not liking this fast paced season — but, it’s what we have so we make the best of it. The contestants continue to need to step up their game and the twist this week is the ever-popular DUET parings. They will either be really good or…not…

Have said that, this is how I saw the performances from my comfy couch this week – duets first:

La’Porsha Renae & Trent HarmonSee You Again (Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth)

These two actually sound good together…nice blend and worked well with each other. Not familiar with the song but it worked for them. Good job.

Avalon Young & Sonika VaidRise Up (Andra Day)

Another good blending job from these two who actually appeared to enjoy singing with each other (they are roomies after all…). Pairing her with Sonika made me actually tolerate Avalon better this time around, if you can believe that. Song seemed to fit their voices well. Could have have used a little better diction from both.

MacKenzie Bourg & Dalton RapattoniI Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys)

I call this pairing “When styles collide” and it was a huge fail.  Dalton was a tad flat in places and I’ve haven’t heard him do that before. Mac was trying to make the best of it but really wasn’t. I don’t think this was a great song choice and I agree with Harry 100%!

Tristan McIntosh & Lee JeanDon’t Want to Miss a Thing (Areosmith)

The cute factor was working overtime with these two and they got a tad screechy in place but I thought it was a good song for them and they actually worked it out. You could tell Lee was trying a bit too hard because he’s been sick but Tristan was in her comfort zone most of the time.

Now, back to the solo portion of our competition as we find out who makes the Top 6:

La’Porsha Renae – Come Together (The Beatles)

When this gal stays old school with her song choices she kills it BIG TIME and she did it again this week. She was so far in the zone vocally and her stage antics were brassy and sassy! Great song choice — keep her singing the old songs and she could go all the way!

MacKenzie Bourg – You Are So Beautiful (Billy Preston/Joe Cocker)

I, for one, am glad this boy put down his guitar and concentrated on the words and emotions of this piece. It was simply and beautifully understated. Great vocals and great overall performance (and he nailed the last note, too!).

Last year’s winner Nick Fradiani drops by to plug his new single (it was ok) and then we get back to the business at hand…

Trent Harmon – Stand By Me (Ben E. King)

While he still needs to work on those facial contortions when singing he nailed the vocals on this old chestnut like a pro. Great song choice and yet another opportunity to work his falsetto in and out of the piece.

Tristan McIntosh – A Broken Wing (Martina McBride)

I really love her voice and warm country style but someone needs to pull this gal aside and teach her how NOT to lean into the scream when she goes for the dramatic effect. She does pick the right songs for her voice and even at her young age she can genuinely connect with the emotion of the piece but get her to a vocal coach who will not let her continue putting her fragile young voice in jeopardy.

Dalton Rapattoni – Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)

Now THIS is the Dalton I like to see and hear – takes a familiar song and flips it on its head in his boy-band-gone-grunge sort of way. Really nice turn on this Beatles classic and he successfully showed off the great showman he is becoming…and the girls love him.

So when the dust settled the three on this week’s hot seat were:

Avalon Young – P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing) (Michael Jackson)

It really is her song choices and not her vocals that put me off because the songs — and I’ll be honest — are just too butch for the vocals she produces. It’s almost a study in contrasts and that’s why I don’t believe she is connecting with us at home. She does have a cool factor but I don’t find her cool at all and it looks like I’m not the only one.

Lee Jean – Let it Be (The Beatles)

When you combine not the best of song choices on top of being sick you are doomed to not have a great performance. And that’s a shame because this boy has been consistently good vocally since day one and a pleasure to watch performance-wise. They tried to let him down easy but his fate was sealed after that song.

Sonika Vaid – I Have Nothing (Whitney Houston)

This is one of those “go big or go home” numbers and the vocals on this chick were absolutely pristine. It was a tad emotionally lacking for me but she was vocally superior than the other two and it was very evident.

With that, the judges chose to rescue

Sonika Vaid – she was the logical choice vocally

which left us to bid adieu to

Avalon Young (sorry, but it was time) & Lee Jean (unfortunately)

Time to go vote!

Until next Thursday, America!

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Well imagine my surprise when I went to sit down on my comfy couch yesterday and call up AI on my TV at its usual time on Wednesday night — what the heck is a ROSEWOOD? And why didn’t I know they were going down to ONE night now? It really seems that our little show is getting the bum’s rush out the door of TV land (and FOX owes most of its success as a network to this franchise so I see this movement as total disrespect) so that means every song and vote needs to count so we can get the best contestant to win this last title.

Ryan explained at the outset that the bottom three would would duke it out for a judges’ rescue and that two would go home. Thankfully we don’t have the light up chairs this year so it’s up to our contestants to win our hearts and votes singing Grammy winning songs.

Here’s how this played out:

Dalton Rapattoni – Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)

I worry for the first contestant out of the gate because if the performance isn’t great they can get lost in the wake of the others. I didn’t think this was one of Dalton’s best vocals (particularly his bottoming out on the low notes) but he’s still got the best diction and command of the lyrics out of the bunch and that drives his interpretation. I’ll fault a bad song choice this week — and I totally agree with all three judges!

Lee Jean – Use Somebody (Kings of Leon)

This 16 year old is starting to rise above the rest and this song, while not his usual fare, opened him up to give a great vocal performance. Kid’s got chops — he needs to relax more in the groove and believe in his talent. I’d watch this one.

We take our first time out to hear the gals sing with Demi Lovado (it was nothing memorable) and then return to the competition:

Sonika Vaid – Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)

I’ve never heard that song done without it being a total scream fest but vocally she worked it really well. Performance-wise it was too controlled and almost a bit laid back – she wasn’t as connected with the words as well as she should have been. Fell a little flat so she’ll need votes.

MacKenzie Bourg – I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston)

Interesting song choice but I wasn’t digging the arrangement a whole lot – but what do I know because the judges loved it. I usually like this vocals and style and while the vocals were solid I just didn’t like the delivery. Harry and I were more in sync on this one.

La’Porsha Renae – Halo (Beyoncé)

I prefer La’Porsha singing more of the old school songs because her voice and performance style are more suited for that. When she takes on the newer stuff she seems to uncover the weaknesses in these newer songs and they just don’t do her voice any favors. It was just “meh” for me but she killed it anyway.

And now we pause to let Harry do his thang! Man plays a mean piano…

Trent Harmon – When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge/Michael Bolton)

He’s the falsetto king this season and it definitely comes naturally to his bright tenor vocals. He IS getting better with controlling the facial contortions and this was a perfect song for him — right in his wheel house. He’ll be back next week…no doubt…

Tristan McIntosh – Go Rest High on That Mountain (Vince Gill)

That was, as they say, a “moment” and while she’s can boarder on screaming at the top of her range (something I hope a good voice teacher will smack out of her down the road) she really nailed that song both vocally and performance-wise. A perfect song choice for her but I would have wanted to know what song the slimy Scott Borchetta made her pass on — just sayin’…

Now, that puts these three ladies on the hot seat:

Avalon Young – Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey) (The Weeknd)

I thought she was so pitchy on this song and NONE of the judges called her out on it!!! Come on, folks…she was inconsistent and flat! Gee…Only positive here is that America doesn’t get what she’s selling either if she made the bottom three.

Olivia Rox – Trouble (P!nk)

I didn’t catch the fact that she was sick last week so kudos for her for doing as well as she did. And that was just a kick-a$$ performance where she pulled out all the vocal stops and STILL the judges were not impressed because they want Avalon to stay. Harrumph.

Gianna Isabella – If I Ain’t Got You (Alicia Keys)

She gave it everything she had for a 15 year old and the judges really tried to let her down easy but they still have their sights on keeping Avalon…arrrrgh….

So…in the end, the judges chose to rescue

Avalon Young – I just don’t see what is so special about her!!! They were just not going to let her go home…UGH!!!

which left us to bid adieu to

Olivia Rox & Gianna Isabella — I would have kept Olivia, truthfully.

Well, I’m off to vote and you should do the same. Not sure it it’s another double elimination next week but I guess we’ll see what’s in store then…so…

Until next Thursday, America!

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Again with the pace stepped up so the show can end in April, we move right along to the announcement of the Top 10. I did my duty and voted for my those I felt should move forward and other than one contestant I felt it was a decent and deserving Top 10 for the final year:

Top 10

Dalton Rapattoni

Olivia Rox

Trent Harmon

La’Porsha

Tristan McIntosh

Sonika Vaid

Gianna Isabella

MacKenzie Bourg

Avalon Young

Lee Jean

With Ms. Kelly Clarkson in da house as a guest judge and performer — at 8 months pregnant no less and at least taking an entire minute to say goodbye to the 4 departing contestants — the show gets right down to the business at hand. Here they are in order of appearance:

Olivia Rox – Unconditionally (Katy Perry)

She has such lovely colors in her voice and knows how to switch between head tone and power vocal without screaming, however I fear for her survival because she was picked to start off the night. Many a good performer has left early because of this positioning.

Gianna Isabella – Listen (Beyonce/ Dreamgirls: The Movie)

I normally like her but I wonder if the song was a bit too big for her at this point in the competition. She wasn’t as consistent through the song as she usually is and I agree that she might have been overthinking the performance. I hope she can hang on for at least another week because she’s got talent for days.

Lee Jean – Skinny Love (Bon Iver)

This kid is a natural performer and it shows in how comfortable he is both vocally and visually. His pitch problems might have to do with playing guitar and singing at the same time – the posture behind a guitar is different than just standing erect. If he stays I’d like to see him get out from behind the 6-string and move a little.

Avalon Young – Stitches (Shawn Mendes)

I honestly wish I could warm up to her because she’s not half bad but I’m just not buying what she’s selling vocally. Her song choices are all over the place and not any that would be found in my playlists but she doesn’t draw me in and I think that’s more me than her. I wouldn’t miss her if she goes.

Dalton Rapattoni – Hey There Delilah (Plain White T’s)

For a rocker he has some of the best diction I’ve heard in years and I appreciate it. He also sings more than he screams and actually shows respect to the  melodies. He successfully flips arrangements like David Cook and Adam Lambert and that can take him far in this competition – and it doesn’t hurt that the girls are ga-ga for him.

Tristan McIntosh – Nothin’ Like You (Dan + Shay)

It might be a smart move for her to concentrate on country music because it both sets her apart and shows off her warm, rich vocals. It may not have been her best performance but she so good at her age that it’s frightening. She got some of my votes this week for sure.

MacKenzie Bourg – I See Fire (Ed Sheeran)

Another consistently good performer who knows how to sell a song – whether he wrote it himself or is interpreting someone else’s. Clean, clear vocals each time he sings and I agree with Kelly that he knows who he is as a performer. His song choices are spot on as well.

LaPorsha Renae – Diamonds (Rhianna)

I’ve liked this big, brassy lady with the “high hair” since the beginning but I didn’t think this song choice did her any favors. Look, she could sing the phone book and get away with it but she is way better than this song and while the others loved it I just sat there and said “meh.” To each his or her own, I suppose.

Sonika Vaid – Bring Me to Life (Evanescence)

Her vocals are stellar and I was a little afraid this big song might get away from her but she really killed it – not by throwing caution to the wind like some would but by showing great control with the emotions (except at the very end but we’ll forgive that). I’m starting to warm up to her.

Trent Harmon – Like I Can (Sam Smith)

Well, it seems La’Porsha threw down the mic and the show really came to life with the last two singers stepping up their game and going after her. Trent came out with vocals blaring and really sold that song. His facial contortions can sometimes (read: most times) be annoying to me but I think he’ll be around for awhile.

So I did my part again and spread my votes around to those who I think should continue, hoping that Avalon will be knocked out in the process. Did YOU like what you saw and heard this week? Let’s talk about it…

Until next week, America!

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Finally we arrive at the live shows and between the fast pace and surprise twists this is going to be more of a roller coster ride that in previous years. Right from the get-go we discover that the judges are going to “fast pass” four of our singers into the coveted Top 10 positions so they unanimously choose:

Fast Pass

Dalton Rappattoni – ok, he’s got that unpredictable factor that can take him far

Olivia Rox – this year’s rocker chick

Trent Harmon – He’s been consistent enough to deserve the rest

La’Porsha – no question from me because she’s killed it every time

That leaves the remaining 10 contestants to slug it out for the votes tonight and then they’ll cut four of them before the Top 10 sing-off  Thursday night in front of KELLY CLARKSON (it’s about damn time she gets a chance to judge!). Let’s see if our singers did enough tonight to move on:

Manny Torres – Master Blaster (Stevie Wonder)

I thought the vocals were great but I didn’t feel like he got into the funky groove of the number. I want to warm up to him but I’m not sure he’ll be around after the combination of going first and a so-so song choice.

Gianna Isabella – I Put a Spell On You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins/Annie Lennox)

Going back to the well a second time on this song, I was a little worried that it might not be a good strategy for this youngster. However this time around she really got into the lyrics and sang the ever-loving crap out of that number! She listened to Harry for sure and I agree with J-Lo that she does have the most potential for growth.

Thomas Stringfellow – Story of My Life (One Direction)

As far as I’m concerned this is a MUCH BETTER song choice than the last one. I heard a few slips in pitch but that could have just been nerves. I like his vocal tone and they are pimping him to be the boy-band singer but I didn’t like his deer-in-headlights performing style. Harry called him out for cracking notes and he’s right – sometimes too much of a good thing (???) is just too much.

Tristan McIntosh – What Hurts the Most (Rascal Flats)

I guess I didn’t realize that this gal wants to concentrate her talents in the country genre. Might be a good fit but I believe she can sing just about anything with that voice of hers. It was a great song choice (I agreed with Keith) but I was a little concerned that she was just on the edge of screaming so I’ll chalk it up to nerves and work to vote her in.

Avalon Young – Yo (Excuse Me, Miss) (Chris Brown)

Not one of my favorites in this competition, she tends to have the quirkiest song choices, this week’s included. She’s singing all these guy-rapper numbers that I just don’t think suit her and I can’t figure out what her vibe really is. Maybe I’m getting too old to understand these youngsters…

Jenn Blosil – True Colors (Cyndi Lauper)

I just don’t get this one, either — and she was sliding around notes tonight like she was slipping on the Utah ice. If this is a vocal competition she needs to hone in on the pitches and Harry, why didn’t you call her out on it this week? Even though he chose his words carefully (“flawless lyric delivery”) he should have pointed out the slippery slope notes. Sheesh…

Lee Jean – Make It Rain (Ed Sheeran)

Here’s a youngster with talent for days and he can dig into lyrics like nobody’s business, making this a great song choice for him. He shows his youth by bottoming out on the low notes but that can be fixed. Another one I’ll be voting for.

Sonika Vaid – I Surrender (Celine Dion)

I’ve had some problems with her up until now but that performance was spot on both vocally and emotionally. She’s got nerve to take on Celine but she handled it well. Won’t be surprised if she keeps on going a few more weeks.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell – Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)

I’m surprised these contestants are going back to songs they’ve done in previous weeks and I think perhaps she shouldn’t have revisited this one. It showed her inexperience and, yes, I agree that she may have been either holding back or scared out of her mind. I’ve said it before and will again — the kindest thing that can happen to her is that she go home and hone her craft for a few more years but she should definitely try for a career in music.

MacKenzie Bourg – Roses (MacKenzie Bourg)

I’m really glad he went with his own composition because that is his strong suit at the moment and can give him an edge in the competition (remember Angie Miller?). He’s another favorite of mine at the moment and I hope he continues.

Time to go vote so I’m gonna make it count for the ones I think should move on. If you’re smart you’ll do the same (and get rid of the RIGHT ones, please?)…

See you tomorrow, America!

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Go big or go home, eh? Well, by this time in the competition they should be used to this routine. From the solitude of my comfy couch I witnessed Wednesday night’s frustrating song choices that threatened to do some good singer in. Then on Thursday night I marveled how some of them bounced back with the help of their AI alumnae mentors. Very mixed bag this week in terms of performances — let’s take a look:

Shelbie Z

Solo – Work Hard, Play Harder (Gretchen Wilson)

The country gal that takes-no-prisoners was firing on all pistons tonight and is definitely the yin to La’Porsha’s yang. Not knowing the song I was kinda surprised when Keith started talking about her not doing so well with the lower key but after listening to it again I have to admit he may have been correct about her sacrificing a more biting vocal in order to get the big money note finish. Sometimes you have to go all-in in this competition…

Duet with Constantine Maroulis – Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Are you REALLY kidding me??? The camera flirt just lost a thousand points in my book – it was totally self-serving on his part and as the mentor he should KNOW BETTER! He didn’t help her out AT ALL!! And for the first time I had to agree with…ahem…J-LO! Way over the top and a totally waste of her talent. I hope she can weather this shipwreck.

Manny Torres

Solo – Adventure of a Lifetime (Coldplay)

This guy knows who he is as a performer and is very comfortable in his own skin, which makes for a very mature performance – something that can be lacking with the boy-band wannabes. I liked the song (didn’t know this one, either) but Harry said out loud what I was thinking — he needs to pay more attention to the lyrics so DICTION is very important!

Duet with Jordan Sparks  No Air (Jordan Sparks and Chris Brown)

I loved her back in Season 6 and I still love her more mature vocals nine years later. Now here’s a true power duet and while it was a little hard for Manny to get vulnerable at first he really brought it to the stage when he needed to. He needs to work on connecting more with the lyrics but I think he’ll be around for a bit more to  hopefully learn that.

Kory Wheeler

Solo – Let It Go (James Bay)

Third song – third one I’m unfamiliar with (I MUST be getting old…). Anyway, I thought the song suited his style, he was very comfortable behind the piano and I understood every word. But I agreed with Harry – it was just OK.

Duet with Haley Reinhard – Bennie and the Jets (Elton John)

It took him until the second time around to really rise up to Haley’s performance level and I was starting to worry because it was looking like he was her backup singer/guitarist at one point. It was an OK song for them because while they both sang it well it was almost like clash of the genres. I should be safe.

Amelia Eisenhauer

Solo – Wake Me Up (Avicii)

I actually had to look up the name of this performer because I had NEVER heard of it before (outta touch…outta time…). I’ve actually heard the song before (that’s a plus) so I can say it was NOT a good choice for her voice. Not. At. All. I’ve liked her before up until now so I hope she can hold on and do better in the duet so she can stay.

Duet with Kellie Pickler  Suds in the Bucket (Sara Evans)

I’m glad she decided to play the fiddle on this and with the Pickler’s quirkiness this duet was heads and shoulders above her solo performance from last night. I could have used a little more diction form Amelia but Kellie sure knew how to make to her comfortable enough to do her best and she did. Great song choice.

Jenn Blosil

Solo – Sorry (Justin Bieber)

Another song from the Biebs shows up this week and I think I liked it better than her vocals on in. I haven’t like this gal since the beginning and this performance did not change my mind one iota. Harry called her out on the pitch problems and I’m glad he did.

Duet with Constantine Maroulis – My Funny Valentine (from PAL JOEY – Rodgers & Hammerstein)

The camera flirt returns! But…I’m not happy he’s paired with this chick because, to me, this was a big old quirk fest! I just didn’t feel it, man. His voice was way too big for hers and when she tried to match him she started to scream – and Harry called it out as a shouting match as I was writing the exact same thing he was saying (and he should know about those lyrics because he’s sung them before)! Oy. Can she just go home, please?

CJ Johnson

Solo – I’ll Be (Edwin McCain)

OK, now we’re getting into songs that should have been retired by Idol contestants some time ago. He actually did a decent job making the song his own and it worked with his voice – good song choice. Harry was really calling them out on bad pitches and I thought I heard a few bum notes but overall I thought he did well.

Duet with David Cook – The World I Know (Collective Soul)

Interesting pairing vocal-wise but their harmonizing was spot on and each held my attention both in solo or duet. They matched on performance level as well and I loved seeing Cookie again on the Idol stage.

Lee Jean

Solo – Runaway (Ed Sheeran)

I’ve liked this kid since Day 1 and he is way more mature both vocally and performance-wise than some of his older counterparts. Needs to work on his falsetto but he’s still young. The judges were spot on regarding the song choices for these 12 singers but, again, not knowing the song it was tough for me to judge whether or not it was good for him because it didn’t seem to hurt his vocals.

Duet with Chris Daughtry – Home (Daughtry)

I thought this would be an odd paring but surprisingly they sounded and performed liked they’d been together for years. Lee rose to the challenge and Chris was the gracious older mentor and it worked in SPADES! It. Was. Great!

Trent Harmon

Solo – What Are You Listening To? (Chris Stapleton)

And the obscure song choices continue…and I didn’t like his vocals on it. At. All. Nope. Didn’t work for me. Harry’s been killing it all night with his critiques and I just find myself nodding along…

Duet with Jordan Sparks – To Love Somebody (The Bee Gees)

Going old school on this one really showed off both Trent’s voice and performing style – the first was great and the second…well…needs some work. They were believable together and blended their sounds very well. Good comeback.

Tristan McIntosh

Solo – Good Girl (Carrie Underwood)

This über talented 15 year old decided to tangle with a Carrie Underwood song and I thought her naturally warmer tone was not a great match for the normally lighter yet powerful CU country number. She performed it well but it wasn’t a great song choice. She has much more talent than that.

Duet with Kelly Pickler – Best Days of Your Life (Kellie Pickler)

This was a new song for me and it did sound T. Swift influenced but Pickler did really bring the best and the fun out in her. However, the judges are making those noises like they want to drop her and I really hope that is not the case.

Adam Lasher

Solo – Black and Gold (Sam Sparro)

Whoa…yet another unknown song choice. Didn’t like the song or his interpretation of it. By the way, what was he wearing on his feet?

Duet with Haley Reinhard – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley)

OK, let’s crush on our mentor…but then don’t look so scared when you’re singing a love song with her! I was uninspired by his voice on this song while she sounded really great. Very uneven performance that didn’t help his cause much, IMHO. I’m glad at least Keith agreed with me somewhat…

Dalton Rapattoni

Solo – Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)

Boy decided to go old school with a twist and…I liked it! Different take on the song and it worked in his favor. Kid takes risks and they seem to work for him. He’ll stick around for awhile

Duet with Chris Daughtry – Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder)

An odd combo on an even odder song choice for those two that actually wasn’t half bad! He’s as quirky as Jess but Dalton’s version doesn’t weird me out as much. I liked it and he won’t be going anywhere (but I’ve been wrong before).

Olivia Rox

Solo – Confident (Demi Lovato)

Didn’t know the song but with that performance I didn’t care. While the vocals were a bit unique her performance was so strong that she should be a force to be reckoned with in the weeks to come. Think Jax 2.0…

Duet with David Cook – Light On (David Cook)

Rocker dude and Rocker chick unite and even though she looked a bit “fan girly” singing next to him Olivia was able to match him vocally and sounded really great.

So, when all was said and sung, here’s who went home and who was left to sing another day…

Safe and staying:

Lee

Olivia

Jenn – UGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

Dalton

Manny

Tristan

Trent

Buh Bye:

Shelbie Z – you can blame Constantine for this one!

Amelia – I would have traded Amelia for Jenn any day of the week!

Kory

CJ

Adam

Do yo agree with the final choices? I know I don’t where Jenn, Shelbie and Amelia are concerned. Judges know best? Maybe. Maybe not. But the viewers will begin next week letting their voices be known. Can’t wait to exercise my right to save a contestant!

Until next time, America!

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Ya know, I have to admit that I’m actually enjoying American Idol this season, with their tighter packages and their quicker pace. It actually seems like they’ve found the right mix for this struggling little show — too bad they finally discovered it during the FINAL SEASON!!! Even the judges are doing their job and keeping it real with the contestants. Why did we have to endure some of the shenanigans of the last 5 years (I’m looking at you, Nikki Minaj!)? If they had cleaned up their act sooner we might not be looking at the end of the road but, hey, what do I know…

But I digress.

This week we had the 1st 12 of the Top 24 hit the stage by themselves and then in partnership with a former Idol winner or contestant (again, why weren’t they doing this BEFORE now?). It’s great to one again see some of the folks we grew to love and invest in over the last 15 seasons and pairing them up with this year’s crop of singers can really allow them or either shine or sink this early on. Seven will stay and 5 will go at the end of the day so let’s see how they all did:

Stephany Negrete

Solo – Mamma Knows Best (Jessie J)

This gal seems to always lead off the performers and sets the bar for the others to follow. Strong vocals, looks the part but need to loosen up a little more in the performing area, she could be a contender for sure. Maybe a little more attention to diction would help as well.

Duet with Ruben Studdard – Superstar (Delaney & Bonnie/The Carpenters)

It was nice to hear another side of Stephany’s voice and Ruben helped to bring out some of that sweetness. He’s still the great “Velvet Teddybear” and it was a great treat  to see him on the Idol stage again. His mentoring of her was also spot on – it brought out the best in her (except in the very beginning where you could tell she was over thinking her singing and went off a tad).

Mackenzie Bourg

Solo – Say Something (A Great Big World)

He’s one of the cute “boy band” contestants that get the teen girls’ hearts all a flutter. Good vocals, comfortable on stage and always the correct song choice — he’s not going anywhere for awhile.

Duet with Lauren Alaina – I Hope You Dance (Lee Ann Womack)

Another interesting pairing with a curious song choice that actually worked. She was sorta crushing on him through the whole song as well so you know how America’s teenage girls are going to react with him. Keith was correct when he observed that Mac makes every song his own. Good job.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell

Solo – Angel (Sarah McLachlan)

At 15 years old she has some mad talent but her awkwardness is going to become a liability shortly and I am afraid for her both because of her age and her real life situation. I had to disagree with Harry (a rarity) on his critique but was surprised at J-Lo for not being a fan. How she did in the duet round I think would be the deciding point for her.

Duet with Scotty McCreery – Gone (Montgomery Gentry)

She’s so awkward on stage and for her that was a bad song choice. I’m just not sure she is AI material at this point in her life. I will agree with the judges that she does work the lyrics really well and that she has definite talent but the kindest thing they could do for her is send her home.

Jenna Renae

Solo – My Church (Maren Morris)

I had never heard this song before and while it may have been something she wanted to perform it wasn’t the greatest choice for her vocal range. She bottomed out on the low notes and screamed the high ones — not good timing if you want to advance in the competition.

Duet with Scotty McCreery – See You Tonight (Scotty McCreery)

I loved Scotty on Season 10 and he has matured into a very accomplished performer. Jenna seemed a little uncomfortable to me during the song and was overcompensating a bit. I didn’t care for it and the judges tried to be nice.

James VIII

Solo – Love Lockdown (Kanye West)

Personally, I can’t take any singer seriously if they are willing to use a Kanye song to show off their skills. Sorry. He was just all right.

Duet with Caleb Johnson – Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones)

Rockers gotta rock and these two sure did. It probably was the best performance I’ve heard from James but he’s definitely not a front man and it showed. He hides behind his guitar too much.

Sonika Vaid

Solo – Safe & Sound (Taylor Swift – feat. The Civil Wars)

She really does have a beautiful instrument but I’m not sure she knows who she is as a singer/performer yet. She’s more concerned with the vocal sound than making it her own but that comes with age and experience. Not sure about her.

Duet with Caleb Johnson – Skyfall (Adele)

The oddest pairing of the night by far with an extremely emotional song to tackle which actually showed off some really strong chest voice from her (without screaming too – those octaves are hard!) She held her own so well and they actually blended well. It worked!

Gianna Isabella

Solo – I Put a Spell On You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins/Annie Lennox)

This was the first time I wasn’t sure about this little dynamo’s performance. That song was a little big for her age and sometimes for her voice. I know these kids are trying to show what they have but sometimes a little less can go a long way. I think she dodged a bullet but going forward she needs to choose her music carefully.

Duet with Nick Fradiani – Beautiful Life (Nick Fradiani)

This was a big challenge for the little dynamo but she actually rose to the occasion and held her own. It wasn’t a great song for her but Nick seemed to work well with her and got a good performance out of her.

Emily Brooke

Solo – “I Am Invincible” (Cassadee Pope)

Man, she was anything BUT invincible on this song! First, NEVER choose a song does by the winner of a rival reality singing competition and second, she was all over the place pitch-wise. I’ve never heard her choke like that before and now was not the time to have that happen. Serious doubts about her continuing on.

Duet with Lauren Alaina – Flat on the Floor (Carrie Underwood)

Well, you’ve got to have guts to choose a Carrie Underwood number and my, oh my, has our little Season 10 runner up grown in the past five years – an even more seasoned performer. Emily tried to keep up with her and for Lauren’s part she tried to showcase the contestant but, again, I’m not sure the song was right for her.

Avalon Young

Solo – Love Yourself (Justin Bieber)

Personally, I have not really warmed up to this singer and I can’t put my finger on why. Her voice is pleasant and she has a natural-ness to her performance but there’s just something I can’t relate to. She did OK but there are stronger singers in the competition.

Duet with Ruben Studdard – Flying Without Wings (Westlife/Ruben Studdard)

I want to know who chose the parings for the show and some of the songs. Her laid back style and his big persona just did not mesh for me but she sang her little heart out and it wasn’t half bad. I would like to know what the judges see in her because I don’t see it.

Jordan Sasser

Solo – All By Myself (Eric Carmen/Celine Dion)

I could hear Simon screaming in my head “BROADWAY” and sadly, he’d be right. That might get some mileage in a mega church service but not on the Idol stage. That was even a little too over-the-top even for me. He’s a goner.

Duet with Fantasia – I Believe (Fantasia)

Fantasia seemed to really connect with her partners and wanted the best for them and that impressed me. I wish she could have helped Jordan show a little restraint with his performance but I think his church work is very intrenched in him. Keith hit it right on the head.

Thomas Stringfellow

Solo – Creep (Radiohead)

O Lord, so I hate this song and the little boy-bander creeped it up even more. I usually find him to be a good vocal storyteller but couldn’t get past the song choice on this one. The teen girls won’t let him go anywhere either.

Duet with Nick Fradiani  Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson)

I thought this to be an odd pairing with an equally odd song choice but I was very pleasantly surprised at how well they sounded and performed together. Their voices were very similar but Thomas was a little shy at performing next to Nick so he was a little underwhelming.

La’Porsha Renae

Solo – Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival/Ike & Tina Turner)

Could she be the one to beat this year? I don’t know but she comes at it with everything she has and does a great job each time. I wish I could get past the retro “high hair” but I’m still struggling. She’s the epitome of “go big or go home!”

Duet with Fantasia – Summertime (from the musical SHOWBOAT)

I thought Fantasia was wonderful with La’Porsha and that the pairing was killer but, personally, I did NOT like the arrangement on the song itself. The crowd went nuts and the judges loved it but I felt it was a bit of overkill. Off topic – I think the hair is going to have its own memes as we continue with the competition…just sayin’…

So, when all was said and sung, here’s who went home and who was left to sing another day…

Safe and staying:

La’Porsha

Sonika

Avalon (I would have kept Stephany over her but what do I know…)

Gianna

Thomas

Mackenzie

Jeneve (they did her NO favors by keeping her on)

Buh Bye:

Stephany (this should NOT have happened – what were they thinking???)

Emily

Jordan

James

Jenna

Do you agree? Do you think someone was robbed besides Stephany? Let me know in the comment box while we wait for the next 12.

Until next time, America!

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