American Idol: Top 24 Boys Night

29 02 2012

The first live show of the American Idol season kicked off last night with a performance from the Top 24 Boys.

I was really excited for this show. The guys have been VERY strong throughout the audition stages, and I figured there were MORE than 5 guys that would absolutely deserve to be a Top 10 contestant.

After last night… I’m confused.

Can I just reverse a bit before I talk about the performances? A statement was released yesterday from the big head cheeses at Fox saying that American Idol need to become more ‘Fresh’ and step up their game as the competition for audience demands it. I have never really seen American Idol as a stale production. There’s not much you can CHANGE in the way of format or production value that will entice an entirely new ‘fresh’ audience. It is what it is.

At this point, it’s like asking the Toilet Paper industry to come up with something to revive the brand. Sure, you can tweak a few things here and there, but ultimately… it’s still always going to be toilet paper.

HOWEVER… last night proved to me that there is INDEED a way to reach the target audience better … and ‘fresher’. Song selection. The song book American idol uses is ridiculous. It’s full of tired old Luther Vandrose, Jackson Five, elevator pop rock and vegas songstresses. Oh my goodness last night was a bore of horrific song choices.

Who makes these decisions?

On The Voice (a good comparison) – The coaches choose the songs (aka the production team). On X Facotr (perhaps a bad comparison) the ‘mentors’ choose the songs.

Is American Idol giving too much responsibility to their contestants, or are they giving them a narrow selection from an out of date song book?

I dont get it.

I’ll discuss further as we talk about the performances. (but seriously, I could go on for days about this…)

Reed-  a favourite from day one, he is a cool cat much like Casey from last season as pointed out numerous times by the judges. He cold be one of those uber talented musicians that makes this competition interesting week after week. Last night, he chose ‘Moves like Jagger’ (a current hit!) but he distorted the melody and groove to fit his jazz niche, and frankly, did not really hit it for me.  Bad choice, the song did NOT lend itself well to the changes he made to it.

Adam Brock – another on eof my absolute obsessions during Hollywood and Vegas week. He sang Aretha Franklin ‘Think’. Granted, the guy has soul… but does he have to channel Motown/Soul women in every performance? This was cruise ship. His voice is great, the performance was cheeseball.

Deandre – I was wondering what path this guy would take. With a falsetto voice like that, it can go very very wrong if not used correctly. Lat night, he went with Earth Wind and Fire. Ugh. He has a beautful instrument and he killed the vocals, but I’m worried he’s going to keep doing ‘lite’ songs with absolutely NO commercial appeal.

Colton Dixon – might’ve been the only one last night that took a current song and delivered to a young audience. He showed off his voice at the paino singing Paramore, then got up and unleashed his darker performance stylings. He is COOL. That’s what the head honchos at FOX want to see.

Jeremy – in contrast, Jeremy may be lovable… but he isnt ‘cool’ and he didnt choose a ‘cool’ song last night either. At least it was kinda current, he chose Gravity by Sara Bereilles. But it’s a girls song, and it’s background music at beat. I guess it showed off his voice pretty well, the judges liked it more than I did.

Aaron Marcelles – has the potential to be a ‘cool’ guy – he’s a student, he loves music, he writes, he sings, he dances… but last night he sang Never Can Say Goodbye, Jackson 5. Who listens to that music anymore? Let me rephrase that, do the people who still listen to that music fit the target demographic of voters? It was a little boring, and I feel like he should be tackling Top 40 hits and making them his own… he’s an artist!

Chase Likens – the only pure country guy in the competition this year. Country music is HOT right now. There are some country cross overs that are slaying charts and selling out tours. It’s not ‘uncool’ to be country anymore. Chase, however, chooses Storm Warning… and dances like a fool whose had one too many at the Friday night jamboree. Not cool.

Creighten Fraker – Is my wild card. I love him, but I still havent completely figured him out. This guy, is definiely hip, happening and unique. Perfect for this show. He’s a New Yorker who buskers on the streets and sports a curly faux hawk mullet. I thought he did exactly what he shouldve last night, singing True Colours he was able to belt it out and show his creativity.

Philip Philips – another promising singer with a rock n roll voice and a folk/rock performance nuance. He brings out his acoustic guitar and does his rendition of In the Air Tonight. I think it couldve been stronger… but this is the kind of performance I enjoy watching. This is a classic song that people KNOW, and he completely transformed it. I can’t say I loved the melodic changes, but it was a good example fo the kind of artist he will be.

Eben Frankowitz – needs direction. He needs someone to help him make song choicees that will give him a chance at winning this thing. He chose Adeles Set Fire to the Rain. A Song that is really only meant to sing in the car after a bad day at work. It lacks dynamic, it lacks variance… Heck, how many times have you seen HER perform that song live? There are a billion better songs to sing. This was the first time I felt his age and inexperience was VERY evident.

Hejun Han – my favourite ‘character’ from the auditions and Hollywood week. I am always blown away by his voice. There are a billion songs that he could sing that would’ve been a hit lat night. He had a chance to catapault himself into a superstar (maybe he still does) – to go from nerdy chinese guy, to American Idol. He chose a song I had never heard before, Angels by Robbie Williams. It was probably the worst song choice of the night.

Joshua Ledet – knows his strengths and doesnt stray from them. Wise. Smart. Totally works for me. He is a power gospel singer and he absolutely power gospelled the stuffing out of a Jennifer Hudson song. He is a force to be reckoned with friends… still, not getting the young vote. Just sayin.

Then the judges threw us for a loop by bringing back …

Jermaine Jones – who sang that same old, overdone, ‘adult contemporary favourite’ Luther Vandrose song Dance with My Father. Waste of an opportunity? Maybe. But I honestly think that’s the type of singer he wants to be. Fine. But I’m not buying that record, I don’t know anyone my age who would.

So it’s 5 plus a wildcard that will make it to the Top 10 (12 I guess!). In my opinion, this was a very weak group last night… maybe my expectations were too high? I would say my Top 5 from this group were : Colton, Creighton, Adam, Joshua and Philip. The wildcard would be a toss up between Hejun (based on past performances) and Reed.

Thoughts?

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