American Idol: Top 7 Results

20 04 2012

This is when it starts getting hard to watch the American Idol results shows.

No, not because they insist on making the contestants sing in Mickey Mouse Club group performances, or the agonizing Ford commercials, or plugging the new record of the demi-celebs in the audience.

Because now is the time in the competition when you look very critically at who remains, and start to make some tough decisions about who really is the Best of the Best.  Did anyone think that Holly would make it past Colton? Or that Jessica would need the judges save last week? Last weel’s bottom three was a complete mystery…

The bottom 3 this week wasnt particularly jaw dropping based on the performances on Wednesday night.

Colton, Holly and Elise.

Colton didnt get rave reviews from the judges, and I wonder if that swayed voters? Holly was stronger than she’s been, but still completely unmemorable (how many Liverpuddlians are voting for her?!) and Elise was highly criticized for her final performance, virtually sealing her fate in the bottom 3 again.

There’s a case for all, I wouldnt have been surprised by any of them leaving. But I didnt WANT Colton to leave, and he did.

If we start voting out the unique artists, we are left with a Jordin Sparks or Dianna DiGarmo situation in the finals. It will be Phillip and Holly in the final 2, and the mass audience will vote for Holly as the safe alternative to the ‘artist’. That’s my nightmare.

So it’s now a Top 6 that has weak links… and we ahve to sit through yet another week of Holly struggling to find the pitch in  a power ballad and the judges telling her how ‘pretty’ she looks tonight.

Thoughts?

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American Idol: Top 7 ‘This Decade’

12 04 2012

Finally the Idols are allowed to sing songs from THIS decade. It’s only the Top 7.

Anyone else enjoy the duets almost MORE than the actual performances? Wow, they’ve paired up Elyse and Philip brilliantly, Colton and Skylar perfectly and the power houses in Josh, Jessica and Holly kill it every time. It’s genius.

I was extremely excited for this week, I think it gives a really good indication of the kind of music and artist each singer aspires to be – because they pick songs they are listening to NOW, it’s current. Who CARES if they can sing the mess out of Whitney Houston or Billy Joel… that’s not the album they are going to make.

Skylar opened the show with a Kelly Pickler song. I didnt think I knew ANY Kelly Pickler songs, but I recognized this one. She has a killer voice, and it’s a popcountry version of a power ballad – totally her wheelhouse. That’s the kind of almbum she’s going to make, that’s the kind of music you can expect at her concerts. If you like it… buy it.

Then Colton took on ‘Love the Way You Lie’. He slowed it right down, and  made it a beautiful piano ballad. He has toned down the Colton squeak in his voice, and is starting to really develop a mature approach to his music. I thought it was a great arrangement, and his voice was strong enough to deliver. He WILL give Philip a run for his money… could even be your Top 2 battle.

Elyse and Philip’s duet to Goyte ‘Someone that I used to Know’ was inspired. It was the perfect blend of oddity and muscality. I hope I can download it.

Holly took on a Pink song and fell short once again. Week after week this girl ‘almost’ nails it, but can’t quite deliver the punch to rise above the other talent on stage. It wasn’t terrible, her voice soared in places and she takes criticism very well for a young girl, I just can’t imagine she’ll be here much longer.

Philip continues to be the Dave Matthews of the competition. Grey shirt, jeans, just him and his guitar. THere’s something so magnetic about his persona and his craft. Last night he made  Maroon 5 song his own, I wouldve like to have heard him take on a more popular Maroon 5 song and turned it into a Philip Phillips song. But it was a great performance as usual, the judges want to see him grow… I dont think he cares to.

Jessica couldve chosen ANYTHING (like the 2012 edition of the phonebook) and she chose a relatively unknown ‘Studder’. Of course, she nailed it. Her stage presence is classy, confident and professional – I can’t believe I’m watching a 16 year old. Great song choice to add to her repertoire of great song choices and great performances on this show.

Joshua took on Bruno Mars, and I was scared for him. But then, surprisingly, his voice and energy on stage was a pretty great match. The retro feel of the song and of his voice made the marriage work. Joshua CAN sing current music, I’m glad he took the risk last night because it paid off handsomely.

Elyse ended the night (because she’s a ‘closer’ according to JLo) with You and I by Lady Gaga. An obvious fit, and I’m SO glad she went with it. The raw power in her voice, and the choices she makes vocally are abslutely captivating and she is ripping the stuffing out of these raunchy, rock jazz infusion songs. I hope she has found her stride once again and will continue in this direction.

Thoughts?

 





American Idol Top 11 Results

16 03 2012

This was a big week for the contestants on American Idol.

Making it through THIS round, gave them  a spot in the Top 10, and perhaps even more important, a spot on the American Idol Tour bus. It means, you wont be forgotten AS soon as the people who DIDNT make the TOp 10. It means you’ve got a shot at a recording contract from this gig. It means that EVEN if you DONT win the whole shebang, you’ll oficially have a JOB after this is over.

Even with the departure of the delinquent Jermaine Jones, a contestant woudl be eliminated this week… because FOX has pre-paid for this time slot and Idol has to deliver what they promised. ALthough I wouldnt have minded seeing an entire hour of the Law & Order: AI starring Nigel Lithgow and another British producer, interrogating the unwitting Jermaine Jones in an LA hotel room. That was classic.

So after a fairly low key, mediocre night of competition… it wasnt hard to choose a bottom 3. Not that it was necessarily the ‘right’ 3, but there were definitely more than 3 pretty lacklustre performances last night.

It was an all-girl bottom 3.

Elise, Shannon and Erika.

I’m with the judges, I think Elise shouldve been rewarded for one of the best performances of the night. Unfortunately, thats not how it works. Very rarely do you ‘pick up’ new fans on this show. You need to solidify your fanbase very early on, then it doesnt matter how good or bad your night is… you fans will still vote for you.

But she didnt get eliminated, so with another great song next week… she could work her way back into a contender.

It was between  tall, blonde Shannon and Erika Van Pelt.

Shannon eliminated and sent home.





American Idol: Picking the Top 13

2 03 2012

The first ‘results’ show of the new season was a 2 hour marathon last night on American idol.

All this to select the Top 13.

I feel like these contestants have been through… alot to get here.

From Auditions, to Hollywood, Groups, Vegas, Solos… all for a shot at making the show. It has been intense!

In saying that, I really wish that this week had been a better effort from each hopeful. I mean, we had some pretty lame, dull and karaoke performances from a group of people who have been knocking our socks off previously. I struggle to come up with answers. It could be the stress of the first ‘live’ show. Could be confusion about song choice. Could be that they got some conflicting advice.

Either way, we had a Top 10 to name, and 3 wildcards to add last night.

Here were the Top 10:

Girls: Hollie, Elise, Skylar, Jessica, Shannon
Guys: Hejun, Jermaine, Philip, Colton, Joshua.

Surprises?

Yep. I would say, I mostly agreed with the girls. The rest of the competition was pretty weak last night, there were really not too many others deserving of the vote. But for the guys? I thought Hejun was less than stellar (but he has an awesome personality… and a dad with 20 cell phones!) and Jermaines performance was cheeseball and old fashioned. I was fairly certain that Adam, or Creighton or Reed would be sitting in one of those chairs.

So the judges picked 6 people to sing for the Wildcard, and 3 would be selected to join the Top 13. With so many of my favourites sitting out, I knew I was going to be disappointed in the end.

Judges chose: Deindre, Jen, Brielle, Jeremy, Erika and Reed to sing for the Wildcard. All of them performed LEAGUES better than the previous nights, Randy is right, they should be singing for their lives with EVERY performance.

In particular Deindre, Erika and Jeremy rose to the occassion and were the judges Wildcard choices.

Little upset that Adam or Creighton didnt get a sniff at the Top 13, but I can’t always have my way.

At the end of the show, they also announced the ‘Theme’ for next week. The guys will be taking on Stevie Wonder, and the Girls will pay tribute to Whitney Houston.

Can we talk about that for a second? There are going to be Whitney Tributes for YEARS, in the same way every time someone sings a Michael Jackson song, it’s a tribute. So, I’m not really surprised they are the first to do a “Tribute show” to the greatest voice of our generation. However, what gets me is that since the very first reality singing competition, contestants have been chastized and criticized for choosing Whitney Houston songs because they are ‘untouchable’. It makes for an easy comparison between a wannabe and The best of all time (arguably). It’s like, the number 1 or 2 rule of this genre. Don’t sing Whitney. So now, next week, the girls are FORCED to take on the biggest songs in Pop history, sang by an unmistakable icon, weeks after her untimely death?

Big shoes. And perhaps a little unfair to foist on them week 1 of Top 13. Just my opinion.





American Idol: Top 24 Girls Night

1 03 2012

The second night of Top 24 was Girls Night…

I came down pretty hard on the boys for their song selection, and to be honest, I didnt have super highexpectations that the Girls would be much different.

I would give them a grade, overall, of about a C. Very safe,  very mediocre at times. NOt only were there some pitchy performances, and disappointing song choices… 2 people sang the SAME Adele song! I kid you not! This is absolutely baffling to me. Yes, contestants get to ;choose their song’ in this round. But isnt there some producer, somewhere, that could quietly suggest another pick? There are about a kazillion songs that would do the trick. And it wasnt even ‘Rolling in the Deep’.

I’m just… totally confused by the contestants lack of ability to pick a great song – they’ve been working up to this point ‘their entire lives’, and have probably had this night on their radar for months. There are songs that you pick to sing on tuesday night karaoke and wings special… then there are songs are meant to launch your career. If you can’t tell the difference…

Let’s get to last night’s performances

Chelsea – Sang Cowboy Cassanova. Sigh. Just because you like that song when it comes ont he radio, doesnt make it right for you. She was waaaay off in places and looked super nervous. Maybe it’s because she knew she had picked the wrong song. Next…

Erika Van Pelt – a DJ with a rocker edge, I was very interested to hear more from her. She sang what About Love – actually, a very good choice for her vocal range and style. I agree with JLo, she probably couldve let loose a bit more. Even though she did a great job at signing the song, she couldve had a KILLER performance and absolutely slayed it with her vocal abilities. I havent seen enough of her, but in comparison to everyone else last night, she’s a Top 10.

Jen Hirsh -the first girl to take on Adeles ‘One and Only’. She was one of my favourite voices from early on, she nailed Holywood week and had a breakout group day performance. I don’t think we saw everything she has in her arsenal, because she took the song down a few notches. But, it’s tough to cram her talents into one song. She’s had better performances in the past, but this was solid.

Brielle – chose Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay… a difficult song for a female to sing because of its low register. She was…. not bad. At the very least she showed that she DOES have a unique soul voice, she chose a good song to prove it, but she’s such a young performer that she may have reached too high with this song at this stage. Sounds a bit like Haley Reinhart from last season. no?

Hallie Day – was a frontrunner from the beginning and throughout Hollywood. She’s had some really knockout performances. I was hoping for another homerun last night, and was OK with her song choice of ‘Feelin’ Good. But it was kind of a let down… minus a few shakes of her hair… the performance was flat as a flapjack, and her vocal decisions werent always the best. Tough one.

Skylar Laine – Did a few things right. First, she was the picture of confidence on stage. Second, she chose a recognizable song and made it fit her style. Where I wasnt a huge fan, was her spastic and uncontrolled performance overall. She wore a very precarious outfit, jumped around in sky-high heels, and had some crazy dance moves. It was either high-octane and perfect for this show, or it was a little awkward. I havent decided yet.

Baylie Brown – Turned the night into the talent portion of a Miss Cruiseship pageant with her rendition of ‘Amazed’ by Lonsestar. I could hardly watch. The song is so ‘lite adult contemporary’, and she’s such a young girl with so much potential. Terrible song choice, the worst of the night in my opinion. Her voice is good, but I couldnt get past the insipid song selection. Is that really her taste in music? Really? To make it worse… the obligatory “well, I had fun” in response to criticism.

I need to move on, I cant take it…

Hollie – Reflection. Sigh. I thought we wereover this song, but apparently theres a whole generation of kids that grew up watching Mulan, and are now trying out for American Idol. Yes, she has a nice voice. But this song lost its emotional oomph the last 50,000 times a young girl with a big voice sang it in competition.

Haley – Sweet Dreams… I had high hopes. It’s a great song! I didnt think I could hate it so much. Haley murdered this song unfortunately. It was all over the place, she dipped when she shouldve stayed on the note, she did runs where it was unnecessary, she was almost a full note sharp pretty much the entire song. It was a vocal hot mess.

Shannon – The volleyball player that Steven hit on in her audition, has been lighting up the competition since Hollywood. She went for the juggular last night with a powere ballad, Go Light Your World. The only problem I had with this choice, was that it showed nothing about her as an artist. What the heck kind of record would she release? Hopefully not a selection of inspirational hits. She was actually one of the better true singers of the night though…

Jessica SAnchez – Made sure to tell us that she has been sick all week, and that her vocal chords are swollen, and that she’ll do ‘her best’ to sing tonight. Then she absolutely lets loose and tears the cover off ‘Love You I do’. I wouldve respected her more if she hadnt ‘pre-warned’ us with a dramatic sob story… just sing girl! Definitely one of the best of the night, however, I have to say she’s still a little bit ‘young’ for me. Not when she sings, when she speaks.

Elise Testone – Ends the night with a soulful version of (the all too familiar) One and Only…second time we’ve heard this one tonight. One of the many reasons why you shouldnt sing the same song as another competitor ont he same show is that it makes it easy to compare one singer to the other. In this case, I think Elise did a better job with the song.

So we HAVE to choose a top 5 plus wildcard from this group eh?
If I had to make a decision,  it would be: Elise, Jen, Jessica, Shannon, Brielle . Wildcard? Maybe Hallie based on previous performances, or Skylar because at least she’s got some personality.

Thoughts?

 

 

 





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?





American Idol: 14 of Top 24 Revealed

23 02 2012

Last night, the first 14 of the Top 24 were revealed.

I don’t know what to title this post. Is it still Vegas Week? Is it the Top 24, or is it “part one” of the Top 24 selection? It’s confusing, they are drawing this process out FARRRR too long for my liking (and you know me, any extra Idol on TV makes me happy).

It’s seriously over dramatic – the contestants walk down a smokey aisle to a stage surrounded by water and Vegas set pieces ominously looming overhead. We then ‘look back’ at their journey – from audition to their final solo. It helps us remember certain people, but it’s still a bit much. These are now mini soap operas we are forced to follow from day 1. It never used to be that way – they’d remind you by showing one clip of them either auditioning, or singing in group week. Now we get to relive every performance, and recall every sentimental backstory.

At this rate, Idol is going to be crowning a winner… in 2013. (AFTER 2 seasons have aired of The Bachelor)

I kid, I kid. We love this stuff…right?

Last night, half of the Top 24 was announced.

Here’s the List:

Baylie Brown
Colton Dixon
Creighton Fraker
Reed Grimm
Heejun Han
Jen Hirsh
Haley Johnsen
Joshua Ledet
Phillip Phillips
Jessica Sanchez
Chelsea Sorrell
Elise Testone
Erika Van Pelt
Brielle Von Hugel

 Some obvious frontrunners (many for which the build up was unneccessary) like Hejun, Colton, Philip, Jen, Reed, Haley etc. Producers gave us one more reason to hate the process by leaving us hanging with the emotional new dad Adam Brock. (I dont think this is as much a cliffhanger as they would like us to think… are you really going to let one of the best singers to ever grace an Idol stage go?)

Thoughts?








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