The Voice and American Idol

  • Next week, both The Voice and American Idol will crown new winners. It’s possible both competitions this season will be won by teenaged girls (*) who have a knack for dramatically interpreting songs in their own modern style.

  • Both will likely quickly disappear, never to be heard from again save their performances on the shows next season when they “drop” their first albums.

  • Jacquie Lee got robbed last season, dagnabit!

  • THE VOICE SPOILER: The internet sensation was saved by a Twitter vote tonight. Who didn’t see that coming?

  • One completely random and meaningless The Voice thought: One contestant this week sang a song by Jewel, a judge on another NBC singing show, The Sing-Off, while another sang a Disney song, which is owned by rival network ABC.

  • And finally — this season on singing competition shows, everyone who sang “Let It Go” was immediately let go from the show the next night. Seriously, people, don’t sing songs on these shows which would be ironic in their titles if you got voted out the next night. It’s TOO easy….

(*) OK, so Grimmie is actually 20 now. Close enough. Kids these days…

Crazy Harry

Sometimes, on American Idol, Harry Connick Jr. pontificates a bit too much, leaving his fellow judges flummoxed, confused, and bewildered.

Harry Connick Jr. gets crazy looks from Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.

Insert your own crazy word balloons, but that look on Keith’s face pretty much says it all.

It’s All About the Voice. Right?

“The Voice” is a show made to directly take on “American Idol.” In the ratings these days, it’s winning. Its major conceit is that they care about the vocals more than anything. Famously, the auditions are held with the judges’ chairs turned away from the singer. The singers only get on the show if their voice is good enough to get them there. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, thin or fat. This is meant to produce a better sounding field of contestants free from the shackles of modern image-conscious creepiness.

Here, then, are your three winners of The Voice:


And here are your two finalists this season on “American Idol”:


What went wrong, NBC?

(Just for the record: I’m not calling Kree and Candice fat here. If anything, they look healthy compared to most reality TV show contestants… But if The Voice is built on the concept that it’s Voice Uber Alles, then they need to explain how it’s the skinny good looking folks who always win.)

How to Fix American Idol

It’s simple, really, but it won’t happen. It depends on Simon Cowell admitting that his “X-Factor” show is a bust. The ratings stink, the talent’s not memorable, and the whole show is a low-rated spectacle. Time to move on.

Then, “Idol” announces that the next season is the last. And to go out on a high note, Cowell is returning to take Mariah Carey’s seat back. I think Nicki Minaj and Simon Cowell on the same panel would be awesome. Let Keith Urban play the nice guy who’s still good with constructive criticism, and keep Randy Jackson because he’s the last constant left on the show after Ryan Seacrest.

Problem solved. Simon, over to you.

American Idol 11 – Finale Part One

Coming tomorrow night to FOX: The Coronation of King Phillip.

I guess it’s the theory that the voting public that watches “American Idol” is made up of a disproportionate number of texting tweenie girls, but the odds of a Southern good-looking boy winning “Idol” only increases every year. It’s not so much that the show needs a rules change as it needs a new audience.

But, to me, it’s no contest. Phillip won the first night of the finale, hands down. “Stand By Me” was underutilized. He skated by on that one and did nothing memorable. But the Billy Joel song (“Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out)” was an awesome original take that had all the Phillip hallmarks. And the Idol song was — well, I didn’t like it the first time, but got into it on a second viewing a lot more. It’s not the power ballad approach to the Idol Song, though I guess it is when you consider who was singing it. But it’s a catchy ditty that’ll stick with you, and shows you how good Phillip can be when he isn’t bouncing behind his guitar and pointing his toes in or awkwardly looking for something to do with his non-microphone hand when he’s guitarless.

(Though if you like songs titled “Home” with a strong drumbeat, might I recommend Marc Broussard’s powerhouse song?)

Meanwhile, Jessica went with a karaoke night. The first two songs were very well sung. She’s got impressive pipes, and we all know she can hit those notes. A few years back, that might have been enough to win it for her. But these days, it’s pure karaoke. She stuck to the songs very closely. They were in her wheelhouse. It seemed too easy for her. She would have been better off going back to that Beyonce song with the red doors or something.

And that Idol song continued a long-standing tradition of everyone on Idol hating the Idol song. It’s bad when the judges all hate the song and the contestant agrees with them. Ouch. It all adds up to a bad night.

Philip wins it tomorrow night.

The finale would have been much more interesting with Joshua Ledet, though, don’tcha think?

AI11 – Round of Seven

Oh, boy. There is a lot to discuss about this week’s American Idol, isn’t there?

It was a week where Jessica Sanchez damn near fell off a piano when she missed it trying to sit down, but still held her note and her composure.

It was a week where Hollie almost couldn’t get off her stool when the time came.

It was a week in which the girls learned the hard way that those ridiculous heels that must be in fashion right now are not right for them.

It was a week in which Elise continued to confuse American by calling herself a Charleston girl while Idol creates packages showing her hometown of Kinnelon, NJ. (One of those pieces was filmed in a local bar on Rte. 23 that I always thought was an “adult” bar, if you know what I mean. Maybe I was wrong?)

It was a week in which Jennifer Hudson sang, and then Randy commented that the week’s Bottom 3 were the first time America had gotten it completely wrong and he was devastated. Granted, it’s been seven years, but has he really forgotten the week Hudson left? The other two in the bottom three were Fantasia and La Toya London (who gave the definitive Idol performance of “All By Myself,” thank you very much.). It was the week Elton John called America a pack of racists for voting the way they did.

It was a week where, if you did count Elise as a Carolina girl, you’d realize that the entire Final 7 comes from south of the Mason Dixon line. They’re all southeasterners, except Jessica over in San Diego, and I guess you’d count Hollie and Skylar from Texas as being more South-Central-ish. Though Hollie is almost more British than Texan…

The other thing we learned is that the contestants need to start bringing out the big guns. It’s not enough to sing an album cut now. You need a #1 song every week to get the voters’ juices flowing. Sing songs they know and do them well and they’ll vote for you.

Looking at the final 7, as talented as they all are, I don’t think there’s any chance for Elise or Hollie to win. I think Colton is in danger of being too boring to win. I like him a lot, but he needs on of those Idol Moments, stat, to remind people he’s there. Phillip isn’t going to win, because I honestly think America got that out of its system after DeWyze.

So, that’s what, Jessica versus Josh versus Skylar? I think that’s a likely top 3. Skylar gets that country music vote. Jessica’s in trouble, because there hasn’t been a winner from California yet, has there? Kat McPhee nearly got there, but came up short.

In fact, looking at all 10 winners so far, most have come from the south, notably Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina.

Chicago gave us Lee DeWyze. David Cook is from Missouri. Jordin Sparks is from Arizona, though her Dad played football here in New Jersey for a long time, so maybe we can lay claim to her somehow? They have auditions in the NY/NJ area most every season, and often talk about the talent pool in the Broadway section of the world, but those contestants never get very far.

Anyway, back to this week:

That Pink song they opened the results show with was painful to sit through. I felt uncomfortable for all of them, though Ryan wins the song with his cameo at the end, Coke cup in hand. The rest of the time, the contestants looked uncomfortable, like they weren’t 100% sure who was singing which line next. And I’m pretty sure Elise did blow one line there, though she covered it as well as she could.

And when you saw the bottom three, you knew the save was in play. MAYBE they wouldn’t save Elise, but there was no way either Josh or Jessica was going home. And that’s why you save the Save (sorry, “#thesave”) for as long as possible. You don’t use it on a time bomb like Casey…)

I’m sure there’s more to discuss, but I’m not doing write-ups this season. ;-)

AI11 – Round of 9 – Idols Week

The following was written as I watched the show. Typed it as I watched it. Slightly distracting, but a lot of fun.

Nine songs, two hours — wow,this ought to be a well-padded show.

Ah, it includes trio songs and Tommy Hilfiger.

Tommy Hilfiger is back? Didn’t we ignore everything he said last week? Why did they bring him back? Oh, because there’s a branding partnership going on between IDOL and TH. That explains that…

This ought to be fun. Stevie Nicks is nutty.

Colton: Going first is never good, but then picking a song this slow-moving until it moves into an upbeat part that he’s pitchy all over is not a good sign. Might work well as a worship song, but I don’t think it plays well as an Idol song. Trouble. The judges completely disagree with me, though. Oh well.

They’re flashing Twitter handles now during the judging. Interesting.

I need to go back and listen to that one again, but there won’t be any time tonight.

Skylar: She could go Trademark Skylar Crazy on this song. And, sure enough, she does it at the end. It’s right in her wheelhouse, so I have nothing to complain about. She did it strongly. And lots of talk about bullets and guns, which is always good for a family show in 2012. When I was a kid, we were allowed to play with toy guns, you know. I’ve never shot anyone since, somehow.

TRIO 1: Colton, Elise, and Philip. Oh, god, no. Not this song again. “Landslide,” of course. So you just know another trio will get stuck with “Can’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” UGH

Oh, wait, this is a medley. Elise doing Nickie makes sense, though.

Philip gets stuck with “Don’t Stop.” Poor kid.

Will another trio sing “Don’t Go Dragging My Heart Around?” Who gets the Tom Petty part?

Heejun: UGH. He’s still here. Doing Donnie Hathaway, an Idol staple. But by far, this is Heejun’s best performance on the show, with a standing ovation that was well earned. Man, if he just sang like this in the past three weeks, I wouldn’t be making fun of him every week.

That was impressive. It was darn near an Idol Moment.

Hollie: Steve Nicks just about leaned forward and ate Hollie. And it would have barely been a snack, since there’s not much to Hollie there… But, uhm, the girl who’s been singing Celine and Whitney is suddenly naming Carrie Underwood as her Idol? Something doesn’t feel right here, though the emotion in the second half of the song was strong. Still, it seemed very karaoke to me. Who is Hollie? I don’t know after that.

DeAndre: I can believe he idolizes Eric Benet. I also know that it’s not my thing, musically, and this will be boring and/or grating on my nerves. And the falsetto is back in full effect. Oh, god, he’s having a Justin Guarini moment here.

The last minute or so of the song saved it, when he went to full-on falsetto scream, but I was bored by the rest. But, like I said, this isn’t my thing, so feel free to ignore me.

Jessica: She sounds good on the Beyonce song. Very comfortable. Right in her range. Very controlled. At some point, though, the vote split between Jessica and Heidi will result in Heidi’s departure.

Random Thought: This is the night the producers start casting the finale and who they can get into the show to sing with the contestants who idolize them. Will they get Beyonce to visit? Eric Benet? Lifehouse?

TRIO 2: Heejun, DeAndre, and Joshua. Heejun doing Michael Jackson? Oh, boy… Heejun shouldn’t be choreographed.

That was painful. I missed Fleetwood Mac, all of a sudden.

But, man, there’s going to be a lot of high and long notes in the third trio, isn’t there?

Phillip: I wonder if Simon would be bored by Phillip and would say something like, “This is a kid I can hear in a thousand bar bands this weekend.” It’s really Taylor Hicks 2.0, though I love it here, too. His selection of idol makes sense, his performances are consistent, and he picks the right song. I like it lots. And it’s another standing ovation from the judges to go along with it. Can’t complain here.

It helps that the producers gave the contestants a softball this week. Their vengeance shall be swift next week when they give the remaining eight the Songs of the 1920s…

Joshua: His Idol is Mariah. I’m almost not surprised. But, wait, it’s not Mariah’s song. It’s that great song from “The Drew Carey Show.” I love this song. I hope he can pull it off. Can he turn this into a gospel song? Weird.

What’s with all the stuff standing around on stage this week? Doors before, dead trees now, smoke almost omnipresent…

Oh, boy, the band drops out and he can’t reach up for that note. Whoops. The magic trick failed. But everything else worked so well that he gets the standing O anyway. Go figure. Oh wait, he cried at the end. That always gets the standing O.

OK, so I went back and watched it again. Maybe I was a bit hard on the Magic Trick bit. He didn’t go big and broad for that note, but it worked in his style, so I’ll give it to him.

TRIO 3: Jessica, Hollie, and Skylar: Madonna hits. This might work the best of the three. Wait, they’re starting with “Like a Prayer”? They’re supposed to end with that. Hollie doing dance songs? That seems weird. Are any of these three taller than 5’2″? It’s three pipsqueaks with huge voices singing in mid-range.

Elise: Is doing Zep? I expect pyrotechnics on the stage for this one. Maybe confetti at the end. And the electric guitar guy on stage.

Needs a hair fan. They got the streaming smoke behind the guitarist guy on stage, though.

Well, that took steel cast iron balls. And she pulled it off. Yowza. That bit at the end where she paused a second and Randy was waiting anxiously for the ending? Pure genius.

That was the least Idol song ever on Idol, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work.

So who’se in trouble this week? Colton is. Going first is never good. I think Elise might be, just because the main Idol voting contingent isn’t a 70s rock fanbase. And Hollie is in trouble. Who would I put in the bottom three? DeAndre, Hollie, and Heejun. (One song isn’t enough to make me forget, Heejun…)

We might see a Judges Save this week. It’s that loopy a week.

AI11 — Round of 10 (Billy Joel week!)

There’s no way I could not talk about Billy Joel week on American Idol, is there? I’m much too big a fan for that.

I wish I had the time to be more comprehensive with it, but we’ll have to resort to bullet points:

Elise had an Idol Moment this week, for sure. I watched it twice in a row. “Vienna” is a great song, and one Joel plays regularly when he tours, but it’s not on one of the Greatest Hits albums or anything, so not too many people seem to know it. But it was made for her voice. I would have pegged her for a “New York State of Mind” girl, but she chose one better.

Skylar doing “Shameless” was the most predictable moment of the show. It’s weird that an ode to Jimmy Hendrix has become a country hit twice now, but it was an obvious choice for Skylar. Joel has done a countrified “My Life” on tour, too. That might have been more interesting to hear.

Also, they have to stop walking through the crowd in these songs. Both Elise and Skylar looked a little uncomfortable in the middle fo their songs walking through a sea of 12 years olds nervously trying to figure out whether to clap (and where’s the rhythm?) or smile for the camera.

Heejun did “My Life,” instead, and made a damn fool of himself. Surely, the judges are only kidding themselves when they praise him for, well, anything, right? They’re just trying to save face for putting this doofus through. I’m all for having fun on stage — remember Casey? — but this is getting to Sanjaya/John Stevens territory here. No, wait, Stevens was a better singer. Man, did Steven Tyler look ticked off by the whole thing or what?

Phillip Phillips’ “Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out)” was great. Like so many contestants this week, he completely ignored Tommy HIlfiger and Jimmy, and it worked.

Diddy doing Idol? Did he hand off his weapon to J-Lo’s bodyguard for old time’s sake, while he was at it?

Steven Tyler has never heard “She’s Got a Way.” I can understand that — he was on a lot of drugs at the time that song hit — both the first and the second time Joel recorded it. (It hit Top 40 status with “Songs from the Attic”, not “Cold Spring Harbor” a decade prior.)

Never thought “Piano Man” would make it as an “Idol” song. Kind of a simple little ditty, but Colton did it about as well as anyone could.

DeAndre should have done better with “Only the Good Die Young,” which has a natural reggae feel to it. He was OK, but I didn’t feel like he ever really got into it as much as he could have.

Joshua Ledet has a great voice, but meandered through the song desperately searching for a choir to back him up for a chorus or two. And he looked dead in his eyes. There was no connection to the song.

Erika Van Pelt did all right with “New York State of Mind.”

I’ll say this, though: Overall, it was a pretty good night. There were no crash and burns. Hollie was disappointing. But, man, I just want to go back and listen to Elise on “Vienna” again…

Bonus content: Holly singing an Adele song:

AI11 – Round of 11

Not a full American Idol review tonight. Just a few stray bullet points, since I’m not writing these all up this year.

  • Jimmy I. gets the award for most awful product placement in the history of reality television. There are plenty of forced promotions for today’s technology — The Voice wants to sell bad tablets, for example, from Spring — but this one hit like a stampede of elephants coming out of left field. Painful.

  • There was a time when Idol was about a single person on a stage singing along to an unseen band and trying to hit all the notes and inject a little of their personality while desperately seeking Simon’s approval. Today, everyone wants to be their own “artist” and so overworks every song to work well with a dozen band members on stage with them. And it’s starting to bite the contestants in the keister.

  • So the Gentle Giant is gone. He wouldn’t have won, anyway, but he stood a chance of stealing the show with “Somewhere Out There” tonight.

  • Wow, the judges woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Now that they were always wrong — they were mostly right — but they came out with the gloves off for the first time this season.

  • I fast forwarded through the ad for J. Lo’s reality singing competition show. Is the entire show in Spanish, or just the title?

AI11 – Round of 13

Once again, I continue to not do recaps of another season of American Idol.

We have an actual new twist in the voting this year. It comes closer to the much-desired Judges Kick People Off voting system. This week, the lowest vote-getting girl and lowest vote-getting boy will form a Bottom Two, from which the three judges will choose who to send home.

That is the single most tortured paragraph of grammar I believe I’ve ever written for an Idol recap.

Sorry, it’s 2012 now, so let me phrase that properly: “#idol recap.”

We don’t know yet if this also means there will be a Judges Choice save to be used this season. Or will this be the system for the season? I would like it if the judges had to make the tough choice in the end. It would help even out some of the craziness of previous seasons. It would eliminate the One Save Only part of the Judges Choice, which inevitably leads to either them saving someone too early, or saving it until the last minute when it’s too late to save the person they should have saved weeks earlier.

With Nigel Lithgow producing the show, maybe he’s willing to bring the best part of “So You Think You Can Dance” over to Idol: Show the bottom three, and let the judges kick someone out. And then it would be pure America’s Choice in the final weeks. I hope so.

Randy Jackson wins the week, providing actual musical criticism to the performances, and being the only honest one, even if it’s couched in too much “but you know we like you” butt covering for my taste.

But what was that pin Randy wore? I’m guessing it was 8 Bit Whit, but it might also have passed for Betty Boop or a KISS band member. Or Liza Minelli.

Poor Shannon. Crash and Burn. Even worse, the recap video at the end showed her worst note. I had to cringe again for the poor girl.

Could we have a sing-off at the end of the season between Hollie and Jessica, the two power singers? Jennifer Lopez has dreams of that happening, as do the producers, I’m sure. They’d love nothing more than to have a different style of Idol champion after so many years of mopey guitar playing alt-pop/rocker types. But will it happen? Probably not. In all likelihood, those two will split votes, leading to one of their demises later in the competition. I think they’ll both stick around for a long while, though, if their voices can hold up to the strain of the competition. (The ghost of Tamyra Gray still hangs over the singers. She stood a chance of beating Kelly Clarkson, if her voice hadn’t betrayed her so close to the end.)

Erika needed to consider a different dress, though. When she was sitting on the stool, it spread out so much that she looked like Jabba the Hut. When she was standing, her arms just looked flabby.

Hometown girl Elisa was unimpressive. It was definitely nerves, as she’d occasionally look comfortable and sing well, and then get stiff the next second and concentrate too hard. There’s also a lack of personality there that will hurt her.

I want to like Colton, but I couldn’t understand half the words he sang. He wasn’t along in that last night, but the first half of his song was particularly Kurt Cobain-level unintelligible.

I’m not a Jeremy fan. Nice guy, boring song.

Ditto to Jermaine. They’re going to have a problem keeping that voice interesting and not just a novelty. They haven’t won me over yet. Boring song.

Ditto to Heejun, who just isn’t that good. Am I the only one bothered by the accent coming through the singing? To be fair, though, Hollie’s is starting to come through the music, too, and that’s going to bother me as the season goes on.

It looks like Phillip is taking the spot I thought Reed Grimm might get – potentially crazy guy who you never know what he’ll do next.

And Jessica had the first official Idol Moment of the season, on Week One. I hope she didn’t peak too soon.

Joshua was great, too. Skylar made a Whitney Houston song sound like a country song without going off the rails, which is a neat trick.

So who will be the lowest vote getters tonight? I think conventional wisdom will be Shannon and Jeremy. The problem with Idol, though, is that (say it with me now) a bad performance is often the best way to get your base out to vote like made for you. That might save Shannon and doom Elise, whose fans may think that she’s safe because Shannon did so badly.

But who will the judges send home? If either Shannon or Elise are in the bottom, I think that’ll be the choice. It’s an easy pass for the judges to sacrifice them. They like the boys too much so far.

AI11 – Your Final 13

Dim the lights! Bring on the melodrama! Watch as I continue to NOT recap this season of American Idol!

  • Jimmy Iovine makes for a great Monday Morning QB with a script prepared. He’s the Simon this judging panel needs, dead on right about everyone. Even the judges agreed with him, though they soft-peddled it because, well, they’re all afraid of being the mean one.

  • Steven Tyler only needed to be bleeped once.

  • I nailed the list for the six female contestants to go through: Jessica, Hollie, Shannon, Elise, Erika, Skylar.

  • The guys were a lot shakier. To whit:

    • Reed Grimm did not make it through. As entertaining as he would have been from week to week as a truly wild card, he wasn’t worth giving a spot to.
    • Heejun got through on America’s vote and Jimmy I is right: He’s not good enough. He shouldn’t be there.
    • Creighton and Aaron both missed the list.
    • The country kid did not get the Country Vote, and we got spared Eben, in the end.
  • Who did make it through? Philip Phillips, Jeromy, Deandre, Joshua, Heejun, Colton,Jermaine.

  • We cleared the Hollie Decks, but the guys have Jeromy, Jermaine, and Joshua. It’s still better.

  • Both Deandre and Jeromy did a better job singing for their lives tonight than they did on Tuesday night, but I still think Deandre is not long for this contest.

  • Props to Erika for singing a Lady Gaga song, which you know Gaga only lip synchs to in live shows. Too much stuff going on in that song, and Erika vocalized it all. Impressive.

  • They laughingly said that Jermaine’s telephone number wasn’t 13 so it wouldn’t be unlucky. Yet they have a Final 13. Go figure. (Yeah, I know, giving him a telephone number of 36 instead of 13 was likely a limit of the telephone company’s and not the TV show’s…)

AI11 – The Girls Round of 12

Once again, I am here to remind you that I am not going to write up American Idol this season. And I plan on reminding you of that every week as I begin writing up another episode.

Onto the Top 12 ladies. . .

  • Chelsea ran out of breath singing a country song. And country songs this year mean you have to wear a certain style of mini-dress, as you’ll see Skylar go with later in a different color. Not strong enough. Good. Solid. But the Curse of Going First combined with nothing spectacular will sink her.

  • Erika Van Pelt is the mobile DJ who can belt. “What About Love” turns out to be a great song for her, and I hope America votes her through. We need a power rocker type.

  • Jen Hirsh: I’ve always liked her and she does well here, but nothing spectacular again. Finished strong, but the rest was passable. And, yeah, that’s the second Adele song of the week already, and it won’t be the last. Adele is the new Whitney/Mariah/XTina. Heaven help us all.

  • Brielle Von Hugel: Can’t leave fast enough. Awful rendition of that song. Shouted it. And then refers to herself in the third person.

  • Hallie Day: I’ve always liked her and rooted for her, but the second she started walking she started to lose her breath and control. If she stood still and sang a ballad, it might have worked better.

  • Skylar Lane: Forget Reed Grimm; for pure manic performance, she just beat him out, and with a better voice, too. Crazy. I want her on the show just for the entertainment value.

  • Bailey Brown: The first Crash and Burn of the season. Total trainwreck. Looks uncomfortable, never found the right note, and she and everyone else knew it. Pure cannon fodder. Too bad. You know it’s over when they’re only response to the judges’ criticism is “I had fun.” At least she didn’t ask the audience if they did, too, because she knew the answer wouldn’t be good for her.

  • Hollie Cavanagh: That’s a bad speed impediment. She’s worse than a New Yorker. She can’t make the “R” song when she talks, but it comes out just fine when she sings. And she’s got a ridiculously powerful voice in that little body. The shift from high to low is a little shaky, but that’s easily overlooked for everything else she does well.

So that’s Hollie, and we’ve already talked about Hallie, so we’re only left with —

  • Haley Johnson: Stay weird, Portland. This was another utter trainwreck. Horrible. Abysmal. Awful. Off tune, off note, off melody, off timing. She’s everything you’d expect a street performer from Portland to be, really. I’m sure they’d eat her up there, but she’s useless everywhere else. Except maybe Austin.

  • Shannon Magrane: She gets bonus points from me for singing a Kathy Tracoli song that was in regular rotation when I was on radio. I may have been part of a very small minority of Idol viewers who knew that song, and she sang it very well. Plus, we tall people have to stick together.

  • Jessica Sanchez: Starts with a Coca-Cola moment to set up how bad her vocal cords are, only to slay the song with every loud screeching power note. Made me want to drink a Diet Pepsi, that did. Still, very impressive.

  • Elisa Testone: Just found out before the show that she’s a local. And, sure enough, there was video of her in her package in front of Kinnelon High School, which is about 10-15 minutes up the street from here. Very exciting. Oh, and she’s good. Very very good. OK, so she won’t win points for doing an Adele song, but she made it sound good. Bonus: SHe’s a piano player. I’ll take all of those I can get.

So who would I like to see go through? It’s a little tougher with this show. I picked eight contestants on my first pass through. When it came time to eliminate two, I dropped off Jen H. and Hallie Day. I like them both and they’re both good, but they just aren’t strong enough compared to the rest of the competition.

That leaves me with, for my final Top 6 Girls picks:

  • Erika
  • Skylar
  • Hollie Cavanagh
  • Shannon
  • Jessica
  • Elisa

Now, it’s a Final 13 when all is said and done. Maybe Jen or Hallie might get there with a second chance, but I’d place my bets on those six. And I put Brielle in as my Dark Horse candidate for an America’s vote choice.

AI11 – The Boys Round of 12, er, 13

I have no plans to write up this year’s season of “American Idol,” but I do have five minutes tonight, so here are a few words on The Boys singing live for America for the first time:

  • The judges have abdicated their duties and their responsibilities.  They’re merely cheerleaders. It’s America’s time to decide, right?  So why get in the way?  Why take any of the blame?  Don’t give America any guidance.  Just tell everyone how great they are no matter how flat they are or how nervous they look or how horribly they misinterpreted that song.  Remember when Simon left and Randy tried to be The Tough Judge?  That didn’t last terribly long, did it?

  • Another season, another awful music mix where the band drowns everyone out.

  • Here are the six I’d pick to go through:

    • Reed Grimm: Because, in the words of Steve Jobs, “Here’s to the crazy ones…”  Every season needs the wild child who could go off and do anything on any given night.  Plus, he has a name that could easily put him on The Fantastic Four.

    • Colton Dixon: I wasn’t a big fan of the song choice tonight, but I thought the kid got robbed last year, and is still good enough to deserve a Top 12 spot.

    • Aaron Marcellus: Honestly, he’s the one I’m least sure about, but he’s good enough and I’d like to see him do more.

    • Creighton Fraker: He’s right up there with Reed for potential craziness, but he’s also the first one on the night who belted out his song and didn’t let the band drown him out.

    • Philip Phillips: Because, hey, I liked Taylor Hicks, too.

    • Jermaine Jones: I like the guy, and he did great under the circumstances tonight. Perfect song choice, belted it out, has great potential.

  • Here’s who I’m afraid of: Eben.  He has the John Stevens breakout potential.  He could be the one to make it through on the tweenies’ text votes week after week without any relationship to the level of his music talent. His song tonight was way out of his league.  He was completely flat.  And even that final note didn’t go up enough.  But he’s the Justin Beiber of the season.  Cute kid, young kid, and the type that all the valuable 10 – 16 year old girls will go crazy over.

  • One other wildcard, whose name I didn’t write down: The country kid who looks like Brandon Frasier.  Country artists get votes on American Idol.  Country fans protect their own.  It wasn’t that he was bad tonight, by the way, but that I liked the others more.

We’ll find out on Thursday.  Let’s hope the girls do better song choices tomorrow night, in the meantime.