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 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 – 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.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” Part 2 of 3

Of course, “American Idol” has long had an association with the Jim Steinman/Bonnie Tyler hit.

We go all the way back to the first season wtih Nikki McKibbin’s cover:

Carly Smithson covered it in a latter season:

It gets wilder and wackier after this break:

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