OMG OMG OMG. The LIVE shows begin tonight! I couldn’t be MORE excited! The Top 12 boys will take the stage to sing for a spot in the Top 13. YOUR votes will put them there! Only there is a twist! A wild card will be added to make a Top 13. It will be either Johnny Keyser, Richie Law, Jermaine Jones or David Leathers Jr.
Nigel Lythgoe tweeted, “We’ve cleared the studio so that we keep the surprise of who the judges are bringing back He has not been able to rehearse with the band yet” Poor guy!
We’ve got a new set tonight too. Take a peek at it here. Check out a few song spoilers for the guys. Here’s a guide to the Top 24 I wrote for Entertainment Weekly.
Speaking of which, I’ll be hosting a live blog at Entertainment Weekly. Do come and join us.
Recap and Videos later!
There will be a Top 13. 10 picked by voters, plus each of the judges will pick a wildcard. – Jermaine Jones was Super-Secret Wildcard Pic
Houston. We have a judges problem. I was hoping the panel would look back on last season, realize how boring their non-critiques were, and come back willing to do their jobs. Ugh. The problem is even worse than before. The judges spent tonight gushing over performances that weren’t all that. The critiques are boring for the viewers at home, and USELESS for the contestants. What incentive do the kids have to improve if they’re being told every week that they’re “beautiful”?
Jennifer is obviously reading off notes. You’d think she’d try harder. Steven is just pulling stuff out of his butt. He’s not trying hard at all. And Randy is his usual inane self.
There were only two stand out performances tonight. Phillip Phillips did a really great job updating and re-arranging Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight” and Joshua Ledet took us all to church with a Jennifer Hudson cover. That was it. And oddly, Phil received the only bit of criticism handed out by the judges tonight–Randy didn’t like the way he arranged his song.
Tonight had some good singing, but a decided lack of star power. In the case of young Eben Frackewitz, it was too much too soon, and Reed Grimm did a ridiculous jazz version of “Moves Like Jagger”. I could only feel second hand embarrassment. Heejun Han has charisma–but I don’t want to face it–his singing is mediocre.
The new set is very flashy. And the mosh pit is back, sadly. the back wall is covered with screens–the better to project inane graphics while the singers perform.
I dont’ see the point of a wildcard, unless the producers intend on bringing somebody back who could be a true contender. David Leather’s Jr.and Johnny Keys would have been contenders. Jermaine Jones? Not so much.
Who I think will advance: Phillip, Colton, Heejun, Jermaine for sure. The judges will wildcard Reed and hopefully Joshua if they aren’t voted through.
ETA: Six of the 13 songs performed were originally recorded by women. A boy choosing to sing a girl song can actually be a smart strategy–it’s easier to differentiate oneself from the original with a gender flip. But as we’ve seen, it didn’t necessarily help some contestants (Poor Eben)
FYI: Hm. The choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo are credited as producers. Can we expect more dancing in the live shows? Katharine McPhee’s mom Peisha and sister Adrianna are BOTH vocal coaches this year.
The contestant’s video packages feature film footage they took themselves at home.
Reed Grimm – “Moves Like Jagger” By Maroon 5 – Ellsworth WI is famous for their cheese curds. Yum? He’s a nanny to his sister’s kids. Er. Not really digging the cheesy “smooth jazz” version of “Moves Like Jagger”. There’s nothing relevant about this arrangement at all. It’s like dentist office music. Except the part where he sang “shit” and it was bleeped. Once again, Reed gets behind the drums for part of the song. It’s beginning to look like shtick. A disappointing performance. Reed is turning into a one trick pony. Ugh the judging hasn’t improved at all this year. Randy called him a very musical guy. Jennifer thought it was a great way to show America what we are dealing with. “Beautiful” says Stephen. Don’t indulge him, judges – Reed may not get through on viewer votes–especially since he went first. If he doesn’t–the judges will wildcard him. – 1-866-436-5701
Adam Brock – “Think” By Aretha Franklin – Adam calls himself a “renaissance man”, “a large black woman in a man’s body” and “white chocolate”. One more Idol version of “Think”? Not really something we needed. He reminds me a lot of Danny Gokey. Oh look, he’s wearing a terrible towel in his back pocket. Representing for Pittsburgh. That’s nice. I needed something to distract me from that boring and uninspired performance. “Setting the bar high right of the box,” says Steven, before he pimps the season, “We got such talent coming right out of the box…That was brilliant” Really, the gushing is overkill. 1-866-436-5702
Deandre Brackensick – “Reasons” by Earth Wind and Fire – Hm. This is NOT a great song choice. Falsetto is tricky–unless it’s stellar, it’s really unpleasant to listen to. And here, Deandre’s voice is really weak and off pitch. He hits a nice note at the end. But that’s the point–a little goes a long way! If he’d sung in full voice, with a few bars of falsetto and then the killer high note? That would have been a moment. That performance was a bunch of meh with a few good moments. Ugh. I want to mute the judges. They are added nothing. Steven is still overusing the word “Beautiful”. Jennifer calls his voice “Perfect”. NO IT’S NOT. Randy says, “You’re ready to go now.” He calls him relevant, yet compares him to Maxwell (90s) and Philip Baily (7o’s) Randy is such a dope. 1-866-436-5703
Colton Dixon – “Decode” by Paramore – I hate to be superficial? But Colton’s hair is really stupid. Plz get rid of that ridiculous skunk stripe. Oh. Look at Colton’s GIANT house. The Dixon’s are not hurting. Colton says he’s going to change it up a bit. “People are used to seeing me at a piano”. Except he begins his performance sitting at one. “I may shock a few people,” he says. Oh, so he gets up and works the stage, flirts with the girls in the front row, and jumps up and down on the piano. What’s so shocking about that? If Nigel takes away his piano, Colton may have a problem. The camera cuts to Jlo who’s got a look on her face like she’s about to poop. Eh. Colton is really a poor man’s David Cook. Randy says, “It’s about time on Idol that we have our own little indie alt rock singer like Paramore dude.” Yeah…because we’ve never had that before. Jlo calls him a “relevant artist” and she can hear him on the radio “right now.” I can hear him on Adult Contemporary, and that’s about it. 1-866-436-5704
Jeremy Rosado – “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles – Supposedly, Jeremy is the resident nice guy, always helping out and supporting his fellow contestants. Aw. His co-workers call him “Jer Bear”. Well. This is very sincere. He feels what he’s singing. But his vocals aren’t spectacular. He lacks star quality. Whoa that high note was pitchy! I wasn’t feeling that, dawg. Yet, the judges gush over him. Really they should be picking apart these performances in a constructive way. Instead, they are yammering on about how nice he is. Randy continues to pimp the season “We got some crazy SANGERS on the show this season,” he says, “I was so impressed…I love you man.” 1-866-436-5705
After the break, Ryan is at the judges’ desk. Steven says “I’m confused as a baby inside a topless bar.” Then he flashes his booby trying to outdo Jennifer’s recent clothing malfunction. “THERE WAS NO NIPPLE,” says Jennifer.
Aaron Marcellus – “Never Can Say Goodbye” by Jackson 5 – Marcellus tap dances. If Idol doesn’t work out, he can audition for SYTYCD. He’s got a really nice voice. I’m not feeling this song choice though. I wish he would have tackled something more contemporary. He’s awkward, working the stage. A great performer won’t let you take your eyes off him. Marcellus has talent, but lacks that kind of star quality. The last note he hits is super screechy. The judges actually give him a standing ovation. It was not THAT good. Randy calls him an old school veteran. “I’ve always believed in you,” says Jennifer. “You’re the whole package,” says Steven. 1-866-436-5706
Chase Likens “Storm Warning” by Hunter Hays – That’s nice. We learn a little bit about Chase’s life in West Virginia. A place he’ll be headed back to when he’s eliminated on Thursday. Poor dude didn’t stand a chance with little to no screen time. His singing isn’t half bad. Chase picked a song from a young country singer. It’s a good choice for him. He’s got a nice tone, but his vocals are generic and slightly under pitch. It helps that he’s a good looking guy, but not much. The judges even gush over cannon fodder! Steven compares Chase to Brendan Frasier. Remember him? “You’ve grown so much through the competition,” says Jlo, “I look forward to seeing where you go.” That would be home, Jennifer. 1-866-436-5707
Creighton Fraker – “True Colors” – by Cyndi Lauper – Creighton says he grew up a preacher’s kid in small town South Dakota. He didn’t exactly “fit in” there, so he moved to NYC. “I’m Creighton Fraker,” he says, “You have to be who you are.” And the person he is, is someone who never met a song he couldn’t over-sing. He begins “True Colors” with some restraint, but that doesn’t last long. By the end of the performance he’s all over the place with scary runs and high notes. Dude. You are not Sam Harris. This is not Star Search. Jennifer has no idea how America is going to choose with so many great voices! She doesn’t want Creighton to go home. Too bad, Jen I think he is. “Stupendous,” says Steven. “You took that song and put it over the top.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. – 1-866-436-5708
Phillip Phillips – “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins – Phillip loves his family, even if his parents couldn’t think up a first name for him. Poor P2. I stopped feeling sorry for him pretty quickly, though. I don’t like all of Phil’s performances, but I like this one a lot–mostly on the strength of the arrangement. Yep. He’s got his guitar with him. But he is not overshadowed by the band and back up singers like I thought he might be. He puts his gravelly voice to good use, plugging into the passion of the song. Phil is so going to SAIL into the Top 13 on Thursday. He’s a contender. Jlo and Steven gush–and finally it’s justified. Jlo compares him to Lauren and Scotty in terms of somebody she noticed right away. It took 7 performances, but finally, Randy CRITICIZES a performance. A little. Basically, he didn’t like the re-arrangement, but still “loves it.”- 1-866-436-5709
Eben Franckewitz – “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele – This kid is sooo young. Way too young. The Adele song is a really unfortunate choice. Not only is it too mature, but it’s also way too big for him. His performance is horribly off pitch–you can tell the kid is nervous–and just a hot mess all around. This is what you get when you take a kid, straight from his Ohio high school to a big Hollywood soundstage to sing live in front of millions of people. You’re going to watch a young boy choke on TV, and it’s not pretty. Eben will be heading back to class, where he belongs shortly. The judges go easy on him. They point out his pitchiness, but call him a “great performer.” Hm. Steven tells him to listen to blues records, for whatever that’s worth. – 1-866-436-5710
Heejun Han – “Angels” by Robbie Williams – Oh how I love the comedy stylings of Heejun. Which is why I really really really want to like his singing, but this isn’t good. The boy has good tone, but his diction and phrasing need lots of work. He also has trouble staying on pitch. He’s a mediocre singer, but I still hope he makes the Top 13 because he’s so amusing. His mom, whom Heejun films dancing and singing around their Flushing house is super adorable too. Heejun will probably advance anyway. If he doesn’t he’ll get picked for the wild card, so I’m not worried. The judges blame his problems on his song choice. – 1-866-436-5711
Joshua Ledet – “You Pulled Me Through ” by Jennifer Hudson – The second great performance of the night is from Joshua Ledet who totally takes the room to church with a passionate and assured performance of “You Pulled Me Through” . I love his raspy tone. There’s no oversinging here–he’s pure emotion, every note has the right inflection. I’m really going to be mad if he doesn’t make the Top 13. The room gives him a well-deserved standing ovation. “Can I get an Amen up in here,” says Randy. The doors of the church are wide open. This is what singing is all about.” Jennifer says she wants to punch him he’s so talented. OK! 1-866-436-5712
UGH. So the contestant they bring back is Jermaine Jones. WHY?
Jermaine Jones – “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross – Performing the sentimental “Dance with My Father” combined with the pimp spot will likely land Jermaine in the Top 13, although the performance itself was pretty ordinary. I like the texture of Jermaine’s voice, but he’s uneven and has way too much vibrato. I did not enjoy that at all. Randy inexplicably says that it’s about time that Idol has a bass in the competition. Well, that kid who won Idol last year has a pretty deep voice, doesn’t he? Meh. I really could have done without this particular ratings gimmick. 1-866-436-5736