Friday, March 04, 2011

American Idol Top 24 Results and Wildcard Round

Just watched the drama-packed two hour episode. America's top five for each gender was voted in and then six singers were selected to sing for what would turn out to be three wildcard slots.

Let's begin by looking at the democratic portion of American Idol:

Who should have made the Automatic 10: Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone, Brett Loewenstern, Scotty McCreery, Pia Toscano, Kendra Chantelle, Lauren Turner, Thia Megia, Lauren Alaina

Who I predicted would advance: Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone, Brett Loewenstern, Scotty McCreery, Pia Toscano, Kendra Chantelle, Naima Adedapo, Thia Megia, Lauren Alaina

Who automatically advanced: Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano, Thia Megia, Lauren Alaina, Karen
Rodriguez, Haley Reinhart

So, I correctly predicted 60 percent of them, three guys and three girls. I also think exactly three of each gender deserved to make it (the same ones I picked; go figure.) Of the four that I incorrectly predicted, I mentioned that I would give wildcard slots to three of them, if there was to be a Top 13, based solely on the previous performances this week. The one head-scratcher for me is Haley Reinhart. Perhaps my fellow Republicans of Wheeling Township did what we do so successfully and got out the vote for the local girl, but I sort of doubt it.

I think that Lauren Turner got absolutely shafted (and Brett Loewenstern to a somewhat lesser extent) in being eliminated, without another chance to perform, based solely on what they did earlier in the week. I guess that is just the way the game works. Maybe if they both had straight hair...

Toward the end of the show, the judges selected three guys and three girls to sing again for their lives in a feature that resembles what occurs on Simon Cowell's X Factor. (although the outcome was likely pre-determined.) Every one of them gave it all they had and should be proud of themselves. Nobody cracked under the pressure, and while they are ineligible from ever being on American Idol again (and probably X Factor too), I hope they get other chances to succeed in the music business.

They each got a chance to sing any song they had already done in the Idol competition, with the explanation that they all had the chance to practice with the band (not mentioning the factor that the guys sang last on Friday and the girls filmed their performances on Monday.)

1. Ashthon Jones- "And I Am Telling You"

Yes, Ashthon, with the silent h in her name, went for broke, singing the ultimate song about not getting kicked to the curb. She has a big diva voice and her passion was unmistakable as she pleaded with the judges thru song to let her "stay here." She knew exactly what she had to do, but oddly did not seem to make eye contact with the television cameras a single time. But after all, America was not going to be voting on this. If not technically perfect, it was emotionally charged, and far better than the boring slow jam they showed her singing last night. The thing Ashthon has going for her though, beyond singing is charisma when she is not speaking. So, we can expect her to work it, flirting and kissing up to the judges (and to America) at least for another week. Grade: B+

2. Stefano Langone- "I Need You Now"

Perhaps another pleading song, appropriate for the moment, though I had never heard it before. I was a bit surprised Stefano did not get voted in (are there going to be that many Paul McDonald loving cougars dominating the voting this year?) Once again, I thought Stefano gave a very good performance. He was also a bit emotional, and thus may not have had total control, but he still did what he had to do. As someone who would be considered the most conventionally best looking male contestant, it is likely the producers would want him to advance. Grade: B+

3. Kendra Chantelle- "Georgia On My Mind"

Her song may have been about the Peach State, but staying in Hollywood was most definitely on Kendra's mind as she also sang for her life. I thought she was really good this week before and definitely deserved to continue. As far as I am concerned, she was two for two, because I think she gave a great rendition of a song that is becoming a frequent Idol staple. She even sounded a bit more controlled and technically proficient than the two that proceeded her. I think she was definitely one of the best contestants of the season, at least through the early stages, but she must not have fit a role for The Powers That Be, moving forward. Grade: A-

4. Jovany Baretto- "Angel"

Like he did impressively in a short clip on the Green Mile episode, the Cuban-American shipbuilder sang a Jon Secada song, in both English and Spanish. It was good,and he sang it well, (I am thinking maybe that perhaps it is really the only song he might excel on), but he seemed to be a bit more shaky than the ones who proceeded him. Grade: B

5. Naima Adedapo- "For All We Know"

While I was not too crazy about the show tune she sang earlier in the week, I had a slight hunch she might get voted in to the Top 10. When that did not happen, she was invited back for the quick wildcard round and also sounded good on the song she chose. It was perhaps a bit boring though, at least until she hit a big note at the end, before falling into tears as soon as she was done. I think it was genuine on her part, but something like that certainly was not going to hurt with the judges (who were by now running short on time,and only had time for one brief critique) Grade: B

6. Robbie Rosen- "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"

Perhaps he was tempting fate to sing a song with such a title, but Robbie also did quite well, and I thought he was able to show off more vocally than he did earlier in the week. He also seems to be like quite a "mensch" and calmer than any Jewish person should be in such a situation (Brett also handled his eventual elimination quite admirably well, and man does that boy love to hug anything in sight.) Robbie is really talented, but perhaps still needs a bit more seasoning, and not everyone of the vocal runs he does is going to be successful. Had the semi-final format been like other seasons, he may have managed to rebound and find himself voted into the Finals. Grade: B+

Ranking them:

1. Kendra Chantelle
2. Stefano Langone
3. Ashthon Jones
4. Robbie Rosen
5. Naima Adedapo
6. Jovany Baretto

The three the judges should have picked: Kendra Chantelle, Stefano Langone, Ashthon Jones
The three the judges did pick: Stefano Langone, Ashthon Jones, Naima Adedapo

All things considered, I think we have a pretty strong Top 13, and I would think the most talented pound for pound since Season 7. I do think Kendra and Lauren Turner are the most obvious misses, but by next week, they will be somewhat forgotten about.

I do not know yet if there will be a double elimination for the Top 13, but I would say that Haley is the "weak link" and that Naima may be the "boring link."

There are legitimately several people who could eventually win this thing, but if past history is any indication, I would say that Casey Abrams (and maybe Paul McDonald) start off as slight favorites.

It should be a fun season!