Friday, February 22, 2013

American Idol Top 40-Group A Males

It is almost 10 pm on Thursday night and what I am going to do now is try to watch my DVR recording of tonight's American Idol broadcast and live blog it, pausing to write comments about the performances, before I hear any of the judges' comments. After the ten performances are finished, I will rank them, and predict who wound up getting cut. Then, I will watch to see what actually did happen, and offer some brief comments then.

Let's get to it.

1. Paul Jolley- "Tonight I Wanna Cry"

So, I am guessing we are going to be in for a lot of ballads again tonight. After all, the contestants just need to please the judges, and not the general public, who might perhaps get a bit bored after a couple hours of this.

Starting off, Paul looked pretty scared right before he began to sing. He really struggled with that during Hollywood week and it makes me wonder if he truly is in the right business, if that aspect of this is so difficult for him. He has a good voice though, although maybe there were some nerves showing in the vocals. I am not sure if he is really a legit country singer or is more of a Josh Groban type artist. Still though, any white guy on American Idol, who is going to attract of a lot female votes, is potentially a threat to take it all.

So, I guess after I watch the judges' comments, I might potentially have more to say... I guess that was a Keith Urban song. I just knew that it had been done before on Idol. That's one way to try to get a judge on your side. Also, is Mariah Carey ever going to disagree with Randy Jackson? Is she going to comment last the entire season? Is that part of her contract? I would rather them switch that up. After three judges have spoken, there really just is not much left for her to say, and I do not see her being caustic like Simon Cowell was in the final judge position.

2.  Johnny Keyser- "I Won't Give Up"

Oh look, two white guys in a row to start the show. Last year, Johnny (who seemed to have his last name pronounced differently) made it to Hollywood where he was made to look like a jerk by the producers. This year, they have been making him look like an idiot. They might be afraid he could win.

This performance was just ok for me. His voice was pleasant enough I suppose, but I did not hear anything in it that makes me want to hear more or even suspect that he could be full of some surprises this season if he advances further.

After hearing Mariah's comments, I find it ironic, that the male contestants this season will be signaled out for being "masculine" whenever that should occur.

3. Jda- "Rumor Has It"

I guess it is ok to spell this song title the American way. Jda (prounced Jada) feels more like an organization than I name as I go to type it. He is from Chicago and I am guessing right off the bat, that he will not be praised for his masculinity however long he lasts on Idol. Somehow though, I do not think the Idol producers put Jda through with the intent of a deep run.

Now, call me old fashioned, but aren't drag queens supposed to shave their facial hair? Come on now! At least, try to fool someone. Since I am commenting on American Idol and not RuPaul's Drag Race, I will jsut say that while it was good of Jda to do something a bit interesting and outside of the box, I felt the vocals were just not all that. Maybe they should have given this spot tonight to Kez Ban. If Jda somehow makes it to the Finals, I have a feeling Season Five's Danny Noriega will cut a bitch.

Has Focus on the Family issued a press release yet?

4. Kevin Harris- "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)"

He has not been given much screen time thus far and seriously feels like another example of Idol fodder, as somebody who will not be around too long. It might not also help that he looks a bit older than his 28 years.

This is such a safe song to do on Idol, and while Kevin's voice was supposed to be smooth like "butter", I felt he struggled at times, especially on the chorus as the song progressed. He clearly has some skill, but nerves or whatever kept him from sounding as good as he could have, and my hunch is that by the end of the entire episode, not a lot of people will have remembered this performance.

5. Chris Watson-"Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay"

His song choice and entire wardrobe ensemble reminded me of something that might have been seen on Idol about ten years ago. I believe I have read that he first tried out for the show back several seasons ago as well, and tonight was his big opportunity to perform on television.

Vocally I do not think it was perfect,but at least I thought he took a bit of a risk and gave a more determined performance than some of the safer choices we had heard tonight. That will probably serve him well. While I am just about now to listen to what the judges had to say, from their reactions, they seemed to be digging it.

6. Devin Velez- "Listen"

The first teenager to sing tonight, Devin is also from Chicago and is probably going to still be around after tonight.

While I think he might run into a problem of singing too many runs at times, I think he delivered a strong vocal performance tonight that showcased his talents. He also took a bit of a risk in taking on a Beyonce ballad and appealed to political correctness by singing it in both English and Spanish. There is no denying that he has a very good voice though and could grow in this competition.

7. Elijah Liu- "Talking to the Moon"

Eighteen year old Elijah is half Mexican and half Chinese, which is a remotely similar ethnic mix of last year's runner up Jessica Sanchez and also sounds like an interesting concept for a fast food restaurant. He also brags about being a ladies' man, which even if untrue, definitely might make him stand out a bit this season among the male contestants.

The performance for me was interesting, on a song I had never heard before. I am not sure that every note was executed greatly, but it definitely felt like the most contemporary pop vocal we have heard this evening. There was a bit of a Justin Bieber vibe to his voice (which might not exactly be a compliment) and also a little bit of Bruno Mars, which would be more of something to aspire to vocally. I thought he pulled off the falsetto fairly well, but maybe I am just too much in the mindset of thinking what would be appealing to people that is "current." Either way, I think he probably is going to gain a lot of fans.

8. Charlie Askew- "Rocket Man"

The third teenage male in a row, Idol keeps talking about how Charlie is "socially awkward" and how he likes to "glorify weirdness." I want to maybe hear more about his resemblance to the Rocky Dennis character in the 1980s movie "Mask." Ok, to be fair,  that would involve some hypothetical successful plastic surgery.

I envision this performance to be very polarizing. I think a lot of people will love it and him and buy into his whole persona and want to root for him. Many others will find him annoying and insufferable. Being a neutral observer, I am probably in the middle. I actually think he has a lot of talent, but that he may not be ready, vocally or emotionally for this kind of competition. He looked like he was shaking during a portion of the song. That was either nerves or it was performance art. Vocally, I think he had some good moments and some notes that sounded pretty off. He probably tried to do too much and show more range. Still, I think he probably sang this song better than Paul McDonald did on the Idol stage a couple of years ago. As I unpause the recording, I think the judges are going to argue about him.

Well, only Randy had any real criticism. Charlie is pretty quick on his feet with the banter. I have a feeling they may advance him over some others who will have sang better. Perhaps, he should go on Glee instead, and take his diminutive friend Mattheus with him for another shot at being on that show. Also, Keith Urban said the decision would be up to America. Actually, no, it's supposed to be up to the judges tonight.

9.  Jimmy Smith- "Raining On Sunday"

Looking up the song title, I see that this is another Keith Urban song. How did Keith get into country music in Australia anyway? So, it seems like both of the guys from Tennessee decided to cover him this evening. I am not sure what is up with Jimmy's hair. I find it a bit distracting.

Anyways, while I found the song and the performance a bit on the boring side, I think he put in a credible country performance and accomplished what he wanted to. Talent wise, it does seem like the girls are meant to be much stronger this season, but if the guys are weak overall, Jimmy could wind up being one of the last ones standing among them, at the least.

Ok, so the judges seem done with him. That's gotta be good news for Paul Jolley.

10. Curtis Finch Jr.- "Superstar"

In the pimp slot is St. Louis gospel singer Curtis, who is taking up the spot occupied in the past two seasons by Jacob Lusk and Joshua Ledet. Somehow, I doubt he will make it as far in the Finals as they did, partially because they showed him as being a bit divaish and cutthroat in the Hollywood episodes.

Vocally though, he gave a strong performance. He seems to very much know what kind of singer he is, but will probably sound the same every week, which will be to the consternation of many Idol fans. After the previous nine though, the difference in his style and the ease in which he was able to do vocal acrobats and tricks made a positive impression. It seems to me like he clearly has the largest combination of experience and self-confidence in anyone who had performed on this show tonight. Nonetheless, I still prefer Ruben Studdard's more straightforward rendition of this song from way back in Season Two.


10. Jda
9. Kevin Harris
8. Charlie Askew
7. Johnny Keyser
6. Chris Watson
5. Paul Jolley
4. Jimmy Smith
3. Elijah Liu
2. Devin Velez
1. Curtis Finch Jr.

So, if this was up to me, I would put through two teenagers, two countryish singers, and a gospel performer. I would also hope that the next group of ten males next week is a stronger bunch, but that probably will not even be the case.

What will the judges do though? Will Jimmy Iovine be needed to break some ties? After listening to their comments (even before the ones on Curtis), I think I can sort of make a prediction, but this is harder than last night.

Who should be eliminated: Jda, Kevin Harris, Charlie Askew, Johnny Keyser, Chris Watson
Who I predict the judges will eliminate: Jda, Kevin Harris, Johnny Keyser, Chris Watson, Jimmy Smith

I think a singer I had ranked relatively high will once again be sent home, while Charlie, who I had eighth will get put through, because they feel he will make for more interesting television.

Now, instead of looking for spoilers online (which I apparently could have done days ago), I will watch to see what happened.

Who was eliminated: Jda, Kevin Harris, Johnny Keyser, Chris Watson, Jimmy Smith.

Well, I guess that was easy after all.