Wednesday, February 26, 2014

American Idol Top 13

Live blogging from my DVR as the Finals get underway. Considering the season, hope the number thirteen is not too unlucky for those who will be taking the stage tonight.

Things seem a bit different starting out. Seacrest is not wearing a tie, the kids are apparently going to sit on the couches near the stage during the whole evening, and the American Idol voting system is vastly different. Might that possibly produce a lot of surprises this season? I tend to doubt it.

The Finalists are performing a "This is Me" theme. The songs are supposed to represent them as people. I guess this means we will not hear anything too dark this evening.

1. Dexter Roberts- "Aw Naw"

What kind of song title is that? I fear that I may have to Google all of the titles tonight. By the way, can people really just vote via Google? That is really interesting. Does it stay open until the morning? I might just cast a symbolic 50 votes for the person I have ranked the highest when all this is done.

I doubt that will be Dexter though. Country fans might like it, but I hated this song and could not understand a word he said. I thought he was better last week. This seemed a bit amateurish to me. However, the woman in the audience, who was probably his mama, had great '80s hair.

2. Malaya Watson- "Runaway Baby"

There is something about the production tonight that is reminding me of Season 1 of American Idol. That was fun at the time, but that's not necessarily a good thing right now in 2014.

Conventional wisdom is that Malaya would have been able to put on a high-energy and competent performance of this song. The energy may have been there, but wow, I thought the vocals were really off. There were issues with the band and the background singers and it just sounded like a mess. Perhaps that was because she was running around so much. Is it possible that she (and several others who are also just teenagers) are not ready for all of this?

Idol better step up its game tonight or the viewers will be switching off their sets in droves. I do not follow "The Voice" as closely as I do Idol, but that singing on that show is really far superior than what we have been hearing in the Season 13 live shows so far.

3. Kristen O'Conner- "Beautiful Disaster"

I have determined that she looks like a young Michele Bachmann. Too bad American Idol is not the Iowa Republican Straw Poll.

There are probably a lot of Kelly Clarkson songs she could have done for "This Is Me" without tempting fate by picking a song with this title. She certainly is not in Clarkson's league vocally. I did not know this song and did not enjoy it. I want Kristen to do well, but every time she sings, it sounds consistently shaky.

Maybe these contestants would be better off getting to stay backstage and preparing themselves for their time in the spotlight than basically being on camera audience members for the whole evening.

Call this Randy Jackson's revenge, because everyone is pitchy!

4.  Ben Briley- "Folsom Prison Blues"

He must really have some lousy hair, if he is going to always come out with those baseball hats. At least this performance was not bad. His voice was kind of affected and weird, and I am not sure I would want to hear him sing for a very long time, but at least he has shown he is capable of the task, and he came out tonight and at least was interesting.

This was also an interesting song choice for "This Is Me." I will assume he has not really shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

5. C.J. Harris- "Radio"

So far, all the guys have played guitar along with their performance. I think that easily more than half of all male performances this season on Idol will feature a guitar. That is quite a contrast from last season.

This was ok, I guess. It certainly was not the best vocal I had ever heard, but while I did not know the song, C.J. at least sounded somewhat decent and looked like he was having fun. His cousin in the audience seemed to be having even more fun though.

6. MK Nobilette- "Satisfaction"

Considering the way she dressed tonight, she might as well change her stage name to Justine Bieber. This song was not by the Rolling Stones, but instead by Alan Stone, whomever he is. Sounds like a dentist.

I really do not know what more to say about these performances. There were a few parts of the song where her voice sounded somewhat interesting and other parts on the verses, where it seemed subpar.

7.  Majesty Rose- "Tight Rope"

Finally, a performance that at least people may remember tomorrow (in a good way.) This was another song that I did not know, and while the vocal may not have been perfect, it was certainly good enough to show tht Majesty has considerable vocal ability. A lot of Idol junkies have been touting her for weeks now, and while I may not quite be at that level yet, she is potentially going to outlast every other girl in the competition.

8. Jena Irene- "The Scientist"

I really wanted Jena to be great on this one. She certainly has a powerful voice and I think she is capable of more in this competition, but for some reason, something about her tone just grates on me. Since contestant comparisons are so common when talking about Idol, let me just stay that Allison Iraheta from Season 8 was a lot better.

9. Alex Preston- "A Beautiful Mess"

This song title sounds a lot like what Kristen did. Who was in the audience supporting Alex? I believe that was recently booted (before getting to sing a note on the stage) Idol contestant Jillian Jensen, (whom apparently Alex is involved with) and was that Alex and Sierra, the recent winners of the now defunct X Factor USA?

For the first half of this performance, I really was not feeling it. It just seemed too oddball to me, and then surprisingly enough, as Alex got more into it, I really appreciated the second half of it. It was sort of good at the end. Go figure.

These Idol roadies are there to take the guitars from all the dudes after they sing. How did they get those jobs?

10. Jessica Meuse- "The Crow and the Butterfly"

She is rocking the hair extensions tonight. I have to say, this was a whole lot better than what she did last week. After Googling, I see that this song might be sort of an alternative rock number (is it about drugs?), but Jessica was able to put a pretty decent classic rock sounding spin on it. She seemed a lot more connected to the performance than last week as well. Maybe this is more her thing than country music after all.

11. Emily Piriz- "Glitter in the Air"

At least the performances tonight got better after the first few. This was a strong one for Emily. It was not the most exciting song choice (as some other numbers by P!nk might have been) but on this ballad, Emily showed that she has a strong range.

12. Sam Woolf- "Unwell"

The person I consider to be the undisputed front-runner to take it all this season (whether it ultimately turns out to be deserved or not) stayed in his lane and had another credible performance. It will be interesting to see if he is able to show some versatility on this show, by singing different kinds of songs, and if he will ever be secure enough to perform without his guitar.

It seems as if all the cameras and attention are still something that Sam is not all that comfortable with, but he clearly seems to really be into the music part of all of this, and as young as he is, I think he has the most current radio-ready voice in the competition.

The judges are a bit restrained in praising him, which is definitely to his long-term benefit in the competition.

13. Caleb Johnson- "Pressure In Time"

Well, I guess they saved my nominal favorite to close out the show. Apparently, with the new format, he will be lucky number 13 for the phone lines all season.

I sort of wish he would have done some '80s metal or a song I knew, but instead he went with something that I did not know and that he says is current and the type of record he wants to make. I guess he is trying to fight against the perception that he is simply playing a  rock character.

There is no denying that he has a great rock voice. I do not know if there is really much of a market for him these days but he performed like a true pro. Taylor Hicks, in the audience, either really liked it, or not. It was hard to tell.

Thanks to Google, I have just cast 50 votes. I think that is more than I have ever voted in all previous 12 seasons of American Idol combined.


13. Malaya Watson
12. Kristen O'Conner
11. MK Nobilette
10. Dexter Roberts
9. Jena Irene
8. Ben Briley
7. C.J. Harris
6. Alex Preston
5. Sam Woolf
4. Emily Piriz
3. Jessica Meuse
2. Majesty Rose
1. Caleb Johnson

Did they say anything tonight about eliminations tomorrow? Will there even be any?  If so, I guess it's just one person. My prediction is that Kristen O'Conner will be going home. I would hope to one day see her perform in "Michele Bachman: The Musical."