Wednesday, April 10, 2019

American Idol Top 20 Celebrity Duets Group 1

It is now Tuesday night. I am about to watch a DVR of Sunday's pre-recorded show. I hope to get through it all. Tomorrow, or later on this week, I will watch the Monday night episode featuring the second group. I have seen absolutely no spoilers about how any of the contestants did or who was eliminated on both nights. I just know that my mother tells me that these episodes were very good, especially the Monday night one. So, hopefully I will enjoy this.

1. Walker Burroughs- "Have It All"

I thought he meshed well with Jason Mraz but I found the song weird. It is hard to really show off vocally on these Mraz ditties. He seemed to be enjoying himself though and if anything I would probably rather listen to Walker sing in the future than Jason. I may need to keep reminding myself that these are not the "Battle Rounds" from "The Voice."

2. Kate Barnette- "Heartbreaker"

You have to feel bad for Kate on this one. I did not think it went very well for her. She was on stage singing with Pat Benetar and also playing electric guitar with Pat's husband Neil Giraldo and it came across like Rock version of "Take Your Child to Work." Kate just did not seem to have the vocal chops (or guitar skills) to hang with the old folks on this one. Her voice is very higher and more breathy than what was called for here. There was a very ill-advised and off key scream by at the end. It looked like Kate could tell she was out of place and by the end, Pat Benatar was holding back vocally on purpose.

3. Riley Thompson- "Like I Loved You"

All things considered, this was a better showing for Riley than her take on "Jolene" during the solo round. This particular song and some of its lyrics may not have exactly been age appropriate but she looked comfortable in her "first ever duet." I cannot even remember the country dude's name. Was it Brett Taylor?  It seems though that Riley more of a pop singer than a country singer. Her voice is more Britney Spears than anything else and she just does not seem "fully formed" as  a vocalist. At the age of 16, she may still have a lot of self-discovery to do about what kind of future artist she could be.

4. Uche- "I Need Your Love"

When Uche met Shaggy.... they managed to entertain the crowd in a big way. I doubt that Uche has any chance of winning this competition but he definitely can sing and is unquestionably a performer. He meshed very well with Shaggy on a "turn up" performance. Certainly, his style will not be everyone's cup of tea, but Uche comes across as a fairly likeable and non-arrogant guy in all the video pieces he is in as well.

I am starting to fade so I may either have to continue this at another setting soon and do two posts for this episode or more likely, save this one as a Draft.

5. Madison VandenBurg- "We Belong"

I was expecting this to be good and wake me up a bit and for the most part it was very good indeed. Madison has one of the best voices in the competition. However, she is not as seasoned as Pat Benatar and it seemed like she was forcing herself to do too much to be heard alongside both Pat and Neil on this power ballad. Benatar's voice has really held up over the years (and as an older lady, she looks remarkably to me like a suburban Republican) and any young duet partner may have a hard time just holding their own.

6. Shawn Robinson- "Proud Mary"

First of all, when someone meets Elle King, is it appropriate to ask to read her tattoo? This was an interesting song choice that was thrust upon Shawn. I think he immediately understood that American Idol may be trying to throw him under the bus. While "Proud Mary" was originally a CCR rock song, it is far more associated with the klitschy Ike and Tina Turner version. It would be very rare for a male voice to attempt to do this. The thing is that the first half of that version of the song, which is deliberately was a very good fit for Shawn's tone. They kept it at the same pace throughout though, perhaps wisely, instead of launching into the double time portion. This made the performance seem less dynamic though and either Elle or Shawn messed up on an entrance somewhere and there was some awkward silence. Shawn has a very good voice but I think he is not current enough to go very far. He is kind of like Michael J. Woodard from last season, but seemingly less versatile musically.

7. Ashley Hess- "I'm Yours"

An interesting fact is that Ashley is apparently the longtime girlfriend of former Idol contestant James VIII who was cut after a duet round a few years back. She probably will have a better fate. This is a very well known song and it was bold to change the arrangement and slow it down a bit and to have Jason Mraz sing it the same way. It was also good that she got up from the piano towards the middle of the song. Vocally, she sounded very polished and on par with Jason Mraz. It may not have been a show-stopper, but as the saying goes, it checked all the boxes.

8. Bumbly- "Angel"

It must have been in Shaggy's contract that he could only duet with his fellow one name singers. I typed that during the commercial break and then Seacrest went and stole my lame joke! This song was actually a number one hit way back in 2001 and pretty much a perfect fit for Bumbly to do the part of Rayvon, whom I guess is the since long-forgotten duet partner. It works better with a female voice. I do actually think though that the clips of Bumbly singing this in rehearsal were actually better than she did on the live stage. She also looked better too when she was dressed more casual and had her hair down. For some reason, this kind of clicked as a duet and Bumbly had some nice runs at the end. I sense though that her style is more of a throwback to late '90s, early 00's and she is not going to generate a huge fan base on American Idol, despite the old AI trick of throwing in some Espanol lyrics.

9. Laci Kaye Booth- "Mercy"

The "All-Star's" name is Brett Young. I wrote it down so I could remember it. This was a nice country duet between the two. Laci has a singing voice that sounds nothing like her singing voice. It is sort of a rasp with a break in it. It can either be very effective or seem out of place. In this performance, there were a couple moments of each. I have some doubts that she can infuse that style into any sort of uptempo song and thus her run on this show may get to be a bit boring.

10. Laine Hardy- "The Weight"

I do not really like this song but it was another strong performance for Laine. Idol seems to really be investing in his "redemption" storyline. I think I recall that when he was introduced last year, part of his bio is that as a child, he was an Elvis impersonator. Now, it is apparent he is trying to put a bit of an Elvis vibe into his performances, which will get some older viewers like my parents probably in his corner. It's hard to really show-off on this particular song, but his voice was very much on point and it seemed more like he was the "All Star" and Elle King was the aspiring contestant.

Not everyone was stellar this week, but most of the 10 were really good. I was not truly amazed though by anybody.

Rankings on Vocals from Worst to Best

10. Kate Barnette
 9.  Riley Thompson
 8.  Walker Burroughs
 7.   Laci Kay Booth
 6.   Shawn Robinson
 5.   Bumbly
 4.   Madison VandenBurg
 3.   Uche
 2.   Laine Hardy
 1.   Ashley Hess

Now, combining these performances with their solo showings from last week:

10. Riley Thompson
 9.  Kate Barnette
 8.  Walker Burroughs
 7.  Shawn Robinson
 6.  Laci Kay Booth
 5.  Bumbly
 4.  Uche
 3.  Madison VandenBurg
 2.  Ashley Hess
 1.  Laine Hardy

Who should be eliminated: Riley Thompson, Kate Barnette, Walker Burroughs

Who I predict the judges will eliminate before they announce it: Kate Barnette, Walker Burroughs, Shawn Robinson

The one I would most question is Walker. Conventional wisdom is that they probably send Bumbly home, but the show may feel like they need her for the diversity factor. As for Walker, he might have to be tossed aside in favor of fellow ginger Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon.

Who was eliminated: Kate Barnette, Shawn Robinson, Bumbly

Well, Riley and Walker are both what AI want to appeal to a younger demographic so I am not incredibly surprised. On the merits, I think Shawn and Bumbly deserved to go further but I sense that there will not be too much angst out there in America about them leaving.


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