Monday, April 29, 2019

American Idol Top 6

Another Sunday night and the realization that this season of American Idol will actually be over pretty soon. I will once again be watching a DVR recording, and live-blogging along the way.

Tonight was Queen Night, with their front-man, and American Idol alum Adam Lambert mentoring the contestants. This is not the first time the 2009 runner-up has acted in this role and I believe he is the only non-winner among Idol alums ever to do this. I think he will be do pretty well as mentor. Whether one thought he was the greatest singer in the world or massively overrated, his performances on the show were always worth talking about. There should be some good music tonight, however, "Queen Night" is probably not as exciting as it was back in Season Five. After all, just about all Idol fans have seen "Bohemian Rhapsody." These songs are all pretty much known and I think there may be some predictable choices for the contestants tonight.

The kids tonight will sing a Queen song and then apparently be paired up for a "movie duet." Two people will be eliminated, unless the judges save someone.

The night begins right off the bat with all eight on stage singing in unison, "We will, we will rock you. We will we will rock you." Since that's all they sing, I thankfully will not have to judge or rank anything there.

1. Walker Burroughs- "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

After this was over, it occurred to me that Walker would have been perfect for the show "Glee." This was an interesting but cheesy performance with a decent vocal. It just feels like this song has been done so  many times on Idol and it's pretty much just a novelty act at this time. I think Walker did a good job of interacting with the audience and infusing a couple interesting vocal runs along the way. It just had a made for tv musical theater vibe to it. It also still feels like Walker is playing a tv character. He could be hosting "Blue's Clues." There must not have been a lot of scandalous behavior at the Belmont University dorm where he was an R.A.

2. Madison VanDenburg- "The Show Must Go On"

I could have predicted she would do this song. Madison definitely has the pipes to try to pull this one off and for the most part, I think she did. For some reason, it just seemed like she was a tad off, but maybe nobody else even got that impression. I also cannot help but hear Kelly Clarkson's voice every time Madison sings. I still cannot decide if that is a great thing or an unfortunate one for Madison. As high I would rank this performance, I think it might be a little behind in emotion to the version done back in Season 5 by Paris Bennett.

3. Laci Kay Booth and Laine Hardy- "Jackson"

Ok, so we get a duet in between the Queen songs. As I always have, I will judge the first"round" based on the first time everyone sings thru. I think that might put the duet performances a little bit behind. They always seem to be a little haphazard and under prepared. This was a song from "Walk the Line" that felt a little pointless. Laine was trying to sound like Johnny Cash on the first verse but then settled into his own style as the song continued. Laci was even more difficult to understand over the loudness of the band on this fast number and I think might have missed an entrance at one point.

4. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon- "Who Wants To Live Forever"

I had forgotten that the second to last person to be crowned "American Idol" had the last name Harmon. I do not think I have heard anything of his career since. Once again, I could have predicted this as the Queen song Jeremiah would attempt and it was really good as I would have expected. Adam Lambert talked JLH out of playing guitar for the first time on the show and that was probably good advice. This rendition started off sort of understated but then built in intensity and the ability of Jeremiah to hit high notes and make it look easy is pretty remarkable. His ginger parents are in the audience, beaming with pride. I thought Idol would have saved that for the Finale and added more hype to it.

5. Alejandro Aranda- "Under Pressure"

It was much harder to predict which Queen song he would attempt. As usual with his performances, my feelings were mixed. There were parts of it that were interesting but also some missed opportunities. For one thing, he looked really nervous, perhaps afraid of messing up the lyrics. It might have been better had he just done this as a stripped down acoustic guitar version, but for some reason, he has like EDM beats now added to all of his performances. At times, he was trying to sing both high like Freddie Mercury and then low like David Bowie and then he skipped out on the "let me out" high note, leaving that up to the backup singers. It all felt a bit disjonted.

6. Alyssa Raghu and Wade Cota- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

For a movie duet, you would think they would have given Wade Joe Cocker's part of "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" but this Motown classic worked out pretty well for both singers. Wade was able to keep his gravelly voice somewhat in check in order to not be distracting from his duet partner. At times, it felt like Alyssa was leading the performance with her smooth vocals.

Ranking from worst to best:

8. Laci Kay Booth
7. Alejandro Aranda
6. Laine Hardy
5. Wade Cota
4. Walker Burroughs
3. Alyssa Raghu
2. Madison VanDenburg
1. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

1. Madison VanDenBurg and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon- "A Million Dreams"

Whom I consider to be the two most consistent voices in this competition team up to sing a song from "The Greatest Showman." I do not know the song, but that may be why I found this duet so successful. There is really not much else to be said. Both of these performers can belt and they sounded great together. This was something that could have been from the movie itself instead of a cover version. Madison was especially powerful. Both contestants are more than ready to make an album, even if they were to somehow get cut tonight... which I doubt will happen.

2. Laine Hardy- "Fat Bottomed Girls"

It was quite obvious that this is the Queen song he would do. There continues to be an issue for me with the songs Laine is picking. This is the most pointless of all Queen songs and I think Laine's voice is a lot better than this. Once Jack Black has done this on the Idol stage, it is dumb for it to be attempted again in the competition. It has no musical relevance to anything anyone will sing after the show. Sure, he sounded decent but there was too much emphasis on him moving around on stage and acting like a "rock star." He had his guitar strapped to his back and only played a solo at the end. We know he can do jams like this. If he wants to be deserving of winning the show, he needs to put the guitar down and sing something vulnerable. The most well-known Queen ballads were already taken, but I suppose he could have done "We Are The Champions" or "Love Of My Life."

3. Laci Kay Booth- "Love Of My Life"

Well, this was another one that I suppose was already taken that Laine did not get a chance to sing. I think Laci made the most out of it and this might have been her best performance. While Laine is relying too heavily on his "Party with a Hardy" lane (so to speak), Laci is singing too many ballads. This one I thought was more effective for her although her voice is so stylized that if you are not a huge fan you may never truly be that impressed with it.

4. Alejandro Aranda and Walker Burroughs- "Mrs. Robinson"

There is an uneven number of males left this season, so these two dudes are combined for an ode to cougars, Idol's chief voting bloc. We are never told how these duets are chosen. It was alluded to by Bobby Bones however, that this arrangement was Alejandro's. I can believe it because it was kind of sleepy. Both singers are practically singing via whisper the entire time. It was not a trainwreck or anything, but hardly a vehicle to show off their voices.

5. Wade Cota- "We Are The Champions"

I am still trying to think now what other song Laine could have done. In any event, this was an interesting selection for Wade. The first few notes sounded very rough to me. There is a thin line between sounding like Joe Cocker and sounding like Larry Flynt for Wade. Then, Wade eased into it a bit more and it felt heartfelt and powerful. However, I did detect what seemed like a serious lyric slip up towards the end and the panic on Wade's face was evident. He then recovered from that for a pretty effective closing. This was like a roller coast ride of vocal ups and downs.

6. Alyssa Raghu- "Somebody To Love"

Finishing off the night was Alyssa who continues to impress me with her vocals each week. I wonder though if her very confident attitude comes across as off-putting to others. In any event, I thought she sang this soulful tune very well. It was a very strong night for her, but will it be enough? Being half Mexican-American and half Indian-American, she is the one of the two true racial minorities left this season (people probably do not even associate Laine with being half Asian-American). Considering past voting trends, Ms. Raghu better think that the Idol viewership thinks her sauce is Italian-American.

Round Two Rankings:

8. Alejandro Aranda
7. Walker Burroughs
6. Laine Hardy
5. Laci Kay Booth
4. Wade Cota
3. Alyssa Raghu
2. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
1. Madison VanDenBurg

Cumulative with  tie-breakers

8.  Alejandro Aranda
7.  Laci Kay Booth
6.  Laine Hardy
5.  Walker Burroughs
4.  Wade Cota
3.  Alyssa Raghu
2.  Madison VanDenburg
1.  Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

We certainly heard almost all of Queen's biggest hits tonight, between the 8 solos, the "We Will Rock You" intro and the piano prodigy doing "Bohemian Rhapsody." However, Queen Night will be a "killer" for two contestants who will receive the least amount of votes and run the risk of "biting the dust."

As for tonight, I have it as a virtual tie between Madison and Jeremiah. They deserve to be in the Finale as far as I am concerned. However, I think Laine is still the most likely to actually win. He may be very deserving of that as he has a great voice and comes across very well on television. I just want him to pick better songs and be more genuine musically instead of just trying to do what he thinks will appeal most to casual viewers.

Who should be eliminated: Alejandro Aranda and Laci Kay Booth

While I give props to Laci for her Queen solo tonight, I do definitely consider the other six voices to be superior to theirs. If either of them are in the bottom two, the judges might save them. They would go nuts if they could only save one.

Who I predict will receive the least amount of votes: Alejandro Aranda and Alyssa Raghu

This is really tough to predict now that the African-American singers are gone. I have to go with the two least white contenders. Otherwise, might be it Wade? A surprise anti-gay vote against Jeremiah? Anything other than that might really surprise me. I think it is very possible we see somebody being saved tonight.

Alyssa after her performance is filibustering and stalling for time so more people can vote. Shrewd. One of the 21 Democrats running for President ought to hire her if she is cut tonight.

Who received the least amount of votes: Alyssa Raghu and Walker Burroughs

I pause the recording now to reflect. I guess for Walker a split ginger vote was not enough to overcome. Will the judges use the save on either of them? Perhaps not, after Alyssa got some semi-critical comments from the judges. Wade looks shocked to be safe. Either he is acting or he wanted to be relieved from the competition at this point.

Obviously, both Alejandro and Laci have fan-bases that are keeping them around.

Nobody gets saved. I can almost assure it will be used next week to save either Alejandro, Laci, or Wade... or for that matter, Jeremiah, Madison, or Laine.


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