Wednesday, March 11, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Top 12

Another Wednesday and another DVR live blog, as the season moves to Idol HQ in Hollywood.

I am not even sure if the show will be on tomorrow night, because tonight is the night that they will be announcing the Top 12 and having them sing for America's vote. That means 4 singers will never get their chance to compete on the big Idol stage and will remain on the silver stools. This is going to be a lot to fit into an hour show.

So, Seacrest tells us that the top 5 males and top 5 females will advance based on America's vote. I had thought it would be six each, so I am going to immediately amend my predictions from last week to say that Mark Andrew and Adanna Duru will be most likely to fall short. We shall see. Then, the judges will pick two wildcards, apparently without regard to gender. I will see if I can offer some predictions later on who will get picked based on who is remaining, if that is the way the show presents it.

The theme will have the contestants singing the songs they auditioned with. Well, that's not very imaginative or anything that will cause them to do anything but reach back to months ago for a song they already did.

1. Sarina-Joi Crowe- "Love Runs Out"

Hopefully, this song will be better luck for her than it was a couple weeks ago for Lovey James. Sarina-Joi was really good in the Detroit rounds but this performance came across as a bit rougher. Maybe it is just nerves and the situation of having to sing first suddenly after finding out she was through (which probably should not have been a huge surprise to her), but the beginning of the song sounded kind of off-key. I do not know if SJC ever really caught up pace-wise to where she wanted to be in the song, but it did settle down a bit towards the end.

2. Rayvon Owen- "Wide Awake"

I had him ranked sixth out of eight last week, so he deserved to go through, but maybe not in the Top 5. I also thought for the second week in a row that he would be eliminated regardless. However, Rayvon must have some fans out there, such as my mother, who are liking him and his older vibe enough to keep him around.

This started off kind of boring and it seemed like this Katy Perry song might have been better to do just before the judges rather than a live, hyped-up audience, but Rayvon put some vocal tricks into play and managed to get the crowd pretty excited by the end.

3. Daniel Seavey- "Straight Up"

As the youngest male in the competition, I cannot say I am surprised his run will continue, but needless to say, I think America got this wrong.

I believe this has to be the first ever Paula Abdul song performed on Idol during a competition round. He did borrow the arrangement from the audition of Andrew Garcia, wherever he might be these days. If Paula were still a judge, I bet she would say something about how she wants to squeeze Daniel's head off an dangle it from her rear-view mirror. He also looks like the youngest person to ever perform on the Idol stage. Kevin Covais looks ancient in retrospect. This could have been a segment from that "American Juniors" show, which I never watched and lasted all of one season about 12 years ago.

I certainly would like to write that Daniel is showing some modest improvement and sounding better, but I still think he is really, really way out of his league from the get-go on this. Tonight, he had a serious lyric flub and lost his timing in the song. To his credit, he managed to fight through it, but once again, he has taken somebody's place who is far more deserving.

Harry Connick Jr. is a bit harsh for the first time with Daniel. I would say he was being honest for the first time. The other two judges keep their comments brief.

4. Maddie Walker- "Suitcase"

The next performer is another High School student, but one who I think is more deserving of this spot. Maddie will probably never be my favorite, but I have a hunch that she has a lot of supporters out there and could stick around for several weeks. Her performance tonight, at least compared to what had preceded it, was pretty solid. She could have maybe moved around a bit more on stage, but standing planted at the microphone, her vocals at least seemed pretty focused and determined to convey a message strongly.

Seacrest makes reference to the fact that Idol used to be the number one show in the country, but certainly is not anymore... so I guess there will be an episode tomorrow night (2 hours?) I may watch it live and then try to do the blog after. Next week, it will only be on Thursday due to the "Empire" finale. I have never seen that show. Frankly. I wish Idol was only on Wednesday next week, because I would rather check out the March Madness basketball stuff on Thursday.

5. Tyanna Jones- "Wings"

Next, is a lady even younger than Maddie, but certainly one of the best vocalists thus far this season. I do not love this song, but Tyanna is just a very good singer and can make anything sound impressive. She may not be the most exciting performer to ever appear on the American Idol stage, but she seems very likable and her voice is always on point. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if she can demonstrate some more versatility across genres and perhaps sing a ballad. I have a feeling she will be able to do just fine with those things.

6. Nick Fradiani- "In Your Eyes"

Suddenly, the median age of the Finalists increases a good deal as Nick takes the stage. I do believe he deserved a spot, but I also think he is pretty much a poor man's version of David Cook or Kris Allen. Playing acoustic guitar, Nick put forth a good effort on this Peter Gabriel '80s song, but it is almost like he is trying too hard both vocally and in trying to come across as animated. His enunciation of certain words sounds a bit odd. I think he might sound better away from the intense spotlight and without the pressure he must be under to survive on the show.

7. JAX- "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

So, apparently, she is going by JAX and not Jax. It must be a tribute to the Jacksonville airport perhaps or maybe the scoreboard ticker for the NFL's Jaguars.

Anyways, how did they get the piano on stage for her so fast without everyone knowing who would be next to perform? They either know ahead of time or the show is pre-taped and edited. It may very well be both, but I am assuming this was not broadcast live tonight.

While I thought she was good enough last week to advance, I had found her original audition weird and I found her re-arrangement and rendition of this well known Beatles song to be weird. She can sing, but this kind of performance does not really show that off as much as needed.

Are they going to run out of time?

8. Qaasim Middleton- "Sir Duke"

Absolutely no surprise for Qaasim to make it, and nobody in the building was the least bit shocked either.  He reprised his rendition by singing the first few bars as if it was a ballad, which was a good thing to do, and then he went about picking up the pace to the Stevie Wonder song, complete with audience interaction, dancing, and the most beat-boxing by an Idol contestant since Blake Lewis. There is no doubt that he is an impressive entertainer and belongs on a stage. Vocally, while there were some nice tricks, it is hard to say that he really sounded as flawless as possible, but for him, that is hardly going to matter at this point.

The kids hoping to hear their names called continue to sit on stage, as many stools have now been vacated. Adam Ezegelian is seemingly off on an island by himself.

9. Clark Beckham-"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"

Based on my rankings last week, he absolutely deserved this spot, but as the last of the guys to be automatically put through, it means that Quinton Alexander, whom I had ranked first last week, missed out. I assume he will be put through as a wildcard now, but that's not good for Quinton's long-term prospects at all.

Back to Clark though, he pretty much killed this performance, in a good way. This is the type of song that nobody should attempt, unless they know they are going to be really good at it, and Clark delivered. Some of his fellow Finalists are pretty talented, and may prove to be more consistent, but he has to be considered one of the overall front-runners.

Harry, how is the song chauvinistic? Listen to the lyrics. Well, I guess a case could be made.

10. Joey Cook- "King of Spain"

Unfortunately, Joey moves on in the competition, but that is what I predicted would happen. Before, I talk about her performance, there are two wildcard spots that will be awarded. Based on the merits, they should go to Quentin for certain, and also to Adanna. However, I think the judges are going to give it to Loren Lott over Adanna, but for diversity purposes (including too many black singers for some), they may make a real big mistake and give it to Alexis Gomez.

For this performance, Joey does what she does. It will be well-liked by some people. It certainly was not something I can appreciate too much vocally. At least she is more of a valid artist than Daniel and this song is not about Juan Carlos.

11. Quentin Alexander- "Royals"

The King of Spain is a Royal. I actually know this song though. Why is it that when Americans sing it, they do not change the words, "post-code envy to "zip code envy?"

This was a fairly dramatic sounding interpretation of a somewhat recent hit and I thought Quentin sang it very well. That is what I would have expected him to do though. He did break down at the end and was unable to finish. It had to have been an emotional evening for him, although he could have realized that he would have been given a wildcard spot in the Finals if he did not receive enough votes. Maybe he was coming to the realization that not making it into the Top 5 guys with America's vote is a sign he may not be around much longer.

The judges do the right thing and pick Adanna.

Let's take care of the formalities, although what I posted last week was under the assumption that six would go through based on the vote and not five.

Who should have been eliminated: Daniel Seavey, Mark Andrew, Alexis Gomez, Joey Cook 
Who I predicted would be eliminated: Adam Ezegelian, Rayvon Owen, Alexis Gomez, Loren Lott
Who was eliminated: Mark Andrew, Adam Ezegelian, Alexis Gomez, Loren Lott

So, my predictions look pretty good. Rayvon has been a survivor thus far. Of course, I will say that Adam was far more deserving than Daniel, (and could probably consume him whole) and I would have taken Loren over Joey, but at least 10 out of 12 are right on the money.

12. Adanna Duru- "You and I"

Well, this was certainly a powerful enough performance to be given the last slot. I really liked the way that Adanna seemed to figuratively let it all hang out on stage and fight for her survival next week. I do suspect that she may have gone off the rails vocally a bit here and there, but she definitely made an impression.


12. Daniel Seavey
11. Joey Cook
10. JAX
9. Sarina-Joi Crowe
8. Rayvon Owen
7. Nick Fradiani
6. Maddie Walker
5. Adanna Duru
4. Quentin Alexander
3. Qaasim Middleton
2. Tyanna Jones
1. Clark Beckham

Taking a brief look at the Finalists, it is interesting to compare them to past seasons. They range in age from 15 to 29. Six white kids and six black kids. Nobody is Hispanic or Asian this year, but that has to be a high water-mark for African-American Finalists, after some recent seasons when they were far fewer of them. I am pretty sure that none of them are married or have kids that we have been told about.  Unlike many past seasons, only one of them could be considered "country", and she is country-pop at that and has only even sang one of those kind of songs in the voting rounds. I wonder how that might effect the ratings in the Bible Belt.

All things considered, I really hope the bottom two are the next to leave. The other 10 show far more potential and would be an interesting group. However, Daniel and Joey are probably going to last at least a little bit longer.

Just to be realistic, the fact that half of the remaining singers are African-American (and all of them easily deserve to continue) means that one of them is probably going to be the first to go. It's simply a numbers and demographic game. I will assume that only one person will be eliminated, whether that is tomorrow night or next Thursday. I guess I am assuming that somebody is eliminated tomorrow, but that all these contestants have to perform again for America on back to back nights, which would be unprecedented. We shall see what happens.

Anyways, considering that both Quentin and Adanna were wildcards indicate they have a whole lot to be worried about. However, they sang late in the show and both may have had "moments." The person who sang first, and who might not have lived up to expectations after being so good in the semi-finals is Sarina-Joi. There is a very real possibility that she is going to leave and based on tonight and who the bottom vote getters may be, that may be the most reasonable outcome.

However, I think that as good of a singer as he is, Quentin may just not be what the typical Idol voter is into. Those who might want to vote for him are probably more likely to vote for some of the other black contestants, especially Qaasim. It would be unfortunate, but I think Mr. Alexander will be the first Q to fall.


At 7:45 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

I seriously doubt we're going to have another African American winning the Idol crown this year!


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