Wednesday, February 10, 2016

American Idol Top 24 Group 1 Part 1

So, here we are. The last season of American Idol. Probably. This will be my 10th season blogging about the show. I hope it does not take up too much time. I will be live blogging a recording of tonight's previously recorded broadcast.

Some sort of complicated new format for these semi-finals this season. Tonight, twelve of the singers are going to do solos. That seems simple enough  and I will do my best to rank those performances. Then, tomorrow, they are going to show the same 12 doing duets with past Idol contestants. Sorta crazy. I will then average those performances together and see if there is an opportunity to predict which 5 out of the 12 will be going home.

1. Stephanie Negrete- "Mama Knows Best"

She definitely has some powerful pipes. I did not really think it was a great performance though. The phrasing seemed sort of off and I think that she might have had a problem "connecting" with people watching on tv, but the judges will be deciding her fate at this point I am sure. I will have to see what they thought now.

2. Mackenize Bourg- "Say Something"

This song is really pretty boring, and not really my thing, but he played to his audience and I think they will like it. He is a white guy who plays guitar and from the south and is considered "current. I think he may be a threat to win it. Time will tell.

3. Jeneve Rose Mitchell- "Angel"

If she lives "off the gird" on some mountain with no electricity, how does she know any songs? If she had a tv, she might have heard this one from all those sad animal rescue commercials. I do think she has somewhat of a unique voice but I did not really like this performance, despite the harpsichord or whatever it was she played. I just cannot associate her voice with the American Idol competition, but she could maybe sing childrens' music or something.

4. Jenna Renae- "My Church"

I do not know this song, but she was the best stage performer so far. Her voice sounds like she has a lot of potential despite the fact that I do not really remember her too much from the audition rounds thus far this season. It sounded like the backup singers were too loud and competing too much with her voice on the chorus. The verses sounded pretty good though.

5. James VIII- "Love Lockdown"

As in Henry the 8th. If there is ever a 50, will he take a cue from the Super Bowl and just be James 50 instead of James L? Anyways, this was interesting, he did a blue rock guitar version of a Kanye West song (surprised the future 2020 Democrat Presidential candidate does not go by Kanye I) and James is actually really, really good. I think I may be looking forward to seeing what else he has in store this season. He gets the harshest comments from the judges thus far. Go figure.

6. Sonika Vaid- "Safe & Sound"

I do not know this Taylor Swift song, but have been impressed by Sonika in the audition and Hollywood episodes. I think she sang this very well. The song really did not seem to go anywhere, but she sang the ballad like a pro. I hope she gets to stay. Also, I have noticed that Season 8 Finalist Allison Iraheta is back again this season as a backup singer.

7. Gianna Isabella- "I Put a Spell On You"

I think Idol has done her a bit of a disservice by focusing so much or having her talk so much about her role as the daughter of Brenda K. Starr, some one-hit wonder from the '80s. There is some real talent though with young Gianna (who shares a name with my already quite musically talented 2 year old niece) and she showed that with this performance. She clearly was going for it on this song, but I wonder if it might have been too angry of a performance to make a great first impression with some viewers.

8. Emily Brooke- "I Am Invincible"

Six of the first eight spots have gone to females already. That seems like they might be running into a gender imbalance issue for next week. There has to be a reason for that. I think this performance was disappointing for Emily. She seemed to be out of tune at parts and it kind of went off the rails at least to my impression, whether it was nerves or whatever. I think she is probably capable of better, but having gotten to this round, after failing to do so last year, she may not be too invincible from an early cut.

9. Avalon Young- "Love Yourself"

Another lady in this first semifinal group, although her angle is how much she goes out of her way to be unglamorous. Plus, her fondness for Bill Cosby sweaters, which may be divisive in America. She started off ok on the first verse but then when she got into this very recent (but inexplicable) number one hit from Justin Bieber, I started to dislike it much more. I was glad when it was over as her voice was a bit grating.

10. Jordan Sasser- "All By Myself"

People have to find this dude's personality somewhat annoying, right? In spite of that, my impression on him from already this season is that he really does have vocal talent, although probably more of the musical theater variety. This was an ambitious song choice and I do not think it turned out to be a good one. He had a couple of semi-decent moments, but sounded really bad on the high notes. I wonder if the judges will agree with me.

11. Thomas Stringfellow- "Creep"

Is that his real name? It's like the most perfect White Guy With a Guitar name ever. In the meantime, this group of singers is starting to get really weak. I imagined he had the potential to have a lot of young female fans, but as a somewhat older male, I thought this performance was quite weird. I just did not get his stylized way of singing and the way he pronounced words. Maybe he was singing part of the song in Pig Latin. The judges loved it.

12. LaPorsha Renae- "Proud Mary"

She has the same last name as Jenna? I do not think they are related. Also, the new thing for Idol is apparently to have the contestants bring their infants to the studio audience with a giant set of headphones on. Is all that really necessary?

So, LaPorsha was given the first pimp spot of the season, and singing this classic song, was bound to be very good, and indeed it was. She can sing and she can work a stage, but it was pretty much a paint by number Tina Turner performance with every moment. Not a lot of originality there, but she is definitely worthy of advancing. The role of "Black Diva" has gotten some on Idol very far in it's illustrious past.

From worst to best:

12. Emily Brooke
11. Jordan Sasser
10. Thomas Stringfellow
9. Jeneve Rose Mitchell
8. Avalon Young
7. Stephanie Negrete
6. Mackenzie Bourg
5. Jenna Renae
4. Gianna Isabella
3. James VIII
2. Sonika Vaid
1. LaPorsha Renae


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