Friday, February 12, 2016

American Idol Top 24 Group 1 Part 2

I just sort of watched Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duel over who is more liberal and now I will watch this year's crop of American Idols duet with past contestants. (Bill Press just called  Hillary a "master debater"), but instead of live blogging the post debate analysis about the candidates' tone and instead I will live blog the two hour broadcast of Idol, tonal issues and all, as it delved into a pretty unusual kind of format tonight. I will only be judging the vocal performance of the current contestants and not their partners.

1. Emily Brooke- "Flat On the Floor"

Time flies. Lauren Alaina is now considered an elder statesman for Idol, as she debuted with the teenage Emily on what I guess is a song from another past Idol named Carrie Underwood. I thought Emily was really weak last night in her solo. This might be have been a bit better for her, but she was clearly outsang by the more seasoned Lauren, not that they were competing or anything. From what I remember, Lauren was a lot more of a polished performer when she Emily's age as well.

2.  Thomas Stringfellow- "Man In The Mirror"

Joining Thomas was Nick Fradiani, the reigning Idol champion. Did Nick do this song last season? I must have forgotten already. He almost looks like he could be Thomas's father. I seem to remember thinking that Stringfellow was pretty good in his audition, but I did not like his solo and I found his part on tonight's duet to be kind of weird too, although with some moments of decency. He just pronounces words in a deliberative stylized way that I really do not get.

3. Stephany Negrete- "Superstar"

We had Ruben Studdard singing this song on the Idol stage and sweating under the lights, just like the good old days when a Bush was President. Then came Stephany, whose name I hope I am spelling correctly now and she did a technically proficient job on the duet. It felt sort of like a lounge performance though. They didn't bring back a past Idol judge named Simon Cowell, so I doubt she will get that exact comment.

4. Sonika Vaid- "Skyfall"

Caleb Johnson as a mentor seems sort of funny, but he was definitely a deserving winner of his season. This year, Sonika definitely seems to have one of the better voices in the competition and she did pretty well on this. I wonder if she will be one of those singers who really only does good on ballads though. As for Caleb, he must still feel like a contestant, because he definitely did seem shy about trying to hit some high notes and outsing Sonika.

5. Jenna Renae- "See You Tonight"

Renae must be her married name. She joined Scotty McCreery in singing one of his post-Idol songs. I always found Scotty both not great and not terrible and this was similar. As for Jenna, it had a bit of the same, as she sounded really good on a couple parts, but I also felt she really messed up a few notes as well. I do not think their voices blended well together and for some reason I do not really picture her as a country singer, although that is apparently what she is after.

6. La'Porsha Renae- "Summertime"

Well, La'Porsha (better get used to typing that apostrophe) and Fantasia are certainly a powerhouse duo. I saw that last night on Twitter, another past Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, basically endorsed her for the win. This performance by Fantasia in Season 3 was considered one of the biggest moments in Idol history, though I always felt that was a bit overrated. This was definitely memorable tonight on both ends, though not everyone in America will have loved it. La'Porsha can definitely sing and mostly held her own with Fantasia. The show is likely to really push her, and her personal story, for a deep run into the Finals.

7. Mackenzie Bourg- "I Hope You Dance"

Lauren Alaina is back for a second duet, because I am sure did not want to pay another group of six past contestants who would have loved the gig, and she was practically all over Mackenzie. I think she scared him. She's now flirted with more dudes on American Idol than Seacrest. This type of song is really not his style, but he did what he could, but it did not really mesh well with Lauren. He kind of seems like the poor man's Kris Allen. I imagine he would rather have gotten to play the guitar instead of a duet like this.

8. Gianna Isabella- "Beautiful Life"

Nick Fradiani returns to join in on his winners' single from last May. Gianna is talented but very young and I felt like the performance was maybe a bit too precocious. This song might not have worked well as a duet, but she did what she could and Nick allowed her a chance to hit some big notes towards the end.

9.  Avalon Young- "Flying Without Wings"

Another past winners' single, as Ruben joined Avalon. At first, I thought she sounded off and out of her depth as she seemed to defer to Ruben. Towards the end though, she seemed to find her footing and sounded pretty decent. This has to be the most boring out of all the Idol winner songs though, and there have been some bad ones. I wonder what Congressional loser Clay Aiken thinks of all this.

10. James VIII- "Gimme Shelter"

Since Alison Iraheta is already an Idol background singer, why not just have her be one of the past alums to do duets? She would have been good on this song, but they do not even acknowledge her. Is it because she only came in 4th?

Anyways, this was entertaining. James very much looks like he could be the before picture and Caleb the after picture from a few years living the rock star life. In the intro, Caleb stayed true to his Idol roots by telling James to make the guitar his bitch and to kick some ass. His past blog detractors will be all over that. James sounded really good on his portions of this. I think I may be rooting for him this season, but he is almost an afterthought. Caleb just showed up tonight to slay and he did not care who was in his way. I guess it's his last chance at American Idol glory. I cannot help but still think he would be an incredible frontman for a rock band if only this were an earlier era.

11. Jeneve Rose Mitchell- "Gone"

I was hoping I would never have to hear Scotty McCreery sing this song again, but alas, here it was. I remember now how incredibly awkward a performer he could be at times, and in that realm, matching him up with Jeneve made sense. I am like at a loss for words to comment on what this was. It's not that she isn't talented, but I feel like she should be with the Cliven Bundy group trying to escape from the FBI or something. I feel horribly for thinking this, but I really do not want to see  her singing on television. I am a bit surprised the judges actually saw it like I did.

12. Jordan Sasser- "I Believe"

I would rather see Fantasia duet with Caleb. So many North Carolinians on the stage tonight. Why the heck would they even have Jordan try to sing this song with Fantasia. I mean he has a  big voice and I am sure he can go make a living as a singer in some capacity but this just seemed wrong. It's like he had to hang on for dear life on this. There's also something incredibly annoying about him.

Tonight's (Thursday) rankings from worst to best:

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

Combined with Wednesday's rankings including tiebreakers:

Should be cut:
12. Emily Brooke
11. Jeneve Rose Mitchell
10. Thomas Stringfellow
9.  Jordan Sasser
8.  Avalon Young

Should go thru:

7. Jenna Renae
6. Mackenzie Bourg
5. Stephany Negrette
4. Gianna Isabella
3. Sonika Vaid
2. James VIII
1. La'Porsha Renae

Commerical Break Predictions for Whom The Judges Will Put Thru: 

La'Porsha Renae, James VIII, Sonika Vaid, Gianna Isabella, Stephany Negrette, Thomas Stringfellow, Avalon Young

I guess I am just going to assume they will almost see it as I did. I feel pretty confident on most of these. My hunch is that they will put Avalon thru over Jenna. It was a tie between them in my mind. I think they might put Thomas in over Mackenzie, though I think that would be the wrong decision based on this week.  I think they have saved some of the likely most highly touted male and female contestants for next week.

Who the judges put thru:

La'Porsha Renae, Sonika Vaid, Gianna Isabella, Mackenzie Bourg, Avalon Young, Thomas Stringfellow, Jeneve Rose Mitchell

This is somewhat disappointing. James VIII was royally screwed. Caleb might partially be to blame. I think Idol might have been worried he could have won and they want a girl winner. Stephany and Jenna were probably just not memorable enough.

Five out of seven of my predictions were correct, but only four out of the seven deserving ones advanced. I can accept them picking Avalon, and I even understand why they may want to keep Stringfellow on, but this Jeneve one is going to irk me. I think she was chosen just for the online buzz she will create for being so "weird" to pop culture America. Assuming it's not all an act, this is probably going to do somewhat of a disservice to her and her family, but I guess there's money to be made for everyone in the long run. She may stick around for a while.


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