Friday, March 18, 2016

American Idol Top 5

As was the case a couple of weeks ago, I watched a recording of the Thursday night broadcast pretty late and did not have the time to stop to live blog it, so I am doing this a day later and will try to rely on memory to give my thoughts. I still believe that this is a pretty talented group of contestants this season. I wish this was a longer season to give them more time, but I also am still finding it hard to get into on a once week basis.

Based on my rankings from last week, Dalton Rapattoni and Tristan McIntosh should have been the Bottom Two, but I was predicting it would be Tristan and Sonika Vaid.

Last night, the contestants sang two songs, both apparently suggested by America. The Bottom Two sang during the first round, for a total of six performances, and then the judges used their last right to save/eliminate someone at that point. Then, the official Top 5 sang again, and from this point out, America's vote is going to decide who is leaving. The season and the series is soon to end. Production values and technical gaffes seem more noticeable and Seacrest is not even wearing ties anymore. Also last night, there was some pointless performance by the stars of "Empire" and the kids came out, clad in black, to either sing or lip synch along to a small portion. Nobody had a solo, and thus, there is no reason to judge.

Round 1-

1. Trent Harmon- "Counting Stars"

Out of all the contestant performances last night, this was really the only one that was a miss. Trent has been pretty good throughout the competition, and while parts of this One Republic song were interesting, it was not a good fit for him. He tries to bring some originality to it, but it affected his timing and seemed awkward.

2. Dalton Rapattoni- "Numb"

People are obviously voting for him out there, which leads me to think he might continue to outlast more deserving people. While this was not terribly exciting, I actually liked this performance and vocal more than I have for most of Dalton's dramatic stuff. He seemed more credible in the emo-rock world or whatever it is he is trying to be a part of.

3. La'Porsha Renae- "Ready for Love"

She is just such a technically good singer, that even if she makes a mistake, it still comes across as impressive. This was another very solid performance and it occurred to me that she really has shown musical versatility. The stagecraft for this number was very ethereal. I was wondering what she might have been doing up to this point in her life to not have pursued singing more and then later on in the night, we heard that she had been dealing with an abusive boyfriend for a while. Her parents are always there in the audience to support her. Where were they during this time? It's a sad story all around, but she is certainly rising above her past challenges in a big way.

4. MacKenzie Bourg- "Wild World"

This was an interesting song selection. I do not know if Cat Stevens (now Yusef Islam or something like that), has ever been done on American Idol. Did anyone protest the singing of a "Muslim song?" MacKenzie did his thing with it and it was nice and pleasant but maybe not much more than that. He is starting to come across sort of cheesy and possibly a bit scripted in his interactions on stage. Maybe that is just my perception though.

Bottom Two Sing-Off

5. Tristan McIntosh- "Independence Day"

I think Tristan has really improved over the past few weeks, but could still use more experience. This was a good performance though, complete with piano playing, and if America had to vote, it might have gotten her a lot, as it is the kind of song that appealed to Republicans, or at least used to. The judges said that all of her performances are starting to sound the same. While this was a bit similar to "A Broken Wing", at least she knows her lane.

6. Sonika Vaid- "Let It Go"

She is crazy talented and seems like a very sweet person, but I have sensed that she is just not connecting, whether it is because of her ethnic name and looks or coming across as too shy. If two year olds like my niece could vote for the song choice though from "Frozen", Sonika might have won in a landslide. It was an extremely strong vocal. She picked this song over the one she would wind up having to still do in the next round and it was declared the right choice by the judges.

So, based on the judges' comments, it seemed clear that they would, once again, keep Sonika in the competition, and that we would be saying goodbye to Tristan, the last remaining teenager competing. That is indeed what happened. In past seasons, contestants at this stage of the game would go on big media tours and know that they had a tour to look forward to. I sense that after the Finale, we may not be hearing much from these runners-up in the media, for at least the near future.


6. Trent Harmon
5. Dalton Rapattoni
4. MacKenzie Bourg
3. Tristan McIntosh
2. Sonika Vaid
1. La'Porsha Renae

Round 2

1. Dalton Rapattoni- "The Sound of Silence"

This was the "sob story" round, where the contestants would get to tell an emotional story about themselves in the video package that preceded the performance. Dalton was diagnosed as bipolar as a child. I do not know if that explains his hair.

Anyway, I thought this was his best vocal yet. He still has a stylized way of singing that I am not crazy about, nor did I really understand his need to sit on the floor when the song was done, but he sang the lyrics really well, and in a modern sort of way. Everyone in this round had a strong performance.

2. MacKenzie Bourg- "Billie Jean"

We learned that MacK had some sort of heart problem in High School and almost died. That definitely sounds scary. Did he lose a bunch of weight because he does not look like the athlete he is always talked about having been. He may need to have some speed to outrun angry David Cook fans because he did an acoustic take on the Michael Jackson hit.

I can almost imagine the angst and offense taken, but this version was sort of different than what Cook did. I do not know if it was better necessarily, but it was still pretty good, if not overly memorable.

3. Trent Harmon- "Simple Man"

After failing to live up to expectations starting off the evening, this was a whole lot better. From a technical standpoint, it was perhaps a flawless vocal. He really does have a southern rock feel to his voice at times and I thought it was an extremely impressive showing. His sob story was that his good friend died suddenly, but we do not know why. At least it was not about his bout with Mono.

My thoughts were that Trent probably clinched the American Idol title with this performance, because males have such a built in advantage. Then, JLo said something to him and it got very emotional as Trent held back tears. That is only going to get him more votes though.

4. Sonika Vaid- "Clarity"

Poor Sonika, she had no sob story, beyond being shy. That might not cut it. What would Donald Trump say?

This may not have been a technically perfect vocal but it was still really good and I was impressed with the way she took the song on and showed a different aspect to her performing and stage skills. I do not know if she can really be a pop star after this show ends but at least she gave it a great shot last night.

5. La'Porsha Renae- "No More Drama"

As mentioned, her story involved being in and leaving an abusive relationship. Where is this guy? Could any charges have been filed? People have to know who he is. How is he reacting to his ex talking about all of this on national tv? I really hope he is not abusing anyone else.

So, this was all set up for La'Porsha to have a big moment and that was indeed what happened. Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban were on their feet nearly from the beginning and while I thought that Trent had the better vocal technically, she poured everything into this emotionally, especially at the end.  I am sure that if people still watch this show, they might have been talking about it at work today. She was really in tears at the end and I will believe they were genuine, and then J Lo made some oddly phrased comment about domestic abuse and how "everyone goes through that stuff." I will choose to believe her heart was in the right place in saying that.


5. MacKenzie Bourg
4. Dalton Rapattoni
3. Sonika Vaid
2. La'Porsha Renae
1. Trent Harmon

Combined Rankings:

5. Dalton Rapattoni
4. MacKenzie Bourg
3. Trent Harmon
2. Sonika Vaid
1. La'Porsha Renae

Once again, this is a pretty strong group of five, and a few of the Finalists that have already left were pretty good too.

It was a close call for me in breaking a tie between Dalton and MacKenzie, but I would rather see Dalton be eliminated. However, I think both of those dudes are more likely to make it to the Finale than leave next week.

I hope I am wrong, but I think there is not much Sonika can do at this point to stay around, after having been towards the bottom, if not the very bottom, of the vote totals earlier. Being from Massachusetts may not help. All of her opposition is from the traditionally Idol heavy South. She definitely has the vocal chops to sing with anyone this season though.

Clearly, Idol is trying to set up a Trent vs. La'Porsha final Finale. But will La'Porsha even be able to get there? It is going to be tough to dislodge MacKenzie and maybe Dalton as well.

If we do wind up with Trent and La'Porsha though, it will be an all Magnolia State battle.

They are both quite deserving and would do Mississippi proud, unlike the unworthy man and woman whom Mississippi recently saw win their Presidential primaries.


At 11:16 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey, I just do NOT see La'Porsha making it to the Finale & if she does, she LOSES because of the backlash against the Obama administration!

The last 4 African Americans when going up against Anglos, won:
1.) Ruben Studdard (2003)
2.) Fantasia Barrino (2004)
3.) Jordin Sparks (2007)
4.) Candice Glover (2013)


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