Monday, April 23, 2018

American Idol Top 10

Now, at this somewhat late hour, let us begin with liveblogging a recording of tonight's "live" broadcast. I have a feeling that all 14 singers will be performing with some sort of mixture of results from last night along with new performances and that this will be confusing. I bet "The Voice" on NBC will have higher ratings in the head to head competition.

So, we have "Victory Zones" and "Danger Zones." This is sort of like post-war Baghdad.

1. Maddie Poppe- "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Her performance last night deserved a spot in the Top 10, and I thought that would happen and sure enough Maddie is safe. Somewhat jarringly for her though, she has to perform right away. There is no doubt she has picked some of the most unlikely songs ever to be performed on American Idol. A lot of people will like her for that and I thought at parts, this was a fun, solid performance. There were moments though when she looked uncertain and awkward and for some reason, it seemed like it lasted a lot longer than the typical 1:30 or so that these songs get.

2. Michelle Sussett- "I'm A Dreamer"

She did not deserve to advance based on last night's performance and did not, although I would have narrowly given her the final Wild Card slot. Tonight, I am going to treat these performances like an 8 way sing-off, and only judge based them. Of course, I will also have to weave them in with the safe performers as well, to determine who deserves to advance to next week. How many will be going through anyway?

Michelle introduced this as an original song and it might as well have been the theme song for the DACA program. How timely. Nonetheless, I have more sympathy for these Dreamers hoping to stay in America, than for Michelle trying to stay on American Idol. We know she came here from Venezuela on her own, without her mother, and I assume is on a perfectly legal visa.

There were bits of this bilingual performance that were emotional, but her voice is just not strong enough nor her enunciation good enough for it to have been that impressive. Trump supporters will hate it, but I can imagine her singing this song, just like this, at some liberal pro-immigration rally. Of course, I have to be fair and focus on the singing and it was lacking.

3. Marcio Donaldson- "Jealous"

I still want to call him Darcio Richardson for some reason. After bombing last night with Barry Manilow, Marco tried to save himself with a much newer Nick Jonas song. I suppose that makes sense. He looks really nervous and defeated though.

Marcio has some vocal tricks (and a back bend) in his arsenal and this might have been a better song to do last night with America voting, but there was absolutely no "swag" to this, which is what the song requires. He looked terrified in fact. I think he just may be one of the people that cannot handle the pressure of the "large stage" and it's uncomfortable for the viewers. I really wish him the best, but it might be best for him to say goodbye tonight.

As they head to commercial, they once again show all the remaining kids in the Lounge and they are purposely looking nervous and scared to death. It's a total act that they were directed to do and it is frankly degrading for all of them to be treated that way. Of course they are all nervous, but they would not be acting like this on camera unless they were told they had to. They did not used to do that in past seasons. It's all a bit too campy. (I am also noticing the new ABC Directors are messing up in a few subtle ways as to the shots and things getting in the way of the stage on camera, but that's for the tv production people to worry about.)

4. Cade Phoener- "Bright Lights"

No surprise at all that Cade is safe. I am pretty sure he easily got more votes in the first week of voting than anybody else. (I am not going to bother to vote -and I would have had to vote for Gabby- at this point because I do not feel like setting up an account with ABC to cast a vote. It was easier when you could do it through Google.)

Cade is completely comfortable on stage and definitely knows what kind of artist he is. He does the blues rock thing very well vocally, but still, his guitar playing seems to be the highlight of the performance. I just do not know if I see him as a huge solo act or a front-man of a rock band. Is he going to be able to show that he can sing a ballad with an acoustic guitar or perhaps no guitar at all? What he does, he does proficiently but it's all very much the same thing week after week.

5. Garrett Jacobs- "Have You Ever Seen the Rain"

Thus far, no surprises or miscarriages of justice in regards to the vote results or my predictions. Last night, Garrett did a Phillip Phillips original and tonight, he sang a song that P2 did on Idol.

I am sure that he is the best singer in his High School, but I just get the impression that there are a lot of other High Schools that have best singers that easily surpass Garrett. I really am not sure what he has done vocally to deserve to have gotten this far. I felt the same way a couple seasons back about Daniel Seavey who is now in some some boy band with a major record deal. Most of this performance was subpar, but to Garrett's credit, the last 15 seconds were fairly decent, and that might make the judges save him again.

6. Gabby Barrett- "Little Red Wagon"

As predicted of course, Gabby advanced on the momentum built by a strong performance last night. The song she did tonight is not one I had ever heard before and while I might have found it a dumb song, it has to be said that Gabby just performed the hell out of it.

She is just fearless on stage and I do not know if any other past female contender has ever "owned" a stage like she does with choreography and all that. She makes JAX look demure. Due to the fact that Maddie was just all over the stage, some of the vocals sounded a bit shrill but for those looking to be entertained, it probably did not matter. She is like a combination of Disney Channel meets CMT. Can Idol craft a winning coalition between country music fans and young girls (who typically will vote for a boy), who might find her appealing?

7. Dennis Lorenzo- "This Woman's Work"

I thought that he deserved to advance based on last night but did not think he would, so that came to pass.

Dennis seemed fairly unfazed by this news and then delivered what was might have been the strongest performance of anyone this season. While he really did not do anything with this song that Big Mike Lynche did not once do, it still was a very effective and impressive vocal showcase, with falsetto runs and a lot of conviction behind the lyrics he sang. I will be very surprised if he is not a Wild Card selection based on this. What was going on the screen behind him though with those graphics?

Next week, the show will air live, coast to coast. So, West Coast people better be out of traffic and tuned in at 5 pm and I suppose it will be 2 pm for Alaska and Hawai'i. Is this really a good idea?

8. Jonny Brenns- "Demons"

Well, this was at least a ton better than the vocal tragedy last night. I thought the first part of it was kind of shaky as he sang the verse very slow and with minimal music accompaniment. Then it kicked into a higher gear, and he could not quite stay on pitch, but it was still emotionally connected and indicative that he can actually sing, even if  the title "American Idol" is far from something he is ready for. The judges may very well advance him based on this, but if not, at least he can know it was a much better outcome than the show which aired on Sunday.

9. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Getting You Home"

I did not think he should have made the Top 10 based on what I thought was an average at best showing last night and am mildly surprised he did.

That being said, this was a strong performance here for Caleb tonight. It is not the kind of music I really like but this is easily the best he has sounded thus far and was far more fitting to his style where he can rely on his lower register. It is worth remembering that he is at least a few months older than Jonny, but his advancement probably means the show does not need another blond hair blue eyed dude, so bad news for Jonny. It also means that Gabby will not have the country demographic to herself. Caleb apparently has a fanbase that will turn out for him even when he is not at his best.

Those who advance to the Top 10 are not getting critiqued by the judges. Although, I do not remember if Maddie got comments from them when she was the first to make it. How will that effect how people vote for next week's results if some contestants are not getting judged at all?

10. Mara Justine- "Love On The Brain"

Based on last night, she did not deserve to advance automatically, although she was among the 10 best. I ventured a guess she would go through, but that did not happen. (The spot instead went to Caleb if that will be the only one I got wrong.)

Mara had to "sing for her life" tonight and while some people will find her vocal and demeanor overwrought, I thought she did a great job on this song. She has a big soulful voice and did what she probably had to do, including the hair flips. She just needs to hope this song works out better for her with the judges than it did for Kay Kay.

Ok, wait a minute, I am realizing something now after a long day. Is America going to be voting at all tonight or is this only about the judges picking the Wildcard contestants? Seacrest is not telling people how to vote. Now, I am feeling kind of dumb.  Are the six who are automatically going through basically just doing "celebration songs?" They did that one season for everyone who was voted into the Top 12. If so, I really should not have been blogging them or ranking them. My mindset must be where it was when Idol last aired, and they combined results night and performance night for everyone. Oh well, I have come this far already tonight, so I might as well just finish the task.

 11. Jurnee- "Never Enough"

Based on vocals alone last night, I did not think Jurnee was any higher than eight out 14, but I really did think she would advance because of the impressive way she covered all three artists on the high energy song she did.  That did not happen though. Either people are judging solely on the vocals like me, or perhaps Middle America may not exactly like her self-confidence or the fact the is far more openly gay than contestants were in past seasons (the same can be said for Ada/Adam, but she/he does not talk about it as much.) I think Michael and Ada will be the last two to make it via the vote. Thus far, it has only been white kids that America has advanced.

This started off really good for Jurnee. She is a great ballad singer but towards the end, it seemed like disappointment and emotion slightly got the better of her and there were some semi-bad notes as she concluded.

Did Katy Perry throw some subtle shade at Hillary Clinton in her remarks about how Jurnee is the most qualified woman to not get the job?

12. Michael J. Woodard- "Believe In Yourself"

He deserved to make it and he did. Tonight, he picked a song from "The Wiz." As has been the case before with MJW, I was prepared to dislike this, but he sort of sells it every time. I have no idea what kind of artist he is going to be when the show is over, but he makes for good television and can really sing. He is like a stylistically different version of Taylor Hicks. (Marcio continues to look forlorn in the "Danger Zone. I think he knows it's over for him.)

One automatic spot left and I am actively rooting for a Drag Queen. Welcome to 2018. I had Ada ranked sixth last night and Catie seventh. It was very close.

Catie gets the spot. Annoying trumps gender bending for the Idol public.

Let's make it official-

Who should have advanced: Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Dennis Lorenzo, Cade Phoener, Maddie Pope, Ada Vox

Four of out of Six.

Who I predicted would advance: Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Phoener, Maddie Pope, Jurnee, Mara Justine.

Four out of Six again

Who did advance: Gabby Barrett, Michael J, Woodard,  Cade Phoener, Maddie Pope, Catie Turner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson

13. Catie Turner- "Havana"

Whatever one thinks of her on camera antics, or her wardrobe choices, she can flat out sing. I do not really know what else to say. This was a strong performance and the only reason she is usually in the middle of the pack is because she has some steep competition this year.

14. Ada Vox- "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"

Somehow I knew Ada would have the pimp slot tonight, one way or another. This song choice? Of course. How could it be anything else? It would not have made sense though if "she" were safe at this point. So now Ada joins "Normund Gentle" in making it two for two in Idol's "stage personas" tackling this diva classic.

This was a better vocal than Normund's by far. However, it was not really the best vocally it's ever been done on the Idol stage. Definitely among the most entertaining though. Adam/Ada has a powerful instrument. Some parts of the performance vocally were near jaw dropping. A few others seemed clunky and overly cabaret. The judges will go crazy. Idol viewers will be talking about it online and at work tomorrow. Much of America will have rolled their eyes or turned off the tv. Controversy sells though and I am sure American Idol is happy about how this wound up.

Rankings (of everyone)

14. Michelle Sussett
13. Garrett Jacobs
12. Marcio Donaldson
11. Jonny Brenns
10. Maddie Poppe- safe
 9.  Caleb Lee Hutchinson- safe
 8.  Gabby Barrett- safe 
 7.   Jurnee
 6.   Cade Phoener- safe
 5.   Catie Turner- safe
 4.   Michael J. Woodard- safe
 3.   Ada Vox
 2.   Mara Justine
 1.   Dennis Lorenzo

I have to admit, this was a good episode. Not one performance (unlike last night) was really bad. Looking at my rankings, it's pretty shocking that I have Gabby as low as 8th. 

Now, what should happen seems pretty easy. The four Wild Card contenders who deserve to advance should and thus we will have the Most Deserving Top Ten possible. The bottom four that I have should be the ones to leave, both based on how America judged them last night and what they did this evening as well as someone else in the Top 10 who could basically fill their niche. Again, everyone was decent tonight, but the choices seem easy. My Top Ten would have five males and five females (including a gay male dressed as a woman and a lipstick lesbian) It would have six white kids, three African-Americans (I assume Jurnee's dad in the audience might be a stepfather, and two black males who followed the Fresh Prince's path of moving to LA from Philly), and the aforementioned Hispanic Drag Queen. Sorry, Asian-Americans, you were not around this season.

This seems too obvious as to whom the judges should pick and I am going to say they will do it, but that probably means I am wrong.

Who should and who I am predicting will be chosen: Dennis Lorenzo, Mara Justine, Ada Vox, Jurnee

Who was chosen: Dennis Lorenzo, Ada Vox, Junee, Michelle Sussett

So close! There is no way that Michelle is a better singer than Mara. Not even close. If Mara would be able to get her emotions together, she might be the best one vocally of the whole season.  I was really hoping for my Top 10 from tonight to be the official Top 10, but alas, in 14th place, Michelle advances, probably because of her Dreamer song, and the producers not wanting to symbolically "deport" her into obscurity.

Trump may even Tweet about this in the morning. He certainly picks dumber topics and causes to talk about.


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