Sunday, April 15, 2018

American Idol Top 24 Group B Part 1

There is a lot on tv Sunday nights in the Spring. You can add American Idol to the list. Tonight, I was out watching the show live and am not going to attempt to recreate my thoughts now as I complete this blog. I am forgoing watching the show that followed Idol on ABC, but will have to try to catch the recording of the highly publicized James Comey interview later. I wonder if Hillary is watching..

Before I begin though, let me quickly offer my thoughts and prayers to the family of former First Lady Barbara Bush, during what has to be a difficult time.

After a bit of a slow start tonight, I have to say, the American Idol performances were really very good. The group was more solid than the 12 that went last week, especially the females. I note that last week, seven males and five females performed and this week, it was seven females and five males (and yes, that counts Ada Vox, since she probably uses the boy's bathroom.) I wonder why they did it that way. I think Idol definitely would like a female winner this season, but that's not anything new.

1. Amelia Hammer Harris- "Believer"

She is one of the older females in this competition and apparently one of the more seasoned performers. There was really nothing she did wrong with her take on an Imagine Dragons modern rock song tonight (of course this was filmed weeks ago and if I really wanted to spoil myself for tomorrow, I could look up who made the Top 14, but will not do so), but this was a bad sign for her that she was placed first, with so many teenage female singers yet to come. While technically, it will be the judges that decide her fate, after the All-Star Duets tomorrow, her competent performance felt like a distant memory by the end of the evening.

2. Garrett Jacobs- "Treat You Better"

During the "Final Judgment" I was surprised they picked Garrett over his fellow High School Louisianan White Guy With a Guitar, Lane. This was not a good performance for Garrett. It was probably the shakiest of all the Top 24. If he fails to make it through, which would be the obvious response, it will be a lost opportunity for him, as he probably would have had a lot of young female voters. I thought he was supposed to be a country singer, but instead he took on a Shawn Mendes pop tune and did not sound like it was up his alley.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Brand New Key"

She was presented as lacking in confidence in her pre performance tape and then she had a very odd song choice. This was a number one hit back in 1972 I believe, but few people know it, beyond from it's appearance in "Boogie Nights" twenty years ago. Mad-Pop seems like a talented Indie singer songwriter type, but this song did not really play to her talent. In order to do the chorus right, the female singer actually has to try to consciously sound annoying.

4. Ada Vox- "Feeling Good"

This was definitely one for the Monday Morning proverbial water cooler, but far less so than in Idol's earlier years. Was this the first legit drag queen Idol performance? Probably, because a few years back, Jda had a heavier beard than Seacrest did tonight.

Also, this song has been done to death on Idol in years past, and often has led to some eliminations. This would have more resemblance to the Adam Lambert version by this other Adam. I knew he/she would sing it very well and has some major pipes (no double entendre here) and Ada delivered, although I think there were a couple of bum notes. I have never ranked nor even watched Ru Paul's Drag Race, but if I did, I would imagine that Ada's outfit and lipstick would have been panned as "dreadful."

5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Die A Happy Man"

The fact that he is a teenage country crooner, who apparently has been doing this for years, pegged him to me as an early frontrunner from his auditions. After all, that was all it took for Scotty McCreery to ride all the way to the title.

Tonight, Caleb was sort of joking around a bit with Bobby Bones (whomever the hell he actually is), about how Scotty had stolen his shtick from himself back in the day, and then Scotty appeared to meet Caleb (no relation I assume to former U.S, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison). From what I gather, this clip might have already gotten out there and Caleb had to apologize to Scotty's fans for seeming to disrespect him.

Ah, Idol fan wars. Anyway, Caleb's performance of this country song was competent but not exactly memorable, so much like Scotty's past numbers. The show is almost certain to put him through to the Top 14, but compared to what was still to come, this failed to leave much of an impact.

6. Effie Passero- "Barracuda"

A couple weeks back, they showed a small portion of her singing "Alone" during Hollywood Week and she sounded exactly like Ann Wilson. It was really, really good, so I guess it was not too much of a surprise she took on another Heart classic. This was a very strong performance, but it is harder to impress as much on a non-power ballad and it just felt like it was missing a bit of depth.

I will be disappointed though if she does not advance, as I really want to hear what else she can do. Her look is definitely unique for this season and will probably be somewhat polarizing to some in Middle America, but the longer she is on the show, people will get used to her tattoos, mohawk, and fashion sense.

7. Alyssa Raghu- "Stay"

This was a lot better than I expected from this teenage singer, who comes across as quite confident in herself despite her youth. There have been lots of covers done of this song, but she sort of brought her own thing to it. I almost wonder though if her vocal tone would have been even better on something else, and she has some really strong bottom notes, almost like Cher.

8. Marcio Donaldson- "Inseperable"

I do not totally understand the backstory of why Marcio was given custody of his drug addicted (I think that was what it was) sister's baby, and why the child did not go to the grandmother or something, but Idol has made much about Marcio's identity as a single father (though another dude has been around him at times as well) and his desire to give this child a better life.

This take on a very old-fashioned song was very good. It does not say anything about what kind of "current" artist he would be, but older Idol viewers, which I guess I am a part of now, had to appreciate the near flawless technical performance he rendered. He was very emotional at the end. At first I thought he might be putting it on, but then I thought it was real. The African-American male singers on this show this season are all atypical in some ways and thus might be more attractive to an overwhelmingly white voting demographic.

9. Mara Justine- "Run To You"

We saw in Hollywood that she had a huge voice, and might be a "dark horse" contestant, as she had not gotten a lot of airtime. It is brave to take on a Whitney Houston song, but I do not think this is one that has typically been done on reality shows before. It is hard to believe she is only 16 or whatever she is as her vocals were pretty stellar. In that way, she reminded me of Jessica Sanchez.  She also sounded a bit like a young, but more "current" Celine Dion, if that makes any sense. I have a feeling she will impress on upbeat songs as well and will return to a lot of hairography. I think a whole lot of people took notice tonight at a really great first live performance on tv.

10. Jurnee- "Flashlight"

She has definitely been given a lot of airtime. We all know that she is 18 and is married to a woman in the military. (Why do lesbians feel the need to get married so young? It's not like the Supreme Court is going to be repealing that thing anytime soon.)

Jurnee, of the single name, is most certainly not lacking in confidence. She definitely is a good singer, but this performance was just missing some of the passion or technical perfection that we had heard from some others already In some semi-final seasons, she might have been right near the top. I think it is likely they put her through though, as she is the only remaining black female.

11. Shannon O'Hara- "All I Ask"

She looks a lot less Irish than Mara Justine, but the name definitely might get her some votes, if she were running for Judge in Cook County.

 Another bold move for a teenage singer to take on Adele, but Shannon looks and sounds older than her years, and while not quite flawless, this vocal performance was still extremely good. She did not play the piano or guitar for it, so she is probably capable of a lot of "moments" if she gets to stick around.

12. Ron Bultongez- "Dancing On My Own"

The show tonight played down Ron's past as an immigrant from the Congo, who had endured a tough childhood, and instead focused on how he does not like to smile. Ron compared himself to Bill Belichek and Kanye West. That is definitely not going to get him any votes. Clearly though, he just does not want anyone to see the braces on his teeth.

Considering a lot of the other performances on tonight's show, this was a surprising pick for the "pimp slot." Ron can clearly sing, but this did not seem like it would have been his best performance. He came across as somewhat tentative and his enunciation was not really good.


12. Garrett Jacobs
11. Maddie Poppe
10. Amelia Hammer Harris
 9.  Ron Bultongez
 8. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
 7. Jurnee
 6. Alyssa Raghu
 5. Ada Vox
 4. Effie Passero
 3. Shannon O'Hara
 2. Marcio Donaldson
 1. Mara Justine

An interesting night. Going into it, I expected Ada to be the best singer in the group, but some managed to snatch her wig after all. Tomorrow night, more duets, and probably more surprises.


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