Monday, April 09, 2018

American Idol Top 24 Group A Part I

Here we are again. I always knew American Idol would be back on the airwaves, but I might not have thought it would be this soon.

I have blogged about the show since the 2007 season and might as well keep at it. After all, low ratings may ensure another "Farewell Season" right away. When the show signed off in May of 2016, it was on the Fox Network, Barack Obama was President, and the Chicago Cubs had not won the World Series since 1908.

Now, it on the ABC television network, the Cubs won that World Series in 2016, and we all know who the President is (for now.)

So, in many ways, (especially since I spent well over a year and a half watching past performances online), that American Idol has never left. How will I blog about it this year? Like some of the most recent seasons, I am going to have to wing it. Right now, it's about 9:30 on Monday night. Idol aired for two hours last night and I was unable to watch and then it aired for two hours tonight as well. I am going to watch the  Sunday night recording now and liveblog it, hoping to stay awake and alert, and then probably tomorrow, I will get to Monday's episode and do the same. Eliminations were made today, but I trust I can avoid hearing who they were, until I watch, and as well as giving my review of each performance, I will rank the Sunday solos and then rank the Monday duets, combine them and "predict" whom the three new judges will cut. (Seacrest, whom of course has bee there since Day 1 is returning. He is all that is left from the early days. He's basically the Stephen Miller of American Idol.) The same routine will happen next week. I believe that they are planning to get to a Top 14 next week, which would mean that five out of 12 singers will be cut each week.

Let's see if I remember how to do was the case in the past era, these are going to be stream of consciousness thoughts without regard to any sort of editing or proofreading.

1. Dominique- "Ain't Nobody"

Just one name only for Dominique. Will very old viewers think of the "Flying Nun?" His attempt at a Chaka Khan song was energetic but the vocals seemed less than great. There were too many reaction shots of judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry. They seemed to be into it and after I pause to hear their comments, they probably will be very complimentary of most all singers tonight. This just felt sort of average to me though. I also noticed, as I did during Hollywood Week, that it sure looks like Colin Kaepernick has found work as the Idol band bassist. Then again, Dominique looks like James Harden.

2. Layla Spring- "A Broken Wing"

Next up, is the Kentucky teenager, without any visible sight (not yet at least) of her little sister in tow. This is a song that has been done many times on Idol before. It started off fairly strong, and Layla definitely has a big voice, but then it seemed like she was trying to show off too much and lost connection to the lyrics.

3. Catie Turner- "Call Me"

As the mentoring session with this Bobby Bones person whom I had never heard of is underway, a graphic promo for the exclusive James Comey interview. You never saw that on Fox. Lordy, there are going to be tapes.

Layla was really starting to annoy me with her antics and now we had another teenager in Catie, whom I am pretty sure has been acting out a character throughout. She belongs on Saturday Night Live for that sort of thing, but actually, she can really sing. This was a credible performance of a song that is pretty tough to sing. I think she will be very polarizing to the audience the longer she sticks around though. I also note that with "Roseanne" now having been rebooted on ABC (I will save my political thoughts regarding all that), it sure looked like Catie was wearing Roseanne's  1990s waitress uniform from Rodbells'.

4. Dennis Lorenzo- "Rude"

I am finding the vocals to get gradually better as we go on with the evening, but still nothing "wow" worthy. Dennis is a likeable guy with a baby and a wife on the way, with a sad story of having had his father murdered on the streets of Philly. There are a lot of African-American males in the Top 12 Guys, but Dennis may stick out a bit because despite where he grew up, his musical style does not really seem to be very urban. This was an interesting song choice, and the original version has a lot of ska influence. He sang it pretty well, if not overly original. Ok, he is already married. That's good. The judge's comments were a bit mixed for the first time tonight.

5. Michelle Sussett- "If I Were a Boy"

If she were a boy she might have a better chance of winning Idol, but anyways, the Venezuelan immigrant sang this Beyonce song in both English and Spanish and I think the Spanish part was a little better. There is something "current" about her, but early on it sounded like she missed a lot of notes, though it might have gotten a bit better towards the end. In some ways, she comes across more as a dancer who is trying to sing.

6. Michael J. Woodard- "Golden Slumbers"

Why is it that this song title reminds me of the upcoming Comey interview on ABC? Anyways, this was a bit weird, as is Michael himself. I am glad he was not wearing a bandana this week.His desire to do "Alternative R&B" and his voice sure are different. There is not anyone in this competition who sounds exactly like him, and in theory, that should work to his benefit, as I have found him impressive in the audition and Hollywood rounds. This performance seemed off to me though. There was too much vibrato in his voice. I have little doubt he will be well pimped by the judges though.

7. Trevor McBane- "Way Down We Go"

Vocally, this was in another league to anything else heard thus far this evening. There is something very powerful and very compelling about his voice, but it will be interesting to see if he can do other kinds of music and show off some versatility rather than just relying on intensity. I wonder how hard it will be for him to gain a large fanbase considering his long beard and penchant for wearing all black, which he confirmed is sort of a sign of the mourning he has had to do in life. Perhaps the Hasidic Jewish community will feel a stylistic kinship with him.

8. Jonny Brenns- "Georgia"

This was better than I thought it would be. Having watched the season up to this point, I was somewhat surprised he kept advancing, perhaps because he looks more like a college basketball player from a rich family than a singer but this sounded like a strong performance. He was able to throw some falsetto in as well and it seems like he might fit in with the alt-folk-pop of 2018 or whatever it is that those kids are into these days.

9. Kay Kay- "Love on the Brain"

She has not gotten much screen time thus far in the audition process, but this was an impressive first performance from Kay Kay (just stay away from a third Kay!) She looks like a young R&B diva type and sounded like it too on this Rihanna song. There were lots of vocal tricks in her arsenal and it will be interesting to see what else she can do on different types of songs. It also seems clear that she is not lacking in the self-confidence department and that might rub some people the wrong way.

10. Brandon Diaz- "Hello"

Here is another contestant who had not really been featured since his initial audition. He claimed he was preparing to sing the Lionel Richie version of the song to Lionel Richie, but I wondered it was going to sound more like the (borrowed from YouTube) David Cook version from 10 years ago and enough of his fans were still out there to get really pissed off about that..

Brandon mostly walked a middle line though and it did sound a bit like an updated version of the original Richie take. It seems like it might be a pretty easy song to sing and sound well (as opposed to Adele's "Hello"), but that is what Brandon managed to do.

11. Gabby Barrett- "My Church"

The judges had been trying to talk her out of singing country music, perhaps because she is from Pittsburgh, but that seems to be what she is intent on doing, and for this performance at least, it worked. Maybe it was because the song has some gospel/blues components to it but she made this work. I think she is very likely to make it to the stage when America starts voting and if country music fans accept her as legitimate, she may do very well in the competition.

12. Cade Phoener- "All Along the Watchtower"

I dozed off a bit fast forwarding through the last commercial, but needed to wake up for this final performance. My mother already basically said this was her favorite one of the night, so I will have to see what I think.

Cade was the only one to play an instrument tonight. From the looks of it, he can really play the guitar well, although that very large rabbits foot could be distracting. The singing was really good too, as he took on Hendrix, but this performance still felt more about the guitar. Clearly, Idol has pegged him as a front-runner, with him being the person to get this first pimp spot. We will have to see just how versatile he is and if he can basically "front" the band, as a solo act. Needless to say, he will have won a lot of people over though.

Vocal rankings, from worst to best:

12. Dominique
11. Michael J. Woodard
10. Layla Spring
9.  Michelle Sussett
8.  Catie Turner
7.  Dennis Lorenzo
6.  Jonny Brenns
5.  Gabby Bennett
4.  Kay Kay
3.  Brandon Diaz
2.  Cade Phoener
1.  Trevor McBane

I feel like the typical Idol fan in gravitating towards the white guys in this first part of the competition. Let's see if the duets shake things up. I am not really too excited about any of the "big names" on Monday's lineup, so the performances may be lacking as well.

All in all, it is good to have American Idol back.


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