Sunday, April 29, 2018

American Idol Top 7

I knew this season of Idol would be over in just a few more weeks, but I did not realize that it would no longer be airing, even for a Results Show, on Monday night. Oh well, I will take what I can get after we were told the franchise was gone forever. That includes tonight's "Disney Night" which is a staple for all sorts of programming on the ABC television network, which just happens to be owned by Disney.

This was not really an episode I was looking forward to, because needless to say, I am not some kind of huge Disney fan and I figured it would be pretty boring. However, while the songs were not that great for me, all 10 of these contestants proved they had good voices, so that is a positive. In the spirit of such family friendly entertainment on a Sunday night, along with the contestants being "surprised" by visits from family and friends while at Disneyland,, I watched the episode live with my parents, who will never tire of talking of their trip to Disney World over a decade ago. At the same time as this episode airs, my brother, sister-in law, and four year old niece happen to be on a Disney cruise! My niece would probably have known just about all these songs and been able to sing along in tune (and she also is familiar with Katy Perry.)

There are some weird aspects though to this episode as it was airing live from coast to coast. That means for those of us in the Midwest, or on the East Coast, it aired at normal time, but the further west we go in the country, the earlier in the daytime on a Sunday this took place. The voting was only open during the time the show was on the air. For years, Idol voters had to wait until after the show was over and then had "at least two hours" to cast their votes. In the final couple years of the Fox run, when they wanted to push online voting, people had an entire week to vote I believe. Tonight, less than two hours, while the show aired, regardless of what time it was in the part of the country where you live. That seems patently unfair. Would it be most unfair to those who went first, whom a lot of people might have missed or forgotten about by the end, or those who went last, who literally had no time to make an impression?

This tells me that there was literally nothing the contestants could have done tonight to "save" or "harm" themselves, and that it was all just about fanbases, leading up to the first ever Idol Finals Triple Elimination. If someone was really good, that could help them gain fans for next week but that meant nothing for tonight. Thus, at dinner, I predicted that the three losers would all be wildcard contestants from last week and that Michelle, Ada, and Dennis would be the most likely to fall short, with Jurnee, also a wildcard contestant, being next most likely.

1. Maddie Poppe- "The Bear Neccessities"

Tonight, the contestants were mentored by Indina Menzel of "Frozen" fame. Each week, Maddie is shown being unsure of her performance and cautiously pessimistic about her chances. I was wondering if I remembered her name from a past season of "The Voice" and apparently she merely failed to make it past the blind auditions.

To me, she sounded just ok on this song, which I have bad memories of from the in store stereo system playing during the time I worked in an educational toy store as a High School senior. It's such a gimmicky song that there was nothing she could really do to make it suit her better, but it seems like she already has a lot of fans who like her laid back indy vibe. My father commented that she has a voice that sounds like Peggy Lee. Very few people would have any idea who that is.

The title of this song hopes that in the past weekend's NFL Draft, the Chicago NFL franchise that I support picked some good players to fit various needs.

2. Jurnee- "How Far I'll Go"

My aforementioned niece would have surely worn her "Moana" dress for this performance but Jurnee went a different route.

This song is a ballad that allows a singer to show off, so it in that way, it was quite different than what Maddie did and Jurnee did manage to sound pretty good. For a lot of this segment though, my father was insisting that Jurnee wife was a Marine, while I was pretty sure she was in the Army. He was trying to ask his phone the answer, as if Google knows who the hell Jurnee is as compared to Journey (whom I will be seeing live this summer) and then at the end, Seacrest happene to confirm I was correct.

3. Cade Phoener- "Kiss The Girl"

What was he going to do with this horribly bad song that in no way fits his style? I have to say, I was impressed. Cade totally changed the arrangement and played acoustic guitar for the first time. While it was maybe not an amazing performance, he definitely was able to show his versatility and perhaps this was the first performance that focused more on his solid vocals rather than his rocking out on his axe.

At the end, Idol all but confirmed his "showmance" with fellow front-runner Gabby Barrett. That sort of thing has never been a part of an Idol season before, at least publically. What will people think of a relationship between a 21 year old male farmer and an 18 year old female High School student? By the standards of Roy Moore voters, it would positively quaint. (He should have joked that his romance was with Ada.)

4. Ada Vox- "Circle of Life"

Before the performance, we saw Ada, dressed of course as Adam, being surprised at Disneyland by a male fiance. More than that, the fiancee happened to look a whole like like Adam. Rigtht then and theer, any hope for Ada peeling off the smallest portion of the Evangelical vote may have gone away. Planned Parenthood may have liked it though. They recently Tweeted that it was time for a transgender Disney Princess, one that had an abortion, etc, and this might have been the closest that they were going to get on a Disney owned entity.

As for the vocals, it was decent, but not as good as I would have expected. It sounded like Ada was struggling to be heard over the band. While the person in the dress and behind the makeup has a powerful voice, it is almost like Adam is playing more of a role now than just singing. This song from "The Lion King" has of course been done on Idol before, including one extremely memorable time by Jennifer Hudson. There was no way that Ada could have lived up to that, but I think Zoanette Johnson might have been better. If anyone remembers Zonaette, from that one year's Las Vegas semi-final round, she managed to make her hair look a whole lot more like a lion than Ada did and I have to say that Zoanette, who is presumably actually female, looked more like a winning drag queen than Ada did tonight.

5. Michelle Sussett- "Remember Me"

After last Monday, I was upset that she had advanced to the Finals over Mara Justine. This performance by Michelle though was somewhat better than I expected, although I had never heard the song before.

She is competent at doing ballads and the judges really like when she sings in Spanish.  Unless there are a ton of Hispanic viewers though, I still was sketpical she had a ton of fans who would be voting for her.

6. Gabby Barrett- "Colors Of The Wind"

Would Gabby be as memorable if she went with the natural colors of her hair?

There is something quite paradoxical about her whole run on Idol. She is a really, really good singer and a complete pro on stage. One wants to ask why she has not been discovered before, while at the same time, it is almost like she is too professional and lacks genuine emotion.

This was a really good performance of the type of pretty Disney ballad that young girls have sung on the Idol stage before. Gabby's unique Pittsburgh southern twang was apparent though and that made it a bit more interesting. The best I can think of describing her voice is that she is like Miley Cyrus, except a better singer.

7. Michael J. Woodard- "Beauty And The Beast"

I cringed at this song choice, and just about every week, I expect to not like what Michael J. does and yet I also have to give him credit. He tends to start off a little tenatitive in each performance and then finds a spot where he seems completely on top of whatever he is doing and his voice just sounds really good. I detected a bit of a Michael Jackson tone to his voice, which the judges also commented on and threw in Frank Ocean as well.

What is he going to do after this show? I cannot see him making it in modern day R&B and he seems like he has more to offer than just gospel music. I could see him singing songs for Disney, but with his wholesome personality, he should legtimataly get a tv show where he can sing as like the 21st Century version of Mister Rogers.

8. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "You've Got a Friend In Me"

To me, the best part of this performance was the dedication to his dog and the photos and videos of said dog playing with a then much chunkier Caleb.

It started off a bit shaky vocally and then got better. It was maybe just ok for me though and while competent, like the Maddie performance, was just not that memorable. My mother, who was agreeing with me on most of these performances, ranked it a bit higher than I did though.

9.  Catie Turner- "Once Upon a Dream"

I believe they said this was from "Sleeping Beauty" but I absoluetly did not remember this song from my childhood. Then again, that was a long time ago.

Unlike just about anyone else tonight, (besides the Snow White attired Katy Perry), Catie embraced the Disney theme by pretty much dressing as a Disney Princess and singing this straight. I perhaps wanted there to be more to critique about it negatively, but Catie really did sing it well. She can sing just about anything well when you are willing to overlook some of the other factors surrounding her over the top personality.

10. Dennis Lorenzo- "Can You Feel The Love Tonight"

In all past Idol seasons, the pimp slot is where a performer would want to find themself. This evening, it might have been the worst possible spot, if viewers were waiting to vote until after the contestant actually sang.

Idol tried to make this a moment by talking about how he saw this movie with his father not long before he was murdered and also brining out Dennis's very cute older daugther. How many viewers though might have some additonal questions though about his admission that he had not seen this daughter in a couple years.

Dennis sang terififically last week and he continued that trend this week. This was an extremely solid vocal, but would it be enough for him? My sense is that whatever segment of the African-American population is voting might lean more heavily towards Michael J. Woodard, whom exactly like Dennis left Philadelphia to move to Los Angeles to persue singing opportunities.


10. Maddie Poppe
 9. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
 8. Ada Vox

7. Michelle Sussett
6. Catie Turner
5. Jurnee
4. Cade Phoener
3. Michael J. Woodard
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Dennis Lorenzo

With the voting over and Idol headed to commerical break, there was nothing that happened to dissaude me of my prediction from well over the show first began.  I predicted that Michelle, Ada, and unfortunately Dennis would be cut. As my rankings show, I would have sent Maddie and Caleb home, as well as Ada, in this talented group, because of subpar song choices and unorginal interpretations from the first two and trying too hard by the latter.

Who should have been eliminated: Maddie Poppe, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Ada Vox
Who I predicted would be eliminaetd: Ada Vox, Michelle Sussett, Dennis Lorenzo
Who was eliminated: Ada Vox, Michelle Sussett, Dennis Lorenzo

Under this format, there is no way to formally go on record with predictions, but my parents would of course be able to confirm that I picked the right three that would be leaving from the very start.

 With our nation more divided on cultural issues than ever before, some will note that those who were cut tonight were a gay Hispanic drag queen, a Venezuelan female immigrant, and an African-American man with little girl braids in his hair. Now, five of the remaining seven contestants are white kids, along with one biracial lesbian, and one black dude that I compared to Mister Rogers. We have no way of knowing just how the vote totals went and who was 10th, 9th, or 8th.

The Red States may indeed be holding sway, and my early prediction next week, if three are to go again, that there will be a tough road ahead for Junee for certain, and then maybe Catie and Maddie.


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