Sunday, May 20, 2018

American Idol Final Performances

While I have enjoyed some weeks of this season's American Idol, I was not really that into tonight's first part of the Finale. Mainly because the song choices did not really do much for me and I wish some other contestants were still around.

To be certain, I am glad American Idol returned to the airwaves after what turned out to be a year's sabbatical, but I hope next season, ABC can find a way to lengthen the season and "Make American Idol Great Again."

For the first time, three contestants are competing for America's final vote. That might make a prediction all that more difficult. After all, there are no runoffs in this competition. Also, the Finale is taking place in the Hollywood studio. No trip to a large theater for this event.

Once again, for the final time this season, I watched the episode live with my parents, as I envisioned other families doing the same. Those families might also have some heated arguments over Yanni vs. Laurel. My mother and I certainly hear different things. Anyways, she still likes Cade, my father likes Gabby, and I was just hoping to be able to judge all three rounds fairly.

First, the contestants would sing what would be their "Winner's Single", which were all cover tunes of previously songs I had never heard of before. Then, they would reprise a favorite performance from the season, and finally pick a song and dedicate it to their hometown, after having taken part in the traditional "Idol Homecoming" ceremonies this past week. The judges nor producers were not entrusted with the task of picking songs. It is clear that Idol would prefer that Caleb not win, but I am kind of torn now if they would rather have Gabby or Maddie take it all.

Round 1:

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Johnny Cash Heart"

What can I say? I found this boring. Caleb messed up his entrance and looked nervous and tentative throughout. The judges were pretty harsh on him, (except for Lionel Richie who when he goes first basically manages to say nothing of substance.)

2. Gabby Barrett- "Rivers Deep"

What can I say? I found this boring, just a little less so than Caleb's performance. This is going to be Gabby's first single to the radio but it did not sound like a country song, which is what she wants to do, nor a pop song actually. It just sounded like a dated weird song and while she gave it her best, she did not seem too into it either during her performance. The judges gave her some sorta negative remarks and she looked upset at that.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Going Going Gone"

What can I say? I found this boring, but maybe a little less so than the other two. I do not think this song was about home runs in baseball, but it reminded me of the similarly titled Phillip Phillips song, just more boring. Nonetheless, Maddie, whom would play acoustic guitar on all three songs tonight (as I think Caleb did as well), seemed somewhat comfortable, even though she claimed she was not.

I could name about either semi-finalists from this season whom I would have rather seen here, but anyways, my first round rankings were:

3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
2. Gabby Barrett
1.  Maddie Poppe

I wonder how many music fans were watching the Billboard Music Awards instead. As I write this, Salt N Pepa are doing some sort of reunion thing and the original Idol Kelly Clarkson is  saying goodnight.

Round 2:

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson-  "Don't Close Your Eyes"

What can I say? This was also boring, but he sang it a bit better than in the first round. I managed to not close my eyes. To his credit, this was something from Hollywood, and not one he had done on the same stage. I wish this was the same named 80s rock song by Kix instead. Caleb has a nice voice for people who like these kind of tunes, but I think he overachieved to get to this point thus far.

2. Gabby Barrett- "Little Red Wagon"

It makes total sense for her to reprise this song. The show definitely needed a boost of energy. She ran around the stage and did considerably less choreography than the first time she did it. While that might have made it not as entertaining, her vocals stayed a bit more on point than they did the first time.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Don't Ever Let Your Children Grow Up"

Like Caleb, she picked to re-do a song she did in Hollywood. This was an original song she wrote. Vocally, I thought she sounded alright, even as the song was far from exciting. I was trying to focus on the lyrics and could not help coming away with a bit of an impression that she was reaching a pessimistic conclusion about today's generation of youth and what is to come. Might people relate to that or have a problem with the tone, especially in the aftermath of some more tragic news this week involving a school shooting in Texas (right after a thwarted one at Ronald Reagan's alma mater in Dixon, Illinois, as a heroic armed police officer did his job, stopped a threat, and saved numerous lives.)


3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
2. Maddie Poppe
1. Gabby Barrett

Final Round-

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Folsom Prison Blues"

I do not necessarily understand the connection between this song and his home in Georgia, but at least it was something sort of upbeat that even non-country fans like and might be able to groove to. This was Caleb's best performance tonight, but still not Finale worthy. There is of course also the infamous line of a mama warning her son not to play with guns before he shoots a man in Reno just to watch him die. This week, a lot of people are going to be hypersensitive to that.

2.  Gabby Barrett- "Don't Stop Believin'" 

I took note that even though Gabby is the youngest remaining contestants and I believe technically still High School age, that her hometown visit did not include a trip to any school she attended. Maybe she has been doing the homeschool thing for a while as she tried to make it as a singer, but something felt unsaid as far as that goes. Her hometown crowd in Pittsburgh seemed a bit on the smallish side.

Anyways, taking on Journey is always ambitious and this could have been a "moment" for her, if she pulled it off, especially with the surprise appearance of former Journey lead singer Steve Perry. Finally a song tonight I like!  I give Gabby (who might have forgotten to touch up her roots this week), major props for attempting to do a power ballad rock version of this iconic song, but it fell a bit short. At parts, she sounded good, and at others, it sounded like her voice was majorly stressed.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Landslide"

First of all, it looked like a heck of a lot of people turned out to see her home in Iowa. That would have been a major turnout for an Iowa Caucus and the song she picked is what Iowa Presidential hopefuls wish for but have not achieved over the past couple of cycles.

This Fleetwood Mac song (later done by the Dixie Chicks) is a pretty ballad and Maddie managed to get all the notes about right and sounded good. This is all indicating a pretty tight battle between Gabby and Maddie.

Round 3 Rankings are the same as Round 1 and thus are also the Final Cumulative Rankings:

3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Maddie Poppe

What it comes down to for me is that Maddie managed to stay in a bit better voice for the evening, but in all three rounds, especially the final one, Gabby's degree of difficulty and entertainment factor were much higher than Maddie and perhaps she deserves the win based on that. I am strictly judging this on the vocals though. In a way, I am kind of hoping that Gabby wins, because she has been the strongest of the three throughout the season, but technically, Maddie (like last week) was the best vocalist.

Will we even know who will come in third and who will be left as the last two? I think Caleb clearly deserves the bronze.

What will happen tomorrow night (and I may not be able to see the entire Monday episode that evening, and thus will likely be spoiled as to the result first)?

I can legitmately make a case for all three winning

Caleb is from the South and sings country music and oh.... he is the only dude, and one that lost 85 pounds at that.

Gabby has been getting a lot of buzz all year and seen as a frotunrnner and her fans may be extra motivated after Judge Katy Perry literally pretended to vote for Maddie from her seat at the panel

Maddie is not seen as a country singer and appeals more to the "blue states" and thus could benefit from a split vote between two country singers who appeal to the "red states." She also peaked late.

If this were a one on one matchup between any of the two, I might be more confident that Caleb would beat Maddie and Gabby would beat Caleb (maybe) and Gabby would beat Maddie.

In this Blonde Ambition Threeway sing-off, who really knows? If forced to "predict" I will go with Gabby, but everything I thought would happen this season with the eventual final results went out the window when Cade was tossed overboard.

For those who might want to read my final write-up on the Season Grand Finale, it might be a couple weeks or so before I get around to writing it.


At 3:25 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey: I've heard there will be a Top 7 Tour during the Summer.

Hopefully next Season, they bring back the Top 12 & go back to SINGLE ELIMINATIONS.


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