Sunday, May 13, 2018

American Idol Semifinals

Happy Mothers' Day!

Today was a great opportunity to spend time with family, and as I have been doing the past few weeks, watch the Sunday night American Idol performances with them. The results though tonight basically ruined my mother's day and it's a good thing she does not have a Twitter account to vent about these results....

Going into the evening, as I said last week, I expected ABC to put three people into the Finale and for them to be Gabby, Cade, and Caleb. This is just all about fanbases and what the contestants might have done the week previous and there would just not be enough African-Americans of young hipster types voting, right?

Let's look at what happened on this night when officially, the contestants sang twice. First they were mentored by former Idol champ Carrie Underwood (who somehow manages to look younger than all the kids despite being in her mid 30s) on her songbook and then they sang songs dedicated to their mothers after ABC put on the reality show drama with scenes of tearful letter writing reveals. It is a good thing that all these contestants have mothers and have good relationships with them.

The night began though with a group number, in which Ms. Underwood joined in the middle to her song, "See You Again", but since all five technically had solos (some less lengthy than others), I felt obligated to "judge" it and include it as a round when tabulating my rankings. I wish Idol would not have done this, but since the show only airs once a week, there was really no choice.

Basically, everyone sounded ok, but not too great joining in and around Carrie's vocals. Cade and Caleb basically had a second or two of "solo" time.

5. Cade Foehner (I think I have been mistakenly spelling his name with a Ph for weeks. I blame the band Phish.)
4. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
3. Michael J. Woodard
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Maddie Poppe

On to Carrie Underwood songs:

1. Michael J. Woodard- "Flat On the Floor"

It's a good thing Carrie did this song before her recent unfortunate slip and fall accident in which she warned the public of changes in her appearance. She must have an amazing makeup team.

How in the world was Michael going to pull off this corny country song? As usual though, he found a way to sort of make it work. He is a gifted entertainer and has a strong voice. Nonetheless, this was not as good of a vocal as most of his other performances and might have been stretching things a bit much.

2. Gabby Barrett- "Last Name"

Is this an age appropriate song for 18 year old Gabby? And does she know if his last name is spelled Phoener or Foehner? As usual her stage performing skills were top notch. The vocal was decent but it seemed a bit rushed and garbled because she was moving around so much. The judges absolutely loved it though, as did my parents. They were predicting a win for her. I told them that it is nearly impossible for a female to win Idol these days (Carrie Underwood's victory over Bo Bice was pre-texting) and that Cade was going to be very hard to stop.

3. Cade Foehner- "Undo It"

Carrie Underwood showed on Idol and since that despite primarily being a country singer, she loves rock music and is more than capable of singing rock songs. This song has always seemed like more of a rock number than country, and thus was a good choice for Cade.  He is extremely confident as a guitar player and a singer and it felt more technically proficient than the others thus far.

4. Caleb Lee Hutcinson- "So Small"

At this point, I went to grab a quick bite to eat while the show was on the tv in another room, so I sort of heard this performance more than I saw every second of it. Nonetheless, I thought Caleb sounded really good on it. Easily though, it was the least vocally challenging Carrie Underwood song done thus far which may be why he managed to stay completely on track vocally.

5. Maddie Poppe- "I Told You So"

This song is actually kind of boring, but I thought for two-thirds of it, Maddie sounded as good as she has all season. It was a very impressive vocal. Then, towards the end, it felt like she maybe lost concentration a bit and went sort of off. Like the ballad that Caleb did though, it's a lot easier to not go off tune when standing still and singing.

Rankings for what was really not all that tremendous of a round and in which everyone was sort of grouped close together.

5. Michael J. Woodard
4. Gabby Barrett
3. Cade Foehner
2. Maddie Poppe
1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Finally, it was time to bring out the mamas and the waterworks. We also saw parents (or a sister) of Seacrest and the judges. In this round, everyone was also grouped pretty close together, but it was a much stronger round in total. Everyone did better here than the previous round, except for maybe one person.

1. Gabby Barrett- "I Have Nothing"

Well, taking on Whitney is bold, but Gabby has shown the confidence and ability to take on these songs that will have the older Idol watching public taking notice. This was not the best cover of this song I have ever heard but Gabby can sing these kinds of diva ballads perhaps better than she does country pop and it was very strong overall.

Looking back on her audition, I thought they presented Gabby as being raised by a doting single father. In the live shows, the mother has been present throughout though, so there seems to be more to that story.

2. Cade Foehner- "Simple Man"

Wow, he really cried with his mother in the introductory piece. How can he lose? And how could he not do this Lynyrd Skynyrd song of course, when you think about it? It was perfect for the occasion.

 Playing acoustic guitar for just the second time (I suppose he is not comfortable singing without a guitar at all), this was a strong and connected vocal, even if his voice is not the greatest in the world. For this particular kind of song, he seemed to suit it just fine.

3. Michael J. Woodard- "Still I Rise"

I was thinking that all these songs are obstensibly about their mothers, and were not going to be love songs per se, he might have tried Jackie Wilson's "Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher". but instead he went the gospel route on a song I did not know and probably did all he could do with it. This was a much stronger vocal than the first round and one has no choice but to appreciate his vocal skill.

4. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Stars in Alabama"

The song title aside, it was perhaps not the case for those who had to vote in the U.S. Senate special election there, but I digress...

Caleb sang it nicely and with feeling, but it was a bit on the boring side for me.

5. Maddie Poppe- "God Only Knows"

When Seacrest said she was doing a Beach Boys' song, this was the obvious choice. I liked what she did with it and I thought this was definitely the best night Maddie had thus far. She could leave the competition on a high note. At the very end, perhaps thinking of her mother, or perhaps thinking of leaving the competition (or perhaps just being a bit dramatic) she choked up and missed the last note or whatever. That sort of thing worked for Jordin Sparks in the past.


5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
4. Michael J. Woodard
3. Maddie Poppe
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Cade Foehner

Averaging the "three" rounds together, and breaking ties by easily giving the least amount of emphasis to the group number, my cumulative results for the night were:

5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
4. Michael J. Woodard
3. Cade Foehner
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Maddie Poppe

Who would have imagined that I would put Maddie at the top? It was partially a fluke, based on her somewhat decent harmonizing with Carrie Underwood at the beginning of the night. This is what I came up with though and I had to stick by it. Still, I could not imagine that anything might happen to mess up my prediction.

Who should have been eliminated: Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Michael J. Woodard
Who I predicted would be eliminated: Michael J. Woodard, Maddie Poppe
Who was eliminated: Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner

Definite shocker! I thought Cade was destined to win the whole thing and despite the high ranking I gave Maddie tonight, it was hard to believe she actually had enough votes to make it to the Finals.

My parents, especially my mother, after being happy for Gabby making the finals, were downright apoplectic about Cade being cut. They vowed to be done with this show forever. Allegations of Russian meddling were tossed about just some very angry words all around. (It's a good thing I have never tried to watch "Dancing With the Stars" with my mother, because this is probably not an unusual reaction.)

Looking at the trending topic on Twitter, it appears that people (mainly Democrats) were not as pissed that Maddie made it over Cade, as my mother was, but that Caleb made it over Michael.

So, not only are the final three all white. They are all blonde (whether natural or not) and I believe might all possibly have blue eyes. This is like some sort of sick Aryan triumph. Of course it had to happen on the night that Carrie Underwood was the star attraction.

First America forced us to have to pick between two horrific blonde Presidential nominees in 2016 (which prompted me to write in a bald dude), we now have triple blondes in next week's Finale.

I wish I could most accurately analyze what exactly happened to cause Cade to lose in this round, but I am not quite sure I get it. Were his fans overconfident? Did they split their votes between he and his rumored girlfriend? Were the audience taken aback by the 21 year old long haired, open shirted Cade (who apparently is a divinity student at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University) having a fling with an "18 year old High School student?" Maybe people just did not really "get" his performances from last Sunday and thought they had to be offended by whatever it is they thought "Jungle Love" was about.

In any event, two very strong performers in Michael and Cade are out, and the three that are left, are perhaps the most "marketable" and "current."

At least two of these people would not be my ideal Top Three though, although once again, I think Maddie came on strong tonight.

Obviously, American Idol really wants Gabby Barrett to win this whole thing, and "if trends hold", she probably will deserve it after next Sunday, but after the Cade surprise, I am less certain than ever as to what might happen. I believe people will have all Sunday night to vote, before the results are announced on the Monday finale special. That is both more traditional and more fair but as they have done before, will someone be cut first early next Sunday night?

Possibly Maddie might be able to benefit from a split country vote (though some might even slightly associate her with country too.) and be a surprise winner. It is worth nothing that three left, come from states Trump won in the South, Northeast, and Midwest,  but Maddie of Iowa is probably the most "blue state" in her appeal, over Pennsylvania "country girl" Gabby and certainly over wise-crackin' good ol' boy in training Caleb Lee of Georgia.

Speaking of Caleb, he is the last dude standing and the producer driven Lazaro Arbos tragedy of a season put aside, that might be enough for him to coast to the win next week. How cynical can we get? With Cade gone, it would be hard to bet a ton of money against Caleb not winning at the present.


At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still voting for Cade. Mom

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous mom said...



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