Sunday, May 03, 2020

American Idol Top 10

This week, the theme is "home." After all, that is where we are all supposed to be. Apparently, there will be only 10 songs performed tonight from home from those who advance, although we are told a judges' save will be in effect for tonight only. I will be liveblogging a recording that I watch while the show is still on, but I will pause to offer my comments before I hear what the judges say about each one. It will be done to just seven finalists after this evening. For most of these kids, their performance back in January at the Disney Resort in Hawai'i will be the biggest crowd they ever performed before.

Looking back at last week, here are the ten I thought should advance:

10. Faith Becnel
9. Julia Gargano
8. Arthur Gunn
7. Dillon James
6. Grace Leer
5. Francisco Martin
4. Lauren Spencer-Smith
3. Aliana Jester
2. Just Sam
1. Cyniah Elise

Next is whom I predicted would advance:

1. Cyniah Elise 2. Just Sam 3. Aliana Jester 4. Lauren Spencer-Smith 5. Francisco Martin 6. Grace Leer 7. Dillon James 8. Arthur Gunn 9. Nick Merio 10. Louis Knight

I realize that everything seen tonight is pre-recorded and that spoilers are out there on the internet, but I had no interest in spoiling the result. I barely have a ton of interest in this as it is....

Seacrest announces the first result. All 20 are on boxes on a screen like a mutated Brady Bunch. The first to advance is.... Louis Knight.

Well, I thought he had the weakest vocal of the evening but I did predict he would get enough votes.

1. Louis Knight "In My Place"

The song title is fitting enough, but this time Louis is out of the bedroom and onto some well decorated porch. His family is standing by watching, but I also spotted someone working an Idol camera. Interesting. The cameraman was not wearing a mask either. Vocally, this might have been a bit better than last week, but there is just something so British about his voice when he sings. The accent is very much there, and while it works for Ed Sheeran who became a huge international star, Louis seems to be more of a knockoff version. I sense the judges would have wanted him to go more of the pop route, since they kept comparing him at first to the lads formerly of One Direction.

2. Julia Gargano- "New York State of Mind"

Well, I thought she deserved to go through, but did not think she would. Lo and behold though, the singer from Staten Island has found a place. That likely means though that someone even more deserving tonight will be denied.

 This was perhaps a smart song choice, considering how much focus has been on New York during the Covid 19 pandemic, but I already sense a lot of folks out in the hinterlands are sick of hearing about New York and their problems during what should be a time of national unity. I never really liked this Billy Joel song, but Julia sang it well. She has a very impressive lower register that I hope we will get to hear on something a bit more faster paced.

3. Jovin Webb- "Voodoo"

This is a surprise for me. I did not think he deserved to advance, despite being very talented, and I did not think he would. I think this proves that whomever is voting, they are probably part of a fanbase that developed during the audition or Hollywood airing weeks and it all has little to do with what song they sang last Sunday night or how they sounded on it.

Tonight, I think Jovin did a better job of being "current" but it was a bit of an odd song to perform in an empty garage with invisible back-up singers. He demonstrated his skill at the soulful raspy sound but it might also prove to be a bit forgettable.

4. Grace Leer- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

I finally got one where I thought the contestant deserved to advance and thought they would. I am also confirming for myself that they seem to be wearing different clothes than they are when they are being told they made it into this round. I just do not know if these performances were filmed before or after they got the news. Probably before.

We saw in the clip that Grace was literally singing this song 20 years ago so she is definitely familiar with it as is most of America. I thought she sounded really good and succeeded in putting a bit of a country lilt to it. Older voters will probably like it a lot and without any other genuine country singers on this season, she could go further than any 29 year old female has in Idol history.

5. Jonny West- "Faithfully"

This cat must have nine lives on American Idol. I keep expecting him to have been eliminated from Hollywood Week on and yet somehow he is in the Top 10. All of this is adding up to potentially some bad news for the women of color this season who should be in the Top 10 but might not have the votes.

Jonny really needs a haircut. Then again, so do I and a lot of other people. This is a very popular Journey song and he had some pleasant moments in his stripped down piano version. However, he is not someone that can hit the high notes that are called for on power ballad like this such as Steve Perry or Arnel Pineda... or Caleb Johnson.

6. Sophia James- "In My Room"

She looks pretty surprised. I was too. I have been much better in these predictions in seasons past. Fittingly, she performed this song in his childhood bedroom. Idol should just do a "Songs Inspired by Coronavirus" week. All those memes have been going around.

Sophia is likable and talented but I just did not get this performance. This particular Beach Boys song is just really boring. The way she sang it was more like an opera performance or something from a musical theater stage show. She just sounded really nasally or something,

7. Arthur Gunn - "Take Me Home Country Roads"

One more where I made a correct prediction and it is for someone who deserved to advance. I sort of wonder though, why he picked an Americanized stage name, when he seems so proud of his Nepalese background. Putting "gun" in your name is also somewhat controversial, at least to some.

While "Arthur" lives in Kansas, he chose to sing the state anthem of West Virginia. Taylor Hicks once got slammed by Simon Cowell for his rendition of this song. Tonight, Arthur put a distinct reggae spin on it and I was not really feeling it. I wonder how West Virginians who love this John Denver song might have viewed the arrangement. I detected some off notes tonight. Maybe he should have just continued to channel his inner Phillip Phillips (not a made up name) and sang "Home."

Seacrest tells us the Finale is in two weeks. Two weeks? This does  not even feel like a real season. I guess I will be saying that about Major League Baseball in a couple months too.. hopefully. It sounds like there will have been more weeks of the auditions airing this season than there will be of the "live" competition. Oh well, I guess it is better than nothing.

8. Just Sam- "Grandma's Hands"

I am glad she made it and this is another one I predicted correctly, despite her perhaps picking the wrong song last week and needing to get enough Americans to overlook all her tattoos. (Just about all these kids have tattoos though.)

We hear Sam call her grandmother back in Harlem to let her know she made the Top 10 and she says she decided to stay in California rather than risk her grandmother's health in New York City. It is sad these days that old people are safer alone for the most part. There are certainly a lot of grandparents watching American Idol at home who cannot be around their grandchildren and the theme of focusing on grandmothers is pretty shrewd. I do not know this song by the recently deceased Bill Withers but a lot of people will find it moving. Vocally, she makes things seem so effortless, but at the same time, it is clear she is holding back on hitting really big notes.

9. Dillon James- "Yesterday"

Another correct prediction for someone who should have made it based on the merits from last week. This particular Beatles' song can be a bit more melancholy than uplifting but he sang it pretty well. Dillon seems to have abandoned the persona of the "spiritual cowboy" towards more folkish simplicity. I am not sure what else to say about this performance. It was good but nothing has really blown me away tonight, not that I was expecting it to.

There is now one spot left (though maybe the judges have a trick up their collective sleeve) and I will be surprised if it is not Francisco Martin.

10.  Francisco Martin- "Falling Like the Stars"

Yes indeed, I did call this one. I think Idol perceives him as a possible winner, so they made his fans wait until the end. As has been eluded to before, Francisco says he suffers from anxiety and he says that this whole quarantine situation has not been easy, especially as he worries about his mother who is a nurse.

I had never heard this song before but I really liked what Francisco did with it. He absolutely had the best nexus between strong vocals, sounding current and relevant and being emotionally connected.  This is a ultra-short season so there will not be a lot of time for these contestants to demonstrate versatility so they are best just to do what they can do most effectively and Francisco seems to be playing that game right.

Ok. So ten have made and ten have not.

The ones that deserved to were Julia, Arthur, Dillon, Grace, Francisco, and Sam. At least I got six out of 10.

I correctly predicted Louis, Arthur, Dillon, Grace, Francisco, and Sam. So once again, six out of 10.

I guess that is a passing grade?

The recording is on pause so I will have to update if anything changes but for now, we officially say goodbye to DeWayne Crocker Jr., Kimmy Gabriella, Olivia Ximenes, Nick Merico, Makayla Phillips, and Franklin Boone.

I am surprised that Nick did not make it but maybe he just came across as less earnest than the other dudes.

Faith Becnel was the tenth best last week but I did not think she would get enough votes. Goodbye to her.

Lauren Spencer-Smith, Aliana Jester, and Cyniah Elise are also eliminated despite not deserving to and my having predicted they would. I will also through in Makayla to that group as being among the most vocally talented belters that had impressed from the auditions onwards, but just lost out because of wrong song choices, or personality limitations, or Canadians not being allowed to vote.  I note that there are six males and four females. Four white kids, two black singers (although Just Sam is technically Hispanic), and two Asian-Americans. Louis and Arthur are both immigrants.

Will there be a judges save? If so, I hope it is for Cyniah whom I had ranked first last week.

Instead, the judges save Makayla Phillips whom I had ranked 12th. She has been really good but I thought was subpar last week. The show likely sees her as a potential pop star though among those that are left. I still think the save, if it were to be used at all, should have gone to others.

11. Makayla Phillips- "The House That Built Me"

It is interesting that Makayla took a turn toward getting some country votes with this Miranda Lambert song. She still sang it though in more of a breathy Arianna Grande pop way though. Nonetheless, it was a pretty nice vocal that went a way towards redeeming herself from last week and perhaps the surprise that some might have been feeling after she was "saved."

So, to rank them this week:

11. Sophia James
10. Arthur Gunn
9.  Louis Knight
8.  Jonny West

7. Jovin Webb
6. Julia Gargano
5. Dillon James
4. Makayla Phillips
3. Just Sam
2. Grace Leer
1.  Francisco Martin

My predictions? There are apparently no more saves, so four will be leaving on the Mothers' Day Disney Spectacular.

I will say Sophia leaves, but the others who should will not. Instead, it will be Jovin, Julia, and Makayla.


Post a Comment

<< Home