Tuesday, May 11, 2021

American Idol- Top 5

It is now about 10 pm on Monday evening and I am about to watch a recording of last night's American Idol broadcast. I suppose I can pretend this all did not happen more than 24 hours ago.

On this show, the Top 7 will first be mentored by Coldplay, a group with just two songs I think are decent to good, with all the rest being horrible. Then, there are of course Mothers' Day Dedications, so I expect I will be averaging two rounds together.
I have mostly been able to avoid spoilers, but did see in local media, that local contestant Grace Kinstler has made the Top Five. I am not too surprised by that. My mother watched the episode last night and said it was so good she watched it again today. While she said everyone was "good", she also claimed to have predicted the two that were eliminated. That leads me to believe that they may be the ones she does not like, although I think there are four of them she may not like that much..

1. Casey Bishop- "Paradise"

I still hate this song. I suppose Casey did with it what she could and showed off once again her younger "rocker" side. She was able to hit some big notes, but at the beginning, was drowned out a bit by the band and parts of the vocal sounded a bit shrill. As good as she might be, she is better at ballads, but that would get too boring and predictable if she did say "The Scientist."

2. Chayce Beckham- "Magic"

Chris Martin of Coldplay seems taken with Chayce's hair, which does seem to have a bit of a Proud Boys look to it. Nonetheless, this contestant is not storming the Capitol but taking the Idol stage where he did a perfectly competent version of a song that suited him well. Of course, it was also a little on the boring side being Coldplay and all. Nonetheless, Chayce seemed to hit every note how he wanted to, while also playing the acoustic guitar, as he always does. As an Idol contestant, he is very much a more refined version of Lee DeWyze.

3. Willie Spence- "Yellow"

Another one-world Coldplay title, but despite it, Willie wore blue on stage. I have to say his soulful take and booming voice made this dreary song tolerable. It almost feels like I underestimate him as a singer a bit every week I do not think Willie is likely to become a mainstream star, but he definitely has a great voice and seems determined to showcase it appropriately. 

4. Caleb Kennedy- "Violet Hill"

First of all, did he get some sort of horrible above the mullet haircut? I think he may be keeping the hat on for good.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this performance. I have never heard this song before and at first, I thought Caleb's arrangement was really good. Then, something happened that threw him and his pitch off. He regained momentum later on but teetered a bit and seemed distracted. It almost had a metal power ballad vibe to it which I appreciated though.

5. Arthur Gunn- "In My Place"

The title of this song sounds like something he could have sang from home last season. Also,does he refuse the television makeup?

I have to say that I really did not dig Arthur on this performance. It just felt completely like a jam session on a song that we were told had the melody taken out of. He was like even trying to meekly interact with the audience via spoken word in a somewhat awkward way. I have the hunch, not for the first time in Idol history, that Arthur is a contestant who sort of wants this experience to be over or is resigned to it. Perhaps he wants to take a cue from Chris Martin's former marriage to Gwenyth Paltrow and "consciously uncouple" from Seacrest and the judges.

6. Grace Kinstler- "Fix You"
I first realized a short while ago that Grace and Casey are now the sole remaining females this season. That seems very "off." Generally speaking, the girls were stronger than the guys vocally this year. I definitely expect (certainly after hearing my mother predicted the results) that there will be two males going home at show's end.

Another truly dreary song but Grace's voice brought something new to it which has to be appreciated. The package was set up as if she were unsure which Coldplay song to sing and was reluctant to sing this one, but I think this was her plan all along. She has several times already shown her vocal power in a confident diva-ish sort of way, but this allowed her to show off a more vulnerable side. I think she knows exactly what she is going.

7. Hunter Metts- "Everglow"

So, no "Viva La Vida" and no "The Scientist." What was the point of a Coldplay round?

Well, these songs may not be my favorites but they did allow at least most of the contestants to showcase themself in a positive way. I could have pictured Hunter attempting the latter but definitely not the former.

The fact is that Hunter sometimes hits some off notes, but there is something about the tone of his voice that is very impressive and the payoff on the good notes has a bigger impact. That was at hand in this performance. I do not know this song but I feel like he almost certainly made it more interesting than the original. In contrasting him with Chayce in regards to my standings, I realize that Chayce may do a better job at avoiding any sort of vocal misstep but that Hunter seems to be taking more chances and perhaps that needs to count for something.


7. Arthur Gunn
6. Casey Bishop
5. Caleb Kennedy
4. Chayce Beckham
3. Hunter Metts
2. Willie Spence
1.  Grace Kinstler


1. Casey Bishop- "Ironic"

Mothers' Day round and apparently no video packages with the kids reading love letters to their maternal units but right into the music.

This performance is introduced without any context as to why Casey has dedicated it to her mother. What is freaking "ironic" though is that she is the one singing this song and it's not the now already forgotten Alanis Sophia who was named after Alanis Morrisette by her Alanis obsessed mother. This is sort of an in your face savage move by Casey. Can you imagine that mother and daughter duo watching this live at home? Was there some backstage drama between all of them?

Basically though, Casey looks far more like Alanis Morrisette than the other girl does and sang this as if she were imitating the original nearly note for note. It was fairly decent vocally but actually seemed too copy-cat.

2. Chayce Beckham- "Mama"

No emotional letter or card readings this year, so Chayce used an original song to express those words and feelings. The lyrics included a part about being sorry that his mama had to pick him up from jail. It is unknown whether that was related to the DUI incident or something else, but he expressed his desire to change for the better in order to honor "the lady who gave me my name." (Is it possible she was a poor speller?)

This will likely get him a ton of votes. It was quite compelling emotionally and he of course sang it very well. The Idol voting bloc of women old enough to be Chayce's mama (and then some) is of course huge and he likely pulled on a lot of heartstrings.
A question though about the "voting." Chayce lives on the West Coast and are the people in California and elsewhere actually getting to watch this show live in late afternoon/very early evening while the voting window is open, or do they have to vote without even seeing the episode until hours later? I think that might actually be the case, and it makes the entire system even more questionable. Those who do not even get a chance to watch the show live have to vote pretty much based on the previous week. Some state legislature should hold an audit on that.
3. Willie Spence- "You Are So Beautiful To Me"

Of course, an emotional ballad dedicated to his mother. This is continuing to make Casey's song dedication all he more questionable, but of course Willie sang this very well. With minimal musical accompaniment, he put a Gospel twist on a well-known Joe Cocker song. Older fans will definitely like it, but I almost wonder if there was another similarly themed song, perhaps by a black artist, that would have made more sense strategically.

Also, one day I hope and pray that someone on Idol on Mothers' Day will do LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out."

4. Caleb Kennedy- "Mama Said"

He is not wearing a hat for this performance and the haircut is not too horrid, but I definitely noticed the eye thing he is self conscious about.

Here, we have another original song, with "Mama" in the title. Many props to Caleb for being such a prolific songwriter at a young age. It definitely felt very "country" and he sang it well and was connected to the message. Two people have to go home tonight. I have, to my surprise, already ranked him above Casey in both performances, so it probably should not be him, but I think it might be nonetheless. There was also a bit of video playing on the screen behind Caleb briefly that I think was in error. Earlier, I caught several other Idol production errors in this episode.

5. Arthur Gunn- "Simple Man"

This is only like the eight time this song has been done on Idol. Usually, it is a good moment for the dude who sings it. Exactly one year ago, I wrote that I liked what Arthur did on Mother's Day on the song "Hey, Ma." 

This performance was clearly better than the first round but it still feels like something is a bit off with Arthur tonight and perhaps since he "returned" to the Idol stage. It was a nice vocal but he was deliberately talking to the audience or to the Idol band in a way that did not need to be done. I have heard better covers of this song. (We saw a glimpse of Caleb on the couch singing along, which did not seem like something he would do.)  Afterwards, Dibesh's mother is seen wearing a Sari, for I believe the first time. This might be appealing to the powerful Hindu vote, but I have a hunch this might be it for "Arthur."
6. Grace Kinstler- "When We Were Young"

Seacrest tells us this fairly recent song was chosen because it is one of Grace's mother's favorites. That may or may not be true. I think Grace just wanted to get her Adele on.
 Perhaps this was not Grace's best performance but it was still extremely good. I have a hard time even finding a minor detail to ever critique her on vocally. In this performance, she sang in a a bit of a restrained way but then completely opens up and belts when the song calls for it. Each and every week, she is a definite pro and has perhaps already dominated this season.

7. Hunter Metts- "The River"

We are told that this is an original song written by Hunter, although the song title is definitely not unique.

All in all, it was pretty good, but sounded like a Coldplay song. The things that are there to like about Hunter's voice were still there but perhaps it was a tad too whiny.

Round 2 Rankings with only a slight deviation from Round 1:

7. Arthur Gunn
6. Casey Bishop
5. Caleb Kennedy
4. Hunter Metts
3. Chayce Beckham
2. Willie Spence
1. Grace Kinstler
With the tie-breaker
7. Arthur Gunn
6. Casey Bishop
5. Caleb Kennedy
4. Hunter Metts
3. Chayce Beckham
2.  Willie Spence
1.  Grace Kinstler
Who should be eliminated:  Arthur Gunn and Casey Bishop

I can say that I do not think Arthur is as good as the other kids left this season (or a few that are already gone.) I think Casey is extremely talented but did not think she had her strongest night. The Coldplay song is just a terrible one to sing, at least to my ears, and while she did an impressive Karaoke version of Alanis Morrisette, I do not understand why she picked that song. As they said on "Sesame Street", one of those songs was not like the others.

What will happen? It feels almost pointless to worry about a prediction for something that happened newscycles ago already. I already read that Grace advanced, and I am not surprised about that. This was the Mother's Day episode, and because my mother went out of her way to tell me that she predicted the eliminated two and I think that also means she would have ranked them at the bottom (although again, she said everyone did a good job on this episode.)

So, I am pretty sure that two guys are leaving, but it will not be Willie.

I know my mother has not really been a fan of Arthur, Caleb, or Hunter, the last of which I said was my early pick to win it all. She has perhaps been a bit iffy on Chayce too.

I feel like Arthur is probably out for sure, and then this is really tough. I think Chayce and Hunter are kind of in a competition with each other, and thus both really at risk at this point, but either leaving would be a surprise. Chayce's original Mama song might have saved him. I also am keeping in mind that Caleb sort of has the red state/country base to himself.

Who I am predicting will be eliminated: Arthur Gunn and Caleb Kennedy
Who was eliminated: Arthur Gunn and Hunter Metts
The "conservative" base may have saved country boy Caleb but not a Gunn nor a Hunter.

I stand by ranking Hunter above Caleb this week (and all season) overall, but frankly, it was somewhat close on this episode. With Hunter out, I now think Grace will probably win, although Chayce cannot be counted out. I think Willie is the most likely person to make the three way finale, which would indicate that time next week may be up for Casey and Caleb.

As for tonight, Arthur did not seem very surprised and Hunter seemed quite at peace with it. I was a bit surprised to see Caleb, who comes across as pretty surly, hug Hunter as he walked back to safety and then I was really surprised to see Caleb and Willie embrace at the couches. A very positive surprise though.... at least assuming everyone is vaccinated.



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