Sunday, May 02, 2021

American Idol Top- 7

Tonight, we saw the Idol Class of '21 head to Florida's Disney World, where capacity is limited, and somehow Bobby Bones was conspicuously absent. We did however have a guest mentor in John Stamos, ABC's very own "Uncle  Jesse" from "Jesse and the Rippers."  After tonight, it would not quite be a Full House on Idol as three contestants would be eliminated. Yes, a "light will be waiting to carry them home." Have Mercy...

It occurred to me that if only the girl whose mother named her after Alanis Morisette were will around, she could demand an audience with Dave Coullier instead.
 Once again, I am going off of memory, as I watched the show live earlier this evening. I never really like the songs done on the mandatory Disney Night, but there are usually some good vocal performances and I was expecting the same.

First, we need to know which holdback from last season would awkwardly join the crop this year in the Top Ten, even though they missed out on the trip to Disney World and a chance to lip synch to "A Whole New World" with some other singer at the top of the show.

Who should have been put in the Top 10 based on the very subpar show two weeks ago: Makayla Phillips
Who I predicted would win the more aptly named Arthur Gunn Invitational: Arthur Gunn
Who won the Arthur Gunn Invitational: Dibesh Pokharel (aka Arthur Gunn)

Well, that was easy enough, despite the producer push for Louis Knight/ He seems to have zero rapport with any of the other kids. I guess they were not mesmerized by his iPhone run to second place in 2020.

These recaps may be brief. At least I hope so.

1. Caleb Kennedy- "Real Gone"

There was a hint of humanness to outlaw Caleb when his Mama "surprised" him at Disney World and he got slightly emotional. Obviously, none of these kids have seen the past Disney Night episodes. I believe Caleb was the only contestant to refuse to wear any sort of Mouse ears.

I do not know the song he sang, but it was a fast paced country-rock number that seemed to be the perfect choice for him on this night. I can barely remember how it goes, but he performed it quite well. He is always consistent but also has not had anything resembling a "moment" on stage.

2. Willie Spence- "Circle Of Life"

I think this song gets done on Disney Night every week, but it hard to find a version that will compare to Jennifer Hudson's most shining Idol Moment back in 2004, That being said, Willie likely sang it the best by far of anyone since. Stamos tried to make the connection of the song's theme to Willie and his recently deceased grandfather, who has now been referenced multiple weeks. 

Willie seems more and more comfortable on stage and there is no denying that he knows how to pick songs that suit his voice. The act has not gotten overly predictable yet.

3. Deshawn Goncalves- "When You Wish Upon A Star"

For weeks now, I have predicted Deshawn would be eliminated, yet he has hung on. I certainly can see he is talented, but have not really gotten too enthused about anything he has done on the Idol stage. This jazzy arrangement of this song from Peter Pan (or whatever movie it was in) left me even more underwhelmed than usual. I am sure Deshawn can make a living doing music in the future, but the entire history of American Idol has not been kind to those who try to sing "jazz."

4. Casey Bishop- "When She Loved Me"

Two weeks ago, I talked about how Casey's strong night likely caused the eliminated of the much buzzed about Ava August. This was another stellar vocal. We were introduced to Casey as a wannabe rocker, but rock music is not really a big thing these days, and clearly, Casey has been singing ballads since she was a little girl. I do not what this might mean for her commercial future, but she is better at doing the old fashioned stuff and while she should probably switch it up a bit next week (Mother's Day Dedications and Coldplay), I think she is appealing to the older Idol audience both by her vocals and by the way she presents herself on camera. She is a very smart competitor.

5. Chayce Beckham- "Baby Mine"

I do not know this song, but I likely have not seen "Dumbo" since I was five, despite years of allegiance to the GOP Elephant. 

Chayce sang it pretty well in his usual Eddie Vedder meets Bruce Springsteen way, but it was just boring. The song did not really go anywhere. No judge will ever point something out like that though in the current version of Idol. It was funny to see Graham DeFranco, apparently continuing a couch surfing tour of the dudes who beat him out, by appearing with Chayce's family. They said they were in Oklahoma though. I thought Chayce and his family and dog were supposed to be in California. That is interesting. I noted last week how contestants from the West Coast are at a disadvantage during "Live Coast to Coast" voting. (Not so fun fact: both Chayce and John Stamos had a drunk driving episode)

6. Alyssa Wray- "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes"

During her audition, it seemed like the Idol Powers were presenting her as the person they envisioned as the ultimate winner and a future star. I think Alyssa bought in as she seems pretty comfortable talking about herself (not in a bad way I think) and how she wants to sing, act, and do it all. It is possible that some voters may feel she has gotten a bit too full of herself.

Also, despite being just 19, she has for weeks now, appeared in a sparkly shiny dress and sang some sort of older song. That might have been the way to go for a female on Disney Night, but had Alyssa gone to the same well too many times?

I do not care for this song at all, but Alyssa sang it extremely well, and really let loose at the end. She can definitely sing but is not the only very talented big voice lady in this competition. Her hair tonight was totally Whitney Houston 1987.

7. Arthur Gunn- "Remember Me"

Clearly, there is irony in the song choice, given the return situation the Idol voters put him in. Did his fans get notice in advance that he had made it (despite the fact I thought it was obvious.) Would they be tuning in to vote.

When he is not singing, Arthur seems uncomfortable around people,which is not something he had to contend with during the "live shows" last season. The producers are also now giving him subtitles at times when he speaks.

Vocally, the performance exceeded my expectations a bit. I think he proved he was worthy of the slot, of those that attempted last week. The judges remarked that he reminded them of Dave Matthews. Of course, it is more accurate to say he sounds like Phillip Phillips sounding like Dave Matthews.

8. Cassandra Coleman- "Go The Distance"

Honestly, I could go without hearing this song again on Idol or frankly elsewhere either. Like Deshawn, I have also wrongly predicted Cassandra being eliminated a couple of times previously. I really liked her vocal from two weeks ago though.

Tonight, parts of it were nice and she seemed confident on stage (and it was cool to learn that she is a lifelong Star Wars nerd.. clearly preferable than being a Trekkie) but I also detected some mild pitchiness when she tried to hit some high notes.
9. Hunter Metts- "You'll Be In My Heart"
During an earlier commercial break, I genuinely forgot his name and could not remember it. My father was the who one remembered it was Hunter. At least his name is not Hunter Gunn or there would be some major protests. He has a couple fairly misguided tattoo choices as well.

The big pressure on Hunter this week would be to remember the words and to not break down and cry like he did the last time. The Phil Collins song choice was a smart one. It also seems like all of the white guys (plus Arthur) are going to be playing the guitar with every performance this season. 

Vocally, there were some imperfect moments, as there usually are in a Hunter performance. However, has has such an earnest manner when he sings and "current" tone that sells the performance for him in a way that others may not be able to get away with. It is as if his vulnerability is by design.

10. Grace Kinstler- "Into The Unknown"

I would say it is quite known that if they picked her to go last, it was expected to be a powerful vocal.

During her session with Stamos, her practicing of the song from "Frozen 2" sounded like she picked a truly horrible song. Nonetheless, when she sang it on stage, Grace blew it out of the water as usual. It is almost as if she is in another league from the others in some ways. She comes across as very down to earth and humble when he is not singing, but when she is, you can almost tell that she believes she is already as good as Adele. Luke Bryan said in his comments tonight that she came out with a look in her eye like she was going to slay the others and I have had the same thought before and likely typed it here. Grace's consistency is amazing. Is she almost "too pro" to make to the end? Of course, it would be another Idol highlight for the Chicago suburbs. In my view, she is far better than Lee DeWyze or Haley Reinhart though.


10. Deshawn Goncalves
 9. Caleb Kennedy
 8. Cassandra Coleman
 7. Chayce Beckham
 6. Arthur Gunn
 5. Hunter Metts
 4.  Willie Spence
 3.  Alyssa Wray
 2.  Casey Bishop
 1.  Grace Kinstler
As a disclaimer, nobody was "bad" tonight. In fact, I found my Top 9 to all be "good." The Top Four I have were All-Star caliber vocals though and it would be disappointing to see any of them among the three that were about to be eliminated. Apparently, Idol was supposed to air on Mondays this Spring, but low ratings have changed ABC's schedule, so this will continue to be the only way to get results.

Who should have been eliminated: Deshawn Goncalves, Caleb Kennedy, Cassandra Coleman
Who I predicted would be eliminated: Deshawn Goncalves, Cassandra Coleman, Arthur Gunn

Caleb has the country vote so I figured he would stick around. I did not know if enough people would have known to watch tonight to see Arthur and while I predicted he would go, I also remarked to my disbelieving mother that perhaps Alyssa might be at risk.

Who was eliminated: Deshawn Goncalves, Cassandra Coleman, Alyssa Wray

No issue with two of those. Goodluck to them. It is though very unfortunate to see Alyssa get cut. Arthur was the one cast as the last one picked though perhaps he did not have the fourth lowest number of votes. Alyssa kept a smile on her face, but the tears fell quickly. She definitely expected to be in the Finale and in terms of pure vocal talented, probably deserved to be. For a variety of reasons, her gameplay strategy did not work out as intended.

In the last round, Casey caused a "shock eliminated" of Ava in my view by beating her one on one at the same style of song. This week, the songs were a bit different styles, but in a diva competition, Grace took out Alyssa and probably has a bit of a clearer path in the weeks ahead.


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