American Idol Recap: The Top 24, make that 25

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Here we are, folks. American Idol Reboot season 2. And they are changing it up. In addition to way more focus on the good than the bad and the ugly during the audition sequence (and a useless trip to Vegas during "Hollywood Week"), they've transitioned the semi-final portion from an extended goodbye to half the semi-finalists to a one-week only opportunity for the semi-finalists to have any hope of making an impact and gaining your favor as finalists.

Pretty shocking, actually. Perhaps they're acknowledging the fading flame of AI and realizing that maybe they can't dominate your attention 3 nights a week for another 4 weeks.

It started on Tuesday with the Top 12 guys: And it was a pretty level playing field

1. Reed sang Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5, but in a slow jazz groove. He also played the drums.

He does not have moves; let's just start there. And he makes a lot of painful faces. That's the down side. The good side is that he is a good musician with a good voice, and a very professional performance energy. But I don't think he's going to be *everyone's cuppa tea, and that may put him at risk.

2. Adam sang Think by Aretha Franklin

Adam needs to do something to not seem like someone past his prime trying to be hip. For once I actually noticed a guy's outfit, because Adam's was hurting. What was up with the scarf in his back pocket, this dude is not some playa! As to the song: Meh. He sounded fine, but I wouldn't say he gave a compelling performance or did anything amazing with that song. "Large black woman inside him"? I didn't get that, did you? Still, they spent a lot fo time developing his story, so I think at least the producers are counting on him sticking around.

3. Deandre sang Reasons by EW&F

Local (to me) boy Deandre has a really nice really high falsetto. And he has a nice strong full tenor voice. What he doesn't have is a powerful low falsetto, and WAY too much of the song rested in that range. It was just a bit too low for him to deliver much power. That middle range failed him. Made it seem more like there was a tiny black woman inside him. But he's oh so pretty, so he's probably safe.

4. Colton sang Decode by Paramore (and played piano)

This was a daring interesting choice, so I'd like to support it on that alone. Unfortunately, it was very pitchy, and it seemed like he could not hear himself well. It got better as it went along, and the end was quite good, so I'm hoping the lack of mundanity and a strong finish will keep him safe for now.

5. Jeremy sang Gravity by Sara Bareilles

Jeremy, like every guy IMHO, had some rough vocal spots that the judges didn't seem to call anyone on. However, he has a really beautiful voice and sang this song with a nice sincerity and simplicity. I believed it, so I liked it.

6. Aaron sang Never Can Say Goodbye by the Jackson 5

The best thing you could say about the guys was that they all seemed quite comfortable and proficient on stage. Aaron was one of those guys. He mostly sounded great, and he mostly looked quite comfy. I don't think he needed that last high note, which came out of nowhere and didn't fit. But otherwise he worked it out.

7. Chase sang Storm Warning by Hunter Hayes

This one really bothered me. Chase seemed to sound pretty atonal actually. I didn't know the song, and I felt like I couldn't really catch the melody from what he was singing. It was all talk-singy, more talking than singing. I thought it was pretty bad, and he should be at risk, even if he is trying to be a Scotty McCreery type. And side note: He's one of several Idols who looks like a giant. Especially standing next to Ryan. I realize that not an incredibly high bar, but it was notable.

8. Creighton sang True Colors by Cyndi Lauper

This guys reminds me, at odd moment, of Pee Wee Herman. Although he played the song relatively straight, he has some really bad vocal habits…sometimes nasal, sometimes froggy, all kind of mannered and affected. He has a good instrument, don't get me wrong, so I'd like to hear him sing something even less mannered. but I wonder if he's at risk and won't get the chance.

9. Phillip sang I Can Feel it Coming in the Air Tonight by Phil Collins

OMG. This guys is SUCH a Dave Matthews wannabe. It's not just the look and the voice…it's down to his weird idiosyncratic "dance moves" while playing the guitar. I don't think you can call it idiosyncratic if you've coped it off of someone else. Coincidentally, I heard the original version of this song on radio on way home that evening. Phillips played with it way too much. I found myself wondering "Where is the actual song?" Randy was totally right with his all too rare negative feedback. I think Phillip is at risk.

10. Eben sang Set Fire to the Rain by Adele

Oof. This was pretty problematic. Like flat all the way through. JLo probably nailed it: It looked like he had trouble hearing himself, and he's going to have to elarn to adjust. In addition, it was a really lackluster performance. how could he sing that song with real passion at 15 anyway? Bottom line is that it was a poor choice of song for him. Even though he's a young cute boy, he oughta be leaving or at least at risk.

11. Heejun sang Angels by Robbie Williams

Heejun did a really nice job, and has a very lovely voice. I was impressed.

12. Joshua sang You Pulled Me Through by Jennifer Hudson

This performance was SO strong vocally. Again, impressive. It was hilarious when STy called him "Mantasia". But I have to ask: Yes, AI producers: Where IS a picture of the most talented Idol winner ever? Nowhere to be seen throughout the auditions etc. I looked very carefully and identified images of every other winner (and even some other finalists in the opening credits) but NO Fantasia. Boo. Oh, and Joshua should be safe.

13. Jermaine sang Dance with my Father by Luther Vandross

Jermaine was the surprise #13 guy. I would have gone with the adorable young kid that Eben inexplicably beat out for the 12th spot myself. But Jermaine did a nice job, made it seem pretty effortless.

Bottom Line, and let's just call it the SHOULDS, because I have no idea who WILL: 

Going to the Top 12: Colton, Jeremy, Aaron, Heejun, Joshua, Jermaine

Going  Home: Reed, Chase, Creighton, Phillip, Eben, Adam, Deandre

On Wednesday we had the Top 12 gals: And it wasn't pretty.

1. Chelsea sang Cowboy Casanova by Carrie Underwood

Really, really boring. And, wow, you could tell it was going to be a different night, when the judges delivered the first criticism. I thought Randy was spot on when he said they had been too easy on the guys the night before, and clearly they were out to make up for that. She's at risk.

2. Erika sang What About Love by Heart

Throaty. Which didn't really fit the song. I was not enthralled. She's at risk.

3. Jen sang One and Only by Adele

Image Courtesy of FOX

Oh dear. There was definitely some desperate yelling there. And aimless walking. I was not enthralled. She's at risk.

4. Brielle sang Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

In what was to become a pattern, this alternated between bizarrely low and almost inaudible to a little yelly too. And in what was already a pattern: I was not enthralled. She's at risk.

5. Hallie sang Feeling Good by Nina Simone

This was mostly fine. But by now it had become clear that none of the gals were wowing me. Hallie's last note took a really long time to resolve to being in key, but other than that she was the first one I thought should be safe. 

6. Skylar sang Stay with Me by Faces

OK, I have to hand it to Skylar. She woke me up a bit. I didn't like that big high held note, finding it a little screechy, but at least she had a sense of danger. I want to see what she'll do next because it doesn't seem predictable. So, I also thought she should be safe.

7. Baylie sang Amaze by Lone Star

Oh my. This has SUCH a shaky beginning. It did get a little better, but then fell apart again. She looks absolutely beautiful, but she couldn't sing to match it last night. I gotta think she's going home.

8. Hollie sang Reflection by Christina Aguilera

Hollie did a really nice job. That is a big big song, and she might not have pulled off Xtina exactly, but it was a credible performance.

9. Haley sang Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics

Oh yikes. Once again, what was up with all the low low songs? I know Haley was trying to rock a Florence + the Machine vibe, but it did not work. In fact, it was wretched. Off key and awkward the entire time. The arrangement and backing vocals didn't help. This won worst of the night, I think. So, obviously at risk.

10. Shannon sang Go Light Your World by Kathy Tricoli 

I did not know this song, and it's always a risk to do something completely unknown. I think it might be a Christian song, in which case she's going for that vote and hoping they pull her through. She has a big, big voice, but she hid it under a bushel by, again, choosing a song that started really low. I have a feeling she'll be safe, though.

11. Jessica sang I Love You I Do by Jennifer Hudson

Again, a low start. Again, making us wait to hear the sweet spot of the voice. But, she sounded JUST like JHud, which in this case, and amongst this field was a good thing. This was the best vocal of the night, if not exactly the most original performance. I'm guessing safe, therefore.

12. Elise sang One and Only by Adele (and played piano)

It was a bit weird to have two Idols singing the same song on the same night. Elise was smart and gave it a much more strong and unique vocal approach. Plus she played piano to show off her musicianship skillz. She got a little out of control once she got up and had to be on her own, but overall this was pretty good, and she should be safe.

Bottom line: (And again…who I think SHOULD, not WILL be sent home.

 

Going to the Top 12: Hallie, Skylar, Hollie, Shannon Jessica, Elisa

Going  Home: Chelsea, Erika, Jen, Brielle, Baylie, Haley

[I know I'm publishing this after the results were in, but I wrote it before.]

So, how'd I do, and what did you think?

 

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