American Idol S15 Top 10 Revealed Part 1

25 02 2016

The judges’ four picks were unanimous and they went to Dalton Rapattoni, Olivia Rox, Trent Harmon and last but not least (and it surely had better have been her) La’Porsha Renae.

The first person to fight for our votes tonight is Manny Torres singing “Master Blaster” by Stevie Wonder. He sang this in his final performance before the top 24 was picked. Unless they have been told they have to pick a song they have already done, I deduct points for taking the easy road out. He had a lot of energy and he did a respectable job. It may have not been the best song choice, however. Keith thought it was a great way to open the show. He didn’t know if it was the right song for him, but he has this fighter spirit and he delivered that tonight.

Gianna Isabella chose “I Put a Spell on You” by Annie Lennox. She just sang this in the showcase last week so I’m totally unimpressed by that. I think that last note was a little sharp. Jennifer there is a beginnings of an artist. She said she was her number 5 to go in the group and she believes she deserves to be in the top 10 and that they would see tremendous growth in her over the course of the competition.

Thomas Stringfellow was called up next. He picked “Story of My Life” by One Direction. Again he already sang this song. He looks awkward up there without his guitar. I wasn’t particularly fond of the sound he was making at the end of each phrasing. Harry said there is a big difference between an idiosyncrasy and a bad habit. And Harry comments about the note-cracking (unless you are the lead singer of The Cranberries). It gets annoying and if he listens back he might agree with that.

Tristan McIntosh performed “What Hurts The Most” by Rascal Flatts. Again, this song was already done by her. This did not sound as good as the first time, and I am a Tristan fan. She looked really, really nervous. But I do like her purple eye makeup. Keith said it was a beautiful song choice for her voice.

Avalon Young approached the stage for her chance in the six being chosen. The song is “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by Chris Brown which she sang for her final performance before the top 24 was revealed. That is cheating (unless they were told to pick a song they have done already). Points off for that. We don’t want to see the same song performed again. We’ve already heard it and not too long ago either. I’m bored. I hate they are all redoing songs. Jennifer said it was smooth like butter.

Jenn Blosil is repeating “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. This sounded a little different than when she originally did it and I liked that she tried to alter it. Harry said that was a flawless lyric delivery.

Lee Jean picked “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran to sing again. The audience isn’t clapping in rhythm properly and it is distracting me. Keith said he has his own style—unique and chill. He felt his nerves but still likes what he is doing.

Sonika Vaid chose “I Surrender” by Celine Dion for a second time. She was flat on some of her notes. The stage is smaller so it didn’t swallow her as much as it did the first time. Jennifer said she got goosies on her face. The challenge for Sonika is that she is a singer and not an artist. She doesn’t know how to change a song and seems to only be able to sing it exactly like the original.  I love her voice, but in the industry these days you need to be an artist.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell picked “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash to do over.   I liked that she ditched the instruments for this song. I actually was a good choice because she could just concentrate on her voice. I liked it better this time. Harry said her talent is it is compelling and interesting but it is also a bit polarizing. He said although this wasn’t the best performance out of all the times he has heard her…and Keith said she needs to let go. Harry said her talent is a bit different than everything else out there and that is why she is on stage. It may take people some time to catch up.

And last up is MacKenzie Bourg. He goes back to his original song “Roses” that he wrote. I love that he can write these songs at such a young age. It was a smart choice if he had to redo any song. Keith says when he has every one reacting to that song like that, it is an amazing thing.

Not really sure who I would put through to the top 6.  Jenn Blosil has to be in there because she adds creativity to the group, much like Joey did last year.  They want a country girl in there and they think Jeneve is original so it sounds like they want her in there (or Tristan McIntosh).  If I had to choose, I would go with Tristan.  I think I would choose MacKenzie Bourg over Thomas Stringfellow at this point.  Lee Jean has to be in there.  Sonika has a beautiful voice but she is too much of a novice at this point in her life.  She needs to play with arrangements and make songs her own.  So between Sonika and Gianna Isabella I would choose Gianna.  How many is that?  Five.  Manny Torres because he is a great singer.  I like Avalon, but unless one the surprises is that they are going to choose seven, then it might come down to Lee Jean versus Avalon and I’d have to go with Lee Jean.





American Idol S15 Showcase No 4 Duets & Cuts

24 02 2016

Kellie Pickler with Amelia Eisenhauer returned to a song Kellie sang on Idol called “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans. Kellie let Amelia sing first. That was a fun way to start the show. Kellie did a wonderful job helping her to carry the duet. Harry loves to see a young person like her come out fighting with someone like Kellie. Keith felt the same; it was a great song to do. Jennifer thought she felt right at home with Kellie and was the perfect mentor for her.

Haley Reinhart and Kory Wheeler teamed up for “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John. I didn’t like Haley’s voice when she was a contestant and I still don’t like her voice. Kory did a great job. Keith thought it was so good. Jennifer thought it was a nice pairing. Harry said he thought having Haley helped to ground him. It was really good.

Chris Daughtry and Lee Jean sang one of Chris’ songs “Home.” It is so hard to sing with someone who is so phenomenal. Chris should have won his year, but I’m almost glad he didn’t so he could go out and do his own thing and not get tied up with a specific contract. Lee did a good job, but will it get him into the top 7 tonight? I’m not sure. Jennifer thought he did a great job. She is speechless. Harry thought it was really, really strong. It was hard to do what he just did. Keith said he did a great job bringing the storyteller quality to that song.

David Cook and CJ Johnson chose Collective Soul’s “The World that I Know.” I love this song. And I love that David is so gracious to let CJ go first. It was fantastic. I got goosebumps. Harry thought their voices sounded really good together. He thought it was a nice job. Keith agreed. He held his own pretty well. They did as good as anybody could with that song. Jennifer said there were some powerhouse duets before it so it is unfortunate but they do compare. She wished it could have been “bring the audience up” kind of performance.

Jordin Sparks and Manny Torres sang her song “No Air.” Jordin was pushing him to find the emotional side of the lyrics. He found it because my goosebumps lit up in a crazy way. Keith said they were great together. It was powerhouse duet time. Jennifer said it could not have been more perfect. Harry said that his eyes were going back and forth between the two of them despite the fact that Jordin was looking so amazing tonight that it is a testament to how much charisma he has on stage. Great vocal performance and duet together.

Constantine Maroulis and Jenn Blosil sang “My Funny Valentine” by Frank Sinatra. Major goosebumps. That was fantastic. I would have to score this as much my favorite as Manny and Jordin’s duet. Keith was standing up. Jennifer said it was the embodiment of the perfect duet, coming together but being so very different. Harry felt like it turned into a shouting match that was inappropriate for this particular song. Keith said he frigging loved it. It was fantastic.

Kellie Pickler was paired this time around with Tristan McIntosh to sing one of Kellie’s songs “Best Days of Your Life.” Tristan was a little pitchy during the verses. The chorus was better. I love Tristan so I was a little sad. Harry thought it was pretty darn good. His advice is to make sure she doesn’t rush, to make sure she is singing in the pocket, and be aware of where you are on the stage. When Kellie was planted, she tended to wander the stage a little bit. Keith said he felt it was tricky for her to start the harmony below Kellie. He said it was shaky pitch-wise. Jennifer said that when they put her up there with a seasoned performed, it does show she does not have as much experience (she is so young) as some of the other contestants.

Olivia Rox and David Cook sang one of David’s songs “Light On.” Superior goosebumps. I love David Cook and I love Olivia Rox. Keith said it is really high praise when the alumni says that all week he’s been trying to keep up with her. Jennifer said her voice is phenomenal. She agrees what David says is true that if she can find her groove in the songs, she is going to be around for a long time. Harry said she sings like someone who knows music. Idol is lucky to have her.

Haley (sigh) Reinhart and Adam Lasher are singing Haley remake of Elvis Presley’s classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Haley is an acquired taste and I never acquired it. Of course my Twitter friend @Idol360 would love to argue with me about that and we have. This song is doing no favors for Adam Lasher. It isn’t allowing him to show off his voice. He looked stiff and he wasn’t looking at this beautiful young lady much. Jennifer said it was very strong and it came off really well. Harry thought it was lovely and he thought they were falling in love before their eyes. Keith wanted him to equally loosen up. She was right in the moment with it and he was stiff and he wanted him to give in. Keith felt like he never quite let it go.

I am SO glad Chris Daughtry was paired with Dalton Rapattoni. Chris wanted to sing “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder because he felt he didn’t reflect his best effort on Idol during his time. There is just too much hotness here. Seriously intense goosebumps. That was insane. I loved it. Harry thinks he is terrific. Every performance of his has been great but he has to give credit to this band being behind him. He did what he was supposed to do but Ryan could have sounded good on that one. Keith said they complimented each other. It was incredible. Jennifer said she is loving him. She thinks he is like this dark horse coming to the surface right at the right time (dark horse???? He’s always be a frontrunner to me).

Ryan then entertained us with a rap. Harry and Keith stood up for that and Keith gave him an 8.5 on a piece of paper.

Jordin Sparks and Trent Harmon sang a song from Jordin’s time on Idol “To Love Somebody” by The Bee Gees. Wow, these duets tonight are fabulous!!!! I enjoyed this so much. Goosebumps again. Keith thought it was a great match up, a great song. Jordin or that song pulled stuff out of him stylistically they haven’t seen yet. Jennifer said that was the Trent that they know and love. It was a great showcase. Harry loved it too.

Constantine and Shelbie Z tackled Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Even though Constantine did it first on Idol, Adam Lambert did it better (sorry). I like Shelbie Z doing rock better than country. I really liked her doing Heart and I liked this, too but Constantine hogged the song. Jennifer said she felt like she lost Shelbie in that. And Jenn is booed. Harry said it is a difficult song to do a duet. Harry didn’t feel like she had a point of view in all of that. Keith agrees with them.

THE CUTS

Staying: Lee Jean, Olivia Rox, Jenn Blosil, Dalton Rapattoni, Manny Torres, Tristan McIntosh, and the last one through is Trent Harmon

Going home: Adam Lasher, Shelbie Z, Amelia Eisenhauer, CJ Johnson, Kory Wheeler





American Idol S15 Showcase 3 Solos

24 02 2016

The next 12 American Idol hopefuls performed their solos, hoping for a spot in top 14. Only seven more spots exist. Jennifer shared that this round is more important than the duet round.

Shelbie Z chose “Work Hard, Play Harder” by Gretchen Wilson to showcase her talents. I have never heard this song. It sounded good. She has an advantage from the rest. She got a lot of coaching while she was on The Voice, something the others never experienced. Keith said she chose the key where she was held down the whole time so she could do the big note at the end. For him, she sacrificed the whole song just so she had the last high note but she did kill it. I don’t think she expected that critique especially from him. Shelbie Z has a bit of an ego and her resting bitchy face does not help me connect to her. Jennifer agrees with Keith but she loves her. Harry thought it was a good performance and he doesn’t have much of a critique at all. He wonders how she is going to stack up to the others.

Manny Torres chose “Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay. I liked it a lot but it sounded like the band or Manny was out of key (but maybe it was my TV). Jennifer felt like he could have connected with the audience a little more. It was a good song choice. Harry agreed with Jennifer. He felt it was like piecemeal to him but in the end it is all about the lyrics. Keith said he likes the way he looked on camera. He didn’t think it was a good choice to show off his vocal strengths but it did reflect his spirit really well.

Kory Wheeler took to the piano to sing “Let It Go” by James Bay. He sings it beautifully but there was some element of emotional connection I was missing. Harry said it was pretty good but not great. He didn’t think it was particularly special. Jennifer said knowing him for a couple of years now it was the most comfortable she has seen him on stage.   Keith said he has a mix of confidence and vulnerability and was the perfect song choice.

Amelia Eisenhauer chose “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. I am amazed she is only 16 years of age. I personally didn’t like it. She sounded very inexperienced. When you stack her up against the others, she is going to probably be in the bottom. Keith liked it. He doesn’t know if it was the perfect song for her but he liked that she is trying new things. Jennifer agrees with Keith about the song choice but she is a special girl for sure. Harry said special in a lot of ways. He encouraged her to find something a little quirky for songs to sing because she is quirky.

Quirky Jenn Blosil chose “Sorry” by Justin Bieber. I liked how she sang the chorus, but the verse was rough. I think the competition needs quirky. Harry said she is a breath of fresh air. He said it was extremely out of tune and it wasn’t good for him. Keith said that when he clapped, it wasn’t because she was singing now in tune as Harry suggested, but it clicked for him (as he thinks the audience) about what she was trying to do with the song. He commends her originality. Jennifer said it was shaky at the beginning and it was a risky arrangement, but that didn’t kill the end of it for her when she got into it and when everything was right it was beautiful.

CJ Johnson performed “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain. I really liked this performance. I think based on this performance he deserves one of the seven spots. He does need to wear dark shirts because gray shirts show how badly he is sweating in his arm pits. Keith said it was perfect. Jennifer agreed. Harry sang the song really well but make sure he is singing it in tune because a song that emotional and powerful would be even stronger if it was in tune.

Lee Jean sang next. He chose “Runaway” by Ed Sheeran. He is such a talented young man. It was a nice performance. There was nothing that made me go “wow” but I did enjoy it. Keith thought he sounded great but he didn’t like his song choice. Jennifer added that people are picking songs tonight that aren’t big hits, not the songs that are going to get people voting for you, and that is what they all have to think about going forward because next week America starts voting. Harry would like him to practice singing and playing the entire way through if he chooses to do that going forward because he stops playing when he gets into a singing groove. So far though it was one of the better performances of the night.

Hat stylist Trent Harmon chose “What Are You Listening To” by Chris Stapleton. I have not heard this song either. That didn’t stop me from getting goosebumps. I had them a little bit. He compels me to listen to what he is singing. Jennifer loves him. When he sings, it gets to her heart. Harry is one of the most gifted vocalists here. Keith thought it was a tremendous song choice even though Jennifer just told Lee that people are picking songs people are not familiar with and that was a bad thing. I can understand how people get mixed feedback from the judges.

Tristan McIntosh took on Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl.” Jennifer felt that in the beginning it was like she was thinking more about it but by the end it picked up steam and that is when it got good. Harry said she was supertalented. However, everyone tonight is only giving “okay” performances (with the exception of Shelbie Z). Keith chimed in “but here is the good news.” She is extremely talented and she looks like a million bucks. All she needs to do is find the right song. He likes that song, but didn’t like it for her.

Adam Lasher sang “Black and Gold” By Sam Sparro (another song I’m not familiar with). I love the grit in his voice. It made me sit up and listen. I think he deserves a spot.   His gold shoes have to go though. LOL. Oh. I get it. He was dressed in black and gold which is the name of the song title. I’m a little slow tonight. Harry said he was a man after his own heart because black and gold were the colors of his football team, the New Orleans Saints. He said Adam needs to set the groove to drive them in a shuffle. He said he was wishy-washy on that, like a buoy in the ocean, and it was hard for him to get past that. Keith said he was baffled why he would chose that song. He has to figure out what the one thing is that separates themselves from everyone else. Jennifer felt that he could have been better too and they know what he is capable of. The song choice is everything. She couldn’t even get into the melody of it. He has to make sure people can go on that ride with him.

Dalton Rapattoni picked Billy Idol to sing tonight. He took on “Rebel Yell.” He is my favorite in the competition among the guys. Jennifer was singing to the song in the audience. It was interesting as a ballad. It was compelling. I loved it. I love him. Jennifer looked happy. She screamed his name. She said that made her feel something. He is as pretty as can be. She wants to squeeze his little face. It was a great performance. Harry said it was a phenomenal performance. It was a great interpretation of the song. He sang the lyrics. It was powerful. It was absolutely tremendous. Keith said he never disappoints. He is going to Dalton-ize a song that they know. It has his own genre and it is very cool.

Olivia Rox closed the show with “Confident” by Demi Lovato. It is hard to believe she is just 17. I love a female rocker. Keith was standing up. Harry said she was very, very strong. That is the type of song she should be singing. One nitpicky thing he could say was to make the rhythm paramount. It’s another shuffle. Keith says “and the show starts now.” God gave her an amazing gift. Jennifer said if there was any advice is that she needs to get into her inner rock chick.





American Idol S15 Showcase 2 Duets & Elimination

24 02 2016

American Idol brought back favorites from years’ past to perform duets with the current contestants. They want to see how they handle that type of environment because more and more these kinds of collaborations are occurring.

Lauren Alaina and Emily Brooke were paired together. They chose “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood. I was at that finale with Lauren and Scotty battling it out for the title that year. Well, the results show at least. She has changed so much in those 5 years. Lauren sounds FABULOUS!! Emily sounded better than she did last night, but Lauren blew her out of the water and revealed all the vulnerabilities in her voice. Not that this was a competition, but Lauren carried her in this performance. Harry said he could hear the difference in age in their performance just because Lauren’s been doing it a little bit longer but hung pretty well with her. Keith agreed. That she has another lane with the thing she does. Jennifer said she has the makings of something that will grow into something like Lauren at some point.

Thomas Stringfellow sang “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson with last year’s winner Nick Fradiani. He gave him some great tips about singing in the mirror and seeing habits you didn’t realize you had (I remember him working on that last year). Nick went back to some bad habits with his eyes in the interim. Thomas was digging singing with Nick. It was enjoyable. Keith thought he was struggling since it wasn’t really in his lane. Jennifer said it didn’t feel quite right for him. Harry is grateful for his performance last night because it was extremely strong. He is willing to bypass this because last night was phenomenal.

Alumni Ruben Studdard was paired with Stephany Negrete. During rehearsal Ruben felt he needed to get more emotion from her. Michael felt like she needed to look at him more versus closing her eyes. They chose “Superstar” by The Carpenters. The velvet teddy bear still has it. She has a beautiful voice but even with Ruben’s mentoring she looked a little stiff. It sounded beautiful, but she definitely keeps holding back (but so did Nick last year until something clicked for him). Jennifer said it brought tears to her eyes. She thought their voices sounded super beautiful together. Harry thought it was strong even though there were some note issues. Keith thought it was just beautiful. He thought Ruben brought out the best in her.

In quite the odd pairing, they put Sonika Vaid and Caleb Johnson together. Ugh, yet another ballad for her even though it is with Caleb. I would love for Caleb to have chosen an upbeat song for her. The song is “Skyfall” by Adele. It was a great duet, but Sonika didn’t move too much. It made me want to yawn. She did seem to take notes about her performance level and that is a good sign though. Harry enjoyed it a lot but he is giggling a lot because he thinks she is just nervous because this is so new for her. He finds it adorable. He felt she held her own with it. Keith felt it was a great song and they were great together. It was a really great performance. Jennifer said it was a well-suited song. Jennifer basically said she needs to push past her nerves because the sky is the limit with that voice of hers.

The next performance paired Scotty McCreery and Jenna Renae. Scotty has grown up since I saw him at the finale. They sang Scotty’s song “See You Tonight.” I didn’t know Scotty was a songwriter. That was a fun revelation. He sounds a lot better than the year he won. Wow. They sounded terrific tonight. It’s a big compliment from me (because I hate country music) to say that was a wonderful song and a wonderful performance. It was a little flat at the end, but that didn’t matter. And it was NOT a ballad. So refreshing. Keith said it was very hard to critique that song and he added that she has a lovely voice. Jennifer said the song was suited well for the two and she did the best she could on it (not sure what that means). Harry was as entertaining as it was a solid performance. He said it looked like she had a blast doing it.

La’Porsha Renae and Fantasia re-created Fantasia’s performance “Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald. I think La’Porsha showed up Fantasia. La’Porsha is going to win American Idol. I’m saying it now. This was the best duet over the past two nights. MAJOR goosebumps. Keith was on his feet (guess he loved it). Jennifer thought it was mind-blowing; La’Porsha did a fantastic job. Harry said it reminded him of an old cutting contest. It wasn’t so much about “Summertime” but a battle of runs and they both killed it. Keith said it was an unstoppable force meets a moveable object. It was a great job.

Lauren Alaina was paired with Mackenzie Bourg to do “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. It was a strange pairing, but it was nice both of them could keep their style of singing. There was nice chemistry between them as well. Harry wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing talent that has come through American Idol. Harry thought this was sweet, but he was thankful for his solo performance of “Say Something” because that set the bar. Keith said that was the first time she had seen Alaina blush. Sparks were flying up there. They were all joking how she was reaching for his elbow and he just didn’t even notice and they were screaming to themselves “hold her hand buddy.” Keith loves the way Mackenzie does things. Jennifer said it felt really nice, mismatched but still nice together.

Nick Fradiani and Gianna Isabella sang Nick’s song “Beautiful Life.” Gianna looked uncomfortable with the performance part of the song even though her voice sounded great in the song. Keith thought it was good. Jennifer said it was a nice song to sing together. Harry said he is still trying to figure her out. It’s like she is this goofy young kid or… (and she piped in a little bit of both).

Ruben Studdard and Avalon Young were paired to sing Ruben’s song “Flying Without Wings.”  She started off rough but by the end she let go and did so much better. It was really beautiful. Jennifer thought it was incredible, it was very equally matched. Out of all the duets she had seen, she felt like they were actually doing a duet, not just singing it together, but feeling it together. Harry said that there is something that is so incredibly likeable about her. She has an incredible instrument. Keith said she is just so real. When she was standing next to Ruben she didn’t look at all intimidated. That was an incredible performance.

Caleb and James VIII chose “Gimme Shelter” by Rolling Stones. I like it when the former Idols let the new contestant start the song first. That was the first time I have seen James really let it go. He had the best time up there. Keith let out an “oooo.” Harry thought it did a pretty darn good job hanging with Caleb. Keith said he did a good job hanging with the big man. He liked the way he performed and he gave it up for the crowd. Jennifer said they complimented each other and it made for a really good performance.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell and Scotty McCreery picked some Montgomery Gentry music “Gone.” She looked really awkward in her movements but out of all the country music ladies in the competition, I think she is the best. Keith said it was bizarre. She doesn’t know how she got saddled with that song. He liked the song but it did nothing for her. Keith is just going to forget that performance. Harry said she is unique out of all the competitors of all the seasons of idol. She is extraordinarily musical.   Last night’s performance was better and he agrees with Keith that the performance was just bizarre. Jennifer said the solo performance won her over, but today it was reinforced even though the performance was really out there.

Jordan Sasser and Fantasia performed her song “I Believe.” Fantasia gave him some good advice about making contact with the audience instead of looking elsewhere when he is hitting those notes. Wow. Take me to church. Fantastic pairing. This redeems his performance from last night. The one mistake he made was crossing in front of her to reach out and shake a fan’s hand. She looked a little perturbed. Jennifer said her voice brings tears to her eyes. He did a good job; he held his own; it was no easy task. Harry can’t add anything to that other than be careful not to try to upstage the person you are on stage with. He pointed that moment I described out as well. Keith said he felt he was shooting up all over the place to try to be on par with her. He didn’t need to do that. He would have believed it more if he reigned and centered it more. In essence, he didn’t need to try so hard.

THE CUT

Staying:   La’Porsha Renae; Sonika Vaid; Avalon Young; Gianna Isabella; Thomas Stringfellow; Mackenzie Bourg. At this point I am pretty sure it is going to be Stephany. And I am totally shocked. Jeneve Rose Mitchell

Going home: Emily Brooke; Stephany Negrete; Jenna Renae; James VIII; and Jordan Sasser.





American Idol S15 Showcase No 1

16 02 2016

Tonight’s performances was completed at the Vibiana. It’s a church in Los Angeles so I can’t wait to hear the acoustics. Twelve singers will perform tonight and tomorrow they will get to do duets with former Idol contestants. Tomorrow night, five contestants will be cut. Next week they will do it again.

Stephany Negrete chose a Jessie J song “Mama Knows Best.” It’s odd that when I look at her, I see a young Cher. There is something missing though and I can’t put my finger on it. It was a fantastic way to open the show. Keith said it was a really good song for her. Keith thinks she could have loosened up even more. Jennifer said she is the full package but she needs to connect emotionally to the lyrics. Harry said it was great advice.

Next is Great Big World’s “Say SomethingMackenzie Bourg. I really liked this. Sometimes simple is better. Jennifer said he felt very natural up there; he did what Mackenzie does and it is exactly what he needs to do. Harry said the lyrics meant something to him. He liked that he changed up the melody without changing the integrity of the song. Keith said if he had heard that song for the first time he would absolutely believe Mackenzie wrote it.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell chose to play the harp (one of many instruments she knows how to play) and sing “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. The young lady has talent but I don’t picture her as the last American Idol. I can see her getting a recording contract though in Nashville. Harry thought she did herself a disservice of playing the harp on this song in this way. He would have just liked her to sing the song. Keith said she is the real deal. She is extraordinary and he loves the way she takes risks. Jennifer said she was not sure about her before that performance but she had goosies everywhere. She thought it was beautiful.

Jenna Renae is a singer/songwriter. She chose “My Church” by Maren Morris. I had to laugh because they were singing in a church for this performance. Keith woo-hooed from the audience because he loves this song. She did a fantastic job (that is high praise coming from me because of my disdain of country music). Keith said it was good tonight. Jennifer thought she was in her element and she had a lot of joy when she sang. Harry liked the energy and enthusiasm. He said that there is a fine line between enthusiasm and shouting and her pitch was sacrificed as a result of that.

“Love Lockdown” by Kanye West was the choice for James VIII tonight. I loved his version more than Kanye’s. I could see him holding back still though. It wasn’t until recently that he ever saw himself as a singer as he just played guitar in a band so this might be a lack of confidence issue. I loved how he interacted with Rickey Minor in the end. Jennifer said it was an interesting choice to do that song in that way. She thought it stayed too even and it didn’t grab her in the way it could have for as good as he is (and the audience boos). Harry said it felt good. It was super easy but when is it going to get more complex. He didn’t know how far down the road he would get. Keith said he has to be careful being chill and being indulgent. You can’t assume he is going to be here to do another song so come out and kill it each and every time.

Sonika Vaid chose “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars. She has a tremendously beautiful voice. She still is lacking stage performance and she always takes a song and sings it as a ballad. Just singing ballads is not going to get her through this competition. The stage just seems to swallow her up (and this is a small stage). Harry said it was one of the more emotional performances they have seen. Keith said her voice is so good. Jennifer says her voice is so beautiful but she wants her to choose songs that makes her heart sing as well.

Bookworm Gianna Isabella chose “I Put a Spell on You” by Annie Lennox. First goosebumps of the evening. She was a little off pitch on those few end notes but I loved it. Keith said her voice is undeniable. There were moments she was starting to own the stage but they were inconsistent. Jennifer said the voice is so real and so strong. Harry said she has a great voice and has been a great student of American Idol because she hit big loud notes in the right places. He wants her to challenge herself to find as much meat in there as she can.

Emily Rose drew upon The Voice’s champion Cassadee Pope for her song “I Am Invincible.” This is the same problem that Emily had last year when she got cut—her performance during the showcase was terrible. Emily started off flat and sharp all over the place. Yes, perhaps she was scared. I feel for her if she was. But these performances are do or die to make it to the next round and they are cutting 5 people from the 12 tomorrow. There is no room for mistakes. The song did not improve as she went along. She was off pitch throughout the song. It just became less obvious because she was more in her vocal range. Jennifer likes her but that was not the best song for her because of the lower vocal range. She has to choose songs that play to her strengths. Harry says she has to sell those lyrics. He did not feel it. He has never heard her struggle with pitch as much as she did tonight. But he leaves her that her talent is unquestionable and she must be having an off night. Keith said that song did not play to all her strengths but what he did like was that she was exploring and trying different things.

Self-described tomgirl Avalon Young picked “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber. She has a great voice but her performance doesn’t match the song lyrics. This isn’t a happy song and she is smiling throughout. She is a bit off pitch as well. Harry said she seems to be the most in tune with who she is in the moment. He said the only advice would be that maybe she could have modulated it up on the last chorus. Keith said don’t be afraid to tell the band that she wants something different.

Turtle-lover Jordan Sasser chose “All By Myself” (the Celine Dion version; I don’t think anyone remembers that Eric Carmen was the original artist on this).   Did he get a haircut? It looks great. I am not sure if this is my favorite song I have heard from him. Sometimes on those notes he uses with his open throat sound fabulous, but then he almost goes for the opposite back-of-the-throat-straining quality that does hurt my ears a bit. My son with autism happened to come in to the room (he loves music) and he had his hands on his ears (the same thing he does with me when he doesn’t like a note coming out of my voice). I got goosebumps by the end of the song though (again with that open throat). Keith said he has a great voice but it was a little too theatrical for him and asked him to please not lose the emotion of the song. Jennifer agrees a little bit. She said when he first sang “all by myself” she should not have been thinking whether or not he hit the right part of his voice. Harry says he has a great voice and he has to do all that show-offy stuff. He doesn’t like that. He doesn’t need all that.

Thomas Stringfellow chose “Creep” by Radiohead to sing during the showcase. I wasn’t sure whether his chord on his guitar wasn’t correct or his voice didn’t match the chord he played correctly but they weren’t in tune with each other. He is unique and that is his plus. I’m kind of on the fence about whether or not I liked it but the young ladies in the audience did. Jennifer felt that he played with his voice in a way she hadn’t heard before—he was pushing the envelope. He sings with emotion and it fills the room. Harry thought it was tremendous—really, really strong. Keith said his natural way of performing is to lean into abandonment; that is when he is at his best. It’s really compelling.

The pimp-spot performance goes to La’Porsha Renae. She chose “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. This woman is already a star. She stole the night. If she continues having performances like this she will surely win American Idol. I had goosebumps. Keith was standing up. Harry said he thinks one of two things is going to happen as a result of her American Idol performance tonight. She is either going to make other competitors get better or she is going to make them want to quit. She is captivating and smart. He would be stupid to critique that in any way, shape or form. Keith said one of the hard parts is once people critique doing runs, they become conscious of it, and then it backfires. She has never become conscious of it. It’s beautiful because she remains a portal for the gift. Jennifer said it is a joy to listen to her sing. She dreams about voices like hers. Her advice is to take all the influences that she loves and make them hers.

I don’t envy the judges decisions here. In this group, I think the some of the 5 going home will be Emily Rose (worst performance of the 12 and their other country girl did better); James VIII (was nice, but just nice); Sonika Vaid (beautiful voice, but the stage swallows her up).

I’m on the fence about Jeneve Rose Mitchell. She is unique and they may keep her because of that. Jordan Sasser might go home because he was overly dramatic.

Thomas Stringfellow versus Mackenzie Bourg: There might only be one. Mackenzie is more relatable; Thomas is quirky.

Definitely through: La’Porsha Renae (she dominated the competition); Stephany Negrete (because she has a voice and stage presence, but they know she will find that emotional connection like Nick did last season); Jenna Renae; Gianna Isabella; Avalon Young (because they need a quirky girl).





American Idol S15 Top 24 Revealed

5 02 2016

Fifty-one contestants took the stage for a final performance in front of the judges and a live audience. Now they wait for their judgment.

My thoughts on their performances (the ones they showed):

The Ladies

Stephany Negrete looked and sounded great “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.   Shelbie Z sang another Heart song for her final performance “Barracuda.” I think she needs to ditch country and embrace the rocker inside of her. I think she has been fortunate to have gotten a lot of tips and help on “The Voice” that definitely gives her an edge up over some of the more inexperienced Idol contestants when it comes to stage presence. Michelle Marie sang “Little Toy Guns” by Carrie Underwood. She had great stage presence but she sounded sharp and flat on many of the notes. With the stiff competition, I would say no, but the judges may say yes because she has charisma and stage presence in addition to previous positive performances. Colette Lush sang “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor. Her voice was cracking a lot. Jessica Cabral’s performance wasn’t shown, but I was SHOCKED that she is not in the top 24. She was one of the stronger female voices with such a unique voice. Wow. I don’t know what to say about that one. Jenna Renae sounded okay from the small clip they showed of her singing “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood. Jeneve Mitchell sang “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.   She has the great ability to feel her song. She has a unique place in all of this. Would I buy her music? No—because I don’t like country music (but I don’t buy Carrie Underwood’s either even though I was rooting for her on the show but on the show she didn’t sing strictly country). Amelia Eisenhauer sang “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.   Her vocal was mediocre and her stage presence was not developed quite as much as the others. Avalon Young sang “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by Chris Brown.   She has such a pretty voice. Sonika Vaid sang “Surrender” by Celine Dion. She gets swallowed up by the stage. She has a beautiful voice but she really needs to work on that. Malie Delgado sang “Little White Church” by Little Big Town. She has a great voice, but I didn’t like this song for her. Olivia Rox came down sick, but she had to rally to do her showcase round. She sang “Love Somebody” by Maroon 5. She did a fabulous job. That one gave me goosebumps!! Emily Brooke sang “So Small” by Carrie Underwood. She did better than I anticipated and some of that nasal twangy thing was gone. Gianna Isabella chose to sing her mom’s song and Gianna was talking to her mother in the audience during rehearsal and Rickey Minor set mom straight about needing to let them handle this. She sang “I Still Believe” by Brenda K. Starr (her mom’s hit song).  Jenn Blosil sang “The Hanging Tree” sung by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games series.   She is so unique. I adore her. Tristan McIntosh sang “Stronger” by Faith Hill. She felt that it was the first time she has ever “performed.” She also is one of my favorites.

The last two ladies are La’Porsha Renae and Lindita. Is there ANY question who this is going to? Not for me. La’Porsha. Lindita performed “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj. La’Porsha Renae did “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. That gave me goosebumps.

 The Guys

Mackenzie Bourg is the first one of the guys to receive his fate. He sang Elvis Presley’s hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I really like his voice and he had the ladies in the audience singing along with him for the chorus. Trent Harmon sang “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John have a mixed feeling about. He has a great voice, but his performances are often internalized where he is not even making eye contact with the audience. He is performing but not connecting. CJ Johnson sang “Parachute” by Cheryl Cole. Okay, I admit. I loved it. I know it was country. I do have exceptions. Lee Jean sang “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran. It was adorable but I was put off by him telling the audience to be quiet not just once but twice. Daniel Rapattoni performed “It’s Gonna Be Me” by NSync. He is one of my favorites. He has star written all over him. He has the full package. Manny Torres sang “Master Blaster” by Stevie Wonder sounded great and frankly this competition could use his Latin flare. Thomas Stringfellow sang “Story of My Life” by One Direction. I like him but he was doing this weird thing that almost sounded like a hiccup-like noise at the end of every measure. It was annoying. The girls went crazy for him though.

Kacye Haynes and Jordan Sasser were the final two guys who were competing for that last spot. I think it is going to go to Jordan Sasser (even before I heard the performances). Jordan sang “Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic. I got goosebumps. Kacye tackled “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake. Rickey Minor complimented him that he was one of the few performances that actually felt what he was singing that day. Wow, he did bring a better performance than Jordan.

 Going Home

Not going through: Ameet Kanon, Anatalia Villaranda, Andrea Nazarbekian, Ariel Sprague, Christian Eason, Chynna Sherrod, Colette Lush, Isaac Cole, Jenna Renae, Jessica Cabral, Jessica Clark, John Clausen, Jordyn Simone, Kacye Haynes, Kassy Levels, Kayla Mickelsen, Kelsie Watts, Laurel Wright, Lindita, Malie Delgado, Mary Williams, Michelle Marie, Mionne Destiny, Sara Sturm, Shevonne Philidor, Terrian, Tiffany Lemay, and Zach Person.

Top 24 are:

Ladies: Amelia Eisenhauer, Avalon Young, Emily Rose, Gianna Isabella, Jeneve Rose Mitchell, Jenn Blosil, La’Porsha Renae, Olivia Rox, Shelbie Z, Sonika Vaid, Stephany Negrete, Tristan McIntosh

Guys: Adam Lasher, CJ Johnson, Daniel Rapattoni, James VIII, Jordan Sasser, Kory Wheeler, Lee Jean, Mackenzie Bourg, Manny Torres, Thomas Stringfellow, Trent Harmon

Next week: The top 24 sing solos and then duets with former American Idol contestants. Five will be going home.

 

 

 

 





American Idol S15 Hollywood Week Auditions No 3: Final Solos

4 02 2016

Seventy-five contestants remain. The difference between the first round of solos and now is that they have one night to pick out a song and work out an arrangement with the band. They will get no immediate feedback. At the end of the day they will be split into three rooms where they await the judges on who stays and who goes.

Stephany Negrete is up first and has no friends or family in the audience to support her unlike other Idol contestants. Other contestants are in the holding room. She chose Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain.” She sounded really good with the band. Harry and Jennifer quietly said they liked it as she walked out.

Thomas Stringfellow sang “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. He stumbled during his performance and you could see the worried look on his face that it might be what gets him cut. Jennifer and Harry quietly shared with each other they liked him while Keith said it was a terrible song choice.

Avalon Young sang “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande. She felt she could have done better. Jennifer and Keith again quietly commented that she is talented.

Olivia Rox went a different way and sang an original song for them. Keith and Harry were complimentary about your songwriting skills.

John Wayne Schulz ditched his hat (or perhaps the hat ditched him). He sang “John 3:16” by Keith Urban. Keith mouthed the words. It was okay. Keith liked him but asked Harry and Jennifer what is exactly missing.

Mackenzie Bourg is doing an original song called “Roses.” The first goosebumps of the evening for me. Keith asked whose song was that and when Jennifer and Harry shared it was Mackenzie’s, Keith gave him a thumbs up as he walked away from the stage. Jennifer and Harry liked it, too.

Shelbie Z sang “How Do I Get You Alone” by Heart. I liked that song for her. I like it better than the country songs she sings because her twang disappears when she sang this song.

Kory Wheeler chose “Fix You” by Coldplay.  He did well.

James VIII sang “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. Second batch of goosebumps this evening.

Malie Delgado was kind enough to give up her song choice “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts to Tristan McIntosh for whom the song had a special emotional connection for her with her mother being a soldier and leaving to go overseas. Third goosebumps of the night. Keith softly said, “It’s a girl’s season.” I hope this choice doesn’t bite Malie in the butt.

Sonika Vaid sang “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande. She has a beautiful voice. No goosebumps here, but still I think will be in one of the groups going through and likely even the top 12 girls. They all loved her voice but agreed that she needed to get the performance better.

The new best buddies were performing next. Lee Jean sang “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes. He’s a cutie pie. He got the audience to clap for the end part of it. Harry said he is heartbreakingly cute. His friend Sara Sturm took the stage. She chose “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. She is a little powerhouse. Lee hopes they get through together. Jennifer said, “I would put her…” and then “She better than that.” Keith said, “She’s much better than that.”

Jenn Blosil to no surprise chose “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper sounded great. She didn’t feel like her performance went well. Every season needs a contestant like her and I hope Jenn makes it.

Emily Rose sang “What Hurts the Most.” I liked her MUCH better on this song. My ears were pleased by this. Maybe she needs to sing more when her voice is hurting. When she got off stage, she mentioned the song not being in the key she wanted and it just sucked.

Malie was diagnosed with laryngitis. Mionne Destiny and Jessica Cabral are both suffering the effects of being ill. Malie Delgado is singing “Stitches.” What a brave, brave girl. Keith liked this version of the song better. She gets a great amount of supportive applause from the audience. Mionne sang “Chains” by Nick Jonas. I haven’t heard her sing before so I don’t know what her original voice sounded like. Jessica Cabral sangUp to the Mountain” by Kelly Clarkson. Keith was heard to say, “Good Lord.”

Joshua Wicker took the stage to sing “A Thousand Years” and I really liked him but this was a very bad song choice for him. It was so out of key. Keith said he wouldn’t mind seeing him again. Harry thinks there is something mournful and soulful about him.

CJ Johnson sings a breath-of-fresh-air upbeat song, “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. It was great. Keith said he liked him and Harry said it was good.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell sang “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins. She always sounds good, but I don’t see her being the winner of American Idol. Harry thought she has something else. Jennifer said she barely heard the song.

The final solo performance was Dalton Rapattoni. I really love him. I hope he goes through. He chose “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” He doesn’t look well. I don’t think this was a good song for him. Keith said he loves his song choices. He didn’t remember his performance. He said when he looked down at his guitar because it wasn’t working that was when everything went fuzzy.

Room 1 includes Jordan Sasser and Dalton Rapattoni, Shelbie Z, Jessica Cabral, Mackenzie Bourg, Stephany Negrete, Lee Jean, La’Porsha Renae, Tristan McIntosh, and a few others I don’t recognize. This has to be a room that is going through. Jennifer announces that they are going through.

In the next room, I recognize Joshua Wicker and John Wayne Schulz. Their group received a ‘no” from Keith Urban.

Room 3 includes Malie, Trent, Thomas Stringfellow, Jenn, Avalon, Sara Strum, Manny Torres, and Jeneve. I think this room gets a yes. Yep, this room goes through.

Next up: They perform in front of a live audience in the showcase and the last cuts ever for American Idol that are made by the judges.