American Idol Season 14 Top 8 Guys Perform

5 03 2015

1385015_10154925704030601_1985407597453397698_nThe results are in for the guys and four of them are going home. But first Aretha Franklin sings “I Will Survive.” I amazed how much weight she has lost. Not only is Ryan NOT in a suit, but he lets Aretha say, “This is American Idol.” I think that is a first for the show, isn’t it? Outside of that first season when there were two hosts?

The theme tonight is Motown. The first person going through is Daniel Seavey. He sings “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) by Marvin Gaye. He is adorable, but the stage just swallows him up. It was an okay performance. Nothing about it blew me away. Keith said it was a good song for him to do. Jennifer felt he was more relaxed and having fun. She felt the song was a little bit low for him. She thinks he is going to be a favorite. Harry said they all know he is adorable, extremely talented and a gifted musician. He gave him good pointers on how he needs to feel what the band is doing with the beat. Let the band dictate what his body does. I really like the advice they give.

The next person making it through to the top 8 is Mark Andrew. He performs “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by The Temptations. I liked that he changed up the beat on the verses and stayed true to the song. He was a great performance. No goosebumps, but a great performance. Jennifer loves his voice but she didn’t think that song in that way was moving her. Harry thinks his strong point is his voice. He liked the arrangement but it felt like a jam-band arrangement. He thought it was fine. Keith agrees with Jennifer about the arrangement but he loves the fact that America voted for him because they hear something in his voice and see something in him.

Rayvon Owen advances to the top 8. He sings the classic “My Girl” by The Temptations. I enjoy his voice. I think the vocals keep improving as they call new names. I thought this was the best so far tonight. I got close to goosebumps. I did have some eye closing and shaking my head thinking “oh that’s sweet!” Harry thought it was great. He also has such a nice presence. (I agree—he always seems to light up the stage). Harry wants to see the other side, too (the opposite of nice and sweet). Keith said he knew what Harry was saying—just a little more weight in the performance. He can hear a happy guy and it comes across great but he is interested to see what he is going to do next. Jennifer felt like when he went into the falsettos and hit those high notes he really made the song his own.

I am now worried. They are almost halfway through the names and Savion Wright’s name hasn’t been called yet. I think next year they should just let America decide all the names. Don’t make it an even split in gender. The guys are better this year and they should have more of the spots and more of the ladies go home.

With now half the names being called, Adam Ezegelian is called next to be part of the top 8. He sings “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. This was a bad arrangement. He did make the song his own, but it had issues (for me). Keith thought it was the perfect song for him. Jennifer thought he did a good job on the song. Harry said he nailed every note, so good job.

Scott Borchetta will be a mentor this year. He launched the careers of people like Taylor Swift. Scott thinks Clark Beckham is the best singer the boys have this year. And a nice segue in because Clark has made it into the top 8. He sings “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. This is now my new favorite of the night. That gave my goosebumps. Jennifer agrees with Scott that he has one of the best voices in Idol this year. Now he has to let loose and feel it. She thinks he could go all the way. Harry thinks he is really talented. One thing that was lacking was a beginning, middle and end. He had strategic things but it just stopped in the middle. Keith said he would have just sung that song without the band and broken everybody’s hearts. He’s got the skills to do that, just don’t be afraid.

Nick Fradiani is next. This only leaves two more spots. He chooses “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder. Nick starts without the band and I’m not sure I’m going to like it, but then they join in and I’m relieved. It was a decent performance. I like his voice. But at this point I’m so depressed that there are only two spots and there are four guys I like still sitting in the audience which sucks (Savion, Qaasim, Quentin, and Trevor). Harry thought it was strong and a great arrangement. Harry encourages him to smile more on these kinds of songs. Keith felt like it might have been better not to have the guitar on that particular song because he wanted to see him move more. Jennifer felt it was a good job.

Qaasim Middleton makes it through. He sings “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. He has great dance moves. I think he should have danced a bit less and sang a little bit more on point. The problem with his crazy arrangements is that you can’t tell if his singing is off key or not. Keith said it was so good and seeing him perform in front of an audience is what it is all about. Having an audience is where he lives and breathes. Jennifer said he is so damn funky it is crazy. He owns that stage. But she wants them to know how great he sings, too. Don’t forget about the vocals. Harry didn’t think he lost the vocal at all and thought it was extremely good. Every single run was right on the money. He said they get asked “What are you looking for?” THAT is what they are looking for.

Only one more name. This really sucks. I say let’s take two more of the girls’ spots for the guys. I’m in tears. Savion is not going through. Savion deserves it and I don’t know if he can come back again next year. But Quentin Alexander had the stand-out performance last week and he advances (and deserves it). I really want two of the girls’ spots. It’s not right. Stevie Wonder songs are popular tonight and Quentin chooses “Master Blaster (Jammin’).” I like that he interacts with the band. I believe he had the standout performance once again. Jennifer it was so smooth and so perfect. It proves why he was the last one to be picked. He is one of her favs. Harry liked how he settled into the groove of that. Keith said he knows who he is. He knows it was a bulls-eye.

American Idol– Change your format. It is ridiculous that you feel it is still necessary to have to be an even number of girls and guys going through to the top 12. Don’t we want our most talented people in that top 12? If you are allowing American to vote for the top 12 guys and top 12 girls, then let us make those decisions across the board. After all, when they win, they will have to compete with talent across the board, not just in their gender.

The X-Factor Los Angeles and Seattle Auditions

22 09 2011

By Hilda Clark Bowen

The X Factor

I was not sure what to expect with X-Factor. After the premiere and success of “The Voice”, I thought perhaps it would be close to that model. What I got was an upgraded version of American Idol, like American Idol 2.0. Perhaps when the mentoring begins, things will look differently. The auditions in front of a live audience made the experience more realistic and gave immediate fan reaction. However, Paula Abdul sitting next to Simon Cowell was too much American Idol. To give credit to the producers, however, it appears they noticed this and when they went to the Seattle auditions, Nicole was seated next to Simon instead. Having Steve Jones as host was refreshing, but he stayed mostly in the background.

Starting off the Los Angeles auditions with judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul, and Cheryl Cole, they showcased why The X-Factor is a great show: It seeks out talent that is left out by the rules of American Idol. Rachel Crow, a 13-year-old-going-on-22, was charismatic and feisty. She gave a tremendous rendition of “Mercy” by Duffy. She had the crowd on their feet and the judges loved her. She was followed by Terrell Carter, a 36-year-old, who did a lovely version of “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder. After four yeses were given to consecutive auditions from Ellona Santiago (age 14) and John Lindahl (age 14), it looked like things were going great.

Introducing a cocky, Prince-wanna-be Siameze Floyd, age 30, who believes he is the next megastar. Simon Cowell would have said absolutely no to this person on an American Idol audition, but called him “fascinating” and said yes. L.A. Reid is the only one to get this one right by saying “no.” And thus began the face-off between Simon and L.A. Reid. Felicious1908 on Twitter said it best, “He’s like the love child of James Brown, Prince and Terence Trent D’Arby that can’t sing.”

Day two of the LA auditions brought out the Dan (age 70) and Venita (age 83) who were former entertainers from Pahrump, Nevada. I give them kudos for courage. Their performance of “Unchained Melody” was horrific, but the couple was nevertheless adorable. The duo “You Only Live Once” sounded like a schizophrenic horror film. Linda “Jetta” Ostrofsky, age 61, traumatized me so badly I will never be able to listen to The Divinyls “I Touch Myself” again. Miranda Singleton, age 30, could not get one note of Katy Perry’s “Firework” on key and was shocked to be told she could not sing.

Simone Battle (age 21, college student) became the next battleground between L.A. Reid and Simon, with Simon saying yes, and L.A. Reid saying no. Simon had Simone sing something else which he felt confirmed his point.

Disagreements were also made between L.A. and Simon on Thomas Slade, the group “Late 2 Fame“, Nickayla Guadalupe, Andrew Muccitelli, and Charlie Cruzer which left us to question their fate since they only need 3 yeses to go through and the other judges’ vote was not shared.  I assume they are gone, but are they?

The star of the evening, Stacy Francis, and so far my favorite, emerged. She is a stay-at-home mom, age 42, with two small children and was surrounded by people who told her she was too old now for a singing career. Originally from Brooklyn, New York (shout-out to my hometown!), she had been in LA for 10 years. Her version of “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin had the audience on their feet and she received a standing ovation from the judges. Simon said it was one of the best auditions he has ever heard in his life.

Next we move on to Seattle where we get a shock of a lifetime–a judge change (no more Cheryl, now Nicole Scherzinger)–but wait that’s not all–The Full Monty. Geo Godley, classically trained, internet blogger, age 43, sang his original “I’m a Stud” while pulling off his pants–totally. Simon’s face is horrified, but then there is a slight grin in his look, maybe admiring his audacity. Paula leaves and looks like she is throwing up off stage. The audience boos. L.A. Reid said it was offensive, disgusting, distasteful and upsetting, and to get him out of the building. Nicole said she was traumatized.

Marcus Canty (age 20) got the shock of his lifetime when the judges all put him through after singing “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. His mother gave him 2 years to break into the music industry and his time was running out (his mother obviously does not know the realities of the music industry and how hard it is). L.A. Reid felt like he had a Bobby Brown thing going on (hopefully just in comparison to the music and not the personal life).

The group “Anser” (pronounced “answer”) gave us a mash-up of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Britney Spears’ “Till The World End.” They were put through, but I think they should have been disqualified for singing one of the most overused songs in a talent competition (Adele).

Nici Collins, event planner, age 23, who has been lied to by others all her life that she could sing, took the stage next and tried to sing “Emotions” by Mariah Carey that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and my dog howl. Also leaving the competition were the mother/daughter duet T for Two“, Darren Michaels, and the group “The Sonnets.

The judges were moved by Chris Rene’s story of being a trash collector and celebrating his 70th day of sobriety. His original song, “Young Homey”, resonated with the audience and the judges gave the young man a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment for him. I did not think it was so great. Simon said that what he liked about this job was being able to sit in that chair and meet a star. They let him through with the admonishment that he must remain clean and sober. Having only 70 days of sobriety, this will be a tough challenge for him as the pressures of the competition weigh down on him. We will see if he can do it.

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