American Idol S15 Top 6 Revealed

11 03 2016

There are just a few weeks away until the very last show of American Idol ever. Tonight they will perform a solo and then will be paired up in a duet with another contestant. Five contestants will go through based on America’s vote. The judges will hear the bottom 3 sing and then choose who will go through.

(Please note:  I write this as the show is on so I’m switching from past and present tense a lot).

Duets

La’Porsha Renae and Trent Harmon were paired up for a duet with “See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth.     She sounds a little different on this type of song. She started sounding a little nasal, but it worked itself out. I was not surprised that Trent was doing the falsetto part. What a powerhouse duo they make! I loved it. Keith said it was a great way to open the show. It was the perfect song that played to both strengths individually and equally. It was collaborative and great. Jennifer thought what a pair they made. It was magical. Harry said you couldn’t ask for a better way of opening the show.

Avalon Young and Sonika Vaid chose “Rise Up” by Andra Day. They were matched pretty equally vocally but I think Avalon brought the performance. Sonika has improved since Hollywood week. Avalon has a bit more experience in the performance arena. It was lovely. Jennifer said their voices are both so angelic and they were pushing each other to be better. She said it was such an inspirational song that she would have liked to see it come through their bodies a bit more, to let loose. Harry said if he had to categorize them Avalon is the more rhythmic singer of the two, and Sonika is the more melodic singer. The advantage though was to Avalon. Keith said it was an interesting collaboration. It was really great together.

MacKenzie Bourg and Dalton Rapattoni sang “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys. I don’t think this song played to either of their strengths. It wasn’t awful, but I would have had the band played with them more than they did. It dragged without them in the beginning. There isn’t too much you really can do with this song. I’m bummed. Harry said he did not think it was a good song choice, not for them, not for tonight and not for Idol. Keith said he completely agrees. He said Dalton’s strength is not doing covers. He does best at taking apart songs and reconstructing them. MacKenzie does something similar in taking it to a singer/songwriter place. The way they did it did not benefit either of them. Jennifer feels the same way. At first she wondered how they were going to flip it, but it was so much like the original.

Teenagers Tristan McIntosh and Lee Jean were paired up. “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. This is in neither one of their wheelhouse so I’m interested in seeing this. It started off okay and then I didn’t like it. It, again, was just a cover. I think Tristan did a bit of a better job than Lee although I appreciated each of them going outside of their comfort zone. Keith said he loves that song, but you have to really find a song that is in each of your key. He thought they did as good as they could with it. Jennifer said Tristan’s voice really shined in that song and Lee tried to hang in there and give it his best. Harry said this is one of those Diane Warren songs that you can really sink your teeth into. The problem was in the arrangement. If they had to sing the song, he would have slow-rocked it. They are both talented and creative and there was nothing special, but it could have been special. It was boring and bland and it didn’t have to be.

Solos

The theme for this round is the “American Idol Songbook.” The first person through is La’Porsha Renae. Tonight she is tackling “Come Together” by The Beatles. I have a feeling there isn’t a song she couldn’t do. She was even working the judges and Harry was digging the attention when she used the lyric about “good-lookin’” on him. I was giggling. Jennifer said she is giving them full diva every time she is up there. That was a great performance.   Harry agrees and said if she can make sense out of THOSE lyrics, he actually understood what she was singing about. He never understood what the hell those lyrics meant. He said she is absolutely incredible and she has been that way since they saw her. Keith said it was a terrific song for her but at the end of the day any song is a terrific song for her.

The next person who made it to the top 6 is MacKenzie Bourg.   He picked “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker. He ditched the guitar for a change. It was very lovely. It wasn’t anything that gave me goosebumps, but it was a nice change. Harry said this is all about song choice and he could not have picked a better song. He felt MacKenzie was really connected to it and that is all he cares about. Keith said it was written so long ago but he made it sound like brand new. Jennifer said there is a beautiful mix of old and new, but it is ultimately about his heart. When he sings, they feel like he is singing to someone out there (meaning the audience).

Nick Fradiani returned to the Idol stage to sing his new song “Get You Home.” It has a nice little groove.   I am not sure I would go buy the song though.  Scott Borchetta seems happy.

Trent Harmon was next to secure a spot in the top 6. He chose “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King. I got goosebumps!!! Keith said people really wonder if they see contestants grow during the competition and he is a great example. The way he is moving, looking, dressing, and the way he is aware of where he performs. Jennifer said he is bad ass. She loves what he does with his voice. Harry said it really was great. He had a lot of opportunities to play around. He thinks that if he sinks into the rhythm, it would be even better.

Tristan McIntosh made it through (and she deserves it; her performance was really great last week). She chose a Martina McBride song, “A Broken Wing.” I never heard this song so I don’t know if she is changing these songs up at all. Her voice almost cracked there at the end. Jennifer said she has a perfectly suited country voice. It was the perfect song for her. She did a really good job. Harry said she is a country singer and he agrees with Jennifer. He asked her “what happens to the girl in the story?” She said she thought that she just left.   Harry said there is a lot of emotion in that and she did a good job. Keith said that is the perfect song for her. She did amazing.

The last person who has a secure spot for next week is–SHUT YOUR MOUTH–Dalton Rapattoni. He is lucky he looks good. His song last week was not good. He chose “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles. I remember when David Cook did this. He is a bit pitchy on this song, but this is 1000000% better than last week. Goosebumps by the end!!!! Thank you Dalton. Finally! I’ve been waiting for that. Harry said he bet he felt better about that (versus his duet). It was a great song choice and a great key for him and he pushed it as far as he could with that song. Keith said it was cool. He said it was a great song for him. That theatrical part of him brings out undercurrents in there he had never noticed before. There is a dark undercurrent in that song he brought out really, really well. Like a good waffle iron, he has made an impression. Jennifer said she loved it because it was so him. He does bring the theatrical performance but there are a lot of great pop stars that have that. She loved the end because he has been shying away from doing those big endings. He usually just talks the last word. She thought he was going to do it again and he didn’t and he went for this big note and he nailed it.

That leaves Sonika Vaid, Lee Jean and Avalon Young to duke it out for the final spot. Avalon Young will go first. She has been here before; I think that gives her an advantage in some ways. She is singing “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson. I remember Danny Gokey singing this one. This is a great song for audience participation. She didn’t change the song up too much but put her own little spin on the notes and enunciations into the beat. Keith said it is confusing to him that she always connects to the audience but she is always in the bottom three. There is a connection thing missing between her and the people at home. He hopes that she can make an emotional connection with everyone if she goes through because her voice and coolness thing box is checked. Jennifer said if she does go through to next week go out of her comfort zone because they have seen this already and if they [the people at home] aren’t connecting to this then maybe it is because they need to see what else she has. Harry said it is very good advice. He would suggest maybe a ballad if she goes through but they have to talk only about tonight. He thought she needed to maybe have a bit more urgency, not so laid back.

The next person to fight for that final spot is Lee Jean.   He is going to sing “Let It Be” by The Beatles. This is a very special song for me because it was the favorite song of my friend who died and every time I hear it, I get all teary eyed because I miss her so much).  I don’t think this was the right song for him. It was so sharp throughout the song. I really like him when he is doing stuff like Ed Sheeran although I do appreciate that he wanted us to see a different side of him. Even the Kings of Leon last week was good. Jennifer said he has so much going for him. She said there has to be a little bit more composure in these do-or-die moments and she felt like it was a little bit shaky. Harry said it was very emotional and he committed to the lyrics but he was very sharp which was surprising to him because he has great ears. Keith said he did a TV show in Australia at his age and he was terrified and that can affect tone and pitch, but not to worry because he has a lot of time to work on that.

Sonika Vaid has the voice, but can she make the emotional connection and give a performance (which have been her weaknesses)? She chose “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston. I am already worried before she even. This really requires being in touch with that emotion (and the emotion of experience which she may not have being so young). It wasn’t too bad emotionally. Her strength is really in her ballads. I liked that she tried to change it up a bit. Harry says he thinks it is one of those high risk, high rewards types of song. He loved it. Keith said it was gorgeous. He wants her to release and let go. Jennifer said it is her favorite Whitney Houston sing ever. She did a good job with it.

Going through is: Sonika Vaid

I think the bottom 3 next week will be:   Sonika Vaid, Tristan McIntosh, and YIKES!!! I don’t know who number 3 will be.  Logic would dictate based on talent either MacKenzie or Dalton is going to be in that list because Trent and La’Porsha are the top 2, but we all remember the shocker when Chris Daughtry (who was the certain winner) was voted off.





American Idol S15 Top 8 Revealed

8 03 2016

The songs performed tonight will honor The Grammy’s. The first one through is Dalton Rapattoni. He chose “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. I don’t think this is a wise choice. It is rarely done well to the point I have ever thought “This is so outstanding.” While Dalton is one of my favorites, this was not his best performance and I am worried for him next week. He is also going first and by the end of the show people forget those who are put on stage first. Keith loves how hungry and passionate he is but this was not a great song for him. Jennifer said that he understands the art of the show. She doesn’t want him to get inside his own head. Harry said that he wasn’t as present as he has always been every other week. Very good performance but the electricity wasn’t there.

Lee Jean is also through. His song choice for tonight is “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. I’m glad he broke out of his Ed Sheeran rut. I liked this upbeat song for him. He is a very talented young man. Jennifer liked the song choice, too. She still thinks there is more voice in him that he doesn’t know about. She wants him to let go a little bit more. There were some moments lacking in power. Harry thought it was pretty smart. Keith said he didn’t think it was a good song for him, but it could have been if he would have done something with it that suited his voice. But he loves that he is trying something different.

Demi Lovato teamed up with the Idols to perform “Confident.” She went on to perform “Stone Cold” without the Idols. That was another powerful performance from a guest.

Sonika Vaid secured a spot for this round. “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson. She was very pitchy during the verses. She needs to stop the self-worship with the hair touching. She’ll learn how to fine-tune that as she gets more experience. The performance was pretty good. Harry said that it sounded like she was digging her own voice versus trying to sing those words. Keith said he wanted more attitude. He wanted more fire and angry girlfriend. Jennifer said she needs to get lost in the character that she puts in her head. She then has to let go and not think about things so much.

MacKenzie Bourg goes on to the next round. He performed “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. I really like the arrangement of the song. Of all the songs done so far tonight, this was my favorite, but then towards the end it was dragging. Keith liked it. Jennifer said that some switch-ups don’t work, but that one did. She wants him to play with his voice a bit more. Harry said it was an amazing song choice. It was fine. It was nice and pleasant, but it is a competition and to get their votes you have to do something special. He would have found a more inventive way of doing it.

There was no doubt La’Porsha Renae was making it through.   Tonight she is taking on Beyonce’s “Halo.” I love the wings that were behind her. It looked like they were coming out of her back. Goosebumps!!!! Oh my!!! The biggest goosebump experience I have had all season. Jennifer says she loves watching her every week coming into her own. She is a hard act to follow. She is the one to beat. She is so talented and so blessed. She is becoming a star in front of their eyes. Harry said every time she sings he has to look at the song from a different perspective. She is also a master at arcing a song especially in a competition. It was incredible as always. Keith said she is a phenomenal singer.

Harry Connick, Jr. came on stage to sing his current single “I Do Like We Do” by Harry Connick, Jr., featuring Butch Walker (of The Floyds). I’m not so sure about this song. I’m a big fan of Harry’s, but this sounded too much like country music, and I’m not a fan of country music. He has a new show coming to TV called “Harry.” It will be a syndicated daytime show coming out in September.

The next safe person this week is Trent Harmon. Scott Borchetta is working with him on his vocal expressions.   Tonight Trent is singing “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Michael Bolton. I think he is the male version of La’Porsha this year. That was great! I can understand why Dalton feels anxious. Harry loves his voice particularly on high, sustained notes. Keith said it was a really good song for him. Jennifer said the faces are him, the bravado is him, and she had a flash of him and La’Porsha at the finale.

The final person who is safe based on the voting is Tristan McIntosh. Song choice was an issue for her last week. This week she chose “Clarity” by Zedd. She went into rehearsal feeling confident and Scott Borchetta said he didn’t like it (that wasn’t elevating her performance). She changed the song to “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill. This sounded much better than what I was hearing in the package on the song “Clarity.” That was lovely. I think she needs to stay in her genre. Jennifer and Keith were standing. Keith said it was a terrific song and she did a great job. Jennifer said that is the Tristan that America fell in love with it and she did an amazing job. Harry asked if she had someone in mind when she was singing that song and she mentioned her grandfather.

The judges now get to decide whether Olivia Rox, Gianna Isabella, or Avalon Young will be going to go through to the next round. Only one will be chosen. Keith said they need to deliver it. They have to make people at home feel something.   Avalon sang first. She picked “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” by The Weeknd. It sounded a little sharp throughout the song unless that is exactly how she wanted it to sound. She had the swag she was talking about throughout the song, but the sharp pitch was distracting to me. The audience loved it, however. Jennifer said when she is in her comfort zone there is no one like her in this competition. Harry said she needed a performance that was fantastic and that was the performance. Keith said what is good is that she knows what she can do and what she is comfortable with.

Olivia Rox chose “Trouble” by P!NK. I loved it but the squinting was distracting in her performance. She looked like she wasn’t feeling well still and I felt really bad for her. That has to be horrible to have to perform when you are feeling so ill. Her voice cracked on that last note. Harry said she gave it 100%. However, she is competing with someone who chose a song that has much more to chew on (Avalon’s song). Song choice is absolutely everything because her talent is absolutely undeniable. Keith said her vocal range is insane. Jennifer said it is not easy. Everything about that performance said she wanted to be there, but if she was talking about being “trouble” the audience needed to feel that she was trouble (as Harry was trying to say). That is the key. The songs have to be believable regardless of how beautiful it may have sounded.

Gianna Isabella chose “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. She said she is going to try to imagine what her mom and dad feel being in love. In my opinion that isn’t going to work. Unless you have personally experienced that feeling, you can’t fake it. After she started singing the song, she was okay in the upper range but when she went into the lower range, it was rough vocally. She didn’t get the emotion in there. Now in comparing the three side-by-side, I can see where Avalon is the person who did the emoting whereas the other two just had good vocal performances. Keith said her voice is gorgeous, he was a little hungry wanting more emotion from that. Her pitch is beautiful. Jennifer said she has a truly blessed voice. Harry said everyone stepped up. He thinks she is so adorable and she has an incredible vocal gift.

The person going through is Avalon Young.

Next week I think the bottom 3 will be: Dalton (I know!!!! ARGH!), Lee and Sonika.





American Idol S15 Top 10 Revealed Part 2

26 02 2016

They got right down to business by announcing the final six contestants making it through to the top 10. Going through are Sonika Vaid, MacKenzie Bourg, Gianna Isabella, Avalon Young, Tristan McIntosh, and Lee Jean. Going home will be Manny Torres, Thomas Stringfellow, Jenn Blosil, and Jeneve Rose Mitchell. It was sweet how Jenn was supporting Jeneve Rose.

Kelly Clarkson looking very gorgeous and pregnant joined the judges’ panel. The top 10 will be performing this evening. Hopefully there will be new songs and not picks from previous songs they sang.

Olivia Rox starts the evening. She shared her memories about her first real memory of the show being Katharine McPhee singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which was her song and one she would sing on stage with her parents who are professional singers. I was expecting her to do the song but tonight she is singing “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry. I love the control in her voice. Where people would belt out certain notes, she brought it in and it was a different way of doing it. I love interesting and different and I love her. I think Sonika Vaid needs to take notes from her about changing up a song and not singing it exactly like the original. Keith said keep loosening and relaxing. Jennifer loved what she did with the song. She liked the arrangement. Kelly said the beginning was tasteful. She is a fan. Harry loved it; she did everything she had to do—nice job.

Gianna Isabella had a crush on Scotty McCreery. Too bad she didn’t get to pair with him in the duet. Her hair is beautiful straightened this evening. She chose “Listen” by Beyonce. She is amazing for 15 but there were some notes that were sharp and flat on important notes. I loved the background. It’s ballsy choosing Beyonce. Jennifer said it wasn’t her best performance ever for her. There were parts that sounded really great. But, it was very shaky. Now she has to pick songs that will show all of her strengths if she is going to make it all the way through. Kelly said it was a bold song to choose. You get pitchy and you get nervous but she would grow out of it. Kelly suggested to her to quit thinking about it because you focus on it too much and she will lose emotion and get pitchy. Harry said Kelly is pretty good at this judging thing. Harry had nothing to add other than the song seemed very arranged. It felt rehearsed. Keith said but with a good thing is that she needs to believe in herself. And Kelly chimed in “and grow, tour, sing more and more.”

Lee Jean remembers Chris Medina’s audition and his story touched his heart. Tonight he chose “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. He got a little pitchy in there. I think he needs to be careful about song choice. That isn’t a song many know. But the audience was clapping along with him so he did capture them and that is often important. Kelly loves him. It is cool that he found his niche. Harry said this is his lane. He said that he and MacKenzie are both similar and if he goes forward in the competition, that is something he may have to concern himself with, which is what Kelly was saying, but he can’t see him doing EDM. He needs to concentrate on pitch. Keith said what he does well is telling a story. That is very different than what the others can do. Jennifer said it is really achieving what Chris Medina made him feel. Songs that he picks has to mean something to him so when others are watching him they can feel the same way and he has the ability to do that. And Ryan said Chris was in the audience and Chris loved it.

Avalon Young gets called up to the stage to perform. One of her biggest moments of Idol was Justin Guarini. She chose “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes. Oh no, bad song choice. Her lower range is rough. It was pitchy all over the place. Her comfort zone is higher. Harry said he does exude this cool vibe. He said he wouldn’t have done the halftime groove in the beginning. This fell flat for him in terms of what she was singing. Keith said she was nervous at the beginning and the audience wasn’t quite with her yet. After the halfway point, she loosened up and the audience was with her. She has to be loose like that from the beginning. Jennifer said she hasn’t had trouble doing that so maybe it was the song. It wasn’t really the right song for her. Kelly said she is so captivating. There is something so special about her. She generally doesn’t like the songs she sings but she loves them when Avalon sings them.

Dalton Rapattoni said season 5 of Idol was very special. They would bet each season and Chris was his bet. When Chris was sent home, it was a very bad night in the Rapattoni house. David Cook is one of the biggest reason he approaches the songs the way he does. Tonight he is singing “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s. I don’t like this song for him; however, I like that it up-tempo. Keith said he loves what he does with songs. He was like electric barnyard. Jennifer said he is the kind cool cute guy but he has a lot of heart. He did a really good job. Kelly said he is so comfortable on stage and it bleeds through. Kelly says he loves the way he sings. It is artistry and not just a singer. Harry said every time he has sung, he has completely flipped the concept of the arrangement and so far he is batting 1000.

Tristan McIntosh she watched religiously since she was 11 years old. They all loved Jessica Sanchez. She was her inspiration. She chose “Nothin’ Like You” by Dan + Shay. I don’t know this song. I don’t think I can comment about it. Sometimes she sounded a little sharp or flat at times. Nerves are getting people tonight. Jennifer said that it is about finding songs she feels comfortable in because she felt like that one for her wasn’t all it could have been knowing how she can sing. It wasn’t as strong a performance that she could have given. Kelly wants to know what her message is. She recalled the audition song where her mom surprised her and she got lost in the music and that is the girl she wants to see. She suggested a Trisha Yearwood song. She wants to hear a song that she really felt. Harry said it is a very lyricy song and he would suggest doing a song that everyone would know and not just people in the country lane. Also if she is going to go talk with the crowd you can’t let it affect her vocal. When she stopped doing that, her vocal improved. Keith said that the familiarity of the song is one thing. If you can find a song and kill it, it doesn’t matter what the song is. She did pretty good but she has to watch the pitch.

MacKenzie Bourg enjoyed William Hung sing “She Bangs.” He chose “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. I thought he sang this before, but when I checked my notes it was Lee Jean who did. It was pleasant. I think Lee Jean’s version was more haunting. MacKenzie is a cool dude. I hope he goes far in the competition. Kelly said that her baby had not moved during the show and he was doing flips during his performance. The baby likes him. What is so cool for him is that he knows exactly where he wants to go and he is already there. Harry said he is very compelling when he sings. He asked him what the lyrics meant to him. He said it makes him feel fired up to be there. Keith said he loves that he plays guitar so he was so chill and in the zone and pulls the audience in. Jennifer said that as the competition goes on it will be interesting to see which songs he chooses to make an impact.

La’Porsha Renae watched Kelly Clarkson who came from such humble beginnings. To win would make her feel like she is on top of her life and her struggles. She came out on top. She chose “Diamonds” by Rihanna. Wow. She is the bookend to Kelly indeed. I love Dalton, but she is the winner right there. Goosebumps! The first ones of the evening. She is in a different lane from all the other contestants. Jennifer, Kelly and Keith are all on their feet. La’Porsha is in tears from the love and support she is hearing from the room. Harry said – that is your critique. Kelly said it is not her turn to speak but she does not care. But if she were her every time she opened her mouth to sing, she would say, “you’re welcome.” It is such a talent. She is going to win. Jennifer said it is her control. Keith said there is a quote that says, “I judge myself not by what I have but what I’m willing to give” and what she just gave was just pure humanity. It was beautiful.

I would hate being the contestants who sing after her because it is just going to fall as flat as a pancake. And that unlucky person is Sonika Vaid. Kelly Clarkson was her inspiration. Oh wow. She is going to tackle “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence? Interesting choice. But once again it sounds like she is singing karaoke. She is a beautiful singer, but there is no artistry. She needs to bring up her game by changing arrangements. I like this rocker side of her because her choosing ballads has been a complaint of mine. She just can’t make the ending different; she has to change the song. Keith loved the song choice and had all the right drama. Jennifer said she is dangerous. If she can do what she just did, letting go, believing in herself, etc. she is dangerous. Kelly said she is never pitchy and that is an amazing accomplishment. Harry said it takes guts to follow a performer who had crazy applause like La’Porsha, that he liked the song, he loved the fact that she was showing a different type of angst and passion they haven’t seen before.

Trent Harmon said that Idol made him want to become a singer. He remembers when David Archuletta sang “Imagine.” It really stuck to him. He is singing “Like I Can” by Sam Smith. Goosebumps. I was dancing and clapping while he was singing. Jennifer said “wow.” She feels they have one of the best competitions with this top 10. His voice is so unique and different and he does exciting things with it. It wasn’t all perfect every single moment. He is an artist. She loves him. Kelly said it is a very impressive thing to have such an impressive thing to have that natural gift. Harry thought it was fantastic. Over the last years American Idol has been on the air, it is almost like watching a world class ice skater. If he goes for the runs he has to be like an ice skating match. Tremendous job. Jennifer wants a “run battle.” Keith said it was a good job. He thought everyone was rising to the occasion after La’Porsha and now he wishes La’Porsha started the show.

Kelly Clarkson then took the stage for a special performance with a song called “Piece by Piece.” I was in tears. It was written after a conversation with her sister. Keith was sobbing as much as I was. Jennifer had so much compassion in her eyes. The lyrics made me cry because it sort of resembles my own life. I married a man who stayed when all I knew was abandonment. We are kindred spirits Kelly Clarkson.





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 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.