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 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.