American Idol S12 Boys’ Hollywood Week

10 02 2013

AmericanIdolLogoAfter these two evenings, I have judged the judges: Keith Urban: The Witty One. Nicki Minaj: The Realist. Randy Jackson: Phoning It In. And Mariah Carey: Working It Out. Some choices left me absolutely baffled, both in a good way and not in a good way. Nicki seemed to contradict herself quite often on Wednesday night.

Round One: Sudden Death: A capella

They would be judged in groups of 10.

Made it (may not a complete list): Adam Sanders, Adrien Madison, Bill White, Bryant Tadeo, Burnell Taylor, Charles Allen, Charlie Askew, Chris Watson, Christian Lopez, Clifton Duffin, Cortez Shaw, Curtis Finch, Jr., Dan Wood, Darien Moses, David Leathers, Jr., David Willis, Devan Jones, Devin Velez, Elijah Liu, Frankie Ford, Gabe Brown, Griffin Peterson, Gurpreet Singh Sarin (The Turbanator), Jason Jones, JDA, Jessie Lawrence, Jimmy Smith, Joel Wayman, Johnny Keyser, Joshua Stephens, Kareem Clark, Kayden Stephenson, Kevin Quinn, Lee Pritchard, Lazaro Arbos, Mario Jose, Marvin Calderon, Mathenee Treco, Matheus Fernandes, Micah Johnson, Nate Tao, Nicholas Mathis, Nick Boddington, Papa Peachez, Paul Jolley, Peter ?, Ryan Conner Smith, Sanni M’Mairura, Scott Fleenor, Tony Foster, Jr., Trevor Blakeney, Vincent Powell, Zach Birnbaum.

Who did not (for sure): Brian Rittenberry, Dr. Calvin Peters, Dustin Watts which were all surprises to me. Karl Skinner was not a surprise, but he is so gracious about it. No tears, no drama. Just a thank-you.

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Round 2: Groups!

Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe announce that THEY would be deciding the groups and that you could not change your group. They did, however, get to choose their name and song from a list of 20 songs. Even though they were performing in groups, the judges would make decisions on the individual performance.

Group: Nick Boddington, Gabe Brown, Mathenee Treco, Matheus Fernandes
Song: “Somebody to Love” by Queen

Comments: I thought they did a good job. Nicki did a fake-out for Gabe and made our hearts skip for a minute; however, they were all sent through.

Group: “Normal Hills” with Johnny Keyser, Kareem Clark, and 2 individuals I cannot identify.
Song: “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by The Four Tops

Comments: Although he picked the song, Johnny was singing a different tune when he realized he was not ready. He said “they” picked a song that he did not know. Johnny sounds horrible. He forgot the lyrics. Kareem Clark is off-key and forgot the lyrics. Forgetting the lyrics should mean automatic disqualification. When Johnny says he has “never” heard the song before, Keith Urban asks, “What planet are you from? I’m from AUSTRALIA and I know that song.” Kareem is sent home and the other three, including Johnny “Why Is He Still Here?” Keyser.

Group: “Couch Potatoes” with Curtis Finch, Jr., Charlie Askew, and Nicholas Mathis
Song: “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars

Comments: Charlie was not feeling well. While Nicholas rallied with his teammate, Curtis says that he would like to show him the bus home because he is there to win. Okay then; we know where he stands! I got goosebumps. Sarcastic Keith: “That was alright.” All of them made it through.

Group: “Four Tones” with Micah Johnson, Vincent Powell, Marvin Calderon, and David Willis.
Song: “Hold On, I’m Coming” by Sam & Dave

Comments: They all made it through.

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Four Tones with Houston’s Vincent Powell

Group: Zach Birnbaum, Nate Tao, Cortez Shaw, Elijah Liu.
Song: “She’s Some Kind of Wonderful” made famous by Grand Funk Railroad

Comments: I got goosebumps on this one, too. All of them are through.

Group: I don’t recognize any of these guys other than Jimmy Smith.
Song: “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction

Comments: They forget the lyrics and I am not sure who makes it through other than Jimmy who I see later in the solo rounds.

Group: “The Taylors” Paul Jolley, Bill White, and two people I don’t recognize.
Song: “Amazed” by Lonestar

Comments: They all forgot their lyrics. Keith said, “Somethin’ like that.” Randy said, “I’m so happy that that ended.” Paul and Bill make it through. The other two are sent home.

Group: “The B Side” with Gurpreet Singh Sarin, Mark ?, Chris ?, Peter ?, and ?
Song: “Payphone” by Maroon 5

Comments: This was HORRIBLE. They also forgot the lyrics. Randy: “Hang up the damn phone.” Keith: “Adam Levine is still alive and he’s already turning in his grave.” Then the shocker: The judges believe they can all get better and PUT THEM THROUGH? SAY WHAT? Nicki goes out in the hallway and tells them that they were her favorite group there. What are they mixing in the Coca Cola that day?

The judges take a break and when they come back, Keith Urban is the voice of sanity: “Let’s raise the bar a bit here.” Nicki says, “This is not about entertaining; they have to have the voices.” Dear Nicki: I gave you exhibit A, Taylor Hicks. He was entertaining while having an average voice.

Group: Jason Jones, Dan Wood, Jessie Lawrence
Song: “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction

Comments: Dan was horribly off key. I would not have dedicated that song to Mariah and Nicki if you didn’t plan to blow them away with it. Harmonies were sour, too. Keith: “If the word ‘wrongest’ can be used, it was the wrongest song for you guys. The song is by One Direction but you were Four Directions.” Nicki: “All were equally bad actually.” All of them go home.

Group: Ryan Conner Smith, Devan Jones, Devin Velez, Adrien Madison
Song: “Payphone” by Maroon 5

Comments: Ryan suggests they sing it a capella but they sing it slowly. Keith did not like they chose to sing it that way (either choice). Ryan goes home.

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Group: Burnell Taylor, Tony Foster, Jr., Mario Jose, Darien Moses
Song: “She’s Some Kind of Wonderful” made famous by Grand Funk Railroad

Comments: Burnell is the weak link in this group; the others have stronger voices. The judges, however, send Tony and Mario home. What the hell? They let the group that forget the lyrics go through with Nicki telling them they are her favorite, yet they let two talented people in this bunch go home and let sleepy Burnell go through? Letting Mario and Tony go home was a true injustice.

Group: “Super 55” with Lazaro Arbos, Joshua Stephens, Scott Fleenor, and Christian Lopez
Song: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys

Comments: Lazaro did not know the song. Joshua said that Lazaro was “holding them back.” But, Joshua, you sounded off-key and it was not good at all. You cannot blame him for your own performance. Scott forgot the lyrics (and Keith says, “Close enough.”) Lazaro muddled through the lyrics but was at least on key and had a great ending note which seemed to take the others by surprise so I’m guessing it was a spontaneous change. It was a yes for Lazaro and Christian and a no to Scott and Joshua. Afterwards, Josh says, “I feel like I helped this person that ended up taking the slot that I wanted, which is frustrating.” “Wanted” and “deserved,” dear Joshua, are two different things. You have to be responsible for your own performance.

Group: Country Queen with Trevor Blakeney, Lee Pritchard, JDA, Joel Wayman
Song: “More Than Words” by Extreme

Comments: None of them were good in my opinion. Lee forgot the words. Jda was off-key. Trevor forgot most of the words. Trevor was visibly upset, “I’ve never failed anything in my life.” You did not fail Trevor; you made it this far and that is quite impressive. Keep trying, buddy.

Group: DKSK with Kayden Stephenson, David Leathers Jr (who was in the final elimination in the 2012 Vegas round), Kevin Quinn, Sanni M’Mairura (Pearland BOY!)
Song: “Longest Time” by Billy Joel

Comments: The judges were surprised by the key change which got the judge’s attention. When Kayden started singing, Mariah’s face said it all: “Oh God, please do not let this be happening; I don’t want to say no to that young man.” Sanni and David are through; Kevin and Kayden are not. Nicki: “If you’re going on just the voice, just the voice, we made the right decision.” WHAT??? Her “favorite group” was not about “the voice”, it was about, what she considered strictly on entertainment.

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DSKS with Pearland’s Sanni M’Mairura

Group: Papa Peachez, Adam Sanders, Frankie Ford, Charles Allen
Song: “American Boy” by Estelle

Comments: Frankie has a power struggle with the group and pushes ego when his musical knowledge does not match the groups. Excuse after excuse. Asthma issues, then sobbing. The only one who is decent at all is Adam Sanders and maybe Charles Allen. Nicki asks Papa Peachez and Frankie to step forward. Nicki: “Frankie you fell apart for me today. Keith fought for you, Frankie. Your spirit filled up this room.” To Papa Peachez, Nicki shared this, “If it were not for 1 person changing their vote you would be going home. You are too complacent right now in the competition. You have to step up.” And then she tells Frankie he has to go home. Keith says, “Frankie Returns to Hollywood.” Then Frankie, in a grief-stricken rant, says, “You will not deny me.”

Other people who did not make it through group round: Griffin Peterson and Clifton Duffin.

Thursday Night: Solos with the Band

The solos will be performed and decisions will be made in groups of 8. They can let the band play or they are allowed to play their own instrument with the band. Forty-three remain and half will be cut.

First group of 8: Paul Jolley is a nervous wreck and overcompensates with words which annoys the judges. He sings, “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood. I did not think it was good enough; it was just under the note. Nicki begs of him, “Give us 1 minute of professionalism!” Keith quirks, “Be Jolly.” Lazaro Arbos sings “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga. It is better than the group performance, but I don’t know if it is good enough for the top 10. Curtis Finch, Jr. sings, “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri. It was not as good as we have heard him before. I did not like his song choice. All three of these guys are through.

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Paul Jolley

The second bunch included featured songs by Devin Velez singing, “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. I had goosebumps. It was awesome. I bet you he makes the top 10 boys. Gurpreet Singh Sarin had a chance to redeem himself and chose to play guitar with the band. He sang, “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles and did a smashing job. Cortez Shaw of Dallas sang, “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb and did well. He also redeemed his group performance. Matheus Fernandes has begun to make me feel uncomfortable.  He seems to keep playing the “The Glee Project” part. Whether this is his genuine personality or the persona he played for “The Glee Project” and served him well there, so he felt there was no need to grow from that, I am really not sure. He had an excuse about not singing with a band before and then was cracking jokes again about his appearance. He sang “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson but it sounded angry. He seems to feel the need to drop to his knees with every song he sings. It was a very bad song choice. It was terribly executed. He was always under the notes. This “Glee-like” drama does not belong in American Idol. Nicki gave it to him straight, “Sometimes things go from being inspiring to becoming you wanting a pity party. Once you’re great, we don’t even notice your height. You don’t have to milk that…ever again…ever. Be you. Be great. And just rest in your talent after today. Devin, Gurpreet, Cortez, and Adam Sanders (performance not shown) were sent through but Matheus was sent home.

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Devin Velez is one of my favorites

The third bunch included Nicholas Mathis who sang “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars. Keith Urban was so cool doing background sound effects (of what the music would do) for him. He was always just under the note, not quite flat, but not quite there. Then he dropped to his knees but for different reasons I think than Matheus did. He looked like the song was wearing him out physically because it requires a lot of breathing, lung power and breath control. He was just visibly out of breath. Keith said, “When you said chasing a dream, I felt like you were chasing the song.” Nicholas asks for one more chance because he is doing this for his kids (and I think Keith’s point was he should be doing this because it is his calling in life). As he exits, he says, “Get me a song to sing.” I did not understand that comment. He got a song to sing in the solo rounds–one he picked in fact. Nicki kept a watchful eye on Papa Peachez. He decided to sing, “You and I” by Lady Gaga and Nicki rolled her eyes when he started singing. It is the best I have heard him sing in Hollywood but it is not good enough for a place in the top 20. Nicki says, “I’m pretty sure that flame is completely burnt out. I am so disappointed. I don’t know why you would choose that song.” Jimmy Smith tries to redeem his group performance and sings “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. He has a sweet voice and he did a great job.

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Jimmy Smith’s redemption

In the fourth bunch, Nick Boddington, who made it to the Vegas rounds last year, chose to take a risk and play the keyboard and did one of my favorite songs, “Stars” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Although he was no Amanda Brown from The Voice it was still a good performance and I got goosebumps. I hope he finds a place in our top 10. Charlie Askew uses his charm to win over the judges. He decided to do a talking intro to the “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. He is an interesting quirky person (and I’m quirky and I like that) but he does not have the best voice. Nicki said, “I am obsessed with you.” His response? “Baby I could say the same thing.” And then my favorite line I’ve heard all year, “I glorify weirdness.” Can I use this as my catch line, Charlie? LOVE THAT LINE! Both of these guys go through as does JDA and Mathenee Treco.

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Nick Boddington is another of my favorites

The fifth bunch started with two singers doing the same song, “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri: Burnell Taylor and Marvin Calderon. Burnell is not doing too well. He is more right under the note than he was singing on the note. Marvin was not great, but was better than Burnell, even when he cracked on that end note. I’m upset that Burnell is going through. Is it just because he’s from Baton Rouge? Marvin is also going through as well. Micah Johnson then performs. He sings, “I Told You So” by Randy Travis. It was good but there were no vocal Olympics. He was far better than Burnell. Then they tell him no for this year. This is just NUTS.

They also let go: Gabe Brown, Sanni M’Mairura (WE STILL LOVE YOU IN HOUSTON SANNI!), and Nate Tao. And Johnny Keyser is still there? WHY IS HE STILL THERE?

Top 28 (I’m showing 32 names, the ones in bold are the ones I know are through; not sure if others are through and/or others are missing)?: Adam Sanders, Adrien Madison, Bill White, Bryant Tadeo, Burnell Taylor, Charles Allen, Charlie Askew, Chris Watson, Christian Lopez, Cortez Shaw, Curtis Finch, Jr., Darien Moses, David Leathers, Jr., David Willis, Devan Jones, Devin Velez, Elijah Liu, Gurpreet Singh Sarin (The Turbanator), JDA, Jimmy Smith, Joel Wayman, Johnny Keyser, Josh Holiday, Lee Pritchard, Lazaro Arbos, Mario Jose, Marvin Calderon, Mathenee Treco, Nick Boddington, Paul Jolley, Peter ?, Vincent Powell, Zach Birnbaum.

There is a twist to the boys, however. Next Thursday they will not have to perform, but 8 of them will still need to go home.

Next week: Hollywood Week Girls Style. Let the Hunger Games begin.





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 10 Performance

21 07 2011

Congratulations to So You Think You Can Dance for the well-deserved 8 Emmy nominations.

Tonight was a game-changer in the format of the show. The contestant would now be paired up with former alumni of the show, affectionately known as the all-stars. Neil Patrick Harris was the guest judge this evening. Tickets for the tour go on sale July 29 which kicks off in Orlando, Florida.

Dancers: Marko & all-star Chelsie Hightower
Song: “Cinema Italiano” (The Ron Fair Remix)
Artist: Kate Hudson
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Samba
Story: A photographer and his muse.

The big question of the night is this: Will Marko and Melanie shine being apart? While Marko did well, it was not his best dance. Perhaps Melanie is his muse. There was a lot of footwork, but there were spots where I felt his arms could have been up higher and his legs could have been together more than apart. But Mary Murphy is the expert in ballroom and she loved it. He does get kudos for those massive lift/twirls.

Dancers: Jordan & all-star Brandon Bryant
Song: “Who You Are”
Artist: Jessie J
Choreographers: Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson
Style: Contemporary
Story: The highs and lows of love.

This was a wonderful partnering. Brandon’s age and experience brought more out of Jordan as did the beautiful choreography which left me with goosebumps. The combination gave her a deepened maturity in her dancing. This is one of the reasons why I love the all-stars so much. The contestants seem to rise up to their level. Jordan received high praise from all the judges including a plea from Nigel to keep her in the competition.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Comfort Fedoke
Song: “Look At Me Now”
Artist: Chris Brown (featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes)
Choreographer: Chuck Maldonado
Style: Hip-hop
Story: None.

Once again, having Comfort in the mix elevated Tadd’s level of dance. The choreography was also very complex to a very fast beat, but Tadd rose to the challenge. It played to Tadd’s strengths. There was very good chemistry between the two dancers. Nigel and Neil both felt he out-danced Comfort. Mary thought he was ghetto-licious.

Dancers: Mitchell and all-star Melody Lacayanga
Song: “Take Off With Us”
Artist: All That Jazz Soundtrack
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Broadway/jazz
Story: Taking flight.

Once again I’m afraid for Mitchell because Broadway does not bring in the votes. I did not watch SYTYCD in season 1, so Melody is new for me as well. Mitchell had great height in his leaps. There was something awkward about the routine, but I think it was in the height difference actually. I thought Mitchell out-danced Melody. The judges did not like it with Neil Patrick Harris taking aim more at Tyce’s choreography. It was like someone tried to make Boeing, Boeing a musical. It just did not work. Sometimes the dancers are at the mercy of the choreography. Perhaps the awkwardness was not in the height difference, but the fact that the dancers were not feeling it so they overperformed.

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Malajunta”
Artist: Orquesta Color Tango
Choreographers: Leonardo Barrionueva and Miriam Larici
Style: Argentine tango
Story: A disconnected couple from the 1930’s era falling in love.

This LA-noire-type tango was on fire. With a partner like Pasha how could you not get totally wrapped up in the chemistry? The intricate steps with the interlocking legs are very difficult and I hope the audience can appreciate that. I still worry for Caitlynn because Broadway and ballroom do not do so well with voters. Mary Murphy gave Caitlynn a standing ovation and was near tears. Nigel commented that she used to be a girl dancing but now he saw a woman dance. Neil stated it took a little bit for him to get into it but he was completely mesmerized by it.

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Twitch
Song: “Misty Blue”
Artist: Dorothy Moore
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Style: Hip-hop
Story: A couple’s whose love has burned out and they try to rekindle the magic.

As much as I enjoyed Alexander, there was a disconnection for me since the first week between the two of them. Tonight, Sasha was partnered with someone who not only had the chemistry but also had the skills to match her. As a married person of 19 years now, I appreciated this dance a great deal and could relate to it. This routine sizzled with sensuality. It was very nice to hear this song again. The routine was received quite well by the audience based on the level of clapping and hooting they did. I just love Twitch and everything he does. Nigel could not even speak. Neil called it the best routine so far in the evening. The routine brought Mary Murphy to swearing, calling it a “sexy-ass number.”

Dancers: Jess and all-star Kathryn McCormick
Song: “The Lonely”
Artist: Christina Perri
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Story: Not being able to see what is right in front of you.

This routine required Jess to give all his eye contact to Kathryn while Kathryn is basically ignoring him. There was not a flowing movement that I would have liked to have seen with the routine. Even dancing separately, there still has to be a bond between them for the audience to be pulled in–a difficult order to be filled by even seasoned dancers. Kathryn did a beautiful job and I have missed seeing her dance. Neil thought the choreography was magnificent but pointed out Jess’ facial expressions that are typical of a Broadway dancer, but thought it was the best he has seen Jess dance. Mary concurred that it was her favorite piece Jess has done to date. Nigel thought Jess did a great job.

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Pasha
Song: “Everybody Hurts”
Artist: Tina Arena
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Viennese waltz
Story: A guy who has lost his will to live with Melanie as the friend who is nurturing him through it.

Melanie did not lose herself without Marko. This was the second time this evening I got the chills. Melanie’s movements were ethereal and she looked like a guardian angel cradling Pasha’s troubled soul. I am not really sure what might be troubling Pasha’s soul since he got to dance with two beautiful women this evening! Mary complimented her on her effortless lifts and felt she was right up there on the top of the leaderboard. Nigel called her a solid, brilliant dancer. Neil thinks Melanie looks like she is from the past but dances like she is from the future and is easily his favorite dancer on the show.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Allison Holker
Song: “Precious Things”
Artist: Tori Amos
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Jazz
Story: A bad dream (Ricky being Allison’s worst nightmare).

It’s hard to imagine cheerful Ricky as anybody’s worst nightmare, but he pulled this dance off. The lift where Allison is in a curved position and Ricky’s arms are straight up took my breath away. There was great power in his movements. Both Neil and Nigel were impressed with both the choreography and Ricky’s performance. Mary thought it was raw, reckless, passionate, intense and committed.

Dancers: Clarice and all-star Robert Roldan
Song: “Aila Re Aila”
Artist: Khatta Meetha
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Style: Bollywood
Story: A game of cat and mouse.

Nakul threw everything except the kitchen sink into this dance routine. Clarice did a fantastic job keeping up with all-star Robert. This season of SYTYCD has got to be labeled the kissing season. This sexy dance was fast with intricate moves. Everyone loved it. It was a great way to end this wonderful show.

Solos

Sasha‘s routine to “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy had very complex moves and good emotional connectivity. It reminded me of a little dragonfly. Jess performed his solo to “Come By Me” by Harry Connick, Jr., utilizing the entire stage very well with his Broadway-like routine. He always has a lot of good energy. Melanie danced beautifully to “You’re The One That I Want” by Angus and Julia Stone. Ricky performed a lovely solo to “Daylight Breaks” by Cassidy Haley. Clarice danced her solo with a Latin-vibe to “Royal T” from Crookers featuring Roison Murphy. Performing to “This Time” by John Legend, Mitchell redeemed himself from his all-star routine. Jordan danced to “Tonight” by Lykee L., taking to heart the judge’s advice last week that they needed to see something different from her. Tadd provided an entertaining solo to “Everything I Can’t Have” by Robin Thicke. Caitlynn’s contemporary piece was lovely to Florence and The Machine’s “Cosmic Love.”  Marko closed out the solo performances of the night with a song from Gavin DeGraw, “More Than Anyone”, reminding us what a beautiful dancer he is.

For me, my least favorite dance this evening was Jess, but I am very worried for Mitchell because he was the only one to receive negative feedback. It would be difficult to say exactly which my favorite was because I had so many. All the solos were stupendous.

I would like to pass on some news from Miranda’s fans at @mirandacandance on Twitter. On Saturday they have an exciting announcement to pass to everyone and a chance to win some really great prizes, so make sure you stay glued to Twitter on Saturday.

Who were your favorites and least favorites this evening?