American Idol S15 Top 24 Revealed

5 02 2016

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

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

The Ladies

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

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

 The Guys

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

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

 Going Home

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

Top 24 are:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 





American Idol S15 Hollywood Week No 2: Group Night

4 02 2016

Only 108 contestants remain after round 1 of solo performances.   It’s the dreaded group night that begins at 3:21 p.m. on the day before performance. They need to break up in groups of 3 to 4.

Scott Borchetta is going to be around for group to give them much needed feedback along with the vocal coaches of American Idol. He is telling it like it is; one group he told if they did what they did for him they are definitely going home tomorrow.

Shelbie Z, Marlena, and Tonie were struggling. Instead of trying to work it out, Shelbie walked off and left her group in search of another. Whether or not that was a wise move is yet to be determined. Shelbie sort of comes off as conceited a bit; I felt that way when she was on The Voice. Christian, who is in another group, overhears their dilemma, and he goes back to his group, who has four members, to see if someone would be willing to move to Marlena and Tonie’s group. Christian talks with La’Porsha, Malie and Manny. Malie doesn’t want to split up. And La’Porsha originally agreed, but then had a change of heart because she could not get them out of her head. Manny and Malie felt blindsided by that decision.

Dalton and Kassy were looking for their third member, Poh Scott. But the pressure was too much for this young lady and her father informs a crew member that she just can’t do this. They have to search for another group or a stray person who needs a group.

Team Blue Eyes consist of Jordan Sasser, Kory Wheeler, Kelsie Watts, and Jenna Renae. Their song is “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. The boys were stronger on this but the girls were close behind and Kelsie belted out this wonderful high note that would make Mariah Carey proud. They tell Jenna and Jordan to step forward and then do a fake-out and put all 4 of them through.

Milk & Cookies practiced in the toilet stall because the acoustics to them were better.   They chose “Drag Me Down” by One Direction. The ladies who make up the group are Jenn Blosil, Bri Ray, Lynnzee Faye and Sara Strum. Jenn reminds me too much of Joey Cook from last year. I thought they sounded nice together and no one forgot the lyrics. The choreography was bizarre. Keith tries to play them by saying “when I call your name please step forward” and follows with “who am I kidding, you’re all going through.”

The next group is “Ooh x 2” who choose “Need to Breathe” by Alex Clare. Amelia Eisenhauer, Tristan McIntosh, Lee Jean, and an unknown person. They are through to the next round.

Another group was composed of Avalon Young and a few others. They sang “DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again” by Usher and Harry complimented her that she could be in a video for that right now. They are through to the next round.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell was in another group. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. Harry told her that she made the lyric the most important thing. She and her two group mates are through to the next round.

Chynna Sherrod is in the next group which chose “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit to sing. Terrian is also in the group. It’s unclear if any made it through.

Trent Harmon was diagnosed with mono while he is there. He was cleared to continue in the competition, but he has to avoid spreading it, so no group rounds for him. His group name is called “Just Trent.”   He also sings “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. He has a very unique voice and I give him kudos for staying because this is the last chance for Idol. Harry jokes and he says, “I know one thing about that song; it sounds better in mono.” People groan. But Trent is through to the next round.

Michelle Marie and Lindsey Carrier of “Singing Out Loud” (with Ashley Lusk). After 5 hours, they decide on a song and pick up the defector Shelbie Z. Michelle was off pitch at the beginning part of that song and I’m just going to frank at this point—I don’t know how she is still in this competition with all these other more talented female voices other than she has a personality that makes her likable. They were singing “Undo It” by Carrie Underwood. They didn’t blend well as a group. Shelbie Z has a good voice without a doubt. Jennifer thought it was a good group job. Shelbie Z also has resting bitchy face. LOL. Ashley, Michelle, and Shelbie Z are through and Lindsey is going home.

Elvie Shane, Zach Person, Jessica Cabral and another person I don’t remember formed a group and they sang “Too Close” by Alex Clare. They were admonished that they looked tired and it came through, but this is what it is really like and their job is not to let the audience see that. Elvie is going home.

Ashley Lilinoe looked exhausted and seemed to not know the lyrics of her group’s song “Renegades” by X Ambassadors. Mackenzie Bourg did well. Juno, MacKenzie and Kayla are going through; Ashley is going home.

Cameron Richard was part of a group singing “Too Close” by Alex Clare. It wasn’t good enough and the judges send him home.

Chicken Noodle Soup’s Dalton Rapattoni and Kassy Levels lost their group member Poh Scott. The group “NV” consisted of Sonika Vaid, Andrew Nazarbekian, Stephany Negrete and Anatalia Villaranda.   Anatalia’s mom takes matters into her own hands and tries to convince the group that her daughter is not the problem; it’s the song. According to Anatalia, her group left her so she is looking for another group. She joined Chicken Noodle Soup. But Dalton found out that that the other members said she was not kicked out; Anatalia left.  Chicken Noodle Soup sang “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. I thought Dalton and Kassy sounded great. I’m a little iffy on Anatalia. But their voices complimented each other. All three are going through.  NV chose “Problem” by Arianna Grande. Sonika Vaid sounded good. Stephany Negrete sounded great. Andrew Nazarbekian has a crazy voice. They sounded great as a group. Keith felt Stephany was the only one who looked like a performer. They are all going through as well.

Josiah Siska, Jaci Butler, and Brian Dale Brown were sent home because they didn’t have great dance moves.

The next group “Trick or Treat Tribe” consisted of Kylle Thomasson, Kacye Haynes, Jon Klaasen, and Marcio Donaldson. They chose “Uptown Funk” by Mark Bronson. I think Kylle maybe sounded the best out of the four, but I’m not feeling them as a group. Keith thought they did good. Jennifer thought the same. Harry thought it was a good to see people feel rhythm. They are through to the next round.

Smooth Soul chose “Domino” by Jessie J. Joy Dove, Daniel Farmer, and Lindita. Lindita was all over the place. Harry said he was surprised Joy let Lindita do that. It is a competition. Joy and Lindita are through and Daniel is going home.

Eliz Camacho, Gianna Isabella, and Dana Ordway had issues being a group because of the overbearing personality of Eliz. She decided what song they were going to sing and then went to bed for the night. Eliz said for herself that she considered them backup singers that are going to let her rock it. Michael said it was one of the worst they have seen so far. If she even makes it through, Eliz is not going to win over America’s hearts that that piss-poor attitude. You can want to do your best without belittling others. “Hit ‘Em Style (Oops)” by Blu Cantrell. Jennifer said there was obvious tension that could be felt in the performance. This was supposed to be about collaborating. Gianna and Dana go through and Eliz was dismissed. But she goes away with conceited words, not learning a thing–humility.

The Good Vibes consist of Alesana Tolai, Jessica Paige, Olivia Thai, and Joe Dahman. They were singing “Me and My Broken Heart” by Rixton.   They all have nice voices. Some forgot the lyrics. It sounded off though. Not exactly sure where. Harry said there was no joy in their performance. Jessica is the only one going through.

CJ Johnson, Jess Kellner, Jessica Baker, and Zach Joseph sang “Renegades” by X Ambassadors. They were lively and sounded great. Harry said it was a great group song but it didn’t show him which one of them were a superstar. CJ, Jess, and Jessica are through and Zach is going home.

Thomas Muglia, Joey Hendricks, Bryson Dunn, and Thomas Stringfellow also did “Renegades.” It sounded kind of depressing. Thomas Stringfellow was the one who stood out for me. Harry looked like he was falling asleep during the performance. Both Thomases were through to the next round.

Rebirth including Manny Torres, Malie Delgado, Christian Eason chose “Too Close” by Alex Clare.   Malie was suffering from pretty bad laryngitis. Keith gives them a standing ovation. The audience was clapping as the song was playing. All three of them go through and Jennifer said it was one of the best groups of the day.

Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees is the song. Soul Catz included Laurel Wright, Marshall Cunningham, Drew Angus, and John Arthur Greene. They forgot the lyrics. I would say when choosing a group song, you should go with the song that has the least amount of words to have to remember. There are a lot of words in that song. Keith felt none of them took charge. Harry says, “If you forget the lyrics and turn around to ask for help – bad move.” Marshall and Laurel are through.

The last group round number ever for American Idol was performed by The Sistas (Tonie Starr, Marlena Johnson and La’Porsha Renae) who also chose “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees.   Even though Marlena messed up and substituted gibberish, they had stage presence and sounded like they blended well with each other). Harry said, “That is how you forget words.” The three are through to the next round.





American Idol S15 Atlanta Auditions

9 01 2016

(I know the Atlanta and Denver auditions were in the same show, but I’m splitting them up because the blog was just too long).

And so it begins….the beginning of the end of a 15-year run on American Idol. There will be surprises galore this season. Back of the judges panel are my favorite three judges: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. While some will argue that the original three judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell were the best, I prefer the constructive criticism that is given to the contestants versus the ridicule that left some contestants baffled as to what went wrong with their performance. I have been blogging about American Idol in one forum or another (including on the Fox 26 Houston blog site) since season 2 of the show when I first began watching.

If you are a newcomer to my blog, there is just one thing you need to know. My goosebumps never lie. Music truly rocks my soul. My mother had a beautiful opera voice and had auditioned for the NY Met, but didn’t make it. Because of her influence, I have been singing my whole life. I went to music school and my last public performance was at Hamman Hall at Rice University here in Houston. Stage fright got the best of me, my recital bombed, and I decided that this field was not my career path. My vocal coach was going to do a road trip and asked me to come along to be her background singer, a compliment that was not lost upon me, but the idea of being on the road, in gross motel rooms, singing in smoky environments (because there were no smoking bans in bars back then) just didn’t appeal to me. My childhood had been unstable and I decided to keep my stable day job. That didn’t mean, however, I gave up singing, writing songs, and challenging myself. My stage fright, however, has never left me. When I see singers crash because of stage fright on Idol, my heart truly feels empathy for them.

The first stop begins in Atlanta. Michelle Marie has been waiting to audition on Idol since she was 4 years old. She is 15 years old and is from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her song choice is “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. I got goosebumps when she sang the opening “Blue” inflections. Jennifer thought it was pretty. Harry thought she did a good job with a song that is technically difficult to do. Keith loved it too. She is through.

Some of the previous contestants came to do screening judging on the audition part of the tour including Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Kris Allen. I am not sure if that was a gift or a curse for them.

Showing off classic country is 18-year-old Josiah Siska from Dacula, Georgia. Singing Johnny Cash’s “Riders in the Sky” in the key of Johnny Cash, this big old deep bass voice came out of this young man. It was interesting, but I am not sure he would make it far in the competition; he would need to learn how to change “theme” weeks into a range he could sing and people would enjoy. Harry got up and did hand clapping and sound effects for him. Keith loved his voice. Harry said they have never heard anything like him yet. Three yesses.

Lindita is a 26-year-old personal trainer who was ridiculed her entire life for being obese. They would say, “She has a great voice but she is fat.” She decided to make lifestyle changes and dropped 150 pounds in preparation for her audition. She also married her own personal trainer. She is from Kosovo. She sang “This is a Man’s World.” Goosebumps! Jennifer says to Keith that she has soul. I loved it. Harry thinks she is a powerful singer. Jennifer and Keith loved it. Keith thought she had too many runs, but she will learn to cut some of that out. She receives three yesses.

Billy Bob Evett, 25 years of age from Punta Gorda, Florida, is a self-described honky-tonk man who is quite the Jennifer Lopez fan. He picks a Waylon Jennings song. He is another contestant with a deep bass voice. He was a lot of fun but it was not as good as Josiah. Keith likes him as a person but felt the singing wasn’t strong enough (the pitch was all over the place). Jennifer and Harry agreed.

Fifteen-year-old Lee Jean, from Bluffton, South Carolina, sang “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. Immediate goosebumps for me. His voice is so pure. I think when he added the guitar his voice went off pitch quite a bit. My suggestion would be to lose the guitar so he can concentrate on the vocals. Jennifer wants to squeeze him he is so cute (and she loves his talent). Harry thinks he has a tremendous amount of talent. The singing-in-tune part needs a lot of work which is doable. Keith loves his tone and has a singer/songwriter quality about it. They all give him a yes.

Sylvia Lee Walker, a 16-year-old that likes to talk (A LOT), from Rayle, Georgia got a standing ovation from Keith for her tales of her life that were told at the speed of light. Her song choice: Yodeling. And at the end of that Keith did a “mind blown” reference and collapsed in a ball of laughter. Jennifer and Harry thought it was awesome. Keith thought she had an amazing accent and he could listen to her stories all night long. Keith said she is entertainer as a person, but this was a singing competition and her pitch was all over the place. Jennifer thought she would be a lot of fun at Hollywood week but she also was a no.

Joshua Wicker, age 25, is the creative director at his church. His wife is 3 weeks away from her due date of their first child. He decides to sing, “Stay” by Rihanna. Oh my gosh. From the first note, I had goosebumps. I don’t think it was from the ice on my foot either. Jennifer said it was an interesting voice with a lot of pretty colors. Harry said it was compelling and that is all he cares about. Keith thought he sang it like he wrote it which is the highest compliment you can give someone who didn’t write a song. Three yesses. And three weeks later their daughter Branch was born.

This adorable couple with a new baby are both auditioning. First up is Alex Sasser, a 23-year-old worship leader from Raleigh, NC. She sings Bruno Mars’ song “Count on Me” while playing a ukulele. She is cute and has a sweet voice. Harry thought she had a pretty voice but it was just not passing it at all. Keith felt it was just too light for him as a performance. Jennifer needed to hear more of a compelling voice. It’s a no from all three. Jordan Sasser was next up. He chose Celine Dion’s song, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” He too is a worship leader at his church. He is definitely the stronger voice in the couple. I got some goosebumps. He has a nice face and a nice smile, too. Jennifer thought it was really good. Harry thought he is incredibly talented and smart. Keith thought it was great. Three yesses. What was sad to me is that I think she really believed she was the better singer in the family and it wasn’t just a joking around in the package before the singing. When she left she blamed Jordan for dancing around with the baby which made the judges not like her singing as much because it was distracting the judges. She says to him that she has never been good enough—she’s sat and watch him follow his dream and it’s heartbreaking. He looked shocked at her words. But he reassured her how proud he was of her and that he loved her. He really is the better singer Alex. It wasn’t the distraction of your baby in the room. And no offense, but you are a worship leader and we just witnessed one of the seven deadly sins:  Envy.