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.

 

 

 

 





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.

VincentPowell

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.

DevinVelez

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.

DSKS

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.

PaulJolley

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.

DevinVelez2

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.

JimmySmith

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.

NickBoddington

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.





The X-Factor Los Angeles and Seattle Auditions

22 09 2011

By Hilda Clark Bowen

The X Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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