The top 24 on American Idol performed this week. These first few shows until they narrow it down to the final 12 always kind of bore me. None of the girls really stood out, and only a select few guys did. I didn't even feel compelled to pick up the phone to vote. It really doesn't matter to me who goes home this week because they were all just BLAH. Don't they know that NOW is the time to step up their game?
The recurring theme of both nights was (drumroll, please...) song choice (isn't it always?). The judges commented on almost everyone's song and it just got really annoying. Why doesn't someone help them choose a song that IS the right choice so that the judges can actually critique their talent?
Paige Miles, 24, was the first to go. She sang “It’s Alright” by Free to mixed reviews from the judges. Simon critiqued her song choice and said she needed a more original song (shocker!), but Kara disagreed and said the song was okay and that she "slayed" the verses but could have done more with the chorus. Randy agreed with Simon about the song choice but thought Paige did a great job and Ellen said she had a great look and a great presence. All in all, an okay performance.
Ashley Rodriguez, 22, a student from Chelsea, MA was next to go. She sang “Happy” by Leona Lewis. She has a really good voice and a great look, but the song is a total downer. Her version paled in comparison to the original, which is not what you want to happen on your first time out. Kara said she had some nice moments, but also some moments that weren’t so great, and that she needs to do something different. Randy said she did a good job with the song, but will always be compared to the big singers and that she didn’t express who she was. Ellen said she needs something that’s a whole different vibe and to do something that’s not safe. Simon pretty much hated the performance calling it “clumsy” while criticizing the arrangement and lack of originality. He said he doesn’t feel her as contemporary performing artist and that she may be in trouble.
Janell Wheeler, 24, a wine sales rep, was third. This girl looked so nervous! I don't know if she was or if she normally shakes like a leaf, but I felt bad for her. She sang “What About Love” by Heart. I thought maybe once she got into the song, her nerves would calm down, but they didn't. Her voice sounded shaky and her hand was visibly shaking during the last note. Randy said it wasn’t his favorite song choice for her (here we go again), but he "still has vibes for her." Ellen loved the song choice and thought she moved easily on stage, saying “I liked it and I liked you.” Simon said she gave 100% effort and only delivered 65%, again reiterating the song choice, but he thinks she's going to survive this week. Kara thought the song was too big for her.
Lilly Scott, 20, homeless?, was fourth. Apparently living out of her car and playing on the street has made her prematurely gray. Seriously, what's up with the gray hair? Maybe it's just so blonde that it looks gray, but either way, it's a bad choice. She sang “Fix it All” by The Beatles. She was probably the most memorable thus far. Ellen liked it, saying “I think that’s what we’re talking about.” Simon agreed with me that it was the best so far and felt that she sang the song because it was who she is as an artist, not because it would get her through to the next round. Kara felt she was comfortable on the stage and that everyone is going to remember her. Randy loved the honesty about her and thought it was great.
Katelyn Epperly, 19, was next. She sang “Oh! Darling’” by The Beatles. She had a cool look about her, but her jerky movements on stage reminded me of Megan Joy Corkrey from last season (oh my how I hated her so I hope it was just a fluke and Katelyn really isn't a spaz like Megan Joy was). Simon said there were elements where she was screaming and it was messy, but he liked her. Kara said “you know your voice very, very well” and can tell she’s been singing a long time. Randy commented that everyone is concerned with doing runs, but that the real art of singing is tone and she pays attention to that. Ellen couldn’t tell if she was pushing too hard, but has a lot of personality and a great voice. That seems to be Ellen's only critique, that the contestants are "pushing"... what does that even mean?
Haeley Vaughn, a cute 16-year-old high school student sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles. Before she even opened her mouth, I noticed that she was wearing ALL WHITE (headband, necklace, sweater, skirt, tights, shoes) and it's not even Easter yet! Major style deduction in my book. I thought she changed the classic Beatles song way too much. Kara said “Everytime you take that stage you come and you have fun and everyone around you feels that”, but she needs to work on her technical abilities. Randy said he loved her unpredictability, but her high notes weren't pleasing. Ellen said she shines on stage. Simon hated it, saying “If I’m being honest, I thought it was verging on terrible” and it was a complete and utter mess. I agree with Simon. She sang a country song for her original audition and I think that's more her style.
Lacey Brown, 24, with crazy red spiky hair was seventh, singing “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. The judges weren't impressed, with Randy commenting on her song choice, Ellen thinking she's better than that, Simon thinking it was depressing, and Kara saying that maybe Sixpence None the Richer is more her vibe.
At this point in the girls' show, I haven’t seen a girl that I think I could pull for. No one really stands out. They’re all kind of wobbly singing boring songs. My favorite part of the show so far is all of the Kris Allen Ford commercials. He’s dreamy.
Michelle Delamor, 22, sang “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys. The first thing I noticed was her periwinkle nail polish – so cute! Pretty good reviews from the judges. Ellen said “Well, that was fan-tastic” and Simon agreed, saying “I think you did very well." Kara commented on her commercial looks, and Randy said she needs to take some risks, but that she did a pretty good job.
Didi Benami, 23, was next, singing “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. Simon said it was indulgent and dreary while Kara called it pitchy. Randy wondered where the star factor was, and Ellen didn't think people would pick up the phone to vote for her after that song. I actually kind of disagree with the judges because Didi was the first girl who actually made me notice her and feel something while she was singing. It wasn't great by any means, but it wasn't as bad as the judges say it was.
Siobhan Magnus, 19, a glass-blowing apprentice, sang "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. I can’t believe this girl made it through and for some reason, I don't see her getting very far. Her look and demeaner is somehow off-putting. Kara said she wouldn’t have picked the song, but kinda liked it, and called her quirky. Randy said she has a great voice but needs a bigger song. Ellen said “For a moment, I forgot we were in singing competition and I was just being entertained." Simon liked it but didn't love it. Also, I have no idea how to pronounce her name... it sounded different to me everytime they said it (Chi-vahn? Si-bahn?).
Crystal Bowersox, 24, a musician mom with blonde dreads, sang “Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morrisette. What annoyed me about her performance is that she never pronunciated “hand” (i.e. I’ve got one-und in my pocket). It sounded strange. Randy loves her originality, and said it doesn’t matter what the song is, he just likes her. Ellen said she adds something fresh to the show and thinks people are voting for her. Simon told her that she needs to do something that is her, not a sound-alike, but added “I really, really like you and I think you are refreshing”. Kara ended with “You were good tonight, but I think there is greatness in you."
Katie Stevens, 17, sang “Feelin’ Good” by Michael Buble. I thought she looked really cute in her black dress, red sash, headband and heels (very age-appropriate). I really liked her performance, but that may also having something to do with how much I like that song. Either way, she sounded good. Ellen said is was a very conservative song choice and that she needs to be “current” and “modern. Simon felt her performance was very pageanty, while Kara said it was pitchy, but she has a natural gift. Randy felt that she was pushing so hard that all the notes were going sharp, but that she is very talented.
I was mostly disappointed in the girls' performances. No one really stood out, and I think it's a toss up at this point, but keep reading for my predictions.
Todrick Hall, 24, was first, singing "Since You Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. This is the guy who sang the clever song at the Dallas auditions (Todrick is my name and I'm here to play a part in your game / Hopped a plane, took a train / Just to claim my fifteen minutes of fame...). He did an interesting arrangement of Since You Been Gone that I really liked, but the judges weren't too fond of. Ellen said he was a great performer, but his singing wasn’t the greatest. Randy said he is mad talented, but doesn’t need to completely change the song. Kara agreed that it is undeniable that he is a performer, but he didn't have to go that crazy. Simon blasted him, saying he murdered the song and it was verging on stupid. I don't know about that!
Aaron Kelly, 16, sang “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts. Simon said it was quite a good performance, and 100% he'll be back next week. Kara said he has no idea how great your raw natural talent is, and Randy commented on his "big pipes." Ellen loved how humble he is but said he needs to gain confidence. (Sidenote: Kara mentioned the Rascal Flatts lead singer’s name, and Steven said “Is that the Rascal Flatts guy’s name?” and I said “I don’t know, I thought his name was Rascal." If you're in a group, chances are I do not know your name. Of course with the exception being Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and N*Sync, from my preteen days when I lusted over all of them.)
Jermaine Sellers – 27, was third, singing “Get Here” by Oleta Adams. He was wearing a jacket with tails and a bowler-looking hat, which was interesting. Ellen said she loved his look, but felt he didn't really get into the song. Randy loved the song but felt it was a weird choice for him. Kara thought the performance felt old, and Simon said it just didn't work and thought he might have blown his opportunity with that song choice.
Tim Urban, 20, was next. We found out that he was the one who replaced the dude who got cut because his dad told someone he was in the top 24. I googled it to see if I could find out who the original guy was, but all of the news sites report that it was Michael Lynche (Big Mike) who got kicked off, but he performed last night, so I'm a little confused on this point. Not sure where they got that info. Anywho, Tim sang “Apologize” by One Republic to harsh reviews from the judges. Simon said they absolutely made the right decision the first time around by not putting him through (wow!). Kara thought the music swallowed him up, and Randy agreed that it was the wrong song, but Ellen thought that people will want to vote for him because he's adorable.
Joe Munoz, 20, sang “You and I Both” by Jason Mraz. Ellen thought he sounded really good, while Randy said it wasn't the perfect song choice, but he did a good job. Kara said he was the best so far tonight, but Simon said he didn’t show the potential to be a star.
Tyler Grady, 20, sang “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz. The judges commented on his 70s vibe, saying he needed to bring it into 2010. Simon said people are gonna remember that performance, but partly for the wrong reasons (i.e. how bad it was, eek!).
Lee Dewyze, 23, was seventh, singing “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. I could tell by the first few notes that I like this guy. Ellen said she thought it was a really good song choice, but Randy disagreed. Kara thought he made the song unrecognizeable at parts, but Simon thought it was the best performance by a mile, and thinks he’s going to do really well in the competition.
John Park, 21, sang “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday. I don't think I had ever heard that song before, but I thought there were way too many runs and it kind of sucked. The judges were not pleased. Simon said it was flat with zero emotion and was a pointless performance. Kara felt no connection and thought it was sleepy. Randy thought the song was too old and Ellen agreed.
Michael Lynche (Big Mike), 26, sang “This Love” by Maroon 5. I didn't like his version, but probably because that song is one of my faves of all time. Ellen thought he had pitch problems, Randy thought he brought energy, Kara said the mood was depressing before he got on stage, but Simon said he delivered so little on that performance. Overall, I like this guy though.
Alex Lambert, 19, sang “A Wonderful World” by James Morrison. He seriously needs to get rid of the mullet... it was way too distracting. Simon thought it was the most uncomfortable performance of the night, but he has a naturally good voice. Kara said he has a crazy good tone and great potential. Randy liked him and Ellen supports the mullet and compared him to an unripened banana (interesting analogy).
Casey James, 27, Kara's lover boy, was eleventh, singing “Heaven," originally by Bryan Adams (but I think the DJ Sammy version is more well-known). Definitely the best performance of the night. Kara was all flustered and obviously thought he did very well. Randy and Ellen agreed. Simon thought he absolutely chose the right song, and came over as honest and sincere.
Andrew Garcia, 24, was last to go, singing “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” by Fall Out Boy. I really like Andrew because he seems different than most of the other contestants, and a true artist. I thought his version of this song was totally original and awesome, but the judges didn't agree. Simon was disappointed and thought it was forgettable. Kara thought it was a strange rendition, as did Randy. Ellen said he needs to open up more.
So, the moment you've all been waiting for... MY PREDICTIONS.
Disclaimer: At this point, predictions are kind of pointless because it's anyone's game and there are no frontrunners. So don't hate me if I'm completely wrong. Just my opinion.
The 2 girls going home tonight will be: Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox
The 2 guys going home tonight will be: Tyler Grady and John Park