Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top 13 Perform

Welcome back to I'dol Be The Judge. Last week was crazy, the numbers dropped from 24 to 10 back to 13 with the addition of the 3 wildcards. We can still debate a few of the contestants that made it versus the ones sitting home tonight but at this point it doesn't really matter.

Tonight is the first night of performances for the Top 13. We are still unsure at this point if there will be a double elimination tomorrow but I am sure we will learn this along the way. Tonight is the first night the contestants will work one on one with producer Jimmy Iovine and many other talented music producers. Despite these performances being taped earlier due to time constraints, it is still new to us, so let's see how they did and get right to it:

How Were The Contestants?:

Lauren (Any Man Of Mine): Starting things off in the leadoff spot is Lauren. The leadoff spot is a tough one to be in, there's a lot of show, so you have to make a dent right off the bat. Lauren goes the country root with this Shania Twain song. She definitely is comfortable on stage. But I was a little bored by the performance. Her vocals were strong but the whole thing didn't do a lot for me. Steven loved the song but wishes it were a bit more kickass. Jennifer thought Lauren needs to kick it into high gear. Randy also felt that Lauren needs to shine beyond belief. You can tell the judges didn't want to give her bad news. Again being in the leadoff spot and not doing so great isn't the best thing, but due to her popularity she should be able to stave off elimination this week. Grade=C+

Casey (With A Little Help From My Friends): This is the Joe Cocker version of the song. For a first night of performances Casey gets the full treatment, he gets 8 backup singers with him. Fancy. I felt his performance was better than last weeks, but it was also very reminiscent of last week. He sang a good portion, he shouted some, then he did some spoken word, and yelling. Not sure if it was pure singing that way but alright. This could get old in the next few weeks. Jennifer thought Casey was all sorts of wow and blew her away. Randy thought Casey was unbelievable and exciting. Steven calls Casey a "rainbow of talent" and has a "plethora of passion". Those are words that usually don't go together, at least on this show. Grade=B+

Ashthon (When You Tell Me You Love Me): Narrowly escaping getting cut last week, Ashthon has to prove that she deserves to be in the Top 13. Unfortunately right out the gate Ashthon does not sound good. Her voice sounds out of breath, she sounds completely out of key, it feels like the music is playing a different song. She can hit the big note but it's not enough, at least for me. Randy thought it was safe but thought she did some good with the song. Steven agrees with Randy and has confidence in Ashthon. Jennifer thought it was getting away from her but she was able to bring it back. The judges again seemed like they didn't want to give bad news and tried everything not to tell her she didn't sound good. Grade=C

Paul (Come Pick Me Up): Paul is an interesting character. He has a very distinct and unique voice and has some quirky stage movements, to put it mildly. His voice is so quiet and doesn't have a lot of powerful punch in it. Steven loved the rasp in Paul's voice but thought it was a bit pitchy. Jennifer thought Paul was unique but she doesn't know if the audience will get the performance due to the artist and song choice. Randy didn't think it was exciting but loves Paul's character. Randy pretty much says the same thing Jennifer did. I don't know how much America loves Paul's quirks so he could be in a little danger. Grade=B-

Pia (All By Myself): Pia's idol is Celine Dion. From last week's performance you can definitely see a little Celine Dion in her. Tonight, the first part of the song was a little rough but when the higher more powerful notes kicked in Pia started to hit her stride. The big note was hit beautifully. Definitely not a standing ovation type of performance this week but very strong again. Jennifer gets emotional when she starts to give her critiques. Randy started to compare Pia to the "Big 3", Whitney, Celine and Mariah. I don't know if Pia is there yet, but she's on her way. Steven thought she slammed it, and thought it was beautiful. Grade=A-

James (Maybe I'm Amazed): You almost can't go wrong when you sing a Beatles song or Paul McCartney song, so James picking this song is a smart move. This song was sung by Crystal Bowersox last year and was done in such a different way than what James did tonight. He added his high pitch flair, and added some more rock elements to it. I'll give James credit, he has a lot more control in his voice than what he did in the earlier rounds. He is definitely growing in this competition. Randy thought James slayed it and proved why he could really sing anything. Steven thought James did a real good job. Jennifer thought that James can really sing and he has and is everything. James is a contender right now, that's for sure. Grade=B+

Haley (Blue): Over the past week a lot of people have felt that Kendra should have been in the Top 13 over Haley, but Haley is here and she sings this LeAnn Rimes song. Although the performance was slowed down, her vocals were strong. She has that really raspy thing in her voice which is very unique. I can see the audience being a little bored by the performance but it really wasn't bad at all. Steven thought it was beautiful and thought she did a good job. Jennifer feels that Haley does special things with her voice and is very unique. Randy liked that she could do anything but thought it was boring and was sleepy. He feels that she is young and needs to do more. This was the first real straight out negative comment of the night and Ryan and Jennifer get on Randy for this. Everyone can't be great, otherwise what kind of show do you have ? Grade=B

Jacob (I Believe I Can Fly): I don't know if the first thing you want to tell America is that R. Kelly is your idol like Jacob did. There are a lot of people to be idolized, not sure if R. Kelly and his criminal past is the best choice you can make. But, this song can't be denied as powerful and great. The song on paper was a great choice by Jacob, and in real life it was a pretty strong choice. It fell a bit below the expectations of putting Jacob with this kind of song. Jacob had a choir come out with him but it didn't hide the fact that his voice fell flat in some areas. It was a decent job but nothing outstanding. Steven thought that Jacob was so good and is all that. Jennifer feels that Jacob is at the top of the list of contestants left in the competition. (Not sure she actually critiqued his performance tonight). Randy thought he had some sharp moments but was able to end really powerful. Like Lauren earlier, Jacob's past performances and popularity should carry him, despite a lesser performance tonight. Grade=B-

Thia (Smile): Last week Randy compared Thia's voice to Michael Jackson, so Thia obviously chose this Michael Jackson song, which also happens to be originally done by Charlie Chaplin, whom 15 year old Thia knows none of. Thia's performance tonight was very subdued in the beginning and then it went into a 90s jazz mix of the song. Not sure if I like the change of style to the song. Her voice was pretty strong but the performance as a whole was pretty boring as a whole, it didn't really go anywhere. Randy loved the intro but then thought she got pitchy and didn't love the jazzy bit in the middle and end. Steven thought that Thia was pitchy but liked it overall. Jennifer also loved the beginning and thought the arrangement was "interesting", meaning not so great. Grade=C+

Stefano (Lately): Also a wildcard pick, Stefano has to prove why he deserves another shot by the audience. This Stevie Wonder song has been done many times on the show before but tonight it has a different kick to it. It has the classic parts to it, but they also added a little club sound to the song. I thought he sounded pitchy in some spots, but given the way the song went from slow to faster to slow and back and forth throughout, Stefano did a decent job. Steven thought Stefano pulled it off and thought the arrangement was crazy good. Jennifer thought the dance remix of the song made Stefano sound really great. Randy thought Stefano started a little rough but thought that by the middle of the song he was soaring. It was a middle of the road type of performance and given that he wasn't originally picked by America it will be interesting to see if this performance gained Stefano some more fans. Grade=B

Karen (I Could Fall In Love): Given that the judges have no more direct say in these performances I don't think that Karen went for the emotional punch on Jennifer Lopez by picking this Selena song. Karen actually just loves Selena. Her performance tonight had some good moments and then some really bad ones. The song actually didn't do much for her voice. The arrangement was very karaoke, nothing really exciting. Jennifer said that Karen seemed uncomfortable and hopes that the audience looks past this performance. Randy felt that Karen was fighting this song and wasn't excited by the song and performance. Steven felt that the her energy was lacking but hopes she makes it. Karen could be in some trouble, this was the first contestant that got panned by all 3 judges. Grade=C-

Scotty (The River):
For a country singer, singing a Garth Brooks song is a big deal. Scotty's voice tonight was just as strong as it has been. It was a little karaoke, in that he didn't do much with the song other than sound pretty good. Randy loved that Scotty didn't change the song up at all. Steven feels that Scott did Garth justice tonight. Jennifer felt that Scotty opened up as a performer and added a different dimension to his performance. Grade=B+

Naima (Umbrella): Before singing this Rihanna song, Naima said she wanted to make the song sound different and add her own flair. She added some crazy reggae verse to the song. It was a good idea to change it up that way, because otherwise it would have sounded entirely like the original. Naima also danced and moved on stage, which added a whole different dynamic. Steven thought Naima was a little pitchy but thought she added flavor that no one else did. Jennifer didn't care about the pitchiness because she added her flair and thought she was great, but she does feel that she needs to work on her control. Randy does care about the pitchiness but thought that Naima's reggae section of the song was crazy good. Mixed reaction by the judges. Grade=B

How Were The Judges:

Steven: I think Steven helped create a lot of the buzz that this new season has had up til now, but since we entered these "live" performances he hasn't really provided anything buzz worthy. He says that almost every performance is beautiful, even the ones that aren't so great. Any criticism he does have is very generic. Don't want to say it, but this is what happened to Ellen Degeneres last year. She did great during Hollywood week but when she started these live performances she had a difficult time creating good criticisms, she became plain and this unfortunately is happening with Steven right now.

Jennifer: I'm somewhat impressed with Jennifer. Her critiques are pretty spot on. When she feels that a performance is great she'll let us know, but if she feels something is off she'll let us know that too. I think she is getting better every week in her reviews of the constestants.

Randy: He added some straight, blunt honesty tonight. It's definitely not as cutting or critical like Simon Cowell used to bring, but given Steven's generic comments, and Jennifer still learning, Randy did a decent job giving some good points. But on the other hand, Randy is a little conflicting sometimes. Sometimes he wants singers to do something different with songs, yet sometimes, like tonight with his critiques to Scotty he applauded him for letting the song be like the original. A little confusing, but that's Randy for ya I guess.

How Was The Show:

I feel with the the behind the scenes videos of the contestants picking their songs, and working with the producers, it gave a good feel to who these contestants are. Last year we didn't really know a lot about the group, I feel that this year already we are getting to learn their personalities a bit more.

I liked that the show had each contestant work with an acclaimed or notable music producer but also get the final say so by the main guy Jimmy Iovine. Working with him and the other producers should help a lot of these contestants grow week to week.

Bottom 3 Prediction/Who's Going Home:

Bottom 3=Karen, Ashthon and Thia.
Going Home= Karen. Only based on all 3 judges panning her performance. Her performance last week might help keep her around, but it might be tough. No one was crazy awful like this time last year, but Karen's performance overall really wasn't strong at all.

Come on Back here tomorrow at I'dol Be The Judge. Diddy Dirty Money and Adam Lambert will perform during the results show. We don't know if there will be one cut or two cuts tomorrow, it was never mentioned. So come on back here right after the show to learn the fate of either one or two of these contestants. See you then.

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