Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top 24 Part 1: 12 out of 24 Sing & Voting Shakeup News

Welcome back to I'dol Be the Judge. We are finally at the live rounds where the home audience gets to start voting, like we have for many years....oh we aren't at all. The "live rounds" are actually pre-taped and the judges are eliminating contestants during the Semifinals round and the audience is not. That's right, not until at least Top 14, possibly Top 10 does the American Idol audience actually vote, so we are looking late March, early April as the first opportunity.

I am pretty upset at this. The show is founded, good or bad, on the voting process. This show was one of the first of its kind to allow the home viewers to vote for a winner. Sure the process has changed over the years and sometimes there is a Twitter vote, or phone vote, or we only get to vote for a certain number of contestants, but Idol has stripped away this power, this right of the fan at home. I have to be honest, I have probably only voted a few times in the past 15 years, but millions of people have continued to watch this show because they like feeling that their vote matters. This is a tough blow to the home audience that has been loyal all throughout these past 15 years.

With that being said we will recap the show just as we normally would, but we will be listening and watching the judges a little more closely to see where their vote might go, because in the past their opinion was just that at this point in the competition, now it could seal someone's fate.

Our Top 12 Remain
Prior to Hollywood week we named our Top 20, these 12 are still singing. 
Audition 1=Lee Jean, Sonika Vaid
Audition 2=LaPorsha Renae, Tristan McIntosh
Audition 3 =Jenn Blosil, 
Audition 4= Chris "CJ" Johnson
Audition 5=Mackenzie Bourg, Jenna Renae, Emily Brooke, Adam Lasher
Audition 6= Stephany Negrete, Manny Torres

So as we always do, let's get to tonight's show:

Breakdown of Top 24 Week
12 out of the 24 will sing tonight.  12 will duet with a past American Idol winner or contestant tomorrow. After their duet 5 out of the 12 will be eliminated, 7 will move on. Then next week the remaining 12 contestants will follow the same pattern. The Top 14 will be revealed on Thursday Februday 22nd. Got all that. Ok.

Solo Rounds
Stephany Negrete 
(Mamma Knows Best by Jessie J)
She comes out strong, the band is really loud, but Stephany is also, so works out for her. She looks fierce, and you can tell she has a strong personality. This song has a lot in it, it didn't always work out for Stephany, but overall it was a solid opening performance.
Judges Comments=Keith-Really good song, good to see her on a stage. Loose, but she could have loosened up more. Jennifer-Full package, every ingredient to be a pop star, but needs to connect to the song. Harry-Great voice, felt something was missing due to lack of connection, but strong performance.
Mackenzie Bourg
(Say Something by A Great Big World)
He has a really sweet voice and this was a great song choice. It came up short for me at points, it didn't go anywhere, he was singing the words, but it felt chopped up or something, like very start and stop. I didn't really enjoy this performance.
Judges Comments=Jennifer- Seemed natural, does what Mackenzie does. Harry-Liked that he changed the melody but kept integrity of song. Keith-Believed every word he sang.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell
(Angel by Sarah McLachlan)
Jeneve decides to play a harp while singing. Don't recall anyone else ever playing a harp on American Idol. Gotta say she is different than most everyone else in the competition, and different makes you stand out, and that's a good thing, in this case. I liked her on this song. I think her voice was clear, the harp playing was a little bonus. I think she connected to the song. I enjoyed it.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Think she did herself a disservice playing the harp on this song, in this way. Rather see her just sing the song. Keith-Real deal. Extraordinary, loves that she takes risks. Jennifer-Was not sure about her, but got goosies everywhere, it was beautiful. Congratulations.
Jenna Renae
(My Church by Maren Morris)
She has a very underrated powerful voice. It's so strong and it just sounds so natural. She has a lot of confidence on that stage. She really does a nice job with a song I never heard of. Quite good.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Good song for her. Curious to see another side of her. Jennifer-Liked that, really in her element, has a lot of joy. Harry-Liked the energy and enthusiasm. Felt a little shouted and pitch lacked a little because of it.  

James VIII
(Love Lockdown by Kanye West)
Going into this show I was pretty unsure about James VIII. He hasn't stood out for me, really at all. I don't really like what he did to this song. It didn't do enough for him. It was the same notes over and over again. He didn't take much risks in his singing, there was creativity in the switching of the song to fit his personality and voice, but other than that I didn't enjoy it much.
Judges Comments=Jennifer-Interesting song choice. It stays so even. Didn't grab audience or me. Harry-Talented guy. Did something too easy, wasn't complex. Keith-Has to be really careful to be really chill and really indulgent. Because the indulgent thing can happen too fast, wasn't compelling enough to hold attention. Can't assume he'll get another chance to do another song. Has to come out and kill it every time.

Sonika Vaid
(Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars)
Her voice is so pure, and pretty. There were some really lovely runs in there. She has a quiet power that sometimes just comes out of nowhere. Really well done.
Judges Comments=Harry-Good job. More emotional performances of night. Keith-Voice is so good. Jennifer-Voice is so beautiful, wants her to choose songs that make her heart sing.

Gianna Isabella
(I Put A Spell On You by Annie Lennox)
There were some really nice moments in the performance, but at times it went a little astray. It just seemed kind of young. Like she ticked all the things you're supposed to do in a song, but when it was put altogether not sure if it fully connected.
Judges Comments=Keith-Voice is undeniable. Can really sing. Moments of owning stage, but some inconsistency. Jennifer-The voice is so real, most privileged voice, very strong. Harry-Truly amazing voice, hit loud voices, but needs to keep finding the arc of a performance. 
Emily Brooke
(I Am Invinciable by Cassadee Pope)
The song starts very low for Emily, so low I really couldn't hear the lyrics, once she the chorus it was better, but it just started really rough and it took awhile to recover. I don't think this song fit her voice. The big notes were good, but the lower moments were pretty low.
Judges Comments=Jennifer-Really likes her. But that wasn't the best song for her. It played in the lower range of her voice and that isn't the sweetest and most beautiful part. Needs to play to her strengths.Harry- Has to make us feel a connection to those lyrics and didn't feel it. Never heard her struggle with pitch as much as she did. Keith-Liked that she tried to find her artistry.

Avalon Young
(Love Yourself-Justin Bieber)
Her voice and her whole persona is just cool. She just goes out there and sings, while wearing a hoodie, some sneakers and capris. As she says, she isn't your typical girl girl. But, her voice is one of the best in this competitions.  I don't know if I loved the song choice, it didn't give her enough big moments that I know she can hit. It was a competent performance, just not stellar.
Judges Comments=Harry-Seem to be in tune to who she is in the moment. Terrific and really strong. Keith-Don't be afraid to take charge and pull the rug out. Jennifer-Had audience in palm of her hand, has a tone that everyone loves. Don't get too caught up in the moment. 

Jordan Sasser
(All By Myself by Celine Dion)
Jordan finally got rid of the man bun and got a clean cut haircut, it's nice. This is a big song, by a big artist, with huge notes, and if you choose a song like this you have to hit every big note, and I don't think he did. It was okay, not great.
Judges Comments=Keith-Has a great gift, but doesn't want him to lose the emotion, it was a little too theatrical and missed the heart. Jennifer-Should have been breaking hearts but instead made us think he didn't use the right part of voice. Harry-Great voice, but that was really show offy. Doesn't like that big, loud stuff, doesn't need to do that.
Thomas Stringfellow
(Creep by Radiohead)
The thing that bothered me about Thomas all along was that little squeak he does at the ends of most of his notes. For the first part of the song it was gone, noticeably. It appeared here and there, but it really wasn't there as much to be distracting. Instead he actually did a nice job with his falsetto and high notes, good job by him. Seemed like he has grown and learned since last time we saw him.
Judges Comments=Jennifer-Loved that he played with his voice that hadn't heard before. Really sang with emotion, really filled the room. Harry-Thought that was tremendous, really strong. Felt that when he did yell it was due to the lyrics. Stood there and sang and very aware of the words. Keith-Loves that his natural way of performing is to lean into abandonment, should let himself go. 

LaPorsha Renae
(Proud Mary by Tina Tuner)
You know that LaPorsha is doing well when this is at least the second or third time she has closed out an episode Idol this season. This is an ambitious artist to try to take on, but LaPorsha handles it with a ton of swagger. The way she walks around that stage and stays on point the whole time. It was Tina Turner-like, but she was able to infuse her own personality into it as well. Hopefully she picks other artists that she can be more herself than like the artist themselves, because it was a little Tina Turner-y, but still really good.
Judges Comments=Harry-One of two things will happen, either gonna make other competitors get better or want to make them quit. SO captivating and smart, foolish to critique. Keith-Managed to not be concise of how good she is. Is a portal to her gift. Jennifer-Joy to hear her song. Dreams about voices like hers. Amazing. Only get more stronger, and take all the influences she loves and make them hers.

In Danger To Go Home
All the contestants will get another chance to sing with a past Idol contestant, but they will have to really step it up.  If not they could be one of the five that will be eliminated tomorrow.
1. James VIII
2. Emily Brooke
3. Jordan Sasser
4. Gianna Isabella
5. Stephany Negrete 

Final Thoughts

*This whole pre-taped, packaged show felt really strange. The way that it was edited made everything seem super rushed and choppy. I never got truly comfortable during this episode.

*Not sure how I didn't notice before that there only 11 males left out of 24 contestants. That is why only 4 men went tonight and I guess next week the following 7 will perform. So that means at least 3 females will be leaving the competition tomorrow. There is no way any more than 2 guys will go home this week.

*There was some good performances, but I wasn't completely blown away by anyone. I think there were some pretty bad performances, which can be due to nerves, not knowing exactly what to do or just not being good in general. We'll see how they do with the past Idol contestants next episode when they will have this performance under their belt.

That's it. Come on back tomorrow for the second part of Top 24 week. After tomorrow only 19 contestants will remain. So a lot to do in so little time. So until next time, see ya!

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