Thursday, March 31, 2016

Top 3 Revealed & Perform: Hometown, Mentor and Judge's Choice

Welcome back. We are scarily close to the end of American Idol, I mean next Thursday April 7th is the final show....ever. Tonight is the last time we will see Hometown visits, which has been a staple of the show. This is also the last real non-special episode of American Idol if you want to get technical. I mean tonight is the last time we will be on the Hollywood stage, next week all the episodes will be at the Dolby Theater. Next Tuesday will be the Idol Retrospective Special where nearly 50 former contestants, winners and non-winners will return, along with familiar faces like past judges and mentors. Next Wednesday will be the reveal of the Top 2 and their performances, and next Thursday will be the Series Finale. It's real folks, I am excited and sad all rolled into one. We will post all of the past American Idol contestants slated to return next week in the Final Thoughts section below.

With all that said, last week we predicted MacKenzie and Dalton in the Bottom 2 with Dalton going home. There will be 3 rounds tonight. First is Hometown songs, second is Mentor Scott Borchetta's choice and third round is judge's choice. Lots of singing, and hometown visits to watch so let's get to it:

Weekly Rankings
Each week before the contestants perform we will post our rankings of the contestants. The criteria is based on 1. their success on the show, 2. personality, 3. judges & audience response and 4. belief that they could win. Each week we will do a new weekly ranking and let you know if they have risen, fallen or stayed flat in the rankings:
1. LaPorsha Renae (Same As Last Week)
2. Trent Harmon (Same As Last Week)
3. Mackenzie Bourg (Same As Last Week)  
4. Dalton Rappatoni (Predicted to Go Home) 

Round 1: Hometown Visit Songs

MacKenzie Bourg
(Hallelujah-Leonard Cohen)
He is from Lafayette, Louisiana. We are reminded that before MacKenzie was a singer he was a basketball star, but then he fell ill with heart and lung failure, and then thankfully recovered but devoted his time to singing. We see him visit his old high school, his grandmother, and MacKenzie even got to play in a pickup game at the school. Then we see him visit the Pediatric ward at the local hospital. It was there that MacKenzie got healthy.It's an inspiring story. The song has been performed on the Idol stage many times over the years, so it's not original that way, but it means a lot to MacKenzie so that's something. It's just him and his guitar, no band, no big graphics behind him. It's a nice, pretty job by him, there was definitely a lot of emotion in the lyrics.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Such a great song. Superb. Jennifer-Can see the finish line. Showed all of his strength. Classic MacKenzie. Harry-It seemed he has gone full circle because it was similar to the audition, has grown but condensed it into a singular powerful performance.

Dalton Rapattoni
(Calling You-Blue October)
He is from Dallas, Texas. We see him visit his grandmother at her beauty shop, and then we see Dalton get his hair dyed by her. We see him go back to the School of Rock, where he worked. He gets pretty emotional to visit his home. I never heard of the song that Dalton sang but he was definitely in his groove. The band was louder than his voice at points, but it was a really solid performance.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Looked like it all sink in. Felt a difference in his performance, had freedom here. Harry-Do really well with great lyrics, likes the arrangement on this one. Likes how he thinks about the words. Keith-Focused on what he does best. So in his zone and in his lane.

Trent Harmon
(Tennessee Whiskey-Chris Stapleton) 
He is from Amory, Mississippi. We see him visit his family and his family's restaurant. Then we see him go back to his school, his church and get a parade in which he rode down Main Street on a tractor. I like this song choice, it was cool, it fit his voice. At the end of the performance Ryan brings out Trent's family that hasn't come to see him perform live in the audience before, due to superstitions.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Great at arcing these performances. His voice is so unique and special. Fantastic performance. Keith-Finding a song that brings out strongest qualities is important and that was a bulls-eye. Jennifer-Felt so easy. Hitting his stride at the right time. Believes he can be in the Final 2. 
La'Porsha Renae
(Glory-Common & John Legend)
She is from McComb,Mississippi. The first place she goes to is the place where she learned to love singing and be great at it. The next stop is a Domestic Violence Women's Shelter. She tells us that many women have reached out to tell her how inspiring she is and encouraging it has been for them to leave a bad situation like she did. Then she gets to visit her home and her adorable little baby girl. Then she gets a parade in her hometown and her little baby starts waving to the screaming fans at them, so cute. The song she sang tonight was last year's Oscar winner for Best Song for the movie Selma. It was different from the original in that it had drummers, and the back-up singers doing basically a gospel version in the background. It was pretty epic. Very very good.Keith gives her a standing ovation.  
Judge's Comments=Keith=Gift is so strong and pure. An incredible, moving performance. Felt like he had a baptism. Jennifer-Picking great songs that are inspirational. Great performance. Harry-Many of her performances are critique-proof category. Loved it. Admires that she has incredible elegance and grace which is very important in a young woman.

Top 3 Revealed
1st Safe= Trent Harmon
2nd Safe=Dalton Rapattoni
3rd Safe=La'Porsha Renae

Going Home
MacKenzie Bourg. He had an amazing run on the show. He was never bad, but was never the best. He fell kind of in the middle zone and that is probably what led him to going home at 4th place. The remaining artists are very different, very distinct one way or another, MacKenzie never took the next step to be unique. He is a great songwriter, and can be a great artist. Nice 4th place finish by him.

Round 2: Mentor Scott Borchetta's Choice

Dalton Rapattoni 
(Dancing in the Dark-Bruce Springsteen)
On paper this was a weird choice. But this is a rock song, and Dalton put his own spin on it and made it more hard rock. It was a great arrangement. Jennifer Lopez was jumping up and down in her seat for this song. I enjoyed it. Very clever arrangement, nice vocals. Nice job.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Didn't know what to expect with that song. Did great all on his own. Takes the lyrics and makes us feel them, that's his gift. Sounded fresh and new. Harry-First half was early 80s new wave. Loved it. Ability to take a lyric and make it home to trump any vocal deficits. Keith-Reminding people at home that he is who he is and makes him an individual.

 La'Porsha Renae
(Stay With Me-Lorraine Ellison)
I never heard this song, but it doesn't matter she sings it flawlessly as if I had heard it a thousand times before. I really got into the song. The runs she does in the song, the notes she hits, just ridiculous. So out of this world. Her daughter in the audience claps for her mother. La'Porsha didn't like the song because she didn't like the message of the song about a woman begging her man to stay with her. She had to be in character throughout the song.
Judge's Comments=Harry-That was a character she was playing. It was an amazing performance. First time where she didn't believe it whole-heartily. Keith-Vocal killed it. Jennifer-Can sing the mess out of it, and she did. 

 Trent Harmon
(Drink You Away-Justin Timberlake)
Justin Timberlake has never allowed any of his songs to be on American Idol, until this one. I mean there are some really good Timberlake songs, this one is alright. Trent and Justin Timberlake have that falsetto thing going on so it's cool that they matched up. I don't know if I love the song for Trent, though on paper it makes a ton of sense. It's very start and stop and I like when Trent goes for a little more. I liked it, I did, just didn't love it. Jennifer gives Trent a standing ovation.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Didn't need the guitar. Jennifer-That is singing to win. Has a vision to win. Performances like that get him there. Harry-Background singers are clapping for him. Hangs with the musicians.

Keith Urban Performs
He performed. It was very Keith Urban like. He had like a double guitar thing, one was an electric guitar the other was like a banjo sounding guitar. It was very cool.

Round 3: Judge's Choice

Dalton Rapattoni
(Everybody Wants To Rule The World-Tears For Fears)
I have had the same critique about Dalton the past few weeks, sometimes he gets too theatrical, everything just seems to planned out. There are some moments that are organic and those are the best ones, but sometimes the way he looks into the camera, into the crowd, at the judges is just too planned out and it comes off a is lucky he did well, and got good critiques on his last performance. But not having a great performance for your last performance could be costly. It's the last thing that people remember, especially when the other two contestants sang just as well as him. We'll see what happens with Trent and La'Porsha.  
Judge's Comments= Jennifer-Key could have been higher for him. Felt a little too low at times. The brightness of his voice was lost in that rendition. Harry-Changed the chords and liked that. Had 2 strong performances, this is not the best one. Keith-The key should have been higher, when it was down the energy dropped, did have two killer performances prior. 

La'Porsha Renae
The judges wanted to force La'Porsha to make a song that is so immensely popular that she'd be forced to change it up. Also, Harry is holding La'Porsha's baby and Jennifer is playing with her. That baby is all over the place, and so good. Anyways, La'Porsha did change it. She slowed it down, she has violinists behind her and it's beautiful. Her voice is quite different from Adele, so that innately helps make it different from the original. It's not quite fair to compare the biggest artist out there to La'Porsha but she measured up as well as she could. Right now everyone has the original in their minds, and La'Porsha was very good, but the Adele version is still there. But again, Harry handed off La'Porsha's baby to her, and she was just sucking on her little pacifier and smiling. Tough to vote against all of that.  
Judge's Comments=Harry-That was beautiful. Keith-It was beautiful. Jennifer-Liked that it stretched her range. Nice to see her reach.

Trent Harmon
(Waiting Game-Parson James)
I never heard of the song, nor the artist. So you went from the most popular, well known artist in Adele to someone the general public probably isn't aware of. That doesn't mean anything, just saying. The song has all the right things in it for Trent, nice melody, falsetto, nice lyrics, nice job. Much better than last time.
Judge's Comments= Keith-Loved this song for him. Tailor made for him. Jennifer-Got goosies. So beautiful. Perfect song. Killed it. Harry-Nice job. Might be last critique on this stage for sure. Honor to critique him who is an extraordinary talent. Great night by all. 

Going Home Predictions
1. Dalton Rapattoni. His last performance just wasn't so good despite his first two performances being great. Not a lot of wiggle room for a bad moment.

Best of Night
La'Porsha. I think Dalton and Trent were great on 2 out of 3 songs, but faltered on one. La'Porsha was strong on all 3.

Final Thoughts
*Tonight was a great Final 3 night. I think there was some wonderful performances out there, by all 3 contestants. Right now with as good as La'Porsha has been all season it would be tough to not see her winning, but crazier things have happened.

*American Idol History Fact: In 14 prior seasons there have been 7 times that the Final 3 was 2 men and 1 women. In those 7 times, 5 times did the woman make it to the Final 2, but 0 times did a female beat the male when it was that combination of people. In fact out of the 3 female winners to go up against a male in the finale, (Kelly v Justin), (Carrie v Bo Bice) and (Jordin v Blake Lewis) they had a Top 3 that comprised of 2 females and 1 male. The other two female winners Fantasia and Candice Glover had an all female Top 3. So lots of crazy history for La'Porsha to battle against.

*Next week is it. This is the last regular Thursday episode ever. Next Thursday will be the series finale of the show and the last American Idol will be crowned. Which artist will bookend Kelly Clarkson, I guess we will know soon enough. If you have come to IdolBeTheJudge once or every week don't miss next Tuesday-Thursday when we will have all the coverage you want and need.

*Confirmed Winner's names to appear on next week's American Idol:
Kelly Clarkson – Season 1 Winner. Ruben Studdard – Season 2 Winner. 
Fantasia – Season 3 Winner. Carrie Underwood – Season 4 Winner.
Taylor Hicks – Season 5 Winner. Jordin Sparks – Season 6 Winner.
David Cook – Season 7 Winner. Kris Allen – Season 8 Winner.
Lee DeWyze – Season 9 Winner. Scotty McCreery – Season 10 Winner.
Candice Glover – Season 12 Winner. Caleb Johnson – Season 13 Winner.
Nick Fradiani – Season 14 Winner.
(The missing winner is Season 11′s Phillip Phillips)

*Confirmed Non Winner's/Finalists names to appear next week:
Ace Young. Allison Iraheta. Amber Holcomb.
Blake Lewis. Bo Bice. Bucky Covington.
Brandon Rogers. Casey James. Carly Smithson.
Chris Daughtry. Clark Beckham. Clay Aiken.
Colton Dixon. Constantine Maroulis. Danny Gokey.
Diana DeGarmo. Elliott Yamin. George Huff.
James Durbin. Jennifer Hudson. Jessica Sanchez.
Joshua Ledet. Justin Guarini. Katharine McPhee.
Kellie Pickler. Kimberley Locke. Kree Harrison.
LaToya London. Lauren Alaina. Melinda Doolittle.
Pia Toscano. Sanjaya. Skylar Lane. Tamyra Gray

That's it. Come on back here next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the last week of American Idol. So much past history to cover, so much new history to happen. I mentioned earlier that it's exciting and sad at the same time, and that's what it is. Can't wait. So until next time, see ya!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Top 4 Revealed & Perform: Sia Songbook & American Rock

Welcome back. We are down to our Final 5, and after tonight only 4 will remain with the finale 2 weeks from tonight.. Tonight the contestants will sing both Sia songs and American Rock songs, so that is a scope of different genres for sure. They will be mentored by Sia for her songs, and then she will perform her new song. For American Rock the mentor will be Steven Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Two not so bad mentors this week.

Last week we predicted that Sonika and Dalton would be in the Bottom 2 with Sonika being voted off. Remember, this week there are no judge's saves, so whoever is the lowest vote getter will go home. No one but Sonika has been in the Bottom 3 or 2 so it will be interesting to see who lands there with her, if she is the one to land there. Tonight one of my favorite American Idols, David Cook, will be performing, so I am happy to see him again. Also performing is Season 5 Runner-Up/now turned actress Katherine McPhee. A lot of show to get to. So with all that said let's get to it:

Weekly Rankings
Each week before the contestants perform we will post our rankings of the contestants. The criteria is based on 1. their success on the show, 2. personality, 3. judges & audience response and 4. belief that they could win. Each week we will do a new weekly ranking and let you know if they have risen, fallen or stayed flat in the rankings:
 1. LaPorsha Renae (Same As Last Week)
2. Trent Harmon (Same As Last Week)
3. Mackenzie Bourg (Same As Last Week)  
4. Dalton Rappatoni (Same As Last Week) 
5. Sonika Vaid  (Predicted to Go Home)

Round 1: American Rock Songs

La'Porsha Renae
(Wanted Dead or Alive-Bon Jovi)
In no way is La'Porsha a rock singer, but she is gonna do her thing. This song is lyrically not that suited for her, but she wants to take on the challenge of making it her own. She comes out fierce, with a new hairstyle, but her voice is the same. She just is so good, she can do whatever she wants to when she has a voice like that. Steven VanZandt said that La'Porsha gets away with singing this song because she is that good, and I agree. Obviously, last week was stronger, but this was still quite good.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Love when took a song that is different for her. Soul and swagger. Jennifer-So left from being a cowboy. So undeniable, can sing the phonebook and be phenomenal. Harry-Ability as a singer transcends genre. Changed vibrato to slow it down. Crazy to do that. Really crazy skill.

MacKenzie Bourg
(I Want You To Want Me-Cheap Trick)
Steven didn't like MacKenzie's initial version, but wanted him to go far away from the original and do his own thing.  He definitely did his own thing, it was slowed down and fit MacKenzie's voice and style. I like the creativity, but it was a little boring at points. When the band kicked in a little more it was better, but it was a little mixed for me. Lost a little momentum with this performance..
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Not sure if she loves how much he "MacKenzie-ed" it. Wasn't as exciting as she wanted it to be. Harry-The original has more energy and he made it slowed down because it loss some of the immediacy. It was alright. Wanted him to get more energy. Vocal was fine.
Keith-Hated the arrangement. Needs to do it or strip it way down, ended in the middle and it did nothing for him.

Alumni Performance #1
As I mentioned earlier, David Cook is one of my Top 3 favorite winners. He was one of the most creative, consistent, and deserved winners in American Idol history. He will be back in 2 weeks for the finale but tonight he is singing his new single "Heartbeat". Behind David is the video screen with clips of all the other past Idol winners and their winning moments. They are really bringing on the emotion now. Those winning moments are special and I have watched all 14 prior and will be here for one more in a couple weeks. His song was very him, and that's all you can ask for.

Trent Harmon
(Sharp Dressed Man-ZZ Top)
Steven liked how Trent switched it up and make it more "swampy" and less like a cover.  Right from the get-go the song didn't sound anything like the original. The first half of the song just had groove and was so cool. It picked up towards the original a little more than half way, but it still had elements of that "swampy"/country-ness that is very Trent. I enjoyed this performance a lot. It was a full performance. His voice was crazy good on this one. Keith and Jennifer give him a standing ovation.
Judge's Comments=Harry-So content with the groove, but was brilliant because he did the slow and fast parts so so well. Really smart. Keith-So freaking good. This point of the competition he needs a performance that has his strongest attributes stands out and he did that. 10 out of 10. Jennifer-Waiting for him to have this kind of performance. That is what everyone was waiting for. 

Bottom 2
Dalton Rapattoni
Sonika Vaid

Going Home
Sonika Vaid. She doesn't get to sing any of the songs that she prepared all week, although they do play the Sia song that Sonika recorded for ITunes under her "Goodbye" video package. I am so disappointed in Sonika's run on this show. She started off strong, then disappeared for awhile, but came on super strong with her rendition of "Bring Me To Life" just a few weeks ago. After that though she lost all of her steam, lost her confidence and either played it safe or underperformed. It was an unfortunate run.

Dalton Rappattoni
(God Only Knows-Beach Boys)
Initially Dalton was going to sing "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes. After being consulted by Steven and Scott Borchetta he switched it to this song. When I think of American Rock bands I don't think of Beach Boys and I don't think of "God Only Knows". But Scott tried to get Dalton to do several rock songs but Dalton couldn't connect. The problem with Dalton is sometimes he gets too theatrical. There is a perfect balance that he has done before but has been lacking. This song is one of the best written songs of all time, just so beautiful, but not a rock song. He is didn't even try to make the song into a rock song. He kept it mellow and melancholy, it was too much, but not enough. I take away points for not being in the right genre. I mean I am sure La'Porsha would have loved not to sing a rock song, but she had to.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Impressed that he chose that song. Jennifer-Really beautiful. Great that he took the advice to switch it up. Harry-That was the most complex in terms of harmonies and melodies, it showed his vulnerabilities, but it worked. 

Alumni Performance #2

As Ryan Seacrest aptly described, Katherine McPhee's signature moment and song was singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and now 10 years later she has come back to the Idol stage to sing it again. Amazing stuff. McPhee is easily in the Top 10 discussion of most successful post-Idol careers for a  non-Idol winning contestant. Katherine's voice is still so good, I love that she came back to the show and the fact that she sang this song gave me chills. Now I am getting kinda sad, I don't know how I am going to handle 2 weeks with all those Idol alums coming back. It's gonna be crazy.

Round 2: Sia Songbook

La'Porsha Renae
(Elastic Heart-Sia)
I love this song choice, it has high parts, it has a story. It's great.As mentioned, Sia is helping the contestants this week, while they sing her songs.Sia wrote "Diamonds" a song that Sia sang a couple weeks ago, Sia gives La'Porsha a ton of credit for that. Sia got emotional over La'Porsha singing her song. This performance was even more fierce and cool than her first performance. It grooved, it was perfect for her. She made me really hear the lyrics for the first time if that makes sense. She really meant every word. I love the two drummers beside her, it made the whole performance just so cool.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Right now she is a fully realized artist. Just watching, not even judging. She is so amazing. Has so much control and command. Has grown and has come to another place. Harry-Sang in her head-voice. So good. Keith-Has raw talent but is now a performer. 

MacKenzie Bourg
(Titanium-David Guetta featuring Sia)
The way that MacKenzie switches up songs to fit his voice will work with this kind of song that on paper, doesn't make a ton of sense.Sia not only is a great singer, but is a great writer and collaborator, so she guides MacKenzie into the right lane for this song and his voice and style. She pushes MacKenzie to hit the high note in the song. MacKenzie does his thing and does hit the higher note, but still stays in line. He stripped the song down pretty well. There were a couple off moments, but it was really nice, and sweet and tender and showed a lot of emotion. Good job.
Judge's Comments=Harry-It was nice. Irritates him that he made the song into all about that note and hitting it. It's about the song not just the note. Keith-Liked that he rode through the moment. Made it a singer-songwriter moment. Jennifer-It was great that Sia made him go for the notes. Can keep pushing. It made everyone cheer.

Guest Performance
Sia sings her new song "Cheap Thrills" while accompanied by her usual dancers that do their interpretive dance that I never fully understand. I like the song, I still don't get the fact that we can't see Sia's face, but whatever, she is a great performer, songwriter, mentor, all around artist.

Trent Harmon
This is an interesting song choice for sure.He calls seeing Sia like seeing a unicorn. Sia switched up the song to fit Trent and have him sing the correct notes at the correct time. He makes it his own, it is a piano-led version of the song, violin accompaniment, all that subtle stuff. Sia made the right call, and Trent did too, it was amazing. This was no cover, it was beautiful, it was emotional, it was perfect. I loved his last performance but this one had a different level too. Trent is peaking at the right point.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Beautiful. Played to all his strengths and specialness. Exquisite. Jennifer-Whole different person than the first song. Can do anything. He is two different people, but his voice is consistent. Can sing anything. Harry-Phenomenal. Felt like he was completely in another world. So artfully sang that song. 100 out of 100.

Dalton Rapattoni
(Bird Set Free-Sia)
Out of all the Sia songs performed tonight I am least familiar with this one. Sia just wants Dalton to let go. Sia feels connected to Dalton because the two of them are both bi-polar, so they bond over that. I liked this performance, didn't love it. I thought he sounded a little out of tune at points, some of the parts of the song were kind of scream-y or mono-tone. It was good. It was funny that there were lyrics that said "I don't care if I sound off-key" and Dalton kind of sounded off key at points.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Loved how he let go. Singing allows him to let go. Harry-This is favorite Sia song because this song had best match up with a singer. Sure liked it. Keith-Up against some insane singers but he pushes through his limitations.

Bottom 2/Going Home Predictions
2. Dalton-Predicted to Go Home

Best of The Night
Trent Harmon. Jennifer said it best that Trent is like two different people. He really can sing that groovy, soul, kind of stuff, and then sing some beautiful, tender, emotional stuff. He did that beautifully tonight.

Final Thoughts
*I think La'Porsha and Trent are making it hard for Dalton and MacKenzie to make it to that finale. It's really looking like it is their finale to lose because we are almost at the end and the two of them are still so amazing.

*IDOL HISTORY NOTE.....Given how everyone was upset that there was an extra girl in the Top 10, and there was so much hype about the girls and little about the boys this season, well people must have forgotten it's American Idol and like always, there is 1 girl left and 3 guys. In the 15 seasons, including this one, there have been 7 previous times when there was 3 males and 1 female contestant left out of the Top 4. Those seasons are: Season 2, Season 5, Season 7, Season 8, Season 9, Season 14 and now Season 15. In those previous 6 seasons not one time did that female win the show. So if La'Porsha wants to win she will have to face the odds in so many ways.

*2 weeks. We are 2 weeks away from ending the show. It's getting real now folks.

That's it. Come on back next week where we learn which 3 contestants will make it to the final week in American Idol history. It's nuts. So until next time, see ya!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Top 5 Revealed & Perform: America's Choice

Welcome back.  Last week we saw the elimination of both Avalon Young and Lee Jean, thus we are left with 6 contestants. Last week we predicted that Tristan McIntosh will be going home tonight with Sonika Vaid joining her in the Bottom 2 (deserved or not). We did acknowledge that the country singer vote is alive and well, and without Emily Brooke or any other country singer out there, Tristan is getting all of those votes. So it will be interesting if Tristan survives another week or someone else goes home.  The judges will get there final save, so they will choose, again, which contestant should go home. Tonight the theme is "America's Choice" so America supposedly helped picked the songs that the contestants will sing tonight.  So without further ado, let's get started:

Weekly Rankings
Each week before the contestants perform we will post our rankings of the contestants. The criteria is based on 1. their success on the show, 2. personality, 3. judges & audience response and 4. belief that they could win. Each week we will do a new weekly ranking and let you know if they have risen, fallen or stayed flat in the rankings. 

1. LaPorsha Renae (Same As Last Week)
2. Trent Harmon (Up 1 From Last Week)
3. Mackenzie Bourg (Up 2 Spots From Last Week)  
4. Dalton Rappatoni (Down 2 Spots From Last Week) 
5. Sonika Vaid  (Down 1 Sport From Last Week)
6. Tristan McIntosh(We Predict Will Be Eliminated)

Idol Alumni Performance
The start pf the show was pretty awesome. They showed a clip of Adam Lambert singing "Mad World" on April 7, 2009, and then they bring us to present day and Adam Lambert is on the American Idol stage once again singing us that song. "Mad World" was one of the most memorable performances in Idol history, so it's awesome seeing Adam again, let alone hearing him sing one of his most famous songs that he performed. He sounded just as good, would've loved to hear more.  But either way this was so cool.

Round 1

Top 4 Revealed

Trent Harmon 
(Counting Stars-OneRepublic)
The beginning of this song was rough, it was too low for such a high singer like Trent. He started to find a groove when the chorus hit, and the higher notes were more apparent. It was a pretty uneven song, but it's a tough, fast, song. He took a lot of liberties with the melody at times, and I am not sure it really worked this time.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Watching but not pulled in. Wasn't quite sure what was going on. That song didn't come together for him. Jennifer-America chose this song, and he tried to bring the audience in, but it wasn't a Trent song. Harry-When he clapped it was like a hoe-down. Tough song for him. Give him a pass on that.

Dalton Rapattoni
(Numb-Linkin Park)
Dalton decided to sing at a microphone playing his guitar, instead of running around the stage. He switched up the song pretty substantially.  I think I liked it. I am not sure. It was different, but it might have been different just to be different, not because it added something. It was alright. I am not jumping up and down for it.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-A crowd favorite, takes the song to make it his own. Took the oomph out out of the song. Capable of taking us there, but it felt like he was skating through the song. The arrangement lacked the excitement. Harry-Thought he poured his guts into those lyrics, thinking about those words. Make sure he stays in the pocket with the guitar playing. Keith-It wasn't fully covered or his own, but would have done even more stripped.

La'Porsha Renae
(Ready for Love-India.Arie)
This was a much more vocal performance than last week when she was moving and grooving. She sat at a stool and sat there and just sang. It was pure great vocals. She really just sang a really great song and put her own soul out there and it was really captivating. She is putting some distance betweeen her and the rest of the competition. She really is.
Judge's Comments=Harry-That was everything those lyrics called for. Sways her strengths to whatever needs to happen. Phenomenal. Harry-Wasn't judging, just someone captivated and enjoyed it like a human being. Beautiful. Jennifer-Favorite song of India. Arie. Giving big Earth Mother vibes. A complete performance in every way.

Guest Performance
Empire stars Jussie Smollett and Yaz performed a new song that will appear on the show. On the show they are two brothers that perform on TV shows and award shows and want to make it in the music industry, so in real life the only difference is they aren't related.

 Mackenzie Bourg 
(Wild World-Cat Stevens)
I really love this song choice by America. He took a 30+ year old song and made it current, but still kept the vibe of the original. I liked what he did to it, it was sweet and fun. It isn't the most memorable performance ever, but it was still quite good, and he sang it well.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Cake batter, even when cooked really good. Jennifer-Has so much likability, thoroughly enjoyed every second of that. Always feels like he is singing to her. Harry-Really good song and tempo. Doesn't need to change the melody too much. Liked it.

Bottom 2 Revealed

Tristan McIntosh
(Independence Day-Martina McBride)
She landed in the Bottom 2/3 for the first time and she had a lot of confidence when singing this song. She switched it up, and slowed it down, added her playing the piano, but still kept the integrity of the song. I actually didn't mind it. It was fine. Nothing too special, she isn't winning the show or anything with that song, but depending on how Sonika does she could stave off elimination at least another week.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Needs to try different things and flatline, and doing the same thing over and over. Harry-Good at sing of songs that have pain. Can see her doing that. She needs to grow older and get experience. It was okay. Keith-Has a god given gift. The next level is to take a song like that and strip it down and intimate or full on with the band, this was right in the middle.

Sonika Vaid
(Let It Go-Frozen/Demi Lovato)
This is the Demi Lovato version of the song, not the Idina Menzel version, and that makes a difference, less Disney, more rock. Her voice is quite nice, but she didn't go for some of the bigger notes like I had hoped/anticipated at times. When she did go for the big notes she was good and proved why she deserves to stay.
Judges' Comments=Harry-Smart song choice. Very strong, needs to work on more powerful underscoring. Didn't get completely lost this time. Keith-Great song. Her performance is starting to come alive. Jennifer-Shy, but fierce and is a fighter. Reminded everyone that she isn't ready to go home.

Sonika Vaid

Going Home 
Tristan McIntosh.
  It was her time to go. The last song she sang was very similar to everything she has done in the past, and everything we'd probably see. This was the right decision by the judges.

Round 2

(Newly Formed)Top 5 Continue To Perform...

(The Sound of Silence-Simon & Garfunkel)
We learn in the video package prior to his performance that Dalton is bi-polar, and that music helped everything fall into place and feel better. This was a cool song choice. It was rock, but subdued all at the same time. It was intimate but not too much. It was a nice performance, I enjoyed this one more than his first one tonight. It was intense, but in a good way. A little over dramatic, but it kinda worked.  
Judges' Comments=Keith-An amazing song. Liked how he put so much emphasis on the lyrics. Jennifer-Seemed very powerful, like a part of his soul. Harry-Is a graffiti artist, makes every blank wall/song into something of his own.  Needs to keep finding songs that helps him get deeper and deeper.

(Billie Jean-Michael Jackson)
We learn in the video package that he contracted a virus that led to him having congestive heart failure. His heart did recover and was able to heal and move onward. He completely stripped this song into a full vocal, full acoustic performance, no band accompaniment, just him playing the guitar. This guy is smart and talented. This was a great performance, the last one was good too, but this was even better.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Showed everyone why he is still here. That was the most special version of a Michael Jackson, was so confident, and felt so amazing to watch. Riveting. Amazing. Harry-Really great. Really strong. That was his wheelhouse, can just stand there and sing. Keith-Is a big fan of his.
(Simple Man-Lynard Skynard) 
I love what Trent did with this song, it was, sorry for the pun, but simple. It was just pure good stuff. He didn't overdo it, he just sang the song really well. This performance was much more in Trent'swheelhouse.This was  so perfect in so many ways.
Judge's Comments=Harry-There is an essence of him that is very southern. Very appealing. Enjoyed it very much. Keith-So lyrically perfect for him. Jennifer-Loves Idol, and will miss it so much, having a front seat to see a perfect song and singer sing it at that time. Sang that song so beautifully as she started to choke up.
From her video package her struggle is her confidence and shyness, she has to fight that. This song wasn't so great for Sonika. It just didn't do anything for her other than allow her have a bit more confidence on stage, but her vocals lacked a little, which doesn't happen usually with Sonika. It was good, not that good.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Needs to keep letting go, and stop being so controlled. Jennifer-Didn't love this song for, out of what she would normally do. Applaud her for doing what she could, but needs to find a balance of being balanced in song and still being able to perform for the audience and make it exciting. Harry-Seems like a nice, wonderful person, and her talking to Ryan was better than the song itself.

La'Porsha Renae
(No More Drama-Mary J. Blige)
We learn from her video package that she was abused in one of her past relationships. It really scarred her, he took away everything that made her who she is. It took until her daughter was born to realize what she is worth and get away from him and prove how great of a person she is. This song has lyrics in that really hit to what we learn and know about La'Porsha. She was able to groove and just put out some nice vocals out there. Man, she just went for it, some of those emotions were so powerful and she got through it and killed it. She just did. Jennifer and Keith give her a standing ovation, as La'Porsha breaks down on stage and Jennifer breaks down at the judge's table. Lots going on. Truly amazing.
Judge's Comments= Jennifer-Takes a lot to overcome, and strength, and she is an inspiration. She never overdoes it, it's just powerful. Thank you. Ryan(instead of Harry)-Incredible courage. Keith-Inspiring. 

Best of Night
La'Porsha. I swear before La'Porsha started her last song I was giving it to Mackenzie because his two songs together were great, both were solid and impressive. But that last performance by La'Porsha was mind-blowing. I encourage anyone that only reads the blogs and never watches the show to find this performance and the video package that aired right before she sang because the two of those things together was epic. 

Bottom 2/Going Home Predictions
1. Dalton 
2. Sonika (Going Home) 

Final Thoughts
I think Round 1 was rough. I think Trent, Dalton and obviously Tristan had rough starts, Tristan was eliminated after it. But Round 2 was great. Each person rebounded(aside from Sonika who stepped it up in her elimination song). La'Porsha delivered her first time but just was unbelievable in her last performance. It was a real interesting Top 5 week.

*It's insane that there is only a few weeks left of the show. I know I say it almost every week but after 15 years it's gonna be weird come next January that I won't have Idol to watch, or blogs to write. Gonna be really odd.

That's it. Come on back here next Thursday wehn the Top 4 will be revealed. Stick with us a few more weeks, we got you covered. So until then, see ya!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Top 6 Revealed and Perform: Most Performed Songs on Idol Ever

Welcome back. Last week began the first of 2 weeks of double eliminations, therefore, tonight is the final double elimination. After tonight only 6 contestants will remain. As a reminder the Series Finale of American Idol is only 1 month from tonight, April 7th, so there is a lot to get to in a short amount of time. We predicted that this week both Lee Jean and Tristan McIntosh would be eliminated with Avalon Young rounding out the Bottom 3 but not going home.

The contestants are performing "The Most Performed Songs on Idol". I know this is the last season so there has been and will continue to be a lot of retrospectives and reflection on great contestants and performances, but this is also a competition, so hearing a song we have heard a lot on the show is a very boring and non-creative approach. Almost always, anytime a contestant tries to recreate what a past contestant has sung or done in the past it doesn't work out. We'll see how it goes tonight. We'll take note during each contestant's performance summary some of the notable contestants that have sung that song before.

So with all that said, let's get on with the show:

Weekly Rankings
Each week before the contestants perform we will post our rankings of the contestants. The criteria is based on 1. their success on the show, 2. personality, 3. judges & audience response and 4. belief that they could win. Each week we will do a new weekly ranking and let you know if they have risen, fallen or stayed flat in the rankings. 

1. LaPorsha Renae (Same As Last Week)
2. Dalton Rapattoni  (Up 1 From Last Week)
3. Trent Harmon (Up 3 Spots From Last Week)  
4. Sonika Vaid (Down 2 Spots From Last Week)  
5. MacKenzie Bourg  (Same As Last Week)
6. Avalon Young   (Same As Last Week)
7. Lee Jean  (We Predict Will Be Eliminated)
8. Tristan McIntosh(We Predict Will Be Eliminated)

Tonight the Final 8 pair up with each other and perform duets. These duets really mean nothing. We don't vote on them, but I guess they could potentially sway the judges in their ultimate vote. But basically these are just time fillers because there are only 8 performers remaining for a 2-hour show.

Duet 1
La'Porsha & Trent
(See You Again-Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth)
There voices are very different, as La'Porsha said Trent's voice is actually higher than hers and she is a female. It was a nice duet because they both have great voices.
Judge's Comments=Keith-The perfect song. It played to both of their strengths, and they worked well together. Jennifer-The whole thing was magical. It was great. Harry-Loved that they sang the rap part. Voices blended so well together. Great way to start the show.

Duet 2
Avalon and Sonika
(Rise Up-Andra-Day)
These girls are close friends, and now they get to sing together. They are very different singers. Sonika has a power voice and Avalon is more smooth and R&B. I don't like this song choice. There are so many real duets that would have been easier to sing, but they chose a non-duet song that really isn't that well know. I don't think it benefited either of them too much. They sang it, it wasn't bad, just didn't do anything for me.  
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-You're voices are so angelic and together there was so much pushing to be better. Would've liked a little more and let loose. Harry-Avalon is rhythmic and Sonika is more melodic. The song benefited Avalon in that song. Laid in the pocket for her. Sonika's voice is breathtaking. Keith-Different strengths. Great to see the two of them together.

Duet 3 

Mackenzie & Dalton
(I Want It That Way-Backstreet Boys)
This song was intended to go straight to the female fans, even Scott Borchetta claimed that MacKenzie and Dalton were the heartthrobs of the show. I hate when the producers try to push something like that. They made the song more mellow to fit MacKenzie's voice and it brought Dalton down. He had no energy and was kind of sleepy, at points I couldn't hear some of the lyrics, and I know all the lyrics of this one. MacKenzie was more in his lane so it worked out better for him, but not by much.  
Judge's Comments=Harry-Not sure who picked that song. But did not think that was a good song. The main reason was they don't know what they are singing. The lyrics don't make sense. Very hard to sing a song when they don't know what they are singing. Not good for them. Keith-Completely agrees. Doing a cover is not his strong suit. Attempting to work together didn't benefit either of them. Jennifer-Wondered what they would do with it, in theory it was great, because they are cute and the girls love them, but it was the wrong song. They should have identified that. 

Duet 4
Tristan and Lee
(I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing-Aerosmith)
This song has been done to death on American Idol. It was done at least 3 or 4 times, probably more. I mean Steven Tyler was on the judging panel for a couple years, so that makes sense. I like what Tristan did to the song to make it more country. Lee sounded off, kind of off the beat. Supposedly Lee was sick this week, but he just sounded really off pitch. Tristan did what she could do with it, so she did the best of the two, by far.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Love the song, but hard to find a song that fits them. Did as well as they could. Jennifer-Tristan's voice shined and hit all the notes, Lee hung in there, but it wasn't the right thing. They are adorable together. Harry-The problem was in the arrangement, the slow rock thing didn't work. Should've looked at each other, and sang to each other. Nothing special. It was very boring and bland and it didn't have to be. 

Top 5 Revealed & Perform

La'Porsha Renae 
(Come Together-The Beatles)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Kris Allen, Candice Glover, Carly Smithson, Qaasim Middleton, Sam Woolf)
This song has been done many times, but I really enjoy the grit and soul that La'Porsha put into this version. It was different, but still in character with who she is. I love that she got to move around the stage, she had been stuck at the microphone for awhile, but she played with the audience, with Harry a little bit, it was great. La'Porsha can do anything she wants to at this point. She just can.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Gave full Diva. Loves it. Certain performers make you feel cool, she does that. Great performance. Harry-Can make sense out of those lyrics. Absolutely incredible, and been that since the first day. Keith-Blessing to the late great George Martin. Any song is great for her.

MacKenzie Bourg
(You Are So Beautiful)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Taylor Hicks, Jessica Sanchez, Danny Gokey, Rayvon Owen)
This was a great song choice for MacKenzie. He was able to stay in his lane, but not be so singer/songwriter. He was trying to stretch out his voice and make a moment. I think the performance had really nice moments. He had the fog, the violinists at his side, it was very sweet.
Judge's Comments= Harry-Couldn't have picked a more better song than that one. No matter who he sang to, but seemed really connected. Well done. Keith-Picked the song, because he knows who he is. Made it seem like he wrote that song, sounded brand new. Jennifer-Is a crooner but indie rock, it's a beautiful mix. The way he picks songs is the key to being so good.Grade=B+

Alumni Performance
Nick Fradiani, last season's winner is back on the stage. He is singing his new song "Get You Home". It featured the lyrics "You Want It, You Got It", from the song "Bust A Move" by Young MC. It was an interesting song. I enjoyed it. I could see it doing well for him. It has definite radio appeal.

Trent Harmon
(Stand By Me-Ben E. King)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Phillip Phillips, Bo Bice, David Archuletta, Danny Gokey)
He took this song to a very different place. He kept the essence of the original song, but also put some gospel-ness into it, which allowed him to really get into the song. The guy has a lot of soul and rhythm. His falsetto is just crazy sometimes. He has a great groove and stage presence.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Good example of how much he has grown. The way he looks, and moves and is aware. Jennifer-Knew he was a badass from the moment she saw him. Loves what he does with his voice. Doesn't know if audience knows how big of a badass he is. Thinks he looks cool, but misses the scarves and the hats and all that. Harry-Was really great. Gave himself a lot of opportunities to have fun with it. Has great time and needs to sink into the rhythm even more.

Tristan McIntosh
(A Broken Wing-Martina McBride)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Jordin Sparks)
Tristan is just gonna be this season's contestant that knocks out other great contestants and really doesn't deserve her spot, but is just good enough to get by every week. Look, like I said last week, her doing country is attracting people who like country, no other singer is grabbing those votes, so she is playing to her audience and strengths. The song she sings tonight starts off pretty low and is that way for awhile. I don't think the song did much for her. The higher notes are her strengths and when she is there it's actually quite lovely. But again, it's a mixed bag. There was some really nice, strong moments, but then some very weak, duller moments. The ending was super strong, so that always helps the overall performance seem better.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Has such a perfectly suited country voice. That's exactly what she needs to do. Harry-Loves when she sings country. Questions Tristan on the song. Keith-Right song for her. Great job. 

Dalton Rapattoni
(Eleanor Rigby-The Beatles)
(Sang in Past Seasons by David Cook, Paul Jolley, Michael Lynche)
Dalton is a self-proclaimed big David Cook fan, and this was one of Cook's more famous songs on the Idol stage. I felt at times Dalton was out of breath, like the lyrics were cut short at points. Dalton definitely took some cues from David Cook's version of this song. He did put some of his own spin on the song, but he stayed more on that path rather then making it completely his own. I would have enjoyed that. The last notes were very strong, and powerful and were angry. I enjoyed that part a ton.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Great song choice, great key. Pushed it as high as he could. Keith-Great song. The theatrical part of him brought out the dark undercurrent of that song. Jennifer-Loved it because it was so him. Loved the end because he shied away from the big note, but went for it and nailed it, and it was so awesome. 

Bottom 3 Revealed & Perform

Avalon Young 
(P.Y.T(Pretty Young Thing)-Michael Jackson)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Danny Gokey)
It's unfortunate that Avalon hasn't connected with the audience. Last week she was in Bottom 3 and saved by the judges, by being in the Bottom 3, especially with Sonika it's gonna be tough. Despite that I liked the song choice. It was cool. She's cool. But it is the same thing every week.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Confused she keeps being in the Bottom 3. Hopes she can make an emotional connection with the audience. Jennifer-A natural performer. Wonders why she keeps making the Bottom 3. If she makes it wants her to go out of her comfort zone. Harry-Would be nice to see her sing a ballad. She's cool and voice is incredible, but there needs to be more rhythmic, just strolls around. The band is strong and she needs to move more.

Lee Jean
(Let It Be-The Beatles)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Brooke White, Jax, Katie Stevens, Burnell Taylor)
This is the fourth Beatles song tonight and it was by far the worst performance of the night. He just struggled so very much. I know he is sick, or was sick, but it's a struggle to get out some of these notes. The notes were shaky, all over the place and just not there for him tonight. Bad time for his worst performance.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Has so much going for him, style, personality, liked this performance. Not sure if it's enough. There has to be more composure, and it was shaky. Harry-Very emotional, is smart, commits, but was very sharp, because he has great ears. Pitch was a big issue. Keith-Trying to reign the nerves in is tough. Tone is gorgeous, has time to work on all the other stuff.

Sonika Vaid
(I Have Nothing-Whitney Houston)
(Sang in Past Seasons by Jessica Sanchez, Jennifer Hudson, Trenyce, Katherine McPhee, Lakisha Jones)
The fact that Sonika is in the Bottom 3 is a shame. She wasn't great last week, but not Bottom 3 worthy. Doesn't make a ton of sense, but here she is. If you look at the roster of people that sang this song prior to Sonika it's insane. Jessica Sanchez, Jennifer Hudson, Katherine McPhee, some of the more notable Idol contestants. I will never say that anyone topped Jessica Sanchez in singing that version, because it can't be topped, but Sonika tried. She did a nice job, she did. I think she could have went even harder on some of the big notes. I didn't get pumped for the song, or jump out of my seat. But she deserves a spot in the Top 6.
Judge's Comments=Harry-That is a high risk, high reward song. Loved it. Keith-Gorgeous. Wants her to keep releasing and letting go. Jennifer-Such a hard song to sing. Did a good job with it.

Sonika Vaid

Going Home
1.Lee Jean
2. Avalon Young

Best of Night
Trent Harmon. I think between his duet with La'Porsha, and his own solo, he gets the best of the night award. He is getting better every week and is now a threat to win this whole thing. 

Bottom 2/Going Home Predictions for Next Week
1. Tristan McIntosh (Going Home)
2. Sonika Vaid

Final Thoughts
*This was an up and down night. I liked many performances, but thought there were some underwhelming ones as well. Sonika did deserve to stay in the competition but her save me song was lacking. I think Dalton got a little too much praise on an arrangment that David Cook basically did in Season 7. I think Trent and La'Porsha were great tonight, and they both can easily face off against one another in the finale.

*On a weird note 3 out of the 8 songs performed tonight were also sung by Danny Gokey in his season. Just sayin.

*There's actually not a lot to say about tonight. Tristan should have went home over Avalon, but it is what it is. Once you land in the Bottom 3 twice it's tough to rebound from that, she was due to go home soon, so might as well be tonight. We'll see how far Tristan can go from here.

That's it. It was a decent night, for a Top 6 it's a decent one. There are 3 guys, and 3 girls left. We'll see how it all shakes out. Come on back here next Thursday, until then see ya!