Hollywood Nights: No drama as American Idol fills out it’s Top 24 or Stuff You knew if you’ve been reading the site
Thursday night’s American Idol drama was anything but. Thanks to the Top 24 silhouette video and the amount of screen time given to contestants, figuring out which one of the final Idols was moving on was more obvious than figuring out if J-Lo lip synchs on her live appearances every season.
But the lack of drama doesn’t mean there is a lack of talent with Idol Season 14.
For now, we’re going to table talk about who can win and who should or shouldn’t make the Top 12 until Monday. I have to figure out the angle I’m taking because at this point, I see only a few candidates who I think should be slam dunks to make the Top 12. I want to put some thought into it, especially after my record-breaking (I think) 20-for-24 performance where I correctly picked 11 of the 12 guys who would get through.
Thursday night’s open was confusing, especially when the very large, very black Hollywood Anderson apparently turned into the very skinny, very long-hair, very white Josh Sanders. Then we saw Sanders – making his first appearance of Season 14 – get booted as J-Lo backed up the judges’ bus all over Harry Connick and Keith Urban before moving on to the show opener.
Nobody should have expected him to make it especially with the evidence of the Top 24 silhouette. The only plus-sized gentleman in the Season 14 preview had a giant afro and when Adam Ezegelian earned his spot Wednesday, we knew Hollywood was cooked.
I didn’t totally agree with the choice. Hollywood is a WGWG without the white and if he looked a like more like Nick Fradiani instead of an NFL guard, he may have made it. If producers don’t force him back next year they’re making a serious mistake because Hollywood is exactly the typ eof contestant the show needs – he’s different.
The biggest surprise elimination was Emily Brooke, who had seemed to be on screen every time she sang. Brooke, a 15-year old country singer, seemed perfect for what the show wants. Her dismissal may have been a necessity; with Maddie Walker and Lovey James already in the cast, adding Brooke would have given the show three blond teens who either split votes and end with none of them getting through or get all the votes, giving the Girls Top 6 a very generic flavor.
She’s 15, she comes back next year and gets in the Top 24. It’s a lock.
The only other elimination I was dismayed over was Jaq MacKenzie, who while young wasn’t your typical “America’s Sweetheart” type performer. She wasn’t as raw as Shannon Berthiaume and didn’t have the edge of the soulful teen, but she definitely had the it that plays well. I think her exclusion is a blessing in disguise; Jaq would have given the show two three-letter named girls and I don’t think the Q-version would have made it past the Top 24 show. Hopefully we’ll see her next year.
Anyone shocked by the final two final two pairings is a Grade A moron.That’s not to disparage the eliminated contestants; Ricky Dale Hendricks and Jelly Joseph had terrific auditions, but what else did we see from them? Their complete lack of screen time should have made it fairly obvious that Riley Bria and Shi Scott were making it, although producers did a good job of minimizing Riley’s screen time and making it seem Anjelika was smiling because she made it and Shi was crying because she didn’t.
All told, there’s really not much to gripe about with this Top 24. While it’s nice to lament the loss of someone like Cody Fry, who would he replaced? In past seasons we’ve seen one or two Idols make the Top 24 when they clearly didn’t belong; this season I don’t think there’s one that stand out for being so bad that having them in there is a farce. Anyone who didn’t make it – minus Adam Lasher, of course – wasn’t going to win anyway, so let them come back next season.
All right, quick review of the songs of those who made it through:
“Sweet Pea,” Amos Lee
I could have sworn this song was in a Levitra or Viagra commerical and loved the unintentional comedy of that circumstance; however, it was just a sappy AT&T commercial and when I discovered this I was immediately disappointed.
Song like this are what we’re going to get from Joey and it’s when she’s at her finest. You put a quirky instrument in her quirky hands and her quirky voice makes the song sound great. Will that sound translate when they say “Joey, we need you to sing a Fergie song?” No idea, but I’d love to see it happen. Hoping America does too.
“Rhiannon,” Fleetwood Mac
“Better Dig Two,” The Band Perry
Fact: if you sing a song with the same pace, tone and inflection and all you do is change the lyrics from English to Spanish, it’s not being “unique.” It’s pandering to the audience or, in this case, the most famous hispanic woman on the planet. I like Alexis, but I can really see this becoming a thing and it’s going to get annoying quick. Don’t get me wrong – I applaud the strategy. You do what you got to do to get through and singing in Spanish always gets a yes from J-Lo. If you want to win Idol, you have to be able to change songs and I really though the barefoot hippie angle was going to lead to songs being sung like I was at one of those crazy, acid-riddled Festivals. Hopefully, Alexis will go back to the barefoot thing and do something with Lady Gaga like the Gourds did with Snoop Dogg.
I didn’t pick Quentin in my Top 24 for one reason – I was 100 percent sure if he made it he’d be easily recognizable in the Top 24 silhouette video. So that’s my bad. Hearing him at the House of Blues made me realize what I an idiot I was. He was crazy good live and I’m all on board the Q-train. (Both of them, actually) I mean, has anyone looked as confident on stage in the biggest moment of their life as Quentin? He looked like Lenny Kravitz (that could just be the white guy in me seeing the hair and thinking of “Are You Gonna Go My Way”) and while I’m unsure of how big his voice can get, I’m 100 percent sure he’s not going to do a boring cover all season.
“I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You),” John Mayer
His versatility is bananas. We see him comfortable covering Pharrell in Hollywood, then he comes out and does John Mayer at the House of Blues? (Sidenote: I love when black dudes sing white dudes’ songs. Too often artists get pigeon-holed because of race. You expect the WGWGs to sing hipster songs or Tom Petty; you expect black pop girls to sing Whitney or Jennifer Hudson; I’d throw country girls or guys in here, but all country songs sound the same) I don’t know what I expected him to sing; I don’t know that it was his best vocal performance, but on stage? Looked like he knew how to handle it. Now was I fan of his celebration? At first, no, but then you realize – this guy caught an A-plus bone job last season when he wasn’t Top 24. If anyone deserved to celebrate, it was him. He’s another guy who will be fun to watch because you’ll never know what’s coming week after week.
“Take me to Church,” Hozier
This is how you do song selection. That song is crazy good and it’s perfect for Idol because if you do it right, you’re moving on. I figured we’d hear it at least once this season, but I assumed it would be back-pocketed until absolutely necessary. I don’t blame Mark for pulling it out at the House of Blues, locking up his spot, but I would be shocked if he or Clark Beckham made Top 3 and had this on their list. Haunting songs usually play very well on Idol when they’re not screwed up, so this should give Mark enough of a bump to get to the live shows. I think.
“Burning Love,” Elvis
I think Trevor Douglas can win Idol. He gets it. He took done by an artist who died before any of the Idols were born and made it sound new. He made it sound very much like Trevor Douglas. I really like what we saw in the clip and now it makes sense why Idol has been pushing the “nerd” thing so much. Trevor Douglas is the goods and if he can crank out performances like Thursdays, he’s going to do VERY well on the show.
“Drops of Jupiter,” Train
Love that he picked a song that was almost as old as some of the contestants. The performance was solid and I really won’t go beyond that. He’s an ideal contestant because he’s the unintimidating white guy. He won’t scare old people and teens won’t think of him as weird old guy. I don’t think he has the strongest voice among the contestants and without an instrument, he’s a little bland for me, but that’s I’m a fan of soul singers and PWGs that aren’t country. That said, I think he can do extremely well on the show because he’s got range unlike some that have made it this far.
Sarina Joi Crowe
“Big White Room,” Jessi J
I love that she did a song called “Big White Room” and wore a white dress, but it was not a great choice for an outfit. I’ll spare the joke – again, I’m sober – but it involves a humped mammal and it’s foot. I didn’t have her in my Top 24 and I think a lot of that has to do with her lack of screen time. My notes had her doing well in on Group Night, so she was a bit of a surprise. Her performance Thursday showed she’s got the voice, but can she venture outside of pop ballads? Can she make songs sound different? Really interested to see more of her next week (and online when I make my picks).
“Satisfaction” Allen Stone
The coolest part about this kid might be his mom, so for that reason alone we should be rooting for him. Not often I’d rather hang out with a contestant’s mom than the actual contestant, but Mrs. Qaasim sounds like a G-D riot. Qaasim doing a song I’ve never heard of wasn’t a surprise; that’s going to be his thing and it might take some time getting used to. Whatever that it you want contestants to have, Qaasim has it. He’s probably in the bottom third among the guys on voice alone, but among pure performers he’s Top 3 at worst. I have no idea how America will react because we haven’t had a contestant like Qaasim before and he and Quentin might be fighting for one spot in the Top 12.
“Love This Pain,” Lady Antebellum
It’s pretty clear Riley is a musician more than a singer and I really think he has potential to do something big. His performance was great, but I have a hard time seeing him get far with the other talent among the guys. He’s 18 and I really wish he would have waited another year or two to make a run because being older was only going to help him. Strong showing for him at the House of Blues and if he follows it up next week, there’s a really good chance he’s going to take my opinion and shove it down my throat. Wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.
“Higher Ground,” Stevie Wonder
If we’re being honest here, I’m taking Jelly over Shi based on the last performance. For one, Jelly did a “Bang, Bang,” a song that I my daughter listens to a lot and did a really great job with it. I didn’t see enough to say Jelly didn’t deserve a spot, but I did see enough of Shi to say she deserved one. When she goes big, it’s REAL big. Her uh-oh moments haven’t been awful, but I think with her blend of talent and personality (bring back the beard!) make her a dangerous competitor.
All right, good week. The plan is to have my top 12 and more predictions Monday, a fun blog Tuesday and then we’re back to the live shows Wednesday.
My bigger dilemma is the first week of the Top 12. I’m on vacation and will be in Key West and it’s likely won’t be updating the site. I may just get hammered and live tweet, so there’s that.
If anyone has any tips, any blog ideas or want to tell me how much I suck, I’m on twitter – follow me here – or you can email me at DudesReviewIdol@yahoo.com