American Idol Top 24: It was me … and Jax and Joey … and Miss, Miss Jones

Bang, Boom, Bing. (You probably missed the joke in that)

Bang, Boom, Bing. (You probably missed the joke in that)

Let’s not count the girls out just yet.

After Wednesday’s stunning display from the guys – a group whose talent runs deep, but doesn’t have a lot of top-of-the-line stars – the girls were set up for failure.

Instead, we saw probably three of the best female contestants American Idol has had in years. Will one finally be able to end the streak and be the first girl since Jordin Sparks to win?

(Before you get ready to Tweet/Comment/Email, I don’t count Season 12. That’s not disparaging what Candice Glover did. She’s a terrific talent and won that particular season, there’s no doubt. But that season was rigged. They didn’t allow instruments because they didn’t want a WGWG winning again. Then they picked probably the worst male finalists in the show’s history, leaving some actual talent wondering WTF happened. Candice won, but it gets an asterisk and as far as I’m concerned, it never happened. Moving on … )

The girls have more elite talent and its in three completely different forms. First we saw cute and adorable Joey Cook sing a Keith Urban song that – WARNING: HotTake coming – was better than Urban’s.

We got Jax, our three-letter, single-named temptress who can simply do no wrong, making oldies sound ready to hit No. 1 on the charts.

And then there’s Tyanna Jones, who can give you a perfect pop performance without making it sound, well, like a cheesy pop song.

These three have separated themselves from the rest. Final 16, Final 12, Final 10, it doesn’t matter. Joey, Jax and Tyanna need to be there or this show loses whatever credibility it has left.

I’m sure Idol will screw this up somehow. They’re going to over-promote Tyanna, much like they did with Marie Rae Sellars last season, and instead of letting America fall in love with her, the country will turn because they’ll see through the show’s plot. They’ll force Joey to sing without her squeezebox or whatever other super hipster instrument she can play. They’ll try to pump up Jax as the next Sexy Pop Star when that’s not really what she comes off as (except for the hot part. She’s a good-looking chick and if I was one of the guys on the shows on her I’d be making more runs at her than I would covering Motown song).

There isn’t a trio of guys that matches this trio of girls. Quentin Alexander won the guys night in a landslide, but would you really throw any of the other guys in his class? Maybe Clark Beckham? If you even have to say maybe, it’s not there.

The guys’ side is Quentin, a huge block of everyone else, then the last three. For the girls, it’s these three, the R&B Balladeers (Loren Lott, Sarina-Joi Crowe, Adanna Duru) and the rest, a mishmash of girls who had a rough night, some talent with no clue how to play Idol, and some who played it safe on a night where that was a bad idea.

All told, good night for the girls. The show ran smooth but I’m not super excited that Seacrest couldn’t tell us what the hell was going on next week. I assumed it was going to be the Top 24 to the Top 12, but apparently we’re going to 16 or something like that.

(This has been American Idol’s biggest problem. It wouldn’t be difficult to post a fucking schedule of events on their website. There is no reason why fans shouldn’t know exactly what’s going to happen next week and if I want to know when Motown Week is going to be, I should be able to find out now, not the fucking week before it happens. RANT OVER)

Anyway, on to the recaps.

Lovey James
“Love Runs Out,” OneRepublic
Of all the contestants, Lovey looks the most like a pop star. Her stage presence is perfect, she prunes her face toward the camera just right and she knows how to do all the little things that famous-ass pop singers can do. She’s perfect for Idol.

Problem is, there is no way on god’s green earth that she deserves a spot in the Top 12 based on tonight.

Her performance tonight was decent vocally, but she was carried by the background singers and on a night where there were some huge vocal performances and original covers, a safe performance isn’t going to cut it. She’s good, but between going first and everyone else she’s got a lot to overcome.
IN or OUT: Out, barely.

Adanna Duru
“Rather Be,” Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
Love the song choice even though you could have given me a million guesses and I couldn’t tell you the name or artist (PS Clean Bandit is such a Home Alone rip-off name).

Adanna got a chance to show the tenderness of her voice and the power. That’s the type of balance you need to succeed on Idol. I’d like to see old songs out of her, and I’m talking Motown and classics, not stuff from the 90s.

If she gets cut I’m not going to be surprised only because of how good Sarina-Joi Crowe and Loren Lott are. I really don’t think there’s room for all three of them in the Top 12 based on America’s voting history.

But I’ve been wrong every single time when it comes to Adanna. Hoping I’m right this one time.
IN or OUT: In #IdDuruHer

Alexis Gomez
“Gunpowder & Lead,” Miranda Lambert
If you’re going to sing this song, you need to be a badass. There have been some country chicks on this show that I’ve been legit afraid of because they love guns and probably crush JD like I crush Bud Light Limes.

Alexis isn’t a badass. She admits as much – “I’m the hippie, Mexican, hillbilly.” So why in the hell is she singing this song? (What’s worse? How she sells the accent when she says “Latina” and then comes out sounding like every chick country singer ever with no hint of a Hispanic accent)

She pandered. It’s a strategic move and I’m not going to hate on it too bad. You find a super popular song that doesn’t require a ton of range and replicate it, you can get votes. That’s what this show is about. Votes = wins and if you’re not playing to win, get off the stage.

I would have liked to see her sing something different, but if her plan is to suck up to America, that’s awesome and exactly what I would do.
IN or OUT: Out.

Joey Cook
“Somebody Like You,” Keith Urban
That’s how you Idol.

She took a popular song – I think? Country isn’t my thing – by a god damn judge on the show – earning a hilarious reaction from Urban – and made it sound like a Joey Cook original.

Listen, her style isn’t for everyone. It’s a little out there for me and I’m not racing to iTunes to buy that cover if it gets released.

But it was enjoyable. It was different. It was playing Idol the way Idol is supposed to be played.

If she’s going to do that all season, I’m all in. I will say this – while it will be enjoyable, it’s a monster risk because if she picks a song that doesn’t sound good, she’ll be eliminated ASAP. She’s either hitting bombs or striking out.
IN or OUT: In #SqueezeBox

Katherine Winston
“Safe & South,” Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars
My Taylor Swift catalog is limited to the hits my 3-year old sings to me so I didn’t know this song, but this girl is too good to not do well on this show.

Her voice isn’t as powerful as Sarina/Loren/Adanna, she’s not as quirky as Joey, she doesn’t look like Jax and she doesn’t have the personality of some of the others. Basically, Katherine is what you would get if you threw the other 11 girls into a blender and made a drink. She’s a little bit of everyone and is the most balanced of the contestants.

America needs to put her through because she’s good. If she ditches the homeless chic look, plays a little more for the cameras, she can gain some steam and surprise a lot of people. She can win this thing because of her talent and because she’s from Massachusetts. I don’t know how many Idol fans follow sports, but here’s what I can tell you – all we do in New England is win championships. So suck it, America, as Katherine adds to the tally.

PS If Katherine starts acting like a cocky Masshole, it will be terrific television. Go full heel and embrace it, K-Dubs.
IN or OUT: In #Masshole

Shannon Berthiaume
“Who Knew,” Pink
You know what’s bullshit? I can 100 percent see Daniel Seavey advancing and Shannon Berthiaume not even though they’re essentially at the same level.

Unpregnant Juno’s inexperience showed on stage. She’s clumsy and looks lost on stage. Basically it’s me when I do sober karaoke.

However – and this is a huge however – her voice is terrific. She didn’t go all the way with it because that performance could have gone bigger. That’s a result of not having a lot of performances under her belt and it might cost her a spot. Might.
IN or OUT: In #UnpregnantJuno

Loren Lott
“Note to God” Charice
I spent the first 30 seconds of her performance finding out if American Idol screwed up and labeled the song by Charice instead of Shanice (I Love Your Smile is my childhood).

I’m borderline obsessed with Loren. She’s gorgeous, and this is coming from a dude who lives in a town where being Armenian makes me the closest thing to a black guy. So, stalker alert, I heart Loren.

The control of her voice amazes me. She doesn’t lose control. I keep waiting for her to chase a note she can’t get and she doesn’t. I hope she tells the judges to go fuck themselves at some point, namely the time when they tell her to sing an upbeat song. Keep banging ballads.

And don’t make me cry.
IN or OUT: In #ILikeHerALott

Shi Scott
“Umbrella” Rhianna
The first 20-30 seconds of this song was the type of stuff that used to show up in a montage on Idol when they show the idiots who can’t sing. It was that bad.

And then it got better. And then it got much better. And then she lost it a little, but then got back on track and then just started yelling.

I think this was a terrific song choice and I applaud the effort to make it different, but she should have done more Mandy Moore’s version – which is beautiful and fitting for Shi’s voice – and less of that.
Shi’s a crazy wild card. She’s the kid on the basketball team who has all the skills but never listens to the coach so when you put him out there he has no idea what to do and just as he’s going to get pulled, he makes plays nobody else on the floor can make.

There’s something there with Shi and she just needs to figure out how to package it properly.
IN or OUT: In #ShiCantGoWrong

Maddie Walker
“Love Gets Me Every Time,” Shania Twain
Was that good? Seriously? I have no idea.

Country all sounds the same to me, especially the brutal country pop, bro-country crap that’s taking over right now. It’s all the same beat, same lyrics, etc. It’s white people rap music.

(THEORY: black people like rappers who rap about a lifestyle they want – being rich, buying stuff, being drunk, strippers, shoes. White people love country music, which is country singers talking about stuff white people want – hanging out on the beach, drinking beer, having fun, being bad at dancing).
I don’t think Maddie sounded bad, but she didn’t have me going out of my way to notice her. I mean, maybe if she sang “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” I would have, but not for that.

Maddie’s going to be fine because all the white country folk are voting for her. Just need better song choices going forward.
IN or OUT: In. #YouMaddieBro

Sarina-Joi Crowe
“Mamma Knows Best,” Jessi J
J-Lo’s hyperbole aside – there is no way on this planet Sarina-Joi Crowe rivaled Jessi J in anything except for name misspelling – the performance was great.

I feel like my love for Loren and pure fear of Adanna hunting me down prevents me from saying this, but I’m taking Sarina-Joi over the two of them. If I had to pick one, I’m picking the girl who’s going to drive me insane because I can’t figure out where the hyphen goes and my spell-check underlines the crap out of her name, but with that voice she can do so much and I want to see more.
IN or OUT: In #SerenaJoyCrow

“Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” Nancy Sinatra
If you’re going sing a song called “Bang Bang” it had better be the song I listen to all the time my 3-year old listens to all the time and not this old-school stuff.

Seriously though, Jax is on another level. Did that song sound old enough to eat dinner at 4 p.m. and get a 10 percent discount to boot? Nope. That’s the genius of Jax.

Her facial expressions are still my favorite thing and she continued to do weird stuff with her hands – one homeless guy winter glove and firing the gun at Ricky Minor – but if you don’t want to watch her the season, GTFO.
IN or OUT: In #JaxOnJaxOff

Tyanna Jones
“Lips are Movin’” Megan Trainor
Take away the blue rooster haircut, you know who Tyanna reminded me of tonight?

Jordin Sparks.

I remember Sparks because no one could believe she was as young as she was when she performed, or at least that’s how I remember it going down as I tried to touch boobs making out with my girlfriend on her couch during that season (don’t worry; I married her). It’s the same thing with Tyanna. Her voice is so strong. Her stage presence rivals Lovey’s. She’s got that look.

If she sounds this good singing a fast-paced pop song, I can only imagine she sounds like the child of Brian McKnight and Florence and the Machine when she does a ballad.

There’s going to be some shade thrown her way because it is 100 percent obvious that the producers want Tyanna to do well. If you think she ended up in the final spot on blind luck, you’re high (same thing with Qaasim Wednesday night). They gave her the pimp spot just to be safe, but she delivered.

Can’t wait for more from this girl.
IN or OUT: In #GotATyannaJones

So if you’re confused why I put a million people in above, it’s basically if their performance was good enough to get there. Here are the instant predictions.

MY PICKS: Joey Cook, Jax, Tyanna Jones, Sarina Joi-Crowe, Loren Lott, Adanna Duru, Shannon Berthiaume, Katherine Winston. That’s who I’d put in based on tonight and what I think their potential is.

AMERICA’S PICKS: Joey, Jax and Tyanna are locks. Maddie makes it over Alexis. Sarina-Joi and Loren get in. Lovey James gets votes, makes it. Then I think Shannon gets votes over Katherine, sending her, Shi Scott, Alexis Gomez and Adanna Duru home.

I have no confidence in these predictions whatsoever.

So bad news – I don’t think I’ll be around next week. Saturday we’re heading to New Orleans for my father-in-law’s birthday and will be there til Tuesday, when we leave for Key West. Based on the amount of day drinking that goes on, I may be able to be in front of a TV to watch Wednesday and Thursday to live Tweet, but I don’t really envision me bringing a laptop, so no website. Sorry.

If things change, the news will be on the Twitter machine. You know where to find me.