American Idol Top 24: Dalton Rapattoni showed his Rebel side, Olivia proved she’s a Roxstar and Idol didn’t need anyone else to sing because the judges made up their minds before anyone stepped on stage

Idol saved the best for last Wednesday.

Idol saved the best for last Wednesday.


That was underwhelming.

For a lineup with 8-10 legit contenders to win Season 15 of American Idol, the final group of 12 were a resounding disappointment. Between mediocre singing and song choices straight out of Season 1 (when performance > song selection) this night wasn’t what it was supposed to be. There were some flashes of brilliance – namely Dalton Rapattoni, who is going to be the most-talked about Idol this season – but outside of Harry Connick Jr referring to J-Lo as “Jenny” (which would be pretty much the same thing as Joe Biden calling Barack Obama ‘Barry’ during the State of the Union Address as far as I’m concerned) the episode failed to entertain.

The only thing gained, based on judges’ comments, was confirmation that how the Idols performed Thursday mattered as much as a 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. Sure, for one or two it helped their cause but for the rest of the field it didn’t really matter because the judges/producers knew who they were taking. There’s really no other way to explain some of the criticism levied to Shelbie Z, the best female voice in the finale 24, or Jenn Blosil, the only female who doesn’t sound like any girl you’d hear on the radio, or Adam Lasher, who put on a strong performance but was brushed aside. When Lee Jean, this season’s baby-faced producer favorite, performed a rather bland version of Ed Sheeran’s “Runaway,” he was praised and right when they were about to say some negative words, J-Lo flipped it around and turned her words to the entire case as opposed to the 16-year old who, loaded with potential, is out of his league against some of the older, finely tuned musicians.

But that’s Idol for you. They’ve been fixing this competition – and not for nothing, I’m pretty sure that’s an FCC violation and I wish one of the so-called entertainment ‘reporters’ would try practicing journalism one time and look into it because these shows are required to be fair and balanced – since the debacle that was Season 12 so it shouldn’t be a surprise that anything changed.

I’m willing to give them a pass on Thursday only because the list of competitors was tough. There’s about a million combinations of seven that could get in and I’m OK (or at least semi-OK) with 90 percent of them. Only downside is it really makes you wonder what would have happened had Idol played the Top 24 out like it had in the past with fans deciding who gets through. Perhaps a blog for another day?

Let’s get on to Wednesday night’s performances.

THE TOP 12, PART II

Shelbie Z
“Word Hard, Play Harder,” Gretchen Wilson

The biggest surprise of the performance was Gretchen Wilson is still alive. If I sang bangers like Redneck Woman and All Jacked Up, I’d call it a career and live off that because that’s country living, or so I hear from the lyrics of every country song there is. Wasn’t a huge fan of the song choice, obviously, but Shelbie is country; she’s not the cute pop country, just low-down, whiskey-drinkin, gator-hunting, dip-spitting redneck stuff and she pulls it off well. Shelbie’s vocals were fine. Her stage presence went unmatched. And then the judges spoke. I don’t want to call it a hit job, but last week they got extremely critically of minor technique flaws of Jenna Renae and as soon as Keith opened his mouth saying something about key and doing a big note, I didn’t need to hear anything else.
PREDICTION: She should be Top 7, but it’s not happening. She’s getting the screw job. Last week it was Jenna, who “liked” a tweet of mine explaining why she was getting screwed and it led me to believe my theory was right; once I saw Shelbie like this tweet, I knew she was cooked.

Manny Torres
“Adventure of a Lifetime,” Coldplay

I don’t know that a Hispanic dude singing the whitest band on the planet was a great idea. I don’t know that his wardrobe selection was as suited for American Idol as much as it was serving friends and family at an American Idol banquet at the Ramada Inn. The performance was fine – or at least it sounded as much – but I would have preferred to see Manny with a guitar in his hand putting some soul into his music.
PREDICTION: He gone, unless J-Lo forces her Hispanic card on everyone. That may sound a taaaaad racist, but there’s a track record here that backs it up. I don’t believe in coincidences, only facts.

Kory Wheeler
“Let It Go,” James Bay

When the song title flashed on the screen, I went right into #dadlife mode and flipped out. You can only hear Elsa the Snow Queen so many times before you lose your sanity and murder your family. When I saw the artist name next to it, I was pleased it wasn’t from Frozen but confused because I was pretty sure James Bay is in Florida somewhere. Kory’s my boy and I’m not going to hide that fact, but after that first line he paused and had this look on his face that screamed “Oh shit I forgot the words.” He didn’t. The performance was solid and it was a different side of Kory, but I would have loved to hear something a little more up-tempo from him or at least pick a song that’s not boring AF. Most impressive part is the man might open his mouth wider than anyone I’ve ever seen. It was mesmerizing.
PREDICTION: I think he’s in. I hope he’s in. Something about the judges’ comments makes me feel like he’s surviving, even though they crapped all over him; it was the way they did it that makes me think he’s fine. It’s like on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; if Guy Fieri starts talking about techniques used to make the dish first, he doesn’t like it; if he groans and says “out of bounds,” he loves it and you’re welcome for changing how you watch Triple D going forward.

Amelia Eisenhauer
“Wake Me Up,” Avicii

Anyone else laugh at the idea of a 9-year old Amelia getting in the car and cussing a blue streak because it’s allowed for that one moment? Gonna have to institute that rule with my kids because little kids swearing is never not funny. Loved the song choice because it’s a great song for competition; there’s a story behind it. The peaks and valleys of the song can really bring the audience in and if this was done with the fans voting, Amelia’s selection would have been perfect (but not as perfect as her mom, who was looking crazy hot with that snowboarder hat on). Wish Amelia would have played an instrument here, like a banjo or something. I don’t know if the kid can play a fucking banjo, but it would have just added a little extra.
PREDICTION: I think she’s out, for a couple reasons. First, Jeneve Mitchell being in didn’t help Amelia’s cause; second, Tristan McIntosh and Olivia Rox’s strong performance didn’t help; third, I really think their adding Lee Jean. I’ve been a fan of Amelia’s for a while and I’m hoping I’m wrong because she’s got versatility that I like to hear on the show and I wouldn’t mind seeing more shots of her mom in the audience. Ding.

Jenn Blosil
“Sorry,” Justin Bieber

She doesn’t drink and she doesn’t do drugs, but she does like to dance? Doesn’t she know dancing improves with the former or the latter? Loved the song choice because “Sorry” is my go-to right now (don’t tell anyone), but I wasn’t pumped with her slowing it down – at first. On the re-watch, my take changed. You can talk about her tone and pitch and blah, blah, blah, but the technical flaws in this performance are what makes Blosil great. It’s like her voice is designed to sound better when things get a little out of tune. It was great. Harry sucks.
PREDICTION: She needs to be in because she’s not a generic pop singer, but I don’t think they’re putting her through because they’re idiots. She’s quirky and fun and sneaky cute – there isn’t a red-blooded man alive who didn’t notice how her eyes popped with lighting and the blue backdrop. Yes, her near transparency helped, but still. Eyes for days. She’s gone, so I’m bummed.

CJ Johnson
“I’ll Be,” Edwin McCain

CJ is going to regret this performance because he wasted a good song selection on the judges. If he sings that on a live show, every single white woman in America is gonna vote for him except Big Ang (too soon?). CJ went right to the Fradiani Playbook here; wore a nice fitting shirt, no silly accessories and sang a song people go bananas for. Was it the best vocal of the night? Hell no. Was it good enough to get every woman over the age of 30’s attention? Uh, yeah. If he makes the top 10 and picks songs like that, he’ll be wearing a schmedium v-neck by the Top 8 and will be ending the season with the title. Not even joking. This dude gets it and right now he’s playing Idol better than everyone.
PREDICTION: He’s in, but if he’s not it’s because the producers are terrified of a potential final four of Mackenzie Bourg/Thomas Stringfellow/Adam Lasher/CJ Johnson.

Lee Jean
“Runaway,” Ed Sheeran

When Lee started talking about origami and discipline and order I was praying he was going to do a Wu-Tang Clan cover and make my head explode, but no such luck. He’s not a WGWG because he lacks a W, but the kid is has something and could be a hell of a contestant because he seems like he could play Ed Sheeran just as easily as he could break into a country jam, sing some Michael Jackson or crush out a Motown classic. His performance Wednesday showed what he is; his vocals aren’t gonna blow you away but he commands the stage better than his 15-year old predecessors.
PREDICTION: Notice how when the judges were “critical” of Lee they were really being critical of everyone else as well? Kinda leads me down the road of there’s no way they’re not letting him in.

Trent Harmon
What Are You Listening To,” Chris Stapleton

He’s the perfect WGWG because he’s 25, looks 19, sings like 35 and acts like he doesn’t have talent pouring through his veins. We still have no idea what genre Trent belongs to but that ambiguity works; this week he was Blues Trent and maybe next week he’s boy-band Trent and the week after he’s filthy R&B Trent. I don’t know that Trent has what it takes to do what Dalton does to songs or take control of a house like CJ, but Trent seems to have a little piece of what everyone else is good at in one package. His success is all going to be on song choice and that needs to be better than it was Wednesday.
PREDICTION: He’s in. Judges loved him, fans loved him, anyone with a brain and a working set of ears had to at worst thing he was likable. Just didn’t enjoy the “keep my head warm” comment when the dude has some serious lettuce. Trying living the #BaldLife one time, bruh.

Tristan McIntosh
“Good Girl,” Carrie Underwood

The poofier her hair, the more I’ve enjoyed Tristan. Her hair was matted down in the round of 51 and I really didn’t enjoy the performance; she had it teased out Wednesday and, no coincidence, she was great. I’d written her off after seeing who got in last week because it seemed unlikely Idol would send in a slew of 16-year old girls and think any of them have a shot. Then she delivered one of the better performances of the night and pretty much earned her spot.
PREDICTION: I don’t see how she isn’t one of the seven who hear their name called Thursday night. If it’s not, then we know Idol made up its mind about who was making it before this 12 sang a note.

Adam Lasher
“Black and Gold,” Sam Sparro

Right now dude’s the Cam Newton of American Idol, right down to the gold shoes. He’s got a cocky little swagger and that’s good, but he’s still got a lot to learn if he wants to be the champ. The song selection was bad from the perspective of if you sing that in the Top 10, no one’s voting for you because most viewers don’t know that song. However, I didn’t hate the choice because he had to be aware that he had to impress the judges, not the fans. Still would have loved to see him do something to pick up a fan base, but it was Adam being Adam. Last time an Adam did what he wanted on American Idol, it turned out OK.
PREDICTION: He should be in. He’s not gonna be and it’s because Idol producers don’t want him to win and definitely are terrified of the WGWG final four. There’s two spots for Adam, CJ and Kory and reading into the judges, Adam’s exclusion seems inevitable. Hoping I’m wrong because if he wins Season 15 I lay stake to being the first person to say he was going to win.

Dalton Rapattoni
“Rebel Yell,” Billy Idol

You saw it, right? Do I really need to say anything? If CJ’s playing the game better it’s only because Dalton’s playing some next-level stuff that you need a PhD in American Idol to even attempt. You take a song like that, mess with the arrangement and then perform it like that you’ll do just fine. The one and only downside is if you get cocky and one of those goes bad, people get pissed and sometimes you don’t get a chance to prove it was a fluke. Oh, and it helps when J-Lo pretty much said she wants to bang you on national TV.
PREDICTION: I’m not going to dignify this question with a response.

Olivia Rox
“Confident,” Olivia Rox

Roxstar indeed (BTW, could have done without the try-hard, hardo story about meeting and singing for Aretha Franklin. Name-dropping don’t fly with the commoners). With Olivia being seen on TV in January as much as the New York Jets, it was curious if Idol was throwing her to the wayside in favor of some of the other young talent. Who knows the reasoning because based on Wednesday’s performance I want to know what she sang that they didn’t show. Olivia showed a terrific vocal range and really hit a couple power notes. Loved the song choice and how it was arranged; only way things get bad for her is if she punches David Cook in the mouth Thursday night because nobody punches DC. Nobody.
PREDICTION: I was flipping a coin on her and Amelia and I think Olivia earned tails, because it never fails. Let’s avoid all the BS and just throw her in the Top 8 as well.

This was a tough night to make predictions because my seven best aren’t the seven I’m predicting to make it. If it were up to me, I’m sending Adam Lasher, Kory Wheeler, CJ Johnson, Amelia Eisenhauer, Shelbie Z, Jenn Blosil and Olivia Rox through and then inventing a new rule to make it Top 11 and adding Dalton Rapattoni.

Based on what I heard and what I saw, here are the picks that I think are getting their names called: Kory Wheeler, CJ Johnson, Trent Harmon, Lee Jean, Tristan McIntosh, Dalton Rapattoni, Olivia Rox. Adam Lasher, Shelbie Z, Jenn Blosil and Amelia Eisenhauer would be a pretty good final four, but I think they’re getting cut along with Manny Torres and I’m getting mad already. See ya Thursday night.

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