American Idol needs less stories, more singers and Lionel Richie hitting on moms and spitting fire


Hey look, this guy performed and got a ticket

Maybe it was that last week debut episodes were so good or maybe it was I was totally distracted by the NCAA Tournament running simultaneously, but Sunday’s episode reminded me a lot of the old American Idol and we’re not talking about when the show was must-watch TV.

You watch enough American Idol you realize if they start showing a ton of backstories, the judges playing fart jokes and the silliness in the judges’ room the show is gonna stink out loud.

The sap sells, but these “overcoming the odds” stories are pretty cliché. You wanna show me a paralyzed guy who’s trying out for the episode, I’m all in. We haven’t seen that before. You show me a good looking contestant who was “bullied” in high school and turned to music to deal with it and are auditioning to prove them all wrong? Get out of my face.

And, (START OF RANT) If I have to see one more person audition and say they want to win Idol so they can support their family I’m going to punch all their teachers in the mouth for not telling them it’s OK to leave podunk USA and there are opportunities outside of some lottery ticket dream. You want to make a better life for yourself or your family? Study. Go into finance and make a ton. Learn coding and get involved in tech. Or learn a fucking trade like plumbing or auto repair and go fix all the helpess rich folk who were too busy studying to learn hands-on work and make a killing because nobody can fix shit but they’ll pay whatever and not haggle on it because they need toilets that work or a car that gets them to Penelope’s soccer game. (RANT OVER)

I just wanted more from this episode. More talent. Thirteen people got tickets and two of them were twins so I really only count that as one. That’s more than last Sunday but less than Monday, so right now Idol is basically a drug dealer because I don’t want to see more good singers, I need it.

Good news, the talent we did see was the kind that can win the show. Picking a Top 3 was like picking a favorite child (actually, that’s easier, because it’s always the kid who’s busting my balls less that particular day) and there’s no reason we couldn’t have cut like 10-12 minutes of shlock and added three or four more ticket winners. The talent was so good Katy Perry put two more in her top five and said two others could be in, so I’m gonna count that giving us seven contestants in the Top 10 through three episodes.

So with all that, here’s my recap of all the people who got golden tickets and my Top 3 performers at the end.


1) Crystal Alicea
“Lay Me Down,” Sam Smith

Her story was better than her actual performance. She wasn’t bad, but this wasn’t like seeing Pickler or Underwood or even La’Porsha Renae. She was pretty good, but her backstory was SO good and it really got to the point where I thought her boyfriend was going to come out and propose, aka the Idol producers’ wet dream. Wouldn’t have wanted to see that shlock on TV on a Sunday night, but at the same time I would have respected the hell out of it. I did not respect Katy Perry bashing karaoke, but that’s because she’s clearly awful at it.

2) Kristyn Harris
“I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” Patsy Montana

Nothing, and I mean nothing, screams potential superstar like a straight up cover of a 60-year old song. I get she’s a farm girl and trying to be different, but if Kirstyn Harris is gonna step out there and sing songs her grandpappy taught her and thinks she’s gonna win Idol she’s gonna have to get a new AOL CD for some extra internet minutes and to a little reading up on how to win this show. I’m not gonna sleep on the yodeling. It won’t sell, but you have to have some serious vocal chords to be able to do all that and if she gets advice from someone born after the great war she could actually turn some heads with those pipes.

3) Jonny Brenns
“Handsome,” But Not Handsome Enough That I’m Gonna Give You A Pass On Doing An Original

Hey look, a WGWG who’s a good looking dude and incredible tall. Marketable, yes? Did he do anything that made me swoon? Nope. Clearly if you’re an 8.9, can play a little guitar and have a halfway decent voice, you’re going to Hollywood and force judges to kick you off. The best part of the audition was a Lionel making Jonny’s mom melt with his over-the-phone rendition of “Hello” while Jonny watched helplessly, realizing if Lionel wanted to he’d end up being his stepdad.

4) Ricky Manning
“Another Original,” Get Out Of My Face With That

This is “American Idol,” a singing competition, not “American Idol,” a songwriting competition so Ricky isn’t going to win being a very ordinary WGWG.

5) Effie Passero
“Doing An Original Song Is OK,” When You Actually Have Talent And She’s Got Plenty

You want to sing an original you’d better be fucking good and Effie is better than fucking good. I was appalled Katy Perry didn’t tell her she’s in the Top 10 because there’s like five or six seasons she might have won with that performance alone. Effie doesn’t have your typical pop-star look but all those skinny pop-star wannabes better realize damn soon this competition is about talent and Effie’s got what they don’t and that’s a chance to actually be famous.

6) Johnny White
“All Of Me,” John Legend
Usually I hate second chances, but I loved what Lionel did here. It might have been nerves or it might have been a complete lack of understanding how to sing or perform. Lionel getting him to relax and ease into “All of Me” not only showed the kid has a halfway decent (but still not gonna win) voice, but it gave us Lionel’s “you’ve got to make love to it, but you have to have a little foreplay to it before you do it” which would have been the most absurd comment from the judges but Katy dropped a “I think you’re Top 10 material” to make Johnny the fourth member of the Top 10 after she put three in last week.

7) Caleb Lee Hutchinson
“If It Hadn’t Been For Love,” The Steeldrivers

Love this kid. Pudgy face, looks exactly what I think everyone from a flyover state looks like and doesn’t make me want to look up from Twitter when he walks into a room, but then he opens his mouth and absolutely sexes my ears. He’s good. Yes, he performed on another singing show that shall not be named, but that show stinks and how he did there doesn’t matter because he’s on Idol now and this is the only show that matters. Hopefully he can sing a little more than just country and as long as he doesn’t get in an ab-off with some of the WGWGs, he’s gonna do just fine.

8) Shannon O’Hara
“When We Were Young,” Adele

Really didn’t appreciate Shannon coming out singing Adele and destroying my credibility with my “don’t ever sing Adele” rule. I’m all in on this girl. She’s 17 but doesn’t act like it (literally basing that off the fact I didn’t see her take one selfie during the audition and she never mentioned SnapChat and I’m not sure they have cell phones or internet where she’s from) and that’s gonna play very well. Idol might have hid how much training she actually has, but that whole church thing means she can go big with a voice because there’s no fucking up when you’re singing for Jesus. Not allowed.

9) Amelia Hammer Harris
“Gimme Shelter,” The Rolling Stones

This girl isn’t a contestant, she’s a fucking ringer. Her dad is wrote Yakety Yak for godsakes. You think she wasn’t going to have talent? She brought in her own guitarist – who does that? Like she didn’t trust the studio musician Idol provides? Cocky, cocky, cocky and I love it. Doing a classic rock song shows she might have an understanding about to win the show even if I hate the Stones (sorry) and she might and not just because Katy put her in the Top 10 (ONLY FIVE SPOTS LEFT NOW). Literally cannot see a way she doesn’t end up in the Top 24 short of getting caught in a dog-fighting ring with Katy Perry and even then I think producers kinda ignore it.

PS My wife had an interesting theory about Hammer’s mom and dad and I won’t use the verbiage but basically mom was Penny Lane and I hate that I wasn’t smart enough to put two and two together there. That’s why I married up.

10) Julian and Milo Sposato
“Runaway Baby,” Bruno Mars

We’ve seen two people audition at the same time before but I couldn’t remember twins doing it. Nice the kids want to do music and are pretty good, but let’s be honest – if Simon was a judge, he wasn’t taking both of them. He would have had them sing off for one spot and Julian would have won because he was CLEARLY better. He’s the voice, Milo is the hype man. Fun to have them audition, they’ll be back next year.

11) Les Greene
“Change Gone Come,” Sam Cooke

Loved Baltimore native Les drilling Sam Cooke as UMBC (look it up nerds) was making a comeback at the same time. Doing “Change Gone Come” is tough because if you don’t hit the first note the song is over. Les didn’t just hit the first note, he might have had the best audition of the season. He’s the best male vocalist and it’s really not close. Gonna be fun watching him sing to the Top 10 even if Katy didn’t put him there.

12) Maddie Zahm
“New Rules,” Dua Lipa

She started singing and I had no idea what song she was doing, complained, and my wife told me to Google it because I know it and hot damn she was right and that COMPLETELY changed how I felt about Maddie’s audition, which went from great to super great. If she’s gonna take a trash pop song I make up words to because I can’t understand them because I’m an old and turn it into something incredibly listenable then I’m gonna listen to anything Maddie has to sing and hopefully Idol producers will give her an actual chance to compete.
Nice try trying to make me cry with Maddie and Marcus singing “Fireworks,” but someone needs to talk to Luke Bryan about talking to special needs people like they’re humans and not his dog Chase.

Top 3 Performances of the Night

This wasn’t easy. You could take the three I picked and shuffle the order and I’m OK with it. You could drop two and take Shannon or Maddie and I would be angry. I could have included everyone, but I’m not SAWFT so I made tough decisions and I’m sticking with it until revisionist history comes back to bite me in the ass.

1) Les Greene
The type of vocalist who’ll be able to turn heads every week, plus he wore a goofy-ass hat and that usually plays well on the show (see Owen, Rayvon)
2) Effie Passero
If she doesn’t get screwed out of a top Top 24 spot she might end up the highest-finishing female on the show. LOCK THAT IN PLEASE.
3) Caleb Lee Hutchinson
Literally almost cut him from the Top 3 because if his filthy association with that trash show on NBC, but really can’t wait for him to start singing non-country songs and making Adam Levine and the rest look like dickheads.

So that’s that. I’ll be back in a couple hours live tweeting. Sorry for the delay, but when the cleaning ladies come Monday I get the hell out of the house and I gotta hit the gym after I drop the youngest off at preschool so I can be regular obese again.