The American Idol Top 24 was great until they broke FCC rules about showing a teenager getting violated on national television


Pretty such what happened to Laine isn’t something you can show on television

And just like that, American Idol returned to its roots.

The shitty, dead roots that ruined the franchise and got it kicked off Fox.

After five pretty strong audition episodes and a good look at Hollywood Week – although it lacked enough from Group Night, but to be fair they could run four hours from Group Night and it wouldn’t be enough – Monday was supposed to be the triumphant return of Idol before it goes live next week. You could already see the talent rising to the top and anticipate some big performances later in the season.

And then Idol kicked off the best talent the show has had since before it started sucking.

The show should have come with an MA-17 warning on it because Laine Hardy got fucked. Regardless of how you feel, Laine was the best contestant the show has had since Phillip Phillips won in his audition. If you thought Laine was formulaic, fine; but that formula works like a motherfucker and the ratings agree. He was a white guy with a guitar. He had that growl to his voice. He had that “fuck you, I’m gonna do what I want” attitude underneath the sweet, Southern bumpkin exterior. Laine wasn’t just gonna win American Idol – he was going win running away from everybody. You take a raw voice and a guitar and it works because you can feel the emotion in it and that connects with the people. It’s why David Cook won. It’s why Lee DeWyze won. It’s why Scott McCreery won. It’s why Phillip Phillips won. It’s why Nick Fradiani won.

(Notice I didn’t say Kris Allen. He was good, but I stand by my stance that people in the flyover states refused to vote for Adam Lambert because he was gay. There was no way they were letting a dude in nail polish win. Wild times back then)

Laine was going to win and Idol producers knew it. The kid had some flaws – like his complete inability to connect with other teenagers not from the deep south or not liking Justin Bieber – but if you had him singing classic hits every week the show would have been a bloodbath. Anyone with ears who heard him go up against Garrett Jacobs and said Garrett was better is a legitimate crazy person. I’m sure Garrett doesn’t think he deserved a spot over Laine. (that’s not saying Garrett didn’t deserve a spot; it sucks to say he got one over Laine, but that’s how it was presented).

The guys Top 12 is a fucking unmitigated disaster. It’s like they decided to eschew talent for stories and looks. There’s just this outward refusal to embrace competition in the entertainment industry. It doesn’t help that it’s covered by journalists more worried about making friends with famous folk instead of calling things like they are. So when it’s time for competition, nobody takes a hard stance on these shows and says “these people sucked, these people didn’t” and if you do, the so-called talent is so fucking soft that they cry about bullying and having hurt feelings. Can someone with some actual access press American Idol for answers to why the best kid on the show got booted? Or get details on the judging? I don’t see how NFL reporters get shit from agents and all sorts of “unnamed sources” and there isn’t one person who can talk to someone “close to Idol” about how Laine got screwed. God forbid an entertainment journalist try to actually be a journalist.

Look at the Top 12. You know who deserves a spot over Laine? Nobody. Not a one of them is better than Laine and this is coming from a guy who hates country music with every fiber of his being. But take out Dennis Lorenzo, Cade Foehner and Caleb Lee Hutchinson and do any of these guys have the talent to win American Idol? No. The answer is no. Stop saying yes.

You want to know what nobody wants to hear? Marcio Underwood can’t win Idol. Impossible. Michael J. Woodward has no chance. Why? Because nobody wants to hear one-trick falsetto ponies no matter how touching their story is. Jonny Brenns? He’s Wonder Bread. Paste. Mayonaise.

Trevor McBane is a wild card. Fat bearded guys always are. Brandon Diaz has the best falsetto voice and he barely caught air time, but at least he can mix it up a little. Dominique is the best pure male vocalist left, but he’s gonna end up splitting votes with Dennis and I can’t see that helping because Dennis might end up Top 5 overall.

Ada Vox is apparently being treated as a guy because there’s 12 girls and 11 guys and Ada, but I don’t judge. The last solo performance Ada threw out was amazing and that’s what Idol should be focusing on now that they kicked off the kid who was supposed to win.

The girls side isn’t that bad. I don’t know that anyone got robbed of a spot. Michelle Sussett stinks, but her last two performances were pretty good and she’s looking like less of a joke every time she’s on stage. Alyssa Raghu obviously did something that separated her from the rest of the teenage vocalists, plus Katy Perry needs to save face with her original Top 10 prediction.

Effie Passero is the best of the 12 girls but based on Katy Perry’s critique during the decision, you can already see they’re gonna railroad her because you can’t have a girl who’s not a 110-pound, bleach-bonde win American Idol because of marketability, even if the best vocalists in the world most certainly aren’t
If Effie loses, it ain’t gonna be because of talent. It’s gonna be because Idol forces her out because they’re terrified she’s not marketable. Just hoping the quirky rocker-type chick has a chance because she’s talented AF.

Amelia Hammer Harris is the No. 2 girl and she’s going to be a tough, tough out. Maddie Poppe isn’t too far behind her and Shannon O’Hara, who’s quiet by church standards, is terrific and if Idol was still a singing show, she’d have a shot.

Instead, Idol’s gonna throw Gabby Barrett and Mara Justine down our throats. I’ve got no problem with either because it’s obvious they can both sing. Gabby is the stereotypical pop princess Idol desperately wants to win, so she’s gonna get every advantage possible over the competition. I was gonna pick Mara for my Top 24 because of the casual mention of her being in Room 1, but didn’t think they’d actually put her through. She can sing her ass off, but she dances like a drunk aunt at a wedding. My feeling on her is going to really depend on how much they push her on me; if they let her lie and let her talent do the talking, I’ll probably calm down and take it easy on the kid.

Jurnee is a good story and I like her in, Kay Kay was predictable because it’s clear they weren’t planning on her being here and then had to jam her into the solo round for 10 seconds so she couldn’t cry shenanigans even though there are definitely shenanigans going on, plus having a pasty white Top 12 ain’t exactly a good look. Layla’s the country girl and it’s not a shock she’s here. Don’t think she’s gonna get the bump Skyler Laine did – that was right when country was getting big in the mainstream – but she could do all right.

Realized I got this far and didn’t mention Catie Turner. She’s a superstar. She’s going to be the most fun contestant American Idol has had in years. Basically a nerdier Joey Cook. I’ll have more on her later this week, her dramatic yes kinda got lost in me going all scorched earth on Idol for the Laine decision.

I go through the list of girls who didn’t make it and nothing really irks me. Would have been nice to have Maddie Zahn or Victoria McQueen or even seen Kourtney Smith for more than the five seconds we got during group week, but they’ll be back, hopefully.

So the Top 24 is here and they got 23 names that deserve to be there. We’ll be down to 14 after next week and I’m already prepared for some bullshit.

Gonna take a breath, get over it and move on. I’ll have my predictions out at some point this week, but I’m pretty devastated to have my personal 10-day streak of awesome shit happening to me end. Ah well. You know where to find me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I cut a graph out of the review after making a joke I’m not exactly proud of. I thought it would be funny, gave it a day, read it and it wasn’t. Nobody emailed or DM’d or complained, I’m pulling it bc I realized I didn’t want to be on the other side of it and if the contestant it was about read this I’d be horrified they’d be hurt by the joke. So I’m sorry. I suck. I’ll be more careful in the future.