How did the first round of American Idol’s Top 24 go? Ryan Seacrest had the best performance of the night. That’s how it went.
Sunday night’s American Idol stunk but I’m not putting one ounce of blame on the contestants. Here’s who I’m blaming instead:
This round is the most infuriating because it’s the most fixed. There’s 24 competitors left, 12 guys, 12 girls. So what happened to Guys Week and Girls Week? Or how about six guys and six girls each week. It’s clear the producers had 10-12 names in mind to move on and decided to let 2-4 of them sing for two or three spots. There’s no way Idol puts the six of the seven contestants who received the most airtime on tonight’s show along with the three guys who got the least amount of airtime with Kay Kay, who received all of 41 seconds of air before crushing it on stage tonight. Tough to enjoy a show when you know a screwjob is coming.
Everyone sounded bad and it wasn’t from being pitchy, dawg. Contestants, band, background singers, even the crowd clapping sounds poor because the acoustics in that place stunk out loud and it came across on TV. There was a huge difference in sound quality from original auditions (usually held in conference rooms) to Hollywood Week (held in a big ass theatre) to “The Academy,” which looked like an oversized garage. Good way to hide a bad performance and level the playing field a little by hiding bad voices with loud bands and background singers? Play a shitty venue.
I didn’t hear anything that resembled constructive criticism. It was either compliment or something nice. Basically it was like watching Guy Fieri talk about the food on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and just like I refuse to believe everything he eats doesn’t take Guy to Flavortown I don’t believe the judges thought all the contestants were actually good. Is this generation really that soft that you can’t say anything critical? Am I really at that point in my life where I’m calling younger people soft? The answer is apparently the same. YES. I’d love the judges to be a bit more critical only if I knew with 100 percent confidence they weren’t being fed lines by producers trying to get the 14 most marketable performers to the live shows.
So yeah, I wasn’t happy about Sunday. I fell in love with Idol because of what it did to me. I loved the surprising covers, the amazing arrangements or the vocals that reach into my soul and make me openly weep. The only thing I was crying about Sunday was the fact I didn’t have anything good to snack on because my kids hid their good Easter candy from me because they ain’t dumb and the snack situation in Casa De DRI was not great. Gonna have to get some pistachios because if Monday’s gonna suck, at least it’ll give me something to throw at the TV.
Let’s get on with the recaps.
GROUP 1 TOP 24
“Ain’t Nobody,” Chaka Khan
Oh Southerners, so trustworthy. I feel for Dominique because in the brief time we’ve seen him sing this season, he’s absolutely KILLED it. It’s to the point where he said he would quit his steady government job that likely comes with plenty of room to move up and a pension. You want to chase a dream, that’s fine. But if you’re going to chase a dream maybe do what’s gotten you this far and not sing a trash Chaka Khan song. I have no problem with his vocals because Singing James Harden has pipes, but his performance would be like Katy doing a concern dressed in a burlap sack. Instead of sitting on a bench and singing some lovely soul song or ballad where his voice can explode into people’s hearts, someone behind the scenes said “sing this bro, people will LOVE IT.” And that was a mistake and now I’m worried Dominique is heading home without a job because he had faith someone in Hollywood was looking out for him.
TOP 14 CHANCES: With the way they’re doing things it seems like Michael and Dominique are fighting for a spot and that’s not great news for Dominique’s chances.
“A Broken Wing,” Martina McBride
This girl is Skyler Laine 2.0 and that’s fine by me because she can sing. Really wish the 16-year old didn’t sing a song about domestic violence because it makes as much sense as a tone deaf dad of two blogging about singing season after season (strike that from the record). Obviously Catie Turner’s stole the show with her presence, but Layla isn’t far behind with her attitude and persona. Her vocal was pretty good considering the song was boring AF, so she’s a victim here of picking a bad song. If she learns to pick songs with some attitude and sneak in a ballad here and there, watch out.
TOP 14 CHANCES: I think she’s a lock. She deserves the spot on vocals and performances, but Idol has invested a lot of time in her story and they ain’t kicking her out.
“Call Me,” Blondie
Only Catie Turner could look like Rerun from What’s Happening in her intro package then come dressed like an 1850s milkmaid for her live performance and make the looks work. There isn’t a more electric performer than Catie left and I really think they’re gonna modernize her look and it’s gonna wow people like when the girl lost the glasses and stopped wearing paint-smattered overalls in She’s All That. Her singing? It was a rough start for Catie but she got it together. The vocal wasn’t terrific. It didn’t make me wonder why she was here, but I don’t know if she has the chops to sit down with someone playing an acoustic guitar and have her voice fill a sound stage.
TOP 14 CHANCES: If you think Idol put her on screen every chance it had just to let her go before the live shows you’re insane. Gotta get Catie to the live show for entertainment value alone, let the cards fall where they may after that.
All during auditions Dennis was a guy who sounded like he had real potential to crack the Top 5, and not just the “Katy Perry saying it because she can’t think of any other compliments.” He sang with emotion, sang with purpose. He let his voice do the work. So what did he do for the unlive live show? He sang an absolute trash song that has the lyrical depth of a wading pool. Why? I’ll let my tweet explain how I think it all went down:
DENNIS: “Gotta sing live on American Idol, what should I sing?”
PRODUCER: “How about a mediocre hit with lyrics that sound like they’re written by a 12-year old but have a catchy beat?”
DENNIS: “Sounds great, lets do it.”
— DudesReviewIdol (@DudesReviewIdol) April 9, 2018
Dennis needs to realize that singing shitty pop songs that take no range and lack a moment that grabs people by the throat don’t win Idol. Modern pop music blows ass because it’s about money, not music. Having him sing that song was like putting ketchup on filet so hopefully Tuesday will be better.
TOP 14 CHANCES: Again, they’ve invested a lot of time in Dennis so I think he’s good. I had him bottom five for the night because the song choice was so, so bad, but if he gets through I’ve got no beef.
“If I Were a Boy,” Beyonce
I was coming around on Michelle. Her original audition – or at least what they showed – was a joke but she had a couple performances in Hollywood that weren’t awful. That stopped tonight because her vocal on Bey’s song bad and then the pandering to make it bi-lingual made it worse. I don’t understand her logic of “A lot of people are not going to understand what I’m going to say.” Michelle, I don’t know one fucking word of ‘Despacito’ but I do know it bangs like a motherfucker because Biebs and the other guy Luis whatever sing the shit out of it. Plus, Daddy Yankee. Song choice bad, vocal wasn’t good but I still love Michelle because I thought I was the only person to get that excited for empanadas or whatever meat + flour tortilla deliciousness that was.
TOP 14 CHANCES: Based of what we know (six girls make the Top 14) if she’s in that means someone real, real good is out. So I’d say no, but WTF, right.
Michael J. Woodard
“Golden Slumbers,” The Beatles
Before tonight I didn’t think Michael deserved a Top 24 spot and I was pretty sure I could beat him bowling. After tonight? He’s better than Top 24 and I KNOW I could beat him in bowling. Thought Michael was more bark than bite; he’s the diamond in the rough Idol likes to push through a little too far before they get smoked in this semifinal round, but this diamond was shining like he was hanging out of a rapper’s ear. You’ve got a better chance of predicting the lottery than the genre Michael’s gonna sing for his next performance and he’s making it work. Of everybody in the Top 24 he’s the worst on stage, but since this is a singing show and his voice is probably Top 6, he’s gonna be just fine. Get this kid to Hollywood, get him on a barstool and let him sing his way thru the performers.
TOP 14 CHANCES: Vocals, good. Song choice, good. Michael, good. Only thing that has me worried was Katy’s speech that ended “no matter what happens” because rarely does something good when someone use that phrase. “No matter what happens, we’ll still be friends, right?”
“Way Down We Go,” Kaleo
Don’t care how pitchy he was, loved Trevor’s performance more than others because he let his voice be the main instrument on stage, not the house band or background singers. That was Trevor’s stage and you could feel him singing and on a singing show that’s kinda the point. Love his voice because there’s about a million songs he can sing that are gonna sound dope and that was one of them. If gets to the live shows he’s a threat because he really seems like the kind of contestants who’s gonna tell the producers to STFU and let him do him.
TOP 14 CHANCES: I want him in bad, but I don’t know if he’s there. Hate to label people, but he’s one of the country guys and he’s the only country guy on tonight. That might mean he’s safe, but with Cade’s sudden surge and his lack of air time (5:44 before tonight, third lowest among guys, fourth lowest overall) I don’t know if Idol really wants to find a way to market a goat farmer.
“Georgia,” Vance Joy
Another victim of great voice, trash song. I wasn’t a big Jonny guy and a soft pop song isn’t exactly a way to make me put the Brenns pom poms on, but his vocals are serious. If Jonny decides to stop singing pussy-boy folk/pop songs and sing songs that actually fuck, he’s gonna roll through people. He’s got confidence, he’s like a 9 out of 10, and he wears those short pants with shoes and no socks that looks awesome on everyone except me.
TOP 14 CHANCES: Hunky white guy with a good voice? Uh yeah, he’s in. Plus, no other guy caught as much screen time. You thought producers were awful when they changed rules every week for Sam Woolf? Just fucking wait. Heard a rumor one of the live week’s themes is “R&B Songs And You Can Only Be Eliminated If Your Name Isn’t Jonny.”
“Love on the Brain,” Rhianna
The most surprising thing about K2s performance was they didn’t cut it off 10 seconds in because she’d already gone over her allotted time. You don’t get 41 seconds of total screen time prior to Sunday night because producers want you to succeed, but with what she did I don’t see how you cut her. My No. 1 theme for this season was “DO NOT SING LOVE ON THE BRAIN” because Rhianna’s ability to hit the high notes in that song are impossible. Kay didn’t try to do Rhianna and that worked. She didn’t go for the big falsetto at the end and I thought it was brilliant because if she misses the note, it’s easy to say “well, she’s not Rhianna” and move on. Instead, she sung the notes she good and I’ll tell you what – she didn’t miss many.
TOP 14 CHANCES: There’s one of two ways to read Idol ignoring her; 1) she got to this round, got eliminated and they didn’t feel like investing a ton of time; or 2) she kept moving on and it was too late to build some story around her so they kinda just threw her out there and whoops, she’s Top 14. It’s really hard to judge her because that was the first song we’ve really seen her do, but based on degree of difficulty she’d better be in. She won’t be because why would you want to put someone who can actually sing on a singing show, amirite?
“Hello,” Lionel Richie
I’m no expert but it really sounded like if you take Lionel Richie and add Brandon Diaz flare it’s a not-great David Cook impression. Loved the song choice, didn’t like the way it turned out despite the vocal being pretty damn solid. Basic Idol Law is you don’t sing a song that an Idol legend has done because then everyone’s gonna compare it to that and comparing Brandon to Cook is like comparing Lionel to Simon.
TOP 14 CHANCES: I think he’d be a terrific contestant because of his vocal range and ability, but if he goes in based on that performance there’s something wrong with the show. He’s the female K2 and has had little screen time, so seeing him booted wouldn’t be a shock.
“My Church,” Maren Morris
Anyone else curious what Gabby sounds like when she’s not trying to do an impression of someone? The girl clearly oozes talent and has zero idea what to do with it because she just gets up there, tries to be Carrie or Maren or whoever she’s singing that time and hope it gets through. The vocal was booooring until the end when she finally released the cracken and proved she wasn’t a robot with some emotion, but I really want this kid to prove she’s something other than an incredibly talented copycat. Also seems really suspicious she was drowned out by the band and background singers until it came time for the big note. Hate that producers have turned me into a paranoid dick.
TOP 14 CHANCES: There is no fucking chance Gabby is getting eliminated because American Idol wants the final two to be her and Jonny.
“All Along the Watchtower,” Bob Dylan
If I want anything from this season of American Idol its the show to recognize original artists when it gives song credits and Cade to become Casey James Part II. I don’t think the show will ever stray from crediting the artist with the most memorable version of the song (Dylan did the original, stopped performing it after Hendrix did the cover) but I do think Cade has a chance. Forget Katy’s theatrics; Cade’s singing wasn’t amazing. It was average. But remember Casey? It was guitar guitar guitar rock rock rock flirt with Kara and then he blossomed into a full-fledged singer. Cade can do the same with his awesome hair, rock god voice and it’s clear Katy wants to smush, but if he can focus a little more on the vocals and less on the playing, he might go deep.
TOP 14 CHANCES: I think he’s in. He’s got a different sound than the rest of the guys and with an eight of them getting in his has to be one.
So who’s going to make the cut after tomorrow’s duets which I’m sure won’t be incredibly awkward and generally bad? Because I like to be right, let’s go over three different ways to pick who’s moving on.
TOP 7 FROM SUNDAY’S PERFORMANCES: 1) Michael 2)Kay Kay 3) Jonny 4)Layla 5)Gabby 6)Cade 7) Trevor but Layla, Gabby, Cade, Trevor, Catie and Dennis were close.
SEVEN I WANT: Michael, Kay, Layla, Cade, Dennis, Dominique and Trevor.
SEVEN IDOL WANTS: Jonny, Michael, Dennis, Cade, Catie, Gabby and Layla.
I’m ready for some eliminations and the anger I’ll have when someone who’s really good gets cut for no good reason. You know where to find me.