American Idol opens its live shows with a bang, and by bang I mean 40 minutes of horror followed by a handful of decent performances
Making excuses for American Idol kinda comes with the territory, but there’s only so much of this I can take.
Sunday’s live show might have been the worst in the history of the franchise. Writing that hurts almost as bad as watching the first 40 minutes of the show itself. I watch Idol for cover songs and people who can sing and until Ada Vox got on stage we really didn’t see a good combination of the two.
Was it nerves? Nope. It was just a result of picking a cast with little to no professional experience. Yes, this is an amateur contest, but having contestants who have played clubs, bars or even sang on the street hoping to catch some loose change is a big deal and you saw that in the performances. You know who the pros are who have hustled and tried to do something with their talent – Maddie Poppe, Ada Vox, Gabby Barrett, Dennis Lorenzo. The rest of them looked lost, like a bunch of nervous little pups going to slaughter. Great analogy? No, but if your brain can function trying to make the best of that 120 ABC threw on the screen, you’re a better person than I.
Watching them it sounded like Idol knew who was gonna suck and who wasn’t. The band was incredibly loud tonight and the background singers did a lot more work than they used to. I miss the old Idol days of stand up, sing or sing and play your own instrument, get judged, sit down. This performing in front of people is for the fucking birds and based on what we’ve heard, we can forget “Acoustic Sunrise Week” of all unplugged hits or “Acapella Week” because you can’t hide some of the atrocities to music that we saw tonight if you don’t have your guitarist playing LOUDLY over the big notes or your three powerful background ladies going ham during the chorus.
The song choices were borderline offensive. I bash the song selections a lot, but having personally talked to former contestants (BECAUSE I’M A BIG SHOT) Idol really restricts what they can sing. It used to be contestants would pitch songs, Idol would try and get them cleared and they’d go; those days are long gone. Now producers hand them a list, tell them to pick songs, or at least they did the last time I checked.
But these songs? Yuck. One of my followers put it best:
Man…did they only give them 14 song choices and draw straws to see who picked in what order?
— Cory Hollingsworth (@CoryHollings) April 23, 2018
It was what it was and we’re just going to have to deal with that. The well-thought themed weeks are done. The musicianship is out of the show. When your judges tell several contestants that being pitchy or missing notes doesn’t matter and praise them like they were Kelly in Season 1 singing Natural Woman then you know what kind of season you’re in for.
If it were up to me, we wouldn’t cut four Monday. We’d cut eight. Give me Maddie, Michael J. Woodard, Ada Vox, Catie Turner (fun fun fun), Gabby Barrett (who I respect considering the circumstances), Dennis Lorenzo, Jurnee and Mara. Nobody else. Send the rest home. OK, I guess Caleb and Cade can stay, but only if they agree to let me pick songs for them.
Onto the recap, because you’ve clearly got nothing to do the rest of the day.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson
“Midnight Train to Memphis,” Chris Stapleton
Chubby ass Caleb went full Hollywood and because he’s now a superhunk, it’s gonna be a huge help because his performance wasn’t exactly a memorable one. He looked nervous and I’d be nervous too singing leadoff in a show where American picks only 6 of the 14 to advance and the judges have the rest because Caleb batting out of the one hole shows producers DGAF about him. That stinks, because of the white guys he’s got the best voice, or at least the most recognizable. He just needs to not pick country songs every week because us elite Northeasterns hate that shit and college bros ain’t watching Idol.
TOP 10 CHANCES: His genre might carry him to the Top 6 in the vote, but if it doesn’t he’s cooked because he’s low on the producer’s list.
“FRIENDS,” by Marshmello & Anne-Marie
Listen, I’m no expert with today’s music but I listen to A LOT of Top 40 in the car with the kids and if I don’t know the song it ain’t good. This song wasn’t good and the performance was either. Vocals weren’t good, and it made me MISS old Idol. Like remember in these rounds and everyone would focus on the singing and not the stage performing? Because that was an awesome show and this was not. Katy Perry saying “It felt like I was watching Shakira in her beginning stages” was a crock of shit because Shakira got hot before anyone knew who Katy was and Shakira dropped a fucking hammer with “Whenever, wherever” right off the bat, not butchering a song nobody knows on stage like we saw tonight.
TOP 10 CHANCES: She’s the only hispanic girl, so that’s a big crowd that could carry her into the Top 10. She’s also a judge/producer favorite, so they might send her right on through. She needs to go
“It’s a Miracle,” Barry Manilow
Don’t sing Barry Manilow. Barry Manilow does not put asses in the seats. Barry Manilow does not win American Idol. Barry Manilow is for old jewish grandmothers and, at least from what I’ve been told from pop culture growing up, gay dudes aged like 40-60. Not for a young black man with a kid who came out in the most fire outfit of the night. Marcio has a terrific voice and could have sat up there and sang Luther or the version of “Higher Love” from the Hyundai Commercial and absolutely lit up the stage. Instead, he chose Barry Manilow. More like Barry Maniblow, amirite?
TOP 10 CHANCES: It was a mess of a performance but I think he’ll end up getting in via fan vote or producer’s choice. Hopefully he’ll be back with better song choices and more heat from the wardrobe.
“This is Me,” Keala Settle
Mara could drop her pants and take a dump on stage and the judges would applaud. Her performance Sunday wasn’t that bad, but it was so boring. This is your teen star Idol? This girl? Mara’s vocal talents are ridiculous but I feel like the people marketing her are grandmothers who think they know what’s cool and they are sure everybody loves songs from musicals. GO SNAPFACE THAT NOW. If you’re gonna sing a soundtrack song, sing something from Moana b/c that shit melts faces. She needs to be better because she’s too good to be acting like she’s been through all of life’s despairs when she’s fucking 16.
TOP 10 CHANCES: There’s a better chance Ryan Seacrest gets taken away in handcuffs during one of these live shows than Mara has of not making it into the Top 10.
“Raging Fire,” Phillip Phillips
If I was P-Squared I would sue American Idol for defamation of character because good ol’ boy Garrett made his halfway decent song sound like a tremendous piece of garbage. Garrett looks like Tarzan, sings like Jane. There’s no gruff in his voice, not heart, no soul. That eyebrow though. Holy jesus that thing’s awesome. Best part of the performance was Luke Bryan saying “Were there little pitchy things, yes, but I can get over that.” IT’S A SINGING SHOW LUKE. That’s like saying “Take away the Super Bowl titles, the MVPs and the touchdowns, Tom Brady isn’t that good.” Note to producers: stop telling Luke to say good things about the contestants you want to move on because he stinks at it.
TOP 10 CHANCES: He should get in on the eyebrow alone, but in no fucking way should he make the Top 10 but he will because producers LOVE this kid and why not – Luke Bryan all but confirmed this isn’t a singing show anymore.
“The Show Must Go On,” Queen
The first 40 minutes of American Idol may have been the worst 40 minutes in the history of the franchise and then Ada Vox showed up. Thank god. Not my favorite Queen song and a little too theatrical of a performance for me, but that voice tho. YAS QUEEN (can I say that? Is that offensive? Felt like it was timed right, dad problems there for sure). Ada coming through big with the live performance was like when LaPorsha Renae had her first live performance and we all realized “wow the rest of these clowns suck.” Plus the longer Ada is on the show, the more uncomfortable Luke Bryan gets with his comments and that makes me smile.
TOP 10 CHANCES: Top 10? Yeah, I’d say so. I can’t see an Idol that doesn’t end with Ada in the final three.
“Take Me To Church,” Hozier
Catie being asked if she can win Idol and whispering “no” was the first real comment the show has had all season. The judges haven’t said anything but false praise. Catie knows where she stands. She’s a realist. Can she win? Probably not. But if she is smart with song choices and keeps doing Catie, she’ll be fine. She came FLYING out of the gates during this performance, singing so fast it was like she was doing it on purpose so she wouldn’t miss the Westwood Season 2 premiere. When she slowed down she got it together and sounded good – although there was this goofy party in the arrangement that doofed up the performance a bit – and then she almost lost it dancing at the end. If you can’t dance don’t. Unless you’ve had like 10 drinks. Then dance your face off.
TOP 10 CHANCES: She’s in and that’s good because I need Catie on this show as long as possible because a) she’s hilarious b) she’s genuine and c) she needs to have a moment where she whips off her glasses, revealing her face and then the judges marvel about how beautiful she is because if 90s teen movies taught me anything, it’s that you become better looking the second you remove your glasses (not true in my case, but my head is shaped like a Mr. Potato Head).
PS Katy Perry can STFU about the comments on the googles. You have generational money and you’re hot. If I had Chris Hemsworth’s looks and money, I would laugh at people shitting on me online. I do that now and am probably the exact opposite of Chris Hemsworth.
“Black Magic Woman,” Santana
This had so much promise and it went poorly. This isn’t Guitar Hero Cade. This is American Idol. Sing. Use your voice. Don’t put on a rock show. Don’t sing and make it sound like you’re simultaneously dumping. This kid is obviously a gifted musician so maybe use that and rearrange a song that promotes vocals instead of doing a replica. This was disappointing because I expected more. I thought he was gonna be David Cook or Casey James and instead he was just some guitar bro who actually might not have the vocal chops to be on the show.
TOP 10 CHANCES: I think he’s good because he’s different and women love him. Like there’s gonna be 50-year old women across the country asking their teenagers to show them how to text in so they can vote for Cade. He should embrace this identity and just sing 80s rock songs that are clearly about boning because that shit will cause living room tidal waves.
“In My Blood,” Shawn Mendes
Song. Selection. Matters. The lyrics of this Shawn Mendes hit are like his others – completely devoid of depth and emotion because they’re all written by someone else as part of a marketing hit factory to sell records. There’s heart and emotion in Dennis’ voice and you can hear it. I’d just like to hear him sing something with actual meaning and not a song which was created solely to sell records. Dennis is damn good and it’s cool to see him ditching the stereotypical “black guy who sings R&B” label the judges put him on because he’s a black dude. They keep using “R&B” as a label on him the same way suburban basketball coaches call opposing city teams “fast and athletic.” It’s just code. Dennis versatility is a treat because I literally have no clue what he’s going to sing week to week, but let’s just hope it has some meaning or he picks a song with some actual balls.
TOP 10 CHANCES: Rare combo of he deserves a spot and the producers want him in. It’d be shocking if he didn’t make it.
PS I need him to sing Living Colour like now. Not for the show, because it would play horribly, but maybe a YouTube video because a couple of notes he hit sounded like he could go hard. And yes, I realize the hypocrisy of me saying they shouldn’t label him R&B just because he’s black and immediately saying he should sing a hard rock song by a black rock band. I don’t see color, I see SOUND.
“Homeward Bound,” Simon & Garfunkel
This was so stunningly beautiful I completely forgot about 80 percent of the trash I was forced to watch because I thought blogging about this show would be fun. Maddie Poppe is going to win American Idol not because of this performance, but because of what this performance showed and that’s she knows how to sing and perform. There’s some (like two) singers. There’s some performers. But there’s only one Maddie Poppe – OK, so Ada Vox can do both but being an extremely large drag queen isn’t making the old folks in the flyover states comfortable – and she’s basically a WGWG except she’s a chick. And I love her. And she’s going to win.
TOP 10 CHANCES: Since I just said she’s going to win I can’t wait for Monday night when she’s not in the Top 10 and the judges take Michelle Sussett over her with absolutely no explanation whatsoever. If I had any faith in Idol because a fair competition I’d say she’s in but there is no way I trust this show after what they’ve done since Nick Frandiani won.
“Bang Bang,” By Jessie J feat. Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
Do I love this song? I’m not saying yes. I’m not saying no. I’m just saying I listen to it so much my kids have been instructed to say I listen to it because they like it, not because I do. I like some of Jurnee’s singing parts. I hated the rap parts. Save that shit for interviews. I’m here for the cover songs and when you can sing like Jurnee can, I’m gonna need you to sing more please. Really hope this is the start of something good where Jurnee just sings songs I have to pretend that I don’t like but I really love. If she picks the right songs and focuses more on vocals than “the other element” like Luke Bryan said, she might end up Top 3 or 4.
TOP 10 CHANCES: I can’t see how you don’t put her in because she can actually sing and I think that’s kinda important for this show. Lionel saying “I hope America liked that” sounds suspiciously like code for “if American doesn’t vote you in we can’t because we already have our orders to put in others.”
“This is Gospel,” Panic! At The Disco
I used to do this thing in college where I’d say if I was Brian McKnight I’d walk up to girls and sing “Back At One” and just reap the rewards. Jonny should do the same. He’s too good looking and can sing too good to sing emo rock on American Idol. He needs to make girls want to blow him through the screen and singing this song doesn’t even make anyone want to give him an over the pants HJ. The start of the performance was bad, the middle was bad and the ending was great because it was over and now we get to deal with the frustration that is Jonny making it back.
TOP 10 CHANCES: He’s going to be in because there is no way the producers are letting him go home UNLESS Garrett somehow gets in via America’s Vote. Can’t have too many hunks up there, ya know?
Michael J. Woodard
“Titanium,” David Guetta w/Sia
MJW is slowly becoming part of my family because every time he’s on stage I’m just closing my eyes, crossing my fingers and mumbling “pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood.” I keep expecting him to fall on his face and he keeps delivering. At some point I’ll remove my head from my posterior and realize this kid can sing. He’s obviously limited by his lack of on-stage experience but it fucking works (hope he doesn’t mind me cussin) because he stands still and sings. Sneaky best part of the performance was the orchestra’s volume getting extra loud during the performance during some big notes; someone needs to talk to the muscial director and tell to only do that with the contestants who can’t sing. MJW is Jacob Lusk Part II and if he’s gonna take me to church every Sunday night I’m gonna have to start looking the part instead of being in oversized sweats.
TOP 10 CHANCES: You can’t not put this kid it. Plus, with zero fashion sense it’ll be fun to see what blue-collar job he’s going to dress like on stage every week after going Janitor in Week 1.
PS I deserve a ton of credit for not mentioning Pitch Perfect during this recap because this is one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
“The Climb,” Miley Cyrus
What was more predictable: a) Gabby being given the pimp spot; b) Singing a country ballad while changing her style from what we’ve seen to sound exactly like the original artist; c) the judges showering her with praise. It’s all of them, OK. All of them. Gabby was good and deserves a top six spot on vocals because she can sing, even when she’s just doing impressions instead of being herself, but that’s not fun so let’s play a little game called “American Idol Conspiracy Theory.” The producers threw her in the pimp spot for a reason. They want her to get the bump so she gets a Top 6 vote. Why? To get Michelle Sussett into the Top 10 maybe? Or throw one of the hunks in? If Gabby bats leadoff and doesn’t make America’s Vote, she’s an easy Wild Card choice, but I think producers would prefer she get in so they can diddle with things. But that’s just me.
TOP 10 CHANCES: Death, Taxes and Gabby Barrett being in the Top 10 are the only things you can guarantee in life.
So who’s going to get in? Because I hate being wrong, here’s three styles of picks. Really a win-win-win for your boy.
WHO IT SHOULD BE – Maddie, MJW, Ada, Catie, Gabby and Dennis in the Top 6; Jurnee, Mara, Cade and Caleb as the Wild Cards. I took Marcio out bc MJW is already the crooner.
WHO IDOL WANTS – Michelle, Garrett and Jonny were all bad but I’d be surprised if two of them don’t get Wild Card spots because of course they will.
WHO IT WILL BE – Maddie, MJW, Ada, Gabby, Jonny, Marcio get America’s vote. Judges put in Garrett, Catie, Jurnee and Dennis.
See y’all Monday night. You know where to find me.
(Actually, I won’t see you Monday night. New job means I’m working Monday, I’ll see tweets and watch Tuesday. SORRY)