February 9th, 2016 · No Comments
February 5th, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
We now know who the top twenty-four of the final season of American Idol are. We have some people who shouldn’t be there, but we have enough people who can carry the remainder of the season that we’ll keep watching–at least for a while longer. Thursday night’s episode showed the fifty-one remaining contestants making the walk to the judges, to be told “yes” or “no.” This happened after they performed showcase solos, and viewers were treated to clips of most of the performances, so the “Final Judgement” walk wasn’t as much of an airtime-waster as it has been some seasons.
I’ve got one big problem, though. I’ve checked my notes and other sites–and the count shows thirteen females and eleven males. Did the judges get confused about names like “Mackenzie” and “Tristian” and miscount their own tally?
Who’s through (females):
1. Stephaney Negrete, showing a pop princess voice on “This Girl is on Fire,” is the type that gets heavily promoted but often doesn’t get much voter support.
2. Shelbie Z went uptempo, rocking on “Barracuda,” and showing that she may be better suited for that direction than for mainstream country.
3. Jenna Renae, so we’ll have to listen to her gushing for another round at least.
4. Katana Girl Amelia Eisenhouer (she spells her last name with an “u”) who was more memorable for waving a Japanese sword around at her audition than for any vocal performance. J-Lo gushes about how her talent so far surpassed her age (16). Really?
5. Avalon Young doesn’t look country but sounds country. Keith thinks she’s “very niche” but she gets a slot in the semi-finals anyway.
6. Indian-American pop vocalist Sonika Vaid, who strikes me as too similar to Stephaney Negrete, considering who else the judges had to choose from.
7. California girl Olivia Rox who has more experience than many of the other contestants, but whose ability to move between keys is shaky.
8. Teenage country cutie Emily Brooke, who’s back (at 16) after being turned down (at 15) last year.
9. Gianna Isabella, whose mother, salsa star Brenda K. Starr, meddled with the band during rehearsal.
10. Cyndi Lauper soundalike Jenn Blossil (one s or two?).
11. Bluesy Tristian MacIntosh, whose military mother made a surprise trip to the auditions. Wouldn’t it be nice to show some “reality” where the parent (or spouse) really is overseas for a change?
12. Last two female vocalists left in the holding room: LaPortia Renae and Lindita. We know the twelfth slot is for La Portia, because (even) these judges know the show would lose viewers otherwise. Lindita was not impressive at her audition, but she did well in the showcase round. It’s hard to believe the judges couldn’t find space for both singers, but La Portia Renae fills the twelfth slot.
13. Except my count–and other sites I’ve checked–shows thirteen girls including Jeneve Rose Mitchell, another teen country cutie.
Who’s though (males):
1. Mackenzie Bourg, the geeky glasses-wearing guy from Louisiana who wears red sneakers and can effortlessly shift between keys on “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
2. Southern country guy Trent Harmon, who brought a country-rock character voice to “Tiny Dancer” and who had mono so bad he could barely walk, to the stage or to the judges.
3. Adam Lasher, Carlos Santana’s nephew.
4. Like Lasher, returning from a previous season, Kory Wheeler.
5. James Dawson VIII, who may have been kept more because of his catchy name than his singing ability–he’s good but there were better vocalists in the competition.
6. Big guy Chris “CJ” Johnson
7. J-Lo thinks young African-American kid Lee Jean showed immaturity but she also thinks he’s cute–need we say more?
8. Puerto Rican Manny Torres is another favorite of J-Lo. He isn’t the best singer or performer, but he does bring some Latin spice to the season.
9. Blond spiky-haired Texas music teacher Dalton Rapatoni looks to be this season’s all-around entertainer, which worked out quite well for Adam Lambert, David Cook, Chris Daughtry, and Caleb Johnson.
10. Thomas “Tommy” Stringfellow, who’s a student from Arkansas–like season 8 winner Kris Allen.
11? I’ve checked my notes against other sites–and there is no eleventh guy.
12. Last two male vocalists left in the holding room are Jordan Sasser, who took down his man-bun and rocked out for his showcase, and Kayce Haynes, another rocker, who has an impressive back story–he’s recovering from a history of drug abuse. Too bad they couldn’t have found a slot for both–given the phantom eleventh slot–but Jordan Sasser is who’s kept.
Some who got cut:
- Colette Lush (the redhead with the squeaky character voice), 15-year-old country cutie Michelle Marie, Jessica Clark, Memphis R&B girl Terrian, and old-school country girl Mary Williams, who we didn’t see much of.
- Zach Person and China Sherrod, two young Black singers who looked good in their auditions.
- Anatalia Villaranda, so her mother won’t be meddling around here anymore. (Brenda K. Starr will do the meddling for her.)
- Russian Andrew Nazarbekian and girl singer Kassey Levels.
- Maille Delgado, who belted out “Little White Church” after overcoming laryngitis.
- Sara Strum, who had her ups and downs, and R&B girl Mione Destiny, who got little face time.
- Most shockingly, soulful-voiced Jessica Cabral who originally had the judges making comparisons to Kelly Clarkson. Maybe they decided she was too much like Clarkson?
- Another shocker: John Wayne Shultz, the impressive male country vocalist who was featured in the previous episode, wasn’t in the final fifty-one. He must have been in the room that got cut last night. Maybe the judges thought he was “too” country?
Will we hear breaking news regarding the off-balance final 24? Or is there a different format than 12/12 (the standard “Ladies’ Night” and “Boys” Night”) happening in the semi-finals? Next week teased something about duets with Idol veterans and five people being cut.
February 5th, 2016 · No Comments
February 4th, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
Hollywood Week is about to end on Season 15 of American Idol. Soon we’ll be seeing the contestants walk to the judges, and then it’ll be time to vote. What happened last night, though, was we saw an hour of featured contestants singing solos, then the judges cutting by roomfuls of people. The problem is, we’re deep into the field and, although we’re being spared some of the embarrassments, we’re getting perhaps three people who may be able to carry the season.
1. Stephaney Negrete from San Diego, who shows a Broadway-like voice on an Adele song. may go deep.
2. Thomas Stringfellow (stringy guy with a shock of red curly hair) may have got a bad song choice, and certainly didn’t turn in a very memorable performance. Do the judges like him enough to keep him?
3. Avalon Young, another San Diego girl, is adequate but not memorable.
4. Olivia Rox (who may have had the name Olivia Hunt in the auditions), 16, sings her own song in her big voice.
5. John Wayne Shultz, one of the few people who may be able to carry the season, lost his big black cowboy hat just before he took the stage. He sounds good on a Keith Urban song, however, and is about the only male country singer who’s getting any face time.
6. Mackenzie Bourg (Southerner with glasses) is shaping up as one of the season’s dweebs, in a good way. He sings his own composition.
7. Shelbie Z is standing out in a field that’s light on country singers, even if she’s no Carrie Underwood.
8. Kory Wheeler, back from a previous season, is still around. We still don’t know what happened to Savion Wright or Adam Lasher.
9. James VIII (Dawson) rocks on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”
10. Tristian MacIntosh, a female vocalist, sounds pitch-y.
11. Indian-American Sonika Vaid has one of the prettier voices of this season, and the judges like her tone, too.
12. Lee Jean is a black kid with a guitar and a backwards baseball cap.
13. Sara Strum may not be one of the best voices in the field, but she hits some good notes and shows personality.
14. Jenn Blossill picks absolutely the right song, “True Colors” which shows how she compares to Cyndi Lauper.
15. Teenage country singer Emily Brooke sounds more jazz than country. Harry comments, “She listened to her voice too much.”
16. A new face? Maille Delgado sings despite laryngitis. Keith and J-Lo like her anyway.
17. Mione Destiny, a teenage R&B type, is a girl getting some face time for the first time.
18. Jessica Cabral, one of the best female vocalists in the competition, sings like an old-time blues or soul queen.
19. Joshua Wicker sounds pitch-y, a little off.
20. Soulful-voiced Chris “CJ” Johnson rocks with his guitar on Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
21. Just about every season has one rank amateur girl that goes deep, charming people with a few beautiful notes amid a sea of laughable ineptness. This season that’s Geneve Rose Mitchell, the young cowgirl who’s having to stop fooling around with a cello and actually sing.
22. Dalton Rapatoni turns the Grease piece, “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” into an emo power ballad. His voice is tired but he’s trying to be showman as well as singer–something Adam Lambert, for example, did admirably.
Once the judges have heard all remaining contestants, they divide them up into three rooms. They keep two rooms and tell one, “It’s the end of the line for you.” Dalton Rapatoni, Jordan Sasser, and LaPortia Renae are some of the faces we see getting kept.
At this point 51 singers remain. They’ll go to the showcase round next (2/5/16 correction: next night), then make the walk to the judges, to learn whether they’re in the top 24 or not.
February 4th, 2016 · No Comments
February 2nd, 2016 · No Comments
January 29th, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
Faces and names are starting to get familiar, and we’re learning some new ones, as the last season of American Idol progresses through Hollywood Week. The field started at 108 last night, as contestants prepared to sing and be judged in groups. They have 24 hours to get together with two or three other people, pick and learn a song, then work out backing vocals and choreography.
Drama starts early when Shi Scott’s sister Miranda “Poh” Scott just decides to walk out of the competition. You’d think she’d know what she was getting into, having seen what her sister went through, but she just says she can’t do it anymore. She’s in a trio with spike-haired music teacher Dalton Rapatoni and a girl named Kassey Level. They have to spend precious time trying to find a new third member, because this season’s rule is “groups of three or four” and they could be disqualified if they can’t replace Scott in time.
Some people who advanced to the next round:
1. Jordan Sasser (that’s the guy with the man-bun, Alex was his wife who didn’t get to Hollywood), the returning Kory Wheeler, gushy Jenna Renae, and Kelsie the redhead, they were all in a group called Blue Eyes and sang a Bruno Mars song.
2. Jenn Blossil (the blonde who sounds like a campy drag act), Sara Strum, and two other girls (Lynsee and Bree or something) in a foursome called Milk ‘n’ Cookies.
3. In a collage of acts, skinny black kid Lee Jean, Amelia Eisenhower, and Tristian MacIntosh are kept. So’s Jenna Rose Mitchell, the teenage cowgirl who actually had to put down her cello and concentrate on hitting notes for once.
4. Trent Harmon (the blond Southern farm boy with the soft voice) is allowed to perform solo because he’s got mono and doesn’t want to drop out of the competition entirely.
5. Country singers Michelle Marie, Shelbie Z and Ashley Lusk, but a fourth girl, Lindsay Carter, is cut.
6. Mackenzie Bourg, the white Southerner who played the ukulele in his audition.
7. Russian Andrew Nazarbekian (he said he came to America just to try out for the show), Californian Stephaney Negrete, and Indian-American Sonika Vaid, who probably has the prettiest voice of the trio, even if she’s been uneven before.
8. Gianna Isabella and Anatalia Villaranda, daughters of meddling mothers, will be around to get their mothers’ “advice” next round. Anatalia was the replacement for Miranda Scott in Chicken Noodle Soup, with Dalton Rapatoni and Kassey Level, and the entire trio got through.
9. All the guys in a group called Trick or Treat, including Kayce Haynes, Marcio Donaldson, Kylle Thomason, and Jon Klausen.
10. Lindita hit sour notes but then did this big showy climatic run that got her through to the next round.
11. R&B divas Joy Dove, La Portia Renae, Toni Starr, Marlena Johnson.
12. The judges were harsh on Laurel Wright, John Arthur Green, but I think Marshall (last name?) was kept. I can’t be sure about the other two.
13. Bryson Dunn and two other guys are in a group that looks like the high school dweebs getting together, but they’re all good, and they’re all kept, I think.
14. Manny Torres, Malie Delgado, and Christian Eason show the raggedness of all-night rehearsing and Eason’s more Broadway than pop, but they’re all kept.
1. Biggest shocker of the season so far, Elvie Shane, who sounded like a must-have in his audition–yeah, he hit some bum notes in his group, but he’s better at his worst than several remaining contestants at their best (see no. 10 above).
2. Cameron Richard, rock singer Jackie Butler, and the Cash-voiced Joshia Siska.
3. R&B old-school guy Daniel Farmer, who was in the same group as Lindita (10 above) but I thought he sang better than she did.
If Adam Lasher is still in the competition, he’s not getting any face time. The round of cutting whole roomfuls of people happens next week.
January 29th, 2016 · No Comments
January 28th, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
First test of singers during Hollywood Week of American Idol Season 15: lines of ten, where the judges compare voices and cut about half the field. Theoretically it gives the judges a chance to compare people side-by-side and separate out the best–although this judging panel has shown it has trouble reaching consensus. Most of the featured singers last night–with some notable exceptions–went through to the group round.
Who got through:
- Green-haired rock singer Jackie Butler, even though she showed little range, and blond spikey-haired music teacher Dalton Rapatoni.
- Big and big-voiced flamboyant Black girl La Portia Renae Jennings.
- Jenn Blossil, who’s like a campy drag cocktail act–except she’s not drag.
- Stringy WGWG with quirky voice, Tommy Stringfellow.
- Black teenager Lee Jean, who’s inexperienced and has pitch problems–but J-Lo thinks he’s cute.
- Asian-American girl Sonika Vaid, whose voice isn’t that spectacular.
- Jeneva Mitchell, the teenage cowgirl who can’t sing or play cello but the judges keep right on adoring her.
- Gianna Isabella, daughter of salsa singer Brenda K. Starr (nothing to do with the classic cartoon character).
- Country singers Michelle Marie and Shelby Z and Emily Brooke.
- Shi Scott’s sister Miranda “Poh” Scott.
- Brazilian-American Jessica Cabral, with the frosted bob and soulful voice.
- My notes are jumbled but I think Puerto Rican Manny Torres is in group round.
- Although gushy Jenna Renae wasn’t featured, I think I spotted her black hat getting through. Or maybe it was Jessica Lambert.
- Daniel Farmer with a classic R&B voice.
- Olivia Rox, who may have been Olivia Hill during auditions.
- The guy with the man-bun who auditioned with his wife, but she didn’t get selected for Hollywood Week. He’s Alex Sasser, I think, unless that was his wife’s name!
- A blond guy that I don’t think we saw in the auditions, Trent Harmon, who will continue fighting a bad case of mono.
- Tristian MacIntosh, a girl with dark curly hair and a warbly voice.
Who got cut:
- Kristy Jewell, who only made this round because she and her doting parents are such big American Idol fans. About the kindest thing to say is that she’s way too Broadway and jazzy for pop.
- Cancer survivor Melanie Heber.
- Brooke Sample, the country waitress with the folksy voice.
- Nigerian-American Uson Isong, the tall thin kid who delivered a shaky vocal on a Sam Smith song during his audition.
- Ethan Coots, the teenage country boy who got this far mostly because J-Lo thought he was cute.
- Latin-flavored (at least J-Lo thought so) WGWG Harrison Cohen.
- Melanie Trice with the flower wreath and the pure tones who Harry liked so much.
Hollywood Week started with about 190 contestants, and about half got cut in the line round. Tonight the group round begins, perhaps the most brutal part of the Idol audition process.