February 24th, 2015 · No Comments
February 20th, 2015 · No Comments
Numbers got fuzzy on American Idol last night. There were twelve slots left but we didn’t see all or hear about all the singers left to compete for them. The night before last, by my count the judges put 12 people in the semi-finals and sent seven people home, some under dubious circumstances. Contestants at the beginning of the previous round numbered 48, so 7 remain unaccounted for. (See “Unfinished Stories” below.)
First let’s look at how the Season 14 semi-final field was filled:
1. Hollywood Anderson: He gets a no. Running cut tally, 8, tonight’s cut tally, 1
2. Joey Cook: During her showcase she shows a cocktail jazz side we haven’t seen before. The judges talk about comparing apples and oranges and Harry tells her she’s a kiwi. She’s quirky and different–a novelty–but I don’t know how she’s going to gather a sufficient number of fans to win Idol. Harry tells her they don’t have any kiwis, so they’re picking her for the top 24. Running keep tally, 13, tonight’s keep tally, 1
3. Katherine Winston: This country singer shows a rock side with “Rhiannon” in her showcase. J-Lo gushes about how “everytime you got on the stage, something magical happened,” so the judges are giving her a slot in the semi-finals. Running keep tally, 14, tonight’s keep tally, 2
4. Maddie Hudson: First we see a flashback of the judges practically climbing over furniture to get her in the competition, with J-Lo raving, “She could win!” She does have one of the prettiest voices we’ve heard this season, even if she’s had her shaky moments. (Some of the other featured female vocalists have been worse than shaky.) Now the judges tell her she needs more experience and send her home. Funny, they didn’t say that to Daniel Seavey or Shannon Beth-what’s-her-name or Jax. Running cut tally, 9, tonight’s cut tally, 2
5. Alexis Gomez; She reps the Hispanic community during her showcase, singing “Better Dig Two” partly in Spanish. J-Lo speaks for the judges, telling her, “You’re in the top 24.” That means there are three female country vocalists in the semi-finals. Running keep tally, 15, tonight’s keep tally, 3
6. Quentin Alexander: For once we have an R&B singer who’s got some power and range instead of being just loud and pitchy. Keith, speaking for the judges, tells him, “We want you in the top 24.” Running keep tally, 16, tonight’s keep tally, 4
7. Savion Wright: The judges partly redeem themselves after last season (and last night)–although maybe last year’s unkind cut did make some sense, as Wright’s improved since then. He tells the judges he wanted to show them more artistry this time. When Harry tells Wright he’s through to the semi-finals, the singer leaps up, whoops, and races back to the holding room with the good news. Running keep tally, 17, tonight’s keep tally, 5
8. Jac Mackenzie: She gets a “no,” although I would have kept her over Jax. Running cut tally, 10, tonight’s cut tally, 3
9. Hunter Lawson: She gets a “no,” and I never would have put her in the competiton to begin with. Running cut tally, 11, tonight’s cut tally, 4
10. Mark Andrew: The 29-year-old Voice vet gets a “yes.” He’s rep’ing the WGWG genre this season. Running keep tally, 18, tonight’s keep tally, 6
11. Trevor Douglas: Another WGWG but this one is a 16-year-old science/math geek. (Maybe he’ll get along with the geeky Adam who made top 24 last night.) For his showcase he does a furiously rocking (but acoustic) “Burning Love.” The judges tell him, “You’re unpredictable, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” They must think that’s good TV (if not good judgment) so he’s through to the final 24. Running keep tally, 19, tonight’s keep taly, 7
12. Emily Brooke: The 16-year-old country singer has got considerable face time this season but the judges tell her no. Running cut tally, 12, tonight’s cut tally, 5
13. Nick Faradini: Like Mark Andrew, he’s a music vet of 29. For his showcase, he performs “Drops of Jupiter,” and sounds like a much better rock rep than Adam Ezeg-what’s-his-name. The judges select him for the semi-finals. Running keep tally, 20, tonight’s keep tally, 8
14. Serina Joi Crowe: She’s loud, pitchy, and has auditioned unsuccessfully at least three times already. Maybe the judges are just tired of seeing her around, because they put her in the semi-finals. Harry says, “There are a lot of people in your genre” but the judges want her to rep that genre. Running keep tally, 21, tonight’s keep tally, 9
15. Quaseem Middleton: In his showcase round, he shows himself to be a showman of the James Brown or Michael Jackson genre. J-Lo tells him, “You’re in the top 24!” Running keep tally, 22, tonight’s keep tally, 10
16. and 17. Riley Bria and Ricky Dale Hendrix: Last year was a Southern-fried season, but this one’s not shaping up that way. The judges feel they need to choose between two teenage male country vocalists, filling the last slot for the male side. Ricky Dale’s 17 and J-Lo singled him out as one of the more outstanding New Orleans auditions. Riley’s also 17, he’s a Keith Urban fanboy (he won a contest to jam with him), and was the first featured audition of the season. The judges call them in together and tell them that Riley gets the twelfth slot for the guys. If the judges had more sense, they’d have cut Daniel Seavey or Clark Beckham or Adam Egad-what’s-his-name, and had room for both.
At this point the running keep tally is 23 and tonight’s keep tally is 11. The running cut tally is 13 and tonight’s cut tally is 6.
18. and 19. Angelica “Jelly” Joseph and Shana “Shi” Scott, two R&B vocalists with colorful nicknames, are called in together, and the judges tell them the 24th semi-final slot is for one of them. Instead of hearing the verdict, we simply see the women leaving the room. Shi’s crying and Jelly’s happy, so that means Shi’s cut, right?
Wrong! Jelly tells Ryan she’s just happy to have made top 48 and Shi’s bawling away because she made top 24. Based on what I saw, at least half of the selected female vocalists won’t gather much enthusiasm. The judges could have easily made room for Joseph if they’d really wanted to–and a couple of others. (Jess Lamb, cut just before the showcase round, is the most obvious.) Total keep tally from this episode and the last one: 24
Total cut tally from this episode and the last one: 14, and we know there were 24 people cut, so even with two nights, we didn’t see the final 48. There’s got to be a better way to give some air time to all final 48.
When Idol fields 24 semi-finalists, usually there are two or three rounds of “Girls’ Night” and “Boys’ Night” performances, with viewers’ votes narrowing the field down to twelve male and twelve female semi-finalists. First let’s look at the girls’ top twelve:
- Shana “Shi” Scott
- Alexis Gomez
- Joey Cook
- Katherine Winston
- Serina Joi Crowe
- Loren Lott
- Adanna Duru
- Maddie Walker
- Tyanna Jones
- Lovey James
- Shannon She’ll-be-out-before-learn-her-last-name
Now for the boys:
- Savion Wright
- Riley Bria
- Mark Andrew
- Quaseem Middleton
- Nick Faradini
- Trevor Douglas
- Quentin Alexander
- Ray Von Owens
- Michael Simeon
- Clark Beckham
- Daniel Seavey
- Adam He’ll-be-out-before-I-learn-his-last-name
Now here’s my guess as to who the top 12 will be:
- Savion Wright
- Riley Bria
- Mark Andrew
- Katherine Winston
- Tyanna Jones
- Maddie Walker
- Quentin Alexander
- Ray Von Owens
- Quaseem Middleton (or Trevor Douglas)
- Alexis Gomez
- Shana “Shi” Scott
Unfinished stories: This season had fewer continuity fails than the last one but we never did learn what happened to Casey Thrasher, Erica Washington, Travis Finley (hearing someone named Travis is cut doesn’t count), subway singer Naja Lewis, vagabond Kolton Pasquall, Gina (or Jena) Venere, and Kari Lyn Roach. I’m also going to kick the judges and the production team one more time for what they did to Jason Tolliver, Jess Lamb, Garrett Miles, Cody Fry, and Rachel from the New Orleans auditions.
February 19th, 2015 · No Comments
This week on American Idol, forty-eight contestants are being pared down to 12 male and 12 female semi-finalists, although the hype was about a showcase round. Just about every season American Idol finds a way to waste hrs. of airtime on announcing the semi-finalists. Some seasons watching each remaining contestant make the trek from a holding room to hear the judges’ verdict is good TV, but Season 14 is not one of those seasons. It’s especially infuriating because the judges–Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jennifer Lopez–demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it’s time for their contracts to be up.
First we present the names that have made it so far (read them and scream):
The guys (five so far):
- Michael Simeon (J-Lo’s got to cool it with encouraging those fanboys of hers)
- Adam Ezegelian (learning to spell his name will probably take more time than he’ll remain on the show)
- Clark Beckham
- Daniel Seavey
- Ray Von Owens
The girls (seven so far):
- Loren Lott (R&B female vocalist no. 1)
- Lovey James (Sorry, sorry, I thought/hoped she was gone)
- Adanna Duru (R&B female vocalist no. 2)
- Maddie Walker (see below)
- Tyanna Jones (R&B female vocalist no. 3)
- Shannon Berthalmune (learning to spell her name will probably take more time than she’ll remain on the show)
I was going to follow with a list of the cuts so far but I’ll just proceed to the gory details (read them and scream) as the judges give their verdicts:
1. Michael Simeon: Yeah, he can slow-dance with J-Lo, and she likes his voice, but can he really sing? He sounds tired and strained and part of his showcase is a rap, which he admits is a “huge risk.” J-Lo says, yes, he’s through to the semi-finals, and I guess that’s all that matters. Keep tally: 1
2. Loren Lott: She’s loud and pitchy but J-Lo really, really likes her, too. Harry admits she “wasn’t one of the best” so why does he put her in the top 24 anyway? (Note: she must be the black girl with the ringlets glimpsed in the season-opening tease.) Keep tally: 2
3. Adam Ezegelian: BTW J-Lo really gets into him, too. Yeah, he can shout heavy metal and the judges are probably looking for the next Caleb Johnson. However, I seriously doubt this geek’s the next Caleb Johnson. Idol often makes good TV about advancing very inexperienced singers into the voting rounds but it may be time to rethink that. (Don’t tell me, let me guess–this is the curly-haired gravel-voiced guy in the season-opening tease.) The judges’ batting average just went down. Keep tally: 3
4. Cody Fry: This season’s heartthrob, right? Wrong! J-Lo likes him but she cuts him anyway, giving female viewers one less reason to watch the remainder of the season. The judges’ batting average just went down some more. Cut tally: 1
5. Lovey James: I thought she got cut last week, and I blame my confusion on the editing. She’s loud, pitchy, and shows too much similarity to the judges’ darling Jax (see below) and Harry criticizes her consistency. Then he says, “We’ll have to see how you do in the top 24,” like the judges and everybody else haven’t had enough opportunities to see how she does already. The judges just keep accumulating strikes. Keep tally: 4
6. through 10. A montage of people being told no, including Hector Montenegro, J None (and his Teddy), Reno the Hawaiian (he got this far?), Zach Kaltenbach (he compares better to David Cook than Ezeglian does to Johnson), and Hannah Mrozek (who we haven’t seen since her audition). Cut tally: 6
11. Adanna Duru: She’s loud and pitchy on “It’s a Man’s World” and I’ve heard the song done better–but it’s good enough for Harry (and J-Lo and Keith). Keep tally: 5
12. Maddie Walker: She sounds tired and strained and is suddenly being presented as this season’s country rep. Except J-Lo tells her no. Wait for the cut tally, see below.
13. With the cut tally standing at 6 and the keep tally at 5, the judges call in a country singer we’ve never seen before, Rachel “who auditioned in New Orleans.” Her showcase selection is an overdone “Gunpower and Lead.” When the judges sit her down, they confess they can’t make up their minds and call Maddie Walker back into the room. Yes, you read that right. Whether this is a scripted ploy or not, the judges have just amply demonstrated they don’t even have the conviction to stand by their own decisions. Contract renewal time can’t come fast enough.
They have the country girls do a sing-off and of course, if they weren’t going to pick the slightly sweeter-voiced Maddie Walker, they wouldn’t have bothered. So the two women’s time on Idol comes down to flakey judging and a few bars. It’s like these Hollywood judges are living in a movie–a Martin Scorsese movie. This is the most unacceptable thing I’ve ever seen on Idol, and I’m now 95% certain I won’t watch the voting rounds.
After this little soap opera: Keep tally, 6, cut tally, 7.
14. Clark Beckham: Doesn’t anybody besides me hear that he’s just screaming, not singing, through songs that shouldn’t be screamed through? The man has no subtlety at all. All the judges really like him, though, and he’s in the semi-finals. Keep tally: 7
15. Daniel Seavey: America, what’s wrong with this picture? A 15-year-old prepubescent-looking boy can’t stop hitting on 45-year-old J-Lo and she encourages it. She keeps swooning about how cute he is, and how impressed she is, and how she (and the other two) want him in the top 24. No comment! Except to say, the judges’ batting average just dropped below minor-league level. How many strikes do they get before their own contracts get cut? Keep tally: 8
16. Tyanna Jones: J-Lo really, really likes her and wants her to be in the top 24. Keep tally: 9
17. Ray Von Owen: Finally a black male R&B vocalist joins the semi-finalists. Keep tally: 10
18. Shannon Berthiamune: We’ve been teased this rank amateur is in the final 24, and she shows she’s a rank amateur–she’s not loud and pitchy, she’s much worse than that. Call a moratorium, please, on people just off the street getting to the semi-finals. And post at least three more strikes against the judges. Honestly, the only time Idol judges have looked worse was during season 12. Keep tally: 11
19. Jax: The judges have been fawning over her all season, and I suspect it’s not about her frightfully amateurish so-called singing. I suspect it’s more about her father was a 9/11 responder, making her a sentimental favorite. She’s slaughtered “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and looked bad in group round, so she now sings a religious song. J-Lo criticizes her (imagine that) with, “a little bit of greenness” but gives her the green light to the semi-finals anyway. She’s more than “a little” green, J-Lo! Keep tally: 12
Last night’s episode ended when Hollywood Anderson entered the judges’ room, and we’re supposed to tune in tonight to learn the remainder of the 24 semi-finalists. Even with Savion Wright–about the only reason I have left to watch–waiting, I’m finding it increasingly hard to care.
February 17th, 2015 · No Comments
Season 14 of The Amazing Race introduced several All-Star teams, and on the eighth leg in Thailand, several teams made errors big and small. One team even made two big mistakes and had to serve two penalties. Another team never was able to make up for one mistake.
As the episode begins, six teams get clues to fly from Jaipur, India to Phuket, Thailand:
- Margie and her deaf son Luke (they later made two All-Star appearances)
- African-American sisters Kisha/Jen (they won All-Star season 18)
- Mark/Mel, father and son, both writers, and both ID as gay (returned as All-Stars, season 18)
- Mark/Michael, brothers who are Hollywood stuntmen, and they’re also less than 5 ft. tall and only about 100 lb.
- Jamie/Cara, NFL cheerleaders (returned in season 18)
- Tammy/Victor, Chinese-American brother-sister team (they won season 14)
Teams have a picture of a statue of a gorilla for their clue as to their destination in Phuket. It’s up to them to find out the statute is at the city zoo. All six teams are on the same flight to Phuket but Mark/Mel are the last to get a taxi at the airport. The leading teams collectively get out of their taxis and start asking people on the street about the picture.
Mark/Mel and their taxi just keep going. Their driver–for some reason known only to him–takes them to the beach, where there’s no gorilla statute. The team at first doesn’t believe people who tell them the statute is at the zoo. This mistake puts Mark/Mel far in the back of the pack.
The five front teams get to the zoo. Here teams have to perform two tasks. First they have to pose for a picture with a tiger. While the picture’s being developed, each team must take part in a trained elephant show. The two team members lie still while an elephant steps and squats over them. Once the show’s over, the teams can pick up their tiger pictures. The next clue is presented along with the tiger picture.
Mark/Michael are the first to finish at the zoo. Jamie/Cara are 2nd, Kisha/Jen, 3rd, Tammy/Victor, 4th, and Margie/Luke, 5th. Their next clue says to make their way to a shop that sells herbs.
When teams get to the shop, they find their next clue envelope will be found in one of 99 drawers behind the shop’s counter. The shopkeeper apparently speaks little or no English, and teams have to communicate to him about which drawer they want him to open. A team may find a clue in the first drawer–or they may have to search dozens. Jamie/Cara and Mark/Mike are the first to arrive and start searching drawers.
About this time Mark/Mel are getting to the zoo, getting their picture taken with the tiger, and becoming human props in the elephant show.
Kisha/Jen are the third team to get to the shop, and teams have to take turns pointing to what drawer they want the shopkeeper to open. Mark/Mike are first to find an envelope. It contains information about this leg’s detour. The choice involves two different kinds of transportation:
- 100 Barrels–fill 47 barrels of freshwater for a seagoing fishing boat, and load the boat with 53 empty barrels to store fish.
- 2 Miles–one team member pulls the other in a rickshaw over a two-mile road course. Team members may take turns pulling and riding.
Mark/Mike choose the rickshaw detour. By now Tammy/Victor and Luke/Margie arrive at the herb shop. Kisha/Jen are 2nd to find a detour clue envelope. They choose the fishing boat.
Margie/Luke are 3rd to find a detour clue. Tammy/Victor, who’ve been keeping notes about which drawers are being opened, are 4th. Jamie/Cara were first to get to the shop, but four teams have passed them. They finally get a detour clue before Mark/Mel get to the shop.
When Mark/Mike get to the beginning of the rickshaw course, there are tire pumps scattered around, in case teams need to pump up their rickshaw tires. They pump up their tires, then collect all the tire pumps and throw them in a box. Then they ask their taxi to lead them over the road course. (One says, “We were going to have to pay that cab, whether he followed us, led us, or met us there.”)
Meanwhile Mark/Mel get to the herb shop but it takes them a while to find their clue. Jamie/Cara and Margie/Luke choose the fishing boat detour, but their taxis are mistaken about the location. Their taxis do know where the temple is that has the rickshaws, so those two teams switch detours. Kisha/Jen also have a confused taxi driver but they eventually find the fishing boats.
Tammy/Victor start the rickshaw course. They ask their cabbie to draw a map, specifically telling him that he can’t lead them–so we know Mark/Mike are in trouble.
Mark/Mel find their detour clue at the herb shop, and choose to go to the fishing boats. Around this time Jamie/Cara are starting the rickshaw course, with Margie/Luke close behind them. Kisha/Jen find the fishing boat and start loading the 53 empty barrels.
Mark/Mike finish the 2-mile rickshaw course and find the next clue box in a park. The clue says “walk, run, or hire” to the pit stop at a temple. (Phil explains it’s a temple “known for housing a piece of the Buddha’s remains.”) Since the guys’ taxi driver led them over the course, they can just jump in and ride to the pit stop.
When the very short stuntmen arrive at the pit stop, Phil tells them they’re first to arrive–however, they’ve incurred two 30-min. penalties. First they tampered with the tire pumps. (That may seem petty to some viewers but it did break a rule.) Second, they had their taxi lead them over the rickshaw course. Two big mistakes! They’ve got to sit for an hr. when other teams are close behind.
Mark/Mel find the fishing boats. They start loading the empty barrels and filling the water barrels at the same time. The women didn’t start filling their water barrels until they finished loading the empty barrels. (“I didn’t see the hose running!” one of the women exclaims.)
Tammy/Victor find the park at the end of the rickshaw course, with Jamie/Cara close behind. Tammy/Victor soon find they didn’t completely finish the course–they find a station to park their rickshaws, and have to go back and retrieve their rickshaw. That enables Jamie/Cara to get their clue for the pit stop first. Once Tammy/Victor park their rickshaw and get their pit stop clue, they meet up with their taxi driver. They instructed him not to lead them, but meet them at the park at the end of the course.
Luke is trying to pull Margie in their rickshaw but she can’t give him directions because he can’t hear, or see her hand signs either. They switch. She appears to be nearing a state of panic as she completes the course.
When Mark/Mike have four min. left to sit, Tammy/Victor get to the pit stop mat. That means the brother and sister win first place, and a trip to Hawaii. Three minutes later, Jamie/Cara arrive and claim second place. Phil tells the brothers he can check them in, making them the third-place team.
Margie/Luke find the clue box for the pit stop and take a taxi to the temple. They claim fourth place, but Margie faints from the heat and over-exerting herself. Phil calls for assistance. Fortunately it’s just a fainting spell and nothing serious.
Kisha/Jen finish filling their water barrels while Mark/Mel still have ten to go. The sisters get their pit stop clue but their taxi drops them off at the wrong temple. (How many mistakes have taxis made on this leg?) The sisters ask directions at what looks like another temple or church–and ask the people there to drive them. They’re the fifth team to check in at the pit stop.
That means Mark/Mel are last, and are eliminated. They never recovered from that mistake with the taxi that couldn’t find the zoo.
February 17th, 2015 · No Comments
February 17th, 2015 · No Comments
February 13th, 2015 · No Comments
Last night on American Idol (Season 14) we saw highlights (what the production staff judged to be highlights, anyway) of the solo round during Hollywood Week, where the remaining contestants (we don’t hear how many) sing a song of their own choosing, backed by the Idol stage band. Some seasons the judges cut after hearing everybody but this time they made cuts after every ten or so singers. Hollywood Week strains the judges almost as much as the contestants–there were times when the pressure appeared to be getting to J-Lo, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban:
1. First we see 22-year-old Loren Lott, this year’s aspiring black R&B diva in the Diana Ross mode, singing “Skyfall.” The judges seem to be missing how her big notes just consist of her throwing her head back and hitting falsetto. J-Lo gushes about a “superstar performance.”
2. When are the judges (or somebody) going to figure out Daniel Seavey is a Little League talent that Idol is trying to pass off as a World Series MVP? Once again he shows us he’s not ready for primetime by singing an age-inappropriate song (“I See Fire”) he hasn’t a clue about. It’s not racy, it’s just too big and mature for a 15-year-old, especially one that looks–and acts and sounds–12. Harry’s acted like a concerned parent before–why not now?
3. Big Ron Wilson (or “Big Sexy” when he’s flirting with J-Lo) gets heated in a different way while rehearsing with Ricky Minor and the Idol stage band. He wants to reprise his audition, “Let’s Get it on” (for J-Lo). It looks like we’re getting good TV between him and J-Lo, more so than good singing. After the song’s over, there’s another argument between the judges and the singer about the band.
4. Shi Scott (“Shi” is short for Shana) shows her jazzy side with an Etta James ballad. (With Sal Valentinetti gone, somebody else will have to rep cocktail jazz.) I think she sounds good but the judges are critical.
5. Adam Lasher, the Neil Young-Tom Petty type, who we first saw for sure in Hollywood Week, when the judges singled him out as “most memorable” and called him a “superstar,” sings Petty’s “Freefalling.” (We may have seen his audition after all–if he’s the Adam somebody said something about being Carlos Santana’s nephew in the auditions.)
After we see these five the judges call them and several other singers to the stage and give them the ol’ step-forward-step-back routine. The judges cut Big Ron, which isn’t a surprise, and Adam Lasher, which is. They keep Shi, Loren, and Daniel. At the rate Seavey’s getting free passes, he’ll make it to the voting rounds, where voters will have to do the judges’ job.
In between face time for J-Lo’s many fanboys, let’s take a moment to criticize how this entire season’s overused a running joke about J-Lo and her fanboys. We know she’s one of the biggest stars in the world with countless male admirers. We don’t need to be reminded of it several times every hour.
6. Another batch of performances starts with Quentin Alexander, the flamboyant black guy who wore trendy-looking shorts in New Orleans, and is another of J-Lo’s fanboys. He’s a good singer, but when his most distinctive feature is, he’s flirty with J-Lo, how distinctive is that? The judges all like him enough to keep him, though.
7. Maddie Walker suddenly shows us a hardcore country identity, and the judges keep her. (Speaking of girls named Maddie, we haven’t truly seen Maddie Hudson since her audition, when the judges practically climbed over each other to get her to Hollywood. She was briefly glimpsed in group round but her fate is unknown. Either she shows up soon, or her storyline got left dangling.)
8. Teen science geek Trevor Douglas is advanced, too.
9. Alexis Granville, the black girl who fainted twice during group round, now starts her song in the wrong key twice. I didn’t think she was as off-key as some, but Harsh Harry suddenly starts channeling Simon Crowell’s head-judge spirit. Once he stops her and makes her start over. The second time, he cuts her on the spot. Too bad he didn’t do that one round earlier.
10. Jax sings “Let it be,” and for once she shows an appealing (if nasal) chirpiness. Of course the judges keep her.
Now we get to another clump of singers being judged in a batch of ten or so:
11. Yet another of J-Lo’s fanboys, Michael Simeon, sings a ballad, and J-Lo likes him almost as much as he likes her. She gushes about how he’s a superstar. That dance they did on the premiere is sure paying off for this Southern farmboy.
12. Nich Fradianji (?) is a WGWG who does a heartfelt “Babylon.” (Is he the one who had the girlfriend named Yanni in the auditions?) Here’s another time we hear how this guy likes J-Lo and J-Lo likes him. (Next time just limit the contestants to J-Lo fan club members, maybe?) Then Harry takes a moment to talk about contestants like Nick who are at the top of the show’s age spectrum–it’s not a disadvantage, it’s experience.
13. Now we see a contestant we’d been hoping was gone without a trace–freakish teen Katherine Skinner. The sight of her is especially infuriating coming on top of Harry’s lecture about age and experience. She shows she can sing when she whispers but not when she screams. Harry sounds like her fanboy, gushing about her “pedal to the metal” style. J-Lo whispers to him, “third time she’s messed up,” so J-Lo’s not as much of a fan as Harry.
Now it’s time for this latest crowd of singers to get the news of whether they’re staying or going. J-Lo tells Michael, Nick, and Emily Brooks they’re through to the next round. Katherine’s not. Finally!
Apparently J-Lo finally talked Harry into getting rid of Katherine. Wait! she’s threatening to come back for the next 20 years!
Right on the tail of the painfully memorable Ms. Skinner getting several minutes of face time, we see two of the more pleasantly memorable female contestants being sent home with no explanation whatsoever: Jess Lamb and Piper Jones.
If Lamb being cut is shocking, it’s infuriating that she wasn’t given enough face time to show us why. That’s a major continuity fail. We’ll have to see if the footage is online or wait for the DVD or some future American Idol Rewind should that show ever be revived. It’s particularly painful because Jess can’t come back–she’ll be over the age limit. Yeah, Harry, what was that about age and experience, again?
On to another batch of contestants:
14. Clark Beckham, the white New York street singer who auditioned in Nashville, screams his way through “Try a Little Tenderness,” of all things–there’s no tenderness here! I think he’s around for the next round but he shouldn’t be.
15. Voice vet Mark Andrew tries to do a folksy song (a little like Jim Croce) but without his guitar. That may have backfired because he stops halfway through and says he forgot the lyrics.
Before the judges deliver their verdict to this clump, we see brief clips of big-voiced Naomi Tatsuoka and Mexican-American country singer Alexis Gomez. Country singer Katherine Winston is also in this bunch. Naomi’s cut, Mark, Katherine, and Alexis are kept. I’m honestly not sure what happened to Clark or some guy named Travis. Harry warns Mark he only squeaked through because of his “special voice.”
(With all this face time for female country vocalists Winston, Gomez, and Brooks, what on earth happened to Ellen Pearson, perhaps the best of the lot? Don’t tell me the only thing we’re going to see of her is that “Beverly Hillbillies” audition with Keith and Harry.)
16. Joey Cook sounds like a serious singer, for once, with “Across the Universe.” At least she remembered her words this time, although I still think she should have gone home in the group round.
17. Lovey James sounds loud ‘n’ pitchy, which is par for this season’s contestants.
18. Tyanna Jones (Tyanna with a y, not an I) and 19. Rayvon Owens and 20. Riley Bria (Keith Urban fanboy for a change) are in this final batch. Harry gushes about Riley, “There are some people who are absolutely meant to be on a stage and that was you.”
Rayvon, Riley, Tyanna and Joey are kept. Lovey is sent home. For once loud ‘n’ pitchy didn’t cut it.
We haven’t seen a round of room cuts for several seasons now, but we’ve started to see “showcase” rounds before a live audience. This year’s showcase round, at the House of Blues in Hollywood, will be next week. There are supposed to be 48 singers left, and next week comes the cut to the 24 semi-finalists.
February 13th, 2015 · No Comments
February 12th, 2015 · No Comments
Last night we saw the last singers in the group round for Season 14 of American Idol, and we saw some people we haven’t seen before, some we haven’t seen for a few weeks, and some we haven’t seen since last season–or longer. The talent pool has got to be down to fewer than 100 now, so faces are starting to get familiar:
When we last saw the group round, Sal Valetinetti and Sal’s Gals were about to sing but black teen Alexis Granville fainted a second time. When she recovers, we only see three of the five people sing. Jax the blonde with the backwards ball cap is also in this group. After Alexis proves beyond reasonable doubt she can’t handle Hollywood Week, the judges send her on to the next round anyway. They also keep Jax, with those notes of hers that don’t turn when the music does. Sal, Kelly Kime (the young mother with the cute little daughter) and an unnamed girl are cut. Sal is the only one I’d have kept–so what, he’s a throwback lounge crooner who’s nuts for J-Lo. He could sing, he had style, and–very important–he knew his musical identity as well as Carrie Underwood did. My guess is that he’ll make something out of his brief time here, though.
Second group of this episode: Kari Lyn Roach is back from last season (right?), and shrill country girl Emily Brooke team up with Riley Bria and Jake Black (not Jack Black) and all four are through to the next round.
Third group: two women and two men discover they all went to the same school, so they’re together. We get Southern smoothie Cody Fry (he sounds good), latter-day Motown smoothie Rayvon Owens (he sounds good), a big soulful-voiced woman named Piper Jones who sounds better than in her audition, and a girl we barely see or hear, let alone know her name. The judges pass all four through to the next round.
Fourth group: four girls, one of whom is Adanna Duru, the teenage black girl who auditioned in San Francisco. She and another girl are kept but the editing’s so rushed, I can’t tell if the girl who’s kept is named Denise or Cindy.
We see clips of Loren Lott, Alexis Gomez, and Quentin Alexander getting told they’re through to the next round.
Fifth group: almost a super-group here, with Savion Wright, Quaseem Middleton, pint-sized Daniel Seavey, and Trevor Douglas the physics geek with glasses, all doing a ragged R&B performance which Daniel’s obviously straining through. The judges generously send all four through, even though they’ve got a good excuse to cut Seavey.
Sixth group: Hollywood Anderson, the homeless R&B guitarist who sleeps and sings on New York subways, and four girls provide a ragged performance of “Grenade.” (There must have been an odd girl left who got into this group, because like Sal’s Gals, this group has five singers instead of the required four.) J-Lo gushes about their “powerful moments” and I don’t know why. Hollywood and a girl named Monica get a “yes” and the other three girls get a “no.”
7th group: Jess Lamb and Lovie James team with a guy, Kory Wheeler, and a girl, Karla Davis, for “All About That Bass.” Jess and Lovie get a yes, Kory and Karla get a no.
8th group: Rocky Peter, the US citizen who grew up in poverty in Africa, teams with two guys and a girl. The girl (Tanya) is the only one the judges keep and I’m not sure why.
We see a clip of Cindy Jo being sent home.
9th group: four girls sing a soulful sultry “Grenade,” and they’re the ones that give us a generous look at backstage drama. Heather, the girl responsible for the drama, gets cut. Serina Joi (why can’t she spell her name Serena Joy?), Erica and Adrianna are kept.
10th group: country singer Katherine Winston, Alex Shier, Voice vet Mark Andrew and a girl named Vanessa sing “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Vanessa’s cut, the other three are kept. (Was Vanessa the chatterbox that, at her audition, couldn’t stop talking about Keith Urban?)
We see clips of Angelica “Jelly” Joseph and someone named Regina being sent to the next round.
11th group: four girls, one of whom is returning contestant Maddie Walker, who sounds terrible. She’s kept, however, along with two others. Jackie Ness (or something like that) gets sent home.
12th group: country singers who all sound good (to me) on “Done.” They’re Garrett’s Girls–the blind singer Garrett Miles and three girls. I stare in disbelief when the judges cut them all.
13th group: four girls–Shannon Bethemune (the true amateur), Joey Cook (the novelty act), Naomi Tatsuka (the big powerhouse) and somebody else–all sound terrible. J-Lo gushes about “hitting it out of the park” and Keith agrees. What on earth are they hearing? All four are advanced to the next round, which is especially disgusting since the judges just sent Garrett Miles home.
Should’ve been kept: Rocky Peter, Garrett Miles, Sal Valentinetti
Should’ve been cut: Naomi Tatsuka, Shannon Bethemune, Joey Cook, Daniel Seavey, Emily Brooks, Jax, Alexis Granville, Maddie Walker
Tonight’s the next round in Hollywood Week, when all remaining contestants sing a song of their own choosing.