American Idol It Takes Two

It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta sight.

lapor_trent
It takes two to make a thing go right

Photo Credit: Fox/American Idol

La’Porsha Renae and Trent Harmon. Wow. They gave us one of the best finales in Idol history. A great match. Idol is going out on a high note (literally!). I am sad to see Idol coming to an end, but this finale was very satisfying. Both contestants are worthy of the title. I think I have to give a slight edge to La’Porsha (I loved her A House is Not a Home) but Trent was also excellent and they both moved me with their performances. I’ll be happy either way because I think they’d both make fine bookends to Kelly Clarkson. Of course I’ll also be sad because American Idol will be no more and it’s been such a fun show. What a great ride.

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American Idol Every Girl Crazy About Trent

Trent Harmon really delivered during the Top 4 performances. His Sharp Dressed Man was a blast and his version of Chandelier was beautiful. He could not have done better. It was great to see him perform like that. I am hopeful that he is on the road to a spot in the finale.

The Sharp Dressed Trent Harmon
The Sharp Dressed Trent Harmon

Photo Credit: Fox/American Idol

It was also great to see interested, thoughtful mentors. Both Steven Van Zandt and Sia were excellent and helped the contestants  improve their performances. The show was very entertaining. Again, it proved that the Idol concept still works and it’s a shame that Idol didn’t feature mentors like this throughout the season because it probably would have greatly improved things.

Dalton’s fans got a scare when they saw him in the Bottom 2 with Sonika. I’m sure all of his fans voted like crazy that night to make sure he makes it into the Top 3. It seems like Trent is a sure thing for Top 3 as well given his awesome peformances. So that leaves MacKenzie and La’Porsha. The judges gave MacKenzie a tough time – tougher than was merited in my opinion. His first song was only okay but Titanium was good and the judges came across as harsh. Sometimes harsh criticism of a contestant backfires, especially if the person wasn’t really bad. I have a feeling that this could result in a strong sympathy vote. Many people think that MacKenzie will be the next to leave the show, but I would not be surprised if it turns out to be La’Porsha who has the lowest number of votes. If La’Porsha is the next to leave, the judges will express their shock and outrage and Scott Borchetta will likely breathe a sigh of relief.  La’Porsha has consistently given terrific performances and is very talented but you know how the Idol audience loves its cute boys. Every Girl Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp Dressed Man. Oh and did I mention that I love David Cook…

 

American Idol Finish Strong!

We have our Top 5. I hated the way the show ignored America’s vote in selecting the remaining contestants. It flew in the face of the whole premise of American Idol. BUT, and this is a very big BUT (so to speak), now that we’ve gotten there, I have to say that I like this Top 5. The second half of the results show was ON FIRE. It was entertaining in a way that Idol has not been entertaining for the past few season. It was super entertaining. And there were Idol moments. So while there have been bumps in the road during this farewell season, I now feel encouraged that American Idol may be able to finish strong.

One thing that has been missing in recent seasons is the connection that we feel to the contestants. Think of Kelly Clarkson and how taken we were with her story and with her personality. There was an excitement expressed by the contestants about being given this chance to succeed. In later seasons, we saw many semi-professional singers who almost seemed like they felt entitled to the record contract. We definitely didn’t get to bond with them. And they didn’t always come across as humble. This week, the show did a great job of featuring the contestants’ back stories in a way that was very moving and engaging. And it enhanced their performances.

I loved Trent Harmon’s rendition of Simple Man and how sweet was it when he said how he misses his mama. Aww. La’Porsha’s version of No More Drama was emotionally shattering. It was truly an Idol Moment the likes of which we have not seen in seasons. Mackenzie, Dalton and Sonika all came through too. They are a likable bunch. They all come across as nice, humble people who are grateful for the opportunity of being on American Idol. If we’re looking for a bookend to Kelly Clarkson, then those are important qualities. It may be why some of the contestants from the recent past seasons weren’t able to get people invested in them.

Now it did feel like it was kind of late to tell Tristan McIntosh that she is young and not ready. I think it’s a fair assessment, but it’s not like anything has changed during the past few weeks. Didn’t they share that view of her all along? Well, maybe not. Maybe they thought she’d progress more quickly and maybe the results would have been different if this were a longer season like in the past. Tristan had tweeted earlier in the week that there would be no judges’ save that week, but that turned out to not be true. I do wonder whether Sonika had the lowest votes and the show decided to go back to the judges’ save after deciding that Tristan wasn’t really ready. Guess we’ll never know. But it did give Sonika another chance to impress and show that she is listening and steadily improving in performance. I think she’s someone who would definitely have benefited from a longer season. As it stands now, I think Sonika is still likely to be the person who leaves this week. It just feels like the Dalton, Mackenzie, La’Porsha and Trent fan bases are stronger but you never know…

 

 

American Idol Did Avalon Scare Them Like Haley?

 

 

Avalon Young

Photo Credit: Fox/American Idol

Last week the Top 8 became the Top 6. As I predicted, the Bottom 3 were Lee, Sonika and Avalon and Sonika was saved by the judges/producers. My theory is that the show wants the following contestants in the Top 5: Dalton, MacKenzie, LaPorsha, Tristan and Trent. For awhile they may have wanted Sonika to advance, but she doesn’t seem to have kept their support. In an interview last week, Scott Borchetta made comments about Sonika not having had more than one great performance, etc. He praised Avalon as the stronger contestant, implying that he would have saved her. But then again, Borchetta also recently said in an interview that he is involved in the judges’ decisions about who to save, referring to a wink and a nod that I assume meant he guided their decision. So in that case, why didn’t they save Avalon?

I don’t believe that Avalon had the lowest or the second lowest number of votes last week. She was coming off of her very strong performance of Earned It. Since last week was apparently the last week of the judges/producers’ save, they needed to pick off the strongest of the three lowest vote getters. TPTB are probably pretty confident that Sonika will have the lowest number of votes this week and the media spin of how Sonika didn’t live up to her potential has already been started by Borchetta. My thought is that if they didn’t eliminate Avalon while they had the chance last week, they were afraid that she might outperform some of their “chosen” contestants and make it into the Top 5. I think they were afraid that Avalon Young would pull a Haley Reinhart on them and keep gaining momentum. Oh, if only they hadn’t put in place that phony judges’ save and let America’s vote really count! Most likely Lee and Sonika would have gone home last week and Avalon – well, Avalon would have had a chance to show us how far she could have gotten in the competition. But TPTB surely remember how Haley Reinhart kept giving knockout performances and escaping elimination and how it sure felt like the show was doing everything it could to try to stop her. Haley went all the way to the Top 3. Do you think the show was afraid that Avalon Young might do the same? That’s what I think and I think that’s why they didn’t save her last week while the decision was still in the hands of the judges/show/producers/record label guy, etc.

If this week’s elimination is truly in the hands of the viewers, then we know that the choice is supported by the producers (or else they would have changed the rules again and kept the judges’ save another week). Based on this, my guess is that Sonika will be going home.

 

 

American Idol Is Scott Borchetta Picking the Winner?

What happened to America’s vote? This week we went from a Top 10 to a Top 8. I hate the double elimination. Contestants leave too quickly and we don’t get enough chances to hear them sing. I REALLY HATE that the vote is no longer in the control of the viewers. Here are your bottom three, but the judges/producers get to decide which ones actually leave. What?!! Why?!! Why? Because this season of American Idol seems like it’s the let’s pay Scott Borchetta back for his support of this show and let him select who he wants to sign to his record label. I really think Idol is ending this year not because of low ratings, but because there are no record labels who want to be forced to sign whoever the viewers pick. It’s been a losing proposition for the record labels the past few seasons, hasn’t it?

As I suspected, Avalon and Olivia were vulnerable this week. But the producers knew exactly who was in the bottom 3 right after the vote, so they had all week to decide who they wanted to stay and who they wanted to leave. They influence the contestants’ choice of songs accordingly. I read that Olivia Rox wanted to sing the emotional ballad Killing Me Softly, but was encouraged to sing something upbeat. Then when the judges are “deciding” who to keep, they criticize Olivia for not singing something with emotional lyrics. Do you see what they did there? C’mon, it’s not like the judges are really deciding right then. For whatever reason, they didn’t want Olivia to continue, so they took the opportunity to get her out of the competition. I don’t believe they want Avalon either, but they must have thought this might be their only chance to get Olivia out of the way – remember, they can see the vote totals so they have an idea of how things will be going. I think Olivia and Avalon are both great and these are just my opinions of how the show works. What do you think? Do you agree?

This week, I bet the show would most like to see Lee and Avalon leave. I think the Bottom Three will be Lee, Avalon and Sonika. Hmmm…what would be a theme that would disadvantage the two singers who are most comfortable singing current hits (i.e., Lee and Avalon)? Maybe this week’s theme: The American Idol Songbook – the most performed songs in Idol history. Yep, it sounds like it would hurt Lee and Avalon and favor Sonika, doesn’t it?  Of course since Avalon sang for her life so well last week, it’s also possible that she got enough votes to avoid Bottom Three. Dalton had an off week and if he happens to end up in the bottom, say bye-bye to whoever is standing next to him, cause he’s not going anywhere.

I’m not excited by this week’s theme and hearing songs we’ve heard a zillion times, but at least it’s a theme. In the earlier seasons, most of the really unique cover versions of songs were a result of the contestant having to fit into one of the themes (for example, what will the rocker sing on r&b night?). Now it seems to be change up the song just for the sake of changing up the song, J Lo always asking for the contestants to “wow” them. I liked when the contestants had to use strategy to pick the right song that fit the theme and best showcased their talents. Now it seems the strategy is all on the part of the producers and Scott Borchetta, in their efforts to get their choice signed to his record label.

 

 

 

Kelly Clarkson Comes Home to American Idol

A moment like this. Kelly Clarkson sure knows how to give us American Idol moments. On Thursday night, Kelly came home to the show that started her career. She was spectacular in every way. Her comments to the contestants were spot on and actually could be helpful to them (unlike the canned comments we often hear). Kelly was the judge that we have been missing for these past seasons. It was so fun to see her at the judges’ table. But it makes you wonder how much better the past few seasons could have been had Kelly been at that table.

After La’Porsha sang so amazingly, I thought “I wonder if Kelly wants to sing after that performance”. Ha! Kelly Clarkson has no fear! She got up there majorly preggers and killed  her song. She killed it! Piece by Piece was a heartbreaker. She proved that she is the greatest Idol of them all. And quite frankly, she also proved that the best bookend to Kelly Clarkson is none other than KELLY CLARKSON herself.

But alas, we are still searching for a bookend winner for Season 15 and there are some good choices. Standouts were La’Porsha, Dalton, Trent, Sonika and MacKenzie. I thought the weakest performances were given by Gianna and Tristan, but I think the viewers may send Gianna and Lee home. I think Olivia and Avalon are vulnerable. I hope Olivia is not hurt by having sung first (a notoriously tough position) and Avalon could be hurt by her lack of connection to her song. I like both Olivia and Avalon and want them to make it through. Let’s hope their fan bases came out to vote.

For now, I’ll content myself by listening to the triumphant Kelly Clarkson. It would be great if she remained on the show the rest of the season. Kelly – Don’t You Wanna Stay? Don’t You Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson

 

American Idol Ch-Ch Changes

Turn and face the strange. Changes are happening at American Idol. After announcing that the Top 10 would be split between 8 judges’ picks and only 2 audience wildcards, the show has done a turn-around. Now the judges will select 4 of the Top 10 and the other 6 will be selected by the viewers!

I’m really pleased by this because it at least takes us closer to the original format. The whole fun of the show is the audience getting to vote for their favorites. The cynic in me says that the show must be pretty confident about their 4 judges’ picks and that they figure they are safe to make this change to please the viewers. The show will also get the chance to see just how popular certain people are and if the audience ends up voting in all the WGWGs for example, the show can say “hey, that’s what the viewers wanted”.

It feels like the show will want to put through Dalton, La’Porsha, Tristan and maybe Trent. I think Mackenzie should be in that group too but I can also see them letting the audience decide whether it prefers Mackenzie or Thomas. Similarly, the audience can decide if it wants Jeneve or Jenn. Olivia or Avalon. Sonika or Gianna. You get the idea.

Let’s see what happens with the first 4 picks and wildcard performances. I am much more excited about this week’s shows now. Thank you, American Idol for getting back to basics.

 

 

 

American Idol Semifinals Let’s Get to the Voting Already

Ugh. Not being able to vote in the American Idol Semifinals really makes a difference. It’s just not as fun. And it makes everything look so phony baloney and staged.

I thought I would prefer this second group of contestants but I found last week’s show to be more entertaining. This week my favorites were Olivia Rox and Trent Harmon.

It’s tough to predict what the show plans to do but I’ll guess the ones going through are Dalton (d’uh), Trent, Olivia, Tristan, Lee, CJ and maybe Jenn. I hope they give Jenn another chance but they may think she’s too out there and be worried she’d make it on the wildcard. But if it’s not Jenn, then I’m not sure who it would be. I like Adam Lasher a lot but the show doesn’t seem to like him. They weren’t encouraging to Shelbie or Manny. And Kory – hmm, they don’t seem to think he has the wow factor. So that brings us to Amelia and it comes down to whether they want a quirky girl or a very young quirky girl. Since they already have a very young quirky girl in Jeneve, I think that tilts it towards Jenn.

One more thing: if neither Adam Lasher nor Kory Wheeler makes it through, then none of Haley Reinhart’s duet partners would make it. We all remember how much the show likes to dump on the talented Haley Reinhart, don’t we? Just sayin’.

 

 

 

Singing with Past American Idols

Night Two of the so-called Semi-Finals round of American Idol Season 15 was made up of duets between the contestants and idols from past seasons. Since the viewers weren’t going to have a vote, TPTB had to do something to keep our attention. Another night of solo performances without a viewer vote, wouldn’t cut it.

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Photo Credit: American Idol/Fox

So without any need to think about voting, I settled in to be entertained. And for the most part, I was. I really enjoyed seeing the contestants from the past. Specifically, I liked seeing Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. Fantasia’s duet and on-air discussion with La’Porsha Renae was exciting. Ruben’s duets with Stephany Negrete and Avalon Young reminded me of how smooth he can be. I forgot how Scotty is really a hoot onstage and his duet with Jeneve Rose Mitchell was certainly out there but it was very entertaining. The biggest surprise to me was Lauren Alaina. She has matured vocally and she seemed very comfortable engaging in onstage banter/flirtation which also provided entertainment.

I have to say that I wasn’t really interested in Caleb Johnson or Nick Fradiani and I think that’s a symptom of the fact that the seasons after Season 11 were not really compelling. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed Caleb’s and Nick’s duets with the contestants.

Since the show already knew who they’d be putting through, they were able to give each past idol a duet with at least one contestant who would go through to the next round. So they were all able to end up looking like helpful mentors. The episode had the feeling of a variety show of the past. Again, I found it enjoyable but it was focused more on the singing strengths of the mentors rather than the contestants. It was however, a decent way to fill an episode that would otherwise have been kind of a lame duck episode, given that the audience had no say and it seemed clear that the cuts had already been decided upon by the show.

 

 

American Idol Is This The Semifinals? Or another audition round?

The changes at American Idol this season mean that the viewers do not get to vote during the semifinals. The semifinals are no longer aired live and the contestants are cut solely by the choice of the judges and producers. Watching the so-called semifinals last night, I realized that without an audience vote, this really is just another audition round.

As a result, I wasn’t feeling as invested as usual. No one was looking for my vote last night. I understand why the producers like this change – they get to further handpick the contenders, but it really goes against the original appeal of the show.

Another thing that has changed from the first season is that I remember how cool it was to see Kelly Clarkson singing with Reba McEntire and thinking “wow, this girl gets to sing with Reba – unbelievable!” Now we expect to see the contestants singing with celebrities. I’m excited that they are bringing back past Idols to sing tonight.

Last night, the judges’ comments seemed very scripted. A number of people online said the fix is in. I think that’s true because it’s the whole reason to cut out audience voting. TPTB want to give us a limited number of contestants to choose from. The feedback last night will likely tie in to the eliminations tonight, although I bet there will be at least one person who will be told that they were “saved” from elimination by a successful duet.

Who do I think is safe? I think Jeneve Rose Mitchell, La’Porsha Renae, MacKenzie Bourg and Thomas Stringfellow will be safe. I’m hopeful that Avalon Young will also be safe. It feels like a good bet that Sonika Vaid will make it too. For the remaining slot, I’m going to guess that Emily Brooke will advance despite her performance last night and that it will be linked to a successful duet with Lauren Alaina tonight.

I think James VIII, Jordan Sasser, Jenna Renae, Stephany Negrete and Gianna Isabella will be left out in the cold. If Emily Brooke doesn’t make it, Jenna or Gianna may get that spot, but I’m going with the saved by the duet prediction for Emily.