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.
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.
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.