Thursday, February 17, 2011

Favorites Survive Hollywood; Next Stop Vegas Please

With 100 American Idol contestants left standing after the group round in Hollywood, the last round was looking like it would be a slaughterhouse of cuts. You would think that any major mistakes would get you sent home.

Ha. The Powers That Be still have their favorites, and they're still playing them. For a select few, forgetting the lyrics doesn't matter. For others, it's the end of the road.

Case in point: Haley Reinhart, who completely forgot the words during the group round but still made it to this round to oversing "God Bless The Child". She sang/shouted this song with tons of growls and wails, and you could tell the judges loved it. I, however, did not.

I did, though, love Ashthon Jones, who Ryan said "survived" being in Ashley Sullivan's group. Ashthon sang "And I Am telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. I'm not even going to try to compare her to Jennifer Hudson. On her own, I think Ashthon is great, and I really liked her the two times I've seen her. I think she really stands out in a crowd full of teens.

Thia Megia is one of those teens, and although she sounds more mature than her 15 years, she's still very, very young. I mean, they she's too young to dress herself. See her last couple of wardrobe monstrosities (she looked like she was wearing a children's coloring book). I did like how she sounded on "What A Wonderful World" with her lower register, but she's a power ballad away from oversinging the snot out of a song and making my skin crawl.

Some of the contestants had trouble singing with the band. There wasn't a Jermaine Sellers level of douchiness towards Michael Orland and the band, but Adrian Michael ("What A Wonderful World"), Caleb Johnson ("Living In The City") and Frances Coontz ("Hey Soul Sister" LOL WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!) all had issues.

Clint Gamboa has issues as well - the show is not going to let anyone forget his douche move when he kicked Jacee Badeaux out of his group. Ha. This will hurt him down the line, but for right now, his performance skills are going to keep him afloat for a bit. He went overboard a bit at times with "Georgia On My Mind", but it's clear he can perform.

A couple of girls I don't remember seeing before also sang "Georgia On My Mind" - Kendra Chantelle and Sophia Shorai. Kendra was a bit too soft and piano lounge-y for me, but the judges liked it. Sophia sounded terrific. She has a really interesting voice ... and a really ~interesting flaily stage presence.

After the Battle of the Georgias, there was a Battle of the My Prerogatives between Chris Medina and Carson Higgins. And I think Carson Higgins is becoming one of my favorites to watch. He's so entertaining and FUN. He made me laugh with his stank-singing of "My Prerogative", while Chris ... sang it like Andrew Garcia.

Much has been made from the producers about contestants "hiding behind their instruments". But hey - these are some of the chosen ones, so it's ok! Julie Zorrilla played piano on Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" (I thought it was too slow and kind of boring). Caleb Hawley played guitar on "Sir Duke" (meh). Colton Dixon played piano on Daughtry's "What About Now" (also meh). Brett Loewenstern played guitar and sang Brandi Carlile's "The Story" in a way that made it totally unrecognizable. Robbie Rosen played piano and sang Sara Bareilles' "Gravity", which is one of my favorite songs ever and a song I've been wanting someone to sing on Idol. I wanted to like this more than I actually did. He did fine, but I wasn't wowed by it the way I am every time I hear Sara sing it. Casey Abrams brought out an upright bass to sing "Georgia On My Mind" in a jazzy, kind of awesome way. But is this the kind of singer Idol needs right now as a franchise? NO.

Chelsee Oaks isn't what Idol needs either. With her ex no longer in the competition, she has become expendable because her voice by itself is rather ordinary. And her shaky "Because of You" did her no favors. She was all emotional before singing because Rob was gone, and so was an ill Jacqueline Dunford (her "best friend in the entire world" lolwut?! What kind of shitty friends did you have before this show if someone you just met is your best friend EVER!).

Lauren Alaina was strong and comfortable on "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing", playing up to (ONCE AGAIN) judge Steven Tyler. This is getting old and slightly creepy, Lauren. Stop it.

Jacob Lusk and his four different voices oversung the crap out of "God Bless The Child". I swear, he has split-personality singing. He was scatting, then he went Barry White levels of low, then he wailed really high in his upper register, then he scatted some more, then sang normal, then wailed. I would really like to see some focus from him.

John Wayne Schulz brought a different approach to his song, "Landslide", singing it very straight-forward with little frills. He also had little melody, but I liked that he sang a woman's song and gave it something different.

"Emotional Time Bomb" Ashley Sullivan went kaboom while singing Michael Buble's "Everything". She blanked on the lyrics and totally fell apart, again. She's so unstable. How is she still in the competition?

The producers put together the performance of Stefano Langone ("Sir Duke"), Jovany Barreto ("You Sang To Me") and Jacee Badeaux (David Cook's "Time Of My Life") for reasons unknown. There was no big drama, nothing completely spectacular either. I guess this means they're all going to be going to the next round.

There was high drama with the last two performers (Scotty McCreery and TaTynisa Wilson), though, neither of which could remember the lyrics to "I Hope You Dance". The show mocked Scotty's one-trick-pony singing of that Josh Turner song, and for this round Scotty was forced to sing something else since it wasn't on the list. HA. He chose "I Hope You Dance" even though he didn't know the song, and OMG he really doesn't know anything else, does he? He completely mangled the words, singing lyrics like "nuts of wonder". DYING. OMG. Scotty really needs to be out of this competition and form a Josh Turner tribute band. TaTynisa fared no better, but no one really cares because this is the first time we've seen her on the show. And she's not a chosen one, so I'm sure the judges won't look the other way like they will later with Scotty.

They divided the group into four rooms. In Room 1 were Ashley Sullivan, Brett Loewenstern, Haley Reinhart, Jacee Badeaux, Jacob Lusk, Robbie Rosen, Caleb Hawley, Clint Gamboa, Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, James Durbin, and Chris Medina. DUH. They're all moving on.

Room 2 and Room 3 had the likes of Corey Levoy, Frances Coontz, Caleb Johnson, Mark Gutierrez and Chelsee Oaks, plus a bunch of unnamed, un-pimped people I didn't recognize. Also DUH. They went home.

Room 4 had a large group of people, including Thia Megia, Julie Zarrillo, Naima Adedapo, Carson Higgins, Jovany Barreto, Rachel Zevita, and Scotty McCreery. They were all safe and moving on to the next round. Including Scotty. Who can only sing one song. And who has to sing the Beatles next week in Las Vegas for the last round of auditions. This should be a trainwreck.

Also moving on, as spotted in next week's preview: Jackie Wilson, Jerome Bell, Ashthon Jones, possibly Karen Rodriguez, and possibly White House intern.

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