Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 12 girls performance recap

Tuesday night, the Top 12 +1 boys got the season started. Tonight, it's the girls' turn to wow America. Ryan opens the show with a lineup of the Top 12 girls to his left and right. Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan, and we are off.

The boys are in the mosh pit acting silly.

Here we go

Chelsea Sorrell -  "Cowboy Casanova" by Carrie Underwood

She's a country girl, and she shoots, fishes, rides an ATV in the mud, and goes to WalMart. She hopes to make her Mom and Daddy proud. Carrie she's not, but she's got the appropriate growls and such. She's wearing a red pleather bolero jacket and sparkly tunic with black tights and high, black boots. I'm calling fodder on this one.

Randy says Chelsea can sing, but he isn't sure this was the best choice. He thinks she needs to separate herself out and establish herself as her self. "Good way to start it off." J'Lo says she's a huge fan, but thinks the song sounded nasally. "It sucks to go first," she says. She wants Chelsea's "true voice" to come through. Steven thinks she needs to watch her phrasing.

What? No lavish praise for Chelsea? Have the judges had some kind of epiphany and suddenly realized they are there to offer some sort of constructive criticism?

Erika Van Pelt -"What about Love" - Heart

Erika's from my home state of Rhode Island. She's riding a mini-bike in January. Erika tells us she's been carrying the same speakers for ten years. I want to see more of RI. Singing second is not good. She has a strong voice, good breath control, nice phrasing, and good pitch. She's comfortable on the stage - very polished. Maybe too much so, and this song is tired and old. Probably should have tried out for the 'Voice.'

Steven says there's something magical about having her kind of confidence. "It breathes wings into the song." J'Lo also points out how comfortable Erika was. She wishes she'd pushed it a little bit. "Next time, let loose on us." Randy says J'Lo is right, but loves that she showed confidence with restraints. He says he heard an Adele vibe. I think Adele is the 2012 theme. Ryan asks her if she was holding back. She says she might have held back melodically. I think she did fine. Of course, I'm going to be biased here.

Jen Hirsch - "One and Only" by Adele

Jen actually has her own apartment and a dog. And a boyfriend. And her family has a vineyard. Can Bachelor Ben be far behind?  I don't want to hate Adele, but if we are going to have to listen to her music all season, I just might. Jen's a competent singer, a bit over-dramatic, and her outfit (a short black dress that looks like a nightgown) is not the least bit flattering. She sharps out at the end and actually, didn't quite nail it.

Of course the judges will love it. J'Lo says Jen is the first person who went for it. Steven says confidence makes a voice fly. "You got what it takes." Randy says he's always loved Jen and she should never go into that soul place. I think she's a lock, but who knows. Jen says she wanted to do something relevant and went through something similar. She's about a head taller than Ryan.

Ryan wonders how the girls stack up against the boys. Randy says the judges were a little soft on some of the boys. No, Randy, you started reading the blogs and realized you all sounded like pandering fools.

Brielle Von Hugel - "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding.

She's an every-day kind of normal girl from Staten Island (with an awesome stage mom). Mom is front and center.  She starts out sitting with the boys. The key is too low for her and she can't find her voice at all. This is pretty embarrassing. When she finally gets into a key she can sing, she's pitchy and all over the place. J'Lo looks horrified. All the stomping and swaying in the world isn't going to save this one kids.

Steven says she did it and has a great sense of the blues. Beautiful? Really. J'Lo loves that Brielle is a true performer. "You eat it up. You understand what it is to entertain." Randy says he was a little worried about the key, but when she got into her sweet spot, he said, like yo.  He compares her to Janis Joplin. Really? I thought we were going to be a little harder tonight.

The first of the Hallie/Hollie/Haley/Baylies is up next. They're all blonde too. I absolutely cannot tell who is who at this point in the competition. I may have to name them something else.

Hallie Day - "Feelin' Good"

Hallie is a former waitress with big dreams. She has a husband and a little bitty house. Her marriage keeps her centered. At least Hallie is a mature singer who's found her voice. She makes hideous faces though. For a moment I thought she was going to bump and grind. I'm not digging the outfit either. She should be wearing a gown, not jeans. She does some hair flips. Fodder.

No standing ovations yet, but some people are chanting "Hallie, Hallie." J'Lo says Hallie looks like a star, but lost control, but found it. Conflicting testimony here. Steven thinks Hallie is beautiful with an old-fashioned voice. Randy asks Hallie what kind of artist she wants to be. She wants to be old school and soul. Oh that's popular these days. You are not Adele, Hallie. Nope. Methinks she is a goner.

Skylar Laine - "Stay with Me" by Faces

Another small-town country girl. Her parents own some kind of dumpy little white store that's been in the family for 70 years. Skylar hopes to save the store. Well, this is different. Girl's got a lot of energy and at least she's not boring. But this seems a strange song for a teen. I don't know.

Randy says this is the first time there's been a rockin' performin' country girl on the show - Reba mixed with Kelly mixed with Tina. Randy recorded this with Travis Tritt. So it's a country song now? J'Lo calls this a great performance. Steven says she was on fire, a pistol. "Keep it up girl." Skylar thanks the Lord and giggles.

Baylie Brown - "Amaze" by Lonestar

Baylie was a cheerleader and ran track in high school. We meet her BFF (grandpa). No one told him she made Top 24. At least Baylie is dressed appropriately (long red gown with a slit up to here). The song is dull, her performance somewhat uninspired, and she has some cringe-worthy notes in the middle. Of the interchangeable blondes, Hallie was better.

Steven isn't sure this was the best song she could have picked and he's heard her sing better. J'Lo agrees and says it didn't seem like Baylie had control. She felt like Baylie could have had a better moment. Randy says she never seized control of the song. They all say she looks amazing, but that ain't gonna save. Goodbye Baylie.

Will this ever end.

Ryan chats with the judges about catching one's breath while wearing a tight dress.

Hollie Cavanaugh - "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera

Another blonde Hallie/Hollie/Haley/Baylie country girl. She's from Texas. Yawn. But I am surprised. This blonde country girl isn't really country at all. She's got a pretty big, mature voice, and even though the song is totally cornball, it's age appropriate and shows off her rather big voice. Best so far.

Steven says she is one of his favorites. "Just beautiful." J'Lo says she told her last year if she came back she could win it. She looks forward to America seeing what she can "do do." Shoot me now. Randy says Hollie is one of their favorites. He wishes she'd let go a little bit, but tried to slay a big dragon... or something.

What's odd is that Hollie has what seems almost to be a speech impediment when she talks, but her singing is spot on. I hope Hollie wins the battle of the Hallie/Hollie/Haley/Baylies.

Haley Johnsen - "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" - Eurythmics

The final member of the Hallie/Hollie/Haley/Baylie conglomerate, blonde Haley was a barrista in Oregon. What the hell is she wearing? Looks like a big black fish net over a short black vest and shorts. I can't even concentrate on the howling and butchering of this song that is taking place. OMG, this is horrific. There are no words. Reed Grimm likes it though.

J'Lo hopes America could hear the special things she was doing with her voice. "You have skillz." Yeah, skillz. Steven babbles something about her pulling it through. "The money shots were spot on." Randy tell us the truth. He says it was a "bit of a nightmare instead of a dream." Thank you Randy. Thank you.

Haley says she loves the song and is not apologetic at all. That's it for Haley of the famous Hallie/Hollie/Baylie/Haleys!

Shannon Magrane - "Go Light Your World" by Chris Rice

Shannon's father is in the house and Steven is frightened. Shannon is six foot tall and plays volleyball. She reminds me of Ayla Brown. Shannon is wearing a long white glittery beauty pageant gown. She has a surprisingly strong voice. The song is age-appropriate and she belts it out. The vocals are a tad raggedy, but at least she's singing with some degree of conviction. Vocally, she's reminiscent of Jordin Sparks.

Randy says, "What a way to come out swinging." He loves her vibrato. J'Lo says Shannon sings with such passion for an OMG 16-year old. "You started out low and gospelly and then my reality check bounced," says Steven.

What's this show coming up on Saturday with J'Lo and ex-Mark? Why are they working together? Will they fight? By the weekend, I'm going to need a break from TV. I still have three 'Voice' blind audition rounds to watch.

Local commercial featuring Arinze Onuaku! Hey big guy! Can you tell I'm losing it here. Even my dogs are getting antsy, chasing each other around the house.

Jessica Sanchez - "Love You I Do" by Jennifer Hudson

Jessica's been dreaming of this opportunity since she was five. She gets a sitdown with Ryan and tells us her vocal chords are swollen. She thinks she can pull it off. She's OMG 16 as well. She loves to shop. It's her hobby and workout. Her cousin is her biggest supporter. She feels like she's in a dream.

Maybe it's the mike tonight, because when she starts out, I can hardly hear her. This little girl can sing and she's a slick performer as well. I was impressed by her last audition, and I really like this performance, Jessica works the stage like a pro and has such confidence. Best of the night by a long shot. Seriously. She gets a standing O from the judges and Randy is hollering "Yo, yo, yo."

Jessica is almost crying. Randy says he don't know about no doctor, but that girl can really sing. "One of the best of the last two nights." The confidence, the control - like how old is she? J'Lo loves the punctuation she puts out with her body. "Really beyond your years." Steven thinks she has perfect pitch and poise.

Jessica is overwhelmed. She'd better make the cut.

Elise Testone - "One and Only" by Adele

Elise works out every morning at the beach. She lives in Charleston, SC, but is originally from Jersey. She says she needs to be exposed. Wait a minute. Didn't Jen sing this song? What? But Elise starts out at the piano and then rips into the song, leaving poor Jen Hirsch in the dust. Eben loves it.

There should be a rule about two people singing the same song. 

Steven says she blew it out of the water. J'Lo says she was impressed by Elise's tone and that she may be the best singer here. She hopes America got it. Randy also hopes we "get" her. Hey, if we don't there's always the wildcard. And Randy lets us know we don't have to get her all at once.

Elise says she's dreamed of singing this song since right after she made it through. She says the only time she gets in trouble is when she thinks.

Best and Worst

Best for me was Jessica, followed by Elise, Shannon, Erika, Hollie, and Jen. I'd like to eliminate Brielle, Haley, Hallie, Baylie, Skylar, and Chelsea. But, I'm afraid, at least one country girl is going to have to go through, and I guess that would be Skylar.

The judges pretty much agree.

Ryan asks the judges about the guys - Josh, DeAndre, PP2, and Adam seem to be the top judges faves.We must have some time to kill tonight.

The race to the 'Idol' title is officially on, says Ryan. And, I guess, we learn the Top 12 or 13 or whatever tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 12 Boys

How will Heejun do in his first live performance?

Another season of live 'Idol' performances kicks off tonight and I'm back to do a play-by-play right here on Foxydonna on Idol. The Top 12 boys perform tonight, and we'll also learn the identity of the 13th boy - either Jermaine Jones, David Leathers, Richie Law, or Johnny Kaiser. I'm assuming tonight's big "twist" will be the return of a 13th girl, but who knows.

Let's get this party started, shall we?

Ryan opens the show by walking down the line of the contestants. Scary voiceover man is back, introducing the judges and then Ryan. Ryan welcomes us. "We have finally hit the big time!" He shows off the new stage and the band does a riff. Ryan is wearing a gray suit, with a vest, blue shirt, and no tie. Jennifer gets a laugh over her dress, and Steven Tyler gets some love. The girls are in the mosh pit.

The boys come out and the crowd goes wild. Ryan intros them. They blow kisses and mug for the camera. Ryan tells us we'll find out who the mystery guy is. Ryan tells us the guys got to pick any song they want and got a camera to take home.

First up is Reed Grimm. He shows off his nieces and cheese. He tells us he's going to work the crowd into a frenzy.

Reed Grimm - "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5

Reed doesn't really have the swagger or the moves. Seems like they bleeped something out there. Reed, did thou sweareth? The song is actually a pretty good choice, though as he has the scat down. Reed hits a drum kit mid-song. This might get old after a while.  He reminds me a bit of Casey Abrams, vocally at least. Odd moves like Paul McDonald.

Adam Brock - "Think" by Aretha Franklin

Adam shows off his wife, kid, house and dog back home in Pennsylvania. He's got a degree as a chef from the Cordon Bleu. He's cooking sausages. He reminds us there's a large black woman trapped in his body. White chocolate.

Adam's dressed all in black. He lumbers around the stage, playing it for all it's worth. He reminds me of Gokey, sort of out of place and overdoing it. He does have decent vocal control, but really, that's about it.  I predict Adam will be out after this week.

Steven says Adam is setting the bar high right out of the box. J'Lo loved the big finish and says he definitely delivered at the end. Randy loved the throwback vibe. He points out the Steeler "terrible towel" Adam has hanging out of his back towel.

DeAndre Brackensick - "Reasons" by Earth, Wind and Fire

DeAndre is a senior in high school. We see videos of his in a "76 Trombone" outfit. DeAndre breaks out the falsetto. Now he's a cutie, that's for sure, and as we've learned, that can take someone pretty far in this competition. But in reality, he has a pretty good voice and good moves. Good song choice. He's clearly going on. Mom and Dad are delighted.

J'Lo says she understands the screaming girls. Steven says this was a great song and J'Lo gushes how happy she is that he made it back this year. "It's gonna be such an amazing year for you." Randy says DeAndre is one of the most commercial guys out of the box and is ready to go. "Dude, pulling for you. Loving you, loving you."

Two little girls come up on the stage and DeAndre's spot in the Top 12 is assured. I'm wishing he'd done some hair whipping.

Colton Dixon "Decode" by Paramore

Colton shows off his studio in the basement of his parents house. He also tells us that his hair grows fast. He doesn't explain the skunk stripe. He told us he wasn't going to play the piano, right? But he does anyway. But then he stands up. Colton's playing the rock card hard. He shouts and stands on the piano and finishes off kneeling on it. Big finish with scary lighting and full frontal face ala James Durbin and Lambert.

Randy is happy Colton is back and says there are so many flavors already. J'Lo loves Colton's heart and wants America to feel it. She calls him a relevant artist. Steven says last year Colton didn't have a chance to show his real talent. Colton asks the audience for validation. Another one who's going to make it to the Top 12.

Jeremy Rosado -"Gravity" by Sara Bareilles

Jeremy gets a little sit down time with Ryan. We see the office where he worked and is known as "Jer Bear!" Jeremy's rather generic. Seems like a good guy, but this probably wasn't the best choice. He's certainly earnest. But not different, really. We'll call him fodder.

Steven says the song was beautiful and he couldn't have picked a better song. He praises Jeremy's kindness. J'Lo says some people are blessed from God with a voice that affects people. She says she loves it. Jeremy is touched. Randy says, "America meet Jeremy." He says he was impressed by the tender moments and the booming moments. He loves Jeremy.

Aaron Marcellus - "Never Can Say Goodbye" by the Jackson 5

Aaron's a struggling artist trying to make it in New York. We see him running for a bus. Aaron has good vocal control and tone, but Simon would have called him "Broadway."  His runs are solid and he has good range. He seems very comfortable onstage. I actually like this guy. But, I'm afraid he's fodder.

The judges give him a standing ovation. Aaron smiles broadly. He was good. Randy says, "That's how you sing some vocals, man." He calls him an old-school veteran. J'Lo says Randy said, "Boy can sing." She thinks he can sing anything. Steven says Aaron's the "whole package" (heh). Aaron says the experience was "Wow."

Chase Likens -  "Storm Warning" by Hunter Hayes

Chase is a college student who is majoring in theater. He rides a bike and loves to whistle. Dogs run to him when he whistles. He also shows off his horses. "I'm as country as a country boy can be. And that's no lie. The girls like him. He also seems very comfortable on the stage. His theater training is paying off.  He's very good.  Nice little twirl at the end. Perfect song choice. Super performance. And I don't like country.

The audience loves him too. Steven welcomes Chase to 'American Idol.' J'Lo comments on Chase's movie star good looks. She says he's grown so much through the competition. Randy says Chase has skills and is a good looking guy like he and Steven. "You're ready." Chase is very tall and makes Ryan looks runty!

Creighton Fraker - "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper

Creighton is a preacher's kid who left small town Idaho to live in the big city (New York). He says he's unique and different, and "you have to be who you are." Creighton starts out on a stool. He has a bit of a lisp.  A rainbow lights up the Adam Lambert Memorial Stairway. He's a performer and I sense he's sending a message to America. Good for you Creighton Fraker. It's about time.

J'Lo says America's got their work cut out for them. She can't imagine how we're going to choose. She doesn't want Creighton to go. She lurves him. Steven says Cyndi is home crying. "You did real good today." Randy says they found some incredible singers. We're losing six tonight? Really.

Phillip Phillips  - "In the Air Tonight" - Genesis

PP's father is so proud he's gonna "bust." PP doesn't want to be famous just for fame. He wants to make great music. He's changed up he song so that it's pretty much unrecognizable. This guy comes across as a total bumpkin, but he's actually more of an indie type. He's certainly a good candidate for the fifth WGWG 'Idol' winner.  Think Dave Matthews.

J'Lo tells us we should know the4 name Phillip Phillips. She says they came back from the road talking about PP. "There's no doubt you're one of the special talents we found on the road." Steven says he has a crazy kind of voice and it's not easy making his voice fit other people's songs. Randy says he wasn't jumping up and down about the rework of the melody. "Just stick with the melody," J'Lo adds. PP, Sr. says his boy "blew it out." I love PP Sr.

Eban Franckewitz - "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele

This song is a bit too old for 15-year old Eben. He get the big flame background. He's flat and pitchy, and it's a hot mess. I think he knows it too. Hey kiddo, you only get one chance and this, and methinks you blew it. Eben strickes me as the kind of kid who's never been criticized.

Randy says Eben is mad young and cool, calm and collected. He says it wasn't all perfect, but he collected himself and nailed it at the end. J'Lo says maybe he couldn't hear himself, but the he held on and put a bravado at the end.  Steven says Eben has a great voice. He points out the pitchiness in the middle, but all in all it was a good performance. Eben says he's been taking it one step at a time all the way through. "Hopefully, America likes me and puts me through to the next round. "

Heejun Hun - "Angel" by Sarah Mclachlan

We see his home in Flushing and meet some of the special needs kids he works with. I love Heejun! The swaybots are swaying, and I'm sure J'Lo has tears in her eyes. Heejun has a strong, rich voice, but this song wasn't quite the right fit. He's got some issues with enunciation, but who cares.  The audience certainly doesn't. Me, I don't care what he sings, he's my Idol this year no matter where he places.

J'Lo says Heejun's voice is as smooth as silk, but doesn't think that song showed it off. Steven sings "Heejun, you sure can sing." He doesn't think it was the right song. Randy agrees. But he's happy they found Heejun. So am I. He says he picked the song because he wants us all to know we can find our angels. 

Joshua Ledet - "You Pulled Me Through" by Jennifer Hudson

Apparently some fans have named Joshua "Mantasia." This is not a good thing. We see Joshua at home making smoothies. Joshua has the gospel edge and this is a perfect song for him. Powerful, powerful performance. Wow. You don't see that too often on 'Idol.' Not since the season of J'Hud and Fantasia. Wow.

Randy asks for an Amen. He says he loves him and says this is what singing is about. He loves great voices and says, "You are definitely one of them." J'Lo wants to punch him. She thinks he could be a gospel star. "It's a privilege to sit here." Steven says he can't believe where Joshua went and came back. Joshua says he knows the struggle he and his family has been through and hopes he can help someone else get through it.

Now for the big reveal. And it's Jermaine Jones! Yay! God, he's positively huge. He says when he got the call, he was overjoyed and very grateful. Mom wasn't going to answer because she didn't know who was calling.

Jermaine Jones - "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross

I love this guy and love, love, love this song. Jermaine has a rich, stong, deep, solid voice and sings this with so much emotion. I am blown away.

The judges stand and I have to admit I have tears in my eyes. Randy says, "Very, very nice." He says there has never been a deep baritone on the show before. J'Lo says he has a special voice and spirit. Steven thanks Jermaine for proving why they brought him back. Mama comes up to the stage and give him a hug. I so want him to make the cut.

Best and Worst

This may have been the best male semi-final round ever. My favorites were Aaron, DeAndre, Joshua, and Jermaine. Is it too much to hope for four black guys in the Top 12? Maybe. Least favorite Eben, Adam, Colton, and Creighton. Middle of the pack, Heejun, Chase, and Jeremy.  I have no idea who'll be leaving. No idea at all.