This week looked like it would be difficult to call. Many of what we considered the best talents were on this first night, and we thought for sure it would be a tough competition. But at the end of it all, the calls were easy to make except for one horrific and poorly done play by the judges. Let’s begin. Here are the performers and our opinions of each one’s performance. We were, for the most part, in tune with the judges, but they did totally screw up a couple of times and we will let you know when those special cases occurred.
1. Jackie Tohn – Jackie chose to do an Elvis Presley song, “A Little Less Conversation”. The song is a classic rock tune and was performed before on the show by Daughtry, ironically, the week he was eliminated despite being the best talent that year hands down. Many said it was Daughtry’s lack of enthusiasm in that performance, but Jackie had the enthusiasm. Her outfit though?? Let’s just say, Jackie, you don’t have the body for that. The tight pants require some more thick to pull off and made the rock moves that were intended to be sexy just look spastic.
That said, the judges were idiotic on their first task. Jackie nailed the song front to back. She was on key the entire song, not a missed or pitchy note. The raspy voice was in character. She wasn’t our best of the night, but she was great and the judges were harsh. Our advice, give up the tights.
2. Ricky Braddy – Ricky has a goofy personality that just doesn’t come across as a star, but out of that rings this powerful voice. That said, stage personality is an easy thing to tweak. If you haven’t got the voice, you can’t do much for it, but we think Ricky does have the voice. He sang “A Song For You” by Leon Russell. Every note was on key, the voice strong, but the personality made it totally forgettable. We are not sure what tweaks can be done to bring Ricky to the front of the line, but someone should do it. His voice is worth it.
3. Alexis Grace – Alexis is a young mom that is better than she looks. Her hair cut is awful, and her outfit was overdone from the “trying to be sexy” perspective, but Alexis took her song and performed the set with star quality. She sang “Never Loved A Man” by Aretha Franklin. Singing an Aretha song can be daunting, but Alexis graced it. She is our number one woman of the night beating out Jackie Tohn for a top three selection. The 3 on our phone was worn out from voting for her so many times.
4. Brent Keith – Brent performed like a true country star. Problem is, country is fun, but doesn’t put you in the league of the top performers, so it didn’t make him stand out. Country is where Carrie Underwood has found her niche, but she won Idol with range and diversity. Brent is doing what he wants to do as a performer, but the song, “Hicktown”, while catchy and fun, didn’t make him stand out.
5. Stevie Wright – Stevie is a very young 17. She has a fresh and bright look and a warm personality. It has had us rooting for her. But it is sad to say, we think she may not survive this week. “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift was not the song to choose here. It is a song intended for teeny-boppers, and not for America as a whole. Stevie shocked us by not hitting a single note. It was painful to watch. Not only did she choose a horrible song by a mediocre artist, she sang it terribly. It just wasn’t wright Stevie.
6. Anoop Desai – OK, goofy is kind for this guy. He is so hard to take seriously, but he can sing. “Angel of Mine” by Monica was not his tune. He has nailed several performances we have seen in past weeks, but this was mediocre and will keep him from getting the top three pass to the next round.
7. Casey Carlson – There is only one thing that could save Stevie Wright in this show, and it is other performers having even worse performances. We didn’t think it possible, but when Casey blurted out “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police, she proved us totally wrong. There is bad, and there is worse. This was worse. None of it was on key, every note had a “Sting” to it. Nothing she did was magic, but if looks alone could win, Casey would take the crown.
8. Michael Sarver – Michael cannot win this competition. He is quite simply not good enough, but he is likable and has a good voice. He did a mediocre version of “I Don’t Want To Be” by Gavin DeGraw. It was a bad choice because if you have watched Idol the past few seasons, some really top performers have nailed this song, so it needs to be nailed ever time you hear it. It is almost a challenge to those that performed it on the show before him. And while Michael is a sweet down home boy, he doesn’t have the edge required to pull off this song.
9. Ann Marie Boskovich – OK, so lose that last name already! Ann is kind of sexy, kind of warm, kind of good. She chose a very difficult song, not because it requires incredible range or vocals, but because it is so very well known. “You Make Me Feel” is a tune that has been belted out by numerous powerful artists and Ann Marie just isn’t that powerful. She did a commendable job, but it wasn’t top ten memorable.
10. Stephen Fowler – Every time we have heard Stephen sing we have been impressed. He has a bluesy style that fits him incredibly well. And tonight, of all songs he could have chosen, he decides to go with “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson. This was like watching BB King sing an Osmonds tune. Nothing could have been fowler and it may have blown an opportunity for Stephen, but we are hopeful it won’t be the last we see him because he is so very talented in his niche.
11. Tatiana Del Toro – Tatiana was certifiably insane the last several weeks leading up to tonight. She has this nauseating laugh and crazed personality, but it may be part of the entertainment factor she brings to the stage. She decided to sing an incredibly difficult song, “I’m Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston. And she sang it quite well. She clearly had her moments during this performance and deserves major kudos after others blew much simpler performances. But we miss the insanity, she was too normal tonight!
12. Danny Gokey – Danny picked a song that makes you think “uh oh” before the singer even starts. The song is not one that matches his style. It is not a fantastic song that brings out a performer. And it is the last song you would think a man would want to sing. He chose “Hero” by Mariah Carey. Big Mistake!!! We thought. We were way wrong.
He took this song and massaged it with his voice into a melody all his own. He hung up the phone on the other contestants and will be the number one performer this week, hands down. This performance demonstrates Danny has the same talent that David Cook has. He can take a song and make it something new and different. Something you want to hear again. And that is the key to fame, making them come back for more. (Check out his unofficial fansite where massive photos and videos can be found!)
Here is the list of performers in reverse order from their performance scores. 1. Casey Carlson (1/10) 2. Stevie Wright (1/10) 3. Stephen Fowler (3/10) 4. Michael Sarver (5/10) 5. Brenth Keith (6/10) 6. Anoop Desai (6/10) 7. Tatiana Del Toro (6/10) 8. Ann Marie Boskovich (6/10) 9. Ricky Braddy (7/10) 10. Jackie Kohn (8/10) 11. Alexis Grace (9/10) 12. Danny Gokey (9/10) [poll id=”58″][poll id=”59″]
UPDATE: 12 February 2009
Joanna Pacitti is out of the competition! We just visited the Idol site and Joanna Pacitti’s name wasn’t on the roll but Felicia Barton’s name was! We poked some more and found this short explanation for it: “It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition. Felicia Barton has replaced Ms. Pacitti as part of the Top 36.”
A source close to the show now tells us that Pacitti was disqualified to “avoid the appearance of impropriety.”
In the past week, tabloids had been reporting on a private relationship between Pacitti and executives of 19 Management – one of the companies which oversees “Idol.”
Just when we thought Idol couldn’t be any more interesting, this BIG news came to us! That should settle down all doubts on Idol’s credibility and issue of conflict of interest.
– o –
UPDATE: We found ourselves going back to this post after the Idol Season 8’s over and it is interesting how the contestants change over the course of time and how idol plays to the “hype” as it got closer to Top 12 picks and the finale. Clearly, nobody saw it coming that KRIS ALLEN was going to be the next American Idol! Even FOX didn’t give him the time of day in the audition. He wasn’t highlighted and nothing about a back story. He wasn’t mentioned in any major news and his name doesn’t come up as early front-runner. So we said here as he was picked that he was “Forgettable at this point. Maybe that will change. But he is through.”
He is the most reluctant winner we have ever seen, saying live in front of millions of people, after being announced as winner that “Adam deserves this.” We think Adam should’ve won, Kris thinks Adam should’ve won. But hey, doesn’t really matter who wins right? It is coming out with a commercial album that makes hit after hit wins in the end. Idol title or not.
W hen it gets to this stage, it is difficult to eliminate people. Many are quite good and you are not sure if they got the break they needed they could get to the finals.
In general, this phase will weed out some that should stay and some that should go, but it rarely knocks out anyone that we think could be the winner or even in the top 10. Tonight was not that different, except maybe for one or two that we really thought might have a shot.
We would like to explain our title. The problem with this show is one performer that consistently forgot her words, to the point where in one performance, she wasn’t even singing the concocted babbling sound she was making. What makes her more pathetic is that she is already a recording star. We question whether a person that already has a performance history should be in the show to start with, but if they can’t even remember the words they should be sent packing. As we understand it though, this girl has connections within Idol, which makes her selection to go on to the next round even more pathetic. We will get to her later.
The show did a format change where some people had to sing on the spot in a competition against another contestant. It added a bit of spark, but at the same time to make these people remember words to a song on the spot without rehearsal time when they put through a girl that didn’t remember a single complete verse seems totally unfair.
1. Anoop Desai – The ulitimate singing geek. We have no idea how he could ever be made into a star because of his look, but man, he can sing. He is in!
2. Von Smith – Von Smith did a Stevie Wonder song in the last round and he did it well. His primary problem is he is a shouter. He seemingly cannot control his voice. He did the Stevie song well, but if he gets challenged with a song that is more low key, we think he will find himself back on the bus. But he through this week.
3. Alex Wagner Trugman – Placed into a sing-off with Cody Sheldon, Alex pulled off a mean vocal to take it away from Cody. We don’t think either is a top 10 singer, but Alex is a notch closer than Cody.
4. Adam Lambert – Adam did a Cher song last week. He sounded like a female impersonator. He has an incredible voice, but he is a guy and, call us biased, but we prefer guys to sing like guys. His voice and range got him through, but we think he has to work a bit on his sexuality to be liked enough by America to win. He is through.
5. Taylor Vaifanua – Taylor sang the roof off last week and there was no question for us. Judges agreed. She will be with us into the next phase.
6. Jasmine Murray – Short and sweet, she is talented and she is in.
7. Arianna Afsar – Great singer, great look, very possibly a top ten contender.
8. Casey Carlson – We are on the fence right now with Casey, but she is through.
9. Megan Corkrey – She is In. We never got to hear her sing anything in Hollywood!
10. Stevie Wright – Another huge favorite. She is definitely top 10 material if she plays her cards well.
11. Mishavonna Henson – Not a favorite, but she is good enough to be in this crowd.
12. Joanna Pacitti – Here is total Idol hypocrisy. This woman completely blew every set she did. She was put through only because she has inside connections on Idol. She may be better than we think, and she is practically a professional, but if the judges are going to eliminate other talents when they cannot remember their lyrics, they should not put through their favorites. It is sad she got through when others deserving and harder working did not.
13. Kendall Beard – Kendall has a great overall presentation when she sings and with her personality. She isn’t a champion, but she could pull a dark horse ride into the top 10 on those traits.
14. Jenn Korbee got into a singoff and lost to Kristen McNamara. It was close and we are not sure of this decision. Neither was Simon. Still Kristen can wale when she gets the right tune.
15. Alexis Grace wins worst haircut in the show this year. It looks like someone took a cheap pair of barber shears to her head and two cans of spray paint. But she is a top ten singer and going through.
16. Scott MacIntyre – Good vocalist, not great. He is through.
17. Lil Rounds – She is round all right. We caught Ryan Seacrest glancing at her derriere after she was put through. Lil has a great smile and carries herself perfectly. She is top ten all the way, but she better watch out for Ryan.
18. Frankie Jordan could not hit the notes strongly enough in a sing off with Jesse Lanseth. Jesse outsang her and moved on sending Frankie packing. We think this one a shame because she deserved it more than Joanna Pacitti even if Joanna turns out to be better in the long run.
19. Allison Iraheta – At 16, this girl has a future that is nearly infinite. We are not sure if she can carry the pressure to the top 10, but she is in.
20. Danny Gokey – Our favorite to take it all.
21. Ricky Braddy – In
22. Matt Giraud – Was there a doubt?
23. Ju’Not Joyner – Not a top 10, but definitely top 30.
24. Jorge Nunez – Great voice. Needs a less in how to dress, but he could get into that top 10.
25. Brent Keith – Another of the wardrobe challenged, but his singing got past his T-Shirt attire.
26. Stephen Fowler – Stephen had a battle with his lyrics last week, but his voice is so soothing and smooth, if he can get past it, he is an easy score for the top 10. Unlike Joanna Pacitti who did nothing right, Stephen just got nervous on his last performance. If he wasn’t so good though, he could have been sent packing.
27. Nick Mitchell – He is a crazy and he is funny. He is the champion of the freaks, and he plays the part to a T. He is not a strong enough singer to compete into the top 10, but he is a strong enough performer because he is such a nut it could get votes.
28. Jackie Tohn – Doesn’t that sound like a stage name to you? She has a great voice that sounds much like Janis Joplin, but proved her range last week. Top 10.
29. Tatiana Del Toro – Simon said it all. “Tatiana, just try for once not to be annoying”. She was still annoying, but she also is a winner and got through.
30. Nathaniel Marshall, who is a bit of a freak, beat out Jackie Midkiff in a sing off to move on. This one was well off the mark. Jackie outsang Nathaniel and again, he was a performer more deserving than Joanna Pacitti.
31. Jeanine Vailes – Not unanimous, but through.
32. Kai Kalama – He can definitely sing and could be a top ten performer, but there is something in his appearance that is holding him back from the top 10 for us.
33. Anne Marie Boskovich – A great singer with a nice look. Not top ten for us, but definitely deserved to get through here and did.
34. Kris Allen – Forgettable at this point. Maybe that will change. But he is through.
35. Matt Breitzke – Through on a staged sing-off.
36. Michael Sarver – Also through on a staged sing-off.
American Idol tonight was slightly better than the lackluster and horriblyly confusing Hollywood round one and two last week. It started off with the 72 remaining hopefuls divided into 4 groups in 4 separate holding rooms awaiting their fate and like the movie “Memento” drove us back to the beginning, then forward, then back.
The contestants were to sing solo onstage with back-up singers, live instruments and the whole shebang. They could choose to play their own instruments if they wanted. Ryan Seacrest initially said that the contestants were free to choose any song they liked but the songs repeated itself again and again as the show went on so it became obvious they were given a song list after all.
Hera are the names of those who made it past the judges’ deliberation in round three with some notes on some.
First up who made it was 1 Adam Lambert. He sang great except that he was trying to be a Cher sound-alike singing “Believe” and it just became too gay for comfort as the performance progressed. It wasn’t good at all. His background is in Professional Theater and his performance came off very theatrical not Idol material. If he makes it to the Top 36, we’re not sure if America would welcome a Broadway-American Idol crossover.
2 Matt Giraud was next. Performed a raspy and soothing “Georgia on my Mind” topped with his own piano accompaniment enough to impress all three judges, Paula, Randy and Kara- giving him the standing O.
3 Jamar Rogers sang Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah.” He didn’t sing it bad, even gave the song his own twist but we’re not sure America is going to want to keep hearing “California Drea-e-e-e-ming” or “what you do to m-e-e-e” style of singing. It could grow old fast.
4 Danny Gokey’s “I Hope You Dance” has yet again put a giddy, school-girl with a crush, twinkly-eyed look on Paula Abdul. She gave him a standing ovation even before Danny finished his song. Danny Gokey as we have initially said is a very strong contender this season.
As well as 8 Kendall Beard (performed Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”), 9 Stevie Wright (sang Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly”),
and 10 Kristin McNamara -who belted it out with a huge Kelly Clarkson hit “Because of You”.
11 Lil Rounds did a flawless rendition of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got you” -another strong contender.
12 Mishavonna Henson who we’re seeing for the first time was a Season 7 hopeful who got cut during last year’s round two in Hollywood Week. At least she stayed thru round three this year.
13 Jackie Tohn was shown playing her guitar but we never got to hear her sing! She made it along with 14 Frankie Jordan, 15 Alexis Grace and 16 Kenny Hoffpauer.
Say what?? The over-confident, mentally unstable(?) 17 Tatiana “annoying laugh” del Toro was in Top 54!
So was 18 Nathaniel “Emote King” Marshall who played his own guitar and sang Rihanna’s “Disturbia” while Idol played a montage of all his backstage drama in Hollywood.
This is where it got shocking! 19 Joanna Pacitti, a recording artist on her own couldn’t remember the lyrics to “If I Ain’t Got You.” 20 Casey Carlson, an early favorite forgot the words to Jordin Sparks “Tattoo.” It was painful to watch and hear them struggle as they fumble and eat the words of the songs. We now question the readiness of these two would be Top 12 contender. Of course Idol “saved” them here but if they couldn’t get over the nerves hitting them- it will be over for their Idol dreams.
21 Stephen Fowler, another good soulful singer also forget the words to Daughty’s “Home” and asked for a “Brooke White.” And he messed up again. He gave up, walks off stage and still managed to get into the Top 54!
We don’t really know what to make of 22 Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle. He is one character who could really sing but doesn’t fit all decorum of an American Idol. He sang “Georgia On My Mind” as his alter ego again and was entertaining but we really think he belongs in another show.
23 Ju’not Joyner is another hopeful whose only now making his TV appearance. He added some soul into “Hey There Delilah”, breezes through Top 54.
24 Jasmine Murray gave a disappointing rendition of “Tattoo”. We expected more from her.
If 25 Kai Kalama didn’t make such a good impression on his audition, we would have sent him packing. His voice is going. He needs to do something about it- FAST! The judges gave him a break and passed him through.
26 Anne Marie Boskovich, 27 Michael Sarver, 28 Arianna Afsar (wasn’t given airtime on this episode), 29 Matt Breitzke, 30 Cody Shelman, 31 Felicia Barton, 32 TK Hash, 33 Alexander Wagner-Trugman, 34 Allison Iraheta, 35 Angela Martin, 36 Ashley Hollister, 37 Brent Keith-Smith, 38 Chris Chatman, 39 Derek Lavers, 40 Devon Baldwin, 41 Jackie Midkiff,
42 Jeanine Vailes, 43 Reggi Beasley, 44 John Twiford, 45 Lacey Brown, 46 Jessica Langseth, 47 Megan Corkrey, 48 Von Smith, 49 Perrie Cataldo, 50 Ricky Braddy, 51 Shera Lawrence, 52 Keating Holland, 54 Taylor Vaifanua completes the list of Top 54.
Among those who were cut: Michael Castro, India Morrison, Kaylan Loyd, Muna Hiluf and Leneshe Young.
Tomorrow, the Top 36 is revealed in a 2-hour show! Oh brother. See you…
The early rounds of eliminations in Hollywood don’t draw the audience of the latter shows. Perhaps it is for the same reason some fast forward through a movie to the more exciting scenes. This part just isn’t all that thrilling.
The show also, at this juncture, misses out on why some people are eliminated and others made it through. We see that many names make it, but we don’t see them perform. Similarly, many are cut, and we don’t know the reason because their audition was snuffed from the television airwaves.
Nonetheless, we do get a glimpse of the real stars at times, and this week there were several that stood out as being on the path to the finals.
Lil Rounds, who is indeed rather round, is from Memphis and wowed the judges. We thought she was a bit harsh at times, but there is no question, if she smooths out her tonality, she could be in the top 10.
Dennis Brigham of Glen Carbon Illinois looked like a Halloween character while performing, and didn’t have the vocals to be here. He was real rude to the judges on his way out the door and back to his job in floor maintenance. But we do give Dennis one thing, he called Simon’s wardrobe right on the money.
Nathaniel Marshall of Malone, NY was fairly good on the vocals, but was boring. His emotional outburst was over the top and embarrassing. We don’t think he has the talent to make the top 10, Top 36 even but he survived round one of Hollywood.
Anoop Desai from Chapel Hill, NC is incredibly talented and the voice that emerges when he sings is clearly finals material. If he makes it in the industry, though, we think he may have to change his name. We just can’t picture people talking about going to an Anoop concert or seeing Anoop live!
Jasmine Murray of Starkville, MS was a killer in dress, form and function. She moves on and also looks like she could well be finals bound.
Rose Flack, well, what can we say. Rose is from Rathdrum, ID and is as different an individual as we have seen make it on the show. Her voice is unique, but it may not be powerful enough to get to the finals. Whether her unique tones can carry her is difficult to call, but we will see her again, because she broke through tonight. From her recent attire, though, we are thinking Rose could be performing for two if you get our drift. (She didn’t make it in Round 2 of Hollywood week!)
Stephen Fowler of Beachwood, OH sings almost like a pro. He has range and power in his voice, but knows how to harness it so it isn’t painful when he makes his delivery. He is in and we could easily see him in the finals.
Jorge Nunez from Carolina, Puerto Rico can wale. He seems a bit odd in his attire, but he could sing anyway. Finalist? Not sure just yet, but certainly worth watching.
Next up is someone we have not liked. Von Smith of Greenwood, MO. We find him just the opposite of Stephen Fowler. While Fowler controls his voice, Smith seems unable to do so. When challenged, it is more like he is yelling at the mike. If he can’t tone it down and take control, he won’t make it much further.
Nick Mitchell was back as “Norman Gentle” from Stratton, VT, or Mars, we are not sure which. He is comical and maybe should come back on Last Comic Standing, but he survived this week. His voice isn’t top notch though, and the talent is broad this year, so we don’t see him getting past the next round.
Jackie Tohn of Silver Lake, CA has the name to be a rock star. She has that raspy Janis Joplin style voice and pulls it off well with a Janis performance style as well. We shall see if she can break out of that niche when challenged and push farther. We do like her, but we are not sure if a niche style like hers can persevere on Idol for long.
Jamar Rogers of Milwaukee, WI sang the same song as at his original audition and made it through. We don’t see him as a finalist or going to the Top 36, but he is unique.
Our favorite in this competition to take it all is the next performer and a friend of Jamar. Danny Gokey, also from Milwaukee sounds like he is already making professional CDs. He is a Church Music Teacher, and he is teaching everyone at Idol music. While he doesn’t come across as arrogant, he does have a confidence about him. He knows he is good. We do too. If we had to pick a winner today, he would be it.
Now it was time for the ultimate performer. Bikini Girl!! Katrina Darrell was fairly good. Not outstanding, but certainly worth a pass onto the next round. Paula and Kara seem not to like her, but we think that is all a staged act to keep things interesting. Katrina wore more clothing today and we think she may have to go back to the bikini to stay in the competition to the Top 36.
Jeremy Michael Sarver of Jasper, TX is a big lad, and he is also a great singer. We haven’t gotten enough of a feel for him and have not liked his choice of songs, but think he has a shot at continuing for a bit. He was good enough to push through this night.
Jesus Valenzuela of North Highlands, CA was not as fortunate. We thought he did as well as some others that made it, so were a bit surprised. He wasn’t the next American Idol, but he ain’t bad, so we feel he was shortchanged.
David Osmond, of Provo, UT could have made it using a different route than Idol, but he would have been medicre. If he makes it on Idol, he will be more famous. We may see more talents saving themselves for a run at Idol rather than the standard route because it is more cost effective. He will likely be a finalist. (UPDATE: We were wrong!)
Emily Wynn-Hughes of Los Angeles, CA is of a similar vein. She has sung and performed professionally. But this route, if she can pull it off, can make her a much bigger star than she would otherwise be. No surprises, the pros get through to the next round and will likely be finalists unless something really really goes wrong along Hollywood week. (Something did go wrong!)
There were others like Casey Carlson who made it that we didn’t hear. We are sorry we cannot comment on them. But we will as soon as we hear them.