Sunday, February 28, 2016

American Idol Season 15: February 24, 2016

Wild Card Round - February 24, 2016

In an unprecedented move, four of the Top 14 singers are advanced "unanimously" by the judges while the remaining 10 singers will compete for America's Votes (TM). Even the description of the show in the TV guide listing is different and more closely mirrors past seasons. So what happened? A last minute change? Tomorrow night, four singers will go home and the Top 10 of Season 15 will be solidified.

Manny Torres - "Master Blaster" (Stevie Wonder) B-
Manny reminds me A LOT of Season 10 contestant Stefano when it comes to stage presence. Manny is fun to watch in the sense that he looks comfortable and "at ease" when he performs - unlike some of the other younger contestants who look like the proverbial deer in headlights. The judges' stone cold reactions during Manny's performance might have sealed his fate. His vocals got a bit lost in the rapid-fire lyrics of this song (which I have always hated).

Gianna Isabella - "I Put A Spell On You" (Screamin' Jay Hawkins) B+/B
This was Gianna's best performance to date. I haven't changed my mind that she is way out of her league in this competition, however.. She is like a baby Mariah Carey impersonator - her resemblance is uncanny - but the voice isn't there. Gianna needs to watch her breath control, pace herself in the song so as not to lose her power, and work on the vague unpleasantness that her voice can take on.

Thomas Stringfellow - "Story Of My Life" (One Direction) D+
From the opening, Thomas's vocals seemed off with the music - like he was singing too slowly to keep pace with the beat. While Thomas might be a sweet kid, this performance was quite simply not good. Thomas confuses me because he sings with earnest sincerity and a forced affect at the same time. Finally he got the critique from Harry Connick Jr. that had been a long time coming: not to squeak at the end of every line. This performance was rough and I'll be shocked if he makes it through to the Top 10.

Tristan McInotsh - "What Hurts The Most" (Rascal Flatts) B/B-
Very pretty performance and one of her best. I'm worried for Tristan because she veers into a "Kermit the Frog"-esque tone in her voice often. It's never pleasant to the ear and it's for this reason that she isn't one of my favorite contestants in this competition. She kept that in check (mostly) in this performance. I liked her choices to go softer on certain parts of the song to make it slightly different from the original. I'm still predicting she'll finish 9th or 10th.

Avalon Young - "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" (Chris Brown) A-
I would love to grab a beer with Avalon - she is so much fun to watch and I love how at ease she is with herself. She moves with confidence and ease on stage. I can't help but get caught up in her performances. Avalon is definitely one of the most unique and original contestants left in this competition and I would love to see what she does in future weeks. It makes me wish Idol had stacked the deck with slightly older contestants rather than mostly 15 and 16 year olds.

Jenn Blosil - "True Colors" (Cyndi Lauper) A-
Even if Jenn's voice isn't your cup of tea, there's something fascinating about her. She put a lot of emotion into one of Cyndi Lauper's most famous songs, even though her voice wasn't perfect. The break in her voice was perfect to accentuate the lyrics. Aching and gorgeous.

Lee Jean - "Make It Rain" (Ed Sheeran) B+
I see such a potential for growth in Lee. He has passion and drive and is insanely likeable. Lee makes me smile everytime he sings. I would like to see him sing something unexpected, in the vein of Kris Allen and "Heartless", rather than just endless Ed Sheeran covers. While this was a solid performance, Lee is in danger of getting forgotten in favor of bolder, more showy voices.

Sonika Vaid - "I Surrender" (Celine Dion) B+
Sonika reminds me of early American Idol - the first 6 or so seasons maybe - the big voiced diva we used to vote through without blinking an eye. She is beautiful and has an equally gorgeous voice. But in the shifting landscape of Idol, the female belter has been on a downward trajectory. Sonika's problem is that while I think her voice sounds beautiful, in the way I know I should appreciate a wonderful singing voice, she doesn't make me feel anything.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell - "Ring Of Fire" (Johnny Cash) A

Jeneve is - HANDS DOWN - the most captivating contestant all season. While Sonika embodies the more traditional big voiced approach, Jeneve's voice is full of passion and emotion. She gives me chills which is something no other contestant has been able to do. She breaks my heart whenever she sings. I'm just concerned that she is too polarizing to make it much further this season. Someone who is bland and mild, inoffensive (see: Tristan) will go on in the competition over Jeneve because that type will appeal to a greater audience. It's the bell curve effect, sadly. I could listen to Jeneve all day and maybe I will.

Mackenzie Bourg - "Roses" (Original song by Mackenzie) A-
Mackenzie knows who he is; he isn't trying on personas to see what fits. His acoustic performance of his original song was wonderful. The judges often predict superstar level success for even the most tepid of contestants, but the reality is many of these contestants will play for loyal fans in 100 to 1,000 seat venues. They'll make their money touring, doing meet-and-greets, selling T-shirts and CDs at their shows. I can already see Mackenzie in that vein, with a solid post-Idol career - a true singer-songwriter. I would love to hear the full-length version of this song. Mackenzie is a lock for the Top

Best of the night: Jeneve, Mackenzie, Jenn
Worst of the night: Thomas 

Friday, February 19, 2016

American Idol Season 15: February 18, 2016

Top 12 (Night 2) – Duets Round

Past Idol contestants Kellie Pickler (Season 5), Haley Reinhart (Season 10), Chris Daughtry (Season 5), Jordin Sparks (Season 6), and David Cook (Season 7) return to duet with the current contestants!

Amelia Eisenhauser with Kellie Pickler – “Suds In The Bucket” (Sara Evans)
This was a hell of a lot of fun. These two were adorable together, a perfect song choice. It’s a shame that this performance will likely get lost in the shuffle tonight. Amelia is very talented and her musicianship lent itself so well to this song.

Kory Wheeler with Haley Reinhart – “Bennie & The Jets” (Elton John)
Haley is one of my favorite Idols ever and I was so excited that she was returning to the Idol stage to sing her biggest Idol Moment ™ song! Can I be blamed for wishing she sang it solo? That said, I am curious what Jenn Blosil would have chosen to do if she had been picked to duet with Haley. Kory did a great job on the song and he was the correct choice to pick for the song. I loved their back-and-forth “Bennies” – if only the song could have been longer!

Lee Jean with Chris Daughtry – “Home” (Daughtry)
They made this look easy. It’s clear that Lee approached the song with a reverence for Daughtry which really showed in his careful and thoughtful delivery. I loved seeing the camaraderie between the two in the backstage scenes – this is such an important round to have early on. No one knows the Idol experience better than past Idols; they may even be more qualified than the judges to give advice. Daughtry came off as a stronger singer – no surprise – in this duet but Lee more than held his own.

CJ Johnson with David Cook – “The World I Know” (Collective Soul)
I loved CJ’s solid performance of “I’ll Be” last night, but put him up against one of my favorite Idols of all time….I’ve seen David Cook live in concert 3 times and I’m going to see him again next month. I don’t think there’s any way CJ will make it through to the next round.

Manny Tores with Jordin Sparks – “No Air” (Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown)
These two were perfectly paired. I love how Jordin encouraged Manny to feel the meaning behind the lyrics and challenged him to step up his performances. A thousand times improvement over his lukewarm Coldplay cover last night which was all flash, no fortitude. It’s clear that their performance was certainly aided by the fact that is perhaps the only song performed on duet night that was actually WRITTEN as a duet.

Jenn Blosil with Constantine Maroulis – “My Funny Valentine” (Frank Sinatra)
After Jenn’s trainwreck of Justin Bieber last night, I was worried for her duet with Constantine. This seemed like it would be a bizarre pairing, but it was so weird it worked (my life motto). It seemed like this performance was polarizing amongst the judges, which is exactly what I’d expect.

Tristan McIntosh with Kellie Pickler – “Best Days Of Your Life” (Kellie Pickler)
This duet was cute but forgettable. Tristan’s voice veered into frog territory and their voices seemed pretty mismatched. Tristan’s voice sounded too low for the song throughout. Overall, this performance was the worst of the night.

Olivia Rox with David Cook – “Light On” (David Cook)
I really wanted to love this duet. Alas, I kept thinking how much I’d rather hear David sing this solo. Olivia may have a powerful voice – or at least that’s what the producers keep telling us – but she couldn’t come close to David in this song.

Adam Lasher with Haley Reinhart – “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (Elvis Presley)
Hands down, the best duet of the night. Haley’s talent is out of this galaxy stellar. I was impressed with what a wonderful chemistry Adam and Haley shared. Completely disagree with the judges’ negative comments towards Adam both tonight and last night. It’s clear there’s no way he’s making it through based on their cold comments.

Dalton Rapattoni with Chris Daughtry – “Higher Ground” (Stevie Wonder)
Both Dalton and Chris brought an enormous amount of energy and attitude to this performance, but I was sort of left feeling like I watched karaoke. I think song choice was the culprit here; I’ve never been a fan of this Stevie Wonder song. Dalton is obviously an early judges’ favorite. I predict his Idol arc will end with a Top 7 finish and a “shock boot” elimination.

Trent Harmon with Jordin Sparks – “To Love Somebody” (The Bee Gees)
A beautiful, stunning duet! WOW. “To Love Somebody” has been done many times on Idol , most memorably by Clay Aiken and Joshua Ledet. I was a little worried this duet couldn’t compare to those past performances, but I clearly should not have doubted these two powerhouse vocalists. It will be a travesty if Trent does not go on to the Top 5. I just can’t put my finger on Trent and how incredible he is. He draws me in every time to listen to every note he hits.

Shelbie Z with Constantine Maroulis – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen)
It’s true: it’s next to impossible to shorten this song into less than 2 minutes and still get the full effect. This was a big moment for Constantine back on the show, because no one thought he could pull it off either. This time around, I was confused by the judges’ comments – this is a hell of a song to sing and Shelbie tackled it without fear. She gave me vibes of Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, and that’s a huge compliment. I’ve been listening to this one on repeat. J. Lo saying it made no sense for Shelbie to sing this is ludicrous. Yes, it would be ludicrous for J. Lo to sing, but it was PERFECT for Shelbie.

Through to the next round: Trent, Tristan, Manny, Dalton, Jenn, Olivia

Eliminated: Amelia, Kory, CJ, Adam, Shelbie

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

American Idol Season 15: February 17, 2016

Top 12 (Night 2): Solo Performances

Shelbie Z – “Work Hard, Play Harder” (Gretchen Wilson)
Shelbie is definitely the real deal – a straightforward genuine country girl. This was a great song choice for her and the kind of country anthem I would expect her to sing. Shelbie reminds me a little bit of Wynonna Judd. She was an awesome kick-off to start the show. I’m concerned that her solid performance will get lost amongst showier or more emotional ones.

Manny Tores – “Adventure Of A Lifetime” (Coldplay)
It’s no secret that I detest this song and I thought it was a bizarre song choice for Manny. He looks and moves like a star, in the vein of an early Bruno Mars or Enrique Iglesias. While it’s usually advised to pick a song that’s popular on the radio now, it inevitably draws comparison to the original which is literally in everyone’s ears. Manny didn’t improve on the original which I think will lead to his elimination.

Kory Wheeler – “Let It Go” (James Bay)
At 27 years old, Kory is one of the oldest contestants this season and his maturity and experience show in his quiet musicianship. Kory tends to clip his lines at the end of his sentences which is distracting and took me out of the song. A good, but not great performance. There isn’t much to say about this one.

Amelia Eisenhower – “Wake Me Up” (Avicii)
This performance started out stunning and poignant. I really felt her connection to the lyrics and how appropriate they were for the entire experience that is American Idol. I was prepared to root for her especially in comparison to the lackluster performances so far tonight. But then, oh God. It turned into this country-hodown, clapping mess and I completely lost my connection to her. She could have had a great moment with a slowed down rendition of the crossover hit. I think her choice to sing the song full-speed, and not perfectly either, will cost her a spot in the Top 12.

Jenn Blosil – “Sorry” (Justin Bieber)
I had high expectations for Jenn, this season’s fairy-wood-nymph, all big blue eyes and lost-in-wonderland expressions. But “Sorry” was somewhat painful to listen to. Her voice was all over the place. On paper, this has Idol moment written all over it: quirky, piano-driven adaptation of current uptempo Billboard Top 10 hit. But, no.

CJ Johnson – “I’ll Be” (Edwin McCain)
I’ll admit it: watching this performance took me back to a better time – 1998. Could CJ be the next Lee Dewyze? He reminds me a lot of Lee in looks, style, performance, and tone. This was my favorite performance of the night up to this point. It was exactly like mac and cheese: you know exactly what it’s going to taste like before you eat it, but it’s still delicious.

Lee Jean – “Runaway” (Ed Sheeran)
Lee comes off incredibly likeable. I loved how he smiled all the way through the song – he instantly was relatable to me. His talent is undeniable and he was by far one of the best singers of the night. I think Lee has a lot of potential and could very well be a dark horse in this competition.

Trent Harmon – “What Are You Listening To?” (Chris Stapleton)
Trent has the “X Factor” that eluded so many of the contestants on the actual show The X Factor. Trent is the kind of person whose voice that makes me stop and lean closer to the TV. His voice is captivating and intriguing. I want to hear more. I’d never heard this Chris Stapleton song before and I was left with it stuck in my head. Trent is a lock for the next round. If he doesn’t make it through, I will be outraged. Outraged! The key to his success on this song will be song choice, because he can clearly sing anything.

Tristan McIntosch – “Good Girl” (Carrie Underwood)
Tristan surprised me with this song choice. I didn’t know what kind of artist she was, but I like that she chose the country lane. Tristan has a big voice, but it got a little bit swallowed up at times with the tricky lyrics. One thing she has that a lot of her fellow contestants don’t is stage presence. Even though she is of the youngest on Idol this year, she commanded the stage admirably.

Adam Lasher – “Black and Gold” (Sam Sparro)
I loved that Adam chose a song I’d never heard before, but as soon as I saw J. Lo’s icy expression, I started to worry. Adam’s performance made me wish I could have heard the whole song, not just a minute and a half. I have a feeling this kind of song would have worked better as an extended jam with a serious guitar solo. Even if the judges weren’t fans, I thought it was a great performance and one of the best of the night. I don’t think Adam will make it through to the next round however based on the judges’ reactions.

Dalton Rapattoni – “Rebel Yell” (Billy Idol)
Dalton is the epitome of everything I love in a man: eyeliner, theatrics, acid-washed style via 1988 meets 2006. Sexy, moody, and dramatic. The vocals weren’t perfect but it’s clear the guy knows how to perform and draw in an audience. After seeing how the girls react to him, I don’t think the judges are going to let this guy go.

Olivia Rox – “Confident” (Demi Lovato)
Olivia is cute as a button – she has a ways to grow if she wants to embody the full Demi Lovato attitude, but this was an admirable start towards that. I think the performance quality will continue to build. Olivia is obviously the JAX of this season! I loved that she started off the song slow on an acoustic guitar and let the power chords build. She has a powerful voice and clearly will go through to the next round.

Best of the night: Olivia, Dalton, CJ

Worst of the night: Jenn, Manny

Thursday, February 11, 2016

American Idol: Season 15 - February 11, 2016

Top 12 (Group 1): Duet Night

Past Idol contestants Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina (winner and runner-up, Season 10), Fantasia (winner, Season 3), Ruben Studdard (winner, Season 2), Nick Fradiani (winner, Season 15) and Caleb Johnson (winner, Season 14) return to duet with the first half of the Idol Season 15 Top 24 contestants. 

Emily Brooke with Lauren Alania – “Flat On The Floor” (Carrie Underwood)
Although Emily completely bombed her performance last night, she clearly improved with this performance. This duet was full of fun energy and a surprising musical chemistry between the two singers. I was impressed with Lauren’s mentoring of Emily. Advice from someone who has already been through the Idol Machine is invaluable. I’m not sure Emily’s found her lane on the show yet and hopefully Lauren’s advice will push her towards greater success.

Thomas Stringfellow with Nick Fradiani – “Man In The Mirror” (Michael Jackson)
 J. Lo summarized this duet by saying “it felt more Nick than Thomas”. And although this duet wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, I fully agree with her comment. Thomas’s already irritating “indie affect” – his choice to pronounce words with a form of phonics I can’t describe – came into play during this song. “Man In The Mirror” could not be less indie. It’s about a world unifying through individual achievement. It’s “We Are The World” for a solo act. It’s probably a safe assessment to say this was the wrong song for Thomas. Instead of bringing something additional to the song, Thomas made me wish Nick had sang this song solo like he did last season. I’m not biased. I promise.

Stephany Negrete with Ruben Studdard – “Superstar” (The Carpenters)
The best duet so far – it was staged in a dramatic way with Stephany entering after Ruben’s first verse. Their voices blended beautifully together. It was a smart choice strategically to pick a song that Ruben popularized during his season; people already love his rendition of the song so why not? Stephany brought a maturity to the song that I didn’t expect. It was truly beautiful.

Sonika Vaid with Caleb Johnson – “Skyfall” (Adele)
Sonika and Caleb seem like a disaster pairing at first, one that has no chance in hell of getting up off the ground. However, their duet was intriguing and captivating. Sonika reminds me of Vanessa Hudgens (as of late), both in looks and vocal intonation.

Jenna Renae with Scotty McCreery – “See You Tonight” (Scotty McCreery)
Jenna is still blending into the background in this competition for me, for you, and I’ll be surprised if she advances through to the next round. Her duet with Scotty was fun, serviceable, and utterly forgettable.

La’Porscha Renae with Fantasia – “Summertime” (Ella Fitzgerald)
I only wish this duet had been longer in order to really build the dynamics of the song and the two women’s powerful voices. La’Porscha got criticism on social media last night for painting-by-the-numbers in her Tina Turner cover, but I loved it. La’Porscha is a true lock for the Top 10 and I am intrigued to see what she’ll do yet.

Mackenzie Bourg with Lauren Alaina – “I Hope You Dance” (LeAnn Womack)
This reminded me of going to the spring musical back in high school. The quiet, somewhat bland, sensitive artist that it’s oh-so-easy to project whatever you want onto. And the powerhouse, popular girl who comes on strong enough to tempt him out of obscurity. The song was definitely out of Mackenzie’s element but he still somehow made it work. Sweet and sensitive but utterly mismatched. Lauren’s belting coupled with Mackenzie’s softness made it seem like the duet partners were singing two different songs.

Gianna Isabella with Nick Fradiani – “Beautiful Life” (Nick Fradiani)
Gianna isn’t ready for primetime, in my opinion, and something about her just grates on me. “Beautiful Life” was a good choice for a duet between these two, as the listener can see how the song can resonate with both an Idol winner and an Idol hopeful. That said, Gianna reminds me of a 13 year old at a high school slumber party. She’s never made me believe the lyrics she’s singing and I can’t get over the nepotism that tinges everything she does.

Avalon Young with Ruben Studdard – “Flying Without Wings” (Westlife)
Avalon manages to be inexplicably compelling. Maybe it’s the fact she seems utterly natural, or that she doesn’t look like she’s trying too hard, or maybe she seems like the kind of person you’d like to have a beer with. Her duet with Ruben Studdard was one of the best of the night.

James VIII with Caleb Johnson – “Gimmie Shelter” (Rolling Stones)
Where has James VIII been hiding that hair this whole time? Come on now! James and Caleb looked like they could be brothers during their rehearsal footage. While they were matched very well together, I wished for a different song choice. “Gimmie Shelter” builds to a wild finish and the lyrics go the way of passion. The passion wasn’t really there to carry it through to its grand finale.

Jeneve Rose Mitchells with Scotty McCreery – “Gone” (Montgomery Gentry)
It’s truly hard to judge this duet because it was so unlike anything else I’ve seen on Idol. While Scotty had an Idol Moment ™ with this song back in 2010, it was a little strange to watch Jeneve, who specializes in softer emotion, tackle this one. The quick pacing of the lyrics doesn’t work for a duet at all, and I am surprised the Idol producers gave them this one. I hope that Jeneve goes through to the next round based on her unique style and talent. She would truly bring something to the Idol Top 12 that we’ve never seen before. No hyperbole there.

Jordan Sasser with Fantasia – “I Believe” (Fantasia)
Jordan will never be my favorite, it’s true, and I would have loved to see Fantasia sing this one all on her own. Jordan comes off over-wrought on even the tamest of songs, so I knew this would be over-the-top. It fell flat in a way I can’t describe. Jordan sounded light-years better than his Celine Dion cover last night, but it won’t be enough to put him through to the next round in my opinion.

Best of the night: Avalon/Ruben, Stephany/Ruben
Worst of the night: Thomas/Nick, Gianna/Nick

Through to the next round: LaPorscha, Sonika, Avalon, Gianna, Thomas, Mackenzie, Jeneve
Eliminated: Emily, Stephany, Jenna, James, Jordan

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

American Idol Season 15: February 10, 2016

Top 12 Night #1 - February 10, 2016

My first Idol blog post in quite a while but I had to blog about the Final Season!

Tonight's show showed half of the Top 24 performing solo songs, while tomorrow night they will take the stage with a former American Idol contestant.

Stephany Negret – “Mama Knows Best” (Jessie J)
Stephany looks so much like Nicole Scherzinger, former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. They both have a similar style, voice, and appearance. Nicole has never been able to make it big as a solo artist in the US though, and I think Stephany might follow in her footsteps. While she is a beautiful girl with a big voice, there is something I feel I can’t put my finger on – it’s that I don’t feel a connection between her and the lyrics of the song. To be fair, I am exhausted of hearing “Mama Knows Best” on reality TV singing competitions. I’ve never even heard the original by Jessie J. But I’ve heard dozens of covers, and none of them have ever really made me like the song.

Mackenzie Bourg – “Say Something” (A Great Big World)
Mackenzie could go on to have a solid singer-songwriter career, in the vein of Kris Allen. He really reminds me of the Season 8 American Idol winner. Maybe it’s the glasses. I love how Mackenzie changed the pace of the song, as well as the melody. Don’t underestimate Mackenzie. I’m predicting smooth sailing to the Top 12.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell – “Angel” (Sarah McLachlan)
There is something entirely captivating about Jeneve. It’s like she is not of this world. 15 years old and so much soul, heart ripped bare, in her voice. I hang on Jeneve’s every note. This girl is a genius musically. I worry about Jeneve because it seems that her “off-the-grid” life works against her, rather than for her, in the American Idol universe. J. Lo has suggested as much. Jeneve is my favorite contestant this season and it will be a true shame if she goes home this week.

Jenna Renae – “My Church” (Maren Morris)
Is it a smart or foolish move for Jenna to pick a relatively unknown song? In this case, it seems like it paid off as the American public won’t be voting in this round and it’s clear Keith Urban loves the song. Sadly, a less-popularly known song can be the kiss of death in a singing competition unless the singer is top-notch & unique. Jenna can’t be classified as top-notch, but she performed the song with a lot of spirit and enthusiasm. She was energetic and fun to watch, but I don’t know that she’ll make it through to the next round.

James VIII – “Love Lockdown” (Kanye West)
If Kanye West met Sly & The Family Stone, we’d have this cover by James VIII. While the judges panned it as nicely as possible, I thought it was cool. No vocal acrobatics, but some pretty solid guitar playing and the ability to take risks with an out-of-left-field song choice. This drew some instant and inevitable comparisons in my mind to Kris Allen’s arguably Idol-winning performance of “Heartless” back in Season 8, before I realized although both those Kanye songs are from the same album, these 2 performances couldn’t be more different. I hope James VIII sticks around because I’d like to see what he can do.

Sonika Vaid – “Safe & Sound” (Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars)
I didn’t realize that I was making the titled head, “listening dog” face until the cameras cut to Keith Urban doing the exact same thing. Sonika vocally wipes the floor with the other contestants. I wonder how “current” she is, knowing that balladeers only make the radio if their name is Adele. Sonika has an absolutely gorgeous voice and is one of my favorites in this competiton. However, she’ll need to connect more with her lyrics and prove she is more than just a beautiful voice.

Gianna Isabella – “I Put A Spell On You” (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)
There is no doubt in my mind that Gianna would not have made it this far in the Idol experience if not for her mother, 80’s singer Brenda K. Starr. I first heard of Brenda when Mariah Carey’s #1s record came out in 1997. Mariah covered Brenda’s “I Still Believe” as a tribute to Brenda, since Mariah got her career start singing backup for Brenda. Gianna’s voice has never done it for me. There is something vaguely unpleasant about it in my mind. I think her chances of Top 12 are good though due to her “story”.

Emily Brooke – “I Am Invicible” (Cassadee Pope)
Shocked that Idol allowed the most successful winner of The Voice to be sung on this show! Sarcasm aside, this was the worst performance of the night so far. The song was pitched way too low for Emily’s voice. It was the absolutely wrong song choice and by far her worst on Idol in 2 seasons. I think Emily has the talent to make it through this wrong, but she may have just shot herself in the foot in a way she won’t recover from.

Avalon Young – “Love Yourself” (Justin Bieber)
Avalon’s chill style can come off a little too laissez-faire. Turning her back to the audience and opening the song by sitting on the staircase took me out of her performance. I started wondering, ‘can most of the audience even see her?’ I love how real Avalon is and I don’t want the Idol machine to change her in any way. It takes more guts to come out on stage in yoga pants and high-top sneakers than in high heels. She could easily be overshadowed by bigger personalities though. She has a great voice and I see her in today’s musical landscape.

Jordan Sasser – “All By Myself” (Celine Dion)
Abysmal. Jordan is no Celine and Harry Connick Jr. is right that this performance came off as showboating. I’d add “self-indulgent” and “the farthest thing from current there is”. I didn’t like Jordan from his audition on Day 1 and I already know he’s never going to be my cup of tea. I don’t think he should advance in the competition. And I’ll leave you with these words from Randy Jackson: “It was mad pitchy, dawg. It was all over the place. For me for you, it wasn’t your best.”

Thomas Stringfellow – “Creep” (Radiohead)
Thomas comes off as very affected, although his “indie accent” is something he’s learned from Shawn Mendes. There were moments of “Creep” that were beautiful, particularly the way he chose to end the song, showing something quite different from any cover I’d heard before. But he faded into the background tonight.

LaPorscha Renae – “Proud Mary” (Tina Turner)
LaPorscha is this season’s powerhouse vocalist, who also has the stage presence to match. It’s clear why the producers showed her performance last. (With these episodes being taped in advance, it’s hard to know who actually performed in what order.) There is no way on this earth she won’t get a hard-earned pass through to the Top 12 after this incredible performance.

Best of the night: Jeneve Rose Mitchell, LaPorscha Renae
Worst of the night: Emily Brooke, Jordan Sasser