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