What’s the best way to kick off blogging with our new domain name (www.musiccourtblog.com)? Oh yeah, American Idol! As I’ve stated on numerous occasions, I am a sucker for singing competitions. I have been watching American Idol since Season 1. If you too are an American Idol fan please do read on. If you think the show has jumped the shark (which it has) read on anyway. Maybe I will make you laugh.
You see, here is the thing with American Idol. I watch it for a few reasons. The pure and innocent reason is because I enjoy entertaining singing performances. I like watching individuals succeed at an art that I enjoy, especially when they have overcome adversity or are underdogs. Shoot me. I like this type of reality television. The more cynical and sardonic side of me would add another reason to my Idol observance. I watch to criticize.
With this in mind I move to my thoughts and predictions for the Season 11 top 13. Quick disclaimer. You may very well not agree with me. That’s absolutely okay. But please don’t spew vitriol on the comments section without any basis for argument or response. Come on, guys, it’s just a show. But please disagree with me. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I just hope people read and comment. Let’s talk!
Wait, what is an offensive lineman doing in the back row? And is that Justin Guarini’s younger brother (or son!)? Sit tight. All will be answered in time. Here is how this is going to go down. I am going to pick apart each individual performer in short reviews of their voice/attitude/”it” factor. I am then going to choose a Top 3 boys and Top 3 girls (every week America votes and eliminates one contestant from the show – from here on out girls and boys can be eliminated with impunity meaning the show can end with a top 5 of all girls or boys; it won’t but it can). I will then narrow this down to my favorite boy and girl and ultimately pick a potential winner. Before we begin this breakdown, I have a few comments about the last couple of shows for the Idol faithful.
- There have been a lot of comments from television pundits and fans about the talent on this season of Idol. Words like “awful,” “worst ever,” and “embarrassing” have been bandied like a basketball controlled by Jeremy Lin! I agree, to a point. The last two nights featured some of the worst performances I’ve ever heard this late in the show. The performance by Baylie ”boobs” Brown (I’m sorry but come on, her dress more than accentuated her grand tetons – Steven Tyler was salivating) was flat and miserable – it wouldn’t have passed the initial audition. Some of the guys were just as bad. Many of them, actually. But, overall, out of the 24, there were around 10 good singers and all of them are in the Top 13. The fact that those around them were just so awful made it easy for America. Which brings me to my next point…
- Good job America. You totally got this right. I think the voters for this show have become tired of watching bad acts make it far and now just pick the most talented performers. The top 10 chosen were the top 10 that should have made it (minus, perhaps, one)
- Judges. Really! Stop it! Last year you received many comments saying just how annoying your kindness was. And then you experience two of the most out-of-tune, horrible nights in show history – something that modeled what you’d expect to see at a karaoke bar in midtown Manhattan – and the worst thing you say to any of the performers is “it wasn’t the right song” or “I’m not sure if it worked for you.” I understand you want ratings but remember when that guy Simon panned people consistently and, hmm, the show did quite well, right? Then, last night, the producers let music producer and American Idol confidante Jimmy Iovene rip into the performances and he was candid and rightfully critical. The judges then said they agreed with everything Iovene said to a point. But, what, how, you just spent the last two nights bopping your head to horrible performances and then spewing flat-out lies to the performers and viewers (because that’s what you are saying when you agree with Jimmy Iovine). How about we replace Randy Jackson (who is just flat-out lost at times – criticizing good performances and letting awful ones slide by) with Jimmy Iovine. Or just add Jimmy as a judge.
Let’s get to the top 13. I am going to do this in the order they are listed in on Wikipedia. Or, to quote The X-Factor, “in no particular order!”
DeAndre Brackensick – 17
DeAndre was one of the three wildcard choices last night (meaning that he was not initially chosen by America to be in the top 10). He was the one performer I think should have been in the top 10, so I am very pleased he received the judge’s pick. DeAndre has an insane upper register. The kid is just so powerful up there and that is so refreshing. He also is a skilled singer. After just missing out on the live show last year, DeAndre went back to work and improved his full range. His strength, though, lies in his comfortable falsetto and natural high voice. This can earn him a lot of votes if he plays to the swooning teenage girl population. He is a dark horse in the competition. So when does he sing “Stayin Alive?”
Hollie Cavanagh – 18
Hollie has two things going for her. She is pretty and she has a trained, composed, and easy voice. There is one BIG problem, though. She is easily forgettable and that is the largest problem anyone can have in this competition. It doesn’t matter how good your voice is. If you don’t stand out, you won’t go far. Will she stand out? I guess we will see. It may be an early exit for Hollie.
Colton Dixon – 20
American Idol is happy. They finally have the alt/punk rock fusion performer on the show. Colton just missed it last year, but boy has he made it this year. His voice is gritty and he is a true musician. I bet you can expect some David Cook-like manipulations of song. I’m eager to hear how he tackles Stevie Wonder this week. Colton is going to be in this competition for a while and I think he is an early favorite.
Heejun Han – 22
Oh, Heejun Han, the merry prankster of the bunch. This 22-year-old Korean singer from Flushing (my backyard) is an intriguing story. From the start, the judges thought he would be a joke (and some still view him as such), but, we cannot overlook his voice. It is solid, technically proficient, and he is likeable – if not loveable. You just want to cheer for Heejun because despite his funny, off-the-cuff attitude, the man is humble and surprised. He is a tough one to predict. I put him in the middle of the pack.
Jermaine Jones – 25
Finally someone who is older than me. Jermaine Jones should have made it into the top 24 and the judges knew it so they expanded the top 24 to a top 25 and allowed Jermaine to join the boys. His deep Barry White croon is infectious and so is his personality. He performed so well that he made it into the Top 10 and this is telling. People like him. He is different and his croon is well-done, like a crispy steak – a little rough around the edges but at the heart of it is a juicy tenderness (and this is coming from a vegetarian).
Skylar Laine – 18
Skylar also answers to Reba. Yes, it’s high praise for an 18-year-old, but this aspiring country superstar has the necessary components to be a star. Her top 24 performance was one of the best of the bunch. I don’t usually enjoy country music, but I absolutely HATE pop/country. It is forced and bleached material. Skylar, though, sings true country. Her brand is upbeat and passionate, with soul influences fused in (which is what true country needs). I love it. She, too, is an early favorite.
Joshua Ledet – 19
Here is another guy who is so easy to cheer for. He also might have the second best natural voice in the competition. Ledet, though, is a pure gospel/soul singer. I do not know if he can transition to “popular” music. If he can, he will do quite well on the show. If not, his strong and passionate voice may not last long on the show. I sure hope he does last a while.
Shannon Magrane – 16
Shannon is 16! She is also a few feet taller than me. Her father is former Major Leaguer Joe Magrane. Shannon is interesting. Her voice, similar to Hollies, is trained. You can just hear the vocal coaching. It has been worked on and, while it has not been perfected yet, it is naturally good and that makes up for any imperfections. It is definitely good enough for the Top 13 but will it get her into the Top 10? I’m not sure. She has a lot of potential.
Phil Phillips – 21
This 21-year-old with an odd name is one of the favorites in the competition. Iovene only said that he would sign two artists on the spot. Phil was one of them. He is an indie performer, through and through, who will also use his granular and intelligent voice to mix up song compositions. I say intelligent because Phillips knows how to play a crowd. He holds notes with skill and puts a unique blend on everything.
Jeremy Rosado – 19
I wish Jeremy had a better voice because I like him. Rosado seems like the nicest guy you’d want to meet. He does not only come off as humble, but also as a jolly, kind, and real. I just wish he had a better voice. Should he be in the top 13? No. He was a wildcard choice and a poor one. The only reason he is still in this competition is because of Jennifer Lopez. Last year her obsession was Stefano. This year it is Jeremy. Stefano, though, was a better singer. Jeremy is a limited singer with a naturally high voice that can carry a tune but not do much else. The whole wildcard process stunk, honestly. The judges shouldn’t be allowed to choose anymore. While, yes, two deserving individuals did make it into the top 13 (and as Meatloaf said two out of three ain’t bad), the other one should have been either Creighton or Aaron (who received a standing ovation on Tuesday BY THE WAY). Both did not even get a second chance. Instead the judges chose Jeremy and Reed (a hokey, theatrical performer whose act does not fit American Idol – another exceptionally nice guy, though). But, I’m sorry Jennifer, American has the reigns now, and when we move on to the top 12, Jeremy will not be with the others.
Jessica Sanchez – 16
Jessica will not only sail through into the top 12, but she may win the show. This former America’s Got Talent contestant (she performed on the first season in 2006) is an INCREDIBLE singer. She has the best voice by far. She is also just 16. It is understandable that the young guns are the best. It’s just circular. Sanchez is not only well-trained but her voice can blow you out. It is so multifaceted that you can often get lost in it.
Elise Testone – 28
At 28, Elise is the oldest performer on the show. That is good, though, I think. Her voice is mature and quirky. She has this rich blues inflection in her voice that makes her performances consistently strong. I want her to do well. I am cheering for her to go far. I just hope she gets over the hump and becomes unforgettable.
Erika Van Pelt – 26
Erika, the second oldest performer in the top 13, was a wildcard save, and a good one. She has a POWERFUL voice. She just can blow it out. If she does it consistently she may force listeners to remember her. If not, she will be out quickly.
Out of the diverse group of male performers, I will pick Colton Dixon, Phil Phillips, and Josh Ledet as my three best. My dark horse is either DeAndre or Jermaine (one of these can easily be in the top three).
Out of the females, and this one is a bit easier because of what I see as a larger disparity between good and forgettable, I pick Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone, and Skylar Lane
In a few months American Idol will crown a winner. Will, like last year, a boy and a girl be vying for the crown on the last day? I don’t know. Could be. Let’s assume that this is how it goes down. The final two will be:
And I think Colton takes it home in the end and goes off to lead a band and have a very nice career.
So what do you think? Let’s talk! Who do you think will win?