Tag Archives: American Idol

The X Factor – Season Least?

14 Nov

The X Factor Season 3

The X Factor USA is the middle sibling of vocal talent shows. The older sibling, American Idol, has settled down, had a few kids, and lives in placid suburbia in a three-story house with double white doors and a patio with a grill. The younger sibling, The Voice, is getting all of the attention because, well, it’s frankly more entertaining to many people. That leaves the gangly, awkward X Factor in the middle to acquire acne and try to make it in the cruel world of reality singing competitions.

Now in its third season, the X Factor has desperately tried to spice things up. An x-shaped battle round provided a little juice to the competition, but, despite its differences, it was seen as a reaction to the little sibling’s vocal battles. Some strange form of live voting was attempted, but it failed miserably and caused a 2-hour live show to be scrapped and wasted (there is something the X Factor can proudly say was unprecedented).

Frankly, though, no matter what the show does, people will watch it for the singers. And, no matter how much the judges want to praise this stock of vocalists, this is really the season of the least. Of the remaining contestants on the show, I can count on a few fingers how many actually have the so-called X Factor. In year’s past, I have put together a full review of each contestant. For this season’s remaining contestants, I am going to do something a little different. Each contestant will receive a ranking between 1 and 5 Xs (1 the worst, 5 the best) as well as a brief, frank reason why they are ranked this way. Let’s get to it. Oh, and two of these individuals are voted off tomorrow, by the way.

BOYS

Tim Olstad

Tim Olstad (XXX)

Three Xs for soft-spoken Tim Olstad. He seems like a kind and genuine person. His voice is sweet and he carries a good tune. His issue is his kindness. He lacks an edge. Besides from his good voice, he has nothing else that sets him apart.
Josh Levi

Josh Levi (XXXX)

Early favorite. He has the combination the X Factor is looking for: looks, dance moves, and good enough voice. His vocal needs a bit of work, but, let’s be honest, the studio does wonders. He is marketable; that’s what matters. If the female voters think so too, he will be around for a long time in this competition. He’ll play on the Bieber factor for as long as he can.

Carlito Olivero

Carlito Olivero (XX)

An older, less talented version of Josh Levi. He will also try to play to the public with his combination of looks, dance moves, and vocals, but his vocal is a bit whiny and that won’t last long in this competition.

Girls

Ellona Santiago

Ellona Santiago (XX)

Same person as Jessica Sanchez from Season 11 of American Idol? Both Filipino singers from California around the age of 17-18. Both sing the same style of pop-diva music. I’m fairly confident they are the same person. Too bad Jessica Sanchez is better, and Ellona is the doppelgänger.

Khaya Cohen

Khaya Cohen (XXXXX)

Give it up for the saving grace of season 3 of The X Factor. Raspy, Amy Winehouse-like voice paired with some gritty classic rock ‘n’ roll soul all mixed together with modern flavor; Cohen is hands down the best singer in the competition, and she should sail to the end of the show without must issue.

Rion Page

Rion Page (XXX)

Rion Page has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which screws with the joints in her hands. Despite this, she is perhaps the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet, and I do not think it’s an act. While she inevitably has to play the sympathy card (because people see the disability), she clearly doesn’t want to. She just wants to be a country singer, and, frankly, she is pretty good (better than most of the people in the competition). Who are we to judge? She is talented, kind, and better than all of the over 25s and groups combined!

Over 25

Nicole (Lillie) McCloud

Nicole (Lillie) McCloud (X)

What a great way to start off the two worst categories on the show. If you watch the X Factor, you know this contestant as Lillie McCloud. But, as the X Factor finally admitted during the show yesterday, Lillie is actually Nicole McCloud, a recording artist from the 1980s – 2000s. But she only put out one single and never made (“I was so close”), right? Wrong. She is a fraud. FRAUD. She recorded four studio albums and her single “Don’t You Want My Love” became an international hit. This single reached the top 10 on the U.S. dance charts, in addition to charting in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Her 1994 single “Runnin’ Away” peaked at No. 3 on U.S. Dance charts. She has had 7, yes, 7 charting U.S. singles, the latest one just a little more than a decade ago. Never made it? Are you kidding me? She is an absolute fraud who should never have been allowed in the competition. I know X Factor does not have a record contract clause like some other shows, but come on, it destroys the purpose of these competitions. I just feel bad for the other contestants who are just looking to make it for the first time. Move aside and let someone else get his/her turn.

Jeff Gutt

Jeff Gutt (XX)

An uninspiring rocker with a decent rock croon and, uh, that’s basically it. It’s good that the show has a true rock singer, but I just don’t see where Gutt fits in the market. I guess he is a good enough band singer, though, so hopefully he joins up with some semi-successful band and provides solid lead vocals.

Rachel Potter

Rachel Potter (XX):

In the process of writing this post, I had seen Potter’s name every time I glanced over at the contestants, but as I started writing her segment I had to look back to get her name again. What does that mean? She is forgettable. Is it just me or are you also sick of fringe female country singers? They are limited vocally and generally hokey. Last night’s performance was overdramatic and almost comical.

The Groups

Alex and Sierra

Alex and Sierra (X)

Ah, the groups – Simon’s babies. One issue. He doesn’t have any talent this year. Oh well. This duo is terrible. Let me sum them up with some vocabulary words: mawkish, maudlin, syrupy, and nauseating. The girl is an awkward mess. The guy does a terrible Jack White impression. The act is garbage, but it will stay because they are a couple and for some reason this resonates with a desperate American public. They should have never made it past auditions.

Sweet Suspense

Sweet Suspense (X)

Sweet Suspense provides me with such suspense that every time they perform I immediately fast forward through the performance. Why? They suck. No lead singer. No harmony. Just three young, pretty girls performing hackneyed, karaoke renditions of mostly terrible songs.

Restless Road

Restless Road (XX)

I am starting to get a bit restless. A product of Simon, Restless Road is a country boy band. I loved Simon’s thinking. I actually think this concept can work … with better singers. One of the three is good. The other two are filler. This act could last for a while because it is country, but ultimately it will wear out.

American Idol Predictions: In Review

12 May
Final Two: Candice Glover and Kree Harrison

Final Two: Candice Glover and Kree Harrison

Let’s be realistic. This has been an unsuccessful season for the declining singing talent show, American Idol. After 12 seasons it seems that the show is losing touch with the viewership and the loss of ratings evidences this theory. The show is formulaic, almost intransigent in its weekly routine. Superficially, there have been some changes to how the results are revealed, for example, but these are not extensive. It seems like I am a bit captious in this brief synopsis, but after so many years of watching the show I’d love to see American Idol transform with the times. The basic structure will always be effective and enjoyable, but the show needs to do a massive re-haul of the judges (which seems to be happening) and the creative content.

For the most part, Season 12 of American Idol came down to two singers. Putting aside the sycophantic, effusive praise machines that were the four judges this year and the top 10 that was almost completely devoid of talent, the show was saved by two vocal powerhouses – one a gritty country vocalist and the other an Aretha Franklin-like, soul superstar. Back on March 11 when I made my predictions for the Idol Top 10, I went on the logic that these two singers would be in it until the end, and I am happy to report that I was accurate in my guess. Kree Harrison and Candice Glover make up your final two.

Of all of my predictions, I was most wrong about Amber Holcomb. I initially viewed her as a throw-away contestant who would be the first eliminated in the Top 10, but she made it all the way to 4th place. This was more of a testament to the lack of talent among the top 10 than her own ability. For some reason the judges gushingly extolled her like she was the second coming of Beyonce. Holcomb’s voice only worked in the lower register, and when she tried pushing it higher she was invariably flat. Yet despite her clear inability, the judges praised her with impunity. It was strange. Sometimes it felt like the judges were listening to another artist.

Back to Kree and Candice. Who will win? In my initial predictions I chose Kree. The country audience is just so strong. Now, I’m not sure. Candice has proven that her voice is freakishly good. She is a vocal spectacle. It is an absolute wonder to listen to her sing. In March I compared her with Jennifer Hudson and said her “big voice should help her sail through the competition.” It may help her win it. Check out her performance of “Somewhere.” Just mind-blowing.

Kree “has rangy chops and her voice just fits today’s country music scene.” I agree with my assessment from March. She has displayed her relevance and ability. It would not surprise me if she made good on my March prediction and won Season 12.

Ultimately, though, I will be happy with whoever wins, and it will be good to see “American Idol” have its first female winner since Season 6 and first all-female final since Season 3 when Fantasia won.

American Idol Switch (For Better or Worse?). Who Will Judge Next?

16 Jul

If American Idol was a version of its reality show counterpart, Survivor, Ryan Seacrest may have just won the competition. The Fox singing competition has certainly transformed since it premiered in 2002. Long-term judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul left the show two years ago to pursue other endeavors (The X Factor), and the Idol producers quickly scooped up Aerosmith leadman Steven Tyler and pop superstar Jennifer Lopez. After two seasons of the new judge configuration, Lopez and Tyler are out, and even steadfast Randy Jackson, who I think has become a bit of a tired act, may leave the judges table. In that case, the producers are going to have their hands full refilling a table of musical talking heads to sit behind the prominent Pepsi cups.

Randy Jackson’s departure is not official, but it could certainly happen. I believe that is time to cut ways with Jackson’s dog house and “in it to win it.” He attempted to take the role of Simon Cowell’s honest critic, but he provided inconsistent commentary and criticism.

Who would be the ideal crew to judge? It’s a difficult choice. The show’s viewership has steadily declined and gotten older. That suggests that American Idol may have a loyal base, but the show is not attracting the 13-year-old screaming girl subgroup. After a relatively unsuccessful first season, The X Factor shedded judges Paul Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger in favor of the younger Demi Lovato and superstar Britney Spears. The show went younger in order to attract younger viewers. That is a good strategy, but, like all things, there needs to be homeostasis. I think The X Factor will demonstrate a rise in viewership this year (especially if they choose a good host).

What does American Idol need? It needs a mixture. If I was given the responsibility of choosing a panel, I would start with an anchor that loyal Idol fans have been calling for since he premiered as an advisor, Jimmy Iovine. He was perhaps the only judge of talent that consistently made sense during last season. He would be the knowledgeable record producer who could help steer young musicians. His role of advisor would only transform slightly. Would he want to be judge? I don’t know, but if he expressed any interest in the position he would be my first choice.

I would then choose a young idol whom everyone would recognize (much like the X-Factor did with Britney Spears), and an older, more experienced musician who knows the industry well and has had a ton of success. The older judge would naturally attract an older population of music fans.

Mariah Carey has been a name floated out there and she would certainly fit the motherly older judge. Aretha Franklin reportedly sent an e-mail to CNN saying she wanted in on American Idol season 12. I would be overjoyed if American Idol let the Queen of Soul sit on the panel. She is not an idol. She is a legend. She also seems like she would give kind, but truthful advice to the contestants.

As for the younger judge, musicians like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj have been propositioned. I’ve also heard Miley Cyrus. At this point, people could simply be shouting out reasonable names. Since money is no concern for the super-show, the judgeship could come down to whoever accepts the necessary time commitment. I think the show would be happiest with Katy Perry. She is at the peak of her popularity and is beloved by teenage girls. But would Perry even be interested? If she is, Idol producers better scoop her up. I think an outside musician would be better than bringing in Jennifer Hudson or Adam Lambert (two Idol alumni). Long time friend of the Idol stage, will.i.am would also be a good choice, but he currently is involved with the Voice UK. Lady Gaga…that would certainly turn the show into a spectacle. I don’t think she has been mentioned because I don’t think there would be a chance of hooking her.

Who do you want to see judge the show?

Liebster Honor and An Admission of Failure — American Idol

23 Apr

I should read more blogs. I would be the first to admit that I do not read enough. One day soon, I am going to need to sit down and sign up for e-mail alerts to some blogs that I enjoy. This does not mean I do not read blogs or follow blogs. I read several blogs and I am thankful to those WordPress bloggers that read my blog. Today, I want to recognize two blog writers who nominated me for a Liebster award.

A Leibster award can be bestowed upon a blog of fewer than 200 followers which the person deems worthy for consideration. I was extremely satisfied to get notice that I was nominated for the award from two blog writers.

A Gripping Life and Is It Possible to See It All

These blogs are among those I read daily. John, of Is It Possible to See It All, also runs The Real Canadian Music Blog which I follow with more fervor because, well, it’s musical. I strongly urge you all to follow these blogs. The variety of content is refreshing and the writing is passionate and humorous. And I promise that from this point further I will make more of an effort to follow and read other blogs.

This, though, was not my admission of failure. For failure we must travel into reality television where my American Idol “favorite” was ousted from the show last week. Yes, Colton Dixon, the skunk-haired alt/punk rocker had two bad back-to-back nights. It started with two uninspiring performances on Tuesday night and concluded with a bottom two appearance and a sharp goodbye. Ouch! For me, it was like what happened with Michigan St. in this year’s March Madness tournament. They were a weak #1 seed but I picked them to go all the way (to be a little different) and they were beaten rather quickly. So it goes.

For my next prediction, I guarantee that all four of these individuals will be in it to the end.

What did I miss? I thought Colton was drawing a straight voting base. What I mean by this is that no other contestant was stealing votes away from him. I was clearly wrong. I see now that Colton was competing with Mr. Calculi, Phil Phillips. Not only did he have kidney stones, but also he sort-of sings like he is always passing stones. I say this in jest. Phillips is talented and drawing votes from the “13-year-old girl population” and the “more sophisticated musically inclined viewers.” I thought Colton had this vote! I was wrong! There is my admission of failure. Let’s move on.

We are at the top 6 and I have reached that point of the American Idol season where I am pretty much sick of every singer. We know their acts. We know their limits (or lack thereof when it comes to vocal wunderkind Jessica Sanchez and preacher Joshua Ledet). We know the judges will be effusively positive. We know Randy Jackson will be unintelligible and then reveal his incredible stock of music knowledge. The performances will not surprise us…except when it comes to the rock n’ roll stoneman Phillips. I have grown to like his grunty modesty. It is certainly much more admirable than Elise Testone’s annoying arrogance.

If I had to make another prediction, I’d say Phillips wins the show now. He is like Casey of last year except better looking and not as jazzy weird. We are obsessed with hipster in the United States and he fits that description well. Who will compete with him? Let’s eliminate some. Hollie Cavanagh needs to go. She is now outclassed by the remaining stock of singers. She will be out this week. Jessica Sanchez will need to overcome the curse of the save to go to the end. No one “saved” by the judges has made it further than two additional rounds (something like this). Now we are looking at Ledet and Laine. I just don’t see gospel winning again, BUT country can win every year and, well, Skylar Laine is a country gal.

The final two should be Sanchez and Ledet if it came to pure singing (which it doesnt), but, if we take into account the way this country votes for American Idol contestants I would not be surprised to see Phillips vs. Laine. The ultimate winner?

This guy:

A Mid-Season American Idol Review – Do We Have a Winner?

12 Apr

There are few certainties. Among them are death, taxes, and American Idol. Idol is on its 11th season and I am still actively watching it and, now, writing about it. There is something to be said for this odd devotion. It probably wouldn’t be a flattering comment. But there is a reason we all keep coming back to the show. Is this year’s stock of singers excellent. No. There are a few gems like always, but eventually the act wears thin, you narrow the group to 2-3, and you wait until one of them takes home the crown and attempts to avoid falling into obscurity like many of their predecessors. This is American Idol and we are down to the top seven, a good point for us to review the season thus far and make a top three prediction.

So where did we leave off? Oh yeah, here. https://musiccourtblog.com/2012/03/02/american-idol-season-11-top-13-thoughts-and-predictions/

Let’s do a little copy and paste work. In that post I wrote, “out of the diverse group of male performers, I will pick Colton Dixon, Phil Phillips, and Josh Ledet as my three best…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”

After last nights performances, I think that Hollie Cavanagh will be gone after a sub-par performance of “Perfect” by Pink and that will leave us with the top six I mentioned above back on March 2. American Idol voters like symmetry. The season has been predictable thus far. The good performers shine weekly and the performers with less ability get left behind. I credit the voting populace for being so accurate. I guess after 11 years of this, America is sick of keeping in performers who are simply not good enough. Kudos!

Choosing the top three is difficult. I can actually envision a scenario where any combination of the top six (supposing it falls the way I think it will) makes it into the top three. Let’s start with my one lock for a spot in the top three.

Jessica Sanchez

Let’s say this in Randy lexicon. “Dude, she is in it to win it.” Look. Jessica is a vocal prodigy. She was when she tried out for America’s Got Talent five years ago, and she still is in her teenage years. Her voice is spectacular – jam-packed with a rich sincerity that combines with tremendous pipes and an ear for difficult vocal runs. The girl can sing her heart out and then do it again five minutes later. I don’t believe she has ever been close to the bottom in the vote pool and, right now, it seems like smooth sailing into the finals.

The other two, though, are quite difficult to pick. Well, actually, only one spot is difficult for me because my winner is not Jessica Sanchez. Elise may be bound for sixth place but I am convinced that the judges will save her if she is voted out because they seem to desperately want her to stick (think Haley last year). I think the top three may feature only one vocal powerhouse so that will leave Josh Ledet behind. I think his talent is out-of-control at times and there is no denying he can sing, but, the other two powerful gospel singers to win this show have not done very well in the industry and I think that the public recognizes this and will crave more diversity…unless we are talking country music.

Have you noticed that the majority of remaining contestants are from down South. Do not underestimate how popular this show is with the southern American populace. Now, I’m not saying that everyone down south loves country music, but, well, a lot of people love country music down south. That brings us to Skylar Laine. Skylar or Phil? Skylar or Phil? It can go either way. I am going to go with my gut on this one and while this may be the unpopular choice, I’m choosing Skylar here. Is Phil good enough to win the whole thing, yes. But I just see the country star following the Scotty/Laura path to the top three. And I can’t go against my pick to win.

Colton Dixon

Proof that Jennifer Lopez is an idiot? She asked for more song in her criticism (despite giving this candid performance rave reviews). More song? NO! Are you serious? Not everything can have driving hip/hop beats and dancing. Colton turned a hip/hop song into a raw piano piece that displayed his voice to perfection. He nailed his notes and proved that he can manipulate songs and identify with them. Colton strikes me as an alt/pop performer who projects as an Augustana-like performer. While American Idol is trying to play it off like Colton is competing with Phil for votes I think that is inaccurate. If I had to guess, Phil and Elise (like Haley and Casey) split votes; Jessica, Josh, and to a lesser extent, Hollie split; and Colton and Skylar have their own independent voting grouping. Will it be enough to propel these two to final three? We will see.

Top 3

Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine, Colton Dixon

Top 2

Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon

Winner

Colton Dixon

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