Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Final Final.

The Final. This is it. The last ever American Idol show. Either Trent or La'Porsha will be crowned the winner and neither will be heard of a great deal outside the States. We will, however, celebrate the stars that have emerged, often not the winners, over the years. I am not sure we'll hear much of any of this year's crop but, if anyone, it will be Dalton who stands the best chance of lasting fame.

The start is a terrible white suit affair and best forgotten! As should be the attempt by Trent and La'Porsha to make It Takes Two interesting.

What was quite entertaining, apart from a walk on part for the very first host, was the lengthy performance by lots of finalists from the past 15 years. I expect we were all looking out for our favourites. I wonder how many more we'll see throughout the evening.

I had to smile at Pants On The Ground or whatever the title was of the crazy track some guy who didn't get far at all but had a great appeal a few seasons ago! No real stand-outs amongst the oldies, though, to be honest, with many just trying a bit too hard to be noticed or remembered.

The producers really have got their mileage out of Kelly Clarkson, their first winner and one of the major successes of course. She recorded a sort of compilation of her big numbers which gets shown tonight.

A pile of rockers next and nearly all had finished far higher than the balladeers we saw earlier. Chris Daughtry, Caleb Johnson, Constantine, Bo Dice and Josh Durbin stood out,

Keith Urban gets the hot ticket in AI history with the lovely Carrie Underwood doing Stop Dragging My Heart Around.

Next we get the Country boys and girls. Scotty McCririck, of course, leading way there. Lauren Alaina was doing a fine job too, I was looking for the cutely amusing one who was in Season 5 and went on to become pretty famous, the delightful Kellie Pickler.

Katherine MacPhee is another spectacular singer who was runner-up in an early edition and has since done very well in an acting career. She gets a star spot as do several other talented finalists of old. Clay Aitken is looking old but still has a voice and fans. Ruben Stoddard, who beat Clay is teamed up with Amber who I think I remember from last year and expected to do far better than she did. Jessica Sanchez is very impressive and gets a good length solo spot which was well-deserved. I have to say that she was easily the most memorable of all in that segment.

Prior to the these, Harry Connick Jnr had taken the stage with a young girl. They sang Wonderful World but, oddly for Harry, it was not good. I don't know who the young girl was and wonder whether there was a particular reason for his performing with her that might excuse the very off key singing that she produced. He has always been the one seeking precision and that amazed me that he should even allow that to happen. presumably they had had a rehearsal or two so he'd have known what to expect. I shall assume that she was not someone expected to sing well and this was more a statement or sympathy thing than a singing performance.

I am quite relieved that we're not getting one song after another from the two finalists. I suppose we'll have to get something from them sooner or later as finals are usually inundated with the protagonists' efforts.

The girl was Marlie, by the way.

Jennnifer Lopez gets her spot now. She'll be good. She works very hard and runs two numbers energetically on stage in possibly the most professional performance of the evening. Full of her Latin American verve and she ends with a remarkable (but not very good) climax. The cameraman had to zoom out or focus elsewhere a few times with so many teens in America watching who aren't supposed to be aware of certain things.

The three divas, Jennifer Hudson, Latoya and Fantasia perform.

Then we get some Motown. Nice but I didn't catch any of the names. I'm wondering of one was Philip Phillips who I haven't seen so far elsewhere. Nor Kris Allen or David Cooke, other winners. No Crystal Bowersox yet, a runner-up, and where is Adam Lambert? I'm pretty sure he'll be along soon enough. I have also missed the very talented and delightful Didi Benami.

Fantasia gets a solo. Nice job. Latoya London gets Taylor Hicks, the weird winner. Joshua Ledet gets a good solo spot with A Man's World. Then it's big sing-a-long quite badly time with Candice Glover and Melinda Dolittle. God, that was awful. How did Candice win?

I have managed to avoid all social media that might give away the winner of this last Season. I have a feeling, though, that it will be Trent Harmon. I reckon he will have the broader appeal across the mass that is America. La'Porsha will feel hard done by if that happens but should still pick up a contract. She has been the one to beat throughout the Season, although coming in the Bottom Three at least once makes me wonder just how far her fans were, in fact, spread.

Before we find out it's a tribute to David Bowie. That's where Phillip Phillips comes in! With Lee Dewyze, David Cook, Kris Allena nd Nick Fradiani - all winners and the ones I had been missing as it happens. It's a bit average, though. One would have worked better.

Where's Hayley Reinhart?

Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson return to acknowledge Ryan Seacrest as being the one person who has lasted throughout the 15 Seasons. He gets a huge American Idol sign as a gift! As Randy and Paula remember old times, Simon Cowell appears and they are all genuinely surprised!

Carrie gets another slot. Performing Something In The Water, she is looking and sounding marvellous. She has a totally meaningless and quite annoying light show going on all around which we could definitely do without.

Time to make the announcement. Yes, I'd guessed right. It's Trent. He seems pretty shocked at first but actually holds himself together very well and puts on a good performance bearing in mind the circumstances. Ryan does the farewell and struggles with the words.

So that is it. Once and for all.

I have enjoyed the ride and will miss this chance to see talent across The Pond. In a week when X Factor USA's Fifth Harmony are in the Top 3 in the UK charts it will be interesting to see who makes it next.

That... was American Idol.

Monday, 11 April 2016

The penultimate show make it Boy v Girl for the Final.

Trent kicks off the first part of the Final with what would be his 'winner's single'. Falling does suit his voice almost perfectly and flows along OK. I can't get excited about it and it seems to me the sort of track that goes up the charts but drops out pretty soon afterwards. it is missing something. But it has an instant appeal that won't do Trent any harm at all.

Trent will get middle America's vote big time. Despite Dalton's pop talent and La'Porsha's much-expected win, I still see Trent with a strong chance on the public vote there.

Dalton's song is much more impressive, as is his perfprmance. he looks and sounds like someone who wants to win, to perform and entertain. Not sure of the title. May be Cross My Heart. An excellent start but, again, it isn't something I would rush to download. Far better than Trent's performance but Dalton really will need every single teen fan to keep voting to stay in this thing.

He strikes me as the one who will get the most chart success over the years to come and I am sure he'll get a contract from someone come what may. He could also make it here in the UK with the right marketing as we haven't really got anyone like him, with the energy and appeal and genuine ability to get the lyrics across.

Oops. 4Music, the channel showing the series here this year, ahve just shown a trailer for the final to be shown here tomorrow. Who will win American Idol? the voice asks, Trent or La'Porsha? And there is a picture of the two centre screen in the ad.

That obviously wasn't intended to give the game away but it looks like Dalton's run ends here. Shame.

La'Porsha does her single. Again, I can't give you a title but it was a good commercial number and suited her well. Not particularly memorable and her performance was very 'normal'.

In what seems a mad rush to the result now, Ryan announces that La'Porsha is through. Then he follows with the news we already now know that Trent is the other one. Poor Dalton is out. An incredible artist and performer says Ryan. That's true. He was my winner. I hope he moves further on now. There will, of course, be the Idol tour where he can continue to earn and impress record people.

So now it's just the two. Trent chooses the classic If You Don't Know Me By Now for his own song. He knows this one well, you can tell. It's a good performance although I could do without the wailing. He has his work cut out to match La'Porsha, whatever she chooses.

There is little doubt that La'Porsha is the 'natural' winner but I remember Kris Allen beating Adam Lambert and this has the same feel about it. He is quite like an amalgam of several winners in the past. A sort of Mr Average Idol. We really will not get to know much about him at all, I'm afraid, over here, or, for that matter, anywhere outside the States. La'Porsha, too, is unlikely to reach out of her home nation so, in that sense either will be an 'American' idol, period.

I have sort of lost interest in the competition now. The bits about previous contestants, judges and production team etc. are interesting, though. I'll watch the final, of course, and hope for something special but suspect that the best moments will be from the guests. I wonder if Simon will be back.

La'Porsha sings A House Is Not A Home. She is very well made-up and dressed by the makeover team. Good job. That dark blue shade is perfect and may well get her a bundle of votes on its own. Her performance is a bit rambling and not one of her best. That makes several recently that have been going down rather than reaching a climax. She will need something better tomorrow or Trent will steal this thing on song choice.

Round Three. Trent finishes his night with Sia's Chandelier. Something modern for a change. Tough song but he is note perfect and really does a tremendous job with that. He is certainly making a major effort to challenge La'Porsha. The crowd is very impressed too.

La'Porsha does Diamonds, the track Rihanna made famous. I am not so sure I didn't prefer her first effort at this. This one seems a bit overdone. It's odd but just as Trent is coming to the boil, this girl seems to be cooling off quite a lot. I disagree with the judges compliments on this one. It was OK. No more.

So we'll know tomorrow how this ends. You probably know already. I haven't published any videos this time because I just know that if I go looking I'll see the result! Sorry!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

It's anyone's guess now as the Top 3 are announced

I have had to avoid Twitter all week. That is the problem with following this show in the UK, trying to avoid the news! Normally I fail miserably and then have to try and write reviews as if it is all a surprise. This year, I can genuinely say that I do not know who makes the final three. I am assuming that there will one more week when the Final comes and we all know who wins so that is the week I have to go into hibernation big time.

My guess is that La'Porsha, Mackenzie and Trent are the ones that make it. My personal preference would be for Dalton to be there and win the thing. So let's see.

Three rounds. First a Home Town performance. Second their own choice. Third the Judges' choices.

Mackenzie may seem to be the weakest competitor remaining but remember Phillip Phillips? American Idol seems to favour the less obvious stars on many occasions. Adam Lambert lost out to little David, of whom little has been heard of since over here! Even here on X Factor we have had some odd winners, like Leon Jackson, never to be heard of again, and The Voice is almost famous for not making winners famous in this country! He is also very original, writes his own stuff and that I admire and respect. He could be a success with some marketing support and, judging by the early tracks we heard during auditions, he may have what it takes to move into what is currently a popular folk-rock genre. So I am saying that Mackenzie needs to be there.

His song is the classic Hallelujah. Nice choice. I am never sure about this song as a soft option, though. My preference is the original and most since have been a bit soft or commercial. This is good but I didn't really feel moved by the song as others have done before. Not at all bad, though, and it hasn't been that much done in American Idol so the public may like it and I am sure it won't harm his chances. 'Nice job', as Harry says.

Dalton, as I have said, is the one I feel should win. He has a natural talent, looks good on screen and I can imagine him capturing a huge bundle of fans and enjoying his fame, reaching across the Atlantic to UK too. he really should get the whole of the teen vote. I particularly like how he understands what is going on on stage and what he needs to do and show when performing. He is bright and I do hope he makes it, however tough that will be on one of the others. He is the star in many ways and would serve the brand well in future.

His song is Calling You. It's not one I recognise. But it is 2016, modern and coms across as a real performance that enlivens the audience. He can work with the camera too and that was great, Is it his last, though? The vote has already been taken so nothing he does now will make any difference. He was good. Jennifer says it'll be interesting to see where he goes during the night. What does she know? I am sure the judges do know and I am looking for a hint. I didn't see a sign that he's going. But it will be a close call.

Trent deserves his place here but I think he would be the one I would put in 4th place. He has been really good, he hasn't put a foot or note wrong all the way through but he hasn't been, how can I put it, very interesting. He has all the 'classic' American, all American Boy stuff going for him and that has to count for something and has launched many previous winners. So it really is anybody's game this year and he stands as good a chance as anyone of making it through.

His song I didn't recognise either but it was a classic sort of ballad that suited him well. I didn't think it suited a young audience that well but many will have appreciated his superb delivery and spot-on tuning throughout. the judges were very complimentary.

Now Trent has said that his family would only come to the show if he made the Final. Ryan surprises him big time by bringing them on stage! Quite what that means I don't know. If I were Trent I'd be assuming that theyw ere brought in to make at least this show as the numbers were looking close for him. However, this might just be a bluff by Idol producers to get us to assume he hasn't made it. And, to be honest, at this stage, if I were his dad I would have insisted on coming as it really is anyone who could be going home now.

La'Porsha seems to be a shoe-in to the Final and, in many people's books, the title too. I can see torms hat. She has been pretty amazing and is certainly one hell of a good singer and she can interpret lyrics very well with all the suffering she's had in the past. I do have a doubt, though, about where she'll fit in in the modern pop world. She'll sell well amongst the over 30s for sure but unless she can bring some new flavour of soul and Motown to the 21st Century and today's charts I just see her as an album seller who will do well but just never get that well known outside a limited area. I would still put money on her winning, though!

She performs Glory very well indeed. The judges didn't want to critique her any more as she is just so good.

Ryan announces who is through.

Trent is first to be announced. And yes! Dalton makes it!! La'Porsha too. So Mackemzie goes. He's done well, though, and should get a contract anyway. He'd better.

It seems that La'Porsha may not have won the public vote and the producers must be a bit worried about that. I think there would have been a revolt had she not made the Final. I also feel she will have to make the Top 2, come what may.

So now they can relax a bit and do the mentor's choice. Bruce Springstein's great Dancing In The Dark is ideal for Dalton. Nice choice. He starts well, slowly but then burst into a really fast and spiced up version that set the stage and audience alight. Jennifer was almost uncontrollable and we learn at the end that she was almost reasy to be dragged on stage to join Dalton. Now that would have been a moment but, of course, not quite as even-handed as the panel needs to be I suppose! That was good. Too short, ending a bit weakly, but good. It won't have lost him any of his fans and may even have brought in some new ones who were supporting Mackenzie. Now he can win this thing, especially bearing mind the vulnerability of La'Porsha's support in terms of actual votes.

La'Porsha gets Stay With Me Baby which she puts her heart and soul into. An excellent cover but I wouldn't rush to see that again. She probably won't either as we discover later that she really didn't like the lyrics of a woman begging a man to stay with her. Now there is something going on here that I am not so sure all of America will appreciate. The song is fair enough, lyrically, for a girl who does love someone that much. If La'Porsha doesn't like it never mind. The judges spot that she was 'acting'. Interesting.

Oh dear, what has the mentor guy given to Trent? It's a Justin Timberlake number I Can Drink You Away. Rubbish. Not at all a pleasant noise. He did his best but I didn't like that at all. He had a guitar but no-one actually knows why. To be fair he gets a lot of credit for how he sang and worked with the band. he is good at that.

Keith Urban ings his new single Wasted Time. He's had 20 No.1s over there apparently. Gosh!

That was pretty good, with a double guitar thing that was an electric banjo as well as a guitar.

Back to the competition. For Dalton the judges choose Everybody Wants To Rule The World. Why? That was average and, as Jennifer points out, the key was low and it didn't work. There was not the energy and Dalton had droped it because he wasn't sure about hitting the notes in a higher key. The ending was dreadful, though, and I think everyone knew that so he is very much relying upon his first two (thankfully impressive) performances. The panel really didn't do him any favours there. It's an old song, stuck in the 80s and no amount of Daltonization can drag it back here and now.

La'Porsha is next and I am sure the panel will have chosen better for her. Yes, they play very safe with Adele's Hello. No problem there at all. She does that very well and you know she'll be through. If it's at Dalton's expense then he should demand a contract anyway!

Trent gets a decent track too. it isn't one I know but suits him very well. A far better performance than the others. He ought to stand a good chance and I reckon the votes could be close all round between the three. Nice choice. Keith chose it and he is talented at putting people and tracks together.

So that's it. Voters will by now have chosen the two who get to perform in the Final itself, although there'll be two shows: the Top 3 going to 2 Show and the Final itself. I wouldn't want to call this one. I am tempted to say Trent may take this after all. I would like Dalton to win. La'Porsha is the one expected to win. You choose, America.

Now to avoid Twitter and any site that may bear the news of the shows now being shown over there.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Top 4

You know, this is as good as a Final in many ways. Five good contestants and I could imagine any one taking the title.

Favourite out there is probably La'Porsha who has put a foot wrong so far but I still wonder just how successful she would be as a long term record selling artist. She is superb as a singer but lacks something on stage and on camera that might hold her back and I am not so sure the Country lands would vote for her,

Next in my book and my own prediction to win is Dalton. He has something of Adam Lambert about him but, while he is not quite so perfect vocally, he has a great personality and a very individual and cool way to present material. He would also be popular across the planet with the right backing.

Then there's the remarkable Mackenzie. He writes very good songs and that should nean he deserves success in the future. He is popular and has a back story that many will appreciate. In the same way that Phillip Phillips sneaked in at the end so too might Mackenzie.

Sonika is the one who just made it to the last five. She is attractive and sings almost anything very well and I can see her going down well across the land. She lacks conviction - I don't think she's had much experience of life - and that shows sometimes in the interpretation of emotions in lyrics. I feel she is the least likely to make the Top 4 but she'll be pleased to make No.5 anyway.

The other candidate is good ol' Trent. I would not have put him in the last few based on early auditions but the guy has grown on me since and I have to admire his very good tuning and how he works with the songs. He has a great range, is more accurate than Dalton and has a lot of support out there. A good 'all American boy' too - he would be a popular choice for the last American Idol. Having said that, he just lacks that presence and magic that La'Porsha and Dalton possess and that's not something you can manufacture. I don't think he would export to places like UK or Europe either.

So, let's see how they do.

La'Porsha starts with a Bon Jovi number. I am not sure that suits her. She is most definitely not a cowboy and so the lyrics sounded odd, as did the tempo and general feel which was not what we're familiar with from this girl. I hope they have more than one track as that will not help her cause. Having said that, rumour has it that she is so far out there that it won't actually make any difference. Scott is already printing the CD covers. I didn't like that at all, though.

Mackenzie Bourg is next to make the Top 4. Cheap Trick's I Want You To Want Want Me is presented in his pleasant and easy-going style. I like the chap and this suits him. It didn't have a wow factor and may have been a bit over-produced with a lot going on in the background. I would have preferred him on his own or less heavily backed. A better job than La'Porsha and, as Harry said, it was 'all right'.

Keith says he hated the arrangement. After I'd written my bit! Nice to see I get some things right.

A past winner, David Cook, performs Heartbeat which I guess is a new single for him in the States. I liked him a lot in 2009 when he won but have heard almost nothing of him here in the UK since. He is jolly good and in this time of Mumfords and similar he could do well on this side of the Pond if his record people would bother trying. This particular track seems to be going nowhere until two-thirds the way through when it erupts and is quite impressive after all. It is one of those rare tracks that you want to play again almost before the first play ends. Nice. Come on SYCO or The Cook Record Company whoever you are, get him over here in 2016, OK.

Two places left. Who gets the first? I'm guessing Trent. Yes, although I don't agree with Ryan referring to Dalton and Sonika as the 'Bottom two'. I do hope that they weren't. Well, Sonika may have been but surely not Dalton? Anyway, Trent shows that he deserves his place in the Top 4 with a super version of ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man. I would never have expected that from him and he did really well, adding 'swampy' to the rock song. He 'muddied it up' and that worked well for him. Very smart, as Harry told him. A nice performance. The crowd loved it and that will do him proud. Unexpected and may see him through further than I might have thought. Good move. Best so far.

Dalton is the one that makes the last place. And he was in the Bottom Two with Sonika. Sad to see her go but it makes sense, looking at the talent she is competing with.

Dalton's song is God Only Knows, the great Beach Boys number. He 'Daltonizes' it, of course, slowing it right down and trying hard to pull in the audience. However, it was a bit weak. He should have attracted all his fans with that and he seemed genuinely emotional so maybe that will bring in a few much-needed votes for next week. His arrangement was good. He is a natural performer. He said he was 'a bit shook up' when Ryan questioned him afterwards and you can tell that he will be really disappointed not to make the Final. He has made the Final 4, though and that counts.

Very nice to see Katharine McPhee on stage singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. The microphone was catching some noise as she sang which spoilt it a bit. She has done very well since with a career in film and TV series which is probably earning her far more than even winning would have brought. She is gorgeous in Scorpion.
I seem to remember that Sia was to act as a mentor in a programme and we did see a glimpse of her with Sonika. Ah, as I write this she is appearing and we see that she is working with each of the four to do one of her own songs. Sia has a remarkable skill and has written so many tracks for top acts across the world. She is good. I dislike the wigs but that's just a thing.

La'Porsha sings Elastic Heart. She does it well - pretty much as Sia would have presented it, but that is no bad thing. Nice job and I imagine she'll sail through to the Top 3.
Mackenzie chooses Titanium. Not my favourite song as so many seem to do it and usually finish up wailing annoyingly. His version is one of the better ones. I still don't think it suits him and I'm not sure he didn't decide not to risk some notes along the way. Quite good but I do feel he could have done a lot better and he needs to beat Dalton and Trent.
Dalton really should do Sia well. I can imagine him interpreting her stuff exactly as both she and he would like and he ought to be more confident too.

Sia performs what I think was Cheap Thrills. Brilliant, brilliant dancers and set design. I am tired of her face-hiding stuff now. It seems more a gimmick than a statement. She is superbly talented and really needs to forget all that. I am sure the way she actually looks will not affect anything. I think she initially didn't want to be successful just because she was a pretty Australian blonde but judged on her music instead. Interestingly, though, she has used the device of an attractive and very sexy dancer in most videos I've seen which I am sure has increased the initial impact of the early tracks. I remember being enthralled by a couple of videos and may not have noticed her otherwise. I even though she was the girl dancing for a while!
OK, back to people with faces. Trent is singing Chandelier,  which Sia says is her favourite song. Trent does an amazingly good version of this and my guess is that he seals his own Top 3 place ther and then. He really does show Mackenzie just what was required. One of the Season's 'moments' I feel. Well done, Trent. Every single note was right and that was not an easy song by any stretch of the imagination. The timbre and timing were just, as Harry said, phenomenal. Very difficult but he gave it 100/100 and, from Harry, that's one hell of a complement.
Dalton is closing the show with Bird Set Free. Another damn difficult track and not as commercial as the others have been. They won't be as well remembered, perhaps. I was genuinely moved watching this. he really did mean thse lyrics - every word and he chose so well a less than famous track. He moved the audience too and may just have knocked some of the sparkle off Trent's performance. He will be remembered.

I do hope he makes it through. So many people say they 'need this'. He genuinely does. Keith tells us how he is up against some insane talent and yet he has that conviction and inspires us all. Keith would rather hear Dalton's inspiring efforts than someone else's perfection. He doesn't say whose perfection he was thinking about, of course!

This is one hell of a competition and a great way to end the series. There will be tears.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Top 5 are revealed

Huge applause at the very start as Adam Lambert opens this week's Idol show with the song he performed way back in 2009, Mad World. This guy is so good. I remember saying at the time that he simply has to succeed and I am so glad that he has, although I still feel he needs more exposure here in the UK. Of all the finalists, he is the one above all of them, in my opinion.

Tonight, well, a few nights ago for those in the States who get it on time, six will become five.

First saved is Trent. He performs Counting Stars, a new track for this guy and which shows another side to what he can do. His pose on stage is a bit weird but there have been plenty of dodgy idols in that respect. One even won! This fellow is a good singer, notes spot-on and he is confident. I can see America liking him, but I can't position him anywhere. Keith says he was watching him but didn't feel pulled in. The songs are chosen by the audience and viewers for the acts this time. That didn't suit him that well and he gets as good a review from the panel as he can expect. I don't see him winning and he may be getting near the end of his run.

Unless something odd happens La'Porsha will be there in the Final with Dalton and Mackenzie. Sonika, Trent and Tristan will be the ones going between now and then and, to a large extent, it doesn't really matter in which order they go. Tristan is just a little young to be convincing, emotionally, although she is the best of the three for me. She will almost certainly get a contract as she looks just like a pop star manager's dream and the camera loves her.

Sonika is a little bland. It is as if she has really behaved herself very well and, whilst singing brilliantly, she also leaves us a little cool emotionally. Has she actually experienced much in the love department, I wonder? I am not being critical, just wishing that I could believe the things she sings about. Strangely, the 15 year old Tristan is more creditable in ways that simply shouldn't be.

Dalton is next up. That was another reasonable effort of a track that I didn't recognise. It wasn't his best performance but he gets credit from Harry for the effort made. Again, the panel are not so impressed by the audience requests! He is very good, though, and seems pretty popular. He would be my choice to win from what I have seen so far. I just see him as a future star doing 21st century stuff, not recycling old numbers.

La'Porsha is the one everyone seems to expect to win. I can see why as she is damn good. She sings perfectly and takes on all kinds of music and seems to inject something special into each and every performance, all of which have been excellent. This one I don't know either. It is more of a ballad, gentle style than she has done before. She soars through the notes but there is a slightly annoying vibrato and more runs than I would have liked. Having said that, she can get away with them. And she is believable. Well done. Another step to winning, for sure.

Keith says he just feels that he is no longer judging but just watching and enjoying now.

Now that's odd. The 4Music Channel here in the UK jump to the bottom two. It is Sonika and Tristan. Seems like Mackenzie survived but we don't get to see what he sings. Oh well.

Tristan sings Independence Day which is a sort of Country number and she is great. If there were a way to keep her with the nation's votes then I am sure that would bring her in and secure a 5th position for her. A very nice, and controlled, performance as she sat at the piano, looking more like 25, and singing really well. Harry says she needs to grow older and that's all that's wrong really. Keith says how beautiful she is and mentions her photogenic quality too. It is pretty clear that she is the one who'll get the 6th spot this week.

Sonika does Let It Go originally by Demi Lovato and I can see that suiting her down to the ground. This, of course, is the famous Frozen theme that we heard week after week by someone else last year. She put her heart and soul into it. She missed quite a few notes this time and I am not convinced she beat Tristan at all. She did, however 'perform' better and started to become alive a bit more. She has really got as far as she should now, though, and, of the two, this week I would save Tristan as I just feel she is better and deserves 5th. However, it will be Sonika that gets another week. It is not that important and both will be on the well-remunerated Idol Tour this year.

Sonika is saved by the panel.

I remember when this Season began it was the girls that got all the attention. There were so many really talented auditions by girls and the boys didn't get much of a look-in, apart from the few we now know well.

We do get Never Let It Die which is a new release from an Empire show across The Pond. It is all good stuff but I would have preferred to see Mackenzie's number, being more of interest to UK viewers.

Ha ha! They've got the order of the programme mixed up! We do now get Mackenzie being saved after all! How could that have happened? I guess the UK Channel get several digital files and just got them in the wrong order!

Mackenzie is given Wild World, a Cat Stevens number that is pretty light and generally unimpressive. Sod this audience thing. If the series were to continue I would go back to getting numbers chosen by the mentors there and colleagues who know what they're doing.

So second songs now from the Top 5.

Dalton is first. Sound Of Silence is, or could be, perfect for him. Fabulous. I love this song and the power that Paul Simon brings to it (not the commercial version) and this is as good. So, so good. Well presented too and he emphasises those lyrics so well. Brilliant.

Adam Lambert follows, performing Welcome To The Show, a new release over there, with Leleh on stage too. That was the première of that track. I don't know if you'll be able to see the video here but it's worth checking out.

Mackenzie is next with a magnificent version of the Michael Jackson classic Billie Jean. He must be in the Top 3. He even has a shot at winning. Think Ed Sheeran.

Another fine performance from Trent with A Simple Man. Nicely done, and this is another song that actually does suit his style very well. Quite a different style to the two guys that have gone before and I feel he is making that extra effort to stay in the game. Harry says he'd like to see a duet between him and Adam and I can see the point. They're both spot-on with the notes and Trent has a good range too. This might be one of the guy's best performances. Jennifer even gets quite emotional.

Wow. Next week Sia is going to be featured, with acts doing some of her numbers. I wonder if she will be there herself and actually get out of the silly facial disguises. For now, Sonika is on stage again and she really ought to be there for Sia next week so I hope she gets the votes she needs. Will this be enough to steal some from the three guys though?

That was good. she was dancing around and moving. She let go and, finally, we began to see a free spirit in tight leather. She deserves a contract for Pixar even if she doesn't get one from Idol. I like how she seems to have realised that she can do what she pleases. Next step is to take her parents away so she doesn't get embarrassed as you just still get the feeling they limit her self-expression.

La'Porsha gets to close the show. A powerful version, clearly heartfelt and brilliantly portrayed. I don't really know how anyone can match that. Packed with genuine emotion. Jennifer is in tears again and so is La'Porsha.

I do hope the papers don't dig up dirt on her. It's the sort of thing I can imagine happening as jealous relations or past boyfriends try to make a few dollars and spread some old muck around which could affect her votes. I feel she'll have a rough ride even if she wins. But she must be pleased with how she has really dominated this Season. Whilst I still give Dalton and Mackenzie a chance, she is almost there.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Top 6 Revealed

Here are the solo performances from this week's Top 8, now reduced to just 6 as another two depart.

These are not in any particular order and I let them stand without comment. I reckon you'll be able to judge for yourselves who is really heading for that big Final and who has reached the end of their journey. The videos do include, however, the excellent panel summaries in case you're not sure.

The Beatles, of course, feature this week as a tribute to Sir George Martin who passed away last week. I am not sure why some did not. Maybe they did a Beatles tack in their duet performances. I have not included those as they were pretty meaningless on the whole, few of the remaining acts having much chemistry with the others.

Two of these have now departed and six move on to next week when just one will leave.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Top 8 are chosen

This week the Top 10 perform and two will go at the end of the show. Gosh, how quickly will this be down to just two people in a Final!

Dalton is announced as first through 'based on your votes' as Ryan says. So that's good to start with.

He sings Radioactive and this might be one of his least interesting performances so far. He tried and did nothing wrong but I just didn't think that suited hi at all. Moderate screams and stuff from the crowd but not explosive as so often they've been. Bearing in mind two have to go home it may be just as well that he was the person receiving the most votes last week.

Keith says more or less the same thing. Nice. The other two agree, complimenting him a lot but also unsure about what he should do. Harry said this was the first time he thought 'what is this guy thinking about today?'

Next, but with Ryan adding 'in no particular order' is Lee Jean. This is another I can see winning. After Dalton's not so great showing Lee has a chance to close the gap. He does Someone Like You, a great track for him that I wouldn't have expected. Very, very good. That worked well and he even put on a bit of a performance for the audience.

Keith wasn't sure about the song choice but Jennifer and Harry were impressed and he really should sail through.

Next up we get three girls and Demi Lovato. That was a bit odd. They all did Complicated, well, a bit of it. Sonika, Olivia and La'Porsha with a line or two each as well. La'Porsha excelled as ever. Demi then went on alone to do Stone Cold which is a dramatic wail of a song that gets applause for her runs when really I didn't think they worked anything like as well as her emotionally held notes. I like Demi and am always impressed by how she pushes boundaries and is really wanting to do 'new' music.

Sonika next. Since you've been gone is supposed to show us her 'bad girl' side. Unfortunately, to get that song right you need to have had a girl / boy friend and to have some clue about what a 'bad girl' might do or want to do. Sonika hasn't had a boyfriend and is a good girl. So that didn't work. She can sing and I like the idea of putting a character in her head which worked brilliantly last week but she'll need to work on that a lot. Not a good performance and it showed a huge problem for her attempt to win this. I would say she will be lucky to survive unscathed this week.

McKenzie has done well so far, with great interpretations of other people's music and very impressive writing of his own. So this week he takes on the Whitney number I Want To Dance With Somebody. Great song. I like his version but that is such an exciting, powerful and almost desperate song in Whitney's hands that it hardly suits the more cheerful message McKenzie's tone brings. So, it was OK and quite clever but not something I'll be wanting to play again.

Keith liked it. That'll help his votes. Jennifer was impressed too. Harry said what I said. I reckon he'll survive and I can see him winning too if he returns to his best style which is without too much backing and being a bit different.

La'Porsha looks about five but is actually one of the few contestants that have lived. A very smart stage set has her standing in front of a wings graphic and that is well done. She is dressed sensibly for her figure too in a very well-designed long dress. Halo is the song and she reinterprets that brilliantly. I can't see anyone beating this lass unless she makes a real error in song choice. Jennifer says she is a hard act to follow for anyone over there waiting to perform. Harry says that 'as always' she knows how to present a song and also play the competition.

Harry Connick Jnr gets a chance to show what he can do and performs his new jazz-influenced number which I think is his new single over in the States at the time of airing. He plays well and the notes, naturally, are in the right place and in key as it is Harry, after all. Having said that, I reckoned he was a bit uninspiring and a bit behind the beat which was odd. Anyway, an OK job but I put his expertise from the chair above his singing ability this evening.

So there will be two more safe and then it's the 'bottom three'. I presume they will all get to perform as how else would the panel judge? I suppose they could work on past performances but it seems cruel that they all had to rehearse and worry for this big Live Show only to discover that they're out. So I am hoping we hear them all.

Trent stays safe too. When A Man Loves A Woman is one classic song and he is note perfect and impressive in places but, overall, that was a bit boring. He tried hard and did seem to put quite a lot of serious emotion into that. He has a new clean look which suits him. Jennifer said she saw Trent and La'Porsha at the end in the Final! I am not so sure she should have said that, which must have hit the others pretty hard. They liked him.

Now, just one more guaranteed safe act. Tristan, Gianna, Avalon or Olivia? I guess Tristan. It is. I was right. The camera loves her. She is so photogenic. She also looks completely different tonight with gently waving long hair and much paler skin even. Go Rest On The High Mountain is one smart song. Scott Barchetta is the guy running the record label that the winner will sing under. He upset Tristan who had chosen something else and that did show her youth and comparative sensitivity but he may have been right as this was superb combination of Country with a bit of religion which she delivered to perfection. Lovely.

Avalon, Olivia and Gianna are the bottom three, one of whom will be saved.

Avalon sings a number by The Weekend that is very 'Harry-like' with a clear jazz feel to it. She is truly excellent but how deep that'll go in Idol terms I am not sure. Actually, the audience give her a lot of support.

Olivia has the look and the style. She choose Trouble by Pink. Last week she was ill so that might have been partially responsible for dropping her down. She really outs on one of the best shows we've seen tonight, definitely, looking and sounding like a pop star. That was good. Lots of vocal ability and clear talent. Harry says the lack of emotion in that performance could make it difficult for them to choose. I got the impression that they will go for Avalon over Olivia but I think Olivia would be the better bet for the record company. Avalon should join Harry and make records as a duo, that would actually work very well and solve a bit of a problem for both of them.

None of this bodes well, though, for Gianna, waiting her turn there. She would need to blow both acts out of the water. Some People is a big song and she starts well. So good to hear someone starting a song well. Unfortunately the next bit starts very low and that is not easy for anyone. She tries and almost succeeds but it is way out of her comfortable range. It is almost a relief when she gets into the mid and higher sections where she is excellent. Before starting she did say how she should 'put on the make-up and jewellery and put on the act so that people will believe her'. That is very telling. She is so young and has simply no experience and cannot honestly put the right emotion into the lyrics.

Deciding has to be difficult but I would say that Gianna simply didn't make it, despite a good performance and mostly accurate notes. Olivia would be my choice as I believe she is real and can do more that the public would love and I can see her competing with the others that are through already. Avalon is possibly the most naturally musical in a way. But is she commercial enough?

Difficult choice. They choose Avalon. That's fair. I wonder what she'll do next? She is, for sure, though, someone who can deliver lyrics and in that sense I am happy to see her back. Tough for Olivia.

Ryan says that there are just five weeks left. If another two go next week it'll be down to the Top 6. Then I would hope it's just Top 5, Top 4, Finale with 3 and Final with 2. It does rather look like La'Porsha has this in the bag from most viewpoints but the American voters are not as predictable as you might think.