Saturday, 20 October 2012

Jessica Sanchez - Jump In

This is really good and just the sort of stuff Jessica should be doing. One of my favourites and runner up in American Idol 2012, with a Glee role too, this girl is going to be everywhere soon, just like seems to be these days, with one of his Black Eyed Peas team helping to turn this into a major release, (albeit only in the Phillipnes at the moment!)

Friday, 25 May 2012

American Idol. And The Winner is...

Trying to keep away from announcements of the winner, tweets, news bulletins, Google+ and Facebook has meant that I've had virtually to hibernate for two days! I genuinely still don't know what the result is and am writing this live with the UK showing.

After the seriously odd anti-climax of Part 1, which is usually the exciting and best part when the last two really turn on all that they have to attract as many votes as they can, I have no idea what to expect tonight but it can only improve...

Well, white suits certainly put a smile on my face! I am just trying to imagine what Phillip would ahve said had he come 3rd and been asked to don the white gear and do the sing-a-long and dance bit!! He must be so relieved. And the organisers.

Shannon is so tall.

That was all totally pointless but nice to see the whole gang again.

Ryan tells us that an extraordinary 132 million votes were cast. With numbers like that then it probably doesn't matter who sang what in the first part. If Jessica has managed to get the whole of The Philippines and Mexico dialling then - who knows - she may have got 130 million of them.

My own preference is for Jessica to win. I feel she could be the future star and appeal to the music generation of youngsters out there and transfer from the US too. Phillip is solid and pretty much faultless in terms of notes and stuff but he seldom seems to be challenged or doing anything that special. The single written for him is cool. But that's as far as he goes.

Phillip gets first bash at convincing us he's worth all the effort with a performance with John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Now I bought all their albums when they came out so that guy must be getting on for 70 but looks younger than he does on the cover of Cosmo's Factory! Crazy. They do a couple of tracks. All good stuff. I do like Who'll Stop the Rain.

Joshua next. Is he in the Final after all? Everyone's thinking he should be. Fantasia comes on and squawks at him quite a lot. Both of them head for the audience and frighten the pants off the front row. They seem to keep going, squawking ever louder and annoyingly. Eventually the ads appear, presumably while the producers try and shut them up and shove them off the stage.

Jessica must be wondering whether everyone's forgotten her.

Chukka Khan comes next and a string of stars including Rihanna doing great stuff. Well, with all the money from 132 million votes they can afford to splash out.

Finally Jessica gets a chance. A perfect version of I Will Always Love You. Beautiful. Pity there's no more votes to gather. But then she disappears again and we get the Top 12 prancing around and doing cover versions again. How come Phillips gets two shots with the old guy and Jessica gets just one repeat of an earlier track? I'm beginning to think she may have a chance of winning after all and they're saving her for the end.

Neil Diamond!? Good grief! this show certainly pulls in the stars, albeit those from my day more than today. (OK, I know, Rihanna and Fantasia are current but most of the numbers the idols do and a good number of the guests are older than I am and I'm pretty ancient.)

Jennifer Lopez gets to promote her new releases. They're OK but her baggy pants look silly. In fact there was one part with a female backing singer whose voice was really good. No idea who she was.

We then get a couple of old idols on stage and the guy proposes to the girl who does actually look genuinely surprised. Luckily she says 'yes'. Oh boy, this is a strange show tonight.

Hollie comes on and starts You'll Never Walk Alone a bit uncertainly. then introduces Jordin Sparks who is twice as tall and has a far more expensive dress. For a short while Jordin seems to be demonstrating just how the song should sung but then Hollie finds her confidence and blows the big girl out of the water with her performance. Jessica  is still missing and is probably wondering what sort of job she'd have made of that. My guess is that she would have started better than Hollie but not finished as well and would have been tempted to do some runs and wobbly bits that simply wouldn't have suited that classic track. personally, I still prefer Gerry & The Pacemakers' original version. I think it was them, at any rate. Perhaps they'll come on in a moment. they're so old that they probably do have pacemakers now. talking of 'moments', if anything, Jordin and Hollie did provide a bit of a moment there. remembering earlier years, though, we're missing that special Christina Aguilera or Lady Gaga performance. Now they were moments.

Oh dear, poor Robin must have been turning in his grave as the guys attempted the first of a medley of Bee Gee numbers. Awful. Colton rescues things but has to cope with the other four coming in at the wrong times and in the wrong key to ruin the next number. Finally, Joshua fixes things with his pretty passionate interpretation of To Love Somebody and just about manages to drwon out the idiots backing him who really should have been left sitting in the audience for this show.

I had thought that this series was going to be a bit special with what appeared to be some real talent. It seems that many got worse over the weeks instead of getting better.

Now we get Jessica, with Jennifer Halliday. Compare that to Phillip and Fogerty. Hmmm. No. No comparison. I'm not particularly fond of the scrunchy vocal performances that the Jennifer woman does but you have to be impressed with Jessica, probably one sixth the age of the other but actually sounding the better of the two. Still don't think that Jessica's best style, though.

Hello. Aerosmith! Steven Tyler has a new record to promote now. All good stuff and he seems to have altered some words to include reference to the idol girls. I heard Jessica, Jennifer and Hollie. Legendary being the not so clever title as it sounds more like Letch In The Dairy or Ledge 'N Hairy. Before he has a chance to get himself in trouble with the Protect Our Youth Brigade they morph into Walk This Way and all is fairly safe after all and the very innocent under 18s are not in any way provided with unsuitable or suggestive material. They still have to wait until their 18 to do what most of Europe is doing at 15 these days. Or 21 if it involves alcohol. I suppose Steven is this year's Lady Gaga.

Phillip must have fallen asleep by now behind the curtain. Someone needs to wake him up during the ad break. There's only 14 minutes left. That's 6 minutes, allowing for ads and him singing the new single and smiling inanely as the bags of glitter burst above him. Well, that's what I think will happen next. I may be wrong.

Piano intro. It's Jessica. And Phillip, now in black. He did look ridiculous in white. Up Where We Belong kinda works but it's like Jessica is the lead singer and he's just one of the backing guys. Pretty bland, to be honest. It's returning to the dire stuff we had in Part 1.

OK. Here we go. Dim the lights...

The audience is so much in favour in Phillip. So just as well he won. The bookies were right all along. And he definitely has the best single.

That's it. Season 11 is over.

American Idol: The Final Pt 1

This is supposed to be the climax of the whole thing but it was strangely lame.


If I Don't Have You
A good start but she is starting to miss one or two notes. She's still amazing for a 16 year old on such a massive stage and I'll forgive some nerves but hope that she gets it together next time.


Stand By Me
This is too good a song to mess up. Who told him to smile? At all the wrong times too. I didn't like that at all.

First Round definitely to Jessica.


The Prayer
Well done. Not amazing but well done and maybe a cool move to get the religious votes in.


Moving Out
Just not much more than a copy of the Billy Joel number. This is boring. He is not doing himself any favours at all but then Jessica hasn't exactly played any trump cards either. Still, I do love that girl with the clarinet. I'd vote for her.

Second Round to the clarinet girl.


Change Nothing
At last, something that should suit her, sounding younger. It's still not the pop song that she needs but this is fairly strong, I suppose. It's just nowhere near as good as she deserves for such a huge opportunity. I mean, this is the last chance she has to get people voting and that average stuff isn't right. Someone has made a big mistake.


This is far, far better. It's a really commercial song and a clear winner for him. A nice arrangement. In fact, despite losing out in the first two rounds he could well win this thing with that. Jessica must be well annoyed. In fact, Phillip could have won Eurovision with that!

So that's that. Quite a frustrating show that didn't live up to all the hype at all. Very disappointing and nothing memorable, no moments at all.

My guess is that Phillip will win after that but for all the wrong reasons.

Friday, 18 May 2012

There are 91 million votes in Bataan (and Westlake and Leesburg pop. 2965)

91 million votes! Boy, that's a lot. To get to the final, contestants needed a third of them.

Watching Joshua perform It's A Man's World as he left the competition, you just have to say that there goes someone who may well rank as one of the best finds by the Series in all its 11 years. I would love to have seen him in the final with Jessica which I believe could have been quite something and, like the X Factor final, of a quality that ought to silence some of those who just think this is just another cheesy reality TV show with a big budget.

By chance one of the other hugely talented finds of the Series was also performing as a guest tonight. Adam Lambert is quite extraordinarily brilliant and, at times, he could almost have been giving Joshua lessons in how to run round notes and elicit lyrics without losing them. If only someone could write Adam some decent tracks. Looking forward to seeing how he fills Freddie Mercury's space on the stage with Queen for the British Jubilee celebration performances.

One surprise tonight was Lisa Marie Presley. She sang You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet which might well have been written by David Lynch. It had that dark, moody feel, emphasised by some very cool guitar work, that I could imagine accompanying a Lynch film. Quite out of place here but interesting for all that.

Another surprise was Ryan bringing our attention to a clip of Phillip's dad packing heat in clear view on the homecoming video. I am just trying to imagine how that would go down on a British show. It is all very strange. Steven gets told off big time for some references about a couple of 16 year olds but we Brits aren't allowed to see Coca Cola and get red blob instead of cups on the judges' bench!

Joshua leaving wasn't a surprise. He didn't deserve to go but it wasn't a surprise with 91 million votes split between them. My bet is that it was Phillip that got the surprise - as he probably has every week since he started! Jessica had better take every bit of Jimmy's advice between now and next week, though. That's all I can say as we approach the end of another American Idol series.

The Top 3 Perform

To all intents and purposes, this is the Finale and this is American Idol! Yes, there'll be a final next week between two of these three to choose the name that appears in the list of Series winners but any of Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips could be that name.


Tonight, they perform three tracks: the first chosen by the judges, then their own choice and, lastly, one chosen for them by Jimmy Iovine. All nine performances can be seen here. Joshua, to my mind, destroys I'd Rather Go Blind and had me rushing to dig out a copy of Christine McVie's version which captures the emotions that Joshua's gnarled vowels simply didn't. He is excellent with the other choices, though, but his last track may not be one that is familiar to many. He is one very talented guy and could well be the one who should win but doesn't. I just don't think America's voters will go for so much of that drama and wish he had stayed cool as he is really very good and will definitely be around and selling albums very soon.

Jessica attempts the Mariah Carey track and almost stretches her amazing talents too far, missing some key notes and even, perhaps, displaying some nerves in her first song. After that, though, it seems as if she has realised that she's going to win, or, at very least, become really famous at 16 whatever happens and for the Aerosmith number and the sheer inspired choice by Jimmy to finish with she manages to hit not only all the right notes but also looks wonderful and the camera absolutely adores her. On its own, I think I'll Be There, could win her this thing. A stroke of genius, not only to bring back the fond memory of Michael Jackson but she has his voice and his range and even wore black and exactly the right shade of red. This was Jessica as the artist I can imagine loads of teenagers buying and following and releasing tracks that will sell and take over the charts, possibly even crossing the pond to UK too as we have no-one quite like her at this time whilst we do have quite a few Joshuas.

She is the star, whatever happens.

Phillip's success each week has always been a surprise to me. I don't think he has ever featured in the lower regions of the voting stats. Yes, he's a nice guy, very liekable and delightfully original and unaffected by all the razzamatazz but I don't know where he fits in to this type of show. I'm glad he's done well and cannot think of anyone who deserves the third place he ought to have (but I suspect won't) any more as all those who have gone before have lacked something too. What he doesn't lack is appeal to all the girls out there who must account for such consistent high figures throughout the live shows. That, indeed, could propel him to take the title but, to my mind, third place is where he belongs. His interpretation of Beggin' was excellent. He then goes pretty wild for his own choice which struck me as neither here nor there. He ends really well, though, (again, thanks to the remarkable Jimmy Iovine,) with We've Got Tonight which his fans will have adored and will have had them reaching for their phones almost before he finished. I couldn't help but notice, as you will now, his left hand movements throughout but someone does finally seem to have given him some strong words about the ridiculous and quite off-putting facial expressions.

So, in summary, watch the performances - they're all damn good in their way - and, however the votes go, we'll be watching even more by two of them in the Final. I think Joshua will go although it should be Phillip. Jessica is by a long, long way the stand-out star. She is the idol. She looks and sounds and now even seems to behave the part and she will be there in the Final. Phillip will be there with her in quite an odd assortment of music when, if he repeats the bonfire of the stylishly weird and plays the commercial cards, he may well get his name on the Series Winners roll. If Jessica develops further those camera talents and appealing looks and gets such inspired tracks as Jimmy produced this time - or repeats I Will Always Love You then it is hers for the taking.

You just have to feel a bit sorry for Joshua. It really should be him in the Final.

I'd Rather Go Blind

My All



I Don't Want To Miss A Thing


No More Drama

I'll Be There

We've Got Tonight

Friday, 11 May 2012

Hollie takes 4th Place On American Idol

California Dreaming starts off the results show which is almost like part two of the Finale itself, with the standard this being so high. I still feel Phillip is uncomfortable in these group affairs and both and he and Joshua sound out of place in these harmony affairs. It's not his bag. The girls, however, were spot on and reproduced Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips nicely.

Phillip is first up and Jimmy reckons that he's found his niche at last. the saxophone did it for him, much as for me. You get the impression that he'll be safe - first up, I'd expect him to be in the bottom two but Ryan plays around and we have to wait.

Hollie next for the Jimmy judgement and I expect him to be honest and predict that she's the one to go. He did but we still have to wait. It all sounds very much like she's going to take 4th place. Anything else would be a shock. We've had several so far, two of which she won - a third time would be a bit much to ask.

David Cook interrupts proceedings with his latest number - a good, well-written rock track that I wondered how Phillip might have delivered in comparison. Not as well. David's voice and bearing were what won over the voters that year and Phillip simply doesn't match that.

Joshua gets the honest review and also has to wait. Jessica gets similar treatment. Nice to hear that even Jimmy genuinely can't predict the winner, although I think he was referring to the J v J contest there behind the scenes, including H and P out of fairness in public.

Just one thought does go through my head during the ads: where does Jessica's support actually lie and how much is it with people who vote? Hollie's supporters really could be the mad diallers, just as I would expect Phillip's females who weren't put off by his pretty girlfriend last week. Either could, possibly, knock Jessica into 4th place. It has happened before. Only Phillip has never been at risk so I guess we have to assume that he's made it through again? Then it's between the two girls and just who has brought out the most votes rather than who performed best on the night. If Hollie kept hers on board whilst Jessica's much older-style image appealed to a different audience and left hers behind who were wanting a youngster singing a ballad or pop song then that shock may yet come.

Jennifer had the benefit of a backing track and was able to concentrate on a cool set of moves with some ugly-looking blokes on the stage. A good, commercial track but I was wondering just what Joshua would have made of the lyrics. Then you had to wonder what Hollie and Jessica, both 'under age' in the States, were thinking or, for that matter, the stricter members of the viewing public. Jennifer essentially showed the difference between the ages and it would really only be Phillip who would be 'allowed' to appreciate the words and moves!

Jessica is the first announced as in the Top 3. Next is Joshua. So, it is between Phillip and Hollie. Frustratingly we have to wait through another ad break.

It's Philip who makes the Finale. Farewell Hollie - a good run and very creditable 4th place in an outstanding AI2012.

It's A Man's Man's, Joshua's World

This should be some show. The two rounds are California Dreaming featuring tracks with some relationship to the East Coast city and Music I Wish I'd Written, a nice idea where the four remaining contestants attempt to do tracks that have inspired them most.



Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Another CCR track - they're popular this year. the crowd really do love this guy and, obviously, the voting crowd too, despite Jimmy Iovine's reasonable comments last week.

This is a great song but the growl approach that Phillip seems to adopt every time now I am beginning to find a bit annoying and not like the Fogerty original which did work. However, a very cool-looking grirl with a saxophone topped off this performance and turned it from bland to quite enjoyable. I still can't rate this guy that highly but this won't have done him any harm so it's still for the others to beat him.


Forever Yours, Faithfully
I think that ws the title of the Journey song. Not one I knew well but that is a super song and well-suited to both this stage of the competition and her style. It seemed a little low for her - the word faithfully at the end of several stanzas being almost lost - but she pulled through and raised her game really nicely at the end. I genuinely loved that song and wish her well but still can't be sure just what support she has. With luck she'll have captured more of Skylar's fans than Jessica will have done so the omens are good. The thing about Hollie, though, is that somehow you just can't be sure. Star quality is emerging now and she is being dressed and styled really well but Jessica and Joshua have a big start on her - a lot to make up, so much depends on what Jessica does. Much as I'd like to see both in the Finale, I feel Phillip's fan club will just launch him i there whatever he does. Joshua is a certainty so there's only room for one of the girls.


You Raise Me Up
I was expecting this to be a remarkable performance. It seemed just right for him, anthem-like and lots of choir and church stuff. But, no, this was full of odd notes, tin in the voice and inappropriate squawks and efforts to make it come across better. I thought that was actually pretty poor. Maybe he's nervous. Maybe that squawking and chewing of the words he does is beginning to tire. If he had simply delivered the goods that would have been fine. Trying too hard. He won't have won over extra votes there.


Steal Away
Strange jazz blues number that she seems to enjoy doing. Lots of range in there, from growling to the high notes but I didn't actually like it much. Odd notes here and there to my ears too but maybe I just didn't know the track well enough. All credit to her for not going down the predictable and commercial route but I do feel that maybe she might need to.

Hollie won that round by quite a clear margin in my book. I know I've been backing her all the way but that is genuinely the performance by the person who I feel, from those tracks, at least, most suits being an American Idol in 2012.

Phillips & Joshua

This Love
The Maron 5 number really suited them both. Excellent. As Steven said, whoever picked that (Nigel) did a brilliant job. Particularly, Joshua was relaxed and didn't chew up the words. Interesting to note that Phillip has yet to adopt any designer clothes whilst the other three are looking increasingly impressive.

Hollie & Jessica

Eternal Flame
Not bad. I preferred The Bangles. Jessica tried to 'win' on some notes and, notably, on the last note, hung on just that little bit longer, maybe trying to make up for being given just the low notes throughout which did rather give Hollie the better audience pleasers.

All four then sing-a-long with I've Been Waiting which suited none of them that well. Jessica possibly came over best that time, but not a great deal in it. Basically, all eneded up pretty even after those three joint efforts. Now, back to their individual efforts to kick one of the others out of that imminent Finale.


Missed the title but that was the type of song that this guy should be doing as an artist. It worked, mainly as it wasn't unnatural or forced and mercifully free of the facial contortions. Best performance from him so far. That could see him through if the screaming crowd doesn't.


I Can't Make You Love Me
Very impressive performance. Not easy for her to get the emotion across and just not the 'moment' she needed. After all the praise that Phillip got, and we know Joshua will get and that Jessica will somehow force out of the judges with a far better choice of track, those comments from the judges will have hurt. She has left herself very vulnerable which is a shame as I think she genuinely did try and she did show that she can sing so well and the notes and how she presented everything were otherwise faultless.


It's A Man's Man's World
And every compliment he got for that was deserved indeed. That was excellent. Absolutely perfect for him, that should not only take him through very safely but that remarkable song and the way he presented it, with far less chewing at last, could well be remembered for long enough for voters to be inspired enough to vote for him and give him the title.


I'm Telling You
Wow! That was powerful and full of all the emotion that she needed to show for a second 'moment'. A remarkable performance and, in some ways, it was better than Joshua's in so far as this was a far more difficult one and she put so much in to it. Amazing. Well done. No-one, not even Hollie's fans, would be sad to see Hollie defeated by these two.

All that remains to be seen, with Joshua and Jessica surely sure-fire certainties for the Finale, is just how strong Phillip's votes really are in comparison to Hollie's. On every 'non-idol' criteria, Phillip wins that battle. As someone with potential to make the big time and succeed as a major artist, it would be Hollie but even she loses out at this stage to the two Js.

Friday, 4 May 2012

American Idol: the one with Coldplay, Carrie and wind and Phillip's fans send Skylar home

Well we knew Joshua was going to be safe and Ryan gets that out of the way pretty smartly.

Coldplay follow with the first of two performances. Paradise was decidedly dodgy  but at least it confirmed that they were singing live, possibly one of the first for a while. I expected him to say "Sorry" at the end as not only was Chris struggling to hit the notes but his band seemed to be playing in different time zones. If he doesn't make up for that then Gwyneth will give him hell when he gets home.

Hollie Kavenagh -Photo from
Hollie and Phillip are brought centre stage. Now, as Jimmy so lucidly put it, and almost anyone other than a mad Phillip fan would agree, Phillip deserved to go after those lazy and uninspiring performances and, certainly out of the two, it was Hollie who had been the star. What happens? Exactly the opposite! Phillip must have some fan base. Oh dear.

Jessica Sanchez

Carrie Underwood does a track about Oklahoma wind and looks stunning in an expensive white dress that gets nicely blown away from time to time and that brings a few appreciative whistles from the men in the audience. (Strange that they don't do that when Rhianna, Lady Gaga or Christina perform with far more exposed.) This is one expensive show tonight. I kept looking at Carrie, not just because of the dress but also thinking how well Hollie could have performed the same track.

Next up are the remaining pair, Skylar and Jessica. Now that's a difficult choice in some ways. On replay, Skylar sounded the more accomplished, albeit not at her best and Jessica seemed just a little desperate to impress with her first number but still superbly presenting the second. America has shown its uncertainty about Jessica a couple of weeks ago and I was expecting the same to happen again but, no, it was indeed Skylar who joined Hollie in the bottom two.

Coldplay again. That was better. Chris obviously had a word with the boys backstage.

Dim the lights ... it's Skylar who finsihes fifth.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sopranos Star On American Idol. And then there was Joshua.

So now it's down to Hollie, Jessica, Joshua, Phillip and Skylar. One of these will be American Idol 2012. To help voters cut one more from that list they see them perform tracks from the 60s and BritPop! Now, that's a great combination.

Then we get told that Steven Van Zandt, an East Coast guy, friend of The Boss and Sopranos star is helping Jimmy Iovine do the mentoring bit. Ah! That'll be for the 60s bit, I guess.


River Deep, Mountain High
Jimmy was absolutely right again in saying that it is all about her attitude, how she comes across to the audience and this time she really seems to have taken notice and had a brilliant time with this very difficult song. No faults and one great start to the show. She let go and it showed - and it worked so well. This was a potential star performing at last, not just a talented contestant in a reality TV show. Ryan notices and remarks that "Something's going on for you" with a hint about her next song too which is interesting. For probably the first time she gets genuinely good reviews from all the judges too and this has certainly set the bar high for the other four tonight.

If she can do this well with only bare understanding of the lyrics then what will she be able to do once life and loves have had an impact?


The Letter
I always feel that this guy is chewing the lyrics and this he did in spades this time. The Box Tops' version was a simple song, just a few notes and over in an instant. He mashed it all up and turned it inside out and lost the melody completely. Just a lot of noise. He's good at what he does in a jazz way but I can't see any real reason for him still challenging the other four now. Ryan pointing out Phillip's very attractive girlfriend in the audience might have lost a bunch of girl fan votes too, although, with only Joshua to compete with for them, that weird smile might just get him enough to survive, against all odds.


Fortunate Son
A great song that should get her lots of votes from across the board. Nice. She put a lot into it and you could tell it was not something she knew too well. More of a 'performance' than we've had from her of late. frantic and a bit breathless but enjoyable enough for all that.

Now we see a duet  between Phillip and Joshua. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling sounds like it ought to be a good number for both of them. But, oh dear, this is not an easy song by any stretch of the imagination. Joshua carries Phillip from as soon as he comes in, an inspired performance by one and very poor by the other.


Proud Mary
Another Creedence Clearwater Revival track. Not what I would have suggested she try. Neil Diamond comes to mind as better. However, she was on good raunchy and range form and, as always, she had great rhythm and excellent notes. She looked quite a deal older than her 16 years but not as attractive as Hollie and this didn't match either of her two female rivals.


Ain't Too Proud To Beg
It sould like it should be a good track for this guy. And it sure was. I felt we were watching the winner this time. Boosted by his earlier rescue of the duet, this was assured and excellent. Faultless and Steven calls him one of the top 2 vocalists of all time. That'll please him. I'm still not sure, though, whether he'll get his fair share of the votes as deserved, with the background support in the audience noticeably dimmer than for Phillip.

In the second round, it's tracks from British acts.


Hollie goes first again and gives us her version of a recent hit for one of X Factor's best finds, Leona Lewis's Bleeding Love. This might well have been a number Jessica could have scored heavily with - Hollie gives a different approach to Leona but actually, and this is quite surprising, actually more credible. Now that is interesting. all we need now is a track that we can totally identify her with, or with her. I think it needs to be an anthem. I hope she'll get a chance next week if the three girl vote split goes her way. This was a good performance again and she is looking the best of the three girls at the moment, well on her way to a final that I would have not expected her to make a few weeks ago. Her voice is strong and very clear, and accurate. Add that extra bit of passion and believability that has been absent to date and this is one dark horse.


Phillips's second number is the Zombie's Time Of The Season. This has not been covered to my knowledge, which is an indication of how it is quite a unique track and not something you'd expect to here on American Idol. It kind of suited him. For a change he did just cover a number. He gets huge adulation again from the crowd but this is very forgettable and I just don't see why he is still around other than the fact that he is the sole white male. he may have his talents in a slightly peculiar and jazz-like way but others who have been ejected from this process to date would have been far better at this stage of the competition in my view.

Jessica, Skylar and Hollie do the Jackie Wilson number Higher and Higher. Jessica seems desperate and a bit over-competitive. Skylar is the natural performer, at ease but not very inspiring this time. Hollie seems the winner of the three for this track, in charge and reliable, although, to be honest, this was not a memorable moment on the show.


You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
A good choice. Whilst she is no Dusty Springfrield, I can see her country fans liking this soulful and honest rendition that might have been one of the best of the night. However, she missed a lot of notes and went off track quite badly, really spoiling it for anyone listening at the end. From very cool to worryingly off in one track. This might cost her a lot.


You're So Beautiful
Again, this could be her 'moment' or another one. A brilliant choice. Beautiful start and continuing to a lovely performance that, whilst not as magical as her earlier round YouTube record breaker had been, this was very good and really ought to have bought her ticket for the Top 4.


To Love Somebody
Now this is one of my all time favourite tracks. What will he do with it? It's beauty for me is its simplicity. Joshua didn't destroy it as he might have done at all. In fact, he kept it remarkably restrained whilst letting go near the end but this time letting go in a controlled and very impressive way. It was pretty damn good and that just has to be not only the performance of the night but may be enough to see him through to the final, never mind the Top 4.

The judges were well over the top with comments from Jennifer gushing out that he was the best singer for over 50 years sounding slightly ridiculous. No, very ridiculous and, actually, that won't have helped his chances. He will be getting a record deal, that's for sure and there were plenty of hints from Jimmy and Steven that they'll be doing something with him (as well as being instructed very clearly by Jennifer to choose the right tracks for him to ensure he does stay!)

I think we could have been watching a winner here. We know one of the five will win and, despite Jessica's appeal, I believe Joshua and Hollie won this evening. Phillip ought to be the one going home but a less than popular Jessica or off-form Skylar may lose out to his big fan base. It'll be a close call as even Joshua may not have the volume of votes that his remarkable performances tonight might justify. And Hollie has been in the bottom two or three rather more often than any of the others. All have a reason to be vulnerable.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Queen Rules In America

The Queen certainly rule in America this week at least. With a carefully selected band of singers and guitarists doing a good job of Somebody To Love that track went down well enough, despite the audience not seeming particularly vocal in the join-in section!) but the real buzz happened when Brian and Roger appeared and set the place on fire once again.

Ryan brings Jessica and Elise out and, as you could have guessed, Elise is in the bottom three once more. No surprises there really and my feeling is that it really is the last time she'll be appearing in the bottom three - but not for the reason she'd prefer.

Stefano reappears next. Following Queen, even part of Queen, was never going to be easy. No shiny suit either. A good track that Olly Murs could have a hit with. He seems to have two voices - one that stands out, the higher, sharper one that cuts through the backing track and a pretty much unnoticeable one that let him down. Still, nice to see him again.

Hollie and Joshua. Now we all know the judges would just instantly send Hollie to the bottom three anyway and they must have had some effect on the voters. Joshua's second track was pretty good and the switch between the dance track he did before broadened his appeal. For all that, I wouldn't want to call between these two as I do think Hollie is building her fans, albeit a bit late. Hollie is the one that joins Elise.

Katy Perry comes on in aggressive mood looking like a 90s Ukraine entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. The song has to be a Russell Brand put down. For most of it she's lost in dry ice anyway, her record playing in the background. Another hit, no doubt, but she might at least have tried a bit harder to appear to be singing it. For some reason she was surrounded by alternative versions of herself, all with black knee pads and at the end the ice turned green and I expected some military band to come on as some guy was barking orders in the background. Odd.

OK, back and it's between Skylar and Phillip. Surely no argument here - it has to be Skylar that is safe out of those two. Big surprise again this week! Skylar is the one in 4th place! I wasn't expecting that. Phillip sure must have all the girl's votes now and that must have saved him in not exactly a stunning week for him. As if to quell the storm that was brewing amongst the audience and judges, Ryan almost immediately says that Skylar is safe and that leaves Hollie and Elise.

Elise reaches the end of her road and goes out with her wonderful Led Zep number. I can see that as a single. If Robert Plant wasn't tied up with Alison Krauss he might even have joined her. So now we have the Final Five. Skylar coming 4th after such a good performance and showing consistent strength for a few weeks now really does mean that it is anyone's guess now.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Show Must Go On (and so do the judges)

It's Queen week and there's Brian May, grey hair seemingly ablaze beneath the lights with Roger Taylor, looking rather big and out of place with the tiny idols remaining in the Top 6. They answer some silly questions and still look uncomfortable but that may have been because no-one understood their excellent accents.

The group song was a pretty predictable mix of extracts from some of their hits and it was so noticeable how Elise led the way almost entirely. It suited her too. Brian was smiling throughout, probably thinking about the large fee he'd be getting for not a great deal of hard work. With the bright white light behind him in some shots his huge mass of hair looked extraordinary. I do hope that's a style that doesn't take on.

They finished with We Are The Champions which really didn't work at all well. It was so dull, like a Sunday morning on a cold day in a small church in the country. At no point do I recall hearing either Jessica or Hollie who were together on one mike.


Bohemian Rhapsody
Cameras go to black and white as they associate with the original visuals for this, even putting her face in a similar three-repeat in the background. Not many would dare take this song on! I think she made a good job of that with nice vocals on the gentler side which suited her so much better than when she tries to rock. The rock bit did work but she did look nervous and even seemed to be trying to remember what to do rather than being natural. She's starting to fade a bit and show some weakness.


The Show Must Go On
Excellent performance. I can't fault that and she really is shaping up to win this. That put Jessica in the shade as she was on pitch and it was believable too. Well done. Not as difficult a track as Jessica's but still not easy. She is showing a lot of strength and composure whereas her competition looks vulnerable.


Crazy Little Thing Called Love
I didn't like this at all and not sure he coped that well with this track. He just belted it out whereas it does need light and shade. Not good. Energetic, but not very marketable. So why the SO from the judges??! They're out of line on this, they really are. They must get a totally different sound down there from what we get through a couple of speakers. Jennifer says it all when she announces that he's her 'favourite'. Hmmm.


I Want It All
I like the way she's on it from the very start. Of everyone in the T6 she should be the one this week was made for but, apart from the chorus, this is not the best of songs to make an impression with. The verse is almost instantly forgettable and doesn't allow for anything special to happen either. She did a good, confident job but it wasn't as spectacular as you'd expect from Elise, singing Queen, in the Top Six stage. She got good reviews but obviously not their 'favourite' and she could be disappointed.


Fat Bottomed Girls
He sounded great. It was a good choice for his voice. It's a song where you can mangle the words and it still works. He does look odd - a complete opposite to the stylish and slick Freddie Merucry person. Phillips does have personality, a smile and the voice that people seem to like. Just not my idea of an American Idol.


Save Me
She gets the first pimp spot and needs to be good, having been almost unnoticed in the group song. This was a nice song. Not the usual anthem and not actually a track I remembered at all. She chose well - or Jimmy did. This is what she does well - a powerful, simple song that matches her range and didn't require her to dance around or do something she doesn't look right doing. Nice. It may not have set the world alight but that shouldn't have done her any harm and keep in in the running. just. Well, it would, had the so biased panel supported her a bit more. they're so critical of her and I really am beginning to think that they don't want her on the show any longer and can't wait for her to go. Everyone else is regarded as some sort of hero with comments like 'amazing' 'don't know what to say' blah blah blah. Hollie gets a long long rant from Jennifer. That's it.

For the second round they get to pick their own tracks.


Dance With My Father Again
Finally, she gets her look right - nice dress and overall styling that suits her. This was a really good performance. A heartfely song that she delivers back on top form once more. It was an excellent time to do it too as she'd been looking quite vulnerable of late, never really matching her incredible Whitney moment of what is now a long time ago. She should now be safe after that and that's what I am sure she'll be doing on CDs later in the year, whatever happens in the competition.


Tattoos On This Town
I think that's the title of of good ol' country number which she is totally at home with. This was a good performance, comfortable and assured. She's a professional and you feel that she's totally reliable. Not spectacular but a good night for her and she must be on her way now to the final.


Running For love
No idea what this song is actually called but it could have been written for him. The judges are on their feet again. This time it may have been deserved. It was a nice track and he produced a very soulful, accurate and controlled sound with none of the annoying shouting. Nice job. If he does more like that then he'll be hard to stop, especially with Jennifer and Randy voting for him so obviously. This could be one of the few times that I have heard this guy do something really really well, though, and a great choice.


Bold as love
A Hendrix number, apparently. It's difficult to know what to make of this. She is certainly very, very good and absolutely in her element but where on earth this will fit with potential voters to keep her in the competition I'm not so sure. Randy does the rant this time, going on and on and losing her votes with each sigh. The fact is that she sang tremendously, as well as Joshua before her and interpreted a difficult track well. People just won't recognise it though.


?? Bold As love
Another track I don't know. Boy, is this lot choosing some unique tracks this year. In a way, that's quite a stand out from previous Series and a good thing. Phillip has always been a bit whacky, odd, occasionally weird and downright ridiculous when forced to do the sing-a-long or set tracks. In the preview of what others think about each other the girls were amusingly honest about how odd his expressions can be when singing and in regard to his leg movements that make Olly Murs seem positively static! This time he went to an extreme but a nice extreme. This what what Phillip Phillips is meant to do and he managed to avoid the weird movements as well. It was an odd number that no-one will know and he was accompanied by a two beautiful girls, one on a fiddle or violin and another on a brass instrument. the violinist was superb and the camera seemed to stay on her almost the whole time! I didn't mind that and doubt whether Phillip would have been that bothered either. He's not someone you want to watch.

Now, will the judges give him the same treatment as they gave Elise? Steven was good, calling him 'Off the wall' accurately and, later, admiring him for being true to what he wants to do rather than digging for votes. Randy got it right too. He was doing what Phillip does. So why didn't they just say that to Elise? So unfair. And Jennifer says she is worried that he might not now make the final. Oh boy. So we all know who she doesn't want in the final, don't we.


The Climb
She sure did make the most of the closing slot of the night with this! It's a very familiar song, having been used as the final song in X Factor too with Joe McElderry winning with it a while ago. It's one of those well-written numbers that are great for closing big shows with that lots of people who watch this type of show love. Hollie performed it marvellously, better than the original. And, good grief, the judges are standing up! Unbelievable. Maybe they were told to after Jennifer's rant and unfair comments. So, an excellent song choice and very well delivered. It's not my favourite at all but it could be just what she needs to survive. At times I really could see her with some star quality shining tonight and, whilst Skylar wins the night, Hollie came second. I just hope the voters agree.

This is a difficult week to call now. Hollie could have been the vulnerable one (again) but she may just have done enough to grow her fan base to be a challenger and is certainly looking like someone who could make a late run for the final.

Jessica seemed good at the time but, on second listening, she has quite a tinny sound and isn't actually singing as well now as she seemed to be at the start. I know the judges and even Jimmy go on about how brilliant she is but I do wonder what support she has and whether her efforts this week will have increased it significantly. I would say she is now more likely to go than Hollie.

Elise has always been struggling, last week being an exception. I don't think her supporters are that solid, not the people who will phone and phone again to keep her in. They'll respect her but not always vote for her. Her songs weren't great this week and she is the one I would have predicted would go on first consideration.

Phillip's strange second song makes me think twice, though. He must have a strong female backing and is the only white male left too so may survive for that reason alone. He's the one that I'm inclined to think could go, though, on second consideration.

Joshua may get huge props from the judges and Jennifer's own band of voting fans will keep his numbers up. He's an almost guaranteed finalist but shouldn't be. He ought to go but I don't think he will.

Looking back like this, therefore, surprisingly in some ways, it is Skylar and Hollie who managed to hit all the right buttons this week and they may well be the two that are quite safe, Skylar definitely so.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Top 6 Decided on American Idol

We start with a reminder of the crazy results last week that resulted in Jessica being 'saved' by the judges and there was quite a serious, quite non Idol-like introduction video of the top 7.


Rolling In The Deep
At last!! A great performance and she's looking so much better. She sounded perfectly in tune, right from the start and it was nice to see her smiling and getting the song across so well. "Hollie, very well done." said Randy. She does know this song very well indeed, having been doing it for years so was totally at ease and what a difference that made. Now she is a contender again - well, unless the others also up their game as effectively. She must have been very heartened at the support that put her above Jessie, Elise and Joshua last week.


A Bad Romance
Pretty good. That should be popular. a bit thrashy and not sure it was an ideal interpretation. His fans should like it though and should keep him safe.


She performs so well, every time. Totally reliable but, as Jimmy says, she has to do this without a huge fan base. This was a nice job again but not a big one and they make her a vulnerable for no other reason I can think of.


My least favourite so far. He sang an old Usher song. Quite good and in his own style, clearly. I guess it will appeal to a sector like no-one else in the Top 7 will. Not my choice at all but it seemed to go down well and he's always getting good votes!


In and Out of Love
Another complex song. Again, with a possibly quite limited audience appeal so she's taking a big risk. A remarkable performance. Accurate and with style although I felt she'd lost the passion this time. I don't know. I really don't know. As it ended I was thinking that she has talent for sure, in abundance, but is she making life too difficult for her potential voters? She gets big, big props from Randy. Will that make a difference?


Born This Way
Lady Gaga does country style? Really didn't like the start of this. But Skylar is very confident now, probably much buoyed by the realisation that Jessica isn't the favourite and now everyone has a chance of winning. She has as good as any, especially with the country voters out there on her side. Although this really wasn't very good, too loud and quite scratchy, I have a feeling she is the dark horse and will reach the final 3.


He came and screeched quite a bit and went leaving no impression on me at all. I do hope he picks something less desperate next time or he'll be on his way home.

Now, Round two, as the seven have a second song - selected from 'soul music'. Hmmm. That won't suit everyone.


Son of a Preacher Man
Boosted by Liverpool FC's wonderful personal support she looks so much better and, with another good choice, she is making her mark once again this week. She certainly belted it out well but I'm not convinced it will keep her out of the bottom three, lacking a little light and shade as this song requires.


He does an Earth Wing & Fire track. It was pitchy. It may have been called Dancing In September. Good in places but not that great a reception. It was not his best performance so he's taking a chance there. Maybe Gaga will have saved him though.


Let's Get It On
This was ideal for her although I'm not sure at all about the voters. This was a stand-out performance and she growled and moved through this well. Definitely not the one who should go tonight but I still don't know how she'll go down.


In The Midnight Hour
This was a good one for him. This is right in his bag and should make up for the first round mess. I still find him tiring to listen to, though - it's all the same. Very natural performance, all credit for that. That worked.


Try a Little Tenderness
Styled and looking more mature. I thought this would suit her and she put everything into it but it didn't work - tenderness? No way. It was also all over far too quickly. She seemed to be quite unnatural tonight and even missed a note or two. That was not great. Popular? I don't know. She should go back to the emotional stuff or cheery younger music.


 I Heard It Through The Grapevine
This could work well. It did. For my money, Skylar beat Jessica this week. Quite natural and enjoying herself out there on the stage. I didn't like her version much but do respect what she does. She'll be safe.


A Change Is Gonna Come
A classic for Joshua. He mangled the words at one point but otherwise this was really well presented and he controlled himself so much better than has been the case before. When he did let go it was worth waiting for and this was extremely well-received. That ought to save him too. Inspired choice.

Part two: the Results!

Dancing In The Street - it's a credit to the talent of this series that 6 of the 7 made a very respectable job of the song. If this had been the sole Finale decider then Skylar, Joshua and Hollie would be there, with Elise just missing out. Phil and Colton seemed to be right out their comfort zone but coped well. Jessica was virtually non-existent. Odd.

Ryan brings Hollie and Joshua centre stage. Out of these two, after Joshua's last performance he's the one most likely to be safe and that is, indeed, the case, Hollie being in the bottom three.

Kris Allen, Season 8 winner, appears with a mediocre song that won't trouble the UK charts. Colton can take some comfort there as the two share a similar sound and, of the two, it is Colton that should sell most.

Skylar and Elise next. You kinda know that it'll be Elise who is in the bottom three. It is.

Phillip, Colton, Jessica. One more to be added to the bottom three. I feel it ought to be Jessica but no, it's Colton, the voters seeming to have remembered to vote for Jessica after all and Phillip's fans must be more numerous than I'd realised as it is Colton who joins the bottom three for the first time.

So it's between Hollie, Elise and Colton. Surely it's Elise who will finish at No 7? No, in fact she's the first saved. Now between Hollie and Colton any other week  Hollie would have already had her bags packed and the re-run team would have the video of the time on Idol ready to go. They would have to put it away though, as, another shock this week - it's Colton whose run has ended. He goes with a super performance of a track that was arguably the best part of tonight's results show. Hollie survives again and, with Elise still there, and Jessica's talents and support not necessarily insuperable any more, she must stand a chance of reaching making that Finale prediction actually feasible.

Friday, 13 April 2012

American Idol Voters Disagree with Randy About "The Best Singer In America"

The show starts with what I had really hoped they'd abandoned - the sing-a-long spot. Especially for a Pink track this was ridiculous and Jessica was right out of it. Not a good sign for the one we've started to think might win this thing. Elise, excellent yet again, might just as well have sung it alone with only Hollie, interestingly, providing anything strong by way of support. Odd.

Hollie & Jessica: surely it has to be Jessica that's the safe one out of these two? Or this is a night of surprises? One with a rather average performance. One with a little known track. One natural. One lacking some emotion.  Ryan doesn't tell us just yet. Damn.

James Durbin turned up and screamed quite a lot, looking better fed and healthier than in the old days and sporting a blonde hairstyle reminiscent of the Sex Pistols. I guess it was a track of his new album. It sort of came and went.

Plug for alumni sorted, Ryan brings out Phillip & Elise. Hmmm. One who hasn't been popular but performed well. One who seems to have been popular in the past but who didn't. Elise should stay out of the bottom three but that would still be a surprise as if she is in the 'staying group' that implies that she was in the top three. Phillip joining Hollie makes sense - they're both vulnerable tonight.

Another alumni spot with a record to promote - Jennifer Hudson, who many think should have won in Series whatever, with Ne-Yo who, even with chunky shoes was strangely towered over by what I'd always thought to be a pretty normal-height Jennifer in 8 inch stilettos. Men really will have to start wearing these or maybe Elton John 70s boots or women will be much more aware of the extent of their hair loss.

So Skylar, Joshua and Colton remain. They might have been the Top 3 in my reckoning of how the voters might decide (but not my preference). Colton and Joshua to be split. Hmmm again. Both ought to be safe so this will be interesting. Skylar will probably be sent direct to the safe seat. So... I suppose as neither Joshua nor Colton are going home it doesn't matter too much. Joshua goes to the group I expected to be safe. Very interesting.

I was right about Skylar. My guess is that it's the Hollie, Phillip and Colton group that's the bottom three. Wrong!! Now that is a big surprise. The bottom one is Jessica. Even before she starts Steven had said that they'll be using their save - for any of the three. She does start but sounds terrible. Then I thought it was her parents walking on stage but it was the three judges and Jennifer was clearly angry, demanding the microphone and making it clear that they would not even need to listen. Probably just as well as that performance was not going to win her any extra fans. Good to see a bit of chaos on the normally over-produced show. Randy announced that America should be voting for the best, referring to Jessica as 'the best singer in the whole of America'. He may regret that, however well-intended the remark.

Ryan did a great job coping with the comings and goings but shouldn't have asked Jessica to sing to close the programme. This is now getting very interesting. It is now anybody's race and my money's moving to Skylar. Well some of it. I hope Hollie will really make the most of what she must regard as a second second chance too!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

American Idol: The Top 7 Pt 1

In all the previous series, and X Factor too, there has been at least a couple of clear also rans, contestants who really shouldn't still be there, often who shouldn't even have been included in the Top 24 in the first place. This year, I cannot say that there is any contestant who shouldn't be in this Top 7. Each, in their own way, has shown something that could make them American Idol Series 11 Winner. The clear leaders change a little each week, Jessica consistently being one, Colton and Joshua also being on the board most weeks. None of the others can be totally discounted, though, and any could make a late run - one starry performance lifting them to join the three mentioned.

So it is difficult to judge and you do have to bear in mind just how much support they may have already established and how vulnerable that may be if any week brings something less than they'd hoped for. This week we're taken to each of their home towns where you get the impression that the whole ruddy place will be voting en bloc for their boy or girl. They won't, but the bigger areas will have an influence and the biggest fan clubs that can be sure to get out their vote might make the significant difference at this stage between who comes 6th and who comes 7th.

First off is this country rock girl who takes what I thought must be a big chance with a Kellie Pickler number, Don't You Know How Much I Love You. Now I hadn't heard this before and, however much I adore The Pickler, this was not a great big huge hit and, outside a particular genre of listeners, she's been more well known as that delightful personality from Series 6 (and I need to check that!). This was a brilliant choice, though, and a great, very commercial song which worked so well. I have a suspicion, too, that this could have sold far more than the original had it been released and then I might well have heard about it. Skylar had plenty of passion, is totally credible as a performer on stage and, as with everyone this week, the time to worry about bad notes or not knowing a song seems to have passed. A very good performance indeed and, in my view, this puts Skylar very much in that top group that I can imagine in the final.

He also comes out with a track I don't know and one I guess that not that many watching will know either. Love The Way You Lie is a powerful, emotional and very difficult to reproduce song. In many ways this was Colton in that zone with which he seems most comfortable. It's not a place that I can imagine hordes of fans following him into but he certainly does have a huge female fan club and this will also have earned him a good amount of respect amongst the men with cool taste. Not mainstream and there were places where I felt that the song got the better of him as it was that difficult to interpret and perform but all due respect to the guy for a non-commercial or typical Idol attempt.

Elise & Phillip
They did the Gotye Somebody that was recently Number 1 here in the UK and, I think, has just started doing the rounds there. the audience loved it. Elise was absolutely superb, making Phillip seem like a walk-on part for the act but, in a sense, the track is written that way and it's how the song works. A truly exceptional voice, look or stance would be necessary to match the female input which he got about 70% of but Elise was just brilliant. That will not have done her chances any harm at all. In fact, it may have made all the difference.

This girl is quite exceptional. I would have expected her to play it safe for a couple of weeks with big popular and recognisable numbers that will be played over and again on YouTube and maintain her as the most downloaded of them all. Stuttering was almost completely unknown to most of the audience and wasn't even the one that I thought it was going to be. It was really well sung - a very tough song as Randy Jackson confirmed. She really did impress the judges who have been pretty demanding of her to date so must have done something right for them at last. Quiet what the audience made of it I'm not sure as their initial reaction was lukewarm but then you could almost sense the fans kicking in and the cries and applause duly came. She is the one who is the big find in this series and with her cute looks, amazing voice and control of someone way more mature, she simply has to make the final. Whether she'll get the votes she needs from this week's performance shouldn't be in doubt but I do harbour a small reservation that her base may not be as big as some others. I'm pretty sure she's one that would, in any event, be saved, however, although I can't imagine that being necessary.

Runaway Baby is a Bruno Mars number, yet again not as well known as one might have expected someone to choose. It was great for him, though, fast and fun and giving him a comparatively easy ride through to lots of applause and credits. Bearing in mind that this boy is steeped in the church and seems to have spent his whole life in a choir and under the big thumb of a church family, the lyrics seemed way out of either his comprehension or, at least, what his bible friends would approve of! Perhaps the producers didn't really appreciate what they meant either. It shouldn't matter - Josh seems pretty well supported. Although quite why Ryan brought Joshua's odd-looking father onto the stage I have no idea. Is he going to call up everyone's dad?

Colton & Skylar
Don't You Want To Stay  is a better know country song and the performance was a credit to both of them. Skylar is having a great night, coming across really well in this duet, putting Colton pretty much in the shade and is increasingly developing a real star quality that could well attract a lot of very useful supporters and, crucially, country votes.

The stylist have done a superb job this week and made this girl look lovely rather than a little ordinary as has been the case for a while. She took on the Pink track, Perfect which, for the first time in the solo performances so far, is something that everyone should recognise. Now Pink is quite an act to follow and Hollie did really well with just one thing missing. Emotion. She's good, very good, but you just don't quite get the feeling that she herself feels the words that she's sending us. The notes are strong - I don't agree with the judges that she was pitchy - she is a very reliable reproducer of songs but I want more than that. Because her competition is so very strong the comparisons with Skylar, Jessica and Elise may not be in her favour. They could be but she needs that special moment that hasn't happened yet. Jimmy - you need to work harder on her!! The judges seemed very harsh - again - and I do wonder why they don't support her more, their favouritism towards Joshua, for instance, being almost embarrassing.

Got A Little More by Maron 5 is another uncommon one and this one did leave me wondering just what this chap is doing here. He has always 'performed' well and you can tell that he loves his music and strumming away on that guitar but the tracks he chooses can only appeal to quite a small section of the record-buying public. Whereas Colton gets the cool vote, Phillip gets the off-beat, maybe some jazz and a collection of other minor passion votes. This did nothing for me at all. 'Underwhelming' was Jennifer's very apt description and, unusually, all three judges were less than enthralled with this. Having said that, he does seem to have accumulated a big fan club amongst the girls and they do tend to vote. The weakest act tonight but I don't see him going somehow for all that. Illogical? Maybe. But this is American Idol. (And Chris, the one-trick-pony, was a runner-up on X Factor USA.)

Joshua, Hollie & Jessica
This was a super performance of Stronger by Kelly Clarkson, American Idol's Series 1 Winner. Joshua was in the middle and did a good solid job, nice tone and rhythm. Hollie matched this well and blended in exactly as she should, strong voice, excellent notes and enjoyable to watch. On their own they'd have been great. Jessica seems to be doing a solo part and, interestingly, using this as an opportunity to show just who's best, not just competing with Hollie but probably with Joshua too! She was absolutely brilliant! Maybe a little too much pushing herself into our attention span but you have to admire her. She was the star, despite the other two being great. Every note was just a little clearer, louder and she moved a lot more and really did give it her all. This was, for the first time, Jessica determined to show us that she is the one. Not Hollie, and not even Joshua. If there is going to be a Hollie V Jessica battle then this was her indication that she'll win. Probably sooner rather than later.

She certainly knows what tracks to pick. So far her choices have been inspired. It could be simply because she has a good 10 years more experience than the younger girls. They may seem to be more 'today' but Elise has the market for the older voters. She just needs more of them as previous votes haven't been going her way as often as they might have been expected to on the quality of her brilliant performances week after week. Her choice this week was Lady Gaga's You And I. She not only had the artist herself to compete with in people's minds, that number being fresh in most minds still, but she was also treading on the much revered Haley Reinhart part of the stage where that same number was wonderfully performed last year.

I can't deny the passion that Elise puts into her performances and the notes, voice, style, looks and everything were great. But it didn't grab me as Haley's had done. There was something missing. I can't think what it could be but I felt a bit disappointed. I might have expected too much. Again, like so many of the others, she is good, very good but there is a big question over her voting popularity and, for some reason I can't explain, I don't see her as an American Idol or even a finalist. She deserves to be on all her consistently remarkable performances so far but I'm still not sure I know who Elise is. I hope I'm wrong, though, as I'm sure she'll put her heart and soul into whatever she's asked to do and would be more interesting to watch than Phillip, Hollie if she doesn't let go of some self control and even Joshua who I would think could be a little boring for more than 3 minutes.

So, quite a night! Skylar, I predict, will easily top the poll and be 100% safe. Joshua will sleep soundly too, as will Jessica and Colton with sufficient fans now to battle any likely nightmares. Hollie, Phillip and Elise are the ones who will be worrying. Hollie will worry the most, after a second week of unhelpful judges' remarks. Elise will wonder what she can do to appeal to voters and may conclude that she can do nothing more. Phillip is probably amazed to be there anyway and my guess is that he isn't that bothered any more. His fan base ought to be enough to protect him so it'll be between Hollie and Elise. If it were a normal competition I'd expect to say farewell to Hollie but, as she could still turn it around and even win, it may be Elise this time. My own preference would be to see Phillip go but I wouldn't risk any money on that bet!

Friday, 6 April 2012

American Idol Top 8 Review Pt 2

I fear this could be the one where Hollie goes out. But that is just a feeling I started watching this week's results show with. Let's see...

It all gets under way with an ad for Jennifer's new single - the video being a sort of feint attempt at emulating a bit of Gaga crossed with Madonna. Almost instantly, forgettable, unlike Gaga and Madonna.

The Wanted followed. The audience wanted 1D but this was another UK group so that's almost the same for many of them. They sang I'm Glad You Came which could have been a Eurovision entry had some older guy not nabbed the job already.

Jessica and a worryingly ill Joshua get sent to safety quickly, as they rightly should be. Then Skylar and Colton are brought up. Now they should also both be safe but, if that were the case it would imply that only one of the remaining four would be safe! Fortunately, to avoid giving the game away just like that, Ryan brings out Deandre and Hollie.

Jimmy Iovine gives his views, always spot-on and thankfully someone to counter the crazy views of the judges when necessary. He says that DeAndre mat well be fighting with Hollie as to who'll be packing tonight and that's been my opinion too. He's certainly on the right tracks as, eventually, it is indeed Holllie and Deandre that are the first two at risk.

That leaves Elise and Phillip. They'll probably be joined by Elise yet again, although it ought to be Phillip but, again, it's Phillip who has been getting all the praise and, apart from last week's amazing performance, Elise gets universal disinterest from the judges for no reason I can discern. Something must have gone down at some point that we don't know about.

Before we learn which we get to meet the cute and wonderful Kellie Pickler. She shows us that coming 6th (Season 5) needn't be so bad. I love her personality and you couldn't help but smile when she appeared. We're not too bothered about what she actually sings.

Yes, it is, inded, Elise again who joins the bottom three. So which of DeAndre or Hollie did the voters place bottom? My prediction is proven quite wrong as Hollie is declared safe! That was quite a surprise - I really had expected her to be up against DeAndre. And between Elise and DeAndre it is Elise who survives. Great. Glad she's safe as I really do believe both she and Hollie have a lot more to offer. If they don't perform well next week though then they may as well both go home as they're unlikely to get much support from the judges while Phillip and Joshua are around.

DeAndre then gives a pretty reasonable performance with his reggae number that does suit him and, without the falsetto nonsense, I wondered whether he might not have earned himself a save. Throughout the series Jennifer and Randy have been making him out to be amazing and a whole load of other superlatives so this might be the time when they decide to act. It appears that Jennifer voted for him to stay but Steven and Randy did not so his demise was not to be dragged into next week.

All in all a good result in my view. From here on it could be fascinating as I don't see Phillip actually doing much different, Elise and Hollie have an opportunity to do something remarkable (again, in Elise's case and, hopefully, for the first time in Hollie's). If Skylar picks a poor song and Joshua gets annoying then they may be vulnerable with Phillip. Only Jessica and Colton seem relatively untouchable just at this point.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Top 8 Perform on American Idol Pt 1

It's Eighties Week. Key tracks we all recognise, big numbers and, probably, some unfortunate song choices too along the way, with so many ballads and American Idol-type tracks to choose from.

I Like It
Well no, I don't much - I'm getting tired of the falsetto so it was some relief to hear him being a bit more natural and not forcing things so much for a while. Soom enough, though, he was back up there in 70s Bee Gee land but without that special quality Barry and his brothers exhibited.

This was certainly his best performance, though, and much more in his comfort zone than we've seen in the last few weeks. He's no Idol winner this Season but neither an obvious candidate to go home in 8th position either.

I Want To Know What Love Is
Quite a number this. Everyone knows it and she did a good job, bringing a touch of her own style too on the way. Somehow, though, it didn't quite give her that magic moment that we all expected, never quite going anywhere. The judges weren't impressed but then they've been hard on her since the start, apart from last week. Her previous experience helps a lot as she has presence on the stage and knows how to peform and that is a major thing in her favour. I've often thought of her as that dark horse that might cause trouble for Colton, Jessica or even Hollie should their stars fade. Tonight she fell back a bit too and, recalling the poor votes for previous excellent performances, she may have reason to worry.

Colton & Skylar
Islands in The Stream
Very average. I expected Skylar to steal all our votes with tghis which should have suited her perfectly. Colton, who should have been uncomfortable, actually matched her for most of the time. There was also an absence of chemistry between them, something that this song so deserves. Towards the end Skylar did seem to warm up and start to give it what we'd expected from the start but it still wasn't that memorable.

It's A Shame, That's All
Uninspiring. He put a lot into it but it came across as a bit desperate and poorly produced, messy. He sings with enthusiasm and likes what he does, clearly enjoys himself but he needs to add some polish if it is really going to work for him. Sometimes I feel as if he is well out of his depth and we've yet to have that special performance from him in this Season.

Hollie & DeAndre
I'm So Excited
Nice mixture with these two emulating The Pointer Sisters well. Hollie was spot-on with the tone and matched the song well - in black leather trousers she looked so much better too. Good performance for both of them.

If You Don't know Me By Now
My goodness, the size of his family! But back to the song. This suited him well and the first half was excellent but then he started his tinny shouting and running and playing around with notes and it became painful. It wasn't worth the adulation that the judges gave. He's good, in parts, but really needs to control those extra bits he feels obliged to put in every number.

How Will I Know
From the start she had it. A great performance again. That was brilliant and she was clearly enjoying that and totally natural. She looked great in another chic outfit too. She has to be there at the end.

Phillip & Elise
Stop Dragging My Heart around
Now that's better - both far more in their element. A bit noisy in places, this track needs more shade than they gave it, tending to be competing with each other and the band at times but not at all bad.

What A Feeling
This is a super song and after a nervous start when she seemed to be thinking before she did anything she did get into it well. She was technically accurate but that kinda spoilt it. It's a track about success against the odds and, much as I have supported this girl, it maybe wasn't a good choice for her. She did move around and she did put some effort in to add the right tone but it didn't have that crucial passion that the song is so well known for. In a way, because of the huge association with the dancer in the film that it comes from it may even have been better if she'd delivered it more gently and still. The judges were very harsh indeed and that could mean bad news for this talented girl tonight. They really could have, at least, said something good about the parts she did do well.

Joshua & Jessica
I'm Right Here Waiting
This was an excellent duet and both performed brilliantly. It can be a tough job matching Joshua when he winds up and starts playing with the notes but Jessica rose to the occasion and was not to be beaten. In a sense, that is the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a final. All credit to both of them.

Time After Time
A superb version of the Cyndi Lauper clasic. Whilst putting his own style into this expertly he also kepttrue to the emotions and rhythm of the song that are so important. It worked really well and could have been the best performance of the night.

The Wind Beneath My Wings
She did what Hollie should have done by presenting an anthem-like song and slowing it right down, showing how she can do passion and not just the country fun rock. Towards the end she let go but stayed in control, hitting all the important notes that counted well. A good job that should see her safely through this week

Hollie, DeAndre and Phillip should be the ones in trouble this week, the other five being virtually untouchable after their superb performances. Of the three, if the judges are to be believed then it will be farewell to Hollie. I hope not as she has so much more to give but I have a feeling she won't get the chance and will be this year's No.8.