Friday, 17 February 2012

The One Where We See All The Buddies But No Sign Of Hollie As They Sing And Dance Fifties

Music from the 1950s! That should be interesting. And now we do get to hear what virtually all of those remaining can do. I say virtually all because so far there has been no mention that I've noticed of at least five girls, including the Hollie, Hallie, Haley real stars from earlier weeks. We do get another H, though. Yes, good old Heejan, this time in his other hoodie, looking nothing like an American Idol at all but more like a grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood.

Everyone is asked to get in groups again but this time they have far more time to prepare and have the benefit and control of coaches.

Skylar, Colton and Chase Likens, finally getting some airtime, and Cari did Dedicated To The One I Love which I must admit I thought was a 6os track but never mind. It was good but Cari gets dropped there and then. That was tough. It set the scene for a show that would be very dramatic and, knowing who's still to come over the next couple of hours, we're in for some tears and surprises. All credit to Colton and the new guy to us, Chase, who were faultless and not exactly in their comfort zone. Nor was Skylar who I felt got through because of what she'd done before.

The second group are the three small people and one big one. David Leathers, Ariel Sprague and Gabi Carruba towered over by Jeremy Rosado. Rockin' Robin so suited the young ones and, to be fair, Jeremy did a fine job too, just looked odd. That was a great performance by all four with Ariel standing out for me. All four get through.

Erica, Angie, Adam and Shelby form the next group and get Balls Of Fire. Now that's not an easy song but they put on a good show too. There's a lot of talent here. Adam was clearly in the lead and in his comfort zone but Angie shone with her style and Erica to a lesser extent with her jazz input. Angie is very different and a star but I'm not sure she's Idol material. Shelby was the weak link and may have been very relieved when all four get through.

Schyler Dixon (Colton's sister), Mollie and Brielle Von Hugen appear next as a threesome in what look more like 40s Land Army uniforms than 50s but what do I know. Why Do Fools Fall In Love was wonderfully presented and seemed faultless but Mollie can't have pleased the judges and she gets sent home.

We get told half a dozen or so more go and then, yes, at long last, we meet Haley Johnson, teamed up with Reed, Elise Testone and Eben. This should be good. They sing The Night Has A Thousand Eyes and Reed gets the limelight at the start, setting a superb standard and Elise adds a jazz touch in her section. Haley takes over and takes the track down a completely different road - but a good road still - before handing over to Eben. Eben sounds more like a girl than some of the girls but gives it his all and somehow they all blend amazingly well. Eben was the only one to seem a little uncomfortable, the others having that wow factor and they're all straight through. No problem. Reed is quite remarkably good.

Richie seems to have lost his hoodie partner and has trouble finding anyone to work with. He eventually teams up with Jermaine Jones, a big guy with a low voice and that's about all they have in common. Richie is a pain in the arse to listen to and seems to have difficulty getting on with anyone. However, that's not a necessary quality to do well as they'll all be on their own soon enough if they do get through. Make It Easy On Yourself was a tough number but they did it pretty well. Jermaine was right in his element and stood out, again Richie was the weaker link but not that weak and Mr Chalk and Mr Cheese both get through.

Frustratingly, we then get the briefest glimpse of one of my hot tips, Hallie Day.

What we do hear is really, really good. She shines in five seconds, and Baylie Brown simmers in the same period. We get a first glance at Chelsea Sorrell who seems brilliant too in a marvellous group but there's just no time to tell any more. They all, clearly, sail through. You just have to take the hint that the producers reckon we'll be seeing plenty of them later on. Hope so.

Deandre Brackensick appears, also for the first time, with Jessica Sanchez, another conspicuous by her absence from our screens with Candice Glover. Here's talent and a half as they do Over You. It's a difficult song but Deandre has an amazing range and vocal control. Jessica comes over really well too and if anyone might go it would be Candice, although they all did well. As it is, they're all through.

Scott, Clayton, Adam and Curtis give us Jailhouse Rock. Now this is not the best at all and all four could be at risk. Curtis is the one that doesn't make it but I wouldn't expect the others to last much longer. It didn't help that I couldn't tell one from the other, no-one really coming over as fabulous.

A few more brief glimpses see several more through, including Joshua and Shannon who were excellent in their group as far as we could tell from what we get to see.

Another group gets a long lecture on semi tomes and harmonies whioch seems a bit over the top and ends with what I reckoned was a wrong decision but, with so much talent already through, it probably wouldn't have made much difference.

Laura Gray, Wendy Taylor and Mathenet Trecor do Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Wendy I have not noticed before and she sounds fabulous. Laura over does the emotion in a big way. Mathenee has big ears, looks uncomfortable but sings well. Laura has a Duffy feel about her presentation and maybe shouldn't try so hard. The two girls get through and Mathenet is rejected. I wasn't expecting that, as anyone who has glimpsed at my 'Rumours' page will know!

Heejun gets more airtime again as we learn that he looked up the coach, Peggy, on YouTube. As she is so renowned for shouting and bullying the contestants in a good but damn firm way I don't really know why he needed to and it didn't make much difference. He was in a great group with Reco Starr, Jairon Jackson and Phillip Phillips. Reco was the only weak link and even that was only marginal. Heejun did, in fact, do really well as I Only Have Eyes For You was right up his street, just the right range and tempo for his style. Jairon Jackson has consistently performed well and this was another first class efoort. Phillip was out of his comfort zone but managed to take the track into a place where he was more comfortable but only for a couple of lines, interestingly. Much less exposure tha the other three for him. They all, however, not only impress the judges but Peggy too - now that's success!

The last group is Creighton, Aaron, Nick and Jen Hirsh. An odd-looking band with the three guys looking distinctly ungroovy in glasses, Nick especially so. They also seemed sharp, too, and a touch disappointing with only Aaron and Jen shining through by the end. Jen was in a league of her own overall but only Nick gets the bad news, Creighton and Aaron joining Jen through.

The judges still need to cut more, though, to get down to the 42 they need so they bring everyone back and remove another 30 odd.which was pretty harsh for those who had so recently been celebrating.

The only real shocks are to see Gabi Carruba, Johnny Keyser and Jairon Jackson go. They had seemed sure-fire entrants at least to the penultimate stage before the Live Shows and I had them down as Top 40 (or 42) material.

Those left represent one major bag of talent. There is no clear stand-out still but several girls are looking so good and Reed Grimm has to be feeling confident after such a natural and seemingly effortless day or two. Deandre, Heejun, Colton and Chase would be his closest challengers as things stand at this stage but, so far, one of the girls, even those we've hardly seen, like Hallie and the mysterious Hollie, Skylar and Jen Hirsh still showing the way seem the most likley next American Idol.