Thursday, 22 May 2014

Dim the lights... and the winner is....

The videos take a while for some reason - and then both start which spoils the surprise. Sorry! Alternatively, go to Fox direct at this link.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Final Performances: Caleb v Jena

Here are the songs performed by this year's two finalists as they battle for the American public vote.

It's all sort of OK, but nothing more. Not Caleb's fault but this is a very tedious track and isn't going to set the world light if he wins. The ending is something from the early 1970s. I even listened to this a second time in case I had missed something or perhaps it's one of those songs that grows on you. No, I didn't. It doesn't. It may well cost Caleb the title and certainly won't get many fans other than the good ol' rockers already with him anyway.

Of the two singles, Jena's is considerably better and she even sems more comfortable on stage. Maybe Caleb isn't on top of the world healthwise? She is certainly making a competition of this and if it were down to just these two songs, she'd win easily.

Of course, it isn't down to two songs and here, with the Aerosmith number Caleb really does show what he can do and does so with what seems like renewed belief and spirit. Nice job. He's got the panel on their feet and is looking like a star.

Jena reprises this excellent and very well-delivered version of the classic I Can't help Falling In Love With You. the notes were perfect and that went down very well, maintaining a balance between these two.

A late 60s track by the Beatles for Caleb sort of summarises why he's doing so well but also why he may not win in the end. You can only never really do more than just cover something like this and whilst he does that really well and the notes are sound, it doesn't really inspire.

I never tend to think of Florence & The Machine as commercial and this is a brave choice by Jena. It works, though, and is current and she adds a sexiness that Florence didn't manage in a superb staging and well-produced set.

If this were the last memory of the pair as America goes off to vote then it would be Jena that returns with the crown. However, there is a terrible sing-a-long at the end. Who's idea was that?

This is dreadful. Caleb looks and sounds as if he really doesn't want to be there doing this. Jena tries to carry the track along but all the odd notes and strange tempo brought in by the other 11 turn this into a train wreck of an ending. Neither will benefit from that in the slightest and Jena may lose a few, despite her efforts, as some notes were not at all good.

I predict a Jena win, just.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Someone has to come 3rd.

Someone had to come 3rd and this year that's Alex. He ended with his own song Fairytales which I hope is a big hit for him. He writes well and has a super understanding of music, lyrics and interpretation. Against the powerhouse of Caleb and the dazzling light of Jena in the Final 3 he didn't stand much chance but will have built up a cool fan base and many admirers in the industry behind the scenes too.

He'll do well, not just on tour for the next few months but I see him in the credits for some big hits in the years to come.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

American Idol - 500th Show and The XIII Season Final 3

Here is the brief look back over 13 years of Idol! It is quite remarkable to think we were all 13 years younger when this all started. After that there are videos of the three performances by each finalist. No commentary yet - this will be added later today. We miss Jessica.

Nice compilation with some groovy old moments, including Simon Cowell and many of the judges from the old days.

Jena is so lucky to get Radiohead's Creep. Missing from the main video, this is really good - perfect for this 17 year old. It's between her and Caleb and, on this form, I'd give her the win based on tonight. There's one more week to go, though!

A shaky start, unusually for this fellow and I even began to wonder if he was going to falter. he didn't look or sound comfortable and, again, highly unusually, didn't do the song justice.

We get told about Caleb's voice and even get introduced to the Idol Voice Doctor, laying it all on a bit thick as if the producers were worried about him losing votes or something. Odd. It was, indeed, quite noticeable how he seemed to be holding back a bit but nevertheless put on a super show and this was a fabulous track chosen by Randy.

Demi Lovato sang this panel's choice. Now it's Jena's turn. It is a hard song and she did well. Something somewhere was missing but she certainly made an effort to make it her own and entertain. I am finding her just a little screechy this week - in tune, though, and full of energy and she can occupy the stage and seems comfortable interacting with the band. Not quite as much as Caleb but confident none the less. I can't yet decide between her and Alex for the Final 2.

Stay is the panel's choice for Alex. Interesting as this was a Rihanna song. He performed that very well - as always he manages once more to transform songs into something a bit special and that brings him back into the running after a nervous first track. Nice. He is very talented and possibly the most talented of the three. Perhaps not the 'star' or 'idol' but the talent.

The panel choose Demons by Imagine Dragons. This is missing from the full programme video so I'm glad I pulled in the individual videos. Good job. Harry makes a good point that people should really have kept quiet about Caleb's sickness as most people wouldn't notice and you simply can't 'make allowances' at this stage. He is either a winner or he isn't. I reckon he'll make the final on these two alone.

We hear Titanium so often in these contests and memories of annoying versions put me off this at first but Jena didn't do the usual and gave us a super performance. She screeches a bit at the start and it was, as Jennifer commented, a bit shaky at the start. However, she came through at the end.

Alex's home town people choose Story Of My Life from One Direction for Alex to do. He did really well but following Caleb was tough. He was confident this time but the panel seem very polite in their reviews. It looks, to me, like Caleb v Jena, especially knowing what she finishes the show with.

Led Zeppelin from way way back in the early 70s is the choice of his home town people. Well, watching Jennifer move to that was pretty mind-blowing and Caleb performed his heart out on that one with some excellent graphic display in the background that emphasised the whole thing. I don't really know that his singing was that good but it was one hell of a performance and Harry was spot on in how Caleb took full advantage of the opportunity to make his mark, voice or no voice. Jennifer seemed to be indicating that he had to be in the final and she would be getting him there. She clearly is more than a little taken with him and Jena.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Top 4 Perform

Caleb kicks off the show with Bon Jovi's You Give Love A Bad Name. I don't think I have seen such confidence in any previous Idol contestant. This guy really does seem to enjoy himself and fits in with whatever is going on in the band behind him too. Very natural and you have to say that he is always note perfect and genuinely entertaining. He deserves his place. I am not sure how long he would last as an individual artist out there on his own - he needs a band in my view - or whether he will ever be seen as truly original and different rather than just a kid doing old rock numbers. (Doing them very well for all that.)

Jessica looks the part. Her song is Kelly Clarkson's Since You've Been Gone. Beautifully dressed and presented this week by the make-over team but there was something missing from the performance. It started a bit strangely and then she seemed to be on full volume all the way through but didn't do that sort of stuff with the same quality and style that Caleb has. She's good and looked comfortable out there. The panel spent hours telling them how they wanted to see her emotions and they're right in that we seldom do feel what she's actually communicating.

Alex sings Too Close. Now I don't know this one but it didn't matter as Alex is excellent at getting lyrics across. Once again, he shows quite some talent in understanding music and full marks for this choice and the way he put it across. He is now 'pin-up' idol and the trousers are beginning to get a bit annoying but we have to put all of that out of our heads. He is very likeable as well as expert in his field and I suppose we could call him a music geek! Nothing wrong with that and there have been one or two winners in the past in similar vein. I am, for the first time, recognising that he could well win this.

Heartbreaker by Pat Benetar was not one of her best known songs but it does suit Jena. Full on from the very start, I am not so sure it was something I would want to hear many more times but it did show how good she is at this sort of thing. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination and so it did seem a bit desperate at times and way too fast and breathless. I much preferred Jessica's performance, though, to this despite the fact that Jena was moving around and rocking out a lot more.

First round to the boys.

Fabulous! Caleb does Creedence Clearwater Revival's Travellin' Band. I guess there isn't really much too that song but it was great to hear it again - I was a big CCR fan in 70 - and he just looks and sounds like a professional act with this sort of track.

Jessica does So What by Pink

It's missing from the video so I've added it here. She clearly liked that herself but I go with Harry - she needs to connect.

Jena has Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. Oh dear, that didn't work. She tried and did a reasonable job of the vocals herself but the staging and ridiculously annoying drumming and strange backing voices definitely did not work. Not her fault so I can't be too critical of the girl but that will not help her in this competition. It was a bit desperate too. Disappointing because she is better than that.

Alex has I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. This could be his chance to take the second round. Missing from the main video so added below.

Keith spots that the guy finally relaxes near the end and that's when we get to see the real Alex. That was excellent and once again, it's the boys who are in charge this week.

Maybe I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney is Caleb's very smart choice. He can, in fact, sing it far better than the Beatle too. So we have a well-written song performed as it really always should have been. That'll see Caleb though to the Top 3, no problem. Very good. Marvellous job, Caleb. If this were the Final he would be walking away the winner now.

Jessica has some work to do this week. She takes on Lady Gaga too but a better song than Jena chose.
You And I suited her well. I wanted it to go on longer as it was the sort of track that she needs. Again, the song is missing from the main video so separately here.

Jena chooses I Can't Help Falling In Love which, of course, many people have done including Elvis. Slowed down, Jena sits at a piano and plays through this. Very effective and a cool move by whoever advises her. That was the 'moment' of the week and, perhaps, of several weeks. A brilliant performance by this young star. That will see her through next week and even made Jennifer come out and on to the stage to congratulate her which I don't think I have ever seen before. That's a big moment in this whole competition.

Alex has Coldplay's classic Yellow. Many people do this. I remember Alex Park making a fabulous version on a BBC predecessor to Pop Idol. Alex, we know, can reproduce this nicely but can he add anything to this one? Not really but it is still a very good performance and I think his fans will have found it a little special. His performances have all been very light tonight. They've suited him.

Overall, I think Caleb has to be safe and Jena rescued herself extremely well and will stay. Of Alex and Jessica it looks like Alex will make the final and, though sad to see her go, I feel Jessica's position is rightly 4th. She could, with better choices, have made 3rd and possibly made a different overall outcome possible as the only girl in the final.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The Top 5 decide to make it 4

Ryan starts off by telling us there'll be a twist, whatever that may mean. Harry gives a short speech to congratulate the five people who were unheard of a few months ago and who have all done pretty well and each will be remembered for some time. One for longer.

Keith Urban performs and this time we get it included in the video. That was something that could have easily have come from the 70s, a Bryan Adams release perhaps, except his voice needed to be stronger in the lower segments. Nice fellow but that wasn't particularly impressive, just OK. What was interesting was the way I couldn't help looking for all the things that he and Harry had been telling the contestants to do. Sure, most were there, all right.

I am sure Ryan claps the wrong way round.

The 'twist' is whether the person with the lowest votes goes home as usual or they all get to stay another week and then two would go. I would have expected them to vote to stay but although it was 3-2 in favour of staying together, it must have required a unanimous vote for that. I missed that bit. Anyway, that meant someone did have to go and it is Sam who comes 5th this year.

That was not what I had predicted - I did feel he had developed enough of a fan base to reach the final three at least. He and Jena seem the most 'today'. So, Alex, Caleb, Jena and Jessica make the Fab Four.

I expect we'll find out who voted which way in due course. Logically, anyone who thought they were not bottom would vote for someone to go. My guess is that Caleb would be pretty confident. Maybe Jessica or Jena too. But I would imagine Sam and Alex being dubious about their chances.

Anyway, that's it for another week as this Season draws closer to its conclusion. I am still waiting to hear another Phillip Phillips track since Home a year ago and struggling to recall having heard anything at all of Scotty from the year before. I still think Adam Lambert should have won some years back. This year there is a chance that someone will win who will be heard but there is also still the chance of a nice person just drifting along and ultimately away and not making much impact at all after all.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Top 5

It's a nice change to watch this without having seen a tweet or spoiler somewhere during the day! That's the problem with being a British writer across The Pond and usually only getting to see the programmes a few days after transmission. Although I cursed Channel 5 for dropping American Idol some months back I am actually now quite glad because good people put the shows on You Tube pretty damn quickly and I am as close to being up to date as I'll ever be.

So it's down to Caleb. Jessica, Jena. Sam and Alex to fight it out and see who gets the title this year.

America chooses something to do with a Sweater by The Neighbourhood for Alex. No idea what that is but we know he chooses really well. Normally. So let's hope America does too. It suited him but he is still not an easy watch. As an artist he's great to listen to and spot on with the tone and what the song means. A nice job. Is it enough tp get him to the Top 4. I don't know, which means much will depend on what the others do. Harry is rightly impressed with how Alex remembered all the words to a complex song having only heard it a couple of times before. That's a talent for a start!

Caleb gets I Don't Want To Miss A Thing. Is that Aerosmith? Ooh er. Dodgy start. Not like him to be off key so obviously but then it's a slow start to this song. He needs to get to that main section quickly and hope that he can belt that out and get the voters to forget all that. This is not going well. Finally he gets into the groove but it's a bit late and whilst he'll get credit for some big notes that didn't impress me at all. Jennifer says "that was a challenging song for you..." which says a lot. Harry and Keith are pretty polite but don't come out with the wow review that you'd expect from a Top 5 performer. So neither of the two guys have really done much so far. If anything Alex may have a small lead. Surprising. I thought Caleb would have totally killed that.

Jessica gets Human by Katy Perry. Nice and Jason Mraz is a good mentor. This song really should suit her, I just hope she finally gets the lyrics across. This is her make-or-break week. Wow. Now that was good. Excellent - her best all Season and I can see that helping her along the way. Subject, of course, to what the others do and their second songs. Great.

{For some odd reason her performsance wasn't in the main YouTube video so I've added it separately.)

Sam has an Ed Sheeran number, Sing. With his colleagues faltering a bit he could even secure his place in the Top 4 if he does well here. Puppies take over the screen briefly and won't do much harm for his votes! He gets to meet his dream date and that's the delightful Ariana Grande. My goodness she is so pretty! Hope he can concentrate after that!

He really has improved a lot in confidence over the weeks. He is also quite 'modern' and could be someone that a record company would love to have on board. This is a competent performance. Not a brilliant song, in my view, that fails to show off his talents as well as it might but he copes well and I would place him an easy 2nd so far tonight.

Jena has My Body. It's a good choice by America and it was a stroke of genius by the make-over team to put her in tight jeans and a super red and white stripe t-shirt. That looked very cool and young. the track went on a bit but she danced extremely well without moving around as much as you'd think she should. Just straight, simple movements make it look as if she really is happy there. Harry says that she is the one who does 'move'. That'll do her good. Possibly enough to put her in the lead, even though it was a less than memorable song itself.

Caleb & Jessica do a duet of the Stones' Beast of Burden.

Alex's second song is the marvellous Say Something that is from A Great Big World but was, of course, what won Alex & Sierra the crown in X Factor USA at Christmas, This is such a good song and Alex performs it very very well. The girl needs credit too, of course, whoever she was. Nice. Not, interestingly, as impressive as a duo would be but that was good enough, hopefully, to keep him in and that could be bad news for one of the others. The question is which!

I do wish that trouser fashion would go away, though. That and the artificially controlled hair seem wrong for this guy.

Jena sings Valerie which is very well known and I was wondering just what she would make of this tricky song for almost anyone other than Amy Winehouse to do. She manages well and I do like the way she is moving now and the more I watch her the more I feel that she might just take this thing. Looks like this is also missing from the video so a separate one included.

The Fray are Sam's next performance and their wonderful How To Save A Life. Now he manages to get his own feelings across in this track and that's made such a difference to his chances. This toos eems to be missing from the video so it's included here.

A good choice for him and I feel that he may have enough fans well enough pleased with tonight's performances to keep him in.

The two to go still may well be the two who have to fight hardest to stay tonight. I have admired both Jessica and Caleb so far but they need to up their game.

Jessica is given Summertime Sadness, a Lana Del Rey song. So good. Her voice is perfect for that and it came across so well. Harry says how perfect that was for her. Could that make the difference? She needed that and Keith mentions how she got the David Lynch darkness in the song too. I like her. I would love to see her make the Top 4 but will it be at Caleb's expense?

Whitesnake's Still Of The Night is the choice of many, we're told, for Caleb. I am not sure I would trust heavy metal fans' choice of tracks to win votes on American Idol. They may have lots of great songs but is this the one to get Caleb in the Top 4? Well, it may just be. He did put everything into that and both Keith and Jennifer were up dancing and the crowd went crazy. So maybe that is a sign that he's going to be safe. OK, so that made up for the poor start. Which kind of leaves us without much of a clue as to who will, in fact, go.

Normally I would expect there to be enough Country votes out there to keep the Country act in. This year there isn't an out-and-out Country act but, of anyone, it is Jessica who should benefit from that. Sam will win the teen girls' vote and Alex gets the cool vote, I think. Jena and Caleb cross over the rock boundary, albeit from slightly different directions. there may not be room for both of them and one may go, despite their excellent performances tonight.

So if I had to put a bet on tonight I would be inclined to say it will be Jessica, based purely on the fact that she has been at the lower end of the voting register quite often in glimpses we've seen and, of course, was bottom two last week. If she does survive, though, then Caleb may be a surprise exit.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The One With The Grumpy Cat. The Top 5 Revealed.

This is the Top 6 for American Idol Season XIII.

It seems a much more exciting start than we've seen for a while. I'm not sure quite why but Harry nd Keith seem particularly popular. Ryan tells us that this week it'll be a little bit Country and a little bit Rock 'n Roll. So that's CJ stuffed then.

Jena starts with Barracuda, sharing the vocals very briefly with someone who I presume did it first. That was a strong performance but lacked something to remember her by other than the trousers which really should have been black leather and not black and white check. That wasn't as good as last week but it was competent.

Luckily they get two shots tonight.

Sam's next up and does soem track that suits him pretty well about Never Changing Who I Am. He is forgetting Harry's advice about looking at the girls and seemed to be so well-occupied with remembering what he is supposed to be doing that he didn't communicate that well. That's a pity because he is singing remarkably well and has built up a huge amount of support with lots of pretty teens in the audience clearly in love with the chap. He really has the looks and that will help him along no doubt. He is good too. But he must let go. Like the panel said to Jena, they're all holding back too much.

I don't know if that was Rock or Country.

CJ is on third. Nice chap. Doing American Woman. That's a good track from long ago and definitely Rock. But no, that didn't look right. He had a good vocal but that was boring. He held a guitar and occasionally did a riff or two but they were pretty useless efforts in the Rock vein. Keith gets it in one: he says how it's a badass song but he sang it without any meaning at all. CJ needs a good Country performance or he's out. No way can a potential American Idol deliver such a dodgy performance at this stage of the competition. If they don't make us sit up and take notice for the right reasons then they're not going to make the final. So far, interestingly, I would say only Sam has approached making me sit up and take notice but even he didn't hold my attention for long.

Alex, maybe, can do himself some good here by putting on something special. He should be able to pick something special - that is a talent he's shown to date that he has in spades so I'm expecting something good and something authentic. Animal by Neon Trees? Who? What? OK, let's find out. Er. I don't know what to say about that. Bits showed how good he can be but other bits showed some bad sides, like little communication of any meaning. It seems a commercial number that people could sing along with but that's about it. He was not really there and he looked very uncomfortable. Just like CJ. So he's in trouble and needs a good Country song as well.

Caleb is in his element with the Rock number and performs a frantic Black Crowes number. It's like he knew it by heart whereas the others have had to rehearse and try to remember the words and moves. The best by far so far - totally annihilating the others' efforts which looked pathetic in comparison. Very good indeed, even if the song didn't mean a great deal. Harry congratulates him. I liked the bit where he was on his knees and one of the backing singers ruffled his hair!

Jessica has to follow that? I guess if anyone can she can. Tonight she needs to get some points back from Jena too. And she does so in style. I have always seen Grace Slick in some of her performances and now she does Somebody To Love by Jefferson Airplane. Excellent. It ends a bit suddenly which is a shame as I was enjoying that.

I still think she could have expressed the lyrics better and I would love to see her continue as she has so much going for her - we just need that 'release' as Keith calls it. I want to see her doing something that she is totally comfortable with and that she doesn't have to think about. Get me the lyrics. I need her to speak to me.

Ryan shows us how they're doing with the votes at the half-way stage. Jena is out in front. That's interesting after such a good Caleb job.

Now for the Country shots. Sam's first. A familiar tune - Still The One but he looks so worried, almost as if he is scared of forgetting the words. He goes to the audeience but you feel that he's doing that on a cue and it's not as natural as it ought to be. The guy is just 18 today and is really having to cope with his new-found appeal. Relax, Keith advises. That's so necessary. The song was OK.

Caleb next. He's doing a Carrie Underwood number. I'd simply love to see him do Blown Away but it's Undo It. It sounds like something from a similar vein anyway and suits him fine. Unlike all the others so far, this guy does try to connect and seems to comprehend just what he is singing about. He has a birthday too today. 23. Still pretty young. That was OK and he surely has to fly through to the Top 5.

Alex says he's doing Always On My Mind which is a superb song. This fits him like a glove. I hear Paul Simon in his voice and also some more modern influences. That was good. Quite a brave performance of such a classic. That lifted him to #2 after Caleb tonight. You do feel that he cares about the song he sings and the way he delivers it. Keith makes a fair point that he didn't quite get the power across of the meaning but then few have tonight.

I worry a bit about his popularity with voters as evidenced by the half-time placings. That should have helped him.

Now it's Jena. She has also chosen Carrie Underwood and sings So Small. For me that could be the best performance of the night. She sang that almost perfectly and all the feelings came across which so many of the others have failed to do. Very very good job. She has to move through. She also had the leather trousers, strangely enough. The make-over team have done an excellent job with her, Harry isn't that impressed which is surprising. She is very natural and she takes #1 for me tonight. If only Jessica could get the same passion out there.

CJ now doing a Zack Brown Band number Whatever It Is. That seems much more like his kinda number. Nice job and he won't have done any harm with that. He hasn't had the best of nights and needed to make a mark tonight with at least one track. Nice chap but I can see him going because Alex has probably saved himself, Sam has so many fans now and did well both times and Jena and Caleb should romp home. Just Jessica left to compete with.

But Jessica plays a trump card with Dolly Parton's Jolene. I do wish she'd moved a bit but she sang it very well and she did communicate it well. This was a good job and will have blown CJ's chances of staying. Two super songs. I put her Top 3 this week, that should appeal sufficiently to enough people for her to be safe.

And, yes, the results confirm what I'd expected. Caleb, Sam, Alex and Jena take the Top 4. Jessica is 5th and we say farewell to CJ in 6th place. As has so often been the case this series, people have been doing their very best performances as they go! Until he lost it emotionally, CJ was doing a superb job of his farewell number. Maybe had he chosen similar tracks for his earlier performances he would ahve stayed a lot longer.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Jena and 5 others make it through to another week.

The judges talked a lot of sense yesterday, or whenever you saw the Top 7 perform. Keith appealed to everyone to 'cut loose' and that sums it up - so far, apart from a couple of notable efforts, the contestants have either played pretty safe or just don't have that special something to distinguish them from 'just good singers'. On another programme they might have called it the 'X Factor' perhaps.

Jena excelled herself last night and Caleb has been establishing himself as a totally natural great performer. Jena had previously been somewhat in Jessica's shadow and I am still seeing Jessica outlasting her but now she has pretty much evened things up.

Sam may have established a good solid support amongst the teen girls now. He's not the best act but I think he and Caleb may outlast Alex and CJ. I like Alex a lot but don't see him winning. CJ had a good night but unless he picks substantially better songs he's getting to the end of his run. Dexter is lucky still to be there in my view.

Of the girls, Randy says Jena is the one to beat - and I think he includes the boys too in that!

Coming 6th and 7th this week are Jessica and Dexter. So Jena sure did trounce Jessica in the votes, and deservedly so on the acts we saw but as fan base sizes that is more interesting. 7th is Dexter so he's the one to go. I think that is fair enough. 7th is a pretty good position.

Sam will be very pleased at coming at least 5th, as will CJ. I have a feeling that Alex, Caleb and Jena will have been the Top 3.

So it's all down to song choice and getting some sort of connection next week. Someone needs to make their mark.

Dexter performed Lucky Man at the end and did probably one of his best performances! A fine time to do that but there you go. Or rather, there he goes.

The Top 7 perform

It is getting interesting now. After this week there will be just six remaining. At last, too, we have a 'moment'. Two actually.

Competitors' Picks is the strange theme where each one picks a song for their competitors. Luckily each gets to choose from six and Randy Jackson should ensure fairness. Otherwise the opportunities for sabotage are all too evident! So unless all six really really dislike one of the others all should be well.

Family Tree by Kings Of Leon was Alex's choice for Caleb. Alex does know his music so should have chosen well for the big rock man. It's missing a hook. Caleb performs well enough but it's not one of his best. A good effort but maybe Alex was looking a little too deep and this might be one of those tracks that grows on you after a few times. Here, though, tonight, Caleb has just the one. Hope the voters get it.

Anyone who comes from a town called Slapout gets remembered. Sam chooses something called Gunpowder and Lead for Jessica. I think it's by Miranda Lambert. It's one of those hard hitting Country numbers that might have been written at the same time as Blown Away. Similar vein, but not as good, nowhere near as good. Jessica, though, is very good on stage, working well with the band and seems totally at home. Nice job, That should pull in a good number of votes from the Country states which will keep her in.

Unlike what the panel says to Caleb, Jennifer and Harry, in particular, spend a long time giving advice to Jessica. It's not so much that they don't like her but really want her to win but need her to take notice and improve to do so. She takes it all well but must have been a bit upset to have several minutes of advice still coming trough in front of everyone at this stage.

Demi Lovato appears on stage - no adverts for X Factor USA, though!

Sam & Alex have a duet. Passengers' Let Her Go is another great track that I think we can credit Alex for choosing. That suited both of them very well and should do them no harm whatsoever. Their fans will have enjoyed that.

Caleb chooses Gravity for CJ. Again, this ought to be good. Yes, that's what CJ needed. Really suited him. Not a stand-out track by any means on its own but that will have helped him considerably. He may well stay in and make the Top 6 now and should be thankful to Caleb for that.

CJ chooses a bluesy Country Mutterly Creek Water (I think). Now CJ knows Dexter well so I expect him to know what he's doing. This was OK but whilst it will keep his Country fans happy enough I am not so sure it will bring the votes flooding in. Harry wanted him to make it his own song and, if this year's American Idol is going to be more than a karaoke act then they have to more than sing other people's stuff well.

Caleb and Jena have a duet. The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter. Great. Not at all easy. It's not really a track to fit into 2 minutes but they produced a first class effort and as Jennifer points out immediately that could be a 'moment'! Good performance and Caleb was, for once, actually outsung by Jena. For her, a really much needed uplift and she looks a lot better too. They work well together. I got the impression that Caleb was staying back just a little to help highlight Jena. Just a brilliant choice and Sir Mick can count on her if he needs someone on stage with him for that number. I'd back her to last the full 10 minute version too!

Alex has an Ed Sheeran number chosen by Dexter. The A Team is a pleasant number. It's another sugary version - well structured and very friendly. Huge audience response. They liked that. As the panel each point out, that was a perfect track for him and Harry has it as his favourite performance so far. That'll delight Alex, who may get another week with that job.

Jessica chooses Sail Away for Sam, a David Gray number. A very impressive vocal performance indeed, but I am not so sure he 'connected' as well as he might, something that the panel have been going on about for week after week.

Jessica, CJ and Dexter are singing together. They have a similar background and get on pretty well, understaning where each other fits in. Doing Lady Antebellum's Compass. A simple enough track and they get through it OK. Nothing spectacular though.

Jena winds up the show. Caleb has chosen Creep for her and that could be amazing. These two have taken over the show tonight, big time. Fantastic interpretation and some brilliant notes in there. Finally something to remember someone by - twice in one show. Her odds to win this thing have just dropped remarkably. Thank you, Caleb.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Top 7 revealed.

No save from the judges now so whoever gets the fewest votes is out of the competition. X Factor did have the chance for one of the bottom two to survive - the panel decided, regardless of who actually came bottom. Only if they were split 50-50 would the public vote be used to decide. Here it is totally down to the numbers who pick up a phone and dial.

CJ and Malaya are the two at risk this time. One will make the Top 7.

Malaya is the one to go as CJ scrapes through to sing another week. Malaya's farewell track is quite emotional - she does her best with I'm Changing and you can tell that neither Jennifer nor Harry are convinced she was the right one to go but Keith leans over and reminds them that she'll be touring the nation all summer anyway. In a way, I think she was a couple of years too early in this competition.

CJ was lucky and now needs to pick some very smart numbers for next week. With Sam coming at least 6th this time in the polls my feeling is that Jena and Dexter should be next to go.

That's it. Down to seven. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Top 8 Take 2

Sam was saved last week so there are still eight contestants left. Ryan looked more delighted than Sam at the news! I guess that, after being in the lower part of the voting results list since the start of the Live Shows, he must be getting resigned to the fact that others are more popular.

I would not have put him at the bottom but it is so difficult to tell with this show. So many Country fans out there tend to dominate the voting and make it difficult for anyone not in that genre. They also keep some people in who really are not likely to score heavily in the main Billboard charts or break into Europe. Anyway, let's see how they get on this week on 'Eighties Night'. That's music from before when all of them were born!

David Cook comes in to mentor them. My God, he looks old. I suppose it was a long time ago when he won - one of the few, in fact, who won without playing the Country card. He should be able to give them good guidance as he was brilliant in his choices and interpretation.

First up is Jena with I Love Rock And Roll. She looks like someone who would sing this well and certainly has the right attitude. Can she transmit that on stage? Great start, slowing it right, right down. When she gets up and moves around, though, the mike seems a bit quiet. I know she would have been wanting to start quietly and build up but it still needed to be louder. Eventually it seems to have more volume but by then she has started to sound a bit urgent or desperate. A good try and, with some more rehearsal and a bit more control, that could be good. Something was missing - it needed more 'roar' from someone who can 'roar'.

Dexter next. He has another good ol' boy song Keep Your Hands To Yourself with lyrics that are more like something from the 40s than the 80s but that's his good' ol boy style. He did a good job of this, neither fantastic nor bad, just good ol' boy average and I still don't see him filling halls or arenas. Pubs, village halls and clubs maybe. He's a nice, likeable fellow, probably missing his tractor now. I would have thought he'd have been back on it by now but no, the voters are right behind him in a big way. I have no idea how he's going to do.

Alex and Sam get a nice track to perform as a duo. The Girl Is Mine. This is a gentle sing-a-long sort of track that not even Paul McCartney or Michael Jackson could do a great deal with. It starts and stops. They blend well but that's not going to be replayed a great deal.

Malaya has a Chaka Khan number. That should suit her. Through The Fire was not a huge hit so there is an element of risk with this not being a Dexter anthem or classic 80s number. She doesn't seem as comfortable at all with this. The notes are slightly off and her tone is getting tinny and, surprisingly, her timing is poor. This was quite painful to listen to. She has done much better and we all expected a lot more from her. Keith says she should not try so hard - it's like she wasn't being natural and when she is then that's when she is at her best. Jennifer also starts by saying 'We know how talented you are' which basically means that she isn't going to comment adversely. Harry also remarks that she was over-conscious of what she was doing but she didn't think she was. Anyway, that was pretty awful but I wouldn't be surprised to see her make it to next week, regardless.

Jena & Caleb are the second duo with It's Only Love, full rocks socks on. Jena looked much better for this performance and was great, as was Caleb. They worked really well together.

Harry walks into the audience and joins a bunch of teenagers while Jena and Caleb perform. He gets one of them sitting on his shoulders and she's still there when he returns to his seat. It's a bit odd and the girl does look a bit uncomfortable after a while. Keith's off the cuff remark, which I won't repeat, and Harry's reply have already been commented on by a reader and I have to agree with her - something went wrong there but I don't think any offence was intended and Harry is just unpredictable anyway.

Jessica took on Blondie's Call Me. She's good. She looks fabulous, getting better each week. This ought to have been an ideal number for her but she wasn't sexy enough in how she delivered it. Jennifer says the same and wisely suggests that if Jessica doesn't feel comfortable doing sexy then she should pick different tracks. My guess is that Jessica will carry on. I hope she stays. She deserves to and I reckon she delivered the most commercial track of the night so far.

Sam must be really worried. It doesn't show, though. He performs Time After Time really well. I like his pacing with some youngsters around and just the one backing singer to remind us of Cyndi Lauper. That was an excellent job and if that doesn't get his fans voting then nothing will. Good job, Sam. It may be that many of his fans just thought he'd be safe and didn't bother but last week's shock may now have made them sit up and take notice. I had him down as a potential winner. Harry tells him to look at a Ricky Nelson video on YouTube. We should check that out and see what he has in mind.

Malaya & CJ are #3. That should be interesting - one desperate to hit those big notes and one so laid back he's almost asleep. George Michael and Aretha's classic I Knew You Were Waiting is a great track. Malaya doesn't start terribly well but soon picks up the thread and she makes up for her previous efforts, virtually taking the whole song over! CJ is more like a backing singer. A pleasant performance. Not stunning or memorable and it'll just get an average number of downloads but really nothing very spectacular. That is a bit worrying from a quarter of the set for this Season.

Alex has the Police number Every Breath You Take. He and David Cook will have understood each other well. Now that was the performance of the night. Fabulous version of the song - quite diverse from Sting and how great that was. Alex's voice is crystal clear and the contrast with people like Malaya's tinniness or strained tones tells a big story and hopefully, for him, will take him a long way further through this show. Harry distinguishes between him being a performer (brilliant) and entertainer (not so good). That's a fair point but Alex reminds me of someone like Paul Simon who was no entertainer either. I think he can get away without entertaining. Jennifer didn't like it that much - she missed the insistent beat of the original which was a class song but Alex totally transformed it. The lyric was originally sinister - Alex cleverly brought it round.

Jessica & Dexter play the Dolly & Kenny act. I wonder if Dexter will ever sing anything other than some huge Country classic?! Islands In The Stream is one of The Biggest Songs. They do a good job with this but it is just a karaoke sort of performance really. It pleases the crowd so I suppose they have the 'entertaining' factor! Harry would be pleased but he has disappeared into the crowd again. Keith too this time! Probably hoping to divert attention from their earlier remarks.

CJ goes for Free Fall by Tom Petty. This is a cool song. He ought to deliver this really well. It's his style and the sort of track I would expect to see him doing in the world outside. Some important notes at the very start aren't quite there but he will probably get away with that. It was OK, nothing like as good as I had hoped he would be. He ends very well, though, and will not have done himself any harm with that. I don't know how much support he has out there, though. I think he may be vulnerable - he needs a moment. As Harry, says, though, he does make a connection with the audience. Harry And Keith also spot the tuning mistakes. Not something we reckoned on for this guy.

Finally, we have Caleb. Expecting something a bit special to close the show. Ryan teases us before the break - a Journey classic. I'd forgotten that Randy Jackson was part of Journey. Faithfully, as David Cook says, is a major 80s anthem for anyone from those days. He can't afford to mess it up. He will, though, give him a chance to show how he can be gentle and handle lyrics not just belt out heavy stuff at pace. He does the track proud. Another fine performance from this unlikely looking Idol. Standing ovation from the judges and crew.

CJ and Malaya may need some extra fan votes to survive this week, against such excellent competition. Jena may be the one to go.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Top 8 Perform

I have yet to see this group as 'memorable'. Just two, CJ and Jessica, stand out as artists, the others being competent but not really spectacular. Alex has a great talent and I can see him working well in the industry albeit not in the limelight. Sam could get a good amount of teen support and might be able to sell a few albums with the right packaging. But really I see just the two potential stars.

Let's see if they can all show us a bit more to remember in years to come. I didn't know but the two I back are actually on first.

Jessica starts an sings her own composition. That's quite a brave thing to do at this stage. It is a good number and she certainly presents it with passion. I quite light the span between rock and Country too which won't do her any harm at all. Good job. Keith sees the Grace Slick connection. Whoever chose her clothes needs his or her head examining. The red dress stopped at just the wrong place looking more light those shorts that men wore in the 90s and looked stupid.

CJ comes on with Soul Shine. not a track I knew. He did a reasonable job with that. Nothing wild, though, but all the notes were right and he was a lot more confident. Well staged with great lighting. He does get through to people.

It looks like they're redoing their first audition numbers. That's quite a good idea - unless, of course, they had a poor initial choice.I did like the chance Ryan took when bringing two girls on stage to meet CJ. Maybe it was staged, maybe it just happened.

A duet next. Jena & Alex. Pink's Just Give Me A Reason works well at the start for both of them. It drifts in the middle, Jena seeming to miss the key and timing but it is Jena again who brings it back and gets it right. Alex never really gets noticed.

Sam is redoing Lego House. I like his choice of tunes and he is modern in many ways that some others aren't. It's OK but, again, lacks anything to make us want to rush to play it again. In fact, I very much doubt that many will do so at all. That may also mean he hits the Bottom 3 again. He ought to have lots and lots of teen fans dialling, though, and that was a competent and accurate performance that should mean he survives.
Harry has some great advice for him. Good reviews from the panel.

Jessica & Caleb make  good pairing for Stevie Nicks' Stop Draggin' My Heart Around. Not really the best of tunes but it works for Jessica pretty well and doesn't hurt Caleb's chances either.

Malaya had an Aretha Franklin soulful number, Ain't No Way and I have to say that she absolutely won that over and won everyone there over with it too. A very, very good performance of a track that suited her exactly. She has to make it through. I still don't see her as a star, mainly because I just see her as another version of several people out there already. That doesn't mean she is not exceptionally good, though. Very impressive. Jennifer says, perhaps unguardedly, that she will 'run away with this competition'.

Ryan shows a glimpse of Facebook votes and we see Jessica leading the over 21s and Sam the under 21s. Malaya, surprisingly, was 4th with the over 21s and 2nd with the under 21s.

Dexter and One Mississippi. He is one act I thought would have departed by now. This was a competent performance but I can't see that getting votes outside the farming belt. That may well be enough, though, for him. Alison Irahitra (sorry about the spelling) from Season 8 is his backing singer. Nice to see people from previous Seasons having success.

Malaya & Sam comprise duet #3. That'll be odd. The duet was really poor. Malaya tries to make it work, all credit to her, but Sam is just out of it. Useless. That might affect both their votes.

Jena does Adele's Rolling In The Deep. The start is a bit tedious but she pulls it together well and ended very well. In a sense she was totally disconnected from the band and I felt that she was maybe trying too hard. She is a good singer and performer but I would have preferred to see her singing something lese. She did make the song her own and she deserves credit for that. Will she survive this evening? Maybe, but I think she is vulnerable.

Dexter & CJ are duet #4. They get on well as it happens, coming from the same place. So this should work well for them and it starts to but is a bit dodgy in places. Dexter takes the lead and CJ sort of sings along. "I've got a roof over my head and a woman I love lying in my bed'. Now that's a lyric.

Caleb has another Aretha track. Chain Of Fools. I didn't like this at all. It just went on and on. All the notes and timing and stuff were just about as spot-on as they needed to be but it's just a track I don't feel gets anywhere. He has done some great tracks and has a super voice. Hopefully he will get another chance to do something great. He is big and loud but he's not going to win.

Alex also does an original song. Fairytales is a good song. His performance is excellent. Naturally, he is completely in touch with the lyrics, and that helps so much. He is someone you can listen to easily and I have a great deal of respect for this guy. He is the classic American Idol 4th place fellow. Really talented and deserves to win but I don't see that happening. Just the type of people voting.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Now just 8 remain

So, who makes 9th place this Season? There are several less than enthralling contestants still around: Dexter, in particular, nice old boy that he may well be, simply doesn't cut it as a future major album selling, concert ticket selling act. Jena, too, has yet to fire up real enthusiasm and match her performances to what we'd been led to expect.

Randy tells us that he liked her, though, and put Jena with Caleb and Malaya Top 3. Ryan doesn't get people on stage but there's some camera thing that puts the face of those saved on the big screen. Jena, Malaya are first to be declared safe so Randy was right and I was wrong. (Janelle Monet sang but I didn't get to see that so that'll have to wait for another day.) Next safe are Alex and Jessica. Good. She survived the Rhiannon thing. Caleb eases through so Randy may well have been right. Dexter makes it through too. Oh dear. So it's Majesty, Sam and CJ as the Bottom Three. That's twice running for Sam and three times for Majesty. I would expect Majesty to have to sing again but it may be CJ's unknown track that didn't appeal. Surely Sam is OK.

Majesty is, indeed, the one that has to sing to try and convince the panel to save her.

She sings Happy but, I have to say, not very well. I really have admired this girl and hoped for so much from her. This was a breathless, uncontrolled performance with plenty parts out of tune and yu just felt that she knew she was out. If anyone were to be saved, though, I feel it might be her. But after that I am not at all sure she deserves it. Being on the Tour, of course, means she hasn't really lost much. Shame to see her go. It really should have been Dexter.

Sam must be wondering how he can match the others' popularity too.

The Top 9 Perform

This week they're 'with the band'. At first I thought that this was going to be an old-style Big Band show, which does happen at some stage sometimes, but no, this is much better - basically getting them to perform with the band on stage.

This should suit several like Jesse and Caleb better than others.

Alex starts with more of a solo with his guitar, much as usual, doing Don't Speak by No Doubt. He made a good job of it and he certainly has a talent and bags of support from the crowd. He doesn't change though, and we need to get just something to remember. Keith got it right - we need an 'edge'. That song didn't have any edge at all. It was nice but he needs to be a bit nastier.

Majesty needs a good week and doesn't deserve to be in the bottom two again. She does Florence & The Machine's Shake It Out - well, she tries but she could be in trouble again after all as that was not right for her. It was a brave effort but all over the place and the track just doesn't suit her. I would be worried that this may be her week to go if the others choose better. Harry is so right in saying how people can't latch on to who she is as she has such a vast range and may not appeal to enough people at the right time. She would have been my choice to make the final this year but it'll take some good fortune and much more careful song selection.

Boondocks by Little Big Town is another bit of a cheat by Dexter who stands there with his guitar singing a goof ol' boy Country song. Was there a band anywhere? He suggests we 'give it up for the band guys' but I think they'd given up and gone for a smoke anyway while he was on. To be honest, he was not very interesting and that was terrible forgettable. Harry hits him hard with the same point. It may be that Majesty gets saved by Dexter. For several minutes the conversation is about gummy bears and it's like the production team had actually forgotten him.

Malaya has lots of energy, you have to give her that. In the sing-a-long-rock at the start she was obvious, maybe too obvious, but at least she was making an effort and getting excited. I have always thought she tried to hard so far. The Long And Winding Road from The Beatles, mostly Paul, is her choice. Not exactly a 'band performance' but what a good choice to show us what she can do. The glasses are a hundred times better and she holds herself back, not doing the screech and trying over hard like before. Nice job. She ought to be safe after that. Best performance of the night so far and she'll be around a bit longer. I just hope she stays in control and doesn't revert to rubbish.

Sam is slowly growing in confidence and he has a great chance tonight. Hey There Delilah by the White Ts is simple but quite effective for him. He looks good, very comfortable - maybe just a bit too comfortable perhaps - and I reckon he's the act whose time has come. That's his style and I can see him surviving if he can keep the girls voting in big numbers.

Jessica talks about how she likes hunting again. She may actually win some votes over there with that! Rhiannon is a wonderful track but it is a tough thing - Stevie Nicks has burned that song into my brain. I hoped she would do more with it. This was the track that someone else I admire - Didi Benami - sang at about this stage in the competition, only to be voted out. She was spot on with the lyrics, tune and all that but nothing that grabbed us and she is suffering from the comparison. I like Jessica a lot and she really should have a chance to win this thing. She would be my choice to win and I would look forward to her album too.

CJ is another serious contender in my view. Such a natural talent. You can't imagine him doing much else really. If It Hadn't Been For Love is a track from the Steel Drivers that few seem to know. Good though and ideal for CJ. He should be through easily for another week. Nice job. Complicated review from Keith this time, matching Harry. The audience have to pause for a moment to try and figure out what on earth he meant before applauding! CJ just listens and looks increasingly confused. Harry tells him he has to work on his pitch. I can't really tell you what Keith said as I didn't understand him myself. Poor CJ just wants to sings tunes.

Caleb really should make the most of tonight. This is most definitely his theme. He has had a rock band for some years but hasn't done well with them. In a way you wonder why and what is now going to be any different. He chooses Led Zeppelin's Dazed And Confused. Not a number that many will know and not the band's best known track either. Caleb does, of course, belt out the lyrics and does so in tune and in time. he knows what he's doing but much of the track's success is from the band. Remarkable performance as he does get hos vocal chords screaming out eventually in an impressive ending. The audience were well in support which I was a bit surprised about, bearing in mind all the Country folk that I thought would have been there. It will be interesting to see whether people who liked that are also people who vote on these programmes.

Jena closes the show. Following Caleb isn't easy. I would have expected him to have been the last act. Jena should also be at home with this theme and has the Evanescence classic Bring Me To Life. Not the simplest of songs as it maybe shouldn't be hit so hard at teh start as most people are inclined to do. She chews up the lyrics a bit. Nice to watch her on stage but this was a messy performance and had a touch of desperation about it. Possibly the second worst of the night and I would put her and Dexter in the danger zone. Joining them might be Majesty. I also fear a little for the lovely Jessica, purely because Rhiannon is very risky.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Someone has to come 10th. And we meet Royal Teeth.

The production team give us a nice glimpse of the Top 10 after the show eating some food and joking around. For all their weirdness, they do seem to get on pretty well although one or two were noticeably not involved.

Randy is working pretty hard in the background and seems to be doing a lot of what Jimmy Iovine used to do. He guides all of them well and summarises well, too. Obviously he doesn't talk of anything being pitchy any more and Harry Connick Jnr has totally taken over the technical accuracy.

Dexter is the first in the Bottom Three. That's as I expected. Jessica, I am pleased to report, is the first person saved and Malaya joins her. Oh well. Majesty is in the Bottom Three again. Caleb gets through. I would have put them the other way round. So that leaves Jena, MK, Sam and CJ. I should think that CJ will be safe and Sam ought to have appealed as the only young, good-looking boy. So if MK survives she's done very well indeed. Jena was a bit heavy-handed but I reckon she'll still beat MK. If she doesn't it'll be like several similar artists who have bitten the dust at this stage in X Factor USA and last year's Idol.

Royal Teeth do the stage performance. A band I haven't heard of before who are pretty infectious with a number that grows really well. Nice job, introduced and promoted by Harry Connick Jnr. They're worth listening to again and are in the video below.

Yes, it's MK with Majesty and Dexter in the Bottom Three. Majesty does get to survive - that's good - and it's Dexter who came 9th, leaving MK to have to sing to be saved.

She does a superb job of All Of Me and the crowd sounds desperate to save her. The panel seem to be close to agreeing but one says no. I can only imagine that they're holding out to save someone else if necessary. So she goes. Sad because I think she had a chance of giving the others a good run for their money and had a chance to get to the Top 3. Still, she's in the Summer Tour and will be well remunerated come what may.

The Top 10 Perform

The full show is included in this post. Ryan Seacrest starts us off with a terrible 'selfie' - the track from The Chainsmokers being the link to all that stuff and that is taking off here too.

MK has chosen Perfect, the Pink song that may not quite reach as many votes as she needs. It was competent but I feel she yet has to let herself go, If she were to do that then I think we would have a moment and there would be someone to watch grow. As it is, she's good but that special star quality isn't coming across on screen. She has a nice solid fan base and is looking good too so I think she might survive - unless everyone else does really really well. I like this girl and wish her well.

Long, long comments from the panel. All sensible stuff, though. Harry is pretty intense but very accurate.

Dexter I am surprised to find still there. He just is Country and only Country. They're picking tracks from 2011 on which got to the top something. Pink's track made No.2. For Dexter's the camera had to pan the billboard charts to the Country section but I did actually recognise it - the one about windows down. Good song but surely this guy isn't going to win this thing? I suppose Taylor did. It was a very lazy performance. I guess that's to his credit that he didn't appear nervous or anything and all the notes were in the right place. Not something we're going to remember much, nor will everyone be downloading it. They might as well just get the real thing and, to some extent, the same could be said for MK's.

So far neither has shone nor messed up so le's see how it goes from here. It's an opportunity for someone to mark their mark.

Jena is going Clarity by Zedd and Foxes. No, nor had I. It suits her and she has quite a bundle of personality that comes across. Otherwise, though, this was neither one thing or the other. She sort of stopped to ask the audience to wave their glowsticks in the air. That didn't sound right. I don't know how you're suppose to shout out in tune but she didn't quite get that right. She does look good and has benefitted greatly from the makeover teams efforts. I don't see her getting many votes. So we're still waiting for something special.

Alex is the odd one in this Season. He is very talented and smart - not mainstream but he is so natural. He's doing a 1 Direction song! Now that's brave and good luck to him, being completely out of his normal zone. However you can never know what he'll do with songs. The Story Of My Life is a good example - he strips it down nicely and I think that worked well. It needed every note in place and they were there and he even got some emotions across. He just doesn't look like a star but he is most definitely an artiste. The audience loved it and the panel give him some great reviews. So what will the voters think? I hope they go for him and keep him around a bit longer.

Ryan tells us as they go to a break that there is a limit of 50 votes per method. That's interesting. I was going to say that would prevent any major fan buying a place by just voting all the time but I suppose if they are that rich they can just get a load of others to vote 50 times.

Malaya hasn't yet managed to get through to me. She is a bit too loud and 'in yer face' for my taste without really showing any talent. Bruno Mars' If I Were Your Man is a great song and she starts well, softly and very much in the right tone too. As it grows, though, she starts to wail and the tinniness in her voice at the top end and the masculinity at the bottom end both annoy. In the middle, and at the very end, she was impressive, though. At 16, and seemingly no experience of a relationship at all by her own admission, her lyrics were simply not credible. Harry says she was sincere and I go along with that in that she tried. She is pretty good and gets great reviews. So I shouldn't be too hard, I suppose. X Factor USA had 14 year-olds.

She gives a little away about her level of confidence when Ryan gibes her some flowers and when reading the note attached she is totally in control, including getting everyone to wait while she read a last bit. Interesting.

Caleb is singing Lady Gaga. That should be good. We need something to enliven this show. He chooses Edge Of Glory which is a super track. He can sing really strongly and in tune too. This was good but it just sort of started and stopped. He set off in top gear and stayed there. Not that interesting or as memorable as I had hoped. I still think he was better than all but Alex tonight so he ought to be safe. Keith was spot-on with his comments about how he is absolutely in tune vocally but there was no variation in feeling. The song is huge and he did just seem to be showing off vocally, as JLo said.

CJ chooses Hunter Hayes' Invisible. Do I know this? I should. It's a lovely song. CJ has surely taken the favourite spot after this performance. That was a quality act indeed. I felt that there were a couple of places where he missed something and wobbled. Keith said he was shaky, despite being perfect in rehearsals and blowing everyone away. I agree. But I have a feeling that he'll be well safe for all that. He was really the first to bring emotion across properly. (Alex probably could have done as well but not with a 1D song!)

Three to go: Jessica, Sam and Majesty.

Jessica has Pumped Up Kicks which brings out her Country style well and this is a very commercial track that she does well. That was excellent and she has a tone that is just right. She looks lovely, a great job from the makeover team and she is establishing herself as a genuine future star. It was a little easy-going and Harry does call her a bit one-dimensional, she was smiling when she perhaps should have been serious. He was right but she has a certain style that appeals to me. Keith calls it 60s style pop, ignoring the lyric. Hope she survives.

Majesty was in the Bottom Three last week - or even the Bottom Two. I had her down as a potential winner so that was a surprise and I am not too sure what she did wrong. This week she has chosen really well with Avicii's Wake Me Up, a tremendously commercial track. She sounds a bit nervous but hits the notes and has some clear emotion that I never noticed in this song before, She made me listen to the lyrics and all credit to her for that. For me, this was almost the best of the night, it could have been a lot better but I still think she was that good and could be even better. Harry calls her 'complex' - a good word for her as she has that sort of talent to work with what she has and do something interesting with it. She has a good look too, less doll-like and more like a performer. Nice.

Sam winds up the show tonight. Another Bottom Three person. He chooses We Are Young by Fun. This could drag a bit if he's not careful. It is a popular song, for sure, but he needs to do it well. I like his style and his voice is great. He does try hard to make this a bit special and he succeeds in places when he doing the slow, quieter part. He might have been better transforming it and keeping those quiet parts. The panel is rushed to comment so they don't get much chance! After the lengthy ramblings for all the others that was quite odd. I liked it but the 'Toni-i-ight' bit wasn't as strong as it should be.

Predictions? Hmmm. I think Dexter and Malaya and CJ may be at risk.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Top Ten - and who makes the Summer Idol Tour

I found the Results Show!

This determines the ten people who make the Summer Tour - and that is worth a decent amount of monthly income as well, of course, as plenty of good publicity for career progression those who didn't win but still did well. So for the one person missing out tonight this is a particularly rough deal - worse really than coming 8th, 9th 10th.

Ben and Majesty are the first two declared as in a bottom three this week. I would not have put Majesty there. We also learn that MK had been in the bottom two twice running so she must have not been as popular before as I'd expected. Having said that, she has clearly redeemed herself now, coming at least 7th. I must be missing something about Malaya who seems to be through pretty easily. After a timing problem with the band Jessica still makes it which I'm glad about as she has something special about her.

The Bottom Three this week are Sam, Majesty and Ben. Surely Majesty must be safe. But no, it's Sam who gets 8th place. Majesty gets 9th and that leaves Ben to sing for what is an option for the panel to save him. Quite what that means about making the tour I don't know. Maybe if they don't save him it won't arise anyway.

I think coming 11th is about right and still a damn fine achievement so well done, Ben, but no, there's not going to be any save.

Just a thought as I watch these shows with more of Ryan Seacrest than the auditions showed. he is looking decidedly older, or something has changed about his face that makes him look a bit odd now. Perhaps the makeover team need to sort him out a little. A fine host, though.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Top 11 Perform and it's beginning to get tough to choose.

Here is a run through of all the Top 11 performances without interruptions. I do quite miss the 'interruptions' in a way but at least this has enabled us to see who did what quite quickly and catch up with the States which I believe we have done - at last! Hurray!

OK. Who's first on what sounds like Movie Songs night? That, as we know, means they can sing anything as I am sure they'll locate some movie it;s been featured in! Tom is looking increasingly confident and happy on stage, with his eyes very much on the prize, and maybe the girl fans who really don't have much choice in the looks department.

I thought they would have kept someone whose name escapes me but who was around until the very last stage before this. He was ridiculously good looking but I guess this is a singing competition. Tom also has a striking resemblance to Prince William. That won't do him any harm over there either. He sings The Beatles' Come Together and makes a pretty good job of it. Nothing exceptional but solid enough and that ought to see him through to the Top 10.

Jessica is someone else who is looking really good now and the makeover team didn't have to do much to transform her into someone we'd be happy to pay money to watch. She is a superb singer and has an intriguing tone and very believable intonation to lyrics such as these. Her track is Paul Simon's Sound Of Silence. What a great track. Lovely. Something odd seemed to happen about two thirds the way through when a drum tick starts up but which seems totally out of sync with her rhythm. The camera turns to Harry who looks as if he's wondering about that too. It doesn't put Jessica off, though, and eventually settles in to her rhythm OK. A very good performance and a long gaze at the camera as she finishes. She had better not go.

Can't You See is CJ Harris's track. It's not one I know but that doesn't matter as he makes sure we all get the feeling behind this bluesy, dusty Country number. He is a strong, totally natural singer and this is the third excellent performance tonight. I can see CJ recording some old tracks that need to come around again and doing well in that as well as seeing that this sort of music is what he is all about. Good choice and he really should be safe with that. I don't see how he could have improved that at all.

Dexter does Sweet Home Alabama competently enough but this is a pretty tedious track and does nothing for me at all. To be fair he hits all the right notes and it seems to go down well. maybe there are lots of Alabama people there - and there is always quite a heavy Country bias in this programme that few can get over. He is not someone I would predict getting far and the strange turn-up on his hair at the front is a makeover fail but... he's not made any mistakes and smiles at people.

Ben Briley has B-b-b-Benny And The Jets which suits him. he looks quite old after the makeover, with a sort of maturity that sets him apart from the others so far. He knows this song well and luckily they managed to find a film it was featured in so he could perform it. His family knew all the words too so it looked like something he was used to performing. No problem with that, though, and shows some intelligence. I don't know whether he has the American Idol presence. But then Phillip Phillips didn't. A good, well-paced performance and if he goes it will be for nothing that he's done wrong there.

Majesty sings Let It Go. This seems to be something from a musical rather than a film. I didn't catch where it did come from and it's new to me. A brilliant performance again from this girl. She has to be favourite to win this thing. Her personality just shines out from the stage and every time she has performed since getting to the live shows she has just been in her element, thoroughly enjoying herself and giving it her all. For me, there were some bum notes and tuning issues and the track seemed to lose itself from time to time so it wasn't one that we'll all be rushing to replay later. However, I reckon she has built up a good following now and that will see her safely through a few less than spectacular performances.

Caleb has an amazingly powerful and accurate voice and uses it to great effect on Skyfall. Indeed, I would rather hear his version than Adele's which always used to annoy me. He has almost perfect pitch and manages difficult notes and transitions really well. This guy has to compete for votes with Dexter, Alex and Ben I suppose. That has to mean they all suffer a bit as few will vote for ll of them. He looks like a rock star from the 80s and if it's that genre's time then he's the one to deliver it. I just don't think it is. He is excellent and may outlast one or two of his competitors in this competition but go sooner or later he will.

Make You Feel My Love is something that MK Nobilette very much wants people to get and this is her track for the evening. She is excellent, and seems to be finding some extra reserves of confidence that had been missing before. A good, quite distinct voice and a style all of her own. She reminds me a little of Alex Park who won our Fame Academy many years ago mixed with some Annie Lennox, perhaps. Nice performance and one which I get the feeling had quite an impact on the panel, Harry in particular. I hope she gets the votes that she deserves.

Alex does Falling Slowly a nice ballad which is not an east track by any stretch of the imagination and needs a lot of emotion to get it across effectively. He manages that and may be the best singer of all his crowd when it comes to individuality rather than just sheer power or whatever. Alex just doesn't look like a star. I want to hear more from this chap and he really should be around a while longer. I just don't know who is going to make an effort to vote for him over Caleb, Ben or Dexter. Of the four, though, he's the one I would back.

Jena Irene has survived so far and meeds to pull something special out of the bag to stay in this competition. My goodness, she certainly has here. Decode is a phenomenally good track for her and is the stand-out of the night in my view, so far. A very, very emotional and powerful performance that cannot fail to have had an impact on lots of people watching. Will they vote for her, though? Has she made that big leap from showing that she is one classy singer to being someone they want to support and be a fan of? I thought she might have gone before but she didn't. I do hope that on a night she deserves so much to get through she isn't let down.

So Malaya made it through and the lovely Emily is the one that seems to have disappeared. That is quite a surprise and, once again, Malaya does a big number with an annoying voice that, whilst hanging onto notes much better than before, is still not something I want to listen to much at all. She seems to wobble around notes and never quite get it right. She is almost over-confident now and determined to belt things out in an attempt to prove that a girl with glasses and braces can do well. We know that, dear. Just get on with singing.

So she'd be my prediction to go tonight but if she has survived on much poorer performances I have to wonder who else she may beat after all. It could be Tom, Ben or Dexter. Tom might just get by. The other vulnerable one may be Jessica after Jena's extraordinarily good show. Now that would be so wrong if Malaya stays and Jessica goes. We'll have to wait and see. Unless I can find a results show!

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Top 12 Perform. Ben and Malaya look vulnerable.

Here are just the Top 12 performances with no commentary in between. Again, make your mind up! One has to go. Kristen left last week after a pretty poor effort. This week they all seem to have upped their game somewhat.

As before, I have included the whole show at the end of this post.


Another good performance. A bit desperate at the top of notes and not stunning. he has to stand comparison with Jessica and I feel she is losing.


He lost his way a little, maybe concentrating on the electric guitar more than he should have been. That made this a bit boring and not as inspiring as his first week. He ought to be safe though. He reminds me of a young Dylan and is definitely a stand-out in this competition. I reckon he stands a chance of winning, despite ths less than memorable week.


With No Surrender Jessica managed to equal Dido if not actually out do her. A very well-presnted track and she is reay ahving a good series so far. She is up against Jena in some ways and so far is winning. This is classy and you start to feel that you can believe her and also rely on her to come across well.


Good ol' boy doing Good Ol' Boy things. He does them well enough, but is this really what we want of an American Idol? In 2015.


Yes. She is piutting a very firm marker down in this competition with Let's Get Loud. marvellous and that was what the audeinec wanbted. real taleny and she seem to be diverse too.


Another strong and very competent number that is unlike anything else on this show. How can he survive? I suppose as the one and only of that genre he is mathematically more likely to survive than the three or four counry dudes. Except for the Texas vote.


A much better track this week but a much more nervous and flailing performance that showed lots of vulnerability. That may not do her any harm but she'll be gone if she continues in that vein. Nice genre but not well performed


He's OK, but needs better songs, This just started and stopped and he didn't get a chance to do anything much with it that we could remember. He shouldn't go just yet but he'll have to pull a lot more out of the bag to survive much longer. Maybe he's just cruising at the moment.


Definitely appealing to the girls and the Country scene with a gentle rolling number that was ideal for his voice and this stage of the competition. He could have put himself up there in the top 3 with that. well done. Not as good as Jessica but good, nevertheless.


Someone ust have had a word with her after last week. Better hair and stage presence generally and she is in more control. Well, up to a point. She is dreadfully off key most of the time and screeching at the top notes like a wailing mouse rather than hitting them like a decent performer that we might pay for should.


Great voice and so easy-going on stage as if he has been there for years. Nice tone and he makes some effort to get a message across but loses that and it finishes rather worse than he would have wanted.


With the blue painted guitar and the classic Fix You she ends the Top 12 show with a very, very clear lead. There was a major wobble as she sang I'll try... near the end but that will probably get forgiven and I imagine she won the week hands down.

The Top 13 perform, or just try to, as the case may be

With no transmission of the series now in UK I shall use this excellent set of clips which will give you a good idea of who did what. This excludes all the judges' comments but that's not such a bad thing at this stage. Make your own mind up! If you want to see the whole show, it's at the end of this post.

I spotted Alex & Sierra in the audience. There are two or three who really don't look like staying and one or two who have made a clear mark on the leader board.


Dexter kicks off this season's Live Shows. Not very well, though. He's a Country-style boy but this was pretty tedious and very uninspiring. Some would have turned off I imagine. He is competent but the song was rushed and just a mess to listen to. Not much to watch either.


Oh dear. This was awful. Malaya was running through this with no feeling whatsoever. Running too, far too fast and losing the rhythm and any hope that we might want to stay with her. An odd performance in many ways, with trousers that just looked grubby. She needs to start again.


Another nervous and wobbly performance from this girl. She didn't look too great this week either and won't have done anything to help gain the fans she'll need to survive. A beautiful disaster? No just a disaster. Sorry, Kristen but that was almost as bad as Malaya's.


The first to sound confident and at home. Good ol' Country stuff but with a bit of a hard edge. He can sing fine, this guy. He could be anything between 50 and 95, though. Not too sure about his audience being AI voters.


Another reasonably confident performance although was so uninspiring I almost fell asleep. The guy's pleasant and talented but I don't see him getting far. He deserves to get further than the first three though, I have to say, on present form.


A great singer but she is taking a huge risk with this number for her first live show performance. She really ahs an unusual, jazz-influenced style that could well be very cool and perhaps even the next big thing but it just seems a bit earlier to go to extremes with the voters she needs at this stage.

Majesty Rose

At last! This is someone who, as Randy would have said, is in it to win it. A speedy number that is almost flawless. Excellent. the best by far so far.


A little shouty but no more than can be fixed with some guidance. She has a strong voice that isn't too tinny like some and she has the power to convey emotion well as well as looking good on stage. She deserves to stay a while.


Superb performance! He doesn't look ike someone who would win Amrican Idol but this was so good, better than Majesty and she was damn good. That could be the performance of the night. Amazingly good first effort by Alex.


Another good one. maybe they saw the first few and realised they needed to do something a lot better. I like this girl and her tone is soulful and determined. She deserves to be around for some time yet too.


The prettiest girl and she can sing and hold our gaze for more than just the way she looks. Nice job, with feeling and if the voters are like X Factor USA then she stands a good chance of reaching the final stages.


Sam Woolf is another who deserves to keep going. He has a good voice and knows what he's doing. This wasn't as appealing as some of the others before him have been but so much better than many of them.


The rocker - like something from the 80s American Heartbeat era. He has a great voice and this was flawless and powerful up to a point, but only so far. Maybe the song was wrong but it didn't pull us in and, despite nice studio echo effects, it just didn't go anywhere and the ban sounded a bit thin as backing for him. A talented guy, for all that who may stay a while if the voters are into his thing.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

No stars for Channel 5*

Can you believe this? Channel 5 have dropped transmission of American Idol. In the middle of the series! This is ridiculous. I can only assume that they were being charged too much by Fox and not getting enough viewing figures for the advertisers. Having said that, there were one hell of a lot of advertisers signed up - did they just cancel contracts when figures weren't as expected?

I don't think I can recall a series being dropped midway. You'd think that they would have paid to broadcast the whole damn thing, or at least contracted to pay, then sold the spots and sat back to see what happened. Some you win, some you lose. They were never going to get many by putting it on 5*, which is off the page for most TV guides, and at 5pm most people who might be a potential viewer are probably doing something else if they do manage to spot it's on.

So I am going to have to try and carry on with a streamed version direct from the States. At least that will be up-to-date and not x weeks behind like we have been! That's assuming I can find a link. Hopefully someone will come up with one if I can't find a good one that works here myself.

Yup. Really annoyed. Sorry for the delay that'll be inevitable in keeping you folk posted but we want to know what is happening and I may well have to add the videos here too for you.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

This is your Top 13 for the Live Shows.

I'm confused again as the programme starts by saying that '20 have performed'. No they haven't. 10 girls have and 10 of 15 boys are about to. Or have we missed something in an effort to catch up with the States?

We get glimpses of some of the guys performing but no more and then Ryan is announcing the first person through. So here are the ten that get though on the votes of Idol fans: Malaya, Ben, Emily, Alex, Jessica, Dexter, Caleb, Majesty, MK and Sam. So they're the ones who have made the best impression on voters. The guys are an extraordinary bunch - not exactly guys who we'd expect on a model calendar!!

There are three wild card entries that the judges will decide. They get five more to perform. CJ Harris is first - a super performer and singer who I expected to have appealed to the public. He is totally natural, obviously loving the music and just such a nice guy. He gets a lot of criticism from Harry about something having gone wrong and both he and Keith felt he'd not maintained a contact with the audience. Interesting.

Next up is Jena Irene with a last chance. She did really well and surely won't be accused of not connecting. That was excellent.

Spencer Lloyd, the good-looking one, gets a chance. The show needs him, really it does, with its crazy male line-up at present. That was an underwhelming sort of performance of Ordinary Girl but he's popular with that crowd for sure. He is modern and in the time zone, unlike quite a few others.

Fourth with a shot is Bria Anai. She does It's A Man's World very effectively and oozes talent that none of the others have shown so far in a way to compete at all. Surely she must have saved herself with that performance.

Harry thinks it was all over the place, though. Hmmm, that was surprise.

Last is Kristen O'Connor. Her Unconditional is poor, however, as she is drowned by the band and begins to look a bit desperate.

I'd put through Bria, Jena and Spencer or CJ.

Jena makes it. Kristen does. Wow. Didn't see that coming. Last one - CJ! Great. Not what I expected them to choose but well done.