Saturday, 8 March 2014

First big stage performances for the Top 10 girls

Finally we get to the big stage - an impressive but slightly over-the-top set - and Ryan Seacrest is doing the host job as well as ever. For a long time he's been hanging around audition room doors with a whole range of parents and loved ones so I reckon he's very glad to be amongst people he can have some control over!

On come the panel, Keith and Harry in pretty casual, non-committal wear and Jennifer in something blue that fitted where it touched. There was quite a lot of thigh showing as she walked along and whoever designed the dress probably didn't intend it to behave the way it did so he or she may not be getting too many repeat orders. The top worked and I guess that was the idea as she should be pretty much behind the desk all evening. I don't know if there resolution on my screen was wrong but I remember how wide Britney, and especially Mariah, looked last year and for a moment the normally pretty slim by comparison Jennifer appeared to be heading in their direction.

Randy Jackson returns to the show, not as a judge but as a sort of super mentor and that's a role he'll be good at. The production team have also spent a lot more money and put a lot more effort into this stage of the whole competition by providing a big range of support and advice to the final 31. This is normally only for the last 10 or 12 and is a welcome move. I am particularly impressed with Adam Lambert being brought in as he has a superb understanding of what works, what a song needs and is good at communication too. There's also Chris Daughtrey who has done pretty well since his 4th place some years ago. I am not too sure about the non-denominational spiritual support couple but they're full of good intentions! With many of this lot being quasi-ministers or pretty heavily into church in one form or another they may well feel they already have God on their side but I suppose the couple even things up a bit for those who haven't.

Introductions over, we learn that, whilst all 31 are sitting in a backstage room watching procedures, only 13 will make chairs on the stage for the next Live Shows. So that's a lot that won't make it. It's not immediately obvious how the 31 become 13. First I think 31 have to become 30 by virtue of the public vote from last week to kick out one of the boys. After that, the judges pick five from each group for 10 finalists and I am guessing that voting is involved to bring the remaining 20 down to 3. In order to vote, though, surely the public will need to see and hear some perform but if they don't see all 30 perform how many do they see?

All, I suppose, will be revealed. It might have been a good idea to tell us first.

What we do know, though, is that Majesty is in the Top 13. She is the first chosen and comes on with great confidence. She has super style and it's an immaculate version of Happy. This girl is good and so much at home on the stage and with the audience, seemingly totally unfazed by the huge stage and event. Well done.

No.2 is Kristen O'Connor. She is the all-American looking girl that looks like she must have been a cheer leader and looks very clean. It was quite good to see her appear in a very 'non-starry' outfit. Yes, the top glittered but she had simple jeans and her hair was not perfect. Good decision by someone. She did an Adele number that was neither here nor there and she is certainly competent if not inspiring. Unlike Majesty, she gets some criticism which is fair. I don't know how well she'll do but she's done well to make it this far.

No.3 is Briana Oakley who is on her second or third attempt. She's seriously good - literally, very serious and seems to concentrate heavily on getting the notes right which, of course, she does. Warrior is a Demi Lovato song I don't know but it gives this talented girl a good chance to lay her emotions out on the stage. She's good, for sure, but I just don't see her winning. There is something missing. It might be personality which she may well have but she needs to communicate 'her' with us. I think I have figured out what is happening: 10 of the girls are performing, chosen by the judges. The votes will turn them to 5 and somehow another 3 (in total from the girls and boys) will be found! So I am still confused.

No. 4 is Jena Irene. She does Paint It Black for the mentors! Great, unusual choice. And she is doing that on stage too. I feel that she is trying just a bit too hard and the band is also painfully obvious. This is not as good a track as I had hoped - really too much shouted at us and with little or no shade in that at all. Nor was it sufficiently strongly performed to be a rock song either. Jennifer says she is one of her favourites. That's a surprise. Harry asked her what she thought the song was about. I am not sure she knew. She actually gets better reviews than I expected from Keith and Jennifer. Harry was just polite. Maybe they were too.

No. 5 is Bria Anai. Wrong Side Of A Love Song is her choice which, again, I don't recognise. This is a passionate number and she performs this really well - the best so far. You can see she was making a huge effort and that worked for me. Interestingly, she gets quite a bit of criticism from Harry and Keith which I would have thought Jena should have had. Maybe I missed her lack of control which even Jennifer commented upon. Harry gets the first boo of the Season for his remarks! Nothing major, though.

No. 6 is Marialle Sellars. She sings Roar. Adam slows her down. On stage she seems confident but this is a rubbish song and very difficult to get across effectively. There was no real 'roar'. She gets a lot of credit for rescuing things when she lost a shoe. I didn't even notice. It was not a good showcase as Jennifer said. Harry said that she was not the person they'd seen at the auditions and seemed to have been lost in a poor choice of song and over production too. I think she may well be one of the first to go. It needn't have been that way but maybe she'll be back another year.

No. 7 is Jessica Meuse. This is a talented girl, doing a Country number - the first tonight. She is one of the best too in terms of handling the camera and sharing herself with us at home. Nice. Chris Daughtrey tried to get her to leave the guitar to others to play but she appeared with it and I didn't notice the 'poor playing' that he hinted at. I thought that was a genuinely good performance and hope she gets through.

Ryan finally makes it clear that the public will choose 5 boys and 5 girls from the 20 performing. 11 simply won't perform at all. Then the judges will pick one each for the last 3 places that have not been successful with the public vote.

No. 8 is Emily Piriz. Not sure about the song but she's a cool chick and seems much younger than all the others so far! Adam is a brilliant mentor and gets her to do this well. Harry asks her about the words! It seems that what the song is about is not what he necessarily thinks she should have been singing about at 17! Luckily, she turned 18 a few days earlier. She goes bright red at Harry's comments. Just as well he wasn't on X Factor USA with the 14 and 15 year olds and their lyric choices!

No. 9 sees MK Nobilette. Now she's only 15! What will Harry say. She chooses All Of Me. Great choice. This showed her vulnerability. She is a superb singer and brings a massive presence to the stage, the crowd absolutely love her. I am not sure quite why - and I mean that well. It could be, as Keith points out, her simplicity. Here is a star for sure. Not your typical American Idol but she looks right on the screen.

Next we learn that Ben Brierley gets the 15th guy vote. So Poor old Nico has been hanging around for nothing. He was a good contestant - that's been two years now for him.

No 10. is Malaya Watson. She knows what she is doing - a very good singer and also aware of the artists and music she is singing. She chooses a Ray Charles number that is very bluesy. A little wobbly at the start. Maybe nerves were getting to her but she pulls through and gives her heart and soul to the major part of the song with amazing emotional appeal. Now, Harry really should criticise her for going over the top and missing notes and stuff. She does look a bit odd with a not particularly brilliant makeover. the hair is a mess and she dissolved into the dark blue and black. They're all a bit polite. She smiles a lot and Keith says she makes glasses and braces cool. Ah, well down, Keith, he mentions her going over the top. You have to feel sorry for the other five girls, Andrina, Jillian being two I thought we might have seen more of.

Looking back, Majesty and MK were the two that really stood out. Jessica and Emily ought to make the Top 5 too. After that, I have no idea who I'd choose.

Cutting them in half, though, is one hell of a cut in the week after next. Next week the boys will be down to ten too.