Friday, 27 February 2015

American Idol XIV: The Top 24 Perform

So here they are - at last, 12 girls and 12 boys get to sing live and the public will get to choose who stays. Rather than include the whole show, which might get deleted, I have used the 'just singing' video that someone has put together pretty effectively. Whilst we do miss the panel members' comments we get some good indications as to how people are doing from their expressions and the audience!

As the show progresses I will try to include full show videos that look reliable. Indeed, it is always worth checking back as I do change them when I find something better for earlier posts.

1. Michael Simeon – “Classic” by MKTO 

This is the chap that Jennifer seems very fond of and who has really benefitted from the backing she's provided. Now, has it all been worthwhile? Initially I am not sure as he just seems very average but he does manage to put his own slant on this modern track and somehow makes himself both relevant and deserving to be on the Top 24 stage. I don't know how long, mind. Much depends on the tracks he chooses and now he has to stand on his own to get through.

2. Loren Lott – “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion 

It is a small stage and you don't get the feeling there are many people there at all which is a shame because Loren puts on a stadium-filling performance. That was very very good, all the notes in the right places and she just stood still and let her voice do the work. She also looked good, not overly made-up although there is time for the makeover artists to have their way in weeks to come. She should definitely stay around after that. My only negative comment is to wonder whether she engaged with the audience or those watching on TV. Bridging those gaps between the person, camera, tv screen and us is often what determines who becomes the real star.

3. Adam Ezegalian – “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake 

Singing rock in a 60s shirt and tie is fascinating! You can only admire Adam's style and originality. He sings this, as everything he has done so far, well, apart from a note he perhaps would have been better advised not to attempt. He does bridge those 'gaps' I talked about before and certainly has bags of talent. He's likeable, sings well and knows what he wants to do and will be around for a while yet. Last year's winner, of course, had similar taste in music and a bit of an old-style air so I am not planning to predict Adam as a winner.He ought to be there in the Top 12 though, as and when they get to that point.

4. Lovey James – “Wings” by Little Mix

Starting a capella was brave and just showed how good Lovey can be. Not a brilliant song for her, though. She had lots of energy and seemed nice and young, compared to the three that preceded her in this video. That and an ability to perform well are all to her credit and she looks great in a simple short dress and minimal fussing with anything else. She does almost seem to be trying a bit too hard in places and the song gets a bit tedious towards the end with some rather mangled words and notes as she closes. I like the girl and she's good but I am not sure I am rushing to find out what she'll do next.

5. Clark Beckham – “Georgia” by Ray Charles 

Now here's a classic everyone knows which means he has to be ultra good to stay in. He is looking quite different to when he started, almost too respectable now. He sings very well and pulls every ounce of emotion out of the lines. He is old-style and I am not sure that'll win him the show but he will probably have more appeal than Michael with whom he might be competing for votes. You'll see Keith standing up as he finishes, clearly very impressed. Could be Keith v JLo for that vote.

6. Adanna Duru – “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown

Compare Adanna to Loren. It's interesting as each is an excellent singer but this girl has just put a big marker down for her chances for the title. She moves every inch with that song - you can feel her feeling it and you almost want that stage to expand and let her free to move even more, That was impressive. One of the best versions I have seen of a woman doing that track and the best performance by a mile so far. I pity whoever had to follow that! That could affect Loren's votes too.

7. Daniel Seavey – “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul

Here's a happy little fellow. The first nervous performance of the night. He looked relaxed but didn't sound so sure. Paula would have loved him had he been on X Factor USA but unless there are only teenage girls in the voting pool he could struggle to get through with that. Lovely fellow and he's certainly doing well and, looking as good as that at 15, he can't fail to be a lot richer by the time he's 16. Just maybe not as the American Idol.

8. Maddy Walker – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie 

You'll remember that Maddy just got through last week and so she'll feel she has to perform even better than her best to justify the faith Keith, in particular, put in her. Let's see. I am not so sure she started as well as she could but once she got going it was better. She is good but just a bit bland - nice shiny blonde American pretty girl and I don't think she did enough to stay. Again, a super person and nice singer, someone you'd be quite happy to see on stage for a while in between the acts that you'd actually paid to see at a concert. There are plenty more yet to play but I'd say she was likely to go unless the rest are a bit average too.

9. Rayvon Owen – “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith 

Good choice by this lad who I would say is a definite to stay in the competition for a while at least. He needed longer than he had, though, to get this across and I hope his vote doesn't suffer from the brevity.

10. Tyanna Jones – “Love On Top” by Beyonce 

Is Michael Jackson back from the grave? Oh no, it's Tyanna. She looks active and as if she is about to dance and bring the stage to life. But she doesn't actually seem to get going. The notes are sadly missing here and there and the beat is neither here nor there. Odd.

11. Mark Andrew – “Take Me To Church” by Hozier

Another 2015 classic that brings the old-looking fellow firmly back into a younger age group. This is a fabulous choice for him and suits his voice and personality well. We do tend to lose the meaning of the sond, though, and he can only bounce up and down for so long before it starts to look a bit tedious. 

12. Shannon Berthiaume – “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin

Oh yes, I like this girl. Yet another extremely simple dress and minimal make-up on a small stage perfromance. She just doesn't look like the person who should be singing the Janis Joplin number, and you don't really belive that she means the words. She may not be innocent but she looks it. I do like her and how she performs but how credible will she be?

13. Quentin Alexander – “Youth" by Foxes

Here's a star in the making. This fellow is good. Modern and I see him going a long way in this competition. His only trouble will be if he too 'modern' for the voting public. He was only running at half speed but still impressed.

14. Jax – “You & I” by Lady Gaga

Jax v Quentin could be a good final. This girl is a totally natural performer, almost out Gaga-ing the Lady with You And I. The difference between Jax and Shannon is that you believe Jax. Too short though. But nice. The competition needs her for a while yet at least. there are times when I feel she's trying too hard and I would like to see her just as she is one week, no deliberate gaps, no odd words at the end, just some passion.

15. Savion Wright – “I Don’t Trust Myself (with loving you)” by John Mayer 

He's up against Rayvon and Quentin for votes in his category of style. In many ways he beats Rayvon and gives Quentin a good run for his money. The only problem is that track was so instantly forgettable. I cannot imagine anyone remembering enough to think that they really must vote for him.

16. Joey Cook – “Sweet Pea” by Amos Lee

This girl is different again. Nice jazz style and she is certainly someone people will remember. Very professional and a good, reliable musician that the live shows will benefit from having around for a while yet. I can't imagine the votes piling up big time but I like her.

17. Trevor Douglas – “Burnin Love” by Elvis Presley

Mr Cool Guy. I do like Trevor and admire his nerve in doing another Presley number. At the start I do wonder if he's not really overdoing it but once it settles he works well and I am pretty sure he will have bags of appeal out there in voting land. He is also extremely talented. Every note and beat was spot-on. That's quite an achievement.

18. Katherine Winston – "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac

I adore this song so can be a bit fussy as to how girls treat it. Katherine knows what she's doing but I have heard and seen better, notably Didi Benami several years ago. You felt she meant it but I feel that Katherine is just an actress. Good but that's all.

19. Nick Fradiani – “Drops of Jupiter” by Train 

They really do need a bigger stage. Nick almost steps on the stage lights as he tries to find his way around. It sort of spoils the performance a bit as well which is a pity as that was excellent otherwise. I would love to see him progress but there are almost certainly six more likely to survive than him this time.

20. Alexis Gomez – “Better Dig Two” by Band Perry

First Country number of the night! She will get a lovely big pile of votes for this. One, she's damn good and two, she's the only Country girl so far. She may be blonde and pretty and American but she has something else that I didn't see in Maddy.

21. Qaasim Middleton – “Satisfaction” by Allen Stone 

In the competition for original style it will be between the two Qs. Tonight Quentin wins as Qassim went a bit over the top with this and may well have turned off a lot of AI voters. This isn't their bag, no matter how good it actually is. Jennifer goes mad and clearly loves it.

22. Sarina-Joi Crowe – “Big White Room” by Jesse J 

This girl has had several goes at getting on the show. She has a lovely voice and great control, possibly as good as anyone in this competition and that can only help her. The song was a great choice too for her. Lovely. I hope she stays but her character and stage presence just may not keep her in people's minds. She deserves a chance but may well lose out to a wilder child.

23. Riley Bria – “Love this Pain” by Lady Antebellum

This chap just looks like he's a winner already. OK, he has to fight off Jax and Quentin and maybe Alexis and the Country vote and Trevor and the Nerd vote, after disposing of Adam and the Rock group! This was a bit bland and sort of rolled along but I am prety sure it will have rolled along well enough to keep him there.

24. Shi Scott – “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder 

This girl is a natural performer. She tends to chew the words more than she should but she isn't the nice clean blonde that we've seen earlier. I would have changed the shorts as she looks identical to last time and those legs are just a bit too long to allow us to concentrate on the song. When you do listen to the song, though, it isn't really up to much. I wasn't impressed and have seen her do a great deal better than that.

If this is the week when America votes and splits the 24 into 12 then it will be a hard cut for some but there are several who probably already know they're not going much further.

It is always difficult to predict votes across The Pond but my Top 12 would, assuming I have to have 6 Boys and 6 Girls, look like this based on tonight and one or two earlier performances. I've given the two oddballs ? as they may just make it but I don't know who they'd replace.