Ryan Seacrest on stage at last. He's been around doing his thing comforting or congratulating people on their audition progress. Now the Top 24 get to perform in a professional environment in front of the audience. It looks a small venue but it must, of course, be scary stuff.
Last night they produced some solo performances which I have yet to see. I am hoping to do so very soon and will adjust the posting of these articles accordingly but if you're a quick follower then you'll see this before the solos. These are important times as five will be dropped this time. We're getting
Lauren Alaina and Emily Brooke are the first duo. They are quite similar. Nice pair. Emily is excellent. Very young but so talented and you'd never know she was younger than twenty something. She really did well with that and, of the two, I reckon Emily could have the best chance, despite Lauren's experience. Harry would prefer Emily less raucous and 'produced'. I agree. Hope she makes the Live Shows.
Next is Nick Fradiani with Thomas Stringfellow. Nick won last year and we haven't seen a great deal of him since over here but he is good and will help Thomas a lot. Good advice in the clips we see from Nick. Their track is Man In The Mirror. Thomas looks strangely vulnerable and very young. He survives but seems out of place. I like the fellow and still think he should make the Live Shows but he'll need to do something. What, I don't yet know! Get rid of the yellow braces at least.
Keith makes a good point about Thomas normally doing his own thing and Harry refers to his version of Creep in the previous show, more or less saying that was enough to put him through.
Third duo is Ruben Studdart, Season 2 winner, with Stephanie Ngrete. Odd mix. Quite a mismatch on stage! The song is a Carpenters' number, Yesterday. He drowns her out most of the time. She is a cool performer and very controlled but perhaps a bit too controlled fr my taste. I'd like to see her let her hair down and mess around a bit. Jennifer was complimentary, as were Harry and Keith. Although 'nice job' may not mean she's an automatic shoe-in to the Live Shows.
Caleb from the year before is back, rocking out with Sonika Vaid. She is the one who cannot possibly go through as well as Stephanie as they both cover the same ground. Well, they have been so far and even look a little similar.
Ryan reminds us that just seven out of 12 will be through. I guess another 12 will perform next week and 7 of them go through.
I like watching Sonika but she has fallen down on the connection with the public out there. She also needs to let go. She gets to start Skyfall. I like that. However Caleb's strong voice could have taken over the production, Sonika got a chance to show what she could do too. She did seem a bit in awe of the guy, though. Harry was laughing because all this is so new to her. Laughing in a nice way and he did enjoy it. Keith was kind as well and Jennifer picked her words carefully and said what I just wrote about how she should loosen up.
Scotty and Jenna Rae. They do one of Scotty's numbers. Not bad but this was the first I didn't feel meant a great deal. Her critique wasn't that great.
La Porscha is with Fantasia. An excellent match. I didn't like La Porscha's entry which seemed in a different key but there is no doubting her talent. Quite extraordinary and she easily matched her partner once they got under way. I am not a huge fan of this girl but she deserves to do well. No doubt abut it. The song was the classic Summertime but you sort of lot that along the way.
Lauren Alaina is back with Mackenzie Borg. She is cute with him and seems to have taken a genuine liking to him! Nice to watch. The song is I Hope You Dance which really Lauren takes over completely. Mackenzie is a great talent but he was wasted on that partnership. Harry reminds us that his previous performance was very very good and that should mean he still has a good chance. He has a great future.
Nick is back with Gianna Isabella. I have never been really sure of this girl. The song is Beautiful Life which was his single in the States. Not a great track, to be honest, but Gianna does it justice and I was quite happy seeing and watching her perform. Nick gives her more space than some of the other Idols have given their partners.
Ruben performs with Avalon Young. Flying Without Wings is the song. Avalon has a serious face and seems out of place now, despite being a very good singer. This time she seemed a little off key and the song was poor for her. She was just on stage with the guy, not really offering us anything new. The crowd seemed to like it. Jennifer thought it was incredible and that they were one of the only 'real' duets this evening. Avalon gets a lot of compliments so I must have missed something.
Caleb is with James VIII and they're doing Gimme Shelter. Great song, not easy. Great performance! To be fair, that was really Caleb doing lead + backing but James did a good job keeping in there. I am not sure how much further James will go but that was quite enjoyable. He can perform well too but most of the panel's comments were sort of polite in a nice way, Jennifer's particularly.
Scotty and Jeneve Rose Mitchell get on very well. The song is Gone. Jeneve is absolutely unique and certainly held on to her roots with that performance. Amazingly good. She looks like something from a 1930s musical in that enormous dress and hat. The panel recognise that she really digs into the lyrics but reckon it was quite bizarre! Chatting afterwards, Scotty says to her that he thinks she'll be around for a while yet and can't wait to see how the next few weeks develop. He had previously said how ready she was for TV etc.
Jordan Sasser and Fantasia sing I Believe. Jordan has to be the best singer in this competition. Very good and he matches Fantasia all the way. Do I see him getting far? No. It's not fair but I feel he will not last much longer, despite being so good. The panel are quite critical of his efforts - not the singing but he tried so hard to be noticed.
That's the last chance for these guys then. Seven will move forward and start to become well-known faces and names and build a career in this industry.
Tough for those who fall.
La Porscha is first declared safe. Sonika makes it. Avalon is third through. Gianna is fourth. Wow. Four girls. Fifth is Thomas. Sixth is Mackenzie. So was Scotty wrong about Jeneve? No. he was right. She is Number 7 and so it's 5 girls and 2 boys. Shame to see Emily go.