Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Top 4

You know, this is as good as a Final in many ways. Five good contestants and I could imagine any one taking the title.

Favourite out there is probably La'Porsha who has put a foot wrong so far but I still wonder just how successful she would be as a long term record selling artist. She is superb as a singer but lacks something on stage and on camera that might hold her back and I am not so sure the Country lands would vote for her,

Next in my book and my own prediction to win is Dalton. He has something of Adam Lambert about him but, while he is not quite so perfect vocally, he has a great personality and a very individual and cool way to present material. He would also be popular across the planet with the right backing.

Then there's the remarkable Mackenzie. He writes very good songs and that should nean he deserves success in the future. He is popular and has a back story that many will appreciate. In the same way that Phillip Phillips sneaked in at the end so too might Mackenzie.

Sonika is the one who just made it to the last five. She is attractive and sings almost anything very well and I can see her going down well across the land. She lacks conviction - I don't think she's had much experience of life - and that shows sometimes in the interpretation of emotions in lyrics. I feel she is the least likely to make the Top 4 but she'll be pleased to make No.5 anyway.

The other candidate is good ol' Trent. I would not have put him in the last few based on early auditions but the guy has grown on me since and I have to admire his very good tuning and how he works with the songs. He has a great range, is more accurate than Dalton and has a lot of support out there. A good 'all American boy' too - he would be a popular choice for the last American Idol. Having said that, he just lacks that presence and magic that La'Porsha and Dalton possess and that's not something you can manufacture. I don't think he would export to places like UK or Europe either.

So, let's see how they do.

La'Porsha starts with a Bon Jovi number. I am not sure that suits her. She is most definitely not a cowboy and so the lyrics sounded odd, as did the tempo and general feel which was not what we're familiar with from this girl. I hope they have more than one track as that will not help her cause. Having said that, rumour has it that she is so far out there that it won't actually make any difference. Scott is already printing the CD covers. I didn't like that at all, though.

Mackenzie Bourg is next to make the Top 4. Cheap Trick's I Want You To Want Want Me is presented in his pleasant and easy-going style. I like the chap and this suits him. It didn't have a wow factor and may have been a bit over-produced with a lot going on in the background. I would have preferred him on his own or less heavily backed. A better job than La'Porsha and, as Harry said, it was 'all right'.

Keith says he hated the arrangement. After I'd written my bit! Nice to see I get some things right.

A past winner, David Cook, performs Heartbeat which I guess is a new single for him in the States. I liked him a lot in 2009 when he won but have heard almost nothing of him here in the UK since. He is jolly good and in this time of Mumfords and similar he could do well on this side of the Pond if his record people would bother trying. This particular track seems to be going nowhere until two-thirds the way through when it erupts and is quite impressive after all. It is one of those rare tracks that you want to play again almost before the first play ends. Nice. Come on SYCO or The Cook Record Company whoever you are, get him over here in 2016, OK.

Two places left. Who gets the first? I'm guessing Trent. Yes, although I don't agree with Ryan referring to Dalton and Sonika as the 'Bottom two'. I do hope that they weren't. Well, Sonika may have been but surely not Dalton? Anyway, Trent shows that he deserves his place in the Top 4 with a super version of ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man. I would never have expected that from him and he did really well, adding 'swampy' to the rock song. He 'muddied it up' and that worked well for him. Very smart, as Harry told him. A nice performance. The crowd loved it and that will do him proud. Unexpected and may see him through further than I might have thought. Good move. Best so far.

Dalton is the one that makes the last place. And he was in the Bottom Two with Sonika. Sad to see her go but it makes sense, looking at the talent she is competing with.

Dalton's song is God Only Knows, the great Beach Boys number. He 'Daltonizes' it, of course, slowing it right down and trying hard to pull in the audience. However, it was a bit weak. He should have attracted all his fans with that and he seemed genuinely emotional so maybe that will bring in a few much-needed votes for next week. His arrangement was good. He is a natural performer. He said he was 'a bit shook up' when Ryan questioned him afterwards and you can tell that he will be really disappointed not to make the Final. He has made the Final 4, though and that counts.

Very nice to see Katharine McPhee on stage singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. The microphone was catching some noise as she sang which spoilt it a bit. She has done very well since with a career in film and TV series which is probably earning her far more than even winning would have brought. She is gorgeous in Scorpion.
I seem to remember that Sia was to act as a mentor in a programme and we did see a glimpse of her with Sonika. Ah, as I write this she is appearing and we see that she is working with each of the four to do one of her own songs. Sia has a remarkable skill and has written so many tracks for top acts across the world. She is good. I dislike the wigs but that's just a thing.

La'Porsha sings Elastic Heart. She does it well - pretty much as Sia would have presented it, but that is no bad thing. Nice job and I imagine she'll sail through to the Top 3.
Mackenzie chooses Titanium. Not my favourite song as so many seem to do it and usually finish up wailing annoyingly. His version is one of the better ones. I still don't think it suits him and I'm not sure he didn't decide not to risk some notes along the way. Quite good but I do feel he could have done a lot better and he needs to beat Dalton and Trent.
Dalton really should do Sia well. I can imagine him interpreting her stuff exactly as both she and he would like and he ought to be more confident too.

Sia performs what I think was Cheap Thrills. Brilliant, brilliant dancers and set design. I am tired of her face-hiding stuff now. It seems more a gimmick than a statement. She is superbly talented and really needs to forget all that. I am sure the way she actually looks will not affect anything. I think she initially didn't want to be successful just because she was a pretty Australian blonde but judged on her music instead. Interestingly, though, she has used the device of an attractive and very sexy dancer in most videos I've seen which I am sure has increased the initial impact of the early tracks. I remember being enthralled by a couple of videos and may not have noticed her otherwise. I even though she was the girl dancing for a while!
OK, back to people with faces. Trent is singing Chandelier,  which Sia says is her favourite song. Trent does an amazingly good version of this and my guess is that he seals his own Top 3 place ther and then. He really does show Mackenzie just what was required. One of the Season's 'moments' I feel. Well done, Trent. Every single note was right and that was not an easy song by any stretch of the imagination. The timbre and timing were just, as Harry said, phenomenal. Very difficult but he gave it 100/100 and, from Harry, that's one hell of a complement.
Dalton is closing the show with Bird Set Free. Another damn difficult track and not as commercial as the others have been. They won't be as well remembered, perhaps. I was genuinely moved watching this. he really did mean thse lyrics - every word and he chose so well a less than famous track. He moved the audience too and may just have knocked some of the sparkle off Trent's performance. He will be remembered.

I do hope he makes it through. So many people say they 'need this'. He genuinely does. Keith tells us how he is up against some insane talent and yet he has that conviction and inspires us all. Keith would rather hear Dalton's inspiring efforts than someone else's perfection. He doesn't say whose perfection he was thinking about, of course!

This is one hell of a competition and a great way to end the series. There will be tears.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Top 5 are revealed

Huge applause at the very start as Adam Lambert opens this week's Idol show with the song he performed way back in 2009, Mad World. This guy is so good. I remember saying at the time that he simply has to succeed and I am so glad that he has, although I still feel he needs more exposure here in the UK. Of all the finalists, he is the one above all of them, in my opinion.

Tonight, well, a few nights ago for those in the States who get it on time, six will become five.

First saved is Trent. He performs Counting Stars, a new track for this guy and which shows another side to what he can do. His pose on stage is a bit weird but there have been plenty of dodgy idols in that respect. One even won! This fellow is a good singer, notes spot-on and he is confident. I can see America liking him, but I can't position him anywhere. Keith says he was watching him but didn't feel pulled in. The songs are chosen by the audience and viewers for the acts this time. That didn't suit him that well and he gets as good a review from the panel as he can expect. I don't see him winning and he may be getting near the end of his run.

Unless something odd happens La'Porsha will be there in the Final with Dalton and Mackenzie. Sonika, Trent and Tristan will be the ones going between now and then and, to a large extent, it doesn't really matter in which order they go. Tristan is just a little young to be convincing, emotionally, although she is the best of the three for me. She will almost certainly get a contract as she looks just like a pop star manager's dream and the camera loves her.

Sonika is a little bland. It is as if she has really behaved herself very well and, whilst singing brilliantly, she also leaves us a little cool emotionally. Has she actually experienced much in the love department, I wonder? I am not being critical, just wishing that I could believe the things she sings about. Strangely, the 15 year old Tristan is more creditable in ways that simply shouldn't be.

Dalton is next up. That was another reasonable effort of a track that I didn't recognise. It wasn't his best performance but he gets credit from Harry for the effort made. Again, the panel are not so impressed by the audience requests! He is very good, though, and seems pretty popular. He would be my choice to win from what I have seen so far. I just see him as a future star doing 21st century stuff, not recycling old numbers.

La'Porsha is the one everyone seems to expect to win. I can see why as she is damn good. She sings perfectly and takes on all kinds of music and seems to inject something special into each and every performance, all of which have been excellent. This one I don't know either. It is more of a ballad, gentle style than she has done before. She soars through the notes but there is a slightly annoying vibrato and more runs than I would have liked. Having said that, she can get away with them. And she is believable. Well done. Another step to winning, for sure.

Keith says he just feels that he is no longer judging but just watching and enjoying now.

Now that's odd. The 4Music Channel here in the UK jump to the bottom two. It is Sonika and Tristan. Seems like Mackenzie survived but we don't get to see what he sings. Oh well.

Tristan sings Independence Day which is a sort of Country number and she is great. If there were a way to keep her with the nation's votes then I am sure that would bring her in and secure a 5th position for her. A very nice, and controlled, performance as she sat at the piano, looking more like 25, and singing really well. Harry says she needs to grow older and that's all that's wrong really. Keith says how beautiful she is and mentions her photogenic quality too. It is pretty clear that she is the one who'll get the 6th spot this week.

Sonika does Let It Go originally by Demi Lovato and I can see that suiting her down to the ground. This, of course, is the famous Frozen theme that we heard week after week by someone else last year. She put her heart and soul into it. She missed quite a few notes this time and I am not convinced she beat Tristan at all. She did, however 'perform' better and started to become alive a bit more. She has really got as far as she should now, though, and, of the two, this week I would save Tristan as I just feel she is better and deserves 5th. However, it will be Sonika that gets another week. It is not that important and both will be on the well-remunerated Idol Tour this year.

Sonika is saved by the panel.

I remember when this Season began it was the girls that got all the attention. There were so many really talented auditions by girls and the boys didn't get much of a look-in, apart from the few we now know well.

We do get Never Let It Die which is a new release from an Empire show across The Pond. It is all good stuff but I would have preferred to see Mackenzie's number, being more of interest to UK viewers.

Ha ha! They've got the order of the programme mixed up! We do now get Mackenzie being saved after all! How could that have happened? I guess the UK Channel get several digital files and just got them in the wrong order!

Mackenzie is given Wild World, a Cat Stevens number that is pretty light and generally unimpressive. Sod this audience thing. If the series were to continue I would go back to getting numbers chosen by the mentors there and colleagues who know what they're doing.

So second songs now from the Top 5.

Dalton is first. Sound Of Silence is, or could be, perfect for him. Fabulous. I love this song and the power that Paul Simon brings to it (not the commercial version) and this is as good. So, so good. Well presented too and he emphasises those lyrics so well. Brilliant.

Adam Lambert follows, performing Welcome To The Show, a new release over there, with Leleh on stage too. That was the première of that track. I don't know if you'll be able to see the video here but it's worth checking out.

Mackenzie is next with a magnificent version of the Michael Jackson classic Billie Jean. He must be in the Top 3. He even has a shot at winning. Think Ed Sheeran.

Another fine performance from Trent with A Simple Man. Nicely done, and this is another song that actually does suit his style very well. Quite a different style to the two guys that have gone before and I feel he is making that extra effort to stay in the game. Harry says he'd like to see a duet between him and Adam and I can see the point. They're both spot-on with the notes and Trent has a good range too. This might be one of the guy's best performances. Jennifer even gets quite emotional.

Wow. Next week Sia is going to be featured, with acts doing some of her numbers. I wonder if she will be there herself and actually get out of the silly facial disguises. For now, Sonika is on stage again and she really ought to be there for Sia next week so I hope she gets the votes she needs. Will this be enough to steal some from the three guys though?

That was good. she was dancing around and moving. She let go and, finally, we began to see a free spirit in tight leather. She deserves a contract for Pixar even if she doesn't get one from Idol. I like how she seems to have realised that she can do what she pleases. Next step is to take her parents away so she doesn't get embarrassed as you just still get the feeling they limit her self-expression.

La'Porsha gets to close the show. A powerful version, clearly heartfelt and brilliantly portrayed. I don't really know how anyone can match that. Packed with genuine emotion. Jennifer is in tears again and so is La'Porsha.

I do hope the papers don't dig up dirt on her. It's the sort of thing I can imagine happening as jealous relations or past boyfriends try to make a few dollars and spread some old muck around which could affect her votes. I feel she'll have a rough ride even if she wins. But she must be pleased with how she has really dominated this Season. Whilst I still give Dalton and Mackenzie a chance, she is almost there.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Top 6 Revealed

Here are the solo performances from this week's Top 8, now reduced to just 6 as another two depart.

These are not in any particular order and I let them stand without comment. I reckon you'll be able to judge for yourselves who is really heading for that big Final and who has reached the end of their journey. The videos do include, however, the excellent panel summaries in case you're not sure.

The Beatles, of course, feature this week as a tribute to Sir George Martin who passed away last week. I am not sure why some did not. Maybe they did a Beatles tack in their duet performances. I have not included those as they were pretty meaningless on the whole, few of the remaining acts having much chemistry with the others.

Two of these have now departed and six move on to next week when just one will leave.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Top 8 are chosen

This week the Top 10 perform and two will go at the end of the show. Gosh, how quickly will this be down to just two people in a Final!

Dalton is announced as first through 'based on your votes' as Ryan says. So that's good to start with.

He sings Radioactive and this might be one of his least interesting performances so far. He tried and did nothing wrong but I just didn't think that suited hi at all. Moderate screams and stuff from the crowd but not explosive as so often they've been. Bearing in mind two have to go home it may be just as well that he was the person receiving the most votes last week.

Keith says more or less the same thing. Nice. The other two agree, complimenting him a lot but also unsure about what he should do. Harry said this was the first time he thought 'what is this guy thinking about today?'

Next, but with Ryan adding 'in no particular order' is Lee Jean. This is another I can see winning. After Dalton's not so great showing Lee has a chance to close the gap. He does Someone Like You, a great track for him that I wouldn't have expected. Very, very good. That worked well and he even put on a bit of a performance for the audience.

Keith wasn't sure about the song choice but Jennifer and Harry were impressed and he really should sail through.

Next up we get three girls and Demi Lovato. That was a bit odd. They all did Complicated, well, a bit of it. Sonika, Olivia and La'Porsha with a line or two each as well. La'Porsha excelled as ever. Demi then went on alone to do Stone Cold which is a dramatic wail of a song that gets applause for her runs when really I didn't think they worked anything like as well as her emotionally held notes. I like Demi and am always impressed by how she pushes boundaries and is really wanting to do 'new' music.

Sonika next. Since you've been gone is supposed to show us her 'bad girl' side. Unfortunately, to get that song right you need to have had a girl / boy friend and to have some clue about what a 'bad girl' might do or want to do. Sonika hasn't had a boyfriend and is a good girl. So that didn't work. She can sing and I like the idea of putting a character in her head which worked brilliantly last week but she'll need to work on that a lot. Not a good performance and it showed a huge problem for her attempt to win this. I would say she will be lucky to survive unscathed this week.

McKenzie has done well so far, with great interpretations of other people's music and very impressive writing of his own. So this week he takes on the Whitney number I Want To Dance With Somebody. Great song. I like his version but that is such an exciting, powerful and almost desperate song in Whitney's hands that it hardly suits the more cheerful message McKenzie's tone brings. So, it was OK and quite clever but not something I'll be wanting to play again.

Keith liked it. That'll help his votes. Jennifer was impressed too. Harry said what I said. I reckon he'll survive and I can see him winning too if he returns to his best style which is without too much backing and being a bit different.

La'Porsha looks about five but is actually one of the few contestants that have lived. A very smart stage set has her standing in front of a wings graphic and that is well done. She is dressed sensibly for her figure too in a very well-designed long dress. Halo is the song and she reinterprets that brilliantly. I can't see anyone beating this lass unless she makes a real error in song choice. Jennifer says she is a hard act to follow for anyone over there waiting to perform. Harry says that 'as always' she knows how to present a song and also play the competition.

Harry Connick Jnr gets a chance to show what he can do and performs his new jazz-influenced number which I think is his new single over in the States at the time of airing. He plays well and the notes, naturally, are in the right place and in key as it is Harry, after all. Having said that, I reckoned he was a bit uninspiring and a bit behind the beat which was odd. Anyway, an OK job but I put his expertise from the chair above his singing ability this evening.

So there will be two more safe and then it's the 'bottom three'. I presume they will all get to perform as how else would the panel judge? I suppose they could work on past performances but it seems cruel that they all had to rehearse and worry for this big Live Show only to discover that they're out. So I am hoping we hear them all.

Trent stays safe too. When A Man Loves A Woman is one classic song and he is note perfect and impressive in places but, overall, that was a bit boring. He tried hard and did seem to put quite a lot of serious emotion into that. He has a new clean look which suits him. Jennifer said she saw Trent and La'Porsha at the end in the Final! I am not so sure she should have said that, which must have hit the others pretty hard. They liked him.

Now, just one more guaranteed safe act. Tristan, Gianna, Avalon or Olivia? I guess Tristan. It is. I was right. The camera loves her. She is so photogenic. She also looks completely different tonight with gently waving long hair and much paler skin even. Go Rest On The High Mountain is one smart song. Scott Barchetta is the guy running the record label that the winner will sing under. He upset Tristan who had chosen something else and that did show her youth and comparative sensitivity but he may have been right as this was superb combination of Country with a bit of religion which she delivered to perfection. Lovely.

Avalon, Olivia and Gianna are the bottom three, one of whom will be saved.

Avalon sings a number by The Weekend that is very 'Harry-like' with a clear jazz feel to it. She is truly excellent but how deep that'll go in Idol terms I am not sure. Actually, the audience give her a lot of support.

Olivia has the look and the style. She choose Trouble by Pink. Last week she was ill so that might have been partially responsible for dropping her down. She really outs on one of the best shows we've seen tonight, definitely, looking and sounding like a pop star. That was good. Lots of vocal ability and clear talent. Harry says the lack of emotion in that performance could make it difficult for them to choose. I got the impression that they will go for Avalon over Olivia but I think Olivia would be the better bet for the record company. Avalon should join Harry and make records as a duo, that would actually work very well and solve a bit of a problem for both of them.

None of this bodes well, though, for Gianna, waiting her turn there. She would need to blow both acts out of the water. Some People is a big song and she starts well. So good to hear someone starting a song well. Unfortunately the next bit starts very low and that is not easy for anyone. She tries and almost succeeds but it is way out of her comfortable range. It is almost a relief when she gets into the mid and higher sections where she is excellent. Before starting she did say how she should 'put on the make-up and jewellery and put on the act so that people will believe her'. That is very telling. She is so young and has simply no experience and cannot honestly put the right emotion into the lyrics.

Deciding has to be difficult but I would say that Gianna simply didn't make it, despite a good performance and mostly accurate notes. Olivia would be my choice as I believe she is real and can do more that the public would love and I can see her competing with the others that are through already. Avalon is possibly the most naturally musical in a way. But is she commercial enough?

Difficult choice. They choose Avalon. That's fair. I wonder what she'll do next? She is, for sure, though, someone who can deliver lyrics and in that sense I am happy to see her back. Tough for Olivia.

Ryan says that there are just five weeks left. If another two go next week it'll be down to the Top 6. Then I would hope it's just Top 5, Top 4, Finale with 3 and Final with 2. It does rather look like La'Porsha has this in the bag from most viewpoints but the American voters are not as predictable as you might think.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Top Ten Pt 2

Very quickly into the Top 10 announcements!

Tristan is the first to be added to the group.
Sonika too. Wow, only four to go.
Gianna makes it. That must be bad news for the other girls.
McKenzie makes it. Yes.
Avalon is the first surprise for me.
Just one spot left. Yes, has to be Lee.

So the show's run has ended for Jeneve, the girl from nowhere, Jenn, the quirky one, each of whom I thought might make it further. Thomas might have got a place had my guess that there would be 5 + 5 but it's 6 + 4.

We get some performances now from each of the new Top Ten. Olivia is first. Unconditionally she performs with ease, very naturally excellent. Dressed in black and pink she is a good advert for the All American Girl. However, she has depth and seems content on the stage with a big crowd.

Gianna performs next. I don't know the track. It is a meaty, bluesy, strong number that is very demanding and, whilst she throws all she has at it, that is a bit much and I feel she didn't do the song justice. That was not brilliant and she missed a few notes quite badly. Jennifer is spot on. She says she will have to be very careful about what she chooses in future. She will, I think, be one of the first to go. I think there is a vote to eliminate two next week based on tonight's performances.

Lee has been fabulous all the way through so far. He has chosen great tracks, none which have stretched him that much but that has been in his favour as he has just been great. I don't recognise his song but it's good. Quite gentle once more but, with his strumming along too, it works very well for him. I think he will sail through. So likeable too. The panel say the same, recognising that he isn't pushing himself and doing big big numbers like some of the others. He tells a story well and that may go down a lot better than some big performance and key change like some of the girls will do.

Avalon may have been the one I would not have put through. She chooses a nice new track - Stitches - which is still in today's UK Top Ten. She is good, better than Gianna this week. There wasn't a great deal of shade in this, though. To survive, she'll need someone else to dip. I can't imagine who will, looking at who is left. Kelly is on the panel tonight and is very smart, delivering very well-considered analysis. She says that Avalon has some cool quality that several others don't have and Kelly definitely will have helped her votes with that commentary.

Dalton next. My choice as a winner so far. Hey there Delilah is, once again, just right for him, full of life and giving him a chance to move around and get across to the audience. Super job. This guy is a star already. Fabulous. Electric barnyard, says Keith! He is very popular too. I can see him selling well on both sides of The Pond as we haven't got anyone doing what he does here and he has so much youth appeal that the charts would swallow him up too. This is one hell of a good way to end the Season as Dalton winning means that McKenzie doesn't. I had thought it would be a girl for sure but now I am of the mind that, whilst it might be La'Porsha who wins it will be some guys that make the most of this year.

Tristan sings Nothin' Like You. She looks so different with straight hair. She is modern and is becoming one of my favourite girls now. I think she has outperformed Gianna and Avalon this week.

McKenzie has been brilliant all through as well, as good as Ed Sheeran in many ways. A song about fire that I don't know. He is quite unique and very good. This particular track is not, in my view, one of his best and I do hope that he gets the voters voting. I guess that if someone like Phillip Phillips can win then McKenzie can.

La'Porsha has cruised through this Season so far. No-one has come close in terms of stage presence and singing the big numbers. I am not a fan and wouldn't rush to buy her records but I am sure there will be many that are and will so she is likely to be around all the way in this competition and I am pretty sure she will be the one girl that remains standing. She sings Rihanna's Diamonds and just stood and was very very impressive with not a note wrong anywhere. That was the best of the evening so far, even beating Dalton. the audience don't let the panel start giving feedback. Amazing.

Kelly just says 'You're going to win.'

Sonika has a good name for American Idol. Wow, she is doing Evanescence Wake Me Inside and she does this extremely well.  In many ways you can see that she is saying, 'Hey, I can impress as much as La'Porsha can' and that was pretty remarkable. She did well and has now convinced me that she will last longer. Her notes are exact and she is complimented highly. She looked good and worked very well with the audience, possibly matching La'Porsha, unexpectedly. She surprised me and I have to revise my opinions now! Before there was a sort of blank space where the emotion lay but it was there tonight.

Last up is Trent. Now I don't know much about this fellow. He does the Sam Smith number Like I Can Can Can. He is another who is always spot on tune and in time. An excellent job of the track indeed. I just wonder about his appeal, compared to Dalton, Lee and McKenzie. I just feel that he doesn't stand a chance against them, however hard he tries. Such a shame for him as he is very, very good but you can almost see him leaving already.

So, who will survive? La'Porsha, Dalton, Sonika, Lee and McKenzie will sail through, I think. That leaves Olivia, Avalon, Gianna and Tristan battling for the girl vote with Trent struggling against the other boys.

I feel Olivia and Tristan will survive and it will be between Avalon and Gianna as to who leaves with Trent.

Kelly sand Piece by Piece  at the end. A very emotional number and she only just managed to hold back her own emotions as you can see the lyrics held some special meaning for her at this time. Quite impressive. A very good show all the way through.