Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Idol Talk - Top 10

The top 10 tackle the Billy Joel songbook this week, which I’m predicting will shake up the top vote-getters and reveal a dark horse or two. Last week was my favorite so far of the season, especially Joshua. That dude really connected with a song I’ve never really liked (“When a Man Loves a Woman”) and made me like it.

I think this is the week we’ll see Colton take a chance and move up the ranks. I also think Jessica will bounce back and at least one of last week’s bottom 3 will become a contender.

I also have to say the Jimmy Iovine clips are entertaining, if not for their blatant attempt to fill the Simon gap and hear what a record executive really thinks about the contestants. Do I wonder sometimes if they give a contestant a hard time in order to rally their fan base? Yes, sometimes. But more often than not, Jimmy is the only voice of reality. The judges continue to refrain from judging. It pains me when Seacrest asks them to select who is in the most trouble and they downright refuse (J Lo, you are the worst offender!). So I may begin referring to them as cheerleaders until they show some sign of doing what they’re paid to do.

Here are my rankings for the Top 10 and my hope for what song they will select tomorrow night:

Singers to Beat

1. Joshua Ledet "The Longest Time"
2. Phillip Phillips "My Life"
3. Jessica Sanchez "And So It Goes"
4. Colton Dixon "Pressure"

Middle of the Pack

5. Hollie Cavanagh "Just the Way You Are"
6. Skylar Laine "Tell Her About It"
7. Erika Van Pelt "Big Shot"

Bottom Three

8. Heejun Han "She's Got a Way"
9. DeAndre Brackensick "River of Dreams"
10. Elise Testone "Lullaby"


Shannon Magrane
Jermaine Jones

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Idol Talk - Top 12

This blog is all about keeping it real, and in that spirit I will admit each week where I was wrong…and where I was right. First, I was probably the most wrong about pint-sized Hollie Cavanagh, having placed her at the bottom of my rankings. Where I was right, or pretty close: Jessica Sanchez stole the show with the best Whitney of the night.

This week’s theme is “songs from the year you were born,” which doesn’t seem to give anyone an advantage or disadvantage. It’s anyone’s guess this week who will shine. I think the burden will be on the younger contestants to prove that they can be authentic on songs that might be older than they standard fare.

The fact that 8 of the 12 remaining finalists were born in the 90s makes me feel so horribly old I can barely stand it. On the other hand, it means that I should know most or all of the songs since you could consider the late 80s/early 90s to be the formative years of my youth. Let’s just say you’ll be a lock for my vote if you can pull off a classic tune from Collective Soul, Cranberries, B II M, Natalie Merchant, Seal, Verve Pipe, Chris Isaak, Mariah Carey, Counting Crows, Duncan Sheik…wow, I am set adrift on memory bliss just thinking of the possibilities!

What do you think? Am I completely off my rocker this week? And just for the record, I couldn’t help but look it up, and three of the top four songs in my birth year (1978) were from the Bee Gees. Well, one was from Bee Gee baby bro Andy Gibb. Alright, here are my predictions for the Top 12!

Singers to Beat

1. Jessica Sanchez (1995) Deserves the top spot for “I Will Always Love You.” Maybe it’s just me, but I really hope she can keep it up from week to week. That’s a lot of pressure.
2. Phillip Phillips (1990) Homeboy better represent on behalf of “alt-indie-blah-blah-rock” (or however Randy described it last week). Could really kill it this week with the right song.
3. Colton Dixon (1991) Still waiting to see a breakthrough moment, but the potential is there. So many rock classics to choose from in his birth year.
4. Skylar Laine (1994) Moves up a spot out of respect for keeping her rendition of “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” on the pop side of the tracks rather than attempting to turn it into a country ditty.
5. Hollie Cavanagh (1993) Paris Bennett. Finally remembered who Hollie reminds me of. And I have this crazy idea — I would love to hear her attempt Jon Secada’s “Angel” this week.

Middle of the Pack

6. Heejun Han (1989) Branden on @americanidolnet half-jokingly suggested Heejun completely shock us with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” and I LOVE the idea! Why not??
7. DeAndre Brackensick (1994) He’s growing on me. As soon as I figure him out, I’ll have more to say.
8. Joshua Ledet (1992) Sunk from #2 in last week’s rankings due to his off-the-mark performance last week that shockingly landed him in the bottom three guys. Hopefully it was just an off week.
9. Shannon Magrane (1995) Bottom two girls last week. Needs to connect. Have this sick feeling in my stomach that she may stay totally safe with  “Colors of the Wind” rather than attempt to branch out and connect on any number of hits from Alanis Morisette or TLC. Though I’d also respect an authentic attempt at “You Are Not Alone.”

Bottom Three

10. Erika Van Pelt (1985) Note to self: Don’t let Jimmy Iovine or anyone else talk you out of your song this week. What do they know??
11. Elise Testone (1983) Let’s hope she can pick up the pieces of her shattered ego after being the lowest vote-getter among the girls. Again, lots of songs to choose from her birth year.
12. Jermaine Jones (1986) I see a tough road for the Gentle Giant, but I have a genuine like for his genuine like of having made it this far.


Jeremy Rosado Nice guys finish...you know...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Idol Talk - Top 13

It’s time to strike up some Idol conversation, and this seemed like the best way now that we have the top 13 for the season. Each week, I plan to offer my best guess of how the finalists will perform and who will be voted off the show.

This being my first blog on the topic, I’ll admit my biases up front. First, I was disappointed last season that the final two were young country singers because I felt like neither of them was a true “artist” – far from it. I think country artists have to do a lot more to distinguish themselves because there’s only so much they can do to reinvent a country song other than pour their emotions into it. I’m not bashing the genre; more like making an observation about the artistry of previous Idol contestants.

My other bias: I think the judges are utterly useless since Simon’s departure. They are cheerleaders, not critics anymore. I do my best to ignore their comments in order to actually assess the contestants. The three wild card singers – DeAndre, Jeremy and Erika – already didn’t survive the first vote, so I don’t expect any of them to make it to the final round no matter how much support they get from the judges.

That said, I have a lot of hope for this season. This week the girls will be singing Whitney Houston, and the boys will tackle Stevie Wonder. Here are my predictions for the Top 13!

Singers to Beat

1. Phillip Phillips Expect some serious reinvention of one of Stevie’s lesser-known gems. Phillip Squared is probably the best artist of the 13 finalists, with a Dave Matthews-meets-John-Mayer mix of rasp and subtle confidence. Only downside is being saddled with the higher expectations of the “frontrunner” label.
2. Joshua Ledet Who dat?! This week’s theme should make Joshua an even bigger winner than he was closing the semifinal round last week.
3. Jessica Sanchez We’ve heard the big vocals/tiny body/pipsqueak talking voice before. Still, Jessica made a big impression last week and will probably keep winning enough “cute” points to be a popular girl for a while.
4. Colton Dixon
Lots of potential as the faux rocker of the group. Needs a genuine big moment on Higher Ground or Superstition. Hope he doesn’t play it too safe or he’ll lose ground rapidly.
5. Skylar Laine It’s going to be hard to keep Skylar from being a consistent vote-getter. We’ll see how much she can stretch herself week to week. My guess is she’ll go safe and choose “I Will Always Love You” since it was written by the original spunky country queen, Dolly Parton.

Middle of the Pack

6. Jeremy Rosado Totally depends on song choice. I can see his star rising if he can sound authentic on something like “Isn’t She Lovely.” Lots to like about Jeremy as long as his humble nature remains endearing.
7. Heejun Han No chance to win, but I hope he sticks around just for the witty banter. I don’t think he knows how funny he is. Reminds me of Chris Sligh without the hair.
8. Erika Van Pelt I’d consider her the “winner” of the wild card round with her mad crazy rendition of "Edge of Glory."
9. DeAndre Brackensick The Stevie Wonder playbook could be a big plus for this season’s Hair Idol. Likeability can take you pretty far in this competition, but we need to know who he is and quick or the hair whipping run will end soon.
10. Elise Testone I like Elise’s confidence. I hope we’ll hear her distinguish herself a little more, because I already forgot what she sang in the semifinals.

Bottom Three

11. Jermaine Jones The Gentle Giant is another big mystery to me. He could get a spike in votes if he takes advantage of the theme this week, but I still think he’ll land in the bottom three.
12. Shannon Magrane Nice girl but too young to be able to pull off any Whitney Houston song believably. Let’s put this in perspective. When Whitney’s record-setting debut album dropped in 1985, Shannon wouldn’t be born for 10 more years. When Whitney was arguably at her peak seven years later with the record-shattering soundtrack to The Bodyguard, Shannon still wasn’t born yet.
13. Hollie Cavanagh I’m willing to give Hollie one more chance to impress me, but I’m not sure America is. She seems a lock for the bottom three, and if she’s off at all, I’m not sure she’ll be back next week.
What do you think? Who am I right about? Who am I completely clueless about?