Once more into the breach… it’s time for the 10th (and, some believe, final) season of American Idol. My plans this season are to blog the performance shows more thoroughly than the results shows, as my schedule’s a little different this season (as is Idol’s, for that matter) and I may not always be near my TV for the live Thursday show.
A quick pause for some Google juice: CHARLIE SHEEN… won’t be mentioned again in this post.
That said, I’ve heard chatter that the 9th Idol, Lee DeWyze (remember him?), couldn’t have qualified for this year’s semifinals. We shall see, shan’t we?
The terrific Idol source, MJ’s Big Blog, has the tentative schedule for the rest of the season – 2-hour performance shows for the top 12/13 through top 10, then 90-minute shows through the top 3, and the final performance show is only one hour. Results shows are one hour except for the “2 hour 7 minute” finale. Shows are Wednesday/Thursday except the final week, which is Tuesday/Wednesday, May 24/25, in order to get the finale on during May sweeps.
Tonight’s show was taped last Friday, which meant the song list is widely available on the Web, as are a ton of spoilers, all of which I’ve avoided. I don’t want my opinion influenced by what I read elsewhere… Oops… it’s showtime… the 90-minute (!) semifinal starts… NOW.
Of course, we start on stage with Ryan and the Top 12 Guys… right into the Judges’ Intro. It’s time for those words… THIS… is American Idol!
After the open, Ryan gets an official intro from FOX Official Voice Guy Mark Thompson… after which we pan around the Idol Theatre In The Round at Television City.
The rules: We get to vote for the top 5 guys and top 5 girls. The judges will add wildcards (officially 2, reportedly 3) to get us to 12 or 13 finalists. I’m popping over to the kitchen for a soda while Ryan prattles with the judges.
The guys are on stage now… introduced in the (reported) order of performance, which makes me think the performance order was correct. No theme, no genre, any song (that’s cleared) that the guys want to sing… and we jump right in…
Clint Jun Gamboa – “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
I’m not sure this song really showcases his voice well… a little screechy for me at times… but a decent performance. It’s rough to go first with no track record and nobody to compare to… I’ll go with a qualified “OK” and see where we go from here.
Jovany Barreto – “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain
For some reason, I’d have expected a more up-tempo choice. But if the goal is to showcase his voice, I’d say he succeeded. Definitely comes out looking like a contender. I think he’ll draw some votes. And (I’m saying this?) Jennifer is right. For a first performance, where the goal is to get through to the final, it works. I expect better if he makes it through.
Jordan Dorsey – “OMG” by Usher
OMG WTF LOL BBQ? When you need the backup singers to carry the performance, you’re in trouble. Decent voice, not a good song choice, not a memorable performance, not sure we’ll see him after Thursday unless the judges toss him a lifeline.
Instant scorecard: Jovany > Clint > Jordan; I expect Jordan to fall well below the top 5.
Tim Halperin – “Streetcorner Symphony” by Rob Thomas
Wow – the Coke Product Placement Couch takes up the whole stage this season…
Odd phrasing in his take on this song… I expected him to own the song a bit more, but he’s letting it own him… I’m not sure this was a Top 5 performance. Another qualified “OK”, but something just didn’t click here.
Brett Loewenstern – “Light My Fire” by The Doors
I don’t think he’s got the edginess to really pull this song off… but given the low bar that’s been set so far, and the fact that he’s a rather unique individual, this might just be enough to get him to next week. It’s another qualified “OK” (and that awkward hug with Ryan was endearing). Second-best of the group so far, but that may be faint praise…
Instant scorecard: Jovany > Brett > Clint > Tim > Jordan. We now start “eliminating” singers… and I’m where I usually am at this point of semifinal week… waiting for someone to blow the field away.
James Durbin – “You Got Another Thing Comin’” by Judas Priest
Seems unfair that he gets the Rock God Echo on this (but it *is* Priest)… hard to judge a straight-up rocker against the balladeers and soul singers… I kinda like this performance, just because it’s different, energetic, and fun. He’ll get through on it. But he’s not going to win Idol unless he branches out later. And now I know why they pretaped, courtesy Steven’s F-bomb. Second thought – he’s actually having fun… that’s rare for Idol. Might really help him down the road if he can keep the enthusiasm up.
Instant scorecard: James > Jovany > Brett > Clint > Tim || Jordan. Let’s see if the second six understand that it’s OK to enjoy the experience.
Robbie Rosen – “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
I really wanted to like my fellow Long Islander… but this is just plain awkward… he doesn’t have a handle on the song at all, he’s all over the place vocally, and he’s just blown it badly… hopefully, he’ll find some comfort in his 90 seconds of airtime… egad, massive pimping from two of the judges… but… *Randy* saves the day?
Instant scorecard: James > Jovany > Brett > Clint > Tim || Robbie > Jordan.
Scotty McCreery – “Letters From Home” by John Michael Montgomery
Deep-voiced country boy at work… well, it’s pretty much what we got on the road to Television City… deep voice, knows how to do a country song, has clearly staked out a niche… he might get through tonight (possibly as a wildcard), but he simply can’t win this. He’s a one-trick pony, and it’s a trick that will wear out fast. Unless he finds a way to cross over to pop, that is.
Stefano Langone – “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
Wow. Nothing stands out at all. Decent voice, decent song choice, decent delivery, decent performance – but that’s all I got out of it. If he gets to the Top 12 or so, he won’t be memorable enough to last. This song just didn’t do anything for me. Maybe the voters will like it.
Instant scorecard: James > Jovany > Brett > Clint > Scotty || Stefano > Tim > Robbie > Jordan.
Paul McDonald – “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart
Was he trying to do a bad Rod Stewart impression? Now THIS is a truly “karaoke” performance. I don’t really care to see him again, but I have a feeling that he’s going to get the WGWG (White Guy With Guitar) vote from the dissatisfied suburban housewives who skew Idol results every year.
Jacob Lusk – “House is Not a Home” by Dionne Warwick
Why do I think this guy missed the queue for RuPaul’s Drag Race? A bit of scene-chewing, a bit of mugging for the camera, and a reasonably-done performance, along with the Idol Note and the positioning on the show, pretty much guarantee he’s going through. I’d like to see him branch out down the road…
Instant scorecard: James > Jovany > Jacob > Brett > Paul || Clint > Scotty > Stefano > Tim > Robbie > Jordan. Keep in mind that Casey Abrams was in the hospiltal, reportedly with a stomach ailment that required a blood transfusion, the night before the taping. We’ll see how much of that is mentioned… after the break…
Casey Abrams – “I Put a Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Nothing, at least before the song. I don’t get the song choice, or the performance. I expected better in the Pimp Spot, but on a song where you can get away with going over the top, all he did was screech a bit. Not sure the Pimp Spot will save him… might wind up being one of the wildcards. A brief mention of the stomach issues after the judges…
And cue the montage…
My final scorecard: James > Jovany > Jacob > Brett > Paul || Clint > Casey > Scotty > Stefano > Tim > Robbie > Jordan. I’m not sure my first five will be the five guys selected Thursday, though. I can see Casey and Scotty getting in, costing Jacob and Brett their spots – although VFTW may have saved Brett by making him their choice. I’m not even going to try to predict who’ll get the judges’ lifelines.
The girls sing tomorrow at 8/7c. Results Thursday at 8/7c. The awful “Raising Hope” is next on FOX. See you tomorrow night… hopefully, there’s a breakout star among the girls, because there really wasn’t one among the guys tonight.