American Idol 11: Boys’ Semifinal

Once more into the breach…

If you were following the (incredibly tedious) audition process, you know that Idol producers have already set up their first SHOCKINGSWERVE of the season… after the field was cut to 12 boys (performing tonight) and 12 girls (tomorrow night), they tacked a piece of video on the end of last Wednesday’s “Green Mile” show saying that one of four notable (?) rejected performers would be coming back tonight as the 13th male semifinalist.  There’s also a rumor that there’ll be a 13th girl tomorrow night (that SHOCKINGSWERVE would be announced at the end of tonight’s show, the theory goes)…

I can tell you that after keeping an eye on the audition process, there really isn’t an obvious breakout talent among the 24 25 26 semifinalists.  Actually, the producers have done such an awful job actually showcasing singing that there’s really no scouting at all… for most of the semifinalists, they’ll have 90 seconds to make an impact tonight or tomorrow.

Going into the show, I haven’t seen an official announcement as to how many Top 12-or-so spots (it should be 12, but expect another SHOCKINGSWERVE) will be decided by the audience vote, and how many by the judges (making sure their plants favorites get showcased).  I suppose we’ll get that right after the SHOCKINGSWERVE plays out.

It’s showtime…

We’re live at Television City, as Ryan reminds us about the SHOCKINGSWERVE because…

THIS… is American Idol!

Mark Thompson voices over the Official Judge and Host Intros, and we’re officially off and running on the new Idol set (lots more orange and yellow alternating with the old blue tones).  Lots more video screens, reminding us of nothing more than the X-Factor stage.

Ryan notes that there will be 13 finalists this season (SWERVE!) – 5 guys and 5 girls from the audience vote, and one pick for each judge.  We then see the 12 girls at stageside, followed by the 12 guys getting their first moment on-stage.

The 13th guy will be announced “a little later”.  It’s “Singer’s Choice” tonight… each singer gets to show some home video as part of their montage, and it starts with…

Reed Grimm – “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
He chose this?  A clear wink at their NBC competition?  C’mon… the producers had to have steered this choice.  Grimm heavily reworks the song – kind of a jazz/funk thing going on (and doesn’t go near the chorus).  He’s got a good, serviceable voice, and even plays his own drums on the song.  Looks like he might have a shot to get through, but going leadoff will hurt.

First break of the new season…

Adam Brock – “Think” by Aretha Franklin
He’s positioning himself as a soul singer (“White Chocolate”?).  He does a pretty safe (and unoriginal) take on the Queen of Soul.  He’s talented, but really comes off as bland – which isn’t going to help him land in the top half of this group.

Deandre Brackensick – “Reasons” by Earth, Wind, & Fire
This kid is frau bait.  The bored housewives are going to love the long hair, and VFTW is going to tee off on him.  Kind of a thin voice, a bit sharp at the high end, but he’s going to get a lot of votes from people who just want to watch him again.  I wasn’t sure if the producers were pushing him, but pulling up two kids from the audience for a hug clinched it.  They want him through to the 13.

Another break… I suspect Adam Brock is the first casualty tonight… there will be more…

Colton Dixon – “Decode” by Paramore
Also known as the kid who didn’t actually sign up to audition (he was a former failed contestant who was “drafted” while he was supporting his sister, who is rumored to be the SWERVE tomorrow night).  This is another singer the producers want to succeed… good voice, got a bit screechy at times, but with the push he’s getting, he’s also got a good chance of getting through on votes (and will almost certainly be a save if not).


Jeremy Rosado – “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles
Jeremy gets the first Product Placement Zone interview… OK voice, had some problems holding notes, certainly doesn’t look 19, which might hurt… pleasant and nice, and utterly forgettable, even with the glory note toward the end.   Seems like cannon fodder.

Off to break… and we don’t need Ryan referring to Steven’s face melting… I’m scared that it just might… and they’re burning off J-Lo’s Latino talent show on Saturdays???  I also didn’t need to hear Jennifer yelling “There was no nipple!” as we went to Aaron’s B-roll…

Aaron Marcellus – “Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5
Sorry, dude, but you lost me in the first line.   This is a song you dive into and attack, you don’t play it safe… but he did.  By the time he warmed up, most of his potential voters were getting a snack in the kitchen.  I can’t see him getting voted through, but with the throughline being “J-Lo championed him”, he might get her save.

Chase Likens – “Storm Warning” by Hunter Hayes
Good idea to follow a couple of sleepers with an uptempo country song… and I think he’s got a shot at pulling in last season’s Scotty McCreery voters.  Good voice, mild twang but not overbearing… he could be a finalist.  There is room for him to get knocked out, though… depends on the next hour.

Interesting… 4 solid contenders already… you have to figure the SWERVE is going to be someone destined to go through… the final 5 of the original 12 have some work to do to get past Reed, Deandre, Colton, and Chase…

Creighton Fraker – “True Colors” by Kodak Cyndi Lauper (also Phil Collins)
Seems to be trying to be Adam Lambert Lite… but doesn’t have the over-the-top persona or, frankly, the voice to pull it off.  The slightly-effeminate son-of-a-preacher will probably have to be content with this one moment on-stage… he’s not going to get the votes to get through.

Break… well, it looks like they’re going to pimp the SHOCKINGSWERVE, so it’s clearly someone the producers got paid off to push are very high on…

Phillip Phillips – “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
Oh, he’s going for the WGWG (White Guy With Guitar) vote, by slowing down Collins’ already-slow hit.  I think he’s going for “a bit menacing” but he’s not quite making it… again, pleasant, nice, and forgettable.  Rough road ahead.  Wow, they’re going to the dad in the audience to try to pull some votes.  OK, with the WGWG thing and the dad thing, maybe he’s less of a longshot…

Eben Franckewitz – “Set Fire To The Rain” by Adele
Idol wants their own little Bieber, don’t they?  Similar hair, similar voice, similar look.  The tweens are probably already texting, and the lines don’t open for 40 minutes.   He’s a decent singer, but not great (and a bit flat at times).  If he gets through, it’s all on the tweens…

Break… I’ll mention this here… it’s been reported that “Heejun” Han is really an actor named Dante Han… so far, Idol is not acknowledging this, so either it’s true (and they’re ignoring it) or it’s false (and they’re not dignifying it).  If he gets through, we’ll hear more of it…

Heejun Han – “Angels” by Robbie Williams (also Jessica Simpson)
Asian-American male singers have never done well on Idol.  I don’t know that Heejun is going to change that – he’s another perfectly pleasant and forgettable voice who’s here to be tossed overboard.  Of course, Idol won’t complain if he manages to succeed… but I don’t think it’s happening.

Break… yes, they’re saving the SHOCKINGSWERVE for the Pimp Spot.  Without knowing who it is, I hope America rejects this blatant manipulation by the producers… **laughter**… who am I kidding, America is going to eat this up and blindly vote through whoever the producers saved…

Joshua Ledet – “You Pulled Me Through” by Jennifer Hudson
“MANTASIA”????  And that’s supposed to be a good thing?   VFTW is laughing, that’s for sure.  This is so far over-the-top that the Idol audience won’t be able to help themselves from voting for it, especially in the almost-Pimp Spot. 

With the SHOCKINGSWERVE still to come, I think Joshua just shoved Deandre out of the Five… I think it’s Reed, Colton, Chase, Joshua, and SWERVE.  Now, let’s find out who SWERVE is, and see if they live up to the hype.

SWERVE Jermaine Jones – “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross
He’s going through.  This is clearly the producers fixing what they considered a massive error – I’d love to know the story behind how he got left out, and who made the call to bring him back.  But man, he just blew the competition away – while he’s got weaknesses, he’s got such a powerful voice *and* he drew the Pimp Spot *and* the producers want him here… he’s going through.  Hell, he could win this thing.

My Five: Reed, Colton, Chase, Joshua, Jermaine.
Up for a Wildcard: Phillip, Deandre.
Possible seat-filler: Heejun, Aaron.

Now, if they were going to announce a 13th girl was performing, they’d do it right now, after the “show ‘em the numbers” montage… let’s see…

Nope, no announcement – just the 12 announced girls tomorrow, apparently.  I’ll be out of pocket during the live shows tomorrow and Thursday, but expect recaps later in the evening… enjoy the Attack of the Interchangeable Hollies tomorrow night!


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