American Idol started its Season 11 live shows Tuesday night with the male contestants taking the stage. The women will get their shot on Wednesday evening. In a new format, only 13 of the contestants will move on and 12 contestants will be eliminated. That’s right almost half of the contestants will be eliminated based on just one performance. Now that is pressure!!!
American Idol fan votes will determine the “Top 5” boys and girls and the three judges will each have a “Wild Card” pick to determine the “Top 13”. In the last show, Ryan Seacrest announced that the judges felt compelled to bring back a 13th male contestant and in a surprise (at least to me) they picked Jermaine Jones. While Jermaine is likeable and has a terrific baritone voice he has absolutely no chance of winning American Idol. I felt that the judges made a huge mistake eliminating Johnny Keyser and he would have been more of a factor as a contestant.
Overall I thought the performances by the guys with the exception of two or three performances were just average and to my amazement there was little or no criticism from the judges. I am not sure what they were watching but some of the performances tonight were mediocre at best. Two of my pre-show favorites Deandre Brackensack and Eben Franckewitz were the biggest disappoints of the night. The judges are taking this kinder and gentler American Idol concept way too far. I guess the judges don’t like being booed when they make negative comments. Where is Simon Cowell when you need him? Listed below is a recap of the performances with the best performances listed first.
Joshua Ledet clearly had the performance of the night. His version of Jennifer Hudson’s “You Pulled Me Through” was absolutely flawless. This kid can really sing and he quickly established himself as the guy to beat.
Phillip Philips performance of “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins (that’s a lot of Phil’s in one sentence) was just one step below Joshua’s. I have loved Phillip since the opening auditions and he is as comfortable singing as he is playing his guitar. While his voice isn’t as good as some of the other contestants he is the total package and is a real ‘rock star’.
Colton Dixon sung a good version of “Decode” by Paramore. He started out the song on the piano and then grabbed the microphone and began to rock. While his performance wasn’t perfect it was very good. He truly looked like a rocker and I think he did enough to secure a spot in the “Top 13”.
Heejun Han sung “Angels” by Robbie Williams. I thought it was a bad song choice and so did the judges. While his performance was good, it didn’t show off enough of his voice. I like this kid and believe that he has developed enough of a following to keep him in the contest. If he does make it through he is going to have to do better.
Jeremy Rosado gave a tender performance of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. He has definitely been a surprise to me and is definitely better than I thought. While I didn’t think he would last, he is getting better each time out. Whether it is the fan vote or a “Wild Card” pick I hope he makes it through.
THE JUST OK, NOT REALLY BAD
Creighton Fraker and Reed Grimm are similar quirky type performers. I really like Creighton and don’t think that both Reed and him can make it through. I thought Creighton’s performance of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” was just better and despite the song being 25 years old was more relevant that Reed’s performance of the current hit “Moves Like Jagger”. I am hoping for a “Top5” or “Wild Card” pick for Creighton. Reed Grimm did a funky, jazzy version of “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon5. While the new arrangement showed his creativity as an artist, the changes he made to the song almost made it unrecognizable. I don’t think the American public gets him and I think he is going home.
Jermaine Jones (The Gentle Giant) While Jermaine gave a decent performance of “Dance With my Father”, by Luther Vandross, unless one of the judges uses their “Wild Card” to save him once again, I expect to see him go home on Thursday night. There is just too much talent in front of him.
Aaron Marcellus Sanders sung a safe version of “Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5. Aaron is a middle of the pack guy that needed to hit a home run and instead he just went up and tried not to strike out. While his performance wasn’t bad he just didn’t do enough to get him in the conversation. I expected more from him and he didn’t deliver. I will be surprised if he survives the week.
Adam Brock sang a decent version of “Think” by Aretha Franklin. I don’t like his “White Chocolate” nickname and I am tired of hearing that he has “a large black woman trapped in his body”. Yes, he has a soulful voice and he can sing, but I am having a hard time connecting with him emotionally and while I might be wrong, I just don’t see him as a “Top 13” finalist. I think his trip will end on Thursday night.
Eben Franckewitz sang a squeaky, off key version of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”. His nerves clearly got the best of him. Despite his poor performance he will still get a lot of votes from the 10 – 16 age group. The question is will it be enough to capture a “Top 5” spot? I don’t think so. I know the judges really like him and I believe his only chance is a judges “Wild Card” pick.
Chase Likens sang a pedestrian version of the country song “Storm Warning” by Hunter Hayes. While it was entertaining it was no better than a bar band performance that you could find in any small town across America. He is a good looking kid with a decent voice. While his performance wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t unforgettable.
Deandre Barackensack’s performance of Earth Wind and Fire’s “Reasons” was so uninspiring and off key that even my dog fell asleep. It was clearly the worst performance of the night. Much to my disagreement the judges loved it. I am sticking to my guns. I thought it was a terrible performance and with the exception of one small stretch in the middle was painful to listen to. On the positive side, (if there is one) with his good looks and long hair Deandre will get a lot of votes from the young girls and that could be his only chance. Based on his performance he should go home or maybe the judges will waste a “Wild Card” pick on him. I hope not!!!
I think a minimum of 6 guys will make it to the “Top 13” and depending on how the girls perform, we could possibly get a 7th guy. My picks from top to bottom are Joshua, Phillip, Colton, Heejun and Jeremy. Creighton and Eben despite a horrible performance are wild card possibilities.