Mean Judging

Tonight, we saw the first half of the Top 24. Some were good enough to make me feel better that Thaddeus was not among them (e.g. Kay Kay). Some have the potential to be good (e.g. Jonny Brenns). And, frustratingly, a few are there to make for “good” TV (Catie Turner). The question, based on what Katy Perry is looking for, is this, “Do you have the “It” factor, the personality, a unique contribution that you bring to the table to an entertainment industry that is already packed?”

Preach Katy, but unfortunately we also saw you, Lionel and Luke lean a bit too much on the kind and gentle for my taste. Therefore, I will be bringing the appropriate level of mean judge heat in my evaluations.

Dominique (Ain’t Nobody, Rufus & Chaka Khan) It was pitchy at the start and I am not convinced that he is a funky, uptempo singer. C

Layla Spring (A Broken Wing, Martina McBride) She’s adorable but she’s a little girl trying to sing grown woman songs. Good for your age doesn’t cut it with me. C

Catie Turner (Call Me, Blondie) Another “good TV” selection[1] along with Layla. Like her personality or not, she’s someone you will remember. What I’ll remember from tonight was a decent, if unexciting, vocal performance that lacked the sex appeal (and therefore, credibility) of the original. B-

Dennis Lorenzo (Rude, Magic!) I liked the slowed down, tropical arrangement that didn’t make me detest this song as much as I usually do. That said, I think the arrangement still lacked energy and it’s still an insipid song. His vocal was good, though. B-

Michele Susset (If I Were a Boy, Beyonce´) She was the first Idolist of the night to come out looking pop idolish but she was pitchy and the song was too big for her voice and personality. C+

Michael J. Woodward (Golden Slumbers, The Beatles) The Idol Twittersphere seems to love this guy, however I’m not among of them. I LOVE that he did a rather obscure – if such a thing is possible – Beatles song. But he has yet to move me vocally and with song choices coming from different genres/styles each week, I don’t know who he is, yet. If you’re going to be the person who can sing everything, then you need to have Adam Lambert-level talent to do that, which Michael and no other human being has. B-

Trevor McBane aka The Idolist in Black (Way Down We Go, Kaleo[2]) GREAT song choice to match his dark, gravelly voice which I LOVE. He was the first one all night that checked all of Katy’s boxes: “It” factor, personality, unique contribution. I found myself totally captivated. Like the judges, I think there is even more there. B+

Jonny Brenns (Georgia, Vance Joy) This was a smart song choice for him and he has a beautiful voice. His stage presence can get better but he’s got that “the girls will love him” thing. If he continues to improve, he’ll be one to watch. B+

Kay Kay (Love on the Brain, Rihanna) Whoa! Looked like a star. Sang like a star. Has the poise of a star. Maybe a little calculated rather than unrestrained at times but this was easily my favorite performance of the night. A-

Brendon Diaz (Hello, Lionel Ritchie) This was brave, foolhardy and not good enough. D

Gabby Barrett (My Church, Maren Morris) She’s so pretty, she sparkles. She looks fab and has swag. But can she sing? Until that big note at the end, her performance was a pretty muddled mess. I really wanted her to be better. C

Cade Foehner (All Along the Watchtower, Bob Dylan[3]) I really don’t get it. He was saved for the Glory Spot. Katy swooned. Lionel and Luke fed her swoon and went nuts, themselves. And I was mortified the whole time. His guitar playing was fine but it’s not Guitar Idol. He took a classic song and sang it terribly. What did I miss? D[4]

Yeah, I was a tough grader tonight. Many come to Idol feeling they are called to stardom. So very, very few are chosen. I take my responsibility as Chooser very seriously. 🙂

Duets with all of tonight’s Idolists and real recording artists are tomorrow which should be both interesting and entertaining. I, for one am looking forward to seeing Bishop Briggs who I am a fan of and (it appeared from the clips) will be singing with Trevor aka The Idolist in Black and Cade.

Real life has me traveling tomorrow but I hope to be able to muse on Monday’s show. In the meantime, I hope you listen to some good music. I’m heading to listen to some Bishop Briggs.


[1] I am convinced that the producers are heavily involved in the “judges” choices for the Top 24.

[2] Kaleo is from Iceland. I was not familiar with their bluesy work but based on that song, I plan on becoming much more familiar.

[3] Not Jimi Hendrix and Idol gets this wrong every time someone sings this.

[4] In his Hollywood Showcase performance, he was much better singing the Kaleo song No Good. How have I missed these guys?

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