America Gets it Right (except when it doesn’t)

JPEG image-1861F863159E-1“America does not know what they’re doing.” (Lionel Ritchie)

“What is the disconnect?” (Katy Perry)

“Do not throw the remote at the TV, Ray!” (Ray)

For the most part in this season’s first fan voting, the fans got it right. It’s the part that’s not the most part where my annual outrage lies. That said, I loved the format that allowed the judges to choose four out of the top ten. Idol has tried many gimmicks over the years to correct egregious voter errors and with the recent trend of less than successful winners (where are you Caleb Johnson, Nick Fradiani and Trent Harmon?), I’m sure the evil genius producers want to do as much as they can to find an actual success in the re-boot. I’m curious to see what other ways they try to shape the eventual outcome.

Kieran . . . dim the lights!

Idolists voted into “The Victory Zone”

  • Maddie (Walk Like an Egyptian The Bangles) She is SOOOOOO good. I am in love with her off-beat song choices. Maddie is captivating, original, talented and delightful. She has such a clear identity of herself as a performing artist and I am enjoying her immensely. A+
  • Cade (Bright Lights, Big City Gary Clark Jr.) I’m sorry not sorry but he always sounds like he’s gargling. I do not understand the appeal at all. I know rock stars. He’s not even close. D
  • Gabby (Little Red Wagon Miranda Lambert) I wasn’t wild about the song choice for her voice but I love her look, spunk and been-here-before stage persona. This was like the fun, fast-paced song artists include in their concert set as a crowd pleaser even though it might be outside their usual material. As with Maddie, Gabby has a well-defined identity as a performing artist and I am enjoying her immensely. B+ (credit given for the very professional, high-energy stage performance)
  • Caleb aka McCreery 2.0 (Getting You Home Chris Young) PERFECT song choice by him! He’s a solid singer. Now he needs to grow into performing and self-presentation. B
  • Michael J (Believe In Yourself The Wiz) He’s likeable and talented although he needs to cut down on the over-styled singing. And I see a musical stage performer more than I see pop star. B
  • Catie (Havana Camila Cabello) This was really problematic for me in a Pat Boone singing Little Richard kind of way[1] (although less calculated). Yes, it sounded nice. But Camila is a sexy, Cuban-American girl singing a sexy, Cuban-American song while performing in a sexy, Cuban-American way. Catie  . . . not so much. This was a naive song choice and an inauthentic performance. Cannot grade this

Idolists chosen by the judges for “The Victory Zone”

  • Ada (And I Am Telling You Jennifer Holliday[2]) I can’t say I’m surprised that America isn’t ready for Ada. But neither am I because I do not enjoy her singing. It’s too over-the-top. It’s vocal bombast over nuance; histrionics over interpretation. C-
  • Jurnee (Never Enough The Greatest Showman) How in the $%#@ was she not voted in? I agree with Katy Perry – what is the disconnect? That said, her performance tonight after the initial bad news was nervous and squeaky at times, and too emotional. She has a lot of talent and looks like a star but I fear she is not destined to be around for long. B
  • Michelle (I’m a Dreamer self-written) Her being picked by the judges was a shocker. As always, there’s plenty good to look at on the stage but unfortunately, I have to listen to her sing, too. And she performed her own song, a paint-by-number inspirational song which I guess made Katy Perry happy.[3] D
  • Dennis (This Woman’s Work Maxwell) Dennis inspired Lionel’s comment of “America does not know what they’re doing.” I could not agree more except that they do it all the time on Idol to singers like Dennis. Tonight, after he received the news of not being voted in, he delivered a supremely sublime performance. He is a gifted singer. A+

Idolists sent home

  • Marcio (Jealous Nick Jonas) This should have been a good song for him but the arrangement was too slow and without the punch that makes it so irresistibly catchy. Unlike Dennis, Marcio was devasted by the news of not getting the votes and it showed in his performance. D
  • Garrett (Have You Ever Seen the Rain Credence Clearwater Revival) Keeping it real – after he started, I paused the TV to talk to my daughter and then fast-forwarded through the performance. No grade
  • Jonny (Demons Imagine Dragons) Imagine Dragons are hard to cover, so he was smart to slow this song down. It was decent but as the judges noted, Jonny has zero stage presence. Plus, he’s not a good enough singer to stay in the competition. B-
  • Mara (Love on the Brain Rihanna) I love her voice but the judges must have been reading off my notes about her not being ready yet. I can never shake the feeling that she’s a little girl singing big girl songs. And she needs to figure out how to “be” on the stage, i.e. facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, etc.

So, having seen two nights of big-stage performances, I’m ready to talk about some early conclusions. Right now, if the Finale was between Maddie and Gabby, I’d be very happy. They have the clearest self-expression as artists in everything from their song choices to stage presentation to fashion. I’d really love to see Jurnee in the mix but she hasn’t found the right songs (sing a Beyonce´song, Jurnee!!!) to match with her obvious talent and pop star persona. And I’m not sure she’d get the votes, anyway. Dennis is the best pure singer but he won’t get the votes, either.[4] I’m rooting for them but right now I’m betting against them.

As always, I am holding these conclusions very lightly. Like I say every season, it’s a marathon and not a sprint and many Idolists change places during the process. The fun is seeing who’s in it to win it and what they do about it along the way.


[1] Do those references skew old enough?

[2] Who sang the original version in the musical as opposed to Jennifer Hudson who sang it in the movie. They always attribute it to J-Hud and it makes me nuts even though I loves me some J-Hud.

[3] Yes, that was some shade.

[4] Because singers like him never do. Sigh.

One thought on “America Gets it Right (except when it doesn’t)

Add yours

  1. Well… we are clearly on the same page with only a few minor exceptions! I love Jurnee and I think she is the whole package. I hope she grows quickly on that big stage because I think she deserves to be there. Gabby has the talent and confidence…. she will be in the top three if not the finale. I think Caleb is going to surprise everyone with his staying power and I agree that Ada is just too theatrical for a pop star. But she’s my guilty indulgence because I love me some big ole Sanger’s!

    Liked by 1 person

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