Grading the All-Star Duets and Solos, Pt. 2

Welcome to Part 2 of American Idol’s relief plan for performing artists looking for a paying gig during COVID! As you will see from the scores below, Monday night’s performances were measurably below those of Sunday night[1]. There was also more inconsistency between solo and duet performances. A constant theme of the night was the Idolists getting swallowed up by the pros in their duets.

But because eight from each night are going forward, some lesser performers from Monday will win out over superior ones from Sunday. That is likely to upset me, especially if I lose an early fave like Cassandra Coleman or Alana. That said, I’ve always managed to rationalize this conundrum by realizing the first Idolists out – undeservedly or not – probably weren’t going very far, anyway, especially this season which appears to be very top heavy in talent in different styles and genres.

Kieren. Dim the lights!

Best of the Night

  • Ava August (5+5)
  • Caleb Kennedy (5+4)

Ava! Ava! Ava! How is this girl only 15? I felt like I was watching any number of the great young folk/pop singers from the 60-70s like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Michelle Phillips or Linda Ronstadt before anybody knew about them. So natural. So composed. Such a beautiful voice. Those tender vocal leaps in Joni’s Both Sides Now in her duet with Josh Groban were flawless and sublime. And she performed on the stage with him like she was an equal. Can you tell I’m excited? Very strong My Girl potential here. My Daughter Diandra (MDD) says they need to do a Disney movie theme song together. Oh, and I LOVED that her solo song was Drivers License which has been the #1 song for like 1000 weeks right now. I so desperately want young girl Idolists to sing current, young girl songs and this was PERFECT!!!!! And she sang it like it was her heart being broken.

How is Caleb only 16??? He slayed The Allman Brothers classic Midnight Rider while sounding like Caleb and not a karaoke Greg Allman. And then turned around and sounded like he belonged right next to Jason Aldean in their duet. If a White Guy With Guitar is going to win, right now it should be him.

Above Average

  • Casey Bishop (4+4)
  • Jason Warrior (5+2)

I was really nervous when I saw Casey was singing Paramore’s Decode – nervous for me. I was sitting next to Paramore super-stan MDD whose new license plate is named after Hayley Williams[2] newest solo album Flowers for Vases[3]. I braced myself for the explosion of righteous indignation . . . that never came. Whew. MDD even allowed me to give Casey a 4. I must admit, I was struggling, too. While not as obsessed with Hayley Williams as MDD, I’m a huge fan[4] and it was hard for me not to compare Casey to My Girl Hayley. I also really dug her hard rock harmonies with Brandon Boyd which also got the Incubus[5] Stan Seal of Approval from MDD who feels that Casey needs to be fronting a rock band. This was a good comeback for her after a couple of rough outings. The producers saved her for The Glory Spot so they must have had some indication what was coming.

Jason was wonderful on The Weeknd’s Call Out My Name ­– impressive given how unique The Weeknd is – but he wasn’t well served by the arrangement of How Deep Is Your Love in his duet with PJ Morton, hence the wide gap between his scores.


  • Beane (1+5)
  • Chayce Beckham (2+4)
  • Colin Jamieson (2+4)

Beane was my biggest surprise tonight. I’ve been hating on him and he gave me every reason to be justified in that stance with a dreadful arrangement (I agree with Katy that it was creative; however, it failed miserably) and performance of My Girl Dua Lipa’s Don’t Stop Now. Then he turned around and was 5 points marvelous in his duet with Josh Groban on Angels.

Brandon Boyd’s advice to Chayce was great about projecting his voice more. I said to MDD he needs to listen to Jon Bon Jovi who really doesn’t have that great a voice but sings very dynamically, i.e. sometimes soft, sometimes loud. Chayce has a wonderful gritty tone like Jon Bon but tends to sing everything at the same volume as if he’s afraid to sing any louder.

As to Colin, MDD and I both noticed that none of the judges had anything to say about his singing LOL. But the ex-boy band member knows how to work a stage and accompany other singers, the latter being why his duet with Tori Kelly was much better than his solo performance.

Below Average

  • Madison Watkins (2+3)
  • Hunter Metts (2+2)
  • Mary Jo Young (2+2)
  • Hannah Everheart (1+2)
  • Liahona Olayan (1+2)

Madison was a letdown as was the cute White Guy With Guitar Hunter. The others have their positive attributes but aren’t ready for prime time, yet.

Monday Night’s Luke-face goes to . . .

. . . Hannah Everheart during her pitch-optional performance of Chris Stapleton’s I Was Wrong.

Bless her heart but is she going to sing any notes in tune?

Random Musings

I love Idol-reject Tori Kelly who survived a no vote from Simon Cowell in her audition and never got out of Hollywood. I especially loved her at a concert with my daughters in 2016 when she suddenly broke in Purple Rain. It was two days after Prince died so unexpectedly. I lost it.


Ava, Caleb, Casey, Jason and Chayce. I can’t get myself to eight. And I’m not convinced about the latter two but I’m willing to give them another week. Alright, I’ll also throw a bone at . . . Beane on the strength of the 5 points I gave him for his duet with Josh Groban.

The voting results will be our first look at who has connected with the viewers over these many weeks. It will be interesting and I’m certain that I’ll be offended.

Public Service Announcement Retraction

The blog was supposed to be late because of the basketball game. Sadly, the game wasn’t close so I started writing while it was on. Sadly, I was rooting for Gonzaga. Cue Evanescence My Heart Is Broken.

[1] It’s measurable because I measured. Monday’s grades were 12.3% below those for Sunday, 71 total vs. 81 total.

[2] Founder and lead singer of Paramore.

[3] The wildflower-themed plate that reads 4VASES. So clever.

[4] I think we’ve seen Paramore seven times. One of those was the night after MDD’s college graduation earlier in the day. Another was me and her sister where we waited in line in negative double-digit temps.

[5] Brandon is the lead singer for Incubus

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