When You Wish Upon (an Idol) Star, Part 1

For two nights, the Idolists are performing for our votes at (promotional considerations paid by) the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii. Nothing says entertainment like Disney, so it’s appropriate that Idol choose a Disney venue to find out who among the Top 24 is ready to entertain us.

Every season I look forward to seeing the first voting show. It’s the first time that the Idolists are competing against each other not to win over the judges but to develop a fan base. It’s a crucial step in their professional development, and I’m looking to see who is and isn’t ready for this taste of life in the music business, and by the business, I mean the industry.

Of course, the judges will opine, and their opining will influence the voting. While I consider the former and am often outraged by the latter, you can always count on me to bring my Missing Mean Judge judgments to evaluating the Idolists.

Here are my rankings of Round 1 of the Top 24. The grading is as follows:

  • A – Superior
  • B – Good, often meaning positive moments out-weighed negative ones
  • C – Meh, nothing memorable or distinctive (like Jay, below)
  • D – Ugh
  • F – A Gots-to-Go Situation

Tristen Gressette (Try With a Little Help from My Friends Joe Cocker version) Great stage performance. Self-assured. Authentic. It made me wonder what Steven Tyler or David Lee Roth was like at Tristan’s age of 17. A

Sage (Jolene Dolly Parton) Here is what I live-texted a friend and follower of these Musings:

Sage is clearly an A. It was the best of the night.

Huntergirl (Banjo Rascal Flatts) She is the most ready-made professional of the Idolists. That Miranda Lambert energy doesn’t hurt, either. A

Nicolina (Elastic Heart Sia) The girl with the big voice got the Glory Spot, and it was well-deserved. She sounded and looked great on a beautiful song by Sia. A

Ellie Rowe (Everywhere Fleetwood Mac) Smart song choice tells me she’s self-aware. There were song wonky notes in there, but otherwise, it was a pleasant and, at times, moving performance. B

Danielle Finn (Your Song Elton John) I like the tone of her voice. I liked the adventurous, jazzy arrangement. But I also thought adventurous ventured into circuitous too often, and it got wonky vocally at times. B

Mike Parker (Best Shot Jimmie Allen) He was one of my early faves and is clearly a fave of the Evil Genius Producers, given his ample screen time. Mike was good. But I was expecting more than good from him, though. B

Emyrson Flora (Angels Like You Mile Cyrus) When she sings soft and quiet, she’s good. She gave me Billie Eilish vibes. But it’s not that good when she’s not singing soft and quiet. She’s only sixteen. There is raw but natural talent there. B

Jay (I Want You Back Jackson 5) Cruise-shippy. Oversang. Not memorable or distinctive. C

Jacob Moran (In My Blood Shawn Mendes) I’d much rather hear Shawn Mendes sing that song, and I never rather hear Shawn Mendes sing anything. C

Scarlet (Levitating My Girl Dua Lipa) This was terrible. But even if it was just passable, Scarlet is Exhibit A of what I keep referring to, e.g., the problem of competing in the real world. Dua Lipa had a record deal at 19, and her first hits came a year later. In no way does young Scarlet remind me of a young Dua Lipa. F

Dan Marshall (some treacly song I hate by Bryan Adams, who I also hate) Bad vocals. Bad stage performance. F

Some of my early favorites are performing Monday night like county singer Noah Thompson and R&B singers Katyrah Love and Lady K. We will also get our first Top 24 look at ingenues Allegra Miles, Kenedi Anderson, and Cadence Baker. And we’ll see Leah Marlene, Ava Maybee, and Sir Blayke, who appeared to grow during their time in Hollywood.

I’m looking forward to seeing who will bring that smoke.

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