When You Wish Upon (an Idol) Star, Part 2

Several themes emerged for me from tonight’s second round of Idolists performing for our votes. The most evident theme was originality and risk-taking. This was not your usual Idol Does Karaoke night. The performers took familiar songs and arranged them in unique ways. Because of that, you’ll see a lot of B grades from me (and no Cs), where I gave favor to originality to compensate for vocal flaws, perhaps caused by that originality. Flaws can be fixed in the studio, but lack of originality can’t.

Another theme was reminders of Idol days of yore. You’ll see several Idolists reminded me of past Idolists. And finally, while I am intrigued by this season’s talent and originality, I am questioning where many of them see themselves fitting in the music business, and by the business, I mean the industry. Being a good singer isn’t a thing. Being a singer who sells records gets streamed a lot is a thing.

Here are my rankings for Round 2 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
  • D – Ugh
  • F – A Gots-to-Go Situation

Candace Baker[1] (Something’s Got a Hold on Me Etta James) I first wrote, “Etta James. Seriously?” I have real issues with little young girls singing big old girl songs. Except when they sing them well like Candace. And then that causes cognitive dissonance and has me asking the legitimate question of who Candace is as an artist. I’m not going to buy records of her singing Etta James when I can listen to Etta James. A (for the performance).

Kenedi (Human Christina Perri) Ryan told us that she dropped out of the competition for unspecified reasons. That’s a shame, and I sincerely wish her the best. In a contest with big voices and creative stylists, Kenedi had a simplicity and innocence and, therefore, occupied a lane of her own. A

Leah Marlene (Call Me Blondie) I loved the Leah-fied version of this classic song. She reminds me of Maddie Poppe, who won Season 16. And that’s the problem. I thought Maddie deserved to win based on the consistent quality of her unique (quirky?) performances. But I also thought Gabby Barrett (third place) had the more significant star potential, which turned out to be true in spades. Leah is talented, but where is her place in the music business? A

Katyrah Love (Blame It on the Boogie Jackson 5) Wow. So professional in her look, vocals, and stage presence. She put on a show. For right now, she’s among the top of my Idol heap and maybe the top top. A

Allegra Miles (Adore You Harry Styles) I agree with Lionel on the distinction between singer and stylist[2] , and what I love about this young girl is her style. I loved her original spin on Adore You, although her vocals were weaker than usual. B

Lady K (Before He Cheats Carrie Underwood) I think she has a great voice, and she delivered a sassy stage performance. But this felt caught between a Rock and an R&B place, needing either more oomph if the former or grit if the latter. B

Ava Maybee (Tell Me Something Good Rufus and Chaka Khan) I’m not convinced how talented Ava is, but she is definitely a creative risk-taker. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – Chaka Khan is a steep hill to climb – but it still leaves me wondering who she is. Because, as with Candace (above), I already have a stack of Chaka Khan records. B

Noah Thompson (Blue Side of the Mountain The SteelDrivers) I really like this young man’s mini-Chris Stapleton voice. He just needs more self-confidence. B

Christian Guardino (Leave the Door Open Silk Sonic) Christian reminds me of Season 5’s Elliott Yamin (3rd place). As with Elliott, it’s taking me a while to warm up to Christian’s white-boy soul. Elliott won me over by learning restraint. I’m waiting for Christian to do the same, and Katy’s critique suggested that by asking him to add more pop punch and subtract the overdone R&B frills. B

Fritz Hager (Waves Dean Lewis) In the Glory Spot[3], Dean gave me strong Phillip Phillips (P2) vibes. Be forewarned. P2 won Season 11, and this could be the Evil Genius Producers trying to promote Fritz. It was a solid performance. B

Sir Blayke (Breakeven The Script) Weak. F

Cameron Whitcomb (Bad Moon Rising Credence Clearwater Revival). F Again, I offer my live-text tweet to a friend and follower of these Musings.

Four Idolists will not have received enough votes to continue. I hope not to be outraged. I can’t recall losing a favorite this early. Actually, I’m still bitter over Brandy Neelly not making the cut from Top 30 to Top 24 in Season 13. So, yes, I hope not to be outraged this early.

See you next week.

[1] Because I’m so obsessed with basketball, I’ve been referring to her last name as “Parker”, obviously thinking about WNBA legend Candace Parker. My apologies to Ms. Baker. I have corrected the erroneous references.

[2] Of course, there is the rare breed like Adele who are both.

[3] I was seriously questioning why Katyrah didn’t get it.

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