The Top 20: A Tale of Two Shows

Three hours. Three hours to eliminate three Idolists. That’s a lot of Idol, even for me. In response to my complaining about this, a friend and loyal follower of these Musings asked me, “What else do you have to do?” Uh, listen to actual music? Watch the NBA Playoffs?[1]

Tonight was a tale of two shows. During the first show, which reported the voting results for last Sunday, I wanted to reach through the TV and strangle the judges for their overly generous praise. That show really needed my presence as The Missing Mean Judge.

The second show was quite different. The Missing Mean Judge became Mr. Easy A, although I felt those A grades were deserved. What’s interesting to me is the choice (to me) to backload the show to a time (10-11 pm) when fewer viewers would typically be watching. This matters in terms of voting, as it seems the earlier performers would gain an advantage against a very talented group of Idolists performing later.

We’ll find out tomorrow night as we get two more hours of results and performances.

Here are my rankings for the Top 20. Do not infer anything about the order in which the names are listed. 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

The A-list

Huntergirl (Heartbreak [original song]) I’m so happy she did an original. It’s so clear who she is artistically. She may not win. Others may improve. But she’s the most professionally ready right now. A

Allegra Miles (Free Fallin’ Tom Petty) At first, I was angry. “Why don’t these young girls do young girl songs?” And then she rearranged a classic rocker into a love song. I love the way Allegra hears and delivers music. A

Leah Marlene (Heal Tom Odell) THAT, boys and girls, is what singing with feeling sounds like (see Ava Maybee, below). Like Katy, I watched Leah and stared in rapt attention lest I miss one moment. Entirely and utterly captivating. A

Christian Guardino (Imagine John Lennon) This, of course, could have been trite. Instead, it was spectacular. Solemn. Controlled. Powerful. A

Fritz Hager (when the party’s over Billie Eilish) WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!!! THIS IS SO GOOD!!!![2] A

Katyrah Love (Dream Bishop Briggs) Interesting song choice. I liked hearing it with a Whitney-esque twist. If I had to pick one Idolist right now whose music I would buy, it would be hers. Since Katy mentioned it, I’d be very interested in what kind of songs she’s got for Katyrah. A

The Bs

Emyrson Flora (Tell Me You Love Me Demi Lovato) Very solid, alluring performance. I like this kind of soft, sensitive pop song for her. At 16-years-old, she’s got real potential. B

Mike Parker (Chasing After You Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris) Wasn’t wild about that song for him, but I love his soul and vocal style. B

Sage (Rhiannon Fleetwood Mac) First verse was magic. She was making a classic song hers. The second was pedestrian. And shouty at times. I want more of the first verse. That Sage I’d pay money to hear. B

Noah Thompson (Fallin’ Harry Styles) I loved the choice to countrify a pop ballad. He could be a dark horse. He’s got a lot of natural talent, and I think he’ll continue to improve. B

Lady K (Love on the Brain Rihanna) I would have liked this more if I hadn’t heard so many A-level performances tonight. B

The Cs

Ava Maybee (Anyone Demi Lovato) She has that look-at-me quality. But her singing is nothing special. Notes without feeling. Last week she did Chaka Khan (better than expected). This week, Demi Lovato (so-so). So, who is Ava Maybee? C

Cadence Baker (Train Wreck James Arthur) Typical Top 24 material but not Top 12 material. C

Tristen Gressett (The Sacrifice The Weeknd) Terrible, terrible song choice. It did nothing for his voice and did nothing to create a perception of who he is as an artist. C

Nicolina (Edge of Seventeen Stevie Nicks) I didn’t like her this time. I didn’t like the arrangement. The original has an “edge” in both music and vocals. This had neither. C

The Ds

Jacob Moran (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing Stevie Wonder) What an over-sung, cruise-shippy mess. D

Ellie Rowe (Somewhere Only We Know Keane) Ooof. That was not a good vocal. She was shaky and out of key. It should have been a good song for her. D

Jay (You Know I’m No Good Amy Winehouse) Meh. That was all over the place. He hasn’t figured out how to use his voice yet. D


Dan Marshall (High Friends in Low Places Garth Brooks) He should have been cut, but the Idol voting patterns are so predictable. He’s not good. F

Cameron Whitcomb (Changes Black Sabbath) How is he even here? Out of the thousands of people who auditioned? I cannot take this person’s presence on Idol seriously. Idol voters clearly must not care about singing and performing. F


Scarlet, Dannielle, Sir Blayke I had Scarlet and Sir Blayke as gots-to-gos. I am disappointed but not surprised that Dan Marshall was not eliminated. I am disappointed and very surprised that Cameron Whitcomb was not eliminated. I will be very surprised and aggravated if he makes the Top 16 tomorrow.

As to the blog for Monday’s show, I will try to have it available on Tuesday. I will watch Idol and immediately turn my attention to the NBA Playoff game right after the show.

[1] I am doing the latter, now.

[2] Well, not literally everybody as my grades will attest to.

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