Wednesday, February 24, 2016

American Idol: Top 24 - First Half Solo Performances and Duets

Belated post as I was traveling and had to catch up on thoughts on the first half of the Top 24's performances...

Stephany Negrete - She sang "Mamma Knows Best" by Jessie J. She's a belter. She is very pretty, kinda looks like vintage Cher, but she doesn't really connect with the audience. She did a duet with Reuben Studdard on "Superstar", and it was very good and dramatic. They really seemed to be singing to each other. 

Mackenzie Bourg - He sang, "Say Something" by a Great Big World. He's a cute kid, likable, and made it his own, but all his performances are in a similar vein. I'm not sure he can stretch for the different themes that will come up during the contest. He did a duet with Lauren Alaina on "I Hope You Dance" and it was pretty good. 

Jeneve Rose Mitchell - She sang "Arms of an Angel" and played the harp. She is likable and seemed to really feel the lyrics. Keith said he loves that she takes risks. J Lo was won over and "got goosies." She did a duet with Scotty McCreery on "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry. Sometimes she is hard to look at when she sings. She had a bit of an Elvis lip curl that was unsettling. 

Jenna Renae - She sang "My Church" by Maren Morris. She has a big voice and good stage presence. Harry found it a little shouty. She did a duet with Scotty McCreary on "See You Tonight." I feel like she is not as strong as the other country gals in the competition. 

James VIII - He sang "Love Lockdown" by Kanye West. I thought it was just OK, kinda one note. He did a duet with Caleb Johnson on "Gimme Shelter", and I felt he was overshadowed by Caleb but the judges praised him. 

Sonika Vaid - She sang "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift. She had a pretty gown and was emotional but still a bit understated. The judges said they want to see more feeling from her. She did a duet with Caleb Johnson on "Skyfall." It's tough to take on an Adele song and she did OK, but again Caleb drowned out his partner. He made it seem like a Meatloaf song. 

Gianna Isabella - She sang "I put a spell on you," I felt there were too many runs, but she was impressive. Her baggy dress was not flattering. She did a duet with Nick Fradiani on his song "Beautiful Life." 

Emily Brooke - She sang "I am Invincible" by Cassadee Pope. She had a flat start and didn't wow the judges, who felt she didn't pick the best song for her range; She sang a duet with Lauren Alaina on "Flat on the Floor" by Carrie Underwood. She held her own but she just doesn't radiate much personality-wise. 

Avalon Young - She sang "Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber. She has a nice energy and is so comfortable in her skin. She did a duet with Reuben Studdard on Reuben's song "Flying Without Wings."  The judges loved it. There's something very likable about this tomboy. 

Jordan Sasser - He sang "All by Myself" by Celine Dion, which was a cliched choice. He's good but not really good enough for that song. Harry found it too show-offy. He did a duet with Fantasia Barrino on her Idol coronation song "I Believe. He displayed lots of energy and churchiness.  

Thomas Stringfellow - He sang "Creep" by Radiohead. I found it a bit contrived, but it was a decent performance. Harry liked that Thomas felt the lyrics. He did a duet with Nick Fradiani on "Man in the Mirror" which allowed him to emote a bit more.

LaPorsha Ranae - She sang "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner. It was nice to see her move and have fun. She has a huge voice. Harry said, "You're either going to make the other competitors want to get better or make them want to quit." She did a duet with Fantasia Barrino on "Summertime." This was a match made in heaven. There were so many runs - it was a highpoint of the week. They bonded over similar backgrounds. J Lo said the duet was "mindblowing."

After the judges conferred, these contestants were sent home:  James, Emily, Jenna, Jordan, Stephany

The only choice that really disappointed me was Jordan, as I felt he had one of the stronger male voices and was quite likable. I might have booted Jeneve or Sonika. Jeneve is such a niche performer that I doubt she will garner enough votes to go far, and Sonika still seems a bit like a deer in the headlights on stage.  

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