Hello, I’m an Idol Addict. From Season 1 on, no matter how bad the judging (Kara and Ellen I’m talking to you) or the finalists (Nikki McKibben, Ryan Starr, Camile Velasco, Jon Peter Lewis, Mikalah Gordon, Sanjaya Malakar and Amanda Overmyer anyone?), I’m back each year clapping for the glimpses of stunning talent and cringing when the notes head for caterwauling land.
Here we are in Season 10. Some were ready to shoot the franchise and put it down after falling ratings and the debacle that was Season 9 (calling winner Lee DeWyze), but not those pesky Idol gods. To start the reboot, Nigel Lythgoe returned as executive producer and the whose-gonna-judge-it-now-that-Simon-is-gone games were on. They settled on keeping Randy Jackson and adding in Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. They also lowered the age range and 15 year-olds were allowed to come play.
I cringed with J-Lo coming onboard, but will admit she is bearable and actually on point here and there. I HEART Steven Tyler. Like, I would love for him to adopt me. Or at least for him to join me at family functions for some random, unedited commentary. We’d be a wicked tag-team. Randy has now become the voice of reason. Simon must have left some haterade in his chair.
Now that we are past the cattle call auditions, Hollywood rounds and Vegas Beatles week, I’m diving into paying attention to who the contestants are for the semis (this week) and finals (starting next week).
Overall impression after hearing the Top 12 guys and Top 12 girls this week: underwhelmed.
They’ve been telling us (as they do each year) that this is the BEST set of contestants ever. This year, from initial auditions, it seemed like they were right. There were some fantastic singers in the bunch—some that made it to the semis and some that flamed out (from what we were allowed to see) or otherwise disappeared. Well, nerves, abysmal song choices and a few bad contestant picks by the judges smothered the bright lights. Makes you wonder about some of the talented folks that should have been left standing.
Summary rants on the few excellent and multiple awful individual performances (anyone else was in the middle and just “meh” for me):
- Clint Jun Gamboa – This dude is a karaoke DJ in real life and started off the men’s night Tuesday singing “Superstition”. He so could have picked a billion better Stevie Wonder songs that show off a singer’s voice. He’s also returned to his black circle rim glasses that for some reason make me think of those animated films a few years back with ants as the main characters. Hate the glasses.
Clint also has the “luck” of being shown as a baddie during Hollywood week for kicking a lovable contestant, 15 year-old Jacee, out of his group. The producers tricky editing made sure to follow Jacee’s story closely to make viewers fall in love with him, so anyone causing the youngster to cry or otherwise stress, would become villains. Clint might be in trouble if this indeed worked and voters can’t get past his competitive “evil” deeds.
- Jacob Lusk – Where did this guy come from?! WOW! He sang Luther Vandross’ “A House is Not a Home” and I clapped when he was done. It was that good folks. He did this one run from high in his register all the way to low notes. Chills. Jacob Lusk: A House Is Not A Home.
- James Durbin – I left the room after his first screechy/scream line. He’s an Adam Lambert wanna be. I put up with and actually grew to respect Adam two years ago. Adam’s wicked beautiful blue eyes didn’t hurt either. So I will not take a 2.0 version.
- Jordan Dorsey – This guy sang Usher’s “OMG.” Yeah, sucked rocks. That song lacks any real opportunity for singing as the original is filled with sing-songy, autotune words. When he started, I couldn’t believe it. He’s a music teacher and edited views of him prior to this week showed him as being so aggressive and “on top” of what he needed to do to make it to the next round. Maybe he over thought this one by trying to appeal to the young/current pop-hits crowd? Whatever. Dumb choice and he will probably be gone because of it.
- Robbie Rosen –Now here is an example of a guy who can actually sing sinking down into gunk. He chose Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” Beyond boring to the point that I dozed off, then awoke again for his in-head pitchy parts. And it sounded like he was ahead of the music the whole song. That kinda sucked Robbie.
- Brett Loewenstern – What was that????? Seriously, what was that? He was a stage strolling, redhead whirling dervish. I think he was jabbing at The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” Did the judges actually praise that? He gets my worst performance of the week award for the guys. I’m still having flashbacks to Brett’s whispery voice repeating in my head. Then the quick visual of all his hair tossing. I’d actually liked him prior to this performance and didn’t see the racket coming. Gasp…was it worse than Sanjaya?! Remember his ponytail mohawk?
- Ta-Tynisa Wilson – Hot mess. She is one that shouldn’t have even made it to the semis because she bombed during Hollywood week, forgetting the words during a performance. Sure enough, there she was last night starting off the ladies with Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World.” Quite sharp and sounded like a braying donkey.
- Haley Reinhart – In a straight from Mariah Carey’s closet, too tight and too short dress, Haley launched into a wailing version of Alicia Key’s “Fallin.” She did random spins and other stage wanderings, then at times hunched over as if getting the notes out were causing her pain. I guess the “moves” were an attempt at making it sexy? Didn’t work and I put her at worst for the girls. It was bad for me, though two of the judges liked it.
- Thia Megia – She’s one of the 15 year-old contestants and has been shown a ton in footage during the previous weeks. I hear she was also a contestant on the America’s Got Talent show, which I don’t watch regular when on. Yes, she has a beautiful tone and voice, bet lacks emotional depth. She sang Irene Cara’s “Out Here on My Own” from Fame and it missed the angst buried within the lyrics. If she keeps going (and probably will), I anticipate being treated with more note-perfect, but dead performances.
- Pia Toscano – She is in it to win it. I still give Jacob the winner award for the week, but she’s got second. Outstanding job on The Pretender’s “I’ll Stand by You.” Beautiful vocals that built until she leaned back, opened her throat and nailed us with some power notes at the end. It wasn’t screaming at the end like many of the other contestants keep doing as their one trick. Hers was purposeful and perfect for where she inserted it. I definitely want to hear more of her.
Tonight, we get to find out who is voted through to the finals and, I presume, who the judges are naming as their wildcard picks. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they milked it and held a wildcard round night to give contestants one more shot to dazzle them. If I could only take a few from this group and fill the rest of the slots by going back and picking others lost during the earlier rounds, I would. Seeing that I can’t, I’m relying on the other addicts like myself to do the right thing. Meet you in front of the TV screen tonight!