Harry Connick, Jr. has turned the tide of American Idol this year. Except for a couple of things (like the bus), I’m back in the saddle again as a fan. Judges have sent through some top notch singers, and Judge Harry Connick, Jr. has added spice, pizzazz, solidity, gumption, and enlightenment to a show that was sadly lacking in those qualities. Jennifer Lopez has settled down somewhat to judging and is hitting her famed personality stride, and Keith Urban is his same old sweet, open, gorgeous self who needs someone to fix his hair.
But sister Katie and I were on our hotlines together when they cut Keri Lynn Roche, saying her “stylized” singing might not catch on with voters. What? I mean, what’s not to like? Her voice was beautiful, her range was awesome, she didn’t look like chopped liver. She was “the whole package”. If they meant she had her own way of singing, she certainly did, and it was amazing. Keri would have been fun to get behind and vote for.
Two contestants, MK Nobilette and Emmanuel Zidor, are openly gay. Emmanuel has the talent to go far if he can toughen up his soft heart (only a little) and not keep getting overly emotional. He has a great personality and he’s funny and likeable. Loved it when Emmanuel picked up Ryan Seacrest and Seacrest returned the favor. Seacrest, risking a hernia, was determined to do or die. Great job, Ryan!! MK Nobilette is depressing, and, though she has a sweet, wispy smile, doesn’t project much personality to speak of. She comes across as a martyr and doesn’t impress me with her singing, though Jennifer Lopez called her performance a “quiet storm”. MK could sing okay, but I didn’t feel a Top 30-quality breeze.
Other standout performances — other than the one who got cut — was
Kristen O’Conner. The beautifully haunting melody of her original song is one I will make a point to hear again. She’s a Top 30. Another impressive original was delivered by Sam Woolf with a song entitled “I Tried”. I loved it and would like to hear it again. He’s moved on to Top 30.
Pretty Boy Lloyd (Spencer Lloyd) did a good enough performance to get through. He wasn’t at his best, but I think he’s got more to offer. I hope so. He’s easy on the eyes. For all you young punks out there, there was once a gangster called “Pretty Boy Floyd”. It was before my time, but he’s pretty historical as far as gangsters are concerned. Just thought I’d toss that in there.
I’ll remember George Lovett as the guy who wouldn’t give up, and Jordan Brisbane as the young man who was put through to the Top 30 on his 16th birthday. What a birthday gift!!
Of course Jessica Meuse got Top 30, although judges saw both her and Jesse Roach together so they could put them through a sing-off. I can’t fault Jessica’s singing ability. But, with her track record with fellow contestants, it’s like watching Attila the Hun smiling out from the footlights with a strong singing voice. Of course, she might be a veritable Mother Theresa way deep down. Deep, deep down. Jessica is one of three contenders from Alabama.
Country singer, “Real Deal Dexter” Roberts, knocked the field dirt from his boots a few months ago and mozeyed on over to the American Idol tryouts. He was still in shock that he’d made it this far. Then they put him through to the Top 30 and brought the farm boy to his knees. From farm to fame in 3.7 seconds is a pretty good track record. Keith Urban called him “the real deal”. Urban also said a country singer couldn’t be “all hat and no cattle”, meaning, I suppose, that his singing had to have some true grit to it. That he’s not just a drugstore cowboy.
Madelyn Patterson didn’t make it to the Top 30 but I hope she returns next year. She exited with dignity and poise and a good attitude. Keep on truckin’ Madelyn!!! I’m pulling for ya. I’m glad 16-year-old Malaya Watson made it into the Top 30. After Connick called a halt to her performance because the band and the singer were not in the same key, she showed what she was made of. And it was good. After correcting Harry Connick on her name — pronounced Mal-EYE-ya, not Ma-LAY-a, meaning freedom — Harry thanked her, very sincerely, for setting him straight.
I was impressed with Andrina Brogdon’s performance in the solo round. It was different and memorable. Which Harry Connick suggested to Lopez that Malcolm Adams might not be — memorable, that is. But both Andrina and Malcolm went through to the Top 30. Leah Guerreo had a sing-off with Andrina and lost. But Harry hugged her and gave her words of encouragement. “Come back and try again,” he said. I was also impressed that Andrina very much wanted to comfort Leah, but didn’t get the chance. Andrina’s victory was alloyed with compassion and winner’s guilt. Which makes for a mighty fine human being as well as a good singer.
The show last night kicked off with Emily Perez and made for a super great start to the evening. She, and her voice, are exquisite. Asked about her nationality, she said she was Cuban.
But the conclusion to the evening was a nail-biter which turned into a cliffhanger with a sing-off between lead favorites, C.J. Harris and Casey Thrasher. These two became quick friends when they learned they lived about 40 miles from each other and both are super-talented singers, enough so that Keith Urban was prompted to tell his fellow judges, “Alabama is strong.” Now, let me tell you my prediction. I believe they will both go through. If not. I’ll have a hissy fit.
Other Top 30, and deservedly so, were: