Scotty McCreery, 16– He sang a Josh Turner song first, and he sounded just like Turner with his distinctive, low baritone voice. His Travis Tritt song sounded like – well, Josh Turner singing Travis Tritt. I don’t know how long a voice like his can last on Idol, but he should have a future in Country music. He looks a lot like Evan Longoria, the ballplayer. If he entered the Nashville Star competition he would be a standout.
Emma Henry, 15– This kid is a good example of the difference between the new judging table and the old one. There is no way she would have been put through last year. She has the killer scratch, but she isn’t ready for theHollywood Week cattle auction.
Aside– It looks like Idol is going to do more weeding in Hollywood this year. As long as they don’t mind feeding and housing twice as many contestants, I don’t see any downside. While Simon bragged constantly about how astute he was, he made a lot of judgmental mistakes. I could go on for paragraphs about the singers that he wanted to cut – and was overruled (usually by Paula) – who went on to make a huge contribution to the show.
To name a few: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, David Cook, Casey James, Soibhan Magnus, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, Allie Iraheta, Kathy McPhee and Adam Lambert. Simon wanted to reject every one of them before the voting public got their say. Can you imagine how many potential powerhouses he dismissed out of hand, half-asleep during the auditions?
It’s in the best interests of the show itself to have as many singers sing as often as the show can handle. Think about it this way: How much better would last year have been if there had been even a couple more really good singers in the final twelve? By keeping as many singers alive as possible, as late as possible, they give themselves their best chance to find those late blooming talents that they might have missed early on, when they had one bad performance. With 26 million viewers for the first show this year, they can afford a few extra plates on the table.
Naima Adedapo, 25– She has a punchers’ chance if she can stay in tune and stay composed.
Jerome Bell, 27– Did Jermaine Sellers change his name and audition again? This guy looks just like Jermaine, even down to the hat. I’d like him more if he didn’t have such lazy intonation. J-Lo loves him. She said “remember his name”. That’s a big endorsement.
Thia Megia, 15– They are really trotting out the 15 year olds. A lot of these kids will get swallowed up, but a few of them are going to go deep. Thia has a mature bearing, remarkably mature compared to Emma Henry from earlier in the show. She has a shot.
Molly DeWolf Swensen, 22– I think she is doing this on a lark, but I wouldn’t bet against someone this intelligent and together, with such a high level of comfort and confidence. She is the wildest of wild cards, though.
Haley Reinhart, 18– It’s always cool to see a kid who was rejected go home, work hard, come back, pull it off and get her ticket. I wouldn’t completely dismiss her chances, though I don’t see her as a contender. It’s the kids like this, who spend the time in the woodshed to get better, who run down the beauty queens and the jocks at the end.
In some ways Idol is like the NCAA Basketball tournament. While the business of the NCAA tourney is to determine the winner, the public cares as much about the Cinderellas, the mid-majors, as they do about the elite schools. Idol fans are the same; they care about the Cinderella contestants as much as the standouts.
Idol’s mission is to pare the contestants down to a winner who will (hopefully) go on to stardom as a recording artist. However, the first several weeks of the show will feature dozens of singers that have no chance to win. These kids are celebrated in their home towns, and sometimes even nationally, for being the best little Cinderellas that they can be.
This facet of the show is as important as the eventual winner. My favorite one ever was the hick town bridge-jumper, Vanessa Wolfe, who wheedled a golden ticket and got to “fly on an aero-plane” last year. She’ll be telling her Idol story for the rest of her life, singing “Wagon Wheel” and strumming her guitar upwind from the bonfire while her grandkids fetch her another beer.
Idol needs to develop stars to maintain its cache in the business, but anyone who watches the show year in and year out knows that Idol tries mightily to be a fraternal organization. They can’t care about everyone, but they are loyal to their finalists, bringing them back to showcase their latest projects. Their business is finding money making artists, but their passion is to find great singers, and let them sing great.
Tiwan Strong, 29– His voice is fairly pedestrian, so he’ll need his charisma and energy to stand out. I get the feeling that he has something for us, and that we’ll see him again. His audition was coy, wasn’t it? Like they were saving something for later? He has quiet confidence – always a good sign.
Steve Beghun, 27– He has a beautiful Irish tenor voice. His sense of humor is sneaky good, very dry. He reminds me of Scotty MacIntyre. His phrasing was rushed, but that’s common for a singer without any backing music to control the tempo.
That said, I doubt that anyone has ever made it to the semifinals with such a weak rhythm sense. Steve’s voice should carry him for awhile, but he is going to end his Idol run sitting up against a wall, in the wrong room, when they are paring them down after Group Night.
Scott Dangerfield, 22– John Sebastion lives. I love this kid. I have been going back and forth on him for a half hour, hemming and hawing, because he hit a couple of sour notes. Yaknow, I say screw it. He has everything that an Idol needs to go deep. He is Standout number two. His intonation ain’t perfect, but the kid has a huge voice and he drips with charisma, like he’s part Elvis and part Springsteen. If the intonation problems are chronic, he could be nothing. If he isn’t nothing, though, he could be everything.
Alyson Jados, 26– She would have passed through easier last year, when she would have been in front of a judging panel that didn’t know what a rocker was. They would have loved her voice, and they wouldn’t have noticed that she sang like a fairly pedestrian karaoke singer. Steven called her pitchy (paraphrasing), but that’s not what he meant. He meant that she sang by the numbers, and didn’t really do anything with the song.
Chris Medina, 26– He started out slowly, and I was wondering why they would show us such a grotesquely tragic story if he was just some guy who was going to get tossed in the first week of the Hollywood shows. He got better, though, and they might have something. His voice isn’t unique, but he has an easy manner and a comfortable way of spinning a song. His back-story is going to get him a ton of sympathy, so I don’t imagine Idol wouldn’t have shown him if he wasn’t going to make it at least fairly deep on the show.