Vegas, Baby!

The singers, the songs:

Stefano Langone, 20James Durbin, 21– “Get Back”- Stefano was a little wooden at first but very good later, and JD did his usual overdo on the high notes. No harmony, though at times it sounded like they were trying.

Pia Toscano 21- Karen Rodriguez, 21– “Can’t Buy Me Love”- Oops, Karen forgot some of the words. Other than that they were slick, and both of them sang well. Harmony? Not so much from Pia, but pretty good from Karen.

Jacob Lusk, 23Haley Reinhart, 18Naima Adedapo 25– “The Long and Winding Road”- Haley was good, Naima was dramatic, Jacob was a weeeeee bit flat at times but impressive overall. The harmonies were damned good for the time that they had to put it together.

This was the first time I got a true sense of who Naima is as a singer. She belts like Whitney, with all the power note sensibilities, but she is more emotional and understated than Whitney in her vocal styling. She isn’t showy so much as she is emotional. Her voice is strong, but nowhere near Whitney territory. I think she’s relatively inexperienced compared to most of her competition, even the teenagers, but she has a great ear and she works well within the group dynamic.

Rachel Zevita, 21Phil Brooks 16 Jacqueline Elliot, 24– “All the Lonely People”- Rachel was not great. I was surprised she made it to the top 40, honestly. The others didn’t get to sing solo on air, but Phil was shown begging for another chance.

Jovany Barreto, 22Lauren Turner, 24– “Let it Be”- Lauren sounded great, maybe a little nervous. Jovany only sang harmony on air. Both of them made the top 40.

Tim Halperin, 23– Julie Zorrilla, 19– “Something”- Both of them played the piano. Tim was his signature self, sounding like Jackson Browne. J-Lo loves him. Julie sounded as good as I’ve heard her, and they had a strong arrangement that they pulled off perfectly. Both made the top 40, I think. Both have a very good shot at the final 24, and while I like Tim more Julie probably has the better shot. The female side is wide open, while the male side is stacked.

LaKeisha Lewis, 23 Tatynisa Wilson, 20Jerome Bell, 27– “I Saw Her Standing There”- I liked LeKeisha; I’m happy I finally heard her sing. She has a shot. The other two sang fine, but I doubt either one of them will make it. Jerome would have had a better chance last year. This year, there are too many great male singers. The harmonies were incredible at times, but horrible at other times. It’s tough to pull it out of your butt like that with little notice. I noted late in the show that Tatynisa made the final 40, but I’m not sure about Jerome.

Paul McDonald, 25Kendra Campbell (Chantelle), 21- “Blackbird”- Kendra wasn’t nearly good enough for this level of competition, but Paul was terrific. Kendra’s “harmony” on the bridge was a jarring octave higher melody. After the other performances that I have heard, she was not on the same level.

Clint Jun Gamboa, 26Erin Kelly, 20– “Help”- Very strong. The research that I did this weekend helped on this one. I wouldn’t have known that this was Erin. It was a shortie, but a goodie.

Ashton Jones, 24Casey Schuber, 17– “Ticket to Ride”- I’m pretty sure that it was Casey, anyway. This is a very different side of her, and I loved it!! Good energy, and both voices sounded strong.

John Wayne Schultz, 22Wade Brown, 17Adrian Michael, 18– “With a Little Help From My Friends”- Hard to say, but Wade showed some good vocal power. It was way too short to see much else.

Short break for Ashley to get married. What happens in Vegas….

Melinda Ademi, 16Thia Megia, 15– “Here Comes the Sun”- After the rehearsal mess, they sounded pretty damned good. I would guess that Thia is a good bet to survive. Melinda, I don’t know. Probably not. She wasn’t nearly as polished as Thia.

Sophia Shorai, 28Ashley Sullivan 25- “We Can Work it Out”- They started out pretty good, but the key was too low and they sort of lost it at the end. Toast, and toast. Well, never count Ashley out….

Lauren Alaina, 15Denise Jackson, 20Scotty McCreery, 16– “Hello Goodbye”- Lots of cutesy stuff, but no harmonies. Denise sounded very good, Scotty found some upper range but looked sort of ridiculous doing it, and Lauren, well….. Her voice didn’t match up to Denise very well at all. It was not a good song for her.

Carson Higgins, 22- Caleb Hawley, 25– “Please Please Me”- Ouch.Carson was way out of tune and Caleb sounded like he had serious vocal issues, like he was sick or something. Both got tossed.

Casey Abrams, 19Chris Medina, 26– “A Hard Day’s Night”- Chris sounded horrible. Casey was terrific.

Robbie Rosen, 16Jordan Dorsey, 21Aaron Sanders, 26– “Got to Get You Into My Life”- They only featured Jordan, but the harmonies were terrific.Jordan sounded fine, not amazing but he didn’t suck. The pimping makes me believe that they are going to keep him.

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As I said, I didn’t get the full info about who got tossed between 61 and 40. The only ones that I know of who didn’t make it were Caleb and Carson.

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Judgment Day, Round One:

Idol hasn’t been all that orderly this year. I certainly don’t want to complain that they make it harder for me to write about the shows. They aren’t doing it for me, are they? I’m just happy that they are concentrating on the singers this year. I’ll deal with whatever they toss at us. They gave us a taste tonight, just like they did last year, of the final 24. Here are my notes:

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Naima Adedapo 25- She made it!!!! I have no idea whether she is going to be a huge contender or not. She has to getAmerica emotionally invested. I like her chances. She has a sort of quirky charm, and a very strong voice. She is interesting. Can she create memories? Stay tuned.

Hollie Cavanagh, 17– Didn’t make it. Final 40, though. She did damned good to make it this far. She is so young that she has plenty of time to find some finesse to go with what is a very powerful voice. She came so far from her audition, when she was a 17 year old child that lost her composure and cried like a baby, to tonight. She handled the gut wrenching rejection, after getting soooo close to the live shows, with class and dignity. The kid grew up a ton in a very short time.

LaKeisha Lewis, 23– Didn’t make it. I thought that she might have a shot. Wow, she is tall too; a good 5-10. She handled the rejection with class. I hate to think that she expected it. Several other contestants were more broken up about it than she was. I was just glad that I got to hear her once. She can really sing, but this wasn’t the year to get away with anything. The bar is set very high this year.

Alex Ryan, 17– Didn’t make it. How absurd is it, for a kid to make it all the way to the edge of the live shows and not have a single note that he sang make the air?

Clint Jun Gamboa, 26– Made it. He has a HUGE voice, and some style. I am looking forward to seeing him on the big stage. The thing with Jacee should be dead and buried now.

Haley Reinhart, 18– She made it in!!!! Dread Pirate Roberts kept saying: “Goodnight Wesley, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning”. Well, Haley survived each “morning” by being perfect through several performances, and now she’s in the final 24. I’m done assuming that she will be killed in the morning. She doesn’t have the biggest voice, but she has some very cool tricks that she worked out in the woodshed. It’s funny. She looks like a beauty queen, but she acts more like a Sha-Von, who would get tossed in the first round of a beauty pageant but lives and dies for performing. Did she skip cheerleader tryouts to learn how to do that Louis Armstrong growl that she does? Beauty ages. Skills don’t. Methinks that Haley gets it.

Deandre Brackensick, 15– Didn’t make it. He was probably the last one out, thirteenth best male against a very tough male crowd. He just turned 16, so he should take a shot at making it back. He’s as good as Jason Castro, maybe even better.

Paul McDonald, 25– Made it, duh. The voters should have no problem voting him into the top 10, and then the competition starts. He looks like Kenny Loggins, phrases like Dave Matthews, and sounds like Rod Stewart on a good day. He’s missing the singular talents what made all of them special, but the combination might take him deep. He’s going to get some sort of recording contract out of this now. If he makes it to the top 3 or so, it will maybe get him better backing, but he’s not going to win. My guess is about eighth, but he won’t beat himself. He could make it to the top three.

Ashton Jones, 24– She’s in. She is a tweener, I think. She is in between several styles and several vocal strengths. She can’t belt, but she has a stronger voice than the finesse types like Dianna Ross, who she looks like. Her overall skill set isn’t enough to make her a lock for the top ten, but she has a shot. She will leave it all on the stage either way. I’m skeptical, because she can’t sing as well as Paige Miles from last year if Paige is on her game.

Chris Medina, 26– Didn’t make it. He sang really well at his final audition, but while he was good, he just wasn’t good enough for this year’s insanely high level of competition. He is coming out of the competition with so much dignity that I would not be the least bit surprised if someone that was watching gave him a shot to record, and have a career. I’ll root for him.

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Tomorrow night we get the rest of the top 24. We have 3 girls and 2 guys in so far, so that means that we will have 30 singers competing for 19 spots. I have huge hopes for both Casey’s,Erin, both Laurens, and a bunch of others. I still dream of a Symphony Music sighting. My recap tomorrow will be short and simple, but I will have a massive, epic power ranking article this weekend.

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