Round one

Thursday’s group night show was preamble for next Wednesday’s show. I expect to hear most of the previously aired contestants then. Here is my recap of Wednesday’s show.

Day One

The singers:

I’ll list them as either in or out, with their early power ranking in paranthesis.

Johnny Keyser (1):In, and he sounded terrific. Still the one to beat?

Heejun Han (NR): In, apparently for his ability to provide gently racist humor. Edits like this make me wonder if Nigel understands Americans as well as he thinks he does. He had a country and western version of Idol on another network, and it was terrible. Nigel’s knowledge of Middle America apparently came from Clint Eastwood and Don Knotts.

Elise Testone (20): In, powerful but as usual little bit squeaky at the top.

Baylie Brown (15): In, she is a Lauren Alaina impersonator. She doesn’t have top end power or a strong tone, and that will kill her eventually.

Hallie Day (16): In, did a decent (but far below Crystal) version of “Natural Woman”.

Jen Hirsch (N/A): In. I remember her from season 9. We only got a small snippet of her back then, singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” in a jazzy, off beat arrangement at her audition. She was never seen in Hollywood. I listed her as a sleeper then. I don’t see her as a serious contender now, but she can certainly make the live shows. She has some power and some finesse, but I’m not sure that she has a special amount of either. Her best feature might be that she is fearless, and creative. Her personality might get grating, but she’ll bring it every time.

Lauren Gray (19): In. I’m starting to fall in love with her tone, but not in a “she going to win Idol” way so much as an “everything she sings will sound cool” way. It might be a good idea for her to open her eyes once in awhile.

Phillip Phillips (NR): In. I didn’t rank him, which was an oversight. He should have been just below the top ten (12-14 or so), based on the fact that I know that he made the final 42. I don’t personally think he can sing, though I like how he plays the guitar. He sucked tonight, just like he sucked every time I’ve heard him sing (love the guitar, though). The internet is full of him sucking when he tries to sing (love the guitar, though). I don’t hate him or anything, I just don’t like to hear his weak Fat Albert growl, and have the judges tell me that what he does is called singing (love the guitar, though).

Reed Grimm (3): In. He is obviously an experienced stage performer, with a decent sense of humor and an even better sense of timing. He has one of the better voices in the competition, with intonation that has been honed to a fine pitch (no pun intended) by years and years of live performing. That said, he’s going to bore the voters and get his butt booted unless he stops singing show tunes and children’s book covers. Can he sing something pop? Rock? Blues? If he can, he’s on the fast track. If he keeps covering TV theme songs, he’s going to have to settle for auditioning on Broadway this summer.

Travis Orlando (NR): Out. He taps out at the top badly because he doesn’t know how to sing from his diaphragm, but he’s getting better and better with his midrange tone. His lower voice is really sweet, and kind of sexy in that boy band next door sort of way. Common Idol, you used him two years in a row for your tear jerker segments. For chrissakes, spend a few bucks and get him a mentor and a vocal coach. Mentor first.

Ramiro Garcia (NR), Wolf Hamlin (13) and Jenny Schick (NR) all failed to make it to the next round. Wolf was the big surprise to me. I thought that he’d at least make it to the Sing for Your Life round.

Day Two

Adam Brock (N/A): In. Fat (Phat?) Gokey can sing, play piano, and he has a leader’s mentality. Can he avoid pissing everyone off with his smarmy personality?

Jane Carrey (NR): Out. She has a famous Dad, so I have looked at a ton of her videos since she made it to Hollywood. I have never heard her sound as strong as she did tonight, except that she choked at the end for no apparent reason. The song was over. What a strange experience it was, to see the child of someone so famous get just that little snippet of fame, and it wasn’t about getting caught partying too late, or a wardrobe malfunction, or some other ridiculous scandal. All this kid wants to do is make music, and while I don’t think much of her voice she can really play her guitar.

Shannon Magrane (14): In. She is really comfortable on stage, and her voice is powerful. I have her ranked too low, and I know it. How does a kid with so much else to do, so many other obvious opportunities, learn how to sing this well?Shannon might just go ahead and win it all, simply because her talent is that special. She won’t lose because she isn’t smart enough, centered enough, or aware enough. She won’t scare on the big stage. Her only weakness is the calendar, which won’t forget that she was born not all that long ago.

David Leathers (21): In. Did Alicia Keys and Emmanuel Lewis have a kid? He was fantastic tonight, and he’s going to move up the power rankings.

Jessica Phillips (7): In. She blew the pooch on her intonation at the end, but I’ll give her a pass. She has so much emotion in her voice, and so much command of where she wants her listener to go….. The intonation, balanced against the passion, leaves her about where I ranked her. I would call her 50/50 to make the tour at this point.

Angie Zeiderman (NR) and Brittany Kerr (NR) are both in.

Erika Van Pelt (5): In. Somewhere between Melissa Etheridge and Toni Braxton, but she looks like Lacy J Dalton. That’s a musician, either way. Impressive.

Creighton Fraker (22): In. Powerful and (of course) trilly.

Aaron Marcellus (11): In. He overdid it a little, but what can you do? After what happened to him last year, you can’t blame him for going all out. He has a really long face, doesn’t he? He looks like the bastard love child of Joe Morgan and Seabiscuit.

Lauren Mink (NR): Out. They didn’t say until the beginning of group might.

Jeremy Rosado (N/A): In. He bites off too much at the top, so he needs to back off a little bit. His tone is terrific.

Symone Black (N/A): In. She sounded ok, though not all that unique. She did a header off the stage, apparently from a blood sugar crash.