Some Semifinalists Announced, Some Notes

Ladies and gentlemen, your final 24:

Men:

Adam Brock Creighton Fraker Aaron Sanders Eben Franckewitz Heejun Han Joshua Ledet Phillip Phillips Deandre Brackensick Reed Grimm Colton Dixon Jeremy Rosado Chase Likens Women:

Erika Van Pelt

Elise Testone

Baylie Brown Chelsea Sorrell Haley Johnsen Hollie Cavanaugh Hallie Day Jen Hirsh Jessica Sanchez Shannon Magrane Skylar Laine Brielle Von Hugel

The“what’s in” and the “what’s out” for this season:

In: Country singers, especially female country singers. Baylie, Chelsea and Slylar all made it in; questionable contender Chase Likens also made it in as a male country singer. Phil Phillips isn’t a country singer, but he’s from the South and he talks funny.

Out: Black singers, especially female black singers. Aaron Marcellus Sanders and Joshua Ledet are the only black singers who made it into the semifinals. The judges dumped every single black female singer, even Ariel Sprague.

In: Dopplegangers from previous seasons. There are several, so I’ll list them vertically:

Adam Brock is Phat Gokey

Eben Franckewitz is Jacee Badeaux (Redeaux)

Reed Grimm is Casey Abrams the drummer

Colton Dixon is Pepe Le Pew (just kidding)

Baylie Brown is Lauren Alaina

Chelsea Sorrell is Lauren Alaina

Skylar Laine is Lauren Alaina

Seriously, Nigel needs to have a restraining order placed against him. He can’t resist anyone who reminds him of his Widdew Wauren.

In: Repeaters. Ten of the twenty four contestants have been on the show in the past, including five timer Jeremy Rosado. At least four of the eighteen who were dumped were also repeaters, so a full third of the final 42 were past contestants.

I can think of a couple of reasons for this:

-The other shows like The Voice and The X-Factor are siphoning off some of the loose talent out there, leaving fewer top level amatuers who want to try the Idol route. This is probably a fairly small factor, though. It’s a big country, with plenty of top level talent out there.

-Idol is a fraternal organization in many ways. They remember the past contestants, and they give them extra credit for sticking with it, working on their chops, and coming back as better performers. Once a contestant earns some respect, the road is smoothed over for them the next time they audition.

-The sudden drop from 16 years old to 15 years old last season temporarily flooded the pool; otherwise several of the repeaters would have been in the semifinals last season. Aaron Sanders and Colton Dixon certainly would have been in the semifinals last year had there been a few more spots open.

-Lastly, but probably most importantly, there is no substitute for first hand experience. It is a tremendous advantage to have been through the meat grinder of Hollywood Week before. They know what’s coming, and they have, in their pockets, invaluable experience and feedback from the judges, vocal coaches and producers on the show. They know how to prepare, and they know much better what the judges are looking for – and what they need to avoid if they don’t want to incur the judges’ wrath.

Out: Jazz, Broadway and musical theater. Last season featured several prominent jazz/theater styled performers, headed by Haley and Casey. This year, only Reed fits the category. Naomi Gillies just missed, as Idol chose country singers and the three big voiced H’s (Haley, Hollie and Hallie) over her stage honed style.

Baylie, Haley, Hallie, Hollie…. Ryan is going to have fun keeping track of them, isn’t he? I got a sawbuck that says he screws up at least once by the end of the season.. Any takers? He kept calling Casey Abrams Casey James last year….

Some other notes and loose ends:

– Nine of the top 24 came from thePittsburghauditions; seven fromSavannah, five fromHouston, two fromSan Diegoand one fromPortland.Aspenwas shut out, with Richie Law their last man standing. Jairon Jackson was from theAspenauditions.

– Eben, Shannon and Jessica were 15 when they auditioned. Deandre was 16; Hollie and Brielle were 17. The rest of them were of legal age, and 11 of them were old enough to be in a bar. The oldest? Creighton Fraker and Elise Testone, who are both 28. Wendy Taylor, who was dumped tonight, is 29.

– All of the men other than Chase were prominently featured in theHollywoodshows, and Chase’s audition was aired. Chelsea, Hollie, Jessica and Haley were hardly seen until Vegas, and none of their auditions were aired. Hollie wasn’t seen at all until tonight’s show.

– There are no Tom’s, Dicks or Harrys. There is no Smith, no Jones. Look at the names: those are the kind of names authors use for characters in novels. Other than the Hollie/Haley/Hallie/Baylie thing, their names are all unique.

The largest surprise was that the judges went so deep in country singers, and that they didn’t select a single black female contestant. Other than that, the selections were predictable. My own largest surprise, other than the complete dismissal of black female singers, was Naomi. The rest of the country wasn’t surprised at all. Most of them had never heard of her, so there was a collective yawn. They don’t know what they missed out on.

Show notes:

– Phil-Phil and Hey-June are besties? Sure, why not….

– I thought it was nice how the judges were so adamant in encouraging Lauren Gray to come back and try again. I’m certainly on board with it. I love to hear her sing.

– Naomi was (quietly) shocked; she really thought that she was going to make it. Apparently she didn’t see the memo from Nigel, telling the judges to keep any girl who bore even a faint resemblance to Lauren Alaina. Her skinny little body and Broadway chops didn’t fit the bill. It was a little weird, seeing her in the room waiting. On stage she is this huge, bombastic, dominating presence, but in the room she looked tiny, shy and young.

– Did they really have to reduce Phat Gokey to a lump of wet, weeping jelly like that? He was a frigging no-brainer. Was there a psychological agenda there? Maybe they were trying to humble him a little, or make sure the voters dump him in the semifinals for some reason.

– It’s dizzying to listShannon’s wide array of gifts. Her dad is rich and famous -and super smart and funny. Her mother looks so much like Renee Russo that I had to look twice to make sure that she wasn’t actually Renee Russo. Shannonis ridiculously tall, ridiculously athletic, ridiculously talented and ridiculously attractive. She could be a congressional page, or a congresswoman. She could be a world class athlete. She will get into whatever college she wants, and she appears to have the intellect to thrive there. Hell, she could be the President some day, couldn’t she?

All of that, and she wants to be a singer. She can be literally anything that she wants to be, and she wants to be a singer. I root for her despite my natural bias towards the underdog, though. She seems like such an earnest, honest, driven kid. She got dammed lucky to have her parents, but they are kinda lucky to have her, too.

– J-Lo told Scott Dangerfield the same thing that I felt: he didn’t have the same magic this year that he seemed to have last year.

– They showed Wendy, Adam Decker, Aubrey and Latia walking off after they got dumped; without any face time with the judges or a mention of their names. That has to be a real bummer for their families; making it this far, getting dumped, and not even getting their names on the screen.

– Skylar did really well on “Fancy”, didn’t she? That’s a really hard song to sing, and I’ve heard it butchered by professional singers more than once.

– Jermaine should have made it. His unique voice would have made for a much more interesting show, and I didn’t see him do anything that would make him a bad candidate. It’s possible that they were worried about his composure, or something. I dunno.

– Hollie, wow…. How does that huge voice come out of that tiny little girl?

– Ariel was a standout in Vegas, but as I said before her outside videos show her inexperience. She is in the same position right now that Hollie was in a year ago. She should get to woodshedding, and come back in a year or two. She has the talent to make a serious impact.Shelby has a really good voice as well, and I fully expect to see her back next year.

– As I expected, they set the coin flip up between Eben and David. David shouldn’t have done the Michael Jackson song. Everyone who sings that song on Idol gets dumped immediately. What the heck, it might be for the best thing for him in the long run. He would have been one and done this year. Woodshed…

I’ve been typing this as I watched the show, so I didn’t know about the surprise extra male contestant. The four possibilities:

David Leathers-I don’t think so. He’s fine waiting for next year.

Richie Law-Seriously?

Johnny Keyser-SERIOUSLY????

Jermaine Jones-Well, it looks like we’ll have a Jones after all. If it isn’t Jermaine, the internet will explode in indignation. It HAS to be Jermaine, doesn’t it?