Olivia Rox

oliviaBefore I list her pages and pages of credits, has anyone else noticed that Olivia has grown something like three or four inches since her audition? She must be dammed near six feet tall now.

Insanely talented Olivia might be the most versatile performer the show has ever seen. Already under her belt are: a successful star turn in a stage play at eight years old, star (star? hell, TITLE) billing in a movie when she was ten, and songwriting credit for five songs off the soundtrack from the same movie.

Here’s a link to the trailer for her movie. I think the movie father is her real father (see below).

Only 16, she is already a 14 year stage veteran; her first live performance came at the age of two, in front of thousands of screaming spectators at one of her father’s concerts.

Olivia’s showcase performance. She was sick; it’s noticeable towards the middle where she struggles with the high notes. She hits them a lot better the second time through:

Olivia’s father, Warren Hill, is an acclaimed smooth jazz saxaphonist who toured with Chaka Kahn and Natalie Cole in the early 1990s, guest-starred on Restless Heart’s number one Adult Contemporary single “Tell me What you Dream” in 1993, and owns four top 10 and seven top 20 smooth jazz charted albums.

Olivia starred in Annie at the age of nine, receiving an Ovation award nomination after 75 performances in a Boulder, Colorado theater. She wrote over 300 songs by the time she auditioned for America’s Got Talent at the age of 14. She plays guitar and piano, and I imagine she can handle a sax as well, considering who her father is.

As far as her chances of winning, I honestly think that she is the one contestant that can’t be defeated if she doesn’t make a mistake. She is so much more talented than most of the other contestants – and so obviously more talented than most of the other contestants – that she can only lose by doing something stupid like acting petulant (she might, she’s only 16), picking the wrong song (she probably will – she has the irrational, unwavering confidence of a sky diver who fully expects to learn how to fly all the way to the bloody mess on the ground), or having some sort of physical ailment (she has already been sick, and apparently she’s going to be seven freaking feet tall by the end of the season).

I have her ranked second, not first, because (1) I expect her to make some sort of mistake, most likely over-reaching on a song with a lot of upper range calisthenics or doing too many originals, turning off the voters, and (2) Dalton Rapattoni might be this year’s WGWG. If Phil-Phil can win, Dalton sure as hell can; he’s ten times the singer Phil-Phil was.

Semifinals

Olivia Rox (Hill) “Confident” – Demi Lovato: B+

olivia roxIf Dalton is going to be the creative force, Olivia is going to be the athletic force. Nobody has her fearlessness – hell, kamikaze pilots on beta blockers aren’t as fearless as Olivia – and nobody has her massive bag of tricks. Dalton is still the favorite, but Olivia has been performing under pressure since before she could talk. She won’t scare, and she’ll bring it every single time. It’s going to be fun, watching them try to one-up each other.

Olivia needs to be careful not to over-reach with her upper range – one of these times she’s going to pull a Gokey, thinking she nailed a high note but what the audience heard was the painful scream of a hyena being tortured. Harry hit her up about her rhythm, but I think he was just picking up on how gawky she is, having grown several inches since her audition. Teenagers have enough trouble being graceful as it is.

 

Olivia with David Cook “Light On” David Cook

Cookie hit it on the head with Olivia. She has all the tools, she just needs to learn when to use them. Her trick bag bursts at the seams, which can be a blessing and a curse. If you are MacKenzie, or Jenn, or Stringfellow, you know what to do every time because you basically have one move, one pitch. Olivia is like Luis Tiant or Satchel Paige, with seven pitches she can throw from three different angles and at five different speeds. That’s a lot to deal with, a lot to sort out and game plan for even a savvy veteran, and she is still just a kid.

She is only 16 years old, in some ways an old war horse as a performer but also a gawky kid who probably isn’t used to being so dammed tall all of a sudden, or going through all the other jarring changes teenagers deal with. She is fearless on stage, but off stage she’s kind of a dork, just happy to be there and a fan of pretty much everyone she meets.

Because of her father she is used to being around celebrities, and as a result she is comfortable around pretty much everyone, but she doesn’t see herself as a celebrity. She’s the celebrity’s kid, trying to prove herself so she gets to eat at the grownups table.

It’s going to be fun watching Olivia grow through the show – hopefully not taller, for chrissakes I think she grew another couple of inches since last night’s show – and learn how to really block out a full performance and make it sound organic. At this point she is still mostly knees and elbows, overpowering her songs by sheer vocal athleticism.

Top 14

Quick-pass into the top 10

Top 10

Olivia Rox “Unconditionally” Katy Perry

olivia

Anyone who reads my blog knows Olivia is my favorite. I worry about her overabundance of vocal tricks, because she has a habit of trying to cram all of them into every song. Tonight she was restrained, only changing the beginning and adding one glory note. The effect of less affect (English teachers, see what I did there?) was a brilliant performance.

Judges: Gushed, almost too much except J-Lo who gave some reasonable criticism.

(I put her at the bottom of the safe-to-in-danger list despite a strong performance, based on the show’s flow and a string of good performances towards the end by singers I thought would be in danger earlier)

I might be trying to reverse-jinx myself, but Olivia (1) went first, (2) has never been exposed to the voters, which they might resent, and (3) got a bad edit from the producers on the end-of-show montage. She wasn’t the weakest singer, of course, but the singers who made a lot of mistakes – Tristan and Gianna, basically – might get ‘credit’ for being so young. They are each 15. Olivia, who I think most people think is pushing thirty years old, is 16.

The night’s standouts were the final three singers, which might be something of an indicator. Idol has been doing this all season, showcasing the best performances late in the show. There is a dress rehearsal before the show goes live, with each contestant singing their song. I think they are setting the order based on the dress rehearsals. I think they did that in season 12, too. It seemed like the best performance was almost always in the pimp spot that year.

Do I fully expect Olivia to get dumped? Fully is strong, but who else is going? Tristan and Gianna have popular backstories, and Avalon has been getting the star treatment from the judges – especially J-Lo – all season.

All of the others on the nervous list performed and survived the vote last night while Olivia gathered dust. Olivia went first tonight, and gathered more dust while the other three fast-passers sang later in the show.

I think she has an inkling that she’s in trouble … they cut to her at the end, when the judges were gushing about all the great singers in the top ten, and she nodded and looked kind of stricken.

10 becomes 8

Olivia was one of the bottom three – as predicted – and she had to follow Jen’s favorite Avalon after Avalon nailed her song. She had to be (1) better than Avalon, which would be a tall order under any conditions, and (2) hope the others overruled Jen, who was a huge Avalon fan.

Olivia Rox “Trouble” Pink

She went for the quadruple axle about six times, and she might have hit it once or twice, but mostly she kept landing on her butt. In baseball terms she was trying to hit a five run homer with the bases empty and the rest of the team already in the showers. She knew she was going to need a miracle, so she tried to crap out the 3-5 years of experience she needs in a minute and a half. No such luck.

Judges: I didn’t listen, there was no point. I’m sure they were nice, but they weren’t going to save her.

It might not be the worst thing in the world for Olivia to get dumped now. She has tremendous talent, but she isn’t any more ready to put it together than the other teenagers. She is going to get every opportunity to develop her skills, and build her career, with or without Idol.