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‘American Idol’ recap, Vegas Beatles edition, first cutdowns: sob story shocker

Julie Zarrillo and Tim Halperin improve their chances making the top 24 with their Beatles performance. CREDIT: Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Julie Zorrillo and Tim Halperin improve their chances making the top 24 with their Beatles performance. CREDIT: Ray Mickshaw/Fox

In past years, the “Green Mile” episode was usually squashed into one hour. This year, they’ve stretched it out to three hours and cut the Beatles round in Vegas to one hour.

That sounds like a recipe for disaster. But it wasn’t in the end. Our connections with some of the best singers deepened.

Chris Medina's elimination before the top 24

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During the Beatles hour, we got a taste of some tough love from one of the vocal coaches (Peggi Blu) and a tease of what Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine will bring to the table when he becomes the regular mentor during the rest of the season.

We heard mostly good to great Beatles covers. We lost a few contestants we got to know along the way (but not that many.) Then quickly, we get into the elimination of the 40 to 24, the dreaded “Green Mile.”

With three hours instead of one, “Idol” had more time to spend with each individual contestant, reminding us why they got there and getting snippets of their “sing for your life” performance after Vegas.

We saw 10 out of the 40 and five got through to the top 24. Two of the eliminated contestants, especially Chris Medina (Danny Gokey, part II), were shockers. Though Medina didn’t do well in Hollywood, it appeared his “Fix You” might have made up for it. But with only 12 slots for guys, he just didn’t make the cut.

“Idol” amped up the post-Medina elimination drama as J.  Lo broke down.  He was truly a class act. Lopez showed she has become the heart and soul of the trio of judges.

Of  the five who made it through tonight, Naima Adedapo is my favorite.

Here’s a running recap:

- Opener showed the 61 remaining contestants bussed to Vegas.  They are placed in different rooms and work in duos or trios to sing particular Beatles songs. One gal says she’s never heard a  Beatles song in her life. (Really? Not even accidentally?). Peggi Blu one of the vocal coaches, torches Thia Magia and Melinda Adema.

“You’re going to die on stage in front of those people. I’ll be laying in bed watching you croak.” – Peggi tells the pair as they struggle with “Here Comes the Sun.”

Wow. That’s tougher than anything Simon has ever said!

Okay. Stefano Langone and James Durbin start it up with “Get Back.” Both sound strong. Okay, Stefano keeps channeling Adam Lambert, the “way-outisphere,” as Steven said.  “Great kickoff,” he said later.

Pia Toscano and  Karen Rodriguez are high school buds at La Guardia School of Arts. “We were inseparable,” Pia said. Both do “Can’t Buy Me Love” with verve and a bit of sex appeal.  “You guys get it,” J. Lo said. “You know what it’ s like to be a professional. You know how to give a show.”

Naima Adedapo, Jacob Lusk and Haley Reinhart sing “The Long and Winding Road.”

“You have a  lot of firepower.  If you use it all the time, Bono would be working in a cafe or pub . You can’t sing all the time.” Jimmy Iovine warned them during rehearsals.

Haley feels a bit overdone. Naima sounds extraordinary. Jacob is making interesting choices, not always good ones. But the trio are all really good.   Strong finish.

“Put the pedal down,” Randy said, contradicting Jimmy Iovine.

“I didn’t want to take it all Ebenezer Baptist, y’all,” Jacob said.

Rachel Zevita gets some time with “Eleanor Rigby.” Lauren Turner brings firepower to “Let It Be.”

Tim Halperin, who we haven’t seen since auditions, duets with Julie Zorrilla. Both have the singer-songwriter thing down doing “Something.”

LaKeisha Lewis, Jerome  Bell and Tatynisa Wilson work “I Saw Her Standing Her There” with a bit of R&B/soul spin. It works. “That was crazy,” Randy said.  “All of you can definitely sing.” J. Lo thinks LaKeisha was holding back and Tatynisa didn’t have the “breath and vocal control that I think you can do.” “I thought  you nailed it,” Steven told Tatynisa.

Paul McDonald and Kendra Chantelle do “Blackbird.” Paul seems like a 1970s throwback with a really unusual voice and outfit. Kendra is okay, not terribly distinctive.  “The power of a soft, beautiful tone,  there’s nothing like it,” J. Lo said of Paul.

Clint  Gamboa does “Help” with a gal I don’t recognize. Two folks I don’t remember do “Ticket to  Ride.” John Wayne Shulz performs with two others with “A Little Help From My Friends.”

Ashley Sullivan shops for a dress to get married since they’re in Vegas in pleather pants!  She is proud it’s the same place Britney Spears got married – but quickly rescinded.

Will Melinda and Thia prove Peggi wrong? Yes, they do. They do not die at all. It sounds pretty solid. Randy: “Melinda – it started a little shaky but you got it together in the middle. Thia you found the way to keep the phrasing and your whole thing intact. You have a  very unique voice.” Steven: “You were a little behind on your phrasing. Thia, it was just alright for me.”

Sophia Shorai and Ashley perform “We  Can Work It Out.” It wasn’t half bad but relatively speaking with what we heard before, wasn’t the best. “It just was not hot today,” Randy said. “None of it quite worked for me.”

Denise Jackson, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina swapped songs after Iovine critiqued them. They go for “Hello Goodbye.” Can Scotty remember the words? We’re at least really easy lyrics! J. Lo: “It’s a difficult song for three people. Denise you weren’t as strong. Scotty I love you do the voice and go an octave up. Lauren. Same thing. You’re an amazing singer. I don’t think this song didn’t do anything for you.”
“It’s like the Marx Brothers putting out a fire thing,” Steven Tyler said.

Caleb Hawley and Carson Higgins took a risk with their arrangement. So did Casey Abrams and Chris Medina, who added a prop bed for “A Hard Day’s Night.” “Casey and Chris, you freaks!” Tyler said.

Aaron Sanders, Jordan Dorsey and Robbie Rosen (”Got to Get  You Into My Life”) show up. Aaron is from Atlanta  (though he is identifed as Teaneck, N.J.) and we get to hear him for the first time. He’s good but not as good as the other two. “Jordan you were good but no the greatest you’ve been. The harmonies started a little rough but you worked it out. Very nice.” J.  Lo: “Aaron-I forget how good you are. We have high expectations for you Jordan.” Tyler: “You nailed it again, Robbie.”

First seven into the top 40: Thia, Scotty, Jordan, Ashthon, Robbie, Lauren Alaina and some dude who they didn’t name. I had to go back several times to makes sure I didn’t miss something.  Is that Alex Ryan?

Then they cut 21 folks, including Carson Higgins, White House intern Molly DeWolf and Caleb Hawley. (Bummer!) Denise, Melinda and Ashley are out, too.

Now we are on to hour 2 and the “Green Mile.” Of the 40, the judges pick 24.

First up: Naima Adedapo. She cries her way up to the seat in a pretty blue dress and her heart on her sleeves.  “You haven’t been the most consistent,” J. Lo said. “Your story is so beautiful with two babies and cleaning toilets and doing everything you could to be it.”  “She deserves a shot,” J. Lo said. “She’s different and unique,” Randy said.

Second up: Hollie Cavanagh, who I liked a lot. She did Alicia Keys for her sing for your life and the snippet we heard was solid. “When we first heard you sing in Austin, I thought your melody was all over the place,” Tyler said. “You wouldn’t be here if we heard just that first song. You did that and was a standout in Hollywood week. You started showing people you belonged here,” J. Lo said. “I’m sorry, we’re not going to put you through this time,” Tyler said. “I was outvoted,” J. Lo said. ” I believe you should be in the top 24. When we looked at everybody else.  Randy really hit home. You’re 17 years old. In a year or two, you can come back and win the whole thing. That’s how good you are. You need to grow a little bit and figure out who you are as an artist.”

LaKeisha Lewis is gone. Alex Ryan is out, too.  “She really deserved to be here,” said a crying Clint.  “She’s like family.”

Speaking of Clint Gamboa: the judges loved him in San Francisco. Then the producers remind us he booted out Jaycee. He oversang “Georgia on My Mind” and then “Hello” for his finale song. I’m afraid if he makes the top 13, he’ll just be annoyingly overwrought.

Haley Reinhart has a good voice but yes, I don’t particularly like the tone in every instance she sang.  “We’ve been watching you and we’re afraid to say it:  it’s a yes,” Tyler said.

Deandre Brackensick was part of the four juniors with stage moms. He takes a ukelele for his final song and looks a bit like, um, Jason Castro.  “I didn’t’ show my best,” he said. “It’s about being consistent,” Randy said.  “That didn’t quite happen for you on this journey.” Funny -in the end, none of the teens with stage moms who wowed us during the group sing made it to the top 24. He made it the furthest along. But he’s only 15. He can come back.

After the break: it’s singer-songwriter Paul McDonald. He impressed the judges throughout his run with his unusual vocal ticks. He opted for an original song for his “sing for his life,” a first on the “Idol” show. He is clearly someone folks will love or hate. Uniqueness got him deservedly into the top 24. “People would say. Is this guy American Idol material? Guess what American Idol is anybody great, unique with unbelievable talent,” Randy said. “We like the quirkiness of this guy. He’s interesting.”  “That may just be the thing to make you a star,” Tyler said.

Ashthon Jones is next up. She was a stand-out on group day but her Jennifer Holiday solo set her apart.  She then did Whitney Houston for “sing for your life.” She’s okay but not terribly special vocally.  J. Lo: “I had my eye on you  from the beginning. You’ve been one of the most consistent contestants we had… we want to find the whole package. Someone who can sing. Someone who can dance. Someone who has presence and confidence. We found that in you!” She pulled the annoying fake-out outside, though. Points off!

Chris Medina gets the final moments of hour two tonight. We hear his story yet again. His “sing for his life” is the best I’ve heard him since his original audition as he does Coldplay. On the surface, we’d expect he’s a shoo-in to go into the top 24.  “Juliana is more popular than I am,” he said. “It was an honor to meet you,” J. Lo said. “That was a blessing and moment I’ll always remember.”  J. Lo has to break the news: “You had some good moments and some bad moments. We only have 24 slots. And honestly it breaks my heart to say you did not make the top 24.” He is very stoic before the judges. J. Lo breaks down afterwards.

266 comments Add your comment

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
8:51 pm

I LOVE the talent this year…If Idol screws up this year it won’t be because they couldn’t find singers…

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
8:51 pm

Thanks KCF!

Another observation I’ve had watching Hollywood week. I cringed when they lowered the age to 15 instead of raising it. But for the most part, some of the 15 and 16 year olds are the strongest singers. They’re not like the past young ones who looked 12 and sounded like babies. Is it just me?

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
8:52 pm

Here’s the TMZ report on Casey Abrams. And I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say Casey made the top 24.

http://www.tmz.com/2011/02/23/casey-abrams-american-idol-hospitalized-top-24-stomach-pains-cedars-sinai-overnight/

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
8:53 pm

Nigel clearly had a lot to do to shape this Hollywood round and working these singers and picking ones that will work for the top 13. Or am I giving him too much credit? The judges (minus Simon) should get credit, as do all the producers who culled through the talent from the early rounds.

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
8:53 pm

How come the guide on my TV says this is a two hour show tonight? Or, is tomorrow the one hour show? I don’t have a clue! Please clarify for me!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
8:54 pm

Andi, my theory on the maturity of these 15/16 year old is that most of them have been performing for years…plus at this stage of the game, I’m guessing they know what to expect from Idol.

RK

February 23rd, 2011
8:54 pm

How is that NOT a spoiler??? Thanks.

RK

February 23rd, 2011
8:55 pm

No bombs shown yet because “it’s American Idol’s best talent EVER”!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
8:55 pm

Love Robbie!…what a great group! Holy you know what…do we have another season 5 on our hands??? Please!!!!!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
8:55 pm

Harm, tonight is two hours…so is tomorrow. Interestingly, for my it says that tomorrow, “The Top 20 Are Chosen” as the description.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
8:56 pm

Jordan and Robbie, yes

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
8:56 pm

Two hours tonight and tomorrow night, Harm.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
8:57 pm

And my theory on the talent this year, yes, it is stronger. But maybe they judges have had more help/feedback from Nigel and the producers? It feels to me as more of a “group effort.”

RK

February 23rd, 2011
8:58 pm

We hadn’t seen White House girl in a while…

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
8:59 pm

Thanks! I can see clearly now!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:00 pm

Hey, JLo, we know the Oscars are Sunday…but I believe Anne Hathaway is hosting. Thanks, tho.

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:01 pm

They name only six of the front seven who make it to the top 40. I think Alex Ryan was ignored!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:01 pm

Hmm, I might have to go on a tour of the White House….

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:02 pm

The rain is gone!

Couldn’t resist! Sorry!

Mo Schreibman

February 23rd, 2011
9:02 pm

Hello from 8:23 pm because my wife keeps leaving the room and pausing the recording machine.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:02 pm

Yes, k&cf…Nigel’s hand is visible everywhere…thank you, Nigel for coming back and making Idol the show it used to be……although I may have some difficulty forgiving you for leaving in the first place.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:02 pm

Harm, the rain is gone? ;)

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:03 pm

Mo…I just want to say that I love you…and your wife, too!

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:03 pm

I spoke with Bethenny Frankel today. She was a big fan of Carson Higgins.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:03 pm

She can see clearly now, k&cf.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:04 pm

See? Mo really IS from the past. Hi from the future, Mo!

D, no kidding. I’m thinking we missed Nigel more than we’ll miss Simon. Who would’ve figured? Other than Nigel.

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:04 pm

Well it definitely is more about the contestants instead of “me me me” judges. And more talent search than how much drama can we produce. As it should be. They gave an enormous amount of people a chance to go to Hollywood and did a great job of whittling down. Seems fair so far

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:06 pm

Vegas survivors get one more chance to sing for the judges…in a “spectacular” HANGAR?????????

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:06 pm

It sure does. It feels like we’ve had a lot more chances to hear them sing.

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:07 pm

Great minds think alike!

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:07 pm

Naima one of my favorites!!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:07 pm

Naima…what a voice!

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:08 pm

half of us love some Bethenny

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:08 pm

OK…THIS green mile makes sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:09 pm

the other’s southern sensibilty is offended by her northerness…HA!

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:09 pm

Hangar, because it’s the closest they could think of to compare to Westminster Abbey, D.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:10 pm

This is making me cry!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:11 pm

boyz…come on…what would we do without New Yawk???????

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:12 pm

ha! D…I agree, talk the the “other boy!” ;-)

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:13 pm

Watching Naima, I realize how they are doing “Green Mile.” They summarize the journey of each of the top 24 and a snippet of their “sing for your life” song. That’s a good thing.Remind us a bit about each person in a sequential sense.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:14 pm

Nigel is a genius!

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:15 pm

Enter at your own risk, I wonder if Idol put up a disclaimer, they could be the cause of a heart attack or panic attack or such!

Mo Schreibman

February 23rd, 2011
9:15 pm

Thank you very much Deirdre you are a sweetheart and hello from 8:35 pm now to Kelly&Carriefan. Make that 8:43 please.

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:16 pm

J. Lo is growing on me. She is coming across quite well in this round. It’s funny how Steven and J.Lo are superseding Randy at times in terms of feedback.

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:17 pm

Andi- yes. There was the Ashley side show but that was worth it. Otherwise, mostly singing and talent and smart judge cutbacks. I did like Carson a lot for his personality but they decided to dump the goofball.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:20 pm

Was there this much judge-hugging in the past?

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:21 pm

Uh oh. It’s cryin’ Hollie.

RK

February 23rd, 2011
9:21 pm

Frenchy eliminated!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:21 pm

Rodney, re JLo, I agree, she’s the heart of the show tonight.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:22 pm

Karaoke boy makes me think of Gokey…

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:22 pm

Clint got off on the wrong foot but he’s a good singer.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:22 pm

I don’t feel like he connects with what he is singing, he is just a good singer

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:23 pm

I don’t like him!

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:23 pm

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:23 pm

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:23 pm

This guy reminds me of Jerry Lewis

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:24 pm

They keep him in for ratings only

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:24 pm

Clint? Really? Really?! MEH.

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:24 pm

Good thing “Idol” now lets folks try again who don’t make the voting rounds. In the past, if you made, like the top 50 or 60, you couldn’t come back.

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:24 pm

He is my new Kim Jong Il.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:24 pm

they kept him so that they could make a final choice between him and Jaycee

RK

February 23rd, 2011
9:25 pm

Those glasses run in the family.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:25 pm

I bet it’s the no to Jacee that breaks JLo

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:27 pm

I bet you’re right Mercedes

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:28 pm

Randy reminds us again about the Clint-Jaycee deal. “It wasn’t anything personal,” Clint spins.”He shined more in the other group he was in. I hope nobody viewed that the wrong way.”

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:28 pm

LOL!!! Harm…Definitely!

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:29 pm

His karaoke hosting kind of shines through in his singing. He’s always imitating somebody. Not good.

Rodney Ho

February 23rd, 2011
9:29 pm

Yup. The plus-sized female factor is out this year with Lakeisha out…

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:31 pm

Don’t care for Hailey’s voice!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:32 pm

Will Haley Rinehart become the new Haley Scarnato….with a voice!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:32 pm

Rodney, he’s imitating drag queens…that’s who. Just sayin’.

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:33 pm

My new Kim Jong Il looks more realistic than my old one (Andrew Garcia).

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:33 pm

I don’t think J-Lo thought Hailey gushed enough

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:33 pm

Ha, D. Hot Pants Scarnato..there’s a blast from the past.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:34 pm

Deandre looks like Guarini and Jason Castro had a lovechild. No? It’s mostly the hair.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:34 pm

Deandree… bad song choice, still way better than Korean dictator!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:34 pm

Not that crazy about Deandre

RK

February 23rd, 2011
9:35 pm

Time for someone I’ve never seen go.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:36 pm

but he has Diane Degarmo’s mouth

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

I think it’s Chris Medina who’s going to throw JLo off!

RK

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

I wonder if JLo is going to break down?

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

Tell you what, no way JLo is a Chinese Tiger Mom!

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

Justin’s hair, Jason’s eyes, and Dianna’s mouth

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

He hasn’t done anything good since his first audition.

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

Guarini and Castro love child – LOL!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:38 pm

CBZ, I didn’t get pass the hair. ha.

Korean Dictator worse, imo.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:39 pm

KCF, hair, eyes, belt buckle, that is the order ;-)

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:39 pm

Where’s Harriett tonight?

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:39 pm

D, we JUST said that to each other

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:39 pm

Shoulders, eyes, belt buckle!

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
9:40 pm

I was gonna go with Howdy Doody for Scott, now I’m thinking the Mad magazine guy.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:40 pm

Alfred E. Newman!

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:41 pm

I LOVE good shoulders. It was the only thing I noticed about Ben Affleck for about 2 years.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:41 pm

Hobbit time!

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:41 pm

we Really like him!

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:42 pm

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:42 pm

wwgwg……first w stands for weird.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:43 pm

HA, Mad Magazine…perfect.

I like Paul…

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:44 pm

So far I’ve only liked Naima…

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:44 pm

LOL, D. Hilarious. Sure he’s a WGWG, but not in a sea of them. We’ll see what he can bring.