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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
9:45 pm

I liked him too but I thought we were avoiding his type this year.

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:45 pm

Ashton, my number one favorite!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:46 pm

I like Lauren Alaina…but I’m the only one (?). I also think the other Lauren is really good, but she’s barely gotten screen time.

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:46 pm

It’s the big hair season.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:46 pm

I have a feeling that Ashton is going to turn out to be another disappointing diva. I hope not cuz I like her.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:46 pm

wierd white guy who grooms?

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:47 pm

I am a pale white chick but my hair does that.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:47 pm

D–agree with teh dd point, it is in the eyes

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:47 pm

weird white guy with guitar

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:48 pm

Like Latoya, Lil or Vonzell?

And we’ll see….’cause they are limiting the use of instruments, I thought?

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:48 pm

Almost ten pm… maybe it’s no to Chris that causes meltdown

RK

February 23rd, 2011
9:48 pm

Ashton. Blah. That last song was not good.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:49 pm

KCF, literally just saying those names in that order…D HA! guess we were off base

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:49 pm

Yeah, k&cf…I see something missing in her but maybe she’ll find it during the course of the show.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:50 pm

This sounds so corny but we are already excited about the end of tomorrow when they say “America this is your top 24″ and they do the dance montage

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
9:51 pm

And yes, Andi, it’s Big Hair Season.

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:51 pm

I’m glad you explained that D – I was coming up with all kinds of odd things to fill in the acronym.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:51 pm

boyz…I’m still laughing at “who grooms”!!!!! I might like that better!

[...] the original here:  ‘American Idol’ recap, Vegas Beatles edition [...]

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:52 pm

I know what you mean. Sometimes a good voice and no connection is worse than a decent voice. Paging Trenyce!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:52 pm

CBZ, LOL> I’m ready to dance too! ;)

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:53 pm

wrong eMPAHIS on the wrong SYLlable

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:54 pm

My heart goes out for his personal story. But not diggin the voice

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:54 pm

He’s good again, for the first time since his original audition.

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:54 pm

missed the point of the song

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
9:55 pm

he sould have nailed fix you

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
9:55 pm

that being said….

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
9:55 pm

I was thinking about the dance montage thing earlier. Wondered if it was tonight, but guess not.

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
9:59 pm

Best green mile show ever! And more to come tomorrow.

I love our judges this year…they are so connected!

candlerboyz

February 23rd, 2011
10:00 pm

agreed D…what I thought was going to be bad is SO GOOD! later gators!

Mo Schreibman

February 23rd, 2011
10:00 pm

We made it to the Tiny Tim ukulele guy who was cut.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
10:00 pm

Oh, goodness. DRAMA!

Who edits this show, 17 year old girls?

What? I used to be one….a while ago. ;)

Deirdre

February 23rd, 2011
10:01 pm

JT….you won’t be bored.

Harm

February 23rd, 2011
10:01 pm

Until tomorrow, goodnight!

Andi I hope you find peace and comfort in the days to come.

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

February 23rd, 2011
10:02 pm

See y’all tomorrow. Time to meet up with Cam,Gloria and the rest. Modern Family!!!

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
10:02 pm

If JLo issued death sentences, the condemned guy would end up a) thanking her and b) comforting her.

Andi

February 23rd, 2011
10:02 pm

I will second that D! Just love the judges – the one thing I thought I would hate when they announced it.

And folks, I appreciate being here tonight with all of you. It has really helped to get lost in the show and most importantly into the blog. It lifted me up for the evening and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night!

Mercedes S.

February 23rd, 2011
10:05 pm

Andi, hope to find you here tomorrow night too – good night, everybody.

Mo Schreibman

February 23rd, 2011
10:06 pm

Andi just remember that fathers and mothers will always be with you and you will see them again.

Right On Time

February 23rd, 2011
10:07 pm

Medina should have made it. Past the stroy, he is interesting. That is a loss.

RK

February 23rd, 2011
10:07 pm

Eh, Medina was ok.

Heather MacDonald

February 23rd, 2011
10:10 pm

K&CFan, I LOVE Lauren Alaina. I think she’s excellent. :-)

And…. dang that Jennifer Lopez for making me cry. LOL

Pam

February 23rd, 2011
11:12 pm

Well I am new here but I am so dissappointed that Jacqui Elliott has never been seen singing once you guys here her she will blow your socks off. I know she is in the top 40 and has not been cut yet but dang they did the same thing with carrie underwood not much coverage on her either.

James

February 23rd, 2011
11:26 pm

Rodney, it’s James Durbin who keeps channeling Adam Lambert, not Stefano.

James

February 23rd, 2011
11:28 pm

Tim Halperin and Lauren Turner will be top 2.

James

February 23rd, 2011
11:33 pm

Definitely the best singers ever on AI. Love the new judges. Was never a big J Lo fan, but think she’s been really good for the show.

JTesla

February 24th, 2011
12:24 am

The walk… dumb. Now it is just silly, it is freakishly long, with silly lighting, in a hanger? Come on. Dumbest Idol schtick ever.

Beatles songs were impressive, I’ll pass on any future walk show.

JTesla

February 24th, 2011
12:32 am

Oh and the “sing for your life” is just one more audition song. So instead of 3 “Hollywood” performances we had 5 this season.

JTesla

February 24th, 2011
12:52 am

Ashthon Jones, that’s my girl right there!

JTesla

February 24th, 2011
1:41 am

Julie Zorrillo is my girl too… in fact why don’t we just go ahead and put all women on the planet down as being “my girl.”

[...] 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? read full article… [...]

MTer

February 24th, 2011
7:40 am

I did not in any way like the fact of Chris pulling his fiancee into the “final decision” part by saying how she was so glad to meet this one and she thought that about another judge. I did not like the sympathy card being played by him.

Deirdre

February 24th, 2011
7:44 am

Morning!

Yes, I agree that the “hangar” is just “plane” stupid(sorry, couldn’t resist) It and the last bit from Ryan last night are way over the top. “Will Jennifer be able to continue or will Randy and Steven have to eliminate the rest without her help/” Gimme a break!

Other than that, I thought the show was terrific!!!!!!

Deirdre

February 24th, 2011
7:46 am

JT, I think Ashton and Julie are both good singers but there are better girls voices in the group. But maybe you weren’t talking about voices. ;-)

Nana ™

February 24th, 2011
7:55 am

Good Morning!

Enjoyed the show last night. Thought it was petty darn good. I’m glad that crazy Ashely is gone. I honestly don’t think she could have survived being in the top 24 with all the pressure they are under. I only took three pages (legal size paper) of notes last night. So far this year, I have filled 11 pages in my trusty notebook. I can always look back years later to see who sung what and where they placed.

It seemed like the Green Mile has gotten longer than it was. Don’t you know as they walk the wak, they are shaking and quaking in their boots.

My deepest sympathies goes out to Andi and her family on their recent and tragic loss.

Deirdre

February 24th, 2011
8:07 am

All in all(and despite the attempts to manipulate the “drama”) it was, imo, a very good show last night. I think Idol is doing the right thing by reminding us, via flashbacks, of each singer’s ability. Getting to know them a little better will help a lot when we need to eliminate14 of them after ONE song.

Looking forward to tonight and hoping to hear more of the “sing for your life” songs.

puke lo

February 24th, 2011
8:32 am

The only drama this year is Jennifer Lopez – what was that last night – “i don’t want to do this anymore” – excuse me – did you not understand the rules before you started the game or did the contestants take the focus off of you??

Sam-A

February 24th, 2011
8:40 am

Love, love, love Julie and Tim – she’s very pretty, he’s very cute – and they’re both really good singers. Their harmonies were lovely.

Sad the darling little 16 year old blonde with the fab voice is gone. I do hope she comes back next year. But I always remember the adorable 16 year old a few seasons ago, whose Mom got really sick and was taken to the hospital. The girl barely made the group sing. Her solo was “Beautiful Disaster” and it was lovely! They told her she was great but not ready and to come back next year. Never saw her again. Shame!

I wish the little terd with the hideous glass collection who tossed out the little chubby boy had been dropped – I’ll never like him.

As the ultimate Beatles fan, I have to say I was extremely surprised that many of the groups did really well and totally respected the melodies – however, hate the way the lines were so chopped and intermixed! That said, hated the two groups that did the non-Beatles versions – by God, you have a Beatles song, sing it the way the Beatles sang it (of course no where near the talent level, but give it a try!)

And finally, the final minutes broke my heart. I know you cannot put someone in based on a terribly sad story, but it still hurt. And surprised, and glad, to see JLO was truly brokenhearted as well. A sad moment.

Deirdre

February 24th, 2011
8:51 am

I agree, Sam…I didn’t see JLo “acting” at all. For one thing, she’s not a good enough actress to pull that off. For another, it was a truly emotional moment that seemed very genuine.

Kiki D

February 24th, 2011
8:54 am

I TOTALLY do NOT get Clint Jun(e) Gamboa! I don’t like the tone of his voice, his look or his over confidence and attitude. He does not have the “IT” factor. Maybe a pretty decent voice but if I want to hear a black wannabe soul singer, I’ll just listen to the real deal and put on some James Brown!!! Chris Medina should be there OVER Jun(e). Very disappointed in this one.

Sam-A

February 24th, 2011
9:03 am

Sorry, Andi – I hope visiting us and sharing your thoughts, Idol and otherwise, will prove comforting. Trust me, it will take a lot of time, but it will get better one day.

Deirdre

February 24th, 2011
9:24 am

Rodney has a new thread up.

RxDawg

February 24th, 2011
10:27 am

I like Medina, who couldn’t? But he simply wasn’t good enough. And this is a singing/talent competition, not a tear jerk competition.

alan

February 24th, 2011
11:39 am

Paul Mcdonald is the best so far

boots

February 24th, 2011
3:11 pm

The drama thing is a fine line for the producers. It can make it interesting, but it can quickly dull the viewer. I think they are close to that line for me. I wish I had seen more singing – that is what the show is about. I also continue to believe they know who they really think are the top 5 or so, and everyone else is just cannon fodder. The person needs to be great vocally, interesting, good looking and charming. I hope Clint Gamboa gets hit by a car…

Green Girl

February 26th, 2011
1:06 am

I can’t believ they kept Brent and not Jacee or Colton!!! :(