The Green Mile two-hour episode (on top of Wednesday’s one hour portion) went by relatively pain-free.
The only disappointing departures for me were John Wayne Schulz and Colton Dixon. Otherwise, favorites and not so favorites made it through in not-so-surprising fashion.
No-brainers such as Casey Abrams and Robbie Rosen breezed in. And it’s clear the male field was far stronger than the females. Unfortunately, “Idol” required equal male and female numbers so we got a couple of less-than-worthy women in favor of better guys. Such is life on “Idol” and its requirement for all-male and all-female semifinal rounds next week.
The show earlier in the day confirmed that online voting will be available via Facebook through www.americanidol.com starting next week. And brace yourself: there will be two 90-minute shows from 8 to 9:30 p.m. next Tuesday and Wednesday, with the 12 men first, then the 12 women. On Thursday during a two-hour episode, we will find out the top 10 vote getters. Then the judges each pick a wild card to round out the final 13.
Oddly, one contestant didn’t make it through was completely ignored: Atlanta’s Aaron Sanders!
The good news: for the first time in the history of the show, I think we got at least a passable sampling of all 24 contestants at this stage of the competition. The three judges also heard them each at least six times (audition city, four rounds in Hollywood, the Beatles portion, then “Sing For Your Life”). That’s more than enough to know how good these contestants are.
Overall, it’s a much better top 24 than what we had a year ago, undoubtably.
The top 24 (including the five from Wednesday): Ashthon Jones, Brett Loewenstern, Casey Abrams, Clint Jun Gamboa, Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Jordan Dorsey, Jovany Barreto, Julie Zorrilla, Karen Rodriguez, Kendra Chantelle, Lauren Alaina, Lauren Turner, Naima Adedapo, Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano, Rachel Zevita, Robbie Rosen, Scotty McCreery, Stefano Langone, Tatynisa Wilson, Thia Megia, Tim Halperin
Up first: Karen Rodriguez. She has a pretty voice and a brightness to her. Jennifer Lopez enjoyed her take on “If You Had My Love” and everything she did afterwards.
Seventh in: Robbie Rosen: he nailed it up to his “sing for his life” point. Sure, he has a monstrous schnozz and hair from “Saturday Night Fever,” but he brings an incredibly pure voice that could take him far. At age 17, he seems mature beyond his years. “So good right out of the box. You sang your a** off,” Steven Tyler said. He’s in, of course. Randy noted afterwards: “He’s so unassuming you don’t know he’s genius.”
Eighth in: Tatynisa Wilson did well in Milwaukee but had to start over during her solo round and then botched the lyrics of Lee Ann Womack. Her final performance was Toni Braxton was apparently good enough (we only hear a few seconds.) Randy Jackson: “It took an unsure sort of nosedive. You disappointed yourself during Hollywood Week.” “Yes. I’m sorry,” Tatynisa. “You can’t have a bad day,” J. Lo said. “We saw what you cried about. So congratulations girl, you made it,” Tyler said. Looks like she snuck in – just barely. I don’t know we got enough from her to make a clear judgment.
Then a two no’s: Brittany Mazur and Jimmie Allen are gone.
Ninth in: Tim Halperin was not a unanimous yes in Los Angeles. He sang to J. Lo there. He impressed all the judges during Hollywood and Vegas. “What do you have to say. Do you believe what you’re singing?” ” J. Lo said. Halperin opted for an original song. He sounded great and looks like he could take the Kris Allen/Lee DeWyze crown.(Nooooo!!!!) “We looked at your overall journey. There were ups and downs,” Randy said. “For me, you got stronger,” J. Lo said. Tyler likes to do the fake-out and did it again. Tim’s in.
Tenth in: Julie Zorrilla. Her parents left Colombia with her. After a strong audition, she cruised through Hollywood and Vegas. She’s adorable with a pretty voice, too. She’s certainly miles above, say, Haley Scarnato. “It lacked a little depth and emotion” at times, J. Lo said. “You want people to feel something.”
After the break, they bring in Scotty McCreery and John Wayne Schulz. Will “Idol” give them both a shot in the top 24? They review how Scotty struggled in Hollywood, missing lyrics. His final performance is yet another Josh Turner song, “Long Black Train.” His advantage: most of the listeners don’t know Turner well enough to know that he’s basically imitating him.
Eleventh in: Scotty McCreery. “We were all fans since day one. That authenticity of the man you want to be. We’re big fans.” – Randy Jackson. “You’re in the top 24 dawg!”
As a result, John Wayne Shulz is quickly dispatched without us even hearing him sing his final song: “You weren’t quite ready,” Randy said.
12th in: Jovany Barreto, the man with the abs, does a beautiful rendition of Jon Secada’s “Angel” for his final song before the top 24. He seems very promising and we do need a good Latin singer not named Sanjaya! Appropriately, J. Lo does the honors and he’s in. “No more shipyard for me!” said the former shipyard worker.
We are now halfway through. We have 12 in, eight out.
13th in: Lauren Turner, a housekeeper, reminds me a little of Gina Glocksen with a hint of Carly Smithson. She’s in.
TiWan Strong (Racine, Wisc.) and Erin Kelly (Bradenton, Fla.) just missed the cut.
14th in: Rachel Zevita did a fine finale job. She has some great vocal skills. Does she have broad appeal, though? She strikes me a bit on the theatrical side but I’m not sure who she is as an artist. J. Lo remembers her from season six when she made it to Hollywood but not the semifinals. Tyler pulls the fake out again and she for a moment can’t believe it.
15th in: Kendra Chantelle didn’t impress me that much. She lacks star quality to me despite a decent bluesy voice. She did sound good at the end there with her “Fallin’ ” “All the way down to right here now, you’ve done the right thing,” Tyler said. She’s through.
16th in: Jordan Dorsey, the teacher with an arrogant attitude in Hollywood, is a favorite among the judges. In his final performance, he gives J. Lo goosebumps with his soprano. “I’m confident. I’m aggressive… I’m trying to win this thing,” Dorsey said. “From the beginning, you were a standout for me,” J. Lo said.
17th in: Lauren Alaina, our lone Georgia representative, breezed through Hollywood but struggled with the Beatles a bit. Her final song? Simon’s favorite song “Unchained Melody.” Oh, my that pixie dress! Clearly she needs to keep her legs crossed or we might have a “Basic Instinct” moment! A mere 15 (and now 16), Steven Tyler said he isn’t sure if she could handle it but then tells her she’s going through.
18th in: Stefano Langone, who was a solid performer throughout the competition, opted for an original song on the piano for his last song. I’ve liked him a lot from the beginning, arguably more than Jovany. “You had a lot of good moments,” J. Lo said. And he’s through. He could go far.
Not in: Jackie Wilson, from Nashville, botched the lyrics on “Because of You” in her final song. She always struck me as loud.
19th in: Jacob Lusk, a standout vocalist who raised the roof in Hollywood during his solo round, blows away any R&B male singer “Idol” has had in years. Randy said his “God Bless the Child” was among the best ever on the show. So he was an easy pick. One of the happiest responses getting in. And that bear hug swallowed Ryan Seacrest.
20th in: Pia Toscano, the sexy New Yorker, sounds incredible in her final song with great vocal control and resembles a Kardashian. J. Lo did not waste time– she’s in.
21th in: James Durbin, the divisive Tourette’s Syndrome/Adam Lambert big voiced singer, sang for his life and just blew out everyone’s eardrums while staying shockingly in tune. I like him. He has a very good shot at making the top 13. “You’re a lightning bolt,” Steven Tyler. “You’re so good. I don’t think you’re going to be selling pizza.”
22nd in: Casey Abrams, the early favorite (we’ve heard no update today on his illness), is the easiest choice to put into top 24. His bluesy, smoky voice and that bright personality makes him a winner. And he’s only 19! He is virtually guaranteed into the top 13. “I don’t think we’ve had a musician as talented as yourself,” said Randy, over 10 seasons. “You’re like three people in one.”
23rd in: Thia Magia, at just 15, was wonderful in the early rounds but Peggi Blu attacked her during “Here Comes the Sun.” She made it through in one piece. “Everything seems natural to you,” J. Lo said. Jessica Cunningham, on her 25th birthday, has tried out seven times before and she is the unfortunate person who gets cut. Jessica made it this far last year and isn’t sure if she can handle yet another rejection.
So it comes down to Jacee Badeaux, Brett Loewenstern and Colton Dixon. Jacee is a wonderful vocalist but still sounds like he’s 12. Brett isn’t quite a good a singer but he’s far more mature. Colton is another strong singer. Tough decisions. All are really young and two of the three can return. Who’s in? Brett.
(Joe’s Place had Jacee in the top 24 at first, a rare error. It’ll be interesting when his voice changes. Colton should come back. He was arguably better than some of the women who made it in but “Idol” required 12 men and 12 women.)
Tomorrow or early next week, we’ll go over the 24 and ruminate over their chances of going further.