The top 24 reveal used to be summarized in one hour in earlier seasons.
But now they are stretching it out to three hours. I actually prefer this because we do get a bit more about each of the top 24.
Over the first two hours tonight, we see 14 winners and 8 losers. (And a cliffhanger.) That leaves 20 more to be given their results in one hour tomorrow. Of those 20, 10 are on, 10 are in.
We saw a mixture of “reveals” for the 42 remaining contestants with segments of their final “sing for your life” audition. Randy, J. Lo and Steven hemmed and hawed to build faux suspense before giving the singers (mostly) good and (sometimes) bad news. There are tears of sadness and joy. I don’t think they cut anybody that shocked me at least tonight.
Of the first 14, I feel the men in general are more distinctive and intriguing than the women. We’ll see if things balance out Thursday.
[And in case you follow "The X Factor," Rachel Crow signed a deal with Nickelodeon. She clearly has that type of child-star charm that could make her a bigger star than Melanie Amaro.]
You can also skip these two episodes and go straight to the spoiler pages.
A sampling of boring things the judges say tonight:
“Crazy day, right?” – Randy
“So many good singers we have this year. We’re spoiled.” – J. Lo, channeling Yoda.
“It’s tough. Hard decisions.” – Randy
“We’re looking for an ‘Idol” singer who is all that.” Steven
“Great talent this. We try to raise the bar every year. We raised the bar this year.” – Randy
Bold-faced names made it through. Crossed out names? Nope.
Up first: Jen Hirsh. She has a powerful voice, very big, a bit jazzy, not incredibly distinctive. I enjoyed her performances. She seemed very breathy in her final performance in Vegas but she makes it through. Chances of making the top 12: Good.
Creighton Fraker. He’s this year’s Paul McDonald meets Casey Abram. He has a very interesting voice that some will like, some won’t. He’s a bit over-emotive for my taste but seems likable. The stubble does not flatter him. Chances of making the top 12: Decent.
Lauren Gray. She gets a Coca-Cola interview. Is this a good sign for her? It’s a feint! We see her getting nervous in Hollywood. Her group sing in Vegas was strong. The portion of her final song sounded warm and fun. But she’s out. I do hope she comes back! “I knew it was coming,” she said. Perhaps her confidence issues are what hurt her.
Joshua Ledet. He’s been one of my favorites in Hollywood though he was overwrought in his initial audition. He is far better than Jacob Lusk in my mind and one of the best R&B/gospel male voices in years. He emotes genuine warmth and brings heart and soul into his performances. Chances of a top 12 spot: Excellent.
Then two names we barely saw are cut: Blaire Sieber. (who?) Naomi Gilles. (barely remember her).
Haley Johnsen. She sang one of my favorite songs of all time, “The Story.” She stood out in group in Vegas. We don’t hear her final performance. I don’t know if I’ve heard enough at this stage to make a call on her future. Chances of top 12 spot: iffy.
Neco Starr. The R&B singer is solid though probably not as show stopping as Joshua Ledet. J. Lo told him he needed more time to mature.
Clayton Farhat. He gets the heave ho quickly. River St. James, virtually ignored by producers in Hollywood, is out, too. Caleb Johnson, the rocker, fizzled in his final song, forgetting his words.
Elise Testone. She is one of several blondes who has been given very little airtime. She is kind of plain looking but brings decent force and nuance in her voice. I’m not a convert but I’m open. “One of the best singers we’ve seen,” Randy said. Chances of making the top 12: So so.
Reed Grimm. He has been given more airtime than anybody not named Heejun. He’s the one who switched to a drums while singing during the final performance in Hollywood doing a sweet “Georgia on My Mind.” He has a bit of Taylor Hicks in him and seems to be a true goof. I am alternately interested and annoyed by him. “Man talented, dude,” Randy said. Chances of making the top 12: Excellent.
Erika Van Pelt. The mobile DJ brings seriously intense feeling into her Hollywood solo. The final song sounded old fashioned and J. Lo complained about it. But the final song doesn’t necessarily preclude someone from making it through. Chances of making the top 12: 50/50.
Chelsea Sorrell. The country singer from a small town is shown blanking during the Hollywood round doing a Carrie Underwood song. Steven let her start over. We don’t see her Vegas performance. She has a lovely voice. She gets through. Chances of making the top 12: iffy
Baylie Brown. She’s the return gal who waited five years between Hollywood visits. She’s the other female country singer. She goes for the Rascal Flatts song Chris Sligh “Here Comes Goodbye.” She sounds nervous. Steven said she was consistent. Surprise! She also gets through. Chances of making the top 12: comparable to Chelsea.
Richie Law. He’s like a less charming Scotty McCreery. Not a good thing. “You had some good low notes,” Randy said, stating the obvious. He’s not in.
Heejun Han. We learn he helps out special needs kids. He sings “New York State of Mind.” He has a heavy accent and he has problems enunciating at times in songs but he does have, as J. Lo said, a “buttery” voice. “Whenever I”m singing, I feel like someone else comes into my body. After I sing, I’m just regular Heejun.” He’s in! The producers play “Hey Jude.” (Jun? Jude? Close enough!). Chances of making the top 12: Good.
Jessica Sanchez. The 16 year old watched the show since she was six. Judges loved her. I have not been as much of a fan though she is clearly skilled with powerful pipes. In her final performance in Vegas, she dials it down and I actually like her restrained voice better, even if the vibrato can get a bit heavyhanded. (Producers air a long portion of that performance, longer than anybody else this episode so far.) Chances of making the top 12: Excellent.
Phil Phillips. The Leesburg, Ga. boy with the Dave Matthews affectations struggled in Vegas. I generally do like him despite his copycat ways. Oddly, Randy calls him redundantly, “unique and different.” Chances of making top 12: Better than even.
Colton Dixon. He’s back after almost making it last year. He doesn’t impress me much vocally. Good looking but kind of dull, even with the skunk hair. Chances of making top 12: I smell an early exit.
Brielle Von Hugel. Strong vocalist with irritating stage mom. She has a personality that resonates on stage. Personality matters. Chances of making top 12: Fist pump!
Adam Brock: Readers here have now dubbed him “Bloated Gokey.” He not only resembles the season 8 third place finisher but sounds a bit like him, too. I do think he has a very pliable voice but he definitely lacks the looks of a winner. After the final song, the judges were tough. “I love the way you sing but we have to figure out who you are,” J. Lo said. “I felt it was a little all over the place.” He starts blubbering while awaiting a result and we get… a cliffhanger!
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk