For “Idol’s” first live show, the producers back-ended the stronger performers into the second hour. That’s typical. They also created fake “suspense” by waiting until the end for the 13th guy to show up.
It was Jermaine Jones, the baritone mama’s boy. Although I would have preferred Johnny Keyser or David Leathers Jr. but as Randy Jackson said, they have a surfeit of sopranos this year and needed a lower voiced man to mix things up.
Overall, the male talent was good, not stupendous. I think it’s stronger than season 9, weaker than season 10. But that judgment could change. The judges, if you’d even call them that, were way too easy on many of the singers but tougher on some who I felt did better. Again, when Randy Jackson is considered the “tough” judge, you know how soft this trio is.
My favorites tonight were Heejun Han and Joshua Ledet, with Phil Phillips a close third. Biggest disappointment was Eben Franckewitz, whose off-key performance probably made the judges wonder if they should have chosen David Leathers Jr. instead.
I anticipate there will be seven guys in the top 13. So here we go with my assessment:
1. Joshua Ledet (”You Pulled Me Through” Jennifer Hudson) – He brings conviction and grit to his gospel performance. He feels real on stage and isn’t merely “performing.” He was my favorite coming and he didn’t let me down.
2. Heejun Han (”Angels” Robbie Williams) – He is an insecure dork and slathers sarcasm when he’s unhappy. But sometimes, he is improbably charming. And despite odd enunciation due to his accent, he can sing like an angel and I enjoyed his take on this Robbie Williams classic. The judges gave him an inordinate hard time about his song pick.
3. Phillip Philips (”In the Air Tonight” Phil Collins) – This attractive unassuming Leesburg singer imitates Dave Matthews to an almost comical degree. But discounting that, he can pick apart a song like this and make it equally compelling. He is easy on the eyes and brings depth and feeling to his performance. So we know if he does end up not winning “Idol,’ there are plenty of Dave Matthews cover bands out there!
4. Reed Grimm (”Moves Like Jagger” Maroon 5) – Very smooth, as in smooth jazz, if you’re into that sort of thing. He really does enjoy himself up on stage, which should help garner votes. (Think Taylor Hicks.)
Better than even odds
5. Jermaine Jones (”Dance With My Father” Luther Vandross) – The 13th man in was NOT Johnny Keyser or David Leathers Jr., the two most expected to come back. Instead, they opted for the “gentle giant,” the sweet as sugar Jones, who has an especially deep bass voice but has no sense of modernity. Nonetheless, he does a solid job with this angsty Vandross classic and with the pimp spot, could make it through.
6. Colton Dixon (”Decode” by Paramore) – He’s the only guy tonight who really hit the rock circuit so he gets points for differentiation. But he is like a poor man’s Adam Lambert-meets-James-Durbin with significantly less charisma or vocal power. He has a few ardent fans, though, who might help get him in the door.
7. Jeremy Rosado (“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles) – Yet another falsetto man. But he brought heart and sensitivity to this song. And heart and sensitivity doesn’t hurt when trying to connect with an audience for votes. I think he might squeak through.
8. Creighton Fraker (”True Colors” Cyndi Lauper) – He’s like a slightly less quirky, more feathery Reed Grimm. He did a perfectly solid take on this ballad and possesses decent levels of charm. His votes might get diverted by Reed.
9. Eben Franckewitz (”Set Fire to the Rain” Adele) Terrible song choice and nerves definitely did not help him. He missed notes galore, especially in the middle. The judges tried to prop him up by noting how he recovered at the end, but will that be enough? He certainly is the type of singer who might get enough votes to sneak him through. And even if he misses the top 10, I bet one of the judges will put him through via wild card.
10. Aaron Marcellus Sanders (”Never Can Say Goodbye” Jackson 5) Good news: Aaron chose a relatively upbeat song in the midst of ballads and did a perfectly acceptable version that Cover it Live viewers (see poll results below) liked. Bad news: he got almost no air time before tonight and I don’t think he did anything to elevate him into the top 6 or 7.
Virtually no shot
11. DeAndra Brackensick (”Reasons” Earth, Wind & Fire) – He certainly had potential based on his “sing for your life” performance but tonight, he picked an incredibly boring song and except for one big note, did nothing exceptional with it. With so many other high-voiced men here who did better, he’s in big trouble.
12. Adam Brock (”Think” Aretha Franklin) – He had the worst slot of the night (second). And while he has a solid voice and brought some of that so-called “white chocolate” out there, he does not look like a star or feels like a star. That lack of stage presence = lack of votes.
13. Chase Likens (”Storm Warning” Hunter Hayes) – Who? Like Aaron, he was given almost no air time. And with a country singer having won last year, he is truly cannon fodder tonight. He picked a song hardly anybody knows (though it’s current) and did nothing interesting with it. His voice also lacks depth. He is a goner and we hardly knew ya.
“Cover it Live” poll
Based on the poll below, the top 7 would be easy to pick. But I’m not sure if Aaron will get the support in terms of votes vs. someone like Colton. And I liked Jeremy more than most people who were live blogging with me (though he is doing better on the poll above.)
Percentage who said yes, will vote, percentage who said okay but won’t vote and percentage who didn’t like it.
Joshua: 60, 28, 12
Heejun: 58, 32, 10
Philip: 57, 35, 8
Jermaine: 50, 25, 25
Creighton: 39, 39, 22
Reed: 35, 35, 30
Aaron 32, 57, 11
Colton: 11, 16, 73
Chase: 10, 19. 71
Eben, 4, 16, 80
Adam: 0, 58, 32
Jeremy 0, 38, 62
Deandre 0, 24, 76
“The Voice” vs. “American Idol”
In a poll I took on an “Idol” live blogging site, two thirds of the readers prefer “The Voice.” Yes, this was from readers of a blog focused on “Idol.” I even like “The Voice” more right now.
And which show is getting more media attention – “The Voice” or “American Idol”? HighBeam Research checked media sources and found “The Voice” from Feb. 5 to Feb. 24 received 53% of media attention vs. 47% for “Idol.” New is often more interesting.
I also saw stats on Mashable about which shows are getting the most “social media” references. “The Voice” is at No. 4. “American Idol”? Not in the top 10.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk