ESBMusic’s American Idol commentator, Lauren Campbell’s, analysis of the Round 1 of the semi-finals. Interestingly enough, she is on the same wavelength as Simon Cowell:
So tonight was week 1 of the “real” portion of American Idol. I am one who isn’t a fan of all the audition episodes and watching the incredibly bad showcase they’re singing and then attempting to care about the outcome during the monotony of Hollywood week. While we all enjoyed Ryan Seacrest attempt to high five the blind guy (who is actually amazing) most of this stuff is repetitive and if I wanted to hear bad singing, I would hum a few bars in the shower. With that said I was glad to have the real competition finally begin.
Before I voice my opinion on this week’s competitors though, I want to get a major annoyance off my chest. The judges kept saying how it wasn’t certain contestants best or it doesn’t reflect the person they have seen and fell in love with. Well a lot of tonight’s audience hasn’t seen most of this. It is hard to distinguish who sang what during what seemed like months of auditions and Hollywood rounds. I mean I can’t imagine anyone having enough the free time to watch all of this and they aren’t even incredibly interesting anymore. Hollywood week is boring and by season 8 I think we have all seen enough auditions. I can say I remember some the back-stories though and those have me pulling for certain contenders. But who can remember the first auditions that aired really? Come on. I mean maybe they were trying to help us pull for people that are better then the song they sang but at this stage should we really care? And what about the people American Idol hasn’t been featuring prominently, are they not at a disadvantage because of all of the previous weeks over kill highlighting other people. Shouldn’t at this stage we just care about tonight – looking for a good package that has a great voice and a style that appeals to us? As Simon keeps saying – this is their one shot and this is a breakdown of how I feel last nights contestants did with it…
Jackie Tohn was first up rocking out to Elvis’s “A Little Less Conversation” and while I agree with Simon and think the performance was a little silly, it was also highly enjoyable. She seems really fun and nice and shows she can work the stage and the audience. If it wasn’t for Alexis Grace who put on such an amazing performance I would say she should get in tonight. I just hope Jackie slides in tomorrow or wows everyone in the wild card round because she seems like she will be entertaining to watch in the rounds to come.
Ricky Braddy – by all means wasn’t bad but he won’t be getting my vote. While he had amazing vocals and seems very talented, he just wasn’t all that memorable and singing a song people aren’t familiar with won’t help (“A Song for You” by Leon Russell ???). Maybe Ricky should blame it on the American Idol editors for not featuring him enough but America isn’t invested enough in you yet and Simon is right at this stage you need charisma to carry you through. Only 3 will survive tonight and he won’t be one of them.
Alexis Grace : wow – for 21 I think she sang with depth and soul of someone a lot older. I mean she pulled off Aretha Franklin’s “Never Loved a Man” and did it with a little punk rocker sexiness while in the process – I absolutely loved it. I feel like we are watching a star in the making – maybe the next Amy Winehouse without the excessive drug use or I guess in her case she is hoping for the next Kelly or Fantasia.
Brent Keith – I enjoyed the prerecorded “package” and he seems cute and likeable but I am not a huge country fan. And while I didn’t really enjoy the performance of “Hick Town”, Brent sang it well and seemed natural in this element. And I like that he was showing us what kind of artist he will be and think he could succeed. While He wasn’t my cup of tea, Country has a huge fan base – so you never know what tomorrow will hold.
Stevie Wright is only 16 and I don’t want to sound harsh but she was horrible. I do give her a lot of credit though for being so young and having the guts to perform in front of millions and be as poised as she was while getting criticized by the judges. While I think the song choice of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” wasn’t as bad as the judges made it seem, especially since they were telling her to be younger, she just did not sing it well. When picking a song you should choose something in your range and can showcase what you are good at. Stevie did neither of these things and this will be the last we see of this teenager.
Anoop Desai is incredibly likable and the voice that comes out of him is unexpected and quite good. He has a fun name that is destined for Randy’s dog pound for a while. While his performance of Monica’s “Angel of Mine” wasn’t one of tonight’s best, he certainly showcased his voice and potential and has a likability that the audience will remember. If he doesn’t make it through this week, I think he definitely should in the wild card round.
Casey Carlson is so cute, bubbly and nice you just want to like her. It doesn’t hurt that this 20 year old is gorgeous too. She looks like she should be In High School Music and I think if she sang something from this soundtrack or anything a little more modern and poppy she would be sailing on but sadly she made the mistake of singing Police’s “Every Little Thing (S)He Does is Magic”. Someone really should have pointed out singing Sting is a horrible idea for a young girl. This is the perfect example of song choice at its worst. She doesn’t have a bad voice and has a great attitude but the song was horrendous.
Michael Sarver is one of the back stories I grew to love in the earlier round. The nice, hard working oil rigger who wants to provide a better life for a family and best of all he actually has talent. Tonight’s rendition of Gavin Degraw “I Don’t Wanna Be” wasn’t all that great and was a little pitchy but overall was enjoyable. Sadly I don’t think it will be enough to get him through this week unless they are voting for his story and not just tonight’s song.
Ann Marie Boskovich sang “Natural Woman” which makes me want scream – I mean how many times have we heard this one before and it’s one that no one in the younger AI audience really enjoys. That said she sang her ass off and performed it well and looked amazing. She has a huge voice and sang the song very well. And based on her last note alone, if I could get over my dislike for the song she would have been one of my favorite females of the night.
Stephen Fowler – Ugh, I do remember him from Hollywood, he was the one who forgot his lyrics. I just wish he forgot some of them tonight. He butchered Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You”. It didn’t fit him and definitely wasn’t sung well at all. It was pitchy, off key and unbearable.
Tatiana Nicole Del Toro – I absolutely hated this girl from what I remembered of the earlier rounds. She was annoying, cried a lot, and sang a new song to the judges whenever they started to give her criticism. I am personally not a fan of drama queens and she is one of the biggest ones we have seen on this show. The only good thing I could previously say about her was she was memorable for her unlikability. So I am shocked to say I quite enjoyed her performance. She has a lovely voice and had the camera stare down already. Her powerful vocals during “Saving All My Love for You” might be enough to over power my negative opinion of her personality from the earlier rounds. Let’s just hope there are enough new viewers who like the more reserved Tatiana and will be able to give her an unbiased positive vote.
Danny Gokey was one of the other contestants whose packaged back-story really touched me as I am sure did with the rest of the American idol audience. He is a nice guy (I mean he is a church music teacher –awww) who had been widowed and he just seems so endearing, you almost wanted to jump through the screen and hug him. They AI editors definitely had been showcasing him a lot but his talent almost backed up the attention they were giving him. Tonight he was really good and he killed those high notes and the ending of “Hero” was spectacular. The question of the day is which nice guy will appeal to the audience the most but based on vocals it should be Danny.
I guess I will just have to tune in tonight, along with half of America, and see which three make it through to the Finals…….