Our writer and Idol expert, Andrew Rogers is back this season covering the popular FOX reality show, “American Idol“. The pressure is on and the stakes are high as the musical competition searches for a real superstar in its fourteenth year. With weekly recaps discussing the contestants’ performances and choices, Rogers looks ahead at what’s in-store each week in his exclusive Idol recap series.
Tonight, the Top 24 Reveal continued as 12 more contestants were added to the 12 from last night. To read my take on last night’s episode and the first 12 contestants to make it through, check that out here. We also saw some glimpses of their performances, which can all be watched in full over at Vevo.
I may go and watch them all before next week’s show to decide on my own favorites and figure out who really has a shot at the title. But, in the meantime, let’s talk about who made it and who didn’t…
Those Who Made the Top 24:
Joey Cook singing “Sweet Pea” by Amos Lee – As usually, Joey picks a perfect song for herself. The fact that she was an emotional wreck before going in front of the judges combined with several lyrical slip ups this week makes me worry about how she’ll handle prime time, despite a semi-solid HOB performance, but I kind of can’t blame the judges for putting her through given that she is, like Harry said, the metaphorical kiwi in a bunch of apples and oranges.
Katherine Winston singing “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac – Who is Katherine and where has she been hiding all week because this song choice and her rendition of it were spot on. She gave the song some licks that rivaled Stevie’s own and may it look effortless. I hope she can bring that same effortless brilliance next week so she can transform herself from fodder to dark horse.
Alexis Gomez singing “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry – I, unlike the judges, don’t think that the key to Alexis’ success on this show is to add some Latino flair to country songs. Neither the country voting base not the Latino voting base is going to buy into that and while, yes, I agree that her performances tend to blend together, I think that’s more a matter of song choice than anything. Alexis knows her voice, but she needs to get to know her voice in other contexts.
Quentin Alexander singing “Youth” by Foxes – And the award for more creative song choice of the night goes to… Quentin. One of the big risks that a contestant can take on Idol without much fear of punishment is to choose a fresh song – one that’s never been done on Idol or, better yet, one that the average Idol viewer hasn’t ever heard. So long as it’s a good song and you do it well, you end up with a solid, memorable performance which Quentin gave, so I’m happy this unique NOLA boy will be bringing his creativity to the stage again next week.
Savion Wright singing “I Don’t Trust Myself (Loving You)” by John Mayer – It’s hard not to root for Savion given his “comeback kid” story and the fact that he has very obviously improved since last year. He seems to know himself and his voice better and is able to pick songs that wouldn’t seem like obvious choices for him and still do them justice. I’m hoping his personality and experience buys him some extra time on our screens.
Mark Andrew singing “Take Me To Church” by Hozier – I actually said what Harry said about Mark before he even said it. Mark has his own laneway in this competition. Whereas most of the other competitors have a counterpart to compete with, Mark is all alone and I think that works in his favor because he performs in this effortless way that really allows you to appreciate his voice. I really think Mark could shake off any potential stigma from Hollywood Week and seal the deal with a unique performance next week.
Trevor Douglas singing “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” by Elvis Presley – Speaking of unique, Harry put it mildly when he described Trevor’s performance as “not his best vocal”. This performance was a bit of a trainwreck for him, but I do agree with the judges that Trevor’s shtick works best when he just sings because he can do that. His personality is sometimes over the top and annoying and if he doesn’t tone it back and just sing, it could become off-putting to some voters.
Nick Fradiani sang “Drops of Jupiter” by Train – I really wish Nick chose a less predictable song for his HOB performance because I, and the Idol audience, award points based on creativity but, that being said, he did sing what he chose well enough to continue his streak of strong performances all the way into the Top 24. He’s going to need that same kind of consistency come next week though.
Sarina-Joi Crowe singing “Big White Room” by Jessie J – Sarina chose one of the lesser known Jessie J songs and it really worked for her. It made her look smart in comparison to the other people in her genre (like Loren and Adanna) who have made some over-the-top song choices recently and maybe sacrificed the serene vocals that Sarina-Joi brought for a bit more of a “showy” element. Sarina-Joi is smart after 4 years on this stage and I have no doubt that that experience will help her navigate the choppy Idol waters.
Qaasim Middleton singing “Satisfaction” by Allen Stone – Qaasim is an exciting contestant to watch. You just never know what he’s going to do and even when his performance is, by far, the weirdest of the night, it’s all just plain good. He can sing, he can perform and something about him is endearing. Do I think he can win? Probably not, but do I want to keep watching him? Absolutely.
Riley Bria singing “Love This Pain” by Lady Antebellum – Riley’s triumph over deeper-voiced country guy Ricky Dale Hendricks was justified by his crystal clear vocals during his HOB performance and his agile guitar playing. Sure, he still sounds like a mini-Keith Urban, but it seems the judges are thinking the same thing because JLo muttered after his performance that she wanted to see something different from him. Hopefully the theme weeks will push him out of his comfort zone and into something more interesting.
Shi Scott singing “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder – I have to admit that after seeing Jelly’s performance, I fully expected to root against Shi making the Top 24 because of her flub at her first audition and her one good performance sing then, but her Stevie Wonder cover rocked and proved that she still has a few tricks up her sleeve. That, combined with the fact that she has “the look” (like Season 7’s Syesha Mercado), makes me think she might be more than just fodder set for a first-week elimination.
Those Who Did Not Make It:
Continuing from last night, we saw Hollywood Anderson‘s performance of “Someone Like You” by Adele before the judges told him he wouldn’t be moving on. Despite Hollywood’s fantastic original song, I’m unsurprised that he didn’t advance given the lack of growth he showed through Hollywood Week. I was expecting standout things from him and just didn’t get anything.
We saw Josh Saunders, Jaq Mackenzie and Hunter Larson eliminated with no performance footage. I’m kind of upset about Jaq and Hunter because I thought both of them were interesting, from what we saw. But I think Jaq is young and can definitely improve in the coming years.
Maddie Hudson sang “Diamonds” by Rihanna before also being cut. I liked Maddie’s initial audition, but she, like Hollywood didn’t improve from that audition and I think, in a way, that kind of growth is what the judges are looking to see. Still, Maddie handled the disappointment well, saying it wasn’t her time, which I appreciate.
Emily Brooke sang “Stupid Boy” by Keith Urban and it wasn’t her best performance of the week. I think she suffered the same problem as some of the other rejected contestants – just not enough improvement. She’s still young though so she can come back and I honestly think that’s the right thing to do and maybe should have been the decision the judges handed out to a few other contestants this season.
We saw Ricky Dale Hendricks sing “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley but get rejected in favor of the more compelling (and arguably more talented) Riley Bria. We also saw Jelly Joseph, who sang a decent version of “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj get turned down at the same time that Shi Scott got through. Honestly, I thought Jelly could have easily been put in the Top 24 given her final performance at the HOB, but I digress.
The night closed with a retake of the epic “Feeling Good” track from the first episode but, this time, we got to see the contestant as it happened and recognized a few of their voices based on their performances. I’m liking the next production value this season with the videos and what not because it’s really what has been getting me excited to watch the next episode.
Next week, the Top 24 Guys perform on Wednesday and the Girls take the stage on Thursday. Until then, sound off in the comments below and let me know which members of the Top 24 are you favorite so far and which you think shouldn’t have made it.