Thursday, March 8, 2012

Money Where My Mouth Is: American Idol

So here’s where I try to prove I know what I’m talking about when it comes to weekly cuts. I just reread all the write-ups I did last year, and I didn’t do too badly. My only real miscalculations were Hayley, who I think survived as long as she did because she lived in the bottom three, with her fans adamantly keeping her alive. And Jacob, who said something stupid and cut his own throat.

So, obviously, week by week someone could do something really dumb and kill their chances, but this is about where I think everyone will shake out. I’ve put them roughly in order from first out to last man standing, along with some notes about what could lead to their “surprise exit.”

Keep in mind also that this doesn’t take into account the judges’ save, and that pretty much everyone on this list has a plus or minus one option, in my mind:

Shannon – Look. She has a good voice. She’s also 16, and acts like it. She cannot sing a song about adult love, because I suspect she’s never even had a boyfriend. She’s a sweet girl. But she should go. That said, with the guy/girl thing going on this week, she might live to fight another day.

Jeremy - Jeremy has himself a really pretty voice, and he’s got this look on his face that cries out that he’s sincere. That’s nice of him. The problem is, he keeps ballad-ing it up, and sooner or later people are going to realize he’s only got one trick up his sleeve, and that’ll be it for him. As the worst of the guys this week, I can see him getting cut, just because he was already saved once and failed to be awesome this week.

Elise – I find it interesting that no one seemed to hear what I heard this week. I think she screwed up her lyrics out of the gate, covered with some vocalizations, and never recovered that scary initial misstep. She made some comment about not knowing the song before now, and how if she could live with it for another month she could have figured out how to perform it. Problem: That’s not how this show works. This is going to doom her. The bigger question is, will it be this week? Once again, the boy/girl thing could save her.

Erika – I love this girl, probably at least in part because she reminds me of a good friend of mine. Erika has an amazing voice, and she doesn’t feel compelled to show off or go insane with the vocal flips and turns. This will get her killed, and man, am I going to be sorry to see her go.

Jermaine – This dude? He could sing the phone book, and you’d want to hear it. When he gets right into his vocal sweet spot, he traps you in his iron grip and doesn’t let go. I suspect he’s too sweet to do it, but someone needs to slap some Barry White and Isaac Hayes in front of him and let the ladies of the nation vote him to victory. It won’t happen, but it would be fun to watch. I suspect he and Deandre could switch places in this list, since he’s a judges’ favorite.

Deandre – Among the recaps I’ve glanced at, this poor dude is just plain hated. With the burning heat of 1000 suns. And it’s worse, now that he was cut once and got the save. The thing is, yeah, the guy is young. But his range is insane, and unlike some of his fellow competitors, he actually seems interested in learning something from his judges and mentors. My big fear is that he’ll feel compelled to break out the falsetto every week, which I suspect will wear on people.

Heejun – How much fun is this guy? Too much fun. You look at him, and he seems like a really normal, boring dude. Which makes everything he says funnier, as he’s basically his own straight man. And he’s got a really nice voice. But he’s got to get out of the ballad arena and try to connect with the audience, and he needs to do it soon. The fact that people really love him as a person will carry him to the middle of the pack.

Hollie - Great voice. Really great delivery, and when she’s on, she’s on. That said, Jessica and Hollie are pretty much the same person, giving the same kind of performance. And Jessica has, so far, nailed every note, while Hollie has not. I can see her getting dropped, in a “shocking” turn of events, earlier than this.

Colton – This year’s person I just don’t get. Last year it was Hayley, which kicked around the bottom three week in and week out, because she was arrogant enough to think she could sing anything and be amazing and everyone should love her because she was a pretty, pretty princess. Ahem. I don’t think Colton is that way, but he just doesn’t do anything for me. But my friends and wife love him for some reason, so he’ll be around a while. This week, however, he kind of sucked on a song I really like. He should have chosen “Higher Ground” instead. Or sat behind the piano, because this is a Stevie Wonder song, so it would have been okay. I think what will wash him out in the end is that he’s not quite smart enough to do what Phillip is doing, which is taking a song and doing it the “Colton” way.

Phillip – I’m surprised he didn’t walk up to Jimmy this week and say, “I’m dropping out. Want to sign me?” I bet Jimmy would. And if he was smart, he’d throw Phillip into the studio and get his album out on the day of the Idol finale.

Skylar – She blew the back half of her song out of the water this week, despite the fact that she didn’t grow up listening to Houston. When that happened, I looked at my wife and said, “She may take this.” And she just might.

Jessica – This week she delivered a pretty straightforward note-for-note recreation of a Houston song. That’s nice. It’s hard to do, and she did it well. I think what might kill her is that after a while, people are going to get tired of note-perfect recreations. They’ll want her to be her, and I’m not sure there’s a her there.

Joshua – Straight up, this guy is Jacob all over again. Only I think Joshua here has better control of his vocal gifts. He’s going to do well. He’s going to do very well. Unless he pull a Jacob and says something stupid/mean/arrogant, and then he’s gone.
Also? Since Jennifer’s punching comment, he’s the most fun to make jokes about during judging time. “I want to hollow you out like a Christmas turkey, fill you with stuffing, bake you, and then eat you up, smothered in gravy.”

In all honestly, It think anyone in my top three here could take the big prize, and I can see the judges pushing hard for a female win this year.

And that’s all for now. I’ll check in after a couple weeks have gone by and see how my predications are going.

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