This is where things get intense (and where Jennifer Lopez occasionally cries) — the “American Idol” green mile. We had a number of notable contestants make it this far — and while there is no standout like there has been in the past (see season 9 with Crystal Bowersox, even if she didn’t win), there are a number of people who could end up taking home the grand prize.
Outside of singing and some reasons to celebrate, this episode did end up bringing us something else worth smiling about — the return of the bromance between Phil Phillips and comedy master Heejun Han.
The Top 24 (so far)
Jen Hirsch – Our first person to begin our decision round is our resident winery worker — and also someone who delivered some of the best performances throughout Hollywood Week. Next to Kendra Chantelle, she may have delivered the best “Georgia on My Mind” that we have ever heard through this show — and it was for someone who was barely a blip on our radar through the audition rounds.
It was almost a given that Hirsch was going to be sent through to the top 24 — but the real question here is just if this another diva-esque voice is going to win any more votes from a public that has already seen the likes of Pia Toscano and Melanie Amaro on “The X Factor.”
Creighton Fraker – We would be lying if we said that Creighton was someone that we have completely embraced over the course of his “Idol” run so far. His voice has bordered on nasally territory at times, and there’s just something about his personality that makes him a little bit difficult to grasp.
We learned this week that Creighton is actually the son of a heavy metal rocker, and this does explain a little bit of his performing skills — we were happy to see him show off a more of a human side, and we hope this is something we see rather than the shrill Creighton that we’ve seen at times.
Joshua Ledet – There’s no way getting around it — we love Joshua. Not only does he have a great voice, he reminds us of a gospel singer that would rock out a church to the point where everyone is dancing on stage with the choir. We’ve seen some performers in a similar vein here over the years — but while there are some similarities between he and Jacob Lusk last year, there is a greater amount of control here.
The only thing better than Joshua getting through was seeing him deciding to take the judges to church afterwards with his voice.
Haley Johnson – Last year, a girl named Haley ended up becoming a sensation on this show despite not getting much screentime in the early rounds. Could it happen this time? We will say that it’s possible.
Despite not exactly starting Hollywood Week as a frontrunner, Haley has the rare distinction in that she actually got better every week — and her best moment came via Las Vegas. (Somehow, Heejun Han managed to celebrate this victory moment — and steal a bit of Haley’s thunder — with a hug.)
Elise Testone – Elyse’s biggest challenge? She and Haley look pretty similar and we could see them becoming a bit blurred in the minds of some viewers. It’s a shame since they are both pretty solid singers.
At her point in the Green Mile, though, her “It’s a Man’s, Man’s World” was the best cover of the night.
Reed Grimm – We’re still a little bit unsure if whether or not Reed is insanely talented or just plain insane, but we are excited for entertainment purposes that Reed is through to the top 24. At least he does bring a certain element of crazy to what he does … and he’ll keep the lawyers busy trying to clear some of his wacky song choices.
There’s something else notable about Reed in that it’s not often that we see someone showcase some mad drumming skills while at the same time being able to sing on a show.
Erika Van Pelt – For a good half of this competition, we’ve thought that Erika may very well be the best female singer of this whole singer. Unfortunately, the occasionally-irrational Jennifer Lopez (who is off somewhere still scowling at Haley Reinhart) was actually right on when she said that Erika looked uncomfortable and sounded boring during her final performance. Did the mobile DJ pick the wrong song?
Regardless of this, the best thing about Erika is that brings a different energy to the show that we really don’t see very often on this show — she’s relaxed, smart, and not in the least bit obnoxious.
Chelsea Sorrell and Baylie Brown – The only reason we’re grouping these two country singers together is because Ryan Seacrest made it a big deal that two country singers were competing — only to then allow them both through to the top 24.
Who will succeed more in the live round? At the moment, we do have to give the edge to Baylie simply due to the fact that she has exposure on her side — but the country overload from last season could make it tough on each of them.
Heejun Han – We’ve made it no secret this year that we’re intense Heejun Han supporters, so we could not be more thrilled to see him and his brilliant sense of humor make it through.
While Steven Tyler’s comment about him being more of a “star” than a “singer” was strange, it makes some sense. Heejun does need to work on his diction, and he also needs to figure out how to be a bit more electric on stage and mix up some of his song choices. We would love to see the guy stick around as long as possible … but who will he skewer now that “Cowboy” Richie Law is gone?
The best moment for Heejun outside of his performance? Seeing Phil Phillips play the role of his family since they couldn’t be there.
Jessica Sanchez – We had this problem with Thia Megia, and we have it again with Jessica — if “American Idol” going to brag about having “undiscovered talent,” why are people from “America’s Got Talent” coming on this show?
There’s no doubting that Jessica is a great singer, but it just seems a bit counter-intuitive to us to have her on here over someone like Lauren Gray who truly meets the description of what this show is about.
Phil Phillips – The bromance continues! While Phil may fall perfectly into the “white man with guitar” prototype set by Kris Allen and David Cook, you can’t justify sending a guy home simply because he’s going to get votes. Phil will get votes, and like Kris and David he is insanely talented.
As long as Phil gets to perform with his guitar, we have a feeling he’ll be just fine.
Colton Dixon – We have heard “Fix You” about 200 times on singing shows over the years … but this may be one of our favorites ever. We really wish that the show had shown more of it, mostly because it meant something to him as he was singing to his sister. There was vocal range, vulnerability, and he did something different with the lyrics.
We’ll admit it here — Colton getting through brought us closer to tears than any other moment this episode.
Brielle Von Hugel – We wish we could say that we were more excited to see Brielle in the top 24. She has a pretty nice voice, but her entire edit on this show is part “Jersey Shore” and a little bit “Toddlers & Tiaras” except about fifteen years down the road. Her omnipresent mom is at times cruel to some of the other singers … and we really don’t want to hear about her tan anymore.
Now, we can guarantee that Ryan will mention Brielle’s mother for at least one more time this season.
Adam Brock? – We feel the same way in some regards about
Danny Gokey Adam. He’s bordered on arrogant so far, and we really don’t actually have much of an idea how he will come across to America.
We can’t complain about Adam’s passion, though — he really put his all into this show and each and every performance. We don’t know for sure that Adam is going through … but we would bet on it.
The notable reections
Lauren Gray – During the St. Louis auditions, “Idol” was actually bold enough to proclaim that Gray was going to be the next Carrie Underwood — even though her soulful tone brought more memories of Janis Joplin and Adele to mind.
Unfortunately, Gray had one thing missing that Joplin and the British superstar pour out every time they are on stage — confidence. You can really chalk up her exit to her not having enough of a swagger to actually get on stage and own it, and we saw this time and time again during Hollywood Week.
Caleb Johnson – We never really saw much of Caleb, but he managed to go down in flames in a rather grand way — by botching the lyrics to his final performance while dressed up as a really poor impersonation of Elton John.
Richie Law – The cowboy is riding off into the sunset — and somewhere, Heejun is joking about it while simultaneously apologizing.
Who are you the happiest to see move on?