We’ve struggled through the auditions, and saw the excitement pick up a bit during Hollywood Week — and now, we are finally at the part of “American Idol” that truly gets us pumped in the live shows! The set this year looks a bit like a beauty pageant, and Ryan Seacrest also seems to be a bit livelier now that he cherishes being a show that does not feature Sacha Baron Cohen.
With 13 contestants to get through this week (including the one wild-card addition to the show), we have quite a bit to go through — so we’re not going to waste too much time with filler since the show really didn’t, either. On to the singing!
The top 13 guys
Reed Grimm – Reed’s first? A surprising move, no? Usually, going first at this stage in the game (at least in recent seasons) means that you are pretty much handed your ticket back home.
When it comes to Reed’s “Moves Like Jagger,” does anyone else find it ironic that Reed performed a song by one of the coaches of “The Voice” in Adam Levine? We liked that Reed did try to put some sort of twist on the hit, but this was more or less a vocal disaster. Reed was trying way too hard, the drum segment of it felt forced, and this was actually at times painful to watch — and we don’t care that the judges gushed all over him (as is par for the course for them).
Adam Brock – Is it appropriate, or just ironic, that Mr. “There’s a Black Woman Trapped in My Body” chose to perform a song by Aretha Franklin? The first thing we noticed upon seeing Adam’s introductory package is that, if this was really the guy’s house, he’s pretty loaded. It’s almost like he went over to “The X Factor” and won the (cue Steve Jones) $5 million recording contract before even coming over here.
As for Adam’s performance, it was decent for a karaoke cover of a classic tune. Did we really need to see the guy with a Terrible Towel in his pocket? Ultimately, we would be gushing over this if Adam did perform the entire song like he did in the last ten seconds — which were actually pretty stellar.
Deandre Brackensick – We’ve made it no secret that we’ve loved Deandre pretty much every step of the way — to the point even that his cover of Maxwell is one our most-watched moments of the entire season thus far.
Like Adam to an extent, though, this was a tale of two halves. During the early portion, Deandre was clearly nervous, out of tune, and lacking really any of the swagger we saw in Hollywood Week. Then, about halfway through the performance someone told Deandre that it was actually time for him to perform. The closing thirty seconds of this song were as sublime as anything we’ve heard from him, and based on the tone of his voice alone we hope to see him advance.
Colton Dixon – Colton came into this performance with something to prove, being that his sister was eliminated earlier this season and he didn’t even make it into the top 24 the first time he auditioned. Of course, we found it funny that he said that he was going to “shock” people, and then started things off by playing the piano — otherwise known as doing what will shock no one.
As for the music, the biggest issue with this Paramore cover was that it didn’t suit his voice perfectly. We do love that he went a little crazy and jumped on top of the piano, but it doesn’t make up for some vocals that were pretty all over the place and a song that simply did not suit his voice in the slightest. It’s like some of James Durbin’s performance where he spent too much time being “rock and roll” and not enough time singing.
Jeremy Rosado – Call Jeremy “Mr. Positive” — it certainly seems to fit the bill. There may not be a person on the show who is friendlier than this guy, and that alone makes us want to root for him.
Thankfully, Jeremy also managed to justify our support with his performance of Sara Bereilles’ “Gravity.” He holds the distinction of being the first contestant of the night who actually managed to emote during the song, hit all of the notes perfectly, and not look like he was constantly on the verge of falling on their face.
Aaron Marcellus – Aaron is sort of guy that has been set up to be fodder for the top 24 on a show like this. It’s not his own fault, as he does have a good bit of talent and a better stage presence than many of the other singers still in this competition.
Thankfully, we were happy to see him try to defy his somewhat invisible edit on the show with a strong rendition of the Jackson 5 hit “Never Can Say Goodbye” — a song that not everyone in this show’s viewer group probably knows very well. He drew a standing ovation for the performance … and he also made it possible that he could live to see another day.
Chase Likens – Going into this show, we really didn’t have any idea who Chase was. Possibly due to the show wanting to avoid “good-looking country boy vote overload,” Nigel Lythgoe decided to make him a passing image in various montages until this point.
There’s no question that horse-owning (and yet apartment-living) Chase is a strong singer, and he actually is a pretty good performer on stage. This really actually felt like a concert — and we’re not just saying that to quote Randy Jackson’s “this is a Scotty concert!” quote. Chase’s biggest problem is just that there are dozens of country singers out there who sound like him — at least Scotty had a character to his voice that is a little bit more uncommon.
Creighton Fraker.- Creighton is certainly unique as the introduction package suggested, and he may actually be our biggest surprise of the night. Do we still think that his voice is nasally beyond belief? Yes, but you have to give the guy credit when he tackles a performance a la “True Colors” that was pretty well-done.
After hearing Creighton’s emotional performance, two random (and completely unrelated) thoughts enter our head:
1. The judges have yet to hand out a single piece of negative criticism 67 minutes into the show.
2. Doesn’t Creighton look a little like Reed Grimm’s older brother?
Phillip Phillips – Jude Law’s stunt double (otherwise known as Phillip) was not really given anywhere close to a great arrangement here with “In the Air Tonight,” and this performance did in many ways not do him justice.
For the first time all night, Randy delivered something close to negative feedback here almost as if someone informed him of the comment above during the break — and he was smart to. Thanks in part to being the classic “man with guitar” type that voters love, he’s going to be safe for a while. Why not help the guy out along the way?
Eben Franckewitz – Sorry, Eben fans — we didn’t think that the 15-year old really should have made this far. He’s too young, his voice hasn’t developed fully, and he could have benefited from being told that he need another year or two to improve before coming back to the show.
We’re completely baffled by Jennifer’s criticism of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” — which basically consisted of “you messed up, but that’s okay.” There were flat notes throughout the majority of the performance, and the song wasn’t right for him. We personally hate it when people say that someone is “too young for a song” — and really don’t think that was it. There just wasn’t much of a connection at all to what he was singing.
Heejun Han – Did the judges just try and temper the excitement for Heejun Handemonium? (Yes, we just created that — start making t-shirts!) Despite giving what we actually thought was a solid vocal to “Angels,” the judges quickly dogpiled him for the song choice.
Was Heejun the best singer of the night? Probably not, but he was far from the worst. He just needs to improve his pronunciation a little bit and get comfortable on stage. Based on his personality alone, we do expect him to be staying put for a while — and he’s going to have plenty of time to sweat “mostly water” and figure this out.
Joshua Ledet – We’ve never really understood the Jacob Lusk comparisons with Joshua — while the two sing similar genres of music, Joshua has a far greater sense of control when it comes to his voice.
This was a fantastic, moving performance — now Joshua is just going to need to stay humble, pick some strong songs, and remember that so long as he doesn’t start bringing his voice up and down like a rollercoaster, he could go a very long way in this competition.
Jermaine Jones – Now, we have the return of the Gentle Giant! Jermaine returned after being initially turned away by the judges, and it really seemed like the decision paid off. We love having a guy so lovable on this show, especially since he may be the first guy over 6’5” to ever wear a bow tie.
Thanks to him getting the last spot — and for him having a unique voice that is unlike anything else in the competition — we actually do think that he could stick around. Then again, giving him a weird phone number for voting could hurt his chances.
What did you think about this episode, and who are you rooting for? Be sure to take our poll below and share some of your thoughts in the comment box!.