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American Idol: Season 15, Semi-Finals, Judges’ Selections, 2/18/16

February 19th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

You could say the semi-finalists of this American Idol season have been divided into two teams of twelve. The judges (Harry, J-Lo, and Keith) cut five from each team, then the public gets to vote on the combined remainder next week. Last night, though, was taken up by duets with Idol vets and the judges’ selections from the second team of twelve.

Harry and the other judges agreed the previous night–Wednesday’s solo showcases–were a collective off-night, a “Twilight Zone” night, so they were looking to this evening’s duets to make up for it. So how did the twelve semi-finalists match up against six returning Idol stars?

1.  Amelia Eisenhouer and Kellie Pickler:  The red-haired sword-swinging girl and Season 5’s country breakout make a surprisingly good match, singing “Suds in the Bucket,” which Pickler sang during her season. This looks to be Eisenhouer’s best performance of the season, and the judges agree. J-Lo says she thinks Kellie was probably the perfect mentor for Amelia.

2. Haley Reinhart and Kory Wheeler:  Another very good match-up, with bluesy Reinhart and keyboardist Wheeler doing for “Bennie and the Jets” about what Tim McGraw did for “Tiny Dancer.” Reinhart gave the song a memorable makeover in season 10, and Wheeler used it as his audition song this season. The judges have nothing negative to say.

3.  Lee Jean and Chris Daughtry:  Season 5’s rock star appears to be taking a parental interest in the young black kid, who’s not wearing his backwards baseball cap tonight. They make an odd couple–but in a good way–on Daughtry’s “Home.” The judges are positive.

4.  CJ Johnson and David Cook:  Two rockers pair for Collective Soul’s “The World I Know.” Johnson may be overshadowed here but Harry likes it, and Keith thinks Johnson held his own.

5.  Jordin Sparks and Manny Torres:  Singing Sparks’ song, “No Air,” Torres wants to show his emotional side. Sparks gets tough with him in rehearsal, demanding he express what the lyrics are about. It doesn’t come off as a sweetheart duo–her singing reduces him to a supporting role–but the judges rave.

6.  Jenn Blosil and Constantine Maroulis:  He’s who Simon Crowell called “the Smoldering Idol,” she’s a quirky cocktail jazz type. They try to do a dark (perhaps even gothic) rendition of the Sinatra standard, “My Funny Valentine,” but he still blows her off the stage. Harsh Harry thinks it turned into a shouting match (except Jenn’s voice is too tiny to shout, Harry). Softies Keith and J-Lo, however, coo about “evenly matched” and “perfect.” Really?

7.  Tristian McIntosh and Kellie Pickler:  Eisenhouer (see above) held her own against Pickler but McIntosh appears overmatched.  Her lack of range shows on “Best Days of our Lives,” a song Pickler wrote with Taylor Swift. The judges collectively agree McIntosh’s inexperience showed.

8.  Olivia Rox and David Cook:  Rox is the opposite of McIntosh–she shows experience even though she’s only seventeen. She and Cook rock on his hit, “Light On.” During rehearsal, Cook advises her to find a pocket. After the performance the judges essentially say the same thing. “If you find your groove and the right songs,” says J-Lo, “You could go far.”

9.  Adam Lasher and Haley Reinhart:  They turn “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” into a sweetheart duo. Harry and J-Lo praise the result, but Keith is more critical (and the audience boos him).

10.  Dalton Rapatoni and Chris Daughtry:  Rapatoni talks about how he used to listen to Daughtry’s CD in bed at night–now they make a great pairing on Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” Rapatoni is showing he could break out as this season’s Daughtry. Keith and Harry say, “terrific” and “incredible.” J-Lo says to Dalton, “You’re this dark horse coming on at just the right time.”

11.  Trent Harmon and Jordin Sparks:  Another odd couple of the evening–the country boy and the young Black diva show some oil-and-water chemistry on the pre-disco Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody.” He’s showing more of a character voice than some of the other male vocalists this season. Keith says he heard some things he hadn’t heard before. J-Lo talks about continuing to surprise us. Harry thinks Sparks and Harmon should release the song as a single–each one individually, and together as a duet.

12.  Shelbie Z and Constantine Maroulis:  Did Constantine get the leftovers when they passed out the pairings? The theatrical rocker and the redneck-outlaw woman are the oddest odd couple of the evening, with the oddest song choice, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Judging by vocals alone, it’s very good, but there’s at least one hundred other better possibilities for a showcase here. The judges aren’t impressed.

Judge’s Selections (Results):

Lee Jean–one of the weakest male vocalists but J-Lo thinks he’s cute.

Manny Torres–one of the weakest male vocalists but J-Lo thinks he’s cute.

Dalton Rapatoni–when his name is called, Chris Daughtry jumps for joy in the VIP lounge. (Rapatoni is one of this season’s must-have’s.)

Trent Harmon–a young Southern guy on a show where young Southern guys do well.

Olivia Rox–one of the strongest female vocalists.

Tristian McIntosh–after all the criticism of how inexperienced and pitchy she is.

Jenn Blosil–she’ll put her quirky Lauper-like charm to a public vote.

Goodbye to:  Adam Lasher (the judges call him a superstar but they never keep him around), Kory Wheeler and CJ Johnson (while weaker vocalists are kept), and Amelia Eisenhouer and Shelbie Z (meaning teenage amateur Jeneve Rose is the only country singer left).

Next week the final fourteen sing, and the public votes to determine the top ten finalists.

Tags: American Idol