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American Idol: Season 15, Top Ten, 2/25/16

February 26th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

No theme to American Idol last night, as far as I could tell. Host Ryan Seacrest said something about songs of Idol, memories of Idol, but that was just about the clips that introduced each member of Season 15’s top ten–as they discussed their favorite memories of the show. Everyone appeared to be singing whatever they wanted to, and unwise song choices were the order of the evening.

First, however, the results of Wild Card voting were announced:  Tristian McIntosh, Sonika Vaid, Gianna Isabella, Avalon Young, MacKenzie Bourg, and Lee Jean were voted through.

That meant Jeneve Rose Mitchell (who should’ve been sent home as too young and inexperienced at her audition), Jenn Blosil and Manny Torres (likewise), and Thomas Stringfellow (the one unfortunate loss), were sent home.

Kelly Clarkson returned to the Idol stage as celebrity guest judge and to hype her latest song, “Piece by Piece.” She added some fresh perspective as she joined Harry, J-Lo and Keith in critiquing the top ten performances:

1.  Olivia Rox sings Katy Perry’s “Unconditional,” and although she shows off some soft moments and some showy ones, the overall performance is lackluster. Kelly notes, however, that “It takes more air to be that soft” so the vocal was impressive even if the song wasn’t.

2.  Gianna Isabella may be this season’s most forgettable personality–except she doesn’t show much personality to forget. She sings a Beyonce song with a lot of “eh” noises but not much genuine range. J-Lo says she was very shaky and Kelly finds her pitchy.

3.  Lee Jean doesn’t belong on the same stage as La Posha Renae but he does show some of the same type of appeal CJ Harris showed in Season 13. Unfortunately he garbles his words and makes “Skinny Love” impossible to understand. Harry wants him to concentrate on pitch, which Harry often said to CJ, too. Kelly, however, finds much good to say, and she comes up with “stick with what you’re good at” and “I’d love to come watch your show” and “cool, you found your voice.” Now if he could just sing on pitch.

4.  Avalon Young tries to exude a cool teenage schoolgirl vibe, but she, too, makes an uninteresting song choice, “Stitches.” Harry and J-Lo both criticize the song choice.

5.  Dalton Rapattoni (two t’s in Rapattoni) commands the stage the moment he steps on it. This season’s showman takes the punkish contemporary song “Hey There, Delilah” (not at all the same as Tom Jones’ sixties hit) and makes it inhabit a territory somewhere between eighties’ MTV and the contemporary cutting edge. All the judges have positive comments. Keith likes Rapattoni’s confidence. J-Lo says, “You’re cool but you have a lot of heart.” Kelly says he’s working in a completely different genre of music, and Harry says, “You’ve completely flipped the concept of the arrangement.”

6.  Tristan McIntosh really needs to be told this country thing isn’t working for her, or whatever she was attempting tonight. Her singing and the song are both super-forgettable. The judges are largely kind–or maybe they’re just rationalizing why they let her get this far in the competition. J-Lo tries to say, “You’re a country singer” but such a statement calls into question J-Lo’s definition of “country singer.” Kelly gently suggests trying a Trisha Yearwood song, and Harry recommends “songs with more crossover appeal.” Keith gets real, pointing out pitch issues.

7. MacKenzie Bourg beautifully brings color and texture to Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire.” The judges are positive.

8.  La Porsha Renae makes an odd song choice but it’s an oddly fitting one–Rhianna’s “Diamonds in the Sky.” It’s a ballad where she can have big showy moments but also some subtle ones. The standing ovation at the conclusion of her performance goes on so long it’s literally show-stopping. The judges mostly just let the audience reaction serve as commentary.

9.  Sonika Vaid wears an elegant black Gothic-looking gown and boots, and her costume’s more interesting than her song choice.  She’s singing Evanescence’s “Bring me to Life (Wake me up Inside)” but her interpretation belongs on Radio Disney. She’s trying to turn emo into a Disney princess theme, and it’s not working. At least, as Kelly notes, Vaid is one contestant who’s never pitchy.

10. Trent Harmon is about the closest thing to actual country left this season. For this performance he shows some similarity to the same alt-country territory Lyle Lovett inhabits. He takes “Like I Can,” a  song from cutting-edge British sensation Sam Smith, and gives it a Southern Gothic feel.

People may vote by phone (including text) or by various online methods. I don’t focus on one favorite at this point. I want to keep as many of my favorites around as long as possible. I don’t like an Idol season when there’s only one person in ten I want to watch. So I cast multiple votes for Dalton, MacKenzie, Trent, Sonika, La Porsha, and Olivia. When the first elimination of the finals is revealed next Thursday, I’m guessing it’s Lee or Tristan–but Avalon and Gianna aren’t likely to go deep either.

Tags: American Idol