You've auditioned before the producers and then the judges just to get a plane ticket to Hollywood and a chance to have your named leaked on dozens of websites. Then you stood in line eight at a time to make the first cut only to have to rely on your fellow contestants to get their act together so you could make it through the dreaded group performance. You are now tantalyzing close to having your dreams realized. All you have to do is wow the judges one more time.
This is American Idol.
We will start tonight with 100, then the judges will winnow it down to 40. The instruments finally come out.
Haley Reinhart is up first. I did not remember seeing her. Looks like she bombed during group week, but they must have seen something in her to give her this extra chance. She sings like her life depends on it, but that's not really that pleasing to the ears. Too much gravelly tones for me, too much desperation, like she's passing a kidney stone. Of course, the judges love it, so I'm 0-for-1.
I love Ashthon Jones, even if her name is hard to type with that extra, unnecessary "h." Sorry to be shallow, she's also really pretty.
I could listen to Thia Megia sing all night. What a beautiful tone she has, so mature and rich for someone so young. 15 years old and she sings the hell out of What a Wonderful World.
Hey, I'm supposed to be snarky. Where are the sucky contestants?
Who says prayers aren't answered? Frances Coombs, and a few of her fellow contestants, show that there is still some suckage to go around.
The newly-minted villain Clint Jun Gamboa continues to wow with his voice, if not with his integrity or humanity.
Georgia is a beautiful song and so it is understandable why so many are drawn to sing it. It also apparently disguises mediocre voices because it seems as if everyone who sang it were considered brilliant, which was not how my ears evaluated them.
Chris Medina chose, instead, My Prerogative, but so did his fellow groupmate, Carson Higgins. So which version do you like better? I vote for the Malibu dude, Carson, whose so cool and chill that Bob Marley would seem uptight by comparison. I am still not digging Chris' voice, it doesn't seem to have much depth or personality. But, I know the judges love him, so we'll see if he makes it.
Finally, we see the instruments. Julie Zorrilla shined on the piano with Sarah Bareilles' Love Song, Caleb Hawley did quite nicely with his guitar on a Stevie Wonder song. Colton Dixon totally redeemed his subpar performance from yesterday with a very strong vocal and the unique, quirky Brett Lowenstern continues to nail the inimitable crown -- no one sounds like him. I'm not sure in the long run that will work for him, though. As he sang, I started wondering if he needed dental work or something to keep from sounding so...wet.
After four strong performances, it's a testament to just how great his voice is that Robbie Rosen blew away the competition. Sitting behind the piano he lets his voice run wild, but never out of control. He plays with the notes and shows off his rich, mature voice and his impressive range. It's a wow moment.
Casey Abrams is the president and CEO of the Casey Abrams fan club. He could not be more in love with himself if he were Narcissus himself. I'm guessing he came from a school where you got a gold star just for staying in your chair. He brings out a bass as big as he is and sings full of the conviction that he is the best thing the judges have heard or ever will hear. Someone has patted him on the head one too many times. But, yes, he sounds good. Just not as good as he thinks.
Chelsee Oaks is the last one standing from the Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice group after her ex was kicked off yesterday and then her roomie Jacqueline leaves with an undisclosed illness. But fear not, Chelsee nails her vocals. She doesn't need anyone else, just that microphone. She'll be fine.
Lauren Alaina is up next and she's going for the tried and true -- a redux of her I Don't Want To Miss A Thing. She is confident and poised, with a knockout voice.
Grabbing this one chance to be memorable, Jacob Lusk pulls out all the stops. Every trick in his vocal book is used for maximum effect. He has a range that seems unearthly or illegal. It's a show stopper. Talk about putting it all out there on the stage. Bravo.
John Wayne Schulz has to follow that. He sings one of my, and I'll assume everyone else's, favorite songs, Landslide. Remember, this was a song that made even Billy Corgan sound good. I thought he sounded amazing, but I'm not sure he really nailed it, or just was smart enough to sing one of the most perfect songs ever written.
Ashley Sullivan has barely recoverd from her near breakdown yesterday when she thought of quitting. She's awfully nasally for me. And she apparently had a mental meltdown and forgot the words. Randy throws her a rope, she grabs for it, but it slips through her fingers. It's sad to watch.
For the first two singers, I had to look up to see who they were. Stefano Langone and Jovanny Barreto both sounded good. It's probably a no brainer that'll they'll survive the cut, but they don't yet have that unique sound. When I heard the sweet, crystal clear voice of Jacee Badeaux I instantly knew who it was. That's a gift.
Scotty McCreery and Tatynisa Wilson could not remember the words to I Hope You Dance, though both sounded good. I actually was impressed with Scotty's voice, I didn't think he could sing any other song than that one he used at the first audition. But being able to learn a song is a part of this competition, so we'll see. I'm not that excited about Taynisa's voice, it's a little thin and reedy to me.
Now it's time for the contestants to be split into smaller groups, put into separate rooms, and await their fate.
Room one has many of the favorites -- Casey Abrams, my two faves, Jacee and Robbie, and even Clint -- so it's no surprise when they all make it. Room two hears the happy shouting and deflates a little, the rest of the air comes out as they're sent packing. Room three joins them and it's sad. Chelsee will be joining her ex after all.
But Room Four gets good news, Carson Higgins, Julie Zorrilla, Jovanny Barreto and Scotty McCreery are golden. For now. There will be one more cut. See you next week!