Welcome to my first American Idol
live blog of season 13. The live shows begin tonight with more brutal
cuts, the return of Randy Jackson and some of the Top 15 girls taking
the stage for the first time.
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It promises to be an interesting two hours as we see whose dreams are crushed, who emerges as a frontrunner now that the pressure is on, and how the likeable judges do without the benefit of editing.
THIS...is American Idol
The new set is looking pretty sweet, and I like that the judges walk out through the crowd. It has a nice, informal, intimate feeling. Jennifer Lopez's cleavage is the only thing anyone can think about.
Randy Jackson, aka the "Dogfather," comes out to explain the special workshop he did with the contestants. It was a chance to work on their flaws and help guide them to be the best they can be.
Instead of eliminating five girls right away, the judges will call out
who gets to perform one at a time, but only 10 will get the chance. That
just adds to the nerves.Randy Jackson's Workshop
He brought vocal coaches, stylists, choreographers and Rickey Minor to guide the contestants, plus a pair of "non-denominational spiritual advisors." WTF?
Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry are there too, and Daughtry is about a foot shorter than Glambert. We see brief glimpses of the workshop after each girl is called.Majesty Rose
She's the first girl to perform and we see her time with Randy in the workshop. Majesty plays the guitar on Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and proves that she's not gospel, but, as Lambert said, the song feels a little fast for her and doesn't let her show off her voice as much as I'd like. Still, it's a fun and energetic start to the show. Also, they've added some split-screens for the judges' commentary to see them and the contestant. The judges all love her ability to pump up the crowd.Kristen O'Connor
As soon as Harry Connick, Jr. says they picked a nurse, Kristen gets up and runs to the stage. I wish there was another nurse and she jumped the gun. My co-worker, Jeff Dodge, is already off by at least one as he predicted that Kristen would be one of the girls who wouldn't sing
She's singing Adele's "Turning Tables." Daughtry gave her useful tips about working with the camera and understanding how to perform for the viewers at home. She has a strong, beautiful voice, but she's not quite Adele. For me, it feels like a really good Glee
cover. Keith Urban points out that there were nerves and jitters at the start, which made it a bit off, but then she found her groove. Can you blame her for being jittery since the show is adding all of this unnecessary pressure right before they sing?Briana Oakley
She was almost a finalist last season, but now she gets her chance. She's singing Demi Lovato's "Warrior" and Randy's workshop tried to get her to have fun and lighten up. Wow, this is a terrific song choice. Once again, the judges point out nerves at first and that it got better near the end. Maybe if you didn't structure the show this way, that wouldn't happen. The judges are very harsh, and sure, there were a few problems and the emotional connection wasn't perfect, but I liked it and I love the tone of her voice. Harry warns her against using high notes for cheap applause from the audience.Jena Irene
Harry's "sleeper," the former Jena Asciutto gets help with mic work and takes on "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones. During the workshop, Randy called her "Jenna" and she corrected him, adorably. That might be the best running joke of the season. She's really great at playing the dark rocker chick, which I didn't expect but which I love. She kind of reminds me of Carly Smithson (for those of you who remember season 7). Harry doesn't think she understood the meaning of the song, but J. Lo and Keith love her.Bria Anai
This marks the second person my colleague Jeff Dodge predicted would get eliminated before singing. The only thing she cares about during the workshop is style. She sings "Wrong Side of a Love Song" by Melanie Fiona. Her voice is OK and she does a whole lot of runs and other nonsense, but the fact that she wants to be known for her colorful lipstick kind of makes me not like her. She reminds me of a high school girl trying to dress up for a college party. Harry thought it was too "shouted" and gets his first boo from the audience. The judges aren't that into her, but J. Lo thinks she's a star. I think Jeff was right and she shouldn't have been in the Top 10.Marrialle Sellars
Keith's intro mentions how she simply looks like a star. Yeah, because her voice was certainly lacking in Hollywood Week. She's singing "Roar" by Katy Perry. Ugh, who does she think she is, Keith London? Sorry, but it's impossible for me to be objective about her. The show pushed her so hard at the start by showing her full audition twice, including at the start of the season premiere. Yes, she looks and acts like a star, but she's very much style over substance. If you don't look at her and just listen to the vocals, it's not good. Her shoe fell off at the end, which kind of sums up what a mess I thought this was. I appreciate that the judges are honest and mention how it was pretty bad, with Harry saying she wasn't in tune. If it weren't for her look, she wouldn't have gotten a spot in the Top 10.Jessica Meuse
Now we get to see if that awful stage mom was right and America won't vote for Jessica. She does "Drink a Beer" by Luke Bryan, tapping into the country fan base. Daughtry thinks she needs to drop her guitar, because she's a better singer than a guitarist. It's odd seeing a chick with pink hair do country, but I kind of like it. It's different, unexpected and really cool. Her voice is a little shaky and the judges don't feel a connection to the performance. The fact that the judges comment on "nerves" for every single girl should tell the producers that this format is not a good idea at all.Emily Piriz
The fact that she performs in an '80s cover band makes me love her. She chooses "Paris (Ooh La La)" by Grace Potter and Randy is worried that the judges won't like it. Glambert offers great advice on understanding the song and playing up contrasts. She gets into the rock chick sex appeal aspect of the song, and I want to love it, but it seems inauthentic. She just turned 18 and she looks kind of cute and sweet. Harry calls her out for the lyrics being too dirty for a young girl. The other judges kind of agree that she tried to hard to pretend to be something that she's not.M.K. Nobilette
Hooray! I love her, and so does Glambert for obvious reasons. She needs help on connecting with the emotion, and she's doing John Legend's "All of Me." Wow, this is about a million times better than everything else tonight. Her voice is so beautifully understated and she really connects with every single lyric of this song. Keith commends the "transparency in her humanness." The judges all rave and, in the audience, her mom was crying the whole time and it was very moving. M.K. just became a real potential winner in my mind.Who Is the Last Guy in the Top 30?
Prior to the last female singer, we get the results of America's vote for Ben Briley vs. Neco Starr to get the last spot in the Top 30. The winner is Ben Briley
. That's a big win for country music, so goodbye, Neco.Which Girls Don't Perform?
Before getting to the final singer, let's talk about who got cut. Andrina Brogden, Jillian Jensen, Brandy Neelly, Austin Wolfe
and Kenz Hall
are all sent home without even getting a chance to sing. This is just awful. I can understand four of those picks, but Kenz? Kenz was freaking amazing and my colleague Jeff Dodge predicted that she was an absolute sure thing to make it. I suspect there's going to be a lot of public outcry over Kenz, and I hope the judges atone by letting her perform for the three Wild Card spots on Thursday.
The worst part is that they only get rushed onto the stage at the very end of the night for about five seconds, with Ryan Seacrest speeding through their first names. That's very disrespectful to them and a waste of real talent.Malaya Watson
She gets the final spot, and while I like this tuba-playing girl, she doesn't deserve it. She might be weaker than all five of the singers not performing. She wants to combine Sly Stone with Beyonce. She's singing "Hard Times" by Ray Charles. This kind of song doesn't mesh with her weird, quirky personality. It's OK, I guess, but like Emily Piriz, it feels like she's acting and not being herself. It's also hard to listen to her knowing that Kenz and others just had their dreams crushed, which is another flaw in this format. J. Lo basically says that the new format led to a lot of nerves and forced them to adjust their expectations.
And just like that, the night is over. Ten girls performed, five girls were unceremoniously eliminated and Ben Briley beat out Neco Starr. Tomorrow night the guys take the stage, and five of them will suffer the same cruel fate as Kenz and the others.
For me, it was all about M.K. while girls like Bria and Marrialle proved that they didn't deserve to be in the Top 10 and got there based on style over substance. I really hope American Idol
fixes this problem and invites Kenz Hall back to compete for the Wild Card spots on Thursday.
Also, if you're interested in playing along at home, remember to make your Fantasy TV picks
for the five guys who will be eliminated Wednesday night. You can make picks between midnight and noon.,(Image courtesy of FOX)