Have you downloaded — in Ludacris’ words — the “application” to vote on Rising Star? Is that something I download from the Internet to my computer or something? Anyway, this week’s episode of Rising Star is actually more enjoyable than the first. Most important, the expert judging trio of Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris and host Josh Groban seem more comfortable in their roles.
Ludacris gives great feedback and advice. Kesha just seems … there (which isn’t bad at all, but not great either) and Brad sometimes offers a good critique as well, but he’s probably spending most of his time drinking the moonshine.
The singers on this night also have quite unique backstories, but not in a way that seems like we’re supposed to feel sorry for them. The extremely close results for a few of the performances also add to the edge-of-your-seat quality that we didn’t get last week. “Interesting” that it just so happens to be the first and last singers of the night.
Here are the singers looking to raise the wall.
Shameia Crawford (“We Are Young” by fun.)
I just don’t understand song choices sometimes. This is a completely fine song, but it takes way too long for her to get into the melody because a big chunk of the beginning is in the same range. You can see Luda just waiting for something more.
She definitely hits her stride by the end — and she only gets 69% of the votes! You need 70% to raise the wall so she’s just on the outside looking in. However, because of the West Coast factor, there’s the possibility that she will be, so I’m expecting so.
Brad calls this a momentum show, and it took her a while to get comfortable.
April Lockhart (“Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls)
She’s bringing the ’90s back with this tune. Not only does she have a great voice but she’s playing the guitar without a hand, which she lost during birth due to complications. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is. But she doesn’t have that “Oh, feel sorry for me” persona. She has great stage presence, and even before the expert judges weigh in, she’s at 55%!
When the votes are finished, she’s at 85%. And the best part is that she seems likable. Luda, ever the voice of reason, says she needs to work on her runs, but Brad can’t deny that April has a presence about her.
Austin French (“Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles)
He’s a worship pastor trying to “take us to church.” He sounds generic — nice voice but one I’ll forget by the end of the show. But his runs are impressive and I’m on my way to church but not there. However, everyone seems to disagree with me because he raises the wall with 87%.
Trinitii (“Problem” by Ariana Grande)
Cassie, Lauren, Jessica — three voices, three girls, one sound. And the only thing that comes to my mind is that their name is a misspelled version of the Dexter killer. However, they teach children so that’s admirable.
During this all-over-the-place performance, there’s a great shot of previous singer April on the couch with a pained look on her face. They sound like three Ariana Grandes trying to harmonize, and unfortunately, 30% does not raise the wall.
Alice Lee (“You and I” by Lady Gaga)
Because she comes from a K-pop/theatre background, I was expecting some crazy off-the-wall performance. So maybe my expectations were low, but she is not bad. It does feel a little too theatre-y and that’s exactly what Brad says as he votes no.
However, the votes are coming in for her. She’s all the way up to 54% before the coaches pull her in. But they come in very slowly, and it looks like she might get rejected — but the wall is raised! She squeaks in with 73% of the votes!
Rye Davis (“When You Say Nothing At All” by Keith Whitley)
While he played college baseball, he got hit with a pitch and it blinded his right eye. (Did they really need to show when it happened?) But he miraculously came back to play even with limited depth perception.
So while I’m rooting for the guy, he just sounds very green. The song seems too fast for him because there are so many words to get out rather than holding on to a few notes to draw out his tone. The wall stays down with 45%.
Sonnet Simmons (“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak)
So … it’s not every day you get to see someone whose mom was in a cult. Sonnet was born into said cult, but her mom eventually escaped with her. But her dad and two brothers were left behind. Crazy story! Tell me more.
Her voice is definitely strange (in a good way) and it just kind of fits her strange background story, which makes her suited for this song. I don’t think anyone can do the original justice, but she’s turned into an early favorite of mine. She can manipulate a song — massage the notes as much as she can and, yeah, can you tell I like her? She gets in with 81%.
Luda comments on her flat notes, but Brad counters, saying he can’t even tell with the way she sings. Kesha calls it magical.
Deedra Ervin (“Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding)
She’s a member of the Army reserve, so this will be such a joy or quite unfortunate. She has this breathy voice that I find interesting for … about half a minute. I’m impressed with her performance because she seems really into it, like she knows this might be the last time she’ll perform. Unfortunately, her voice the rest of the way doesn’t match up.
She stays behind the wall with 26%. Luda says it best: she let the excitement of everything affect her technique.
Will Roth (“Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood)
A vet tech by day, a PI by night, but an aspiring singer who looks like a rocker? These personal stories today are really out there. I have no idea what this song or what this group is, but I’m digging the rock style. He reminds me of, like, Jesus with the beard and hair but also Colin Farrell in the looks department. He raises the wall with 83%.
Egypt Dixon (“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea)
She gives it her best shot, but unfortunately, this isn’t a song that lends itself to really showing off your vocal abilities. I actually think her rapping is more spot-on than her actual singing. It also seems like she’s losing confidence the more the wall stays down because by the end, her voice is all over the place.
She gets 44% approval with Kesha the only one voting her in because she said she liked what she could discern from her singing voice.
Adam Jaymes (“I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz)
With the beginning starting low, it’s really shaky. I’m not really feeling the whole performance — his voice is strong and there’s a nice key change but I’ve just been watching so many vocal competitions that there’s nothing that stands out. But he makes it in with 87%! That’s definitely one of the highest so far.
Luda comments that he almost said no because his runs were off, but that he could tell Adam really wanted it so he voted yes. Kesha — and Brad too, actually — says she sees a little Justin Timberlake in him. What the heck are they drinking? But Brad says he saw a vulnerable quality about him, which made him vote him in.
Megan Tibbits (“All of Me” by John Legend)
This has to be a singing competition first: playing the harp. So she’s got that going for her. But there’s no emotion like from the original. She has a nice tone — which I can only describe as “glassy” in a complimentary way — but her high notes are a bit atrocious. Luda votes no quite quickly while the other coaches get her in.
It’s hard to think that they saved her for last so I’m fully expecting her to go through — but she gets 68% of the votes and the wall stays down! Wow. It’s the right decision, but I wasn’t expecting it. But now there’s a chance that the West Coast voting can pull her in, so that will be something to watch.
The West Coast votes are in, and Shameia Crawford got 71% of the West Coast vote, which means she is moving on to the next round. Megan Tibbits is also advancing, having received 70% of the votes.
Rising Star airs Sundays at 9pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)