American Idol kicked off the Season 11 (or season “one one” as Randy likes to call it) live shows with performances from the top 12 guys, plus one. Thankfully, this week the contestants weren’t forced to perform from a songbook that predates all of them by at least a decade but could choose any song they liked. Despite this musical freedom, several of the contestants exhibited signs of Stockholm Syndrome and opted for dated music with little relevance to today's playlists.
On such a critical night for the contestants, who shined and who fell flat? Well, if you listen to the American Idol judges, every single performer is ready to walk off the stage and dominate the music industry for the next several decades. But the judges are not exactly unbiased in this; they have to make it sound like the 25 they picked have voices like angels so they can justify their salaries.
But there is no salary standing in this blogger’s way. The truth is my currency!
So without further ado . . .
Creighton Fraker : When Ryan Seacrest announced that Creighton would be singing, “True Colors,” from 1986, a groan erupted from deep inside. Sure, the message of the song was totally in line with his video clip about being different and embracing it, but surely there has to be a more current song that expresses the same sentiment.
Perhaps. But it was irrelevant because Creighton’s performance was brilliant. His voice broke in all the right places and he didn’t go over the top with his slightly offbeat tendencies. It was the most enjoyable and surprising performance of the night. B+
Phil Phillips: Disclosure: The sentiments expressed in this blog may be influenced by the fact that the writer has developed an unhealthy obsession with Mr. Phillips. She has considered seeking treatment but Creighton’s performance has convinced her to embrace her uniqueness.
Yes, had Phillip left the melody more intact – as Judge Jennifer suggested, his performance of the Phil Collins standard, “In the Air Tonight,” might have surpassed even Creighton Tuesday night. But nevertheless, Phil Phillips has an undeniable gift. When he performs there is such an intensity and intimacy between him and the music, it almost feels as though you are intruding on a private moment but still, you can’t bring yourself to look away. B
Reed Grimm: Reed chose to sing the uber-popula Maroon 5 hit, “Moves Like Jagger.” And since the song is played on the radio almost as often as commercials, the suggestive lyrics should have come as no surprise but they did. Apparently, sexual innuendo goes down easier when it is coming from Adam Levine as opposed to Reed Grimm . . . go figure. Reed’s obviously a talented guy but the arrangement sounded a little old-fashioned and he may be a little too “out there” for general audience consumption. B-
Adam Brock: The white chocolate renaissance man with a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, thinks that the black woman trapped inside of him this week is Aretha Franklin, so he chose to sing, “Think.” The performance felt a little flat and Adam’s voice has never really held the same kind of promise as some of the others. C
Colton Dixon: Colton came out from behind his piano and delivered a rousing performance of Paramore’s, “Decode.” Colton was smart enough to leave enough of the melody intact so millions of teenage girls will recognize that the song is from the soundtrack of “Twilight.” C+
Jeremy Rosado: If we were judging solely on virtue, Jeremy Rosado would deserve to go all the way. His performance of Sara Bareilles’s, “Gravity,” was close to beautiful at moments. B-
Aaron Marcellus: Aaron failed to leave much of an impression during auditions so it would have been exciting to see what the judges saw in him. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen after his old-fashioned, bland performance of The Jackson 5’s, “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Sorry Aaron, but you might have to say goodbye, even if the judges did give you a standing ovation. C
Chase Likens: Chase sang, Hunter Hayes’s song, “Storm Warning.” The judges made several remarks about how good-looking Chase is and that’s never a good sign on American Idol. If the performance is strong enough, there’s no time or reason to discuss good looks. C
Eben Franckewitz: If Adam Brock is white chocolate, then Eben is bubble gum lollipops. Poor kid didn’t have the voice, maturity or soul to pull off Adele’s, “Setting Fire to the Rain.” D
Heejun Han: Oh the conflict! To adore someone so much for their personality and then to be so unmoved by their performance is torture. The judges thought that “Angels” was the wrong song choice, and since it was completely forgettable, it’s tough to disagree. C-
Josh Ledet: Josh sang Jennifer Hudson’s, “You Pull Me Through.” Chances are there will be more than a few people who completely disagree with Josh’s score and placement on this list. After all, the judges gave Josh extremely high praise and a standing ovation, with Steven Tyler saying that the world has been waiting for a voice like his. Despite the critical acclaim, on this list, Josh earns a perfectly respectable, “B-”
Deandre Brackensick: Deandre chose Earth, Wind and Fire’s, “Reasons.” Hmmm, is there a reason he chose this song? Is there a reason why the judges raved about how good he was when he clearly was one of the worst of the night? D
Jermaine Jones: Randy said they brought Jermaine back because they never had someone on the show with such a deep voice before. He must mean aside from last year’s winner, Scotty McCreery. Jermaine predictably chose a Luther Vandross song. Jermaine’s endearing and all, but hardly worthy of a dramatic comeback. C
The girls take the stage on Wednesday and then, come Thursday, America’s vote narrows the field down to 13, counting the judges choices.