American Idol: Season 10, Episode 10 – “…Zoo talk and nuts of wonder…”

American Idol: Season 10, Episode 10 – “…Zoo talk and nuts of wonder…”

After two action packed episodes, we have come to the end of Hollywood week.  The initial solo performances cut the field down from 327 dreamers to 168 contestants.  The group performances reduced the field to an even 100.  Now it was time for one final moment on the stage before the judges cut the field to the lucky 61 who will travel to Las Vegas to battle it out for a spot on the live shows in two weeks.

This episode also marked the first time we were able to see the contestants with instruments.  Who were the musicians and who were the singers?  Who crumbled under the pressure?  Who rose to the occasion?  And most importantly – did Casey Abrams really play the upright bass for his song?  Questions abound, as do answers.  Read on faithful followers…

  • Haley Rinehart was the first contestant shown.  Looking back at the week, she started strong, but forgot all of her words on the group number.  (So did Rob Bolin.  She stayed and he didn’t?  Can’t agree with that…).   I like the timbre of her voice, but – what the hell was she singing?  It was “God Bless the Child”?  Really?  Was there a melody hiding somewhere in there, I missed?  The judges loved it.  Just a LITTLE overwrought for my taste.
  • Ashton Jones hit the stage next, sporting Diana Ross’s hair from the mid-80’s.  She packed a lot of power into her small frame, but her voice was missing something.  It didn’t have any low-end foundation – it seemed thin and flat.  I’m sure she will do well, but she’s not my cup of tea.
  • Next we had Thia Megia – again.  She’s 15.  Hooray!  She can sing in tune.  Hooray!  She remembered her words.  Hooray!  Do I care?  Not so much.
  • Here’s a tip for future contestants – the musicians Idol puts on the stage are professionals.  You are not.  Adrian Michel blamed the band for his mistakes.  (Michael, the keyboardist, mouthed – “It wasn’t me.”  Michael – we know.)  Caleb Johnson questioned the key he had selected.  What a shame.  From what I’ve seen of Caleb on YouTube, he’s got quite a voice.  I wasn’t sure what key Frances Coontz was singing in.  Apparently, neither was she.
  • Have I mentioned I don’t like Clint Jun Gamboa?  Not a fan – never will be.  Two observations for Clint.  First – Danny Gokey already did the ever-changing-eyeglasses thing on Season 8 (except he used glasses, not Minion goggles).  I didn’t like him either.  Second – your version of “Georgia On My Mind” sounded like a male version of Christina Aguilera doing the National Anthem.  For my younger readers – I don’t mean that as a compliment.
  • Kendra Chantelle also sang “Georgia on my Mind” as did Sophia Shorai.  Did Sophia have a migraine, or was grabbing her head just a nervous tick?
  • Both Carson Higgins and Chris Medina chose to do “My Prerogative”.  Carson did a straight-ahead version of the song with the band; Chris did an acoustic version with his guitar (Andrew Garcia, anyone?).  Ryan informed us that the judges saw two different performances from two very different guys.  I’m glad they did – because we didn’t.  We got 12 seconds of Chris and 2 minutes of Carson.  Was Chris’ version that weak?  The crowd seemed to love Carson’s version, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was more about his personality than his singing.
  • Julie Zorilla showed she was not just a pretty face – she’s also a pretty good piano player.  Caleb Hawley may have looked like he was asleep (with his Patrick Dempsey vibe, he shall henceforth be known as McSleepy), but showed some serious guitar chops on “Sir Duke”.   Colton Dixon also showed some legit piano skills – he might be a dark horse to make the live shows.  Brett Loewenstern sounded good as usual – but it looked like his guitar was a big as him.  And finally, Robbie Rosen continued to impress with his poise and style, this time behind the keyboard.
  • Casey Abrams turned in the best performance of the night – hands down.  Upright bass?  Really?  REALLY.  His version of “Georgia On My Mind” made everyone else’s pale in comparison (paging Clint Jun Gamboa – not a fan, never will be).  It was original, it was musically astute, and it was on fire.  I love Casey more and more each time I see him.  My fear is he doesn’t stand a chance on the live shows – he’s far too good a musician, and too scruffy looking for the teenage dialing public.  I hope I’m wrong about that.
  • And now, a word or two from my wife.  We learned the Jacqueline Dunford was leaving the competition because of illness (maybe from her boyfriend’s toxic attitude?).  My wife barely looked up and deadpanned – “She was never going to make it.”  Then we heard how distraught Chelsee Oaks was at Jacqueline’s departure.  She sobbed that Jacqueline was her best friend in the entire world.  My wife snapped her head up and shouted at the TV, “YOU JUST MET HER THIS WEEK!”  My advice – Rob, you’re better off.  Run away.
  • Lauren Alaina still sounded good, but the rasp in her voice I loved from the auditions, was missing.  Her crush on Steven continued unabated.  If she makes the top 12, I wonder how many times she’ll go to the Aerosmith catalog?
  • The “new star” of Hollywood Week (at least as far as the producers want us to know) was Jacob Lusk.  There is no question that he sang the doors off of “God Bless The Child”.  He wrung every single note possible out of the song, and left everything he had on the stage.  Still – it was all a bit cartoonish and manic for me.  I just don’t know that I can take him seriously.  The judges loved him.  I am, again, going to reserve judgment.
  • John Wayne Shultz provided an elegant and reserved counterpoint to Jacob’s vocal gymnastics with his acoustic version of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.  It was very well done – and I hate that song.
  • I knew Ashley Sullivan was headed for trouble when they rolled her telling the camera – “I kinda lucked out in that I haven’t bombed in front of the judges at all.”  Uh-oh.  Foreshadowing, party of one.  She chose to sing “Everything” by Michael Buble.  After dedicating it to her boyfriend, she forgot the words and broke down (again).  I still like Ashley a lot (she’s like Liza Minnelli on speed), but I’m just not sure she could handle the pressure of the live shows.
  • Stefano Langone sang Stevie Wonder and nailed it.  Jovany Barreto chose to sing acapella, and sounded surprisingly pure.  Jacee Badeaux sang David Cook’s “The Time of My Life”, and for the first time seemed nervous and young.  It was not his best performance.
  • The last two contestants of the night, Scotty McCreary and Tatynisa Wilson gave us the next best thing to “Nickname That Singer”.  They gave us – “What The Hell Did He/She Just Sing?”  While performing “I Hope You Dance”, Scotty chose to go with – “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.  I said this zone zoo talk and nuts of wonder.  Nag da wonder un your jeans your fighting chance.” Not to be outdone, Tatynisa threw down with – “I hope you never lose the wonder of your senses.  You get the fuel to eat but always keep your hunger.  May you never take advantage of this broken.  Then thunn oh oh ohhhh.” I didn’t realize Bob Dylan wrote country lyrics.
  • There was a distinct lack of drama in the reveal of who had made it through to the next round in Vegas.  The very first room the judges visited to pronounce their decision included: Brett Loewenstern, Jacee Badeaux, James Durbin, Caleb Hawley, Haley Rinehart, Robbie Rosen, Jacob Lusk, Clint Jun Gamboa (not a fan – never will be), Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, Chris Medina, and Ashley Sullivan. That could be a good chunk of the top 24 right there.  I wonder if they made it through??
  • The second and third rooms did not make it through.  They were filled with not so familiar faces that did not make it through to the next round.  Corey Lavoy, Mark Gutierrez and Chelsee Oaks were the only singers with significant camera time, not to make the cut.  I wonder if Rob will be leaving a light on for Chelsee?
  • The final room was by far the largest.  It was also the only room that Steven, Jennifer, and Randy really made sweat it out.  Notables that made it through were Scotty McCreary and Tatynisa Wilson (again, I’ll say it – they forgot their words and made it through, and Rob is back in Nashville already?), Julie Zarillo, Carson Higgins, Javony Baretto, Hollie Cavanaugh, Thia Megia (hooray…), John Wayne Shultz, and Naima Adedapo (who still may or may not know how to shave her armpits.)

And that, faithful readers, was the end of Hollywood Week.  We were left with 61 Idol hopefuls, and the promise of a new challenge next week.  Everyone is heading to Las Vegas to perform Beatles songs on the stage of “Love” the Beatles inspired Cirque de Soleil show.  What I found most interesting is – it looks like they will be performing in groups.  Group week, part deux?  Bring it on!

Oh – and remember the “classy” and “restrained” stage moms from the group numbers?  Remember how their children where God’s gift to the competition?  Well, it looks like only two of the five made it through to the Vegas round.  Maybe God wasn’t in such a giving mood on Thursday night.  I’m just sayin…  Word Zombie out.

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