American Idol: Season 10, Episode 11 – “Tap dance on her tongue…”

American Idol: Season 10, Episode 11 – “Tap dance on her tongue…”

Tonight’s episode promised to take us from the top 61 to the top 40, and then on to the top 24.  In a very nice new twist for the season, we also got even more performancesl.  In seasons past, Hollywood week marked the end of singing until the live shows.  This year, the contestants had to sing not once, but twice more before finding out if the made the top 24.  It made the reveal of the top 24 much more entertaining (and also allowed Fox to stretch it out over two nights, and three hours…)

Just after the top 61 were announced, they found out they would be boarding buses and heading out to Las Vegas.  Once there, they had 24 hours to divide into duos or trios, and learn a Beatles song.  They then had to perform them on the “Beatles: Love” stage.  These were performances that included props, stage sets, and multiple cameras.  It was a good dry run for the live performance shows, and gave the judges a chance to see how the hopefuls all performed under those conditions.

After the performances, 21 singers were sent home and the top 40 made their way back to LA.  In yet another change, each one performed one last time for the judges, then waited for the top 24 to be announced.

It was an action packed show – a full two hours long.  I have all the performances, all the insights, and all the snarky comments you are looking for.  Dig in and enjoy!

  • Where did they find vocal coach Peggi Blu – “The Vocal Coach From Hell”?  I loved her constructive teaching style – “No!  What is that?  Sing damn it! Do it from the top one more time, and don’t make a mistake.  Guess what?  You’re going to die on stage in front of all those people.  I’m going to be lying in my bed just watching you croak.  And when I get the phone call that says – did you do these two? – I’m gonna go – Hell No!” She also provided some loving advice on singing well with others – “Bury her ass on stage.  Tap dance on her tongue.” So good to know we have professionals shaping the minds of our youth.
  • Ashton Jones freely admitted – “I have never heard a Beatles song in my life.” That hurts my soul.
  • The producers brought in Jimmy Iovine (not the last time we will see him this season – he’s the new mentor this year) to help the contestants with their Beatles songs.  We didn’t see much other than – “You need to pick another song” and “That’s not what we are looking for”.  Let’s hope there’s more to his mentoring skills as the season progresses – but my first impression is – he’s no Harry Connick, Jr.
  • Time for the Vegas performances to start.  First up were Stefano Langone and James Durbin, singing “Get Back”.  It didn’t knock me out and, surprise – James cranked out another note found in the “way-out-o-sphere” (as Steven put it).  I’ll say it again – I hope he doesn’t repeat Siobhan’s mistakes from last year.
  • Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez hit the stage next with “Can’t Buy Me Love”.  They put on a good performance, but neither voice stood out to me.  (I’m sorry, but I really want to throw out a random pop culture reference and call Pia – Pinky Tuscadero – but I’ll refrain.)
  • Jacob Lusk, Haley Reinhart, and Naima Adedapo tackled “The Long And Winding Road”.  Jimmy Iovine advised Jacob not to over sing the song.  He should have given the same advice to Haley.  When it was over, Randy told Jacob not to hold back – to keep the pedal to the metal at all times.  I can see that the time-honored tradition of confusing the hell out of the contestants with feedback is starting early this year.  On a positive note – it looks like Naima has finally learned to shave her armpits.
  • A few quick hits:  Rachel Zevita and her group sang “Eleanor Rigby”.  Why were they trapped in an umbrella ring on the stage?  Lauren Turner sounded surprisingly strong on “Let It Be”.  Very impressive.  Tim Halperin sounded outstanding both vocally and on the keyboard.  Julie Zorrila also sounded good as his partner – but the staging of the number had a very “Glee” feel to it.
  • Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis, and Tatynisa Wilson took a spin with “I Saw Her Standing There”.  The judges didn’t seem to love it (except Steven), but I thought they did a great job with both the harmonies and the arrangement.  It was fun.
  • Kendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald turned in what may have been the best performance of the night with “Blackbird”.  Both have distinctive voices, and neither has gotten any airtime so far.  Paul’s voice in particular has a soft, breathy quality I can’t believe he’s able to achieve live.  It was stunning.
  • A few more quick hits:  Clint Jun Gamboa (not a fan – never will be), and someone I don’t recognize, did an aggressive, but interesting version of “Help”.  (By the way, looks like Clint went with the black minion goggles tonight). Ashton Jones and someone else I don’t recognize seemed to scream their way through “Ticket to Ride”.  John Wayne Schultz and (apparently) two members of Boyz-2-Men made it through “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
  • Time for tonight’s installment of  – “Just how manic is Ashley Sullivan?”  Since they made the trip to Vegas, she evidently decided that she and her boyfriend were going to get married.  Her prenuptial words of comfort for him said it all – “If you get cold feet, I don’t care.  You’re going through with it – or I’ll kill you in your sleep.  My precious…” With the Idol cameraman as their witness, Ashley and David tied the knot in the same chapel that Brittany Spears was married in.  I’m not sure I like that karma.
  • Melinda Ademi and Thia Megia (hooray!) made it through “Here Comes the Sun” without their vocal coach’s prediction of an onstage disaster coming to pass.  Also – no one tap danced on anyone’s tongue.  Kids these days – they just don’t take instruction that well.
  • Ashley Sullivan and Sophia Shorai sang a version of “We Can Work It Out” that sounded like it could have been the theme song to “One Day At A Time”.  In two words or less – not good.  At least Ashley got a good video of her wedding out of the trip to Vegas.
  • Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson, and Scotty McCreary took Jimmy Iovine’s advice and changed songs.  They decided to go with “Hello Goodbye”.  I agree with the judges – it was not a good song choice.  The staging did have (as Steven correctly pointed out) a rather Marx Brothers-like quality to it.  It just seemed corny – and we usually don’t get that until the Ford commercials with the top 12.
  • Third time’s the charm for quick hits:  Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley did something that claimed to be “Please Please Me”.  Not so much.  Casey Abrams and Chris Medina did “Hard Day’s Night” while jumping around on a bed like extras in High School Musical 23.  It was not Casey’s best moment.
  • Last of the groups was Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders, and Jordon Dorsey.  They did an arrangement of “Got To Get You Into My Life” that sounded like it was put together by the Bee Gees – but it really worked.  The harmonies were tight and Robbie shined again. We haven’t seen much of Aaron so far – man, he can sing.
  • The judges’ cuts from 61 down to 40 were not all that shocking.  Molly DeWolf, Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, Denise Jackson, Melinda Ademi, Ashley Sullivan, and 15 other contestants we never met, were sent home.
  • From Vegas, the top 40 moved on to LA for one final performance before the judges picked the top 24 to appear on the live shows.  Instead of a lonely elevator ride to face the judges this year, the contestants evidently had to walk 2.7 miles through an airplane hanger to meet them.
  • First up was Naima Adedapo.  We took a look back at her journey and then got down to business.  She started crying as soon as she hit the chair, but the tears ending up being tears of joy.  She was the first one to make the top 24.
  • Next in the hangar was Holly Cavanaugh.  She had a rocky road to the top 40, but had a strong Hollywood week.  Unfortunately, she did not make the top 24.  Jennifer wanted to put her through, but Randy provided some of the best advice I’ve heard so far this year.  Holly is only 17 years old, and not quite ready for the big stage.  Instead of putting her through now, they want her to go back and work more on who she wants to be as an artist – and come back in a few years.  It’s sound advice and I hope she takes it.
  • Lakeisha Lewis didn’t make it through – not surprising since we only saw her sing once.  Alex Ryan was also cut – I’m not sure we ever say him sing.
  • Clint Jun Gamboa (not a fan – never will be) was the next contestant called in.  After a few jabs about kicking Jacee out of their group, the judges put Clint through to the top 24.  At least now we will have the pleasure of voting him out ourselves.
  • Haley Reinhart made her appearance after the commercial break.  Seeing her performance of “God Bless the Child” and then whatever the hell that song was she sang last, I was reminded how overly dramatic and out of control she can be at times.  I know that judges like her, but I’m still not buying what she’s selling.  When she made the top 24, she didn’t really seem all that excited.  Neither was I.
  • Deandre Brackensick had his turn in the chair next. You may recall that he was one of “The Minors” from group week.  He didn’t make the top 24.  I guess he’ll have to take his flowing Milli Vanilli locks and his overzealous mom back home.  I’m sure he’s a good kid – the good news is, he’s still got 12 years of eligibility left before he’s 28.
  • As I said before, I really wish Paul McDonald had gotten more face time during Hollywood week.  I like his voice, and would have loved to hear what he did with it.  Luckily we’ll get to hear more of it in the top 24.  I’m anxious to see what he does.
  • Ashton Jones was up next.  I like her personality, but still think her voice is lacking a crucial depth to it.  She broke out Whitney Houston again for her final number.  I’ll give you even money she finds a way to shoehorn “I Will Always Love You”, into the live performances.  I will give her credit – she looked genuinely shocked and humbled to make the top 24.
  • Chris Medina – There’s no doubt that Chris’s story is one of the more moving of the season.  The song he sang for his final audition was heart wrenching in its honesty and emotion.  To hear how much Julie cherished the kiss from Steven was a poignant moment, but as soon as Jennifer started talking, I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.  My wife nailed it – “I wanted him to be better than he was.”  Me too – but no matter how much I liked him as a person, the judges made the right decision.  Chris – I’m sorry to see you go.  I wish you and Julie the best.

And on that note, the show ended.  Five of the 24 slots had been filled.  The remaining 19 will fill up tomorrow night’s show.  Will there be any shocking eliminations?  I don’t know.  I think I have a good idea who’s going to make it, but you have to remember, this is the show that put Danny Gokey and Sanjaya on the live shows.  Anything can happen.  Tune in tomorrow to find out just what that anything is.  Until then – Word Zombie out.

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