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Judges’ Choice: American Idol Cuts are Deep

The first seven of the top 14 of the soon to be top 10 were chosen by the judges tonight on American Idol. So many things I have to say about tonight and I wish more of them were happy. Tonight was all about the return of Idol winners and favorites from years past. Unfortunately, I think, to the detriment of the current contenders, it was more about the guest stars than those competing.

Year over year we have heard the judges nag about song choice. I can still hear Simon Cowell rant about song selection and how important it is to choose a song in their lane or wheelhouse or even in their range. Why is it then, when tasked with choosing songs for these kids, the producers failed so miserably tonight? It wasn’t really a fair fight for some of them. Lauren Alaina has grown and matured by leaps and bounds and was flawless tonight but both songs were perfect for her and not so much perfect for Emily Brooke or even Mackenzie Bourg.

My second problem with tonight reminded me of that horrible night when So You Think You Can Dance thought it was a good idea to bring back some of their most epic routines and slap them on new dancers. The reason we loved Summertime so much was because Fantasia slayed it the first time. That was an unforgettable moment on the idol stage. La’Porsha Renae did a terrific job of keeping up with Fantasia tonight but I didn’t want to erase the previous version from my brain just yet. Same with Ruben and Avalon who did a pretty bang up job of Ruben’s coronation song “Flying Without Wings” but it sort of took away what I remembered of Ruben on that crazy night so long ago.

And finally, then I’ll briefly give a rundown, WHEN DO WE GET TO VOTE? I am almost sure that if America had any say in the choosing tonight, the top seven would have looked much different. As viewers, we used to get to vote every week for every round until there was a top 10 (remember that). We would see these performances for five or six weeks before we even got to the top 10. Here’s an idea, let’s do a two-day #Twittersave for two Wild Card saves and let America really choose some of the contestants. (#JCABforwildcard) Yes, I’m still mad about that.

Ok, end rant. In order of performance, here’s what you missed:

Emily Brooke and Lauren Alaina cranked out a song Lauren did her year. Lauren out-sang Emily by a mile but the song wasn’t really Emily’s thing. Judges said mean things, not in Emily’s lane. The writing was on the wall.

Thomas Stringfellow and Nick Fradiani sang Man in the Mirror (which should never be a duet) and Thomas said it was really technical and difficult before the performance so I’m sure he didn’t get to choose that song. It was odd and Thomas struggled but obviously, they had already chosen him to go through because Harry pretty much said so. I’m ok with that but still…

Stephany Negrete and Ruben Studdard sang “Superstar” and I’m sure Ruben sang that song by himself once before. Stephany looked pretty and did ok but Ruben was amazing.

Sonika Vaid and Caleb Johnson sang “Skyfall” which I thought was actually one of the best song choices of the night. Caleb was doing his best Caleb and being awesome. Sonika needs to get over her nerves and loosen up if we have to watch her for another week.

Jenna Renae and Scotty McCreery sang “See You Tonight” which is one of Scotty’s original songs and I thought this was the best duet to that point. Of course, JLo was making faces during the performance and all she could muster was a “you did the best you could on it” comment.

La’Porsha Renae and Fantasia did “Summertime” and I had been hoping to hear that song but really just with Fantasia. La’Porsha did her thing on it but this was sort of like a hot run fest. I think I liked it but did I mention the runs? These two ladies have a lot of talent between the two of them.

Mackenzie Bourg and Lauren were flirting a lot but eventually sang “I Hope You Dance” which made me want to throw things at my hotel TV. No offense Lee Ann Womack but WHY would you choose that song to showcase Mackenzie Bourg? Anyway, it was fine but Mackenzie got the “good thing you did well yesterday” review.

Gianna Isabella and Nick did his coronation song and I didn’t really like much about this duet and noted only that there was a lot of smiling.

Avalon Young and Ruben did his coronation song “Flying without Wings” and tonight I finally saw what everyone sees in Avalon. Her outfit wasn’t distractingly terrible tonight and I saw her natural beauty and talent. The duet was perfect.

James VIII and Caleb did “Give me Shelter” and I thought they were pretty decent but the judges again praised the all-star and told poor James VIII that it was a good thing he had his guitar to fall back on. I actually thought he held his own with the rocker.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell and Scotty had possibly the most bizarre duet ever in “Gone” with Jeneve in her overdone cowboy garb and weird winky faces and Scotty just looking like he wanted out of there. At least, Keith and Harry admitted that it was weird but JLo  thought it was entertaining. #NO

Jordan Sasser and Fantasia closed out the show with her crowning song “I Believe” which was fine. Again, this was one of the most emotionally charged moments in Idol history and they wiped it out with an OK performance. But also, Jordan was mouthing all of Fantasia’s lyrics which could have been because he lost his earpiece but it was distracting.

Going through to next week based on the judges weird criteria are:

1. La’Porsha Renae

2. Sonika Vaid

3. Avalon Young

4. Gianna Isabella

5. Thomas Stringfellow

6. Mackenzie Bourg (who touched his hair so much tonight)

7. Jeneve Rose Mitchell

Next week we see the next 12 contestants solo on Wednesday and duet on Thursday. I guess they can’t butcher Hailey Reinhart or Daughtry’s coronation songs so there is that!

 

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