I’m always excited for the first week of ‘real’ competition on American Idol, for me at least, the anticipation and payoff are rarely disappointing. Tonight was no exception. Four of the contestants were true standouts for me and you’ll soon discover who they are.
The franchise seems to be changing things up a bit directly out of the gate. Tonight the guys and gals will be competing against each other, meaning after the bottom two contestants are identified during the results night tomorrow, the judges will make the final decision about which will remain. That means if any of Niffers favorites are in the bottom two you can bet they will survive. We won’t be free of the favoritism until the voters are in full control. That won’t happen tomorrow night completely, it’s always possible two of Jennifer’s favorites will be in the bottom, OMG, what will she ever do? If you’re the ‘boy’ in that equation you’ll be leaving. Niffer is clear about her desire to effect and control the outcomes to get females into the finals.
Tonight is Stevie Wonder/Whitney Houston night and the special guest singer is Mary J. Blige. Jimmy Ivine and Mary J will be providing guidance to each contestant as they prepared to sing.
Joshua Ledet – I wasn’t a Ledet fan until this evening, I think he sang his Stevie song like it was completely natural for him to be in this genre. He’s the first of the night and set the bar very high.
Elise Testone – I’m Your Baby Tonight, Jimmy and Mary J changed up the song selection for Elise, never a good thing so early in the competition. I think she brought her A-game even though this is not really her style, according to her. All the judges were pretty tough on Elise, they were wrong. I heard it differently then they did obviously.
Jermaine Jones – Well, not every Stevie song is meant to be sung by guys with a bass voice. I think he struggled the entire song. How odd, Steven Tyler thought it was an Armani suite experience, the other two judges panned the effort. Remember, Jermaine did not get enough votes on his own to be sent straight into the Top 12 (13) and I’m not really optimistic about surviving this week with his performance tonight.
Erika Van Pelt – I Believe In You And Me. First I liked the red dress on her, she a larger woman and it was very flattering. She put her own spin on the song, a good thing since everyone talks about how tough it is to karaoke Whitney anyway. Nice touch at the end with the falsetto. The judges really liked her performance, but then they were the ones that kept her in that show when the fan support wasn’t there. Well see how she does in the voting tomorrow night.
Colton Dixon – Jimmy and Mary J didn’t think he was vulnerable doing Stevie Wonder and asked him to tap into that part of himself tonight. He sang, The Wonder of It All and put in a wonderful performance in my view. I think he put his own spin on the tune and completely made it his own. The judges were very impressed too.
Shannon Migraine – I Have Nothing, a big tune for her. She was doing great until the mid point tag in the song, Shannon went off key. At least the first half went very well. It was clear by the judges comments that they were not really impressed and tried to down play her performance was due to nerves. Usually this tactic ends in a contestant being voted off sooner than later.
Deandre Brackensick – Another second chance contestant (he beat out Reed Grimm, a mistake in my opinion). I wasn’t impressed tonight with this performance tonight. Steven Tyler referred to one of last years early exiting contestants as if that was a good thing, I don’t think that is a good omen. Niffer and Randy thought it was good. Deandre didn’t impress the voters before, this outing won’t do it either.
Skylar Laine – Where Do Broken Hearts Go. This was an interesting performance because Skylar can only really in a country style, not exactly what we’d think would sound good for a Whitney song. On balance, it was a very average song for me. Sure she hit a couple of big notes along the way but that doesn’t make it for me. Niffer actually thought it was the biggest song of the night… OMG! I call that a pump review, it wasn’t based in reality. Randy said that after tonight Skylar proved she could sing anything. I’d advise her to stay away from Whitney in the future. She’ll survive the night, a couple of folks are already taking up the bottom seats.
Heejun Han – All Is Fair In Love. He is quite the comedian and probably has a career in that too if he so chooses, his singing voice is quite amazing. You may recall that guys like Mel Tillis, who have speech issues, sing perfectly and Heejun is like THAT. No accent, amazing. Good outing.
Hollie Cavanagh – Mary J thinks Hollie could steal the show tonight. Niffer showed her true colors tonight and said how much ‘they’ are hoping for an all female finale. Why not a finale of the best singers, what a concept. Hollie was good but certainly no where near being able to plan for the finals. Still, she’s survive if America votes fairly.
Jeremy Rosado – Rhythm In The Sky. Jimmy says this is a big song for him. Jeremy has a good voice to be sure but Idol winner material, no. One gets the impression that he thinks if he just says to everyone with all earnestness that he really really wants to win that he’ll win folks over. Sorry Jeremy that won’t happen. Good outing tonight, I think you’re finally safe from being in the bottom, unlike Jermaine or Deandre. Surprisingly Niffer didn’t blubber all over his singing tonight and Randy wasn’t impressed either. Perhaps he does have to worry…NOT.
Jessica Sanchez – I Will Always Love You. Another huge ‘Body Guard’ hit and Jessica was simply amazing. Except for Joshua Ledet, she performed the best tonight… until Phillip Phillips. Even I know that this song is a tough sell for the most seasoned singers, she did it flawlessly.
Phillip Phillips – I think Phillip is the one to beat this year. Like Randy said, “Dude, you drive your OWN CAR!”
As opening nights go, this one was pretty good. Although a few were obviously off their game this evening, no one was desperately bad. Contrast that to last year’s opening performances, this was one of the better openers in recent years while last year was one of the worst (perhaps THE worst) opening nights in recent years.
The standouts tonight were Joshua Ledet, Colton Dixon, Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips.
So, who is safe? It’s always easier to say at this stage who needs to worry so that is how I’ll approach my predictions. Those that should be nervous are Jermaine Jones, Erika Van Pelt, Deandre Brackensick and Jeremy Rosado. Curiously all four did not get in from America voting for them.
Thanks for reading this far!