American Idol Journal – Week 2

The set list for tonight

“This is…. America’s Most Wanted!”  Oops, wrong show.  In advance of the show tonight came the announcement that Jermaine Jones is off the show due to some unresolved warrants.  I haven’t heard what the warrants were issued for but I’m sure that will come to light soon enough.


Now to the show!   The folks at AI thought to publish the set list for this evenings competition in advance.  I found the picture on Facebook.  Tonight’s show will feature songs from the year they were born.


First up tonight was Phillip Phillips.  Working with a body compromised by a kidney stone surgery last Thursday, he nailed the tune.  The bar is set high right out of the gate again tonight.  Remember last week, the performance by Joshua Ledet to start the show set the tone for a solid Week 1.  ‘Sir Phillip’ duplicated that effort and will be easy to remember tonight, more so if the other contestants don’t match his performance at the very least.


Jessica Sanchez got to follow ‘Sir Phillip’, it’s like being forced to follow the the animal act or the cute kid… it’s tough to get noticed afterward.  She sang Turnin’ the Beat Around.  Jessica is already a seasoned performer, that being said, for me the performance became boring quickly.  I found myself looking for something to do while she sang instead of being captivated by her performance, contrast that to last weeks performance that was truly amazing.  She said if she’s around next time she’ll choose a better song!  JChez… not IF, you will certainly be around next week.


Heejun Han sang a Richard Marx tune, Right Here Waiting.  This was a great Marx hit, big with emotion and I think Heejun delivered on the needed emotion.  He had some breath control and slight pitch issues but nothing that most folks will ever notice.  Despite his lighter, comical side, he had the tenderness to bring the song off and that can only come from someone with natural instincts to be tender.  Randy thought it was very pitchie throughout, I didn’t hear that exactly.  Jennifer was more positive and thought Heejun fought through the vocal issues.  Steven was nice to him, like Niffer.  I don’t see Heejun going home tomorrow either.


Elise Testone had a rough go last week. This week she sang Lets Stay Together from the 1983 hit. I like her breathy voice and the song seemed to fit her too.  She brought her own touch and sass to the performance, this will help her this week.  Unlike JChez (Jessica Sanchez) I was compelled to listen and watch her tonight.  Steven was happy, Niffer was happy and Randy said… “America, Elise is baaack!”    You’ll recall last week I thought Elise was very good, lets hope America is more sympathetic to her this week.


Deandre Brackensick and all his hair took the stage next.  I enjoyed the video they showed of him before he sang tonight.  He sang Endless Love, the hit from Lionel Richie.  Brackensick does nothing for me.  He uses his falsetto all too quickly and it’s become something of a cliche.  Niffer was put on the spot to critique first, she wasn’t a happy camper. Steven was unimpressed, Randy was equally disappointed.

Deandre was NEVER better than Reed Grimm and choosing him over Grimm will be the biggest mistake of this season.


Shannon Magrane was fortunate to follow the forgettable Brackensick, she too, had a rough one last week.  Shannon chose One Sweet Day, apparently she was having breath control issues while auditioning her selection for Jimmy Ivine and promised to work on it.  The judges were all ‘terrified’ for Shannon but ended up happy with her performance.  I wasn’t happy with it, for me it was a bit slow and unexciting.  That being said, it wasn’t a train wreck!  That has to be an achievement for Shannon considering the criticism from last week.  All things considered I think she is at risk to be in the bottom three tomorrow.  She was better than Jessica but JChez will easily survive.


Colton Dixon was excited he got to meet Chris Daughtry.  He sang Broken Heart, considered pretty much an unknown (little known) song by just about everyone in the Idol world.  The band cut loose on this one, for them it was a new tune and that doesn’t happen often in this venue.  Colton is exciting to watch already and is only getting better.  Great outing for the guy with spiked hair.  Jennifer has a crush on Colton after this song.

Steven wasn’t impressed… and that fact IMPRESSES ME!  We don’t hear Steven Tyler express much negativity on the show but I think that song was in HIS genre so he had an opinion about it. Most of America will not agree with Steven tonight, sorry.

Colton will be safe this week even with the negative Tyler review.


Erika Van Pelt was next, she chose Heaven by Bryan Adams.  At first pass this is a great match for her vocal style, her execution was sadly lacking however.  I heard her slurring words and missing some notes at key points where they stood out.  Steven and Jennifer weren’t impressed but Randy said she was an 8 out of 10… really?  She’s in trouble again this week.


The show requires full disclosure!

American Idol decided to handle the Jermaine Jones dirty laundry in what appeared to be an unscripted discussion with him, all in front of the cameras.


I think all of this was in poor form.  They probably thought this was a teachable moment, it wasn’t.  This was a cheap shot at ratings, shame on the producers of American Idol for this stunt.  I hope Jermaine Jones can resolve these issues and go on the something meaningful in life.


Skylar Laine was up next.  She sang Bonnie Raitt’s Love Sneakin’ Up On You.  The coaches tried to change her selection during the weekly audition and she would have none of that.  Good for her, more contestants should have that attitude.   One thing I can say positive is that she works the stage quite well, in order to win the show these days you must be able to do that!  Another thing I can say positive is that she’s clearly country and picking Bonnie Raitt was a great move for her.  In the end she was better this evening than other contestants and should be safe.


Joshua Ledet is a unique enough singer that following Skylar Laine will work well for him.  You’ll recall last week he was in the bottom six… not hard to do with 13 in the running so I would not read anything into that.  Michael Bolton’s When A Man Loves A Woman got Joshua’s attention tonight.  You can hear his gospel roots each time he sings.  I didn’t like how he started out tonight, perhaps Ledet singing Bolton isn’t a great idea.  This was an average performance for me, but this guy has some mad falsetto doesn’t he?  Deandre should take his queues from Ledet.  The judges gave him a standing ovation, even so I think he is on life support regarding his chances for the long term.

Niffer said this was “the best performance ever on American Idol!”  Sadly, I think she meant it.  Apologies go out to past singers with truly memorable moments, Katherine McPhee, David Cook, David Archuletta, even Fantasia had her Idol Moment.  (Psst… Jen, you can’t ‘make’ an Idol Moment just by proclaiming it to be one)

That pretty much sums up American Idol judging these days… fantastically unrealistic comments by the judges only serve to diminish it’s credibility.  Last week Joshua was amazing, this week only the great falsetto salvaged his average performance.


Hollie Cavanagh chose a Celine hit, The Power of Love.  The book for choosing a song on American Idol is that singing the likes of Celine and Whitney and Mariah is never a safe play.  Tonight Hollie’s performance supports ‘the book’ view. I was surprised just how off pitch Cavanagh was throughout her performance.  The show is desperate for a consistent female singer, they aren’t finding it in Hollie.


So, the best of the night are Phillip Phillips, Elise Testone and Colton Dixon.


The average singers on this night were Jessica Sanchez, Heejun Han, Shannon Magrane (she’s lucky some others were much worse)  and Skylar Laine.


The contestants in trouble of being eliminated are Deandre Brackensick, Erika Van Pelt, Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet (I won’t be popular for this one).  It’s possible Heejun Han could replace Ledet but I’m not counting on that.

Thanks for reading this far.