AMERICAN IDOL: Semifinal Results Recap

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It’s the beginning of the end. The start of conclusion. The third oxymoron. Whatever you want to call it, the performances got under way last night, and here’s the breakdown:

Stephany Negrete Sang “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J
Keith Said: It was a really good song choice, but you could have loosened up even more.
J-Lo Said: You’re like the full package, but you need to connect the song to what you’re doing.
Harry Said: I felt that something was missing.
The Verdict:
Solid song choice by Stephany – if you have a blow away voice, why not choose the song of another singer who has a blow away voice right in your range? Stephany, though, suffers from an incredible lack of charisma. She walked around the stage with the timidity of newborn puppy as her discomfort overwhelmed any sort of manufactured fun she was attempting to muster.
This girl can sing, but I don’t think she can perform.
Grade: C+

Mackenzie Bourg Sang “Say Somthing” by A Great Big World
Keith Said: I believed every bit of it.
J-Lo Said: You did what Mackenzie does.
Harry Said: You changed the melody, but you kept the integrity of the song.
The Verdict:
Of course the sensitive “dork” sang the ultimate sensitive nice guy song complete with crappy acoustic guitar. The guy has a pleasant enough voice, but his delivery of the song was downright strange. This is a song about feeling like a relationship is slipping away and he sang it like some sort of modern Christmas Carol – strangely out of place.
Mackenzie might want to start understanding the lyrics before he chooses how to sing the song.
Grade: C-

Jeneve Mitchell Sang “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
Keith Said: You’re extraordinary.
J-Lo Said: I had goosies everywhere.
Harry Said: I would have rather just heard you sing the song.
The Verdict:
So chick played an honest-to-God harp on American Idol. Like full on stand-up harp with the double-strings and everything. I guess that’s pretty uniquely impressive.
Though in what’s supposed to be a singing contest, she didn’t exactly sing the song very well. She chose about nineteen different keys to get through a song that can’t help you think about ASPCA animals and want to put the performance out of its misery.
Grade: C

Jenna Renae Sang “My Church” by Maren Morris
Keith Said: I’m still curious to see other sides of you.
J-Lo Said: I felt like you were really in your element.
Harry Said: I liked the energy and enthusiasm, but your pitch was sacrificed because you shouted it.
The Verdict:
I have no idea what this song is, but I imagine it’s a country song. Jenna straight can’t sing. She sings like somebody imitating somebody singing. She’s woefully flat and tries to cover it up with a phony baloney soul tone that doesn’t work at all.
However, she does know how to sell the song. Watching her, you’d think she was a real-life performer with a great voice, but one look away and the pitchy vocals overtake whatever fun Jenna was having.
Grade: D+

James VIII “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West
Keith Said: Gotta be careful between being chill and indulgent.
J-Lo Said: Interesting choice of song because it stayed so even.
Harry Said: It was super easy and great, but it needs to get more complex.
The Verdict:
Oh shit. James is legit. Our first legit singer and performer of the night! I was beginning to lose faith…
James rocked this song effortlessly, with a cool blues tone and easy-going stage presence that made him seem like a pro from the ’70s just rocking another gig before he leaves the stage to get laid.
The song choice was a little lacking though, as it kind of kept James in one specific lane the entire time and didn’t really leave him anywhere to go once he started singing. He’s gotta have more moves than that and I hope he gets a chance to show them off.
Grade: B

Sonika Vaid Sang “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars
Keith Said: Your voice is so good
J-Lo Said: Do songs that really make you feel something.
Harry Said: It was a really good job.
The Verdict:
This was kind of a Ricky Bobby performance – Sonika had no idea to do with her hands. She was half Celine Dion and half sign language interpreter as she stood perfectly still and tried to overpower her performance with her voice.
For somebody with such an outstanding voice, that’s not a bad strategy except Sonika didn’t quite hit the heights we’ve seen from her before and didn’t give a compelling enough vocal performance to overcome the fact that she was essentially a singing statue with weirdly moving arms.
Grade: B-

Gianna Isabella Sang “I Put A Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Keith Said: It was a little inconsistent.
J-Lo Said: I think you have the best voice in the competition.
Harry Said: Challenge yourself to find as much meat in there as you can.
The Verdict:
This is a very accomplished performance from Gianna. She found about nine different gears with her voice through the 60 seconds she got to sing and used them in perfect synchronicity with the song’s lyrical and musical changes.
It’s kind of remarkable how much she got out of the incredibly short time they gave the singers tonight – a total beginning, middle and staggering end where she brought it home with a classic ‘Idol’ belt.
Gianna took the classic ‘Idol’ playbook and executed it expertly with a dead-on song choice that she completely maxed out.
Grade: B+

Emily Brooke Sang “I Am Invincible” by Cassadee Pope
Keith Said: That song didn’t play to your strengths.
J-Lo Said: I don’t think that was the best song for you.
Harry Said: I never heard you struggle with pitch as much as you just did.
The Verdict:
OK. ‘Idol’ may want to keep shoving blonde little country girls who can’t sing down our throats, but in this last season, I’m done with it. I don’t have any time for Emily and she can’t leave soon enough.
Grade: D-

Avalon Young “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
Keith Said: Don’t be afraid to take charge.
J-Lo Said: You had the whole audience in the palm of your hands.
Harry Said: You seem to be the most in-tune with who you are.
The Verdict:
Avalon is totally refreshing on this show. She’s not interested in playing to some sort of type and is just her own sweet-singing self without any frills or tropes.
Plus the girl can sing. She’s like Becky G meets Rosie Perez and I swear to God that’s a compliment. And she can move – totally at ease on the stage and with commanding the audience to find the groove with her simply by finding it herself so easily.
She looks like the real surprise breakout of the first night.
Grade: B+

Jordan Sasser Sang “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
Keith Said: Please don’t lose the emotion.
J-Lo Said: I kept wondering if you were finding the right part of your voice.
Harry Said: That was show-offy.
The Verdict:
Total oddball creepo performance from Jordan here. First of all, he looked David Hasselhoff with his rolled up leather jacket and strangely swooped hair. Second, he kept licking his lips as he hit his rests. Third, he turned this into a freakshow cabaret performance that was almost sociopathic in how much he was acting the lyrics instead of putting them through with real feeling. The lighting didn’t help either.
Jordan hit some solid notes, but that’s about all the good that came from this performance, and I don’t even know that the good notes outweighed the bad ones.
Grade: D+

Thomas Stringfellow Sang “Creep” by Radiohead
Keith Said: It’s really compelling.
J-Lo Said: You were pushing the envelope and I like that.
Harry Said: I thought that was tremendous.
The Verdict:
So I think we can all agree we hate this kid. He sings Radiohead in a strange clipped phrasing that I guess he learned from Selena Gomez or Jason Mraz or some other stupid modern take on singing that doesn’t make any sense. He’s holding his guitar almost like he’s playing it classically except that wouldn’t make sense. And he’s wearing a stupid hat. What’s not to hate?
What’s worse is that he actually has an excellent voice. Some nice clean tonal power there that gets lost in his ridiculous phrasing and need to over-emote everything. I think if this kid just sang a song like a normal person would, he’d be pretty good. Right now, he’s just irritating in his attempt to be so connected.
Grade: C

La’Porsha Renae Sang “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner
Keith Said: You’ve never been conscious of how good you are.
J-Lo Said: It’s a joy to listen to you sing. I dream about voices like yours.
Harry Said: You’re either going to make the other performers want to get better or make them want to quit.
The Verdict:
OK, everybody else. You were just the appetizer. The amuse-bouche. The first course leading up to the sumptuous entree that is La’Porsha.
La’Porsha took over the stage for her brief performance window like a total pro with easily the best performance of the night and one of the best vocals. She owned everything about this song without having to force a single moment – she just seems right in the spotlight.
I guess the only complaints is that her voice isn’t as strong as she is a performer, and she did absolutely nothing with the song – but it was so much fun that those issues weren’t as glaring as they might have been with anybody else tonight.
Grade: B+

No Predicitions yet. But check back tomorrow as we break down the duets and let you know who’s making it through to the live shows.

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