Last night was one of the toughest shows I’ve ever had to recap.
Not because it’s the last solo performance show ever before the audience votes. Not because it’s the last time we’ll ever see the judges make decisions based on solo performances without having to worry about America’s vote. It’s not even because of Ryan Seacrest’s V-Neck.
It’s because I had only heard of like three of these songs. Seriously? What was with these choices? Going deep catalog of obscure singers so people would think they were originals maybe?
It’s about the only logical explanation for these song choices:
Shelbie Z Sang “Work Harder Play Harder” by Gretchen Wilson
Keith Said: You sacrificed the whole song for the last note.
J-Lo Said: I know you have amazing vocals, but it didn’t feel like it was in register.
Harry Said: I think you look great and sound great.
I thought Emily Brooke was the only country girl who couldn’t sing this year, and this Shelbie Z comes along. I’ll say that she’s better than Emily in that she has a decent rock edge to her voice, but she’s also incredibly irritating because she likes to shoot her guns and ride her ATVs. Spare me.
And, in all honesty, this grade is actually more reflective of her video package than it is of her singing.
Manny Torres Sang “Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay
Keith Said: I don’t think that was a good song for your vocal strengths.
J-Lo Said: I wanted you to connect more.
Harry Said: It’s all about the lyrics.
So Manny decided to dress like a bellboy at an upscale hotel in the 1920s for some reason. I mean what is that shirt? Who is making this shirt? Why would somebody wear a shirt like that outside of a concierge’s desk.
Even more questionable than Manny’s shirt is his choice of song. Is there even actual singing on this record? Isn’t it just that annoying synth riff repeated on an endless loop? Not exactly a singer’s song.
But Manny isn’t exactly a singer though so maybe it did make sense.
Kory Wheeler Sang “Let it Go” by James Bay
Keith Said: You have a good mix of confidence and vulnerability.
J-Lo Said: I feel like we’re just seeing the beginnings of what you’re going to turn into.
Harry Said: I thought it was pretty good, I didn’t think it was great.
If you can get around Kory’s face, then he’s not actually that bad. Nice smooth vocal on a song that fits it perfectly. He’s kind of like a Millenial Mark Cohn and I swear to God that’s a compliment.
But there is the problem of his face. It’s really hard to get around. Also, he said “You like that?” in the middle of the song for some reason. I didn’t like that.
Amelia Eisenhauser Sang “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
Keith Said: I like that you’re trying things.
J-Lo Said: I’m not sure it was the best song.
Harry Said: I think you need to find songs that are a little bit quirkier.
Amelia is really trying to sing. Like SINGING. She put about forty-five notes into every single syllable in an attempt to make it clear that she really can sing. Good singers don’t have to do that.
After the super-note intro, the tempo picked up and her energy along with it. Her vocals, though, took a step back as she morphed from over-dramatic cabaret performer from a teenager in her high school talent show, bopping around and shouting instead of singing.
Another perfect example of somebody who’s just too young to be good.
Jenn Blosil “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
Keith Said: I really commend the originality.
J-Lo Said: It was just a little shaky at the beginning.
Harry Said: It was extremely out of tune.
Oh no! What happened to J-Blo!? Her voice sounded like it was running at about 65% capacity as she didn’t sing with near the power, confidence and clarity that she normally does.
Fortunately for J-Blo, 65% of her is better than 200% of most of these contestants. Especially when she does a really stripped down performance of a Justin Bieber song.
This performance had its moments, but it wasn’t a moment.
CJ Johnson Sang “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain
Keith Said: Everything was so perfect for your voice.
J-Lo Said: I felt like you were singing that to me.
Harry Said: Make sure you sing it in tune.
So CJ almost did a total sound-a-like performance of this song. It seriously may as well have been Edwin McCain with a touch of distorted guitar in the background – there was so little difference.
I guess on some level that’s commendable – I mean he did sound almost exactly like a professional singer singing his signature song, but shouldn’t CJ have been able to put his own signature on this tune? At least a little bit?
Lee Jean Sang “Runaway” by Ed Sheeran
Keith Said: I don’t know what’s up with the song choices tonight.
J-Lo Said: It’s all working, but you have to pick a better song.
Harry Said: You should practice singing while you’re playing.
I’m very disappointed to find out Lee Jean pronounces his last name in the French way, totally undermining his perfect punny Lee Jeans name. It’s really something that I’m going to have a hard time getting over going forward.
I’m not sure how much of a forward they’ll be though as Lee really can’t sing a note. Like super flat and out-of-tune the entire performance. It’s a shame too because he has a really good since of rhythm and groove as he turns an Ed Sheeran song into something that actually seemed cool.
Lee does everything that makes singing great except the actual singing part.
Trent Harmon Sang “What Are You Listening To?” by Chris Stapleton
Keith Said: I thought it was a great song choice.
J-Lo Said: You have something that I feel like is going to be in this competition for a long time.
Harry Said: It wasn’t the Trent that I’ve come to expect.
So I mentioned about that I hadn’t heard of any of these songs. Well I REALLY haven’t heard of this song. I know Chris Stapleton just won every like every single Grammy on Monday, but I’m not familiar at all with his catalog.
That didn’t stop me from enjoying this. Trent delivered the song with an earnestness and vulnerability that made it seem like it was his own. Plus he can sing! He actually has a solid voice unlike seemingly everybody else on the show. And, hey, maybe the song was his.
Tristan McIntosh “Good Girl” by Carrie Underwood
Keith Said: You have a lot of talent and you look like a million bucks.
J-Lo Said: The beginning was overthought, the end you were feeling more.
Harry Said: I heard you sing loud, but it was just okay.
So now Tristan is a country girl who can’t sing too? What is this epidemic that’s taking over my ‘Idol’ stage? It simply must be stopped!
I guess if they have to keep one of the country girls around, it should be Kristen. She actually has some vocal moves beyond country karaoke as she exhibited with some really tremendous notes and some performance gears Shellie and Emily could never even approach.
I guess I can live with her nonsense country for a little while.
Adam Lasher Sang “Black and Gold” by Sam Sparro
Keith Said: You have to find the song that you can kill with your voice.
J-Lo Said: I couldn’t get into the melody of that song.
Harry Said: You need to drive the groove.
So check this out. Sam is the oldest person on this show. And he looks like he’s the oldest person on this show by about 20 years. What does the oldest person do? Has the best voice. He’s the most confident and complete performer. He has his own unique persona, voice, stage presence. He’s just more accomplished than everybody else.
He also has a knockdown killer voice. He sang the hell out of this song and I have no idea why the judges didn’t like it – one of the most curious judgments I’ve ever seen on this show.
Dalton Rapattoni Sang “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol
Keith Said: You never disappoint.
J-Lo Said: That made me feel something.
Harry Said: It was a phenomenal performance.
Dalton chose one of the few songs that I’ve heard of and turned it into some weirdo Jim Steinem gothic rock opera showstopper complete with him lurching around the stage like Meat Loaf’s vampire nephew.
A total piece of musical theater that never rose above wannabe Adam Lambert except with about 10% of the voice.
Olivia Rox Sang “Confident” by Demi Lovato
Keith Said: The show starts now.
J-Lo Said: It’s a joy to listen to you sing. I dream about voices like yours.
Harry Said: It was strong, but find the rhythm.
So Olivia can kinda sing a little bit. And she really wants everybody to know that. She doesn’t care about melody or phrasing or articulation or rhythm, she just cares about blowing out her instrument as awesomely as possible so people look up and say, “what a great voice!”.
Didn’t fool me.
Check back tomorrow as we break down the duets and let you know who’s making it through to the live shows.