If only all results shows could be like this one—it consisted of nothing but results. Of course, there was all the obligatory self-reflection, recaps of the previous nights and judges’ blither, but at least we didn’t have to suffer through a Ford commercial, a group sing and a video of the Idols watching a sequel of an animated film.
And Jimmy Iovine—thank you, “American Idol” gods for bringing us Jimmy Iovine. This man fills the gaping void left by Simon Cowell. He tells the truth. Like: “There’s a lot of blondes on this show. Wow.”
As Ryan Seacrest walked us through the semifinals history of each contestant, Iovine ended each segment with his own take on the performances.
Instead of lavishing the performers with praise, he pointed out the obvious things that the judges refused to articulate: for instance, how Shannon Magrane was dressed for the prom; how Haley Johnson did “robotic mimicking”; how Brielle von Hugel’s song choice, “Dock of the Bay,” was ridiculous; how, if Joshua Ledet makes it through, Iovine’s job will be to help keep him from turning into “Sister Act 3.”
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His criticism just makes his praise all the more believable. He said if he could, he would sign Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez on the stop, and also gave props to Skylar Laine, Elise Testone and Jermaine Jones.
One thing he didn’t talk about, however, was the fact that two girls sang the same song last night. How was this even allowed, let alone ignored? We’ll never know.
Still, Iovine’s comments were so funny, so refreshing and made it so clear that the softies on the current judges’ panel are a waste of time.
The Top 10 of the Top 13
Contestants were called down in groups of three or four, at which point we got a recap of their performance and the judges’ comments, followed by Iovine. Then Seacrest put through up to two of each group, until five of each gender were legitimately chosen by America.
Phillip Phillips, Hollie Cavanagh (America—really?), Jessica Sanchez, Heejun Han, Joshua Ledet, Skylar Laine, Shannon Magrane, Elise Testone, Jermaine Jones and Colton Dixon were all sent to the Top 13. Except for Cavanagh, who sang “Reflection” like she was competing for a Junior Miss [Pick a Midwestern State] Pageant, those were solid picks.
Iovine did call out Hollie for not being believable, and admitted that Heejun confuses him. “It’s not ‘American Comedian,’ it’s ‘American Idol.'” When Ryan Seacrest asked Heejun how he felt about that critique from Iovine, he asked, “Who’s that?”
Of the rejects, he also called out Eben Franckewitz for attempting something far too mature with Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” said Jen Hirsh used “vocal pyrotechnics in place of soul,” and complained that Creighton Fraker’s upper register was “screechy and annoying.” Reed Grimm, he said, was “way too kitschy, way too cabaret.”
Singing for Their Lives
With 15 rejects and only three spots left to fill, the judges gave a chance to six performers to “sing for their lives.”
Jen Hirsh was the first to go. She sang “Oh Darlin'” and beat it until it was unrecognizable with ceaseless runs that showed that she can’t give a song even 10 seconds of attention before she has to prove she is bigger than it.
Jeremy Rosado, JLo’s favorite, brought himself to tears (and his mom, and J. Lo, and every woman over 30 everywhere) on a Carrie Underwood song. Jennifer pretty much told him point blank that she would put him through after that.
Brielle von Hugel made amends for her horrendous performance last night by doing something more age-and style-appropriate: Adele’s “Someone Like You.” Though this Staten Islander hasn’t exactly exuded class throughout the Hollywood process, she showed restraint and control, keeping the beginning of the song small and holding back until it was time to wail. When she did let loose, she growled, instead of trying to hit the big, long, high notes that so many girls think prove they are good singers. Brielle completely won me over. But apparently the judges heard something totally different, as they blasted her for being pitchy.
Deandre Brackensick sang “Georgia on My Mind,” which is the 100th or so time we’ve heard that song this season. But he was phenomenal, showing extraordinary range and maturity. Plus we got to see him flip his long curls around a few more times.
Erika Van Pelt, looking more and more like Kelly Clarkson, exuded some crazy power in her huge, deep voice on “Edge of Glory.”
And finally, the judges gave one more chance to Reed Grimm, because, as Randy put it, “We just had to see that again,” meaning his total weirdness. Reed chose not to sing for his life necessarily, in “Idol” terms, instead scatting his way through a Bill Withers song and probably landing a jazz deal in the process.
The Results to the Results
Each judge chose one singer to move on the Top 13.
Randy Jackson: Erika Van Pelt
Jennifer Lopez: Jeremy Rosado, who, so sweet, broke down crying and embraced the judges for a good long while.
Steven Tyler: Deandre Brackensick.
And so, after a mighty long journey, we have our Top 13 finalists.
In order of (personal) preference:
1. Deandre Brackensick
2. Phillip Phillips
3. Joshua Ledet
4. Elise Testone
5. Jermaine Jones
6. Skylar Laine
7. Colton Dixon
8. Jessica Sanchez
9. Erika Van Pelt
10. Jeremy Rosado
11. Heejun Han
12. Shannon Magrane
13. Hollie Cavanagh