Category Archives: American Idol

American Idol XIV: Top 12/Wildcard Round

“It’s an Idol First!” says Ryan. “Results and performances in one night!” Yes, it is a first., Before now, the budget cuts for Idol were not nearly so glaringly obvious. But don’t be mistaken into thinking this is this Results show was live. Like every other show so far, this was still a show with the editing controls in place. Tomorrow will be another matter. And if tonight’s performances were any indication, some of our kids won’t survive the transition well.

The eliminations worked tonight much like they did the last two weeks with those safe called up to perform one by one, with the chaff left at the end. If this is how they plan to do this every week, that means the bottom two who doesn’t go home will always get the pimp spot, which is a little disturbing. I would prefer Idol take a cue from Nigel and SYTYCD and have the kid perform, and then tell them after the judge’s comments if they’re in the bottom three from last week or not.

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The two wildcards were not–as the wording threatened–pulled from other rounds, but were merely used as a semi corrective for America’s failings last week. (More on that below.) But, in happy news, in all cases but one, America actually didn’t do too bad with who they eliminated. I assume we have voting caps to thank. Le’s check out the Top 12 below, with the understanding that you must vote, as we’ll already be eliminating one of them by this time tomorrow.

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American Idol XIV: Top 8 Girls

I was curious to see if Aretha was given two slots to perform, so that she “mentored” both the guys and the girls. But it seems that wasn’t to be. Ms. Franklin only deigned to open last night’s show. Instead, this week, we actually got to see some of that mentoring advice…

One thing that did become obvious tonight: The girls don’t have a solid foursome like the Clark-Nick-Qaasim-Quentin block in the male set. So while some of our contestants have put on solid moments, the girl’s night just doesn’t feel equal to the guys. That’s really frustrating, as we all know the girls start out at a major disadvantage in the voting stats as it is. To make them seem like they’re not worth voting for before the pools mix only makes it worse.

Speaking of decisions made by the production that aren’t sitting well with me–next week, our Wednesday show is another pretaped edit fest–this time to add a pair of wildcards. But if I understand it correctly, the wildcards are not coming from the eliminated contestants in Detroit, but rather from the group that never made it to Detroit, but were left behind in The House of Blues. So basically, they’re adding in two people we’ve already forgotten about, rather than giving someone we just rejected another chance? Sorry Savion. Hopefully, I’m misunderstanding, (the wording is really generalized; it just says “from the pool of finalists”) because they want to bring back one contestant who didn’t make it to Detroit instead of having both wildcards slots used that way.

Let’s see who will be joining Savion in the reject pile.

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American Idol XIV: Top 8 Boys

In terms of how to cut down contestants gradually from a Top 48 to a Top 12, this is not a bad way to do it. Losing four has always been a nice number to go for, and keeping it fully gender segregated makes it feel like that’s all we lost this week, even though we’re losing eight by the time tomorrow’s numbers roll in.

The sense that things are fully gender segregated is one of the byproducts of the one hour, ruthlessly edited format we’re currently experiencing. Another byproduct? Mentoring. Aretha supposedly mentored these children this week, but as far as the show was concerned, the only “mentoring” we saw was a cold open performance. But then again, considering the last performance she did with Idol contestants, she was being broadcast from 2000 miles a way on a huge television over the stage, while the kids did dance moves below, perhaps that is all the mentoring she deigned to do. When you’re the Queen of Soul, you do get to call those sorts of shots.

We also “met” in-house mentor Scott Borchetta, who we are assured is doing more mentoring than Randy even did. But as far as camera time allowed, he seemed to sound suspiciously like Idol’s previous barnacle of a hype man.

As for who went home, and which of the undeserving got to stay in their stead, the show handled that much like they did last year. The lucky ones were called up to perform one by one, with the chaff left behind, never to have Seacrest say their names.

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American Idol XIV: Top 12 Girls

Night two of the rush to get through the Top 24. It’s time for the Girls–a throwback to a time when the show could actually have one of those win.

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Much like yesterday, the show ended strong, but that meant the first half of the hour was wading through contestants who clearly cannot survive outside the editing room. (Also, seriously, I get saving the best for last, but when you front load the bad stuff, you also risk everyone changing the channel.)

Let’s check out who is guaranteed to get out of these edited rounds and into the live shows.

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American Idol XIV: Top 12 Boys

Last week, I found myself wondering how Idol would get through twelve performances in an hour, as we reached the House of Blues portion of the show. The answer turned out to be “We didn’t.” Instead we got a clip show.

This week, in the new setting of Detroit’s Fillmore stage, we once again had only an hour, and twelve boys to get through. Even weirder, tonight started voting. So, a clip show wasn’t possible, was it? We had to actually see the full performances, right? Though this was pretaped, so the producers still held the editing control, they had to at least show us the full performances, in order for us to vote, right?

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So how do we get through twelve performances in an hour? The answer, it turned out, was simple: “cut the judge’s worthless, useless comments.” There was only one problem. The show didn’t figure that out. What followed instead was the most frantically paced hour of Idol in a very long time. Also? Still didn’t get full performances either. (Though the editing hid that well.) We’ve seen Ryan do the micromachine man act before–mostly when there were four judges. Tonight, he might as well be bringing us our contestants auctioneer style.

Let’s see how the boys did. Like the judges, I’ll be pithy.

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American Idol XIV: House of Blues Part 2

The second half of the House of Blues round felt much like the first–heavy, heavy editing control, lots of song snippets, rather than performances. In fact, tonight felt like we got less singing than last night, despite the lack of a sing off interruption that ate up time.

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There were a few overly predictable editing choices, especially at the end–Shi has gotten camera time at every round, while I had plum forgotten about Jelly Joseph, it had been so long since we’d seen her. Moments like that made tonight feel more like The Voice than Idol has ever managed before. Though there is viewer comfort in predictable rhythms, which The Voice panders to, so that you can have mindless entertainment, Idol has always been slightly better than that. I look forward to seeing what happens when the editors finally have to hand the reigns over to live TV.

But until then, here are the highlights of last night’s performances.

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American Idol XIV: House of Blues Showcase Part 1

We’re in that uncomfortable period between the announcement of the Top 48 and the announcement of the Top 12 that Idol had never really settled on how to handle. In earlier years we had a Top 36, who were then decimated in a bloodbath round down to a Top 12. Then for a while we had a Top 24 which slowly dwindled over the course of three weeks to a Top 12. Since abandoning that format, the show has hopped from idea to idea, never quite finding the right way to do it.

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One more problem–getting the amateurs used to a stage with an audience. Part of what the gradual cut back from a Top 24 over three weeks was so effective is it gave contestants extra time on a stage, performing live for cameras in front of a studio audience. Those who made the Top 12 did so with nearly a month’s worth of experience under their belts. One of the show’s biggest mistakes last year came when they threw their Top 12 in front of a huge stage and a live audience  without any practice rounds, and no ability to edit the results. In fact, the season never really recovered from that first live impression.

This year, the producers have done something far more savvy. First, they took them out of LA, and off to Detroit where it’s cheap to rent a venue. Then they had them perform live on stage in a club setting. Now, that’s not quite the level of huge Los Angeles theater filled with screaming fans. But it does make for a good practice session, and a glimpse of who did well, while still having full editing control.

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