Category Archives: American Idol

American Idol XIV: Top 7 “The Hot 100”

Having survived the seemingly bad idea of Kelly Clarkson night, our contestants are now thrown into a theme that has always been difficult–singing songs from the current Top 100. Though there’s a level where having the contestants sing songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s got really old after ten years, there was a reason behind it–namely that these were songs that had faded from memory. Therefore even though the audience knew the songs, they weren’t so fresh that the comparison between contestant and original artist would be that close. If you haven’t heard the song in a few years, you might not harshly compare the two, the was you would, say, if you literally just heard that song on the radio on your way home in the car.


One thing I do like about this week–Scott Borchetta acknowledges the reality of today’s radio by having two mentors. They have both kinds country and western, err hiphop. No one verbally admits the truth–that radio has segregated itself in the last two decades or so. But looking at Florida Georgia Line and (Jordin Sparks’ ex) Jason Derulo, and the schism is obvious. The show claims they represent “country” vs “pop.” But it only gets more obvious (a little painfully so) when it turns out that they don’t mentor together.

Let’s see if the performances are as bad as the project plugging.

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American Idol XIV: Top 8 “Kelly Clarkson Night”

I approach this theme with trepidation. Many times over the years, contestants have picked Kelly Clarkson numbers, only to demonstrate how far from the original winner that made this show what it is today they are. I get that the show is basically mining its own history, and reminding you of what made it great by doing this. With Kelly now having had a decade plus career and a brand new album (which is very awesome, I might add), this makes all the sense in the world from a PR and paper standpoint.

But will it make sense to have forced the contestants to show how few of them can compare to the Greatest Idol of All Time? Meanwhile, how many longtime Idol watchers just guffawed when Ryan stated that the moment they met Kelly, they knew they had something special? The girl’s original audition didn’t even make the edit, and it wasn’t until the Live Shows started that anyone realized what a powerhouse they had on their hands. To be honest, the producers should go back and rewatch that first season. It’s proof that the Live Shows are what really makes Idol sing, and how you really can’t know what these kids can do until you put them there.

And with that, let’s take a ride in the wayback machine and remember back when Ryan Seacrest was the secondary host, and the show was really run by Dunkleman. VIVA LA DUNKLEMAN.

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American Idol XIV: Top 9 “Eighties Night”

We’re a little late today with the recap, because this once-a-week, shifting target Idol schedule totally confused me , and I forgot to watch last night. Good thing the DVR pays attention for me. Let’s hit the opening number!

So the first big note is that Idol has returned to an earlier format when it comes to “The Save.” The first two seasons “The Save” was in play, that meant there would be a double elimination that followed. Once we hit Season 10 though, and “The Save” was now a staple, Nigel simply shifted the schedule to accommodate the extra week of performances. After all, two people going home those first two years really upset the balance of power among the contestants. Better to have the extra week built in and only send one home every week, no matter what. (Of course, that backfired the year the judges refused to use “The Save,” but never mind.)

I believe our new producers decided to go back to the double elimination format as part and parcel with the “shorten the season.” Also, we have to remember, they haven’t lived through seeing their favorite go home the very next week after someone who might be lucky enough no to make the Top Five had The Save wasted on them.

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American Idol XIV: Top 10 “Movie Night”

I will give Idol’s new schedule this. Once a week for two hours really does make it feel less oppressively slow. And we’re already about to be down to ten contestants, and March isn’t even over yet. This is officially the fastest the show has moved in since 2002.

What sucks though is that the themes haven’t been solved. I can understand not wanting to get rid of them. Theme nights were part of what defined Idol in the early years, forcing singers to have to adapt on the fly. But the problem is the themes they seem to go back to weren’t the ones that worked. Take tonight’s theme. Movie Night does not force a country singer to have to sing a Disco Tune. Next week? It’s 80s night. These are tired themes that don’t add to the proceedings. They merely limit them.


At least the songs chosen this year aren’t the really tired ones. I’m grateful Against All Odds isn’t on the list, nor I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. So let see what other uninspired choices will bored us silly this evening…

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American Idol XIV: Top 11

This is it! The night the editing controls finally come off the production. The gong sounds in Idol stadium, Alton Brown says “Hands up producers, just walk away.” Tim Gunn comes and collects everyone to head down to the Idol Runway, and Ryan presents the contestants to the public for sampling. Also, for those that complain this part goes so slow, we’re going to have gone from 16 to 10 contestants in the space of 48 hours. How’s that for efficiency?

Oh, also, you should be watching Empire. Here’s one reason why:

We’re also introduced to new gimmicks, like chairs that turn green when the contestant is safe! Also, Idol is definitely sticking with this format of calling you up as safe and then having you sing, which I dislike. That means the big problem that started off last season–massive adrenaline rush and then perform!–is baked into the formula now. It also means the “pimp spot” will be filled with the bottom vote getters. I suppose that means that the second to bottom then has less chance of auto eliminating next week?

Let’s get to the performances and see who isn’t lucky tonight.

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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.

top 16

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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