Category Archives: American Idol

American Idol XIV: Top 5 “Arena Anthems”

Once upon a time for the last decade or so, Making the Top 10 meant making the American Idol tour. It should have stayed that way. If the show can afford, can’t be bothered to send the Top Ten on the road, then shut down the damn tour. Admit the show has fallen to a place where such things no longer are in play, and shut it down.

But no, the tour must go on and attempt not to lose money. And therefore tonight, at the Top Five, is the cut off. Which means the tour now will not have Joey, nor will it have…well, we’ll find out, but after last week’s outburst, the show would probably really like that answer to be Quentin, thereby torpedoing any chance of an interesting show. This is the last twitter save, so at least the good news is after four weeks of watching Rayvon in the bottom two, next week we’ll be guaran-damned-teed to watch him go home.


Speaking of torpedoing an interesting show, that seems to be what happened with the theme as well. Arena Anthems? So hair metal jams, Queen, Journey, right? Wrong. The song list for this week that hit the web a few hours prior is filled with…junk. Clearly the theme lead to song choices so broad they might as well have called it “Contestant’s Choice.”

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American Idol XIV: Top 6 “American Classics”

It’s time for a catch-all theme this week, “American Classics.” It’s also time for a format change up, since when we reach this point in the competition where we can technically fit two performances per contestants into the mandatory two-hour slot, we do. It’s one of the very few changes that came with the mandatory two-hour format I like. More singing from the contestants is always a good thing. And the first week of two songs a night is always revealing as to who can handle it and who can’t, holding it until the Top 5 (or worse, Top 4) does no one any favors.


So tonight we’ll get two songs per contestant, both of which will be from anywhere from the 1950s to the 1990s. That means everyone really gets to sing once–though because the call out order happens in the first round, they’ll know they’re the bottom. It’ll feel more like a Top 7 than Top 6. Then the bottom two will use their second songs for the Twitter Save. Or as I’ve started to think of it, when Rayvon’s voters vote.

With fourteen songs, there’s no time for opening numbers, or professional filler. Ryan, let’s get right to it.

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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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