This fond farewell season of “American Idol” has truly seemed to fly, and that trend continued with Wednesday’s February 24 opening selection of four finalists who were unanimous choices for the last ever Top 10. The remaining talents were tasked to really pour out their best for a performance of their favorite song so far this season. Judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr were laser zoned into talent refined and not yet seen, and that’s just what they got. The choice for the six remaining slots rests with the voting public.
Jennifer Lopez came close to revealing a side never seen making her way to her seat in lovely black lace, but once everyone settled, there was not a second wasted getting down to business. Four among the 14 won “fast passes” into the Top 10 from the judges. Harry announced first, with Dalton Rapattoni being the first chosen of this elite bunch. Keith Urban was up next, giving Olivia Rox, who really rocked in the duets performances, passage onward. Jennifer Lopez said that “we couldn’t have this group without Trent,” and so it was that Trent Harmon was the third blessed to be in the foursome. Harry called to the audience, “Who should be the last one?” An audible roar of a chant “La’Porsha” filled the room, so the single mom singing for her life and her baby daughter’s took her place in her climb.
Manny Torres kicked off the night with high-energy on his choice of “Jammin’” and he’s always a crowd pleaser. He definitely has feel for the stage, and knows how to sing to the camera. What he doesn’t do so well is really connect with an audience, and tonight he seemed to even step further back from those fans. There was no true touch of emotion. Keith Urban called it a great opening, so wasn’t so proving that it was the right song selection.
Gianna Isabella really stepped up in this version of “I Put a Spell on You,” looking much more grown-up and sexy in all black, and showing much more passionate inflection and the right kind of control. This performance had a lot more punch than her first run with this song, and the judges noticed. Jennifer Lopez praised her “sassiness,” saying that she was coming into her own. America just might appreciate the same quality.
Thomas Stringfellow stuck with crowd favorite, One Direction’s “Story of My Life,” and showed that he has been listening and learning about stagecraft, using his eyes to peer into those of his on-looking fans. Harry started by saying that Thomas was “very talented,” and then gave a caution to “stop cracking notes” unless “you’re the lead singer of the Cranberries.” Harry also praised the song choice. Thomas is a young man with much talent to grow on and grow into in his journey.
Tristan McIntosh has come to a clear definition of the kind of artist she wants to become, bringing her own touch of cultural diversity to country music. . She’s off to a good start with a performance of Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most” that was simply stunning. “BEAUTIFUL” was Keith Urban’s emphatic assessment, with Jennifer Lopez adding “best ever” in the background. It should definitely earn Tristan a longer stay.
Avalon Young used her charm on the crowd, too, urging them to let her know they were there for her. She stuck with Chris Brown again, as in her showcase performance of “Excuse Me Miss,” and she’s made a flip, too, deciding that singing is the career that she wants. Jennifer Lopez called it “smooth like butter” tonight. It’s up to America to decide if it was special enough.
The second time was a charm for Jenn Blosil on Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” Ripping with emotion, every line was felt, and the singer was almost in tears just from the audience response. She is understanding her gift, and Harry Connick, Jr. said she had “a flawless lyrical delivery.” He got everything he was missing from last week’s “My Funny Valentine,” which Keith couldn’t get enough of. Still, from Harry, it doesn’t get much better than that. Jenn’s grand-dad is ever in her corner!
Lee Jean gave the competition a very high compliment, saying “I’m not done learning,” in his profile, and he poured emotion into “Make It Rain,” and perhaps the impact was a little too much. It wasn’t the best from Lee, but he has so much to learn, and a future doing so much singing. Keith Urban loves the way that Lee always delivers with his own style, but the nerves showed this time. America may be in a forgiving mood for Lee. The tally will tell.
Sonika Vaid did something that no one has ever done in all the years of “American Idol.” She gave Jennifer Lopez “goosies” on her face! Her selection of Celine Dion’s “I Surrender” had judge Lopez up and clapping. It was so perfect for Jennifer that her standing ovation was not enough, explaining that those “goosies” got to her cheeks, and adding, “people came to sing tonight.” Sonika’s talent may translate better live than on the small screen, but the votes will decide.
Jeneve Rose Mitchell stuck with a favorite memory, too, choosing June Carter’s classic with Merle Kilgore, “Ring of Fire” only this time, slowing down the tempo. The decisions slowdown took Jeneve’s spark with it, and like Harry Connick, Jr. noted, not all of America may “get” Jeneve, so passionate, so different, and so sincere. She has brought something unique to this final run of the competition, and certainly one to be remembered.
Mackenzie Bourg was the final performer, and he made the best choice for his song, his own composition, “Roses” that reeks of its own professional quality. That kind of talent alone makes Mackenzie worthy, but this is a season of such superb talent, and going forward is tough, Keith Urban started his comments of “all great” with the song, the audience reaction, and the performance all qualifying.
Tomorrow, Kelly Clarkson will take the stage and the judges’ seat to share some of her many lessons on success. It should make for a very memorable return.