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American Idol 15: Top 24 (Group 2)

I don't even.. I don't know what.. American Idol Farewell Season's second group of semifinalists were.. what's the word? Umm, present last night? Ok. Let me gather my thoughts and find the best word to describe these final twelve contestants: they were all in attendance. Haha. Seriously. What was that?

I'm praying that the next round will put my fears to rest and that this was just an aberration. We've had them before.  Every now and again the semi-finalists just freeze up and fail miserably in front of of America. So, let us all hope that things improve for these kids, but faster than usual given that the finale is less than six weeks from now (TERRIFYING!).

On with the show!

12. Jenn Blosil
Sorry
Sigh. This was sad since I really loved Jenn, but her stripped down take of Sorry was a classic case of someone overcompensating. Sure, I was impressed with the creativity - especially this early in the competition - but I thought she went overboard trying to be different and exciting, and ended up creating quite a mess. Her verses were shockingly out of tune and she did not look even slightly comfortable during her performance. I really hope she reassesses her strategy if she gets to perform another week. 4

11. Amelia Eisenhauer
Wake Me Up
This was, simply put, a terrible arrangement. She had me as soon as she started singing - that rich tone was gorgeous - but the decision to have the band kick in after the first verse was a giant misstep. I don't know. The performance just went flat and empty as soon as she started "working the stage", and somehow, I can't ignore how, ironically, sleepy it made me feel. Amelia isn't a weak singer, but she's weak compared to her fellow contestants. She needs to get back behind her intimate instruments and connect as often as possible or she'll be hardly memorable. 5.5

10. Manny Torres
Adventure of a Lifetime
Look, Adventure of a Lifetime was a bold song choice, and while it did show a very current side of Manny angling to be the next American Idol, it also showed a lot of weak vocal habits and there were just very few places where his voice could take the song. Quite frankly, this came off as a very impressive karaoke performance. It added nothing, but it wasn’t particularly abhorrent. 5.5

9. Lee Jean
Runaway
Unlike the judges, I actually appreciated the song choice. Yes, it was an obscure Ed Sheeran track, but I'd rather have that than another version of Against All Odds or I'll Be. The real problem was that it gave Lee very few opportunities to shine. Vocally, this was fine note to note and I thought this was A LOT better than all of his other performances on this show combined, but the song was simply one big build up that never crescendos at the right moment. 6

8. CJ Johnson
I'll Be
Ugh. I'll Be was done to death on this show and the fact that he chose this felt annoyingly lazy to me. But, while it wasn't the most inspired song choice, his vocals were strong enough that I believe CJ should receive another shot. It came off as a very impressive karaoke performance. Still, karaoke, but impressive nonetheless. 6

7. Adam Lasher
Black and Gold
Was it just me or did Adam seem shy and reserved in this performance? Unfortunately, that's not a great sign, as Black and Gold was a solid, but yet solidly unoriginal debut for him. The vocals were strong, his tone was easily recognizable, but at the same time, performances like this are a dime a dozen in clubs around America. What's different with him? He's going to answer that question if he survives another cut. 6.5

6. Shelbie Z
Work Hard, Play Harder
While I'm not sure I see an iota of creativity in her - most of her performances have been utterly predictable - I thought I should give Shelbie some credit for spicing things up and working the stage like no other. She looked like she was born to perform and the sass along with her vocals were quite impressive. The whole style and sound was a little too old school though for the American Idol audience of today. Ten years ago? Sure, she'd be a contender, but I'm not seeing it this year. 6.5

5. Tristan McIntosh
Good Girl
Good Girl, to me, was such a weird song choice for Tristan. I don't know. The entire performance was play acting a role that never truly fit her, and the judges - though slightly muted - saw right through it. The only reason I'd rank her this high is because the vocals were, for the most part, spot on and she stepped out of her comfort zone and do something more upbeat. 6.5

4. Olivia Rox
Confident
Not sure what it was - maybe it was her inability to open her mouth more and allow some vocal clarity or if it was the thin sound of her upper register - but there's a certain quality to her voice that pulled me out of her performance. That's not to take anything away from her though as she probably delivered one of the more powerful performances of the night. She's interesting and I somehow realized that she's a different type of contestant and is squarely riding in her own lane. I'm curious to see her American Idol journey. 7

3. Kory Wheeler
Let It Go
I love me some Kory Wheeler and I found this pretty lovely. I admit, there were some tentative notes here and there and his voice kind of went to places that seemed scary - as if he was about to lose the pitch - but there's a haunting quality to his voice and the chorus sounded terrific. The song needed to build somewhere though, which I blame entirely on the abysmal short time given to each contestant, but the parts that worked.. really worked. 7.5

2. Trent Harmon
What Are You Listening To?
This was a very solid rendition of a beautiful low key song. It didn't seem forced or put on, his vocals were radiating from him, and the emotional deft was palpable. I think Trent has a spot pretty locked up at this point and tonight just solidified his darkhorse status. Time will tell if I become tired of his fast vibrato and other vocal affectations or if he continues to grow on me, but tonight, he certainly did enough to move on to the next round. 8

1. Dalton Rapattoni
Rebel Yell
Rebel Yell was an informed song choice. The arrangement fit his style like a glove, he was confident, he looked like a star, and he brought an interesting and different energy to the show. I thought the expressive quality of his eyes can't also be ignored as they tell a story and I somehow can read them so well. He is absolutely ready to move on to the next round. This was his first great step and it was a warning shot across everyone. 8.5


WHO SHOULD GO HOME?
Jenn Blosil
Amelia Eisenhauer
Manny Torres
Lee Jean
CJ Johnson

WHO WILL GO HOME?
Amelia Eisenhauer
Shelbie Z
CJ Johnson
Kory Wheeler
Adam Lasher
American Idol 15: Top 24 (Group 2) Reviewed by DAM on 3:07 AM Rating: 5

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