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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Couch Potato Review: American Idol 13

Stunning performances. Positive reviews from the judges. Standing ovations weekly. Wow! Definitely, it made a milestone in American Idol history, where the contestants of eleventh season is considered as the most talented bunch we ever had. From auditions to the final round, we witnessed the best talents across America and they made a remarkable impact to the fans and viewers of Idol. 

I would like to express my overall review for the top 13 contenders of season 11, as well with other remarkable contestants who deserve a spot in the final 13 but cut. 

Eliminated Contenders (Top 13)
The finalists of American Idol Season 11 L - R clockwise: Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, Joshua Ledet, Elise Testone, Phillip Phillips, Jermaine Jones, Shannon Magrane, Erika Van Pelt, Jeremy Rosado, DeAndre Brackensick, Skylar Laine, Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh.
1. Jeremy Rosado. He is one of the standouts during Hollywood Week where he belonged to the group "Hollywood Five" with their rendition of "Mercy" by Duffy. He made it to Vegas Round with his solo performance of "I Know You Won't" where he received a standing ovation from the judges which made him advanced to the top 24. He did a heartfelt rendition of "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles during semi-finals and "Ribbon in the Sky" by Stevie Wonder in top 13. He was sent home first where the judges chose Elise Testone to save. However, he had that soulful voice which matches his R&B style.

2. Jermaine Jones. He is dubbed as the "Gentle Giant" of season 11. He had that very low voice which resembles to Scotty McCreery of season 10. His reinstatement which leads to the top 25 and his heartfelt rendition of "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross made him to the top 13. But he was disqualified because of previous criminal records. I think Reed or Eben is more deserving in his spot.

3. Shannon Magrane. She is the total package singer: a beautiful face, stunning height, a good family background and an amateur voice for a teenager. She reminds me of Carrie Underwood in terms of looks and vocal style. Although she forgot the words during Group Round in Hollywood Week, she received a standing ovation from the judges with her rendition of "What A Wonderful World" which makes her one of the early favorites. Her rendition of the Christian song "Go Light Your World" is considered as her best performance. However, she struggled in the top 13 stage where she didn't reach the high notes in her performance of "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. She made a rebound in her studio performance of the song and her performance of "One Sweet Day" by Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey in top 11. She needs to improve her craft because she is young and someday, she will be a great singer.

4. Erika Van Pelt. She is a versatile singer where her voice truly matches different genres of music such as rock, ballads and upbeat songs. She had that raw voice which is solid and she proved her versatility during the competition especially in the live shows. She proved her solid performances in her rendition of "What About Love" by Heart where she picked a rock song, "The Edge of Glory" where she sang in upbeat tempo and "New York State of Mind" where she showed her mellow side. She had an ultimate makeover during the contest because her hairstyle and color changed.

5. Heejun Han. He is one of the most memorable contestants in the show because of his humor and the talent that entertained the viewers. Heejun Han is the first Korean American who made it to the finals of American Idol (Paul Kim from season 6 and John Park from season 9 made it to the semi-finals). He had that romantic and soulful voice for a balladeer plus the clear phrasing and he puts emotions to the song that he rendered. Definitely, his best performance would be "All in Love is Fair" by Stevie Wonder and "A Song For You" by Donny Hathaway which gave him a standing ovation from the judges. 

6. DeAndre Brackensick. He is a returning contestant from season 10 where he was cut in the top 40. This season, he made it to the top 13 with his semi-final performance of Earth, Wind and Fire's "Reasons". He had that clean falsetto, soulful voice and a curly hair which made him as a soul / R&B singer. His remarkable performance of "A Woman's Work" by Kate Bush is also impressive.

7. Colton Dixon. He is the rocker of the season and a returning contestant from season 10 where he was cut in the top 40. He is musically gifted and he had that strong showmanship where he knows how to perform in stage with his rocking performance. He is one of the most consistent performers in the season with his performance of "Decode" by Paramore (top 24) where he truly rocked the stage. He showed his tender side with "Lately" by Stevie Wonder on top 13 and his musical talent on "Piano Man" by Billy Joel on top 10. He also showed his inventive side (which is similar to David Cook) with his rendition of "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga and "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire on top 7 but he was eliminated during that time which was surprising among the judges and fans of the show.

8. Elise Testone. She is one of the early front runners during the auditions to Vegas Round with her group performance of "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" along with Reed Grimm, Haley Johnsen and Eben Franckewitz plus her performance of "It's a Man's, Man's World" by James Brown which earn her a spot in the semi-finals. She is a very professional performer and she had that husky and rockin voice which the judges remind of Janis Joplin. Her best performances would be in top 11 with "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green, "Vienna" by Billy Joel during top 10 and "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zepellin on top 9. 

9. Skylar Laine. At first, I thought that she was just a mediocre country singer who auditioned in the show. However, she emerged as one of the best and most consistent performers in the top 13. Her voice is similar to Reba McEntire and she had that strong showmanship especially in her top 24 performance of Faces' hit "Stay With Me." Her best performance will be "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler on top 8 night. Her duet with Colton Dixon with the Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton hit "Islands in the Stream" is also memorable. Therefore, her performance of "The Show Must Go On" by Queen is such a phenomenal performance, which was mentioned by Randy Jackson.

Remaining Conteders (Top 4)
The remaining four contenders of American Idol season 11:
 Phillip Phillips, Hollie Cavanagh, Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez.
Source: www.hollywoodgossip.com
1. Hollie Cavanagh. She is one of the returning contestants from season 10 who made it to the finals of this season. She improved a lot from last season and she is also a total package singer aside from Shannon Magrane. She has the pretty voice that matches her powerful vocals which she has the potential to become a belter. She had a lot of screen time in season 10 during Hollywood Week but in season 11 she appeared in the green mile round. Her best performances will be "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera (top 24), "All the Man That I Need" by Whitney Houston (top 13) and "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion (top 11). These three performances showed her vocal prowess and her exceptional craft in singing where I considered her as part of final two this season. However, she struggled in the following weeks because of wrong song choice and sometimes, she lacks of emotions while singing or even pitch problems. In top 5, she did a very good rendition of Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" which earned her a spot in top 4.

2. Jessica Sanchez. She is one of the front runners in the show with her standing ovation from the judges for two consecutive weeks with her semi-finals performance of "Love You I Do" by Jennifer Hudson and "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. Other memorable performances she did including "Everybody Has A Dream" by Billy Joel (top 10), "Sweet Dreams" by Beyonce (top 9), "Fallin" by Alicia Keys (top 7) and "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross (top 6). She is one of the exceptional contestants because of her powerful and soulful voice and she has the makings of a diva. She is always earned positive reviews with her performances weekly. However, she was saved by the judges from elimination in top 7. Definitely, she deserved it because she will make a name in the music industry plus her heartfelt and powerful performances of her songs. Next time, I think she need to become careful in choosing upbeat songs which suited her voice and style. She is a Filipino Mexican contestant and Filipinos are hoping that she will make it to the finale where Jasmine Trias earned the third place in American Idol 3, the highest placement made by a Filipino in the show.

3. Joshua Ledet. He is one of the most praised contestants in the history of the show because every week he received a standing ovation from the judges and audience as well with the positive feedback. He is always consistent from his auditions to the final five. He is memorable with his performances of Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts" where he received his first standing ovation and in Vegas where he performed "Blue Suede Shoes" along with Shannon Magrane which is out of the box. He had a lot of best performances and his song choices are truly great especially his rendition of "When A Man Loves A Woman" (top 11), "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (top 8), "I Believe" (top 7) and "To Love Somebody" (top 5). His voice and style is similar to Fantasia Barrino and Jacob Lusk that is why there are cases that he sounded the same every week and the song choices are sometimes predictable. However, he showed his vocal prowess and his soulful style every week. Best performance in a group or duet, definitely his collaboration with Jessica Sanchez with the song "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" by George Michael and Aretha Franklin.

4. Phillip Phillips. He is one of the early favorites and most consistent contenders in terms of singing style which is similar to Dave Matthews. He is also popular among girls because of the looks, appeal and his music style is on the mainstream. He can be a rocker or an acoustic singer. He made a big impression to the judges in his audition where he played the guitar with his rendition of "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. He also had a quality of being inventive where he truly owns the song especially with his performances of "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins during the top 24. He also did an encore of his audition piece "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder in top 13 and his most memorable performances would be "Movin Out (Anthony's Song)" by Billy Joel in top 10, "U Got It Bad" by Usher in top 7 and "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen in top 6. I think he needs to have out of the box performances for Phillip because there are times that he sounded the same or singing the same genre every week. Therefore, he is one of the best singers in season 11.


Who among this remaining four contenders will be the winner of eleventh season?

Notable Semi Finalists who Deserve a Spot in the Finale


1. Reed Grimm. He is one of the most colorful characters I've ever watched in the show. He is quirky but a true blue and talented musician. His auditions impressed me with his piece the theme song of U.S. television series "Family Matters." He also received positive feedback and praise with his group performance of "Hold On, I'm Comin" by Sam & Dave along with Jen Hirsh, Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus and Nick Boddington and in Vegas week with his performance of "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" with Eben Franckewitz, Elise Testone and Haley Johnsen. He also did an amazing job in "Georgia On My Mind" in his second solo in Hollywood week with drums. (Note: He only had 30 minutes to prepare for that piece) In the semi-finals, he owned the Maroon 5 hit "Moves Like Jagger" in a jazzy accompaniment. But I am wondering why he didn't chosen for the top 13, although he has the talent and his identity as a singer and musician.


2. Jen Hirsh. She is having a powerful but sweet belter and she had that wide range of voice. She also deserves to be in the top 13 because she is one of the front runners in Hollywood Week where she received a standing ovation in her performance of "Georgia On My Mind." She also received positive feedback with her semi-finals performance of "One and Only" by Adele. She has the melody and the emotions while singing.


3. Eben Franckewitz. The youngest contestant of the season who sings like a pro. He is a total package singer with his looks (resembles to Justin Bieber or Greyson Chance) and having that angelic voice to sing classics. He is also deserving to be in the top 13 because of his consistency from auditions to Las Vegas Week. In the semi-finals, his performance was not so good because of the wrong song choice. Therefore, Eben is still young and he can improve his craft.


4. Hallie Day. She is classy singer which matches her look. She did a strong start in her audition with Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." She remains consistent and she made it to the top 24. She also deserves to be in the top 13 because of her classy but powerful vocals. Her performance of "Feelin Good" in top 24 was okay but she is ready to make it on the music industry.


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