American Idol: Season 15, Episodes 9 & 10

Remember Hollywood Week? Well, we’re still here. The ‘Week’ part didn’t apply to us viewers, just to the lucky contestants of American Idol. We’ve got to struggle through 2 more episodes of yeses and noes; the whys are absent. Okay then. Here we go.

Episode 9
We’ve put Group Round behind us, everybody’s been infected, voices are gone, so it’s time for Solo Round. That’s – surprise – another audition, but with a full band on stage. Stephany Negrete doesn’t use the stage at all. She’s an immovable object, and a little out of breath, too. Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban like her, though. It seems like being able to walk on high heels has got something to do with that. Thomas Stringfellow picks the wrong song, Olivia Rox suffers from a lack of charisma, and Avalon Young suffers from a lack of fashion sense. Young is one of the better vocalists, but somebody should help her pick out the right clothes.

Hats N’ Roses
Who knew a guy would be the one worrying about his outfit the most? A cowboy, no less. John Wayne Schulz looks all over for his black cowboy hat, to no avail. He’s picked a clever song, though: one of Keith’s. It’s an obvious trick, but one that never seems to fail. He sings it well, but doesn’t quite convince Keith, who asks his fellow judges: ‘What is it that’s missing?’ It’s not the hat. It’s more serious than that. Mackenzie Bourg sings an original song, called ‘Roses’. Keith can hardly believe somebody not famous could’ve written it. A ‘lost Ed Sheeran track’ he calls it. I hope that’s a compliment.

Wicked Drama
Shelbie Z demands the stage like the love baby of Steven Tyler and Stevie Nicks; lot of skin, flag tied to the mic stand. Kory Wheeler’s time should be up by now. Singing Coldplay with the same pappy Coldplay intensity. James VIII does a lot better, playing a rockier version of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. It doesn’t come off as creative as he might’ve hoped; Phillip Phillips has done that song this way before. Joshua Wicker just sounds awful. No, this really isn’t the year for the guys. The one most likely to win, Tristan McIntosh, should keep her eye on the ball. She totally goes into drama mode when she can’t sing the song she wants, because there are already three other contestants planning to do it. In the end, she gets her way, and sings superbly again.

Learning Curves
Sonika Vaid is next, does a decent performance, but remember, we’re not rooting for her. She and Stephany Negrete were part of Team Cutthroat last week. Lee ‘heartbreakingly cute’ Jean connects with another contestant, Sara Sturm, over juvenile jokes. It’s not quite clear how he sees their relationship. She sees him as her little brother. Ouch. American Idol offers all kinds of learning curves. Lee sings better than Sara, though, so they might have to say goodbye soon. Jenn Blosil picks the song ‘True Colors’, which couldn’t be more appropriate. There’s a little Cyndi Lauper in there, dying to come out.

Hearing (No) Voices and Memory Loss
Emily Brooke doesn’t like her voice today, but sings well. Malie Delgado doesn’t even have a voice, but there’s something about it, watching her struggle on stage. She’s not out of tune, and some words just won’t come out, but this could’ve gone a lot worse. And then it’s time for Mionne Destiny. Who? She’s one of those slip-throughs, who didn’t get a lot (if any) airtime up until now. One thing’s for sure, she deserves to have come this far. Like Olivia Rox, and there’s really nothing much you can do about it, Jessica Cabral just doesn’t have a lot of charisma. Her song choice doesn’t help either. C.J. Johnson does a great version of ‘You Can Go Your Own Way’. The jury’s not too impressed, however. Girl from another time, Jeneve Rose Mitchell, is less impressive, but the jury has a soft spot for her. Closing the night is Dalton Rapattoni, who’s got an interesting take on ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’. He’d been in the zone so deep, that afterwards, he doesn’t remember a thing about it. Then the contestants are divided into three separate rooms. I don’t think I recognize anyone in room 2. That’s probably not a coincidence. Only Room 1 and 3 go through to the next round.

Episode 10
Episode 10. The Final Judgment. Until next week, obviously. 51 contestants remain, only 24 will go through to the live shows. It’s not an even split, because there are 11 boys and 13 girls getting a Top 24 ticket. First, a few of the ones who don’t make the cut. Michelle ‘cheerleader cowgirl’ Marie, who gracefully accepts the rejection, which is very moving to see. Colette ‘something happened along the way’ Lush. Chynna Sherrod. Anatalia Villaranda. Sara Sturm. Malie Delgado. Mionne Destiny. Lindita. Kacye Haynes. Ariel Sprague. Shevonne Philidor. Jordyn Simone. Terrian. Jessica Cabral. Zach Person. I would’ve liked to see Chynna, Malie and Anatalia going through, but I do agree with the judges on the others. I’m going to divide the boys and girls in a Top 11 and Top 13, respectively. Number 1 being the most deserving to win it all, but you guessed that already.

Top 24: Boys Top 11
1. Trent ‘Mono’ Harmon, the Perseverance Man, the Singing Madmartigan; the Guy With Too Many Nicknames Already.
2. C.J. Johnson. Big voice, big stage presence. The counterpart of Kory (see nr. 10).
3. Mackenzie ‘Roses’ Bourg. Has been flying under the radar until this crossbreed between John Mayer and Alex Preston started to sing original songs.
4. Lee ‘The Natural’ Jean, even though he shushed the crowd twice during his performance.
5. Dalton ‘low self esteem’ Rapattoni. As insecure as he is off stage, so captivating as he is when he’s on.
6. Manny Torres. It’s his party and he dances if he wants to.
7. Adam Lasher. The serious, quiet type.
8. Thomas Stringfellow. Made the mistake of playing guitar again. Don’t. Do. That.
9. James VIII. Hasn’t yet been able to stand out.
10. Kory ‘no energy’ Wheeler.
11. Jordan Sasser. One Michael Bolton really is enough.

Top 24: Girls Top 13
1. Emily Brooke. She just seems the most allround artist of them all.
2. Tristan McIntosh. Inexperienced, but perhaps the best voice of them all.
3. Jenn Blosil. The Quirky One. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always interesting.
4. La’Porsha ‘The Hair’ Renae.
5. Avalon Young. With the right wardrobe assistant, she can do it all.
6. Shelbie ‘Barracuda’ Z.
7. Stephany ‘Girl on Fire’ Negrete.
8. Jenna Renae. One of those under the radar flying birds.
9. Amelia ‘violin state of mind’ Eisenhauer.
10. Jeneve Rose Mitchell. Way too theatrical for me.
11. Gianna Isabella. Too young, much too young and inconsistent.
12. Olivia Rox. She can hit a high note, but that’s about it.
13. Sonika Vaid. We don’t forget the past.

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