* Rob Bolin (along with Chelsee Oaks) | Of all the singers I heard tonight, Rob strikes me as the most worthy of cracking the season 10 semifinals. The scruffy little guy with the mildly bewildered eyes possesses a tone so smoky you can almost see the marks from the charcoal grill. What’s more, his rendition of “Whats Goin’ On” had rhythm and feeling and plenty of quiet confidence. Rob (pictured top right, page one) was equally chill-inducing on “To Love Somebody,” which was performed as a gorgeous duet with his ex, Chelsee Oaks.
The latter singer’s solo effort, on Brandi Carlile’s “The Story,” was pretty enough, but didn’t quite pack the oomphs-per-minute as her former beaux. I was mildly amused by Steven’s suggestion that the former couple “fall in love all over again,” but if your main goal as a duo is to try to find your way back to a functioning TV camera and put a smile on the judges’ faces, maybe there’s a good reason you broke up in the first place? J.Lo, in particular, ought to know better: Plenty of total strangers would’ve had her stick with Ben Affleck — even after that humiliating “Jenny From the Block” video!
Adrienne Beasley | Who else got a case of the warm tinglies after the Waltons-esque highlight reel showing the 22-year-old beauty doing farm chores with her elderly adoptive parents? And while it’s interesting that Adrienne (pictured, lower left, page 1) is black and her mom and dad are white, I thought the very plainspoken way in which they expressed their love to and about her was even more remarkable. No mugging for the cameras for this couple; just a bemused “who’s gonna pay your way?” and a “yeah, I’m tickled” from dad upon hearing news of Adrienne’s Golden Ticket.
Ma and Pa Beasley’s emotional straightforwardness found its way into Adrienne’s sweet but muscular rendition of Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey,” and I think that’s the intangible quality Steven said had him almost in tears. I know season 9 found Haeley Vaughn tunelessly attempting to break past country’s color barrier, but if Adrienne can keep her nerves steady and her instrument healthy, I say she’d have more in common with fresh-scrubbed farmer’s daughter Carrie Underwood than with the chick who slaughtered “The Climb.”
Jackie Wilson (pictured, bottom right, page 1) | Like Adrienne, Jackie’s another contestant who’ll benefit from a shot of glam when/if she makes it past Hollywood Week. Clad in an aggressively unremarkable black top and denim skirt, she infused Aretha’s “Until You Come Back to Me” with a vulnerability that’s often in short order on the Idol stage, worrying less about huge runs and more about bringing to life the words coming out of her mouth. As Steven said, Jackie sang the track as if she’d written it herself. And that’s pretty much the best you could’ve asked her to do.
And then, of course, we got our first three-person, Golden Ticket-holder montage of season 10, highlighted by Paul McDonald’s rhythmically alert, R&B-tinged “Maggie May.” And before you dismiss him for having too little screentime, let’s remember Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox, and Kris Allen all had their initial auditions presented in mashup form (Lee and Crystal’s together, if you’ll recall).
NEXT: J.Lo becomes the tough one.