American Idol Recap: What Happened in Vegas

candice glover deandre brackensickHow can anyone complain about an American Idol episode that packed in performances from more than 50 singers, a heaping portion of maniacal/delightful bitchery courtesy of “The Vocal Coach from Hell,” and a genuine emotional breakdown from soundbite-spewing cool kid Heejun Han? Actually, if you’ll give me a second, I’m sure I can come up with something — Season 10 Vegas survivor Hollie Cavanagh once again getting the seen-but-never-heard treatment? one of the strongest vocalists in the competition getting burned by a last-minute judges’ switcheroo? the continued existence of Randy Jackson on my TV screen? —  but sometimes, you have to accept that (in a twist of a Mick Jagger lyric) you can sometimes get what you want.

In that spirit, I’m going to channel my inner Paula Abdul and keep things positive. In fact, I’ll even refrain from criticizing Randy for the remainder of this recap — especially since the Dawg is sure to give me plenty of material once Season 11’s live telecasts begin on Feb. 28 — and get right to dishing the highs and lows of the 70 survivors of Season 11 Hollywood Week as they put together group performances of music from the 1950s and early ’60, and eventually got whittled down to the Top 42.

Five Best Vocal Performances From Vegas
5) Hallie Day, “Tell Him” | We only saw a quick snippet from the contestant who one astute TVLine reader noted looks an awful lot like Kim Basinger, but that’s all it took to reconfirm Hallie’s rich, muscular tone and languid phrasing. As the Idoloonie nation begins the annual exercise of wondering whether The House That Kelly Clarkson Built will ever see another female ruler, here’s a vocalist worth adding to the shortlist of contenders.

4) Joshua Ledet, “Blue Suede Shoes” | I’m not sure how I’ll feel about Joshua if he proves incapable of ever deviating from his cranked-up-to-10 vocal style — yeah, I remember, I rather enjoyed Jacob Lusk’s “God Bless the Child” around this time last season — but the grit and power the guy brought to “Blue Suede Shoes” gave me shades of Living Color’s Corey Glover.

3) Ariel Sprague, “Rockin Robin'” | I thought Ariel displayed the most power, control, and sass from a really solid group that contained four members of the group formerly known as Hollywood Five — Jeremy Rosado, Gabi Carrubba, and David Leathers Jr., minus Eben Franckewitz. Could she be the rare Jordin Sparks or Allison Iraheta in a sea of Thia Megias, Katie Stevenses and Lisa Tuckers?

2) Phillip Phillips, “I Only Have Eyes for You” | I haven’t been overly impressed by Phillip since his rousing “Thriller” audition, but the FOH (Friend of Heejun) showed great versatility putting his gravelly instrument to tender use on the Flamingos’ gorgeous ballad. Plus, he’s already mastered the fine art of making goo-goo eyes into the camera.

1) Deandre Brackensick, Candice Glover and Jessica Sanchez, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” | I probably should rank this trio individually, but then I’d have to force myself to decide which one of ’em I loved the most. Jessica couldn’t have been much bigger around than a mic stand, but somehow channeled the angst and pain of 1,000 soul sisters scorned. Deandre conjured up visions of a modern-day Maxwell or D’Angelo — and who wouldn’t like a little of that to knock Chris Brown off of Top 40 playlists right about now? (Uh-huh, I went there.) And Candice wins my ultimate reflexive praise: The atrociously dressed songbird made me flare my nostrils, shake my damn head, and raise a Gospel hand — all three times I watched back the performance on my DVR. By the time the trio came to the climax of this Buddy Holly number, things had devolved into a hot honeyed mess of thrown hair and hollerating — and I loved every second of it. This time next year, look for “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” on my list of the 10 Best Hollywood Week Moments Ever.

Five Singers Who Should’ve Been Cut
1) Eben Franckewitz | Awww…he’s adorable with those carefully placed lipstick prints on his cheek. Unfortunately, I thought he brought a shrillness to “The Night Has 1,000 Eyes” that acted like a bag of rocks around the necks of his fellow groupmates. To put it another way, you know something’s gone hinky when I’m shouting “silence, child!” so I can better hear Reed Grimm’s vocals. (And yes, I kind of liked Reed’s vocals. And his dancing. In other news, the lion hath laid with the lamb.)

2) Richie Law and Jermaine Jones | The judges’ loved the stylistically disparate duo’s take on “Make It Easy on Yourself,” but all I got was intermittent pitch problems from the obnoxious cowboy and a charisma vortex from the bearded soul singer. Jairon Jackson and Johnny Keyser got cut for these dudes?

3) All the “Jailhouse Rock” guys (even, sigh, Scott Dangerfield) | Maybe it was the matchy-matchy leather jackets and the ponytails, or the fact that they were all coated in a gloppy melted-cheese sauce, but I couldn’t distinguish one of these dudes from the next.

2) Courtney Williams | Unlike her ousted groupmates Jessica Phillips and Britnee Kellogg, Courtney seemed to struggle with the quick cadences of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” and I thought her vocals were the weakest of the trio, to boot.

1) Caleb Johnson and Joshua Sanders | I know it’s not an easy task dragging “Hunk of Burning Love” into 2012, but the least these dudes could’ve done was left those rejected Godspell costumes back in the dressing room. Ah well, I guess every season needs its cannon fodder.

Five Singers Who Should’ve at Least Made It to the Next Solo Round
5) Jessica Phillips | Okay, so she turned out to have kind of a stank attitude in the end, but I thought her “Keep Me Hanging On” was pretty good.

4) Jairon Jackson | I didn’t particularly like the dude’s audition, but he seemed to get better and better with each passing performance, no?

3) Schyler Dixon | Granted, her Vegas performance was only so-so, but I don’t understand how Uncle Nigel passed on the opportunity for a side-by-side “one of you made it, one of you didn’t” horror show during next week’s Green Mile episode.

2) Nick Boddington | The only difference between Nick and the other members of his group was that he didn’t have as much hair. So apparently that’s now a legit excuse for sending a contestant home?


The Three Best Peggi Blue Quotes (Presented Without Context)
3) “Are you on Ritalin?”
2) “Girl, hello! There’s no crying in music!”
1) “You are on American Idol. You came here to be one. Get a grip!”

And finally, we’ve got some Vegas Week trophies and consolation prizes to hand out:

The “Hey, Show Some Respect for Your Idol Alumni!” Prize
So Idol travels all the way to Vegas and the Viva Elvis stage and doesn’t bother to mention Season 7’s Carly Smithson has a role in the show? Blasphemy!

No Bad Attitude Goes Unpunished
Nice work by the Idol editing crew to make it look like maybe cowboy Richie Law punched a girl in the face on the bus ride to Vegas

The “Has This Always Been His Profession, and I Just Never Noticed It?” Award
“Musician/Face Painter” Colton Dixon (Srsly?)

The Rachel Berry Prize for Teenage Girl Ambition Being Twisted Into a Negative
Poor Gabi Carrubba! All she wanted to do was shine and get that standing ovation she so richly deserved!

When an Imitation of Someone’s Diva Antics Is Actually More Obnoxious Than the Original Diva Antics Trophy
David Leathers Jr., mimicking his fellow group member Gabi

You Can Get Away With Sparkly Eyeshadow, Sparkly Lipstick, or a Sparkly Sports Bra — But Probably Not All Three
Angie Zeiderman

Most Confusing Standing Ovation
The judges going wild for Reed Grimm, Haley Johnson, Eben Franckewitz, and Elise Testone’s “The Night Has 1,000 Eyes,” when it was really just okay

Closeup That Needs to Stop Happening Immédiatement
Steven Tyler’s horrific talon-esque black-striped fingernails

That Sounded Wobblier Than I’d Expected/Hoped
Baylie Brown’s snippet of “Be My Baby”

Wait, He Actually Cares About This Thing!
Heejun Han, openly weeping with joy after cracking the Top 42 (wahh-shoo-wop)

Is That a Compliment Now?
Steven Tyler telling Chelsea Sorrell her rendition of “Be My Baby” was “over the top” like it was the best thing one could say about a vocal performance. (No wonder Jacob Lusk never learned anything on this show!)

The “You’re Supposed to Lounge Around in a Hot Tub After You’ve Made It, Not Before” Prize
Johnny Keyser

Thou Shalt Not Disrespect Debra Byrd!
Richie Law complaining about Debra’s arrangement of “Make It Easy on Yourself” by huffing, “I didn’t come here to recycle music!” Someone really should’ve paired him with Peggi Blu.

Thou Shalt Not Disrespect Debra Byrd’s Coworkers
You knew Britnee, Jessica, and Courtney were headed for a takedown the minute they mentioned they didn’t bother to rehearse with the band or vocal coaches because they already had so much on-stage experience and didn’t want to waster anyone’s time. (Yes, and I’m sure Beyoncé never bothers with rehearsals or sound checks either.)

The “Stop Playing an Instrument When Your Hands Are Empty” Award
Okay, Reed Grimm, we get it: You’re JAZZY. But that doesn’t mean you havr to bring an imaginary harmonica into our lives.

Wrap Up Her Slice of Humble Pie to Go
Jessica Phillips brushing Britnee’s hand off her shoulder and hissing that Idol clearly “isn’t looking for real artists.”

She’ll Probably End Up Paying for This
Jen Hirsh saying the judges were “wrong” to cut her buddy Nick Boddington. SHHHH! Jen! J.Lo has ears everywhere!

Booked for an Upcoming Crossover Episode of The Finder
In which Geoff Stultz’s character is tasked with tracking down the sound of Hollie Cavanagh’s voice

What did you think of the Vegas rounds? Who were your favorites? Did any decisions fill you with furty? Sound off below, and for all my Idol news, views, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Joe R says:

    The Vegas group round was suspiciously polished, without a whiff of the trainwreck stench of the Hollywood group round. What gives?

    • tom22 says:

      Well these were the ones that didn’t get in the train rec before and the ones that had shown more abilty to both cope with schedules and stress and sing decently.
      They also had full on coaching help as we saw. That wasn’t just about making this TV show more polished but probably to see how coachable the kids were.
      Lets not fool ourselves that who goes through comes down to the judges opinions of the performances they saw. The performances are vital because it shows what they’ll look like when the money is on the line, but they’re being vetted in many more ways to get a feeling how they’ll respond in the gauntlet ahead of them.
      They will have crazy long days making public appearances and working with directors and coaches and music directors.. they need to have a personality that can work with the team to deliver in all those other ways too.

    • Eolra says:

      I think they have a lot longer to work on this round – Hollywood is “up all night no sleep”, for all we know they could have had 2 days with vocal coaches to get it together for Vegas, plus rehearsal with the band.

    • Micaela says:

      I’m so upset they didn’t show off more of Scott Dangerfield, I know he’s better than that ridiculous group song. I’ve been a fan of his since last year, you should all check him out on youtube, he’s AMAZING!

  2. Danielle Notaro says:

    Sorry man, I thought Jermaine Jones did a beautiful job with the song- Why they saved the Cowboy, I’ll never know. Also, I liked Phillip Phillips several auditions ago- he just hasn’t been on it for me since then. Without his Dave Matthews groove, I don’t think he’s strong or versatile enough. Over all I though there were a few REALLY good group auditions.

    • JOsh says:

      I read to see a bit more versatility. I think he showed it last night, so I’d like to see him do so again. Maybe at a theme night during the live show(yeah I’m assuming he’ll get that far). I think he just needs training, which I mean in a good way. He has a good voice and a lot of talent, he just needs to sort of keep it under control.

    • tarc says:

      Cowboy? He was just awful last night – an a jerk on top of it. But I think Phillip Phillips has been consistently amazing throughout, and I don’t have any doubts that he can handle the Idol theme weeks. I think cuting Johnny Keyser was a massive mistake, though.

  3. Sasha says:

    I think that 70% of the people that they’ll pick for the top 24 will legitimately have earned the spot.
    The other 30% are the “entertainment”
    We’ll laugh and love to hate them and for some god-awful reason they’ll keep staying week after week until the top 5

  4. Leila says:

    I really want to like Phillip Phillips, cause he’s so cute, but I’m tired of that forced gravelly tone. Can’t he just use his normal/real voice?

    • Alex says:

      Leila, that’s what I always say about Dave Matthews, too.

      • tarc says:

        And that’s what makes Dave Matthews and Phillip Phillips awesome.

        • Ghost of Justin Guarini says:


          • Josh says:

            I don’t know…I’m not a huge Dave Matthews fans…As I said, I think Phillip needs to show versality because he has a good voice but he definitely needs training. I was watching some AI videos on some of my favs and he was one of them. He’s only been singing three years….So I think he still has a lot to learn, so hopefully the AI coaches can help him harness his singing voice because I think he has a really good one…He just needs to keep it even and controlled(and keep his body movements under cntrol too)

        • Billy says:

          Could never take Dave Matthews seriously because his compositions are so banal, and his voice so affected. BUT, the Dave Matthews Band is another story altogether – taking mediocre compositions and elevating them to the realm of fine art – especially the DMB live performances.

    • Marianne says:

      I agree about P.P. It feels like it’s not ‘his’ voice. Seems so forced.

    • Donna says:

      I totally agree–he’s even copying Dave’s movements. The jerky leg movements and all the face scrunching and twitching. It seems like he studied at the Dave Matthews clown college or something.

      • tarc says:

        I don’t see the movement copying thing. And as we’ve seen before, as recently as Casey last season, blues singers have their own signature style.

      • kate says:

        He’s going to be like another Paul McDonald — really exciting, until he gets within the context of the show, when his voice will either totally give out or he’ll look out of place next to all the powerhouse vocal talent. Whichever happens first.

        • Josh says:

          But then he’ll marry Nikki Reed….Only downside, he’ll have to watch the Twilight movies..

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Made me laugh. :-)
            Phillip Phillips is like Paul McDonald in that he’s exactly the kind of contestant I should like – but I don’t, at least not yet. I tried SO hard to like Paul last year. I really wanted to like Paul. but in the end I just couldn’t force myself to like Paul all that much.

    • gazebo says:

      Yes, my first thought about Phillip was that he’s going to lose his voice about 4 weeks into the show, if he lasts that long. Way too much strain. I really enjoyed Jermaine on Make It Easy on Yourself, but Rich is really an irritating twerp. Speaking of Twerps, RANDY, the Righteous Bros did not do MIEOY, it was done by my personal faves the Walker Bros.

    • MAS says:

      I don’t know about his voice but he reminds me of Zach Gilford’s character from FNL so much I can’t help liking him.

  5. kt says:

    I thought it was a great episode! Despite there being a few egregious cuts, I think there’s a lot of really great vocalists left. DeAndre was probably my favorite from last night…his voice was like butter! Elise was my fave of the girls. And I hate to say it, but Reed is growing on me a bit, but I’m still not sure about him. He’ll have to tone down the antics a lot if he does make the live shows.

    • Laura says:

      Reed kinda gives off a pedo vibe. He’s a little creepy although I think he has a goos voice.

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      DeAndre was great. I hope he makes it. I like Reed a lot. Yes, he’s a bit odd, but it’s hard to argue with that voice. And I loved his dancing! There was also a female singer I really liked, a bigger girl with a name that started with an ‘M’. Molly?

    • jennrae says:

      Ugh, Reed. Reed reminds me of kids in musical theater and show choir in high school, the ones who take it extra seriously. There were those of us who would kind of turn it off during rehearsal and then there were those who were ALWAYS. ON. The grownups in charge and parental looky-loos always loved them, while the rest of us had to live with them. Set days where all you were supposed to be thinking about is drilling a screw or painting a cloud and they’re singing showtunes. Theater trip to New York to watch Rent and Blue Man Group and maybe tour NBC Studios and they’re…singing showtunes. That’s Reed. You can be fully committed without, in your day-to-day, always acting for the people in the back row. My guess is he doesn’t know how to be vulnerable, but he can act vulnerable and people love it.
      But really, I’m sorry, am I the only one who couldn’t ignore his bunched-up crotch? It was like that thing was in slow motion.

  6. Templar says:

    I definitely got a Clay/Ruben vibe from Richie/Jermaine although jermaine is by far more polished than Richie. Reed Grimm is like a marionette in the hands of a drunken puppeteer. Phillip Phillips sucks. Heejun is definitely a personality, but I see him as more of an actor who sings rather than a singer who acts. So far, I haven’t sorted out the ladies.

    • teacher says:

      I love your thoughts on Reed. I kept telling my husband that he really looked spastic(even though I like him). Your characterization was perfect!

    • Angela says:

      Yeah, my mom noticed the Clay/Reuben thing, too. Though I don’t think they’ll hold a candle to that duo, but who knows, as the season goes on that could change.
      Best performance last night was the one of “I Only Have Eyes For You”. FANTASTIC harmonies from the guys on that-it was gorgeous, true to the original, and yet had enough modern spin on it that I could hear it on the radio today. Definitely a highlight.
      The “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” performance, on the other hand? There were moments of individual good spots, and I appreciate them trying to do something different, but…eh. It was just too odd for me.
      Agreed on Jessica Phillips’ little tantrum after leaving the stage. I agree their judgment on who stays and goes can be questionable sometimes, and I’ve no doubt it sucks getting this far only to be let go, but honestly, the whole, “They’re not looking for REAL artists” thing contestants like to throw out-it just makes you look rather arrogant and like a sore loser. If you already think you’re that great, then you don’t really need “Idol”, do you? Just ’cause they reject you doesn’t mean this is it for your chance at stardom.

  7. Carol says:

    I think Jermaine Jones has a BEAUTIFUL voice. Michael, I can’t imagine why you would think he should have been cut. Take another listen, and focus only on his voice, not on the cowboy’s voice, and not on their personalities either. His voice is just so rich and full — I love it.

    • Rico says:

      I don’t think Slezak has gotten past Jones’ sweat-filled audition.
      And while I don’t like the cowboy and don’t think Jones will go very far, I don’t know what Slezak was hearing, for I thought it was one of the better performances of the night.

      • Marianne says:

        Jermaine has a good voice, is a good singer, but I don’t think he’s relevant for “American Idol”.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Jermaine doesn’t just have a good voice, he has an extraordinary voice! It’s full, rich, has depth and wonderful resonance. Which, unfortunately, is exactly why your comment about his relevancy for “Idol” is spot on.

    • tarc says:

      Last night changed my opinion of Jones. He was awesome, and completely blew away that tacky, snotty cowboy guy.

    • PGV says:

      I am so happy to see I was not the only one who loved Jermaine’s voice. Talk about smooth as buttah! He may not have the “looks” Michael or a show like Idol wants, but his voice is utterly Dreamy. Close your eyes and listen to him again Michael.
      If he doesn’t make the Top 24, he should consider Broadway. I could see him belting out a big tune on a Broadway stage. His facial expressions were Perfect throughout that song, good for Broadway also. I became a Fan last night!

      • My Alter Ego says:

        Indeed! I don’t particularly like the show “ShowBoat,” but imagine what Jermaine could do with “Ole Man River”.

  8. Deb says:

    So far Chase Likens has gotten the Kris Allen Memorial edit…seconds of audition and group cameo with a featured contestant (see Matt Giraud). I don’t like country, so it was good to see he can sing other styles.

  9. marie says:

    Thank you, Slezak, thank you: re Richie Law, who was off-key much of the time, and Courtney Williams, I was wondering if the judges had wax in their ears (but I did enjoy Jermaine Jones; lovely tone, strong, controlled performance, and he managed to stay in tune while Richie was singing off-key: not easy to do!). Ok, gotta go back and read the rest of the article now.

  10. Forwarders says:

    Michael / your finest recap ever. I watched the show and relived it again with your recap. Not a fan of RGrimm. Can’t get past his Taylor Hicks histrionics.

    • Owen says:

      Why do you guys think Grimm is the new Taylor Hicks when its clearly Phillip Phillips (except, of course, you want to have sex with Phillip Phillips. That must be it.).

      • Josh says:

        But Phillip Phillips isn’t giddy and jumpy, he just moves a lot. Taylor Hicks and Reed Grimm jump around like, they(quoting my girl Veronica Mars here) “just stumbled into daddy’s meth lad.”

    • wendy says:

      Reed Grimm’s dancing makes Taylor Hicks look like Fred Astaire. Whoever choreographs Idol must be freaking out wondering what to do with him (keep him in the back)

  11. pnkl8y says:

    There are only 2 possible reasons they put the cowboy through: 1) DRAMA and 2) they want another Scotty McCreery. Only, Scotty was sweet and humble and this guy is not. AI is notorious for trying to recreate magic from previous seasons. David Cook won? Let’s put a bunch of wanna be rockers through. Scotty won? We must want another country star. They need to know it is not so black and white. Oh and by the way, Reed Grimm, we already had a Casey.

    • JJ says:

      The cowboy guy is nothing like Scotty and isn’t even from the south, so where is the comparison coming from? Scotty sings country, the cowboy doesn’t. The only similarity I can see is that they’re young and caucasian.

      • meyers7 says:

        Umm JJ, yes cowboy is definitely a country singer. Check him out on YouTube. Not quite as polished (yes as strange as that sounds) as Scotty but very similar.

        • tommytomted says:

          Hey meyers7…get an education! Scotty’s first single went gold and his first CD went platinum. Is that “polished” enough for you?

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      True, we did already have a Casey. But this version doesn’t, so far as we know, grunt or growl his way through songs in an off-putting fashion. Also, he can dance, or at least move in an entertainingly spastic way. I’m pulling for Casey 2.0.

  12. Lo says:

    Anyone else getting major Blake Lewis vibes from Reed? I know everyone compares him to Casey but something about his performance style and personality screams “Blake” to me.

    • Owen says:

      Yes. Much more than Taylor Hicks. Who I actually liked on the show. I’m man enough to admit (cause most of the people on Slezak’s boards are WAY too cool to have ever wanted Taylor Hicks to win).

    • Sacajawea says:

      I get Blake Lewis vibes from Creighton Fraker.

      • Lo says:

        I kind of get the Creighton comparison, but when I saw Reed’s Vegas song I immediately thought of Blake’s “Mack the Knife” performance. They have a similar sounding voice (kind of jazzy, both like scatting), cheesy dance moves, and a similar personality (kind of hammy, love-me-or-hate-me). Blake actually really grew on me over time, but he was definitely a polarizing contestant, and I think Reed will be too.

      • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

        I get Matt Giraud vibes from Creighton Fraker. All this negative commentary about his nasally, quavery voice is exactly what Slezak said about Matt in the early rounds. Now he’s a proud MG fan, so I have a feeling Creighton will pleasantly surprise him at some point.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Fraker pleasantly surprised me in his Vegas Challenge performance. Perhaps, he had to tone the physical and facial quirks down a bit when in a group. I’m still not sold on the sound of his voice, but I thought he demonstrated better musical judgement (with this performance) than I’ve seen or heard from him before.

  13. Stephie33 says:

    I agree about the Jailhouse Rock guys…I literally could not tell one from the other.
    Candice Glover was fantastic; Eben should have gone home instead.

  14. Krikky says:

    Hallie Day looks a little bit like actual Kim Basinger but even MORE like cartoon Kim Basinger from “Cool World”.

  15. Volcfom says:

    I love when the number of contestants start dwindling to a manageable amount, because your recaps get that much better!
    I especially agree with your “should’ve stayed” and “should’ve been cut” lists. Jairon and Candice were great! I know Jairon messed up in an earlier round, does that explain the cut? I’m still upset about it.

    My bf and I definitely think that they made some cuts based solely on appearances, which is a shame.

    I’m hoping we get to hear some new voices during the last solos (Hollie Cavanagh!).

  16. scrutinizer says:

    does anyone know if ashlee “joy hop” altise made it through? haven’t seen here anywhere in hollywood or vegas.

    • Michael Slezak says:

      This is keeping me up at night. LOVE her, but lack of screentime worries me.

      • Carol says:

        I <3 U Michael!

      • scrutinizer says:

        thanks michael….love her too!…quirky, original, hot vocals. she reminds me of a cross between jonelle monae and erica badu, with a little fantasia thrown in there ;)
        also love reading your colorful and “right on” recaps, as well as watching idology, my new guilty pleasure. and a special thanks for inviting my all time fave idol contestant melinda to be your co-host.
        maybe one day you can invite my 2nd all time fav….allison :)

      • My Alter Ego says:

        While I loved Ashlee “Joy Hop” Altise’s delightful personality as well (and I say that because I’m uncertain about her actual musical ability), as I have rewatched her original audition and thought about it, something keeps coming to me over and over.
        And that is that I think that her audition had been very carefully worked out and rehearsed, perhaps for quite some time. If that is correct, my suspicion is that Ashlee may not fare well when thrown into Hollywood week, wherein being able to work with others in a sleep deprived mode and put something together quickly is the requirement du jour.
        Because her personality just sparkles, I’d like to be wrong about that suspicion but ….

  17. Ed says:

    Heejun and Philip seem like great/fun/entertaining guys but am I the only one who thinks they have mediocre voices at best? What drives me nuts about this program, year-in-year-out, is that the judges don’t think about whether each contestant could actually be the “American Idol” or a successful recording artist until they get to the top 5. That’s the criteria they should be using when judging every one of these contestants and no offense to Heejun and Philip but you can’t understand them sometimes. Philip is a poor man Dave Matthews with awkward dance moves and all.
    And don’t even get me started on Reed, Creighton and Adam Brock – those three are annoying as hell and NO ONE would go out of their way to buy their record.
    My early guess at top 12 (no particular order):
    1) Baylie Brown
    2) Elise Testone
    3) Jen Hirsh (is there a rule against contestant that already have already recorded CDs?)
    4) Hallie Day
    5) Hollie Cavanagh (despite not hearing her all season)
    6) Chelsea Sorrell
    *Shannon and Skyler are overrated but will probably make it over some of the more talented people I listed above.
    7) Adam Brock (gross)
    8) Colton Dixon (not that great)
    9) Deandre Brackensick
    10) Jeremy Rosado
    11) Joshua Ledet
    12) Philip Phillips (overrated)
    * Aaron Sanders should but won’t make it

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      I completely agree that Heejun’s voice was mediocre. It was so soft and breathy; it was like he was whispering the song. It didn’t have many interesting qualities and I think he should have been cut. Maybe they could keep him on for commentary.
      Phillips I could go either way on. I thought he was better than Heejun, but he didn’t really stand out.

    • tarc says:

      So you like the most boring (or pop) of the voices. *shrugs* Not me. I’d take Colton, Phil Phillips, and Creighton over all of the others – hands down, no question. I’ve heard the rest (over and over) – and far better already in the market place. Of couse, sales are far more dependent on songwriting than the voice ( a great voice can’t save a mediocre song these days).

      • Ed says:

        I’d have to disagree w/ your assessment, especially if you’re judging my top 12 because I based those names on people I thought were a) talented but b) would likely be voted in by the text-crazed teens that made Scotty the winner last year.
        I think Colton is “pop”-ish, just because he has an unique hairstyle, it doesn’t mean he’s alternative and non-mainstream. I just think Colton’s voice isn’t great, but I haven’t seen enough of him to label him one way or the other. As for Philip, his voice is even more limited and the weird ticks and his awkward delivery will grow old quickly. Lastly, Creighton should stick to broadway or his “starved artist” ways because he’s totally over-the-top and wants to scream and do runs at every turn.
        Again, this is American Idol, the point of the show is to find someone who can be a pop star and be able to sell a zillion records.
        But it also sounds like you and I would buy totally different albums/songs – so keep on doing what you do!

    • Adria says:

      WE DON’T KNOW THE TOP 24 YET. But now we know half of them, thanks to you.

    • tommytomted says:

      Hey Ed…the comment about Aaron Sanders should make it but won’t didn’t fool me a bit. You have been to a spoiler site!

    • scrutinizer says:

      no jessica sanchez on your list???
      the girl def has serious chops and a great sense of confidence and poise for such a young age.

  18. blingedup.susan says:

    MICHAEL SLEZAK! You liked Reed Grimm’s vocals? AND his dancing??
    I’ve never disagreed with you before, and on this I can’t disagree with you more.
    The lion hath laid with the lamb indeed!

    • Miscellanopolan says:

      We haven’t even gotten to the live rounds yet, and already it looks like Reed Grimm is becoming the polarizing contestant. We’ve gotta have at least one. Personally, I like him a lot. Eight kinds of strange, yes, but very entertaining up on stage.

      • Billy says:

        As long as he stays behind the drumset, I like him just fine. He’s definitely got talent, and his body got’sta move, so let him play the traps while singing (it’s alot harder than it looks) and all will be well with the Idol world.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          “so let him play the traps while singing (it’s alot harder than it looks)”
          Huge amounts of coordination — a multi-tasker’s dream.

  19. NJloonie says:

    I think this season will NOT be the year of the WGWG. I predict a “colorful” winner!

  20. Tim says:

    Am I the only one who can’t stand Colton Dixon? I think he has a very average voice; he should have been cut and not his sister. And that skunk on his head needs to go back to the 90s or wherever it came from.

    • Josh says:

      The sad thing is the stunk hair wouldn’t even have worked in the 90’s…And that was the era of the corp top.
      Though we have Deandre representing with 90’s hair. Girl(…guy) you know it’s true.

      • Owen says:

        Hey! My girl Amanda Overmyer had skunk hair! So I am with Colton in solidarity over his sharing his hair coloring with Amanda.

    • says:

      He is painfully average and only still in the competition because he nearly made it last year.

    • wendy says:

      Agreed. Colton is average. I keep thinking Milli Vanilli when I see his hair.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      You all get a “Made Me Laugh” :-)

    • dilia says:

      i LOVE coltons voice honestly. I HATE his hair but i really didnt think his sister was all that great so i dont mind that she got cut. But colton was my fave last year and one my faves this year just because i love that kind of voice

  21. Josh says:

    Oh that was me!(The Kim Basinger thing). Slezak talked about me. I’m all a flutter, haha.
    Anyway…That’s her name! Seriously I’m a bit confused with all the Hallie, Hollie’s, Haleys(even a Bailey) it’s hard to keep some of their name’s straight, especially since 85% of the Hallie-Hollie-Haley’s were blonde. But thankfully her voice and her looks stood out to me. Can Idol have a noir special just so we can see Hallie dressed as Kim Basinger’s character from LA Confidential?
    I’m still not feeling Deandre…though I liked both girls in that song a lot, especially Candice Glover but alas it didn’t turn out well.
    I really like Heejun and Phillip Phillips just for their personalities, they seem like cool dudes. I also think Phillip showed some versatility last night, just wish we could have seen more. I guess we’ll see Wednesday night. I just sort of want him to prove the WGWG haters wrong(prejudice against a white guy with a guitar…that’s new haha)
    I said it’s a tie for Cowboy, Colton and Adam Brock for who I dislike the most…Oh and Reed Grimm….

  22. b.Rich says:

    Holly Cavanaugh in in Mr. Sandman by the way

    • says:

      There is only one broken or removed video. Of course it’s Johnny Keyser’s

      • Ed says:

        Looks like the video that Johnny is in is finally working and I have to admit… the performance was sub-par and Johnny wasn’t very good. But I still do think something is up. Why would they play him up for so long and then eliminate him in such a cavalier manner?
        Also, Hollie Cavanaugh’s performance in Mr. Sandman… awesome. In fact, I thought the whole group was good. What does Uncle Nigel have against her?!

        • Billy says:

          I think that Hollie’s the ace up Nigel’s sleeve for a ratings boost.
          BTW, was Ashley Robles part of that group? She was eliminated grrrr!

  23. TheBeach says:

    Idol usually seems to include at least one hottie heart throb (Ace, Tim etc) with a serviceable voice for the sex appeal. I guess this year it’s going to be Phillip or Chase. I’m surprised Johnny Keyser wasn’t picked for that role. He’s definitely hot and I think has a better, more adaptable voice than Phillip. I haven’t heard enough from Chase to decide.

    • Miscellanopolan says:

      How about Deandre? Kid is very, very pretty. If 17-year-old Scotty is allowed to be the heart-throb last year, I don’t see why Deandre couldn’t do it.
      I want to pull his hair.

      • TheBeach says:

        Tis true, Deandre could fit the bill. I never saw Scotty as last season’s heart throb. I saw Stefano more in that category.

        • Miscellaneopolan says:

          Stefano was the heart-throb we expected, but Scotty was the heart-throb we got. He was the one who was rushed by girls on stage. He got to sing “Stay away little girl” during one of the group performances while surrounded by a bunch swaying teenagers. I was ready for Stefano to fill that role, but somewhere along the way I think it went to Scotty.

      • Sookie says:

        Yes, definitley see Deandre in that role.

        • Templar says:

          I like Deandre, but there’s maybe too much Justin Guarini there. Been there, done that. But there’s a whole new crop of teens and tweens out there who don’t remember Justin, so it might work out.

          • Josh says:

            I don’t think tweens/teens will go for Deandre he’s just too…romantic novel cover without the pecs…I could see the older crowd but the younger crowd will go for Phillip Phillips, Colton, and even Eben(hey they like Bieber…)

          • TheBeach says:

            Deandre is a good-looking guy. I just wish his look didn’t remind me so much of Milli Vanilli .

  24. Tahoe Mike says:

    I just don’t get what you liked about that “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” number. That was the most painful to listen to moment of the night. I didn’t like anything about it.
    I wanna see that cowboy staked out on an ant hill in the hot desert sun.
    I thought those last minute cuts were cruel.

    • Sookie says:

      Although the last minute cuts seem cruel it makes sense because the judges hadn’t even seen the 2nd day people and would probably have ended up with only 4 slots or something. It probably would have been less cruel if they had made that clear to the contestants before they started.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Tahoe Mike gets a “Made Me Laugh” for the ant hill comment. :-)
      Wow, everyone is hatin’ on that cowboy. I’m SO looking forward to watching the program when I finally get back home.

  25. Josh says:

    You know what’s going to be awkward…When Eben starts going through puberty on the live show(if he makes it to the top 24….His edit is making me think he will but his voice…not so much).

    • Sookie says:

      Maybe he can sing the Brady Bunch hit,”When it’s time to chaaaange
      you’ve got to rearrange…”

      • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

        LOL! My choir director references that one all the time. And I would die laughing if that happened to little Eben on stage. (I know, I’m horrible.)

  26. msmaka says:

    They couldn’t even critique some terrible/mediocre group performances in hollywood/vegas so I think live shows will be even worse than last year in that regard.

  27. YowzaPowza says:

    This had to be the worst Vegas round ever. There were SO MANY times when these judges would give standing ovations and I’m all like, “wha?” When JLO was gawking over Richie and that other dude with the low voice I think I literally blushed. It was so utterly embarrassing. That kid makes me so nervous because he’s so awful. A low deep voice does not equal quality. Get a clue judges. The other one that really bothers me is Jen Hirsch. This girl comes from the Christina Aguilera school of singing, where they think the louder you are the better. These judges are just appreciating anyone with A) a perspective, even if that perspective is nonsense or B) anyone with a loud voice, even if that loud voice has no control and isn’t, um, good. And Evan, while adorable, was so unbelievably awful, I for sure thought they would cut him. I am despising these judges this year. Lauren Grey, or Laura Grey, or whatever because who cares really, is my favorite so far. And Bailey Brown is only there because of her porn star name. Which is fine with me.

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      I gotta agree about Jen Hirsch. I liked the first half of her Georgia on my Mind performance from last week, but the second she tries to get louder it just sounds screechy. I think the bald guy from her group, the one who got cut, deserved to be there more than her.

    • Sookie says:

      Gotta agree, I hate screamers and she’s a class A screamer.

    • Templar says:

      I believe the disparity between what you heard and what the judges heard has to do with the theater acoustics. The mics don’t round out and reverb the voices for TV in the same way the ceiling in the theater does.

      • YowzaPowza says:

        I don’t think that’s a valid excuse. You could put Ritchie or Jen Hirsh in front of me in any setting and to my ears, they would sound horrible. I think it’s simply a matter of these judges being moronic and validating mediocrity. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they watched that episode back, they thought the same thing. These judges are really killing the show for me.

    • tom22 says:

      I have to disagree with you.
      First, we’ve only had a couple havnet we ?. Maybe I liked last years better and techincally if we had only two that makes this the worse…
      …but I thought everyone of the perfomances except the barritones was solid. (I’m assuming they spared us a few clunkers).

  28. Pat says:

    Slezak! has all the Vegas performances IN FULL. Every single one!

    • says:

      My earlier comment with the link was removed. Finally get to hear Holly Cavanaugh on there (Mr. Sandman). There is one broken video, Johnny Keyser’s group. Conspiracy!

  29. PC says:

    Hi Michael,
    What is the purpose of group rounds? American Idol is looking for individual singers not group performers. I think there are 2 reasons for the group rounds: Number 1 – The drama it creates, good for TV. showing people arguing and breaking down. 2 – This way they can see 3 or 4 people at a time instead of listening to them singing 1 at a time.
    I do not think the group rounds help you find the best singer, it can eliminate a good singer.

    • Tim says:

      It’s great TV. Plus if you don’t stand out in a group, do you really have a serious chance of becoming a star?

      • Billy says:

        So true. So so sad but true – *Nuts ‘o wonder* Lol.

        • PC says:

          And the guy who sang “Nuts ‘o wonder” Was last season’s
          American Idol winner!!!!
          Messed up in group round, and the judges still put
          him through. Judges will put through some singers
          even if they mess up.

    • Tusk says:

      Group rounds is not only for entertainement, it is also the second part of a test. They will need everything they learned at this point if they make it to live.
      AI needs to know these guys can learn songs and choreography quickly, work well with coaches and musicians and other contestants, and all in a compressed pressure packed week.
      Once they hit lives, AI will have no patience for someone who can’t keep up with that schedule.
      That was why it was so stupid for that group with “Britnee” to go in crowing about how they were professionals and didn’t want to waste the coaches and band’s time.
      They completely missed the point of this process and paid for it.

  30. Ana Muti says:

    I’m falling for Heejun. I really liked the group singing “I Only Have Eyes…”
    I hope HJ goes the distance–I enjoy listening to his voice.

  31. shana says:

    Johnny Keyser didn’t make it?! :O
    Still can’t get over that. Aside from the cuts in the last 10 minutes, Last night’s show was possibly the best of this season so far.

  32. Sookie says:

    I agree with Mr. Sleezak that Ariel Sprague was absolutely awesome! I hope we see more of her. I would also like to see more of Phillip Phillips also known as FOH. And I loved the addition to MIT Nikko Starr.

  33. Musica1 says:

    I would buy a cd of Jermaine singing romantic ballads. He’s a new Barry White. Red has been performing on stage since he was 2 and apparently has never grown out of that kid performer “look at me! Look at me!” performing style. He needs to just relax and sing and stop trying to get our attention all the time.

  34. Musica1 says:

    Haha! I kind of see it. I think Blake is more talented and definitely cooler, but they both have a slightly manic style.

  35. califansd says:

    I loved Colton Dixon last year and was so upset he wasn’t put on the live show. My support of him this year so far is just a holdover from that. If this had been my first year to see him I don’t think I would find him interesting or better than a lot of others.

  36. Sandiegocat says:

    I agree! I like the tone of his voice better than any other guy’s this year.

    • dilia says:

      this!!! maybe hes not the most techinically capable singer but his tone is exactly my thing and i thought he stuck out in his vegas group- the skylar thats not his sister that was with him was the worst in that group IMO

  37. Annie says:

    I can’t believe Jairon and Johnny were eliminated.. They deserved to stay over so many people that got put through. I find there are only two types of girls this year: the country-pop singers (Baylie Brown hype please end soon – exactly how I felt about Lauren Alaina..) or the loud belting ones. The only ones I honestly like are Lauren Gray and Elise Testone. The rest seem kind of generic. Oh how I miss Haley Reinhart. And as for guys, I love Phillip Phillips. I’m also liking Heejun, Reed Grimm, and Adam Brock. There are actually a handful of awesome singers this season.

  38. tarc says:

    Other than Jermaine Jones, I’m with Slekak on the cuts. I’m also with him on saving Jessica Phillips and Schyler Dixon – and I’d add Johnny Keyser. Cutting Johnny was insane, and I could cut ten of the current top 42 without thinking about it to get the three back.

    • Virginia says:

      i agree completely!

    • Billy says:

      Cutting Johnny and keeping Cowboy Ritchie may make TV high drama, but it sure made me *mad* (to put it in terms presentable in mixed company).

    • Billy says:

      I don’t think Jessica was cut because of lack of talent, because she had one of the best voices in the competition. Perhaps something happened off-camera that influenced the judges’ decision.
      Schyler getting cut was just plain wrong and reflects poorly on at least 2 of the judges – gee, I wonder which two? Sure, she might have not had the strongest vocals last night but she is a star IMHO.

  39. Vetle says:

    I’m happy we finally got to see SOMETHING from Deandre. But I’m so ready to hear Hollie now! Whyyyy dooo they keeeep hiding heeer. Annoying.
    Also, Jen is climbing up my list. I looove her voice. There are a couple of very strong ladies this year, like every year, but America , and partly the judges, always get it wrong on the lives. I mean, Thia Megia, Karen Rodriguez and Ashton (who showed potential during hollywood/vegas though) over Lauren Turner, Kendra Chantelle and Naima (I know Naima made it, but Karen still got more votes when the voters had their say).
    At this moment, I wanna see these girls make it:
    Erika Van Pelt
    Elise Testone (I rooted for her the second I heard the little snippet from her audition).
    Hallie Day
    Jen Hirsh
    Bailey Brown
    (Hollie Cavanagh)
    But Shannon Magrane (or something) will probably make it.. blah, or Brielle. UGH.
    I don’t care too much for the boys. I like Colton, Deandre and Aaron Marcellus I guess. I do wonder if Scott Dangerfield will make it. Season 10, yay. =p

  40. TheBeach says:

    I guarantee there is much more to the Johnny Keyser elimination than meets the eye.

    • Josh says:

      My honest opinion…they had enough eye candy for girls this season and when they eliminated him producers probably said “Come back next year…seriously…we’ll put you through…” They want the come back story…It was just a little too low key of an elimination…To me they want his face out there so for next season he can have a following when he makes top 24…I don’t think he’s THAT good but that’s just my opinion on the thing.

      • Owen says:

        I think they want a girl winner this year, and the tweens would have voted for Johnny to a degree that would have eclipsed any other contestant. The other guys on the show are cute (the better looking ones are a little too old for a tween) but nothing like the uber-hotness of Keyser. So it will make the competition a little more girl-friendly (if not more fair).

        • TheBeach says:

          That’s a very good point. TPTB seem to be desperate for a girl to win this season and Keyser would have given any of them a run for their money. There’s also speculation that he got a record deal and dropped out. He is no longer a waiter in Pompano Beach, FL but is now living in LA per his Facebook page.

          • YowzaPowza says:

            I guess I’m the only person who didn’t think Keyser was ever that hot to begin with? They played up that whole hot nice guy vibe. I thought he was kind of gross.

          • Owen says:

            No, he is definitely hot. Though, you’re right. He’s a douche.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            I don’t think any of the guys are hot, but I’m old. I’m going to have to defer to the younger women for their opinion.

  41. syb says:

    Hmm I mostly just listened without watching last night, but I did like the Night Has a 1000 Eyes cover as one of the best. All of them had one or two off moments, but that one was at least an interesting arrangement and came together really nicely to my ear. Well I guess that’s why I’m one who never likes the group outings as much as many idol fans do–my taste differs.
    Except for one or two, I actually thought most did pretty well.
    I can tell it’s going to be a long season for Slezak vs. Grimm. I like him. He’s weird, and getting way too much camera time, but so far I’ve enjoyed his performances, if not his personality.

  42. wendy says:

    Heejun is making the show for me so far – and we haven’t even heard him sing much! It’s so obvious that the show wants him to advance – We hear one or two lines and the judges – esp JLo – start nodding excitedly – ‘see, he’s good – he’s good..’ Eventually we’ll have to hear a whole song – I, for one, am rooting for him, because he has mad comic timing. I’m betting he has an ear for impersonation which might extend to his singing – like Jimmy Fallon. I’m betting the tears we saw in the sneak for next week’s show – are tears of joy for Heejun.

  43. Virginia says:

    If they have a bring back, it needs to be Johnny Keyser. I can NOT believe “stupid cowboy” made it and he didn’t! Where is the petition?! I want a recount!

  44. Andre L says:

    The “Has This Always Been His Profession, and I Just Never Noticed It?” Award should go to Creighton Fraker “Starving artist”.
    By the way, wasn’t Deandre Brackensick on last years hell week? I think I remember him. Did they mention it on the show?

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      Yes, I remember him from last year and had been waiting to hear from him ever since I heard he was back. So glad we could see him tonight! I’ve heard he makes the Top 24; I really hope that’s accurate.

  45. Sean D says:

    I’m surprised how much Deandre Brackensick has grown artistically! As I’m sure you remember Slezak, he was part of that whole “a chorus of fetuses and their parents perform Somebody to Love” last year that was a little too teen pop for me. I agree, “Doesn’t Matter Anymore” was the highlight. And Jessica Sanchez! I hope she gets through, new favorite, though I’m still interested to see more of Jen Hirsch.

    • scrutinizer says:

      jessica is my new favorite too, although i hope ashlee “joy hop” altise pops up next week. haven’t seen her since she got a ticket to hollywwood.

  46. Tom22 says:

    Props to Nigel for giving us a chance to hear lots of music. I really enjoyed the last two nights shows: the behind the scenes singing preperation the night before and the performances last night that packed in a heck of a lot of music and very few cut away scenes if any.
    Thanks Idol producers!

  47. Tom22 says:

    Sanchez, Brackensick and Glover … blew me away … blew me a fing way.. too
    It’s amazing to me how many recap sites like didn’t even hardly notice this all time idol note worthy list performance.
    I watched it and.. yeah I must have played it back 3 times right then before continuing with the show. Watched it a number more times just now…
    I think the rhythem and blues vibe escapes many and the tiny differnces in how they play with the blue notes and the little delays (not quite syncopated) from the beat, are so planned and precise and really bring take a person who hears that sort of thing into an almost trance like lifted emotional state.
    Not everyone really enjoys that.. probably a very complicated sociological thing if you got way into it… maybe personality type or brain wiring .. who knows…. I think there is something similar that a subsegment of us hear in Haley Reinhart that makes us hit a rewind button in an odd and out of character for us way but other people don’t hear at all.

    • Billy says:

      I didn’t get into it like you did – although I did like the three performers very much.
      After reading and re-reading your well thought out post, it brought back the performance in my memory and yes, I have to agree it was one of the best, if not THE best, of the night.

  48. Jayo says:

    Who else just loved Jessica Sanchez? She is one to watch!

  49. Eolra says:

    I can’t listen to Cowboy Richie without thinking “Rick Astley”.

    • Templar says:

      Well, none of the teens who do the most voting will make the jump to a fairly obscure Brit pop singer from 25 years ago. By the way, the comparison totally eludes me.

  50. darcy's evil twin says:

    Wow, ALL these comments. And such a recap by Mr. Slezak. I can’t wait to get back home and watch the recording. I sure hope my husband didn’t mess with the DVR or it may be the end of a long, happy marriage! I don’t remember Vegas being quite this exciting last year.