American Idol Recap: Meet the Top 24! (Or, Um, at Least 14 of Them!)

jen hirsh idolJennifer Lopez showed her true colors on Wednesday’s “final judgment” episode of American Idol — a shimmeringly hypnotic hue of emerald green, to be exact.

Indeed, the Gigli star’s sequined dress was so shiny, it actually managed to reflect the image of her “deeply concerned” face and cast lustrous jade pools back onto her throat. It also sent me into a daydream that she was some kind of glamorous alien, just moments away from peeling back the rest of her human skin, revealing a V-like visage, and devouring whole the American Idol contestants who failed to crack the Season 11 Top 24. “I’m sorry baby, but your journey ends by becoming delicious protein to fuel my multihyphenate career!”

But no, despite the ominous spaceship ambience on the Las Vegas set of Le Rêve: The Dream — all bubbling pools of liquid and foggy walkways and subdued lighting — the latest installment of Idol was a relatively happy one.  Sure, the judges began the task of whittling down the final 42 singers to a group of 24 semifinalists, but that means we’re just a week away from the live performance rounds — and hopefully the next great performance that will join Adam Lambert’s “Mad World” and Fantasia Barrino’s “Summertime” and Tamyra Gray’s “Minnie the Moocher” on the list of the show’s great contributions to music and television.

Am I getting a little overexcited for Season 11? Um, does Steven Tyler like the word “beautiful”?

So let’s take a closer look at the 14 Season 11 semifinalists revealed on Wednesday’s telecast — the other 10 will be announced on Thursday’s show — breaking them into three distinct groups, and giving you a sneak preview at the imaginary number you can use to call and vote them through to the next round:

ICE CUBE’S CHANCE IN THE OVEN OF CRACKING THE TOP 12
Brielle Von Hugel: 1-866-MOMMY-ISSUES
At this stage of the game, Brielle could rescue a lamp-bound genie and wish for Celine Dion’s vocal cords, Beyonce’s magnetism, and Adele’s soul, and she’d be hard-pressed to overcome the edit she’s gotten over the last couple weeks. Or rather, the edit given to her bossy, trash-talkin’, spray-tanning stage mom. Even worse, her overwrought “Killing Me Softly” was more “Killing Me Histrionically.”

Chelsea Sorrell: 1-866-NIGEL-HATES-HER
Let’s see: She got about 11 seconds of screen time heading into Wednesday’s show, and Uncle Nigel chose to celebrate Chelsea’s semifinal berth with footage of her forgetting the lyrics in her final Hollywood Week solo? That said, Chelsea’s tone was as clear as bottled water on Carrie Underwood’s “I Told You So,” and our dark overlord does like to have a punching bag or two heading into the Top 12.

Creighton Fraker 1-866-ALL-CAPS-SINGING
I’ve had problems all season with Creighton’s Extreme Song Makeover: Runs and Tics Edition approach to music, and his Vegas solo to “New York State of Mind” was no exception. Plus, his last note sounded like a coughed hairball. The best I can say about Creighton is that he’s this season’s Von Smith. And we all know where Von Smith finished in Season 8. Or, okay, at least 14 percent of us know. (Side note to Ryan Seacrest: When Creighton’s own intro package included discussions about being adopted, and having discovered his “birth daddy” was the lead singer of Flotsam and Jetsam, then it’s your job to respect that narrative. I’m not gonna lie: I gasped when you noted “his dad was right there” as the cameras cut to the long-haired rocker. It’s only a one-word difference from “dad” to “birth dad,” but the distinction couldn’t be greater.)

COULD GO EITHER WAY
Erika Van Pelt: 1-866-CALL-A-STYLIST
I had to agree with J.Lo thay Adele’s “Don’t You Remember” wasn’t a great fit for Erika’s final Vegas performance. It brought out a strange tone that sat at the intersection of opera wannabe and Swiss mountainside yodeler. Plus, were the producers trying to foreshadow an early ouster by playing Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” as Erika exited the “Green Mile” room? That said, all of her previous performances were rock solid, and if this likable chick could learn that sleeveless black and white mumus (as well as tiny vests) are not really anybody’s friend, she could find herself on the 2012 Idol tour.

Baylie Brown: 1-866-BEST-HAIR-EVER
If there’s such a thing as a Season 11 front-runner, it’s probably Baylie: The gorgeous blonde’s comeback from a Season 6 Hollywood Week flop, and gorgeous audition to Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses,” got plenty of buzz, and even managed to excite someone like me, who’s kind of ambivalent about country music. That said, I wasn’t as enamoured of her Vegas performances, and in particular, that solo on “Here Comes Goodbye” sounded a wee bit wobbly.

Haley Johnsen: 1-866-WHO-THIS-LADY?
My first reaction to those clips of Haley’s audition went something like this: “Wait, wasn’t this girl called Brittany Zika during the auditions?” But no, Haley turned out to be a different blonde chick in a jaunty hat giving a lovely rendition of “The Story.” Whether or not her shyness and delicate vocals will hold up to Idol’s Bandzilla remains to be seen, but in a season where full-throttle belting is the order of business, Haley’s relative subtlety might provide a much-needed alternative.

Reed Grimm: 1-866-AIN’T-I-ADORABLE?
I dry-heaved every time Ryan Seacrest dropped a phrase like “quirky charm” or “colorful character” during Reed’s intro package, and it turned into a full-fledged case of The Voms when Randy told the shiny happy jester that “music lives in you and through you.” Still, his jazzy scatting and drum-playing on “It’ Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” is the kind of quirk that will help him stand out in the crowded semifinal rounds. Yes, Idoloonies, brace yourself for more jazz hands and butt shaking and self-aware zaniness.

Heejun Han: 1-866-FIX-THAT-MOP
I’m not going to lie: Even if Heejun’s dazed and confused persona is a complete construct (and I kind of think it is), he gives good soundbites. “What are you sweatin?” asked Ryan, as Heejun awaited word of his fate. “Mostly water,” replied Heejun. And later, I howled when Heejun noted that hugging Jennifer Lopez is “every Asian man’s dream.” But really, personality can only get you so far on Idol, and it was Heejun’s soulful Vegas solo on “New York State of Mind” that made me think this dude might be a Top 12 contender — especially if he stops cutting his own hair and steps it up a little in the wardrobe department.

TOP 12 CONTENDERS
Jen “Geor-juhhhhh-uh-uh” Hirsh (pictured): 1-866-SOLID-AS-A-ROCK
That final Vegas solo on “Baby I Love You” was my least favorite vocal from Jen to date — it just seemed a bit overworked maybe? — but that’s not saying it wasn’t distinctive and in-tune. Consistency counts in this competition, and it’s hard to imagine Jen suffering a complete vocal collapse once the live rounds begin. That said, Randy’s “soothing” words — “We’re your friends, kind of.” — sent a chill up my spine that he could be targeting Jen to replace Haley Reinhart as the season-long recipient of his hateful (though poorly worded) critiques.

Elise Testone: 1-866-SAVE-THE-ROCKER-(AGAIN)?
I loved that Elise shared she’s been doing up to 10 gigs per week to try to make it in the music biz. (I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a hard worker?) And I loved that Elise said she values converying emotions over hitting every single note of her songs. But most of all, I loved that her throaty rendition of “This Is a Man’s World” gave me flashbacks to Allison Iraheta’s Idol run. (This paragraph is brought to you by Lady Rockers FTW 2012.)

Jessica Sanchez: 1-866-THIA-WISHES
True confessions: I let out a “get it, gurrrrlll!” as Jessica swooped and hollerated during her final Vegas solo on “The Prayer.” Seriously, she’s got the ferocity of a pre-Oscar, still-crazy-eyed J.Hud, but those lilting high notes at the end proved she can rein it in, too. Was Jessica’s family accidentally knocking over that Carrie Underwood poster a sign from above that a new Idol superstar is nigh?

Joshua Ledet: 1-866-NOT-YOUR-LEONARD-COHEN’S-HALLELUJAH
That clip of Joshua’s audition made me wonder if “How Do I Live” had gone in for radical plastic surgery sometime in 2011 — because it was barely recognizable. His Vegas solo on “Up to the Mountain,” however, was tremendous. Sure, his hollerating passion took it right up to the border of ridiculous, but then Joshua brought it all the way back with an ending that landed like a pillow drifting off a 10th-story balcony. Plus, his gray vest and pants with black shirt was a seriously fetching combination, especially compared to some of his sloppy-casual bretheren.

Phil Phillips: 1-866-THIS-IS-THRILLER
His ability to take R&B jams and give them a jaunty acoustic twist may be a gimmick, but it’s a damned enjoyable gimmick, as evidenced by a version of Usher’s “Nice and Slow” that was brimming with humor and sex appeal. I’m not sure about his switch from Phillip to Phil, or his choice of a grubby green t-shirt that would’ve been more appropriate for an oil change, but if he makes the Idol tour, let’s give him credit for being talented before automatically griping about him being a “white guy with guitar,” shall we?

Colton Dixon: 1-866-COIFF-SYRUP
This much is true: Colton’s a wizard behind the keyboards. He has a magnificent/ridiculous mane of Mohawk-ed, skunk-striped beauty. He’s a sweetie to his little sister. And what’s more, he’s had a fan base percolating since his elimination during the Season 10 Green Mile episode. All of which gives him an edge over the 11 other guys competing for six slots in the finals. But I’ve got to admit I found his cover of “Fix You” to be a little pedestrian, and his affected, modern-radio pronunciations to be slightly jarring. Anyone else out there with me?

ELIMINATED
Lauren Gray, Neko Starr, Richie Law, Blaire Sieber, Naomi Gillies, Clayton Farhat, River St. James,
and Caleb Johnson

What do you think of the Season 11 Top 24 so far? What did you think of the Adam Brock cliffhanger? And were you upset with any of the eliminations? (Lauren Gray’s hurt a little, but honestly, girlfriend could use a one-year crash course in dynamics.) Sound off in the comments!

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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139 Comments
  1. Jewels83 says:

    I’m looking forward to this top 24, but this episode allowed me to get stuff done around the house with the dragging and the blah blah blah’s “this is hard for us” from the judges.
    Either get to the final decision, or show more song clips from the contestant. We don’t need to hear more repetitive crap!
    I’m content with who they cut and put through. Lauren Gray is good but lacked confidence. Richie, I don’t know, the personality rubbed me the wrong me. Brielle is bleh for me right now, we’ll see about her.
    Jessica’s “The Prayer” started out kind of choppy but I’m glad they showed that entire performance because when she built it up, I was truly amazed.
    She’s top for me at this moment with Colton close in line and Heejun third. Yes, Heejun. If just works on his nerves and receives some more vocal coaching I think he can be a top contender.

  2. Dani C says:

    So i gotta say i’m a little excited about the live rounds next week. Even without knowing who makes it tonight, i’m excited for some of these contestants. I really can’t wait to see what Elise and Jessica do! Those girls were a-ma-zing last night-and i also like Phillip Phillips, but then i like Dave Matthews too, so…
    Not psyched about Brielle or Creighton, but what that’s what dvr is for!

    • Vivian says:

      So you noticed the Dave Matthews thing too. I also like Dave Matthews and therefore, Phil as well. Phil isn’t exactly liked Dave Matthews, just reminds me of him. Yet he is unique in his own way. Love that. I also like Heejun and Colton. And after watching Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl on the Grammy’s, I have to ask. What’s wrong with white guys with guitars????

    • asherlev1 says:

      Just named my three favorites!
      (Loool but I am irrationally rooting for Creighton. I think he has potential if he would just tone it all down)

    • Ultra Venia says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get how you can be hot for Ledet and cold for Fraker. They both exhibit the hypermania that doesn’t know what restraint is. I’m not impressed with a so-called “good” singer not getting the idea of dynamics (IOW loud AND soft singing).
      I’m also sick of especially these girls who breathe in the middle of a phrase. Please learn effing breathing control and phrasing!

  3. Andie says:

    I agree with most of your categorizations, Michael, but there are a few I disagree with.
    1) People seem to love Creighton. Not me, for sure, but lots of people. I think he has a decent chance of top 12.
    2) Baylie will 100% get into the Top 12. Beautiful, country, what more they do they need?
    3) Elise – I’m obsessed with her, too, but I don’t think she’s pretty enough to be voted in. Though I’ll vote a lot for her!

  4. visitor from another planet says:

    my faves so far are Phil Phillips, Elise Testone and Jen Hirsh. If Reed can just sing and not bother with the antics, then I wouldn’t mind him.

    • Ultra Venia says:

      Jen is beyond amazing, and also has another feature going
      for her in play this year: she’s not blonde!
      You can’t expect an audience to remember more than three similar things at once. And we have 7 blondes if you count the dirty blondes.
      And they are all amazing, unfortunately for them.

  5. Pax says:

    I have hated Colton since his insufferable, faux coy, “don’t make me sing” audition. I know he’s going to make the Top 12 and I know in 5 years my hatred for him will be the only thing I remember about this season. He’s my Gokey this year.

    • jake says:

      why should you hate him for that — he wasn’t there to sing, he was there to support his sister and they called him out thankfully so that he would audition. You need to leave your cynicism behind, he’s a great singer and really talented.

      • Kwise says:

        I don’t buy Colton’s “I wasn’t planning on trying out, but ok here is a song I have ready for you” routine. He knew damn well they would ask him to try out, and if he was genuine about not trying out, he’d have run out to the car when his sister’s turn drew near.

  6. marie says:

    Honestly? I was MORE than a little upset about Lauren Gray’s ouster; I’d have kept her over Jen Hirsh, whom I think is overrated. Love, love Elise and Erika, but it’s Jessica Sanchez who brings to mind Alison Iraheta for me: this 16-year-old has a lot of vocal control and power. Among the guys, Colton still strikes me as having potential star power – perhaps BECAUSE of his “modern-radio” stylings (and yes, he is a powerhouse at the piano). Heejun cracked me up all night, and I am warming up to his vocals: he, too, I think, displays a lot of control.
    But, as always, I reserve judgment for the live shows (with Casey Abrams firmly in mind, sigh).
    JLo = ominous V character = L-O-L!

    • Dan says:

      I agree about Lauren. SUCH a shame they sent her packing and making us listen to Brielle for one more week. Her voice is fine, but nothing like Lauren’s.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Okay, Marie – because I think you do know something about music I’m going to try really hard to like Heejun. I may have to listen with my eyes closed.
      .
      I was also upset about Lauren Gray leaving. Sadly, we haven’t heard enough from some of these constestants to make a decision at this point. I liked Jen Hirsch a lot the first time I heard her and the same goes for Elise Testone. Now I’m reserving judgement until I hear more. One thing that DOES drive me nuts about Jen, however, and this is silly, is her wardrobe. I HOPE the Idol Stylists do something with her clothes! The short skirts are not flattering and she’s too short-waisted to tuck anything in. Believe me, I am totally clueless when it comes to fashion so if I notice it looks bad, it looks bad. I just think she’d look better in a long tunic with palazzo (sp?) pants.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        D.E.T, obviously I can’t speak for Marie (in regards to HeeJun), but I can speak for me. Initially, I was surprised that HeeJun even got to Hollywood. Besides his nervousness, there was really nothing about his voice that is unique. In fact, in his audition he sounded far too much like he was channeling Michael Bolton, which was a bad sign for me. And then, he sang the same song for his first Hollywood week song. I thought he’d be done.
        But he went on. And in the group numbers, particularly his solos in the Vegas group, I was quite pleasantly surprised. As Melinda Doolittle pointed out in an earlier episode (last week?), he has a “pretty voice.”
        So here’s my take: Given that he seems a bit unsure of himself and doesn’t seem to be arrogant, he stands to be more/the most receptive to, and therefore, benefit the most from the vocal coaching these kids get. If that is correct, then, as he develops, we might all be in for a very large “pleasant surprise.”
        As for Jen’s wardrobe choices, I’m in complete agreement with you!

  7. What Up with that? says:

    Yippee kay yai aayy! Cowboy Delusional bit the dust….but why oh why was he even top 40 in the first place??? Is it just me who wonders what possessed the judges to find him even remotely talented? Would anyone have paid their hard earned water sweat money (heejun only sweats organic) to watch him perform in the real world?

    • marie says:

      I suspect Richie the cowboy may have been filling the “mean contestant who gets his just comeuppance before the live shows” role: the producers seem to want at least one of those for the early shows every season.

      • marie says:

        I also meant to say, the producers seem to like to give the viewers someone to dislike early on, someone to be happy to see get sent packing.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I have to say, and I may get lambasted for having WGWG syndrome here, but I really like Phil Phillips. And you know why??? He’s not boring. I think we can look forward to some really creative re-workings of songs and after being a loyal AI viewer for all 11 seasons…I really can’t take the same ‘ole versions of the same ‘ole songs. Now, I realize that Creighton and Reed also fit into the “not boring” category, but they DO fit squarely into the “extremely annoying” category.

  9. Carol says:

    I am loving Heejun, both his voice and his personality. There is a lot of buzz for him on the internet, so I think he has a good chance of making the top 12. I love Jessica as well.

    I am not loving the holleration done by Jen and Creighton and (dare I say it?) sometimes Joshua (even though I really, really want to like him). They can hit all the notes, but I don’t find it pleasant to listen to.

    I don’t think Colton is necessarily a lock for the top 12 — he’s just OK in my opinion. The worst part of the episode was having to hear so much of Randy talking — that was nearly unbearable.

    • Cat says:

      Poor Randy, watching the show the other two judges didnt respond much to his ramblings, no eye contact glancing at their notes after each candidate received their news, I think Randy is of the simon class of judges and it seems jlo and steven want to move on with their version of idol judging and are tolerating the him? Can’t wait to see tonight if they silently dismiss him again.

  10. Rasin says:

    ” ..but if he makes the Idol tour, let’s give him credit for being talented before automatically griping about him being a “white guy with guitar,” shall we?” YES! Seriously, this guy is awesome. I must say I really am Content with the top 24 so far. Could sub in Neco and Lauren for Brielle and Crieghton, but hey you cant win em’ all .. All of my favorites so far are in, so I’m real excited for the live shows now.

  11. Carol says:

    Oh, I meant to say too — I don’t think Phil Phillips necessarily “switched” from Phillip to Phil. To me, it’s just like introducing yourself as Ronald Smith, for instance, but then once people know you they start calling you Ron. In his audition package, he said “my name is Phillip Phillips” but he didn’t say that everyone necessarily called him Phillip.

  12. laiali says:

    I’m impressed that you did not criticize Phil Phillips. He did not present anything new after his hearing, nothing! Nothing, or, only your fri appeal.
    Phil is clearly the chosen Nigel this year.
    Strikes me that a critic is as impartial. After all, last year you do not popou negative criticism Lauren Alaina, for example.
    With respect to the top “14”, I’m really pleased.
    Heejun is definitely the most charismatic candidate.
    Erika Van Pelt and Elise Testone seem very similar, although I believe that Elise manages to convey more emotion. Two candidates with amazing vocal power.
    Chelsea Sorrell and Baylie Brown, may be favored or not by the wave the country that has passed through the Idol in the last year. However, I do not like any of them. Lack charisma, missing stage presence. Anyway.
    No more, I hope the recaps of the TV Line are not marked by impartiality. After all, last season proved after all that many criticisms were useless and today we have Scotty with a platinum album and Lauren with their album had the best debut for a female country album since 2006 and she is the youngest country singer to be in the top Billboard since 1996.

  13. Pax says:

    Ngl, I am really struggling with how much I like Phil Philips. I have hated the WGWG trend of the past few seasons and really can’t stand the idea of it continuing, but I’ll be damned if I don’t smile whenever Phil’s on screen. It’s too early to pick a favorite but he is a contender, much as it pains me to say.

  14. Ann says:

    I agree with you about Creighton’s “dad”! As an adoptee I’m really sensitive to my parents’ feelings and I can imagine that would be a little knife-to-heart-ish to Creighton’s parents. Don’t be such a boor, Ryan!

  15. luke says:

    Wow, Michael, was very surprised to see you had Heejun in the may or may not make it column – The show ADORES him and the blogs are lit up for him – Steven put it best (surprise) when he pointed out he was more a star than a singer – But he’s smart and probably like a sponge he will keep getting better as a singer. You seem to not like him because he is trying too hard to be a character but I find his humor to be so natural and you know what they say about being ‘the whole package’ – Because you are so funny, michael, I would think you’d recognize a kindred spirit in Heejun.

    • heejun!ftw! says:

      I agree. I don’t think it’s all a character. He may play some of it up in front of the cameras, as any entertainer would, but I find him genuine. And also loving the bromance between him and Phil Phillips!

      • Ben says:

        I think it’s completely genuine too. It is a character, but he is the character.

      • Tom22 says:

        Even if it is 100% calculated comic construct, a person would need to give him major props for his delivery. The “water” joke only worked as well as it did because of the perfect naturally paced dead-pan .

        • Yursare says:

          It’s not like he has a team of professional comic writers doing his one-liners off screen. He probably is playing it up for the cameras, but the comedy is all his own.
          Besides, have you ever tried to pretend to be funny when you don’t have that natural talent for humour? You don’t seem like a star, you just seem ridiculous. This can not possibly be a 100% constructed persona. You can pretend to be shy and kind and sweet and modest and basically almost anything else, but truly evil and truly funny you can’t imitate. Unless somebody is scripting both your life and your lines, and even then you’d have to be a pretty decent actor.

    • susela says:

      Heejun for the win!

  16. phew says:

    Chelsea was very sound-alike on I Told You So. Note for note, she was channeling Carrie.
    Baylie is clearly influenced by Carrie, but not copycatting her.
    Heejun did the right thing in playing up the personality angle, cuz Asian guys never get a break on Idol. John Park had the best vocal tone his season and didn’t make it far. Next season, Scotty comes in with the exact same vocal tone and wins the whole shebang. I don’t think Heejun’s the winner, (but maybe he’ll haley us and just keep getting better) but he definitely deserves a birth on tour – his tone is so good.
    I hate how this season is dominated by belters. I think besides singing-show fatigue, it’s the other reason why AI’s ratings are dropping. One loud singer after another gets monotonous and overwrought after a while. That’s why I loved Jessica’s delicate vibrato on her vegas song – so refreshing!
    Erika, in looks and in tone, reminds me of a rougher-hewn Ann Murray.

  17. Anthony says:

    I cracked up when Hee Jun said “Water.” That was the best part of the whole show. I’m all-in on team Phil-Jun. #BromanceIdol

    • erewrf says:

      Heejun is William Hung, comic relief at best and the longer he remains the more scared the producers will be that Vote for the Worst may get its second winner.

      • chistosa says:

        Totally disagree. William Hung was comic relief because he was clueless and idiotic. And he could not sing. Heejun is naturally funny (the sweating water comment was great) and he can sing a tune on key. I think he has sufficient fan base to hang in a few weeks to make the top ten. If he continues to improve vocally he could go further. But he is no William Hung.

        • marie says:

          Totally agree with chistosa on this.

          • Josh says:

            The top ten comes next week, remember the new rules, which is like way too fast for me(I rather see more of the top 24 and less of the 72…)
            Anyway really like Heejun but I wish he’d be more natural in his humor instead of playing this role of stupid Korean…He’s very funny, I just wish he didn’t need to play some sort of stereotype.

          • Carol says:

            (reply to Josh): Playing the role of stupid Korean? No, not at all. He’s just got a really dry sense of humor, ethnicity having nothing to do with it.

          • Josh says:

            @Carol: Well the whole “talking craps” think is what I mean. I think he knows the real term…

          • Joe Strummer says:

            I also liked when Steven Tyler asked him what he thought of himself on the TV screen and he said “that guys pretty ugly” Then Steven Agreed with him!!
            Brilliant!

      • as says:

        It may not be intentional, but your remark is racist.

    • Tom22 says:

      First and formost, they’re “entertainers” . I suppose some singer/songwriter types can be excused a lack of stage pressence, but the grace and wit that all actors and musicians had 50 years ago took a major turn for the worse somewhere along the way.
      I like live TV, miss the prime time variety hours. We get a little taste on late night talk shows . Idol , for its many faults, is giving us live entertainment and vetting stars for their ablity to be charming in front of a mic.
      I like that sort of stuff and can sacrafice a bit of perfection if someone can bring some extra charm to a performance through my enjoyment of how they make me feel when not singing.

  18. Alan says:

    As much as I appreciate the talent of the likes of Elise, Jen and Philip they don’t really strike me as recording artists who could actually sell records on a global scale or appeal to mainstream radio. The two who really stand out to me as being commercial, current, ready made stars are Jessica and Colton and a commercial ready made star is what the show needs to produce. I also think that Baylie could be successful in the US but country doesn’t really translate internationally.

    • Josh says:

      I agree with Jessica but not so much Colton….While both are very traditional pop voices, Jessica is female meaning the traditional pop voice works in her favor, while Colton being so traditional and well bland, won’t work in his favor.

  19. Deb says:

    Please, Judges, in the name of all that is good, when Brielle is not advanced by the viewers, DO NOT advance her (and her overinvested mom) in the wild card round.

    • Ex-Jersey Girl says:

      Brielle is the name of a town at the jersey shore, how quaint and her mom is another reason we jersey people cringe at her stereotyping the rest of us from the state to the rest of the world as if we are all loud mouthed, obnoxious, fake baked, youse guys, cawfee drinking, rude snooki wanabees. Please give them both their 15 minutes and move along to the real talent.

  20. drobert5 says:

    I seriously hope that a woman wins this year. After the debacle that was Idol last year, it would be refreshing. But when I see Phil, a wanna-be Dave Matthews, I get scared. He sings like he is passing a kidney stone and I am over it already. but I am sure that all the tweens will vote for his fab chest hair (you too Slezak) and not the best/ more deserving singer to win. UGh.

    • chistosa says:

      I have never understood why people make statements like “I hope a woman wins this year” before a competition even begins. I want the best all round performer to win, regardless of gender. To me it is like saying that our last few presidents have been 6′ or taller so I really hope the next one is short. And I disagree that last season was a debacle. In what way? The winner and the runner up are both doing invredibly well and James, Haley and Casey have all had some success as well.

      • marie says:

        Very well-stated, chistosa. Agree completely.

        • Lana says:

          @Chistosa I’m another one who agrees, I could care less about which gender wins. Obviously more people loved Scotty than hated him or he wouldn’t have gone platinum. So far I don’t have a clear favorite based on singing for once going into the 24, but HeeJun is my favorite because of his personality and singing. He sings great but I find that I want him to go through because he cracks me up also I thought it was funny that Ryan didn’t act like his “water” answer was that funny. Does Ryan only like it when he is funny?

      • Will says:

        THIS! Whenever a producer or fan says they want a woman to win, I immediately root for the guys. Although last season when Lauren Alaina was pushed by the producers, I switched to Haley . . . so . . .
        Let’s make it a talent competition that seeks someone who is a good singer AND a viable pop star. Who cares about the person’s gender? Idol needs to find a legitimate pop star soon, because the last superstar winner they had was about seven years ago.
        Honestly, if they want someone with a real shot at success, they need to keep people like Arielle Sprague who do well with the R&B thing. The closest thing we have this year is Deandre Brackensick, and even he showboats a bit too much (overused falsetto!!).
        Look at who is / has been successful in pop music – Rihanna, Beyonce, Usher, Chris Brown . . . the show has never found someone like them, although Jordin Sparks was a nice attempt (she came across as too young, I think).

      • Tom22 says:

        If a contestant makes it to the final 4, they’ve had a huge chance to expose their talents and personality to an international audience.
        That should be enough for any real entertainer/musician and the bit extra hype a winner gets isn’t going to make them any better over the long haul.
        All the final 4 have truly “won” …they’ve gotten like 90% of the exposure the “winner” will get on the show…
        The final vote getter in the end will be the one who more people liked. Nothing wrong with “popularity” being a factor when we’re talking about a job where inspiring and entertaining people is at the heart of the job description.
        But , its not like a race with only one winner. If people making up 25% of the vote got introduced to a musician they really like, that segment of the population won too by being introduced to that performer (and vice versa)

        • Rachel says:

          Oh, Tom22, you’re right, you have “won” when you make the Top 4. Just ask big names like Nikki McKibbin (#3, S1), Jasmine Trias (#3, S3), Anthony Fedorov (#4, S4), Lakisha Jones (#4, S6), Syesha Mercado (#3, S7), Casey James (#3, S9), and Mike Lynch (#4, S9), to name a few

          • Tom22 says:

            You win in the long run by getting your own audience. Daughtry4 , Hudson 7, Pickler 6 for a few have had better careers than some of the winners.
            Of course, all things being equal more people like you if you’ve won so we’d expect the winners to do better than the also rans.
            Using examples of the top 4 that aren’t famous doesn’t negat my point in the least. Idol doesn’t gaurantee lasting success, it does guarantee an introduction to potential fans.
            I’d imagine “top 40” type fan bases are more into the types of additional marketing that go to the winner, but I don’t think winning would have made much a difference to how many more fans Chris Daughtry would have today.

          • Marsaili says:

            Casey James is actually doing quite well on the country music circuit. Scotty’s album has gone platinum and Lauren’s has done very well, too! Casey Abrams and Haley are still getting exposure, especially when they work together, I heard James Durbin on the radio the other day—I think the possibilities for a decent career for each of them are definitely there. I keep hearing comments like—“you never see David Cook anymore” yet I hear him on the radio all the time. I hear Casey, Kelly Pickler, Bucky Covington, Danny Goki (sp?) on country radio all the time–Kelly Pickler is HUGE on country radio and her videos are played all the time as well. I think that Idol has produced many successful stars—maybe they aren’t all on the level of a Kelly Clarkson or a Carrie Underwood, but many more of them are a lot more successful than people give them credit for—and just because they aren’t “pop” stars doesn’t mean they aren’t viable stars. I think the talent from last year was the best bunch in all the 10 years of Idol and many more of the top 10 are going to have success. I see potential for the same thing happening this year as well.

  21. Who Wins says:

    This season is already over. Baylie Brown is the mortal lock. The Producers and Judges will give her the supreme push. They need a beautiful female winner this season to compete against The Voice and X-Factor.
    She is the prototype to be Taylor Swift 2. When you think about that, you’ll realize that she’s going to be the favorite straight through to the final two and the winner.

    • Ben says:

      Honestly, I don’t think Baylie even deserves to be in the top 12.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Ben – I agree,even though it’s probably a little early to make decisions because, as I pointed out earlier, we really haven’t heard much from some of these contestants. I do think Cover Girl Cosmetics should give Baylie a contract if she gets the boot. And thank you to whomever it was that said she looks like Denise Richards – I’ve been trying to figure out who she reminded me of.

  22. katherine says:

    Kind of crappy how Nigel spoiled Blaire not making it over Twitter, no

  23. Templar says:

    So far, it’s Jessica and Creighton for me. Baylie Brown reminds me of Denise Richards. As I’ve posted elsewhere, she’s this season’s Kimberly Caldwell. She’ll go far, but won’t win. Brock is too Danny Gokey. Colton is too usual, fair voice, fair looks, not much personality. Reed Grimm is a bit of a cartoon. He should be revving up kids at a kiddie show before the star gets on stage. Brielle is a nightmare by any standard.

    • marie says:

      Brock only LOOKS like Danny Gokey – the resemblance ends there. I think Brock sings a lot better, and he has not displayed signs of general jerk-ishness like Gokey did. Please let’s not be prejudiced by a superficial physical resemblance to a past contestant who was not well-liked.

      • chistosa says:

        I agree with Marie. You are comparing apples and oranges. Although Danny Gokey was polarizing, people either loved him or hated him. But they are entirely different.

      • Templar says:

        Be that as it may, I’m not the only one comparing him to Danny. It isn’t only the looks, it’s the over emotional, turn into a puddle BS that draws the comparison. Check some of the other blogs, there are many others who noticed similarities.

      • Ben says:

        It’s strange to me that people come on and make statements like ‘Danny Gokey was not well liked’. If he wasn’t well-liked, how did he go as far as he did? What you really mean is a contestant for whom there was an internet community backlash.

        • marie says:

          Chistosa and Ben, I stand corrected. I personally didn’t care for Danny Gokey, but yes, he did have a significant fanbase to make it as far as he did in the competition.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          I made the comment one time on this board that my neighbors all loved Danny Gokey and someone asked me if I lived in Cougar Town, LOL. Well, yea, kind of. I think everyone is correct to some extent – I think Danny Gokey did have a big fan base but he wasn’t an overall favorite of the people that read Mr. Slezak and post comments here. I thought Danny Gokey was a good entertainer even though he may not be my favorite singer. I would probably enjoy watching him at a dinner show in Las Vegas or at a casino. I can also see him performing in a show like “Grease”. Not everyone is cut out for recording superstardom.

        • Tim says:

          That’s true, he was well-liked among people with significant hearing loss.

  24. Dave in Hollywood says:

    Don’t hate me but I really like Creighton Fraker. He sounds like Sam Harris and looks like a, well, scruffy vampire. He is in most need of a makeover, but that’s easy to do right? He could start with some spray tan methinks to take away the living dead look he’s sporting. BUT I like Jessica Sanchez the most and I barely paid attention to her before this. A big voice capable of subtlety, plus adorable looks? Sign me up.

    • sjakubson says:

      I like Jessica as well but she is so young. And I really did not like her cover of Prayer. Way too much vibrato. When she hit the glory notes she was great and when she dials back the vibrato the lower register is good. For someone who has been competing and performing for much of her childhood, I think she still needs significant vocal coaching.

  25. Josh says:

    Colton’s just way too much…His looks to the camera, his hair, his emotional outbursts of tears and even his song choices. It’s like…dude, emo died five years ago.

  26. dilia says:

    i am overall happy with this group of contestants so far
    the only ones i really dont like are creighton and brielle- they can go anytime.
    reed and phil are only ok for me. If i had to pic one id take phil but thats because he seems like a cool guy and reed annoys me i find phils voice to be on the grating side.
    i really want to love jessica and jen but i honestly find them interchangeable. I love haleys voice but i dont think she can win at this rate. My faveorite voice is colton i love that style- sue me!! and heejun is soo funny. I like baylie also. overall im excited about this group. I have a feeling adam brock will be in but id rather he didnt

  27. IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

    This is so hard! I love Jen and Jessica and Elise and Erika and Baylie and Phillip and Heejun and Joshua and Colton so much, and Chelsea and Haley from what I’ve seen, and I kind of like Creighton and Reed (Reed’s better) and Adam (though I don’t want another Adam star on Idol, even though this one is nothing like the first one)…but here’s my fear. Brielle and her pain-in-the-ass mom are there because the producers know Americans love bad TV. That’s why dumpster-dive shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Dance Moms” exist (my stomach feels sick even mentioning them). If people find the pair of them obnoxiously entertaining enough, she will be here for a while. Everyone get down on your knees and beg whatever higher power you believe in to prevent this from happening!

  28. as says:

    I think they elevated some rather pedestrian performers into the top 14….not much in the unique talent department….not much in the charisma/personality department (save Heejun)….not much in the Xtina HUGE voice department. As always, they have lots of pretty blond girls. Only Phillip and Heejun have captured my interest.

  29. Vetle says:

    I think it’s a strong top 24 so far. If contestants like Hallie and Hollie (lol) make it, it will only strenghten the field. But, I was super-excited for season 9 and thought they had the best singers ever. But that turned out to be wrong…

  30. lethargic says:

    Worst season of Idol already. This is just sad. After thousands of auditions, THIS is the best you could do? REALLY? X-Factor’s lineup blows this one away and The Voice’s level of talent is just embarrassing Idol at this point. These shows aren’t successful based on who the judges are or what silly gimmicks they us. The success is based on wanting to hear the contestants sing every week, there is NOBODY on that Idol stage worth hearing.

  31. sandi says:

    I’m sorry but Reed Grim is grim indeed! He’s an insufferable ass.
    I know he’ll get through to the Top 12, but I hope he’ll get voted off soon thereafter. He was as annoying the the teen cowboy

  32. Elphie says:

    1. I’m not enjoying Jessica that much. Her vegas performance was boring and had so much vibrato that it was getting really obnoxious. The middle section was okay, but I just don’t see how she is as good as you make her out to be.
    2. I do love Elise though. I think she is fantastic.
    3. I actually like Heejun’s vocals. I think they are good and he is such a character. hilarious. “Mostly water” haha
    4. I like Colton probably because he does sound like lots of the artists we hear on the radio now a days. I enjoy that and he would be someone I could hear myself listening to later on.
    5. From what they showed of Chelsea I liked her better than Baylie. Baylies tone sounds like she is over singing and it sounds painful at times to me.
    6. I think Reed will also make the top 12. He’s had so much airtime it’s hard to imagine him not making it.
    7. Does Phillip leg kick look like a weird karate move? haha

  33. Elphie says:

    I also like Erika’s vests. I think they are kinda cute.

  34. Kevin says:

    Only two people have really caught my attention. Haley Johnson because of her power, and Jessica because she’s amazing. I like Elise too, but I’ll reserve further judgement on her until the live rounds. Right now, Jessica’s the only one I’m really rooting for. Most of the guys aren’t great, and I think the producer’s want a girl to win this year. If I had to guess who’s going to win, I would lean towards Baylie. As of now, I see I see her winning, with Phil in second and Jessica in third

  35. sam says:

    Colton Dixon all the way but I’m pretty sure he needs a new haircut. why did they get rid of neko, i thought from what I saw he was better than some of the other guys that they picked.

  36. Diane says:

    I don’t think Phil Phillips fits into the WGWG mode. First, he really seems to be a great musician, he almost seemed to be making love to the song. Such passion and talent have not been the case with the past winners. David Cook had a great talent, but where is he now? I can’t even remember the other two names. If nothing else it will be hard to forget PP’s name.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      David Cook never wanted to be a big arena star/recording artist. He prefers smaller venues. He’s released two CDs.

    • Marsaili says:

      I hear David Cook on the radio all the time.
      I agree about Phil, he just blows me away—there is a video on youtube, he’s doing an interview in his hometown pre-Idol and he sings one of his original songs, it’s called Hazel, check it out–it’s really great!

  37. AliAle says:

    I fully agree with your verdict on Colton. His pronunciation gets a bit on my nerves, he has some bad habits that he needs to get over pronto. Elise and Joshua gave me the JLo goosie treatment, both are bloody amazing. I can’t believe people are comparing Joshua to Lusk, he’s less of a diva and makes much better choices with the melodies (yes, he takes it over the top voice wise, but he never runs with the melody to the South Pole).

  38. Mark says:

    Every male contestant put through so far does some version of “shtick” or a “bit”, except for Joshua and perhaps Colton, who just flat out sings. This is a very, very disturbing trend.
    The show is not about who has the best one-trick gimmick act, but so far, we have a lot of guys who do a one-trick gimmick act (and several women who seem to be able to actually sing). The trend on Idol continues where the talent lies mostly in one sex, but the votes will probably trend to the other.
    Creighton, Reed, Phil, Heejun do the same thing every time out there. None of them are particularly amazing, but all “know exactly who they want to be as artists”. And really, that’s not much. The subway/coffee house/karaoke bar/honky tonk should welcome them back much sooner than they will, sadly.

    • Josh says:

      Colton hasn’t done anything different then Reed, Phil and Heejun. In fact at least those three bring something dynamic out there. Colton is just…bland.

      • Justin says:

        Whatever ridiculous hairstyle Colton wants to rock doesn’t make up for the fact that he has the most generic, forgettable voice of all the guys. I’m also sick of seeing his chicken legs in skinny jeans. Gag me.

  39. jake says:

    According to Fox’s schedule — the men sing on Tuesday and women on wed and thurs are the voting results next week. Both tuesday and wednesday are 2 hour episodes.

  40. darcy's evil twin says:

    Thanks as usual, Mr. Slezak, for your entertaining recap.
    .
    Wow, Brielle VonHugel’s “Killing Me Softly”. Histrionics indeed. If she wanted to sing like that WHY did she choose that song? To use a tired cliche, less really is more sometimes. My husband looked up from his magazine and in his best “In Living Color” voice said, “HATED IT!”.
    .
    I felt the same way about Creighton Fraker’s “New York State of Mind”. Why do people take a simple song with a lovely melody and insist on turning it into something out the encore at a Celine Dion concert? Why didn’t he sing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”?
    .
    I’m just going to save most of my opinions at least until I hear everyone sing one more time. I just wish they would show MORE singing and LESS “Well, you know this is hard, there are a lot of good singers here, this has been difficult for us, how much do you want this?, your last performance just wasn’t quite as good, we really want to like you, we thought you were lacking confidence”, yakety yakety yak. Good grief, if they didn’t have them walk a hallway the length of the Great Freakin’ Wall of China to get to and from the judges they could show three more full-length songs!

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Re:
      Creighton Fraker’s “New York State of Mind” – Why didn’t he sing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”?
      Good grief, if they didn’t have them walk a hallway the length of the Great Freakin’ Wall of China to get to and from the judges they could show three more full-length songs!
      Dear D.E.,
      As always, you make me laugh!!!! And I thank you for it! You’re the best!
      P.S. Are you sure that it’s only three more full-length songs?

  41. Marsaili says:

    I don’t know what people are complaining about—this is the most exciting season for Idol since—last year! Every guy and girl is amazing in their own way—they did a really good job of picking talent this year. I like that they’ve focused on the talent and skipped most of the absurd crud. My favs—it’s a tie between Reed and Phil—I think they are unique and fantastic—and watching their stuff on Youtube, I’ve seen that they are so much more than what we’ve seen on Idol so far—I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year! Clayton, he’s cool, sounds pretty commercial already—Daughtry light. I love Jen, I think she’s great. I like Jessica—she’s like a Thia Magia only with personality. I’m very happy there are no Pia’s this year. Or Jacob’s for that matter. I think this bunch is the most soulful group we’ve had yet! I don’t think the guys are doing a “schtick” I think that’s who they are—check out their videos of themselves pre-Idol—it’s all real.

  42. Saddened in the Ozarks says:

    I am so disappointed in the American Idol judges after the elimination of Lauren Gray. Wasn’t it Jennifer Lopez that said after her audition in St. Louis that she was the best female singer she’d heard. Well, Lauren Gray was the last one to audition on that show and that was the last of the auditions, so that WOULD make Lauren Gray the best female singer heard. Then why is it that Lauren Gray isn’t one of the 12 females in the Top 24?! Something doesn’t make sense. Jennifer Lopez either lied in St. Louis or contradicted herself last night. You need earplugs for the ones that they’ve let thru. They should’ve kept Lauren Gray. After she was eliminated last night, I changed channels and I do not plan to ever watch American Idol ever again!!

    • JJ says:

      Don’t forget your football.

    • Billy says:

      I said the same thing the night Ritchie was put though and Ashley Robles was eliminated, but that AI theme music is just so addicting I can’t stop tuning in each week, not to mention I have a man-crush on Randy, LOL.

  43. Tom22 says:

    I kinda forget what we saw from the footgage last year but, along with the Talent, I think last year’s final 12 was by far the nicest, most well adjusted group we’ve ever seen.
    I would have been happy to have any of them along on a week long family trip (you know, like 3 meals a day and long car rides, or hanging out on a boat etc).
    I’m not saying other years were bad people.. just last years group was just special in that way…they all seemed optomistic about the world and poilite etc

  44. KK says:

    I am PISSED Lauren Gray didn’t make it! I know she wasn’t your favorite Michael, but she has such a raw, natural voice. She only needed a little guidance to fine tune her instrument. She was the one person I said I would kick and scream and consider turning off if she didn’t make it. So it’s probably my fault she didn’t make it. I was so excited to watch her live, her voice gave me chills. Ugh I swear I hate this show!

  45. Kwise says:

    I guess I am the only one who can’t stand Jessica Sanchez. She just seems like the “toddlers and tiaras” type. Like her mom’s been breeding her for this since birth. I am pretty sure I will never allow myself to become unemployed to further my child’s dreams of becoming a star, no matter the talent level. If a 16 year old is really that talented, I am pretty sure mom can keep her job and let the child explore her dreams once she turns 18. I know this isn’t jessica’s fault, but there it is: I cannot stand her.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Kwise, although I can’t/won’t go so far as to say that I can’t stand her, my “suspicious” radar about her has been activated for a few months, and frankly, with the exception of her solos in the Vegas group round, I’ve heard exceedingly little that makes me like her singing.
      That Jessica seems to have embarked on a “professional” singing competition career in 2006 raises a lot of questions for me. (And I grew up knowing an exceedingly talented person [a sorta sister/friend/music teacher/mentor/boss to me] who would probably have given her eye teeth for these kinds of opportunities, but whose mother, as supportive as she was, would have been unlikely to allow her daughter to pursue such activities, for good reason.) There’s just something in the state of (fill in the appropriate place/state of mind) that just doesn’t quite ring true.

  46. jw says:

    Looks like the strength is on the men’s side this year from a vocal standpoint and a personality standpoint.

  47. karenb says:

    Slezak, your recaps are. a scream. Seriously!!

  48. me says:

    Interesting. So I see that they put through Denise Richards. Smart move. The country hating folks will either have a tough time even noticing that she is singing country or for the first time in their lives, simply won’t mind.
    And they also put through 7′ tall model.
    Maybe I will watch little bits of Idol this season after all.
    (and you say what about so and so and so and so, well I don’t know, who cares if anyone else can sing better, since last year they proved once and for all that the show is nothing about who is the best or most interesting, not falling for that trap and getting sucked into it again in a serious way, learned my lesson.)

  49. Lauren says:

    I am in love with Reed Grimm omg he’s adorable and has such a great voice. I see him in the top 12

  50. Jennifer says:

    If he’s there to support his sister, he isn’t going to run to the car when her turn comes…