Idology: Top 20 Controversy on Idol (Starring Zoanette and Lazaro)! Is It Too Early to Panic?

Is Season 12 of American Idol about to careen through the guardrail, plummet into a ravine and explode into a fiery ball of detritus? Or is there a case of premature outrage coming from the chorus of naysayers railing against the judges’ decision to stack the Top 20 with Zoanette Johnson, Lazaro Arbos and a number of other polarizing singers?

On this week’s installment of Idology, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I ponder these questions, talk about the talented contestants who got robbed during the Top 40 rounds in Vegas, and explain why we’re still loving Nicki, Keith and Mariah — even when we disagree with them. Plus, one of us (whose name rhymes with Kalinda Goo Victuals) flys her freak flag in support of Zoanette, and the other one (um, me) attempts a Nicki Minaj-style side-eye.

So press play below for the whole Idology experience, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, photo galleries and videos, 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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146 Comments
  1. Hubbahubba says:

    I totally agree with everything.

    • I agree with everything but Zoanette. I just can’t get behind her sticking around. She is a great performer, I think her personality is more than 10 of these contestants combined, but I can’t get behind her getting through to the Top 10 Females when many other really solid voices left the competition. Which again leads back to the fact that so many great females are gone and we have Charlie and Cortez and Elijah left is just wrong. Yikes.
      -Nicki’s facial expressions are better than most, if not all of Randy Jackson’s “critiques” and comments.

  2. Brigette says:

    Juliana’s cut was ridiculous. Just ridiculous. I agree that the top contestants were probably already picked before they even performed, but that made me NOT like seeing all 40 sing, because it made the show look like more of a sham. Even though we know a lot is manipulated, maybe it would have been better NOT to see so much of the ugly truth!

    • Sara says:

      I said the exact same thing to my mom. I said I didn’t like this whole “sudden death” thing because it gives them more of a chance to try to pick who they want to win and rig it a little. I liked seeing all 40 sing but I don’t feel the judges should have made all of the cuts :/

      • Ben says:

        More of a chance? They always pick exactly who they want. Surely this gives them LESS of a chance, because it’s very difficult to overlook stunning performances when the public is watching them.

        As for me, I can’t understand the outcry at all. Idol’s format in the past could easily have meant someone like Juliana was edited out entirely, without us ever fefeling she was hard done by simply because we didn’t know better. Even more importanly, though – everyone eliminated at this stage can come back next year. For me, that means that a couple of the cuts were not only good, but actually ideal. I really can’t understand why people would complain against this. Let me reiterate, the judges making the cuts mean people can come back. America making the cuts means they can’t. Best not to lose sight of this very important fact.

        Lastly, I can’t agree that Zoanette was a poor choice. She is entertaining. A poor choice to win? Yes. But I’d far rather have her on my screen for the next few weeks than a few of the other girls who went through with her.

        All in all, I’m pretty happy with the top 20. AI like their mix of great singers and great stories, and I think those who deserved to go through but missed out are, for the most part, people who can actually benefit from a year or two on the sidelines (think Holly Cavanagh). Kevin and Cristobel were the howlers for me, because they were great but also as ready as they will ever be.

        • Tom22 says:

          I’m with you. Better to see stuff you disagree with than see nothing at all. People really need to get their head around that and that, its not a singing competition till we start voting .. its an assessment of who has the talents and the poise and the charm and the mix and the stamina and the abilty to sing to make the 11 week season work. They really really could help avoid some bitterness by the words they use. Sudden death is particularly misleading because it makes most sense , and it is really unavoidable for a person building a team not to take everything you’ve seen into consideration.

          Thats another scenario. Lets say you’re a high school softball coach and there are 40 girls trying out for 15 spots on the roster. You might not take the top 15 all around players because you need 3 top pitchers and a top catcher etc. The audience is diverse. They need people who can sing different genres well . They could just come out and say something like that too.. in vaguer terms perhaps.

          • Ben says:

            Agree Tom. Perhaps the silliest thing is calling it ‘sudden death’ or making out like it’s the nights performance which is being judged, with the top 5 on the night going through. It’s misleading, unfortunately. But I actually prefer seeing this whole performance, as it gives us two whole performances from every contestant before voting. There are really good reasons why this format is good for Idol – its a shame its overshadowed by people being upset about having more visibility about exactly what has always happened.

    • Joe says:

      I hope someone at The Voice snaps her up before she tries out again for Idol. She really fits what they do on The Voice and would probably go very far with Blake as her mentor.

      • darcy the slutty twin says:

        You mean add to the roster of whispery, affected, breathy Voice contestants like Xenia, Dia Frampton, Erin Martin and Melanie Martinez?

        • Temperence says:

          I pretty much love Xenia, Dia, and Melanie. She’d be better than the whole host of boring R&B gospel people thatthey are selecting that don’t have a chance at selling a record in today’s market.

          • darcy the slutty twin says:

            Dia’s fine and Xenia’s feathery voice seems natural, and Juliana’s could be as well, but Melanie Martinez was affected as hell, heavy-breathing trough entire songs as if that meant artistry. Anyway, my post was in reaction to the comment about her doing well on The Voice, which is probably true since we know at least Blake Shelton always falls for that whispery, breathy style.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            you hit the nail on the head, sister.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I agree with Melinda about Juliana but clearly we are in the minority. She reminds me of Jewel and Shaun Colvin, neither one of whom I enjoy. that said, I understand why everyone really liked her and i do think she has tons of potential.

    • Lisa says:

      Am I the only person who was annoyed by the fact that Juliana didn’t open her mouth when she sang, that she had no strength in her upper register at all, and that she came off as a 15-year-old singing at her high school’s talent competition? She’s good, but she needs a few more years to cook. Just because she’s different from the other contestants doesn’t mean she’s fantastic at being that different thing that people want.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        No, you aren’t, and I agree – she needs more time. I still won’t care for her, LOL, but she needs to grow up a little and she needs more training.

        • soundscene says:

          Yes. I hadn’t watched much of the auditions, so the first time I saw Juliana was when she performed for “sudden death.” And the first thing I thought when she started singing was, “some people don’t need vocal lessons to be great, and some people like Juliana really do.” Her lack of technique doesn’t make her more raw or unguarded or real, it makes her really hard to understand. I kept hearing that line that Willy Wonka says to Mike Teevee in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “you should open your mouth a little wider when you speak,” or in this case, sing.

        • Ben says:

          Exactly Darcy. Come back in two years, and she could be great. Get put through this year, and she is cannon fodder. No chance that she went higher than about 9 or 10 this year. I understand Michael just thinks about who the top 20 are right now, and wishes those 20 went through. But I think strategic thinking is needed. Juliana’s cut is something I am so very much in support of. Her chances of doing well on AI would have been done a great disservice if she was put before America so early.

      • marie says:

        I agree, Lisa.

      • Tom22 says:

        I don’t necesarily disagree with you but if you’re infering a diva voice is better than a soft voice like Norah jones I’m big time against you. Interpretation is everything… and a singer plays a role… not every person would break out in song the same way even if they found the words and the pitch to do it.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Tom22 – I think a lot of it is personal preference as opposed to what’s “better”. I don’t care for the Jewels and Shaun Colvins of the world. I never did like Joni Mitchell. My husband had a boss 30 years ago that had a reel-to-reel tape of everything Joni Mitchell ever sang anywhere. I hated going to his house with a passion, LOL. My husband loves Emmylou Harris. Me, not so much. Does that mean those female artists aren’t good? Not at all. They just aren’t my cup of tea. I never cared for Norah Jones but wow, she is talented.
          .
          Hubby always liked Jimmie Spheeris (YUCK!), CSNY, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. I liked the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Pat Benatar, and Heart. Different strokes, as they say.

          • darcy the slutty twin says:

            Oh we are so alike yet so different! I love Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, Heart and Pat Benatar, but I also love Shawn Colvin, Joni Mitchell.

      • Trouty Mouth says:

        That’s exactly what I thought.

    • Timmah says:

      I wonder how much her dissing Demi Lovato had to do with it.

  3. Sara says:

    Whats wrong with Lazaro? I think his voice is beautiful. I would have kept Bryant though, for sure. Juliana and Rachel should have gotten through.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      We can’t understand a word Lazaro sings (one), and one Josh Groban is enough (2). Honestly, I think he should just sing in Spanish. then at least some of the population would know what the heck he was singing.

      • The Beach says:

        We already have TWO Josh Grobans…don’t forget Chris Mann from The Voice last year:)

      • Sara says:

        Really? Lazaro sings very clearly to me. I can understand every single word he sings. His latest performance might not have been his best but it sure as heck wasn’t bad. And hum, just because it’s American Idol doesn’t mean the audience is solely American. There are a lot of Canadian viewers too and generally don’t have Spanish as a second language. Not sure I understand the Josh Groban comment, but whatever. Personally, the only people I actually enjoyed from the 2nd batch of men was Lazaro, Bryant, and the guy who sang Fever.

        • Temperence says:

          I’d compare Lazlo to Ricky Martin, not Groban. he was a shoo-in for selection. I’m disappointed that they keep selecting way, way too many gospel/R&b people, who the producers will want to get rid of since they’ll not sell in today’s market.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Sara, i suspect you understood the words because you already knew the lyrics. I’m betting if he sang a song you didn’t know you’d have no clue what he was singing. My husband is a huge country music fan and he didn’t even recognize Keith Urban’s song when Lazaro was singing.
          I kind of get the Ricky Martin comparison but when he auditioned on “Bridge Over Troubled Water” he reminded me of Josh Groban for some reason.

    • Lazaro: Is so Handsome, has a Beautiful Presentation, sings, out of this world, and is a Knock out! I believe he should win!! He is it! Big Time! When I Was 19, I had a big speach problem, I could not get any words out without stumbling all over them, so, this is what I did and I was cured in a week: I repeated this several times, 10X a day or more: LET MY SPEECH, BE WITH GRACE, SEASONED WITH SALT, SO I MAY KNOW HOW, TO I OUGHT TO ANSWER EVERY MAN ! MEMORIZE THIS
      LAZARO, and say it all the time, and you will be ok, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE YOUR SINGING!!! Love ya! MJ

  4. sandi says:

    horrible top 10 men

  5. bigby_wolf says:

    I know the judges/production are trying their hardest to not have another white guy win this season, but it could backfire on them if they aren’t careful from here on out. Honestly, don’t blame them for wanting a little more diversity on the show, but they really need to address the real problem that has been plaguing this show for years – the voting system.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      If they don’t want another white guy to win why are the eliminating the minority men that can actually sing? Otherwise Paul Jolley is going to be standing in that confetti shower, mark my words. Plus, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that we’re so focused on race on a singing show.

      • soundscene says:

        Nigel needs to build a “cast” for the show. First and foremost, this is a TV show, and he needs different personalities to fit whatever storyline he’s got in his head for this season. While Nigel cares about who wins, he cares about drama and character more, because that’s what makes people actually tune in.

        • marie says:

          I think you’re right: I think for the producers and sponsors, the most important factor is how to keep the show’s ratings up; what happens with the careers of the winner and other top contestants is most likely of much less importance. TV reality show first; singing competition a more-or-less distant second.

        • Guest says:

          Its fine if he builds a cast. Its not fine to tell that isnt the case and that these performers are judged on merit. Dishonesty is one of Idol’s central problems. Millions of people have asked themselves this year if it is worth their time and attention to watch a dishonest show.

          Nigel is the one killing the show this year. The ratings are his fault.

          • Ben says:

            It’s unfair to call it dishonest, because I’m absolutely sure they feel that it is judged on merit. Yes, they want diversity. In fact, its important that they have diversity. But even if you say that others deserved it more, the 20 that got in all absolutely deserve to be in. And that is the way the producers and judges will feel about them. People who call the show dishonest fail to realise that the problem is with them – their own belief that their subjective opinions are objective.

            And what has lowered the ratings is the proliferation of talent shows, which have split the audience. Each is a big time investment, and I don’t know many people who watch more than two, if that. But the show is hardly dead, and it’s not being ‘killed’ this year. In some ways, its been revitalised. It’s the least criticism of a judges panel in a long time, for one thing.

        • Yes, I do think you’re right, but what a shame.
          It’s probably the reason why Micah Johnson, the Navy guy with the (removed tonsils) speech impediment was cut: the speech impediment slot was already earmarked for Lazaro (who I like, too). There can be only one.

          And Brandy Neelly? Not sure who she would have directly vied for votes with? But I’m pretty sure now that that was why she was (inexplicably) cut.

      • The Beach says:

        I agreed so much with what Michael said in the video about Randy (and Mariah to, to a degree) expecting and being disappointed whenever a black singer doesn’t infuse every song with over-wrought melisma.

        • Lisa says:

          The melisma at this point is getting on my nerves. Most of these singers have absolutely no idea how to be restrained with their vocalizations. Less is more in most cases. Over the years, there have been Idol singers that were fantastic at using *just* the right about of melisma to raise a song to a new level. I don’t really have much hope of that happening with this crop.

          • Timmah says:

            It’s usually the singers that don’t have much else going for them that overdo it with the melisma. I’d much rather listen to someone who just sings the melody and has an interesting tone, phrasing and emotional connection to the song.

      • Harvey says:

        Paul Jolley is not a likable heartthrob like P2 and Lee were. Remember how whiny and nervous he was during Hollywood week, an Nicki shooting him down? That’s not good stock footage for the finale. I don’t think the tweens will get on board with him unless someone coaches him into appealing to them.

        • soundscene says:

          He doesn’t need the tween vote. He needs the mom vote. Mom vote vs. tween vote — mom vote wins every time on Idol.

          • Name That Tune says:

            Agreed. He looks like some momma’s son.

          • deedee says:

            Can’t imagine the moms voting for Paul. He doesn’t give the strong, cool, confident vibe that Idol voters prefer in their male singers. His over-emoting is a bit yucky, and if he can’t get that under control and display a certain aloofness in his delivery, I think he’s destined for top 7 max.

      • Ben says:

        There is literally zero chance of Paul Jolley winning idol. The chances of him even making the top 10 are pretty lose to zero. It’s like saying if Kris Allen and Danny Gokey weren’t in season 8, Michael Sarver would have won. It’s a logical fallacy. Talent is a significant part of the equation.

  6. Pat says:

    “I Can Just See Us Now” by David Willis and his wife Olivia. Youtube it Slezak.

  7. Elsa says:

    Still can’t believe they let David go… argghh..

  8. Teeny Bikini says:

    I am excited about this panel. I love Nikki keeping Randy in check. I am surprised at how on point Randy is this season – he actually sounds really smart. Go figure. Keith Urban is dope. I don’t agree with all of the decisions but I think some of the people that were clunkers – still have tremendous potential and can grow during the competition. So I’m in – all the way. I would be seriously funny if a dude still won though… ;)

  9. Maj says:

    Great Idology. :)

    I rewatched the shows with mum yesterday and the injustice of David not getting to the top 20 was even more apparent on the second listen. Plus he’s hot. Oh well.
    But what really surprised me that the one performance from last week that stuck with me until now is Juliana. Her version of Skyscraper has been firmly stuck in my head all day today and when I watched her the first time it almost moved me to tears. I’m not saying her vocal was perfect and I do think she needs a few years to mature as a singer and performer but her, along with David will be the ones I’ll be hoping to see again some day.

  10. Sara says:

    I loved Zoanette, but would be unfair to place her in the top five. Right now my top girls are:
    1. Angela
    2. Candice
    3. Amber
    4. Kree
    5. Breanna/Adriana (Janelle is a possibility)

    For the guys I have:
    1. Curtis
    2. Burnell
    3. Vincent
    4. Devin
    5. Cortez/Nick

    • Mikko Makitalo says:

      I am surprised, that Angela is so extremely popular and might win the whole thing. I also think, that she is great, but I don’t know, if i would include her into my top5 girls, whwn there are so many great artists ib the girls’ category. My list (right now):
      Girls: 1) Adriana 2) Kree 3) Amber 4) Candice 5) Aubrey (or Janelle or Angela)
      Boys: 1) Devin 2) Vincent 3) Burnell 4) Nick 5) Charlie (or paul, if the case is, that Charlie seems not to be able to sing)

      • Gabrielle says:

        my list would be for girls in order, kree, janelle, candice, angela, and zoanette and for boys in order, lazaro, paul, charlie, burnell, cortez

    • Ben says:

      I haven’t heard the last ten guys yet, so judgment put aside. I would definitely not have Curtis no 1 though. Girls – 1 Amber 2 Adriana 3 Candice 4 Kree 5 Angela. I am not a big fan of Angela but I could definitely see her winning, she has the right vibe. But she annoys me. Still, that would be the top 5 I feel most comfortable with. I’d have Zoanette at 6, to be honest. Breanna, Aubrey, Janelle and Teena are in my mind lambs to the slaughter, with no chance of either winning or being entertaining. Three of them are great singers, would sound great on radio and look great on stage, but I just don’t think they have idol presence. As for Teena, that pick was a mess in the first place.

  11. Dizzle says:

    Booting Rachel Hale in favour of Janelle Arthur’s contrived “comeback storyline” was ridiculous, Hale was far and away the better of the two during the performances. To me that made it patently obvious that the picks had been made before the performances, so what was the point?

    • Tom22 says:

      I’m a Rachel fan and really think they should have advanced her. But I disagree that they should give much more weight to the night at hand than the some of the rest of the performances. Janell didn’t have a great song but it wasn’t like she lost her poise. Truly though I would have liked to see them both in. I think Rachel is more interesting too personality wise(there is a lot more to those eyes in terms of grit she’s not silly happy, she’s positive like .. I want to name a great president but ill leave that out.)

      I also fear that Janell will stumble under the grueling pressure they put the kids through as part and parcel of the repsonsiblities of the show and the shows sponsors. (if you’ve ever been in a shool play you know how many hours it takes to get songs down and learn group numbers and get costumes fit for you etc.). If Janell stumbles it will hurt more because of that to me than an assessment of all the times each of them have sang so far (and we didn’t see a couple of rachels performances)

    • Ben says:

      Rachel was better than Janelle, but Rachel might be able to be back and in top 10 another year. In the mean time, watch Janelle crash and burn. So many great girls, I feel like they needed to pick some fat in the second week to make for easy cuts. Only Candice and Zoanette have any chance of having America vote them through from that week, I feel.

  12. Name That Tune says:

    Great Idology episode. The best way to take this season is to sit back and enjoy the comedy coming from the judges. Forget about the singing.

  13. Mikko Makitalo says:

    I think Juliana was really, really special, and I am surprised, that some people – including the judges – did not see it.

  14. Billie says:

    — CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT —
    What is the point of having a panel of prettily astute critiquing judges when the last two weeks’ results are always being manipulated by the producers (since they still have the power to do that)? I don’t get it. I’m so disappointed at the loss of a bunch of talented singers while the inferior ones are sailing to the next round. I even think I would even prefer Season 11 where there are still an unlikely set of judges yet that season concluded us a healthily talented ‘Top 10′. Anyways, I’m preparing myself to see Zoanette Johnson, Lazaro Arbos, and Lazaro Arbos’ sob story in the semifinals and all 3 of them making it to the Top 10.

    • Sara says:

      Well, from now on its up to the voters, so it will all turn out fair (as long as AI isnt as corrupt as North Korea)

      • Billie says:

        As long as producers’ will not interfere like what they did last season to Joshua Ledet (Nigel’s favorite, he said it on Twitter) who got pimped too much that undeservingly led to his exit. I hope it will not happen again by too much pimping of the girls this season then backfiring them and another male winning. LOL

        • soundscene says:

          Normally, the pimping works. The pimped contestant always gets their first-choice song, always gets to do exactly what they want to do on arrangements, gets plum performance slots, only gets good things leaked about them to the press (as opposed to the opposite, true or not), etc. Pimping has gotten contestants to the finals before, even if it doesn’t always get them to the big win (although I argue it has gotten contestants to the big win more often than not). The producers have nearly perfected it; the only real hiccup is if the contestant’s personality or singing doesn’t work with the audience at large.

          • Tom22 says:

            The whole thing is, its still entertaining. Its like watching an underdog play a good game against a much better team… if they almost pull it off it’s still a blast to watch.

  15. Billie says:

    — CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT —
    What is the point of having a panel of prettily astute critiquing judges when the last two weeks’ results are being manipulated by the producers (since they still have the power to do that)? I don’t get it. I’m so disappointed at the loss of a bunch of talented artists (Bryant, David, Jett, Juliana, and Rachel) while the inferior ones are sailing to the next round. I even think I would even prefer Season 11 where there are still an unlikely set of judges yet that season concluded us a healthily talented ‘Top 10′. Anyways, I’m preparing myself to watch Zoanette Johnson, Lazaro Arbos, and Lazaro Arbos’ sob story in the semifinals and all 3 of them making it to the Top 10. :(

    • Tarc says:

      I’d take Lazaro over virtually all of the other guys in the top 10 – at least he has a chance of actually being a star. Let’s be honest – Bodington isn’t going to have a crowd of screaming groupies outside the dressingroom door, and most of these folks sing R&B – a musical style that isn’t selling and isn’t likely to come back any time soon. The producers have to be dying… and pushing the pop people so they can sell some songs.

  16. Joe says:

    Michael – You’ve Pavlov Dogged me into hating the sight and sound of Miranda Cosgrove by glueing her into that jarring spot when Idology ends. I’m seriously about to start having Mary Hart rage strokes at the sight of her. I hope you feel shame. Great shame.

    • Nat says:

      Oh my God YES! Same applies to Kevin Williamson and Ginnifer Goodwin. Could you not get 3 other TV-related people to say a line into a microphone? Or just cut the damn thing entirely. I’m pretty sure that’s Ausiello’s domain.

  17. Jessica says:

    Melinda!?! Zoanette?? Really? I guess she is either or love or hate sort of thing (kinda love her in the crowd though-just not on stage). I just can’t take that woman seriously-never have.

    Juliana isn’t ready yet-let her come back. I forgot how bad she was to watch b/c she didn’t moved her mouth. Juliana and Zoanette were actually 2 very bad extremes in that aspect. Guess you won’t see me watching Broadway anytime soon. I think Juliana has more potential -once she gets out of HS.

    I do love the judges-I have agreed with Randy on most things, Nikki I think is great to express the viewers opinion, Keith is a true professional in this-I love listening to him. Mariah-eh it’s hard for me to take her seriously when she can’t give eye contact a lot, says “this thing” a lot (it’s a competition, long running TV show) and always ends it with “darlin'” Ugh! Probably not as bad as Nikki constantly playing with her hair-I promise her -it’s not going anywhere/no flyalways etc lol.

  18. darcy's evil twin says:

    Great Idology and I agree with everything EXCEPT – Melinda, girlfriend, Zoanette? Really?
    Oh, I hated to see David Willis, Rachel Hale, Bryant Tadeo, and Jett Hermano sing again. Made me sad. :-(

  19. Montavilla says:

    I look at the Top 40 Sudden Death this way:

    1. It gives us a bit of that X-Factor/Voice audition excitement. The 1500 audience is actually larger than the regular Idol 500 seat studio. So, we get to see whether the Top 40 can win over an audience before they have to start pitching to the camera. And we get to hear a big audience boo the judges when they give thumbs down to a contestant.

    2. This round is really about next year’s crop. Most of the ones we love, but the judges cut have the opportunity to come back. Just like Candace Glover is coming in a favorite this year, Jett, Rachel, and Juliana can return with the Idoloonies firmly behind them. As opposed to Breanna, who might be out in the next round with no second chance.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Your number 2 is an interesting point.

      • Timmah says:

        That’s a good point. Juliana has a shot to make it next time whereas for five of the girls that survived their fifteen minutes of fame are just about up.

    • teatime says:

      How many people come back next year? One of two or three? I think they cut a number of good contestants that might never come back.

      • Montavilla says:

        I’d say the show can handle two people returning for a finalist slot. We don’t know who it will be and there are some other candidates in the wings (like David Leathers and Johnny Keyser). But the point is, American Idol is starting to have contestants with stories that can arc over a number of seasons — and this can be an advantage.

        It’s also a good message to send: Following your dream sometimes means that you get knocked down and have to start over again.

  20. darcy's evil twin says:

    And by the way, Mr. Sleazak and Melinda hit the nail on the head – the judging panel, overall, is quite good and for the most part offers constructive comments. Even Randy has upped his game this year, IMO. So why do some of the contestants s**k so badly? oh well, this week will be interesting.

  21. kes says:

    The guys are so poor this season, it’s embarrassing. I wish David and Braynt could come back :(

  22. Vice says:

    Juliana was quite robbed. It’s bs she didn’t make it!

  23. Pat says:

    This season could become an absolute trainwreck this week if the wrong people go through.

    Can you imagine if Lazaro, Cortez, Charlie, Zoanette, and Janelle all make the Top 10? Yikes…

  24. marie says:

    I’m really kind of delighted that Melinda enjoyed Zoanette’s performance! I KNEW I couldn’t be the only one.

  25. Alienate says:

    So Slez, what do you think of the newest voting method? 50 votes at one time.

  26. karen says:

    Kree is the cream of the crop who will continue to rise to the top. I’ve searched her out on YouTube, and Michael, you will be happy to know that Kree is also a rocker who can really kick it into high gear. She is the one contestant who shows true artistry as vocalist. She is same vein as Linda Ronstadt, Trishia Yearwood, EmilyLou Harris and Bonnie Raitt. (There, I said it.) Kree for the win.

    • deedee says:

      That’s my feeling, too. I love love love Candice Glover, but I’m thinking that Kree’s style is more current, and imo, she is far better than the other contestants. Plus, if Kree gets a great makeover (a la David cook in “Little Sparrow” week), she’ll look more transformed than the other girls. Idol viewers love a good star transformation.

      • lemon says:

        Candice has an amazing voice, but she isn’t current. She’ll be a ‘shocking boot’ ala Pia early into the top ten. Aubrey may not have the huge voice, but she has a great voice, plus the youthful looks and a current vibe. If she makes the top ten, she’ll be one to watch.

    • teatime says:

      Kree might not make it past this week. She has not been featured all along. Other girls have been. Half of them are going home.

      • deedee says:

        *sob* you’re absolutely right. I’m just thinking long term … in the event that she strikes a chord with the audience. Certainly with the online Idol fans there’s a low-level buzz for Kree. We’ll see if the home audience also sees something in her. I hope she really brings it this week.

    • lemon says:

      This show has been looking for another Kelly/Carrie for ages. Kree is the closest they will ever get. It’s her’s to lose.

  27. LisaKay says:

    I don’t understand why Idol insists on an equal number of men and women. Why not just put the top ten vote-getters through after this week? Seems much more fair…

    • Pat says:

      Because you can’t have 20 performances on one night. And that the only way that would be fair. Let’s say the Guys’ show get 13.5 million viewers. And the Girls’ show gets 12 million. Girls would be screwed in that voting scenario.

  28. sabina says:

    julianna should have gotten through. she was better than most of the guys that got through. these quotas on Idol are bs. she’s better than charlie…maybe she’s be better off on the voice.

  29. Steph says:

    Look he’s HOT and his story certainly makes him someone you want to root for, but Lazaro has given mediocre to godawful performances thus far, and last week after he sang, all I could think was, “P…p…p please let him g…g…go.” (I’m a monster, I know.)

    • Temperence says:

      And I’d take weeks of Lazaro over the tired, tired (tired) R&B stuff that everyone but Candice seems to be dishing out. They even ditched the excellent Asian guy for another dude that has no hope of selling songs.

  30. blinged up says:

    Michael and Melinda,
    Agree, agree, agree!
    Mostly:
    1) Bryant and dude who sang Fever should not have been cut
    2) Loved the girl who sang Skyscraper w/ guitar
    3) Nicki’s side eyes, faces in general, and body language toward Randy — priceless!

  31. Ellen says:

    Wish the Fever guy had stayed – was Nicki just ticked that he had a white wife? Send home that two-faced Curtis, keep wondering who lost a spot when Jimmy kept Paul in the show, send Zoanette home ASAP, Jett & Brian – would have liked to hear them a couple of more times. For those who are judging Lazaro based on hearing him only this past week, his short clip of “Edge of Glory” was outstanding, as was his audition. The guy has a beautiful voice, and he deserves to stay. Janelle Arthur is so terrified of being cut, I don’t know if we are hearing her best vocal effort, but she may be kept just as a token blonde for the push for the Top 10 touring group. Candice Glover should pick a current song, she has a voice worth hearing.

  32. Ann VerWiebe says:

    With Idol, it’s never too early to panic.

    • Timmah says:

      LOL, so true. I’m not really panicked, but I haven’t seen anyone who’s making me jump up and down yet.

    • deedee says:

      Right. Never too early to panic. Just like the first two weeks of the year generally determine the trend of the stock market, so with pre-voter rounds of Idol. Not looking good for Season 12 … but thumbs up for the 2013 market!! ;)

  33. Kate says:

    Anyone else getting error messages? Can’t view :(

  34. Billie says:

    In Janelle Arthur’s case, I’m feeling that she is not yet used to performing in a big setting that is why while performing she has the tendency to push her vocals more just to conquer those nerves in her even that Lady Antebellum song does not have a range-y melody. If she’s reading this (I hope), I suggest that she will play her guitar the next round since performing with instruments can boost more confidence and only perform again with no accompanying instrument from her when she’s fully sure that she can perform well and no nerves at all. She needs to really focus to this opportunity since this is her third time in Idol and she looks like a star and she showed a lot of promise in the screen time she received before her recent performance. And I would love to have a beautiful blonde country girl to make it to the ‘Top 10′ for diversity. I mean Kree is also country but she’s a hybrid of country and other genres more of like Bonnie Raitt so I guess they’re different. :)

  35. Kathy says:

    Where’s Jason Averett? It’s not Idology without him!

  36. MB says:

    I totally agree that this was not sudden death but the contestants were judged for their whole body of work. Part of me agrees with this. If they were consistantly good like for example Nick than they should go on. This is the first time some of these guys were in front of live audiences and it may have thrown them off a bit. It would not be fair to eliminate them when they have shined through all the weeks and just had an off night. On the other hand if someone was just okay and did a little better it may not be enough to chop someone who has always delivered in the past. We as voters do the same thing once we have a favorite. We give them a break if they have an off night and continue to vote for them as long as it is only a temporary set back and bounce back.

    • deedee says:

      So then what’s the point of this round if someone can’t redeem himself with one stunning vocal? In the Olympics, if you have a bad day, you lose the gold – no matter how good you were before, and if you have a flukey good day, you get the gold.
      .
      One good/bad performance should be enough to tip the balance one way or the other for each contestant, otherwise, why not just choose the top 20 based on their body of work before the bogus sudden death round?

      • MB says:

        I think it is for those that can go either way but they are not going to send home the stand outs. That’s why Janelle and Nick got sent through even though their preformances were not the best that night.

      • Ben says:

        @deedee – it’s not bogus, its a round which has always existed as part of the judgment, we just get to see it in full this year.

        As for one great performance being able to swing it, I’m absolutely sure that it can. But one poor performance swinging it is far less likely. I can’t really see that anyone had a great performance and didn’t get in… and if you accept that Charlie, Lazaro and Zoanette were all essentially in and very unlikely to be cut for poor performance, then I don’t think you can really point to anyone getting through after such a poor performance that they had to be cut in favour of someone else, either.

        • deedee says:

          I know this round existed before in another form, but it wasn’t sold to us as “sudden death”. Plus, the kids weren’t artificially split into groups of 10 as their field of competition. This year’s method just put the manipulation more out in the open. When Lazaro and Charlie get through over contestants who had way better performances, then it’s not a sudden death round. It’s a good old fashioned “Idol casts who they want but packages it like a competition” round. I simply prefer that they don’t show us the man behind the curtain in such a blatant way.

  37. Phan says:

    I generally worry about IDOL when there seems to be a huge division between an optimal finalist grouping and what could happen should the voting go awry – think Season 6 (love you Melinda just not so much your season) or 9.

    Usually I have about three categories of contestants: Contestants I’m rooting for to do well, contestants who have the potential to show me more but have demonstrated some serious problems in their charisma/performances, and contestants who I don’t want to see on my screen again. Here’s how that looks:

    Rooting for: Kree, Candice, Vincent, Burnell, Amber, Angela, Devin
    Potential: Zoanette, Aubrey, Breanna, Adrianna, Paul, Nick, Janelle
    NO THX: Charlie, Elijah, Cortez, Curtis, Tenna, Lazaro

    I would be shocked if one of (or both) Lazaro and Charlie did not make it to Top 10 next week. I’m kind of hoping Nigel sticks the two of them in early doom slots so that only one gets through. I also think Janelle has really screwed up her chances after that terrible Lady Antebellum cover and is more Kristy Lee Cook than Carrie Underwood. The women’s side is going to be a bloodbath: I hope that if they have a wildcard they only use them for the women.

  38. Mafs95 says:

    SUDDEN DEATH TOP 40 PERFORMANCES (RANK: BEST TO WORST):

    01 – Kree Harrison – “Up To The Mountain”
    02 – Amber Holcomb – “My Funny Valentine”
    03 – Candice Glover – “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”
    04 – Vincent Powell – “Cause I Love You”
    05 – Zoanette Johnson – “Circle Of Life”
    06 – Juliana Chahayed – “Skyscraper”
    07 – Devin Velez – “Listen”
    08 – Angela Miller – “Nobody’s Perfect”
    09 – Breanna Steer – “Bust Your Windows”
    10 – Curtis Finch Jr – “Superstar”
    11 – Adriana Latonio – “Ain’t No Way”
    12 – Burnell Taylor – “This Time”
    13 – Aubrey Cleland – “Sweet Dreams”08 –
    14 – David Oliver Willis – “Fever”
    15 – Rachel Hale – “Nothing But The Water”
    16 – Paul Jolley – “Tonight I Wanna Cry”
    17 – Jett Hermano – “Only Girl In The World”
    18 – Bryant Tadeo – “New York State Of Mind”
    19 – Melinda Ademi – “Nobody’s Perfect”
    20 – Cortez Shaw – “Titanium”
    21 – Johnny Keyser – “I Won’t Give Up”
    22 – Isabelle – “God Bless The Child”
    23 – Kevin Harris – “(Everyhthing I Do) I Do It For You”
    24 – JDA – “Rumour Has It”
    25 – Shubha Vedula – “Born This Way”
    26 – Janelle Arthur – “Just A Kiss”
    27 – Cristabel Clack – “No One”
    28 – Tenna Torres – “Soulmate”
    29 – Nick Boddington – “Say Something Now”
    30 – Brandy Hotard – “Anymore”
    31 – Josh Holiday – “I’m Better With You”
    32 – Mathenee Treco – “A Little Less Conversation”
    33 – Charlie Askew – “Rocket Man”
    34 – Jenny Beth Willis – “Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love”
    35 – Chris Watson – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”
    36 – Elijah Liu – “Talking To The Moon”
    37 – Jimmy Smith – “Raining On Sunday”
    38 – Lazaro Arbos – “Tonight I Wanna Cry”
    39 – Gurpreet Singh Sarin – “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You”
    40 – Kamaria Ousley – “Mr. Know It All”

    • Alienate says:

      Somebody has too much time on their hands. :)

      • Mikko Makitalo says:

        As a great Idol fan, I am following these kinds of lists with passion and interest, people’s views about the performances. So your comment feels like looking down on the writer – and also me as an eager reader – as some kind of vain and stupid people with time to kill. Although I am sure you did not mean anything bad, your comment could be taken as a bit insulting.

        • Mafs95 says:

          I didn’t take it as an insult, but thanks for showing interest in my opinion (even though you may not completely agree with it). And yeah, I was having a bit of a free time right at that moment and I felt the urge to make that list. :)

    • 5talentgirl says:

      Well done. Agree with some; don’t agree with most. But a well-thought out and helpful list of the top 40. Thanks. Blindingly good work

      • Mafs95 says:

        Thank you! I like to read people’s opinions and I decided this a particular good way to express how I felt about some of the performances :)

        And yeah, it’s quite obvious most people will disagree with me since there are 40x39x38x37… (some millions) different ways to make this ranking :p

  39. syb says:

    I am definitely on the same train as Melinda this week. On Juliana, on Lazaro, on Zoanette and on the judges.

  40. karen says:

    Top 5 Performances in Sudden Death round:

    1. Kree Harrison, “Up to the Mountain”
    2. Devin, “Listen”
    3. Amber, “My Funny Valentine”
    4. Zoanette, “Circle of Life”
    5. Candice Glover, “Natural Woman”

  41. teatime says:

    The most memorable Sudden Death performances for me:

    David Oliver Willis, Fever
    Juliana Chahayed, Skyscraper
    Bryant Tadeo, New York State Of Mind
    Breanna Steer, Bust Your Windows
    .
    Rachel Hale, Nothing But The Water
    Aubrey Cleland, Sweet Dreams

  42. LeahKittyS says:

    I have to agree with our stars on Mariah, Nicki and Keith: whether you agree or disagree with them, at least they own up to their commentary and are entertaining to watch. Here’s what I have to say about the contestants.

    I’ve been dropping by the Top 20’s Twitter pages, and Angela has a massive following. Between that and her past performances, she’s pretty much a lock for the Top 10 (good; I like her a lot.) The same goes for Kree and Janelle, whom I also both enjoy, so that gives me hope. Tenna and Zoanette have very small followings, so maybe America has the sense not to vote them into the finals. With three spots taken, I would want the last two definite spots to go to Candice and either Adriana or Amber (though I’ll settle for Aubrey or Breanna). Odds are there will be Wildcards after all this year, so we could have any combination of those last 4. Jessica’s fans are gravitating quickly towards Adriana, so we’ll see if that means anything.
    As for the boys, Burnell and Lazaro are locked into the finals based on their Internet followings. I’ve liked Burnell’s performances thus far and while Lazaro has been very wobbly in his singing, I love seeing him on TV and really think he can improve if given a chance. Curtis and Vincent have very small followings, but they wouldn’t be big losses for me, especially Curtis who is a little too haughty (to put it nicely) for my taste. Paul has a decent sized following, so his odds are good for the finals. That leaves two more guaranteed spots plus one possible Wildcard, and beyond the 3 I think are in for sure, I couldn’t care less who gets them. If I absolutely had to fill those spots with men, I would pick Nick and Cortez based on their Hollywood work, and Devin just so I wouldn’t have to listen to the folks here complain. Charlie’s following isn’t very big, and I don’t care at all about Elijah.

    So my ideal finals right now would look like this.
    GIrls: Angela, Candice, Janelle, Kree, Adriana
    Guys: Burnell, Cortez, Lazaro, Nick, Paul
    Wildcards: Amber, Aubrey, Breanna
    But I know there’s no way we’re going to get all of that.

    • Trouty Mouth says:

      I’d say Angela will go through to top 10, but I also predict that she’s this year’s shock elimination.

    • Mikko Makitalo says:

      After last year’s XF USA, I have come to conclusion, that one has to be very careful with the predictions made out of the internet and Twitter followings. Three examples:

      1) Tate Stevens received by a mile least amount of YouTube views, and I was sure he would be outvoted first – but he won the whole thing! Why? Because there a lot of people who do not hang in the internet (the way many youngsters do) but juts watch the telly, I would suppose many, many country music fans are like that. So one could not draw any conclusions of the winner of XF from the internet users.
      Adriana for example has the most views in YouTube. Although she is amazing and deserves the attention, I think that most of the views come from Phillipines, from where people cannot vote, I assume.

      2) I remember when Beatrice Miller from the same XF was “peaking” in Twitter and had for some half a day temporarily worldwide 2nd place in peaking in Twitter (I am not talking about the amount of followers, but kind of center of temporarily interest), and she placed the 8th. I thin the biggest reason for her not tosucceed better was, that there were other 13-year old girls, especially Carly Rose, and they ate votes from each other.

      3) In the same XF Arin Ray did not have so many followers in the Twitter than some others, and Beatrice asked her followers also to follow “her brother” Arin, and so Arin quite quickly received tens of thousands new followers, but was sent home quite early. It seems to me, that to young people and young artists, Twitter seems to be the most important thing, but there is not in many cases no direct relation to that, how you will do in the competion, because there are great amount of voters also outside the Twitter.

      But of course if people have big Twitter followings, that is good news, and although Angela is not number 1 to me, right now it looks like she might win the whole thing. What comes to country music singers, I wonder if they will be eating each other’s votes.

  43. Dayrah says:

    Haha when I saw Seacrest’s dolphin intro I just KNEW it would be the opening of Idology this week.

    • deedee says:

      LOL, wasn’t there a dolphin analogy in an Idology episode last season? Something about high degree of difficulty of tricks that one of the contestants was doing, but getting middling praise because that level of performance was expected of them. Was it Josh? Gah! now I’ll have to go re-watch all of last years Idology shows.

  44. Kelly says:

    Michael Slezak, my favorite part was your impression of Ty Pennington at 4:20. LOL!!

  45. LeahKittyS says:

    Agreed. Juliana’s voice was pretty and all, but the kid needs time to grow and try again, either here or somewhere else, in the future.

  46. Name That Tune says:

    Ok. Now they are changing the voting system. What more can we ask?

  47. dj says:

    I loved your attempt at the side-eye, Michael, and I liked that both you and Melinda were honest enough to be apologetic about some of your picks. This season should be entertaining at least, in a train wreck sort of way.

  48. Guitar Blue says:

    Now that the Judges/Producers/Directors have flushed-out 5 or 6 that should have been in the top 20 – but may have been a threat to their casting picks down the road —————-

    it’s a battleround of ——— singers vs. performers / fun & crazy vs. technically correct vocals / good song choice with good arrangement vs. bad song choice / genre vs genre — that has the most mass appeal.

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