Reality Check: Alex, Sam, MK, Majesty and Jena's Early Season 13 Edge! Plus: Why 'Rush Week' (and Randy Jackson) Failed the Idol Audience

American Idol‘s inaugural “Rush Week” extravaganza may be best remembered for its dreaded “Chamber of the Damned” — which devoured a full third of the Season 13 Top 30 before they’d belted a single note. Nevertheless, it also provided an opportunity for a quintet (or perhaps a sextet) of contestants to get a slight head start on the competition.

On this week’s installment of Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I dissect top-notch semifinal performances by Alex Preston, Sam Woolf, M.K. Nobilette and Majesty Rose — as well as Jena Irene’s devastating Wild Card original.

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Also on the docket: How executive producer Per Blankens’ cruel Rush Week twist backfired with a series of subpar performances; why we were confused by the judges’ snubs of several female contestants; which Top 20 flops left us most heartbroken; and whose inclusion in the Wild Card sing-off left us utterly flummoxed. Plus, we tackle “The (Alleged) Slut-Shaming of Emily Piriz”; the Insipidness of Randy Jackson’s “Advice”; the general awesomeness of guest mentors Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry; and the one performance that was (simultaneously) a hot mess and a delightful revelation.

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So press PLAY below for the full Reality Check experience, then hit the comments with your own thoughts. And for all my Idol-related news, recaps, video and exclusives, 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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182 Comments
  1. Kate says:

    I’m already cool with a Majesty/Sam finale, with Jena taking a Haley-style third. Watch out for JLo, girl!

    • Sarah says:

      This is so ON POINT

    • I'm cool with that says:

      I’m cool with that if that means Caleb gets the James-style fourth spot.

    • noa says:

      Alex being the shock 4th place elimination? i’d watch that season!

    • Filipe says:

      loll, I think this will be really accurate during the season… lol

    • I don’t think Sam or Jena should be in top 3 maybe Majesty I like her stage presence and personality. Sam is a good singer and cute but needs some more experience and mentoring and soon in order for him to go farther in the competition.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Two things I noticed, esp. about Jlo: She was not pleased that all the men were WGWG and no “color”. She also commented how nervous the singers seemed because of RUSH week.

      • Tess says:

        Doesn’t it make it all the more peculiar then that the judges did not ask Malcolm or George to sing during that 5 person sing-off for the wildcard slots? Once they gave Kristen the last singing spot, I knew CJ was in, even though he didn’t sing that well. I really thought they’d give Malcolm another chance – he sang well enough on Wednesday but had a really boring song choice.

    • Get rid of that tired old arrogant ass Randy Jackson … he plays a bass and that’s it. He is very much like a cartoon character in every way ..he adds nothing to IDOL … the other judges are ok… but again why would producers continue to have a phony on camera like Jackson…?

  2. lassirrra says:

    I still don’t fully understand the concept of bringing people back and not letting them preform is seem as such as huge negative

    As a viewer if there are 30 people that you think may be able to perform I’d rather you bring them all back with specific instructions on what they should do for the next couple months and see who has improved who you may have been having a great Hollywood week, but can not keep it up and show us those 20. They don’t know who will work hard or who will listen to what the judges want from them. If they only chose 20 to bring back the results may have been different (for better or worse), but I’d prefer to hear he best 20 who showed the best improvement based on whatever criteria they had.

    I’m not saying I agree with all of the decisions regarding cutting the top 30 to top 20, but I appreciate the fact that it’s there and do not feel the need to hear everyone sing. I also think that the holding rooms of doom were very very cruel. But bringing back more than they have preform is actually something that I think is a good idea, just very poor execution,

    • Ben says:

      Good idea cutting 30 to 20. Bad idea doing it live on the night – because it lead to bad performances.

      • Tess says:

        Maybe it wouldn’t have been so nerve wracking for those that did get to perform if they made the announcement first thing at the top of the show as to who was getting to sing and who wasn’t. Surely the longer you sit and wait to hear your name called and the number in the room keeps dwindling, you’re getting more nervous and less able to stay calm and prepared to sing.

        • Lassirrra says:

          I honestly would have preferred if they were told ahead of time and the public reveal was earlier. I also hope they were given a cryptic warming post green mile of listen to what the judges have to say and work on it there may be consequences.

          This may also come from watching too much Project Runway where they always cut someone right before fashion week.

    • Idolhead Ed says:

      In reality the judges did them all a favor. Had they sung,they would not have had a another shot next season. I thought Kenze and Austin needed more time Also Brandy is really good but too young as well. Personally I think they all kind of knew who was singing before the night started. The reason I have a feeling this was the case is that Kenze and Jillian did not convulse and break down when the weren’t called to sing. Those two are waterworks factories. …

      • r says:

        Anyone who doesn’t make the top10( maybe 13)/tour can come back

        • tealeaves says:

          “Anyone who doesn’t make the top10( maybe 13)/tour can come back”
          I don’t think that is true. I don’t think anyone has ever been able to come back in another season once the public votes. The contestants we have seen come back were let go by the judges before voting started.

          • LeahKittyS says:

            Yes, but they changed the rules last summer. From now on, as long as you don’t make the finals/tour, you are free to try again (provided you are still in the acceptable age range). I read the rules when I auditioned over the summer. Tenna and Vincent from last year aged out, but Charlie, Cortez, Elijah, Nick, Adriana, Breanna, and (thank goodness she didn’t) Zoanette were all eligible to come back. Not Aubrey, though, because they let her go on tour.

          • ben says:

            @Leah – you auditioned? What was the process like?

          • LeahKittyS says:

            @ben and Angie, I actually auditioned online. But they did not accept my video, so I never met the judges. I sang “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Ah nice. You auditioned? Did you get in front of the judges or was it still the producers doing the pre-screening? That takes guts, girl! Auditions in general make me nauseous, but I couldn’t imagine doing an audition that might be internationally televised.

      • rfealitychick says:

        The kids had absolutely no idea which name was being called. Those girls who you say were too young handled themselves with class and dignity while the Idol producers pulled a mean cowardly stunt on the cast–as well as the American viewers. Brandy Neelly was ready to sing. And while the stunt was mean to all of the contestants– it was downright cruel to Brandy Neelly and Jill Jensen. Idol knew what Brandy was capable of– she’s been on their radar for four years! And the producers simply used Jill because of her following from XFactor. Shame on Idol. But what goes around comes around– this show sucked and the dwindling numbers will just keep getting smaller.

        • Lauren says:

          Brandy is average and forgettable. Ditto Jillian.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            That’s funny. A lot of people thought Carrie Underwood was “average and forgettable”. I love Brandy’s voice and her vocals are head and shoulders above Marielle and Bria, I guess being an attractive blonde with a great voice is not a plus these days.

    • Jim says:

      I think the Top 20 had already been chosen in the judges minds. They just kept the extra 10 in there to keep the Top 20 from being revealed to the public months ahead of time. The spoiler blogs had the list of Top 30 circulating all over the place the same day the Green Mile was filmed back in December.

      • Jason says:

        I think the ones that were cut while it was cruel that it was last minute they were actually given an extra chance to impress the judges enough to be included. Usually there is only a top 24 and all get to sing. So if you think of it six contestants who would have been cut before top 40 were given a dress rehearsal and time with Randy, Adam, and Daughtry to impress the judges enough to be chsen for top 20. And also maybe 20 is a better number then 24 because there are always some really bad train wrecks in the top 24 and I didn’t remember as many train wrecks this year. Maybe not as many wow moments but that really can’t be attributed to the format. If you are good enough to wow you would probably be confident enough to know you’re going through!

  3. Tahoe Mike says:

    I really don’t like the “Throat punch” thing. They should have let them all sing, and let us vote; even if they then whacked the bottom group five at a time.

  4. -I’m surprised Michael and Melinda didn’t say much about Malcolm and George bombing during their initial performance, two people that they picked to hopefully go far or at least make it Top 13. Sure they both could have got to the Wild Card performances, especially over Bria and Spencer, but based on what they did the night prior it’s not a big thing.
    -I think with Briana we were thinking she would be the Candice Glover of this year. Getting cut the year before only to redeem herself and get further. Unfortunetly for Briana, Candice got cut incorrectly in Season 11, and then the judges and public wisely saw what she had in Season 12. Briana still isn’t ready, hopefully one day she will. But for now she is not.
    -Several times Adam and Daughtry gave the contestatns great great advice and the contestants went against it or decided to do something different. Just doesn’t make sense. I know there were 5 thousand types of coaches and mentors to make you think 5 thousand different things but these 2 guys know more then anyone there what to do.
    -Kristen and CJ got their spots because Spencer and Bria were atrocious. They were the best of the worst. Doesn’t say much. But that’s what happens when you choose the contestants you do.

    • So true I agree with your comments. Either their nerves and pressure got to most of these contestants or they just didn’t listen to Adam and Chris. These two guys are the best there is at performing live and being successful in the music industry. Adam especially has the vocal chops and experience to teach these kids how to sing properly. Too much camera time given to RJ and the other 5K mentors. They should have just had Chris and Adam mentor all of these contestants on wardrobe, stage presence, voice, and everything else. I noticed that most of the song choices were just wrong for the contestants. Roar has been over done and is more of a group song. Never heard of most of these songs and the contestants didn’t seem to know how to make the songs their own. Don’t think there is a star in the making in this group.

      • Montavilla says:

        I always want to like “Roar” more than I do on singing competitions. I remember Vocal Rush did it on The Sing-Off, and it wasn’t nearly as good as every other song they did. Despite the over-pimping of Marrialle, I was pulling for her. I like her look, I like her energy, and I find her voice pleasant. That’s really enough for me at this point. I thought everything was there on the night, except the voice.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      “Several times Adam and Daughtry gave the contestatns great great advice and the contestants went against it or decided to do something different.” This!!! Every single critique they gave was on point. Too bad some contestants didn’t listen. Chris and Adam are very credible musicians who have done this before…

      • Max says:

        Chris is a great singer, and I thought that every one of his critiques was on point, but his songs just put me to asleep. It’s kind of unrelated, but I say it because that is the reason I don’t really want him to come back every week…
        I think Sam has a great voice and is one of the better guys, but I just dislike the WGWG genre (see Let Her Go). It just feels like a lazy genre in which the singers don’t really bring anything new to the table.

        • You a are right. I’m personally tired of WGWG it is like they have to be holding something how will they succeed on stage w/o it. That is the true test of their ability to perform in front of people.

        • kate'shomesick says:

          The “WGWG genre”? Really? So basically you’re saying that Jon Bon Jovi, Damien Rice, Brue Springsteen, Mick Thomson, David Gray belong to one genre….or that Sam, Ben and David Cook do? …..

          • Calli says:

            Thank you, Kate. There is no WGWG genre; there are WGWG’s in many genres.

            Also tired of this ridiculous idea that musicians use their instruments as a ‘crutch’ and that they should be performing without them. If I’ve ever seen Keith Urban performing without his guitar, I sure don’t remember it.

          • I didn’t say anything about genre in reference to WGWG. There have been numerous articles written about AI only wanting a WhiteGuyWithGuitar to win and point was proven 5 yrs in a row. So last season producers made it obvious they wanted a female to win by eliminating any male that might win. My point was that any contestant has to show they can sing any genre and with or w/o a guitar/instrument. Don’t be so defensive. We are all here to discuss this.

          • Max says:

            It is really just a name. It more so specifies emotional, romantic songs performed acoustically (by any person of any race, but it tends to be white). I wouldn’t include Bon Jovi (rock) or many others in that category despite being white and playing guitar, but I would include Passenger, Plain White T’s, and Jason Mraz.

    • Jeremiah says:

      Let’s not forget that CJ had only a very brief moment between learning that he hadn’t received enough votes to get into the top five guys, and being called up to sing, whereas Jena had a whole commercial break to prepare for her performance. I’m not saying that CJ doesn’t have some flaws, but I definitely feel that he deserves his spot in the top 13.

      • Calli says:

        Agreed. He’s got a voice that just reels me in, so I’m glad that he’s got a spot.

      • JayNC says:

        He’s not the best singer, but I still enjoy listening to him and I like his song choices. Definitely belongs in the top 13 but I am afraid he won’t last long.

    • Ben says:

      Indeed. Although, in the past, mentors haven’t always given the best advice, and sometimes ignoring it has been the right thing to do. In addition, there was at least one occasion of the mentors giving contradictory advice. This highlights how difficult it is for the contestants to get it right in understanding what to take on board.
      -
      It is also those aspects of the advice which they don’t take (as opposed to probably quite a significant amount of advice that they do take) which will inevitably be shown on the pre-performance intro.
      -
      The contestants who are most likely to succeed on idol are those who are best at filtering the mentors advice; knowing what to take on board and what to discard from an artistic perspective, without getting hung up on their personal preferences.

      • Sherry says:

        What contradictory advice? I thought Adam and Chris were right on point with all the contestants.
        both Adam and Chris really listened to the contestants and made it clear what they needed to do. Spencer is one that ignored advice and CJ also. Holding a guitar is just like a security blanket but they need to discard it when it’s not right to use it.

        • ben says:

          Someone said use a guitar someone said don’t use a guitar. I agree Adam and Chris were right on point last week. But in the past, mentors have not always been right on point with every piece of advice for every contestant, and in those cases sometimes it has been clear that the contestant made the right call in ignoring that particular piece of advice.

          • Sherry says:

            I see what you mean now. I remember either Chris or another mentor saying use guitar then Adam saying don’t use it. And you are right in past seasons several mentors gave advice that I didn’t agree with. In those cases it’s okay for contestants to do it their way.

    • JayNC says:

      I suspect that the judges picked wildcards at least partly based on the votes they received.

  5. Malcolm says:

    I am thoroughly convinced that they brought back Randy to give Michael something about weekly :P.

  6. Sherry says:

    Oh Michael and Melissa you guys are missing the main ingredient in what this show is trying to find. They also want charisma and the ability to connect to audience. The only girls that really did that well were Majesty and MK & of the boys only Caleb was able to do it Sam is cute and has good vocals but has a problem connecting and needs to improve on making eye contact. None of these contestants are of the Adam Lambert caliber and the show may never producer another person like Adam.

    • Ben says:

      “The show may never produce another person like Adam” – I’m not sure how you mean this to be taken, but its not as though Adam is the most phenomenal performer of all time or anything. I guess you could say the show never producers two true stars that are like each other. Majesty and MK are nothing like Adam – yet if they continue to perform they way they currently have (or indeed, improve) I’d personally rather listen to and watch them than Adam. The idea that Adam has a particular ‘calibre’ is perhaps where I lose track of what you are intending to say.

      • karenb says:

        ITA Ben. Well said.

      • Ben, Adam has been called the best male singer of today many times by people who in the music industry. He’s a classically trained singer and has been singing since age 9 on the stage. He has great stage presence and can do things with his voice that opera singers cannot do. One in particular has said she and her peers are in awe of his voice.

        • LibbyD says:

          “best male singer of the day?” Please cite this UN-believable “fact” for me. LOL

        • Ben says:

          OK, but Sherry’s point seemed to be that the missing ingredient is charisma and that she was talking about Adam’s calibre in the context of charisma. Which he does have (along with a good voice). I still just don’t really understand what point the comment was trying to make.

    • Timmah says:

      I agree that they will likely not find another Adam, but then it took 8 seasons to find one in the first place. Your point about charisma and connection with the audience is well taken though. You may win Idol without it, but you probably won’t go very far in the business. I think Majesty understands this the best out of this group, which is why I think it’s no coincidence that Adam is her favorite Idol.

      • Mary says:

        I look at it as Adam was a season performer. He had experience on stage. The majority of these kids even past seasons did not. I think all the winners had charisma and connection with the audience that is why they won, but Idol is a stepping stone not the end all for making it. I give all the contestants credit because quite frankly this is a tough business to get into. I like Adam but truth is he is not a Kelly and Carrie’s level or Chris when it comes to selling his music.

      • I agree with you Majesty has been my favorite since auditions. She’s got something special and when she is on stage she brings excitement and shows her self-confidence.

    • waid says:

      “and the show may never producer another person like Adam.” Wow. Way to limit all contestants before they have even been given a chance.

      • LeahKittyS says:

        I know, right? Why do we need to box in contestants and compare them? Why can’t they all just be good or special in their own right?

    • Kylee says:

      Dumb statement. Ever get the impression that Adam isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and not everybody thinks he is the best thing ever to happen to idol? I prefer people who don’t scream. Unless you are SIobhan of course.

  7. MAB says:

    Sam is my favorite but I also like Alex, Majesty and Jena. The rest I am not really excited about. Of course it is early in the game so things can change. Phillip Phillips in my all time favorite and I did not get on his band wagon till a few weeks into the season. Same with Haley. At first I did not even like her and she is also one of my favorites till this day.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      I like all of the people you mentioned. I would be happy with that top 4 even. I would like some surprises though… I want to see one of the one’s I can’t seem to remember just come and blow it out of the water. That would be fun.

  8. Harry’s daughters are lucky to have a cool dad who cares about a young woman’s self-esteem and the general public’s perception of her.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Totally agree. I do respect this. Even more, I respect that he respects a singer enough to ask them what they are thinking if he doesn’t understand their execution. I can’t imagine why a newbie wouldn’t be flattered by that kind of attention and someone trying to help *them* refine their craft?

      • Ben says:

        Completely agree. Michael has been (from my perspective) completely right in his assessment of Harry’s comments on this point. I tried to express it on the day, but was simply called out for having a sexist attitude, because I could not put it as well as Michael does. There is a HUGE difference asking about a song choice as an implied criticism of young women singing about sex, and asking about song choice because it seems to you that the person singing hasn’t thought through the fact that as a musician, understanding your lyrics and what you are trying to convey with them is a critical part of your craft.

        • Teeny Bikini says:

          Yup, there is a huge difference. Harry is pretty straightforward about his agenda – and it usually has to do with the execution/implementation of the craft. Period. It’s never personal. It’s about the art. I found the slut-shaming “argument” completely reactionary and lacking validity. Oh well… He can be polarizing because he is very direct – but that is *exactly* why I like him :)

          • Timmah says:

            I don’t think Harry is clear and direct at all. He might have had a good point, but he did not communicate it well IMO, which is what caused the confusion by some.

          • Ben says:

            You either get that, or you get what the show has been criticised about for several seasons – judges who are not critical. Per Blankens seems to have allowed (or required) both Keith and J-Lo to be honestly (but constructively) critical as well. It is ultimately a good thing.

          • Timmah says:

            I don’t have a problem with Harry being critical. I just don’t think he’s a very good communicator. And I think he likes being intentionally oblique. It’s a form of grandstanding.

          • MamaLis says:

            Interesting. I find Harry to be probably the most clear, well-spoken communicator / Judge, the show has ever had. He’s only “oblique” if by oblique you mean he challenges people to consider things they’ve not previously considered.

          • ben says:

            I really don’t think Harry is oblique at all. I just think some poeople have a tendency to assume in to comments things that aren’t there, with no basis to do so. You had to actually ignore the plain meaning of the words Harry said to take out of a different interpretation.

          • marie says:

            Interesting how different folks can hear the same words spoken, yet understand completely different things. I for one find Harry very much to the point in his critiques. So far, he’s the best judge ever on Idol, IMO.
            And who would ever have thought that JLo would prove to be a much better judge than Mariah Carey? Mariah can definitely sing, but was completely inarticulate as a judge. JLo can pretend to sing – ok, I guess she can sing A LITTLE – but so far this season has offered reasonable commentary. Color me surprised.

        • Montavilla says:

          I agree. I got what Harry was asking about when he said it. It’s in line with what he’s said before — you need to understand what the song is saying, and then you need to figure out what you’re saying with the song. I understand why some people interpreted it as slut-shaming, because it *looks* like he’s telling a girl she can’t sing about sex — but he told her it was *okay* to do that. If that’s what she wanted to do.

          However, he really did her a favor, because she’s in the Top 13. And I think the audience’s casting him as “Horrible Harry” is going to be part of the entertainment this season.

    • Sarah says:

      It’s actually funny and very revealing so many responded to THIS post with ‘yeah see, Harry clearly was all about the lyrical comprehension’. I like that Greer really gets it was about a woman’s ‘self esteem’ and public perception of her. As I see do all those who said ‘I agree.’ Not about why that song didn’t work – because he didn’t say that, he said – ‘you’re 18 is THIS, really what u want to be singin about? (frown). And so many agreeing with Greer’s opinion pretty much gives away the fake game of ‘what Harry really said’. And btw wasnt either ( or both) Michael/Melinda less happy last season when Harry called Amber (?) out on flat out not understanding lyrics – really obvious lyrics and during mentoring rather than judging in front of millions on live tv.
      To those who rightly called Harry out for slut shaming (and Michael for sneering at the very idea)
      Please please don’t give up or be silenced by this contempt. Clearly pointing out the truth hit a nerve – if these attitudes about women and girls weren’t so deeply embedded in our culture it wouldn’t be such a difficult struggle. People will bully you over standing up for women and girls who don’t meet certain expectations or societal standards – but words matter, public treatment of young women matters – girls deserve our fighting for them not to be subjected to shaming and dbl standards. Did I think Emily sang great – no. Do I think she deserves respectful feedback – yes. I’m really surprised and pleased voters served up a backlash. And to Michael and Melinda, the sad irony in not even questioning Harry’s choice of words and then being disdainful about this legitimate criticism. I’m sure we’ll get more praise for one of their approved sweet strumming boys or bouncy girls singing about bein so Happy – and yeah, let’s praise and give a pass to a later performance that was a hot mess because it was ‘emotionally perfect’ from a child-like girl. The honorary Gokey ‘B’ for just trying. Oh god I miss Kristen Baldwin’s critical eye and cool wit.

      • Scott says:

        I think it was Amber, yes, and the song was Funny Valentine. I have the same problem — singers (male and female) not appreciating the lyrics and thus unable to sell the song. It seems obvious to me that this is one of HCjr’s pet peeves — why wouldn’t any singer on Idol this year understand that and take extra careful steps to avoid falling into this type of conversation? If Melinda was a judge (Do it Uncle PB!!) and the singers breathed in the middle of words, they’d better expect a call-out on it.

      • Luke says:

        This is so odd how people can see something completely differently. This idea of “slut-shaming”. As the years have progressed since Madonna rolled around on the stage in a wedding dress – the envelope has been pushed more each year – how much more female artists are expected to add more and more levels of sexuality to the songwriting – the performance – the clothes. I think Miley represents how far it can be tolerated – Her act is pretty much soft porn now(and if that is what you call slut-shaming – I suppose I want to do that) Because it’s too much – and it is too sad how much creativity has left the playing field for women – And when women start claiming songs with lyrics like Paris Ooh-La-La are “enpowering” women – Or Miley is showing how women (well, really girls) should be comfortable with their sexuality by highlighting all the seamy and x-rated aspects – It is such a huge, backward step for girls and women. And Harry is concerned that girls should not be expected to grow up that fast – and that there should be other things that make up their lives – not just constant, media-fed overt sexuality.

        • MAB says:

          I am sorry I think Miley is disgusting and if this is woman empowerment than I am all for going back a little. It is a shame when a singer feels they have to exploit themselves to be noticed and show that she has grown up. Maybe if she was a really good singer and a good actress she wouldn’t have to do this crap.

      • ben says:

        No, Michael/Melinda were not less happy when Harry did it to Amber. It’s why many people were calling for Harry to be a judge.

    • JayNC says:

      Totally agree – a refreshing change from other judges, past and present.

  9. Audra says:

    Please imaginary friend in the sky, please let them bring back Adam and Chris every week and just let Randy go home.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Agree. Randy is useless. They need people to give substantive critiques to singers so Adam and Chris were just perfection. I wanted MORE. For the life me – I don’t know why someone with decades of music experience – Randy – cannot give a substantive critique to save his life. It’s just really odd/annoying.

      • Mary says:

        In all fairness Randy might have given good advice but the producers did not use it. I remember a lot of contestants saying that Randy actually helped them out even after the show. I do think Randy knows what he is doing but does not know how to articulate his position. At this stage everyone is bored with Randy and they are nick picking everything.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      Agreed. Remember that sitcom from the 90s, “Sister Sister?” How they would always tell the kid who always hugh around “Go home, Roger?” Whenever Randy comes on screen, I say in the same annoyed voice: “Go home, Randy.”

  10. Teeny Bikini says:

    Michael, I disagree that contestants need to know Idol history. They might benefit more from voice lessons, “music” history, and making sure they “understand” the meaning of songs. I would even settle for knowing what the heck they’re singing about instead of just trying to hit high notes. Other than that, just sing well when you are supposed to… singing well in dress rehearsal and tanking the actual performance is useless. Focus already.

  11. Name This Tune says:

    Ah, that was a great explanation of Harry’s “Did you understand the lyrics? ” comment. I think he’s going to continue to call anyone out for taking the easy lazy road.

    • Louise says:

      Let’s hope! *insert Nigel gif here*

    • Name This Tune says:

      Watching The Voice and I swear Adam Levine was about to tell that 16 year old Did you understand the lyrics. But he went with You need to live the lyrics.
      Pretty much on the same page as Harry.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Except what I think he wanted to say was “can you please try to sing somewhere in the neighborhood of the correct pitches? That would be awesome.” Live the lyrics was his very polite way of putting in his two cents and passing the camera over to Shakira.

        • Name This Tune says:

          He had intonation issues but did you get the sense that he felt the lyrics? Adam was spot on when he advised him to inhabit the lyrics. Something we see MY do every time.

  12. LeahKittyS says:

    Finally! I’ve waited all day for this! Funny you mention Majesty, MK, Alex and Sam specifically; those four were my favorites going in (and still are.) I didn’t think Harry was shaming Emily at all; she’s young, and looks innocent, and he was concerned she was coming off as inauthentic. It’s not that she’s not allowed to be sexy; it’s that she tried to be and failed. I have a feeling Kristen is first to go. And while Dexter isn’t my particular favorite (agree with the judges’ “generic” comments), I have a feeling he will go far just because he is authentic country.

    • Ben says:

      I think Dexter won’t last so long because I think Ben is better. I think part of the problem for Emily is that she wasn’t even trying, particularly, to be sexy. She failed to connect to the song on multiple levels. I’m glad that Michael is helping to make it ok to agree with Harry (as I was getting completely chewed out for it on the actual night). Other girls the same age as Emily singing the same song might have made it work, she didn’t. And the biggest reason why is (even when she gave her reason on stage) its at least partly because in her mind she wasn’t really singing about sex. She was singing about her being able to feel in control of her destiny and her idol journey. There are plenty of songs that could ahve been used to do this that would have gotten the point across. That one didn’t.

      • Montavilla says:

        You know who would have sold the hell out of that song? Haley Reinhart,

        • ben says:

          Ironically – I was going to say exactly that in my comment but then didn’t (because she wasn’t quite the same age as Emily when on the show).

        • deedee says:

          Great point. I doubt very much that Harry would have given Haley the treatment he gave Emily because Haley would have played a credible vixen, and Harry would have understood the performance. The “slut-shaming” argument is a red herring.

          • Lulu says:

            Harry would have understood the performance if Emily had been a real ~vixen so his lack of understanding as a musical professional was the girl’s fault. Yeah shame on her, wait – slut shaming is a red herring… Lol

          • deedee says:

            No, Lulu, I didn’t say that. I said that Harry was criticizing Emily’s failure to embody the sexual content of the lyrics, thereby rendering her performance inauthentic. I implied that had Emily managed to bring some believability to her performance – as Haley most likely would have – then Harry would not have made the comments he made. Because Harry’s comments were directed at Emily’s less-than-credible performance rather than the content of Emily’s character, I said that the “slut-shaming” argument was a red herring. But thanks for managing to deride my comment while missing the point of it.

      • Lulu says:

        Ben, you keep trying lol. Especially now that you can borrow various other people’s words. Simple bottom line, really basic – it’s okay for Harry or any judge to criticize a performance for not connecting to a song or to say that wasn’t really believable to me BUT that’s not what Harry said at all, not even what he implied. ‘Repeat the lyrics – you’re 18 is that what you want to be singing about?’ With quite the disapproving tone too. Maybe something like this will happen to a girl you care about and you’ll get it then instead of feeling so oppressed by those voicing legitimate (even if not the same as yours) concerns.

        • Ben says:

          I just don’t even…
          -
          I don’t even know how to respond to this. But lets start with this. Your last sentence perfectly describes why everything else you are saying is problematic. You don’t know the first thing about me. If you did, you would know that my wife was the victim of systematic sexual abuse when she was younger, and that a significant amount of my relationship with her involved helping her understand that SHE was in control of her sexuality, and noone else, and that she couldn’t let that be taken away from her.
          -
          Why would that experience mean I (or my wife) is in a moral position to judge the social attitude of someone who had to express a complex thought in a 15 second comment on a TV show. Especially not when the combination of my own professional experience as a mentor in the music industry and, now, as someone required to give succint pieces of advice on the spot in difficult contexts, tells me there is a much more likely explanation.
          -
          Your interpretation of that sentence HAS to imply that Harry would say the same to every 18 year old girl who sang that same song, and would never say the same to any 18 year old male who sang the same song. And you are saying that the only reason he asks that is because he personally disapproves of women singing about sex – not simply because he wants them to think about the implications of singing about sex for who they want to be as an artist (which by the way, Emily made it patently obvious from her response was not a part of her thought process at all).
          -
          It’s Harry’s job to do exactly what he did. And if either my son or daughter wanted to pursue a music career, and they were asked this very question by someone whose job it was to make them think about what they are doing, I’d be 100% in support of them doing so. Regardless of whether or not the song is about sex.
          -
          You come from a world view where it appears that you assume that anyone with my viewpoint can only come from an ignorant male perspective, with no real insight. How wrong you are. You simply can’t easily judge where people are coming from when they make certain comments – especially when you don’t know the person at all. You completely missed the mark in judging my perspective. Can you not see how unfair it is to Harry to choose to negatively judge him on the back of a 15 second comment as well?

    • Lauren says:

      ” I have a feeling Kristen is first to go.”

      I hope you are correct. She is such a mediocre bore! Unfortunately either her or Emily is going to pull a Haley Scarnato and go further than they deserve just to fill the “white pop princess” quota for the tour.

  13. Simon says:

    Briana Oakley is the new Jen Hirsh. It just goes to show that no matter how much of a front-runner you are during Hollywood Week, people have short attention spans. One okay-ish performance toward the beginning of the show, and it all goes out the window.

  14. Laura says:

    Michael, I miss the clips!! Please start including them again!

  15. Timmah says:

    I was initially not against the idea of the top 20 because I thought they were going to bring all the contestants out and explain why they were cut or why they were put through, similar to the Green Mile. To cut them without any singing *or* explanation was just maddening.

  16. Grandma Jane says:

    MK and Majesty Rose are my favorite girls. I like Caleb and Ben and of course Sam. I have a feeling Sam is in it ’til the end. But I have to say Malaya is delightful. I look forward to her. Have you ever seen anyone that was as comfortable in their own skin as that kid? She is like sunshine to me!

  17. 1D Fan says:

    Where is the white country singer in your top 5? You think conservative America is going to leave him out? What show has Michael been watching…

  18. SoozinCA says:

    I like the “M” trio of Majesty, MK and Malaya. Beyond that nobody else in the Top 13 has captured my interest yet. Time will tell if that changes, future performances could reveal something I’ve not seen or heard from them before.

  19. waid says:

    Totally agree with Michael and Melinda about the Emily and her song choice issue. She missed the point of Adam’s mentoring and then too many people missed the point of Harry’s question. And all we got was fringe :)

  20. Country J. says:

    The band arrangement and back-ups were done just right for Sam Woolf’s performance. The song choice, Babylon by David Grey, was something he has done in other previous live performances (before Idol) you can see on YouTube. –It was a great song choice, which the 30-something voters can relate to, as well as cool lyrics new to the ears of teen voters – and still smooth enough and on-pitch; so easy-listening preference type of voters are not offended by screaming high notes that scare the family pets. Sam was recently accepted into the Berkely School of Music, which is not easy to be accepted into. . Song choices and proper band support can help or hurt a lot, for any contestant.

  21. Tusk says:

    Welp, enjoy the last “Idol Only” Reality Check, folks, They’ll be shoe horning The Voice in the 10 minutes as well….maybe why they’ve been weening us off Jason’s clips :P

    • deedee says:

      This is very upsetting :( . Bad enough “Idology” had to change to the generic name “Reality Check”, now we have to share precious limited Idol-obsessing minutes with (the insufferable, imo) The Voice? My world is crumbling!

      • LeahKittyS says:

        I’ve never seen an episode of The Voice, and I have no intention to start now. I have all the Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Usher and Shakira I want on my iPod. As popular as it is, as good as they singers may be, it will never be anything more than an American Idol knock-off to me. Forgive me for repeating an overused meme, but the original is the best.

        • deedee says:

          After the chair-turning gimmick segment is done, the show is unwatchable. And the judges’ egos are way more than I can stomach :-/. Sorry, Voice lovers!

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Exactly, deedee. I enjoy the blind auditions but once that’s over they lose me because it’s all about the judges, who are already rich and famous. I love Blake, but that’s about it.

        • Ben says:

          I have watched a handful of voice epsiodes in season 1 – and I’m with you, Leah. Honestly, the show felt like it was more about the judges than the contestants, and it felt gimmicky and designed.
          -
          Idol is the best because it gets it top 13, and then America simply eliminates the one it likes least each week. It feels like an actual talent contest to me, instead of a reality TV construct.

          • Name This Tune says:

            You know, I used to think that but The Voice won me over in Season 5. It’s just more fun. And Shakira is a breath of fresh air compared to XTina. So I will be watching both because one is more entertaining and one thinks it’s the star maker.

    • Name This Tune says:

      I heard a 17 year old on The Voice that makes these kids sound like kindergarten children.
      Even if you don’t like it you’re going have to share some time with that show. And since each show targets different talent (amateur vs professional), there’s room for both. Polished vs raw talent.
      Let’s reconvene at the end of the season and determine which show is the winner.

      • Mary says:

        I like the audition rounds of the voice, but then I stop watching. AI is my top choice because I actually like the concept better. I like giving inexperience singers a chance to succeed at a shot in the music business. I like the raw talent better. The polished singers are enjoyable to watch but I can honestly say I do not follow any of them after the show where as Idol I support my favorites.

        • Name This Tune says:

          And Idol takes itself way too seriously. I was laughing during The Voice because it was fun. I like to be entertained when I watch TV.
          Every thing is so serious on Idol and everyone here is so serious. It would help if people could lighten up.

          • Mary says:

            You are entertained by the judges, I like to be entertained by the contestants. I watch both shows but I like AI better. I will admit after awhile Adam and Blake gets on my nerves but I do enjoy the 1st phase of the Voice.

          • Name This Tune says:

            Mary, please don’t play mind reading games. I was entertained by the judges and the superior quality of the voices I heard sing. We have only had glimpses of talent on Idol.

    • marie says:

      I was about to post exactly the same thing, Tusk. Clever, though; I hadn’t thought of it, but maybe that is why Jason’s clips have been eliminated.
      I realize we can’t be selfish and demand more work from Michael and Melinda – which is of course just what happens when the demands come in for a separate Idol video show or for the 3-part shows of the past – but, still, I won’t enjoy having to sit through commentary on a show I don’t like and don’t watch. Sigh. What can you do.

      • marie says:

        ^^^^^Wow, the board messed up: I posted that under Tusk’s remarks about this being the last “Idol only” reality check.

  22. Luke says:

    Uh oh. Another week without JASON AVERETT! What is happening?

    • Tusk says:

      Next week they gotta squeeze the Voice into these episodes too, so don’t expect much space for it if he does come back :(

      • LeahKittyS says:

        Why do they have to do that? Who cares that much about The Voice that it has to be squished in with our special Idol time? It’s as stupid an idea as the “Rush Week” format (on which I agree with the majority: they need to bury that idea and never dig it up again. Like, ever.)

        • ben says:

          Completely agree. I’m ok with top 20 instead of top 30 though. I felt like cutting out 7 people was much more palatable than cutting out 17, the only people who missed out who I was disappointed about were those who performed below my hopes.

        • Angie_Overrated says:

          {raises hand sheepishly] Personally I like the quality of the vocals much better on The Voice. Last season of Idol had some freakishly good singers, so I was into that. Anyways, There’s room here for both Voice and Idol lovers. We’ll all just learn to get along.

          • Emma says:

            You can sqeeze idol out completely and have it all about the Voice as far as I’m concerned. The Voice is the far superior show, way more entertaining, better set, better coaches, better contestants, better format, better in every way, IMHO.

  23. Tusk says:

    BTW, I wanted to thank the “OG” Halien for putting his money where his mouth is, by generously contributing to Haley’s project, you Rock Michael, thnx :)
    (you rocked before this, but really, that was too cool, thx )

  24. Amber says:

    MK is awful. And Majesty is very annoying, you can tell she thinks she’s all that

  25. Getty says:

    Sorry, Michael and Melinda, but Emily was voted into the Top 10 on the strength of her vocals. The “Harry controversy” probably cost her more votes than it gained for her. Her vocals were rock solid both last Tuesday and on the night she sang “Stars”. She will win you over. If I remember correctly, Mr. Slezak, it took you a while to warm up to Hayley, too.

    • Mary says:

      Yes agree with this 100%. I will say the execution of the song was not great but the vocals were spot on. I usually agree with Melinda but I don’t think she was voted through due to the controversy. I had her in my top five. I actually picked correctly except I had Jena in not Maylaia, whatever her name is. I guess I am in the minority but still don’t care for her. Nice personality but sorry the singer is not there.

  26. r says:

    Bria was great. Sure it was a little shouty but she has pipes

  27. LeahKittyS says:

    You know, all week long I’ve been trying to think of what popular singer Jena’s voice reminds me of. Watching this video, it finally occurred to me: Hayley Williams of Paramore. Does anybody else hear it, or am I nuts?

  28. Kathy V. says:

    I really like Caleb. The boy has pipes, good pitch and he can really deliver a song. I look forward to hearing what he’s going to do with a song when he’s on stage. He’s not full of himself and knows where he fits musically. He’s the one of this top 13 that I’m keeping an eye on.

  29. Barb says:

    The mentoring was super interesting by Adam &Chris! However the fact that these contestant had to sing under stress was a turn off to me and acontradictions! Song choices were not that great and the vocals subpar! It all feels forced and not very authentic other than MK! Harry is the new Simon and of course that could be entertainment at its best! Give it time things will get better! God knows the voices cannot get worse !

  30. No comment on Emmanuel. Lol.

  31. GG says:

    I don’t get all the negative comments about CJ

    I love his soulful and gritty sound…go CJ

    • tealeaves says:

      I really like CJ, too. I think he deserved the wild card just based on the night before. Jena too. I wish they had also given Malcolm a wild card shot, and put him thru if he had another good performances like he had in earlier rounds. But IMO CJ and Jena also deserved their wild card slots.

    • lassirrra says:

      I think some of it was due to expectations. I wan’t a fan of his performances. I fully admit that I’ve loved him before, but his performances felt flat to me to me this week. (Personal vies not an objection opinion.) But I was looking forward to him having a really great performance. I don’t know if he didn’t meet expectations or was just not great. I am ecstatic he make it through on the wild card so that he can make up for less than stellar performances He does have a great sound!en

  32. princey says:

    I dont think we can give that much credit to Jena.

    The purpose of Rush week is to get Top 13 from the 30 contestants they have that last week. The challenge for the contestants that were called out during the Top 20 announcement is that they should be able to perform well in spite of the emotions they have at that particular time. Majesty, MK, Sam and Preston were able to perform well.

    During the Wild Card night, same challenge was faced by the contestants that will be singing for their lives. One of those is Jena. When she was called, she didn’t sing after that. Idol had to take a break to maybe set up the piano for her. That’s what I think is unfair for other wildcard contenders. Jena had the time to relax, shake off emotions and get into the meaning of the song. She had enough amount of time that’s why she was able to nail her performance. That’s why I still think Kendra Chantelle had the best wild card performance on Idol history (just putting it out there).

    For the record, I like Jena

    • ben says:

      I was buying what you were selling….. and then you had to go and bring up Kendra Chantelle.

    • Mary says:

      Everyone complaining about Jena getting a few minutes to shake off emotion is really stretching. You do realize that we were not watching live. It was pretaped in front of a live audience. She might of had some time while the equipment was brought out, but not as long as everyone believes. Jena got into the meaning of the song because she wrote it.

  33. EddieZ says:

    Who decided it was a good idea to bring back the fracking sway-bots??? A bunch of sway-bots that could not find the beat… sheesh

  34. Farris_TN says:

    Everybody needs to be prepared for Ben Briley to make a deep run in the Idol competition. He has the full support of Volnation and every time he wears something UT related the votes will pour in. As a Vol fan, I think Ben has a chance to be a good country singer and I look forward to him growing into a more polished singer.

    Go Vols!

    • MelissaW says:

      Nope, though so much country music idol voting does seem to come down to ‘he’s a fan of the same team as me and looks like he just rolled out of a frat house’. Isn’t UT really just a stadium with some quasi college attached to enable college sports participation lol. #vanderbilt #realuniversitiesarenotorange

  35. Adam Fachry says:

    “Don’t hold yourself like that cause you’ll hurt your knees. Well I kissed your mouth, and back.but that’s all I need.” are pretty much as sexual of lines as “You got me down on the floor. So what’d you bring me down here for?”. Granted the former works in a more subtextual way than the latter, but did Harry ask what the meaning of the song is to Alex? Did he ever ask what the meaning of the song is to any of the male contestants?

    Feel free to view the Emily situation as Harry questioning her ability to be convincing, but the fact that he let the guys completely free of lyrics-meaning questions still doesn’t make him look good.

    • DJ says:

      While I’m not familiar with Alex’s song, Emily’s performance didn’t match the vocal – she sang sex, but didn’t give sex. Harry was simply highlighted the disjointedness (and inauthenticness) of her performance. I’m sure if she were singing about breakups or love, he would have still brought this up if need be.

      • Rebecca Parker says:

        He never commented on the disjointedness. Never did he insinuate that. He asked her to repeat “inappropriate” lyrics and asked her if that was what she wanted to sing about. He never suggested any other problems with it.

    • Renee says:

      @Adam Fachry A world of THIS. People really don’t seem to get basics of critical thinking. Where, where did Harry highlight the disjointedness, inauthenticity of her performance? Did he talk about her voice? Her presentation? Wasn’t for lack of time – he had time to bring up her birthday and make her recite the lyrics. Anyone who can’t see the dbl standard here is trying really hard not to.

  36. joey says:

    Alex should learn his Idol history? Sorry Michael. He’s an artist, and he does what he wants.

  37. rfealitychick says:

    Melinda and Michael… you both know the ins and outs of this ridiculous show. Can you give me one good reason we were forced to hear Roar and Wrecking ball by the Miley Cyrus wannabe…. over Brandy Neelly’s Beautiful rendition of Up To The Mountain? And does it not make you wonder why Marialle was singled out at the beginning of the season to declare herself the next american Idol– that the hype from day one was her resemblance to Miley Cyrus…. and that her REAL name is Erica Bell but she changed it to Marialle Sellars….. Really— Miley Cyrus, Marialle Sellars…. Miley Cyrus, Marialle Sellars. What a joke. Randy Jackson isn’t the only fraud here, Michael. This entire show is a fake!

  38. GJ Bear says:

    Scary thoughts. I agreed with 100% this week. Can we keep it up? lol

  39. Rebecca Parker says:

    I hate to beat a dead horse, and it’s fine if you disagree, it’s just that I feel your disagreement doesn’t match up with the argument.

    I don’t think Harry asked Emily “Are you sure that’s what you want to sing?” because he thought she wasn’t sexy enough performing it (as your argument claims). He was asking it because he thought it was inappropriate for her (which your argument doesn’t touch). This is why I continue to have a problem with what he said and how he said it.

    • tealeaves says:

      In the auditions someone older sang the song. I think it was the cheerleader. He did not have a problem with her singing it. I feel he has been consistent that he thinks singers should pay attention to the words they are singing, and convey the emotion of the song.

  40. RealityCheck says:

    I enjoyed seeing Adam & Chris as mentors. I think AI should bring back two or three former contestants as mentors each week and let them perform on the results show as well. Melinda are you free next week? :)

    I also long for the top 24 format where viewers vote and 2 are eliminated each week. The ones that stay generally get better each week. Well some of them anyway!

  41. Jason says:

    I would love to see a Caleb- Jessica finale!1 Those are my favorites. i am very happy with Americas’s choices and the Judges wildcards. I think eveeryone who deserved to be in is in from the top 20! The seven left out deserved to be left out!!

  42. Paris says:

    75%of this comments section is an indictment of the American educational system. Yikes!

  43. Lauren says:

    Good episode but it would have been nice if you’d set aside a second to at least acknowledge the country singers in the competition (Ben, Jessica, Dexter), all of whom had decent performances in the first round. Caleb is also very good and was not even mentioned. While you may be ruling these people out, I think any of the four could do very well on this show, especially Caleb and Jessica. I also don’t really get the love for Jena. She can’t sit behind a piano the whole competition and based on what we’ve seen thus far her only halfway decent performance has been her original song, which she has repeated twice and can’t do anymore. The rest was not good.

  44. darcy's evil twin says:

    I don’t have much to add here – finally got around to watching “Reality Check”. As usual I enjoyed Mr. Slezak and Melinda. I also agree with everyone that posted the contestants did NOT listen to Chris and Adam. I think Sam, Alex, Jeeeena, and Majesty are in it for the long haul. for the life of me I don’t get the appeal of Malaya but maybe she’ll grow on me. All of the girls that were sent home are better than she is and are certainly better than Kristen.

  45. Emma says:

    So glad The Voice is back on, I don’t give a rip about Idol, so looking forward to next week’s Reality Check when it will include a show I actually watch.

  46. ArielMusic says:

    LOVE the Voice and Michael, you were spot on with your reviews. I laughed more and enjoyed this show more than the comedies. GREAT!!! As of today I’m officially not watching Idol. Worst EVER!!!!! In all the years of watching. So sad that judges made wrong choices.

  47. BudsUncle says:

    MK sings flat consistently, yet gets a hall pass from the judges every week. What’s up with that? Meanwhile, other singers who sing in tune are castigated for being sharp, predictable, etc. It’s so obvious to my ear that I can’t help but wonder if being the only out lesbian from a broken, same-sex family now trumps the ability to sing in tune. And this from an out gay guy. And please get rid of the f@&$ing baseball cap. If you’re going to let them put lipstick and makeup on you, get rid of the cap. Christ.

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