American Idol Recap: Solo and Behold

We may have gotten past the side-eye-inducing drama of American Idol‘s Group Rounds, but rest assured, executive producer Trish Kinane and her mischievous band of editors aren’t going to let this Farewell Season run on the fuel of vocal performances alone.

Preposterous teenage “love stories,” tales of next-level bronchitis (#AintNobodyGotTimeForThat) and the weeping of the lambs all came into play during Wednesday’s final solos (aka The Holding Rooms of the Damned). Show of hands: Did you cringe after Sara Sturm said Lee Jean was like a little brother to her, but Ryan’s voiceover kept pushing them as future lovers anyhow? Oh, and Tristan McIntosh… if you’re in meltdown mode over a stolen song choice and we’re not even in the live rounds, then you are most definitely not ready for the horrors ahead!

Not everyone who survived the culling — 75 contestants down to 50 or so — necessarily looked like a potential bookend to Kelly Clarkson. Still, at least half a dozen performances underscored the idea that the next eight weeks — don’t forget, the Season 15 finale airs April 7 — may not be a coronation march ending in a confetti shower for La’Porsha Renae (not that there’d be anything wrong with that).

With that in mind, allow me to separate the folks lucky enough to score camera time into one of four groups: Potential Winners; Potential Favorites of Producers/Scott Borchetta; Absolute Cannon Fodder; Could Be Any of the Above/More Information Needed. (Bear in mind I’ll be back in a half hour or so to update this post with the reasons behind such harsh labels of judgment.)

Potential Winners/Top 10-ers
Jenn Blosil — Seemed disappointed in her cover of “True Colors,” but I heard genuine emotion and an easily identifiable tone.

Jessica Cabral — One of three vocalists who got an “under-the-weather” edit, and yet her “Up to the Mountain” was one of the best of the night.

Olivia Rox — Chicks who write their own tunes (Crystal Bowersox, Jena Irene, Jessica Meuse) do well on Idol — and Olivia’s “Crazy Love” wasn’t half bad.

Mackenzie Bourg — I’m still not certain his voice is strong enough to take him deep into the competition, but his charismatic, deeply felt rendition of the original track “Roses” made me see him in a new (and more potentially winning) light.

Malie Delgado — Only her final note on “Stitches” sounded rough — a minor miracle for a scrappy vocalist fighting laryngitis.

Potential Favorites of Producers/Scott Borchetta (Whether or Not They Deserve It)
Thomas Stringfellow — Scarves and hipster hats (see photo) may drive the 12-24 demo, but his vocal on “A Thousand Years” still sounded slight and a little too hiccup-y.

Tristan McIntosh — She’s gotten a ton of screentime — and her audition was pinned for weeks on the Idol Twitter page — but her meltdown over not getting “What Hurts the Most” and her spotty breath support made me wonder if Tristan should’ve waited five years and auditioned for The Voice.

Lee Jean — Producers barely let us hear three notes in succession of his “Stitches” cover, but were sure to highlight the judges’ comments about his cuteness. Blerg.

Dalton Rapattoni — Has “Hopelessly Devoted to You” ever sounded so strained and histrionic? And yet this was the pimp-slot closing number. Uff da!

Absolute Cannon Fodder
Stephany Negrete — No girl, don’t sing “Set Fire to the Rain” when you’re as combustible as a wet log in a deserted camping ground.

James VIII — So many vocal affectations in such a brief amount of time!

Mionne Destiny — I dug the extra swagger she brought to “Chains,” but seeing how this was her first second of screentime — and the judges discussed her struggle with sickness – I am trying not to get too attached.

Could Be Any of the Above/More Information Needed
Avalon Young — I’ve loved her all season, but that last run on “One Last Time” was questionable at best.

Shelbie Z — Not so sure about her choice of Daisy Dukes — or whether she brought anything new to “Alone” — but she’s got as much vocal horsepower as anybody in Season 15.

Kory Wheeler — We simply didn’t hear enough of his cover of “Fix You” — although he seemed a teensy bit behind the beat.

Sonika Vaid — I loved her lush but restrained tone on her umpteenth Ariana Grande cover, but the judges’ feedback was less than enthusiastic.

Sara Sturm — Her “Somewhere Only We Know” betrayed a limited range, but her raspy tone is really lovely.

Emily Brooke — For a contestant who was getting a Chosen One edit, there were an awful lot of iffy notes — and a wispy upper register — on her “What Hurts the Most.” Plus, her shoulder-shrug ending was just bizarre for a Hollywood Week vet.

CJ Johnson _ His Fleetwood Mac cover was energetic and passionate, but we didn’t hear enough of it to make a real determination about the quality of his vocal.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell — I didn’t disagree with J.Lo’s aghast response about Jeneve not proving she could really hold a note on “Danny’s Song,” but Keith and Harry’s opposite opinion contributed to Jeneve’s overall positive edit this season.

Already Eliminated
John Wayne Schulz — But he looked soooo cute without his cowboy hat!

Joshua Wicker — Ay yai yi — don’t let tears waterlog your vocals, dude!

Inexplicably Not Shown Singing
La’Porsha Renae
Trent Harmon

While I update this post, it’s your turn. Who did you dig from the Hollywood Solo Round? Make yourself heard in the comments!

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

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  1. Omarr says:

    Seeing a LARGE majority of my favorites go through tonight made me SO happy! Nevertheless, from this point on the remaining 51 are really gonna have to bring it if they want to make it to lives!

  2. mamamitzvah says:

    Amazingly well stated, Michael.

  3. Ted says:

    Jessica Cabral! Enough said….would be the perfect bookend to the Kelly Clarkson beginning.

  4. Tina says:

    Several of my favorites went through and a few that I don’t particularly like, but overall tonight went pretty well.

  5. wynalazca says:

    Slezak, you’re wrong about Sonika. Listen to Melinda. Seriously.

    I only heard about 2 people tonight that I think could win: Sonika Vaid and Jessica Cabral. Malie is in a close third but those two definitely stand above the others that were shown.

    A few of the others are great but have no chance at winning the show. I love Olivia Rox, but I just don’t think she has the gusto to win. Can’t wait to see her make it to the top 6ish (4th?) I also can see Jenn Blosil making it pretty far.

    La’Porsha is overrated. She’s good but you and Melinda are way overhyping her swagger for actual relevance in the current music industry.

    Shelby Z is the same, but props for that song choice. Can’t go wrong with Heart.

    Where are the guys at this season?

    • Larc says:

      I agree about La’Porsha. She’s a good singer, but I’ve heard it all before. She brings nothing new and original to the table.

      • Lyn says:

        She’s a good [not great] singer, but she looks ridiculous. Simon would have been merciless about that hair and wearing spandex when you’re a size 22.

        • Timmah says:

          I miss Simon. He knew what was important for success beyond the show and was willing to vocalize it, unlike the current worthless panel.

    • Mary says:

      Sonika has a beautiful voice and tone to it, however; I am getting a Pia vibe to her. I have to see her perform without just standing there behind a mic. My top one is Jessica Cabral. I am on the fence about Jenn, LaPorsha and Shelby Z have the chops but not into their style of music. Neither one fit pop star.

      • Pam Levy says:

        I agree, Jessica Cabral was the top singer. If I was listening on the radio, I could pick her out immediately, what a voice. The other good voices were so similar to many singers and not special.

  6. Sue says:

    Day 3 of Hollywood week is over and still no Colette Lush. She has made it to the top 50. Will we get to hear her sing, ever? Probably not, sigh.

  7. del says:

    Did I miss Adam Lasher getting cut earlier or going through? I’ve lost him in the crowds.

  8. pdamico says:

    Jessica. Cabral. That is all.

    No one else even comes close. Nope. Sorry, Michael and Melinda (otherwise known as The La’Porsha Fan Club), not even Miss Renae. Jessica is absolutely riveting (wth is she doing on this show???). Everyone else sounds like pretenders next to her.

    I haven’t been this impressed by an A.I. contestant in years.

    Clearly, everyone received The Memo that a male threat must not be allowed to go through to Lives this year, or John Wayne would/should not be going home. That man would slay it with the Country votes. Not my thing, but he’s the total package of what’s hot in Country now. If I was a manager, I’d sign him so fast,his head would spin.

    • das.bananas says:

      Yeah, producers definitely want a girl to win this season. Most of the best guys will get cut before the live program.

      • Timmah says:

        Let’s just hope they don’t cut the best girls as well. I don’t trust this lot to make good decisions.

      • Dale Frame says:

        I agree that it is apparent they want a girl to win. That can be the only explanation for cutting John Wayne Schulz.

        • das.bananas says:

          Right? Great person, great musician. His butt alone could have won the competition.

          • Patrick says:

            Idol may have lost a lot of viewers now for not putting the only truly talented male country singer through. I wonder if the judges got bad advice from the producers! We have not heard the last of the tremendous John Wayne Schulz though. He already has “The Dance” on iTunes and is in the studios recording more music to be placed on iTunes in the future.

      • Mike says:

        Then why was Jessica eliminated at top24?

    • Wanted Jessica says:

      Michael and Melinda know Jessica Cabral doesn’t make Top 24, so why should they get excited about her? We’ve known this for weeks so everytime I hear Jessica sing, I wonder why she’ll get tossed. And no, I’m not her mother. : ) I do get to hear her sing one more time in the showcase. Maybe her performance will explain what the heck happened. Sigh.

      • ColetteLush#1 says:

        Have a strong notion the spoilers have been updated since they were posted so early.. There’s just no way a couple listed didn’t make it.. No way.. Jessica is awesome, and even more so Colette…

      • Pam Levy says:

        Hopefully they will explain what happen and why she didn’t make it No one said anything except she didn’t make it. It was really strange!!!!

    • Pam Levy says:

      You said it all, no one comes close

  9. Izzy says:

    So glad Dalton made it through tonight. Love his young energetic personality and his song choice tonight was great. Will be keeping a good 👁 on him. Wow how do you weed out the girls so many with impressive voices. I really didn’t need that girl whinning about a song choice either.

  10. DarkDefender says:

    What is Pharell’s Appalachian love child’s name? She has great natural emoting, but someone needs to steer her towards “What not to wear” already. Get that girl a make-over STAT.
    Methinks La.Freaking.Porsha either was mediocre or killed it. Either way they are hiding her til the live shows.
    Jenn “I love the Devil’s lettuce” was amazing.. But ultimately I think she will crack. Which is a shame. Because she really is good.

  11. Summer says:

    How did Thomas Stringfellow make it through, but not John Wayne Schulz? Any insight? I’m genuinely puzzled!

    • Kayk says:

      Biggest disappointment of the night for me was seeing our hatless cowboy John Wayne get cut. He was a top contender for me. Talented, handsome, beefy, nice guy… And who swiped his lucky hat? Boo.

      • Bryan says:

        I know. I thought JWS was a shoo in for the Top 24. Cant they bring him back (ala Jermaine Jones minus the arrest warrants) at least let him sing in the Showcase?

        • Owen says:

          He was a shoe-in.That’s the problem. There is a “we need a girl to win the final show to bookend Kelly’s win” mentality and any man who may get in the way (they don’t have to care about ratings anymore) is out of there.

    • Dale Frame says:

      I am puzzled too! I am not even a country music fan but could see and hear just how tremendously talented John Wayne Schulz is! They want a girl to win this year to bookend Kelly Clarkson but John Wayne Schulz could have won this year so they probably felt like they have to eliminate him for that reason. I never wanted to believe Idol was rigged, but maybe it is.

    • g2-2a28070df14d0ab123e53c419a9e3487 says:

      I was really surprised JWS was cut. I pegged him for top 24. I guess in hind sight, we are supposed to blame it on his missing hat? Sigh.

  12. E Rodgers says:

    I mostly agree with Michael.
    STEPHANY NEGRETE – I think she did well despite the song choice (which is overdone). Her voice is strong.
    TRISTAN McINTOSH – Is she going to cry on EVERY episode? Geez. Idol is overplaying the mom-in-the-military card.
    MACKENZIE BOURG – Charming and talented.
    OLIVIA ROX – Is turning out to be more seasoned than I expected for a 16-year-old. Having cool, supportive parents in the business is going to be a huge plus for her.

  13. pdamico says:

    Yep. Here’s the next Kelly:

  14. John says:

    Lee Jean channeling Daniel Seavey…not again! Jessica is the one to beat based on tonight, but we also have at least three contenders who weren’t shown. Tomorrow should be interesting.

  15. Lking says:

    I really want to see Dalton R in the live shows because I think he will bring flash and glamor not to mention drama and will be a dull show without him. Can’t think of one other contestant that does all that. He says star to me and I haven’t thought that in years on Idil.

  16. Tahoe Mike says:

    Has anyone seen or heard a word of Adam Lasher since Hollywood started? I have a friend who keeps asking, and he seems to have just gone M.I.A.

  17. matthew zazaian says:

    I’ve never really been attracted to Indian girls, but I think Sonika is soooo pretty! Who agrees?

  18. CK says:

    The editors got to me. Seeing Sara look around worryingly for Lee Jean and then her joy after finding him warmed my cold heart.
    I still don’t get Jeneve. I’m never going to get Jeneve. I’m also worried that Tristan isn’t going to fair well in the live rounds (you know she’s going). That was a little too emotional to get over a song choice.
    I’m not the biggest Dalton fan, but out of the young contestants, he does seem to have an idea of who he wants to be so I doubt he will fall flat with song choice.
    I think Emily may be the second coming of Maddie Walker and that kind of worries me a bit. I wish she would sing a song that isn’t in her country wheelhouse so we can see how she makes it her own. I do not want a repeat of “Let’s hear it for the boy.”

    • CK says:

      Jessica Cabral was my favorite of the night and I’m starting to worry that she’s not getting more screen time or the appropriate edit so folks can start rallying behind her. She’s in my book, the best singer there.

    • Susan Curry says:

      I don’t get Jeneve either. Her singing does not move me and she looks like a caricature of herself.

  19. chadcronin says:

    They made a mistake letting John Wayne Schulz go. I wanted him to make the live shows. That was the only person I felt really sad about.

    • S. says:

      He’s AGT material. I just don’t see him as anything other than someone who, if they let him through to the point of voting, would get farther than he should as a WGWG (I’m not opposed to them, I just think he’s too generic and straight out of central casting for the physical and vocal type rather than an artist). He’d probably get support from the type of person who enjoys him on the show but then doesn’t go on to buy the Idol albums, and it would knock out other people that have more of a commercial shot. He’s got the look and voice that I have to think would’ve taken off in Nashville if he was gonna so there’s a reason he’s not made it.

      • Dale Frame says:

        I totally disagree. He is the only singer that has stood out to me and the only one I cared to see make it to the live shows. I have watched every season of Idol but am so ticked at the judges that I do not care about the final season now. I am one of the many who supports my favorites while they are on Idol AND also buys the CDs when they are released. I have not seen one girl this season that is special. John Wayne Schulz was special! The judges blew it!

    • Dale Frame says:

      I agree! He is the only one I cared about! The judges made a huge mistake!

  20. Puchinsmom says:

    To be fair to Tristan, being sleep deprived and overstressed sometimes makes people overreact. And she’s young. But her mother being overseas has been milked for all it’s worth. So enough already. (I don’t even think it was combat, even). That was nice of Malie to switch though.
    Shelbie Z looked positively obscene in that outfit. It distracted me from her singing.
    And did y’all notice that Justin Bieber kid went through? John Wayne would’ve been a better choice, but then again we didn’t even see the kid sing. Too short of an episode.
    And I actually liked Stephany Negrete tonight. And I haven’t been a fan previously.

    • S. says:

      You don’t have to be in a combat zone to be in danger over there, that’s a misleading thing to use, and it’s a lot for a young girl’s mom to be gone overseas, esp. when she’s been supportive of her singing for years as Melinda’s attested to and which is why Tristan’s there in the first place. Tristan said something on Twitter about a rehearsal at 3:30am, call time of 5:15am w/no sleep for 48 hrs straight so I don’t blame a 15yo girl for being punchy and crying. I’m sure there are technical rules for underage performers but Idol can’t stop them (and probably doesn’t try too hard to stop them) from staying up and working on stuff.

  21. Why can’t I find.#trentharmon solo

  22. MrBig89 says:

    UMMMM….Where the F**k was La’Porsha’s performance????

  23. It isn’t even about who I like… it’s about the fact that it seems rushed. I get that they needed to get rid of dragging everything out, but, I feel like I can’t get a handle on things. Plus, the Top 24 spoilers have been floating around for a while now…. it’s all about how these “leftovers” preform for America. Too bad they don’t let you know about the Voice rejects. They have to know.

  24. Kate says:

    Mackenzies Song was so Damien Rice….I loved it :P….

  25. cristy says:

    I still wish they would drop the entire 12 girls 12 guys thing, so many more talented girls this year.

  26. gale1001 says:

    One of my AI pet peeves = using one’s guitar as a prop. Guilty, Dalton! ugh…

    • Janice says:

      He mentioned after his performance that the guitar wasn’t working properly (don’t know what the problem was exactly), so that’s why he stooped playing it.

  27. marie says:

    I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see La’Porsha and Trent perform in the showcase tonight. I get the feeling the producers were saving them for tonight’s less-rushed (I hope!), 2-hour show.
    Last night’s show was insanely rushed. I felt like I didn’t hear more than 5 notes from anyone.

  28. Ashley Miller says:

    I can’t believe John Wayne Schultz got cut already. I expected him to at least make it to the top 24 this time.

  29. Cat says:

    I think you are missing it on Tristan and she maybe just getting weepy edits – girl can sing in tune – and plays a little guitar – she’s not my favorite by far but my favorite never wins – and Tristan could win this whole thing

  30. Denise Soule says:

    Could not take my eyes off, Dalton Rapattoni….He appears to have the whole package…..He shows artistry and charisma….I see him as the book end to IDOL 2016…

  31. Michael, why the shortened season?

  32. Kathy V. says:

    I’m worried that AI already has the narrative they want to show for this season and it may not include our favorites. They’ve force fed us 15 year olds for one thing. Remember the season they decided there would be a country winner (see Scotty McCreary) and they did everything to slant the season that way? Or the season they wanted a female winner? I think Jessica Cabral is the best singer I’ve heard this season but what if, like John Wayne, they eliminate her from the narrative? I will seriously be very sad and it will take away all the enjoyment and anticipation for the season for me.

  33. Vicki Hahn says:

    Rooting for Jessica Cabral. She is an authentic performer with a powerful voice.

  34. Pam Levy says:

    Love to listen to Jessica Cabral. American Idol never showed her farewell performance. She was a strong, beautiful, clear, easy to listen to voice. She was so good she didn’t need to dress stupidly like some who went through. She was an American Idol. Something just seemed very
    wrong with her elimination. Hope someone picks her up and she makes it big, producers must have influenced that decision.

  35. lilli2070 says:

    Mackenzie and La ‘Porsha are my favorites. Dalton is sometimes good depending on song, and as much as I agree her technique needs work, Tristan hits some gorgeous notes. I really liked the girl who sang “Somewhere only…” But alas she’s gone!

  36. Ben says:

    Boy, this is a spoiler free board, why did you do that.

  37. Mary says:

    Do you have no respect for others? I am sure you are not new to this site and they have asked repeatedly not to spoil it for others.

  38. Mary says:

    I take your remark to be a spoiler and that she didn’t make it. Thanks for nothing – I for one do not like spoilers. I wish people would have respect for those who don’t like to know the outcome.

  39. Blondage says:

    Sassyl, knock it off with the spoilers please.

  40. ColetteLush#1 says:

    Spoilers are not accurate this year anyway.. At least I’m fairly sure, so you might be worrying for nothing… So excited for Colette’s performance tonight.. She has not been getting the exposure (yet I hope) on AI.. Her vocals and personality are nothing short of spectacular.. Can not even believe how excited and obsessed I am with her talent!