American Idol Semifinals (Week 2) Recap: What Are They Listening To?

One of the great mysteries of American Idol‘s farewell season is its failure to snag Red Bull as a sponsor for its semifinal rounds.

There’s been a “blinked? you missed it!” Usain Bolt-ish pacing to these telecasts, in which a dozen performances and 36 individual critiques — plus some pithy “meet the contestants!” packages — get crammed into approximately 42 minutes of airtime.

In other words, if you need more than, say, 20 seconds to process your feelings about a particular song choice or vocal, you’ll get left behind like Randy Jackson at a meeting of The National Association for the Advancement of Vocabulary. (Oh, c’mon, jokes about the Dawg’s reign as the barnacle on the side of the U.S.S. Idol never really go out of style!)

What struck me as peculiar about Week 2 of the Season 15 semifinals, though, was the way the judges latched on to the old “song choice! song choice! song choice!” criticism — but for all the wrong reasons.

Anyone who knows their Idol history is aware that oftentimes, obscure ditties (“Mad World,” “Falling Slowly,” “Stuff Like That There,” “Blue-Eyed Lie”) create the greatest magic. But J.Lo, Keith and Harry tonight balked at the lack of sing-along hits this week, while giving a free pass to C.J. Johnson’s boneheaded choice of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” — one of those done-to-death-on-Idol anthems that desperately needs to relinquish its jersey to the rafters and settle into a nice retirement community in Boca Raton.

Before I invoke memories of “Against All Odds” (aka “That Whose Title Shall Not Be Spoken”), let’s get to my letter grades for the second dozen semifinal performances of Season 15:

Shelbie Z, Gretchen Wilson’s “Work Hard, Play Harder” — Grade: B | You could ding Shelbie for predictably choosing an uptempo, southern-gal, good-time anthem — to date, she has yet to show much in the way of nuance or vulnerability — but unlike a lot of her competitors, she scores points for rock-solid pitch and a real comfort level on stage. If that’s not enough to advance to the Top 14, then I’m pretty sure her fate was sealed before she ever took the stage.

Manny Torres, Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” — Grade: B- | I liked the way Manny moved and grooved through his Coldplay cover, but all that bopping around left him downright gaspy during the final third of his performance. If he manages to advance to the Top 14 — and I don’t think J.Lo’s done ogling him yet, so… — he needs to learn to fully inhabit a song like it was written just for him, and promise never again to dress in a bellboy uniform with the outline of a piece of toast across his chest.

Kory Wheeler, James Bay’s “Let It Go” — Grade: C- | I’ll be honest: I was hoping Kory could overcome his “Have you seen this singer?”/face-on-milk carton edit. But dude kept settling for single axels (vocally speaking) when the song called for triples, and his “Yeah, I like that!” shout-out on the first verse was cheesier than a fondue-pot of cheddar.

Amelia Eisenhauer, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” — Grade: B- | Amelia’s shift from a slow and haunting intro into the original version’s uptempo styling was deeply jarring, and led to a few moments where she came thisclose to losing control of the song. But there were some lovely moments mixed in with the missteps, and her bracing tone is among the season’s most recognizable. After Jeneve’s advance last week, though, will the judges make room for two long-haired teens who play string instruments?

Jenn Blosil, “Sorry” (Justin Bieber song) — Grade: D+ | I’ve loved Jenn’s Bjorkian quirk all season, but her rendition of “Sorry” was as out of tune as a garage-sale guitar that’s spent the last couple decades in a cold, damp basement. Much like last week’s collapsing front-runner Emily Brooke, I’m not sure there’s anything Jenn can do during Thursday’s duet round to salvage her Season 15 fortunes.

CJ Johnson, Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” — Grade: C+ | As mentioned above, CJ’s song choice activated my eye-roll of ennui, but when dude gestured for the Sway-Bots to get swayin’, it was like the affable rocker was openly embracing signaling he’d have been more comfortable in, say, Season 3 than Season 15. That’s a shame – dude’s muscular voice could’ve stood out on some blues or genuine hard rock — but when he wobbled at the top of his register, I think his Idol dreams came crashing down from the shelf.

Lee Jean, Ed Sheeran’s “Runaway” — Grade: C | I’ll admit: I’m probably definitely still holding a grudge over Lee’s “audience shushing incident” from his Dolby Theater showcase. But Lee’s lackadaisical delivery and reliance on iffy falsetto here didn’t do anything to win me over. The judges seemed hellbent on making excuses for the forgettable performance – J.Lo and Keith blamed song choice, Harry encouraged Lee to practice singing and playing guitar simultaneously (!) — and that’s got me worried he’s primed to be this year’s Daniel Seavy.

Trent Harmon, Chris Stapleton’s “What Are You Listening To?” — Grade: A- | Trent needs to be super careful about runaway vibrato on his big, emotional notes — less will definitely feel like more as the season progresses — but there were hints of Bob Dylan and old-school soul in his country cover, and he brought to the song a genuine heartache and emotional connectedness that was absent from most of the night’s covers.

Tristan McIntosh, Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” — Grade: C+ | Uff da. The girl whose heartstring-tugging backstory audition was pinned atop Idol‘s Twitter and Facebook feeds for what felt like a month just hasn’t seemed to find her stride since her Hollywood Week Group Rounds meltdown. “Good Girl” was yet another miscalculation by a 15-year-old who may be under the misguided impression that her vocal tone is more mature and her vocal range more expansive than they actually are. Worse than the sharp notes at the top of Tristan’s range, though, was a slightly robotic presentation that would’ve looked more at home on the Miss Teen USA Pageant (if Miss Teen USA had a talent section). Tristan may yet win a reality singing competition, but her best hope is probably The Voice or America’s Got Talent four or five years from now.

Adam Lasher, Sam Sparro’s “Black and Gold” — Grade: B- | Harry had a point that this returning Season 14 hopeful never really seemed in control of his song’s driving tempo, and I think Adam may have sensed it too, given the shoulder-shruggy gesture and look of abject disappointment on which he ended his performance. That said, dude has a nifty, raggedy rock tone that stands out in this youth-centric season — even if the judges’ feedback was a pretty clear indicator we won’t be hearing any more of it after tomorrow night.

Dalton Rapattoni, Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” — Grade: B | I haven’t been a fan of Dalton’s this season, but I have to give him credit for taking a big swing with a slowed-down, super-emo arrangement of an ’80s pop-rock anthem — and for managing to be mostly in tune throughout. Still, there was something utterly groan-inducing about the long pause before that final “in the midnight hour… she cried… more.” Way to take the pumped-up nastiness of the lyric and deflate it like a tire that’s been punctured by a mascara brush!

Olivia Rox, Demi Lovato’s “Confident” — Grade: C+ | I was all set to love Olivia’s “Confident” when she started out on a stool, jamming out on her acoustic guitar and showing off her lilting upper register. But when she stood up and dove into Demi’s original uptempo arrangement, the whole performance collapsed like a half-baked soufflé tossed into a Polar Vortex. Olivia’s clenched enunciation and struggle to stay on pitch during the biggest, belty-est parts of the song set my teeth on edge, and left me scratching my head when Keith gave her a Standing O. I realize this puts me in the minority — and I say this as an Olivia fan — but even at my most generous, I can’t fathom giving this more than a B-.

Your turn. Who were your favorites from the Season 15 Semifinals — Week 2? Whose fate makes you most anxious? (NO SPOILERS, PLEASE!) Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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

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  1. Oh Jenn, how you crushed me so tonight. Hopefully she can pull it together for her duet.

    Baffled by the low grade for Olivia. The notes at the top were a bit iffy, but her and Trent were the only two I really enjoyed

    • S. says:

      Yeah Olivia was obviously the best tonight if you ignore the weird smiley situation she had going on during most of the song. That’s just immaturity. Vocally she’s one of the best. It’s such a curious tone coming from a younger singer. C+ though? Bizarre. Tristan’s song choice was frustrating but no way was it a trainwreck. She’s busy trying to be a country artist when she’d be better off listening to it and singing something else. Just because you like a song doesn’t mean you gotta sing it. Good luck convincing Idol contestants of that.

      • Angela says:

        Just because you like a song doesn’t mean you gotta sing it.
        Ergh, yes, this. I’ve felt a lot of contestants over the years could’ve used that advice. There’s lots of songs I love and will happily belt out in the car or whatever, but if I were competing on a show like this, I would be focusing on finding songs that actually fit my vocal range and which I could properly sing, songs that fit the sort of genre or style of music I would want to be known for and perform.

        • dolbethejudge says:

          I agree. There are millions of songs out there, maybe billions, so for us to never hear some of them, or just barely recognize them, when we have never heard some of these contestants sing a full performance is absurd. Dalton, Olivia and Trent were best. So many underwhelming performances tonight. Gets me worried for this season.

          • Rough night says:

            Dalton and Tristan were the only ones I enjoyed . I found myself fast -forwarding through most of the rest because I just didn’t like them. At all!

          • Lyn says:

            @Rough night: Same here. The show left me with the feeling a star is not born.

        • Smokey says:

          This is so true – and has taken-down many a talent show contestant because they “just loved” some song — that they should have left alone and did another song with good matches for their voice and range without going blustery, shrill.or mumbling the low’s……and is Harry losing his hearing??? was every song out of pitch or is it Harry’s over-analyzing every note?

        • Larry Davis says:

          No, ONLY do songs you like, and NEVER songs you hate, and yes, only songs that both fit your voice and are NOT too predictable or played out that everyone knows, for risk of boredom. My biggest problem with last night was JLo’s comment on song choice. Why always pick songs everybody (or just JLo) knows?? That would make the show boring and predictable and each contestant reduced to mere karaoke because they wouldn’t be able to match the originals or hit versions (Idol judges always complained about that). PLUS, unfamiliar (to the masses as I KNEW each one of those songs!!) show their taste and originality in approach, which is important, considering they don’t allow their own originals to be performed at this stage…unfortunate because ONLY their own songwriting would showcase their styles better than covers do. When I go see a new artist or band I’m curious about from reading or hearing about in the media and buzz that is not big yet, or discover by accident because they are the opening act (I love that)…I prefer to be surprised & excited with my sense of discovery & I prefer intimate crowds more than packed clubs and arenas for the intimacy and rawness of their newness…I judge their music and style based on their songwriting which is fresh…NOT what covers they do!!! Although a cool cover of an obscure or forgotten song is a nice bonus, even one you wouldn’t expect because the artist/band’s style doesn’t fit on paper but slays in execution.

          I have no clue who they will pick, and the spoilers are all mixed…what’s the point of them??
          1- Shelbie Z…enjoyed and dug how she picked Gretchen Wilson…I say she stays but she may not make it.
          2- Manny…just an OK version of that Coldplay song, but he had fun. Like Jenna last week, who was just as fun but disconnected and had little substance, I say he goes.
          3- Kory…doing James Bay, nice choice and he sounded pleasant & was clearly talented on the keys. the overall impression was kinda forgettable, unlike Clark last season…gone I say.
          4- Amelia…like Jeneve, a quirky unique redhead gal who they can jam together…I thought she was great and spunky and the judges loved her, calling her special. I’d keep her.
          5- Jenn…also quirky and nice behind the keys and she connects…she’s staying.
          6- CJ…why Harry said he was outta tune??? What the…?? He was in tune the whole frikking song!! Yes the song is typical and played out, but he did it like it was the first time you heard it, and his rocking energy is infectious. Despite not playing guitar when he should everytime, he’s staying or not, a maybe.
          7- Lee Jean…charming kid, and the best thing about his performance was his sense of groove and rhythm, more than the song itself…he’s staying I say.
          8- Trent…something about this hat-wearing-mono guy was his unique soaring voice, good taste, and the emotion he leaves on the stage. Like Colton Dixon?? Better NOT be, CD was too religious & emo. Trent is not going anywhere yet.
          9- Tristan…cute and you want to root for her, but defies the whole “package” thing. Good voice, but I hope she doesn’t keep doing Carrie U songs…”Good Girl” I was able to let slide because it was more Shania Twain powerpop with the handclaps. I hope she becomes more original though, yet she’s staying.
          10- Adam…had no problem with his performance at all, and I dug his instrumental ability & collecting hobby. Why they rammed into him I had no idea, it was uncalled for. Not the best of the night, with that Sam Sparro song, but is was far from suckitude…I’d keep him around, but the judges may not agree.
          11- Dalton…guy was great, he could be this season’s Adam Lambert..but his punkiness could be seen as a threat…the judges loved him though, and he will be around to the finale, without a doubt. He’s the Colton Dixon without the religion.
          12- Olivia…talk about a 1-2 punch at the end. Yes she sounded like Demi doing a Demi song, but it was fun and fine and she does have a Kelly type of voice…meets Ann Wilson, which makes her fairly unique. NOT…GOING…ANYWHERE…

          My picks…
          STAYING: Dalton, Olivia, Lee Jean, Trent, Amelia, Tristan, Jenn
          GONE: Adam, Shelbie, Kory, Manny, CJ

      • TK says:

        The song’s about being confident so I don’t think the smile was out of place. I do realize she smiles a lot though.

    • daynamonet says:

      I agree with your Olivia comment. She was definitely top 2. Don’t know what slezak is drinking, maybe something other than his normal sauv blanc

    • The Beach says:

      I remember everyone last week posting about how much better the second group was going to be. I was also looking forward to tonight’s group but all in all I think there were more strong performances last week…shocker!

  2. Kim Moores says:

    I thought Olivia was the only thing worth talking about after tonight..and I love Jenn.
    Dalton is so…why?
    Explain why you people like this discount, bargain sale, clearance rack Colton Dixon.
    I need answers.

    • :( says:

      As JLo said – “because [he’s] cute” and his face is “[squeezable]”

      • Emma says:

        Her reaction to his meh performance was embarrassing.

        • marie says:

          I agree, Emma. No question, he is a pretty boy, BUT she is an adult woman and could definitely have turned down the cougar-ism. Maybe I’m an old prude, but she came off as totally undignified – and silly.

    • Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

      Same Kim, I was a bit baffled on Olivia’s grade. She was at least an A- for me, and that’s just the minimum. Enjoyed her, Jenn, even though it was not her best at all, Trent, Tristan, and Shelbie.

    • Tahoe Mike says:

      Because Dalton doesn’t come off as the kind of pretentious, disingenuous, self absorbed, saccharine, momma’s boy, jeebus freak that I just want to punch in the head that Colton is. Dalton is actually a likable and talented kid, with some originality.

    • Lima bean death metal says:

      Started out liking him, but now he’s almost bugging me in the same way that jax did last season, queen of k-mart grunge. His performances are starting to feel the most performed, forced and edgy. People buy it though, chumps. Harry is inconsistent about who he declares to be ‘theatrical’ in their performances. Trent and Jenn were the most real tonight.

      • Rough night says:

        Jenn was a train wreck!

        • Emma says:

          Made all the worse by the fact that she didn’t even realize she was singing out of tune, smdh.

        • Smokey says:

          The Judges in cooperation with the producers and associated record label folks,- — will put through whoever they want to anyway, no matter how they did. The excuse will be, “well, it wasn’t so great this time, but we’re considering the total volume of your performances over-all”. ……………There will be surveys done on the contestants twitter/facebook/instagram hits, for viewer interest and the “balance” of other interests — in advancing them toward top 10.

      • ugh says:

        PREACH. America, please actually think for yourselves instead of letting the judges decide for you that a singer has ~~artistry~~~~~ or is an ~~edgy special snowflake~~. dalton is mediocre. listen to him sing. be objective. be honest.

    • Mary says:

      I’m with you, I don’t even think he is that cute I guess I’m old. I find it cringe worthy when people cannot sing but because they dance around on stage many find that entertaining.

    • Lizzie says:

      The eyes. He has virtually nothing in common with Colton Dixon. I like the whole School of Rock thing, and he is probably the best stage performer in the bunch because of that experience, he’s more natural. He’s also pretty charming

  3. Jobless says:

    Coming into the season, I was actually sad that Idol was ending. They are doing a great job at making me be grateful about that instead.

  4. :( says:

    The judges overhyped Dalton. He was solid, but not THAT good. The amount & heavyhandedness of the manipulation coming from the judges has become straight up absurd. Expected more out of this bunch but there were a few good performances

    • Timmah says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty clear who the judges are going to put through — the ones they gave tongue baths for mediocre performances. Makes me almost miss Randy, at least he was honest (mostly).

      • Gailer says:

        I miss Randy too, that’s how bad these judges are

      • MC says:

        Randy provided helpful critiques when he was working with his buddy Simon. He quickly became bored after Simon left the show. Randy then started relying on catchphrases and clichés. I agree Randy was almost always honest, though. These judges usually select those who fit a certain mold or match a preconceived image of a star or have a quirky personality. AI has gone downhill fast the last three seasons.

  5. Holly says:

    Pretty much the show went from boring, to awful, back to boring… And then at least the final two contestants were interesting. Slezak you may not have liked them much, but Dalton and Olivia have potential. Everyone else has a lot of work to do. I don’t understand all the love for Trent – his voice veered into nasally goat-bleating territory a few too many times for my liking.

    • Tabby says:

      You must have been watching a completely different show than I was. Trent is absolutely amazing. His voice is like butter. And as much as I like Olivia, she was so pitchy throughout her whole song.

    • Lemon says:

      Trent is currently wearing the “Most Overrated” crown this season. At least he refrained from the excessive face pulling, and went for a standard, basic, safe delivery. His voice isn’t all that, and I’ve never gotten the hype.

    • Lima bean death metal says:

      Olivia is a glowing beautiful person that I like a lot, but I find her voice to be more grating than a vacuum cleaner in dark cave. She owns it and her performances are solid.

  6. Timmah says:

    That Rebel Yell arrangement was ambitious, like something Adam Lambert would have done. But the execution failed I thought.

    • Jo March says:

      Agreed – I would have given him a D; can’t understand Slezak’s B.

    • Angela says:

      I thought of Adam Lambert, too. I didn’t mind the performance-it was one of the better ones of the night, I think. But isn’t he also the one who did that really slow and dramatic version of “Phantom of the Opera”? These sorts of performances seem to be a bit of a thing with him, and I would’ve probably advised him to be careful not to get into a rut with that schtick.

    • E Rodgers says:


    • marie says:

      I also thought of Adam Lambert, specifically that he would have been able to pull off that arrangement and make it interesting, even arresting, while Dalton has neither the vocal chops nor the stage presence to do so. I find Dalton nothing special at all.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Well, I am going to give him points for attempting to do something interesting. Not too many contestants have ever had the vocal skill of Adam Lambert so I try to resist comparing anyone to Adam. At least I was entertained – I liked the arrangement, but to be fair I love that song, which undoubtedly skewed my ratings system.

        • marie says:

          You have a point: it’s really not fair to compare anyone to Adam Lambert. When I saw him touring with Queen, it was like he was born to sing those songs. I can’t think of anyone else who could have sung Freddie Mercury and been so very up to the job.

      • Mary says:

        Adam could sing, Dalton is lacking in that department. Entertaining yes, a singer no. In a boys band it might not make a difference, one direction anyone, but as a solo artist no way. I guess there is always auto tune.

    • JayNC says:

      I also thought of Adam while Dalton was singing – not because Dalton is even remotely as good as Adam, but because it seems like Dalton WANTS to be like Adam. I would cut him if I were a judge, but they will put him through.

  7. Guilherme Santos says:

    C+ for Olivia? Either the night made you crank as Harry or you are out of your mind.

  8. Andres says:

    I would like all the guys minus Lee to move on and have shelbie and amelia/olvia to move on as well. I’m “sorry” jen didn’t have a good performance.

  9. Owen says:

    Well, I guess a B from Slezak is the best we could hope for, as he’s never liked Dalton Rapattoni. But that kid is a star! His performance tonight actually told a story in the short time allotted. Even more so, he somehow turned Rebel Yell into an emo anthem! And I liked it! He does have to let go of the self effacement shtick, though. He HAS to know how cute he is.

    • Holly says:

      I agree. Putting vocals aside (except for Jenn who was inexplicably awful tonight), these contestants have to show some star power and charisma. Otherwise it feels like I’m at a local bar watching a pretty good singer put on a pretty good show. It was great to see Dalton do something original. I thought Olivia showed star-power as well. As much as I like some of the other’s singing, they bored me to tears.

    • MamaLis says:

      I agree on the kudos to Dalton. I LOVED his performance!!

  10. S. says:

    I swear most of the grades feel like opposite day so I don’t even know where to start.

    • SaraPo says:

      I feel the SAME way, i felt like that hearing some of the judges feedback tonight as well. I felt like i was in the twilight zone.

  11. danin says:

    Man, what happened tonight? I too, like Harry, thought Shelby had the most consistent vocal.Even my boy Trent, I could hear the weaknesses in his voice& really wasn’t feeling him.

    • David says:

      I agree, Shelby was the most consistent. I honestly would prefer it if they only let through 4 contestants from this group, and then give the final 3 spots to Stephanie, Jenna & James VIII from the last group….

  12. danin says:

    Man, what happened tonight? I too, like Harry, thought Shelby had the most consistent vocal.Even my boy Trent, I could hear the weaknesses in his voice& really wasn’t feeling him. Olivia did a good job too.Everyone else was questionable to my ears.

  13. SaraPo says:

    Trent and Olivia were hands down the best tonight for me, I even had to rewind and watch BOTH of them twice, i NEVER do that with Idol. Both of them are so authentic and likeable, unlike some of these others. I am dumbfounded by the grade you gave Olivia, Slezak, i am usually so in tune with your letter grades. I actually do like Lee Jean’s voice and his song choices, but there is something about his personality that rubs me the wrong way, like big time. The shushing incident did not help him, a little too precocious for me….I also love Dalton, Jenn, and CJ, but was not impressed by any of their song choices tonight. If i never hear that edwin mccain song again for the rest of my life, it will be too soon. I want the CJ that sang Parachute a few weeks back. Everyone else was forgettable to me. Now the countdown is on until David Cook, Chris Daughtry and Haley grace my living room again with their presence.

  14. Owen says:

    Harry seemed really cranky tonight. He was as mad as we were nonplussed. And understandably. But it’s good to see at least one judge not blindly stamp approval on every performance.

  15. Christian says:

    A C+ for Olivia!?!? Probably the wonkiest grading I’ve seen from Slezak

  16. Omarr says:

    Manny’s cockiness is getting on my last nerve. He’s not even that good. Trent and Olivia were the best tonight. Despite the fact that she had a very off night tonight, I still love Jenn and hope she goes through. The gritty thing about Amelia’s voice is starting to annoy me, but she’s still a really good singer. Wake Me Up was a BAD choice. SO MANY DISAPPOINTMENTS TONIGHT.

  17. kevstar says:

    From the comments here, sounds like I’ll be watching Survivor live tonight.

    • Emma says:

      Hopefully they’ll do better with recognizable songs sung with the returning all-stars. I’m looking forward to seeing my fave Haley Reinhart again.

  18. supergal says:

    Dalton reminds me a bit of Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard when he was on Canadian Idol…if anyone else remembers…just me? Dalton is a touch more serious, Jacob was always slightly ironic and had a Blink-182 vibe to him.

    • Classic TV Fan says:

      I’ve been making this connection since the beginning! Very similar styles, and hopefully Dalton gets a bit more playful like Jacob (my ALL-TIME favourite Idol contestant)

    • canadiangiveaways says:

      Totally agree!!
      Although I think Jacob had/has a stronger voice

  19. Matt says:

    C’mon a C+ for Olivia? Way off grading wise. What rubric is being used? She’s an A/A-

    • Timmah says:

      I think a C+ is about right for Olivia. The issue I have is that the other contestants all deserved D’s and F’s.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I think Shelbie did quite well, and the rest — wow — yeah — Ds and Fs sound about right. This is perhaps their weakest crop of vocalists in the history of the show, and I’m not forgetting the last several seasons.

        • Emma says:

          It’s sad they couldn’t have some strong singers in this final season to let Idol end on a high note instead of such a low note. I wouldn’t have given anyone last night more than a C, they were all so mediocre.

        • Timmah says:

          I guess Shelbie wasn’t bad vocally. I just couldn’t get beyond the awful song choice.

  20. Brandy says:

    Dalton was fantastic tonight and he’s been one of my faves from the start. I am always genuinely excited to see what he will do when he comes out. Can’t say that for most of the other folks. This was a disappointing bunch tonight actually. Olivia was great too, and I really love Trent and Lee. Shelbie is always great. Otherwise there were a lot of meh performances and Jenn was atrocious. If they let her go through, it’s clearly because she’s the “weird” one of the season. She butchered “Sorry” and actually made me long for the real JB version…

  21. Jenn crushed me too. Almost as much as John Wayne Shulz being eliminated. I think it was Gianna Isabella who stole his lucky cowboy hat during Hollywood week!
    Overall, I thought the Gus were generally better this week and the girls were better last week. Will be interesting to see who makes it through.

  22. I’ve said this before and I’m gonna keep saying it till Slezak addresses it in Reality Check or in a comment (I just want to know that he knows): Dalton Rappetoni WILL win if he makes it to live shows. He has a pre-existing fanbase of tween girls from a boy band he was in for two years called IM5. They had an entire video with Todrick Hall called ‘Disney Dudez’–go watch it.

    • Owen says:

      You know, five years ago that would have bothered me but this year, with half the contestants seemingly coming in as Voice rejects, I’ll live with it. Though finding an unknown was what made Idol different from The Voice (and yes, I know, Kelly Clarkson had had a [failed] record deal before she was on Idol.

  23. darcy's evil twin says:

    I enjoyed Trent, Shelbie, Dalton, and Olivia.
    Mr. Slezak, who p*ssed in your Post Toasties? Why the low score for Olivia? yes, it was off key in a few spots but she was performing!
    I enjoyed Dalton’s arrangement of “Rebel Yell”.

  24. MamaLis says:

    This is the problem with Idol casting haphazardly breaking the groups into two. With the exception of 3-4 people, this group kinda sucked. And certainly I can think of 2-3 people from LAST week that probably-kinda-shoulda taken their places had things played-out in real-time and/or for the voting public to decide. It’s actually a shame.

  25. E Rodgers says:

    Trent Harmon was excellent, and Olivia Rox was quite good. Everyone else was a snore.

    Jenn Blosil followed Thomas Stringfellow into the Weird Noise Dimension (WTF was that?!), and Kory Wheeler was a mess.

    I’ll give credit to Dalton for giving his song his own spin, but I still don’t really care for him.

  26. Terri says:

    I was hoping after the horrible sound feed issues last week someone would have figured out how to make corrections this week! HORRIBLE!

  27. Tahoe Mike says:

    The Famous Faces (too many doubts about their judgement to call ’em Judges) sure were in a mood. Who whizzed in their corn flakes that morning?
    I was hoping for more from Luna Lovegood tonight.
    I guess they saved the best for last, not much else to remember about tonight’s show.

  28. Larc says:

    Overall dreadful show tonight, IMO.

  29. Gailer says:

    This show clearly could not survive the loss of Simon cowell

  30. I thought the judges were weird in their comments. You’re even weirder. Trent Harmon was not the best. Dalton was, by a whole lot. Along with him, I’d put through Tristan, Olivia, Lee, Trent, Shelbie Z and either: Jenn or CJ Johnson or Adam Lasher. There are only 5 girls in this group, which is strange, so I’m partial to Jenn. As for those probably not going through, Amelia’s voice and delivery isn’t special, and the judges gave her a hard time, so her fate seems sealed. As for those probably going through, Shelby Z has a big voice. But I wanted to hear some quiet, more emotional moments, from her, so I think she could have done better. (The judges’ comments were wrong, btw. The key wasn’t wrong.) But Shelbie Z is emanating an unlikeable personality. She’d have to knock me dead before I’d pick up a phone to vote for her. I don’t think she can last very long when America votes, unless the producers really lean on the voters (and they are so good at that). I don’t know what Jenn Blosil was doing. Does it really matter what anyone does to a Bieber song? She certainly put her heart into it, which counts for more than the judges, and you, gave her credit for. Furthermore, your grades are off. Jean was better than Johnson; Johnson was better than Lasher; Lasher was better than Wheeler; Wheeler was better than Torres; and Torres was the same as Eisenhauer. I don’t know what Jenn was, but she’s in an alternative universe, so I give her a pass. I will note that voices and performances come across differently when viewed and heard on my big screen, super-sharp, dolby sound system and my computer. And I know from experience that seeing the performances live is different as well. I trust my dolby system, but your computer may vary.

  31. Miscellaneopolan says:

    Yeah, it looks like we’re in for an iffy final season of Idol. Ah, well. At least it’ll be consistent with the last handful of years. Here’s how I see the Top 10 shaking down.
    La’Porsha Renae: I’m not sure how marketable she is, but she gives thrilling vocals and the judges have fallen over themselves praising her.
    Avalon Young: She sings current songs in a fun, engaging way. The Top 10 needs her.
    Trent Harmon: For my money, he was the only person who connected emotionally to his song tonight. He deserves to be here.
    Olivia Rox: Whatever Slezak may say, she had one of the most interesting performances of the night. She’s been consistently good throughout the competition. We’ll want a rock like her when the live shows start.
    Mackenzie Bourg: Idol loves its singer-songwriter types, and Mackenzie’s a pretty good one. Plus cuteness.
    Dalton Rapattoni: I’ll admit he did better than I expected tonight, but he still comes off as the less talented child of Adam Lambert and Colton Dixon. Still, he’s cute and passably talented, so he’s in. It’s possible he’ll keep surprising us and deliver.
    Thomas Stringfellow: Both Dalton and Thomas are being put through in part because of their looks, but at least Dalton backs it up with some performing ability. Thomas isn’t ready, but he’ll be put through anyway, and probably knock out a few more talented candidates along the way.


    Jenn Blosil or Jeneve Rose Mitchell: Both of these offbeat girls have potential, but neither are really living up to it. It’d be hard to justify putting them both through, but I think the judges will want to keep one of them around for the wild card factor.
    Gianna Isabella or Tristan McIntosh: Neither of these very young kids are ready, but they’re both perky and young, and the producers love that.
    CJ Johnson or Shelbie Z: Neither Shelbie nor CJ are particularly exciting, but they’re both seasoned and can be depended upon to deliver a good vocal. In a field where so many of their chosen children are inconsistent, the judges would be smart to put through one of these sturdy contestants to balance things out. I’m not sure they’re smart, though, so this final slot will probably go to Manny Torres.

    • marie says:

      I must say, I pretty much agree with your must-haves and we’re-stuck-with-thems.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I would hope Jeneve would make it over Jenn – without that dreadful cowgirl getup where everything was too big. Her braid, hat, shirt, vest, skirt, all of it. That outfit swallowed her up – and then they showed her family, who looked perfectly normal! Couldn’t her mother tell her “Honey, please – you are so cute. Wear this cute dress”. Jenn’s voice, for me anyway, is like listening to nails on a chalkboard.
      CJ picked a horrible song last night but I’d like to see him and Shelbie make it.
      I am not wild about Thomas Stringfellow or Mackenzie Cute Guy, but I am betting we are stuck with them.
      Based on past performances I would go with Tristan over Gianna, but honestly – I would have preferred Stephany.
      Good comments!

      • marie says:

        Jenn annoys me – I can’t even support my Brooklyn home girl. I have a feeling she will stick around longer, alas, than last year’s contestant in the “quirky girl” category, the sublime Joey Cook who was knocked out of the running before her time.

    • Mary says:

      I only really like Avalon and Olivia so as long as those two make it I am good. The rest are just there, maybe someone will win me over in the top 10 but I am not betting on it.

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      Oh, and Sonika Vaid might sneak on there, too, maybe in the Shelbie/CJ slot.

    • ugh says:

      Lol that’s my exact top 4 ranking (avalon, la’porsha, trent, a gap, then olivia). sonika’s probably gonna be top 10 though since the judges (esp harry) are so obsessed with her. mackenzie deserves a spot. the rest are overhyped and mediocre

  32. Ashley says:

    The episode tonight hurt my heart a little. I was so psyched for it, but it was a big turd with the exception of a few good performances.

    Shelbie was good, but we’ve seen much better out of her; then there were a bunch in the middle that I can’t even remember much about; Trent surprised me in that I really liked him tonight; CJ and Adam were the two guys that I really had on my radar, but they both let me down. I hope one of them gets through, though; poor Jenn, poor, poor Jenn; I’m still ambivalent about Tristan, but she was pretty solid; I like Dalton’s creativity. He reminds me of a young David Cook, although his vocals aren’t anywhere near as good. I was hoping those two would be teamed up tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like it; finally, I really loved Olivia.

    Tomorrow will be interesting. Frankly, I don’t know if a single one of them can hang with the likes of Jordin, Haley, David, and Chris Daughtry.

  33. I hereby predict, based on the way the producers are structuring the show, that the following people will go through: Tristan, Dalton, Shelbie, Adam, Trent, and Olivia. Either CJ Johnson and Lee Jean will go through, as they are paired with Daughtry and Cook (but we don’t know the pairing). I would expect Lee Jean would go through, but we’ll see.

  34. You know who would’ve been awesome tonight? JESSICA CABRAL.

  35. I felt like I was watching a high school talent show, it was so bad. Ya know, If you think back to Elise Testone ( hope the name is right]. She was in the bottom 3 every week for a while. Well she is better than most of these people on this season. So if she was the bottom 3 and these people aren’t even as good as her, than this show isn’t picking good talent anymore. Could you imagine Simon thinking that cowboy “off the grid girl” was any good? Hell no, Simon would not have even put her through. And Haley Rinehart? There will never be anyone like her again. The talent has just gone downhill. The only reason I’m watching is to see if Dalton gets a little better. Oh and I do like Avalon. But still, they are not as good as the past seasons singers worst singers. Its pretty sad.

    • khesmith says:

      Have you seen any of Simon on X Factor UK ? He’s surprisingly terrible in a lot of his comments…. giving praise where it is NOT due. Overall, the quality is not even close to even this years Idol. But still….. give me a break Simon.

  36. marie says:

    Michael, your figure skating analogy is off. An Axel is a type of jump, which can be executed in various numbers of rotations. Your comment should have read something like, He did a double Lutz where a triple Axel was called for.

  37. marie says:

    Although my money is on Trent this season, and I’m totally smitten with and intrigued by his talent, I have to admit I was a little disappointed with his song choice. Although maybe it’s just that I’m too invested in being delighted by the country guy who sings urban R&B! Still, it was a masterful performance. I also don’t get Michael’s downgrading of Olivia, whose performance I thoroughly enjoyed.

  38. Toba7 says:

    Usually love idol, but am confused by some eliminations (Jessica and Stef) and find it painful to listen to Jenn, and Jeneve sing. Gianna way overrated but not bad. Dalton does not move me. Last night liked Shelbie and Lee Jean. Overall, Laporsha, MacKenzie, Shelbie, Lee Jean, Avalon, CJ. Really, really dislike the gasps and fake accents of Jenn and Thomas and everything about Jeneve.

  39. Toba7 says:

    So grateful for Harry Connick telling the truth. There was some BADLY off key singing last night. Call then out on it so they can learn and we can choose someone great (and not boring…. nick f….)

  40. David says:

    Tonight was awful! Kory & Shelby were the only ones I kinda liked. I picked Trent 3rd but his song choice didn’t really give me anything…

  41. Heidil says:

    My 12 year old daughter is “in love” with Dalton. Need I say more?

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      Unfortunately, no. No you do not. Nothing against your daughter–it sounds like she’s just being a normal 12-year-old girl–but I think we all know that line of thinking will determine the voting this year.

  42. darcy's evil twin says:

    Mr. Slezak hit the nail the head regarding the pace of the show.
    I never thought I’d say I missed the sob stories, the back stories, and the drama, but I miss it all.
    Why? Because when we had all that the program lasted longer and the performances were longer than eight and a half seconds.
    So many of the performances seemed forced and rushed. I think one of the reasons Shelbie, Olivia, Dalton, and Trent did well is they managed to pick songs they could cut down to a very short time frame and still perform respectably.
    “Mad World” would never work in this format. After about eight bars it would be “time’s up”.
    This reminded me of a speech/debate tournament where everyone was looking at the timer.

    • marie says:

      What struck me most about having to pack so many performances into such a short time period was that doing so severely limited the length of time available for, and thus the quality of, the judges’ critiques. It seemed obvious to me that they had been instructed to limit their critiques to a couple of sentences at most. This does a disservice to the contestants, of course, but it also seems more evidence that the producers had pre-picked who would be going through to the next round even before the performance shows for the two groups of twelve. I would bet good money on that. The critiques don’t much matter if the results had already been determined.

  43. jane says:

    The only one that sounded halfway decent was Shelby and the judges had already made up their mind she wasn’t making it thru. I didn’t enjoy any of the performances. I actually thought maybe there was something wrong with the monitors because a lot of them sounded out of tune. I didn’t like that Harry only pointed that out to some of them. For me, Amelia, Lee, and Tristan were the worst. The others were just average. I liked parts of Trent’s song, but he makes me nervous every time he sings. It’s like any moment he could fall off a cliff and become excruciatingly terrible. I’m still a Harry Potter fan. I think it’s Mackenzie’s crown to lose this year.

  44. Mary says:

    I didn’t think it was possible, especially with this group, but this show was worst than last week.
    I do not know what the judges were hearing but this just proves that they have the top 8 already picked out, because I will say only two should make it through. Although Olivia didn’t have the spunk like Demi does, I thought she was the best. I cannot watch Trent sing, sorry his facial expression are so off putting, but if you close your eyes he does have a nice voice. Wouldn’t waste money to see him in concert. Tristian is a gorgeous girl with a nice voice but someone needs to tell her to pick songs she can sing. I do not get what people see in Dalton. He really cannot sing and he sucked the life out of that song. This is where auto tune will come in handy like one direction. TGIT so I will be taping this show.

  45. Tabby says:

    I think I’m one of the few that agree with Slezak on most of his grades. The only one I would change would be Dalton’s because that kid killed it. I also completely agree with Slezak’s grade for Olivia. There is such a thing as having a great performance and bad vocal and IMO that is what happened to Olivia last night. She was so pitchy throughout the entire song. I still think she will make it though, because she is has been great throughout the competition.

  46. I voted first and was happily surprised that the majority of people voted as I did, getting the top 3 right! I was baffled by the judges’ telling everyone to pick popular songs, If done right, like Trent, even unknown songs are a pleasure to hear.

  47. et says:

    My favorite performances are from Trent and Adam.

    Trent – There’s something always compelling about his performances even when he’s making those faces at times. It’s all quite captivating and at least I wasn’t bored.

    Adam – I’ve always like the song and I love his arrangement of it. He has a really great voice too.

  48. et says:

    I agree with Slezak on Olivia. She gave it her all, but she never really hit those high notes cleanly and she swallows all her words. She also sounds really strained whenever she tries to belt or goes high. That was not a good vocal performance.

    Kory – Another guy with a really good voice, but low on star power.

    • SPatte says:

      Ditto about Olivia. She seems disingenuous, like mock humility or something. Like pretending not to know she has a power, and a sickening sweet smile that is frozen on her face. I cringe when she tries to force herself to sing notes too loudly. I am so distracted by Dalton. His voice doesn’t match the contortions with the rest of his body. And can I just say, Jenn’s effort at originality is drowning any structure to her songs. Enough with the twisting notes till they are unrecognizable and foreign. Just sing in our language please!

  49. Lee says:

    Billy Idol (Rebel Yell original singer) commented on Twitter about Dalton singing his song. He said he was checking it out because his Twitter feed blew up! Now that’s high praise to sing a Billy Idol song and have him comment highly on the performance!

  50. Bby says:

    Okay, I don’t understand why some of you guys hate Dalton with a burning passion. He’s not my fav, Trent is, but at least I can admit that he has potential and there’s something about him that just screams star quality. I don’t know, there’s just something that sounds off about Olivias voice when she’s not in falsetto. Maybe she’s constipated??? She’s crazy talented, but I just can’t get past the tone of her voice. Jenn, to me, is the Jeneve of this round. The one who’s quirky, and the judges eat it up, but I think they mistake Jenns quirky-ness as good singing. I hope Shelbie, Manny, Olivia, Dalton, Trent, and Lee go through.

    • Mary says:

      Hate is a strong word but dislike his voice is accurate. I guess this proves that everyone has different taste because I do not care for some of your favorites, which is the way it goes.

    • marie says:

      “Hate with a burning passion”? I don’t see anyone saying that. With few exceptions, the commenters here are a civilized bunch airing our opinions which often differ. I agree with Mary; I don’t care much for Dalton’s singing, but for heaven’s sake, I have no reason to hate, or even dislike, him.