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  1. Kelly Clarkson Taylor Hicks David Cook Ruben Studdard Fantasia Barrino Phillip Phillips Carrie Underwood Scotty McCreery Maddie Poppe Kris Allen Chayce Beckham Candice Glover Lee Dewyze Jordin Sparks Laine Hardy Caleb Johnson Trent Harmon Nick Fradiani Sam Diaz
  2. The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 4: "Your voice is going to save someone's life." When we get to the Top 4, it's less about who was the "best singer" of the week than it is about who delivered the "best set." This was a bit of an odd evening since Idol had to scramble after the shock disqualification of Caleb Kennedy. They added duets, guest artists, etc. It felt a bit chaotic and pieced together, but that didn't prevent the final four contestants from each having a very strong night. When I look at my rankings for this week, it feels a bit odd. Obviously, as you can see, I ranked Chayce last... but it doesn't feel right to me. On average, I think Chayce had a slightly worse night than the others, but I still feel like he had the best "Winner's Single" and had a very nice duet moment. So, while it all adds up to me on paper, it doesn't quite feel right in practice. Either way, let's dig in. Let's first discuss our eliminated finalist: Casey Bishop - Big fan of Casey. She's got a hell of a voice and a big future ahead of her. So, what happened? I will admit I was pulling for her to make the Finale. I think she earned it, but when you have a Top 4 this well-regarded, anything can happen. I actually think Casey did herself a bit of a disservice tonight by bringing back "Livewire." I think the Idol audience is more impressed with Casey's instrument on more classical material than they are on watching her head bang on stage. It kind of reminds me of Constantine Maroulis' run back in Season 4. He was one of the "rockers" of the season, but after a while... he merged into a completely new lane. He started singing less rock and more emotionally resonant music. It felt like he was really finding his niche, and then... one week he decided to go back and sing another gritty rock tune, and BAM! Gone! So, I think either Casey's new fanbase was less impressed with the rock than her initial group of supporters, or the "wish u were gay" number didn't particularly land with those in middle America. Or, it's just a tough year and there will be moments like this (ha) along the way. On to the rankings! 4. Chayce Beckham - "Colder Weather"/ "23"/ "You Should Probably Leave" This was a better week for Chayce than last. I thought "Colder Weather" was a bit dull, but he had a very solid rest of the show, with the highlight being his self-penned Idol single, "23." It's the best tune of the bunch and people ate it up on iTunes. So, will Chayce be the last man standing next week? If you look at Idol statistics, you'd feel pretty comfortable saying "yes." He's the "Idol type." But, if you're using the iTunes chart success as the reason why you think Beckham is going to take the crown... I'd caution you that iTunes purchases aren't necessarily a great piece of data. What does iTunes really tell you? It tells you that of the people who buy music on iTunes AND watch American Idol, Chayce came out on top. But, who are these people? Do they vote? In what numbers? Are they a microcosm of the actual voting population of Idol? We just don't know. Willie Spence had the worst performing single on iTunes, but Willie's style isn't traditionally known to top the charts, so the folks who may want to vote for someone like Willie perhaps aren't the people who purchase their music on iTunes. I'm not saying Chayce can't win... I'm saying if you are looking at iTunes as the evidence that Chayce is unbeatable... I don't necessarily think that's true. But, could he win? Oh, hell yeah, in a walk. 3. Casey Bishop - "wish u were gay"/ "Love Me Leave Me"/ "Livewire" ELIMINATED Please see my comments above. 2. Grace Kinstler - "A Moment Like This"/ "Love Someone"/ "Father" It was a bad choice to sing "A Moment Like This." It always is. The only person who can make that song work is Kelly Clarkson. Note: I didn't say the only person who can sing that song is Kelly Clarkson, I said she is the only who can make it work. It's a bit of a dull song and it only works as a piece of musical theatre. It only worked for Kelly because it perfectly captured the moment. It was our very first Idol coronation moment and it was a perfect fit. 20 years later? It can't be reproduced. So, odd choice for Grace there. I think her single was fine. It's not great, it's not terrible. We got about 30 seconds of it. But "Father?" Man, that @#$% was transcendental. She killed that. It was touching and honest and focused and one of the best things Grace has done all season. So, can she win next week? Honestly, out of the Top 3... she's the one I'm least confident about... One thing she has going for her is that she is the only female contestant remaining and, typically, that can help with votes. Some folks out there really prefer a woman's voice to a man's. So, they really only have one option. We shall see! 1. Willie Spence - "Glory"/ "Never Be Alone"/ "I Was Here" I thought Willie had a hell of a week. "Never Be Alone," his new single, was adequate, but his other two numbers were fire. It was Willie at his finest. I'm not sure what else can be said about Willie Spence. It just feels like he has been the story of the season. But, if you are an Idol fanatic, you know that the "story of the season" contestants don't always win. Adam Lambert didn't win! Sometimes a contestant can sneak up and take it at the very end. It's what makes this show rather exciting at times. After everything I've seen this season, though, I do feel like he has done enough to deserve this win. But will he? Let's see how it all shakes out in a few days! Until next time! NGH
  3. I absolutely think Chayce could win this season... ...but I think using his #1 iTunes placement as the reason why is not great data journalism. It's an interesting data point, to be sure, but it's not necessarily predictive. It does tell us one thing: out of the people who watch Idol AND buy music on iTunes... Chayce is the big winner with these folks. What it doesn't tell us: out of the people who watch Idol and DON'T buy music on iTunes... who knows? Now, I ask you... based off of the show's demographics... which of those pools do you think is bigger? So, all in all, I'd say who the hell knows?
  4. The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 7: "Mama Said" Almost forgot to write this one! Yikes. I've been doing this article for over 15 years without missing an episode so that would have been a hell of a thing. Anyway, this week was pretty crazy. Two eliminations AND a dismissal leaves us heading into the Top 4 tonight! Now, let's first discuss our eliminated finalists: Hunter Metts - I think plenty of us saw this one coming. Hunter needed to have a great night in order to break through the noise, and while he delivered some solid performances, he didn't get that "wow" moment that he desperately needed. He had a great run and likely has good odds at being picked up by an indie label. We shall see! Honestly, I'm not terribly interested in talking about Hunter this week as it just felt so inconsequential to where the end of this season is headed. Arthur Gunn - Ah! Now that's more like it! What did I tell y'all? What did I literally tell y'all last week? It didn't matter. Arthur wasn't going to be a spoiler this season. He would top out at Top 7 or Top 5. Can we all just take a deep collective breath now and realize how silly we were to react to this dude coming back for a couple of weeks to expand his fanbase? He delivered two very "Arthury" numbers which his fans loved and then he exited the arena. I will say though... after hearing the Idol singles they recorded and will be performing in the Top 4... it felt like Arthur had one of the best ones. Probably the most contemporary and marketable I have heard him. Caleb Kennedy - Well, Caleb Kennedy WOULD have been in the Top 5 (and deservingly so with the entry of his stirring original, "Mama Said") but, alas, a photo came out with him sitting next to a guy in a Ku Klux Klan mask. You know... just one of those totally normal things we can all relate to. "Mama Said" that he was just a big fan of The StrangersI sequel, which is a guaranteed lie because no one is a fan of The Strangers sequel. But, even if he was? What's the defense? They wore masks in the movie so Caleb also wanted to play around with masks and the only mask they had lying around was someones Klan robes?! How is that better?! Look, I get that Caleb was 12... but what is happening in your life where you just have a friend with a KKK mask on hand? Why did they have that? Whose father or uncle owned it? What's going on?! It's just a very bad, very dark, very sinister picture, and yes, it may have been an innocent moment, but it's 2021... and we just aren't shrugging off emblems of racial murder and hate crimes. Caleb will be FINE. He's a very talented songwriter who has amassed plenty of fans, and most of his conservative ones are going to rally to his defense thinking he has been "cancelled." So, he will have a record deal within a month or so. On to the rankings! 7. Chayce Beckham - "Magic"/ "Mama" I thought this was Chayce at his dullest. Very simple arrangements. Very paint by numbers. He was really just allowing his style to do the work for him and I don't think it did him any favors. He still made the Top 5, but did he gain new friends with those numbers? Eh. Maybe? I thought "Mama" was sweet, but it wasn't a well-written song. So, in my opinion, it just kind of showed me some of his weaknesses. Still, he's got his people! 6. Casey Bishop - "Paradise"/ "Ironic" This was a step back for Casey. The past few weeks she has really been picking the right tunes and creating mini-moments for herself. These two numbers were fun and light, but didn't have enough gravitas to actually make them memorable. I'm also incredibly confused why "Ironic" was her Mother's Day number, but sure. Still, Casey soared on through! She remains the dark horse in this competition and if she can fix her mistake next week by picking some really relevant and deep tunes, she could find herself in the Finale. 5. Caleb Kennedy - "Violet Hill"/ "Mama Said" Please see my comments above. 4. Arthur Gunn - "In My Place"/ "Simple Man" ELIMINATED Please see my comments above. 3. Hunter Metts - "Everglow"/ "The River" ELIMINATED Please see my comments above. 2. Willie Spence - "Yellow"/ "You Are So Beautiful" Willie is trucking along. Still! He just gets how to play this game. These two songs may not have been the most creative set list you've ever seen on Idol, but they are big, popular numbers that we will remember. Willie is consistent and that consistency is his greatest weapon. Every week he manages to deliver at least one performance that gets people talking and sharing his social media links. It's working. He's a bright guy. Still very much in this thing as a frontrunner. 1. Grace Kinstler - "Fix You"/ "When We Were Young" Grace REALLY needed this week. She was my pick for a shock elimination in Top 7, but, luckily for her, she managed to break through the fog and realize she was in a competition. She couldn't just pick songs that spoke to her, she had to pick songs that she could use to connect with the viewers at home. She just blew the others away tonight. It wasn't even close. She won both rounds by connecting with the lyrics, telling a story, and singing her face off. If she does this next week, she may be able to upset Willie for the crown. She's got the momentum again. Until next time! NGH
  5. Caleb won't suffer because of this disqualification. If anything, it will make him MORE LIKELY to get a record deal in the near future. The kid is going to be fine. He's talented, young, and, hopefully, will learn and grow from all of this. But the excuse his mother gave is.... a yikes. Let me get this straight... the claim is that Caleb was a big fan of The Strangers: Prey At Night which is why he and his friend had that mask? That's the excuse?! A. It's a Klan mask. It's obviously a Klan mask. There is no Klan mask in that movie. Even if the idea was just to put on a white mask... why did they have a Klan mask lying around to make that video?! B. Being a fan of The Strangers: Prey At Night is reason enough for disqualification from the competition. It's a bad sequel.
  6. Eh. I dunno. My theory there was based on how that episode went for the two of them (Sophia and Makayla), but yea, no one knows.
  7. I think this is true for SOME seasons over others. For instance, there were certain seasons, where the frontrunner was SO well-established and obvious that no one else even had a chance. I'm thinking of Season 12 where Candice was just killing it week after week. I wouldn't blame some Season 12 alumni who wanted to come back and give it another go.
  8. The thing with so many of the past finalists is that VERY FEW of them were actually contenders to win. Like, maybe two or three each season? The rest of the finalists always just felt like "also rans" that could serve as a spoiler or potentially a surprise runner-up. Many of them never screamed winner.
  9. I figured for smaller labels with less strict contracts, they could probably just part ways if they viewed getting back on Idol as a big enough opportunity.
  10. Yep, good work. Man, I would love to see the following people again: Jessica Sanchez Angie Miller Jena Irene Alex Preston
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