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  1. Not quite! Sam, consistently showing second place strength throughout the season was able to pull it off!
  2. New updates: Round 1: Arthur Gunn - 53.6% Sam Diaz - 24.6% Francisco Martin - 8.3% Dillon James - 7.2% Jonny West - 6.1% Round 2: Arthur Gunn - 41.3% Sam Diaz - 25.2% Dillon James - 12.9% Jonny West - 10.7% Francisco Martin - 9.6% Final Prediction: Arthur Gunn: 48.7% Sam Diaz - 24.8% Dillon James - 9.5% Francisco Martin - 8.8% Jonny West - 8%
  3. So, I'm going to flush out this article over the next few days, but since this is all happening live tonight, I wanted to track the numbers I see coming from my algorithm. This is what I had for Round 1: Arthur Gunn - 49.7% Sam Diaz - 26.7% Francisco Martin - 9.3% Dillon James - 7.9% Jonny West - 6.1%
  4. And here was what I predicted for Top 16 finale using the same algorithm. Maddie Poppe - 38% Caleb Lee Hutchinson - 36% Gabby Barrett - 26%
  5. The metrics I used to predict both Season 16 and Season 17 wasn't just social media counts. It was an algorithm based off of frequency of views/clicks during a specific time window/duration, with a statistical variance dependent on shares. There's a margin of error, of course, but it's been very accurate. It predicted Maddie would win over Gabby and Caleb in the Finale night. I hate that we don't have the forum history to go back so I could show you, but I do have the Top 10 data from last year: 1. Laine (26.5%) 2. Madison (17.5%) 3. Alejandro (12.2%) Laine and Madison were fairly close at the start of the Finals, but faded after that.
  6. I mean, no, you really couldn't have. Laine Hardy was winning most metrics hands down throughout the season. Alejandro was a solid second, but Laine was consistently the top candidate according to the metrics. And Arthur is showing even stronger than Laine.
  7. I just think there's a LOT of denial on this forum about Arthur Gunn...
  8. The NGH Report - American Idol 18's Top 7: "Mother's Day" We are finally into two songs a night! And by finally... I mean, it's been like a week since we had the Top 20... Jeez, this season flew by in such a dizzying pace. What a sad bit of luck for these poor contestants. Well, let's get to it! Like every year with a Disney theme... the performances were fine with a side of lackluster. But the Mother's Day round was much stronger and provided us with a few performances that we may actually remember a few years down the line. I think the result of this season, as you will see in the statistics below, is pretty well baked in by this point: barring a surprise finish, Arthur Gunn is poised to be the 18th American Idol. And look, I have no problem with that. Personally, I love Arthur. He's my jam. But, I think even if you aren't a fan... it's actually a pretty important first for Idol. Yes, he's another dude who plays a guitar and sings alternative folk... but... that doesn't change the fact that he would be the FIRST male winner of color since Season 2's Ruben Studdard. He would be the FIRST Asian-American winner of American Idol. Also! He would be the first immigrant, or non-American born to win American Idol! So, despite the fact that it all may feel a bit familiar, this would definitely be a first for the show and that's exciting to think about! Let's take a look at how they handled the week! 7. Louis Knight - "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and "You've Got A Friend" The verdict is in: Francisco Martin will likely outpace and out compete the more confident Hollywood Round contender, Louis Knight. Louis has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride during the Finals and he struggled to create an identity for himself as a musician. He's pleasing to listen to, but rarely was he able to elevate the material he selected. There just wasn't a solid game plan at play here. His Disney round number was repetitive and never went anywhere and his Mother's Day round was more solid, but still faded into the background immediately after he finished. I feel very confident about this prediction. NOT SAFE. 6. Sam Diaz - "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" and "I Turn To You" I know I'm in the minority around this forum because I hold this opinion, but I can't help it: Sam Diaz is the biggest disappointment for me this season. She started the season with a hell of a story and an incredible ability to connect with the lyrics of a song and squeeze out every bit of emotion to create something wholly original on that stage. Her Hollywood performances were just killer! She was one of my early favorites! But, something about switching to singing at home has just sucked all of the soul out of Sam Diaz. She doesn't seem focused, she can't seem to really dig into a song, and so we are left with solid vocal performances utterly lacking in any magic. It's sad to see, but yet, Sam still seems to have a very solid fanbase out there. Clearly, she won a lot of people over in Hollywood and they have stuck with her, but, to me... it's the story that has got them wrapped up, because vocally... it has been an utter snoozefest. NEVER GOING HOME. 5. Julia Gargano - "Beauty and the Beast" and "Sweetest Devotion" This was an uneven night for Julia. The reworked Disney tune was odd and unsettling melodically and it did nothing to play to her strengths as a songwriter. It was normal and a bit rote. The Mother's Day round was much stronger and vocally impressive, but it still wasn't strong enough to offset the earlier issues. I think if she was able to sit down at the piano and throw something unique at us she may have had a shot, but I think we likely say good-bye to her next episode. NOT SAFE. 4. Francisco Martin - "You're In My Heart" and "River" Francisco gets the "most improved" award from me. He has a very solid growth arc and it appears, if I'm looking at the numbers, that audiences are responding well to his growth. Both performances in this episode were very solid. There wasn't anything that made me want to replay over and over again, but it was a strong set with very confident vocal performances. He's infectious and the grandmothers must love him. I feel very good about his making the finals, and I think he's becoming another dark horse in this competition. Also, Luke will most certainly win his best with Katy. NEVER GOING HOME. 3. Dillon James - "Our Town" and "Hang On, Hang On" I was worried about Dillon after last week's Beatles flub. I thought he was going the way of Sam Diaz, but yet, he found the emotion tonight and dug in to two superbly picked songs to showcase his strengths as a storyteller. He ended the evening with a heartbreaking take about his ups and downs in his relationship with his loved ones and the camera work focusing on his family probably earned him millions of votes. He couldn't have had a better night, but that's the problem. There's a limit to Dillon and he hasn't really been able to break out of it. He's a great storyteller, but vocally... there's a gear we are still missing. NEVER GOING HOME. 2. Arthur Gunn - "Kiss The Girl" and "Hey Ma" I thought "Kiss The Girl" was playful, solid, and fine, but I thought "Hey Ma" was chill-inducing. There's a magic to his upper register and the alternative folk tune really allowed him to showcase it. He won't be everyone's cup of tea, in the same way Phillip Phillips wasn't, but... it's a singular voice. A singular sound. More often than not... voters gravitate towards contestants who have that quality. He's a consummate musician and I think he still has a quite a bit left in him for next week. NEVER GOING HOME. 1. Jonny West - "Almost There" and "Amazing Grace" "Almost There" was a smart choice. It was solid and you really get the impression that you could hear his voice singing on a Disney soundtrack someday, but his best performance, and the performance of the evening has to be his original alteration of the classic, "Amazing Grace." Not only did he dedicate a song to his Mother, but he re-wrote it to feature her story. Each lyric was beautifully written, honest, and impeccably placed. It was a stirring moment and one I won't easily forget. We haven't seen this Jonny since he sang his original in his first audition. He's very smart and very good at this. We will see if he makes the Finale, but if he does... I'll be very curious what he concludes his run with. NOT SAFE. Prediction Statistics Another very accurate week for our prediction statistics! We said that Arthur, Sam, Jonny, and Julia would be called safe, and they were. So, we are currently sitting at a 90% accuracy rate. Let's see how we do this week. The contestants below who are bolded are currently outside of the margin of error and are predicted as being "more likely than not" placed into the Top 5. The contestants in BLUE are contestants who have improved their vote share week over week. The contestants in RED are contestants who have decreased their vote share week over week. Those in BLACK showed no difference week to week. So, where does that leave everyone else? Very much within the margin of error. So, this is predicting 4 out of 5, with another three contests in the margin of error. The big story of this week? Significant movement upwards for Francisco and Dillon... but, the trend remains the same: Arthur Gunn is getting stronger week over week and he is currently locking in more than half of the vote. Huge lead. Arthur - 59.6% Sam - 11.6% Francisco - 8.1% Dillon - 7.4% Jonny - 6.1% Julia - 3.7% Louis - 3.3% Who should go home? Louis and Sam Who will go home? Louis and Julia See you next week! NGH
  9. The NGH Report - American Idol 18's Top 11: "New York State Of Mind" That was a rough set of cuts. Twenty contestants down to eleven! I'm not sure why they pretended they weren't going to use the Judge's Save knowing that this was the only week it COULD be used. Doesn't matter. We are left with a Top 11 that is all set to perform "Songs That Remind Them Of Home From Home During Idols At Home!" or something to that effect. It was nice to see a few of the contestants upgrade their backdrops for these productions and I was really happy to see a return of the interviews we typically see before these performances. This season is on fast-forward so the more we know about these kids the better. Let's take a look at how they handled the week! 11. Louis Knight - "In My Place" I think this was just a swing-and-a-miss of a song selection. The song is so slight and lazy it fits better as a song you kind of hear in the background of another room. There are no real dynamics and it really didn't matter how well Louis may have sung it... there was just nothing special about it. Team that up with the fact that he went first and I think Louis could be in quite a bit of danger. He's being eclipsed by Francisco and he can't seem to lock in. Perhaps if these cuts were less drastic and he had some more time he could rebound, but I think that will be tough this week. NOT SAFE. 10. Sam Diaz - "Grandma's Hands" Again... song choice! I'm so confused how Sam went from being one of the BEST selectors of songs to being one of the absolute worst. I don't know if it's because she's alone in Los Angeles (heart-breaking by the way, and will definitely earn her votes), but something has shifted. I found, once again, her performance to be well-sung, but still didn't make me jump out of my seat. She thrives on an audience and she is having a much tougher time at showcasing her strength, connection, when she is performing over video. Still, it appears that Sam has quite a following and I may just be in the minority on this one. She's an emotional story and I think she will make it moving forward. NEVER GOING HOME. 9. Dillon James - "Yesterday" Weird flex to pick a heart-wrenching Beatles ballad and randomly pump the pace of the song, but... you do you? This was a paint by numbers performance for Dillon. I think it was a smart song choice, but he sucked all of the tenderness out of it. He's a good singer with a good tune and clearly knows what type of musician he wants to be, but each and every one of these contestants needs to understand that they need to make all of their performances a moment. They get no second chances this year so a "solid" performance just won't cut it. It won't help you gain fans in a hurry and it won't help you overtake an early favorite. NOT SAFE. 8. Grace Leer - "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" I honestly can't figure out if this was a slyly intelligent song choice or a very weird and random one. It's one of the most famous songs of all time, but I don't know if it really makes sense for the one country singer left to... not sing a country song. Grace clearly has a pocket of country voters... will they be interested in this performance? I will say this... it was a much better vocal than last week where her intonation was practically absent in the first half of the song. She's got a big voice. No clue if that will be enough. NOT SAFE. 7. Jovin Webb - "Voodoo" This is a much better performance by Jovin. It showcases who he is as an artist and what you'd expect his album to sound like if he were to win. It's a fun tune and I think the section of Idol voters out there looking for a traditional soul singer would happily vote for him. The questions is: how many voters of that stripe exist anymore? It's also not the most famous song out there for people unfamiliar with Jovin's style so he could be fighting a bit to be memorable at the end of the night. Whatever happened to the recap at the end of the episode? Without that recap, the poor people who perform first are practically invisible by the end of the evening. NOT SAFE. 6. Francisco Martin - "Falling Like The Stars" I thought this was a really well done performance from top to bottom. I know who Francisco is as an artist and he's never looked more comfortable. The vocals are in tune and he is really learning how to dig into a lyric. As Louis fades, Francisco jumps forward. I think this song is likely enough to get him into the Top 7, but he's on the wire according to our stats. So while this performance didn't "wow" me, it was as solid as you could hope for and continues to showcase a nice growth arc for the kid. Let's see! NOT SAFE. 5. Jonny West - "Faithfully" Speaking of growth arcs... I feel like Jonny's soft spoken humble quality is starting to earn him some new fans. This performance, much like Francisco's, was not revelatory, but was absolutely a solid outing. He stretches his upper register a bit, but the tone is dead on and the song is so well-known to the Boomer audience that it likely won him a few more voters than Francisco's more contemporary selection. There's something about Jonny. He's a bit of a dark horse in this whole thing, but I expect we will see him again. NEVER GOING HOME. 4. Makayla Phillips - "The House That Built Me" Gotta admit it... this is a pretty smart choice by Makayla. Grace sings a musical theatre hit? Okay, not a problem, she'll be the one to sing a country hit tonight. I think Makayla really took a risk here and I have the feeling it just may work. Instead of showcasing herself as another big-belting diva poster (which America has now, one by one, eliminated from the competition), she goes subtle and delivers her most beautiful vocal yet. It was restrained and polished and she should be proud of that number. Still, she was the judge's save so we know the voters didn't connect last week. Will they now? NOT SAFE. 3. Arthur Gunn - "Country Roads" Arthur Gunn is laughing all the way to the bank. He's flipping songs, leaning into songs to get your toes tapping, and putting all of his chips on his authenticity carrying the day. He's consistently leading in the stats and if you were in love with Arthur Gunn before, it's hard to see how this performance taints that moving forward. His voice pulls you in. We immediately know it is him, and I firmly believe he is just one emotional ballad away from walking away with this thing. NEVER GOING HOME. 2. Sophia James - "In My Room" This is going to be the "love it or hate it" song of the night. Personally, I think Sophia delivered one of the most beautiful vocals of the season here, but... this song is practically unrecognizable. It was a technical powerhouse performance, but will it interest people? Will it get them to pick up their phones? It's cerebral and dangerous and risky, but I'm not sure Sophia has the fan base established to pull off a risk like this. So, in the end, I adored it. I worry for her future, though. NOT SAFE. 1. Julia Gargano - "New York State Of Mind" It's hard to think of a smarter song selection in years than what occurred with Julia in this episode. Stuck in New York, a state ravaged by this pandemic, singing emotionally about her home with absolutely flawless vocals... I don't know, but this felt like an absolute homerun to me and I think this will cause swing voters out there to vote for Julia in higher numbers than before. It's not surprising for our stats to show her as the most improved week over week, either. This was just a stirring performance. Bravo. NEVER GOING HOME. Prediction Statistics I felt pretty good about how this model predicted the results last week. We had called Lauren safe, but she was JUST barely outside the margin of error. So, we are currently sitting at an 83% accuracy rate. Let's see how we do this week. The contestants below who are bolded are currently outside of the margin of error and are predicted as being "more likely than not" placed into the Top 7. The contestants in BLUE are contestants who have improved their vote share week over week. The contestants in RED are contestants who have decreased their vote share week over week. So, where does that leave everyone else? Very much within the margin of error. So, this is predicting 4 out of 7, with another seven contests in the margin of error. And boy... look at that Arthur Gunn lead.... Arthur - 49.3% Sam - 12% Jonny - 6.1% Julia - 5.7% Francisco - 5.5% Makayla - 4.4% Dillon - 4.3% Grace - 4.1% Louis - 3.3% Jovin - 2.5% Sophia - 2.2% Who should go home? Louis, Sam, Dillon, and Grace Who will go home? Sophia, Jovin, Louis, and Grace See you next week! NGH
  10. Well. That happened. Let's be honest: This wasn't American Idol. Not really... but with all things considered, I think the American Idol team over at ABC actually accomplished something quite impressive. The audio quality was good (too good - a lot of it sounded canned and auto-tuned) and the editing was flashier than I expected. I think my worries certainly came to pass as many of the contestants were able to create a more polished background to sing in front of than others. I felt horrible for Olivia Ximines as the camera seemed to love showing us a messy living room and cluttered kitchen. Of course Dillon James had a rustic tiny house in his backyard. Of COURSE he did. Oh, also, can anyone explain to me what the hell was going on with the fully decorated and lit Christmas tree in DeWayne's house? It's almost May. So, yes, inequities abounded, but for the overwhelming most part - American Idol achieved something pretty special last night. They made do with what they had and the show went on. It's still unfair to these contestants. It's still unfair to the show's viewers. It's still not American Idol. But, you know what? Life is really unfair right now, so bless them for keeping this train on the tracks. Here we go! 20. Aliana Jester - Aliana sang well enough, but the performance felt like someone playing dress up. It didn't feel sincere, memorable, or important enough to get people to vote. Also, Idol has definitely been trending towards a more modern vibe since it has moved to ABC and singers like Aliana who are good vocalists but are struggling with latching onto a musical identity have been suffering to break through. Sometimes it is worse to be forgettable and this is one of those moments. NOT SAFE. 19. Olivia Ximines - I think Olivia sounded strong and had a lot of great energy, but she was just utterly doomed by two factors. The first? Her home setup was rough, y'all, and really hit home the fact that she was a teenager playing superstar in her living room. It was just visually distracting. Secondly, as fun as "Bad Guy" is to hear, it didn't appear that Olivia had any idea what she was singing about. The lyrics were only vehicles to move from note to note. It was a scattered performance that never really clicked. NOT SAFE. 18. Jovin Webb - Was it just me or did it feel like Jovin was singing slightly under pitch in his upper register the entire song? It felt like he just wasn't hearing himself well enough. I know he can slay that song and he is lucky that he was an early frontrunner with a standalone blues sound, but man... that was some rough singing. So, what happens here? I think looking at the data we see that Jovin still has a good shot of sneaking into the Top 10, but he needs to work out those issues fast otherwise he won't be making it into the Top 5. NOT SAFE. 17. Grace Leer - Grace had a similar problem. The first half of her song was full of intonation issues. The lower register in the verse was doing her no favors and she is lucky that the second half of the song kicked it into high gear and may have erased the pitch issues from the audiences minds. She still has a shot of squeaking in as she is our lone female country singer in the competition, but man... there is just no excuse for singing that out of tune when you are being mixed with autotune software and pre-recorded. NOT SAFE. 16. Sam Diaz - I know I will likely be lit up for this one, but... this was just mediocre for him. I'm of the opinion that the only time this song should be sung is on the finale of American Idol Season 3. It's a terrible song with terrible lyrics and the only reason we put it on a pedestal is that Fantasia absolutely sung the crap out of it, leaving it all on the field, for an iconic Idol moment. But here? It was just a decently sung version of a crappy song from the early 2000s. Sam is in her element when she can really tell us a story with vivid lyrics and emotive text. This just wasn't that for me. I found it meh with a capital "M." Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see the statistics show us that it didn't seem to dent Sam's popularity in the slightly. I think she is a shoo-in for the Top 10. NEVER GOING HOME. 15. Nick Merico - This was Nick's best performance in my mind, but man... it just wasn't enough. It was pleasant and if he was performing for a group of girls at a party he'd likely get laid. I just don't think Idol audiences are going to be impressed here. Again... pretty boys/girls don't do well on this show. We want the contestants our grandparents are eager to vote for and Nick comes across as to glossy. Too ordinary. NOT SAFE. 14. Kimmy Gabriela - I was pleasantly surprised with the changes Kimmy made in her attitude and appearance. I think she took Katy's notes to heart and did everything she could to be remembered for her performance. For me? It worked. I'm not sure she deserves a spot in the Top 10 for it but it was a respectable performance that had a bit of vocal fire underneath. I think it's tough going first, but who knows? I'm just proud that she came back ready to fight and she should be proud if that was her last stand. NOT SAFE. 13. DeWayne Crocker Jr. - I love DeWayne's voice, but I was disappointed this week to realize he isn't as strategic as I thought he was. This was karaoke. Sure, he sounded great, but the vocals also sounded too clean... too processed. It fit with his vibe as a throwback soul singer, but I'm not sure that's going to be enough. I think the people that are going to sail into the Top 10 are the people who have a really clear and flagrant musical identity. DeWayne has yet to really lock that in. NOT SAFE. 12. Faith Becnel - The surprise of the night for me was Faith Becnel magically ending up in the middle of the pack. I am...uhh... not a fan of Faith's. I find her a bit "try hard" and inauthentic. And yet... here she is. She settled down and just sang the hell out of her song. The vibe of her backdrop was simple, but elegant, and she just appeared way more serious and constant. I don't think she should, nor will, move into the Top 10, but I liked this performance. It was strong and perhaps if the cut wasn't so drastic she'd have another chance at it. Alas... NOT SAFE. 11. Cyniah Elise - I mentioned in my last article that big voice belters really had to thread the needle in a "sing from home" competition. I think Cyniah sounded great, but I'm not sure she threaded said needle. I think I started to worry when she leapt into her second key change. It made the performance big and bold, when I would have preferred her to really have locked into the emotion and sold us a more intimate version of the story. Still... she's had a hell of a lot of screen time and a few other belters didn't do better. We shall see. NOT SAFE. 10. Dillon James - Rounding out my Top 10 is Dillon James. Dillon, with a fabulous backdrop, crooned a pretty, melody-free, Ray LaMontagne song. He did it well, it felt like a song he may write, and we immediately knew the lane he was taking in this competition. I think he has a strong enough fanbase and strong enough crossover appeal to make it to the next round. There's something about Dillon that has a haunting quality. I would have preferred he picked a more substantive song, but I think this was still strong enough to get him a spot. NEVER GOING HOME. 9. Francisco Martin - Francisco did everything he needed to do. He was a shoo-in before the votes even started, but he didn't screw up. He played a popular tune, flipped it a bit, and just let his demographics do the talking. Sometimes in American Idol... that's all you need to make it into the Top 10. I think there are a lot more crossover voters in the heartland that will dig Francisco than we may expect. I would say he is in. NEVER GOING HOME. 8. Makayla Phillips - This one is a bit sad to me. I think Makayla absolutely killed it. She's a bonafide pop star and her vocals are Lysol clean. And yet? I think it's a toss-up if she gets in. Will Idol voters be attracted to her? Is she too modern? Too hip? Too perfect? Too pretty? Etc etc. I think Makayla, unfairly or not, is going to come across to some as being someone that it is hard to root for in this competition. It could doom her. We shall see. NOT SAFE. 7. Franklin Boone - I just loved this performance and this song. There was something about the simplicity of it and how it just fit the times we are all living in. It was a nice tough to show his family dancing and singing along. Franklin can sometimes come across as too subtle, but I'd love to see him again. It's a toss-up if he makes it through, but I just feel like he did practically everything right tonight besides really blowing us away and making his case inarguable. NOT SAFE. 6. Sophia James - I have the feeling Sophia might be lower on a lot of people's rankings, but please keep in mind: my critiques are rooting in how I think contestants did to improve their case on winning the title. I think Sophia, seated at the piano, crooning a lyrical tune, in front of a fire place, is exactly the type of contestant she needs to strive to be. It's either her or Julia in this lane and she needs to make her claim. NOT SAFE. 5. Jonny West - In the same vein, I think Jonny did everything he needed to in this first round as well. Well, almost everything. I think we have all been missing a bit of that alternative flair we saw from Jonny in his initial audition. I think he makes the Top 10 and I would encourage him to get a bit more innovative this upcoming Sunday. His vocals are ready to record, he's got a great story, and his modesty is certainly his strength. I'm interested to see how America views him. NEVER GOING HOME. 4. Louis Knight - I thought Louis was one of the only contestants in this episode to really take advantage of what is happening out in the world. The eye contact, the serious emotional connection to the material, and the lyrics talking about the end of the world. There was a bit of magic in there for me. He wasn't vocally perfect, but it just didn't matter in that moment. It was truthful. It was honest. We believed it. I'm surprised the statistics aren't showing more strength for Louis, but I still think he sneaks in. NOT SAFE. 3. Arthur Gunn - Arthur Gunn will be in the Top 10. I didn't have a doubt of that going into last week and after seeing some of the numbers I really don't have a doubt of that going into Sunday. He's almost taking the Taylor Hicks route. He's a unique looking guy with a throwback soulful voice that is sure to connect to a lot of Idol voters out there. This performance was a little safer than I would have liked, but David Archuleta did a similar thing with "Shop Around" in Season 7 semi-finals and people really dug it. Strong performance, easy call. NEVER GOING HOME. 2. Lauren Spencer-Smith - There is something about Lauren that just screams Kelly Clarkson to me. She's got that girl next door vibe and she's got as big of a voice as any of the female contestants in the Top 20. I think the production quality was second to none which made the performance even more memorable. She looked great, her surroundings looked great, and she sang the absolute crap out of "Mama Knows Best." I think Lauren should get into the Top 10 and I think she more than deserves it. It's possible she could just continue to grow. NEVER GOING HOME. 1. Julia Gargano - Yeah, I just loved this. There's a bit of bias here in that Julia sings the type of singer/songwriter style I naturally gravitate towards, but I just felt like this was the most well-rounded performance of the episode. It showed us exactly who Julia would be as an artist, it showed fantastic vocal control, and she picked a song that really allowed her to tell us a story. I'm just worried that she just doesn't have a strong enough fanbase to make it to the end. In fact, I'm now pretty certain she doesn't. But will she make the Top 10? Toss-up. NOT SAFE. Prediction Statistics Okay. I started doing this last season and the results were fairly accurate. Obviously, at 20 contestants, the margin of error for most of these results is going to be large. The contestants below who are bolded are currently outside of the margin of error and are predicted as being "more likely than not" placed into the Top 10. So, where does that leave everyone else? Very much within the margin of error. So, this is predicting 6 out of 10, which means there are currently 4 contestants who are in the margin of error who would also graduate into the Top 10. Let's see how we do! Arthur - 26.0% Sam - 13.6% Francisco - 8.1% Dillon - 6.6% Jonny - 5.8% Lauren - 5.1% Louis - 4.3% Jovin - 4.3% Aliana - 3.1% Franklin - 2.9% Sophia - 2.6% Kimmy - 2.6% Makayla - 2.3% Julia - 2.0% Grace - 2.0% Olivia - 1.9% DeWayne - 1.7% Nick - 1.6% Cyniah - 1.5% Faith - 1.1% Who should go home? Aliana, Olivia, Jovin, Grace, Sam, Nick, Kimmy, DeWayne, Faith, and Cyniah Who will go home? Aliana, Olivia, Nick, Kimmy, DeWayne, Faith, Makayla, Sophia, Cyniah, and Franklin See you next week! NGH
  11. The NGH Report - American Idol 18's Top 20 Power Rankings Well, this has been a @#$%fest of a month hasn't it? I was all prepared to start writing Hollywood recaps, but as the insanity of COVID19 started encompassing all of our day to day lives, I held back, realizing that this season was going to rapidly change. Either they would outright cancel it, suspend it and bring it back next year, or find a way to move forward under new restrictions. Now, we finally have that answer. We will be having a remote Idol this season, which is, suffice it to say, the pits. I could spend hours talking about how unfair this will be for the contestants and the viewers, but what's the point? It's done. This is what we get this year. I would have preferred that they just start the season next year with the same Top 20 and go straight into performance nights (even more of them since the schedule would allow it), but I'm not a television producer so I'm out of my depth on why they made the decision they did. Either way, it's done. We are going to have really weird iPhone Idol this year and whomever wins will both have a hell of a lot of press (due to the insanity of how it all played out) and absolutely none of the memories or experience of being a part of a major television production. Very sad, but oh well... we press on. In the spirit of that, I decided instead of doing a typical Hollywood article, I would just do a write-up of the contestants and how I view them ranked currently. So, I've broken the Top 20 out into four core groups: The Cannon Fodder, The Underdogs, The Dark Horses, and The Frontrunners. Please note: It is very important to know that this isn't a measure of vocal talent, but a measure of which contestant seems the best poised to win through a combination of demographics, a measure of their current popularity, genre strength, and Idol voting patterns. We are really in uncharted waters here with this remote experience. I had to think about what contestants would likely thrive in a more low key setting (ie. singer/songwriters) and also who had the financial ability to create a remote environment that would feel professional and produced. I do think this season will be very hard on our big voice belters. Without the production value, the sound mixing, the band behind them, there is likely going to be a threat of being a bit too much. For instance, what do you think is likely to be a more effective remote performance? Phillip Phillips' Volcano or Jessica Sanchez's And I Am Telling You? Exactly. It's weird. I thought this season had the potential of a strong female pop singer winning. But now? I think the likelihood of a WGWG winner has skyrocketed. We shall see! Here we go! The Cannon Fodder Nick Merico - Look, I don't think anyone really likes him. His voice isn't unique or particularly strong and half of his presence on the air so far has just been Idol judges talking about what an asshat he seems to be. I think the odds of Nick leaving in the first cut is large and in charge. Faith Becnel - Ditto here. Faith is a lot and very little of her is particularly interesting. She's a belter who has no subtlety and prefers runs to singing with literally any meaning behind her eyes. Also, why vote for her when you have so many other people in her genre that are better suited for this competition? Aliana Jester - I think Aliana is sweet and if Idol was normal this year she may have had a shot of a nice growth arc, but now that we are moving so quickly? She's too far behind to shape a narrative. I just find her being forgotten. Kimmy Gabriela - Speaking of being forgotten, Katy nailed it in her critique before admitting young Kimmy to the Semifinals: Kimmy is a very strong singer, who is utterly forgetful. What do I know about Kimmy? I know about her father. I have no idea what type of artist she wants to be and, honestly, she's so young that I don't think she knows either. DeWayne Crocker - Out of all of this category, I think DeWayne actually has the most potential of creating a surprise performance and surviving. Why? He has already shown he can do it. After his "Old Town Road" performance, a lot of people online took a second look at him. He may be a smart player and after seeing more of his unseen Hollywood performances, his voice is stronger than many realize. The Underdogs Franklin Boone - I think Franklin has a chance of making the Top 10, but it would take a standout performance. Let's talk demographics for a second: there are SEVEN black singers in the Top 20 this year. That's a really strong percentage. But, it will likely mean some demographic split for those that vote on demographics, which as we now know from 18 years of this, is a lot of Idol voters. I think Franklin could potentially suffer here as he doesn't have a unique genre in the Top 20 either. You know who does? Jovin. Sam Diaz - I think Sam is brilliant. I would love to see her in the Top 3. She is a true singer who sings from her heart and brings something important to her music. Her story is incredible and her optimism is amazing. She would be a great winner this season as the world melts around us. But -- I am very concerned that Sam will be able to compete remotely. First of all, she's based out of NYC, which is under strict lockdown orders (making it even tougher to get decorations or materials to build a setup), she does not come from a family with financial support, and she doesn't seem to have a large family she lives with that could assist. Cyniah Elise - Cyniah is an old school Idol type: a diva with a bit of an attitude. These singers don't typically do well on this program anymore. Could she make the Top 10? Absolutely. She has plenty of screen time and a big ole voice, but... who knows how that plays without the production value behind her? We shall see. Makayla Phillips - Ditto for Makayla, though I will say... I think Makayla better understands who she is as an artist and will potentially be a smarter game player than Cyniah. She also has a lot of experience at remote singing. Olivia Ximines - I love Olivia and I think America will love Olivia. She is a shining light. I looked back at every single one of her performances and she has yet to have a misstep. She is young, a powerful singer, and a great performer. I think the odds of her making the Top 10 are stronger than anyone else in this category. The Dark Horses Lauren Spencer-Smith - Lauren has a Kelly Clarkson vibe to her. She screams "dark horse" to me. I could see her either flaming out quickly, or blow us all away with her performance. She is that girl next door type that middle America would run to vote for over the rest of the season. Jovin Webb - My fear is that I love Jovin Webb more than America will love Jovin Webb. We shall see. He has received strong edits, seems fairly well known, and is unique in that he is the only one really rocking an old school blues vibe this season. It could set him apart from the pack. Grace Leer - It's hard to bet against the only country female in the Top 20 from making the Top 10. Sophia James - Here's my big question for the Top 10. Is there room for both Sophia and Julia? She's obviously very well-liked and very talented. She had a misstep in Hollywood, but quickly rebounded and is obviously a judges favorite. Jonny West - Jonny was a tough one for me. I could have moved him up to the Frontrunners category, but I wanted to keep it limited. The argument for Jonny to make the Top 10 is simple: he is one of THE best stories of the season. My wife told me, as our hearts were breaking as Jonny looked for Margie at the end of Hollywood Week, only to find out she was eliminated, that "the Bachelor sucked this year. Jonny and Margie are the romance of the year for me." I laughed, but she's not wrong. It was like a movie. He's a super talented guy, and Margie's words to him as she was eliminated, "I want you to win it" could have been scripted. The Frontrunners Dillon James - Speaking of good stories, middle America is going to love this long-haired giving glory to God cowboy hat wearing addict-gone-straight. He's a redemption story with a unique voice and a powerful ability to connect to some real darkness. He could win it. Julia Gargano - I think this season's best hope for a female winner is Julia Gargano. She's a hell of a songwriter, polished, and will have no problem adapting to remote performances. She's been doing them for years. Smart as a whip, modest, and has a hell of a voice. If we are looking for the great hope for the ladies, it just feels like Julia to me. She could win it. Louis Knight - That being said... now that we are going remote, these next three guys are going to be TOUGH to beat. Louis is a British boy band clone who writes songs, mourns the loss of a good friend, and will have viewers crushing hard. It's like he was built in a lab to be Simon Cowell's favorite contestant ever on this show. Idol voters LOVE someone who they could picture marrying their granddaughters. He could win it. Francisco Martin - This is literally the same story, but a bit of a different flavor: this one plays the guitar and is shy! Aww! The two of them are fairly interchangeable. It will come down to performances, but we'd be lying to ourselves if we underestimated either of them. He could win it. Arthur Gunn - It's a shortened season. It's remote. The cuts will be hard and fast. Which means? Popularity counts. And the most popular contestant of the season? Arthur Gunn. He is probably the MOST American Idol story I have ever seen on American Idol. A kid from Nepal whose family moved to Kansas to find the American dream. When he arrived, he dug in to the sounds of Americana, folk, blues, and bluegrass and never looked back. He's not too foreign for the heartland and he's not too vanilla for the Coasts. He's talented, unique, and, as Lionel says incredibly too much, has "instant identity." I would be utterly shocked if Arthur Gunn doesn't win this season. Also, I wouldn't hate that result in the slightest. He could win it. See you next week! NGH
  12. Yes. I'll be writing up a large Hollywood/Top 40 article in a week or so. Thanks, NGH
  13. The NGH Report - American Idol 18’s Auditions Pt. 4 - “I’m taking it all in!” The big announcement this week? Katy is pregnant! This will be an interesting season for sure. I’m sure there is going to be no less than 5,000 random bits about babies this year. I’m sure they will all be incredibly creative and not repetitive whatsoever. I’m kidding. It’s going to be hell. An absolute hellscape. Here we go! Danny La Rota ?? years old AL “Royals” Danny is currently in dental school, and after he received his golden ticket… he seemed stupidly unsure about whether or not he wanted to continue training to be a dentist. His voice is strong, but affected. He has that late 90s alternative pop sound that used to be all the rage. The range is fairly impressive too. If he is smart and has a strategic plan Danny could stick around for a while. 8/10 Makayla Phillips 17 years old CA “Who’s Loving You” Makayla is such a pro. Your voice is refined and strong. She has a bit of a Jessica Sanchez vibe. I think she will likely do very well in this competition. Very marketable. Very safe, but that can be a pro to winning this show. See: Laine Hardy. 8.5/10 Devon Alexander 22 years old CA “Not In That Way” Devon is literally just a less polished version of Clark Beckham. It’s the classic white boy blue eyed soul sound. He’s nervous, but he shouldn't be. It’s a good vibe. 8/10 Mosean Wilson 23 years old IL “Slip Away” Man, there is just something so infectious about this man’s attitude. He’s genuine, kind, cool, and confident. Also, how many people can confidently stroll into an audience with an old Casio keyboard on your back? Mosean has an incredibly throwback blues sound and this season is really starting to seem like a soul/blues focused event. Lots of singers in this genre! 8.5/10 Faith Becnel years old LA “Lady Marmalade” I have a very hard time taking any contestant seriously when they sing “Lady Marmalade.” It’s a sign that they care very little about activating lyrics and telling a story and they care way more about vocal gymnastics which will do nothing to separate you from the others in this competition unless your vocal level is so out of this world it becomes a focal point. I just have no idea who she is other than a talented singer. That’s a problem. 8/10 Kat Luna 19 years old ?? “Shallow” Kat and Alejandro come in together since they are in love and a couple. It’s honestly too gooey to handle. They are one of the most attractive couples I have probably ever seen on this show. I think Kat is the better singer. She’s got this great alto husky tone to her voice that can really captivate a room. 8/10 Alejandro Garrido 26 years old ?? “Shallow” He wants us to call him Space Cowboy and I will @#$%ing not. 7.5/10 Sophia Wackerman 20 years old CA “Water” This was my favorite audition of the episode. Sophia is ready for this. She’s confident, has a great look and a great personality, but also has a very unique tone to her voice. She’s also an instrumentalist. All signs are go for this contestant. Also, her mother sang in The Moody Blues! That type of coolness can’t be beat! She’s a very present singer. 8.5/10 Jimmy Levy 21 years old FL “Wicked Game” His version of this song sounds nothing like the original. He’s a fine singer, but he’s super nervous, and doesn’t seem built for this. He won’t last long. 7.5/10 Olivia Ximines 16 years old CA “Language” On the other hand! Olivia is VERY built for this. She’s young, pretty, and has a voice that seems like it will be able to handle anything. She’s like a young prizefighter! Olivia could grow considerably over the course of this competition. 8.5/10 Marna Michele 27 years old CA “Million Reasons” I think Marna is great, but I’m not positive the judges notes actually helped her here. They took away some of the unique qualities of her tone only to fix a vocal scoop, which is, in my opinion, a really bad trade off. I think Marna could surprise as long as she doesn’t get too in her head. 7.5/10 Zach Dobbins 18 years old WV “Misuse” Luke’s ability to speed tune will always be an amazement to me. I love this show for moments just like this. Some kid from the sticks shows up to audition in front of superstars and actually has something. It’s rough, but it’s there. The question with contestants as raw and authentic as this is… can they hold it together in a competition setting? Can they make adjustments and strategize? Sometimes they surprise, but sometimes they flame out. We shall see! 8/10 Ren Patrick 26 years old TX “Dancing On My Own” Following in ABCs Idol tradition of ending the show on a feel good note, we are introduced to Ren who is coming out of an abusive relationship. Her phrasing is unique and she activates the lyrics in a way that makes me think she is an effective storyteller. Vocally, she is strong enough to make the live rounds of the competition, so we should keep an eye on her. 8.5/10 See you next time! NGH
  14. The NGH Report - American Idol 18’s Auditions Pt. 3 - “Shoe-wee!” The third audition episode begins with a bang, but it did feel like some of the talent tidal waves we have seen have begun to recede. Yes, there were some strong singers in this episode, but it didn’t have that viral “can you believe that?” moment that the others have had for me. Also, as someone who has auditioned for this show, and had to sit thru the cattle call round for hours to be seen, and then advanced to the Producers and the Judges rounds… watching a girl just camp out in front of the taping and circumvent three separate auditions to be seen by the judges was INFURIATING. Every single person in this competition had to wait in that crazy cesspool of insanity to finally get to this stage… and you just show up on the 1-yard line ready to score a touchdown? Get away from me with that. Here we go! Kimmy Gabriella 17 years old FL “Let’s Hurt Tonight” Kimmy is a pretty standard Idol trope these days. She’s a 17-year-old wunderkind who has a great instrument, but has absolutely zero artistic identity. She can be molded, but it feels a bit old school for what Idol has become. Katy asks her if she is fluent and can sing in Spanish. Kimmy does. Katy is impressed. But… why? Why do these judges get so impressed at Spanish-speaking singers having the ability to sing in a language they can speak? It’s not magic. It’s just another language. What a weird obsession. The judges predict Top 10, which sounds pretty good to Kimmy, but typically the judges predict Top 3, so this is actually an insult to poor Kimmy. 8/10 Amelia 23 years old AZ “Yesterday” Quick clips by three contestants! This is a great rendition of “Yesterday” and Amelia has an awesome smokey tone. I wanted to hear much more about this contestant. 8.5/10 Erin Kirby 16 years old GA “Who You Are” Erin has a very strong upper register, but doesn’t seem to be a confident guitar player. We hear maybe five seconds of her performance. 8/10 Jordan Jones 26 years old AZ “Lovesong” I’m going to be honest… I don’t love this rendition of Lovesong. It’s far too minor and his tone is washing away all of the complexity in the number. He proposes to his girlfriend after he gets sent through and she says yes. 7.5/10 Lauren Mascitti 27 years old TN “If I Can Lose You” Can we talk about the very old elephant in the room? Lauren’s fiance is Shawn Camp, a famous songwriter, who is 53-years-old! He could literally be her father. 26 year age difference! I don’t know… feels like a yikes to me. Her tone is very pleasant and her songwriting ability is confident and assured. She is mature enough that she knows her identity and could do very well. 8.5/10 Courtney Timmons 22 years old GA “Rise Up” Unfair! Please refer to my earlier comments. Courtney is fine. She has a voice, but she seems far too laid back to be competitive enough to actually win this thing. It’s all just a bit too bland. 7.5/10 Lauren Spencer-Smith 16 years old Canada “What About Us” Lauren delivered one of my favorite vocals of the episode. The tone, the size of her voice, and her ability to phrase the song in a way that is pleasing and unique feels effortless. She seems well beyond her age in her ability. 8.5/10 DeWayne Crocker Jr. 23 years old FL “Don’t Worry Be Happy” This was a fun laid back version of this song, but it doesn’t really match the intention of the lyrics. So, creative, yes, but not really coherent. The voice though is pleasing and big. If he can open his personality up a bit more, he could stand out in a good way. We haven’t had many strong R&B male singers as of yet. There’s a spot for him. 8/10 Dillon James 26 years old CA “Make You Feel My Love” Dillon receives one of the longest backstory packages of the episode. He suffered from drugs and alcohol and struggled back from a very dark place. I mean, if someone has a full body Jesus tattoo inked on their body… either they are part of a Mexican cartel or they have seen some things. He’s got a haunting quality to his voice. Luke mentions a comparison to Chris Isaak which feels dead on to me. His voice is unique and discernible. I’m not really sure if I am into it or not, but my interest is certainly piqued. 8/10 Geena Fontanella 27 years old CA “Don’t Want You Back” Geena comes dressed like Billie Eilish, I guess? The verse feels contemporary and is lyrically fine, but then we drop into the chorus and hook and it is the most repetitive thing I have ever heard in my life. Then the judges start singing with her and I want to jump into one of the circles of hell. I’ve already forgotten about her, which is odd because she was literally peacocking throughout that entire audition. 7.5/10 Shannon Gibbons 20 years old NY “I’d Rather Go Blind” This is always a big song for people to undertake, but Shannon does better than respectable with it. It’s a very soulful rendition that is well beyond her age. You really have to have gone through some darker times to connect with this type of material and it’s clear it is an honest audition. 8.5/10 Genevieve Linkowski 20 years old MI “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” As per usual, we end the night with a sadder story. Genevieve returns to audition for Idol after two years, but since then she has lost her older sister in a car accident. She’s had a very rough few years and is back for her sister. Vocally, I don't really remember this contestant, but when I went back to look it doesn’t seem like she has grown much since then. Perhaps the improvement is that she has a bit more purpose beneath her. 8/10 See you next time! NGH
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