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The Buzz with CCX - Season 18 Episode 13


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Well, here we are, April 26th, and we've finally reached the live shows. I think Season 15 was already over by this point four years ago. Allegedly, this will be a voting episode, which is already cause for optimism since we haven't been given the chance to vote in the first round of semifinalist reduction since Season 14. Of course, last year's Top 20 episode was three hours long. Is this episode? We get an intro from Ryan's home in Los Angeles, which is beautiful. He introduces our judges, and Katy's off-screen, then comes into the screen in a hand sanitizer costume, except it's American Idol brand Music Sanitizer. Okay, Katy, whatever. Your antics are getting a bit over the top. Luke and Lionel's homes also seem to reflect what you'd expect from them; Lionel's reminds me very much of visiting my maternal grandparents. Voting opens, because of course it does. Kimmy Gabriela's up first, singing Leave Me Lonely by Ariana Grande featuring Macy Gray. Okay, it does appear that the numbers correspond with tonight's order, and voting doesn't close until 9 AM tomorrow, so I'll have time to compose myself. Katy remarks that she hardly recognized Kimmy, because she's had a character evolution. I have to agree; she finally looks like she's just being a teenager. Next up is Jovin Webb, singing "With a Little Help from my Friends". Oh, right, this is an official performance episode! I'm supposed to actually be rating these. Well, neither of these have blown me away; I'll give Kimmy a 50, which is my baseline for "passable but unmemorable", and Jovin a 55 because it was also underwhelming, but not bad. Katy points out the differences that you're going to get in this--whereas Kimmy was performing outdoors, Jovin was in a garage. Also, I had my drink from the start--vodka and cranberry--but forgot to mention it. It turns out that tonight's episode is only two hours long. I kind of had a hunch based on how quickly they just kind of dumped us into the performances. I guess they can do it quicker since they don't have to reset the stage for each performance.


Franklin Boone is up third, singing Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". It's...strange. That's not the type of song I'd have expected out of him, and sure enough, he's made it sound very different. Technically, he did some nice things, but it just kind of felt weird and disjointed. I give it a 36. Luke pointedly disagrees and says Franklin was "definitely top 10 worthy". Olivia Ximines is up fourth, singing "bad guy" by Billie Eilish. That's an interesting choice; she's a very stylized artist, so I feel like she'd be a tough sell to cover. And sure enough, I don't think Olivia's doing a great job on it. You know, my initial instinct for Jovin was a bit higher than what I initially put, and Franklin a bit lower; let's put Olivia at 40 and bump the first two up a little bit, to 53 and 58, while knocking Franklin down to 34.


Louis Knight's up fifth, singing "If the World Was Ending" by JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels. Never heard of it, or JP Saxe. And Louis is...once again, a disappointment. He seemed so natural in his audition, but he's been in a rut. Louis comes in at 42, and Olivia and Franklin drop to 38 and 32. Makayla Phillips is up sixth, singing "Greedy" by Ariana Grande. She starts out in black-and-white, showing she's got a good command of effects, and she just blows it open. I had just been thinking that we needed a good strong performance, and Makayla came through. It didn't quite feel like a 5-star performance, but I'd probably have to start knocking everyone else down to put the proper distance between her and the first five so I'm just going to...nah, we'll put the tentative score at 79.


Bobby Bones check-in time. ...Oh, I guess it just registered. We're still going to top 10 on the first week of America voting. So, basically Season 12 again, only without the guarantee of a gender-balanced top ten. Aliana Jester is singing Whitney Houston's "Run to You", and it's...a very loyal cover. Probably. I'm not as familiar with this particular Whitney song, but this is a very Whitney Houston performance. Which means that I'm unlikely to send any votes her way because it's not relevant to today's music scene, but I have to give it an 80. Lionel's praise is way too over the top, though, which pretty much seals the deal--I'm not voting for her, even though she was the technically strongest singer thus far. Faith Becnel is performing "River" by Bishop Briggs. And I think my prediction last week is bearing itself out. She didn't impress me at all until she was already into the Top 20, but she's actually not bad at all! I give this a 66. Katy gives her about a "six-and-a-half stars", so if that's out of 10, we're on the same page.


Nick Merico is up next, singing "Hey There Delilah" and making it his own. I'm...wowed? This is definitely the biggest surprise ever, both from who it came from and from the song it came on. That's about the most vanilla song ever, and he made it soulful. I give it an 85. Lauren Spencer-Smith is up tenth, singing "Mamma Knows Best" by Jessie J. She also plays with the special effects; this is clearly choreographed. She's on point, but there's a hard ceiling on how high she could climb for me singing a Jessie J song. Faith gets ticked up to 67 to allow Lauren to hit the 66.


Cyniah Elise is up 11th, singing "Warrior" by Demi Lovato, and it's amazing. Did they backload the Top 20 episode again? I'd give this...an 82, let's say. She might've oversung it a bit, but it was very solid. And now comes Francisco Martin, singing..."Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry? Okay, sure. Once I contain my snickering, I have to say, this acoustic version is quite impressive. 87. Awesome. performance, and Katy says that he did it justice, though she did of course have a critique because, as she said, this is a song she's sung tens of thousands of times.


Sophia James (nee Wackerman) is up 13th, singing "Burning" by Maggie Rogers and accompanying herself on a...synthesizer? I'm assuming the interesting sounds in this performance are coming from the keyboard. I guess it's possible that the backing band is doing that. We've got another winner, though it was lacking that "wow" factor; I give it a 74. Luke says that he feels like the problem was that she was paying too much attention to hitting her notes on the keyboard and it was taking her out of the song. DeWayne Crocker Jr. is up next, singing "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown. It felt...hollow, and yet, I still feel like I liked it more than a couple of performances I want to rate it behind. ...Actually, never mind. I was thinking that I liked it more than Faith and Lauren, but upon reflection, I don't even like it more than Jovin or Kimmy. 48? Nah, that feels way too weak. I think I massively underrated Kimmy and Jovin, and/or overrated Faith and Lauren.


Oh, I forgot to take note of what Dillon James was singing! Ryan even mentioned the group before the break and I still didn't take it down. I was too busy trying to sort out the correction for the death slot(s). Which really hurts because Dillon's caught in the muddling middle, too! I'm leaving Jovin's score where it is and moving Faith down to a 62, putting Dillon at 56, Kimmy at 54Lauren at 52, and I guess 48 was right for DeWayne after all. It's tough; objectively, I can't give Jovin four stars, but I do have to concede that it was...more enjoyable than Faith or Lauren. But was it objectively better? I'm not sure. I feel like it isn't for Faith. Probably is for Lauren.


Arthur Gunn is up 16th, singing "Lovin' Machine" by Wynonie Harris. Never heard of it, or Wynonie Harris, but I can tell that it's another oldie. It's a technically fine performance; I'll give it a 66. I'm no longer worried that they massively backloaded it, but I'm still worried that my short attention span is going to make it tough to judge all 20 performances against each other. I feel like it's lighter outside during his post-performance interview than it was in his performance? I'm wondering if these performances weren't pre-recorded after all. Julia Gargano's singing Christina Perri's "Human". Oh no...I think this was an awful song choice for her; doesn't fit her voice at all. If she can hit the big notes she might be able to overcome that mistake, but...no, I don't think she's doing it. Let's see, what's the worst I've given out tonight? A 32? And on one that I said was technically not bad, just weird. This was outright bad. I'll give it a 17. Major misstep.


18th is Grace Leer, singing "Cry" by Faith Hill. It sounded like she was having some control problems, which is a shame because it was still one of the better performances of the night. Ah, hell, let's give this an 83. There were mistakes, but she still showed that she's one of the best. Ryan again uses the phrase "if (contestant) is your number one, you can vote for them at". No, Ryan, the whole idea of this new voting method is to let you vote for multiple people. Just Sam didn't return to New York when they were dismissed, choosing instead to stay in California. Probably a good choice. Unfortunately, her other choice wasn't nearly so good; she's singing Season 3 OWS "I Believe". It was...very mediocre. 50. Another muddled middler. This time Ryan reminds voters to vote for "all [their] favorites".


Jonny West is closing out the top 20, and he's got an unfair advantage because he's got another fan-favorite in his corner. But he's got some trouble identifying when to play it safe and when to take risks. The return of the Fourth Epoch's Lightning Semifinals? Not the time to go way out of your comfort zone and sing Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World". Backload my ass; this ended with a thud. 16, but not the worst of the night; Julia's score will be dropped accordingly.


Final scores:


Kimmy Gabriela: 54

Jovin Webb: 58

Franklin Boone: 32

Olivia Ximenes: 38

Louis Knight: 42

Makayla Phillips: 79

Aliana Jester: 80

Faith Becnel: 62

Nick Merico: 85

Lauren Spencer-Smith: 52

Cyniah Elise: 82

Francisco Martin: 87

Sophia James: 74

DeWayne Crocker, Jr.: 48

Dillon James: 56

Arthur Gunn: 66

Julia Gargano: 14

Grace Leer: 83

Just Sam: 50

Jonny West: 16


Let's lock that in!

Edited by ScarletDevilCCX
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