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The NGH Report - American Idol 18's Top 11: "New York State Of Mind"


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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!



Edited by thenghreport
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Hi! I


I usually am pretty much on the same page with you. This time, however, it was a bit different for me. Sophia, Dillon and Grace made it higher in your list than in mine, specially Sophia. There is something in the sound of her voice I don't like and I have read several people commenting about this.


I hated Dillon's version of Yesterday. He's a good singer but I coincided with Katy that it sounded like he left the metronome on... All the song's meaning was lost for me. As for Grace, I felt she went too theatrical with this in a week when we were talking about things that remind us of home...(is she this grand there?). She has pipes, she sang better than last week, but to me it was a very inconsequential choice. In a shortened season like this, there is not time to beat around the bushes: show what you want to do in the future, so those who like you will follow you after AI. If you have a solid fan base, keep'em, don't confuse them, don't put them in the position of having to explain your choices.


I did not feel Sam's choice was that bad, and I enjoyed her performance much better than last week's, when I was reeeeeeaaaaally underwhelmed. She was not among my favorites, but, I felt she was better than the three mentioned above plus Louis (whom I agree is very meh...).


With Sophia's exception, I pretty much agree with the rest of your list. Some of them are not my favorite, but they did what they had to do (i.e., Makayla and Arthur). She made a case for herself showing she can do well something else, as all the big belters have been cut. But she needs to be very smart about what she does next because she has to carve a path for herself and hopefully steal some voters from others.


I did not care about Arthur's reggae version of that song. He's talented, and he has a big fan base, so yeah, he's safe and very well set to win or be second. But I still cannot connect with him and his voice drives me nuts with the sheep vibrato. I just can't...


Of the rest, most I like and did very well (Jony, Julia and Francisco). As for Jovin, I liked him a lot and wished he could be higher, but I understand why he's in danger. With him it happens totally the opposite to me than with Arthur: I totally connect with most of his performances, and totally get the barbecue sauce and booze references Luke, Katy and Lionel are constantly making. I see myself in bar in NOLA listening to the guy and enjoying the performance.




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