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The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 24 Group Two: "Magic."


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The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 24 Group Two: "Magic."

 

After spending the week ruminating on (and rewatching) these semi-final performances, I am really missing the Top 24/20/16 elongated semifinals of yesteryear. It was such a better way to whittle down to our finalists as it allowed for growth and unknown contestants to find a foot hold. This elimination setting is so brutal. We are cutting 8 people in one week. It's just a lot. 

 

I am certain of SIX contestants who will make the Top 16:

 

Willie Spence

Grace Kinstler

Ava August

Chayce Beckham

Caleb Kennedy

Casey Bishop

 

After that, I think folks like Alyssa Wray, Cassandra Coleman, and Wyatt Pike are also likely in, but the remaining 7 contestants will probably be a dogfight. 

 

Country contestants like Hannah Everhart and Cecil Ray both had an inordinate amount of screen time and were well-received by audiences, but... they sucked. It was easily their worst performance, and while the Country vote is popular, I'm not certain it can perform miracles. But we shall see.

 

Other contestants who impressed in the past, but were either lukewarm or letdowns this week like Madison Watkins, Liahona Olayan, and Hunter Metts are definitely up in the air. 

 

Colin Jamieson, Anilee List, Mary Jo Young, and Graham DeFranco either did very well vocally, or completely surprised with their performances, so they are definitely wildcards in all of this. 

 

So, we shall see!

 

As always, I've ranked the contestants based off of how successful I thought they were on the night of, and I broke up my rankings into the two groups (though I think we can all agree that Group 1 was stronger overall than Group 2). Today is Group Two!

 

Here we go!

 

Group Two

 

12. Hannah Everhart - "I Was Wrong" / "She's Country"

 

It was so strange that both groups mirrored each other in that the worst performance of the night went to the young, green, Country singer. Cecil and Hannah were, without a doubt, the worst of the bunch this week. I don't know if it was the inexperience of being on a stage that loud, but they consistently were having pitch issues. They both performed better with their uptempo duets, as well. It was wild. It was like a parallel universe opened up and we saw the same performance... just with different people. Hannah has received a lot of screen time up until now... but can it get past that? Yikes. NOT SAFE.

 

11. Madison Watkins - "Holy" / "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing"

 

Every season we see this happen. A contestant hits the live stage and decides they are going to abandon literally everything that has worked for them before in order to transform into what they think of as a "pop star." They pick super contemporary music and focus on their "image" or "vibe" over all else. Madison fell into that trap this year. She's a phenomenally talented contestant, but you wouldn't have known it from these two performances. They were ordinary and forgettable, and I think she cost herself a spot in the Finals. NOT SAFE.

 

10. Liahona Olayan - "Just Friends" / "Say So"

 

Liahona is kind of in the same situation. Now, she is a pop singer. She started out as a very contemporary performer, but this large stage magnified some of her rough edges, and her first performance was just not adventurous enough for her brand. The duet, on the other hand, was actually full of some very nice vocals and really compelling R&B harmonies, but together... it was an uneven night. I thought Liahona gave one of the strongest initial auditions, but I think she's been trending down since then, and I don't know if the audience has it in them to save her. NOT SAFE.

 

9. Hunter Metts - "Chandelier" / "Who Will Save Your Soul"

 

This may be unpopular, but... I just find Hunter's performance one-note and very limited. He looks lost on that stage. Sure, the songs sounded pretty, and the "Chandelier" cover was clever, but I feel like we've just seen it all, and I don't think he has much left to give. I wonder if Hunter may be one who falls through the cracks because he isn't vocally exciting enough in comparison with this crop of singers. NOT SAFE.

 

8. Jason Warrior - "Call Out My Name" / "How Deep Is Your Love"

 

Jason had a solid night. Both of his performances had great vocals and great connection. So, why ranked at 8th? I think he didn't do quite enough to make himself memorable enough to survive this cut. He went first, he scored a solid triple, and then he just faded away. Traditionally, that hasn't worked out for contestants in this new age of Idol. NOT SAFE.

 

7. Beane Hepler - "Don't Start Now" / "Angels"

 

Beane's solo, once again, fell into that live stage "pop star" trap. The song was fine, but it went nowhere and I forgot it immediately. It wasn't powerful and it didn't resonate. It was just a pop hit sung on a karaoke show. That's it. Luckily, "Angels" was way closer to Beane's speed. It was actually a sensational bit of singing and Josh Groban definitely won MVP for this episodes celebrity guests. The song had meaning and really hit home. If Beane makes it into the Top 16, he will have that duet to thank for it. NOT SAFE.

 

6. Mary Jo Young - "Castle On The Hill" / "Foolish Games"

 

I was half-expecting Mary Jo Young to fall apart when she hit the live rounds, but... she didn't. She's having a blast and her style is infectious. Every time she opens her mouth to sing it feels complete infused with emotion. There's this beautiful cry in her voice that I can't get enough of and I am wondering how the audience will respond. Two solid performances with very few missteps and she lands a solid, respectable, middle of the road ranking. NOT SAFE.

 

5. Chayce Beckham - "Afterglow" / "Drive"

 

In similar fashion to Wyatt Pike from Group One, Chayce knows who he is and what type of musician he will be. The two songs worked together like a miniature set list, and while he didn't exactly push himself with the material, the vocals were dead on and unique. He really has his own lane here and I think, knowing how Idol has responded to gruff-singing guitar players in the past, he has done plenty to make the next stage of the competition. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

4. Caleb Kennedy - "Midnight Rider" / "Flyover States"

 

If there is one Country singer I am certain will make the Finals... it's Caleb Kennedy. He's authentic, talented, and ready for this. He hasn't really faltered nor has he compromised. It's become very hard to argue that he isn't the best Country contestant of the year, and, those contestants typically make the Finals. His shadow-eyed performances aren't spectacular, but they hit the sweet spot for what he does and what his audience demands. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

3. Casey Bishop - "Decode" / "Wish You Were Here"

 

I feel fairly certain about Casey making it to the next round since she closed out the show with two very above average performances. She faded a bit during the Hollywood rounds, and some likely forgot how big her voice is, but these two numbers were right in her lane and she didn't disappoint. She finished singing and I just wanted more. Her voice booms and demands to be paid attention to and I think that's going to be enough for her to make it into the Top 16. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

2. Colin Jamieson - "Locked Out Of Heaven" / "Hollow"

 

Colin Jamieson was, easily, the surprise of the evening for me. Where did this guy come from?! He was middle of the pack, at best, for the previous rounds, but today he owned the stage better than anyone else in the Top 24 and his vocals weren't just passable, they were downright good. The range, the harmonies, the texture. It was all there. It was just a fantastic set. Uptempo pop number mixed with an emotional duet of "Hollow?" He was matching Tori Kelly vocally. Pretty impressive for a guy I assumed would be eliminated this week. He may still be... but not for lack of trying. Damn, Colin. NOT SAFE.

 

1. Ava August - "Drivers License" / "Both Sides Now"

 

This was my favorite performer of the week. Willie and Grace were great, sure, but I think Ava August made the best argument for success after Idol. There is a magic to her voice and she is the youngest contestant out there. Typically, if those contestants get some running room... they improve... quickly. I've been struck by how smart she is as a picker of songs, and her ability to really carry home a story. Easily my favorite moment of this week was watching this young contestant lay down a claim for being qualified to win this show. Great stuff. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

Who should go home?

 

Hannah, Madison, Liahona, and Hunter

 

Who will go home?

 

Madison, Liahona, Jason, and Hunter

 

See you next week!

 

NGH

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