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The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 16: "Instant Identity."


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The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 16: "Instant Identity."

 

What are we calling this round? Semi-Finals Week 2? 

 

Man, I miss the good old days of the Top 24 being whittled down by 4 contestants each week until we have a Top 12. What a fantastic format that was! Alas, we just don't have the episodes for that anymore, so we are left with this format which asks contestants to sit, nervous as hell, waiting for the results and then being asked to sing immediately after hearing their fate. I mean, look at how great some of the performances were tonight and... imagine how much better they could have been if the show allowed the contestants a bit more time to center and focus. 

 

Still, there were quite a few good performances in the Top 16 and now we are left with another cut of 4!

 

Let's take a look!

 

16. Alyssa Wray - "Killing Me Softly With His Song"

 

I thought this was a bit of a mess, honestly. The lower register in the verse was plagued by intonation issues and, stylistically, Alyssa is still a scattered contestant. She has this big instrument, but it's becoming more and more apparent (thanks to such a strong group of finalists) that she has no idea what she wants to do with it. There's no consistent them or an attempt to build a post-Idol career. It's without a strategy and I think that just is a terrible way to go about this competition. I think if she gets in the Top 12, which she easily could, it has more to do with her constant exposure on the show. Screen time is such a powerful ally. NOT SAFE.

 

15. Caleb Kennedy - "Midnight Train To Memphis"

 

Look, this was a bit of a lame performance. It was lazy, but... it was fine. Country singers in this competition are just judged on a way easier standard. The music is easier, the fanbase is more loyal, and now that Caleb is the only country game in town, I would be shocked if that fanbase didn't pull him over the line, but... who knows? Perhaps that fan base is weakening? This wasn't really my jam, but Caleb is clearly going to do his thing and that authenticity is his most powerful weapon in his arsenal. NOT SAFE.

 

14. Colin Jameison - "Everybody Wants To Rule The World"

 

Well, this was disappointing. I had a strong feeling Colin surprised enough voters to sneak into the Top 16, but I was hoping he'd keep that momentum going a bit longer. This was not it. This was an appetizer. There's not enough meat on the bones of this song to really make a meal from and Colin will likely see his Idol dream stop right before the Finals. Honestly, he should be happy he made the last cut. It's something to be proud of, but I think this was just the wrong song choice. NOT SAFE.

 

13. Graham DeFranco - "That's Life"

 

This was a clever song choice for Graham. It's reworked to be in his style: a full on Mraz-vibe. I think Graham has a fabulous tone to his voice. It's pleasant to listen to and it really grooves, but I'm always hoping he can kick it into a higher gear, but it's just not there. I end up having to turn up my volume for Graham's performance since they just don't pierce the veil of sound in that studio. Graham is perpetually needing to do more. I think his stability and personality have got him this far, but I'm not sure, in a group as strong as this, he will be able to do what he needs to to make the Top 12. NOT SAFE.

 

12. Beane Hepler - "Searching For A Feeling"

 

I don't really know what this was. It felt like half of a performance. It had about half of everything I would want from a Beane performance. It was halfway interesting, it was halfway magical, it was halfway dynamic. It just felt watered down and I think this could absolutely lead to Beane's elimination. I think he's got a fairly strong group of people in his corner, but was this performance exciting enough to drive voters to pick up their phones? It wasn't for me. NOT SAFE.

 

11. Deshawn Goncalves - "Feelin Good"

 

Deshawn knows he has to dig in to pull this out. He is definitely a potential elimination tomorrow, so he's getting rid of all of the stops. He's tacking on yet another falsetto opening, he's playing the keys with flair, and he's doing everything he can to mimic an "Idol Moment." There's just one major problem... Deshawn doesn't really have that extra gear in his voice that allows him to melt the roof off of the place. He relies on a strong falsetto whistle note at the end, but it masks some vocal inability. So, what wins out here in viewers minds? The style of the substance? NOT SAFE.

 

10. Ava August - "2002"

 

Ava needs to be careful here. It's only the Top 16! It's not time to break out incredibly unknown songs. We still need to get to know you a bit more and one great week shouldn't give you this much confidence to experiment. Establish a foundation and grow from that, but I think a lot of fans Ava made last week are going to be lukewarm and confused about this one. I dug it. I thought it was contemporary and chic and very on brand, but do I think it was a smart strategic choice? Absolutely not. I hope she has enough good will to get her past it. NOT SAFE.

 

9. Grace Kinstler - "Elastic Heart"

 

For the most part, Grace is a first class singer, but she does have this one tendency to go sharp on notes in the middle of her register and this tendency was on display in this Sia song. I'd give it a B+, but those moments definitely showed this vocal powerhouse has some weaker areas that could be improved upon. I think the song choice was fairly smart, but Grace, like Willie, will be better served by picking more classic songs. Her path to winning this competition is in overpowering every other contestant vocally. So, to do that, you want to make sure you pick songs that have an emotional resonance with the audience, and I'm certain she could have picked something better here. Still, it's Grace, she's a guaranteed Finalist. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

8. Wyatt Pike - "Use Somebody"

 

When they announced he was singing this song I was immediately confused, but they way he reworked the famous tune made it unique, interesting, and fresh. Wyatt is one of the contestants in this competition that can really get by with doing way less than others since his voice and style are just so synonymous with who he is. We know what we are getting. The judges gave him a very good critique. Wyatt needs to deliver a "Volcano"-esque performance next week to find some new ground to tread. I feel fairly confident he makes the Top 12, but not enough to call it. NOT SAFE.

 

7. Alanis Sophia - "The Story"

 

Alanis knows her strategy. She's going to continue to pick haunting, belting-friendly pop songs that really serve as great competition pieces. Her song selection has really been on point and, since reaching the live rounds, her vocals have soared. The story of the season for Alanis has always been: who will the audience rally around? Casey Bishop or Alanis Sophia? The lanes are similar and I'm curious to see who finally breaks through. Still, this performance certainly makes an argument for her deserving to make the Finals. NOT SAFE.

 

6. Chayce Beckham - "Wait In Vain"

 

This is a textbook example of a middle of the road performance. It was safe, but solid. It was authentic, but predictable. It was identifiable, but obvious. Chayce's voice is so easy to pick out that he can get away with just delivering solid covers, but I was hoping for a lyric with a bit more substance. I think it's quite obvious that Chayce is going to get through to the Finals. He closed the night out with a very authentic performance and I think plenty of voters will eat it up. I just want him to stretch a bit more. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

5. Cassandra Coleman - "Wicked Game"

 

Perfect song choice for Cassandra. It's an older, but quite popular tune, and the dark, haunting qualities in her voice match up nicely here. This was also Cassandra's strongest emotive performance. She dug in, shed a lot of those nerves, and delivered the story of the song in a way she hasn't really done before. I think Cassandra has done enough to be voted into the Finals and I expect that to happen. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

4. Hunter Metts - "Skinny Love"

 

Okay, Hunter! As those reading these may remember, my biggest critique of Hunter was that he has come off as consistently one-note, but this performance is more like it. The judges are right; he found a new level here. This new gear really allowed him to dig in and find more emotion in the material and it translated beautifully. What a fantastic cover of this song! His voice soars with it and, while it wasn't very original, it was incredibly solid and I think he's done himself a favor here. We shall see, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him sneak in with this one. NOT SAFE.

 

3. Willie Spence - "Set Fire To The Rain"

 

Again... is this thing already over? I'm watching the metrics online of viewer count, how many folks are sharing performances, etc, and Willie is just dominating. He's broken through as one of the most viral sensations of this season. So, with the new truncated seasons, is there actually any time for anyone other than one or two contestants to make an attempt at overtaking him? I'm really not betting on it. Until I see evidence that shows me otherwise... I'm assuming this season is a race for 2nd place. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

2. Casey Bishop - "Black Hole Sun"

 

I'm a little salty about this because "Black Hole Sun" was always going to be my go-to semi-final performance if I ever made the voting rounds. It's a brilliant song. Haunting, powerful, and leaves room for some pretty compelling orchestrations. So, I have to tip my hat to young Casey Bishop here. It was everything I hoped it would be and Casey continues to be an absolutely compelling singer with a voice that is large enough to compete with Willie and Grace. We shall see, but I think she's done enough to make the Finals. NEVER GOING HOME.

 

1. Madison Watkins - "Gravity"

 

I am incredibly relieved that my prediction was inaccurate and that Madison made the Top 16. She is more special than her last performance made her seem and I thought she was fabulous tonight. Vocally, she was strong, but more than that... there was magic on the stage. My background is in musical theatre, so I am partial to watching singers really really connect to the lyrical material of a song and Madison did this more than anyone else in this episode. Hell, she was fighting back tears at the end. It all just felt special to me. Still, I just don't have a great grasp of how Idol viewers are responding to Madison and she is certainly still at risk of leaving the competition. NOT SAFE.

 

Who should go home?

 

Alyssa, Caleb, Colin, Graham

 

Who will go home?

 

Graham, Beane, Colin, Madison

 

See you next time!

 

NGH

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agree for most part except for madison ranked 1. don't understand what people see in her. can't see her as a recording artist. can anyone tell what kind of album she might release or isn't it important anymore!? 

 

Edited by blackfield
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2 minutes ago, blackfield said:

can anyone tell what kind of album she might release or isn't it important anymore!? 

Well the past two winners haven’t released albums so it’s not like that would be a talking point if she won...

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3 minutes ago, Elliott said:

Well the past two winners haven’t released albums so it’s not like that would be a talking point if she won...

so why the heck are they still doing this show? entertainment? did Hollywood Records bailed out on them? 

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20 minutes ago, blackfield said:

agree for most part except for madison ranked 1. don't understand what people see in her. can't see her as a recording artist. can anyone tell what kind of album she might release or isn't it important anymore!? 

 

 

...basic pop music?

 

Like, she's not my favorite, but I think it's pretty obvious what type of record she would make. It's not like she's going to cut a Gospel album or drop an Alt-Rock EP. 

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3 minutes ago, thenghreport said:

 

...basic pop music?

 

Like, she's not my favorite, but I think it's pretty obvious what type of record she would make. It's not like she's going to cut a Gospel album or drop an Alt-Rock EP. 

the ? mark is the most accurate. 

i still find her boring.

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20 minutes ago, blackfield said:

so why the heck are they still doing this show? entertainment? did Hollywood Records bailed out on them? 

Yes it's entertainment. but yea I can see Madison releasing a Rachel Platten type album but more soulful. 

Edited by Raphy
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