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The Buzz with CCX - Season 20 Episode 14


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Gin and tonic tonight, which is quickly becoming one of my new go-to drinks. Top 11 next--why should I be surprised? As per usual, the first week after wild cards were named, all but one of them will be sent home. Numbers haven't changed. Theme tonight is "Breakout Hits", and Gabby Barrett (who's a brunette now!) is the mentor. Up first is Jay, doing "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars. They've got him leading off a show again?! It's almost like they think that's an advantageous position to put their Platinum Ticket winner into. While it's not as bad as in the audition (Gabby warned him about the high notes), it's vanilla as can be, the complete opposite of the "grit" that my watch partner claimed to be seeing for the first time. The judges, of course, are complimentary, but they always are. 45. Proving that they're completely delusional, they do indeed follow it up with the other Platinum Ticket winner, Huntergirl, who's naturally excited to meet Gabby. She's singing "Baby Girl" by Sugarland. ...I think if this were Season 6 or 7, I'd have committed to voting for her before she sang a single note. Holy shit girl! ...But again, the actual singing was...not bad, but unimpressive. 60. Lionel also says she looks the part.


Christian Guardino is living up to his name, sort of, with "Take Me to Church" by Hozier. I feel like this could be the moment he's been searching. ...Or he'll go too low. Ugh. 22. Why, Christian, why?! Luke says he could tell at the start when Christian had the microphone on the microphone stand that that wasn't what he wanted to be doing. But props to him for wearing contacts; he looks better.


Dan Marshall is up fourth, singing "She's Got It All" by Kenny Chesney. He's nervous around Gabby. She mentions him wanting to engage the audience, and sure enough, after starting out with a very "radio" performance (polished, but lacking the energy of a live performance), he gives a "come on!" and it heats up. Brilliant. 84. Surprisingly, Katy gives a rare less than perfectly complimentary critique. Leah says she's torn between Tears For Fears' "Mad World" and The Turtles' "Happy Together", but Ryan's teaser coming into the previous commercial reveals which one she goes with--the latter. And wow, that is a look. I think she put some of the glam rock for the former song choice into the latter. 104.


Fritz Hager is singing James Bay's "Let It Go", which is neither the best song called "Let It Go" (that'd be the Frozen hit) nor the best James Bay song ("Hold Back the River"), but is entirely the type of song that I'd imagine would endear him to the audience he's trying to court. And in fairness, he does make it marginally more palatable to me than the original, at least at first. Then he starts trying to make an "uptempo moment" out of a ballad. Like, it's possible to make a moment out of a ballad, but it's a different process than it is on an uptempo song. 64. Katy breaks out the "your favorites aren't safe" card, which honestly has me raging.


Tristen Gressett is fully engaging in his Glambert and singing "Whaddya Want From Me?", Adam's Pink-penned hit. It's remarkably subdued, but no less impressive. And he works it up to something big. You know, I was thinking that I wanted to break the scale on Leah, and here's my excuse. 100. Unfortunately, our other Idol alum song is "I Believe", courtesy of Lady K. Damnit, this has never worked on Idol! And it still doesn't. 48. This is pure First Epoch cheese.


Casey! She's got a new single out. Up next is Allegra Miles, singing "ocean eyes" by Billie Eilish. She's at the piano, doing falsettos, and she's absolutely amazing. 96. Ryan points out afterwards that she went barefoot on stage. After the break, we've got Ava Maybee and Mike Parker. ...You know what, I think it's safe to do a preliminary lock-in of my votes by the non-texting methods to make sure I don't get caught in time crunch. The four that I've already rated at 80+, plus Mike and Nicolina.


Ava's doing "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles, and she's starting in a different place; Gabby seems surprised by some of her choices. I'm predicting she's on her way home before she even takes the stage. It's not as bad as I expected but it's still...okay, actually, I get where she's going with this. 82. Do I add her to the voting list? Mike's singing "Hurricane" by Luke Combs. Gabby comments on his worn-in boots and says he's a real country boy. Remember, she's from Pittsburgh. 98; he's absolutely incredible. After the break, Emyrson Flora will be singing...Olivia Rodrigo's breakout hit. Ugh.


Yep, it's "Driver's License". I mean, it sounds from the rehearsal like this could be a good performance, but it's "Driver's License" so I'm still going to hate it. Correction: "drivers license". Billie Eilish wannabe. And yeah, it's a good performance. I'll give it an 80, because I don't want to hold my biases against her. But I'm still not voting for her. Ironically, Katy does compare Emyrson to Billie Eilish. After the break, the last two performances--from Noah Thompson and Nicolina.


Noah Thompson is a parent, and so is Gabby Barrett. Noah was planning to sing a Chris Stapleton song, but Gabby's not feeling the connection and wants him to change things up. And he's singing...Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"? Didn't see that coming. And it's...good? 85. Not voting for him either, though, because the buzz is that he and Fritz are the presumptive favorites due to WGWG factor and he hasn't earned my vote yet. Nicolina's closing it out with Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" and it sounds like she's got the personal experiences to imbue it with the appropriate level of emotion. And it works. We'll slot it in at 99 to thread the needle.


Leah Marlene is the first to be announced into the Top 11! Amazing. Huntergirl is second, and third to be safe is Jay...really? Fritz is fourth, disappointingly but not unexpectedly, and fifth is Nicolina. Sixth is Noah, which is unfortunate because that's both boring white boys, and it gets even worse with Christian seventh, Lady K 8th, and Emyrson 9th. Mike Parker is tenth, and 11th is...Tristen!

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