S11E11: There are no surprises here. Okay, there’s one surprise, but from that point on, this round of American Idol eliminations – or lack thereof – are business as usual. Perhaps this is Idol’s new, positive spin, but the eliminations were few and far between and when they were shown, the producers kept it short. We did have to get past the constant cross-promotional references to the Las Vegas show whose stage the contestants performed on – and I refuse to call it by name, because Idol gave it more promotion than it will ever need.
And despite having two entire hours of our attention, the show only got through 14 of the final 24 contestants, and of course, they managed to leave us with a cliffhanger I suspect was created out of thin air. Poor Adam Brock was left waiting with baited breath as Randy, Jennifer, and Steven pretended to be disappointed with him – how much do we want to bet he’s totally safe?
First 14 Finalists
Erika Van Pelt
Brielle Von Hugel
Lauren Grey, Blaire Seiber, Naomi Gilles, Neco Starr, Clayton Farhat, River St. James, Caleb Johnson, and Richie Law.
For the most part, our top 14 finalists are no surprise whatsoever. If you’ve learned to understand Idol’s less-than-subtle clues, these folks have been groomed all season as the names we’d see on the finalists list. Killer voices like Jen Hirsch, Josh Ledet, Reed Grimm, Erika Van Pelt and Phil Phillips were bound to continue on to the voting round – no question. And while they may not be my favorite contestants, I must admit boy band protégé Colton Dixon, tonally challenged Creighton Fraker, and the poor man’s Haley Reinhart, Brielle Von Hugel, are fairly obvious additions to the top 24. Some of our smiling faces were a bit surprising – and some delightfully so.
When Heejun Han took the stage, my personal favorite seemed to be in danger of elimination, but when the producers aired his entire breathtaking performance of “New York State of Mind,” it was clear. Heejun is moving on, which means his quippy, biting commentary will live on. (Thank you, Idol.)
Chelsea Sorrell forgot her lyrics during Hollywood week and somehow recovered well enough to make it to Vegas and onto the top 24. The strange thing is that I cannot recall seeing her in the barrage of audition episodes, but perhaps she’ll be able to make her mark now. Bailey Browne is beautiful, and her voice has the ability to crack in a breathtaking way, but her final performance seemed a little flat too me – she seemed nervous and it sounded like she dropped a few notes. Still, she’s gorgeous, so it’s not that much of a surprise to see her make it.
Of the eliminations most were deserved – some were long overdue. Richie Law stuck it out this far, but I never really understood why he was there in the first place. He’s got a really deep voice, but he doesn’t do anything with it. It’s effortless, but not effortless in the way Mariah Carrey casually reaches that high falsetto, but effortless in the way that he doesn’t seem to be actually trying. And finally, we have Lauren Grey. Perhaps I’m completely nuts, but losing Lauren Grey was a complete shock. Her voice is so strong and smoky and soulful and deep. I didn’t really get the impression that she lacked confidence, as the judges claimed, but I suppose of her genre, the spot is already filled a bit more solidly by Erika Van Pelt. That doesn’t make it any easier to be rid of the talented little lady.
The next episode offers up the final 10 additions to the top 24, at which point, we’ll be on our way to deciding their fates. The voting begins next week, but is there anyone you’re already ready to call in for?Let us know your thoughts in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler