Thursday, April 26, 2018

TIP Reviews: AI16 Top 14 Results & Wildcards

Chatbox denizens ePastorJames & SpoilerCat recap AI16's Top 14 results and performances...

Maddie Poppe - "Walk Like An Egyptian" - advanced

ePastorJames: Maddie continues to soar in this competition. This was an unexpected, refreshing song choice that she tackled with aplomb. It was great to see her showcase a flair for catchy uptempos, and she phrased it with just enough of a personal touch to Maddify it. She's pacing herself well. Now it's about carving a path to a personal moment and making a huge statement. There's something special and appealing about her, and I hope America continues to support her until the Finale. 4.0 / 5
SpoilerCat: Quirky and unexpected, but it totally worked. I really liked how she made this pop bop from 1986 her own. Solid entry, Maddie! Slow and steady wins the race (or hopefully, at least gets damn close). 3.5 / 5
Michelle Sussett - "I'm a Dreamer" - wildcard

ePastorJames: There's no mistaking the fact that Michelle is a terrible singer. Her voice has no range or control, and whenever she attempts to belt, she squeaks in a variety of off-key ear murdering yelps that are leading me one step closer to therapy. However, the audacity to perform a treacly coronation-bound original conveys cajones. Ultimately, it's irrelevant. She sounded awful, she reeks of mediocrity, and she has no room to grow. She's 100% a fodder cushion. 1.0 / 5
SpoilerCat: I fully support and encourage contestants performing originals on the show but Michelle's fell short and sounded to me like a Demi Lovato demo that still needed to work out some kinks. Nothing against Michelle, she has leap-frogged more talented and interesting contestants and has entered a stage of the competition where she is out of her league. Why the judges keep advancing her is beyond me. 1.0 / 5

Marcio Donaldson - "Jealous" - eliminated 

ePastorJames: Oh, Marcio. Obviously he felt the need to do an original to prove he wasn't old-fashioned cheese. But when you render a modern song old-fashioned cheese, have you really done yourself any benefits? His voice is limited as it is, and this song didn't allow him room to breathe. It came across rather pathetic, though I felt bad for him as he withstood the barrage of "nice knowing ya" feedback from the judges. Yet there was just no way to avoid it. He had to go. 0.5 / 5
SpoilerCat: I despise this song. I still thought it could be good. I was wrong. Everything Marcio touches turns to cheese. Last third of the performance is literal karaoke with a completely out of place, yet impressive (?), high note.  0.5 / 5

Cade Foehner - Bright Lights" - advanced

ePastorJames: Although it was imperfect, for the most part, Cade acquitted himself in a much better way tonight. I'm not sure if that opinion will be unanimous, however. It still sounds samey to some. (Alliteration!) But at least he appeared more inspired with better vocal licks as opposed to losing himself in the Santana jamfest of the previous night. He's still a strong contender moving forward. But perhaps his star is waning just a bit? Only time will tell. 3.0 / 5

SpoilerCat: Make no mistake that Cade is extremely consistent and knows his identity as an artist/musician, but I hope he starts venturing outside of his midtempo comfort zone. Nicely done, though. 3.5 / 5

Garrett Jacobs - "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" - eliminated

ePastorJames: Somehow, Garrett manages to improve little by little, though by his own standards. In the grander scheme of things, he still bellows below average WGWG. His voice is thin and lacks intrigue, and his song choice emanate dollar store Phillip Phillips. He arguably gave his best performance to date, but it easily pales in comparison to the majority of the rest of the group. He has little to offer, and it was necessary for him to be cut for the sanctity of the competition. 2.0 / 5

SpoilerCat: Honestly, this was one of his better efforts. Just too little, too late. 2.0 / 5

Gabby Barrett - "Little Red Wagon" - advanced

Ugh. I loathed this performance. Guttural, messy, shrieky, appalling. This performance made a statement: "I'm not as good as I think I am." Although her stage energy was vibrant, her vocals were irritating. This Diet Carrie/Miranda fusion of nonsense was a big step down from the decent impression the prior night. Unfortunately, she's still riding high, as evidence by Katy's overpimpage. Will it backfire eventually within this limited time span? One can only hope! 0 / 5
SpoilerCat: Though this really wasn't my cup of tea and sort of a lazy vocal, Gabby displayed that she can give off a super energetic performance and is ready to be Idol's next cookie cutter pop country girl success. But do we really need more top finishers like that?  2.5 / 5

Dennis Lorenzo - "This Woman's Work" - wildcard

ePastorJames: Dennis, meanwhile, pulled no punches in delivering perhaps the finest vocal of the season. It was a sublime rendition. His falsetto nuance and control was exceptional, and perhaps the best from any of the 16 seasons thus far. His chest voice was equally adept, and it resulted in a delectable performance. Hopefully, this boosted his stock to help him at least survive another week or 2, making him the WC to root for now. We shall see. He certainly deserves it! 5.0 / 5

SpoilerCat: Brilliantly executed falsetto and overall control of an extremely emotional song. Dennis nailed it tonight. It is sad that he had to be wildcarded in, as it shows he is vastly underappreciated, but at least we still have him. 5.0 / 5

Jonny Brenns - "Demons" - eliminated

ePastorJames: After a tragic display on Sunday night, Jonny stuck to his niche on Monday and gave one of his finer renditions. It was a bit uneven, but once he finally hit the chorus, that tone that made us first take notice returned. It's a shame he chose to avoid the piano both nights, but I suspect he wasn't up to the task for either song. Still, out of all of the cuts, I wish Jonny had stayed. Then again, his inconsistency has prevented much dismay from occurring. Sad! 2.5 / 5
SpoilerCat: This is just a bad song to pick for a competition like this. It's almost like he ran out of ideas. Jonny initially showed a lot of potential but he just wasn't ready yet. 1.5 / 5

 Caleb Lee Hutchison - "Gettin' You Home" - advanced

ePastorJames: After a few phoned-in vocals, Caleb seemed back in his element to me. His scrumptious tone was richer than ever and he handled that song delicately. Less concerned with giving a performance, he told the story and sung it well. He's begun to show signs of wear and flaws as a contender, but if he manages to stick to his wheelhouse and branch out gently from there, he can recover. These next two theme weeks are going to prove quite tricky though! 3.5 / 5

SpoilerCat: I've never particularly cared for the original but I'd totally buy and listen to Caleb's version. I think his groupies liked it too. This crooner knows what he's doing and is in a good position to stick around for a while. 3.5 / 5

Mara Justine  "Love On The Brain" - eliminated

ePastorJames: Lately, Mara has just been all over the place. Too concerned with imbuing each performance with an overdose of emotion, she inadvertently creates more flaws in the process. But on this song, which seems to be her favorite, she knows what she needs to deliver. The emotion of the moment rendered her slightly breathy and pitchy in the majority of the verses, although she nailed the choruses. One could argue she was wrongfully cut, but it's equally easy to say she's not ready. 2.5 / 5

SpoilerCat: I didn't care for this when she did it in the auditions and I'm not really crazy for it now. It starts off well but doesn't really go anywhere after the 30 second mark. Overall, just trying way too hard. Blah. 1.5 / 5

Jurnee - "Never Enough" - wildcard

ePastorJames: Another encore performance, this one almost let Jurnee down. (Although lesbihonest, she was guaranteed a spot even if she sang "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)". :} ) Overall, her vocals comprise a crisp, lovely tonal sound, especially on that chorus. Her nerves penetrated through into the phrasing at one point, so it wasn't perfection. But it would've been a travesty to lose her and I'm glad we have her around for at least one more week. Next week's performance is key. 3.0 / 5
SpoilerCat: This was a highlight the first time she sang it but upon reprisal, I felt like she stumbled here slightly. Maybe she was holding back because her voice seemed tired and strained at times. Hopefully, that's not the case. Slight setback but with the right song, could still be a contender. We will see if she unlocks her full potential. 3.0 / 5

Michael Woodard - "Believe In Yourself" - advanced

ePastorJames: On first listen, this one didn't impress me too much. But this is why it's vital to re-watch everything at least once. Upon re-listening, this was yet another solid effort from the lovable aspiring artist. He excels at these Broadway power ballads, even though they're often such a strange fit for him artistically. You can't help but like him. I'd like him to step outside of his comfort zone and show us a bit more dynamics, but he's a vital part of this season's appeal for sure. 3.5 / 5
SpoilerCat: I love that Michael chose this as his top 10 song. Obviously, musicals are in his wheelhouse but between the lyrics and his smile, I could totally envision the confetti (yes, that confetti) coming down. I look forward to seeing what song he make his own next and continues to grow as an artist. 4.5 / 5

Catie Turner - "Havana" - advanced

ePastorJames: I did not see this one coming, and what a pleasant surprise it was! For a while, Catie hasn't truly impressed me as a singer. It's evident she's got songwriting ability and is having the time of her life. But this performance finally displayed her talents to their utmost potential. Now I know she's got what it takes. If she can continue down this road of flipping songs to suit her style, she can leave her mark in the allotted time remaining. And I think Disney week suits her so well. 4.5 / 5
SpoilerCat: Though the singer-songwriter has been struggling with song choice in the competition lately, "Havana" was a big step in the right direction and I think it showed. Catie showed she can still surprise us. If nothing else, most likely to join Postmodern Jukebox after the season ends?   3.5 / 5

Ada Vox - "And I Am Telling You" - wildcard

ePastorJames: Hardly unpopular to declare this one Ada(m)'s worst performance to date. It contained too much "HAH! HUH!" grunting and the vocals got shriekier and messier as the song progressed. It was painful at times. But given the circumstances, this is the type of performance that was forgiven for its faults because it's a "throw down the gauntlet and sing your heart out" moment. Idk how long they are for this competition, but I know they'll go out with a bang! 1.5 / 5

SpoilerCat: The good parts of the first half are outweighed by the complete hot mess that was the second half. I need a Tylenol. 1.0 / 5 

Combined Score & Closing Thoughts
Dennis - 10.0
Catie - 8.0
Michael - 8.0
Maddie - 7.5
Caleb - 7.0
Cade - 6.5
Jurnee - 6.0
Garrett - 4.0
Jonny - 4.0
Mara - 4.0
Ada - 2.5
Gabby - 2.5
Michelle - 2.0
Marcio - 1.0

ePastorJames: So right now, these rankings are based purely on the overall quality of the performances from this night alone. Dennis slayed it; Catie impressed; Maddie continued to shine; Caleb and Michael delivered again; and Cade and Jurnee continue to be a force to be reckoned with, vocally. Jonny, Mara, and Garrett improved slightly but not enough to fret over for long. Ada(m) has got to reign it in for a chance to stick around. And Michelle simply has to get better. Marcio was just off, and Gabby was unbearable. The latter will survive it, for now, but ideally, not for long. Same goes for la dreamer. The other 8 or at least the top 7 are all terrific and will help to keep this season strong, provided America is wise enough to let them survive this crucial and risky first upcoming live vote!

SpoilerCat: I gotta say, the amount of songs that were reprisals kinda got on my nerves. But besides that, we had a handful of good performances that made it worthwhile. Going into next week, I think Ada/Michelle are likely toast and that this first live vote will provide a lot of answers to how the rest of the season will shake out and who will break away from the pack.