On Tuesday night’s “American Idol” program 12 contestants gave us a sneak preview of the talent amongst the troops. The best male performers of the night were Rick Braddy, age 26, of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, performing second, and Danny Gokey, age 28, the church music director from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who sang “Hero” (Mariah Carey) last. Danny, the glasses-clad blue-jeaned widower did well. Simon said, “You are a very, very good singer,” but brought the hype back to earth after the other 3 judges went wild for his performance, with Paula predicting sold-out venues before the poor guy has even made it on down the road.
The best female performers of the night were (in no particular order), Jackie Tohn, Alexis Grace and, surprisingly, Tatiana Del Toro and/ or Ann Marie Boskovich. The latter two don’t stand a chance, but Jackie or Alexis have a real shot at making it out of this group of twelve and on to the final few.
I have to be honest, here. I don’t totally understand exactly how they are working it this year. It sounds like only 3 (or 4 ?)people get through from each group of 12? I have just named 2 men and, if we can only pick 2 women, the 2 would probably be the first named (Jackie Tohn and Alexis Grace). If 4 make it through from this group of 12 (remember: there are only 36 left, total) and there are 3 such groups, then there would be 12 “finalists” by taking the 4 I have mentioned above. I’m thinking that only 3 live to fight again, and some very good singers turned in some lackluster performances tonight and should probably try again next year.
Those would be my picks, even though the oil rig guy (Michael Sarver) did an okay job, as did Brent Keith, I have to admit that I agree with Simon that Brent Keith’s C&W influenced performance was “forgettable” (Simon’st term)and that does not bode well for his longevitiy in the competition.
The strongest impression, for me, was made by Jackie Tohn of the girls, the very first performer out of the box. She overcame a truly horrific outfit to show confidence and cool in commanding the stage. Wearing skin-tight black spandex pants, a large red belt and a sleeveless polka dot top, the 28-year-old sang Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation” and the remarks from the judges were “You have a big personality,” “You can work a stage,” and “You are a true performer.” Only Simon withheld praise, saying, “You actually played the clown tonight,” describing her performance as “silly rather than good” and calling her “ungainly.” Ungainly or not, Jackie owned that space this night and her background as an entertainer showed through, despite the fact that she reminded me of a grasshopper at some points in time. The other girl who garnered high praise from the judges was the blonde with the pink highlights, Alexis Grace. She was dubbed, “one to watch,” and, if I were picking (which I am, apparently) the 4 singers who would sail through would be the very first girl (Jackie) and the very last boy (Danny) and, in between, Alexis and Rick Braddy, who performed second “Singing this Song for You.” If only 3 can go through, I’d pick 2 boys (Danny and Rick) and one girl (Jackie) and lose the rest, although some were very talented performers who just had an “off” night or made a bad song choice.
So, I’ve told you who the best were. Who were the worst?
Sadly, the 17-year-old, Stevie Wright, from Phelan, California did not do well, nor did Casey Carlson, singing Sting’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” Also disappointing was the talented Steven Fowler of Cleveland, Ohio, who sang a Michael Jackson song and elicited comments like these: “a pointless performance,” “a bad arrangement” and “corny.” Even the back-up singers sounded off-key, to me, and Randy pronounced Steven to have been “sharp.” (And he didn’t mean that in a good way.) Steven, you may remember, had some problems remembering his lyrics after staying up all night rehearsing his keyboard performance. Also surprisingly undynamic was Anoop Desai, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina native, who sang “Angel of Mine.” Although the judges pronounced him “immensely likeable,” they didn’t much care for his singing this night.
Casey Carlson, an extremely pretty 20-year-old brunette from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who works in a bubble tea store and dared to mess up Sting’s song earned this comment from Simon, “The singing was atrocious.”
It looked, to me, as though the show led off with the best female singer and ended with the best male singer, those being 28-year-old Jackie Tohn and 28-year-old Danny Gokey. Stay tuned for Wednesday night’s “Idol” competition.