“American Idol” picked its 13 finalists on Thursday night, and for the three wild-card picks that was a lucky number indeed.
With the field of 24 cut nearly in half, there were a lot of nerves and sad faces among the contestants. That was particularly true when they heard the comments of Jimmy Iovine, who offered taped comments on the Tuesday and Wednesday shows. Unlike the judges, he did not spare anyone’s feelings.
“Carrie Underwood karaoke is not gonna fly,” he said of Chelsea Sorrell. “Way too kitschy for me. Way too cabaret” was his review of Reed Grimm. “The judges loved him. I didn’t,” he said of Creighton Fraker.
No shocker that all three were cut. In fact, there were few surprises among the top 10 vote-getters.
Skylar Laine, Shannon Magrane and Jessica Sanchez would have been on nearly every list of favorites from Wednesday, with Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone also getting nothing but positive feedback. The guys had a deeper pool, but Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet, Heejun Han and Colton Dixon have been favorites all season, and Jermaine Jones got to close Tuesday’s show, always a huge advantage.
That left the judges to pick six people to sing for wild-card spots, which gave new life to Jen Hirsh, Jeremy Rosado, Brielle Von Hugel, DeAndre Brackensick, Erika Van Pelt and Grimm.
Randy Jackson picked Van Pelt to move on. Jennifer Lopez went with Rosado, who made her cry with his performance on Thursday. And Steven Tyler chose Brackensick, who has the greatest potential of the three if he can harness his considerable talent. But keep in mind that a year ago, two of the three wild-cards were eliminated by the end of March, with Ashton Jones going home the first week, so this will be a short reprieve if they don’t strike a chord with the audience early.
The one-week-only semifinals leaves a lot up to luck and chance. Perhaps Adam Brock and Hallie Day would have made it if they had gotten to close their shows instead of Jones and Testone, and perhaps Eben Franckewitz and Baylie Brown would have done much better after getting the nerves out of the way the first week. But since that’s not how it works any more, all four are gone for good (well, maybe ... Iovine did request a rule change that would allow Franckewitz to come back in a future season).
At least Brown did have one of the lines of the night when Ryan Seacrest asked her what she would have done differently. “Sing on key, I guess,” she said.
Iovine wasn’t all negative in his comments. He said he’d sign Phillips and Sanchez right now, though I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules of the competition. But he didn’t have nice things to say about all of the finalists.
He liked Ledet, but said he’d have to make sure he didn’t turn into “Sister Act 3.” And Han? It’s safe to say he doesn’t get America’s infatuation. “This isn’t ‘American Comedian.' It’s ‘American Idol',” he said
“Who’s that?” Han sniped when Seacrest asked him what he thought of Iovine's comments.
That should be a fun little coaching session between the two next week, when the guys take on Stevie Wonder and the girls do a Whitney Houston tribute. And fortunately for everyone, only one singer will go home each week from now until May.