Originally posted Sunday, March 22, 2020 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
I have been AWOL from “American Idol” for an entire month, the first time I’ve ever had to set aside that amount of time from a show I love and have followed since June, 2002. Private issues (my mom died March 2) and all this COVID-19 craziness has upended my schedule and “Idol” fell on the wayside.
I haven’t even watched the past four episodes in full. I am almost eight hours behind.
Tonight, I’m skipping all that and going straight to the Hollywood duet rounds. This replaced the traditional group rounds, for better or worse. It also meant we see a lot fewer of the singers because there is only two hours and more than 30 duets to choose from. At the same time, it’s more quality over quantity.
The producers did manage to get at least snippets of 48 singers in two hours, which is impressive. The episode featured plenty of powerhouse singing and a few duds. In other words, even though it was “duets” compared to “group,” it still felt entertaining.
Here’s what we get:
Louis Knight and Francisco Martin (”Break Even” The Script): They seem compatible but Francisco has confidence issues with lyrics. And he forgets a lot of the song although he arguably sounds better than Louis. It’s a mess and both dudes look upset. But the judges like them both and gave them a pass to solos. Francisco remains full of self doubt, which can’t bode well later.
“Idol” returns from commercial break with four quickie duet moments where it’s a split decision.
Franklin Boone & Jordan Moyes ( “Use Somebody” Kings of Leon) - We hear a few seconds and see Jordan get dumped while Franklin survives. It’s too brief for viewers to figure out what’s going on.
Lauren Mascitti and Leon Majcen ( “Jackson” June and Johnny Cash) – Lauren moves on. Leon does not. I didn’t hear enough to judge.
Cameron Havens and Ren Patrick ( “Shallow” Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper) – Cameron goes forward and Ren is cut. She’s a powerhouse vocalist but the judges felt she lacked that emotional connection Cameron was able to pull off.
Hannah Prestige and Grace Lee ( “Mama’s Broken Heart” Miranda Lambert) – Say yes to Grace (who is much better and more expressive) and no to Hannah, who seemed a bit stiff and failed to sell the song.
Jimmy Levy and Nick Merico (“Someone You Loved” Lewis Capaldi) Their voices are very different but equally effective. And they actually harmonized well. Both are through.
Isa Pena & Olivia Ximines ( “Try” Pink) - This is powerhouse duet and we get to hear pretty much the whole thing. Easy pass to solos for both.
Michael Wingate and Demi Rae - They’re kindred spirits. What little we saw seemed okay.
Peyton Aldridge and Madison Paige – ( “Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson) Peyton disappeared to change and eat chicken wings without telling his partner. So she picked the song, ironically called “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” Peyton hits some weird notes, throwing in the guitar at the last second, and forgets the lyrics. Madison sounds better. In the end, it wasn’t bad. Peyton apologized for taking the guitar and throwing Madison off and he lobbied for her to move forward. The judges gave them both a second chance.
Jordan Jones and Dewayne Crocker Jr. – They sing an R&B song well and Jordan’s grandma makes a fuss.
Trainwreck alert: Zack Dobbins and Courtney Timmons - She’s a little bit R&B. He’s a little bit rock. They are an odd fit and ultimately a mismatch. And their inability to pick a song ( “Higher Love”? “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”?) is causing major friction. Zack seems to be more of the problem. At 2:45 a.m. they decide on “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande. At 5:40 a.m., Zack still doesn’t know the lyrics. And by the time they perform, he only remembers some of it. Courtney sounds tentative and looks exhausted, utterly defeated. Zack is useless beyond playing the guitar. This wasn’t a duet, just a mess.
Yzthasinger and Aliana Jester ( “Like I’m Gonna Lose You: Meghan Trainor and Legend): Yzthasinger likes Aliana but she’s taken. The chemistry is palpable. Adorable! And go on to solos.
Faith Becnel and Jovin Webb ( “It’s a Man’s, Man’s Man’s World” - James Brown) - These Louisian residents feed real intensity into the song and they worked together really well.
Landen Starkman and Perrin York ( “Break-Even” - The Script) - Great connection and harmonizing.
Genavieve Linkowski and Travis Findlay (“The Prayer” Celine Dion/Andrea Bocelli) Genavieve lost her sister in a car accident a year ago. The duet is gorgeous and we hear the entire song. Both deserve to go through.
Jeb Vonder Bruegge and Alyssa Fair ( “Stay” Rihanna) - Alyssa goes home.
Kat Luna and Alejandro “Space Cowboy” Garrido (“You Say” Lauren Daigle) - Lionel didn’s think Alejandro did well so they split the real-life couple up.
Jonny West and Margie Mays ( “Like I’m Gonna Love You”) - Jonny did better during the auditions than Margie. They decided to stick together for the duets. Jonny is feeling more pressure than Margie. I really like Jonny’s voice, more than Margie’s. And she is good. I thought the duet was solid but it felt a little tight. Katy thinks they need to give each other some space. “This time is about fulfilling your personal dreams,” she said. She said they barely passed.
Then we get to Jonesboro’s Cyniah Elise and Makayla Phillips. ( “The Prayer”) When Makayla resisted the song, Cyniah tried to find another partner but failed. So she taught Makayla the lyrics and harmonize. Cyniah has a future in teaching because the song ended up working out.
Six all move through and we hear bits of each:
Elyjuh Rene and Kimmy Gabriela (“Stay”)
Evan Kuriga and Dillon James (“Use Somebody”)
Lauren Spencer and Makayla Brownlee (”Set Fire to the Rain” Adele)
Robert Taylor and Tito Rey ( Run, baby run! These duos love runs - too much. Edit, edit, edit. Or not. “Respect the memory,” the vocal coach said. But they can’t help themselves. They stupidly decide to skip sleeping - always a bad idea. It is indeed a shoutfest. I can’t even tell what song they are singing. But they sure love themselves. “Too acrobatic,” Lionel said. Tito gets cut. Robert makes it through.
Just Sam and Sheniel Maisonet -(”Mercy” Shawn Mendes) They struggle with each other as Just Sam disappears and cries. She is super stressed and Sheniel tries to calm her down. But the performance itself is sharp. It’s not just a great vocal performance but mesmerizing on stage the way they circle each other.
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