It’s been an “America Idol” two-night gorge of 24 singers. The second 12 performed Monday night out of Hawaii in pre-taped performances in front of a live audience that went markedly better than night one.
Nobody embarrassed themselves, though Cameron Whitcomb’s manic stage presence won’t be easily forgotten. There were also impressive performances by the likes of Cadence Baker, Katyrah Love and Leah Marlene.
ABC was competing with two other music shows at the same time: CBS’s “CMT Awards” which featured performances by former “Idol” judge Keith Urban, season 5 “Idol” winner Carrie Underwood and season 16 third-place finisher Gabby Barrett. In the meantime, NBC’s fourth episode of “American Song Contest” had co-host and season 1 “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson.
Bebe Rexha, a pop singer whose biggest hit was 2017′s “Meant to Be,” mentored the second dozen singers. Unlike Jimmie Allen, the previous mentor, Bebe spent more time critiquing their performances than their vocals.
One of those singers Kenedi Anderson dropped out of the show after the top 24 taped in Hawaii and Ryan Seacrest told the audience that she left for unspecified “personal reasons” that have yet to be identified on social media. ABC showed her performance of Christina Perri’s “Human” but didn’t provide the judges’ feedback. People were also not able to vote for her and ABC didn’t post her performance on YouTube.
That means just one of the 11 remaining singers will go home this upcoming Sunday, along with two from Sunday. It’s hard to say who will get cut. My prediction is Sir Blayke though I found Noah Thompson a bit of a snooze.
Next Sunday will be a three-hour extravaganza and feature the top 20 singers.
Cadence Baker (”Something’s Got a Hold on Me” Etta James) - She had issues with stage presence early on. Bebe gave her pointers to loosen up. Her vocal gymnastics from the opening notes were super impressive. From there, she had command of the song and the stage. Lionel Richie says he was surprised by her confidence. Katy Perry calls it a fantastic arrangement. Luke says she had disappointed in Hollywood but that this performance lived up to her initial audition. Grade: A-minus/A
Sir Blayke (”Breakeven” The Script) - He opts for a mellow pop song and while he hits some pretty notes, the performance is decidedly unmemorable. Katy says it was a different vibe and he provided some vocal nuances she had not heard before. At the same time, she feels he didn’t bring his own distinctive sound. Luke says he can put on a performance and upped his game. Lionel says he felt connected. Grade: B
Allegra Miles (”Adore You” Harry Styles) - Bebe helps her with her stage movement without an instrument. Her vocals are a bit shaky early on but she gets better and brings some really interesting twists to the song. The judges give her a standing ovation. Luke says her voice had a filter already on it but wants her to enunciate better. Lionel says she is a stylist. Katy says it felt jazzy and mature and Bonnie Raitt possessed her. Grade: A-minus/B-plus
Kenedi Anderson (”Human” Christina Perri) - The singer who dropped out later has a decent voice and hits some big notes. She was certainly good enough to move on but alas, she won’t. Grade: B-plus
Lady K (”Before He Cheats” Carrie Underwood) - She brings the requisite fierceness and attitude to this revenge song. Luke says the song choice was smart and going forward, he wants to hear even more angst, more anger. Katy says she’s glowing and she has come really far. Grade: B-plus/A-minus
Ava Maybee (”Tell Me Something Good” Rufus and Chaka Khan) - She said she had a dream about singing a Chaka Khan song even though it’s out of her comfort zone. This super funky song isn’t easy but she seems very comfortable on stage and is fully into the performance vocally. Lionel says she took it and made it her own. Katy likes her soul, noting how she straddled the ad-libs and the basic structure of the song. Luke says this is a super dangerous song to pick but she pulled it off. Grade: A-minus
Noah Thompson (”Blue Side of the Mountain” SteelDrivers) - He takes a bluesy song and gives it just enough edge to keep it from getting boring. At the same time, he lacks any level of distinction. Given how “Idol” votes vote, though, he should have no problem moving into the top 20. Katy says Noah brought humility and was a solid country presence but lacked any “oh wow” moments. Luke notes he is still new to this but is getting there. Lionel says he has a storyteller voice. Grade: B
Leah Marlone (”Call Me” Blondie) - Bebe wants her to sing with more power, even if her voice cracks. She gives this New Wave classic a dramatic jazzy flavor. It somehow works. She is young but has plenty of charisma that could keep her around awhile. Lionel says she’s in her own lane. Katy says her style and personality is a “bunch of fun.” Luke says he found the opening a bit of a slog but she picked it up later. Grade: B-plus
Cameron Whitcomb (”Bad Moon Rising” Creedence Clearwater Revival) - He is very fidgety and needs to channel it. Bebe suggests he uses a mic stand, then abandon it partway through. But then he gets on stage and ignores her advice. Bebe is annoyed and gives the camera a side eye. He does his signature back flip and starts running around like a crazy man. He is super entertaining and he sings well, too, but they’re the type of antics that would lose their appeal after 10 or 15 minutes. Katy isn’t sure how to critique him but wants to bathe him in lavender oil to calm him down. Luke says they have given up trying to contain him. Lionel copies his hyperactive movements. Grade: A/A-minus
Christian Guardino (”Leave the Door Open” Silk Sonic) - He has a great R&B voice and hits some lovely falsetto notes. The crowd is totally into it. His final note though is a dud and he overdoes the runs. Katy says when he sings, he becomes a superhero. He has to think more of the pop vibe and working the timing, she adds. Luke says he is super endearing and has to be smarter about all his vocal tics. Grade: B-plus/A-minus.
Katyrah Love (”Blame it on the Boogie” The Jacksons) - She grew up in a religious household and it took awhile for her family to get used to her singing secular music. Bebe has her sing in a lower key. She is having fun on stage and it’s infectious. The disco classic jibes with her positive energy. Luke says she looked comfortable. Lionel says she was truly performing. Katy says she bottled her energy and sang with it. Grade: A-minus/A
Fritz Hager (”Waves” Dean Lewis) - The former security guard looks and sounds young but he already has solid control of his voice. He brings multiple levels to this emotive, if not terribly interesting, song. Katy compares him to Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons. Luke says he gave different depths of himself as an artist. Lionel says he provided plenty of attitude. Grade: B-plus/A-minus