Category Archives: Talent

The Voice, Apr. 30 – Final 8 Edition

Time for the semi-finals on The Voice!  The coaches give scores to the performers and we can give them right back. Keep in mind, each person needs to only do better than the other performer on their team to advance, but that means that there’s also very little room for error. Who’s going to take the stage tonight, you ask?

Team Adam: Katrina Parker vs. Tony Lucca

Team Blake: Jermaine Paul vs. Erin Willett

Team Cee Lo: Juliet Simms vs. Jamar Rodgers

Team Christina: Lindsey Pavao vs. Chris Mann

Who are your favorites going in?  Who do you think will come out alive? Who will represent these teams going into the final?

Tony Lucca ~~~ How Do You Like Me Now?

Dressed to kill is a smooth black suit, with a beautiful dancer draped over each shoulder; Tony descends the stairs and then proceeds to take over the stage. He doesn’t seem to need the dancers to put on a good show. He sounds great. Adam seems thrilled.

Blake: Kinda had a Robert Palmer thing going on. Man, that was badass.

Christina: Great song choice. That was definitely more slickly done. (Carson tried to cut her off, but it doesn’t work as she yammers on.)

Cee Lo: Your performance pleases me. That was a really pleasant surprise.

Adam: You were telling me that this was the perfect move, and I’m glad you did.  This was the perfect thing and the perfect moment.

Me: It was really good and pretty cool. He came out and really performed. But did he have an amazing, blow them all away performance? Not sure.

Erin Willett ~~~Without You

Erin takes the stage alone, with a backdrop of falling purple glowing balls. Her lower register seems a bit off at first.  The high notes are killer.  She’s got her hair straightened and is wearing a long, black dress. The emotion is really there.  She had more money notes than Tony.

Christina: Erin you have a beautiful voice. I thought it was unique and original, I’m proud of you tionight.

Cee Lo: We need more moments like that. So Impressive.

Blake: You look beautiful. I would give anything to have a tenth of the talent that you have. But more that, I would give anything to have the strength that you have.

Me: You may remember that Erin lost her father at the beginning of her Voice journey. Blake also recently lost his father. This song clearly meant something important to them both. As I said, you can see the emotion on her face.  Was it perfect? No. But I was moved. Who could ask for more?

Chris Mann ~~~ Ava Maria

Bathed in a single spotlight, Chris stands in a small fog as he pours his heart and soul into this song. He sounds perfect. The song slowly builds. Naturally, I have no idea what he’s saying, but whatever it is, it’s powerful. Chris is clearly in his element.  I don’t think there was one bad or even iffy note.

Cee Lo: Your voice is so powerful and so pure; it’s perfect. You are the epitome of this song. Stellar performance.

Adam: You’ve kind of lent to the show credibility.  Incredible job.

Christina: I just felt the heavens open up right now. I was humbled. (She goes and gives him a hug.)

Me: There’s nothing bad you can really say about that. It was powerful, amazing and downright stunning. But while Chris Mann was happy that nobody (Namely Christina) didn’t try and make him more cool, he may regret it tomorrow. After all, the viewers that vote want cool.

Jamar Rodgers ~~~ If You Don’t Know Me By Know

Backed by a laser show, Jamar starts his really rearranged version classic. His voice sounds strong.  This arrangement? I’m not sure I’m digging it. This is such a amazing song. Did it need all of that? Still, it was really great.

Adam: I’m just purely a fan of what you do.

Blake: That’s by far the most laid back performance yet.

Christina: It was actually one of those moments; I got motivated to start singing.

Cee Lo: I wanted us to do something intimate, for once.

Me: I liked the original better. Sorry. I do. Do I think he rocked? Yes. Do I think he did an amazing job. You better believe it, Bucko.  Do I think he’s going to edge out Juliet Simms tonight? Not likely, but we’ll see.

Team Adam and Team Cee Lo take the stage together.

American Idol, Apr. 26 – Outlook for Remaining Top 5

The writing was on the wall over who would be going home tonight on American Idol. Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh have appeared in the bottom three so often, there is no way either were going to win the show. Regardless of whether you’re not the person with the least amount of votes, you had less votes than most of the other people there. You’re not going to get the votes. Period. You can have some great weeks to earn a few more fans, but you’re not going to win enough people over to eventually get more than half of the votes to win the show. It’s just not going to happen.

That’s what bonds Elise and Hollie, but what separates them is their experience. There is no doubt they are both stunning vocalists. Yet, the decade of difference in their ages answers for a lot. Elise, a vocal coach and wedding singer, knows exactly who she is as an artist. She’s been showing us that this entire time. Hollie, like many her age, isn’t completely sure. She knows what makes her voice sound really good, but she doesn’t know how to perform and entertain.

The audiences aren’t responding to Hollie because of that. They need to connect with her and can’t, because she doesn’t connect with herself. With Elise, she’s so wrapped up in knowing exactly who she is, that she found it hard to open herself up past that. She has some type of hidden pain going on in her and didn’t want to let us in on that. That’s okay, but in the process she locked out the audience who wanted to get to know her. Had we seen more of that person who laughs after everything she says, instead of the person who holds it all so tightly together to try and prove she has it all together, she would have been a frontrunner.

It’s the difference between her and Phillip Phillips. He also knows exactly who he is as an artist, but he’s so sure of who he is, he’s wide open. You get what you get with him. And since he’s the only one of the final five to not appear in the bottom three yet, audiences are apparently liking what they’re getting from him, no matter what Jimmy Iovine says, and no matter how many neutral colors he wears.

Here’s a look at what Phillip and Hollie and the rest of the top 5 have to do to stay out of the bottom three next week, to ensure they make it to the final 4.

Hollie Cavanagh – This girl is living on borrowed time. This week she had one performance where she tried so hard to show emotion she had a hard time staying in tune, and another that was perfection, but only because it’s a song she knows so well she auditioned with it. There is no way she could have understood the full meaning behind the lyrics of Save Me. I love the original version that was so packed with emotion, and Hollie’s version just didn’t have that. If she had worked on the emotions earlier in the competition, she could have possibly saved herself, but it’s too late now. She might make it to final four, but if she does, one of the others will have to have a really bad week.

Skylar Laine – Skylar just has to keep doing what she’s doing, as she’s doing it well. It seems the only reason she was in the bottom three was by default. Someone had to be there with Elise and Hollie. Jimmy Iovine called her self-indulgent for picking a song for her community when she had the choice of any song she wanted. But it wasn’t self-indulgent for Hollie to choose a song she’d already performed for the show? Skylar needs to not worry about his criticisms and just keep doing what she’s doing, as it was enough for Jennifer Lopez to have thought she won the night.

Joshua Ledet – It is so effortless for Joshua. It all just pours out of him. You would think he doesn’t really need to do a lot to stay out of the bottom three, however he has been there a few times already. He just needs to keep taking songs and straddling that line between gospel and all the other musical genres, and he’ll continue to be successful. In some ways it’s reminiscent of what Ruben Studdard did in season two, minus the sweat and area code.

Phillip Phillips – We’ve been let into the fact that Phillip is a really sick guy. That’s why he’s often not in the Ford music videos. That’s why he looked so pale tonight. It wasn’t fear of making it to the final five, but fear of … making it out of there alive. He knows who he is as a performer and continues to do well just being himself. He just needs to keep doing that no matter what Jimmy and the judges say. Fat-Bottomed Girls was the perfect song for him and showed another side to him, and it was the opposite to the type of performance he turned in for the Dave Matthews song. He has the best shot of anyone of singing the Idol coronation song in a few weeks.

Jessica Sanchez – She still seems like she’s on borrowed time, only because she needed a judges’ save to get here. She’s the type of performer it was created for. However, no one who has been saved has made it to the final two. She could be the first. However, as stunning of a vocalist as she is, she still doesn’t always pick the right songs. Jimmy was right that Dance with My Father was a good choice, and Bohemian Rhapsody was a bad choice. That was self-indulgent. She thought she had the vocal chops to pull it off, and indeed she does, but she’s not a rocker. Every time she’s tried it this season, it hasn’t come off well. She needs to avoid that going forward, or she will have no chance of being the first to the final two with a save.

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American Idol, Apr. 25 – “Die, Sink, or Swim”

It’s still somewhat of a shock that Colton Dixon went home last week, but those things can happen after a judges’ save. It makes the voters protect the saved person and others that they’re really worried about. But now that someone who was previously thought safe went home, it will most likely be one of those people who have been sitting in the bottom three for several weeks, like Hollie Cavanagh or Elise Testone, going home.

Tonight, in an obvious effort to stretch the show to two hours, even with only six Idols left, Queen will perform live tonight as well. The Idols will be taking on their songs, too, as well as also singing another song of their choice. Elise should be in her element, and Phillip Phillips should be doing good things too. This isn’t up the alley of any of the others, but Joshua Ledet might do some really interesting things.

Original Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor sat down wit the Idols to discuss the week. Phillip asks how to take on these iconic Freddie Murphy songs and is told they’re not just big songs, but personal, because Freddie was really shy. Something in that seems like it would really connect with Phillip, but instead Hollie says she feels like that is her problem. Elise asks what they learned the hard way and hears for all the knockbacks you get in your career, you just have to keep faith in yourself. The Idols are told they also need to remember what they are doing is having a conversation with the audience. Queen ends it admitting there’s a generation gap between them and the Idols, but they just need to make the songs their own.

May and Taylor perform alongside the top six on a Queen medley. They start off with Fat-Bottomed Girls, and surprisingly, Jessica Sanchez is really feeling the beat on it. This moves into Another One Bites the Dust, and they all get into this performance, but Phillip really takes it on. Elise, not surprisingly, seems like she was meant to do this. Joshua, as predicted, finds something in it, which is probably surprising to him. This newfound group then takes on We Will Rock You, and Skylar Laine starts to get into it. For the rockers up there, this must be a dream come true for them, singing alongside May and Taylor.

Jessica starts things off singingBohemian Rhapsody, and really, who wouldn’t have predicted this choice for her? And after she had criticism last week of not picking songs she can identify with, I’m not sure if it’s the smartest choice. Sure, she has the killer voice for it, but can she really understand the words. It needs to beyond batting her eyes at the camera. She sounds great, but I can’t help but wish I had heard Elise, the rock goddess and vocal specialist, on this song.

Steven Tyler thinks Freddie Mercury would have been proud to hear Jessica sing that. Rock isn’t her forte, and he’d never say it was, but he still loves her voice and thought she sounded good. Jessica Lopez thought Jessica sounded beautiful, but when it went into the more rock part, and considering Jessica is wearing gold sneakers, she thought she’d be running around, but she didn’t. The vocal was beautiful, but she would have liked a little more rock performance.

Randy Jackson actually loved it because what Jessica did was use restraint. She sang no runs in that, and changed herself. She’s wildly talented and only 16, but as a tip, while her high note sounded beautiful, she needs to channel some Tina Turner, as she’s the rocker with the big voice.

Skylar Laine gets non-stool chat with Ryan and discusses her songwriting. She’s written a lot of songs and hopes to be able to do them on the show. She has one she really loves, A Diamond and a Pistol. She’s written a little while she’s been out he LA., despite the killer schedule.

The Show Must Go On is Skylar’s Queen choice tonight, and it’s a great one for her to pick, as she gets the chancne to show that killer voice she sometimes hides, and also gets to power it out like she likes to do. This is where Jessica missed the mark. She could have picked something like this to show her rock side, but also her vocals. She was trying to forcefeed to us that she can be a rocker, and well, we’re just never going to buy that.

Steven calls this Skylar performance over the top and also says that for everyone up there, they’ve always sung dry and right out of the box into the car, but tonight they all have a little shine in their voice. But Skylar has such a beautiful voice and pitch anyway, and it just enhanced it over the top. For an 18 year old girl it was fabulous. Jessica got goosies and and calls it crazy. The word that comes to mind watching this 18-year-old is that she sees her not only listening, but really articulating the story. It was just powerful.

Randy tells Skylar it was incredible, and he thinks it was one of her better performances to date. He believes her. He was watching her when she was supposed to sing a run, she did, and it was effortless. He tells Ryan this girl here has to have it, and it was phenomenal. She wants the finish line, and he loves it. Skylar says singing the song in the beginning with Queen pumped her up, and she hopes she made them proud.

Joshua takes on Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and he sings with an old time microphone, which is really kind of cool. What he does incredible, is while this isn’t anything in his wheelhouse, he completely crawls into it and wears it like he was born to, even though we know he wasn’t. It’s not rock but it’s not really soul either. It’s just … Joshua. In inspires a judges’ standing O, although Jessica has to be talked into it.

Randy tells Joshua it was unbelievable. Vocals – four checks. Performance – four checks. Character and charisma – four checks. He is so ready, and every time he comes up he reminds him of Sam Cooke, like an old throwback. He tells Little Stevie of Bruce Springsteen’s band, who is in the audience, that Joshua is a “Wilson Pickett – young dude in the making.”

Jessica loves everyone in the competition and has enjoyed being on this long journey with all of them, but she wonders if it’s bad for her to say that the Joshua part is always her favorite part of the show. She always knows she’s going to get an inspired vocal and a great performance on top of that. It’s a surprise every single time. Steven tells Joshua he has a such a classic style, it sounds like no one else. He knows Freddie would love the way he did the two-step. Ryan points out you know it’s connecting when you have security jamming. The one charged with protecting Nigel Lythgoe tonight was bouncing his head, jamming along.

Elise sings I Want It All, and it just has the rocker chick inside of me saying, “Oh yeah.” This is fighting her back to what we saw in her with the Led Zeppelin song. It’s got me jamming along while I type. Even Elise can’t sit still herself, as she has the tambourine in her hand jamming along to her own performance. The tambourine must be a thing from her wedding singer days. I want her to have it all too. So does Jennifer who jams along at the judges’ table.

Steven tells Elise she found her stride, and that’s what they’ve been waiting for her to do. She sang that like the classic song it is, if not even better. He really enjoyed it and calls it over the top. Jennifer says she was in her element, and it was natural and sexy, and she looked and sounded great. It just came together for her. She told her next week she needed to find the right song, and she murdered it.

Randy calls its a night so far and asks who would have thunk it. They’re great songs by Queen to begin with, but performance after performance was great, and this was so right for Elise. The bluesy kind of changes allows her to do her Janis thing in the middle and allowed her enough time to do her runs. She loves the sound of the word and the whole thing, and to him this was one of her best to date. She says she just wanted to be herself, and she has learned on the show that this is all in her wheelhouse. The rock stuff is definitely her, and she wanted to own it and sign with passion. I believe she did.

The Voice, Apr. 24 – Elimination, And the Prophesy is Fulfilled!!!

Welcome to Elimination night on The Voice!

Are we in for any big surprises? We lost James Massone and Pip as well as Pip’s bow tie last night. Sounds like Juliet Simms hit the top of iTunes again last night.

Florence and the Machine are musical guests tonight. Flo, as her friends and website call her, starts off the show amid many dancers dressed in long flowing robes.  She also hits an annoyingly long note towards the end of the song.  Team Cee Lo join her, hidden under more robes. Are we all headed to Hogwarts?

So who’s on the chopping block for night?

Team Adam Levine:

Tony Lucca

Mathai

Katrina Parker

Team Cee Lo Green:

Cheesa

Jamar Rodgers

Juliet Simms

Team Adam is placed in front of the firing squad first. Hard to imagine who is safe and who isn’t.  None of them did massively better than the others.

Adam rambles on, again. Then Carson Daley tells us what we already know about what happens tonight. And America saved … Tony Lucca.  So Katrina and Mathai will duke it out for the save.

Now onto Team Cee Lo. His team was really powerful last night.  Only Pip seemed off, and he and his bow tie are already on their way home,  so who stays and who goes?  I’m guessing Juliet Simms is safe.  If America doesn’t save her and it goes to Cee Lo to pick, then Juliet will be safe. Hard to see Cee Lo getting rid of Jamar Rodgers either, so I wouldn’t want to be Cheesa.

After more platitudes, Cason announces that America saved … Jamar Rodgers.

So it’s between Cheesa and Juliet Simms.  Hmmm, like I said above, I wouldn’t want to be Cheesa.

Mathai ~~ Cowboy Casanova

I’m a big Carrie Underwood fan, but Mathai just doesn’t have the chops to take on one of her songs.  She sounds squeaky and looks a little out of place.  I was under-impressed, but at least there was no dope on a rope.

Blake: I’m glad to see her embracing her hillbilly side

Christina: I could feel the nerves in it; Adam’s in a tough spot tonight.

Cee Lo: I really liked the aggression you used tonight.

Me: She best hope the dude on the rope from last night shows up and falls on Katrina.

Katrina Parker ~~~ Perfect

She also sounds a little overwhelmed, but her voice fills the song much better than Mathai did with hers.  This is of course the PG – Rated version of the song.  When the song kicks into high gear, Katrina delivers the goods.

Blake: Katrina’s the best singer on your team.

Christina: I 100% agree with Blake. I’m most excited to hear original material from you.

Cee Lo: You sung with a lot of clarity and conviction.

Me: No contest. Give it to Katrina, have a nice day.

Now it’s time to see who should stay and who should go. The coaches vote.

Blake: Katrina

Christina: Katrina

Cee Lo: Mathai

Me: I think I made that clear.

Adam: First he yammers on, then he picks … No, he doesn’t pick, he keeps yammering … Shut up and pick!!  He picks Katrina!!!

(Oh thank God that’s over.)

Cee Lo’s team is up now. I almost feel like it’s a waste of time because I really can’t see Cee Lo sending Juliet Simms home. Still Cheesa is really good.

Cheesa ~~~ Already Gone

A little iffy on the lower register notes, but once she goes to the higher notes, she’s better.  Not Great. I can feel it.  Great money note at the end. However, is this really a great song to do?  With a song title of Already Gone?  Kinda prophetic, huh?  Might as well sing Take This Job and Shove it.

Blake: It’s hard not to get excited when Cheesa performs.

Christina: You’ve done amazing things with your journey on this show.

Adam: You made a lot of people believe in you.  Today wasn’t as strong.

Me: We all heard the iffy notes, but she soared in the end.  Won’t matter, she’s already gone. (Sometimes I just crack myself up!)

Juliet Simms ~~~ Torn

This isn’t quite the rockin’ Juliet that we’ve seen before, but she’s still killing it.  The emotion is pouring through her and she sounds great.  It’s really all over except the mulling over the obvious.

Blake: I think I was the only one who didn’t hit my button, I just wasn’t a believer.  I love you now.  I get it now.

Christina: She needs to be reminded what her big song was.

Me: Has Juliet been better before? Sure.  But she still blew Cheesa out of the water, which isn’t a knock on Cheesa. Juliet is just really good. Let’s just give it to her and call it a night.

Now it’s up to Cee Lo.  Oh boy. He’s the one who kept Erin Martin over the Shields Brothers right?  Well, it’s between two girls tonight.

Blake: Juliet

Christina: Juliet

Cee Lo: (Here comes the long speech.) He asks them to smile one last time for him.  They do so, and then they both cry.  Nice Cee Lo.

He picks … Juliet.

Even Cheesa saw that coming.  Next week, the semi finals and the top 8.  See you then.

Leave a note and tell me who you agreed with and who you thought was dead wrong.  And check out my web page http://vincentmorrone.com/ for news on my upcoming E-Book from http://www.writers-exchange.com/, as well as some cool journal entries from sixteen-year-old psychic Bristol Blackburn!

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The Voice, April 23rd – Darkwing Duck Steals Bow Tie Edition

Tonight on The Voice, Team Adam and Team Cee Lo fight to stay in the competition. Watch, listen and then vote for your favorite. Assuming, of course, that your favorite doesn’t get the axe at the end of the night by the two coaches before you have a chance to cast a single vote. If that happens, vote for your second favorite. (Hey, you can’t have everything, right?)

Keep in mind that unless the one you’re rooting for captures the top spot in tonight’s vote, then they will still face elimination from their own coach. In other words, even though the top vote getter and the runner up may be separated by only a few votes, while the third place runner up may be way behind, you could still see them going bye-bye tomorrow night.

So pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn and get ready to see what happens tonight.

Let’s review the players.

There’s Adam Levine and his team: Katrina Parker, Mathai, Tony Lucca, and of course, Pip.

Then there’s Cee Lo Green and his team, Cheesa, Jamar Rodgers, James Massone, and top ITunes winner from 2 weeks ago, Juliet Simms.

Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera are there as well , mostly along for the ride, and of course to give their two cents. I, of course, will also give my two cents. However, I’m aware that the coaches wouldn’t pay one cent for my two cents, but that’s ok, I’m not bitter. Much.

The show starts off with the coaches defending their choices and a lot of laughing going on about something that may have been related to an off-screen bodily function of Cee Lo.  All I can say is thank the Lord this isn’t a scratch and sniff program.

Jamar Rodgers ~~~ It’s My Life

Surrounded by flames and dancers with broomsticks, Jamar takes on the Bon Jovi hit. It’s a great song. The arrangement is really different from the original and fits Jamar well.  The crowd gets into it big time.

Adam: We all feel like we missed out on something amazing. (By not picking you for our teams.)

Blake: I don’t know that there’s ever been a better pairing of an artist and a song.

Christina: I loved that you made that song your own.  Besides my team, you’re the one I’m rooting for.

Cee Lo: Listen to the love. You are such a strong and sweet spirit … I love you sir.

Me: I thought it was a great start to the show. Jarmar’s reaction to the crowd was moving, as was Cee Lo’s tribute of a speech. I imagine he’s safe for the night.

Katrina Parker ~~~ Jar Of Hearts

Katrina stands in the middle of the stage, in the middle of a giant pink heart with her hair down taking on a big song. The rest of the stage looks like a collection of mini-spotlights in dry ice.  Most of song is well delivered. There’s a couple of off notes, but not many.  There wasn’t much going on visually from Katrina, but vocally she delivered.

Blake: That was awesome.

Christina: You are Katrina Parker and own that.

Cee Lo: It’s like seeing and hearing you for the first time. Your voice sounds equally flawless. I heard some wilt in your voice.

Adam: I’m so proud. You weren’t one of my favorites on my team at first, but you’ve come so far. That was incredible; that was flawless.

Me: I think it was really good.  However, last week the coaches heaped praise then cut, so I wouldn’t be too confident if I were Katrina.  Most likely not getting cut tonight though; tomorrow may be a different story.

We get treated to a version of Dancing in the Street by Cee Lo and his team, with Cee Lo in a giant black and white TV before he and his team come out in very reddish colors. Cee Lo has hair again. Cee Lo with hair is like Pip without his bow tie. It just doesn’t seem right.

Mathai ~~~ I’m Like a Bird

Mathai just looks cute and adorable as she sings.  You wish you didn’t see the guy swinging above her who I guess is supposed to be the bird? My, he’s annoying.  Her voice is unique, but it fits the song.  She seems to have a few breath issues at one point, but they don’t last long.  Really, the dude on a rope was not needed.

Blake: I could have done without Captain America swinging around.

Christina: I didn’t feel like you connected with the song.  It sounded a little forcefed.

Adam: That’s like your opinion man. (To Christina) I didn’t know about the sketchy dude. (They guy on the rope.) I thought it was great. I’m really, really happy, and I hope that you are to.

Me: So Adam had no idea that some guy was going to be swinging up above her head like a giant Yo-Yo? I hope he was supposed to be there and didn’t just decide to drop in. Mathai sounded great. Safe? I don’t know.  I hope this wasn’t one big rope-a-dope.

James Massone ~~~ I Want You Just the Way You Are

On a staircase singing to a girl in the shadows of a doorway, James begins what I think is a brilliant song choice for him.  It fits his voice, and the young girls will love him no matter what and the, shall we say, more mature set like myself will simply dig the song. He does it better than I thought he would, but not amazing.   And ooh, we get to see the pretty young girl from the doorway at the end.

Blake: I don’t know how I feel about that.

Christina: You have a special voice; I wanted something a little different

Adam: I loved it a lot.

Cee Lo: I enjoyed it. Your voice is so sweet, so soft spoken.

Me: It wasn’t bad. It was sweet. Was it amazing by any stretch of the imagination? Nope. Is James safe? No. I think James is likely to go home, if not tonight, then tomorrow.

Another performance from Cee Lo Green, this time with Goodie Mob. Dressed like a cross between the Solid Gold dancers and refugees from Tron, they all look like they swallowed a bunch of fireflies since their teeth are glowing.  Guess now we know why Cee Lo had gas earlier.

American Idol, Apr. 19 – Outlook for Remaining Top 6

I was a little nervous heading into last night’s American Idol results. I had no idea what would happen. If I were to have guessed, I would have thought the three guys would be safe, and that a girl would go home, although a guy or two would show up in the bottom three. I also figured Jessica would be safe after her save last week, thinking her fans came out in droves to save her this time.

I was one for two on the night with Colton Dixon heading home last night. That was definitely a shock. True, he didn’t have the best second song, but his first song was great, as usual, he’d never been in the bottom three before, and everyone has been figuring this guy had a voting block locked up with his looks. Either his fanbase wasn’t what people figured, or his fans left him just for this week to save someone else they thought needed their votes.

Jimmy Iovine has joked that Elise Testone has a vacation home there in the bottom three, as she’s there so much, and sure enough, she was again. Hollie Cavanagh is simply at one of those extended stay hotels, but she might want to consider purchasing a vacation home too, as I don’t see her escaping the bottom three again with just six left.

Everyone was apparently saving Joshua Ledet and Jessica from the bottom three, but Elise’s fanbase either isn’t big at all or wasn’t worried about her chances. The judges gave her some constructive criticism this week, so maybe she’ll climb out of the bottom three next week. Yet if I were her, I wouldn’t sell that vacation home just yet.

Here’s a look at what the top 6 have to do to stay out of the bottom three next week, as there are no more saves left.

Hollie Cavanagh – While the judges were right that Hollie did show more emotion than she had been showing, she still has her pitch issues. They seemed hesitant to mention it to her this week, like they just didn’t want to beleaguer this young girl any more. And in the process, she appeared in the bottom three, but stayed, while we lost Colton, whose only crime was one bad song choice. For Hollie it seems just a matter of time until she goes home. It’s a little too late to figure out how to show emotion. Others have been doing it the whole time.

Skylar Laine – She sang two powerful songs this week, and neither was a country song to begin with. That’s impressive. However, she needs to go back this next week and show a tender side to her again. We’re looking for a good all-around singer, and while she does the powerful performances great, even if they aren’t country related, we know she can do tender as well, but she needs to keep reminding voters of that versatility.

Joshua Ledet – He avoided the bottom three this week, which is a good sign, but the fact that he’s shown up there a couple of times so far leaves questions of how long his duration on the show will be. There is no question as to his talent, so if he shows up in the bottom three again, it will be apparent that his talent is just not what voters are looking for. For him, he needs to just be perfect every week with the hopes of staying in the game.

Phillip Phillips – Phillip is the only one left who has not made a trip to the bottom three. Previously, he shared that tag with Colton. It’s definitely good news for him to be the only one left, but the surprise elimination of Colton means it could happen at any time. However, winners of the show don’t often appear in the bottom three. It’s happened before, but not often. It’s only good news for him. After eleven seasons, voters want something different, and he definitely fits that bill. He has the best shot of anyone in winning this show at this point.

Jessica Sanchez – Her fans obviously saved her this week, and that’s good. However, it might just be a matter of time before she’s voted out again without a judges’ save to keep her there. Should she be voted out? No. Jimmy is right that part of this is her song choices. While she sounds great on them all, they’re too old for her. But the same thing can be said for Hollie. Both of them are too young to be able to connect to the words they’re singing. Fans want more than just a stunning voice, they want to be able to connect to the Idols, and when they don’t, they don’t get to the finale. No one with a save used on them has made the final two. That doesn’t bode well for Jessica’s chances.

Elise Testone – Just like Jessica, there’s no question as to Elise’s talent. She’s a vocal coach, and not one of those who don’t appear to know what she’s doing. She definitely does. The judges think she’s not showing her emotion enough, and I disagree with that, but I do agree that there’s a problem somewhere in Elise’s connection to the audience. Like Hollie, she’s made too many appearances in the bottom three, and doesn’t have much of a shot at winning, and it’s really just a matter of time before her bottom three appearances translate into her being voted out.

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American Idol, Apr. 18 – Train Keeps on Going

If I were one of the remaining seven idols, I’d be worried sick over my performance tonight. The save has been used and is no longer in play, and it’s clear looking at the bottom three last week that it doesn’t matter what the judges think. Everyone is vulnerable. They better all bring their A game from hereon out.

I was hoping they would pay homage, and indeed they do. Ryan Seacrest begins the night addressing the death of icon and his “dear friend” Dick Clark. He acknowledges that without his influence, a show like American Idol would not exist. He knows Dick is in a better place, saying, “Hey, let’s get on with the show, okay?” Ryan’s answer is, “You got it, Boss.”

This is the most music ever for a two-hour episode of the show. First the Idols will perform a song from the past twelve years, and then will perform a second song, a soul song from back in the day.

Hollie Cavanagh starts us off. She feels really good to not have been in the bottom three last week, noting you never know what happens in this competition. Jimmy Iovine is all alone as the mentor this week and looks a little lonely. She’s singing Rolling In the Deep, showing that every single female these days between this show and The Voice seems to think they can sink Adele. Jimmy asks if she gets nervous onstage, and she thinks there are things that distract her onstage. He advises her to focus more in the dressing room. He knows that from the first note, everyone can see if she’s nervous or not.

Watching Hollie tonight, she sounds good initially, but the look on her face is too intense. She’s trying really hard to not be nervous. What’s usually missing in her performances is the feeling, but she seems to have that a little more tonight. She’s impressive on this song. Let’s see if she can keep it up through her second performance.

Steven Tyler tells Hollie she finally did what all of America was waiting for her to do. She came out of her shell and ruffled her feathers a little. She took a song that everyone likes and sang it with a beautiful voice. He can’t even judge it. Jennifer Lopez is so happy right now. That’s why they always say, “No thinking.” That’s what she did. She forgot everything and just sang the song. It’s what they’ve been talking about with her, and she finally did it.

Randy Jackson isn’t going to say it was perfect, but it was close to perfect. The audience boos, but he tells them even Hollie will admit that. What he loved is that for the first time ever he felt her. She had feeling and emotion. They said to each other she has arrived. “Very well done.” Ryan asks if she felt she was on from that very first note, and she did. She’s been singing the song for so long and loves it; that’s why she picked it. She felt to make a comeback, she needed a song like this. We’ll see what she does with her second song, now that she feels a little success in her.

Colton Dixon gets non-stool chat with Ryan who mentions seeing Colton’s sister in the audience every week, and it makes him think how she was the one who came to audition, then somehow he was talked into doing it as well. She is brought onstage and mentions that it is so surreal to see him onstage after watching the show since season one. It’s emotional and exciting. She doesn’t know if she’ll be back next season, but she believes she’s definitely learning a lot.

Meeting with Jimmy, Colton tells him he is missing the rock element he has had in the past on the show, and that’s why he’s singing Bad Romance this week. Jimmy wants him to have a moment like he did last week. Lady Gaga lifts you, because it comes from the bottom of her soul, and Jimmy knows Colton has to do the same. Colton wants the audience to see that he’s not changing who he is and is just taking on a new monster. Jimmy knows regardless, he has the female vote that backs him like a stone wall.

Colton takes the stage dressed like James Durbin, complete in tails and with a little red in his hair. He’s sounding a little like him as well. The Idols are apparently deciding to show no fear tonight taking on the big ones. Adele and Gaga are big. And they’re not just taking them on, but doing it up well. So far it’s a good night.

Randy tells Colton that it felt like they were just at the Colton Dixon concert. He is so in the zone right now, and while Randy doesn’t know if it’s his greatest, solely because he’s had so many great performances, he still loves it, as he likes to see his interpretation of Gaga. The key may have felt low on the verses, but it had to be since he could then have the high notes and the power in other places.

Jennifer loved it and agrees about the low parts of the song. But Colton has so much character when he sings, that even in those parts, it just didn’t matter. Steven knows you have to get low to get high and doesn’t know what he loved more, Colton’s outfit, his band, or the set on Idol. But Gaga knows the secret that if you want to get to the other shore, you can’t lose site of this one. He encourages him to keep taking chances and risks. Colton explains his next song will be slowed done while he sticks to the “Colton style.” This was out of the box for him, but he plans on expanding every week and including everyone in the party. I think there are several out there who want to be invited to the party.

Jimmy jokes that Elise Testone has a vacation home in the bottom three, as she’s there all the time. When he asks her where she thinks she is right now, she says in the middle. He figures she means she goes up and down every week and feels like the underdog. She isn’t sure why she’s always in the bottom three, but Jimmy points out she’s like an Etch-A-Sketch with a clean slate every week. She’s singing No One this week, and Jimmy notes that with that blank slate, she can’t afford to slip at all.

Elise takes the stage tonight and looks drop-dead gorgeous in orange. As much as Hollie added emotion this week, Elise pours on that much more to her perfromance. It draws me in and makes it hard to even write while I watch her. I just want to sit and enjoy her. She’s singing that no one can get in the way of what she’s feeling, and I believe it.

Jennifer tells Elise that while they push others to let it go, she does it so naturally. She just loves watching her. Tonight she gave her the first goosies of the night. When Elise smiles and feels what she’s singing, her eyes come alive. She wants to see her do more of that, because it’s like a light bulb when she does it. Steven loves Elise a lot – her voice, the Janis Joplin in her, the grit, and all. He was wishing she would have had a song with a better chorus, but she sang her tushie off and was delish.

Randy admits Elise definitely has a strong voice, and she knows they love her and are great fans of hers. This is a great song and she sang it great. He was happy she stayed with the melody for a change, rather than taking a liberty with it as she often does. This song sings itself and everyone knows the lyrics and could sing along with her. He knows it was a lesson in great restraint for her. Ryan knows her fans love her voice, her candor, mobility, and honesty. He noticed she was emotional during rehearsal. She explains she didn’t feel good and also found out on Monday her dog is really sick and might not make it. This makes her play with her hair to get that emotion out.

The Voice, Apr, 17 – Elimination Round, Jessie Aftermath Edition

Last night on The Voice, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera each had to eliminate one of their own. I didn’t care for the gimmick, and I imagine many people out there agreed with me.  Blake axed Jordis Unger, while Christina sent Jessie Campbell packing.  While one couldn’t argue with Blake’s logic, (Jordis Unger was nearly eliminated by America) but Jessie Campbell?  Christina’s choice to give him the heave-ho has left many shell-shocked.  So why did Christina eliminate Jessie Campbell? Could it be because of his low ITunes numbers?

If you follow the charting of the iTunes Voice hits, it doesn’t seem like Jessie charted at all.  And while he received a lot of praise last night, more so than say Lindsey Pavao, he couldn’t match her sales from their last time on The Voice sales.

It’s a big enough deal that Carson Daly broaches the subject.  Christina defends her choice, interrupted by many “I Love You” shouts from the audience.

The Wanted takes the stage, joined by Team Blake.

It’s time to see who’s safe tonight from Team Christina – Chris Mann, Ashley De La Rosa or Lindsey Pavao                              

Chris is safe!

So that leaves Ashley and Lindsey to duke it out. My guess is that unless Lindsey blows Ashley out of the water, she’s the one going bye-bye.

Team Blake takes center stage next to see who is safe – Jermaine Paul, Rae Lynn & or Erin Willett.  

Again, looking at how the Voice artists have been charting on iTunes, I’m seeing Jermaine or Rae Lynn safe, and Erin going home in the end.

Jermaine is safe.

That leaves Rae Lynn going against Erin.  Between Erin’s iTunes numbers and the fact that Rae Lynn is country, I would say that gives her the edge.

Ashley De La Rosa ~ You and I

She does a very energetic performance.  It’s catchy and fun.  Plenty of attitude, and she shows that she can own the stage.  While not her best performance, it was really good.

Adam: I didn’t believe and then I believe.  I would keep you around.

Blake: I’d go buy Ashley’s record.

Me: I agree with Blake here.

Lindsey Pavao ~ Please Don’t Go

She starts out somewhere in the audience.  She’s got that unique sounding voice. It seems to be a quiet performance.  And she moves a little like a mime.  It’s not bad, but my vote would be with Ashley. Christina is crying at the end.

Cee Lo: I think you have such an endearing quality in your voice.

Blake: Lindsey is not one of the big vocalists, but there’s something mysterious about her.

Justin Bieber comes out to introduce his new video for his song, Boyfriend. The crowd goes nuts, wanting to be his girlfriend.  Afterwards, Carson Daley invites Justin to perform his song live on the finale of The Voice in 3 weeks. Justin accepts.

Joy.

It’s decision time for Christina. And she saves Lindsey Pavao.  Well, I guess my opinion means nothing to these people.

Team Blake is up next. We get a little taste of Blake and his team doing an acoustic set in front of a live audience.

Erin Willett ~ Proud Mary

Erin makes her way around the stage, working the groove in the slower part of the song.  When the fast part kicks in she gives us a little shoulder action.  It’s a good rendition, but it didn’t blow me away.  Of course, it’s hard to take on Tina Turner.

Christina: I loved your spirit, and I loved your energy.

Rae Lynn ~ If I Die Young

It’s not the high octane Rae Lynn that we’ve seen before.  This is more subdued and sweeter.  Smart for her to stay with the country as that’s what she does best, and her coach is Blake. However, this seemed very lackluster.  Will it be enough? Will Blake decide he wants to keep the country girl or the one who has more versatility?

Adam: I would have done a lot of things differently.  You played the song, that I like.

Me: Personally, neither blew me away. I find myself very un-invested in who he keeps.  If I’m guessing, based on ITunes, I’d say he’ll keep Rae Lynn.

Blake’s put on the spot, and we’re running out of time as the credits are running while Blake is mulling his choices.  C’mon Blake!! Flip a coin if you need to!

He saves Erin Willett.

And Rae Lynn goes home, proving I haven’t a clue, but we all knew that already, didn’t we? So next week it’s on to Team Adam Levine with Tony Lucca, Pip, Katrina Parker and Mathai. While Team Cee Lo Green has Cheesa, Jamar Rodgers, James Massone and the reigning Voice ITunes champ, Juliet Simms.

I’ll see you next week! Leave a comment and let me know if you think the judges got it right!

Watch http://vincentmorrone.com/ for information on my debut novel, Vision of Shadows, to be published as an E-Book by http://www.writers-exchange.com/home.php Don’t miss a single recap of this show or others. Check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. 

The Voice, Apr. 16 – When Beefcakes Attack Blake Edition

Tonight it’s Team Blake vs. Team Christina. However, there’s a twist. At the end of the night, both coaches have to eliminate one member of their own team. Well, won’t that be fun? Who comes up with these rules? None of the coaches seem to like it, with the exception of Adam Levine who apparently is a control freak.

Rae Lynn ~ She’s County

As if we needed a reminder that she’s a country singer, Rae Lynn comes out full sass by a makeshift barn flanked by a fiddle player on one side and a banjo player on the other.  The verses seem a little off pitch, but the chorus is spot on. This is likely to appeal to the country fans out there, but no one beyond that. Great song by Jason Aldean, but there wasn’t a wow moment.

Christina Aguilera: Man, I’m a fan; you make me want to sing country. You get the job done.

Cee Lo Green: It sounds like AC/DC did a country song.

Adam: I’m a fan and wanted you on my team; this was the best moment you’ve had.

Blake Sheelton: As your coach, this is most proud moment I’ve had for anyone on my team.  You just proved to America that country can kick ass.

Me: It was good.  The song is awesome, and she did it well.  She’s safe from Blake, and as the sole country singer on his team, she should be safe for the night. However, she’ll need that country voting block to keep her in.

Jesse Campbell ~ Halo

Standing in a giant picture frame, Jesse sounds much more contemporary than he ever has before. It’s an amazing visual as the stage is draped with other picture frames, some with moving images, of him and his adorable daughter.  The beginning of the song is really good; the middle to end is nothing short of amazing.  You can’t help but be moved and touched.

Cee Lo: Wonderful; you sung the hell out of that record.

Adam: Your ability is so crazy; you’re a huge favorite to win this thing.

Blake: It was great; no one is going to say that that was anything less than a great performance.

Christina: On an emotional level, you really brought it. Wonderful job.

Me: If you weren’t moved, then you have a hole where your heart should go.  Safe from Christina. Safe from America?  Probably, but the younger generation may not be as touched as the rest of us.

Jordis Unger ~ A Little Bit Stronger

Bathed in soft white light, wearing a white gown, Jordis comes out looking elegant. The verse is well done, but not amazing. The chorus gives us a little more emotion.  She’s delivering on the feeling, but was there a “moment?” If there was, I missed it.

Christina: I like you showing your vulnerable side.

Cee Lo: I agree it was a very touching performance.

Adam: You go so far, the extra mile. That’s what people want to see, the connection.

Blake: I’m really proud of you doing that; you did perfect.

Me: It was an emotional, sincere performance. Was it amazing? I don’t think so, but it was very good. Is she safe? Right now, I don’t know.  Blake really liked it, but if the rest of his team rocks it? She may not stand up against that.  She needs someone to be bad, I think. And I don’t know how America will vote.

After a talk at Starbucks about her favorite charity, Christina comes out to sing with her team and sics some of the beefcake dancers on Blake. They throw fake dollar bills at him since Blake keeps calling them male strippers.

Ashley De La Rosa ~ Foolish Games

This isn’t your mother’s Foolish Games.  Ashley looks like she’s on her knees, center stage, enveloped by the dry ice machine on overdrive. I think I hear a bad note as she launches into the chorus, but it’s followed by many great ones, and one out of this world note. Again, she connects with the song. This is a great version.

Cee Lo: Everybody seemed to enjoy it. It was great.

Adam: I think you are the biggest surprise.  Consistently making me feel what an amazing choice you were for her. (Christina)

Blake: I think the smartest decision made on this season of The Voice was Christina saving you.

Christina: (After a little happy dance.) You go from being a fighter one second, to really vulnerable. You really made that song your own. You’re just growing by leaps and bounds.

Me: Ashley needed to be saved from low votes last week. Tonight she was really amazing, but I don’t know that she will pick up enough votes to make it through tomorrow. If she doesn’t, it’s not that she didn’t try hard enough or even that she wasn’t really good. Out of everyone so far from tonight, Ashley did better than anyone else of making a song into her own. It’s getting hard to predict who is safe for at least tonight, because no one is doing badly.

Adam takes the stage with Maroon 5 to perform their new song Payphone with a little help from Wiz Khakifa.

Erin Willet ~ Set Fire To The Rain

Oh thank heavens. I thought we were going to go the whole night without an Adele song. Thank you, Erin Willet, for we never get Adele songs these days. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

Still, it’s a cool song. Erin doesn’t seem to have to bring production like some of the other acts, but she’s got that big voice. And on the last chorus, which rocks, we get some fireworks from the lighting truss.  Big ending.

Christina: You sang your heart out. You made it all your own.

Cee Lo: I think you did it justice.

Adam: I get very Jewish with the fire coming down. (I’m not sure what that even means.) You did an amazing job; the phrasing was a little bit off.

Blake: Adam couldn’t even phrase that sentence, but he’s cute doing it. (Are you hearing this Miranda?) If anyone can do an Adele song, you can do it. That was amazing.

Me: It was really good. Stage presence, she was ok. Was it as good as Adele? No, but it was good. I’m not really sure who he’s going to send home as there’s been nobody bad up. Of course, he has one more up. Safe for the night? No, but not sure to be sent packing. For tomorrow? No, but that doesn’t mean she’ll go home either.

American Idol, Apr. 12 – Outlook for Remaining Top 7 … Again

It’s a device American Idol has used often at final 7. They take the Idols and separate them in two groups of three, and take the seventh person and tell them they’re safe and to pick a side. The smart Idols don’t choose a side. No one wants to hurt their friends by saying I think you’re in the bottom three. You suck. And when this device works the best is on a night like tonight when the group you think is definitely safe is the bottom three.

That gave us a bottom three of Elise Testone, Joshua Ledet, and Jessica Sanchez. Skylar joined the three safe Idols – Hollie Cavanagh, Phillip Phillips, and Colton Dixon. Jimmy Iovine remarked that he was wondering if his flat-screen TV was broken, as that wasn’t how he saw it last night watching the show at all. Randy Jackson couldn’t remember this ever happening in eleven seasons. But let’s be real. It has.

That’s why they have the save, for moments like this. Steven Tyler said they’d be using the save before he even conferred with Randy and Jennifer Lopez. Yet, I wondered if they would have used it on Elise if she was potentially being voted out. Don’t get me wrong; she’s one of my favorites. But, she’s been in the bottom three often, meaning she’s just gong to end up there again if you save her, as much as it would seem like the right thing to do.

Jaws dropped all over when Jessica was named the person with the lowest amount of votes. No one was shocked by what came next. There was no way in hell those three judges were going to let that young girl with oodles of talent walk out the door tonight. The judges actually stormed the stage and told her to stop singing to save herself. She wasn’t going anywhere.

But here’s the facts of the chances behind the people saved by the judges. None of the Idols who been saved have gone on to make it to the finale, let alone win the show. They usually only make it a few more weeks. And of those who appear in bottom three, only three have gone on to win the show – Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, and Kris Allen. Fantasia is the only one to appear in the bottom three multiple times and still win.

The question I’m left with is how many people will be voted out next week. Normally, a save means two people will leave the next week, but we’re already a week ahead with this anyway, since Jermaine Jones was removed from the competition. I am assuming it means only one person will go home next week, but I’m not altogether positive.

Here’s a look at what Jessica and the rest of the top 7 have to do to stay out of the bottom three next week, as there are no more saves left.

Hollie Cavanagh – Hollie has taken Heejun Han’s place as that person who everyone thinks will be leaving that week, but who keeps sticking around. At one point the judges were talking her up each week, but they’re not even doing that anymore. These Idols never last until final two, and it makes it just a matter of time until they are voted out. The week after a surprising vote, the vote usually seems to right itself, so I expect her to be in the bottom three next week, and will quite possibly going home. There isn’t anything she can do to change that at this point.

Colton Dixon – Jimmy Iovine is pitting Colton and Phillip Phillips against each other. He seemed to be forcing people to choose one or the other as he discussed both their talent and their looks. Both ended up safe, meaning voters aren’t interested in choosing one or the other. They like both. Colton can rock it out, but can also pull off very tender performances where it’s almost like you can see inside his heart. It’s those that are keeping him this side of safe. As long as he keeps showing so many facets to himself, he’ll stay safe.

Skylar Laine – She didn’t choose light and fun country this week. Well, she did somewhat; she chose Kellie Pickler. But Kellie’s songs can have a lot of emotion in them, and Skylar decided to belt it out and squeeze every single ounce of emotion out of it. Some want to say the country fanbase is keeping her safe, but what I think keeps her safe is that she does country very well. Country songs are wrought with feelings, and she finds a way to pick up on that every time, and has that hidden stellar voice to boot. That’s what makes her a dark horse.

Joshua Ledet – It was completely shocking to see him in the bottom three this week. He was amazing, just like he always is. But that’s what makes him vulnerable in the vote. He’s always great. Sometimes the ones who are always consistent appear in the bottom three, as it almost seems the voters get bored with their excellence. His best bet is to show a little vulnerability. Either way, he still has great chances to make it to the end.

Phillip Phillips – It became clearer this week why Jimmy Iovine is back and forth with him. He seems to be challenging him, seemingly not feeling he’s hit his top mark yet. I don’t think he has either, and that seems to be in confidence more than anything else. This was the first week the judges didn’t feel he had it all going on. Maybe this will challenge him more than anything Jimmy could say. If it goes back to that comparison of Colton, he just needs to show that emotional facet to his personality that he seems reluctant to show. If he does, it might be his ticket to the finale.

Jessica Sanchez – There wasn’t anyone who would have predicted her being in the bottom three. She’ll definitely be safe next week as people fight to save her. However, it means people forgot to vote for her. I said last week she needs to start connecting to the fans somehow, as we really don’t know much about her. People aren’t going to vote on just talent week after week. We want more of her. Her chances of making the final 2 aren’t good after needing the judges’ save this week to extend her stay. However, she’s so talented that she just may be the first saved Idol to make it.

Elise Testone – She is so talented. For whatever reason, she just doesn’t connect to the voters. In another season, she might not be consistently in the bottom three. Regardless, this week she had some great company. She doesn’t have a good shot at making it to the end. But every week she stays, she shows more and more of what she’s capable of, and hopefully a record company will pick her up based on that.

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