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Getting It Right

American Idol cute
The first voting results of Season 11 of "American Idol" were revealed, with five girls and five guys getting through on viewer votes (33 million of them). Then the judges got a chance to pick one each to include in a Top 13.



Contestants await results
Jermaine, Colton, Eben and Deandre await results.



The guys were the first ones to hear results, with Chase Likens, Phillip Phillips and Jeremy Rosado called to center stage. Chase admitted it was hard to keep his composure. Jeremy said his heart was beating outside of his chest.

In the recap, we also got to hear Jimmy Iovine's comments, the chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records and official "Idol" mentor. About Jeremy, he said that "he gets the award for nicest person, but that isn't going to cut it on this show." About Chase, he said Chase is good-looking, but there is plenty of that on TV. He's not fresh, original or exciting. About Phillip, Jimmy said that Phillip has originality, and Jimmy believed every word Phillip sang.

Ryan asked the judges if they agreed with Jimmy's assessment, and they more or less agreed. Randy Jackson got confused over which contestant was which, seeming to think that Jeremy was the one Jimmy had dismissed as merely "good looking." Jeremy was told he was not in the Top 10, and neither was Chase, but Phillip was. Phillip took his spot on the tulip chairs.

Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanaugh, Brielle Von Hugel and Hallie Day were called forward next. Jimmy said that Hollie could have been a little more believable, but given the right material, she could "do some real damage." Jimmy is from Staten Island like Brielle and found her to be a real entertainer. He thought her song choice would hurt her. He thought Hallie was poised and that she has a great voice, but "there are a lot of blondes" and voters might not have voted for her. Jimmy said Jessica has talent from A to Z and that he'd sign her tonight, on the spot.

Brielle defended her song choice to Ryan, when he asked, but refused to pick a public quarrel with Jimmy. Brielle was the first to learn she wasn't voted through. Hallie was then told she was out of the running. This meant that Jessica and Hollie were in the Top 10, and they joined Phillip.

Next up were Adam Brock, Heejun Han, and Joshua Ledet. Adam asserted that "whatever happens it's a blast." About Joshua, Jimmy said that Joshua was the real deal and he's looking forward to working with him, while avoiding turning it into "Sister Act 3" (referring to Joshua's tendency to inject a gospel feel to his performances). About Adam, Jimmy said that he's got to merge his "inner black woman" with his outer self and "come as one person." About Heejun, Jimmy said, "This guy confuses me." He gets that he has a likeable personality but "this isn't American comedian; this is 'American Idol.'"

When it came time for the verdict, Ryan messed with Joshua, saying his name and then waiting for an aeon before whispering, "Top 10." Heejun also learned he was in the Top 10, and Adam sat with the others who were awaiting the judges' wild card picks.

Next were Skylar Laine, Baylie Brown, Shannon Magrane and Chelsea Sorrell. Jimmy thought that Skylar brought a lot of charisma and stage presence, and he would have voted for her. About Baylie, Jimmy said that she has all the pieces but they didn't come together. "Out of tune, out of here." About Chelsea, Jimmy said she has a really nice voice but what he saw wasn't original enough: "Carrie Underwood karaoke is not going to fly." About Shannon, Jimmy said that he likes her and she sang beautifully, but she was dressed more for the prom than a live performance.

Shannon got the news first: "Congratulations, you've made it." Next, Ryan told Skylar that she was in the top five girls, too. The other two were sent back to the couches to wait.

Next, Ryan called Aaron Marcellus, Creighton Fraker and Reed Grimm. Ryan asked how they were doing, and Creighton and Reed each made very animated gestures. Jimmy thinks Reed is talented but "maybe he thought he was in a club." He added Reed's performance was "way too kitschy, way too cabaret." About Aaron, Jimmy said the judges gave him a standing ovation and that it was a cheesy performance: "It did not work for me." About Creighton, Jimmy said that he has an interesting voice but that the top end is screechy and "it annoys me."

In response to Jimmy's comments, Jennifer said that "maybe he should come to the show." Yes, please! Can we make room for a fourth judge's chair?

Aaron was the first to hear results, and was sent to the couches. Creighton was also not in the Top 10, and he gave Reed a big hug, as Reed also learned he was not in the Top 10. The studio audience booed this result.

Next to hear results were Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, Haley Johnsen and Jen Hirsh. About Jen, Jimmy said Jen has a very nice voice but everyone should stay miles away from Adele, because there are too many Adele wannabes out there. About Erika, he said she has music in her blood and has great restraint. Jimmy doesn't agree with the judges that she needs to push it more. About Haley, he said that her "robotic mimicry" was, indeed, a nightmare like Randy had said. About Elise, he said that he agrees with the judges and that she managed to bring something to the Adele song. He advised her to be careful about pushing too much with her voice because "it's a long competition."

Ryan told them that Haley hadn't made the Top 10. Next, he told Erika that she also hadn't made it. Cutaway to the judges shaking their heads. Then it was down to the two women who sang the same song. The one going into the Top 10? Elise.

Finally, Ryan called down Deandre Brackensick, Eben Franckewitz, Colton Harris, and "the gentle giant" Jermaine Jones. They were all clearly nervous. Results after the break.

Then, it was time for the recaps for this group. About Jermaine, Jimmy said he was glad the judges brought him back and that he could listen to an entire album of his voice. "I'm rooting for him." About Deandre, Jimmy said Deandre has an enormous amount of potential but that "he's just not ready for that song yet." About Eben, he said he's a talented kid with potential who's not ready for prime time. But if he doesn't make it, he'd like the producers to change the rules so Eben can come back next year (right now, they can't return if they've already made it to the voting shows). About Colton, Jimmy said he's talented but "he can't do too much too soon." He said, "He's got to take it slow, pace himself, and he can really win this thing."

Deandre, Ryan said, was not in the Top 10 (much to the consternation of the audience). Something happened off camera that made people laugh. To Colton, Ryan said, "You are not... going to be disappointed, because you're in the Top 10." Psych. Then it was down to Jermaine and Eben, with one place left. Who would it be? As the camera took a two-shot, Eben jumped up to try to be as tall as Jermaine, and Ryan said, "I know the feeling, brother." The person in the Top 10 was Jermaine. Cut to Randy clapping but looking stunned.

Let me pause right here and say that it was refreshing to see the viewers voting primarily on the strength of the vocal performances. There were some very attractive, talented contestants who just didn't bring it this week, sitting on the couches when Ryan tossed it to a commercial break. Good job, America!

Now it was up to the judges to make their Wild Card picks. The judges had selected some singers to perform again for the chance of being selected as one of those picks. Randy announced that the first contestant to sing was Jen Hirsh. Ryan asked her where it had gone wrong, and she said that she just hadn't stood out.

She sang the Beatles song "Oh, Darling," wearing a little black dress, concentrating on the melody and then amping it up on the bridge. Everyone who does this song anymore, I've noticed, imitates the version from "Across the Universe" (great movie). Jen made it her own, though, playing with the phrasing, stretching out phrases while not losing the melody. The girl has chops and a great ear.

Randy and Jennifer were fairly noncommittal about the performance. They liked it but didn't want to commit to loving it. Steven thought it was a "little obvious at the beginning" but loved where she took it. [JEN'S PERFORMANCE]

Jennifer, on behalf of the judges, revealed that Jeremy Rosado would be the next to sing for a chance at a Wild Card pick. He would sing "I Know You Won't" by Carrie Underwood, and when I heard it, I was nervous about that selection. Wearing a gray button-down shirt over a black V-neck and black pants, he was kind of forgettable in the opening but then more powerful on the sustained notes. He needs more dimension to his singing, but he's definitely got talent. On the last note, he broke into tears, and Jennifer looked ready to cry, too. You know she wants to put him through.

Ryan asked him about it: "How badly do you want this shot?" He answered, "This is my dream." He promised to bring it if he gets through and thanked the lord for getting him this far. Jennifer said, "I believe in this kid... He has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard in a long time." Randy also loves his voices. Steven thought that America just saw the real Jeremy: "You are so real, and that's a beautiful thing." [JEREMY'S PERFORMANCE]

On behalf of the judges, Steven said that the next to sing would be Brielle Von Hugel. Hmm. OK. She jumped on Ryan and tried to molest him or something. Ugh. She wore a midnight blue dress with a short hem in the front and long in the back. Predictably, she went for an Adele song, "Someone Like You." So wrong. Cutaway shots of her mom watching her with her mouth open, thinking who knows what, and then singing along. On the side of the stage, Jermaine and Jessica were sitting cheek to cheek watching. Cute! Brielle clearly wants it, but please, judges, don't inflict this histrionic diva on us.

Steven said it was a little pitchy in some spots and "I just didn't hear it this time." Randy agreed: "After that, Brielle may be in a little bit of trouble." Brielle looked ready to kill him. Jennifer told her she should be proud of her last effort (but didn't praise it outright). [BRIELLE'S PERFORMANCE]

No surprise, Ryan said the next to sing would be Deandre Brackensick, whom the judges had gushed over on Tuesday. He chose the Ray Charles song "Georgia on My Mind." Wearing a black button-down over a white T-shirt and dark pants, he started out in a deeper range than he'd sung on Tuesday. Way too much vibrato. Then he took it up into a falsetto and jumped around in the stratosphere. Yawn.

Randy told him, "nice way to come out." He thought it was a great moment. Jennifer was feeling the fire and "you should sing like that every single time you get up there." Steven liked his dynamic range. [DEANDRE'S PERFORMANCE]

Jennifer revealed that Erika Van Pelt would be the next to sing. She wore a purple above-the-knee cocktail dress and had chosen "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga, which was perfect for her range. The beginning of the song was strong, but the bridge was a little weak. She found her comfort zone on the chorus, although she needs to work on breath control, because she sometimes sounded a little out of breath.

Randy said, "She's singing like she's got to have it." Jennifer liked someone who can fight through the tears and still deliver. Steven thought it was beautiful: "We're living on the edge, without a doubt." [ERIKA'S PERFORMANCE]

The last to sing, Steven revealed, would be Reed Grimm. Ryan took a moment to bring the other contestants center stage for audience applause as they left the show.

Reed wore a button-down green and white shirt, which he removed before singing, to reveal a simple black T-shirt, worn with dark pants. He sang a Bill Withers song, "Use Me," and got very cheesy with it. In the beginning of the song, he was very weak. Then he started crawling around and strutting and bouncing as he sang. Guess he was going for entertainment value. He scatted a little in the middle, which wasn't really working. I think this was his last hurrah.

Randy called him one of the most different artists who's ever tried out and it was "definitely entertaining." Jennifer thought he'd done a good job and they wanted to give him one more chance for people to see him. Steven thought he'd nailed it. Doesn't sound like they were ready to put him through, though. [REED'S PERFORMANCE]

Finally, the judges revealed their wild card picks. Their first pick, announced Randy, was Erika Van Pelt. Nice! No surprise, Jennifer announced her pick was Jeremy Rosado. He collapsed to his knees, crying and then exclaiming, "Thank you, thank you." Ryan let him go down to the judges' table to hug them. Randy told him, "Don't cry; don't cry." The final judges' pick, Steven announced, was Deandre Brackensick. The other would-be finalists smothered Deandre with hugs and kisses. I would have liked to have seen Jen get that final chair, but I guess the teeny boppers will be happy with that pick. Maybe Deandre will surprise me. [WILD CARD REVEAL]

Next week, the guys will take on the music of Stevie Wonder and the girls will pay tribute to Whitney Houston, all mentored by Mary J. Blige.

Moral:
Sometimes the voters get it right, and the judges don't do bad either.



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Comments

alycewilson
Mar. 3rd, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
Aww! No wonder you love Heejun so much! Is that the two of you in your icon? My default icon (seen here) features me and my toddler, taken back in September on my birthday.

I think that, if Heejun pays attention to song choice and really listens to the vocal coaches, he'll go very far.
talonvaki
Mar. 5th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Well, that's what made me pay attention to him; when he first walked into the audition and went over how to pronounce his name properly (not that it seems to have mattered, because they're all calling him "Hey Jun" now), and he did that little gesture with his hand to emphasize the "Jun" part (like: HeeJOON, not HEEjun), my husband said, "what's with the hand thing?" and I said, "He's just showing how to say it right. He says it the same way you do."

And to make it more interesting, my mother-in-law was a Han before she married...

There was this famous heartthrob singer in Seoul in the late 50's early 60's named Hi-Joon Choi, and my husband was named after him because his mom liked the singer (I gather he was a bit like Pat Boone or Paul Anka was here...not super-duper famous, but famous enough for a lot of women to have a crush on him and his dreamy voice), and I kind of wonder if HeeJun knows about the Korean singer...

You know what HeeJun really NEEDS to do? He needs to do something with that long, sustained note he did when we got his golden ticket: that long "Hollywooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood...I'm coming." Do that NOW, HeeJun!!!

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