Posted Sunday, April 29, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
In classic synergistic fashion, ABC – which owns Disney – is having a Disney-themed night for the “American Idol” top 10. This means lots of cloying ballads.
Three were cut tonight. This was the first time “Idol” offered real-time voting across the country, including Hawaii (2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Hawaii time). Plus, the eliminations happened immediately based on votes made during the episode.
The first six announced were the top six from last week: Georgia’s Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner, Maddie Poppe and Catie Turner. The only judges’ pick to survive: Jurnee. In essence, the vote count was probably similar to what it was a week ago.
Basically, I don’t know if the performances tonight made that much of an impact on the voting since many of the votes were made before many of the singers had even performed. So the fact the vote count didn’t change much week over week is not surprising.
So in my mind, the order of performance didn’t matter so much in the voting as it has in the past when voting began after the final performance. Thus, poor Dennis Lorenz got a useless pimp spot and went home immediately afterwards.
Overall, performances this week were much better than last week. There wasn’t anything close to a disaster. I don’t like Jurnee and hoped Michelle Sussett would take the seventh slot but it didn’t happen.
The judges were impressively useless tonight, Katy Perry’s Snow White outfit notwithstanding. I mean, they were super useless in a “Voice” kind of way. There was nary a negative word said about anybody tonight.
Maddie Poppe (“The Bare Necessities” from “Jungle Book”) – This Iowa student brings out the ukelele and sings this song with joy and delight. She should survive, no problem. Lionel: “You are absolutely coming of age before our very eyes.” Katy (in “Snow White” voice) thought she did a great job taking advice from Idina Manzel. Luke: “Your voice feels timeless to me.” Grade: A-minus
By 8:14 p.m., Ryan Seacrest said 1.5 million votes have occurred already. (Of course, folks can vote up to 10 votes per contestant so that doesn’t mean 1.5 million people voted.)
Jurnee (“How Far I’ll Go” by Auli’i Cravalho/Alessia Cara from “Moana”) She admits she over-thinks the performances. She often sings effortlessly and technically cleanly but I find nothing much behind the surface. Tonight is a case in point. It’s simply forgettable. Katy said she seemed vulnerable for a change. Luke says nothing of note. Lionel said stage presence is something we can’t give you and he felt she was singing from her heart, not her head. Grade: C-plus/B-minus
Cade Foehner (“Kiss the Girl” from “A Little Mermaid”) – He has to sing a cutesy Disney tune and turns it effectively into a rock ballad. Somehow, he makes it work even if it sounds virtually unrecognizable. Katy liked this side of him. Grade: B-plus/A-minus
Ada Vox (“Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”) – He gives this song a diva spin and it’s perfectly solid and very very Broadway. Lionel: “You are a movement unto yourself.” Katy said he keeps dropping the mic and wasn’t a schtick. “You really embodied Ada Vox,” she said. Luke likes how he took a more subtle route. Grade: B/B-plus
Michelle Sussett (“Remember Me” from “Coco”) – Since this song is about a Mexican family, it works well for Michelle and she’s able to sing part of it in Spanish. Her stage presence trumps any vocal issues and she comes across more likable than she has in the past. This was probably her best performance to date though will she be able to make the cut as a result? Katy said sometimes the performance has been more a priority than the sound. “You are a star, a star, a star.” Luke: “You nailed it perfectly and are really a singer. We’ve messed some of that thus far.” Lionel: “Your true identity just came through.” Grade: A-minus
Gabby Barrett (“Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahantas”): I find some Disney songs so saccharine, it’s hard for me to actually enjoy them no matter how well sung. So I’m going to give Gabby a pass. She sang this one with proper professional and emotional measure. That’s the best I could say. Luke: “You have all of the tools to win this thing in my opinion.” Lionel: “You are the package, my dear.” “Grade: B
Michael J Woodard (“Beauty and the Beast” from the film of the same name) – He’s Mr. Musical Theatre. He is able to elevate any song and despite a slow start, he builds this into a triumph and makes it his own. Lionel: “I love you so much.” Kathy: “My angel!” Grade: A-minus
Caleb Lee Hutchinson (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story”) – He is taking a purely non-country song and brings his own friendly persona to the table. He has great tone and warmth in his classic country voice. Kathy: “So friendly.” Luke: “A great song choice for you. Way to make America smile.” Lionel: “You don’t have to dance or anything tricky.” Grade: A-minus/B-plus
Catie Turner (“Once Upon a Dream” from “Sleeping Beauty”) – It’s nice to see Catie take a turn at something like this instead of a pop song. It really highlights how strong her voice could be on Broadway. She shines brightly in this case. Just lovely. Lionel said something about dreams coming true. Katy notes her growth and evolution. Grade: A/A-minus
Dennis Lorenzo (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King”) – He gets the “pimp spot” that may not matter anymore because of the way the voting works. Will enough people vote at the last second to save him? This is one “Disney” ballad I inherently like. Dennis starts the song in a lower gear and builds up to some big notes but I’m not sure he was able to kick it into top gear. Luke: “Home run, buddy.” Lionel: “I love the way you put a little barbecue sauce on ‘The Lion King.’ Katy said she’s stress eating. Grade: B-plus