The Lucky Thirteen: American Idol Recap

A lot of good things happened last night on American Idol. Some not-so-good things happened too, but all in all, I feel really good about this top 13. That said, there are hints of danger in the future, so it’s still too early to tell what kind of season this will shape up to be. This is going to be hopefully short and sweet, and at the end, I’m going to make hilariously bad predictions for how the season is going to roll out. (Remember how I had Pia winning last year? Good times.)

While I was initially grumbling about a two hour results show, I can’t say that it didn’t go by with a great amount of efficiency. By the end of the first hour, we had a top ten, and the wildcard performances…well, more on that later.

I have to give a round of applause to America for choosing Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Joshua Ledet, Heejun Han, Shannon Magrane, Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, and Jermaine Jones for their top ten. I can honestly say that all of these people had a solid performance in the semi-finals, and there is a lot of potential in the group.

Aside number one: I hadn’t realized how much I missed Jimmy Iovine until he appeared last night. Love him or hate him, he was completely honest with all the contestants, and I liked that he liked a good amount of the contestants. He was brutally honest without being too cruel, and I can’t wait to hear more from him throughout the season. That said, his comments to Joshua Ledet and Aaron Marcellus were offensive and unnecessary. He could have made his points in a lot better ways.

Aside number two: Anyone else remember when there wasn’t a gender divide in the top 12/13? I understand why American Idol does this, it’s great for tour sales, but I think it would have been great to see a couple more of the outstanding girls make it in.

Aside number three: Remember when the top 13 was an awesome surprise? I know it’s an arbitrary number, really, but rumors started floating around last night of a possible top 14. I’m glad it didn’t happen, because at what point does it stop? It hurts to cut people, I know, but if you want fairness, why not go back to the old semi-final format of yore?

Ok. Back to the show. So the judges picked six people to perform, and here’s where the not-so-good came in. A brief summary of what happened:

Jen Hirsh “Oh Darling” Jen certainly threw down the gauntlet on this one. While it wasn’t perfect, it was miles better than Wednesday’s effort. The judges gave it a lukewarm response, which immediately told me she wasn’t in. So Jen, have the Kendra Chantelle Memorial Award on me, because there was a spot for you in the top 13.

Jeremy Rosado “I Know You Won’t” First, Jeremy gets a bajillion points for choosing an excellent song. This is how you choose a former contestant’s song, people. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of his vocals yet–he needs to work on consistency and support–but there’s something about the way he inhabits the emotion of the song that gives me a Kris Allenesque vibe. Not to mention that he seems like the sweetest kid ever.

Brielle Von Hugel “Someone Like You” At least she picked a contemporary song? I can sort of understand why the judges picked her: she has a good voice, and her personality would make for good TV. But Brielle strikes me as the girl who’s never been told no, and I hope after tonight she goes out into the world and experiences life a little.

DeAndre Brackensick “Georgia on My Mind” *puts on music educator hat* It’s supremely hard to transition from chest voice to falsetto at any age. *takes hat off* Again, what DeAndre did wasn’t perfect, but the ease with which he did it was astounding. Jimmy Iovine was right: I can’t wait to see what the vocal coaches do with him.

Erika van Pelt “The Edge of Glory” Unfortunate dress aside, I’m so glad Erika is here to stay. There’s such an air of confidence about her, and she seems to know her voice so very well. I do hope that she begins to choose songs outside of the DJ/karaoke vein, but all in all, it was nice to hear someone just sing a song well.

Reed Grimm “Use Me” Did anyone else get the feeling that the judges chose Reed more to fill up airtime than actually give him a chance at making the top 13? That’s all I really have to say about that performance.

Aside number four: I probably would have switched out Brielle for Hallie, and Reed for Aaron or Creighton, but all in all I was actually ok with the wildcards. I’m glad that Erika, Jeremy and DeAndre made it through, and I’m sort of sad that Jen didn’t, but I’m not the bubbling mass of rage I have been in past seasons.

Aside number five: I don’t think I’ve side-eyed a theme so hard since Mariah Carey night. The boys singing Stevie Wonder and the girls singing Whitney Houston? Why not switch the two to make it more interesting? Part of why Mariah Carey night did work was the level of talent/the boys not suffering in comparison. Also, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is a well known death knell for any contestant.

And now for my terrible predictions of how the season will go:

Leaving next week: Shannon Magrane
12: Jermaine Jones: will coast through on good will alone, but not enough to make it far
11. Jeremy Rosado: nerves will get the best of him
10. Heejun Han: having made tour, the Internet will happily let him go
9. Skylar Laine: becomes annoying instead of precocious
8. Colton Dixon: I like him for the early shock elimination, judges will save him
8 and 7: DeAndre Brackensick and Erika van Pelt: because wild cards never win
6. Joshua Ledet: love him, but his gospel stylings won’t serve him well
5. Elise Testone: and I will cry a river
4. Colton Dixon (again): I like giving a rocker the Chris Daughtry Memorial Spot
3. Jessica Sanchez: because we can’t have nice things like an all-girl finale, and well, I get the feeling her poise will translate into general annoyance
2. Phil Phillips: I can dream right?
1. Hollie Cavanagh: America likes nothing better than a comeback story, and I think she could be a dark horse

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