American Idol 2011: Top 10 Becomes Top 13 with Wildcards
America voted 14 contestants off of Idol on the latest episode, whittling the competition down from 24 to 10 — until the judges picked 3 wildcard singers to remain on the show.
Continuing the Idol tradition of drawn-out drama, host Ryan Seacrest slowly brought contestants down to center stage to be sent on or sent home. First up, country crooner Scotty McCreery and soulful serenader Robbie Rosen. Given the shows history for turning out successful country singers, it’s no surprise that McCreery has made the Top 10… but it’s a sad shock that Rosen is done on the show.
Seacrest wastes no time bringing up his next victims in the form of Clint Jun Gamboa, Jordan Dorsey and Jovany Barreto — three guys who at various times have acted like they are God’s gift to America, the show, themselves… Though each have had their sweet moments as well, I am not saddened to see all three sent home.
It’s the ladies turn next, and surprisingly Seacrest brings up two ladies who brought the house down during their last performances (although I was unimpressed with Toscano’s vocals). Lauren Alaina and Pia Toscano hold hands as they both look certain that one of them must be going home. After prolonging their pain for a bit, Seacrest announces that Alaina has made it into the Top 10. Toscano looks resigned — only to find out Seacrest has pulled one of his tired tricks… Toscano’s in the Top 10 too!
When Idol’s reaper (aka Seacrest) calls up the next two ladies, there’s little doubt that both are most likely going home. Given that the pair consists of Ta-Tynisa Wilson and former favorite Julie Zorrilla (both who performed poorly this week), no one is shocked when both are sent packing.
Seacrest brings Kendra Chantelle, Ashthon Jones and Karen Rodriguez to center stage, announcing that only one of the three will be joining the Top 10. Surprisingly Jones – a judges’ favorite – is not the lucky girl. Neither is Chantelle who frankly outsang the other two. It seems Rodriguez’ smooth move of appealing to a wider audience by injecting Spanish lyrics into her performance paid off. Though she was hardly the best singer, she’s such a sweetheart that I can’t help but be happy that she’s in the Top 10.
Three men find themselves front and center with Seacrest next – Tim Halperin, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk. Though I’d prefer to see Abrams and Halperin go through, it turns out that America picked Abrams and Lusk instead. Love Abrams voice, style and song selections, but so far I’m only loving Lusk’s tonal quality. Hopefully he gets a little help picking better songs for future episodes.
Niama Adedapo, Thia Megia and Lauren Turner find themselves in the hot seat next as Seacrest announces that only one of the girls has made it through. Though both Adedapo and Turner turned out killer power numbers, it’s not a shock that Megia’s sweet sap has sugared her way into the Top 10.
Down to the final six hopefuls, Brett Lowenstern and Paul McDonald face their fate together, and though he’s facing down the heavily promoted Lowenstern, dark horse McDonald surprisingly walks away with the next Top 10 spot.
Haley Reinhart and Rachel Zevita step forward together, vying for the final spot for the ladies. Seacrest draws the drama out as usual before announcing that Reinhart has stolen long-time competitor Zevita’s dream from her grasp. Reinhart joins the rest of the Top 10 on the couch as Seacrest brings up the final pair.
Stefano Langone and James Durbin bonded as roommates throughout the audition process, but now they’re faced with having to send each other home as only one spot remains. Durbin’s killer performance this week was enough to earn him the final Top 10 spot, knocking Langone out.
With only 10 contestants remaining, there’s enough room left in the competition for the judges to add a few of the eliminated singers back into the mix. Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez select a total of six vocalists to sing for their slot — Ashthon Jones, Stefano Langone, Kendra Chantelle, Jovany Barreto, Naima Adedapo and Robbie Rosen.
Jones hits the stage first with a manic performance of “And I am Telling You” from the movie “Dreamgirls,” alternately screaming and over-emoting as she strutted around like a desperate diva. Definitely not good enough to deserve saving.
Langone practically brought tears to my eyes with a performance of “I Need You Now” that was pure and perfect, sincere and soulful – you could see in his eyes that he felt and meant every word. Gave me goosebumps. If this doesn’t keep him in the competition the judges weren’t listening.
Kendra Chantelle selects “Georgia on My Mind,” which she nails from the first deep, husky note to the crazy, power-filled final run. Though she still doesn’t leave a visual or personal impression, the girl has more vocal ability than several of the singers already in the Top 10.
Jovany Barreto decides to follow in Rodriguez’ footsteps and injects a little Spanish of his own in his performance. Though he sings sweetly, Barreto is no superstar.
Naima Adedapo leaves blood, sweat, tears and her heart on the stage as she belts out “For All We Know” with more emotion that we’ve seen from all the other contestants combined. Adedapo has an uber-cool vibe that is completely different that I want to see more of.
Robbie Rosen sings a prophetic rendition of “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” that shows off his vocals, but also shows that he’s just not polished enough yet to be a recording artist. Love the kid, but after that lackluster number I don’t think I need to see more — until next year!
After Lopez and Seacrest put on a little play for the audience in which they pretend the judges need more time to deliberate so why don’t we go ahead and watch Lopez’ latest video — the wildcard contestants are announced.
Though Ashthon Jones totally bombed, the judges picked her as their first wildcard selection. Jones looked totally shocked by the selection… and frankly so was I. Totally undeserved, especially when Chantelle knocked her number out of the auditorium. Looks like the judges were determined to put Jones through no matter what. I can only ask… why?
Thankfully the judges showed a little sense when they selected Stefano Langone and Naima Adedapo to round out the Top 13. With any luck Jones will be hitting the road soon enough — not that I have anything against the girl, but she is just – not – ready.
So the first live vote ends with a Top 13 selected — Scotty McCreery; Lauren Alaina; Pia Toscano; Karen Rodriguez; Casey Abrams; Jacob Lusk; Thia Megia; Paul McDonald; Haley Reinhart; James Durbin; Ashthon Jones; Stefano Langone and Naima Adedapo.