Well, the first night of the Idol competition has passed, the boys have sung, and the judges have crooned. The night started out slowly as Adam Brock chose to sing Aretha Franklin’s “Think”. A mediocre job, but OK.
Deandre Brackensick, did Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Reason.” In a falsetto that was at once annoying and insincere. Of course, the judges loved him. The judges loved everyone tonight…
Colton Dixon sang Paramore’s “Decode.”. Starting behind the piano, he made a very promising beginning, and, after moving away from the piano, continued with a strong, if not Grammy winning, performance. As Colton said, he is rarely somewhere besides behind the piano, so his dancing around, leaping on top of the piano, and interacting with the audience was new to him. He did seem at ease on the stage, and the performance was not bad. The judges settled on the term relevant as expressed by Jennifer Lopez – “you really sing from your heart — you’re a relevant artist, I can hear you on the radio right now.”. Randy Jackson meanwhile simply said he “didn’t know you can perform like that.”, and Stephen Tyler just agreed with everyone.
A few performers in, and Aaron Marcellus finally hit the stage. Aaron chose the Jackson 5′s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Although the song didn’t sound like anything special, he has a decent voice, and he performed well. Aaron showed he was totally at ease with being on stage, and with the audience, and I believe he is a strong contender with solid talent. In what I think may have been a bit of over-reaction, he actually got the judges to stand up According to Randy Jackson -”That run you did near the end was crazzzzy,” and “You can sing anything,” chimed in Jennifer Lopez.
Chase Likens, sang Hunter Haye’s “Storm Warning.” While he has a good, country music voice and lots of confidence, nothing in his performance was either amazing or memorable. As massive video flames appeared in the backdrop, all I could think was the backdrop needs less fire, and Chase needs a bit more.
“Movie-star good looks, but you sounded great as well,” says Lopez. “You definitely have range,” adds Jackson. I was thinking more Karaoke.
Jeremy Rosado sang Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity”.” He did it with passion, and a very likable voice. The girls were screaming. The judges sat there absorbed in the music, as Ryan Seacrest called for a replay of video that showed them transfixed in another world with their eyes closed. Stephen Tyler opined “That was beautiful, you couldn’t have picked a better song,”, while Jennifer Lopez went a little further with “Some people are just blessed, from God … you open your mouth and immediately, I’m drawn in,”. Randy Jackson was ” so impressed with the tender moments, and the big booming vocals,”. High praise so early on for what was a solid, but otherwise forgettable performance.
Phillip Phillips took Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” into a new dimension. Not sure if the one Phil would recognize the super-slow, stripped down version sung by the other Phil. It felt completely different, with an air of darkness not present in the original version. I loved the performance, and it showed the creativity and raw talent that Phillip Phillips brings to the show. Jennifer Lopez said: “there is no doubt that you’re one of the most special talents… and you just proved why right there.” Steven Tyler says he’s got a “crazy kind of voice,” and Randy Jackson said he’s not sure he was crazy about the reworked melody, but that he loves him overall.
Creighton Fraker blew the crowd away with Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”. A beautiful arrangement, a beautiful voice, and a beautiful amount of sincerity, Says Jennifer Lopez – “That was so beautiful,”. Randy Jackson just confirmed the obvious – “You can definitely sing,”, while Steven Tyler let loose with a “That was stupendous,”.
A disappointment for me was 15-year-old Eben Franckewitz doing Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain.” Nervous and timid out of the gate, at least he nailed the last line. While the performance was small for the Idol stage, Eben nonetheless has a tender voice, and lots of charisma. But the connection to the music was not there, and the emotion that made the song a hit for Adele was simply absent.
Heejun Han sang Robbie Williams’ “Angels”. While the performance was credible, heartfelt and totally in control, I felt no connection with the music. Heejun himself, however, connects well with me, and I am hoping we will see him back. There is much more to his talents than were present tonight.
But it was Joshua Ledet who set the bar tonight. Singing Jennifer Hudson’s “You Pulled Me Through”, his performance got the judges up on their feet. He had Randy Jackson shaking his head in disbelief as he said “He could tour right now; it’s the best performance of the night”, Jennifer Lopez called his voice “amazing,” adding that it “is from another world — you can do whatever you want. “. And we agree.
Finally, in the evenings “surprise twist” Jermaine Jones was brought back by the “American Idol” judges for a second chance as the 13th male, singing Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father.”. It was a pleasure to hear the “gentle giant’s” deep baritone, but I am left wondering if he has what it takes to get through this week.
Wednesday night, the Girls sing, and then Thursday, we will find out how “America has voted” as six of the boys, and six of the girls are eliminated from the competition… After the break.