It’s that time of year again…Idol is back

Sorry for the recent absence. I’m sure my tens of readers have been struggling to fill the void in their lives.  It almost makes me feel a little bad to announce the reason for my return to The Meeting is…Amreican Idol.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard the clamor for my AI reviews to return (two people can make a clamor, right?).  I’m just sure that a number of you could not care less about Idol, an assumption corroborated by the show’s declining ratings.  But, for reasons I have attempted previously to explain, I love the show.  And I also love sharing my thoughts on the performances from week to week.  And now that all of the auditions and cuts have been made, Wednesday night brings our first “proper” vote of season 12.  So, I thought I should take a few minutes to rank this season’s performers.

But first, let’s catch up on what’s been happening these past several weeks.  Randy Jackson is back, of course.  I guess his production schedule isn’t as busy as he seems to think.  But the exits of Steven Tyler and J-Lo have forced producers to reinvent the judging wheel.  They have done this with a fairly eclectic trio of judges, with mixed results.  Keith Urban is probably the best evaluator of the group, and actually gives some fair critique (though he can be a bit soft at times).  Mariah Carey is a wast of time who offers nothing from the panel other than glimpses of her cleavage.  My wife and I have actually stopped listening to her completely and just fast-forward through her commentaries.  If she says something extraordinary or controversial, please let me know.  Because we weren’t listening.  But my favorite new judge is Nicki Minaj.

Let me be very clear, here.  I really don’t care for Nicki Minaj, musically speaking.  I have found her to be mostly uninteresting or annoying.  When I found out she was one of the new judges for AI, it was really disappointing.  I felt this would be unwatchable.

BUT…I was wrong.  Very wrong!  Nicki Minaj has become the most watchable thing on the show (save for Jimmy Iovine, who doesn’t really start contributing until this week)!  Her insights were actually very…well…insightful!  And she’s not afraid to tell someone they aren’t good, even if it means getting booed by the lemmings in the live Idol audience.  Even when I don’t agree with her, I respect the conviction of her opinion and passion for certain contestants.  And she’s so darn colorful, both literally and figuratively!  This season would be a complete bore if not for Nicki Minaj.  And while I still may not care for her music, I have gained a much higher respect for her as a person.  I just wish they would let her talk after Mariah so she could do more eye-rolling and diva brawling.

In past years, the contestant pool was pared down to a top 12 before moving to what I call “the show proper”, where we vote out one contestant per week.  This year, they chopped it right down from 20 to a top ten, and let America wield the butcher knife!  This was a bit scary for me, as American has botched the paring process in previous seasons.  But, save for one contestant (we’ll get to that in a minute), you all actually did a good job picking a top ten.   Prior to that, It has been clear through all of this season’s auditions that the producers are desperately avoiding the WGWG (white guy with guitar) element that has dominated the past few seasons.  It also seems clear the producers want a woman to win.  The genre of choice this year is Pop/R&B for their winner, with country serving as a second genre choice.  I have no inherent problem with this, but I am a little worried about the talent pool.  When I compare this year’s top ten to last year’s, I am a bit taken aback at the drop in quality (and as I said, America essentially picked the correct top 9).  I would take last year’s top three or four over anybody in this year’s top ten (do I say that every year?).  Maybe I’m just not attached to them yet.  Maybe, once they start opening things up this week, I will be won over and start singing the hyperbolic praises of their performances.  Or, maybe the show is just going to blow this year.  Either way, I’m in!  And I hope you are, too.  On the bright side, we’ve only got ten finalists, which means only nine weeks of…this.  Join me, won’t you?

And now, here is my personal, American Idol season 12 power ranking of the top ten contestants.  This is mostly based on my personal preference, with a little bit of speculation mixed in.

1.  KREE HARRISON – This is my absolute favorite voice in the top ten.  She has a kind of country/folk vibe and is unconventional as pop stars go, which makes me like her even more.  I would not handicap her nationally as the favorite , but she is my favorite.  And Nicki loves her.  And Mariah’s cleavage loves her.  You should love her with us.

2.  ANGELA MILLER – I don’t know for sure if she is my second favorite, but I would rank her as the national favorite to win it all this year.  I like that she plays piano and writes original songs.  She has established herself as an artist, which always scores points with me.  I think she made Keith cry, one week.  I’m not sayin’ that scores points with me, but…

3.  CURTIS FINCH, JR. – Look, I’m just sayin’ that, as far as the boy’s side of the pool goes, CJ is easily the most ready-to-ship contestant swimming this season.  He’s polished, an incredibly strong performer, and has a clear genre.  Unfortunately, that genre is gospel, which usually burns out pretty quickly on Idol unless you can convince voters that you have a strong side of soul/R&B to go with that gospel main course.  Also, CJ has demonstrated a strong arrogance, which is certain death with voters.  I don’t think he will finish near the top three, I just think he has top three talent.

4.  BURNELL TAYLOR – I honestly can’t say for sure why it is I like this guy so much (other than his incredible humility and perfect song choices), but I can’t wait to hear him each week.  He’s a little awkward to watch, in a kind of modern-day, soul singing David Byrne kind of way, but i find him totally engaging.  There is a purity to him that makes angels cry.  Or at least Keith.  And Mariah’s cleavage.

5.  JANELLE ARTHUR – I think this country blondie is probably higher on the AI audience meter than I’ve placed her.  She has the potential to win this whole thing.  But more often than not, I see her fall short of that potential.  A big opening performance tonight could mover her right up my chart.  And besides, I didn’t get Carrie Underwood for most of her AI season.  What do I know from country blondies?

6.  DEVIN VELEZ – This guy has grown on me a lot.  I had mostly dismissed him until his last couple of performances, especially last week.  I know the judges coo when he sings in spanish, but I don’t care about that.  What I do care about is how great this 18-year-old was during his victory song on the top ten reveal show last week (By the way – the top ten reveal show was a brilliant addition by the show’s producers this season.  I found that to be really compelling, even wee Ryan Seacrest’s intimate moments with the chosen contestants prior to revealing them to the audience and judges.  Very well done).

7.  AMBER HOLCOMB – I kind of feel like I should be ranking her higher, but then I kind of don’t .  I need to see her for a week or two more before I can really make up my mind what I think of her.

8.  CANDICE GLOVER – I kind of feel like I should be ranking her higher, but then I kind of don’t.  I need to see her for a week or two more before I can really  make up mind what I think of her (whoa – deja vu, which is french for “deja vu”).

9.  PAUL JOLLEY – My biggest problem with Paul Jolley is that he doesn’t make me feel very jolly.  Probably because he spells it wrong.  But if your name is Jolley, you really should make people feel jolly.  Mostly, he just makes me feel a little uncomfortable.  He should change his name to Paul Uncomfortable.  Or Paul Uncomfortabel.

10.  LAZARO ARBOS –  Okay, here we go.  I’m going to need somebody’s help here because I DON’T GET AT ALL WHAT THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THIS GUY IS!  SERIOUSLY!   Sorry about raising my voice, but from this guy’s very first audition, I have found him to be nothing but barely mediocre.  Yet, the judges continue to gush all over him and make what sounds like excuses when they say things like “I don’t know how it came across in people’s living rooms, but here in the auditorium he just makes a connection with the audience blah blah blah blah blah”.  Really?  Cause in my living room, there was no connection.  Ever.  Just some okay singing.  And then, when America got to eliminate half the talent pool last week, YOU VOTED LAZARO INTO THE TOP TEN!!!!  HUH??????  Sorry about the yelling, again.  Look, I get that the guy has a compelling story and that his ability to sing clearly (sort of) in spite of a debilitating and heartbreaking stutter is inspiring.  But this isn’t American Inspiration.  He’s got a great story but a no better than average singing voice and, from my living room vantage point, no stage presence.  Please tell me why I’m wrong, because I think there were at least three other guys who deserved to be in the top ten ahead of him.  Shoot, I would have taken Charlie Askew Syndrome ahead of him.

So there ya go, my quick ranking of season 12’s top ten.  The performances kick off later tonight.  Let me know who your favorite is!

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~ by themattmorrisshow on March 13, 2013.

One Response to “It’s that time of year again…Idol is back”

  1. So I’m not very impressed with the new lady judges, either of them.
    I’m having a hard time making heads or tails
    Of their critiques.
    Keith can be a bit soft sometimes but
    At least he advises contestants so they can
    Understand what he’s saying . Nikki is like listening to a child talk. No offense to the children out there. Miss M well I think the diva is a bit too much in control and she obviously doesn’t want to be mean.
    I am actually having a hard time watching the show this year all in all.
    It looks like it will be a girl that wins this year.i haven’t picked a favorite but so far I’m not very impressed by any of them .
    Usually by now I have. I do however love reading your blog and have been wondering
    If you decided to tune out. I’m not sure ill make it thru this season 😦

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