The Top 10 Thing: 1st of all, let’s talk about the fact that there isn’t a top 12. How long have they been doing that? Did I miss something? Even though it makes the grueling and sometimes daunting to watch competition shorter, I don’t like the fact that there aren’t 12 and no wild-card picks this year. For those who have watched Idol over the years, we all know what a savior wild-card picks can be (see Jennifer Hudson), even though most end up getting voted out again anyway (see Jennifer Hudson). I hated it when they stopped taking 12 on tour in Season 3, so I’m a little glad that on tonight’s results episode, 2 booted contestants will get a chance to compete for a spot in a sing-off. Can’t they get a spot on the show too? Dang.
Nicki Minaj & The Judges: Minaj has proven everyone, even me, wrong when it comes to her judging abilities. Many questioned what insight she could offer since she’s a newcomer (her debut album dropped in 2010)who isn’t primarily a singer, but in an ironic twist, she’s given some of the most useful and constructive critiques. In a very motherly fashion, Minaj gives it to contestant’s straight, but reminds them of their strengths and encourages them to be creative and flexible (as opposed to the usual pushing them into one particular sound or genre). She even had the guts to strongly oppose comments made by label head Jimmy Iovine ( whose company contracts the winning contestant), who judges typically don’t challenge out of “respect.” Keith Urban irritates me often; he seems to always insist the contestant stick to doing one thing. Mariah Carey isn’t doing what Idol hired her to in my opinion. Obviously they wanted someone as established as she not only for ratings attention, but because her skill and experience, and yet she playing it Paula Abdul (a former judge) and super sweet. No, I didn’t expect her to be cut-throat like Simon Cowell, but I expected firmness and concrete assessments. Carey seems to beat around the bush and sugar-coat, but I guess someone had to be the “nice one.”
Predictions: I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed in this season’s crop of contestants. No one is flat-out terrible, but there’s too much “decent” and not enough stellar. My following predictions are not based on who I think is the most talented, but previous voting patterns over the last 11 seasons. Let’s face it, when it comes to voting, it isn’t just about raw talent. Personality, looks, genre, week-to-week song choice and yes, race, are all factors in voting outcomes. Candice and Curtis have the strongest voices in my opinion, but I don’t think either have a chance at winning. I thought Curtis would go far until last night, when he chose to perform “I Believe” by Fantasia. The category for the week was songs by other Idol winners; contestants could choose to sing an original song by an Idol or a song an Idol performed while on the show (many defeated the purpose by doing prior performance songs). The problem with “I Believe” was that the song is so unique to Fantasia, he’d either get compared if he sung it like her, or criticized for changing it. He chose to change it by downplaying it vocally and it was a miss. Candice should win the whole darn thing, but again, let’s face it: if you aren’t adorable and don’t do pop, country or acoustic rock, you won’t win. That being said, among the female contestants, Angie & Janelle have the strongest shot. Angie needs to watch her song choices though. With the guys, I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe Devin (whose voice is so smooth and sensual) and Paul have the best chances. Lazaro is darling, but I don’t think knows what songs best suit him and will pull in votes, therefore his picks will likely send him packing early on. Burnell may surprise everyone and pop up in the top 5 or 6 (there’s always that middle ground person who gets better with time and becomes a favorite). Cree and Amber may go home early as well. Cree’s issue is that she has too much blues and soul in her style. She has that country element, but if Janelle stays on pitch and makes the right selections, there’s no need for Cree. Amber has Candice to contend with, so likely lose that war. However, based on what I said about genre, Amber might knock Candice out because she has a more pop-friendly tone.
Those are my predictions. What do you guys think?
Fox’s “American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c.