American Idol Names Its Top 10
Performers perform, judges kinda-sorta judge, and Kelly Clarkson makes us fall in love with her all over again.
To be completely honest, the absolute last person/thing I expected to see this Farewell Season was Brian Dunkleman. I simply figured that his memory would continue to be suppressed, lost to the pages of what must be an ironclad clause in Seacrest's eternal contract. But then, poof: there he was. Good ol' Dunkleman, appearing via flashback clip at the very start of the show, seen announcing Kelly Clarkson as the OG Idol. Sometimes, it really is good to go back to the beginning.
Since Kelly's preggers, and due around the same time as our new Idol, it logistically makes sense for her to appear/judge/perform now, but I can't help but wonder what this means for the rest of the season. The newly-minted Top 10 has a range from bland to sassy, but none really yet have that spark of specialness. Will Carrie Underwood ever come back? Or are we doomed to the Olivia Rox and Dalton Rapattoni show from here on out? Is it even worth pretending that the six performers America voted on have a fair chance at the title? Or do we not care, so long as we can continue to take the trip down memory lane?
Sure enough, Ryan continues to creep up the sophistication level of his outfit, pairing a black tie with his dark blue suit. It's a match that could have been disastrous, but works because there's just enough contrast between the two shades for them to stand alone; both read clearly against the stark whiteness of his shirt and teeth. Good job, Ry-Ry.
America has finally (finally!) gotten the chance to actually vote, but the results, while appreciated, are far from shocking. Tristan McIntosh, Sonika Vaid, Gianna Isabella, Mackenize Bourg, Avalon Young, and Lee Jean all join Trent Harmon, Olivia Rox, La'Porsha Renae, and Dalton Rapattoni in the Top 10, which is absolutely something they should celebrate, because Idol is officially back to their silly top of show eliminations. We've definitely heard at least one of these kids sing for the last time (possibly ever), and while that's potentially fortunate for us, it's still sort of rude and dismissive of all the work that they've put into the show thus far.
Goodbye My Friend(s)
While none of the eliminations are particularly surprising -- there was no way America was going to vote for Jeneve Rose's hat -- it is sort of sad to see said hat's owner, Jen Blosil, Thomas Stringfellow, and Manny Torres pushed to the side so briskly. One of the best parts of early Idol was the elimination song and it would have been pretty great to see that facet of the show brought back for the Farewell Season. But maybe it's not too late? Producers: give each performer a verse, practice some basic harmonies (though, I get it, that would have been hard for some) and give another Daniel Powter their big break.
Schadenfreude (Or, Stupid Is As Stupid Does)
Oh, dear, sweet, spoiled Olivia. "Over The Rainbow" is not your song. It belongs only to Judy, so maybe check your privilege backstage before it comes back to bite you in the polls.
How cute is Lee Jean, with his guitar, and adorable crushes on past idols? He's still super young, and there's still a lot of earnestness to be worked out, but his stage presence has a natural comfort that matches the smoothness of his voice and he's fun to watch because it's so clear that he's having fun himself. He's still too young and inexperienced to win, but it wouldn't be the most surprising thing in the world for him to get some experience and then come back with a summer single in 3-5 years time.
Calling An Audible
Dalton's thing is to take songs and remake them into his pop-punk image, but he's consistently failing to connect to any of the actual lyrics. "Hey There Delilah" could have been the moment that tweens and their moms and grandmas all collectively fell in love, but there's absolutely no indication that he even realized the possibility. He'll lose votes to Mackenzie for the oversight, but that being said, he's still a dead ringer for Billie Joe Armstrong, so we'll probably see him pop up in the eventual Green Day biopic. He already has the eyeliner application down, so production can theoretically start as soon as someone hands him a box of jet black Manic Panic.
Surprising High Notes
Sonika really steps it up here, as "Bring Me To Life" has the double advantage of being perfect for her vocal and not having been done to death before. She finds confidence, too, as she realizes that the crowd is into what she's doing, and that power, as J.Lo says, will absolutely change the course of the competition if she can hold onto it.
Do we really need a five-plus-minute recap montage of performances that we literally just saw over the course of this very episode? I'm going to go out on a limb and say no, we don't. But if filling the time is an issue, producers, see my note above about bringing back the farewell song.
Ahhhh, Kelly Clarkson
It's no surprise that Kelly Clarkson's performance is the best of the night, but the complete emotional rawness of her delivery is an absolutely special gift. She's so beautifully in the moment as she ranges from professional to giggling, near-blubbering mess that it's a privilege just to watch her discover the lyrics.