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“American Idol” 2019: My Favorite Performances

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AI 20

It’s here. It’s now. It’s the grand finale of American Idol. The hit TV show’s 17th season – or Season 2 on ABC Network – is about to hit the final note tonight with one of the Top 3 that include the incredibly talented singer-songwriter Alejandro Aranda, Season 1 comeback king Laine Hardy, and powerhouse voiced Madison Vandenburg being crowned the new winner.

Expect the return of our finest group of Top 10 finalists – Wade Cota, Laci Kaye Booth, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Walker Burroughs, Alyssa Raghu, Dimitrius Graham and last but certainly not least Uche – and special guests that include famous Idol alum Adam Lambert who was also invited to mentor during Queen Night, Weezer, Dan + Shay and Idol‘s trio of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Note to Idol producers: WHY did you deny Season 1 champion Maddie Poppe a slot at the finale especially since she has a wonderful debut album Whirlwind that is charting high on iTunes!? Don’t you want to support your winners!?

Here I present you my Season 2 highlights in the form of my favorite Top 10 and Top 20 performances and brief notes on Season 2 itself.

TOP 3

Having Alejandro, Laine and Madison as the last three contestants standing is actually an inspired choice by America. If we look at the bigger picture, each win would give the show credibility. Alejandro and Laine are not only bringing the best of their musicality and natural charm onstage but also diversity, and either one of them winning would change the game in the American Idol universe. Laine has been a personal favorite of mine from last year besides Michael J. Woodard, Catie Turner and Garrett Jacobs (who got in over Laine back in the Top 24 announcement), so his transformation was truly impressive to see. Alejandro’s originals are testament to his massive talent and artistry. From “Out Loud” to “Cholo Love” and “Blesser”, he’s making music that his idol Bach would’ve been very proud to see, and America and the world are embracing him. Madison may only be 17 but she does have a stunning voice that’s suitable for today’s pop industry. Here are my favorite performances from the Top 3.

TOP 10

Laci Kaye Booth ~ This stunning lady always has a voice like crispy waffles. Delightfully raspy and all about the story in every lyric she conveys. So underrated! A modern Stevie Nicks. “Dreams” was one of my many Laci favorites. Ethereal, divine and out-of-this-world lovely.

Wade Cota ~ Wade has a very special voice and story. A unique performer, he always sings with so much sincerity. That signature rasp is one only he can pull off. He also shows a lot of support and appreciation for his fellow idols, and that shows how great he is as a person. Twas a pleasure seeing his transformation from his audition all the way to “Rocket Man” and his other Top 5 performances.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon ~ Divine and timeless voice! We’re all very lucky to have him on the show. A truly dedicated artist who always tells a story with every song, be it a cover or his own original “Almost Heaven”. One of the biggest robberies in the history of the show, but he is bound to be a success story. Even Sir Elton John has showered him with praises. He has a jazz EP on iTunes that I recommend. It showcases his versatility.

Walker Burroughs ~ Charming guy with a charming voice that’s reminiscent of the golden years of Idol, where males with velvety voices reigned. Idol viewers seem to have a problem with talented gingers, because eliminating Walker and Jeremiah within the span of a week was a big mistake. Need your Walker fix? I recommend his luminous original “The Moon Song”. Simply magical!

Alyssa Raghu ~ Like Laine, Alyssa has always been a fan fave dating back to Season 1, which made her return very inspiring. She did display a more intriguing side of her this year and really fought for her place on the show. The ultimate comeback queen and such a pop star!

Uche ~ Electric, exciting and enjoyable to watch. Mr. Uche’s performances pack a lot of punch. Bonus point: he really knows how to rock the stage. Him not making it to Queen Week was a travesty but he will prove America wrong, because he’s the entertainer the music industry needs.

Dimitrius Graham ~ He should always be in our hearts, ’cause he always puts his heart and soul in every performance. Plus Dimitrius is such a star name. The only way for him is up. Meechi gang forever! Look out for his duet with Adam Lambert at tonight’s finale.

MORE IDOLS

Evelyn Cormier ~ She’s got the voice of a goddess. Haunting, magical and ethereal. With a mix of Cher, Florence Welch and Alison Sudol, Evelyn truly has a divine and timeless sound. Personally, she’s my favorite female voice from this season. What a kind, divine personality too. She always finds a way to keep in touch with her supporters and treats them like friends, which is a wonderful bonus. I invite you to give her Ghost EP and other originals a listen.

Shawn Robinson ~ There’s something super special about Shawn’s voice. His acoustic version of “Who You Are” from the audition rounds was lovely, and his other performances like “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” and “Jealous” showed how versatile he can be. Had he been given the chance to advance to the Top 14, his growth arc would’ve been compelling to see. Still, he’s such a pop star, and I’m so ready for a Shawn record.

Ashley Hess ~ I’m sure we were all charmed by Ashley’s Idol debut: her Norah Jones cover that she sang in her audition – “Don’t Know Why”. Her voice is like syrup and honey, and there’s a singer-songwriter quality to her like Sara Bareilles. Honestly, she should’ve made it way farther than the Top 14. Like Sara, she will do big things in music. I would want a Sara x Ashley collab.

Ryan Hammond ~ One of the best male vocals out there. Ryan’s powerhouse voice sets him apart, and he always sings from his heart. Inspiring story as well. You can tell he’s got a big love of music, and his passion shows in every performance. I would want him (and Shawn) to be the comeback kings in the next Idol season, but no matter what, his talent is undeniable.

Kate Barnette ~ So refreshing, unique and relaxing. Kate is an original and deserves more appreciation. Her tone is delightful and gives you that blissful feeling. You can download her EP on iTunes and enjoy her original tunes.

Margie Mays ~ Miss Margie is mesmerizing. Her lively audition and her quirky personality have made her an instant fave. That talent got her into the elite Top 40, though her journey was short-lived when she did not make the Top 20, Margie is so unforgettable that it’s not a question why she gets an invite to tonight’s finale. Be sure to look out for her appearance.

NOTES

* My overall favorites: Jeremiah, Laine, Walker, Shawn, Alejandro, Uche, Wade, Dimitrius, Ryan, Evelyn, Laci, Ashley and Kate

* This season had one of the best Top 20 in American Idol history and is still one for the books. It all became a mess when America started to vote, but at the end, it still gave us a solid Final 3.

* No tour for this season, which is disappointing, especially considering most of the finalists are fan faves. Plus they can capitalize on Alejandro’s massive fanbase with him being the only contestant with tons of followers, more than anyone in the last five to six seasons.

* Like last year and the final FOX season, a rushed format with double eliminations per week didn’t give audiences enough time to get to know contestants. Hopefully with the budget they are saving for next year, we’ll be able to get longer live shows with single eliminations and proper farewell packages for all finalists.

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TOP 14 Review ~ “American Idol”

American Idol is once again a ratings powerhouse thanks to ABC, and after two weeks of TOP 24 semifinals plus all-star duets, judges Lion Ritchie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan have picked the 14 finalists who make it to America’s votes.

Comments from viewers on the TOP 14 are going viral on the Internet, ranging from rave reviews to fiery disapprovals. Here at Cappuccino, I am celebrating all of them, as I believe these 14 finalists have something to offer to the diverse music fans around the world. It’s 2018, so let’s practice positivity as we go along.

ADA VOX/ADAM SANDERS – Electric and a powerhouse! Ada has the “it” factor and always commands the stage, making every performance look like an actual concert, and that’s what music is supposed to be… Exciting!

CADE FOEHNER – Kudos to Cade for bringing old school rock to the modern times and making it current once again. He’s the new rock ‘n’ roll pioneer and is my (and many others’) pick to WIN it all! Ever since I came across his “Rocket Man” and “Wanted Dead or Alive” videos long before the show premiered, I knew he’d be an instant favorite. That Phillip Phillips voice also allows him to give any kind of tune his own twist.

CALEB HUTCHINSON – I’m so happy to say Caleb is the very first male country singer I’m interested in on Idol. He comes across as very genuine, and for a country guy, he has such a unique tone and range. I also love the fact that he always posts uplifting, encouraging messages on his social media like many of the other finalists.

DENNIS LORENZO – Super commercial voice and star persona! Dennis can sing any tune and make it sound fresh, soulful and new. His audition plus duet with Allen Stone where he sang “Unaware” proved he has what it takes to sell records. If not Cade, Dennis could definitely be ABC’s very first American Idol!

GARRETT JACOBS – Unique and raspy voiced, Garrett is a male singer whose records I want to buy. Just look up his Chris Stapleton and John Mayer covers on Youtube, and there’s no denying his talent and distinctive tone. Inspired by iconic idols like Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams and Clark Beckham and with a performance like “Wicked Games” in Hollywood plus his subtle duet with Colbie Caillat, Garrett is way more than just a pretty face and is only going to get better. His journey (plus later career) is super endearing to follow.

JONNY BRENNS – He’s clearly very passionate in pursuing a career in music, and that shows in his originals, one of which he sang in his audition. With good looks and a natural talent followed by a lot of consistency, he will definitely add a lot of  freshness to the competition.

MARCIO DONALDSON – The universe needs Marcio and his music. With a compelling story and an even bigger voice, Marcio is very deserving of the win and make plenty of records. There’s so much pureness in his soulful voice, and he always sings from the heart. You can tell he really wants this, and you just have to love him.  So much respect!

MICHAEL J. WOODARD – Whimsical, adorable and exciting, Michael is truly an artist! He knows how to stand out, and with song choices like Alanis Moirisette’s “You Oughta Know”, the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” and the Broadway hit “Maybe This Time”, I’m beyond ready for a Michael Woodard debut album! He also seems approachable and is all about universal love. If he ever takes on a Barbra Streisand tune, it’d be even more glorious. I see him as a young, male version of Barbra in that he has a “bigger than life” appeal in his voice and an irresistable charm.

CATIE TURNER – Just like Michael, Catie with a C is an original and is socially conscious in addition to being entertaining. Everything about her screams superstar. Songs like “21st Century Machine” are instant hits with thought-provoking lyrics. With a massive following that exceeds the rest, it’s very clear that the world adores her and the messages she tries to communicate through her music, and she’s very deserving of the crown. Gotta love her jazz notes, spunky personality and cool boots too!

GABBY BARRETT – Be it country or soul, Gabby excels at both genres. With a beautiful Daenerys hair style and a strong range, this gal can sing the phonebook and slay. She truly has the power to succeed.

JURNEE – Pop star! That’s what Jurnee is destined to become. Very commercial with a crystal clear voice and a star-studded look, Jurnee could and should be “the one”. With covers like Jessie J’s “Flashlight” and “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman plus an elegant duet with Lea Michele, Jurnee’s journey should take her to the finale and Billboard charts. Super inspiring! PS. I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices she resembles a member of my favorite girl group Little Mix – Jade Thirlwall.

MADDIE POPPE – Whimsically delightful right from the start. Maddie’s music always conjures images of sunshine and rainbows, and that’s her brand. It’s syrup and honey for the ears. She deserves to be heard and appreciated. Check out her Songs From the Basement EP, and get ready to enter the wonderful world of Maddie Poppe.

MARA JUSTINE – Mara may be super young, but with a big voice and a down-to-earth personality, she’s like the Kelly Clarkson of the group. There’s so much soul and power in her vocals, followed by that expressive Janis Joplin spirit that makes you want to root for her. It won’t surprise me if the competition ends with her victory (that’d be a well-deserved win), ‘cause her massive talent and charisma truly make a strong combo. Mara is lightyears ahead of her younger self on America’s Got Talent back then and is ready to make her mark in the music industry.

MICHELLE SUSSETT – Her voice is definitely made for the radio. Easily identifiable and current with a Demi Lovato look and energy. It doesn’t matter that she’s not your average Idol contestant. The show’s original mission was to find a pop idol who’s marketable and relevant, and Michelle really fits the bill in that she can work the stage like the pro she is and entertain.

Photo Credits: American Idol/ABC

American Idol Season 1 (ABC)

ABC has brought back American Idol two years after its cancellation on FOX. The phenomenon that preceded other TV singing competitions is all-new and improved with fresh talents and a positive vibe. Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan – this first season’s trio of judges – not only have great dynamics, but also a strong, genuine interest in what each contestant bring. They pay close attention to all the singing and are very encouraging.

Given the super rushed schedule, tonight’s episode will wrap up the auditions segment, preparing the audiences for the Hollywood rounds tomorrow. To refresh, let’s take a look at some of the unforgettable auditions we have seen ever since the show’s March 11 premiere. Feel free to share your favorites too!

Does Idol deserve to stay another season? With such a positive direction, this competition serves as a reminder on the power of dreams, and dreams are always needed despite today’s grim political situations. So the answer would be yes. If you haven’t been tuning in, I encourage you to do so, and get ready to be inspired all over again. Spectacular talents and future stars await you.

LAINE HARDY

A high schooler with a cool, raspy voice and a bluesy rock sound? Laine’s got it. You can immediately spot that recording quality in his vocals. It’s only right that he’s topping the polls on various Idol forums and sites.

BRANDON DIAZ

This Berklee guy is definitely one of my top male voices. Very soulful. Turns out he was on The X Factor and that I’ve seen a few of his Youtube videos once like “Say Something”. I’m very interested in keeping up with his career on Idol and beyond.

GARRETT JACOBS

Another one of my favorite. Such a unique tone and so much potential. Great singer-songwriter vibe. While blues is very fitting for him, I can see him doing well covering modern male artists like Shawn Mendes and James Morrison.

MARCIO DONALDSON

Super inspiring. Powerful story and a voice that’s tender and compelling, Marcio is one to look for. There’s an honesty in the way he sings, and if he keeps it up in Hollywood, he could easily soar into the finals.

CATIE TURNER

This girl is truly an original. With an adorably quirky persona and her self-penned songs like 21st Century Machine, she’s definitely starting a revolution, and we’re all here for a lot of Catie records. She could be the one! #hashtagcatie

MADDIE POPPE

Whimsical with a relaxing tone, she’s got magic in her voice that’s reminiscent of Sara Bareilles. The ultimate female singer-songwriter in this competition, she will bring a lot of freshness to the stage.

AMELIA HAMMER HARRIS

Very retro! With a lot of funk and energy in her voice and a NYLON-inspired fashion, Amelia delivers a lot of excitement and is bound to shake up the competition. It also helps that she’s the daughter of a music icon Jack Hammer.

MARA JUSTINE

Very impressive! Haven’t seen her on America’s Got Talent but she seems ready now with her massive voice. Her expression and enthusiasm really show, and she’d make a commercial recording artist.

LAYLA SPRING

She has a delightful sound. Bringing her little sister Dixie along, there’s an immediate warmth in her that draws you in. While she could benefit with more experiences, she’s got potential. The voice is definitely there, and so is her charm.

 

CALEB HUTCHINSON

 

He comes across as unique for a country artist. It looks like he also has a magnetic personality. His sincerity and love for country music definitely shows when he performs.

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