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In the cold opening of the Final Judgement episode of American Idol, Harry Connick Jr. had a message for the hopefuls: Don’t Cry Out Loud.
His biggest pet peeve? Whining about being sick before a performance. “This is show business… suck it up,” he told them.
And with that, the judges got down to work whittling it down to the final 30 singers for the live show, including its first ever openly gay contestant.
Before that reveal however, the panel suffered through amateurish originals (one girl ripped off the entire chorus of “Sweet Home Alabama”), lots of tears, two girls and two guys put on the spot to sing a capella in a sing off — plus a tense cliffhanger!
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So who made the cut? for the girls, Emily Piriz kicked things off behind the piano with “Stars” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, earning accolades from both Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, who were impressed with her “airy, light and full,” voice.
Former X Factor contender Jillian Jensen tried an original song in Hollywood, which earned her a well deserved spot and tears of joy. Tuba player Malaya Watson’s take on Fantasia’s “I Believe” started shaky, but she got her spot on the team as well as the correct pronunciation of her name. Jess Meuse and Jesse Roach were pitted against each other in a sing-off, but Meuse cinced the deal with a compelling version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.”
MK Nobilette — who matter of factly told the panel she is “obviously gay” — is definitely one of the most interesting vocalists in the competition. Her choice of Ed Sheeran‘s “The A Team” was so natural and beautifully delivered, Lopez said she had “goose bumps” and rightly described her voice as a “quiet storm,” before asking her to join the top 30. Kristen O’ Connor, another entry into the top 30, is a huge front runner from auditions. She hit some over modulated notes with Katy Petty’s “Unconditionally” in Hollywood Week, but she has star quality. But does she have as much as Andrina Brogden who Connick described as “who the other girls want to be.”
When it comes to the guys, Spencer Lloyd, the singer dubbed a “pretty guy” by Lopez, is an easy frontrunner based on his soulful take on “Say Something” by A Great Big World, but his original song didn’t impress the judges, which they dubbed a “public service announcement.” Still, he earned the first spot in the top 15.
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Sam Woolf is also off to a great start on Idol — he’s young, he plays guitar, and Lopez feels he has the “whole package.” Cute father of four Maurice Townsend smartly chose “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, changed the key subtly, and sailed through despite Urban’s reservations. Is Dexter Roberts the real deal? Urban seems to think so, as the emotional boy, who admits he’s “scared to death,” broke down in the elevator in elation, ready to leave the farm.
Emmanuel Zidor has an interesting, larger than life personality, and it shows in his stage presence and vampy delivery of “I’m Going Down,” complete with a high falsetto. Despite his group’s awful showing in Hollywood, his tears prior to his interview were unnecessary, as Lopez made his day with the news that he went through. Alex Preston is starting to look like this year’s Casey Abrams — just how many instruments does this guy play? We’ll find out soon enough, as we will see more of him next week in the live shows.
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Who didn’t make the cut? Madelyn Patterson, who may have been a little too pageanty for the competition. “They really want me to come back next year, so I’m going to do that,” she said. Keri Lynn Roche‘s “stylized voice” failed to win over Connick, Casey McQuillen missed the top 30 with what sounded like a great version of “Glitter in the Air” by Pink, and Nica Nashae, who made a mark on Lopez who called her “one of the best singers,” but still got shown the elevator door.
The show concluded on a dramatic note with a competition between Alabama fathers Casey Thrasher and CJ Harris duking it out for a spot.
The cuts continue tomorrow night. Did the judges make the right decisions? Who has your heart, Idol Worshippers? Let us know in the comments!
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