American Idol

American Idol 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Showcase No. 1: 1st 12 Performances (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Showcase No. 1: 1st 12 Performances”! Host Ryan Seacrest and judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. continue the search for the final American Idol!

The Top 24 are finally performing! The first twelve singers are up, and it’s looking to be an interesting night of performances! On tap for tonight are:

James VIII
Jenna Renae
Stephany Negrete
Emily Brooke
Thomas Stringfellow
Sonika Vaid
Jeneve Rose Mitchell
Gianna Isabella
Jordan Sasser
La’Porsha Renae
Avalon Young
MacKenzie Bourg

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos of the highlight performances as soon as they become available!

American Idol 2016 - Live Blog and Recap - Showcase No. 1 1st 12 Performances (VIDEO)

Credit: FOX

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-We open with Ryan talking about American Idol as a tradition, and how it takes undiscovered talent and turns them into superstars. We then go to the Viviana, where Ryan explains how this week is going to work, with the first 12 singers performing a solo song of their choosing, with the judges sending five singers home tomorrow night. Rinse and repeat for next week. On a happier side, they’ll be mentored and joined onstage tomorrow by Idol alums such as Ruben Studdard, Nick Fradiani, Caleb Johnson and more. Tonight, the pre-performance packages will offer up some amusing factoids about the contestants. And with that, we’re onto our first performance of the night…

STEFANY NEGRETE opens the show!

-Stefany talks about how she wants to learn at least four languages, and goes through saying “hello” in a bunch of different tongues, from Spanish to Chinese to Turkish. Impressive stuff.

-Stefany sings “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J, and this is easily the best I’ve seen from her in this competition. She worked the stage like a pro, sounded like a star, and looks like a million bucks. She’s the total package, in my opinion.

-Keith liked the performance, but thought she could open up even more. J-Lo agrees, saying that she has all the tools to be a star, but needs to connect more. Harry sees where J-Lo is coming from, but he thinks it was a strong performance overall.

MACKENZIE BOURG is up next!

-Mackenzie talks about his fondness for rap, spitting a few lines from “Temperature” by Sean Paul, which might be his most endearing moment yet.

-Mackenzie sings “Say Something” by A Great Big World, and while I can appreciate the intimacy of tackling this with just a guitar, I felt something was missing from this. I still adore Mackenzie and think he could go all the way, but this was my least favorite performance of his in the competition. With that said, even an okay performance from Mackenzie is still pretty good, even if his style of performer is old hat in the world of Idol these days.

-J-Lo really liked it, as did Harry, who says that Mackenzie kept the integrity of the song despite changing the melody. Keith states that this could have been Mackenzie’s own original song, and I agree. Granted, I like the original version better, but Mackenzie did put his own spin on this.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Mackenzie Bourg Impresses Judges With ‘Say Something’ On American Idol 2016 (VIDEO)

JENEVE ROSE MITCHELL is up next!

-Jeneve talks about all the instruments she learned as a way to stave off boredom at home, since she doesn’t have electricity. I had no idea she was this musically diverse, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that she can play a harp.

-Jeneve is here with a harp (and no cowgirl hat!) to perform “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, and it’s easily my favorite vocal of hers, full-stop. Her voice was so lovely and pure here that I think she just might get me to turn the corner on her before this is all said and done.

-Harry thinks Jeneve did herself a disservice by playing the harp for this song, noting that he’d rather have seen her just sing. Keith disagrees, saying she made it her own. J-Lo admits she wasn’t sure about Jeneve before, but that performance just gave her “goosies”. Is this our first “goosies” of the season?

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Jeneve Rose Mitchell Achieves ‘Angel’ Status on American Idol 2016 (VIDEO)

JENNA RAE is up next!

-Jenna talks about going to school as a kid and hearing a whole bunch of sexually suggestive songs. So when she would go home and sing them, her parents would overhear her and get upset. Not long after, they pulled her out of public school and homeschooled her themselves. Jenna is SO freaking gorgeous, it’s ridiculous.

-Jenna sings “My Church” by Maren Morris, and Keith immediately lights up, shouting “I love this song!” Jenna is really good here. On the one hand, it’s not my favorite vocal of hers; on the other hand, I think it was a great performance, from how she presented herself to how she worked the stage. She clearly connected with this song, and it made it feel like she was performing her own song.

-Keith thought this was the perfect venue for that song, before adding that he’d like to see more sides from her. J-Lo generally enjoyed the song overall. Harry, meanwhile, said Jenna was right on the line between singing and shouting, and claimed there were pitch issues. He gets booed, and snaps back at the crowd that he’d like to hear their pitch sometime. He seemed genuinely annoyed there, actually. Keep it cool, Harry!

JAMES VIII is up next!

-James talks about being a Boy Scout when he was a kid. He wanted to give it up, but his parents promised if he made Eagle Scout, they’d buy him his first professional level guitar. And it’s a guitar he still owns to this day.

-James sings “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West, and it’s a really cool, confident performance. He’s got clear star potential, although part of me feels like he would be better off fronting a band. That said, I think he’s a contestant with loads of potential to surprise people in the competition. For a guy who never really fancied himself a singer before this, he’s pretty impressive.

-J-Lo thought it was an interesting song choice, but says it didn’t grab her. Harry says that James is a talented guy, but felt it was too easy a performance. He wonders when James is going to get more complicated. Keith agrees, saying there’s a fine line between chill and indulgent. “You can’t assume you’re going to be here next week to do another song. You’ve gotta kill it every time.” Harsh words, I thought. Although I can see where he’s coming from.

SONIKA VAID is up next!

-Sonika talks about obsessively keeping piano tabs for all the songs she plays, even though she doesn’t really need them. She proudly declares, “I play by ear,” which prompts me to wonder why she isn’t playing piano tonight. She comes across as a total star already, and I think displaying another facet of her artistry beyond just her voice would really put her over the top.

-Sonika sings “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars, and while it’s not my favorite Sonika performance of the competition, I thought it was still another strong notch in her belt. She nailed this laddered run towards the end that showed off her vocal range, and really illustrated how a great singer can tactfully deploy vocal gymnastics. I was impressed, even though she had this scared, deer-in-headlights look the entire time (although maybe it was on purpose, to match the vulnerability of the song. I have no idea).

-Harry thought it was a really good job, and called it one of the most emotional performances he’s seen. That said, he wants her to emote more. Keith says he was writing notes, but immediately stopped once Sonika started singing, noting that her voice is just amazing. J-Lo agrees, saying Sonika has a beautiful voice.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Sonika Vaid Takes On Taylor Swift With ‘Safe and Sound’ on American Idol 2016 (VIDEO)

GIANNA ISABELLA is up next!

-Gianna talks about her love of books as a youth, going from adoring fairy tales to falling in love with horror stories. In particular, she loves the gore of it all. See? This is interesting stuff to know about a contestant, because I didn’t really feel like I knew anything about Gianna before now that wasn’t related to her mother. The dichotomy between her diva persona and her bubbly personality is more pronounced, and I like it.

-Dude, everyone is BRINGING IT tonight! Gianna sings the Annie Lennox version of “I Put A Spell On You”. This is easily my favorite performance of hers since the competition started, and she’s really made a mark for herself as someone who deserves to be here on her own merits. I couldn’t have been more impressed with this.

-Keith says the voice is undeniable, but feels there are some performance elements that need to be ironed out. That said, he feels there’s definitely room to grow. J-Lo more or less says the same thing, while Harry praises her for being “a student of American Idol,” noting she hits all the right notes in all the right places. It’s just about finding something meatier to her performance style.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Gianna Isabella Will ‘Put a Spell On You’ With Stunning American Idol Performance (VIDEO)

EMILY BROOKE is up next!

-Emily talks about her most prized possession, a guitar with over 50 autographs from various country music stars she and her mother have camped out to meet over the years, including Wynnona Judd, Lady Antebellum, Eli Young Band and Taylor Swift.

-Emily sings “I Am Invincible” by Cassadee Pope, and I’m left to wonder if she’s just going to go through Cassadee Pope’s entire freaking son catalogue at this point. She’s a great singer and she’s grown by leaps and bounds from last year. But this performance was a hot mess. The track was pitched in her lower register, which caused a ton of pitch problems as she struggled to hit some of the notes. It was also her most reserved performance from a stage presence perspective. It’s a shame, because she was one of the frontrunners this season, but with the caliber of performances tonight, I’m not sure how well she’ll do. Then again, I could easily see the judges giving her another chance.

-J-Lo likes Emily, but doesn’t feel it was the right song for her, since it was pitched too low. Harry felt she didn’t sell the lyrics, and says he’s never heard her struggle as much with pitch as she did tonight. Keith sticks up for her and says he’s glad she’s trying and exploring different facets of her artistry.

AVALON YOUNG is up next!

-In the coolest pre-performance video yet, Avalon talks about how she’s comfortable in her own skin, so much so that she refuses to wear makeuup or dress up for her performance. Sure enough, when we cut to the stage, she’s just wearing pants and a hoodie. And if she’s got makeup on, it’s very subtle. I love that kind of confidence, particularly in such a glam-obsessed situation as this.

-Avalon sings “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, and I still feel like I’m missing something with this girl. She’s

-Harry feels Avalon is the most in tune with who she is, although he wishes she’d have modulated a bit more on the final chorus. Keith likes Avalon, but wanted her to pull the rug out from under him. J-Lo was impressed with how she had the audience under her control from the jump-off, but warns her against getting self-conscious in the moment.

JORDAN SASSER is up next!

-Jordan reveals he’s the biggest turtle lover on the planet. So I guess that’s another obsession on top of his undying love for Celine Dion.

-Speaking of Celine, Jordan sings Celine’s version of “All By Myself”, and it’s his pitchiest performance of the competition. And I say that as someone who really likes Jordan. I just didn’t get this at all, and the judges don’t look like they really get it either.

-Keith thinks Jordan can really sing, but felt it was too theatrical, and lacked emotion. J-Lo was too distracted, wondering if Jordan was even finding the right notes for his voice. Harry thinks Jordan is talented, but thought it was too much of a show-off performance. I can’t help but agree.

THOMAS STRINGFELLOW is up next!

-Thomas reveals that he and his sister are well-versed in pig Latin, having grown up speaking it to one another. This was actually pretty amusing. I like Thomas.

-Thomas sings “Creep” by Radiohead, and this was another one that just didn’t land for me. He seemed over-anxious in the performance, in addition to veering in and out of pitch, going from sticking to the melody to doing his yodel/yelp thing that takes me out of the performance because he does it virtually every single note. I just didn’t like it.

-J-Lo really loved it, saying he connected with the song. She particularly loved how he got the audience into it, waving their hands without him having to ask them to do so (does she not realize that the fans do this for EVERY slow tempo song?). Harry thought this was tremendous, noting how he connected to the lyrics and the “creepiness”, which is what you have to do with a song like this. Keith agrees, noting how impressed he was with what Thomas accomplished.

LA’PORSHA RENAE closes the show!

-La’Porsha says she doesn’t listen to pop, hip hop, or even R&B in her regular life: she’s all about film scores, baby! (A woman after my own heart!) In particular, she loves the score from the Karate Kid remake starring Jaden Smith, because it makes her feel like she’s in a movie.

-La’Porsha sings Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary”, and she’s even wearing the Tina Turner dress. Hell, she gives us the Tina dance moves! This was easily the performance of the night, between her vocal, stage presence, and just the attitude and fire she brought to the song. She earns a standing ovation from Keith, and deservedly so.

-Harry thinks either La’Porsha will make the other contestants get better or she’s going to make them want to quit, because she’s so captivating and smart that he’d be foolish to critique that in any way, shape or form. Keith loves how she connects and communicates a song in her performance, while J-Lo says she’s been dreaming of a voice like La’Porsha’s.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: La’Porsha Renae Steals the Show With ‘Proud Mary’ on American Idol 2016 (VIDEO)

-We close with a preview of tomorrow night’s results show, complete with 12 duets, as each of the finalists are paired with a former Idol. Among the Idols appearing are Fantasia Barrino, Scotty McCreery, Nick Fradiani, Lauren Alaina and Caleb Johnson. Should be an interesting show.

Until then, let us know which five singers you think will be eliminated tomorrow night!

Thanks for reading and hanging out!

GOODNIGHT!

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