American Idol

American Idol 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Wildcard Night: Judges Pick (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Wildcard Night: Judges Pick”! Host Ryan Seacrest and judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. continue the search for the final American Idol!

Tonight, we find out which of the Top 14 will advance to the Top 10! The judges will choose four singers to advance automatically, while the remaining ten compete for the final six spots, with the results revealed on tomorrow night’s performance/results show! If you want the spoilers on the four who made it through, along with song choices for the other 10 singers, just click here. But for now, here’s a reminder on the Top 14:

Avalon Young
Gianna Isabella
Jeneve Rose Mitchell
La’Porsha Renae
MacKenzie Bourg
Sonika Vaid
Thomas Stringfellow
Lee Jean
Oliva Rox
Jenn Blosil
Dalton Rapattoni
Manny Torres
Tristan McIntosh
Trent Harmon

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 - Wildcard Night Judges Pick (VIDEO)

Credit: Twitter (@AmericanIdol)

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-We open up on a stage that looks endearingly like the old Season 1 stage. Or maybe it’s just the same one from last season. I seriously can’t tell at this point, and I’m not sure I care all that much one way or the other. I’m just stoked we’re finally at the voting rounds. After introducing the judges, Ryan Seacrest explains that a certain amount of singers will go through, while America will vote on the other singers. Jennifer reveals they’ve agreed on FOUR people to send through unanimously, meaning the other ten will compete for America’s vote.

“FAST PASS” RESULTS

Harry reveals the first result…DALTON RAPATTONI is in the Top 10!

Keith reveals the second result…OLIVIA ROX is in the Top 10!

Jennifer reveals the third result…TRENT HARMON is in the Top 10!

Harry reveals the fourth and final “Fast Pass” result…LA’PORSHA RENAE is in the Top 10!

-I like these choices, although I’m genuinely surprised MacKenzie Bourg wasn’t put through. Ah well. I’m sure America will send him through, and the judges probably think so too. Trent needed this more, in my opinion.

-Anyway, with the choices revealed, it’s now time for the performers to take the stage!

MANNY TORRES opens the show!

-Manny sings “Master Blaster” by Stevie Wonder, and while he certainly sounds good here, he’s no DeAndre Brackensick. Still, this is the most I’ve enjoyed Manny this season. I’m not sure it’s enough to get into the Top 10, but then, America is kind of random like that (look no further than ALL OF SEASON 9).

-Keith loves the song, but wasn’t sure it was the right choice. That said, he loves Manny’s “fighting spirit” and really loved the energy he infused into the song.

-After the performance, Ryan notes that tonight’s songs will be the contestants’ favorite songs from the season so far. How many songs does that really leave for them to choose from?

GIANNA ISABBELLA is up next!

-Gianna talks about how much more professional she feels after her time on the show so far. She’s not ready to go back to singing in basements. Let’s see what song she chose.

-Gianna picks “I Put A Spell On You”, which was her best performance, in my opinion. It’s still pretty good here, but something about it feels like a pageant performance. She sounds great, to be sure. But I’m not feeling the performance aspect this time. However, she strikes me as someone who could really grow as this competition goes on, sort of like a Jena Irene or a Kellie Pickler. I guess we’ll see.

-Jennifer was surprised by Gianna’s sassiness. Despite Gianna being only 15, Jennifer feels she has the makings of a great artist. Jennifer goes as far as to say she would have been her fifth pick if they all could have agreed on it. Either way, Jennifer feels Gianna belongs in the Top 10.

THOMAS STRINGFELLOW is up next!

-Thomas talks about how he was going to be an elementary school teacher, but this is his dream. Hey now, nothing wrong with being a teacher! Well, except for the pay. And too little respect from students and administration. Can you tell I’m bitter?

-Thomas sings “Story of My Life” by One Direction, and I’ll give him credit. He does his weird hiccup/yodel thing far less often now than he usually does. But I still can’t get on-board with this. He can improve, but not in five weeks.

-Harry thinks Thomas is really talented, but tells him that the crack in his voice is annoying. The crowd boos him, but dude is right on the money. Thomas has loads of potential, but I don’t know that he’ll ever get there if he chooses to crack his voice on every note. And I do believe it’s intentional, and not an unintended affectation. I kind of worry America will put him through after that. Anyone else similarly concerned?

TRISTAN MCINTOSH is up next!

-Tristan says there are too few women of color in country music, and she’d like to be their representative. You know, I never really thought of Tristan as a country singer, but if she commits to that direction, she might find a really great niche for herself on this show. Sure, J-Lo painted her as a young Alicia Keys, but sometimes, you just gotta stay in your own wheelhouse.

-Tristan sings “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts, and while it’s good, it didn’t really grab me emotionally. Tristan is gorgeous and has a delightful tone, and Tristan clearly connected with the song emotionally. But I just can’t pinpoint what was off about this for me.

-Keith loved the song choice and thought it was done in a style we haven’t seen before. Basically, he was impressed.

AVALON YOUNG is up next!

-We get a recap of Avalon’s journey so far, and she kind of reminds me of MK Nobilette. She’s unique and chill in a way few singing contestants are. I haven’t loved all her performances, but I find myself rooting for her regardless.

-Avalon sings “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by Chris Brown. I don’t love the song choice, but I thought Avalon sang it absolutely beautifully. She also brought some real swagger to her performance. For my money, this is easily the best of the night so far.

-Jennifer praises Avalon for getting more and more comfortable onstage, and adds that she was smooth as butter up there. Jennifer feels Avalon belongs in the Top 10, but says we’ll see how America votes.

-Back from break with Scott Borchetta, offering comments on the show so far. He looks a wee bit younger here than he did last year, so if he’s had work done, he ought to tip his plastic surgeon. As for his opinions, I’m not sure I enjoy him stumping for country music. But I get his investment in the outcome, since the winner will be signed to Big Machine, and he could do better with a country singer, presumably, than a pop singer.

JENN BLOSIL is up next!

-Jenn talks about how the competition has pushed her outside her comfort zone. I would love to know what her comfort zone looks like, considering she’s the strangest contestant in the Top 14. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. I haven’t loved every performance, but I’m a big fan.

-Jenn sings “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, and she manages to sound even more like the original artist than the last time she did this song. And that’s yet another critique I mean in a good way. This performance has such character and feeling, to say nothing of the vocal, which I think just might be her best of the competition so far. I loved this.

-Harry loved this way more than “My Funny Valentine” last week, calling it “a flawless lyric delivery.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it just surpassed Avalon as my favorite performance tonight.

LEE JEAN is up next!

-Lee talks about how much he’s grown throughout the competition, noting that he doesn’t want to leave. No one does, dude. Still, I’m rooting for ya just the same.

-Lee sings “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran. I’m surprised by how little I enjoy it in the early going. However, as the song continues on, and Lee gets into it more, it improves. But I’m not sure the vocal ever catches up with the depth of feeling he’s pouring into it, if that makes any sense. He clearly feels the emotion behind the song, but it just doesn’t sound as good as it could have. I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed. Hell, Lee looks disappointed too.

-Keith loves how Lee has his own style, but says he could see the nerves on Lee. Still, he loves what Lee does. I do too, but I don’t know if he’s really cut out for the live shows. And I hate saying that, because he’s been one of my early picks since the auditions.

SONIKA VAID is up next!

-We get a recap of Sonika’s journey, as she explains that she has two choices in life, to put her nose in a book or grab the mic and sing. Hey now, nothing wrong with getting an education! Then again, with this economy, a college degree doesn’t really guarantee anything. So might as well sing your ass off on national TV.

-Sonika sings “I Surrender” by Celine Dion, and while I have no idea what the hell she’s wearing (some ghastly zebra-print number), this was one of the better pure vocals of the night. I don’t think there was a single bum note in this entire performance. She also infused this with a lot of feeling. Just super lovely. She even gets a standing ovation from Jennifer!

-Jennifer talks about getting “goosies” on her face, saying it was crazy how Sonika’s voice sits in the music. “It’s out of this world!” she declares. I’d be shocked if Sonika didn’t get through, although I wonder if America is going to feel an imperative about voting for her, or if they’ll just assume she’ll skate through, and forget to vote. I could see it going either way, honestly.

JENEVE ROSE MITCHELL is up next!

-Jeneve talks about her journey so far, and says although she’ll miss the mountains, she plans to make Hollywood her mountain now. D’awwww.

-Jeneve sings “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, and this is EASILY her best performance, in my opinion. What a terrific version this was. And I’ve never been the biggest Jeneve fan, but I thought this was just fantastic.

-Harry thinks Jeneve’s talent is compelling but also kind of polarizing. He thinks some people will love it, but worries some others just won’t get it, even though he does. Keith adds that Jeneve needs to “let go,” since that’s where she shines. Harry agrees, telling her she’s a uniquely talented girl. After that, I’d vote for her.

MACKENZIE BOURG closes the show!

-MacKenzie talks about how his journey has been riddled with no after no, so to receive so many yeses has really been humbling for him. If I had to bet money right now, I’d say we’re getting a Dalton, MacKenzie, Olivia final three.

-MacKenzie sings his original song, “Roses”. Man, this song is absolutely GORGEOUS. This could be a hit right this minute, provided it’s this version, and not some syrupy, overproduced mess like many of the Idol studio versions. MacKenzie could so win this thing, and I wouldn’t even complain, even though he’s part of the Idol archetype of a white guy with a guitar. This was just fantastic.

-Keith reiterates just what a great song that is, and says you know you have something when you can get people reacting like that to your original song. I couldn’t agree more.

-We get phone numbers! A full recap like in the days of old! Man, I forgot how much I missed these. If it were up to me, I’d put through MacKenzie, Sonika, Avalon, Jeneve, Jenn, and…I dunno, let’s say Lee. But because it’s up to America, I fully expect Thomas Stringfellow to be in there somewhere. Maybe Tristan too, which I wouldn’t have a problem with at all, honestly. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

What did you think of tonight’s show? Which six singers should advance to the Top 10 and which four should go home? Sound off in the comments!

Until tomorrow night, thanks for hanging out! Be sure to join us for tomorrow night’s Top 10 show!

GOODNIGHT!

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