American Idol

Song by song grades for American Idol’s Top 14 reveal show


American Idol reveals its Top 14 tonight.

And if you were wondering how the show was going to stretch that drama out over two hours, Ryan Seacrest provided the answer last night.

Only 10 of those 14 will be selected based on fan voting.

The other 10 members of the Top 20 will perform in hopes of earning one of four wild card slots.

And the wild card recipients will be selected by the judges.

What, you didn’t think the judges were going to have a hand in selecting this season’s top contestants?

If not, you haven’t been watching Idol long enough.

As for Monday’s show, I was a little worried about Idol’s talent pool after the first half of the show.

The performances from the first 10 contestants were quite run-of-the-mill, regardless of how much praise the judges doled out.

The second half of the show was a different story. Leah Marlene, Fritz Hager and Katyrah Love continued to flash front-runner potential. And Allegra Miles and Ava Maybee proved they should be included among the Idol elite.

Song by song grades from Monday night

If I was handpicking a Top 14, here’s who I would include.

The guys: Fritz Hager, Jay Copeland, Tristen Gressett, Christian Guardino, Jacob Moran, Noah Thompson

The gals: Allegra Miles, Ava Maybee, Leah Marlene, HunterGirl, Katyrah Love, Lady K, Nicolina Bozzo, Sage

Check back at 8 p.m. I’ll be live blogging and doling out song by song grades for those wildcard performances.

Ava Maybee, 21, Los Angeles, “Cuz I Love You” — Ava advanced based on fan voting. She picks Lizzo tonight. You can tell Ava’s been on a stage or two. Not feeling this vocal quite as much as last nights, but Ava’s showing off her vocal firepower. And I’m glad to see her advance. Grade: B

Christian Guardino, 21, Patchogue, N.Y., “Creep” — Christian also advances to the Top 10. Dude, please don’t frill this up. Nope. This song is all about emotion, not runs Christian. Great voice. But now it’s time to learn that lesson. This is way too overbaked. Grade: C+

Cameron Whitcomb, 19 British Columbia, “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” — He did not make the Top 10, so he’s going to hope for a wild-card spot. Cameron seems quite at ease on stage. But this isn’t a strong vocal. In fact, he’s not projecting well enough to be heard over the backing band. He picks up the energy level at the end, but too little too late in my mind. Grade: C+

Allegra Miles, 19, West Palm Beach, Fla., “Tainted” — Oh good, Lord. Allegra didn’t advance after last night’s performance. Can Idol voters hear? So she’ll sing her original, “Tainted,” tonight. She sounds great again on a great original. Vocals that good delivered with emotion that sincere deserves to be in the Top 14. Grade: B+

Lady K, 25, Tuskegee, Ala., “Bust Your Windows” — She made the Top 10, which surprises me a bit, but was deserved. She’s delivered another assured, sassy performance. She lost control of that big note at the end a bit. The ending became sort of shouty. Doesn’t matter, though, because she’s safe. Grade: B

HunterGirl, 23, Winchester, Tenn., “Vice” — She advances. And she’ll celebrate by singing Miranda Lambert’s “Vice.” Dang, her voice sounds great on this. Her original was fine last night, but I’m enjoying her vocal more tonight. And she’s doing a nice job of working the crowd. Loved that soft ending too. Grade: A–

Katyrah Love, 23, Baltimore, Md., “Through the Fire” — Huh? Katyrah didn’t advance. Wow. Unfortunately, I think the news affected her vocal. She still delivered some incredible glory notes. But she wasn’t nearly as smooth on the verses as she normally is. I still think she deserves in the Top 14. Grade: B–

Cadence Baker, 19, Muscle Shoals, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” — Cadence needs a wild card. She’s displaying really nice showmanship tonight. But the vocal isn’t on par with some of the contestants already sitting in seats of danger. In fact, that was downright pitchy in spots. Grade: C

Dan Marshall, 24, Chesapeake, Va., “Stuck on You” — Dan made the Top 10. Really? That’s the first fans’ choice a really disagree with, though Dan was solid last night. He has a really pleasing male country voice, probably the best on the show. And he’s showing no sign of the nerves that bogged down his Top 24 performance. Another solid effort tonight. Grade: B

Leah Marlene, 20, Normal, Ill., “Wisher to the Well” — She’s in the Top 10. Well deserved! This is a really great song, being delivered by one of the most talented of the Season 20 cast. Can you tell she’s in a celebratory mood? Another stellar performance from Leah Marlene. Along with Nicolina Bozzo, she’s been the most impressive Season 20 singer to date. Grade: A–

Nicolina Bozzo, 18, Toronto, “She Used to be Mine” — Speaking of Nicolina, she advances too. Now there’s a pro. She goes from getting that news to the emotion of that song in a heartbeat. She is fabulous on this great song. This might even be more powerful than that first time she performed it. Dang, Nicolina. We just might have heard from the Season 20 finalists during that segment of Idol. Grade: A

Sage, 21, Burbank, Calif., “Browned-Eyed Lover” — She didn’t make the Top 10. Later on, this will be interesting because Sage fits into the same singer-songwriter category as Allegra Miles, who’s also in danger. For my money, Allegra’s been the better of the two this week. Sage brought tons of energy to that performance. Heck, she played rock star. But the vocal wasn’t as on point. Grade: B–

Jay Copeland, 23, Salisbury, Md., “Believer” — Wow, the platinum ticket winner didn’t make the Top 10. A surprise. I’ll be more surprised if the judges don’t put him through. Really nice vocal. Jay needs to learn to slip into character a bit more. Sometimes that dazzling smile of his doesn’t match the tone of what he’s singing. He’s slaying this vocally, though. And if he gets a wild card, it will be well deserved. Grade: A

Noah Thompson, 20, Louisa, Ky., “Cover Me Up”– He just turned 20 today. And he gets a spot in the Top 10 as a birthday gift. Enunciate, Noah. That opening was a bit muddled. His magic comes in the form of an earnest delivery. Again, I’m not sure this is a great vocal, but Noah’s delivering another passionate performance. Grade: B

Jacob Moran, 28, Dansville, Mich., “Rise” — Jacob did not make the fans’ Top 10. So he’ll need a judges’ save. He has a great voice, great range and did a nice job of building the drama in that performance. That might be worthy of a wild card spot. Not sure the fans are going to buy it on American Idol though. Grade: B+

Elli Rowe, 20, Nashville, “All I Want” — She also did not make the Top 10, meaning lots of female singer-songwriters are in danger tonight. Elli sounds great on this. When she picks the right song, she sounds ethereal. And this is song is a really nice match for her voice. There were a couple of vocal stumbles along the way, but that was a nice farewell performance from Elli. I doubt she’s going to receive a wild card berth. Grade: B

Emyrson Flora, 16, Cleveland, Ohio, “Love in the Dark” — She’s the youngest on the show and she made the Top 10. A little surprised by that. She’s showing off a unique tone on this. She certainly has plenty of vocal firepower. Not sure that was her best vocal. Then again, it didn’t need to be. Grade: B–

Mike Parker, 27, Warrenton, Va., “Bed on Fire” — With two male country singers already in the Top 14, Mike’s going to have to slay this to get a wild card spot, because he didn’t finish in the Top 10. He’s delivering more passion than vocal prowess. In fact, he’s over-singing as the song builds. Grade: C

Fritz Hager, 22, Tyler, Texas, “Golden” — Fritz deservingly was voted into the Top 10. Fritz is on the rise on this show. You can just sense it. This type of song isn’t his strong suit, which is delivering songs filled with angst with tons of emotion. But it doesn’t really matter because he’s already safe tonight. Grade: C+

Tristen Gressett, 17, Pell City, Ala., “Are You Gonna Go My Way” — Tristen did not make the Top 10, but I think he deserves a spot in the Top 14. He’s one of the best male performers on the show. This vocal isn’t his best, so it’s going to be very interesting to see what the judges do. One thing working to Tristen’s advantage, he’s the only real rock artist on the show. Grade: B

That’s it. Four wild card picks and six eliminations coming up.

If I was an Idol judge, I’d be saving Allegra Miles, Katyrah Love, Jay Copeland and Tristen Gressett.

Others in danger include Mike Parker, Elli Rowe, Sage, Jacob Moran, Cadence Baker and Cameron Whitcomb. I won’t be shocked it the judges save Sage instead of Allegra.

And the judges decide to save:

1. Allegra Miles. Hooray!

2. Jay Copeland. Hooray!!

3. Mike Parker. Totally disagree with that pick.

4. Tristen Gressett. Hooray!!!

Okay, Katyrah got robbed. But overall the fans and judges did a great job of picking a Top 14.

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