- "This is American Idol
" is the battle cry heard around the country and world twice each week (Wednesdays and Thursdays) from one of the hardest working men in show business, Ryan Seacrest
, as Season 10 is well underway with some surprises.
This Thursday's episode will have now have two eliminations, since the panel of judges, including Randy Jackson
, Steven Tyler
, and Jennifer Lopez
agreed to use their one and only wild card of the season to hold on to contestant Casey Abrams
Abrams almost fainted last week as Jackson stopped him after only a few bars into his final chance to announce that "you are staying." The remaining 11 will now all be part of the "American Idol" tour scheduled for this summer.
This season not only had record number try-outs, but also much younger contestants, as the show lowered the qualifying age to 15. With try-outs having taken place across the country - it is now down to these 11 in Los Angeles where the show takes place at CBS
Studios (and where the acoustics are questionable).
There are now 11 contestants vying to be the next "American Idol." (Courtesy Photo: FOX Television)
It is 'game on' for these remaining 11 contestants, and the guest talent that has appeared on the show thus far, including Stevie Wonder
, (who sang 'Happy Birthday' to Tyler last week), Jennifer Hudson
, and Sean 'Puff Daddy' Combs
, with his group Diddy-Dirty Money, have set aspirations very high, as well as thrilled their own fans and audience members. The always charming Marc Anthony
has appeared a few times, offering up some much needed practical advice on stage presence and the use of ear pieces, and even Hulk Hogan
has taken to the stage - much to the awestruck delight of one of the Idol competitors in particular.
Having never watched the show in the last 10 years due to the insufferable ego and occasional cruelty of the now departed Simon Cowell
, it is a pleasure to witness the incredible talents of some of America's young songsters, as well as the compassion, professionalism and insightful advice bestowed on them by not only the judges, but Interscope Records President, Jimmy Iovine
, and some of the best music producers in the business.
The judges have been gracious and supportive, but it is now up to America to pick their next "American Idol" and it certainly will not be an easy choice.
The Remaining 11 Contestants Include
• Scotty McCreery
: A 16-year-old with a country voice to rival those in Nashville
. Charming, sweet and handsome - this young man will have a career in country music with or without 'Idol.'
• Stefano Longone
: An early favorite of Lopez's, he can sing but needs to connect with the audience more. Could be the youngest member of the 'rat pack' generation.
• Haley Reinhart
: She's been on the chopping block twice already and saved - needs to control her voice, but if you let her loose and close your eyes she's got some Janis Joplin
• Lauren Alaina
: An early favorite of Tyler's this young girl can sing, but needs to work on a much more appealing stage presence.
• Paul McDonald
: Can't think of anyone who doesn't love this guy - must be that beautiful smile and white teeth. He can move on stage too. He's been compared to Rod Stewart
repeatedly but his voice has greater range and he's a terrific musician as well.
• Casey Abrams
: Good voice and musician, but his stage presence is sloppy and not very attractive. He was headed home and the Idol Gods smiled on him - let's hope he makes good on their faith in him.
• Thia Megia
: This 15-year-old has a beautiful voice to match her style, but she's shy and tentative. If she can show some moxie she may be it - her sheer talent warrants her a place on the Idol stage.
• Pia Toscano
: She may be the one - has style, personality and can sing. Needs to step away from ballads and rock it up a bit.
• Naima Adedapo
: She's also been on the chopping block - obviously has fans but does nothing for me. Has a pleasant voice but her outfits make more of a statement than her talent, and she is trying much too hard to perhaps be something she is not.
• James Durbin
: Love this kid - a young married man with Asperger's Syndrome, and known for the 'tail' of material sticking out of the back of his pants, this young man can sing, rock the house, tone it down, bring it back up and connect with the audience. He has personality plus and is so obviously happy to be there his exuberance is contagious. Not afraid to take risks and does so with a happy smile on his face.
• Jacob Lusk
: When I first heard this young man I turned to my sister and announced - 'it doesn't matter if he wins as Clive Davis
(or any other record label owner) is probably sitting in the kid's driveway just waiting to sign him.' Occasionally in a harsh, tough industry you hear a voice that is so good that you know it comes from somewhere other than a studio - that's this young man's voice. One performance was so moving and beautiful, Tyler ran to the stage just to give him a hug. Urged to take some risks away from R&B with song choices, he is proving he can do anything, however, he is so moved by the music that his stage presence is a bit awkward.
Who is my Choice? Who is America's Choice? Who is Your Choice? Stay tuned.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.