Last night, “American Idol” filled half of its Season 14 Top 24, leaving another 12 House of Blues performances to hint at, another 12 Green Mile walks to tease and probably several more moments of awkwardness that hopefully won't be as bad as what went down last night with Maddie Walker and Rachel Hallack.
Be decisive “Idol” judges! And don't dick little kids around.
And now… Thursday's (February 19) episode…
8:01 p.m. Let's get back to Hollywood Anderson, eh? We loved Hollywood in his first audition in New York City, but then we didn't love him nearly as much in Hollywood, which verges on ironic. Hollywood's House of Blues performance seems like it was OK, but if Hollywood is advancing, it'll still mostly be on the wings of that first audition. Apparently he didn't do enough. It's back to busking for Hollywood. “Y'all saw me for me,” Hollywood says with gratitude. That first audition was so good, but that was on original material. It's no insult to say that maybe he just isn't as good as a cover artist. Hollywood is touched and everybody is touched by his emotion, as there are hugs all around.
8:04 p.m. Once again, Joey Cook is stressing out. I'd like her a lot more if we hadn't seen her have this sort of freak-out a couple times now. Joey mostly seems to come through when it counts and her House of Blues solo was completely charming. Maybe she just needs one or two more “Idol” performances to scare off the butterflies? Or will she get frazzled each and every week until she bombs out? I worry about her. JOEY COOK is in the Top 24. Harry Connick Jr says that they were comparing apples to oranges and she's a Kiwi. Joey is happy and breaks down. Again. This could stress me out.
8:07 p.m. We've seen Katherine Winston a couple times previously and I keep not remembering hear. Her House of Blues performance of “Rhiannon” is frustratingly bland and this is a song that has been covered well, much better, on “American Idol.” Somewhat inexplicably, Jennifer Lopez says that something magical happens when she performs and KATHERINE WINSTON is in our Top 24.
8:14 p.m. Another singer who was so great in her first performance and hasn't been showcased subsequently is Maddy Hudson. My first impression of her was that she had winning potential, but that House of Blues didn't seem up to snuff at all. Maddy isn't in the Top 24. That's sad. I hope she keeps plugging away and comes back more polished next year, because that first audition was so super and you can't do that if you don't have a world of potential.
8:16 p.m. The judges keep liking Alexis Gomez more than I do, but I definitely see the value in her bilingual Band Perry cover. Also being showcased in this segment is Quentin Alexander, with his unique fashion sense and memorable nosering. I like the full package that Quentin represents, even if I haven't loved his voice consistently. QUENTIN ALEXANDER is in the Top 24. Somebody needs to tell me how he's affording these outfits, because the dude is spiffy. Also making the Top 24 is ALEXIS GOMEZ, as “Idol” keeps trying to tap into the Hispanic/Latino audience.
8:19 p.m. Last year I was actively pissed off when the judges rejected Savion Wright. I don't know that what we've seen from him this year has been as impressive, no matter what J-Lo says. I'm not sure if he's choosing bad songs or what, but I didn't love the House of Blues solo either, even if I like his performance confidence.
8:25 p.m. After a commercial, Keith Urban is still blathering, which I suspect means good news. Indeed, SAVION WRIGHT is in the Top 24.
8:26 p.m. Bad news time. Jac Mackenzie and Hunter Larson are done. Jac is a toddler, so she'll get another chance if she wants it. At the other side of the spectrum is Mark Andrew, who's 29 and in his last chance. Mark has a great, frontman-ready voice, but his House of Blues Hozier cover didn't especially impress me. MARK ANDREW is in the Top 24, ending our streak of bad news.
8:33 p.m. Everybody looks to Trevor Douglas when Ryan Seacrest asks who the resident mathematician. This is funny, because while he's nerdy, he's also 16. Nobody can compete with the high school junior in math? Trevor is both musically interesting and I think he has a strong chance of being a juggernaut with female voters. TREVOR DOUGLAS is in the Top 24 and I can definitely imagine him winning the whole thing.
8:36 p.m. Also representing a future challenge for the “Idol” tudors is 15-year-old Emily Brooke. I think she's a bit raw and the judges agree. Emily's “Idol” journey is done for now. Again, we're going to the other end of the aging spectrum with 29-year-old Nick Fradiani. The judges are feeling generous with the older contestants, at least the older males. NICK FRADIANI is in the Top 24. Does anybody remember the last female artist pushing the upper age range who got any sort of chance?
8:43 p.m. It's time for Sarina-Joi Crowe to make the “Idol” Finals, because she's just better than most of the girls who have already been put through. She's a better performer and she has a better, more diverse voice. I'm not sure how I feel about Harry suggesting that there are lots of people in Sarina-Joi's lane musically. It doesn't matter. SARINA-JOI CROWE is in the Top 24 on her fourth time through. Good for her.
8:45 p.m. I love Qassim Middleton's fashion choices and his personality and his pushy stage mom. His House of Blues performance was a bit frantic and desperate, even if J-Lo and Keith pretended it was awesome. QASSIM MIDDLETON is in the Top 24 and Brooklyn is in the house. Qassim's mom paddles his rear excitedly.
8:47 p.m. There's only one place left for the guys and it's gonna be an ol' fashioned sing-off. Riley Bria has a background with Keith Urban and we've seen him a few times. Ricky Dale Hendricks had a great first audition, but he hasn't been spotted since. Ricky Dale is decent, but he's a second-tier Scotty McCreery at best. I'm not sure what Riley's upside is and I wish the show hadn't been trying to compare Riley to Keith, which isn't fair at all. Oh. It isn't a sing-off. It's just a choice. And RILEY BRIA is in the Top 24, which isn't surprising. The editing this season hasn't left much to chance, has it? I'm not sure there's been a single total unknown put into the Top 24.
8:55 p.m. And we close with what looks to be another no-brainer decision based on screentime and age. Jelly Joseph has a huge voice, but she's old — See my note about 29-year-old women on “Idol,” because Jelly is 26 — and hasn't gotten much screentime. On the other hand, you have Shi Scott, who's 19 and looks like a model. Jelly is a much better vocalist, to my mind, but I understand why the “Idol” braintrust may think Shi Scott has commercial potential Jelly Joseph does not. They're probably right about that, even. Jelly and Shi aren't sitting together. I'm not sure what to make of that. Jelly is confident about her performance at House of Blues. Shi is nervous and uncertain. And, as you'd expect, SHI SCOTT is in the Top 24.
8:59 p.m. What's this ultra-serious Top 24 intro set to “Feeling Good”? This is when we're supposed to get funny dancing, yo!
So does anybody want to give me a plausible alternative winner to Trevor Douglas? I'm taking Tyanna Jones and Trevor Douglas to the end. Who you got?