American Idol Top 24 Live: Meet The Biggest Turtle-Lover On The Planet

Photo: Michael Becker/Fox.
The swaybots are fully charged, Ryan Seacrest is wearing a goofy jacket, and the venue — the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles — looks like a church. A shotgun wedding so Idol can cram it all in by April? Why not? Let’s do this!

Wednesday’s slapped-together installment of The Great American Idol Burnoff featured 12 of the top 24 contestants performing solos on the altar as the judges blinked in vague recognition of something they’re supposed to do. When J.Lo’s not even wearing hair extensions, you know it must be dire. In an unprecedented “goodbye to all that goodwill” move, it’s the producers — not viewers! — who’ll pick the top 12. They don’t care what you think, and they might even prefer it if you didn’t watch. Isn’t this fun?!

Here’s my ranking of the wannabes, from trainwreck to Tina:

12. Emily Brooke, “I Am Invincible” The “country comeback kid” might want to stick to collecting autographs for her guitar. The song (by Cassadee Pope, winner of The Voice) was way too low for her register. Sorry, but I don’t tune in to see 17-year-olds shaking in fear. I’m here for the skanky outfits and “artistry,” dammit!

11. Jordan Sasser, “All by Myself” I almost put him higher because he’s “the biggest turtle-lover on the planet” and owns a turtle visor, underwear, and statues, but the 27-year-old worship leader went wrong in attempting to embody Celine Dion instead of, like, Donatello or something. (Someone? #TurtlesArePeople) Keith Urban’s assessment of Jordan’s cover as “a little too theatrical” was the understatement of the season.
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10. Jeneve Rose Mitchell, “Angel” I’ve had it with this dork’s homespun nonsense! Blame it on the harp, I guess. Points for ingenuity, but Jeneve never nailed down a tempo during this classic ode to sad homeless pups or a doomed Meg Ryan (depending on your preferred pop cultural standpoint). Sarah McLachlan could roll around on her piano and sound better.

9. Gianna Isabella, “I Put a Spell on You” Having to watch someone so young and gawky attempt the emotional maturity of Annie Lennox was chilling to say the least, and I wish to never fall under this spell again at any cost. Harry Connick Jr. craftily knocked both Gianna and the show by calling her “clearly a student of American Idol” with just the slightest air of disgust. It might have been more, but the ennui was that overpowering.

8. Jenna Renae, “My Church” We’ve barely seen Jenna in the farewell season so far, but if the judges want a country gal, they might need to reconsider this confident boot-stomper with a fringed skirt for days and stage presence for miles. Too bad her vocals pooped out at the end. Overall, I’d call her a much less annoying version of season 10’s Lauren Alaina.

7. James VIII, “Love Lockdown” His Kanye West cover was a bit muted but overwhelmingly competent. He was dancing in place with sort of a “cool guy” vibe… I don’t hate him, is basically what I’m saying. Keith Urban, an expert on walking the fine line between chill and indulgent, thought James was “too chill,” and Harry wondered, “When is it gonna start getting more complex?” like a college student pretending to give a shit in class.

6. Thomas Stringfellow, “Creep” The 17-year-old’s emotional connection with an audience full of robots was truly something to behold, but I simply cannot abide by this twerp’s affected vocal stylings. It’s like he won’t allow himself to pronounce ANY SINGLE SYLLABLE in the (scoff) “typical” way. I swear he turned the word “a” into “aiiioy.” So gross. The producers love him.

5. Stephany Negrete, “Mamma Knows Best” She’s the one Idol’s plopped at the top of every show because she’s a taller version of Nicole Scherzinger with less of a soul, but! Shinier hair. It’s quite a combo. According to J.Lo, she’s the total package. I’m guessing they’ll keep her around for eye candy. No one would vote for her.

4. MacKenzie Bourg, “Say Something” This Ed Sheeran-y kid and his near-perfect whispery solos scare me a little, because there’s really nothing I can make fun of him for. Sure, he has carefully disheveled hair and hipster glasses, but who doesn’t? It’s 2016! We’re all just trying to survive!

3. Avalon Young, “Love Yourself” Her “I’m a tomboy, deal with it” agenda will grow tiresome if they keep lazily smooshing it on us, but the 21-year-old’s easy charisma is undeniable. She got right up in the swaybots’ faces and even touched some hands. It was stunning.

2. Sonika Vaid, “Safe and Sound” The judges go nuts for her beautiful voice every time (Keith might have thrown his neck out while jolting awake from her first few notes), and the wardrobe team did right by their new My Little Diva doll by swathing her in a resplendent purple gown. I like Sonika because she loves the way sheet music smells. Whenever a baby mentions the distant analog world, I’m sold. That’s how low my standards are. No, it’s fine. I’m doing great. These American Idol recaps definitely matter.

1. La Porsha Renae, “Proud Mary” Sure, the 22-year-old Mississippi call rep straight-up copied Tina Turner, but why wouldn’t you? This might be the low standards talking again, but that was the best damn karaoke I’ve ever seen. And I love that La Porsha taps into “the creative space” by listening to film scores instead of current hits. Production is pimping her out big time, but it’s hard not to root for someone with such a huge voice compared to all the screeching and hiccupping babies.

See you tomorrow for the utter tragedy of former Idol champions (not the famous ones) duetting with the contestants!
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