Tuesday, January 30

Grease - Top 12 (or is it?)

Air date Jan. 28. Opens with fun group number (and was it just me, or was Austin's solo shorter than the other guys & his mic not working right?!). Jason and whichever Sandy was wearing peach or pink (I didn't tape it so couldn't go back & check) stood out to me (positively).

Olivia Newton-John is guesting on the "panel" (they're not calling them judges) this week.

So, they're bringing contestants out in pairs gender-wise, so first up are two guys. Everyone gets a short video bio clip, a dumb nickname that's supposed to make them easier to remember (but instead we now have a name *and* a nickname to remember), & then they perform.

First is Derek Keeling (26, WV) whom they're calling "Wholesome Danny." He sings "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." He reminds me slightly of John Stamos in his face. Anyway, he sings ok, but not great.

Austin Miller (30), "Hot Danny" (ok that one's easy to remember!), says he was chubby as a kid, and then we see some of his modeling shots. He sings "Mony, Mony" - why, Austin, why?! (I detest that song, not for itself but for the 'added lyrics' that enter my mind even at mention of the title). Well, I still think he's very talented & he used the stage well (his stage experience shows), but he tries waaaaay too hard & ends up being way OTT in his performance. Bummer.

The first girl is Allis Shultz (19, TN), "Baby Sandy." She sings "I Love Rock & Roll" & is decent; what I notice most is that her voice stayed steady as she was coming down the stairs, which shows talent.

Kate Rockwell (22, OH), is "Serious Sandy." We're told she's a waitress and in her clip she says she brings "complexity" to the role. She sings "All By Myself," and I think her look is perfect for Sandy. She has a very strong voice and hits an 11-second (says host Billy Bush) glory note!

Now for the twist... wild cards! Surprise, surprise. They've brought back 2 contestants who got lots of screen time and had nice stories, but they didn't make it through the Academy for a reason...

Matt Nolan (22, NY) is "2nd Chance Danny." He sings "Pretty Woman" and definitely has a weaker voice than the other 2 guys that have sung so far tonight.

Ashley Anderson (21, TN/NY) is dubbed "Emotional Sandy." She seems very nervous and sings "Still the One," except in this case she's 'still the one' who should go back home. Interesting twist, but not much meat to it IMO.

Jason Celeya (31, UT) is "Boy Band Danny." In his clip we find out he's Mormon and a former teacher; he was in "Altar Boys" in New York and says his strength is his dancing ability. He sings George Michael's "Faith" and really doesn't have that strong of a voice (he sings technically well, he just doesn't project much). The panel says he's "too pop" (which for Idol fans is hilariously ironic!).

Max Crumm (21, AZ/CA) is the youngest guy here and is, not surprisingly, called "Slacker Danny." In his clip he says he's a black sheep and has been fired from many jobs. He sings "Summer of '69" and has so much (at least seemingly) natural talent... he uses the stage well, gives a great performance, and the crowd loves him. So far he's the one to beat!

Laura Osnes (20, MN), "Small-town Sandy," just left a local production of Grease as Sandy to come to this show. She's also newly engaged. She sings "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and really has a great vocal style.

Kathleen Monteleone (23, OR), "Spiritual Sandy," is a married art teacher who leads worship in her church. After that build-up, she sings "Suddenly I See," which prominently features some questionable (to some, including me) language in the chorus. She's a great performer, in stage presence and acting ability. I can understand that she wants to show that she's willing to do some things people (in the business) might not expect her to, but at this point I really don't think it's necessary and it comes across to me as just a bad example, so I can't support her.

Kevin Greene (22, NY), is "Bellhop Danny." In his clip he says he's just a regular guy who wants to make his family proud. He sings "Walking in Memphis" (which I love) and he has a beautiful voice (his face isn't bad either). However, I don't think he's really right for this part.

Chad Doreck (27, CA) is "Ambitious Danny." He's a soccer coach and has a band, but says "all" his friends are now on Broadway and he feels left behind. Perhaps not for long. He sings "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and is great! I would call his performance 2nd only to Max, and the crowd response seems to indicate they agree.

Juliana Hansen (23, CA), "Rock Chick Sandy" (hee!), works as an office temp and is in a band. She sings "The First Cut is the Deepest," very well, and I still adore her! She made a very good transition from the softer to stronger parts vocally.

Rounding out the night is Ashley Spencer (21, OH), "Ballerina Sandy." She sings "It's In His Kiss" well, but I'm not 'wowed' at all. I'll put her third behind Kate & Juliana.

There's another group number, this time "We Go Together." They get to do a lot of pairs dancing in this and it's just a blast to watch (which I do many times since I taped it!).

Lastly the panel is asked to give their favorites... David says Derek and Ashley S; Kathleen says Austin and Allie; Jim says Chad and Kate; and Olivia refuses to pick (cop out!). My favorites are Max (then Chad & Austin) and Juliana (then Kate). I voted a bit for all 5, mostly for Juliana because I think she needs it the most. But I expect the wild cards to go first, if people are voting at all based on talent.

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