Final night in Vegas and semifinalists revealed on Idol

My hope for tonight: Lots of singing before Idol starts revealing its top 24.

And lots of singing from folks we haven’t heard from, like Hollie Cavanaugh, Chelsea Sorrell, Aubrey Cleland.  More Jessica Sanchez. And at least another listen to Naomi Gillies, the gal from nearby Lancaster, Pa.

Because every Idol contestant in the top 42 deserves to be heard, and that hasn’t happened so far on Idol Season 11.

Like last week, I’ll grade the performances as they happen.  Call it a tuneup for next week, when the Idols sing for our votes for the first time.

Here, you’ll find my picks for 11 Idols sure to make the semifinals.

Well, they just showed Hollie Cavanagh; now how about letting us hear her sing. And there was Naomi, waiting to hear her fate.

Jen Hirsh is called in for her final judgment.  Idol has featured her quite a bit lately, and she’s undoubtedly a seasoned performer.  I predict she’ll go through.  Now we flash back and hear Jen sing a snippet of “Baby, I Love You.”  Well, we only saw a short segment of the song, but I think she sounded fine. Judges’ rating: Excellent choice.

Creighton Fraker:  This guy didn’t impress me in his audition, but he’s been absolutely one of the most consistent males ever since. He has a unique sound, a great voice and deserves to be in the top 24. And sounded fine in that final audition. And he makes the top 24, too.  Judges’ rating: Excellent choice.

 Lauren Gray:  She’s been featured as much as any of the gals, with the judges raving over her bluesy sound.  I wasn’t sold for sure until the group performance in Vegas.  But that turned me into a Lauren Gray supporter.  She should become the second female to make the semifinals.  And, wow, she did not make it.  And judges encourage her to return for Season 12; Lauren isn’t making any promises about that.  Judges’ rating:  Wrong decision.

Joshua Ledet:  The preacher’s son has one of the best voices we’ve heard all season.  He thrilled in Hollywood and was incredible in his group’s performance in Vegas.  And to think, he admitted he almost didn’t have the courage to board the plane for Hollywood.  I think he also shows more control than Jacob Lusk, a singer he’s bound to be compared to.  He makes it.  Judges’ rating:  Brilliant choice

Blaire Seiber and Naomi Gillies — yes, the gal from Lancaster — fail to make the semifinals on Idol.

Haley Johnsen: We truly haven’t seen that much of Haley.  And Ryan says she shined in Vegas.  In truth, except for the final big note, she got to do very little in her group performance.  Judges’ rating: Indifferent.

Neco Starr:  I doubt he made it.  He hasn’t been featured nearly as much as many other guys, and he doesn’t have that distinctive a sound.  And he didn’t make it to the semifinals.  The judges tell the 20-year-old he needs more time.  Judges’ rating: Fine.

Clayton Farhat:  Who?  We heard him sing maybe once.  Shame.  He doesn’t make it. Judges’ rating: Incomplete.

River St. James:  Again, we saw him maybe once.  And he doesn’t make it either.  Judges’ rating:  Incomplete.

Caleb Johnson:  The rocker apparently failed to nail his final audition in Vegas, sealing his fate — elimination.  Judges’ rating: Incomplete.

Elise Testone:  She has proven several times that she’s the real deal.  And it sounds like she absolutely nailed that final performance.  She makes the top 24. Judges’ rating: Very good.

Reed Grimm:  Ryan calls it quirky charm.  I might have taken him more seriously if his first two performances on the show weren’t a joke.  Not sold on Reed yet. If he makes it to the semifinals, my guess is it’s more because of the quirky than the voice.  Of course, he advances to the top 24.  Randy calls him “mad talented.” Judges’ rating: Mistake.

Erika Van Pelt:  Another of the more experience gals this season.  A big voice and not a hint of nerves.  Ryan calls Hollywood her shining moment, but it was a performance we’ve never seen until now.  And Jennifer didn’t seem thrilled with her Vegas performance. Erica should make it through, and she does.  Judges’ rating: Good choice.

Chelsea Sorrell:  We finally get to meet Chelsea.  It’s the first time we’ve seen her all season.  She’s an excellent singer.  And what do they show — her messing up in Hollywood. Ugh.  Judges’ rating: Very good.

Baylie Brown:  She was an early favorite this year, the gal who was told she’s “commercial with a capital C” back when she first auditioned as a teenager.  She thinks she’s matured a lot with her music.  Honestly, we saw her smiling more than singing on the show. Judges’ rating: Very good.

Richie Lawson:  He’s sounded OK.  But Idol has painted him as such a know-it-all jerk, I can’t imagine he’ll get much support if he does make it to the semifinals.  Honestly, I would not send him to the semis, and especially not after hearing that snippet of “Ring of Fire.”  But he does not advance.  The judges encouraged him to try again, too.  Judges’ rating:  Wise decision.

Heejun Han:  This guy is always a character.  What is he sweating?  Mostly water, Heejun answers.  I’d give him a shot at the semifinals, but that version of “New York State of Mind” was not that special.  Jennifer says he has a beautiful “buttery tone.”  And he says every Asian man’s dream is to hug Jennifer Lopez.  And he advances, of course.  Judges’ rating: Wise decision.

Jessica Sanchez: This girl was brilliant in Vegas during the group round, but it’s the only time we’ve seen her so far this season. And it sounds like her final solo performance was very good, too.  She’s only 16, but she’s been singing almost all of her life, so she’s more experienced than her age would seem to indicate.  And she makes it.  Judges’ rating: Good decision.

Phillip Phillips:  This guy has all the makings of the next Idol.  Good personality.  Sounds great when he performs with his guitar, especially.  And he looks like he did it again in his final Vegas performance. And he’s into the semifinals.  Judges’ rating: Excellent decision.

Colton Dixon:  I predict Colton will make it, though I’ve been on and off about his singing.  And thrilled with that final Vegas performance.  Nice touch, though, to dedicate it to his sister.  Last year, he was one of the very last cuts in the green mile episode.  He makes it, predictably.  Judges’ rating: Decent decision.

Brielle Von Hugel:  Interesting case.  We haven’t seen her sing all that much.  And when we’ve seen her, she’s been just OK.  Like that version of “Killing Me Softly.” Sorry, Mrs. Von Hugel (Brielle’s mom), but that was a misfire.  Not sure I agree with that decision.  First one in a while.  Judges’ rating:  Could have made a better pick.

Adam Brock:  This dad considers himself “white chocolate” because of his soulful delivery.  Personally, I think Idol should pass. A little too over-the-top for my taste. Jennifer wasn’t thrilled with the “jazzy lounge” performance he turned in as his final Vegas effort.  Randy says the decision is not unanimous. And on that cliff-hanger, the show ends.

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