AI9 Christian Hollywood Week Hopefuls

American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week is upon us. Now the show gets good. Over the next two weeks we will find out who makes it into the Top 24. One21music focuses our American Idol coverage on Christian music artists trying to make their dreams come true by running the American Idol gauntlet. Last year we followed the triumphs of Kris Allen and Danny Gokey, the inspiring stories of Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre and the way too early ousters of Mishavonna Henson and Felica Barton.

American Idol Hollywood Week Season 9 should feature several Christian music artist favorites and we want to help you keep an eye out for them. We have already featured, Alex Nestor (who for some reason was never seen in the audtions), Ben Honeycut and Jermaine Sellers

But we continue to look and we have found seven more Christian music artists for you to follow through American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week.  We believe that it is likely you will be able to vote for these Christian music artists in a few weeks:

Lacey Brown

Lacey BrownThe 24-year-old, who the show identified as a church event director from Amarillo, sang “Over the Rainbow” in Orlando, Fla., before the four judges unanimously voted her through to the next round. Lacey Brown is the daughter of David and Connie Brown, pastor and co-pastor of Victory Church in Amarillo. She shared that the first time she sang was in church for her parents anniversary party while she had hiccups, and went on to say that her relatives were as shocked as she was that she could sing

Lacey Brown made it into the Top 50 of American Idol Season 8.  She was cut in a chair scene with Meagan Joy.

Ashley Makailah Rodriguez

Ashley Makailah RodriguezAshley’s journey as an artist began at the age of four when she started ballet, jazz and tap lessons. Loving the art of performance, Ashley Makailah Rodriguez joined the drama club in high school, took piano, taught herself guitar and sang in the school’s chorus to hone her skills as an all-around performer. It was there at Chelsea High School that she was introduced to the City Music program at Berklee College of Music, which eventually awarded her a full four-year tuition scholarship.

During her four years at Berklee, Ashley Makailah Rodriguez not only worked to improve herself as a vocalist, but also majored in Music Business Management in order to fully immerse herself in the industry. As a performer, Ashley was offered many incredible opportunities, which included traveling internationally with the gospel group Overjoyed and singing at the Berklee Performance Center with artists such as Philip Bailey, Chaka Kahn, and Berklee alums Lalah Hathaway and Paula Cole.

Chris Golightly aka “Orphan”

Chris GolightlyChris Golightly performs under the name Orphan. He born in San Pedro, CA. and by the age of three he was placed in the social services system. Growing up without parents Chris Golightly struggled to find himself.  As a child it was very rough and Chris Golightly had to stand up on his own two feet.

Running away from foster homes etc… every five months made Chris Golightly come to realize he had stories to tell. Ever since he was six years old he was singing and performing. At the age of twelve Rich Mullins inspired him to started writing. Today, Chris Golightly attends Calvary Church in Santa Ana, CA and performs there regularly.

Vered “Didi” Benami

Vered BenamiVered Benami lists her influences as “First and foremost God.”  When you listen to her original music her faith is clearly apparent, as in the chorus of her song “Lullaby”- “He wants to comfort you. He wants to save you.”  Ever since she was old enough to speak Vered Benami was inspired, energized, and fascinated with the groove of life in ever-changing motion. She immersed herself in all kinds of jazz, blues, southern rock, folk, country, R&B and pop music. Throughout her life she has harmonized, danced, and written to any music that moves her.

Vered Benami attended Belmont University where she met her biggest inspiration, Rebecca Joy Lear. Rebecca was a singer/songwriter from Wichita, Kansas who began to help Vered capture and sharpen her ability to sing, and combine vocalizing expression with writing music.  Not too long after these two met they became close friends and decided to stick it out at school, (even though all they were really passionate about was writing and performing music) Rebecca’s Journey was cut short by an automobile accident in December 2005.  This was an eye opening experience for Verdad Benami, and made her realize that life is too short to waste not doing what you love.

Michelle Delamor

Michelle DelamorMichelle Delamor dreams of conquering two worlds: music and fashion. In a Miami Herald article, she said of the two passions: “The moment you step on stage, the transformation is amazing. You can go from crazy nerves to becoming the music. I want to be huge, I want to tour around the world, sing for millions and millions of people. But another dream of mine is to have my own clothing line. My style is funky-glamorous.”

Michelle Delamor is a 20 year-old a music major at Miami Dade College-Wolfson. Michelle credits Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Pink and Mary J. Blige as being some of her biggest musical influences. She also has a strong gospel background and is a soloist in Miami’s Unity on the Bay church choir.

Michael Lynche

Michael LyncheLike many great artists in the R&B tradition, Michael Lynche was first exposed to music through the church. Both of his parents were pastors and the Lynche Family or “Lynche Mob” (as they were known) was well known for its energetic act, which featured a young Michael performing gospel.

Michael Lynche excelled in high school, earning a full academic and athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida, where he played NCAA Division I football as a defensive lineman. Michael was sure football was his ticket out of the poverty of his youth, but while in college, his beloved mother fell ill with cancer and Michael saw it as his duty to go home. As he recalls, “My love for football was enormous, but when my mom got sick, I started really rethinking about my journey in life and I got to thinking that this was all happening for a reason.”

After the passing of his mother, Michael Lynche stepped back to where he started – with his love of music and specifically, the guitar. He recounts, “When I was a kid I picked up the guitar that was stashed in the back of my mom’s closet and learned to play it. I loved the sound of blues guitar. When she died, one of the first things I did was get a new guitar and start writing. At first, I was just writing music for the church. Then it became a singer songwriter thing. But nothing was groundbreaking.”

Moving to New York in 2006 to pursue his dream, Michael Lynche then hooked up with hip-hop producer Ming (of Ming & FS). Ming started adding beats to the more traditional singer/songwriter and soul songs that Michael was writing, and for Michael, it was like lightning struck. He exclaims, “I’m a soul singer at heart and a story teller, but I realized through Ming that it was the beats that make the songs fun. I was thinking about what kind of music that would be and one day I came up with a new genre name: ‘Dirty Blues,’ where gritty southern soul meets dirty south hip-hop.”

So watch for these Christian music artists starting next week in American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week and don’t forget to follow American Idol Season 9 on when we start live blogging when the show goes live on February 23rd.

In the meantime help us find more Christian music artists competing on American Idol Season 9.  Here is a list of some Hollywood Week participants we are researching.  If you know anything about these artists’ faith background, please share.

Aaron Kelly
Haeley Vaughn
Tyler Grady
Alex lambert
Paige Miles
Casey James
Katy Stevens
Andrew Garcia
Katelyn Epperly
David Duke
Jose Munoz

Next week we review the first two shows of American Idol Season 9 and start predicting the Top 24.

American Idol Season 8- Who’s Gonna Win This Thing?

The American Idol Season 8 final three is here?  Where did the year go?  It seems only a few weeks ago I was grousing that the judges did not select Felicia Barton and Mishavonna Henson for the Wild Card Show.  We have been covering the Christian music performers on American Idol Season 8 and two have made it to the Top 3.  Danny Gokey and Kris Allen are both worship leaders who join Season 8 sensation Adam Lambert as the last American Idol performers standing.

Danny Gokey, Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds were the early favorites to make it to this point but only Danny is left standing.  Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen have had the most consistently good performances of American Idol Season 8.  Allison left last week, but Kris remains.  Norman Gentle was the most colorful American Idol performer ever, or so we thought.  Adam Lambert has blasted through Season 8 with a natural flamboyance that has made him the most polarizing American Idol contestant this show has ever seen.

American Idol Season 8 Top 3 Power Rankings

Before we try to figure out who will win, we must just have one more power ranking:

  1. Kris Allen has simply had the best group of performances of any American Idol Season 8 contestant.  It started when he brought new meaning to Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”.  He then blew us away with a new revelation of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”.  He introduced some to the beauty of “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once.  He seemed off his game during American Idol Season 8 Rock Week, but his only really bad performance was Don Henley’s “She Works Hard for The Money” on the Birth Year Songs show. Kris Allen is a quiet, humble guy who has been goaded by the judges to be more aggressive and arrogant.  That seems unlikely.   Kris Allen has been solid all year long, he tells stories with his performances and he can really sing.  Many professional singers, including Jamie Foxx, point to Kris’s interpretative skills and rank him as the best of the season.
  2. Danny Gokey has been the front runner since his Kansas City audition.  He took Hollywood Week by storm with his group’s slamming arrangement of Queen’s “Somebody To Love” and he tore the house down with his semifinal performance of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”.  Since then he seems to have cruised through American Idol Season 8 with mostly great singing. but surprisingly bland arrangements and his “Dream On” is the lowest rated performance of any American Idol Top 3 finalist ever, but he is the only contestant in Season 8 to never be in the bottom two.   Danny Gokey has been eviscerated on the Internet and by the entertainment press, I think because he openly expresses his faith and because the show made a deal of him grieving his wife’s recent death.  I picked Danny Gokey as the winner on the night of his audition (I have witnesses who argued with me).  His Season 8 has been good if disappointing to me, but if can pull off four performances like “Hero” or “Come Rain or Come Shine” he could win.
  3. Adam Lambert possesses a rare voice that only surfaces once a decade.  He has been rightfully compared to Robert Plant, Freddy Mercury and Axel Rose (I would add Frankie Valli and Marvin Gaye).  That voice and Adam Lambert’s mature stage skills have dazzled the American Idol judges and have fooled many into thinking he is a “Rock God.”   His “Tracks of My Tears” was a tour de force of his vocal prowess.  However, Adam Lambert’s “Mad World” was the only of his performances with emotional depth.  Many, including the judges, believe Adam Lambert should win American Idol Season 8.  I do not believe Adam Lambert has the creative depth to be a successful recording artist.  I do think he has the performance skills be a respected stage actor.  If he wins American Idol Season 8 that will be okay but I do not think he is the best.

Who is going to win?  This may be the closest vote we have ever had and if we continue this season’s trend we will have the largest number of votes of any American Idol season.  Let’s assume Kris, Danny and Adam will have great performances the next two weeks.  New voters and voting block shifts will determine the winner of American Idol Season 8.    Here are my predictions for how the voting blocks will move:

  • Adam will benefit most from the departure of Allison Iraheta, but I think Kris Allen will pick up a fair number of Allison’s followers who like her rock edge and do not like Adam’s flamboyance.  I will be surprised if both Danny Gokey and Kris Allen make it to the American Idol Season 8 final.
  • If Kris Allen leaves on Wednesday night, I think Danny will receive more than half of his voting support but Adam will benefit as well.  Believers supporting Kris will flock to Danny, but some non believers will take their rock leanings to Adam.
  • If Danny Gokey departs on Wednesday night, I think Kris Allen wins American Idol Season 8.
  • If somehow Adam Lambert leaves on Wednesday, I think virtually all of his followers flock to Kris Allen and he wins.

The only way Adam Lambert leaves American Idol Season 8 on Wednesday night is if the Christian nation rises up and drives the vote total over 90 million in support of Kris Allen and Danny Gokey.  So, if Kris Allen survives this week, I think he wins.  If Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert face off in the final it is too close to call.

Check out all of their great performances at iTunes and download yourself an American Idol Season 8 mix.

Apple iTunes

American Idol Season 8- Rock Performances Review

What happened tonight?  Debbie Williams, the American Idol stage  manager was injured and taken to the hospital when those retractable stairs retracted while she was on them.  Early reports are that her injuries were minor.  Then the stage started falling and one of the giant American Idol orbs and columns partially collapsed.  Dress rehearsal was cancelled.  MJ’s blog crashed and the MTV live blog stopped at 8:38 edt (I later read the rest of it).  I am grateful that no one was hurt tonight.

I am at a loss for words to describe how much I hated American Idol tonight.  I hated the duets.  I think Slash was a waste.  I thought the judging tonight was meaningless jabber.  The song choices, for the most part. were terrible.  I thought the American Idol rock song performances were vapid.  The arrangements were cookie cutter.  I was so disgusted with American Idol tonight that I went to my office, made a mix of my American Idol Rock Song predictions and played them at a disturbing volume.  That would have made for a fascinating show.

Now that my temper tantrum is over, time for a little empathy.  Missing the dress rehearsal obviously bothered the performers.  We don’t know how much of the dress rehearsal was completed before the accidents but some of the American Idol performers looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable.  Also, someone they know was injured and taken to the hospital before their eyes.  Allison was timid in her performance and then argumentative during her judging.  That is just the opposite of her usual demeanor.  Kris Allen seemed mad the whole night.  Danny Gokey was irritated during the judges comments.  I must believe that they were shaken and concerned about their friend and maybe a little nervous about the set. Too bad we can’t give the American Idol performers a pass tonight.

American Idol Season 8 Rock Song Performance Ratings
I am ignoring the duets tonight. They were meaningless filler. Really, what did you learn about Christina music performers Danny Gokey or Kris Allen from “Renegade”? What did “Slow Ride” tell you about Adam Lambert or Allison Iraheta, other than 17 year old girls singing inappropriate lyrics at 9 edt on national television is apparently something to be applauded? The only time rockers did these stupid duets was on stupid 70′s variety shows.  “The Weight” is cycling through my song preview mix for the second time.  I am feeling better. Remember last week when I said all of the performers earned an “A” in my Rat Pack performance review, well everyone gets no more than a “C” tonight so I am ranking on a curve.

  1. Danny Gokey, yep, that mess Danny Gokey threw out there tonight was my favorite Americna Idol rock  performance.  Why?  The opening to “Dream On” looked to be a struggle for him, his breathing seemed off and he fought to find a groove.  Toward the middle he cut loose with his voice and then he built the song until–The Scream.  So far, everyone hates it.  I liked it.  I don’t know how many notes he stumbled through on that final scream but we could probably score a few scrabble points with those letters.  But I don’t care, it is was guttural, primal, cathartic and insane.
  2. Allison Iraheta picked the right song but she held back.  “Cry Baby” is an angry, hurting rant at a former boyfriend.  Allison need to wring the emotion out of the song but, instead she sang the set-ups and transitions while avoiding the meat of the song.  I had high hopes but Allison played this American Idol performance uncharacteristically safe.
  3. Adam Lambert took the show by storm by cranking through Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”.  I am sorry, from the first moment all I could hear was Robert Plant screaming through he phone to Jimmy Page, “NEVER AGAIN WILL WE ALLOW THAT BLOODY, LAME SHOW TO GUT ONE OF OUR SONGS”.  I played the original for my wife and then replayed Adam’s American Idol version and she nailed it.  “He doesn’t believe in the emotion of the song.”  This was another in a long line of big, loud, brassy empty American Idol performances by Adam Lambert.  I don’t know what everyone is buying but I am not interested.
  4. Kris Allen seemed off tonight.  From the opening verse of his duet with Danny to his placid walk through of “Come Together”, Kris seemed angry and uninterested.  “Come Together” was a terrible song choice.  For the second week in a row, Kris Allen has kept his magical arranging skills under wraps.  There is just very little you can do with this song.  We have seen many others fail (isn’t this song the last one Carly Smithson did last year) with “Come Together”.  Kris sang well but you did not get the feeling he really cared that much.

Just in case you did not notice, I was disappointed by American Idol tonight.

Given all of the accidents and distractions tonight and given that Slash was such a terrible mentor, I think we should skip elimination this week and eliminate two next week. American Idol producers, don’t you agree? Just in case 19 Entertainment does not clip this blog for the producers, here are my predictions:

Bottom two Allison Iraheta Kris Allen

Going home Allison Iraheta

On Thursday morning the studio performances will be available for iTunes and we will be able to see how much of tonight’s show was attributable to the dress rehearsal accidents and how much was Slash’s fault.  In the meantime download some of the great performances dating all the way back to Felicia Barton and Mishavonna Henson from the Top 36.

Apple iTunes

American Idol Season 8- The Christians

Now that we are just past the halfway mark on American Idol Season 8′s live competition, let’s take a few minutes to remember the Christian music artists who made it to the Top 36 and see what we can find out about what they are doing.  At one21music we identified 10 Christian music artists who made it to the Top 36 and six of those made it to Top 13.  The contestants on American Idol Season 8 are barred from singing on their own until June because of their contract with the TV show.  That limits a lot of information about these American Idol contestants.

Some of them made it through, some of them didn’t, but these are the artists we discovered through the search to find the believers in American Idol

Felicia Barton

Felicia BartonProbably the biggest tragedy of American Idol Season 8 was that Felicia Barton did not receive a fair chance to succeed.  She was all but invisible throughout the tryouts and Hollywood Week and she was eliminated in the mansion.  However, she was rushed to Hollywood at the last minute to replace JoAnne Pacitti in the Top 36 .  Her wonderful performance of Alicia Keys “No One” was mostly ignored by the judges and she was not selected for the Wild Card show. Barton, a wife and mother who has served as the minister of music at her church also has performed on the boardwalk in her hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Post American Idol interviews have revealed a believer with a great amount of gratitude for her American Idol opportunity and a wealth of confidence in the possibilities for her future in the music business.

In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot just after she returned form Hollywood, Felicia Barton said:

“I don’t think I cried. Maybe a couple days later, but not right away. You know, I really had a lot of peace about what was going on, and I feel really blessed to have gotten back in the competition, you know. Just that opportunity to sing in front of 30 million people.”

Felicia Barton has been back to Hollywood and to Nashville to record songs and work on a recording contract.  We are waiting to hear new songs on myspace pretty soon.  In the meantime, you can download Felicia Barton singing Alicia Key’s “No One” on iTunes.  Follow the link at the bottom of the page and I will show you how.

Ricky Braddy

rickbraddyA gospel singer and Commercial Music major at Belmont University made it to the Wild Card but was not chosen by the judges to be one of the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  His performance of “A Song for You” in the Top 36 elimination show earned him a standing ovation from Paula Abdul, who was a big fan.  Michael Slezac of entertainment Weekly is still grousing over Ricky Braddy’s early departure from American Idol Season 8.

Ricky Braddy possesses a pure, clear singing voice and a great falsetto.  In the Wild Card round he performed Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” but it was not enough to propel him into the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  Ricky maintains a Facebook and Myspace page and is a frantic Tweeter.  He is currently traveling between Atlanta and Nashville writing music and working on a record contract.

Ricky created a little stir on American Idol when a fan website using the name the “Braddy Bunch” emerged to push his chances on American Idol.  His parents showed up on his first live performance wearing Braddy Bunch tshirts and the website received a “cease and desist” order from the producers of American Idol.

Mishavona Henson

mishavonaThis seasoned 18 year old singer/actor came onto American Idol as a returning American Idol contestant (she made it to Hollywood in Season 7) who had television acting credits (Frasier) and an EP  (From the Edge of The World Mishavonna Henson ).  In August of 2008, Mishavonna Henson received the “Certificate of Merit Award” for female vocal solo at the Assemblies of God “National Fine Arts Festival” in North Carolina.

Apparently, Mishavonna Henson has received permission to perform a benefit with Debbie Gibson for the Gibson Girl Foundation which provides scholarships for talented youth to attend Gibson’s Electric Youth Summer Camp. She is already working on her second cd.

Her Top 36 live performance was Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” and, as a result of that performance the song shot back into the iTunes 100, peaking at 15.  Here is the young girl, fully recovered from her experience and enjoying a day with her friends.

Kristen MacNamara

kristen macnamaraA veteran of Star Search and Nashville Star before she auditioned for American Idol Season 8, Kristen MacNmara has been pursuing her career since she moved from California to Branson, Missouri to work as a musician in this country music mecca.

Kristen McNamara first gained fame on American Idol Season 8 when her Hollywood Week group’s meltdown was the centerpiece of one of the episodes.   Kristen  sang “Give Me One More Reason” in her Top 36 live performance and received very little love from the judges and did not receive enough votes to make it to the Top 13.

Kristen McNamara is one of the founders of L.A.U.G.H., an organization promoting personal missions.

Kristen has a channel on youtube called Kmactv, which is a set of videos following the adventures of her and her friends as they goof around.  There is no update on her myspace and we were unable to find any articles.  However, her myspace page does say that she is signed to 19 Entertainment (the company that produces American Idol).  Based on Internet chatter, that must have happened right around the time she was eliminated.

Michael Sarver

michael arverA fan favorite, Michael Sarver made it into the Top 10 of American Idol Season 8, so we will see him on the American Idol Live tour.   He shocked audiences when he was voted in over American Idol front runner Anoop Desai in round 1 of the Top 12 selection show.  He then survived the elimination of Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nunez and Alexis Grace before his performance of “Ain’t to Proud (To Beg)” failed to earn him enough votes to continue.

A worship leader at the Harvest Church in Jasper, Texas, Michael Sarver started his American Idol quest with a hope to leave his life as an oilfield worker behind.  As I wrote in our article on Michael Sarver, his American Idol Season 8 journey became a healing process for a town torn and embarrassed by racial issues.  Many believe Michael Sarver has become the image of a new Jasper, He has put Jasper back on the map in a positive way and we appreciate all the help he has done to make Jasper alive again,” said Jasper Council Member Terrya Norsworthy.

Michael Sarver returned home to large crowds in both Jasper and his hometown of Sulphur, Louisiana.  He has already signed a record deal and expects to return to Los Angeles within a few weeks to start recording his debut album.

Scott MacIntyre

scott-macintyreThe most recent Christian music artist to exit American Idol Season 8, Scott made it to 8th place.  Scott MacIntyre was difficult to judge.  His singing did not measure up to that of the other American Idol Season 8 performers, but he possesses a certain intangible that the judges and the audience could not deny.

Scott MacIntyre is a world class classical musician who has received dozens of national and international awards for piano, composition and vocal.  He was  the recipient of the Marshall scholarship, Fulbright scholarship (to the UK), USAToday All-USA Academic First Team and was a Rhodes Finalist for Arizona.  Scott studied in London, England where he obtained his masters degree in Performance Studies from the Royal College of Music and Royal Holloway University of London at the age of 19. He was also accepted to both Oxford and Cambridge for further graduate-level research.

Scott MacIntyre has been featured and  profiled on CNN, Sky News Europe, USA Today, and other media as pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. He has independently released 6 full-length CD’s and has written in genres spanning pop, rock, punk, jazz, and classical.  You can buy Scott’s punk rock CD with his group The Glutes at iTunes by clicking here The Glutes

To top things off , Scott MacIntyre told Access Hollywood, “I say blindness is only half of my story, I’ve been through so much more than that.” He added, “I dealt with kidney failure for two years. It’s something that I intentionally didn’t bring up on this show because, you know, the blindness is obvious, but I didn’t want to be voted for based on my challenges.” The 23-year-old singer was diagnosed with the disease in 2005. He then went to London and got a master’s degree in music, but had to return home to have emergency dialysis. In 2007, Scott MacIntyre was lucky enough to find a kidney donor: his former piano instructor from Arizona State University.

That leaves us with the final four Christina music artists competing on American Idol Season 8.

Danny Gokey

danny-gokeyA favorite since he auditioned, Danny Gokey has performed at the top of the American Idol chart every single week.  Others have peaked above him but have fallen back behind him the next week.  Danny has been the best or second best performance in every week of the competition.

His Hollywood Week group performance of “Somebody To Love” was the best of the season.  Danny Gokey hit the live competition with the Mariah Carey song “Hero” and tore down the house causing whooping screaming adulation from the judges.  He has maintained that level of excellence each week since.

In listening to the exit interviews, Danny Gokey is mentioned more than any other contestant as one of the nicest people in the mansion.  From the outside in, it seems he has put a lot of effort into developing strong personal relationships with as many of the other performers as possible.

Danny Gokey has a natural likability, a unique gravel, but soulful voice and ease about himself that draws America to him.  He is certainly one of four remaining contestants that should be considered a favorite for the Top 2.

Kris Allen

Kris AllenJust the opposite of Danny, Kris Allen flew under the radar into the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  This quiet business major from small town Arkansas was considered a handsome, good singer but no one really new.  We got our first glimpse of Kris Allen’s interpretive skills when he chose Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”.  In Kris’s hands this song took on a more epic arc.

The second peak happened when Kris Allen made us forget Garth Brook’s ever sang “To Make You Feel My Love”.

Then it happened.  With his amazing arrangement of “Ain’t No Sunshine” Kris Allen burst to the front of numerous American Idol Season 8 power rankings.  His only misstep was last week.

Kris Allen has the looks, the music skills, the voice and the arranging insight to win American Idol Season 8.  He needs to continue to push himself to have as much confidence in himself as we all do.

Matt Giraud

84635271Simon described Matt Giraud as a musical yo-yo and he was right.  Matt has had some brilliant performances of classic R&B songs.  But he has also had some of the worst performances of the year when he took on Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”  and The Fray’s “You Found Me”.  The first performance nearly cost him a spot in the Top13.  The judges saved him in the  Wild Card round but his journey to the American Idol Season 8 Top 7 has been rocky.  He has been in the bottom 3 four times and the bottom 2 twice.

Matt Giraud is a dueling piano player from Michigan who had two R&B CDs under his belt that proclaimed his faith.  We found some wonderful testimonials from his fans on the Internet.  Matt is a great singer who has strong, soulful sensibility and the ability to deliver his falsetto with feeling.

Right now the general consensus is that Matt Giraud has fallen behind and has little chance of winning American Idol Season 8.  He has the talent to win, but he cannot afford another slip and he needs to deliver a couple of breakthrough performances.

Lil Rounds

lil-roundsFinally, we come to the displaced mother of two.  Lil Rounds emerged as a front-runner in the American Idol Season 8 auditions when Randy compared her to Fantasia and Mary J Blige.  She soared through Hollywood Week and she dazzled in the Top 36 selection show when she sang “Be with You”.  She seemed unstoppable with her combination of powerful vocals, keen rhythmic sense, good looks and great back story.

However, something happened on the way to the confetti party.  Starting with Grand Ole Opry week Lil Rounds started to drift away.  First, she sang well but added little to the songs.  The last two weeks her vocals have even started to falter and she is in serious trouble.

Her position on American Idol Season 8 has become so precarious that website “votefortheworst”  has taken Lil Rounds on as their latest cause.  One more shaky performance and Lil Rounds could be headed back to Memphis.

You can download full length studio recording each one of these Christian music artists performances, including those by American IdolFelicia Barton, Ricky Braddy, Mishavonna Henson and Kristen McNamara. When you click through to the itunes store, look just below the text and above the Top 13 photos and you will see a link to the Top 36 performances.

Apple iTunes

It has been a wonderful American Idol.   Season 8 has seen an unprecedented number of Christian music artists move further than we have ever experienced before.  This bodes well for us Christians looking for pop music over the next few years that embodies our hope and faith.

American Idol Season 8 Wild Card Predictions

As I expressed in last night’s blog of the results show I am extremely disappointed in the American Idol judges’ “Wild Card” picks.  I think reader Jimbo was right when he said the judges had their minds made up before Tuesday night and ignored Week 3′s performances.

We are covering Christian music artists competing in American idol Season 8 and we are happy that Matt Giraud and Ricky Braddy made it to the Wild Card round.  However, there were some real travesties:

  • Felicia Barton should have made it over Jessica Langseth.  The problem for Felicia now is that she did not get a chance to show anything new so I am not sure the American Idol experience will jump start her career.  That is a shame because I think she is the total package.
  • It is a crime that Jasmine Murray is in and Mishavonna Henson is out.  Misahvonna delivered a mature, confident performance and Jasmine looked overwhelmed.  I think Mishavonna will become an artist of substance in the future and I am pretty sure that does not impress these judges.
  • Ju’not Joyner was robbed.  He should be in the Wild Card over Von Smith.  I suspect that a number of R&B producers are trying to find Ju’not’s number right now.
  • If you want someone quirky and a little dramatic, how do you pick Tatiana del Toro over Kristen McNamara?  Kristen is a better singer and delivered a more unique performance in the American Idol semifinals.  I wonder where this leaves Kristen.  She has been working at this since she was 16.  Nashville Star and, now, American Idol did not produce the breakthrough she needed.  Where does she go from here?

Here are my rankings of the American Idol Season 8 Wild Card contestants based on everyhting I have seen:

  1. Anoop Desai
  2. Ricky Braddy
  3. Meagan Corkery
  4. Matt Giraud
  5. Tatiana del Toro
  6. Jessica Langseth
  7. Von Smith
  8. Jasmine Murray

Here are my predictions for tonight’s American Idol Season 8 Wild Card show.

I will be shocked if more than one guy is selected from this group.  There are already six guys in the Top 12 and I cannot see the producers allowing American Idol to go into the finals with anything more that a 7:5 ratio.  I think that makes it virtually impossible for Christian music artists Ricky Braddy and Matt Giraud to make it through.  Anoop Desai has been an overwhelming judge favorite from the start and his Semi-final performance was good just not good enough.  I think both Matt and Ricky can perform well enough to make it hard on the judges but I think Anoop needs to disappoint for them to have a chance.

These predictions are in the order of my confidence level:

  • Meagan Corkery would have to trip on her way to the stage, hit her head, sing a different song than the band is playing, forget the lyrics and have a “wardrobe malfunction” to miss the Top 12.  The judges have all but said she is a finalist.
  • Anoop Desai is not bulletproof but he will need a disappointing performance and a “blow it out da’ box” performance from Matt Giraud, Ricky Braddy or Von Smith to go home tonight.  I think Matt is the only one capable of that type of show stopping performance.  Hey Matt, you got nothing to lose, go for it.
  • Tatiana del Toro will overcome Jessica Langseth.  I think Jessica is a better mucisian but American Idol needs the ratings that the manic, frightening, personality Tatiana brings.  What the heck, they need to give the “Vote for The Worst” guys someone to champion.

Join us tonight while we live blog the American Idol Season 8 Wild Card show.

In the meantime give some love to Christian music artists Felcia Barton, Mishavonna Henson and Kristen Mcnamara by downloading their performances from iTunes with a simple click on the icon below.

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Who Are the American Idol “Wild Cards”?

We don’t yet have the results from American Idol’s Season 8 third semi-final show, but I want to take a few minutes to speculate on who we believe will sing on Thursday’s show to earn one of the last three spots in American Idol’s Top 12 for Season 8.

We have been covering Christian music artists competing on Season 8 of American Idol.  Three of those Christian music artists, Danny Gokey, Michael Sarver and Kris Allen were all voted into the Top 12.  See my round three wrap-up article to see what I think will happen tonight, but I suspect that Christian recording artist Scott MacIntyre will be voted into the Top 12 tonight.  Let’s take a few minutes to prepare for the “Wild Card” show.

Based on speculation all over the Web, the judges will pick nine contestants to perform on Thursday night’s show.  After the performances, the judges will select three contestants to complete American Idol’s Top 12 for Season 8.  That is all a guess but it sounds reasonable.  If they select more than nine performers there will not be time for the dramatic selection process at the end of the show.  I wonder if American Idol is going to throw all of them in a bus and run over to the mansion?  That way the judges can sit in those big thrones again.

One more thought on how this will work.  I betcha that the judges do not announce the Wild Card performers tonight.  If I were the producer, I would bring all the remaining 27 performers back and introduce them one by one.  What do you think?

Before we move on to predict who will perform in American Idol’s Season8 “Wild Card”, I will recap what I think will happen tonight.  Lil Rounds and Scott MacIntyre will go through as the top girl and guy.  I think the third spot boils down to Jorge Nunez and Ju’not Joyner.  I think whoever does not make it from those two may not make it to the wild card round.

Here is the deal.  American Idol works hard to gender balance and I think they have a problem.  After tonight’s show, viewers will have already voted six guys into American Idol’s Season 8 Top 12.  I cannot imagine the judges ignoring the “Wild Card” performances to select all girls, but I suspect the show will be heavily skewed to the ladies.

The problem for us is that the guys are a much stronger group in Season 8.  If  I listed the American Idol’s top 15 performers this year, 10 would be guys and only Lil Rounds would represent the girls in the top 5.  That does not bode well for male Christian music artists Matt Giraud and Ricky Braddy.  They may be watching the American Idol tour with us from the audience  because of gender balancing.  However, I think it will give Christian music artists Felicia Barton and Mishavonna Henson well deserved second chances.  Kristen MacNamara may even sneek into the Top12.

Here are my predictions assuming there will be five girls and four guys.  I have ranked them by how strongly I believe they will perform on American Idol’s “Wild Card” show:

  • Anoop Desai is an overwhelming favorite who sang a slow, quiet song and missed the Top 12 to Michael Sarver by only 20,ooo votes.
  • Meagan Corkery is a beautiful, husky singer with a quirky stage presence that the judges love
  • Felicia Barton declared herself as a worthy contender last night (see our live blog of the round 3 performances) and I think the judges are second guessing themselves for cutting her from the original Top 36.
  • Tatiana del Toro delivers the vocals everytime and I think the judges enjoy her drama.  Can she withstand the pressure?
  • Jessica Langseth walked through her performance of a bad song, but I think the judges love her.
  • Matt Giraud has been a judge’s favorite since the beginning.  Despite his terrible performance I think they give him one more chance.
  • Mishavonna Henson delivered one of the best vocal performances of the season but did not get much love.  I think she will receive another chance based on her performance.
  • Ricky Braddy delivered a fine cover of “A Song For You” and I think Paula loves him.
  • Jorge Nunez/Ju’not Joyner, whoever does not make into American Idol’s Top 12 tonight.

If the judges decide to skew even more heavily to the girls I think Kristen McNamara will push Jorge or Ju’not out.  If they decide to balance the “Wild Card” show evenly I think Von Smith will push Mishavonna Henson out and that will be a shame.

What do you think?  Who have I missed?

Check it out for yourself.  See performances by Christina music artists Kristen McNamara, Felica BartonScott MacIntyre , Danny Gokey, Michael SarverKris Allen, Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud and Mishavonna Henson.

We  make it simple for you to download American Idol performances with a simple click on the icon below.

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American Idol Season 8- March 3rd Live Blog

Well, here we are for week three of the American Idol Season 8 semi-finals.  So far, the new Top 36 format has not lived up to expectations.  The performers have mostly disappointed.  Christian music artist Danny Gokey and teenager Allison Iraheta delivered exceptional performances.   Christian music artists Michael Sarver and Kris Allen surprised everyone by delivering strong performances and making it to the Top 12.

Another Christian music artist, Mishavonna Henson a delivered a deep, cool, strong performance but could not overcome her lack of coverage in the early episodes.  Gospel group member Ricky Braddy beautifully sang  “A Song for You” during Week One of the semi’s but did not make it directly to the Top 12. Christian recording artist Matt Giraud was one of the favorites but fumbled his lead away by selecting a terrible song, “Viva La Vida”, to showcase his formidable R&B talents.

At One21music, we are covering Christian music artists competing on America Idol Season 8.  Tonight we have three singers who have declared themselves believers: Kristen McNamara, Felicia Barton (who despite virtually no coverage is number 3 on PopWatch’s American Idol power poll), and Scott MacIntyre.  Other than judge favorite Lil Rounds and Nathaniel Marshall, none of the other performaers have received an inordinate amount of exposure.  Check out this morning’s article previewing American Idol Season 8′s third semifinal.

We can only hope for good song choices, please.

So the opening credits are rolling and we are off!

Ryan points out the first six finalists and discusses the song selection from the first two shows.  Most popular girl, most popular girl and next highest go through to top 12.

Von Smith, kicks off the Billboard Hot 100 parade with “You’re All I Need”.  A great, great song that starts off slowly.  He struggles with the low parts and is pretty pitchy.  He finishes well with a good falsetto.  Overall, pretty good.  Nice performance.  Mom liked it.

The judges liked it as well.  Simon compares him to Clay Aiken.  Kara compliments him on taking and using Simon’s advice from Hollywood.

Taylor Vaifanua is up next singing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys.  She nailed the low register opening but struggling with the rhythm.   She gets it back and carries the bridge very well.  Great start to the show

Kara thinks she can sing but she doesn’t know who she is is and the performance left her cold.  Ooh, I didn’t know she sang this in Hollywood.  Simon continues to poke and taunt Kara but thinks the performance was bland.  Randy gets his feelings hurt when the transition music starts before he gets his opinion in.

Alexander Wagner-Trugman, the resident “nerd”, addresses his dorkiness in a red room interview.  I like this guy, good sense of humor.  He is singing Elton John’s “Guess Why That’s They Call It The Blues”.  He adds a growling, bluesy twist to it and this song does not go down well with a spoonful of grit.  He took a chance, good for him, but it didn’t really work.

The judges are laughing with him but Paula is speaking in past tense.  As Simon put it, “we had fun watching you but not listening to you” and proceeded to skewer him.  Randy, crazy in a “buck wild sort of way”.  Is that a new entry in the Randy Jackson dictionary?

Next on the stage, Arianna Ayesha Afsar brings us “The Winner Take It All”, the first Abba song on American Idol.  She struggles with pitch and tempo from the beginning and slides around the high parts.  I think she has lost her way. Nice big finish but I think it is too little too late.

“Terrible in most parts” from Simon.  Is any Abba song too big for a singer?  Kara rambles but I don’t know what she is trying to say.  Overall, the judges think it was gloomy and old fashioned.

Ju’not Joyner, a soul singer, is choosing “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s.  Really, another bad song choice?  Nice quiet arrangement with a good soul voice.  Nice job taking over the song.  He really added some depth to the performance without over singing.

Randy likes what he did with it.  The Dawg loves it.  He did this song in Hollywood with a much better result and he surprised Simon.  Does American Idol have a performance enhancing drug problem?  Ju’not took a cortisone shot before the show.  Drug testing!

Christian music artist, Kristen McNamara,comes to the stage to sing “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman.  She has jazzed this song up and is delivering this song with a little jazz soul.  Nice stage presence, I think she is taking the song over.  Great job Kristen, you really showed what you got!

Kara likes her voice but does not like the song and her look.  Why are they so focused on her looks?  None of the judges know who she is.  I disagree with the judges.

I am not sure America is ready for the self proclaimed drama queen, Nathanial Marshall.  He sings “I’ d Do Anything for Love” by Meatloaf.  I don’t know what to think of this.  What is this, a Vegas review?  I did not care for that.

Simon starts it off, thought it was excrutiating.  The judges have lost it tonight.  Kara is right, he needs to work to be taken seriously.  I think the judges are trying to be nice to this guy, but they did not like the performance.

Worship leader Felicia Barton is up next.  I am rooting for her.  She is singing Alicia Keys “No One”.  I have heard her sing this before.  She looks striking and, except for a little blip in the middle, she is carrying the song with a lot of soul.  She looks extremely comfortable on stage.  Great performance, Felicia!

Paula acknowledges that her gift is unbelievable.  Randy and Simon recognize that she has something a little different and they all like her as an artist.   She came back with something to prove and she proved it.

The show is much better than the first two weeks.

Scott MacIntyre, the last of our Christian music artists performing tonight will sing “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby.  I very much do not like this song.  The vocals stay pretty low for most of the song and he finishes with some big notes.

Randy wants us to check it out.  It wasn’t great throughout but the good parts were very good and he loves his passion.  Kara thinks he moves mountains.  The judges are almost cheering for him and pleading with America to vote for him. I think it is a given he will at least make it to the “Wild Card” round.

Texan Kendal Beard sings “This One’s for The Girls” by Martina McBride.  It is a shame she is taking on Martina because I don’t think she quite has the power to deliver here.  It was okay, not great.

When the judges start with “I am going to start with positives” you know you have problems.  Once again, Paula is talking in the past tense about her time on American Idol.  Simon thinks she chose the right song but she did not deliver.  Randy thinks it was okay.   Summary: she chose the right song, she looks good, but she needs to work on the vocals.

Now American Idol brings us Jorge Nunez from Puerto Rico.  He will sing “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down” by Elton John.  After tonight, I hope the judges weren’t planning an Elton John theme night.  He starts perfectly.  Beautiful vocal.  He is a little stiff on stage and finishes weak but it was really good.

Paula stands for him and extols all the work he has done.  All they can talk about is his accent.  At least Randy acknowledges the quality of his vocals.  Kara brings him to tears with her compliments.  Kara, “you are a singer”.  She moves Jorge to respond in Spanish because he cannot think in English when emotional.  Nice moment to see someone standing in their dream.

Lil Rounds finishes us off.  She has been a judge favorite from the start.  She is singing “I Never Wanna Live Without You” by Mary J. Blige.  It is one of the modern, rythmic R&B songs.  Her big voice and confident phrasing slay this song.  She is very, very good.

Simon says “brilliant”.  Randy and Simon think  she is one of the best singers of the season.  The judges are using phrases like swagger and powerhouse. Lil Rounds is formidable.

Ryan reminded us earlier that we can own these performances for our very own, forever, or at least until our computer crashes and we lose our iTunes library. We want to make it easy for you so use the link below to download Kristen McNamara, Felica Barton and Scott MacIntyre as they deliver some of the best performances of the night. You can also download Danny Gokey’s show stopping performance. Own Michael Sarver and Kris Allen performing the songs that captured America’s heart. Do not miss Mishavonna Henson’s excellent performance of “Drops of Jupiter” and pray she gets another chance. All with a simple click on the icon below.

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I will be back before you get to work with my wrap-up of the show.  I will see you tomorrow night for the results.