Katy Perry sure has been flirty this American Idol season. First, she controversially kissed a boy (who didn’t like it), then she shamelessly stanned for hunky contestant Trevor Holmes. Now it seems she has a new Idol crush — and this time, I can’t say I blame her. I bet a lot of women in America are crushing on Cade Foehner after his fiery top 24 performance.
Every Idol season needs its “resident rocker” — David Cook, Adam Lambert, Constantine Maroulis — and Cade, with his Samson locks, Canadian tuxedo, feathered dreamcatcher accoutrements, guttural growl, and formidable guitar chops, is a sexy successor indeed. During his hip-thrusting, hair-flipping performance of the Dylan/Hendrix classic “All Along the Watchtower” Sunday, he transformed the ABC studio into a stadium circa ’77. So much so that Katy was acting like a crazed rock groupie as she tossed off her sequined cape and practically bum-rushed the stage.
“Are we allowed to show this on ABC? Oh my gosh, is this rock ‘n’ roll? I saw some things that my minister parents had to shun!” howled a hot ‘n’ not-at-all cold Katy — referring to her religious relatives in attendance — before telling Cade, “You sure are a minister, and you can preach to me anytime you want!” Once Katy’s fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan calmed her down, one audience member even amusingly shouted, “She’s ready to roar!”
I predict that Katy will really be roaring and shedding more sequins Monday — Idol’s all-star duets night — when Cade teams up with Bishop Briggs and hopefully channels Michael Hutchence on INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart.” Katy may even need a sequined straitjacket for that one. But until then, let’s review Sunday’s other solos, from the first installment of the top 24 round.
Dominique, “Ain’t Nobody”
This guy hasn’t gotten much screentime this season, and his death-spot performance felt like fodder. Dominique delivered a competent, energetic vocal, but the hokey song choice and loungey arrangement were so Idol Season 3. Maybe even Season 2.
Layla Spring, “A Broken Wing”
Layla idolizes Season 10’s Lauren Alaina, and she exhibited similar teen-country-prodigy potential here. She actually showed more confidence than Lauren did as a teenager. This was a breakthrough moment — less cutesy, more gutsy — and my favorite Layla performance so far. “It’s fun watching you put it all together and grow and be mature far beyond your years,” Luke told her.
Catie Turner, “Call Me”
I did not expect this season’s token quirky girl to do a Giorgio Moroder-penned Blondie song from American Gigolo, but man, I’m so glad she did! This was very Riot Grrl, with a touch of the shambolic Shaggs, as Catie prowled the stage in a sack dress, loosening her hair like a wild librarian. Her vocal power proved she’s no novelty act, however. “I love who you are — never change,” gushed Katy. “You have taken your style and made us believers,” Lionel said.
Dennis Lorenzo, “Rude”
This was a song choice that didn’t work. Magic!’s one-hit wonder did nothing to showcase Dennis’s vocal range, and it seemed disconcertingly lightweight coming right after a heart-to-heart with mentor Bobby Bones about his hard-luck childhood. Lionel seemed especially disappointed, telling Dennis to “pick something a little bit more representative of you.”
Michelle Sussett, “If I Were a Boy”
Michelle grabbed the nation’s attention by salsa dancing with a wardrobe-malfunctioning Katy and moonwalking during Hollywood Week, so I was surprised to see her sitting on a stool, Unplugged-style. The stripped-down approach drew attention to her vocal shortcomings, though Lionel still praised her “superstar ability.”
Michael J. Woodard, “Golden Slumbers”
Bobby Bones advised Michael — who’s veered from Labrinth to Cabaret to Alanis — to hone in on a specific genre. But I love how Michael keeps surprising everyone! And this manic Abbey Road epic was another delightful curveball. Katy called him “chosen.” I certainly choose Michael as one of my top five contestants. I cannot wait to see what he does next.
Trevor McBane, “Way We Go Down”
This was an unexpectedly stoic, gripping performance. Trevor was serving the Record Company/Nathaniel Rateliff realness on this Kaleo song, revealing a darkness that I didn’t know the seemingly jolly goat farmer had in him. Katy called him a “thunderbolt in a bottle.” I think Trevor could be a dark horse (or, um, dark goat).
Jonny Brenns, “Georgia”
This Vance Joy tune was a lovely fit for Jonny’s gossamer voice, but I didn’t see enough star presence. But once he loosened up and flirted with the girls in the front row, everything started to gel. Luke told him, “You are a big star — you just don’t quite all the way know it yet.” So watch this space.
Kay Kay, “Love on the Brain”
Bobby warned Kay Kay that she hadn’t been “letting [viewers] in” — but how could she, when she’s received even less screentime than Dominique? So this performance was a pleasant surprise. It was a classic Idol diva tour de force, a vocal masterclass. Where has this girl been hiding? “You’ve always been incredibly talented, but tonight, the full package has finally arrived,” Katy raved.
Brandon Diaz, “Hello”
This was a big risk. Not only did David Cook make “Hello” his own in Season 7, but the actual owner of the song, Lionel, was sitting right there in judgment. And truth be told, Brandon’s syrupy, tepid rendition was nowhere near a David or Lionel level. Brandon got a chance to redeem himself when Lionel hopped onstage for an impromptu “Hello” singalong (and Brandon sounded fantastic next to the tone-deaf Ryan Seacrest, who ad-libbed a few lines), but this wasn’t quite the feel-good TV moment he was looking for. Goodbye.
Gabby Barrett, “My Church”
While Gabby’s voice was distinctive and undeniably powerful, it didn’t sound like her natural voice. Everything about this felt affected, plus she was acting way older than her 18 years. The coquettish shtick didn’t jibe with her Daddy’s-girl-next-door image. Katy and Luke adored Gabby’s “sparkle” and “shine,” though they wisely warned her not to “overdo it.”
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