Songstresses, we made it to the semi-finals. To be honest with you I thought this show might have been some kind of horrible Sartre-esque situation where we would be stuck watching qualifying rounds until the end of time. But we did it, and we should all congratulate ourselves for making it this far.
Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson opened the show with some light sketch comedy, where Kelly found Snoop prepping in his dressing room dancing to “New Boot Goofin.” You’ll have to trust me when I say it was charming.
Then it was down to business. The performers from last week who would be moving on to next week’s round of semi-finals were American Samoa’s Tenelle, North Carolina’s John Morgan, and California’s Sweet Taboo. We like all of them, so this is great news.
You may have thought the semi-finals would bring some kind of change in the performances. Perhaps artists would be singing a different song or have to adjust their original song in some way, because why on earth would we all want to watch the same people sing the same songs we heard mere weeks ago? Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, much like in Eurovision, we just heard the same songs for a second time. The only marked difference was that the sound engineers finally got their shit together and everyone sounded slightly better.
Before we get into those performances, I have a question. How the heck is the finale going to work? Will we be voting during the show? That would give the people who perform earlier in the night a leg up. Will we vote afterward and the winner gets crowned off-camera and announced in a tweet?
I’m sure the brilliant freaks who run this show have already thought of a way to make it “work” but at the moment I’m confused. Kelly and Snoop made a big deal throughout the night that America’s votes would be the only thing that could send people through to the next round (I guess jury voting mattered the last few weeks), but will that get thrown out when we get to the finals? If anyone has any answers please hit my line. I know we’ll find out in two weeks, but the mystery is killing me.
Kentucky - Jordan Smith, “Sparrow”
Smith said that people have messaged him saying that “Sparrow” saved their lives. At first I thought there was no way this could be true, but then I realized that of the 26 people who are watching this show I bet at least 23 of them are clinically depressed. So that actually does check out. He also seemed to imply that he wrote the song by himself in seven minutes, which is interesting because there are two other songwriters credited, one being Andreas Carlsson, who wrote “I Want It That Way” for the Backstreet Boys and “That’s the Way It Is” for Celine Dion.
But what about his performance, Olivia?? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was good! I just think most of these people are misrepresenting themselves, and I wasn’t born yesterday.
Colorado - Ryker Lynch, “Feel the Love”
There is nothing good to say about this. It inspires hate in my heart. It’s a song that means nothing, sung by someone with a face made to despise. I feel bad sending this energy into this universe only because I fear that it will be returned to me in the form of him winning the whole thing. Luckily that fear was not borne out by way of the jury selection (he sat at the bottom of their ranking all night), but we do know that America was voting for him throughout the episode. Songstresses, I am begging you, do not send this man through to the finals.
New Hampshire - MARi, “Fly”
If you only watch this show via the YouTube clips of the performances, you are missing so much of it. For example, MARi has a collection of some truly wild wigs that she rotates through. Look at this one:
How is it so tall?
The New Hampshire singer sounded great last night, even though her song still evokes the feeling of slowly filing out of a movie theater you went to because the kid you were babysitting needed to be distracted for 90 minutes.
Washington - Allen Stone, “A Bit of Both”
Snoop and Kelly are clearly obsessed with this song, and if they were the only two voting Stone would be the winner. The jury agreed, and they chose him to move to the next round once again. I feel entirely neutral about him, because as soon as a white person starts talking about singing soul music I stop listening.
Alabama - Ni/Co, “The Difference”
Remember the interracial couple whose whole thing is that they’re interracial? Well, they’re back and still firing off quotes that make no sense at all. “The differences between people are actually what make this country so much stronger,” said the white woman. I think she’s the Ni of Ni/Co. Anyway, if you’ll recall the last time they performed this sappy collection of Democratic National Convention talking points they adjusted the aspect ratio to make it look more dramatic. Well, they did it again.
Wyoming - Ryan Charles, “New Boot Goofin”
I think six weeks of watching this show and being exposed to a near-constant stream of maudlin power ballads and charisma-less pop songs has made me dumber. That is the only explanation for why I thought this was wonderful. It’s so stupid, but Charles obviously knows that. He was one of the only people having actual fun on that stage, and it was infectious.
This remains the best part of the show. We got bloopers from Kelly and Snoop, which were as fun as you would expect. It was also Kelly’s birthday, and Snoop got her a cake! She also said he got her a necklace and flowers; I love their love. My birthday is August 25th, in case any of my coworkers want to buy me jewelry.
Rhode Island - Hueston, “Held On Too Long”
Something I don’t think I clocked the first time Hueston performed is that he has a face tattoo on his right temple. It’s pretty hot. What to say other than that? I don’t know. This song is still good, he still sounds great, I did not like his denim vest. Hueston is one of the only people whose exclusion from the finals would personally upset me. The rest of these bozos can bounce.
Montana - Jonah Prill, “Fire It Up”
Whoever told Prill to take off his denim jacket and show off his arms at the end of this song is an evil genius. By taking us all to the gun show, Prill locked up a crucial singing competition voting bloc: horny moms. Prill certainly sounded better than he did the first time, but I won’t go as far as to say this was, like, groundbreaking.
New York’s ENISA is coming back as the second redemption pick. I’m going to be honest, I do not remember what her song sounds like. But congratulations are in order to the state of New York. Ba da bing.
Michigan - Ada Leann, “Natalie”
Memba her? She was the jury selection from last weekend. She is also one of the many people this week who benefitted from the sound engineers on the show getting their shit together. I don’t believe her singing skills got demonstrably better in seven days, but she certainly sounds better. Her song still sounds like an Olivia Rodrigo/Taylor Swift ripoff, which makes sense because she is an actual child.
Massachusetts - Jared Lee, “Shameless”
For some reason Donny Wahlberg taped a video message for Lee saying that he’s proud of him for representing Massachusetts. Lee has written songs for New Kids On the Block, so I guess there is technically a “reason,” but it still made me go, “Huh?” I continue not to like this song or Lee’s aura in general.
Oklahoma - AleXa, “Wonderland”
AleXa and Ryan Charles are the only performers of the night who seemed to have any fun at all. Let them take the whole thing. I love this.