Last night, American Idol rolled into Pittsburgh (for the first time ever) to try and round up some big voices for Season 11 of the show.  So, how'd did go?  WBKR's Idol expert Steve Thompson shares his full review of the episode and talks about some of the highlights with Chad!


Friday morning, on The WBKR Waking Crew, Steve and I chatted about four voices who may be around for quite a while!

And here's Steve's full review of the show . . . the hits, the misses and the downright disasters!

From Steve Thompson . . .

  • As many of you can attest, if not aquiz, I try to always have an inside joke in the title of these reviews.  Pittsburgh is sometimes referred to as Little Hollywood because many films have been made there to save money from filming in Los Angeles.  So I was somehow reminded of one of the worst films ever made-- The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.  See?  Follow these easy steps and you too can have a life filled with non-sequiturs.  Wasn't that more fun than talking about the Steelers ad infinitum?
  •  Heejun Han sang How Am I Supposed to Live Without You by Michael Bolton.  I have to be honest. I was afraid Idol was once more going down that well=worn path of showing people from other countries not singing songs well in English.  This was actually fairly competent.  However, I don't see how a Korean Michael Bolton would fare in a world where the original American version hasn't had a hit this century.
  • Reed Grimm sang the theme song to Family Matters. Really.  I suppose we'll soon hear someone singing the theme song to Bonanza (probably from a Cheers fan.)   I'll admit he did okay with the song, but it just seemed way too novelty for what is supposed to be an income generating machine. 
  • Just like last night, we had several faces appear on screen for a few seconds.  Aaron Marcellus sang A Change is Gonna Come and sounded decent in his song bite.  Chase Likens sang so short I couldn't even place the song he was singing.  (Would it kill the AI folks to at least put the title of the song on the screen like So You Think You Can Dance does with its dance numbers?  Nigel?  Are you there?)
  • Showing that Idol is never one to let a trend that is already dated not be talked about, we had a planker and her sister.  (For those of you who are British-- the word is planker.  Just checking.)  Oddly, Samantha Novacek has a beautiful voice singing Like We Never Loved at All by Faith Hill.  (I say oddly because I thought the planker would be the one with talent.  I haven't watched this show for 11 years without picking up on that stuff, you know.) 
  • At first, I thought Creighton Fraker was being introduced as an Elton John wannabe.  That's what I wrote, at least.  Then he sings an original song that--  being redundant here-- sounded like a novelty record.  Fortunately, he sounded better on Who's Loving You.  He's got brass and he might be able to last a few rounds. 
  • I didn't want to like a fifteen year old kid who will have all the Beliebers drooling, but Eben Frankewicz really shocked me with an excellent audition of Ain't No Sunshine.  I know the trend is to have one or two of these youngsters around to gather in the tween vote, but covering a song from his grandparent's generation was enough to make me think this guy might have more than the tweenagers on his side.
  • Travis Orlando is back from last season and he sings Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder.  Evidently, the last year has not been kind to Travis.  He's been living out the reality of a country song.  His mother left the family to take up with someone else while his dad's been going through dialysis and his brother has gone to college.  That's enough for two years of Days of Our Lives right there.  I doubt he progresses very far, but that was a more believable backstory than the girl who lived in a tent.
  • Erika Van Pelt is a dj and a wedding singer who can actually sing.  Her rendition of Will You Love Me Tomorrow was worth waiting 45 minutes to an hour for-- depending on whether you were trying to put off tonight what you could just as well do another night.  I have high hopes for her-- she really sounded good on that song.  That probably means she'll be gone a day after Hollywood.  No word if she has relatives named Lucy and Linus.
  • Shane Bruce works in the coal mines in West Virginia.  He actually sounded pretty good singing down in the mines-- but he was singing In the Still of the Night.  For his audition, he chose Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.  Not to beat a dead horse from previous singing contests-- but Leonard Cohen has written other great songs!  Just once I'd like to hear Suzanne or Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye...  I'd even settle for Bird on a Wire.  Unfortunately, Shane chose the wrong song to audition with-- and he realized it as soon as he was done.  He should at least get props for not going into the river Denial.
  • As an aside,  is the frog in that vitaminwater commercial convinced if he kisses the girl he will become a prince or is he just thirsty?  Maybe I've been watching too much Once Upon a Time.


  • Hallie Day has been suicidal and an addict (which puts her one ahead of Chris Rene, right?)  She trots out that old chestnut I Will Survive and, wonder of wonders, actually sounds like she means it.  Was her singing truly that inspired?  Uncertain.  She tapped into the meaning of that song with the greatest of ease. 
  • 38 made it from Pittsburgh to Hollywood.  On Sunday night (after the NFC Championship) Idol will travel to San Diego.  I guess FOX figures that The Voice shouldn't have all the fun.
  • My favorites were Erika Van Pelt and Eben Frankiewicz (Van Pelt & Frankiewicz sounds like a prestigious law firm.)  I'd like to think Samantha Novacek will do well-- but I'm not getting my hopes up.  As always, we'll see-- won't we?

@January 20, 2012  Stephen W Thompson

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