‘Idol’ Season 13 Goes Live: Rush Week, or Just Rushed and Weak?
Welcome to "American Idol's" Rush Week, a collegiately named new Season 13 gimmick segment possibly even rougher than having one's backside paddled in a "thank you sir, may I have another?"-style fraternity hazing. Actually, there were parts of Tuesday's Rush Week episode that were quite enjoyable — from a viewer's perspective. But the process was no doubt difficult for Tuesday's female semifinalists…especially for the five who, after weeks of preparation, never got to sing at all.
So here's how it worked: Fifteen girls practiced for their live TV debut this Tuesday, but the judges only picked 10 of them to sing for America's votes. The other five just sat backstage for a couple hours (while their loved ones sat in the audience), waited in vain for their names to be called, and eventually went home. They didn't even get to put to use all the wisdom they'd gleaned from Randy Jackson, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert, and the show's new "non-denominational spiritual advisors" at this season's boot camp.
[Related: Surviving Randy Jackson's "Idol" Workshop]
Sigh. The five contestants who didn't make it were Austin Wolfe, Andrina Brogden, Kenzie Hall, Brandy Neelly, and Jillian Jensen. No real reason was given for this decision. This bombshell news must've been especially disappointing for the latter two girls: Brandy was a repeat "Idol" auditioner, and Jillian was shockingly cut right before the live shows of "The X Factor" Season 2. Once again, these girls had narrowly missed getting their big break.
On Wednesday, "Idol" will do this all over again with the male semifinalists. But we already know the name of one of the boys who'll be heading home along with Austin, Andrina, Kenzie, Brandy, and Jillian: Neco Starr, the extra 16th contestant who lost out to Ben Briley in last week's fan vote.
I suppose it wasn't surprising that "Idol's" core conservative fanbase picked the good ole Southern boy who sings country over the Bruno Mars-style showman who wears wide-brimmed, Pharrell-worthy chapeaus. But I was still rooting for Neco. Like Brandy, he was a returning "Idol" contestant (from Season 11), and a darn good one at that. Starr had always seemed like a star to me. I'd been hoping this would be his year.