American Idol Red Wine Recap: We have entered a new (living room) frontier. The show must go on.

Idol judge Katy Perry wearing an American Idol music sanitizer costume
Katy Perry in an American Idol Music Sanitizer costume was just one of the many weird things about American Idol’s Top 20 episode tonight. Show must go on! Pic credit: ABC

Monsters & Critics columnist Liz Long recaps American Idol Season 18 Episode 13, with a little help from a glass of sauvignon blanc (or two) …

Mom and Dad, they’re making me do Idol in our living room! Sure they sent us some sweet high-tech equipment. But this isn’t what I signed up for!

As Queen once said, the show must go on, folks!

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Yes, Idol-Addicts, we have entered a new Idol frontier.  As a faithful watcher (and blogger) of this show since Season 8, I can officially say – we have never seen the likes of this before.

What zero — well almost zero production — can do for a change of show, huh?

But, hey, the kiddos can remind themselves that these performances aren’t for their YouTube channels… though the video quality might look it.

Rather, this is for the big-time! Even if these once-in-a-lifetime performances for America’s vote are from our parent’s living rooms!

Idol contestant Lauren Spencer-Smith singing outside in front of a ring light
Lauren Spencer-Smith had the best background tonight. Even if it was in front of a giant ring light. Pic credit: ABC

American Idol at home

We have home ring lights. We have awkward camera angle stares. We have Katy in a giant Hand Sanitizer suit. How can we take this seriously?

But, folks, this strange episode of Idol is symbolic of the times right now. And my hope is that you haven’t fallen too hard on these times.

While we all have been affected in some way or another, we have music, right?

The question is: Can we get past the strange home backgrounds and low-key production to actually hear the music? On the other hand, this is more intimate, right? Right?!

I’ll admit. I’m having a hard time.

Nick Merico singing at home
Nick Merico sings in front of his house tapestry for America’s vote. Yeah. It’s weird. Pic credit: ABC

Nick Merico had a tapestry akin to the ones I saw throughout my college days. Aliana Jester had lamps. Lots of them. Yeah, I got what she was trying to do there—kind of like an MTV unplugged thing. But I couldn’t get past the garage door.

Lauren Spencer-Smith showed off with an amazing lake background, and, for a moment I got excited, thinking: Oh, this might be like the days at Simon Cowell’s house on X Factor when they all sang for the King outside!

But, nah. Her ring light and constant camera angle switch-ups messed with my head and made me have a hard time focusing on what truly was a great vocal of Mamma Knows Best. Even she couldn’t focus on what camera to look at.

But I remind myself, though I was planning on recapping Listen to Your Heart, I picked this instead. Not just because Idol is the reason I originally started writing about entertainment TV, and this show holds a special place in my heart.

But also because this show is truly reflecting the times we are living in. And, well, that counts for something.

It’s an awkward time. It’s a strange time. It’s affecting more than others. And, really, that’s all I can say for sure. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist.

I’m an entertainment TV blogger. And when I tune into Idol and see this crazy set-up, I feel compelled to do a little social commentary. What I do know is that this is weird. Real weird.

But we are all doing our best. We are being innovative with the tools we have. And hopefully, some of us are realizing skills we never knew we even had! I’m in the process of renovating my bathroom, and, yes, my DIY-skills are… um… questionable.

American Idol: The Performances

Speaking of questionable, I have so many questions regarding tonight’s performances. When we see the background band and singers, are they all live and singing together in unison?

Because, if so, that’s quite impressive.

How close is the camera-guy? Who is the camera-guy? Yes, these questions are annoying but, hey, they’re honest!

francisco martin singing at home
Francisco Martin sings in front of his mom’s trinkets! Did anyone bring the Zima to this house party? Pic credit: ABC

If nothing else, it’s intimate? I mean, we are obviously in Francisco’s mom’s house. And this is hard to get over when visualizing this guy as the next big singing sensation.

So I ask myself, Self: What would it be like if we were at a party and this guy busted out his guitar. Would I be like, oh wow, he’s good? Or would I be like, whoah! This guy is the next American Idol star!!

After all, with the lack of production, we don’t have the premature hand grabs of teenie-boppers in the audience making us think these guys are already stars. True, they are stars in the sense they made Idol Top 20. But they are also on the brink of forgotten stardom.

Katy reminds us of Gabby Barrett, who I knew was a star even when her season was going on. She had the look, the voice, and all the stage presence in the world.

She was one of my favorites, and while country is not a genre I follow, I’m not surprised to hear Katy share the fact she had a number one record recently.

But if you are not a “true star” or don’t have the help of Top 5-ish, then you will be a distant memory.

Heck, most of the winners already are. It takes a lot. So what you got guys? In your living rooms? My expectations are high. But shouldn’t they be?

While we ponder these deep thoughts, I ask: who was your favorite of the night?

Was it Dillon James in front of a wooden barn singing Let it Be Me?

How about Arthur Gunn in his backyard? I recognize that backyard from his homemade Youtube videos!

Julia Gargano singing at home
Did Julia Gargano get an Idol glam squad at home? Pic credit: ABC

What about Julia Gargano and her amazing eyelashes, making me wonder if the Idol glam squad somehow snuck into her house.

How about our dearest Just Sam, who chose a Fantasia song(!)? I’ve only been comparing her to Fantasia this whole season, so I’m pretty sure she heard me.

And while I would have liked to have seen her singing outside, being one with nature for some reason, when she got to the point “I’ve dreamed about a hundred times now I finally realized,” I was swaying on my couch, with my wine, jamming out with a stank look on my face.

Oh, thank you, Fantasia. I mean Just Sam. She even said, “Auntie Katy,” solidifying my suspicion that she has fully embraced being one with the judges. She soaks in everything they have to say and it shows. Love you, Just Sam. Always have. Always will.

Johnny West ended the show with Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, and I still like this dude in his beanie hats and plaid shirts.

Yeah, his girlfriend majorly bugs, but this too shall pass. Like Johnny, I’m grateful.

So what did you think of tonight’s show, Idol-Addicts? Who are you voting for? Did tonight’s performances have you hearing new inflections or were the homemade backgrounds just too darn distracting?

Why does Dwayne Crocker Junior’s living room have a Christmas tree??! What do you think of Sophia Wackerman Starr not taking Katy’s advice and going with Sophia James?

Til next time, my Idol-Addicts! Until then, I’m going to remind myself of all the reasons I’m grateful: wine… Lowe’s… wine… Arthur Gunn and his many haircuts… wine…

American Idol airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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