Murtzcellanious: LIVE Canadian Idol Recap – June 25

Did you miss me?

Yes, it’s that time again. Canadian Idol’s best live recaps by the best reporter in the world.

Can you believe that a year has passed since Eva Avila was crowned as the Canadian Idol? It totally doesn’t seem like it happened so long ago.

So let’s get to it. I got to the Trinity Studios in downtown Toronto for the first live show of the season. Immediately upon arriving, I noticed that there were many personnel changes from last year and this definitely had an effect on things. I wish somebody could have led me in early which would have given me extra time to set-up (and avoid the general line-up!). This also would have offered a true taste of the ambience as people walked in and this would have allowed me to offer you a true sense of the live experience. Clearly, my mood and excitement were slightly affected so I was prepared to do my best Simon Cowell/Zack Werner impression and be tough on the top 11 guys who would be performing. I am usually not harsh on the first show of the season because I realize it is a new experience for the contestants… but this time, I was ready with my sarcastic tongue and vicious keyboard strokes ready to pounce on anyone who wasn’t there to wow.

Upon entering the studio, I noticed that more seating was added and instead of there only being room for about 60 family and members, this time seating in the back was added to bring the crowd up to about 150. I was led to my seat in the back and I prepared for night #1.

In addition to the seating, one of the big changes for this season was the fact that live band would be playing for the Top 22. Usually, this was reserved only for the top 10 stage when the show moves to the John Bassett theatre. I thought that this would really help the contestants. It was very cool to hear them play the Idol theme song before the show launched live.

While the evening did not start as I wanted it to, it began to improve when the actual show began. Ben Mulroney welcomed the crowd to the first show of the season and it was off to the races. The top 11 girls came out and sat in the TD Comfort zone area. Ben asked the judges for their opening thoughts. Jake talked about allowing the use of instruments during the audition process. Zack said that making it to the Top 10 was a real ‘sketchy thing.’ And Sass talked about Top 22 contestant Ritchea Hodge dropping out for personal reasons, while Farley detailed the replacement Scarlett Burke coming in.

Ben Mulroney then welcomed Burke to the stage and told her to take the seat that she ‘earned and deserved.’ An interesting choice of words, because my feeling is that she would have made the first cut if she actually deserved to be there. Mulroney then asked contestant Khalila G for her thoughts on the guys and she said that she expected them to “rock like they always do.” The guys came out for the opening introductions and the evening began with Jaydee Bixby, who told Ben that he had been playing in bars since he was 11 (it was an especially amusing anecdote considering Bixby is only 16 years of age).

Jaydee Bixby
Age: 16
Drumheller, AB
– Opening video said that he was “excited to sing different songs.”
– Sang “Johnny B. Goode” (the Elvis Presley version)
– Started the song with a strange opening position on stage… near the back beside the back-up singers.
– When he started to belt it out, I hoped that he would dance since singing Johnny B. Goode is like an eating an ice cream sundae without a cherry… but he didn’t.
– While I didn’t like the way Bixby ended the song, he definitely delivered a solid opening performance.
– I liked that he went into the crowd as this highlights the fact that he is a seasoned performer (despite his young age).
– It is clear he will be one of the favorites in the competition.
Jake: Performance was good, but I expect more from you.
Farley: Like what you’re wearing. (Murtz note: Why is Farley so obsessed with clothing?)
Sass: Fact that you are 16 makes it now (referring to the fact that he chose an older song).
Zack: You’re so pretty that they just show the top half of you. You have rhinoceros grace.


And we’re back with Clifton Murray and Derek Hoffman, who talked to Ben before they took the stage. Hoffman said that he is in a band called Mail Order Bride and that his bandmates were rooting for him. Clifton shockingly revealed that he was an actor and had appeared on Boston Legal and She’s The Man.

Clifton Murray
Age: 27
Port McNeill, BC
– In his opening video, they played a clip from the audition portion of the program where he jokingly told the judges that he wanted to be the American Idol.
– In this video, Murray emphasized that he was joking.
– Sang “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain.
– There must be an unwritten Idol rule that says that this song has to be performed by somebody in the Top 22.
– This performance was pretty forgettable.
– He hit a huge note in the song that made it somewhat tolerable.
– Definitely can now see why he is an actor because he has a natural eye and look for the camera.
Farley: Brought it together.
Sass: I just love people who know what they are doing.
Zack: Held that note like you were on a teen talent show. Tonight you went goat cheese.
Jake: I just didn’t feel like you meant it. This show isn’t about the one big note.

Derek Hoffman
Age: 17
Aurora, ON
– Sang “Move Along” by All-American Rejects
– Very nasal-y and awkward performance.
– Back-up singers sounded phenomenal on the song.
– He is one of my picks to go.
Sass: Not the strongest vocal performance.
Zack: You sang that really bad, but I think you’re a rockstar…
Jake: I miss you with your guitar.
Farley: You have a relevance to people downloading music nowadays.


And we’re back to Dwight D’Eon talking about some community service that he does back home and Justyn talking about how happy he is that Scarlett is back (considering their on-screen showmance… and all you reality tv pundits know that the show is really on when the first showmance makes an appearance!)

Justyn Wesley
Age: 21
Toronto, ON
– Opening video says that performing is the most important part of what musicians do.
– Sang “She’s Some Kind of Wonderful” by Grand Funk Railroad.
– Decent performer, but terrible song choice.
– I didn’t care for it too much.
Zack: You did it kind of funky cool.
Jake: I thought pink was reserved for Ben (referring to Wesley’s tie choice). For me it was like being at a wedding and seeing some guy in a white suit.
Farley: Keep on being soulful.
Sass: You have a little bit of that Funky Cool Medina!

Dwight D’Eon
Age: 28
West Pubnico, NS
– Opening video says that he really wants to learn how to put down the guitar.
What you didn’t see on TV was that while the video was playing, Zack screamed “BEAT THE HELL OUT OF IT” to D’Eon, so it’s easy to see that D’Eon is one of his favorites.
– Sang “Cry” by the Philosopher Kings
– Dwight is my top pick for the guys this season and he proves why once again.
– Perfect performance and a unique song choice for a rock singer.
– Dazzling performance
– Original.
Jake: You lit up the room for the first time.
Farley: Can’t wait to se how you develop.
Sass: While I appreciate your intensity, it takes away from what you can do. You push too hard.
Zack: I think you’re seriously a contender for this whole thing.


Greg Neufeld
Age: 23
Vancouver, BC
– Opening video said that he hoped that all the support he had from last year carries on to this year.
– Ha, if he actually had support… wouldn’t he have moved on last year? Sorry, I had to.
– I am actively rooting against Neufeld this season.
– I am not a big fan of these repeat offenders. The Moffat guy. Rob James. Now Neufeld. Blech.
– Sang “This Love” by Maroon 5.
– Certainly not nearly as good as Blake Lewis’ version on American Idol.
– He comes off as very cocky to me.
– An average performance at best.
Farley: You have a command of that genre of music.
Sass: Great choice of song.
Zack: Rocketman… (Murtz note: Referring to the song that knocked Neufeld out last year). That was the bomb! You killed that!
Jake: Last year, I think you got gypped and this year, I think you’re the guy.


And we’re back with Ben talking to Tyler Mullendore, who says that his mommy taught him how to play his first three chords and he self-taught after that.

Tyler Mullendore
Age: 19
Lake Ainslie, NS
– Opening video said that he wanted to show Canada that Cape Breton wasn’t just about fiddles.
– Sang “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones.
– Undoubtedly the most original performance ever on an Idol stage.
– Mullendore danced around like a true rock star.
– I have never seen anything like it.
– Picked the right song, sang it well and electrified the crowd.
– Got a standing ovation from the girls.
Sass: Authentic.
Zack: Be who you gonna be.
Jake: Uninhibited, completely unique.
Farley: You are an unchained melody. That was wicked


And we’re back with Ben talking to Matt Rapley and Andrew Austin. Rapley says that he has to come out of his shell. Austin said that he had the opportunity to play behind Andy Kim (who?) for a year.

Andrew Austin
Age: 27
Sarnia, ON
– Opening video said that he loved the group performances because he had a really good group (he was with Greg Neufeld and some other guy).
– Sang “Freedom 90” by George Michael.
– Decent.
– Song is a crowd favorite.
– He was much better than I expected.
Zack: Don’t think you’re ready for this… enough clunkers in the middle to flatten all 4 wheels.
Jake: You do have soul and you should be here.
Farley: I was 50/50, but I want to hear you sing better.
Sass: You sang okay but there is a certain lack of charisma for me.

Matt Rapley
Age: 18
Regina, SK
– Opening video said that he eats, breathes and sleeps music.
– Sang “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder.
– Good performance but very predictable.
– Sang to the girls for a bit.
– Guy can definitely sing but does not display nearly enough personality.
– Reminds me of a poor man’s Ruben Studdard.
Jake: Vocally really strong. Charisma and performance was lacking.
Farley: You my friend can sing.
Sass: When you smile, everything melts.
Zack: I think you should be here until the very end.


Brian Melo
Age: 24
Hamilton, ON
– Sang “Stereo” by The Watchmen.
– One of my all-time favorite songs.
– I liked Brian Melo during the audition phase of the show and he proved why tonight.
– Strong vocal talent and charisma to back it up.
– Melo is my strong darkhorse in the competition this year.
– I am hoping Hamilton will vote for him, since they won’t get to vote for the Predators. Haha.
– Flawless.
Farley: I really like your tone. Perfect song choice
Sass: Great focus, great singing.
Zack: You’re the first person who is clearly Top 10.
Jake: I managed them (The Watchmen) for 12 years. You delivered. Definitely Top 10.


Before the evening’s final performance, Ben talked to Liam Styles Chang who explained that Styles was his middle name legally as his parents were stylists. Heh.

Liam Styles Chang
Age: 17
Victoria, BC
– Opening video said that he wasn’t as depressed as he looked and that he was all about surprises.
– Sang “This Magic Moment” by The Drifters.
– Totally rearranged the song.
– It is AWESOME!!!
– Totally original.
– Liam is another strong contender, the problem is the West hasn’t been known for their strong voting pattern.
– I hope he goes far.
– Crowd gives him full standing ovation to close the show.
Sass: Liam, The Driam (Dream)… you made that moment magic.
Zack: I originally put you through because you’re so damn cute. I could push you around all day (referring to physically pushing Liam to become a stronger performer during the group stage).
Jake: Sounded like a contemporary punk rock song, performance of the night!
Farley: You are a good student. You are the valedictorian of the night. That performance was flaw.


End show.

My thoughts? Top marks go to Dwight, Tyler and Liam. I think that Derek, Justyn, and Clifton are in trouble.

Talk to you tomorrow.

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