Tristan McIntosh

tristanNobody improved as much as Tristan between her audition and her showcase performance. I dismissed her early as a no-talent who was clinging stubbornly to a pointless dream. I guess that makes me the bad guy, the guy who yells “sweep the leg!” while some yahoo tries to beat up Tiny Tim and steal his crutch.

I’m dating myself, but how much does Tristan look like Marilyn McCoo? She is still fairly raw – and it shows when she goes up scales, goes down scales, and when she begins and finishes phrases – but McCoo never had this kid’s power. If Tristan learns to harness her power like McCoo she is going to be a monster.

Taking her talent and her inexperience together, there is no limit to how far Tristan can go on the show, or how quickly she could get dumped if she regresses. I think she’ll contend for the top five, maybe come up a little short but maybe not. Can she win? If she keeps improving like this, she sure as hell can.

Tristan’s showcase performance:


Tristan McIntosh “Good Girl” – Carrie Underwood: C+

tristanIf I graded her just on the quality of her voice she would rate a little higher, but even her voice is a mix of really good and not so good. In her upper range, where all the money is made, Tristan is a racehorse. In her lower range, where experience shows, Tristan is weak as hell.

I might have given her a B- or even a B, but the arrangement was terrible. She should have started the accapella breakdown halfway through the song and worked the crowd into a frenzy, but instead she sang a bunch of low notes, where she is weak, then right before the song was over she kicked it into a higher level of intensity – but then she ended it before anyone could get in time with her. Missed opportunity; she’l be back next week, but she needs someone to help her block out her arrangements better.

Tristan with Kelly Pickler “Best Days of your Life” – Kelly Pickler and Taylor Swift

Tristan spins the vibrations from her vocal cords like a tightly spiraled football, generating a tone that is almost without pores. She makes too many mistakes to predict greatness yet, and she sometimes seems a little self-conscious on the stage, but you can’t teach that tone any more than you can teach a kid to throw a 98 mile per hour fastball.

The judges gave it to her pretty hard, which I think was a little weird. Her performance was uneven in places, maybe, but Lee was basically holding on for dear life for most of his song while Tristan did a ton of heavy lifting. Are they greasing the skids to get rid of her? One of the good female singers is going to have to go.

Top 14

Tristan McIntosh, “What Hurts the Most”

The way she started, almost running out of breath at the end of her first phrase, I was worried that she was going to get sideways – but she got it together, took a deeeeeep breath for the next phrase, and blew the doors off the rest of the song. We may look back on this performance as a moment later, especially if Tristan makes it deep in the competition. She was brilliant once she got her feet set.

Judges:  Keith gushed, Jen slobbered.


Top 10

Tristan McIntosh “Nothin’ Like You” Dan + Shay


I like that song, but it was a terrible choice for Tristan. She couldn’t hit the low notes and even the upper notes were a little too low to really nail. She sold out the entire song to hit one high glory note, and even that note was relatively forgettable. If the judges get on her she is in serious trouble.

Judges: they were nicely negative, but the audience did a good job of separating the good singers from the bad last night.

And then there were 8

Tristan McIntosh “Go Rest High on That Mountain” Vince Gill

Suddenly everyone is bringing it. I might be pimpin’ out the moments, but Tristan will never sound better than she did tonight.

Judges: gushed

And then there were 6


6: Tristansuch a killer tone, but her low notes and her big run weren’t as good as the rest

Tristan McIntosh “A Broken Wing” Martina McBride

Perfect song choice; I wouldn’t call it a moment – that came last week – but if I graded her she would get an A-something. My big question with Tristan is always the low notes, because she hasn’t really learned how to regulate her volume. This song was perfect because the low notes come in such a quiet part of the song that she could relax and just hit them. She was close to the edge on some of the high notes, but she managed to skate away from the occasional vocal precipice – back to the safety of her Mrs. Butterworth’s vocal tone.

Judges: Positive

Audience – they started clapping so early, before she was done, that by the time the song was over they were already a little clapped out, so it sounded more polite than intense

And then there were 5

Tristan McIntosh “Independence Day” – Martina McBride

Like Dalton, Tristan comes from a high-powered art school. It won’t be the last thing they have in common tonight.

Also like Dalton, Tristan changed the arrangement of her song but not enough. “Independence Day” is the sort of song that Tristan could destroy with the right arrangement, and I salute her for trying something different, but as changeups go this one was flat, straight, and right over the plate. She slowed it down just enough to lose the power, but not enough to gain any intensity. I think what might have happened was that Tristan found a version of the song done byGretchen Peters – she wrote it – and tried to translate it to the piano.

Judges: Kissed her goodbye, which was nice – but maybe a little presumptuous considering Sonika hadn’t performed yet.


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