In a very cool concept, ‘Idol’ went on the road to Detroit last night for the first ever live votes show outside of Los Angeles.
The pre-taped episode also played a little bit like an ‘Idol’ speed round as contestants rushed onto the stage with very little introduction and the judges limited themselves to about one sentence apiece. It was so quick it almost felt like we just got the highlight snippet of each contestant’s performance rather than the whole thing.
So while we don’t have a tremendous amount to off of, here’s the breakdown of what we got to see.
Adam Ezegelian Sang “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister
Keith Said: I love it when you do those heartbreaking ballads.
J-Lo Said: It’s crazy. It’s very contagious.
Harry Said: You had a great time and the fact that you can really sing makes it work.
Adam goes straight to the Caleb Johnson well with a selection that would fit better on your local Classic Rock station that it does on a contemporary stage. It worked for Caleb, so I guess it’s worth a shot.
Adam, however, doesn’t quite have the control or poise of Johnson. Instead, he leaps around the stage like a rodeo clown on PCP and howls like a serial killer rather than actually singing. Caleb showed us last year that this type of act can really succeed on ‘Idol’, but I think Adam’s a little too manic to capture that same level of success.
The Grade: D+
Michael Simeon Sang “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton
Keith Said: I thought the performance was really good.
J-Lo Said: I really enjoyed it.
Harry Said: You need to sing in tune. The pitch got off.
What the hell? I mean what the hell? Why would somebody under the age of 50 even consider singing this song, let alone actually doing it?
There’s a lot of reasons to not go the Bolton route. First, his music is awful and makes the singer look awful in turn. Second, he’s got a huge voice that nobody can live up to. Third, it’s an instant ‘Office Space’ joke comparison.
Simeon doesn’t help matters with a completely out-of-tune performance during which he got down on one knee as awkwardly as an old arthritic trying to tie his shoe. This whole thing almost felt like he was forced to sing this song in some sort of hostage scenario. Weird stuff.
The Grade: D-
Savion Wright Sang “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train
Keith Said: I don’t know about that song choice.
J-Lo Said: You have the most beautiful smile.
Harry Said: It started unfocused, but focused more as it went on.
Savion chooses another entry in the pantheon of garbage songs, but, unlike Michael, reworks the song and actually makes it enjoyable.
If it weren’t for the fact that he sang the same idiotic lyrics as the Train original, I wouldn’t have recognized this song at all. Savion turns it into a refreshing bit of reggae soul and has a lot of fun with the tune. His voice isn’t the best by any means, but his overall talent is certainly enviable as demonstrated by the way he commanded the stage and made a dreadful song into a fun original.
The Grade: B
Mark Andrew Sang “The Weight” by The Band
Keith Said: That’s a perfect song for your voice.
J-Lo Said: Your vibe is so right now.
Harry Said: If you keep singing songs like that, you’ll be in a zone not many others can be in.
Mark has a really big soul voice. I’ve called him this season’s Joe Cocker because there always seems to be a male belter, and he’s definitely it.
That’s why this song choice is so peculiar. He does all right with it, but there’s just not much to it. It’s basically a little sing-a-long that required very little range and offered even less in the way of moments for Mark to let his vocals shine.
Mark can certainly do a lot, but it was hard to tell with this performance.
The Grade: C
Trevor Douglas Sang “Best I Ever Had” by Gavin Degraw
Keith Said: The song got on top of you.
J-Lo Said: This was an okay day.
Harry Said: The vocal wasn’t as good as the performance.
Trevor’s definitely loving being on the ‘Idol’ stage. He’s got enough energy to orbit seven Paula Abduls and seems to think he has the charisma to control the tweeny girls in the audience.
Maybe he does. I don’t know. What I do know is that he rushed through this song and I could barely understand the lyrics he was singing. It was like he was trying to fit a fifteen minute workout into 35 seconds with the uncontrolled speed at which he did everything from furiously whipping at his guitar to how he raced through the vocal so quickly it was impossible to even judge his singing.
Somebody tell this kid ‘Idol’ isn’t a race.
The Grade: D
Clark Beckham Sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
Keith Said: That was killer, man.
J-Lo Said: Goosies all day.
Harry Said: You really are talented.
It’s a shame this guy won the Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale and doomed his chances of winning the actual show, because he’s got some real chops. Previously, he seemed like a guy who needed the piano, but he stepped out to the mic on this tune and just absolutely nailed the vocal while showing the poise and stage presence of somebody who’s taken over 25,000-seat rooms before.
Clark has a very impressive range and a tone that’s uniquely his without impeding a classic quality vocal the way many singers on this show seem hell-bent on doing. What can I say? There’s a reason he’s my favorite.
The Grade: B+
Rayvon Owens Sang “Jealous” by Nick Jonas
Keith Said: Falsetto was a good thing to show.
J-Lo Said: It needed a little more edge.
Harry Said: I thought it was strong.
OK. So this song has one thing going for it. There’s really only one reason to listen to this song. There’s really only one requirement for singing this song. The moment where the falsetto hook hits on “I Still Get Jealous”.
Rayvon couldn’t hit the note. He reached for it. He strove for it. It was out of his vocal range. So far out that he got overwhelmed by the backing track when he tried to sing the hook of the song.
All that being said, why did he choose this song?
The Grade: D+
Daniel Seavey Sang “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
Keith Said: It’s interesting hearing your voice tackle that song.
J-Lo Said: You’re just too much.
Harry Said: There’s some great talent up here. Nice job, man.
This kid is so freaking weird. His stage presence is that of the kid in the ‘Bad Luck Brian’ meme and he doesn’t look like he should be doing anything except getting stuffed into lockers in an 80s high school sitcom.
Then he sings and he has this amazing voice. It’s such an easy-flowing and pure soul/pop voice that it seems like he should be a big star and then you remember that he’s the kid from a really embarrassing family portrait from Sears.
In other words, this kid creeps me out.
The Grade: B
Riley Bria Sang “Homeboy” by Eric Church
Keith Said: I can’t wait to hear more.
J-Lo Said: I feel like you belong here.
Harry Said: You remind me so much of Keith. I’m going to start calling you Keith Suburban.
This show seems hell-bent on reminding us that Riley once played with Keith Urban as though that makes him a country star automatically without any further proof required.
I need a little more than that and a lot more than Riley showed me. The kid may be able to play a little guitar but he cannot sing. He simply cannot sing at all. He has a weak voice and can’t find the pitch. His vocal performance was barely up to the standard of somebody singing along to the radio in their car, let alone for the ‘Idol’ stage.
I thought he was the weakest vocally of any of the boys, and it wasn’t really close.
The Grade: D+
Quentin Alexander Sang “I Put A Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Keith Said: You haven’t even made a record yet and that was like a Grammy performance.
J-Lo Said: That’s performing to me. It was perfect.
Harry Said: You have a different presentation all the way across the board.
Quentin turned this classic into a trippy slow burn that felt like it was from the darkest performance Sly and the Family Stone ever gave. Searing, raw, soulful and different, Quentin made his 90 seconds into the most captivating of the night and really announced himself as somebody completely new and different who seems poised to make a very big mark on this season.
I know he’s already my most anticipated performer for next week.
The Grade: A
Nick Fradiani Sang “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
Keith Said: Perfect song choice for your voice.
J-Lo Said: That was definitely one of the best.
Harry Said: Nice job.
Nick won’t let anybody forget that he’s the oldest dude in this competition and that he’s been playing small gigs with his band for almost a decade. He doesn’t need to keep harping on that because it really shows. It’s very clear that he’s meant to play in a small band and be very good at it.
He’s not a star. He’s not a spectacular singer. He’s just a really good bar band frontman. I hope the show helps him make a living at it for a long time because he definitely deserves it; he’s just not anything close to being an “Idol”.
The Grade: C+
Qaasim Middleton Sang “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
Keith Said: You killed it, man.
J-Lo Said: You make we want to get up there and dance with you.
Harry Said: You left everything on the stage.
Somewhere there’s a cruise ship for seniors where the entertainment does nothing but sing really watered-down contemporary pop hits for the AARP set in a way that won’t be too edgy as to upset them.
Get Qaasim a gig on that cruise ship because that’s exactly what he did here.
The Grade: D+
In this first round it’s more about when you go rather than how well you do. A compressed hour makes that a little bit less of a factor, but those who lead off the show always have a tougher time getting through than do the closers.
That’s because it’s harder for voters to remember them and being memorable is even more important than when you perform and it’s definitely more important than how well you do. At least at this stage in the game.
That makes this prediction pretty simple to me. Here’s who’s going home:
Remember their performances? Neither do I.