After two months of waiting ‘Idol’ finally went live last night with its top twel…er…eleven.
More on that later. First, the recap of last night’s performances as the top twel…no…eleven sang party songs. Whatever that means.
Rayvon Owen Sang “Burn” by Ellie Goulding
Keith Said: That’s your best performance
J-Lo Said: It was even better than I thought it was going to be.
Harry Said: Give us the fire from the first note.
Rayvon seems dead set on showing off his falsetto. The issue with him is that he can’t actually sing a falsetto. He doesn’t have the power behind it at all. It’s like the air goes out of his lungs every time he tries to reach for those high notes in the falsetto and he’s singing at half-volume.
When he’s in his main register he sounds pleasant enough, but on this song there was so much falsetto that he just seemed out of gas almost the entire time. A poor song choice for his vocal range and oddly one that he keeps making.
Maddie Walker Sang “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean
Keith Said: That was a good song choice for you.
J-Lo Said: That was a great job and a really really good performance for you.
Harry Said: You sound like you’re just imitating country stars.
This is a performance I didn’t think Maddie was capable of giving. She’s so dead-set stuck in her specific country range that I didn’t think she could slip out of it. Meaning, she’s so purely mediocre that she was never going to go to the good or bad side of that.
She proved me very wrong last night with a horribly flat vocal that sounded like she hadn’t yet woken up. She was horribly off-pitch the entire time and when that’s coupled with the fact that she’s essentially a vapid country derivative, then there’s just nothing good to grasp on to with her performance.
Joey Cook Sang “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
Keith Said: You have this presence and energy about you that’s so artist.
J-Lo Said: I can see you doing a whole album like that someday.
Harry Said: I have to give you an A+ on many different fronts.
Look, it’s pretty clear that I hate Joey at this point. I can’t take her forced stylization that feels so inauthentic she may as well have “Poseur” tattooed across her forehead. That’s basically where I am with her.
I didn’t hate this performance though. I should have detested every second of her big band jazz version of hip-hop chart topper, but she actually sounded fantastic (not drowning in fake tone like she usually is) and the arrangement definitely worked on this one.
She’s going to annoy me again soon, I’m sure. But, for right now, we’re good.
Clark Beckham Sang “Takin’ it to the Streets” by The Doobie Brothers
Keith Said: Don’t confuse what you can do with what you must do.
J-Lo Said: Your vocals need to catch up to everything else.
Harry Said: I like that you’re very introspective. You’re making our wheels turn.
So Clark Beckham seems hell-bent on making my AM Radio dreams come true and I just have to thank him every time he performs for that. I mean slaying Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers in 2015 like that sound is still contemporary? I mean….my God.
When I get American Idol married and make Molly DeWolf Swenson my American Idol wife I definitely want this guy as the wedding singer.
Jax Sang “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift
Keith Said: I feel like that held you back a little bit.
J-Lo Said: I didn’t feel really Jax on that song.
Harry Said: That sounded like a carbon copy of the Taylor Swift version.
This wasn’t the best of Jax’s cannon. Mostly because she stepped away from all her Jax-ness. This was pretty much right on the record and without the typical Jax tone and style that we normally see.
In the end, it just ended up being mediocre karaoke which is incredibly strange from somebody capable of reworking anything and making it a Jax original. It could have been any solid singer just singing along to the record. That’s not what Jax does. Jax needs to be specifically Jax or else it seems that she’ll do something very forgettable.
Like a plain jane version of “Blank Space”.
Qaasim Middleton Sang “Jet” by Paul McCartney & Wings
Keith Said: I loved it. I thought playing the guitar helped your singing.
J-Lo Said: You make every song a party.
Harry Said: I don’t think that your performance matched what the song was trying to say.
I did not know Qaasim played guitar. It seemed that nobody knew Qaasim played guitar. I also didn’t know that Qaasim was trying to join Clark in making my AM Radio dreams come true. This performance seemed like it could have been one of those clips they cut to on a Time Life box set infomercial. It was just so purely pleasant old school without any effort – like Qaasim was born to be a fun and happy rock star in any era.
There wasn’t anything particularly impressive about Qaasim’s performance, but it was so likeably fun that I don’t want to say anything bad about it either.
Adanna Duru Sang “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars
Keith Said: That’s exactly why we saved you.
J-Lo Said: You stayed so much more in control.
Harry Said: That was one of your better performances.
Total karaoke performance by Adanna on this one. Closing your eyes, you can see the weird karaoke video that should be playing on a monitor behind her with this performance.
She did absolutely nothing with the song. She sang directly to the record. She didn’t do anything to elevate the melody with her vocals. It was a just a boring vocal and boring performance that sounded just okay.
Tyanna Jones Sang “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae
Keith Said: You sing and say, “Look what I get to do.”
J-Lo Said: I got the goosies from head-to-toe.
Harry Said: If I were a judge in the Olympics I would have give you a 10.
Of course Tyanna is going to sing Janelle Monae. You almost want to call her a munchkin Janelle Monae until you realize Janelle Monae probably ways about 18 grams.
While Tyanna made the obvious choice here, it probably wasn’t a very good one because it showed just how far superior Janelle Monae is to Tyanna. Not that anybody should be expected to ascend anywhere close to Monae status on this show, but if you’re going to wear suspenders, a bow tie and sing exactly like the record, it might help if you could do something that makes us forget about the original artist for a second.
Tyanna was unable to do that and really fell flat with her first performance on the big stage.
Daniel Seavey Sang “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Keith Said: You’re so enjoyable to watch.
J-Lo Said: It’s impossible not to root for you.
Harry Said: To me, that was your strongest performance.
Okay, whatever charm Seavey had has completely worn out on me at this point. I can’t keep looking at Bad Luck Brian with the Rick Astley voice sing on the record and pretend to be a real musician for very much longer. He’s completely worn me out and we’re just starting his run to his inevitable victory on this show.
It’s going to be a long season with Master Seavey.
Quentin Alexander Sang “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
Keith Said: Really cool. There’s just a great easy way to how you perform.
J-Lo Said: It’s always cool. It’s always soulful. It’s always solid.
Harry Said: I didn’t feel like you did what you normally do.
There’s certainly never been anybody like Quentin on this show. Nobody’s ever gone for the psychedelic hip-hop vibe with a Richie Havens voice. It’s not really a “type” you expect to see on a show like this.
Thank goodness he decided to show up on ‘Idol’ though because he is turning out some of the most unexpected performance I’ve ever seen on this show and he’s (hopefully) just getting started. Here he takes a said ballad of loss and turns it into a joyous R&B tune with a real groove. It’s impossible to see that coming from this song choice.
Not only that, he actually has a really great voice. He’s able to own the vocals on whatever song he sings making pitch and key problems irrelevant because it all sounds right coming out of Quentin.
Please keep him around awhile, America. I need this if I’m going to have to watch Daniel Seavey every week.
Nick Fradiani Sang “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
Keith Said: I think we’re gonna see you next week.
J-Lo Said: It got a little away from you, but you got it back at the end.
Harry Said: I’m waiting for you to crack open.
Nick’s going to keep doing his Nick thing. He’s going to be a really good bar band performer on a stage that’s too big for him. We’re going to see that from him every week.
Seriously, you see this guy give this performance in a small bar on live music night and you’re thinking, “Hey, that guy’s good. He could be on ‘American Idol’.” Then you actually see him on the show and you think, “He should really stick to playing bars.”
That’s the sort of strange limbo that Nick’s in on this show right now. It’s not exactly a bad spot to be in, just not one that’s going to set him apart from his competitors.
Sarina-Joe Crowe Sang “Neon Lights” by Demi Lovato for the Judges’ Save
So Sarina had to sing for her life. This was a complete and utter baffler for me on a number of levels:
1 – I thought Sarina was one of the best on the show this year.
2 – I thought she’d definitely made an impact beyond getting voted out so early.
3 – I didn’t even know there were eliminations tonight.
4 – I didn’t realize last week was a competition night – so I didn’t even know what votes were based on!
Sarina’s performance was okay, but that doesn’t really matter. She’s gone and I’m not even sure she got a fair shake on the show. Total shame.
I’m going to go against everything I stand for with regards to predicting this show and say Maddie Walker is going to mosey herself out of ‘Idol’ land this week. Of all the performances this week, it’s Walker’s that I can’t seem to recall. And when I do have my memory jogged by looking back at it, I remember it being terrible.
It’s never a good idea to bet against a country singer on this show, but when they go second and fail to make an impression, it’s easy to justify.
Check back next week when we recap the top ten!