AMERICAN IDOL Recap: That 80’s Show!


Last night ‘Idol’ turned back the clock three decades as its contestants took on eighties night complete with an opening performance medley of eighties hits by the incomparable David Hasselhoff.

Yes, that actually happened. It happened to such a degree that it was unclear whether Hasselhoff was going for self-parody or if the Germans are just even crazier than we thought for making this guy a demigod. Either way, it was certainly a memorable performance from somebody who once actually judged people on their talent.

Despite the Hoff’s attempt to murder the decade, the eighties does remain my favorite decade for music, so my expectations were very high going into last night.

Who avoided my 80s-nostalgia wrath? Read on to find out.

Daniel Seavey Sang “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates
Keith Said: You’ve gotta get more comfortable quicker.
J-Lo Said: It’s just about loosening up when you’re up there.
Harry Said: Take the choreography and throw it away.
The Verdict:
Okay, having Daniel around for a few weeks was fun, and he remains a pretty solid singer, but it really just has to stop at this point.
He’s so painfully awkward onstage it seems like he’d just been born backstage and was attempting to walk, crawl, sing and live for the first time all simultaneously. He couldn’t find the rhythm in the song on account of his nerves and he constantly fought against his voice, simply looking for those moments where he could let the real Daniel out.
It’s all just kind of pathetic, really and at the point where he passes on the sort of mortification-by-transference you feel when you watch somebody bomb out a first date next to you.
Grade: D

Quentin Alexander Sang “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
Keith Said: You’ve got so much artistry, but need to show more authority.
J-Lo Said: For me, it really really worked. It’s a home run.
Harry Said: It would be nice to hear something more uptempo, but I enjoyed that tonight.
The Verdict:
This was a strange performance for Quentin in that it wasn’t strange at all. For the first time, he sang the melody exactly on the original record without twisting the arrangement into something uniquely Quentin.
That leaves us to judge Quentin purely on his vocals for the first time and results were a mixed bag at best. In the pre-song package, Harry wondered if Quentin could sing in tune and he put those questions to rest very quickly by missing his pitch noticeably out of the gate and failing to find it through the performance.
Quentin still had plenty of his mystic cool going on, looking like he was performing the song in the Ice Hotel from ‘Die Another Day’, but beyond that there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Certainly not much from his vocals.
Grade: C-

Joey Cook Sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Keith Said: It had moments of inconsistency.
J-Lo Said: Vocally, it didn’t match. You couldn’t find your groove in it.
Harry Said: You seemed distracted tonight.
The Verdict:
I’m not sure what to make of Joey anymore. She comes out like an acid dream Barbie in a shiny dress and bouncing around the stage like a jumping bean in one of the most bizarre displays of energy I’ve ever seen on ‘Idol’.
Then, of course, there’s the vocal and the Joey Cook stylization that irritates me so much. Here, it slipped in and out which just proves my point that it’s something she forces for reasons I cannot understand. When that’s the case, I can’t understand why she would use her weird jazz tone on essentially a karaoke track version of a pop song that’s not in her register. It just does not compute.
Despite all that, I kind of dug the performance. I kind of liked watching Joey bounce around the stage and staring at her shoes like she was simultaneously having the time of her life and hating every second. And I really liked the moments where she just sang instead of just stylizing her vocals.
I really wish she would do more of the former because I think she has some pipes.
Grade: C+

Tyanna Jones Sang “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
Keith Said: If anybody can take on a Whitney song, it’s you, Tyanna.
J-Lo Said: Come out here and do what you know were born to do.
Harry Said: I always feel like you are in the driver’s seat.
The Verdict:
Really good karaoke from Tyanna on this performance. Really damn good karaoke.
Of course she’s no Whitney. There’s probably 30 people who’ve ever existed on the planet who can sing with enough power an authority to carry this tune like Whitney did. She did manage to hold her own vocally though, showing a maturity and command of her instrument that she hasn’t in previous weeks.
While the vocals were solid, it was pretty much a note-for-note copy of the original record so she’s not going to get any points for artistry and didn’t deliver the sort of “wow” vocal that makes me want to ignore somebody essentially performing karaoke on national television.
But I can ignore most of it when she delivers this good of a vocal.
Grade: B+

Jax Sang “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi
Keith Said: You’ve got so much originality, but it felt like it wasn’t put together right.
J-Lo Said: This was the Jax that first walked into the room and we fell in love with.
Harry Said: It would have been stronger if you played the whole thing on the piano.
The Verdict:
I really want Jax and Joey to sing one after the other. It’s simply remarkable to see two girls who both have a similar tone and the same oddball tendencies be some completely different.
With Jax, there’s nothing force. It all comes and seems so natural. Here she strips down the Bon Jovi song to just a piano and an occasional guitar solo and absolutely blows the doors off it with a searing vocal that finds every inch of the heartbreak and desire for vengeance inherent in the song’s lyrics.
And she does it while staying super-cool and totally modern. She’s definitely the best female on the show this season.
Grade: A-

Nick Fradiani Sang “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
Keith Said: Sometimes you look like you’re meeting your girlfriend’s dad for the first time.
J-Lo Said: It became exactly what it was supposed to be.
Harry Said: Perfect song choice. Fantastic vocal.
The Verdict:
So last week Nick was the lead singer of the Gin Blossoms. This week he morphed into a member of Color Me Badd. He just can’t get away from his early-90s zone.
This definitely reeked of 90s. Specifically, he sounded like a haircut singing the one and only song he’d ever rehearsed on Star Search during the Bush, Sr. era. In other words, the performance and vocal just felt horribly dated. I was waiting for the soft lighting and Glamour Shots fonts to come up about half-way through as he sounded more and more like a relic with each measure.
That’s not to say he sounded bad – the vocal was solid from a technical standpoint. He just didn’t sound like anybody that would find their way into a modern radio rotation.
Grade: C

Clark Beckham Sang “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
Keith Said: It really showed much more heart from you than I’ve ever felt.
J-Lo Said: I got the goosies that time.
Harry Said: You stand right where you are and sing and you’re going to be all right.
The Verdict:
Oh sweet mercy. Clark took a new wave hit and turned it into a subtle blues ballad and managed to take one of the most iconic songs of the decade and make it his own.
I mean, real talk. The kid just did the definitive version of “Every Breath You Take” in 2015 on a silly talent show. This is something that feels far too important for ‘American Idol’. This is a tiny little shred of pop music history and it happened on a show five years past its prime.
I almost feel bad for Clark. Nobody’s going to give this performance anywhere near the credit or recognition it deserves and that’s a real shame. This is a total all-timer in the history of this show and a rare bit of true brilliance from ‘American Idol’.
Grade: A+

Qaasim Middleton Sang “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer
Keith Said: I feel like you don’t believe in your voice enough.
J-Lo Said: I loved that. I love seeing you a little bit more reserved.
Harry Said: You stood there. You were sexy. It was great.
The Verdict:
I always thought Qaasim was kind of cool and a lot of fun when he unleashed his whirling dervish energy all around the stage.
All that mystique was dispelled with this performance. Qaasim took one of the sexiest and dirtiest lyrics from eighties pop and sang it with a smile that would seem too corny for most second weddings. This didn’t seem at all like the performance a young kid would give. It felt much more like somebody singing the song for the 47,000th time in Branson, MO and just eating up the love of the over-70 crowd who just wants to sit back and hear something familiar without having to really ingest too much.
It’s a shame to Qaasim so milquetoast. Especially when this was actually his best vocal.
Grade: C-

Rayvon Owen Sang “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
Keith Said: You’ve gotta ease into the song.
J-Lo Said: You need to push outside your strengths.
Harry Said: I could do without the falsetto every single song, but I thought that was a pretty solid performance.
The Verdict:
This performance was non-starter for me. Just a total boring dud of karaoke as Rayvon fought a charisma battle with the microphone stand and lost.
He did his falsetto thing again which I never found too appealing. He sang with an eye on technique over performance (like any good vocal coach). He did absolutely nothing new with the song.
In other words, it was a typical boring-yet-solid Rayvon performance.
Grade: C

Maddie Walker and Adanna Duru are Eliminated
No more save-me songs for the contestants anymore, so it was an old-school “Dim The Lights” elimination for these two ladies without really much of a goodbye.
Maddie’s no surprise because she was awful last week. Adanna is a surprise simply because I didn’t remember she was still on the show.

Really, it was the perfect double elimination as we’re now without two people that had no chance and have cut just about all the dead weight.

It seems foolish to believe this, but it appears that it’s Daniel’s turn to go. He led the show which is always tough to overcome (especially with Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s mid-show performance making everybody forget everything that came before it), and he couples that with getting steadily worse each week.

Still, I don’t want to just dismiss the only cute kid with a guitar from the show entirely. There’s still plenty of text-voters out there who may want to keep the kid around.

If he stays, I think Quentin is actually the second-most-likely to go. He went second and is getting increasingly weird which may alienate some voters. I don’t think it happens though. Daniel really has to go at this point.

Check back next week for my recap of Kelly Clarkson Night on ‘Idol’.

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