AMERICAN IDOL Recap: From Contestants to Kelly

kelly clarkson american idol

Last night, ‘Idol’ tackled the songs of Kelly Clarkson.

Yes, a singer with six studio albums to her credit got an entire night devoted to her catalog. Look, Kelly Clarkson will always be the American Idol. She’s the best contestant the show has ever had or ever will have. I love her solo career and it’s always exciting to see her back on the show. But she doesn’t exactly have the songbook of say a Lennon and McCartney that has the depth to see an entire night devoted to it.

So how did the contestants fair with a limited song selection? And what the Hell is the Twitter Save? Read on to find out…

Nick Fradiani Sang “Catch My Breath”
Keith Said: You’ve just gotta loosen up still.
J-Lo Said: I can see you blossoming, but you have to be more natural.
Harry Said: It wasn’t my favorite vocal, but I liked the song choice.
The Verdict:
Nick has moved between bar band singer to Gin Blossoms to front man to Color Me Badd member with a bizarre seamlessness.
Last night, he added a new personality to his repertoire as he went crappy Christian Rock lead singer with an inspirational take on the Clarkson. As always, the vocal was slightly above mediocre, right along with the stage presence. The only major difference was an inexplicable Jars of Clay vibe he brought along with his lackluster vocals.
He’s a man of many colors, none of which shine particularly bright.
Grade: C+

Jax Sang “Beautiful Disaster”
Keith Said: I find myself holding you to a higher standard.
J-Lo Said: This was the pure version of Jax and it was really beautiful.
Harry Said: That was fantastic. I really really loved it.
The Verdict:
Jax went Stevie Nicks in a variety of ways on this performance. Aside from her obvious candle-lit and flowing black frock homage to the Fleetwood Mac singer, she followed the diva into sounding eighties pop radio ready.
She turned the Kelly Clarkson track into the perfect soft rock vocal. Not only did she nail every note, she felt each lyric as she ached through two minutes of anguished perfection.
Jax is an astonishingly mature singer for her age and this performance was the best example of that yet.
Grade: B+

Tyanna Jones Sang “Mr. Know-It-All”
Keith Said: I feel like you didn’t connect with what the song is about.
J-Lo Said: You reminded everybody that you have amazing pipes.
Harry Said: You sang that lyric as well as you can sing it.
The Verdict:
Tyanna continues her path of singing really good karaoke. She went right on the record as always and delivered a very good vocal. This performance was a little more mature than her previous efforts and you can see her forming a greater connection with the song, but she remains just a very good karaoke singer. Nothing really great you can say about her but nothing too negative either.
Grade: B-

Joey Cook Sang “Miss Independent”
Keith Said: You have so much artistic weight and you do it so effortlessly.
J-Lo Said: It is so you. It is so unique.
Harry Said: I wish you hadn’t presented it like something out of a film noir.
The Verdict:
So Joey just went all in on this performance and did a full-on big band arrangement of “Miss Independent”. Obviously, this fit her wheelhouse of singing like she’s in a smoke-filled bar in the 1940s. That’s Joey for ya.
Of course, this isn’t the forties and that’s not what this song is. This just came across like a cartoon character performance – totally cabaret. It’s a good performance in this genre, but it’s a genre that disappeared with the advent of the electric guitar. I don’t know understand its point in this day and age.
It just came across like a novelty.
Grade: C-

Quentin Alexander Sang “Dark Side”
Keith Said: You perform with truth. It’s really beautiful.
J-Lo Said: I think it was perfect for you.
Harry Said: You need to spend time on the technical part.
The Verdict:
There was a time when I thought Quentin was very innovative and original with his performances. I thought we were going to see something astounding from him every week. It would be a completely different Quentin each time he took the stage.
That’s completely worn off at this point. Once again, Quentin dressed strangely, arranged the song in a haunting way, emerged out of dry ice and was much more flash over ability. He masks his limited vocal range very well with the way songs are arranged an all his window dressing, but it’s starting to become one note and his vocal limitations are becoming more apparent.
Never moreso than when he tried to stretch for some notes at the end of this song and fell horribly flat. He just doesn’t have the chops despite what he presents.
Grade: C

Qaasim Middleton Sang “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
Keith Said: It seemed like you weren’t sure where to go.
J-Lo Said: It needs to be practiced so much.
Harry Said: If you’re gonna sing runs, you have to sing them right.
The Verdict:
After weeks of proving that he can’t sing, Qaasim pulled a new trick out of his hat. It turns out he can’t play guitar either! Give him three chords and he can kind of strum them out. Kind of.
While he can’t play, he certainly can’t play and sing, letting the rhythm of the vocal mess up his playing and vice versa. Falling off pitch on both instruments. Just a technical mess.
It’s a shame, because the performance was actually pretty cool. He seemed like the leader of a hip jam session of musicians who just want to make the coolest version of the song possible. The acoustic arrangement felt like something out of “Unplugged”.
It just needed a better bandleader.
Grade: C-

Clark Beckham Sang “The Trouble With Love Is”
Keith Said: Your bar is way up here.
J-Lo Said: I have goosies from head-to-toe.
Harry Said: You. Nailed. It.
The Verdict:
Just stop. Just stop it. Stop making my soft rock dreams come true, Clark. Stop sounding like you’re ready to cut the entire volume of AM Gold at any second. Stop showing a completely different side to your voice and ability as a performer. Stop absolutely plastering a vocal standing at the mic like an R&B Diva.
It’s just becoming too much for me to bear. Mostly that you’re not going to end up winning. That’s just depressing me every week. You’re clearly the best. You should just get a bye all the way to the final. It’s not only unfair to the contestants that you’re so far superior to them, it’s unfair that you have to keep singing with them and being a giant shark in their tiny pool.
Let Clark win!
Grade: A

Daniel Seavey Sang “Breakway” for the Twitter Save
Keith Said: You look great on camera.
J-Lo Said: You did an okay job.
Harry Said: Just keep practicing.
The Verdict:
Little Daniel got through. What a shame. He showed every bit of his nerves after getting the last spot with this performance. A Bar Mitzvah boy who hasn’t practiced his readings shows more poise than Daniel did on this performance. He missed rhythms, dropped lyrics, couldn’t find his pitch. Broken dryers are less shaky.
Needless to say, he didn’t deserve to stay after last week and still doesn’t after this week.
Grade: D

Rayvon Owen Sang “Since U Been Gone” for the Twitter Save
Keith Said: That was one of the best for you.
J-Lo Said: You’ve gotta differentiate yourself.
Harry Said: It was all chops and no gravy.
The Verdict:

I’m not sure what the Twitter Save is. I’m not sure how it works. I only know that if I had access to the Twitter Save, I wouldn’t have used it on a guy who stripped all the fun out of the best pop record of the 2000s and turned it into some sort of emo funeral dirge.

Of course, he went up against Daniel, so I guess he got my theoretical vote.


Going into the night, I was sure Rayvon wasn’t even on the show anymore. Then he basically got voted off. Then something called the Twitter Save kept him on the show.

I’m still not sure how any of this works, but I don’t think Rayvon’s going to get to hang around again next week.

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  • Wendy Darling

    I just discovered these recaps and am reading your Clark opinions because I’m obsessed. Sigh. If you haven’t heard the studio recordings of Boyfriend and Earned It, drop everything now and listen. Incredible. I’m so depressed that he’s gone from my tv.