AMERICAN IDOL Recap: The Final Four


Last night’s ‘Idol’ gave us Tyanna’s final performance, unquestionable proof that Scott Borchetta is the sleaziest man in the world and a record-breaking 22 consecutive minutes of skippable content.

There was also a fair amount of singing last night. So let’s not focus on Scott Borchetta’s odd obsessions with a lot of different things and get straight to the performances.

Clark Beckham Sang “Livin’ for the City” by Stevie Wonder
Keith Said: The whole thing got really in a good zone.
J-Lo Said: If you would have stayed at the piano it would’ve taken things to another level.
Harry Said: It was a solid performance, but you were off the groove.
The Verdict:
It was bound to happen, but I didn’t really dig this Clark Beckham performance. Its utter lack of originality had it veering into karaoke direction, even if he tried to bring the crowd into it at one point.
It was still Clark so it was still pretty good, particularly the break away from the microphone to tickle the keys for a quick solo and the breakdown at the end. It just wasn’t the Clark quality we’ve come to expect from this dynamo.
Oh well, a bad Clark is still better than a good everybody else.
Grade: B

Jax Sang “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
Keith Said: You have such a strong artistic foundation.
J-Lo Said: You understand that you can win this competition now.
Harry Said: It was a little mini showcase of what you do.
The Verdict:
Jax did a clever thing here. She took a hip-hop song and completely flipped it over into a blues ballad while making it seem like that was how the song originated.
Obviously, the Alicia Keys portion of the song lent itself to a Jax performance, but it was her take on Jay-Z’s rapped verses that was particularly notable as she shattered all memory of the MC’s legendary delivery of the lyric and made it all her own.
This is how you strip down and stylize without sacrificing soul.
Grade: B+

Nick Fradiani Sang “Bright Lights” by Matchbox Twenty
Keith Said: It was really really good.
J-Lo Said: You’re peaking at the right time.
Harry Said: I thought you sang the hell out of the song.
The Verdict:
It was inevitable. At some point the most watered-down rock singer in the history of mankind had to take on the most watered-down rock band in the history of mankind. It just had to happen.
The results were as expected. Pretty solidly watered-down. It’s Nick’s ‘Idol’ birthright to try and make the hardest rocking Matchbox Twenty song appear viable and he did about as well as he could have with the source material, and actually made it seem palatable.
This is Nick’s wheelhouse. It’s a boring wheelhouse, but he does it well.
Grade: B

Rayvon Owen Sang “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
Keith Said: I would have less of the dramatics and more of the heart.
J-Lo Said: It needs to be so real to you.
Harry Said: I thought you sang the pants off of it.
The Verdict:
Wow. Rayvon stuck around! And Rayvon went full Jim Steinman Baroque Pop on a country song. It was like Dr. Moreau got a hold of some of Quentin Alexander’s DNA and injected Rayvon with the strands that lead to a proclivity for dry ice and dreamy versions of songs that are typically pretty straightforward.
So it was weird, to say the least. It was overdone. Rayvon added too much theatricality to his phrasing and delivery. It was all reminiscent of something you’d see a washed up singer do on the Grammys and instantly feel sorry for them.
But I don’t feel sorry for Rayvon. He’s stuck around well past his due date and he still has a very good voice.
Grade: C+

Clark Beckham Sang “Your Man” by Josh Turner
Keith Said: You need singles not album tracks.
J-Lo Said: I’m not sure if this is your gravy song.
Harry Said: It was kind of tepid.
The Verdict:
Oh, Clark. You didn’t have to do this. You didn’t have to turn the legendary Scotty McCreery audition song from a country cliche into a smooth bit of blue-eyed soul that would be found on a compilation album with roses on the cover.
I mean, it’s not even my birthday or anything. You really shouldn’t have.
Grade: A

Jax Sang “Human” by Christina Perri
Keith Said: You killed it, Jax.
J-Lo Said: That was really beautiful.
Harry Said: The emotion trumps everything.
The Verdict:
Stunning stuff from Jax here. Two minutes of raw emotion that shows she has a gear the guys left in the competition do not. They may be better singers (Rayvon), better musicians (Clark) or better rock stars (Nick), but none of them are going to drop to their knees in the middle of a torch song and make you feel like they’re about to cry.
Jax absolutely slayed the emotional aspect of this tune in a sea of dry ice. Her vocals were a bit off at times and this was essentially a karaoke version of the record, but none of that mattered when she’s performing at this high emotional level.
Sometimes it’s more than just singing.
Grade: A-

Rayvon Owen Sang “Believe” by Justin Bieber
Keith Said: You sang phenomenally.
J-Lo Said: I’m crying! It’s crazy!
Harry Said: I’m sure every songwriter who worked on that song would be happy to hear you sing that.
The Verdict:
Rayvon, the guy who just won’t quit, picked a helluva time to deliver his best performance. And what a performance it was.
It was everybody the emotional level of Jax’s performance, except with a technically flawless vocal performance on top of it. All that plus turning a crappy Justin Bieber song of all things into a gospel anthem that felt like the glory days of early 90s R&B all over again.
In the mentoring session, Scott said no bottom two for Rayvon because of this performance. He might be right.
Grade: A

Nick Fradiani Sang “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts
Keith Said: Your fans are going to show you support in a huge way.
J-Lo Said: You’re the star of the night.
Harry Said: I could hear you singing that on your CD.
The Verdict:
You have to hand it to Nick for knowing the exact lane into which he fits. He’s the epitome of singing boring music for people who don’t like music. He’s the perfect milquetoast singer and he keeps picking songs right in his vapid wheelhouse and doing a predictably (if boring) solid job with them all.
He’s the middle-of-the-road guy who just cannot miss. There’s nothing spectacular about him, but nothing that really merits a complaint either.
Grade: B-

It pains me to say it. It fills with me an extraordinary amount of anguish to say it. Clark is going home this week.

After Rayvon snuck through another week, it seemed like he was as dead solid of a lock as possible to go home next week. Who of these three could possibly lose to him? Then Clark gave his worst performance to lead off the show, had his second performance savaged by the judges and Rayvon went ahead and gave his best performance in the penultimate spot.
It’s definitely between those two, and every edge points to Rayvon sticking around and Clark singing his last song next week.

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  • Andrew, I would have liked to have known what you thought of Tyanna’s last performance. As for your prediction, I can only hope that Nickaoke goes home. I have rooted for the guy all along, but the sameness of each performance is getting to me. And did he not affect a southern accent when he did “What Hurts the Most”? His long i’s came out as long ahs. Come on!