AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Down with Duets!


I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t even watch the first half-hour of last night’s show.

With good reason too. I’m a longtime advocate of no duets. I hate the duets. I don’t consider them to be a part of the show. ‘Idol’ has been and always will be a solo competition. These duets that they’ve plugged in the last few years haven’t been working for me and I refuse to recap them.

So let’s join last night’s ‘Idol’ in progress…

La’Porsha Sang “Come Together” by The Beatles
Keith Said: Any song is a terrific song for you.
J-Lo Said: You’re giving us full diva every time you get up there.
Harry Said: You are absolutely incredible.
The Verdict:
For the life of me, I will never understand why anybody sings The Beatles on this show. For all their brilliance, the Beatles never really produced any songs that would be considered great vocal performances – especially not in the manner that translates well to this show.
So it’s probably not much of a shock that La’Porsha delivered her most lackluster performance in choosing this Beatles classic. That’s not to say it was bad, La’Porsha still had attitude as big as her hair as she turned this into some Joplin-esque gritty soul.
She just wasn’t as impressive as we’ve seen her in previous weeks.
Grade: B

Mackenzie Bourg Sang “Your Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker
Keith Said: You know who you are so well. You made it sound brand new.
J-Lo Said: You’re a beautiful mix of old and new.
Harry Said: You couldn’t have picked a better song.
The Verdict:
OK. If MacKenzie doesn’t win, then I’ve clearly learned nothing from my decade of watching and recapping this show. He has the perfect non-threatening look and the perfect sweet-guy voice to go along with it.
I actually didn’t know how perfect his voice was for what he’s doing until he put away his tiny parlor guitar and gave a solid performance on a perfect song choice. He was certainly off-pitch at times, but that’s really not the point with him – he’s got all the texting and tweeting and online voters eating out of his hand at this point.
Grade: B-

Trent Harmon Sang “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
Keith Said: You’re growing before our eyes.
J-Lo Said: I always knew you were a badass.
Harry Said: It really was great.
The Verdict:
The confidence with which Trent gave this performance is just astounding. He started a capella like an absolute stone cold killer and then eased right into a stunningly arranged groove like he’d been owning arenas with this song for decades.
Everything about this performance was just about flawless. From the effortlessness with which he ad-libbed to how he jumped into every single bit of his dynamic register without anything appearing forced or unnecessary.
This was a next-level performance from Trent, and one of the best of the season from anybody.
Grade: A

Tristan McIntosh Sang “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride
Keith Said: That’s the perfect kind of song for you.
J-Lo Said: You have such a perfectly suited country voice.
Harry Said: What did you think was happening in the second verse?
The Verdict:
I’m continuing to love the transition of Tristan from little country girl who can’t sing to classic country singer from a time before twang was mistaken with actual singing. I, however, didn’t really love this performance. She never really seemed connected to the song in the way that we’ve seen her the last few weeks and, of all things, her mic work was off – her volume went in and out at the beginning – such a weird mistake.
She brought it home well at the end, but this was a pretty shaky performance from Tristan.
Grade: C+

Dalton Rapattoni Sang “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles
Keith Said: Like a good waffle iron you made an impression.
J-Lo Said: I loved the ending and the theatricality.
Harry Said: Great song choice and a great key for you.
The Verdict:
The Panic! At The Disco-emo version of “Eleanor Rigby”. Gross.
Grade: C-

Avalon Young Sang “P.Y.T.” by Michael Jackson
Keith Said: I’m so confused how you keep ending up in the bottom three.
J-Lo Said: You’re a natural performer.
Harry Said: Your voice is in the “incredible” category, but you could have more urgency in your performances.

The Verdict:
Two signs that democracy doesn’t work:
1 – Donald Trump keeps winning Republican Primaries
2 – Avalon Young keeps ending up in the bottom three
This wasn’t nearly as strong a vocal as last week’s brilliant save-me performance, but it was easily the most fun performance of the night. She’s one part Janelle Monae and one part Ilana from “Broad City” – just a burst of youthful and soulful fun every time she hits the stage. Nobody’s ever done anything like her on this show and I really hate that it’s not connecting with the at-home voters.
Grade: B

Lee Jean Sang “Let It Be” by The Beatles
Keith Said: I sensed a lot of your nerves.
J-Lo Said: I liked this performance, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough.
Harry Said: On an emotional level it was fine, but the pitch was a real issue.
The Verdict:
Major tactical error by Lee here. Lee’s strengths lie within his performing ability and incredible sense of rhythm – not at all with his actual singing voice.
On this song, he took away all of his strong parts and just laid his voice threadbare for everybody to hear on its own and, predictably, there were some horrible pitch problems and clear nerves that totally undermined his performance. This was probably his worst so far on the show.
Grade: C-

Sonika Vaid Sang “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
Keith Said: I ask that you just continue to release.
J-Lo Said: I think you did a good job with it.
Harry Said: I loved it.
The Verdict:
Sonika has no fear with the Holy Trinity. Whitney? No problem. Celine? No problem. Mariah? I’m sure she’s on the list.
Here it’s Whitney as Sonika does her typical move to out-voice everybody else on the show. She has the pipes to do it, but for me it’s starting to become a single trick. Yes, she can sing all these big songs from the biggest voices in the history of pop music – but isn’t it time to do something a little bit different?
It’s also an issue that this was kind of the worst version of Sonika we’ve heard so far. I missed the typcial blowaway big note that defines her performances and takes her over the top. I think this was one of her weakest performances and I think it’s the emotion and fun that’s missing as she focuses too much on the technical side of things.
Grade: B-

Result and Predictions:
The judges took the safe route and saved Sonika last night. I understand that this is a singing competition and she has the best voice, but I don’t understand people who are looking more forward to a Sonika performance next week than they would have been an Avalon performance – Avalon at least brings something interesting to the show.
I think last week is the final double elimination? Maybe? If that’s the case, I think Sonika is definitely going home after that boring performance and she’s got to be joined by Tristan I guess?

The truncated season of ‘Idol’ hasn’t really allowed a rhythm to develop with these eliminations. I’m calling a final four of Trent, Dalton, La’Porsha and MacKenzie – and I feel cheated out of some good weeks of Avalon, Jenn and Olivia right now.

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