AMERICAN IDOL Recap: Double Your Pleasure!

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IDOL delivered its first double-shot of performances last night as the top five went twice and Tristan went home after one shot.

With so much to recap, there’s no more time to waste! Let’s get to it.

Trent Harmon Sang “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic
Keith Said: I found myself watching but not being pulled in.
J-Lo Said: Not a Trent song, but you did what you could with it.
Harry Said: I give you a pass – you’re a lot better than that.
The Verdict:
America couldn’t have picked much worse of a song for Trent lead off the show with. Trent’s biggest strength is his crazy range and the audience game him a song that might have about four notes in the melody total – not really a place for Trent to show much of what he can do.
It was a solid performance given the constraints, but there was not much Trent present in the performance. This is why America shouldn’t be trusted with something as important as song choice.
Grade: C+

Dalton Rapattoni Sang “Numb” by Linkin Park
Keith Said: I would have stripped it down even more.
J-Lo Said: I feel like you took a little bit of the oomph out of the song.
Harry Said: I felt like you poured your guts into that lyric.
The Verdict:
I’ve really not enjoyed Dalton’s stupid goth-emo-ing of actual nice songs this season, so when America gave him something that’s more in the genre that he turns songs into, he flipped everything around and turned it into an acoustic pop tune with just the right touch of Dashboard Confessional emo sprinkled in.
His vocal performance wasn’t up to the snuff of the arrangement though as he was off-beat and off-pitch at several different points – seeming to struggle with the melody. He didn’t struggle with his emotional connection to the song though and I think the arrangement helped him there – this was kind of both his best and worst performance.
Grade: B

La’Porsha Sang “Ready For Love” by India.Arie
Keith Said: I was just someone in the audience captivated by the moment.
J-Lo Said: It was just a complete performance in every way.
Harry Said: It was everything those lyrics called for.
The Verdict:
La’Porsha walked a very fine line here. All the smoke and lighting and expressiveness of her vocal had this in danger of verging into cabaret or something of Eartha Kitt-esque antiquation.
It was close to that, but never quite toppled over that treacherous cliff. Once La’Porsha sunk into it, she made the dramatic arrangement feel like more of a genuine soul song and brought it home brilliantly. She remains the most accomplished vocalist on the show.
Grade: B+

Mackenzie Bourg Sang “Wild World” by Cat Stevens
Keith Said: You’re like cake batter, even when you’re not fully cooked, you’re really good, man. (What?)
J-Lo Said: I always feel like you’re singing to me.
Harry Said: I think it’s a great song for you.
The Verdict:
There’s nothing like singing a snarky bitter break-up song to a bright and sunny backing track like you’re trying to appeal to a fifteen-year-old girl to show that you really don’t understand how lyrics inform composition and performance of a song.
MacKenzie exhibited that with dubious aplomb on this performance. I preferred the Mr. Big version.
Grade: C-

Tristan McIntosh Sang “Independence Day” by Martina McBride
Keith Said: You need to get out of the middle
J-Lo Said: My advice is to try different things.
Harry Said: It was okay, but you need more experience.
The Verdict:
I’ve become quite a Tristan fan the last few weeks. I think there’s some nostalgia there. There’s also a bit of a backlash against the country girl’s who’ve come before her that informs my fandom. Tristan isn’t the stupid twangy stylized country singer that every little girl who trots onto ‘Idol’ wants to be. She’s a classic country singer who finds the emotion not through a vocal tic, but through connecting deeply with the song and the lyrics to deliver a pure and honest vocal.
This was another perfect example of that and the reason why she’s one of my favorite country singers ever on this show. It’s also one more example of kind of the same exact thing she’s been doing for the last few weeks. It’s working really well for her, so that’s not too much of a knock on her, but maybe it’s best that she went home before getting too repetitive.
Grade: B

Sonika Vaid Sang “Let It Go” from Frozen
Keith Said: Your performances are starting to come alive.
J-Lo Said: You’re shy but you’re fierce.
Harry Said: You need more practice with the band.
The Verdict:
Sonika said she chose this song (the inferior Demi Lovato version) because she needed to make like the song’s protagonist and let it go on stage.
She kind of did that. Kind of. This wasn’t the typical singing robot performance from Sonika but while she did seem more lifelike than usual, I didn’t find her vocal performance to be quite up to her usual levels. Maybe the more human she gets, the less she’s able to hit the vocals that are…programmed?
Grade: B-

Dalton Rapattoni Sang “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
Keith Said: You really do the lyrics justice.
J-Lo Said: It felt really powerful.
Harry Said: Every song you do is like a blank wall and you’re a graffiti artist.
The Verdict:
Oh my God – can we take out a court order to prevent this guy from turning classic songs into something out of a Broadway show written by My Chemical Romance? I think something like this could unite the parties on the next SCOTUS appointment. I really do.
Grade: C-

MacKenzie Bourg Sang “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
Keith Said: I’m a big fan of yours.
J-Lo Said: You just showed everybody why you’re here. I was riveted the whole time.
Harry Said: It was really great.
The Verdict:
Why did MacKenzie have to be so good out of nowhere? I’m so ready to be done with this guy and then suddenly he plays an acoustic version of Billie Jean that somehow doesn’t lose any of its soul or funk despite the fact that it’s being sung by the fake dork “sensitive” dude that you hated in high school.
And sang it he did. He had some real nasty vocal licks peppered in a performance that sounded like the best of MacKenzie multiplied by about eight. This kid’s going to win, isn’t he?
Grade: A

Trent Harmon “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Keith Said: It was so perfect for you.
J-Lo Said: It’s moments like this is why I love ‘Idol’.
Harry Said: You’re a great singer, and there’s an extra thing you have that shows your experience.
The Verdict:
After the catastrophe of his first performance, Trent got a song to really dig his considerable vocal chops into and he didn’t let go from the first measure through to the final bar.
This performance was everything we’ve come to expect and adore from Trent: Emotional, grand, effortless and performed with outrageous range. When Trent’s given a song that allows him to challenge himself, it’s almost impossible for him to give a bad performance.
Oftentimes, like here, we get a great performance.
Grade: A-

Sonika Vaid Sang “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes
Keith Said: Keep letting go.
J-Lo Said: I didn’t love this song for you.
Harry Said: I liked getting to know you better than the song.
The Verdict:
This was the song and performance that Sonika needed. While she wasn’t able to fully escape the robot and sacrificed her vocals a little bit on her first performance, this song let her unleash a new gear – uptempo singer who still has the same big voice.
This wasn’t her best vocal, but it was her most fully realized performance so far and let her talk a step from being just a singer and into the realm of artist. She’s not there yet, but this was a step in that direction.
Grade: B+

La’Porsha Sang “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige
Keith Said: So inspiring.
J-Lo Said: You’re an inspiration.
The Verdict:
Sure. We’ll close the show with La’Porsha singing a perfect song in the pimp song and absolutely killing it. Why not?
Vocally excellent, emotionally powerful and La’Porsha at her most charismatic – owning the stage and the song like nobody else is able to this season. Almost too easy.
Grade: A-

Prediction:
Sonika is going home. It’s destiny. This season has been setting up to a final four of MacKenzie, Dalton, Trent and La’Porsha. Easiest call I’ve made in some time.

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