I’ve been recapping ‘American Idol’ for the past nine seasons and this is my last true recap.
Yes, the finale will happen tomorrow and we’ll give it the appropriate treatment here, but, for me, the real recapping of ‘Idol’ always came from breaking down the performances. I’ve enjoyed disagreeing with the judges, getting into arguments in the comments sections and, most of all, finding the few dozen truly remarkable performances that scored an “A” or better.
That’s why I’m kind of sad that I have to make my final recap the final performance show. While that may seem like a silly a notion it’s totally valid in that the final performance show is typically the worst of the season because the contestants are forced to sing garbage singles that were plucked off the scrap heap of some music publisher’s basement after they were rejected by every artist in the industry.
Lately they’ve been pairing that with the contestant’s favorite song from the season – so we typically get a watered-down version of a great performance, a performance of a terrible song and the hope of something decent.
I wish I could say the final performance show was any different, but ‘Idol’ went out much the same way every season has gone out before it for the last fifteen year.
Trent Harmon sang “Falling” – Potential Single
This isn’t the Alicia Keys song but it sounds suspiciously like it. Well, if it was given to some whiskeyed-out yacht rocker from the 70s attempting a comeback. You can almost smell the vinyl seats in the worn-out club they’re trying make it happen in. Not current at all.
Trent does an okay job with it – but it doesn’t really stretch his range at all. Of all the songs sitting around you’d think they’d find something that suited his skills a little bit better and didn’t leave us with such a mediocre performance from a majorly dynamic performer.
Dalton Rapattoni Sang “Strike A Match” – Potential Single
Oh my God. It’s impossible for me to think there isn’t some emo pop song hanging around for Dalton to release – why they gave him some god-awful pseudo-electropop song is truly baffling.
Dalton showed us one more time on this performance that he simply isn’t that strong of a singer. There’s moments where he hits the necessary emo notes to appeal to his audience in a pretty solid Ben Gibbardian way and then others where he has wild pitch problems and can’t stay on rhythm.
He got farther than he should have given his skill set and this was one final example of why he shouldn’t have been in the final two.
La’Porsha Sang “Battles” – Potential Single
Keith Said: That was a bulls-eye.
J-Lo Said: It felt so easy-breezy.
Harry Said: I thought it was a fantastic performance.
least made it to a point where it could be rejected by the person who rejects Beyonce songs that aren’t good enough to get to Beyonce. It’s a pretty steady modern R&B song that suits La’Porsha’s strengths.
The performance isn’t anything too special. La’Porsha has some of her worst pitch problems of the season and never really got going until a beautifully quiet final few measures. La’Porsha is usually a force on stage and this time she was flat in more ways than one.
Trent Harmon Sang “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Keith Said: You are giving La’Porsha a run for her money.
J-Lo Said: That performance was amazing.
Harry Said: I thought it was a great choice. Nice job.
Absolute perfect song choice by creator Simon Fuller for Trent to lead off the real competition. This song has had many iterations over the years, but the main thing they’ve all had in common is that big time singers get as much room as they want to stretch their range and just sing the crap out of the song without having to worry about things like melody and lyrics.
With such a perfect pairing of song and performer, I was surprised to see Trent never quite get all the way there. I expected a massive season-capping performance from him on this number where, instead, it was like Trent running at 80% capacity on a song where he could have found a new gear.
It’s puzzling to see him kind of fizzle out on a song like this. Not in such a way that he gave a bad performance – he just didn’t give a great performance.
La’Porsha Sang “A House Is Not A Home” by Dionne Warwick
Keith Said: I don’t even smoke and I need a cigarette right now.
J-Lo Said: So beautiful. Now we have the La’Porsha version.
Harry Said: That’s about all you can ask for.
Simon really nailed it with both of his song choices tonight. This could not be more perfect for La’Porsha given her vocal ability and her personal story – it was almost written for her.
Unlike Trent, La’Porsha took full advantage of the song choice with a incredibly compelling slow build of a performance where she danced across her vibrato and challenged the edge of her range – and just when you thought she was going to build to the trademark ‘Idol’ big note, she brought it back down for a nice quiet finish.
La’Porsha knows how to make the most out of her ninety seconds and she made that clear one more time with this song.
Trent Harmon Sang “Chandelier” by Sia
Keith Said: You may have just made it an easy decision for some people.
J-Lo Said: You could not have sang that more beautifully.
Harry Said: You just made this the hardest decision in the history of ‘American Idol’.
I think the most important thing Trent did on this performance is become the first person in the history of mankind to combine a mock turtleneck with leather pants. Also, that’s the first time I’ve commented on a contestant’s outfit this season – we’ve come a long way from the glory days of Adam Lambert.
Because we’re forced to see the same performance that we saw a few weeks ago, there’s not a whole lot new to say about this one – it’s almost exactly what he did on Sia night without much variance. I will say this one verged further into theatrical than did his first performance of the song to the point where it bordered on garish.
This was not Trent’s best night. In fact, it might have been his worst.
La’Porsha Sang “Diamonds” by Rihanna
Keith Said: This was a multiple black diamond run and you just sailed down the hill.
J-Lo Said: You handled everything so effortlessly and so beautifully.
Harry Said: I have nothing to say. It was amazing.
I’m very surprised that La’Porsha didn’t reprise “No More Drama” as her final song – that may have been the moment of the season of it weren’t for Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece”. One last dose of that seems like it would have locked down a wind for her.
She went with a pretty pedestrian Rihanna tune and never quite got into full La’Porsha show stopping mode with it. She certainly hinted at it as her voice rose and her effortless runs came out to play, but it was never really more than a glimmer like the ones from the diamonds on her sleeved dress.
Hey! Two outfit comments in-a-row. I guess I never lost it.
I’m making one final prediction and I’m going to do it in one word: