American Idol Season 14 Top 4 Revealed

5 05 2015

Tonight the “fan save” is no longer in play. The contestants have to sing a song from the judges’ hometowns–Nashville, New York, or New Orleans. The second song is what best captures the contestant’s soul. Russell Crowe delivers the results for the night (odd choice).

Clark Beckham gets the first spot in the top 4 which secures one of the hometown visits for him. He chose “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder. That was really excellent. I like that he let go. It was good to see that he listened to the advice that the judges were giving other contestants last week about finding the moments to make it more special, like including the audience. Keith said it was a great opening to the show. He felt like Clark could have actually stayed at the piano once he went over there. Jennifer said it sounded really good, too. She thinks when he has his instruments it has a different groove that being away from that does–that it isn’t quite there yet. Harry said it was a solid performance. He needs to find the pocket and sing in that even more so when he is not playing an instrument. Jennifer added that he needs to manipulate the adrenaline to his favor.

Jax has a spot for the hometown visit. She sings “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” by Alicia Keys. She could not go wrong with a song that means so much to her. It ended a bit oddly though. I thought she was pausing for a final note or something. Jennifer said she tripped her up at the end there–was she done or not done? Jennifer thinks Jax finally believes that she can win the competition. Jennifer isn’t sure if it was the best song choice but she does see her potential to take the whole thing. Harry really dug the performance. He asked her if she was a bit hoarse tonight and she sort of said yes but downplayed it. He liked that she just sang through it. Keith loved the song for her. Even though she may not be at 100% her talent powers through.

Nick Fradiani gets the next spot. I have always thought his voice sounded like Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty and he finally decided to do one of their songs “Bright Lights.” he has really grown since the auditions. I would buy his CD. He really let loose tonight as well. I liked this performance the best so far tonight. Harry thought it was the most comfortable performance by far that he has done. He thought he sang the heck out of it. Keith said he keeps going up and up every time he performs. He is getting stronger and better. Jennifer said he was peaking at the right time. It was Nick at his best.

Harry Connick Jr performed “City Beneath The Sea.”

Will Tyanna be through to the hometown visits or Rayvon? This is tough for me. I always thought Tyanna was going to make it to the top 3. Rayvon is a bit more seasoned but he has had ups and downs especially with not being able to make a real emotional connection as of late, but the last two weeks he has really done better with that. It is Rayvon. But they say goodbye to Tyanna and for the first time this season, Harry stands up to applaud her. They surprise her by giving her a package of her time at Idol, the first one this season. Like a pro, she takes the stage to sing “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce. What a fantastic way to finish the show.

Rayvon tackled a country tune “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. I got goosebumps–little ones but they were forming. Keith said he would have preferred less of the dramatics and more of the heart. Jennifer said the connection has to be there before the acting and the acting will feel real because it won’t be acting. Harry said that singers tend to overdramatize a lyric. He felt he was 100% on point with the delivery of the lyric. Harry thought he sang the pants off of it.

Round 2 is about the song of the contestant’s soul (or the gravy song). Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride were the mentors for this area. Martina takes the stage to sing her version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” It was pretty. And only Keith stood up to applaud.

Clark has been one of Scott’s favorite to win since the beginning but he gave a reality check to Clark. Jay said there is no doubt he can sing the crap out of the song, but where is his soul of the man delivering the song. (This has been a frequent criticism of the judges to Clark as well). Scott said they have argued about this–if he loses this competition it is because he is doing the wrong things. Clark came back saying that if this (the song) makes him lose the competition then he doesn’t want to win it. Scott said, “Fair enough.” Jay then said the only thing he would encourage him to do then in his position is to listen to the folks that he has been blessed enough to have put around you. Clark turns red. Scott adds “This isn’t American Musician. Okay? It isn’t. You keep throwing all these chords–all this stuff. You are on the fast track to a Holiday Inn with this kind of music. I don’t know what I have to do to make you understand.” Clark says at the end of the day he has to take what works for him and what he thinks as an artist is the best. Scott says, “Well…live by the sword my friend.” Jay said he respects his resolve. He doesn’t think it is going to work out for him, but he respects his resolve. This is not good. If Clark was good enough on his own not to need help, he would have already been on the charts. I think if I was Scott, I would see TROUBLE ahead if he won’t take the advice on songs in this competition. What would it be like for him to win? All I could see is a future of head butting. And a record company investing millions of dollars in someone is not going to tolerate that. I can tell you that the judges, seeing this, is not going to make them happy going into the song. He sings “Your Man” by Josh Turner. Oh no! It’s the Scotty song! Scott and Jay were right. He is singing the song really well. I think he thinks that squinting his eyes translates into showing his soul. But for me I liked that the song sounded different from the original or even Scotty McCreery’s version, but the emotion fell flat. I want the Clark back from the auditions. Jennifer thought he sang it well. Is this his gravy song? She thinks to his earlier songs and how they blew them away and this didn’t do that. Harry says it boils down to extremely hyperspecific song choice. The song was kind of tepid. Keith said he needs hit singles right now because he has the voice. Clark says he has no regrets singing that song. He talks about those minor chords being sexy and Harry chimes in that if he thinks it is sexy, sing it sexy. Clark felt he needed to clarify what he said in the package that he just believes this is what he is meant to play. Jennifer added that as an entertainer it is also his responsibility of creating an amazing moment for his audience. Keith said don’t confuse people liking him with the music that he is playing. If he gets it right they will love all of it.

Jax was mentored by Martina McBride. Martina had no noted for her. She loved it. She sings “Human” by Christina Perri. Finally some goosebumps. Serious goosebumps. That was awesome! Harry said “I think they liked it.” He said this was a perfect example of the technical versus the emotional. There were pitch issues all over the place but he felt what she was doing. She completely let herself go. Ultimately that trumps everything. Keith said it was such a perfect song because right now she is fragile-only human. He could see it. It was perfect tonight; she killed it. Jennifer said she loved it too. She loves that she connects to different people in the audience. That is what music should feel like. It was really great. Harry joked that he was worried they lost her in the clouds and that he was going to dive in to get her.

Steven Tyler wants to sing with Jax at the finale and she is ecstatic.

Rayvon had a great mentoring session with Jay and Scott. Scott tells him that was the best performance all season that they have had with a mentoring session. Rayvon dedicated “Believe” by Justin Bieber to his mother. I got goosebumps. Major goosebumps!! And tears. He made me cry. Keith said he sang phenomenally just then but the most incredible thing was watching his mom–she was at church–whew my boy! It was beautiful. Jennifer said that is what she is talking about–see the difference between what you did before and now. He said yes. She said that he has to do that every single time. She was crying, everybody was crying. Harry said there were about 15 people who wrote that song and each would have been very happy to have heard him sing that. Ryan invites mom up to the stage to give her son a hug.

Last up is Nick Fradiani and he takes on Rascal Flatts song “What Hurts The Most” and Jay picked up a guitar and joined in. Scott approved of his song choice. Jay tells Nick he has to go for the jugular–this is no time to back off. Jay suggests he just sing at the microphone versus being “that band guy.” he looked really awkward about singing without an instrument and I think he was trying to sing as if he did have an instrument. It was a bit distracting and didn’t allow me to fully get into the song with him. I still think he did a better job than Clark. Jennifer said she was going to go out on a limb and say he was the star of the night. Harry said he could hear him singing that on his CD. He thought it sounded great and he thought he killed it. Keith thinks his fans are going to show their support by making that climb the ITunes chart.

For me, tonight it was Rayvon, then Jax, then Nick, then Clark. In my opinion, Clark is in trouble.





American Idol Top 4

12 05 2011

I think next season, American Idol should put a poll on-line of what “theme weeks” we want to hear. This week it seemed to be “one of these things is not like the other.” The contestants were asked to pick a song that inspires them. In the second half, they chose from a list of lyricist Jerome “Jerry” Leiber and composer Mike Stoller, who brought you long-ago hits like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog”, “Stand By Me” among many others. These song choices were mentored by Jimmy Iovine and Lady Gaga. I was looking forward to seeing the awkwardness of Lady Gaga and Scotty McCreery.

James Durbin got the sweet spots of both opening and closing the show. Part of being a contestant is choosing smart songs. While the audience is tired of hearing “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, especially given the resurge in popularity because of “The Sopranos” ending and for it being used in “Glee,” Randy Jackson is not. James did pick wisely; however, once again, his pitch was off. The last few shows when he is singing in his usual register, he has been mostly sharp. I think James enjoyed his time with Lady Gaga who helped him to move his hips better. When James does this, it is sexy (not so much on Scotty, see below). James closed the show with “Love Potion Number 9.” When comparing him to the other contestants, he is the most talented of the ones that are left. When comparing him to other Idol seasons, he is not quite there yet for me. He is my pick to win this year.

Haley Reinhart picked a self-indulgent song (“The Earth Song”) versus a song that is what she would produce as an artist. Perhaps she thought doing Michael Jackson was a risk, but it did not pay off. By the end of the song, she was screaming like a banshee. You could hear the strain in her voice. Wardrobe is making her wear that horrid red lipstick again. Randy and JLo had some issues with it; Haley did not take what she felt to be an attack well. The music industry is not for the timid, but one also needs to know their place within the music industry. She is a rookie and when professionals are giving her advice, even if it comes off as criticism and not constructive criticism, she should be eager to accept the advice and take what she can from it and apply it to her music. People who talk back to the judges are generally voted off, especially when it begins to go on and on. She told the judges, “That’s NOT the top of my range” and “You don’t have to say it again.” I had a feeling that the judges or maybe even Jimmy Iovine gave her advice during the earlier part of the week and she did not take it to hear. She enjoyed her time with Lady Gaga (I bet she is singing with her during the finale show). Even with Lady Gaga, however, she appeared a bit snarky. When Lady Gaga suggested a way to put a dramatic point into her song, she retorted, “Why?” It wasn’t a “why” as in, please teach me; it was more of a “why” like “why are you criticizing me.” I thought how she sang the song during the rehearsal sounded great, but it never translate to the stage, it seems. I’d like to see her do a stripped down song with no growling in it. The song in rehearsal had that. In the end, “I Who Have Nothing” was much better than her first song.

I had some thoughts that maybe the producers were going for reverse psychology in the voters. Perhaps they really want Haley in the final 3, but she wasn’t going to get there with the number of votes she was pulling in. So they set her up to take a fall with harsh criticism during the first number and then she is redeemed in the second number. I can tell you that people who would not have voted otherwise for Haley said in Twitter last night that they would be voting because of it. Whether her talking back turned off more voters than she gained trying to protect her, we will soon discover on the results show. There is one fan for sure of Haley’s — Casey. Did you see them cutting to him in the audience several times and he way-over-the-top support of her? Casey’s pheromones were on fire.

Scotty McCreery is a smart young man. People who chose patriotic songs do not get voted off. I think it was Kelly Pickler who did this when she was in jeopardy of being voted off and she was saved for another week; Simon told her it was a brilliant move. In light of the death of Osama Bin Laden by US forces, “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” was either a Rudy Giuliani move that will turn people off, or secure his place in the final 3. Poor Scotty. I was embarrassed for him with Lady Gaga. Was he old enough to even be in the same room with her? “Young Blood” by the Coasters was an embarrassment. I hated the weird Casey-like exaggerated eye movements. Note to Scotty: Please don’t try to move your hips or pelvic thrust; it’s just not sexy. I think he is secure in the final 3.

Lauren had the best night since her audition. I do not know what happened to this feisty young lady who auditioned and had the guts to sing a duet with Steven Tyler in the audition. It seems like she came to the stage and lost her nerve or was intimidated by the competition. I still do not believe that she believes fully in herself. She picked a smart inspirational song: “Anyway” by Martina McBride and did a wonderful job. Her time with Lady Gaga helped break her out of her shell and she performed a great rendition of “Trouble.” She came onto the stage very confident. But is it too late? I think this will all depend on the audience’s reaction to Haley.

I was thinking perhaps we could morph Lauren and Haley and create a new contestant called “Laley.” Laley would have Lauren’s voice and sweetness and Haley’s confidence.

Steven Tyler’s secret password this evening was “beautiful.”  Everything was ‘beautiful.”

If I have to call it, I think James and Scotty are definitely in the top 2. I think Lauren sneaks by because of Haley’s backtalk.