The chairs the contestants are sitting in are light Christmas trees now, green and red. If the chair is green, they are allowed to sing for your votes. This year, there are no result shows. Rayvon Owen’s name is called first—but wait!! His chair is still red. I’m going to have some fun with this. I think they should ditch that chair light thing next week. His song is “Burn” by Ellie Goulding. Was he out of breath before the song even started? He had a difficult time keeping breath control and dancing around on stage. When he needed his breath for his falsetto, it almost failed him. Keith said it was a killer song choice. Keith felt that was his best performance. Jennifer agreed. The song turned out even better than she thought. She said Rayvon caught the energy of the room. Harry thinks it was one of his stronger performances, too, but Harry wants to challenge him not to have the same arc on every performance. Harry says he shouldn’t make the climax at the end all the time because that is his arc. Instead start out strong. After Rayvon finished singing and getting feedback, he got to return to his green chair. Okay, now I see what the function is of it—in case someone is tuning in late, they can see if their favorites have made it with just a quick glance.
Maddie Walker is now part of the top 11. Because Scott Borchetta is helping her work on the performance portion of her song, I will watch it. Maddie (and probably Scott) picked “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean. It was a little flat, but her performance did improve. She looked more confident and was channeling some sexy. Since she is the only country singer in the group, she’ll get all the country votes and that will keep her in the competition. Even though she was flat, that was the second best song I have heard her sing, the first being her audition song. Jennifer said it was a great job and a really, really good performance from her. She is surprised at times at her strong vocals (just in a reminder kind of way). Harry thinks she needs to learn the difference between emulating and imitating. Emulating is to surpass your heroes; it sounds, however, like she is imitating them exactly. For example, this song she sang is exactly like the record. He wants to hear her interpretation of the song versus a direct copy of the song. Keith lightens things up by saying Maddie needs to stop going through Harry’s wardrobe. He commended her for taking chances and trying to come up out of her shell. But he thinks she is getting overwhelmed with what she is wearing, and how she is going to move and how she has to work to the camera, and her voice is going to come out more and more as they go through. Ryan brings up that she was not feeling well and she just said she was in pain today (didn’t say where) and Ryan shoos her off to get medical attention. I hope whatever it is will clear up soon for her. I am not sure why they bring these things up though. She handled it like a pro by performing and the audience didn’t even know anything was wrong until Ryan said something. Does that take away from her performance (finishing on a high note) or does that help to gather sympathy (and sometimes that backfires, too)?
Joey Cook makes it through. She is so funny. She wants to kiss everyone in the group before she gets to the stage. She is singing “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX. It is totally unrecognizable except for the lyrics and I LOVE IT. I think this is what Harry was trying to explain to Maddie. THAT WAS AWESOME. There are chants of Joey that brings tears to her eyes. Harry said he has to give her an A-plus (say what???) on a couple of fronts. The arrangement was brilliant. She sang it brilliantly. He thinks she is starting to feel that people think she is a star now on stage. Keith said she has this energy and presence about her that is “so artist.” Keith felt like a moth to her flame. She pulls people in. It’s extraordinary—the way she looks, the way she moves, the way she feels confident about that. She took the song, too, not because it was popular, but because she made it her own. Every week they see more facets to her that they have never seen before. Jennifer liked that she picked it because it is so popular. It was a really smart choice for her. To take a mainstream song and to put her own stamp on it. She would have liked to have heard a little bit more of the melody in it because people know it and they wanted to sing along with her to that but she could see her doing a whole album like that one day.
There was a slight break in the night to hear the song “No Apologies” by Jussie Smollett & Yazz from the Empire Season 1 Soundtrack performed by the two brothers on Empire, Jamal and Hakeem.
Clark Beckham is the next one to be called into the top 11. He sits at the piano and performs “Takin’ It to the Streets” by The Doobie Brothers. It was great. Not his best, but great. Keith said for him not to get confused with what he can do as a singer and what you must do as a person who needs to express. He has a phenomenal voice but Keith wants to feel like there is something he is trying to get out versus just having this incredible voice (I understand that—he needs to make an emotional connection. I think that is what he did do on his audition song which made us feel goosebumps). He wants to be inspired and he does have that in him. Jennifer liked him on the piano. She thinks Scott is right that everything needs to catch up to his vocals, like feeling as Keith was saying, his performance quality, He has something natural already; it is just expanding on that and getting more comfortable with that. When that happens it will be out of the park. Harry said it wasn’t his favorite performance (of his or of the night?) but says what he likes about Clark: He likes that he does not perform. He is a very introspective, inward-pointing guy. Instead of us watching Clark’s wheels turn, Harry thinks Clark is making their wheels turn to try to get inside his head. It wasn’t his favorite, but keep doing what he is doing. That has to be very confusing to all the contestants getting two opposing pieces of feedback).
Jax is up next. She is singing one of the song of Scott’s discoveries, Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” This is the first time I have heard her struggle a little bit in a song. But I still love her. She sounds out of breath, too. Jennifer didn’t think this was the right song for her. She didn’t feel really “Jax” on that song. She thinks she got overtaken by the music—she didn’t get that special quality that she has in her voice—it got swallowed up somehow. Harry said that one of her talents is taking an old song and making it new or taking a new song and making it different. That song sounded like a carbon copy of Taylor’s song. He also agrees with Jennifer. Keith said it was a good song choice as far as it being popular, but she was struggling to keep Jax in there. There was one point where she actually sang the harmony to it which is an example of either taking the song up in key or choose another song.
Qaasim Middleton is through. The theme tonight is “party songs” so I’m sure he is going to do just fine. Performance is his strong point. Qaasim takes up the electric guitar to sing “Jet” by Paul McCartney and Wings. This is the first time we are hearing his real singing voice. It is okay. I still enjoy his performances. I am glad he took the risk to show us this now. He has difficulty in the lower range of the song. I don’t mean for this to sound mean, but I think if he had sang like that for his audition, he would not have made it through. Harry asks him what he thinks the song lyric meant and Qaasim thought it was about women’s struggles and their suffrage, but he had heard it was about a giraffe. He thinks he is starting to turn into a one-trick pony. Harry receives his first boo of the season. Keith loved it. Keith felt his guitar helped his singing. He felt like that is the best he has heard him sing. Jennifer said that tonight was about party songs and for her Qaasim makes every song a party. Jennifer thought it was a great performance and she still doesn’t think they have heard him singing, but when he does it is going to be something really special.
Adanna Duru makes it through. At this point, I suspect Daniel is going home. She sings “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars. That was outstanding (except the last few notes). I have a much improved opinion about her. Keith felt like she had a lot of Tina Turner going on. Jennifer said she did everything they asked her to and she could see Adanna was trying so hard. Jennifer said the vocal was much better—the whole thing. Harry wants to echo what Jennifer said. Intonation—there were a few little issues but it was so much better. Good song choice. He liked the choreography. For him it was one of her better performances (I agree).
Tyanna Jones is in the top 11 (oh yay!) Week after week I keep saying she needs to do a Janelle Monae song and tonight we are getting one!!! “Tightrope.’ Tyanna happens to be a big fan of Janelle. It is a little flat at the beginning. Keith and Jennifer are standing! (I TOLD YOU IT WAS THE SONG SHE NEEDED TO DO!) And the crowd goes wild. Jennifer said she got goosies. Jennifer thinks Tyanna is so in control of everything. Harry said if he were a judge in the Olympics, he wouldn’t have clapped, he wouldn’t have stood up; he would have just given her a 10. THAT is high praise from Harry. Keith said in the opening piece she said, “I want to be able to do this forever.” She didn’t say, “I want to be a star.” She didn’t say “I want to be famous.” She said, “I want to do this forever.” Also something that touches him is that some people sing and they have this attitude of “look what I can do.” Some people sing and moan “Look what I have to do.” She sings and says, “Look what I get to do.” And that is beautiful.
Only three spots are left. One of those spots goes to Daniel Seavey. Oh boy. Now I’m worried for Quentin Alexander. If I had to pick Qaasim or Quentin, I would choose Quentin because he has a better singing voice but I am afraid his artistry doesn’t translate well for this kind of show. Daniel does not deserve that spot. His performance was the worst last week. He is singing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. If I didn’t know the lyrics, I would not have been able to understand the lyrics from Daniel (at least at the beginning of the song). It is flat. Damn those teeny boppers. It was out of tune the entire song and his voice was cracking. He looks like he should be on American Idol Junior. Harry said he is immensely talented. This performance felt the most comfortable to him out of everything he has done so far. Is he going to be able to hang with some of more experienced? He doesn’t know. Keith said he thinks they’ll hear from him again next week because he has such likability, he has great musicality. He is going to progress; he has already been doing it. Jennifer says that is the question: Is the competition too stiff? But it is impossible not to root for him.
Quentin Alexander MADE IT!!!!! I am so happy. I wonder if this means Nick is going home because Sarina-Joi is not. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele – Adele is tough to sing, but I think he is up for it. Bad song choice. I love Quentin and I love his voice but this song was not my favorite of all he has done. Keith loved the way he started it. He loved the different arrangement of the song. There was a spiritual thing he does with songs and he did it again. Jennifer says he brings a different flavor. It is always cool, soulful and solid. Harry says one of his greatest gifts is to dig down extremely into a lyric. He felt, though, it was a relatively shallow interpretation. He felt like he coasted over the song and they didn’t get to see what Quentin does every week. Harry said the song to him was about saying screw you to a lover and he didn’t think his smiling through the song was a good interpretation.
Nick or Sarina-Joi? Who will it be? Nick is safe. Sarina-Joi should have gotten Daniel’s spot. I’m sorry. She is too talented to be going home and they never use the save this early. Nick is singing “Wake Me Up” (Acoustic) by Aloe Blacc. Tonight I hear more Rob Thomas in his vocal. Jennifer thought it was a great song choice for him. It got a little away from him but he got it back in the end. Harry thought it was solid. He wants him to stop being so shy. Keith said that if he is used to playing with a band regularly it is a strange thing for a performer to stand out there a million miles from the band. It’s a strange feeling.
Sarina-Joi is singing for the judges’ save. I feel awful for her. After trying out all those previous times and now leaving way too soon. She is singing “Neon Lights” by Demi Lovato. She was a bit flat again, but how can you criticize that when I would be falling apart in tears right now and would not even be able to perform for a save? They are not using the save this week and Jennifer says she knows that breaks her heart. Sarina-Joi needs to remember that Jennifer Hudson did not win either and look how far she went.