Friday, March 20, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Top 10

Thursday night brought about the one night that American Idol aired this week. I am going to live blog this again off a DVR recording and it will be past midnight when I finish, which will explain why I will say "tonight."

The theme was Movies and the mentor was Nile Rodgers. The broadcast began with Rodgers leading the 11 remaining Finalists in practicing Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and then it quickly shot to the Idol stage where a group number was about to begin. Oh crap, I thought, how am I going to rank them on this? The whole thing was over though in about 30 seconds and all of the 11 kids sang completely in unison. There were no solos, each kid got about 3 seconds of a camera close-up, it was probably edited from earlier in the evening, and they may very well have been lip synching the whole thing. I suppose it sounded decent enough for a large Idol group number, but there legitimately was no reason to judge this or rank the contestants as a formal part of the competition. In fact, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon came out to join Seacrest live and officially told the Idol Finalists to "start your competition."

Who should be eliminated: Daniel Seavey
Who I predict will be eliminated: JAX

1. Adanna Duru- "Love You I Do"

There is not really too much I can offer in regards to a review, and that might be a theme for me this late evening. This was a Jennifer Hudson song from "Dreamgirls" that I do not really know, but somehow I think J-Hud might sing it better. That is not to say that Adanna do not do a very credible job. She has a strong voice, although can be a bit inconsistent on some verses. When she wants to belt though, she can pull it off and she is a strong stage performer as well.

2. Daniel Seavey- "Lost Stars"

Well, once again I am not surprised that survived via the vote. I suppose I can live with that after Benjamin Netanyahu's wonderful electoral victory earlier in the week in Israel.

Daniel wanted to play the piano but was talked into performing along with the acoustic guitar instead. I do not know this song and the lyrics might have perhaps been a bit age appropriate for the singer who slightly resembles a fetus Adam Levine. Needless to say, most of this was quite shaky vocally and Daniel continued to look pretty nervous while performing. For what it is worth, he might have picked up a little bit of comfort and improvement towards the end.

3. Rayvon Owen- "Stayin' Alive"

To make the obvious pun, Rayvon has been stayin' alive in the competition, although they always seem to make him perform towards the beginning of the show. Maybe if he offered to take off the hat for a big reveal, they would give him the pimp spot.

This well known song was performed almost entirely in falsetto. I guess that would make him Barry Gibb, although he was apparently trying to sound like Prince. He certainly does have some vocal tricks down pretty well and he shows it off each week, but this is another performance from Rayvon that did not feel entirely consistent. He may not be able to do much more with his voice other than what he has shown thus far.

The judges are definitely being more critical than they have been all season.

4. Nick Fradiani- "Danger Zone"

Sort of a risky song title choice for a contestant who probably feels like he is hanging on by a thread each week. It was talked about how Nick was taking a risk performing without his guitar, and while he thankfully did not break into a cheesy air guitar during the song, his movement around stage and interaction with the audience seemed sort of awkward.

Vocally though, this had some impressive moments. It was far from perfect but he was at least able to give it a good throwback '80s vibe I suppose.

5. Joey Cook- "Mad World"

I bet this song choice is going to piss Adam Lambert's fans off in a major way. It was pretty bold to attempt this on American Idol, with similar staging to how Lambert did a few years ago. She began by singing a different verse of the song though.

I have to admit, this was pretty good. Joey continues to have a stylized, affected voice while she sings, which while not my favorite might be continuing to grow on me. She gave an impressive and connected interpretation of this dark song and definitely showed she is far more substantial of an artist than some of the performances she gave earlier in the season which came off as a joke. Is she growing in the competition or has she been holding back the whole time?

6. Tyanna Jones- "Circle Of Life"

Another song that was previously done in quite a memorable way in past Idol history here. Back in the George W. Bush Administration, the aforementioned Jennifer Hudson performed this song from "The Lion King" and just slayed it. I was hoping that Tyanna would be able to garner similar compliments, and while I thought it was really pretty good, it was not on that J-Hud Idol stage level. There is absolutely no doubt that Tyanna has loads of talent, but the arrangement felt like it kicked in to the big notes too fast and that there were so many of them, her voice sounded slightly strained at times.

I will not be ranking J.Lo's performance. It is probably going to be lip synched anyway. Well, maybe with some auto-tune at least. This does seem like she is singing live, but it might have taken several takes. Ok, definitely some backing tracks towards the end along with her voice.

7. Quentin Alexander- "You're The One That I Want"

This was a really interesting song selection and the interpretation and performance really was quite compelling. I think Quentin took major steps in winning people over tonight (maybe despite the return of the nostril ring) by showing his artistry and vocal talent. Was this an arrangement he thought of himself? In any event, I really find it hard to find anything too critical to say about his take on the John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John duet from "Grease."

Keith Urban says he has heard the version before. The judges are being surprisingly critical. I am surprised they did not give him a standing ovation. I did not detect it being out of tune, but I am not an expert. We all have our personal tastes I guess and I liked this.

8. Maddie Walker- "Let's Heart It For the Boy"

Suddenly, my prediction of the lowest vote total going to JAX might be looking good. I will be extremely surprised if that distinction went to Clark or Qaasim, although the latter was really not that good last Thursday.

It was interesting in the judges' preview comments, right before the contestants sing, J Lo expressed doubt that Maddie could pull this off and that the song might be too "light" for her. I do not know if the contestants can hear those words or not, but if so, that's a pretty lousy thing to do to them right before they sing.

However, those words did prove to be pretty accurate. This was a pretty sub-par vocal from Maddie. It was mentioned that she had been sick and missed out on some things this week, without explaining exactly what was wrong. Apparently, there was some drama this week as to whether or not she would be able to perform. It did seem like maybe she was a bit "medicated" this evening. Hopefully, everything will be ok for her health-wise, but like Daniel, she may be out of her depth at this point in the competition.

And here comes Kenny Loggins to butcher "Footloose." I guess this is all good practice for 80s week next week, featuring guest mentor Boy George. I thought he was in prison. Vocally, it is possible that Kenny sounds worse than Daniel. At least he has the excuse of being past his prime.

9. Clark Beckham- "Sunday Morning"

It feels like this was a song he wanted to sing during the competition and somehow it was in "Cheaper By The Dozen 2", so it qualified this week.

This song is a bit boring for me and I thought it started out that way for Clark as well, although he was singing it well. As it went on though, he was able to infuse some emotion into it and it got even better. It may not have been amazing for me, but he is definitely in the (Non-Danger) Zone.  This sensitive acoustic guitar driven played by a white boy performance only works to solidify his status as a very plausible winner of Season 14.

Now, we reach the "cliffhanger" portion of the evening. Last week, I had Qaasim ranked 10th, after thinking he was easily one of the strongest competitors of the season before that and I had JAX ranked 9th. So, it is tough to say what I really want to happen, but I still think JAX is going to have the lowest votes. Didn't she threaten to steal Qaasim's "v card" during Hollywood Week? Whatever happened with that storyline?

Ok, I was wrong.

Who received the lowest amount of votes: Qaasim Middleton

So, before we get to the final two performances, let's briefly discuss this. It is true that he was surprisingly bad when he tried to do more singing than dancing last week, but this is still fairly shocking to me. He had what seemed like such a dominating performance in Detroit on "Uptown Funk" and I really thought he would be around for a very long time this season, at the expensive of other contestants like Quentin. Now, we know that Qaasim received the lowest amount of votes and since we have no idea who has been in the Bottom Three previous weeks this season, I will have to surmise that he may have had less support than I initially anticipated. It just may be the fact that he is a black guy with dreadlocks who comes across with a tremendous amount of Brooklyn swagger and perhaps cockiness works to his disadvantage. There has really been nothing that I have seen from Qaasim this season to make me dislike him, but apparently a lot of the older folks in Middle America are not feeling it. There is definitely something about being from New York that does not work out well for Idol contestants. See, Tiscano, Pia.

Qaasim may very well be a likely candidate to get saved by the judges, but even if he is back next week, he really will be on borrowed time now.

10. JAX- "Grow Old With You"

She did an original Adam Sandler tune? Maybe she should have done "The Hannukah Song" for the Jewish vote. This was weird, but JAX has been pretty weird the entire competition. Was there not a zong about zombies?

I am sure that some people will have liked this performance and found it sweet. While I have seen "The Wedding Singer", I do not really remember this song from it. It is probably impressive how she was able to make it seem slightly less silly than it would have originally been, but I do not know if it did a lot to showcase her as a vocalist.

Now, I suppose Qaasim is going to sing his movie song, without the benefit of America getting to see the video piece in which he describes the movie he would star in. That would have to be considered at least a bit of a disadvantage if he is around for next week's vote.

11. Qaasim Middleton- "Come Together"

This song has been done a lot on Idol, but I sort of have the sense Qaasim is over this competition and really does not care if he is saved. He had props and even dropped the mic at the end.

I would classify this as another interesting performance but subpar vocal. I have to wonder now how I managed to have been impressed by his singing for the first two or three performances. For whatever reason, his voice has seemed very shaky now two weeks in a row. Maybe he should try to restart Milli Vanilli with his younger brother, so he can just focus on dancing and throwing his hair around.

When I un-pause the recording, I will see if the judges saved him. There is no doubt that he brings an element to the season that would be very much lacking without him, but on the basis of his singing, the judges may find it tough to rationalize using their one save. This could go either way, but I am leaning no.

Indeed they do save him. This is the second season in a row when the save has been used on young male singers who had much hype on the show, after Sam Woolf last year. The vocals are probably going to continue to be suspect for Qaasim, but at least it is always going to be interesting to see what he will be doing on stage. Much of Middle America though has already written him off, but at least any sort of Al Sharpton NYC protest can wait a week.


11. Daniel Seavey
10. Maddie Walker
9. Qaasim Middleton
8. JAX
(so far exactly how I had it last week)

7. Rayvon Owen
6. Nick Fradiani
5. Adanna Duru
4. Tyanna Jones
3. Joey Cook
2. Clark Beckham
1. Quentin Alexander

Some very surprising positioning this week, especially as it relates to Joey. Either Daniel or Maddie really should go next week, but I am going to guess that it will be bad news for Adanna, who had to lead off the show with her solo, with 12 others following, including J Lo and K Log.

ETA, oh yeah, double elimination now next week (and apparently no more tour.) This is tough. Qaasim might find himself on the chopping block again, and so may Nick. My second prediction will be Rayvon however.


At 8:00 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey, considering Dial Idol hasn't been updated in recent years, I wouldn't be surprised if they shut it down!


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