Thursday, April 23, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Top 5

No Chicago playoff game tonight means I have some time to watch American Idol (and hopefully get some additional sleep after last night.) I am about to watch a DVR recording of the proceedings from earlier this evening and I will live blog. My intent is to be as concise as possible.

Based on last week, the Bottom Two should be:

Nick Fradiani and Clark Beckham

That sounds like I really have it out for the two remaining white males this season. While I think Clark coasted a bit last week, and others were more impressive, I think there is virtually no chance that Clark gets eliminated. He is a strong front-runner, and last week aside, most of his performances as of late have been extremely good.

Predicted Bottom Two:

Rayvon Owen and Quentin Alexander

 The show starts off with them milking the "controversy" over the Quentin vs. Harry thing last week.The franchise certainly needs any kind of publicity it can get.

The theme is Arena Anthems. Hopefully, it will be rocking. Tonight, the United Center is quiet after rocking for four straight days with Chicago post-season home victories.

The Top Five will make it to the summer tour. While most rock bands have about five members, Idol usually has at least 10 singers on tour. These kids may be sick of each other after a few weeks on the buses.

1. JAX- "Are You Gonna Be My Girl"

This is a modern song that I associate mostly with a television commercial, more than the kind of "arena anthem" I am hoping to hear tonight. JAX changed the pronoun in the song to "guy" and while I give her credit for attempting to sing a very wide variety of songs, in all different kinds of styles this season, this may have been my least favorite performance of hers. It sounded bad and seemed weird. She was trying too hard to be "current" and could have better showcased her voice on a lot of other songs.

The judges actually liked the mess. JAX is set to tour now and she remembers seeing the Season Five show, when she was five or six. I saw that show too when I was significantly older than that. I even blogged about that on here.

2. Nick Fradiani- "Harder To Breathe"

He definitely has fans, as he keeps sticking around, outside of the Bottom Two, despite having some inconsistent performances in my opinion. This was decent enough. The very beginning sounded like his timing with the band was maybe off a bit, but he gave a credible vocal performance, while also playing electric guitar. It sounded like something from the first decade of the 2000s though.

I have to consider now if Nick and JAX are possibilities to outlast Tyanna in the competition and if one of them might finish second to Clark. I have certainly preferred Tyanna throughout this season to at least make it to the Finale.

3. Clark Beckham- "Yesterday"

I am of course typing this before I hear the judges' comments, but to my surprise, this sounded kinda shaky in parts. Taking on this Beatles classic had the potential to be a "moment" for Clark, but he looked pretty nervous at the beginning and it sounded to me like he went sharp more than once when he tried to infuse big notes into the arrangement. At points, it sounded ok though. He seems upset with himself. The judges give him positive remarks. Perhaps, I am just being extra critical tonight. They allow Clark to spoil that he is singing a particular Justin Bieber song in the next round. They really want people to not change the channel.

I hope that Tyanna has made it through to next week, although fairness dictates me to state that I did have Quentin ranked ahead of everyone, vocally at least, last week.

4.  Tyanna Jones- "Party In the U.S.A."

My prediction is correct. Tyanna is in and we learn that everyone in her very large family has a name that begins with a T. They are like the black Duggars.

I have to say this pop song is a whole lot more palatable when sang by someone other than Miley Cyrus. Tyanna did pretty well with it, although the relatively simple range of the song probably limited her a bit. It was a very competent and "fun" performance though.

Before the performance, we saw a clip of a younger Tyanna trying to win tickets to a Miley show. Hopefully, she will not find herself down that same path. I assume she has better parenting than Miss Cyrus.

As predicted, Rayvon (once again) sings for the Twitter save against the mercurial Quentin.

5.  Quentin Alexander- "Light My Fire"

What can I say? I liked this. Part of me would like to see him falter, but I think he has a good voice and is a strong performer. The song choice definitely seemed to work for him. If he had a problem with the pitch again, I could not tell. He sings cover songs quite well. I have no idea what kind of music he would gravitate towards post-Idol though.

6. Rayvon Owen- "I'm Not The Only One"

Well, he is the only one who gets voted into the Bottom Two each week. Yet, somehow he has always survived those Twitter campaigns, and he might very well do so again tonight. We saw some photos of him without a hat on, although the vast majority of them seemed to be pre-High School. I am surprised that issue has not been broached on the air.

This performance sounded a lot like Rayvon's previous songs on the show. He sings ballads very well and this was good too.  It's kind of sad in a way that the best vocals tonight are from the people who are getting the least amount of votes.

Round 1 Rankings:

6. JAX
5. Clark Beckham
4. Nick Fradiani
3. Tyanna Jones
2. Rayvon Owen
1. Quentin Alexander


7. Nick Fradiani- "Maggie May"

Good song choice and a pretty decent performance for Nick to start off Round 2. When he sings these uptempo songs though, while playing guitar, it just seems like he is trying too hard to put too much into it. I preferred what he did in Round 2 last week, when he slowed down a well-known song. Nick did make some attempts to make this sound different than the Rod Stewart arrangement and I think his fans will like it. It just seems though like Nick is more of a bar or club singer. Perhaps he can make a decent living doing that, but I have a hard time imagining he will ever be selling out arenas.

Keith Urban somehow has stringed instruments at the desk as props. Why does it seem like the judges and Seacrest may be mixing up Nick and Clark in things they are talking about?

8. Tyanna Jones- "Heaven"

I have very mixed feelings on this, because I want Tyanna to do well, but this is getting to the stage of the competition where she could be in trouble next week.  She sang the Bryan Adams song, but I almost wish she would have done the Warrant song by the same name, because I really did not like the arrangement on this.

Her voice sounded nice, as it always does, but it felt like a talent show or pageant sort of performance. The arrangement was severely lacking as compared to the original, as well as many other cover versions I have heard over the years, including on tv singing shows. The vocal was almost "too pretty." It needed some more grit and passion, and I think Tyanna is good enough to have been able to pull that off.

There is such a thing as a "Snapchat Artist?" These things totally elude me. There are how many millions of Americans out of work, but someone is a "Snapchat Artist?" Thanks, Obama.

9. Clark Beckham- "Boyfriend"

Where was the "swag, swag" interlude? I can tell that American Idol desperately is hoping that this performance goes "viral" in the way that Kris Allen's take of "Heartless" by Kanye West once did. Clark did pretty well changing this song up and making it acoustic. I think he pretty much pulled off what he was hoping to, but I would rather hear Kris Allen sing this actually.

The judges are quite underwhelmed. I wonder what the Biebs thinks. This theme of "Arena Anthems" is not at all what I was hoping for. Where is Caleb Johnson when we need him? I would even settle for Adam Lambert with Queen at this point.

10. JAX- "White Flag"

I really did dislike what she did in the first round, but this was a whole lot better. She sounded "current" as she sang this ballad at a white piano. The stylized aspects of her voice seemed to mix well with the song. I do not know what else to say. I have a hunch she is going to be safe next week.

11. Quentin Alexander- "Shake It Out"

Fatigue and a need to sleep are becoming apparent for me, so I may not be expressing myself too clearly at this point. This was another strong performance for Quentin, particularly at the beginning. I do not know if I was as impressed by the chorus and the second verse, but Quentin did manage to hold a note for a long time.

There are fans in the audience holding up signs where his name is misspelled. That is not a good omen for the Twitter thing.

12. Rayvon Owen- "Go Your Own Way"

I actually liked it when the three judges and Randy Jackson combined to do this song on the Finale last year. Rayvon made a good attempt at something that is not a ballad, and at a wedding or Bar Mitzvah, this might have worked, but the vocals seemed lacking. The band overpowered him and it seemed like he was running out of stream trying to keep up, although he sort of landed a big note at the end.

Round 2 Rankings:

6. Rayvon Owen
5. Nick Fradiani
4. Tyanna Jones
3. Clark Beckham
2. Quentin Alexander
1. JAX

Composite, with tiebreakers:

6. Nick Fradiani
5. Clark Beckham
4. Rayvon Owen
3. JAX
2. Tyanna Jones
1. Quentin Alexander

So, once again, I am surprised at how long I have Clark and how high I have Quentin. I thought he was easily the most consistent throughout two songs, for the second week in a row. However, none of that may matter.

 For the first time in these four weeks, I think Twitter should dump Rayvon. However, betting against him in a Twitter save at this point is like voting against a Paul in an online straw poll. Had Quentin's attitude not alienated so many people last week, he might have more of a chance here, and while he deserves to make the tour and stay on the show, I think it will once again be Quentin.

I do not know how much money the contestants will get for the tour this summer, but it's probably far more than they would be making otherwise, so this "save" is kind of a big deal.

Who was eliminated: Quentin Alexander

Before Seacrest announces the results (I am basically dozing off at this point), Quentin is telling Rayvon "congratulations" and indeed Rayvon does accomplish the Hat Trick (how fitting) plus one of winning all four Twitter saves.

Quentin is gone, despite having some good performances, but he only has himself to blame for what happened last week. He seemed more centered on this episode, whether it was an act or not. It is also that his whole style and appearance are a bit much to take for mainstream America. This conservative Republican thought he was pretty good though in most of his performances. I do not know what the future holds for him musically, but he certainly has talent.

Now, the Twitter Save is gone, and the person with the lowest amount of votes is going home. I think we can say with some certainty that Rayvon will be in the Bottom Two once again.

Nick should be the one to leave, but I think it may be pretty close between him and Tyanna after this week, and based on who is voting. I would like to see Tyanna stay on the show and be stronger than she might have been tonight in the next few weeks, so since Quentin is out, I will cast my votes for Tyanna via Google.

All things considered though, Ravyon's run ending next Wednesday is my prediction.


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