Friday, April 17, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Top 6

Right now, it is sort of late on Thursday night, and I am about to watch last night's Idol show on DVR and live blog it. The date of this post may be Friday by the time I am finished.

A benefit of being a fan of both an NHL team and NBA team good enough to be in the playoffs (as well as a first place baseball team as of this morning), is that there is a lot to watch and follow this time of year. There are only so many hours in the day though, so something has to give. Last night, it was American Idol. I am going to catch up on it now though and continue to take this on a week by week basis. I have not seen the episode and I do not know what happened, although I could not help but come across some stuff online indicating that there was some kind of incident between Quentin Alexander and Harry Connick Jr. I cannot wait to see what that was all about.

The theme last night was "American Classics" and my mother, who has already seen the show and said it was the most entertaining of the season, said the contestants sing two songs each. Does that mean that everyone is going to get a chance in the first round before the Bottom Two are revealed for the Twitter sing-off? If so, what is the point of turning the stupid chairs green? I will just rank all the performances as they come and deal with whatever the format is once it is clear.

Based on last week, the Bottom Two should be:

JAX and Nick Fradiani

Predicted Bottom Two:

JAX and Rayvon Owen

1. Tyanna Jones- "Why Do Fools Fall In Love"

No wonder my mother was a fan of this episode. She sang this song back in 1983 for the talent portion of a local cable tv game show en route to a first place finish and winning a 1957 Chevy, which my family has had ever since.

Maybe my mom will claim that she sang it better than Tyanna. I will have to ask. Anyways, Tyanna sang it well, but this type of performance might wind up being fairly forgettable. It really has no relevance to what kind of artist she would be after Idol.

2. Clark Beckham- "Superstition"

Seacrest is using the term "safe" to welcome the contestants to stage, so maybe that means that the Bottom Two will have to sit through an entire second round as well.

This was not horrible, but I do not the performance lived up to some of the recent ones that Clark has done. It seemed like he was trying to hard to be "jazzy" or whatever, with the electric guitar and it seemed sort of awkward. Maybe he was trying to do too much to infuse interesting moments vocally. Some of the notes sounded a bit off the mark.

3. JAX- "Piece Of My Heart"

I would not necessarily associate JAX with having the pipes to sing this fairly iconic Janis Joplin song, but somewhat surprisingly, I think she pulled it off. Her voice may not be perfect, but out of the three performances thus far, she easily had the highest degree of difficulty, so I have to give her points for being able to pull it off fairly well and seem "relevant."

4. Nick Fradiani- "American Girl"

So, Nick is definitely thru to next week if I am understanding this week's  format correctly. He's absolutely right that the playoffs are now getting underway in professional sports and he is comparing his time left in the competition to that. Probably not a bad attitude, but since he is not wearing red and black, I cannot blindly support him in this.

Frankly, I did not think this performance was good enough. How is this song considered an "American Classic?" Tom Petty definitely has a lot of better known ones. To me, this song has more of a laid back vibe to it, and Nick was all kinds of frantic on stage between his singing, guitar playing, and super-sized facial expressions. I can tell he is really trying hard and wants to "connect" as a performer, but that sort of desperation makes his voice kind of annoying to me. The judges definitely disagree with me.

Quentin is looking kind of surly already. Either he or Joey Cook are about to be the last one declared "safe."
 Yes, it's him.

5. Quentin Alexander- "Are You Gonna Go My Way"

He did try to play off his physical resemblance to Lenny Kravitz, but for some, this probably felt like a second-class impersonation. I actually thought Quentin sang the song very well though, and like JAX, at least he was interesting and attempted something ambitious.  The other three performances were just sort of forgettable. There was probably a bum note or two, but I thought he pulled off what he wanted to do and it was good to hear something "rockish" on Idol this season.

During the performance, he walked down by the judges and messed up Harry Connick Jr.'s notes or something. Is this what the brouhaha was about?

Ok, so Connick said that he felt that Quentin was overpowered by the band. I actually did not think that way, although I had that thought about Clark's performance. Quintin definitely looks pissed off while standing on stage and waiting for Seacrest to walk out and interview him. Is this whole thing going to be a staged bit? I am so cynical when it comes to American Idol.

Quentin says it "sucks" that Rayvon and Joey are the Bottom Two because they are so good. Yeah, I think it should have been JAX and Nick. Does he wish though that he was not safe instead of them? He does realize it is a competition and they are eventually all going to have to be cut but one? I would have had Rayvon safe over Quentin as well, based on last week.

( I am pausing my viewing of Idol for a minute or so to see the St. Louis Blues drop Game 1)

So, Connick basically just said what I was thinking about the whole thing. Quentin walked over and tried to clarify.  I guess it was HCJ saying that QA was "disrespectful" and not the other way around, which is what I thought I had seen online. Quentin is coming off oddly in this though. He knew what he was signing up for. Only one of Joey and Rayvon will be leaving after the show. The result tonight is not going to make or break the life or career for either of them. Neither are going to win the season anyway and neither is Quentin anyway. By talking so much, he might have hastened an earlier exit though. Some people may be less likely to vote for an "angry black man" in a see thru chain link vest of some sorts. As for me, I thought he had the best performance so far tonight.

After the commerical, Quentin is suddenly smiling and telling the camera, "I had so much fun." Yeah right.

6. Joey Cook- "My Funny Valentine"

I bet HCJ is going to have some strong opinions on this song choice. I remember him ripping apart Amber something (how quickly I forget) for not understanding the lyrics of the song.

Apparently, the "Save" will not be done until the end, but I do not know if Joey and Rayvon will get to sing two songs each. It has to be mentioned though that in regards to the Twitter Save thing, that the only people who are watching live and able to vote live in the Eastern and Central time zones. Anyone in the Mountain or Pacific time zones (and even later in Alaska and Hawai'i) are not going to be seeing the show live and if they want to vote on Twitter, they are just going to have to do so based on fan loyalty. I am sure that the contestants each have fan bases mobilized to tweet out during the designated times that someone needs to be saved, but this would certainly put a West Coast contestant (such as Daniel Seavey was) at a disadvantage.

Back to Joey.. this was pretty weak. I guess she thought she could show off that she has true vocal ability, but I think she sounded sort of boring and off-key. I think she realizes that as she looked very upset after she finished singing. The Quentin incident is maybe having an impact on the whole room. She would have been better served by doing her shtick of being quirky etc. Thankfully, the cameras did not catch her raising her arms this week (at least not yet.)

Connick did not hate it. Joey is as surprised as anyone. That Amber girl if she was watching, probably had to be restrained.

Joey comments that Quentin is going to be involved in her upcoming wedding by marrying her and her fiance, whilst on stilts or something. She was not exactly clear if she was referring to some sort of online minister certificate deal or polygamy. I guess nobody will be allowed to not bake them a cake in some states.

7. Rayvon Owen- "Long Train Running"

I need to type less if I plan on getting to sleep eventually tonight. I can remember the name of Jason Yeager though from Season 7, who got cut after doing some sort of weird dance sequence to this song.

Rayvon was dancing around too. I was not overly impressed by the whole thing, in the context of someone trying to be the next American Idol. He would be a damn good wedding singer though.

Round 1 Rankings:

7. Joey Cook
6. Nick Fradiani
5. Rayvon Owen
4. Clark Beckham
3. Tyanna Jones
2. JAX
1. Quentin Alexander (at least when he was just singing)


 I take it that anyone who began Tweeting early did not count. No early Tweeting on Idol although this season, the online voting is apparently open from the get-go each Wednesday.

8. Clark Beckham- "Moon River"

The order is switched up. I am assuming that Clark and Tyanna were the Top Two vote getters last week, and Idol is trying to subtly let the audience know that.

Hilarious. This is the other song that Jason Yeager did on Idol. Two in a row. I wonder if he is still a star in Branson, Missouri.

I tend to hate this song so Clark was not really able to impress me on this. He sang it well I suppose, while wearing a suit and playing piano this round, but it was boring. Something seems a bit "off" though for Clark tonight. He has done very well on other sorts of music and almost certainly has nothing to worry about.

Weird critiques. He got compared to an epidural. Bill Medley is in the house supporting Clark. Bringing in a celebrity supporter might be a new strategy.

I thought that was who that was, but my goodness, he got old. If it was not Bill Medley, I assumed it was Clark's grandfather. I looked it up. Bill Medley will turn 75 in a few months. Considering that, I suppose he looks ok. He would be a prime age to run for President this year as a Democrat.

9. Tyanna Jones- "Proud Mary"

She probably could use a different wardrobe person. Vocally, this was very good, but not an overwhelming type of performance. Didn't Jessica Sanchez, who I believe was the same age as Tyanna is now, get criticized for choosing this song, or was that because of a dress or something?

When the tempo of the song picked up, Tyanna did a good job of changing it up a bit, so it did not come across as trying to sing it exactly like Tina Turner, but towards the end, the performance felt somewhat forced.

10. Nick Fradiani- "Only The Good Die Young"

This was far better for me than Nick's first performance. Maybe he should eschew the guitar more. The way he slowed the arrangement of the song down was interesting and made it seem more profound or something. I have always liked this Billy Joel song as somewhat of a guilty pleasure, but it could also be perceived as anti-Catholic.  Not to sound overly cliche, but he just sounded better and seemed more "connected" in this round and I have a feeling a lot of older Idol viewers will have liked it.

11. Quentin Alexander- "The Sound of Silence"

Well, he certainly had two very different songs tonight,and once again I think Quentin was pretty strong. I did not detect him being pitchy, although he probably was to some extent. This was somewhat similar to many of his earlier performances this season, but he does the brooding thing while singing well and he has a really interesting voice, although he is probably more of a stage performer than someone who belongs on the radio.

If only he would have been "silent" in his interactions after his first song. Seacrest saying that he thought that Quentin was going to "hit" Connick was probably "disrespectful." I would not blame Quentin for taking offense at that. "I was raised better than that", was a pretty good response.

Are these songs that fans specifically chose for their Idol favorites to sing? I am not sure how they were selected.

12. JAX- "Beat It"

She plays the 9/11 card while talking about her father, who was an NYC firefighter. That will get her some votes, and this performance will too. My feelings are mixed though. I thought the beginning was really strong and that this could have been a "moment", but then it sort of fell apart vocally and I think she missed her timing at at least one point in regards to the lyrics.

It was definitely stylized but I can see why she might have a loyal fanbase of young girls. She may very well be the favorite for third place. I wish she could have maintained the momentum of the performance though voice wise. Taking on a Michael Jackson classic hit was a bold move, and I can admire her stage skills, but I am certain that Simon Cowell would have hated it. He sure took a hammer to Anoop Desai once when he did this song.

Free product placement on prime time tv for Lysol. They did not even need to be a sponsor. This show was weird Wednesday night.

13. Rayvon Owen- "Always On My Mind"

Anoop did this song too. Three weeks in a row, Rayvon sings towards the end of the show in an attempt to be "saved" and he sure seems to be able to rise to the occasion each time. I did not really like his first performance, but it was hard to find much fault with this number, at least in the context of the competition. It is a good song, (which was sort of presented by the producers as an ode to his absentee father thing) and he had a strong vocal performance. Can he make it three weeks in a row under the exact same circumstance or will his luck have finally run out? Let's see what Joey has in store for America.

14. Joey Cook- "Somebody To Love"

So, Joey is singing for her life against Rayvon. I thought it would be JAX in this position, but Joey has moved behind her in the battle for the same voters. It looks like maybe she trimmed under her arms as compared to two weeks ago...but still...let's move on.

This was the Jefferson Airplane song by that title and not Queen. Like most in this round, I thought Joey was a lot better here. It was an interesting arrangement and I thought she made it sound interesting. Still though, her vocals are very stylized and if it's not your cup of tea, which it is not for me, it is hard to be too praiseful.

Round Two Rankings:

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

Composite, including a surprising tiebreaker for 4th:

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

Predictions, including for the Twitter save are really hard. I keep going back and forth, but somehow Rayvon seems to know how to survive via that method and this could literally be a coin toss, but I think Rayvon will advance over Joey. That is what should happen of course. Let's see what went down..

The five minute wait is on. You know if Rayvon needs a hair transplant, maybe Joey can... nevermind. As a "surprise twist", they should let Quentin picks who stays on.

Next week, the remaining Idols will be singing "Arena Anthems."  I like that theme already. Apparently, the U.S. Womens' Soccer Team is going to be there. As mentors? Is Hope Solo going to smack some people around?

Who was eliminated:

Joey Cook

I finally called one of these Twitter things right. Rayvon hangs on again, this time with 52% of the vote. If it were not so late, I would think of a Congress Member who always survived barely at the polls.

Good luck to Joey in her marriage and career ahead of her. She has a place in the music industry, but it was never going to be as an Idol winner. She definitely came farther than I expected her to and had some pretty good performances along the way. I thought I would hate all of them and that was not the case. I only hated one out of the two tonight for example.

Next week, Rayvon will be back in the familiar position of singing for the people on Twitter and just because of the attitude thing, I have to assume it will be Quentin alongside him.

Based on the semi-spoilers I saw about Quentin getting into it with Harry Connick Jr, I was sort of expecting Quentin to have been the one that got eliminated on Wednesday. However, lo and behold, at least based on the vocals, I thought he put together the two most consistent performances. That is definitely a surprise to me, and I will cast a vote for him on Google, if the polls have not already closed..


At 8:38 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

I still have the gut feeling that a guy wins the Idol crown again!

It's not going to be an African American because of multiple AA contestants splitting the AA vote.


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