Thursday, April 09, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Top 7

At least a Top 7 will be the end result, after this week's elimination, but eight singers will perform. I am still trying to get a handle on all these format changes, and I am also going to try to keep my comments fairly limited as I live blog my watching of the DVR recording. Also, while I am not watching every second of "The Voice", from what I have seen, the talent this season seems to be a good deal stronger contestant per contestant then what we get on Idol. I stick with this show though, because it was the original and I believe in tradition.

The theme is "Billboard Hits." Seacrest sounds hoarse.

Based on last week, Who should be the Bottom Two:
Nick Fradiani and Joey Cook

Predicted Bottom Two:
Nick Fradiani and Rayvon Owen

The guest mentors are Florida-Georgia Line and Jason DeRulo. I wonder how former Idol winner Jordin Sparks feels about that. There may be nearly as many guest performances tonight than those from the contestants.

1. JAX- "Poker Face"

As she is apt to do, JAX puts a different spin on a well-known song. In this one by Lady Gaga, she slows it down and puts a lounge twist on in, and then it picked up tempo towards the end. She certainly has an interesting voice that might fit in with the contemporary scene, but this entire performance did not do too much to impress me. It just seemed somewhat off-kilter.

J Lo wants JAX not to go "so far left" that people will not get it. I agree and that is also extremely good advice for Democrat politicians. What does someone have to do to take a song to the "right?"

2. Nick Fradiani- "Teenage Dream"

Well, there goes one half of my prediction, as well as the fact that I thought he was the weakest contestant last week to advance (although there is certainly no disagreement with the outcome of the last round.) So, with Nick safe, pressure may fall most on Quentin perhaps.

As for this performance, I had sought out some song spoilers earlier today, and they seem to be accurate. I almost wish I would not have done so, as I went a few seasons without doing that. This is another interpretation of a modern song that I am not sure I really got. Nick sounded good at the beginning, and then his vocals got a bit frantic, as did the whole performance. It seemed too fast and thus he really did not seem emotionally connected to the lyrics. I will not judge Nick's portion of the weird segment when Harry Connick Jr. sings the song.

3. Quentin Alexander- "Latch"

With this "Q" safe, the numbers game may be tougher for Qaasim.

I do not know this Sam Smith song, and am I not sure if I really like it, but I think Quentin did a pretty good job, and was able to show off a different side to his vocals, as well as a bit of a more uptempo performance. It seemed like he pretty much earned passing grades on the falsetto parts of the song. His on stage wardrobe was fairly muted by his standards tonight.

Wow though, he has some extremely long fingernails for a dude and he does not even use them to play guitar. Perhaps he is making up for the Joey Cook armpit situation. Upon re-watching the performances from last week, I was nearly horrified by what I saw.

4. Joey Cook- "Wrecking Ball"

Apparently, enough people in America were not as horrified. So, by the process of elimination, this pretty much clinches an upcoming Rayvon vs. Qaasim singoff for the save in a bit, because there is no way that Clark or Tyanna would be or could be in the Bottom Two.

These are all songs that are currently in the Top 100?  "Poker Face" and "Teenage Dream" have not fallen off that chart yet?

It was interesting that the recently engaged Joey chose to sing this Miley Cyrus tune without changing the arrangement and while wearing a grungy looking wedding dress. At least it was not sleeveless. Vocally, this had some pluses, and she did still sing it in her trademark affected way, but she remained very serious while doing so, even while struggling to reign in the "crab hands" part of her performance. When she sang softly, it was effective, but I do not think she has the pipes to take on the big parts of this song.

The judges tell her how she "stands apart", but to me, she and JAX are easily as similar vocal wise as anybody in the competition.

5. Clark Beckham- "Make It Rain"

Whenever the next contestant is about to be announced as to whom has survived, I can hear people in the audience yelling the most for Clark. My sense is that he is a serious favorite to take the Idol title this year, and tonight's performance probably does not change it.

This Ed Sheeran song may not be all that exciting, but Clark certainly made it sound interesting, even as he stopped singing for a few seconds for a bit of an electric guitar solo. At least for tonight thus far, it was in a different league vocally than anything else already heard by the other contestants.

Breaking News from Idol: It's a Top Five tour this summer. Talk about downsizing! That's five more jobs lost under Obama.

6. Tyanna Jones- "Stay"

The only remaining minor in the competition dedicates this Rihanna song to her deceased grandmother, which sounds like it would be a manipulative move by many Idol contestants, but with Tyanna it seems very genuine. She was delivering about a perfect vocal as well, until almost the end when emotions seemed to briefly get the best of her and her voice. She managed to hang on until the end, but appears on the verge of a breakdown as I have paused the recording right when she finished.

I bet the judges are going to love it and give her a "redemption" storyline, although I still think she has been pretty consistent throughout this competition. It may be tough for her to ultimately defeat the white guy with the guitar, but Tyanna has shown from her audition that she is going to have a great opportunity to make a name for herself in the music industry.

Next, I am anticipating Rayvon to sing first, followed by Qaasim. That's only fair. After all, when Rayvon was in this position last week, he went second. My hunch is that Qaasim will have more young fans on Twitter than Rayvon, who probably only beat Daniel Seavey last week because the fans of the other contestants decided to band together to finally knock Daniel off the show. For some reason, I never really looked at that aspect in my snap prediction on the fan save last week. I was mostly just looking at it in regards to the individual fan bases. After the two performances, I will see if there is a reason for me to change my mind.

7. Rayvon Owen- "Set Fire To The Rain"

The more Rayvon has to sing for his life, the later in the broadcast he will continue to get to sing. Was he wearing his Belmont University graduation tassle as a necklace?

For the second week in a row, Rayvon exceeded my expectations in this slot. I think I appreciate the sort of determined desperation he has brought to these "save me Twitterverse" attempts. Technically, he does a lot of things very well as a singer, but I still think he is lacking star-power. Next, we will see if Qaasim, who has already been saved by the judges, can sing in tune, while demonstrating his undeniable performance skills.

Rayvon pulls out the religious card when defending his "gravy." That could be a smart move.

8.  Qaasim Middleton- "Hey Ya"

I could do with less Rickey Minor pelvic thrusts on my tv, but as expected, this was a good performance by Qaasim and an interesting song selection for Idol. Vocally, I thought he held up fairly well. However, honesty compels me to say that while he is a far superior entertainer, his voice was not technically on par with Rayvon. So, while I would prefer to see what Qaasim would bring to the stage next week, if I am being fair and only judging this based on the vocals, the Twitter save should go, once again, to Rayvon. Nonetheless, I am going to predict that the vote will shake out (perhaps like a Polaroid picture) for Qaasim.

Before I see what the results were, here are my complete rankings for the week:

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

However this Twitter vote went, Qaasim ought to cut off some of his hair and donate it to Rayvon.

Who was eliminated: Qaasim Middleton

Well, there we have it. Rayvon is a better singer and thus I should feel like this was the right result, but Qaasim was the better contestant, if that makes sense. After some of his early performances, I really thought Qaasim was going to go very far in this competition. It is amazing to think there will be a tour, and he will not even be on it. They would have sold more tickets with him on the bill.

Unfortunately for Qaasim, he had some very subpar vocal performances, after having so much hype. That might have surprised many people and hurt his momentum. A few weeks back, he of course had the lowest number of votes, but was saved by the judges', even after a shaky vocal singing for that honor. That allowed him to do his thing on stage a bit more, and there is little doubt that he will continue in show business somehow.

When it comes to this Twitter thing, Rayvon has proven once again that someone who appeals to older folks can beat out someone who appeals to younger viewers. I tend to doubt that a lot of fans of the other contestants voted strategically this week to get rid of Qaasim.

The more humble Rayvon, a Tennessean, also certainly appealed more to Idol diehards in the heartland, and in the South than Qaasim, the Brooklynite. Rudy Giuliani never sold himself to GOP primary voters and Idol contestants from the NYC Metro area, such as Pia Toscano, have also never been able to crack through the Idol base. Qaasim is in that tradition.

JAX and Nick should be the Bottom Two next week, and one of them probably will be. I will go with JAX to be singing for the save and I will predict her counterpart will be someone who knows the position quite well. Of course, that will be Rayvon.


At 12:38 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey: these format changes are HORRIBLE!

It's going to backfire on Idol!


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