Wednesday, April 01, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Top 8

April Fools Day is nearly over, but I am about to watch and liveblog a recording of tonight's American Idol, where nine will become eight and supposedly, all the songs will be that of the original American Idol winner. There is no doubt that Kelly Clarkson has managed to have a pretty solid career over the past decade plus. Would the once thriving American Idol franchise have been where it was, and still around, in a lesser capacity today, if not for her success? I do not like all of her music, but there is no doubt she was a very good singer and a worthy winner way back in 2002 (when many people were much thinner). Some of her songs are pretty good as well in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

Of course, someone is going home tonight. Let us set the stage before I begin watching.

Who should have been eliminated: Daniel Seavey
Who I predicted would be eliminated: Quentin Alexander

Please, no group number that I have to judge and rank...

Ruben Studdard beings out the results. That means three winners of AI will be on stage tonight. There's a twist now that the bottom two will perform and America will vote to save one via Twitter live. I think they stole that from The Voice. How can they guarantee that just Americans will be voting? They did not need these kind of shenanigans back when Kelly and Ruben were on the show. What percent of Americans are like me and not on Twitter?

I guess this means I need to make a Final Two Prediction, and then put aside last week's results to focus on the new aspect of the competition tonight. Based on last week, Joey Cook should join Daniel Seavey in the Bottom Two, but I will predict that it will be Rayvon Owen joining Quentin Alexander. This "twist" may work out well for Quentin. We will see what happens.

1. Nick Fradiani- "Catch My Breath"

I thought it started off credibly enough but as it got into bigger parts of the song as well, Nick might have gone a little off kilter and tried to do too much with it. That started when he sort of encouraged the audience to do something, but not on his microphone and it seemed like an awkward waste of a second or two. This might have been better if he had done a stripped down, acoustic guitar driven version of the song.

2. JAX- "Beautiful Disaster"

She pretty was able to do what she sent out to do on this song. She is a very stylized, "modern" singer, and thus old or emering old people like me may not totally dig her style, but it seemed like she sang this very well. I think she is gaining in confidence as it relates to her performances and JAX may be on an upswing at this point in the competition.

Next, the nine contestants performed as a group number, "People Like Us." I was torn what to do with this, as they sang together as a nine piece, and also in unison as three trios.  You could kind of hear everybody's voice during that part, but the standard I am going to set this season is that if they did not get a solo, if everyone does not get a solo in these group numbers, then I am not going to consider it a formal competition performance, as I did with group numbers in some recent seasons. The performance itself started off pretty shaky and then they got it together a bit at the end. Was any of this done with the help of pre-recorded vocal backing tracks?

3. Tyanna Jones- "Mr. Know It All"

After the group performance, Tyanna sticks around on stage because she will be next and she connects with this Kelly Clarkson song by saying she can relate to her experience having been bullied. One thought I have is that haven't we all been bullied at some point when we are kids? However, I see where she is coming from because "bullying" has been on my mind this week as it relates to politics, from left-wing online bullies who try to dehumanize anybody who disagrees with them, to the despicable Harry Reid who states he has no regrets about lying about Mitt Romney and his having paid taxes on the Senate floor because the election worked out the way he wanted, to the inaccurate and hysterical manufactured outrage on the left in regards to a law in Indiana, and those who want to bully anybody who disagrees with them. Standing up to bullies, whenever possible is usually the right thing to do.

I will save some of that for my Presidential politics post on Saturday though and get back to Tyanna, who I thought once again had a very good performance. I wonder if maybe she was slightly off key on some notes, but her voice is just so strong and cuts through so well, she is just very impressive to listen to.

Speaking of bullies, there is Gordon Ramsey. That's all pretty much an act though probably but Amy's Baking Company may disagree. Candice Glover is also in the house. That makes four winners there tonight. It's sad for her that she had to "take a year off" after winning Idol. The prize is just not what it used to be. I wonder if Caleb Johnson is already on an extended vacation. Is Ruben dating Vonzell Soloman from Season 4? Yeah, probably not.

4. Joey Cook- "Miss Independent"

Well, I ranked her 8 out of 9 last week, so no Bottom Two this week though for her.  Joey continues the pronoun theme and I thought this was a good deal better than last week. However, her retro jazz take on an anthemic song had some ups and downs. It definitely fit her style though and this kind of vibe was definitely what she should be doing after the show. She's a niche act though. It is hard to make a case why she should win the season based on her voice. I like somethings she did with the song, but then it would almost immediately segue into what sounded weird, and then sort of back and forth again throughout.

She's engaged to some dude named Ivan. That is a good name for a Communist, which he may very well be. She has to be pregnant right? Hence the "distraction" last week.

5. Quentin Alexander- "Dark Side"

My elimination prediction is now formally out the window. Might this be the night we finally get rid of Daniel?

All things considered he sang this song pretty well. It seems like he does not enunciate at times though. While the band added some tempo to the latter part of the song, this was another in a series of intense, brooding performances from Quentin. He does that well, but it does seem repetitive.

6. Qaasim Middleton-" Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"

I think we are headed to a Rayvon vs. Daniel throwdown, because there is no way that Clark would have been in the Bottom Two of the votes.

A few minutes ago, J Lo seemed to maybe confuse Quentin with Qaasim in regards to the save, but they are indeed very different kinds of artists. I like the original powerful version of this song by Ms. Clarkson. Qaasim played guitar, sat on a stool and gave it a very "Unplugged" vibe. This is tricky for me to judge. Some parts of it sounded really good, while others, especially when he tried to go into his falsetto, sounded shaky and showed that he is not the strongest vocalist. Qaasim's "stank-face" is also very hard to ignore when he sings. That can either be a good thing or bad thing for some I suppose. All in all, he probably managed to at least not perform below expectations on this. I wonder what the judges are about to say...

Mixed reviews to be certain.

Now, Kelly is back for her second song and does "At Last", and has some problems with her mic pack or something. It's almost unfair to this season's kids to let her do this vocally on the night they need to get votes. Obviously, they have a ways to go.

7. Clark Beckham- "The Trouble With Love Is"

Well, someone had to come out and follow the pretty amazing vocal that Kelly Clarkson had just done and Clark was probably the only one who was able to live up to that moment tonight. The incredibly bawdy Kelly told Clark in rehearsals that she thought his voice got her pregnant. That was probably just a burrito, Kelly.

I do not know this song, and that is probably to Clark's benefits to those who do not. He really sang it in an effective and soulful way. It's hard to find anything to criticize. Every week, I seem to have him and Tyanna at the top of my list (and usually alternating in the number one spot.) It is hard to see how anybody besides those two should wind up in the Finale. When that time comes, I may prefer Tyanna, but Clark is an extremely heavy favorite at this point to take the crown.

Now, the first ever Idol Twitter save... It comes down to the fact that minds are probably already made up and the performances will not matter. So, who is more active on Twitter? 11 year old girls or 47 year old women? Unfortunately, for Rayvon (and those who believe in merit), I think it is going to be the youngsters!

8. Daniel Seavey- "Break Away"

The Powers That Be are trying to do what they can to send him home tonight I believe, making him go first and having Seacrest and that Borchetta dude talk while Daniel was trying to focus on getting ready for the song. We were told in the video piece that he has laryngitis this week. Frankly, he has always sung and spoken as if he had that.

I really do think "Break Away" is a very good pop song, with a deep meaning. I give Daniel some points for effort, but I do not think he managed to connect to the meaning of the lyrics, whether he has the life experience or not.  Maybe he could have been marginally better on something like "Walk Away." The vocals were also subpar, as would have been expected. If he has enough peeps on Twitter though, it will not matter.

9. Rayvon Owen- "Since U Been Gone"

I have mixed feelings over the decision of doing this as a somewhat mournful ballad instead of an upbeat empowerment anthem. I think if Rayvon could have pulled that aspect off, it would have shown some versatility. However, he really did sing it well, at least almost up until the end, when maybe became a bit too whiny.

So, the rankings for all the solos this week:

9. Daniel Seavey
8. Nick Fradiani
7. Joey Cook
6. Quentin Alexander
5. Qaasim Middleton
4. JAX
3. Rayvon Owen
(large gap)

2. Tyanna Jones

1. Clark Beckham

Either Daniel or Rayvon are about to leave. #saverayvon Too bad I am not on Twitter and was not watching this live. It's an easy call this week of course, despite the fact that Rayvon is hardly American Idol winner caliber. Nothing personal against him, but my rooting interest for him in what is about to happen is maybe akin to my wanting Rahm Emanuel to win over Chuy Garcia in next Tuesday's Chicago Mayoral runoff.

I will not be shocked if Rayvon takes this here but sadly, I think it will not come to pass, because the young girls will be tweeting for Daniel while also doing something to distract their moms (and maybe grandmothers) from finding their way on Twitter to save Rayvon. Plus, Daniel has much better hair.

A five minute vote clock? This is like Congress.

Lots of commercials. The small print says "Must be 13 plus." Yeah, good luck with enforcing that. Would it be in totally bad taste to wonder if Kelly, Ruben, and Candice shared a pizza during the wait?

Who was eliminated: Daniel Seavey

I was wrong again! I guess more older people have Twitter accounts than I realized. All's well that end's well though. Good luck to Daniel. He seems like someone who will have a decent life, both in the short and long term, but I honestly do not think he was ready to even have gotten a golden ticket to go to Hollywood.

You have to wonder though which one of them had the fewest votes based on last week? It probably was Rayvon.

As for predicting a bottom two that will sing for the Twitterverse next week? I will go with a repeat performance from Rayvon, who will be joined by Nick. Quentin and Qaasim probably should not feel overly secure though.


At 3:00 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey, this year is CRITICAL for the girls here on Idol!


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