Thursday, February 26, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 12 Boys

It's almost a tradition on American Idol, so I will just let it slide, but it's just good to reiterate that THE FIRST NIGHT OF THE LIVE ROUNDS IS NEVER GREAT! Haha.

It's some scary stuff for these contestants to sing in front of millions of people for the very first time and then worry about not advancing the next week. The pressure is there and at this stage, it's still pretty acceptable. True, there were a couple of performances from past seasons that were pretty awesome, but for the most part, the semifinals round is a place for contestants to do absolutely anything just to survive.

The frantic pace of the episode, on the other hand, was unacceptable. I don't know. The whole thing felt like the Idol version of speed dating. It was so fast - even the judges' comments - that I couldn't keep up. Oh, and Jennifer Lopez was actually giving a more focused critique, while Harry Connick Jr. was full of platitudes. Twilight zone, anyone?

Anyway, it's the first live rounds and while this wasn't the night I imagined - especially with the talent this season - I was fairly impressed with some of them.

On with the show!

12. Trevor Douglas
Best I Ever Had
While this performance was slightly interesting, I didn't think Best I Ever Had played to his strengths. Yes, the first few parts sounded fine, but when he allowed his innate passion and enthusiasm to consume him, the whole thing just went off the rails. He needs to calm down, get back behind an intimate song just like what he did with I See Fire, and connect to it. 4.5

11. Daniel Seavey
I'm Yours
So he finally got the right guitar size for him! Ha. Daniel picked a song that wasn't good for a competition show since it highlights nothing but his flaws and he sang it with that lazy pop lilt that seems to be driving pop music these days. It wasn't all that terrible, but he's just way too raw and vocally limited at this point. 5

10. Michael Simeon
How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?
This performance itself was a bit of a dud. The song choice was lame, his vocals were uneven, and his tendency to spend too much of his energy on showmanship was unnecessary. There was a bit of a nice show of dynamics and some flashes of brilliance, but to achieve this, Michael looked like he was trying so hard. 5

09. Adam Ezegelia
I Wanna Rock
There's a strong karaoke singer in Adam, but I seriously don't see any potential for him to be an actual recording artist. I'm sorry. His take on I Wanna Rock was solid and entertaining, but performances like these are a dime a dozen in bars across the world. What's different about him? He's like a less annoying version of Caleb Johnson. 5.5

08. Riley Bria
Riley is a very charismatic performer, but as proved by his performance of Homeboy, his voice was simply average and contained no projection whatsoever causing the note to tall flat and dull. The dynamics were lacking, and somehow, I felt like he had some trouble finding his pitch in parts. The only thing that worked for him was that he looked very comfortable on stage and could pass as a consummate performer. 6

07. Mark Andrew
The Weight
Perfect example of situations when it's often smarter to be bad but memorable, than good but utterly forgettable. That's what this was. Mark Andrew's rendition of The Weight was decent and his vocals were fine note to note, but the song didn't go anywhere and gave him very little opportunities to shine. There's no way people are going to remember this tune when they go to vote later on the show. 6

06. Savion Wright
Hey, Soul Sister
I was impressed with a few things - his arrangement of Hey, Soul Sister was cool and nuanced - but mostly felt it was a giant misstep for him. I don't know. Something about his performance felt very flat and that concerns me. I think Savion is going to get away with it this week based on his previous performances and exposures, but he needs to do better than this. 7

05. Rayvon Owen
Every single time Rayvon opens his mouth to sing, I'm struck by the sound that comes out. It warms my soul. Haha. But seriously, he covered it with just the right degree of slinkiness and some perfectly timed falsetto. I agree that he needed more edge than that constant smile plastered on his face while singing Jealous, but he, for the most part, nailed it. I hope people remember him because I think he did enough to move on. 7.5

04. Nick Fradiani
Thinking Out Loud
He did nothing to differentiate himself from the original, and took very little liberties, but I was still captivated by the music. Nick showcased his fantastic tone that complemented this absolute gem of a song and it was just an overall solid performance - easily enough to send him to the next round. He's marketable and self-assured, and if Clark has someone to look out for, it's Nick. 7.5

03. Qaasim Middleton
Uptown Funk
Look, Qaasim isn't the best singer in the bunch - he went a bit off in parts especially when he needed to focus more on his breath support - but out of all of the 12 men, he SERIOUSLY commanded that stage like no other. He even had more stage presence than last year's Top 10 combined! He looked confident, comfortable, and I didn't doubt one bit that he's going to be able to give us a show. Pretty entertaining stuff. 7.5

02. Clark Beckham
When A Man Loves A Woman
The next American Idol, Clark Beckham, delivered something a hair underwhelming than his prior performances, but it was still pretty good. Vocally? He was killing it. Left and right, he was singing circles around everyone else. The many layers present in his voice was impressive and he packed it with an emotional wallop as he stand still and captivate the audience with his voice alone. Still pretty fabulous. 7.5

01. Quentin Alexander
I Put A Spell On You
Such a nice surprise. Was it pitch perfect? Not at all. There were moments when it got away from him, but there was something undeniably magnetic about this performance. His vocals were intense and authentic and the wild eyes towards the camera was strange and yet, I was unable to look away. His voice reverberates on stage and there's a haunting quality that's really impressive. I honestly didn't think he had it in him. 8

 Trevor Douglas
Daniel Seavey
Michael Simeon
Adam Ezegelian

Trevor Douglas
Michael Simeon
Adam Ezegelian
Rayvon Owen


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