Saturday, March 21, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 11 Redux

This was an incredible night of music. Yes, there were songs that we have heard over and over again on the Idol stage, but most of them were rearranged to fit the contestants perfectly. Of course, there were some strategic blunders made by some of the contestants, but the vocals were really showcased in this episode. I believe it was another strong performance night and I am continuously impressed with how steady these contestants are; they seem to be in perfect control.

I can’t remember a time when I went into a Top 11 night wondering who might be eliminated? The first few weeks of the finals was always about eliminating the fodders. It was just a great time to get rid of the people who should never have made the finals in the first place. Not this year it seems - well, unless, you're Daniel Seavey.

On with the rankings!

11. Daniel Seavey
Lost Stars
In the song's own words, ♪God, tell us the reason!Daniel Seavey is officially out of his depth in this competition. I've given him time to show that he has something else other than being cute, but it hasn't appeared. Lost Stars was such a mess. He missed a lot of his notes and looked at the audience in confusion. He's simply not ready to be on this stage. The question becomes: how much longer can his fan base keep him around? 2

10. Maddie Walker
Let Hear It For The Boy
Maddie, you need to stop falling into these American Idol traps. This was fun and all, but it very little to demonstrate who she would be as an artist. The whole performance was just tepid. There. That’s as simple as it gets. It's such a shame because she's got the vocal chops and now she needs to decide what the hell to do with them. 5

09. Rayvon Owen
Stayin' Alive
I'm still continuously perplexed by this song choice of Rayvon. Why? He is really missing an opportunity to carve a niche for himself, especially in a competition with a talent pool this deep. He sang a muted and plodding version of Stayin' Alive and it was a mediocre performance that left a great deal to be desired. The vocals were uneven, he was mostly overpowered by the band, and I seriously hated the arrangement. 5

08. Tyanna Jones
Circle Of Life
To do this after four great performances utterly killed her momentum. Circle of Life had some really solid vocal moments, but it was also littered with so many uneven pitch and off-key wailing. She overreached and I can only hope that the recent fans she has picked up will not leave her hanging next week because I honestly would love to see her continue through the following weeks. 5.5

07. Nick Fradiani
Danger Zone
Nick, to me, is a perfect middle of the road contestant, but the middle of the road keeps shrinking as each week passes. He needs to have a breakout moment now, but this sadly wasn't it. Danger Zone, while it had more energy, also ended up being a "nothing special" type of performance. His vocals were mostly on point, he looked comfortable doing it, but it was still oddly underwhelming. He needs to do something with a lot more weight to it if he wants to remain a contender, because tonight he just seemed like an "also ran". 6.5

06. Qaasim Middleton
Come Together
It’s refreshing to see a contestant who has the ability to be confident, bold, and boisterous without coming off as a complete idiot. We forget sometimes that we're watching a television show and to see him ferociously sing for his place in this competition was all sorts of thrilling. He wasn't pleading. He was demanding. Yes, Qaasim's Come Together wasn't perfect, but it had character and edge. His vocals were there and the performance felt sewn together. Quite frankly, I have no problem that the judges saved him, since, let’s be honest, Wild Cards and the Saved never win this show. So, there's that. 7

05. Adanna Duru
Love You I Do
Adanna's growth arc is real, people! The beginning started a little iffy for me, but then everything fell into place and my love for her exploded! Love You I Do was one of Adanna's best vocal performances to date, if not the best, and though she isn't completely believable yet as a powerhouse diva vocalist like Sarina-Joi, it was smart to try to fill that void this season. She looked very comfortable working that stage and not looking fake doing so and she's gorgeous. 7.5

04. Quentin Alexander
You're The One That I Want
Working towards setting a new record for "love it or hate it" performances was Quentin Alexander singing a reworked version of You're The One That I Want. We've heard this song a million times and we are sick of it. Quentin knew this, and decided to take a risk, and really shake up the arrangement. Was his vocals perfect? No. Was it close to perfect? Not at all. But I felt like it was a bold and impressive strategic move as he tried to make the audience feel the intent of the song. While this wasn't anywhere near a homerun, there was something completely mesmerizing about the performance. 7.5

03. Jax
Grow Old With You
After her catastrophic version of Blank Space, her vocals were back in full force with an incredibly respectable performance of Adam Sandler's Grow Old With You. That's right. An Adam Sandler song on American Idol. Ha! Not going to lie, I had reservations with the song choice as it seemed too quirky for Jax, but it's inherently easy to connect with and it was a clever choice. Vocally. it was easily her best and her vocal quality was just crystal clear. The airy lilt finally came bacl and she just shined. 8

02. Joey Cook
Mad World
The verdict is in, and the dark horse rides on! With strings of fantastic performances since the live shows, Joey is bursting onto the scene as a powerhouse in this competition. There were interesting choices thrown in her version of Mad World, and the performance aspect was well thought out. She was very focused and very connected and her vocals were sublime. It showed the emergence of a new credible competitor. The way I see it Clark, Jax, Tyanna, Quentin have all shown that they have what it takes to win American Idol. Joey has now nudged herself onto the ring of contention. We have a five way race now. 9

01. Clark Beckham
Sunday Morning
Ladies and gentlemen, your next American Idol! Sunday Morning was not only a perfect song choice for Clark, but the tender, stripped down version of the tune was matched perfectly with the visuals of him sitting on a stool with his guitar. I love contestants who take risks. I find them daring and inventive and often the sole reason why I think this show has lasted as long as it has. Clark took the song that could have just been a throwaway performance, and turned it into something important. The subtle changes, the nuances, and the interesting tone were made all the more powerful by the amazing dynamic of his voice. It was vulnerable and passionate and the strength of it was compelling. 9.5

Daniel Seavey
Maddie Walker

Maddie Walker
Rayvon Owen


Anonymous said...

I've been avoiding commenting on what you say lately, because, quite frankly, I am mostly confused by it. This week though, I need to say something.

How in the hell can you put Qaasim even half way up the rankings? I was completely dumbfounded when the judges wasted their save on him. Yes, he's a fantastic performer, but he can't sing to save his life. I would honestly put Daniel ahead of him (and I think that 12-year-old-looking kid is absolutely awful).

2nd: I don't understand the love for Clark. This week was probably his best, but it was still a middle-of-the-road vocal in my book. And there was that one note that I actually cringed at.

3rd: It's nice to see Joey at the top of the rankings... where she belongs. She's been consistently pretty great (and this week, I think she was the only one who didn't hit at least super wonky note). Would love to see her win this year (though I have serious doubts that will happen).

4th: not seeing how this week was incredible in any sense. I found/find most of the "talent" mediocre at best (not sure if it's their fault, or the production crew screwing things up).

Anyways, here's my top 3 this week:
1. Joey
2. Quentin (not a fan, but this week he was pretty good... even though he was pretty pitchy).
3. Jax

By the way, I know how much you like Haley Reinhart (still not sure why). Have you seen this: ? (Postmodern Jukebox featuring Haley and Casey Abrams).

DAM said...

I think I kind of know you. :)

But you know, we've been here before and we do have disagreements and I guess we just have to agree to disagree. While Qaasim isn't the best singer in the lot, he makes up for a fantastic performer. Of course, I would love for him to work on his actual singing voice, but personally, the dude has that star quality. You don't have to be the greatest singer for you to be able to entertain. This is a television show and visuals are as important.

As for Clark, I personally think he has one of the best voices this season, but again, it's very subjective. I think his vocals are almost always on point and the tone is lovely.

And yes, I love myself some Joey.

I say this with an optimistic mind. It's incredible because these kids are not playing it safe - save for a couple of people - and that's a huge improvement already from last year. I thought most of the performances were good to fantastic with a couple of awful ones. So there.

Anonymous said...

hey dam any thoughts on the last episode of glee? also whats yours best and worst performances of glee? thanks! :)

DAM said...

^^ I don't think I'll be able to write a review of the final episode, but I will be posting the best performances of Glee. Soon. I just have to fix the images. :)

Emon said...

I totally agree With your list I think Clark and Joey are definitely top two at this point and I don't see anyone breaking that up Unless jax can get out of her head and give us what she gave is in her audition and when she performed bang bang

Anonymous said...

Agree. Idol isn't just about vocal chops and I'd pick Qaasim over Daniel any day. Haha

and yes please post something about Glee, I miss your Glee reviews! Haha

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