Saturday, March 14, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 11

Welcome to American Idol 14's Top 11 night where the theme is "Party Songs," which is just a fancy way of saying, “Sing whatever you want and find some reason, as insane and irrational as you’d like, to relate them to the word "party". Haha.

Now, before anything else, let me just say that we're totally on a different American Idol era. No more results show. No more fillers. No more Bottom 3. It's like we're in an American Idol version of The Hunger Games were no one is safe. The eliminations will be shocking and hard to handle, but in the end, the strongest contestant will always be the one under that confetti shower.

Not going to lie, it took time for me to wrap my head around what happened in the first elimination of the season. So, there.

Sarina-Joi Crowe. So what did Sarina-Joi do to deserve the early elimination? Love Runs Out.  I knew, from the moment I heard her sing an off key version of the song, that she'd be in danger of leaving this week. No, that one misstep shouldn't merit her early ouster in the competition - she was clearly the best technical singer this season - but then again, this is a new era of American Idol where NO ONE IS SAFE. She should've been at the top of her game last night because Daniel Seavey is still around to crush her dreams and when contestants are this strong it becomes very difficult to predict what the @#$% is going to happen! I have a funny feeling that this won’t be the season’s only shocker.

On with the show!

11. Daniel Seavey
The good news? The first few bars of Daniel's Happy were actually pretty good and he somehow worked his way up to mediocre in the last few seconds. The bad news? His performance wouldn't even have won him a middle school talent show. 4

10. Jax
Blank Space
Wow. This is the farthest I've ever dropped Jax. While I thought she had made a very gutsy selection with Blank Space, I didn't think it was a smart strategic decision. Her vocal approach to this Taylor Swift hit was so karaoke that her voice dissipated into something very mediocre losing the lilting and slinky tone that made her a contender. She’s simply not a strong singer. A unique one? Sure. But strong? Not at all. Wrong move, Jax. 5

09. Qaasim Middleton
No, I wouldn't call it a terrible vocal, but the whole performance of Jet was all over the place. Qaasim wasn't supporting his lower register and the diction was completely gone in parts. True, it’s something that could be fixed after a bit of vocal lessons, but does he have enough time to really master his voice in a matter of weeks? Like Harry, I'm now very worried that he's turning out to be a one trick pony and while that trick is entertaining, I don't think I can last five more of that. 5.5

08. Rayvon Owen
I like Rayvon. He went out trying to prove that he can have some serious energy on stage and that was a pleasant surprise. That said, his version of Burn was quite uneven. Yes, there were a couple of solid moments, but some of his falsetto were clearly unsupported, especially towards the end, that it sounded tepid and weak. The first one to sing in addition to a relatively weak performance could be recipe for another very early Season 14 shocker. I hope I'm wrong. 6

07. Maddie Walker
She's Country
There's no doubt that Maddie is a strong modern country singer and the kid lights up the stage, and although her Daisy Dukes were maybe two sizes too short, she definitely capture the spirit of this fun country anthem. There's still too much "vacancy" in her delivery, but she's definitely improving. 7

06. Quentin Alexander
Rolling In The Deep
Quentin comes out singing the most famous Adele tune ever, Rolling In The Deep, in one of the weirdest arrangements yet. Not sure if the whole thing totally worked as the beat somehow didn't support the words of the song - and his connection wasn't totally there - but then again, it was a fresh reinterpretation and his vocals were strong. I'm just really not sure how America will react to to this type of performance. 7

05. Nick Fradiani
Wake Me Up
He's very consistent, very solid. There's something deeply thrilling about the way his voice shredded into the verses and let loose towards the end. The beginning was sublime as I was hanging on his every word and the urgency in his delivery was spot on. To me, this was his strongest live performance to date. 7.5

04. Adanna Duru
Runaway Baby
Want my verdict? I'm starting to really enjoy Adanna Duru! She's finally finding her stride in the competition and Runaway Baby was on fire. She was at the top of her game with this performance and this was clearly a step in the right direction with a swagger and fierceness that's hard to deny. Frankly, there are better singers in this competition that do what she does more convincingly, but now that Sarina-Joi Crowe is gone, she can fill up her spot. 7.5

03. Clark Beckham
Takin' It To The Streets
This is a guy who can just flat out sing and when he's in the zone - practically most of the time - he's untouchable. True, I did groan at another old school song choice given the theme, but when he sat down at the piano, I knew there's nothing to complain about. He's got a tremendous accuracy in his singing, and he seems to know the exact right moments to throw in an ad-lib or a twist on the melody.  Another solid performance. 8

02. Tyanna Jones
Tyanna is everything Majesty Rose wanted to be last season. This girl is a powerful performer and she commanded that stage with Tightrope and looked great doing it. Her vocals were almost flawless, the pitch was on point, and the control was impeccable. She just gets the job done. 8

01. Joey Cook
This was an outstanding version of Fancy and while she looked kind of cooky, she delivered a controlled, nuanced, lovely performance. She leaned pretty heavily on her creativity and musicality, took a huge leap, was in no way playing the safe card, and hit a home run. The vocals were incredibly strong and the performance was exactly what she needed to do to stand out. Bravo. 9.5

Daniel Seavey

Rayvon Owen


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