Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Finale Part 2: Season 14 Winner Crowned

Welcome back. The American Idol champion will either be Clark Beckham or Nick Fradiani. Tonight there will be a lot of performances, a lot of video packages and not a ton of results until the last minute of the show, so we will try our best to make the recap as concise as possible. From the reviews online, the seemingly incredibly reaction in the audience, and general judge's feedback and support it would seem that Nick won the show. But anything can happen, Clark could win also, it wasn't 100% clear cut, so we will have to wait and see.

Before we get to the Finale recap we want to recognize the Top 12 contestants and Season 14 of American Idol in general. With next season being the last we don't know what time we will have to do this kind of Season Review, but we at least wanted to bring it to you this year. Hope you enjoy. If you rather just read the Finale recap then feel free to scroll down the page, but we do hope everyone checks it out:

Season 14 Review

Season 14 Awards & Superlatives
Best Performance 
Jax (I Want To Hold Your Hand-Audition)
This set the bar for this season. Her audition was a little preview of what we were going to get this season, in terms of talent, creativity and importance on song choice for all the contestants.

Most Resilient Award 
Rayvon Owen

Due to the advent a.k.a. taking the idea from The Voice, the Fan Twitter Save was put into place this season. Due to Rayvon's ability to really step up at the right moment he was able to win the Twitter Save 4 times despite being in the bottom 4 weeks in a row. He went from possibly being in 9th place to standing on his own feet and outlasting Tyanna to achieve 4th place. 

Most Messed Up Award
Maddie Walker versus Rachel Hallack- Top 48 Week
Basically Maddie was told she was eliminated, but then after she leaves the judges "spontaneously" decide to bring her back to do a "Sing-Off" between her and Rachel Hallack. They said that they felt it was always close call between Maddie and Rachel and as soon as they eliminated Maddie they rethought their decision.Ultimately, they saved Maddie and eliminated Rachel.  To bring Maddie up, tell her she was eliminated, then to bring Rachel up and tell her she would have made it if they didn't feel a twinge or something came over them when they eliminated Maddie, and then to make them do a Sing-Off, that really didn't make either of them stand out over the other, and then pick Maddie over Rachel was so messed up. 

Most Awkward Moment
Quentin versus Harry Connick Jr
This was a case of misinterpretation versus ill timed emotion. Quentin was upset that his best friend, Joey, was in the Bottom 2, with his other friend Rayvon. But when he said that it was "whack", Harry Connick Jr misinterpreted this to mean that Quentin thought the whole show was whack and told him he could leave at any point. Then Quentin ran up to the judge's table and stood really close to Harry and told him that he was just upset at his friends leaving, not anything bad about the show. No matter how you slice it, or interpret it, that was super awkward. 

Most Shocking Elimination
She had been riding high for awhile. She did stumble the week prior to her elimination, but she brought creativity and there was a uniqueness to her voice that hadn't been heard on the stage before and sicne. She might not have been everyone's favorite, but you at least have to give her credit for trying different things and seeing if they worked.
Runner Up: Jax
In Top 3 Week she was outstanding on 2 out of her final 3 performances but it was the third performance that was her weakest, and given how close the voting has been, the memory of the last performance might have stayed in people's minds rather than her first two. We'll never know if it was her last song that did her in, but it didn't help and she came up just short of making the finale. 

Least Shocking Elimination
He had been pretty awful for awhile, and it took until Top 9 for him to be eliminated. He was Rayvon's first victim in the Twitter-Save. Rayvon out-sung and outlasted him and Daniel, deservedly went home.

Our Top 12 Contestant Season Recap
These are our picks for each contestant's best performance and the average grade they received from us during the season. 

                              12th Place                                               11th/10th Place                                11th/10th Place
                          Sarina-Joi Crowe                        Maddie Walker                                Adanna Duru
Avg Grade:                      N/A                                                       C+                                                       B
Best Performance:  Mama Knows Best(Top 24)         She's Country(Top 11)              Runaway Baby(Top 11)

                     9th Place                                            8th Place                                        7th Place
                       Daniel Seavey                   Qaasim Middleton                                      Joey Cook
Avg Grade:                   D+                                                  C+                                                         B
Best Performance:  I'm Yours(Top 24)                   I Wish(Top 16)                                   Fancy(Top 11) 

                               6th Place                                                                   5th Place       
                         Quentin Alexander                                                       Tyanna Jones
Avg Grade:                            B                                                                                   B+
Best Performance: I Put A Spell on You (Top 24)                                Tightrope(Top 11)

                                 4th Place                                                                    3rd Place
                           Rayvon Owen                                                                     Jax                                  
Avg Grade:                         B                                                                                    B+
Best Performance:        Believe (Top 4)                                                       White Flag(Top 5)

                                     2nd/1st Place                                           2nd/1st Place
                                    Clark Beckham                                            Nick Fradiani
Avg Grade:                                                           A-                                                                     A-
Best Performance:   It's A Man's Man's World(Top 12)        What Hurts The Most (Top 4)

Now let's get to the FINALE RECAP:

Performance #1= Clark and Nick Perform with Fallout Boy. They sing "Centuries", well the lead singer Patrick Stump really sings the main parts and Clark and Nick sing a bit. I love this song, but it doesn't really highlight Nick or Clark that well. 

Performance #2= Tyanna Jones performs with The Jacksons. It's 3 of the original Jacksons. They sing a medly of "I Want You Back", "ABC", "Love You Save", and "Shake Your Body To The Ground". They are obviously missing a big part of the Jacksons but it was alright. Comparing Tyanna to Michael Jackson isn't a fair comparison but they tried.

Performance #3= The Top 12 ladies perform with Sister Sledge. They sing their classics "We Are Family" and "Le Freak". It was nice to see Sarina-Joi, and reminds me that I really am still upset that she was eliminated so early, same with Adanna Duru. There were a lot of strong, creative contestants that were in this season. Maddie, Jax, Joey and Tyanna were all sounding great. Then they say sang Sister Sledge's new song "I'll Be There". It wasn't as fun as the hits, but it was quickly over and they went into "Good Times" and then did Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper Delight". That was a weird end, but I overall I enjoyed this performance.

Perfomance #4= Ricky Martin then performs. He first came out to perform his new song "Mr. Put It Down". He looks really good. He hasn't aged in 20 years, it's really insane actually. Then he performed "Livin La Vida Loca" with Quentin and Qaasim. Not sure if this would have been either Qaasim or Quentin's ideal song to sing, especially Quentin, who is a more moody, emotional kind of singer. But there ya go. Ricky and then the rest of the boys come out to dance. Then Nick, Clark and Rayvon sing a new remixed rock version of "She Bangs". It was cool and sultry.  Then all of the guys and Ricky sing "The Cup of Life" and it's a pretty rocking song. Very high energy.

Performance #5= Janelle Monae comes out to sing her new song "Yoga" with Adanna Duru. While she sings the song "Yoga" her backup singers perform some yoga positions and dance around. It's a catchy song, I didn't really get it for the first minute, and although it's no "Hey Jude" or "Hotel California" it's not bad. Adanna really comes on late to the performance and is just part of the backup ladies, she doesn't stand out at all.

Performance #6= Prince Royce sings his song "Back It Up" and it features Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull. It was alright, nothing too special, but it got Jennifer Lopez involved and it seemed to get the audience dancing, so there ya go.

Performance #7= Echosmith performs their hit song "Cool Kids" with Joey Cook. It was in Joey's lane, very chill, very cool. It was a good match of song and style for Joey. The band and Joey seemed to have fun up there and sounded well together.

Performance #8=Keith Urban performs his song "Even The Stars Fall 4 U". Sometimes you forget that these judges are actually really big stars and have big hits, either currently or in the past. This was a nice song and has really lovely lyrics. I am taking a guess and thinking he wrote it for his wife, Nicole Kidman, but that's just a guess.

Performance #9= Jamie Foxx performs "In Love By Now" with Rayvon Owen. Remember when Jamie Foxx was in "Ray" and he won the Academy Award? Yea, now he just sings and does the National Anthem really terribly at boxing matches (Mayweather/Pacquio) and sings with American Idol contestants. This song does suit Rayvon well. Even better than Jamie Foxx, sorry but it's true.

Final 2's Mentors= Nick's mentor is Nick Abraham, his lead guitarist in his band. Pastor Jim Phillips is Clark's mentor and was his choir director in college. Both mentors get a brand new Ford Focus and so did Clark and Nick. That's nice.

Performance #10= New Kids on the Block performs with Daniel Seavey. They perform a medley of "Please Don't Go Girl" and "Step By Step". I think Daniel is still too young and needs his voice to develop a little. When you have his voice meshing with adult men, singing their classic songs, it really doesn't work. But he is still adorable. Then they sing "You've Got It (The Right Stuff)". For some reason it looks like Donnie Wahlberg is wearing a skirt on top of his pants, but hey, that's his personal preference, just not sure why. But it was fun to hear NKOTB perform their hits and try to include little Daniel Seavey. 

Performance #11= Vance Joy sings his song "Riptide" with Quentin Alexander. This is more in Quentin's style, he even performed this song early on. It was beautiful and more mellow than some of the bigger, high energy performances so far tonight.

Performance #12= Pitbull and Chris Brown perform their song "Fun" with Qaasim Middleton. It was "Fun"....yep, I had to say it. It was actually just alright, nothing outstanding. Just another performance I'll probably forget about in 10 minutes.

Performance #13= Steven Tyler sans Aerosmith performs his new song "Love is Your Name". It's actually country-infused and very different than Aerosmith, but Steven's voice is still outstanding. The man is nearly 70 years old and still has one of the best voices in music. Incredible. I actually dug the song, and liked that it wasn't like his old songs, he is trying something different and it worked for me. Then Jax and he performed "Piece of My Heart" and they just blend so well together. Steven just rocks the hell out of this tune, if you missed it check it out on Youtube or something. Jax kills some of her lines as well. This is by far the best performance of the night. Steven Tyler is the ultimate performer. He even gets a little hug and kiss from Jennifer Lopez as a parting gift. Really well done all the way around for Steven Tyler tonight. And after the performance was over, out of the blue, Jax apologizes for not thanking the judges and the audience for her time on the show. Really mature and nice by Jax. It wasn't her fault that American Idol ushered her away like she wasn't actually on the show last night. She did great and was very appreciative of her chance to be on the show.

Performance #14=Michael McDonald and Clark Beckham perform "Takin it To The Streets" in a dueling or at least side by side piano performance. It sounds amazing, but it's not current if that's what you are looking for, but if you are looking to get that from Clark you haven't been paying attention this whole season.

Performance #15= Andy Grammer performs "Back Home" with Nick Fradiani. Nick performed this song last week after his hometown visit. I never heard this song before Nick sang it, and now I really enjoy it. Nick and Andy could be brothers, they have very similar looks and mannerisms. Then they sing Andy's other song "Honey I'm Good". If Nick decides to go this route with his career then he will be in fine shape. This is a great style and sound that Nick should try to emulate.

Performance #16= Judge's Perform. Jennifer, Harry and Keith perform together, just as they did at last year's finale. The first song that Jennifer sings, Keith plays on the guitar and Harry plays on the piano is "Diamonds".  Jennifer sounds and looks beautiful on this version. Then they perform "Locked out of Heaven" and Keith takes lead at first with Jennifer accompaniment and Harry does some great piano work. It was pretty amazing. It was too bad we didn't hear Harry sing, but he can play the piano amazingly.

The time has finally come. The season began in January and it's been a long 4 months but it's time to crown the next American Idol.
Winner of American Idol Season 14

 Nick Fradiani

Final Thoughts

*Nick deserved the win. He had been getting better and better every week and stepping it up. He was definitely one of the biggest underdogs of the season but kept listening to the people helping him, kept growing and ended up being one of the better performers on the show.

*Clark was a great singer, but Nick was an all around great performer.  I think if Clark finds the right lane and sticks to it then he might be able to do well on some charts. I have thought that his old school style was more like Taylor Hicks, but for his sake, I hope Clark has a little more success with his musical career. Obviously, no disrespect to the Season 5 champion.

*There were a ton of performances tonight, so many of them were not actually live, including the judges performances and many of the performances with the contestants. You could tell that it wasn't live when Ryan introduced the performances in the audience, and then the judges magically disappeared, then reappeared, wearing the same clothes they wore from the beginning and their hair didn't move at all. It is what it is, it's 2-hour show, they had to get it in under time, so not surprised that this happened. Just had to make note of it.

**Finally, I say it every year, but I'd like to Thank each and every person that has come to this blog. Whether it be reading it one time, or reading every single recap, we appreciate you reading our thoughts and our opinions about this (sometimes) crazy show. It's a lot of time devoted to a TV show but we enjoy it, and are glad that you do as well. Next season is it for American Idol and for our blog, so please come back, tell a friend, or a few friends and enjoy with us the last season of the show. We will be providing a lot of Idol history, recounting some memorable moments from the past 14 years and seeing if the last group of constants can do the show justice.

*Congrats to Nick Fradiani the new American Idol champion.

Please come on back here from time to time for some Idol news and then we will return with our regularly scheduled blog in January of 2016. So until then, see ya!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top 2 Revealed & Perform: Finale Part 1

Welcome back. Obviously before we talk about anything else we have to talk about the big American Idol news...Ryan Seacrest got a haircut. No, for real though, as most people know at this point, after next year, Season 15, American Idol will end. American Idol has been around for a large portion of my life, so for it to be ending is a little surreal, it's a little sad, but it is necessary. The ratings have been pretty weak for a few years now. At its peak in 2006 it managed nearly 36 million viewers for its finale, it's been averaging between 7-9 million this season, with last week actually below 7 million. The show is pretty expensive to make, the artists coming out of the show (at least more recently) haven't made any significant impact in the music industry and it's not as relevant anymore. Even with all that said it's nice that FOX allows the once-most popular reality show juggernaut to have it's proper swan song.  We will have all next season to talk about the show ending and it's impact on the music industry, on the TV industry and pop culture in general, but I would have been remiss without mentioning it.

Anyways on to tonight. It's the Finale! Or at least the performance part of the finale, as soon as the 3rd place finisher is revealed. Once they are revealed we will post our weekly rankings, and regular synopsis.

3rd Place Finisher Revealed
Jax. The news is a bit disappointing. It really is. I think that Clark has been gliding for awhile now and put it all on cruise control. Nick has been really solid but doesn't take the chances that Jax takes. I liked how she tried to make things different, even if they didn't always work. Last week her last performance was her weakest, and sometimes the Idol fans have short memories when they vote. It is what it is, it's just too bad.

Final 2?
Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani. The finale is set, the next American Idol champion will either be Clark or Nick. It hasn't been 2 guys in the finale since Season 8 with Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. Just a little nugget for you there. Anyways, let's get on with our regular recap.

I'dol Be The Judge Rankings-Season Recap
We usually post our power rankings here, but given that this is the finale you never know what can happen. So in lieu of that, posted below is how Clark and Nick fared in our Power Rankings all season long. You'll see that Clark has landed as our number 1 pick more times than Nick, more times than anyone, but the past couple weeks moved him out of that spot, and it's the final weeks that are even more important to be #1 then early on. Nick on the other hand has always been ranked around the 4 spot, but he has gotten better and better in the past few weeks. 

We do these Power Rankings paired with all the other contestants and never do the 2 contestants side by side, so it's interesting to see their two journey's next to each other and see what kind of path they took to get to the finale.
Top 10 Week-Clark # 3, Nick # 4                                             
Top 9 Week-Clark #3, Nick #4
Top 8 Week-Clark #1, Nick #4
Top 7 Week-Clark #1, Nick #5
Top 6 Week-Clark #1, Nick #6
Top 5 Week-Clark #1, Nick #4
Top 4 Week-Clark #1, Nick #3
Top 3 Week-Clark #3, Nick #2
Top 2 Week-Clark #2, Nick #1 

Singing Order
The order in which the contestants perform is possibly very important. Some might say it isn't but let's take a look at some recent Idol history.  Last season Caleb Johnson went last and won, 2 seasons ago Candice Glover went last and won, 3 years ago Phillip Phillips went last and won. The last time the person who went first won the show was Scotty McCreery in Season 10. So although it doesn't mean everything it means something. I mean there is something to be said of being the last voice heard, the last person receiving feedback and praise from the judges.

Finale Performances-Round 1 (Favorite Song From This Season)

Clark Beckham
(Georgia On My Mind-Ray Charles)
This was a great song choice for Clark the first time, and a great choice this time. Clark is most comfortable behind the piano and not looking directly into the camera. His voice is so good, it's strong and he does his thing with it. Is it old-school? Sure. But that's Clark, and he is in the finale, so it's worked out well for him thus far.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Like a whole mess of flapjacks covered with syrup. Jennifer-Always had the talent, and reminded us why he is here. Sang it better than the first time. Harry-Always stretching and pushing, and a great way to start the show.
Our Grade=B+

Nick Fradiani
(Bright Lights-Matchbox Twenty)
Nick singing a Rob Thomas song makes sense in that they do sound very similar, but despite him doing a really nice job with it the first time I would have loved for Nick to try something else. But, and it's a big but, Nick kills this song and proves that he could be be singing these kinds of songs on the radio right now. Clark's song choice of "Georgia On My Mind" is a classic and a more notable song than this one, but Nick sounds a lot more contemporary than Clark this round.
Judges' Comments= Jennifer-Has the voice, the look, the presence, everything it takes what American Idol can be. That was another performance that gets him to the next level. Harry-This is a perfect opportunity for the audience to vote. Nice job. Keith-Not just about the voice, but can I relate, and everyone can relate to Nick.
Our Grade=A

Our Round One Winner-Nick

Performances-Round 2 (Creator (Simon Fuller)'s Choice)

(Ain't No Sunshine-Bill Withers) 
It's another song from over 45 years ago, but that's Clark's comfort zone, that's his bread and butter. I have seen this song done a few times on Idol and it's always different given the type of artist singing it. Clark does an acoustic, vocally charged performance. Clark is just playing his guitar and no band backup at all, just him sitting on the stage. His voice is the best part of him, his focus sometimes shifts, but this song plays on Clark's strengths and he does a great job with it.
Judges' Comments= Harry-Has a lot of guts to do two back to back slow songs. He is more inward and Nick is outward. It was soulful. Keith-That was fantastic. Jennifer-Who was the "she" he is singing to? It was beautiful, heartfelt.
Our Grade=A-

(I Won't Give Up-Jason Mraz)
This entire season, and we are talking 4 months, Nick has been the front guy, the guy with the guitar or rocking out. Tonight Nick is sitting at a piano with all focus on him, no band for at least a verse . It was super smart for Nick to try something different now. He has been deemed as consistent but predictable, this was different, and it proves that Nick can try things different and still sound great. If we did a competition of piano playing between Clark and Nick then Clark would win, but Nick's eyes were wide open and he was in it.
Judge's Comments= Keith-Great song choice. First time he played piano. His heart is so good. Jennifer-Another strong performance, they are going toe to toe. Harry-Strongest thing is how he lays it all out there and it's huge. Emotional, heartfelt performance.
Our Grade=A-

Our Round 2 Winner- Clark (by the smallest little bit)

Performances-Round 3 (Original Song/First Single)

(Champion-Original  Song by Clark Beckham)
One has to remember that this song will be used during the FOX airing of the Women's World Cup, so the songs have to be pretty anthem-y and catchy. Not saying that is bad, just prefacing. I think Clark being more of an inward artist, a more quiet artist, isn't suited the best for this genre, but it is what it is. The song gets people singing along. It sounded like he was catching up to the song at points, but given it is an original song I don't know if it is supposed to sound like that. The judge's can't really bash either song because if the person ends up winning despite them it will be the theme song, so they have to be careful with what they say. Not bad, but definitely not Clark's personality.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-It's great to see him come into his own. Sounded great. Harry-This is where it gets interesting. Did a good job with it. It's obvious it's a new song. He is just learning it. Keith-It's an inspiring song. 
Our Grade=B+

(Beautiful Life- Original Song by Nick Fradiani)
This song is more in Nick's lane, it just is. It isn't Clark's fault, but it just gels with Nick's voice more. I think Clark's song was a little more catchy, but this song has a great hook. Nick gets a little winded at points and his voice dips at a couple spots, but his energy keeps him going and singing and fighting and it really suits him.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Really enjoyed it. Really strong. Got really lucky because it sounded tailored for him and that's a big deal. Jennifer- Felt amazing when the audience was with him. It was him in the moment. Keith- That's the kind of song people want to buy and see him in concert. Bullseye.
Our Grade=A-

Our Round 3 Winner-Nick


Who Should Win Season 14 American Idol?=Nick. Clark is very consistent, he is a good looking, beautifully sounding guy, but Nick should win. He out sung Clark on at least 2 out of the 3 songs tonight and pushed himself out of his comfort zone a little. That could do it.

Who Will Win Season 14 American Idol?= Nick. I think the last song clinched it for Nick. Like Harry said, that original song sounded tailor made ready for him, while Clark's song did not match him as well. If Clark wins it he wouldn't be the worst Idol winner in history, but Nick deserves it more.

Final Thoughts

*Nick is the kind of artist that American Idol needs to win. Clark has a beautiful, strong voice, and one that can do well on certain charts, but Nick sounds more current and fits the current trends more than Clark. If it was just a pure voice competition then Clark would win hands down, but it's the full package and Nick has the edge.

*With the crazy format being the way it is, with Judge's Saves, with Twitter Saves, with no results shows, I think it would have been amazing to have a 3 person finale. We never got to see Nick versus Clark versus Jax because they didn't do the elimination of Rayvon until after he performed last week. We don't know how Jax's Original song would have sounded compared to the others. I know that the results could have been the same no matter what, and it's always been a 2 person finale for 13 past seasons, but given that the show is going off the air next year, given that we never actually got a Top 3 performances week, and given that all 3 performers prepared for this week it might have been cool and different to see how the finale would have shaken out.

*Because we have 14 seasons of American Idol history to gather facts and figures from let's take a closer look at this finale and what could happen. As we stated earlier there hasn't been an all-male finale since Season 8 when it was Adam Lambert versus Kris Allen. In that finale Kris Allen, the eventual winner, sang last. There has been only 2 other times that it was all male. Season 7 was David Cook versus David Archuletta, David Archuletta sang last and then lost to David Cook. Season 2 was Ruben Studdard versus Clay Aiken, Clay Aiken sang last and then lost to Ruben. So despite the person singing last seemingly looking to be an advantage, it's not as big when it's all- male finale.

*Does any of this mean anything? Nope, but it's something to think about, and next season is the last time to mention any of this. It's also a little taste of all the Idol history we plan on doling out next year. We are going to try to put a lot of Idol history into the blog as much as we can.

This has been a really great season, and we'll finish up with our last blog of the year tomorrow night after the 2 hour finale. We have a few "awards", some recaps of the season and then our full blown recap of the show. So expect a decent sized blog tomorrow. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the show. So come on back here tomorrow and until then, see ya!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Top 3 Revealed & Perform: Judge's Pick, Mentor's Pick, Contestant's Choice Songs

Welcome back. We are almost at the end of Season 14 of American Idol. Next Tuesday (5/12) will be the reveal of the Top 2 and the beginning of the finale and the next American Idol champion will be crowned one week from tonight (5/13). Tonight the Top 3 will be revealed and one contestant will be so close, yet so far away. We predicted Rayvon to go home, but feel that after at least 2 weeks of very sub-par performances Clark should be the one going home. We have chosen Rayvon to go home every week since Daniel Seavey left, so it's possible that we can be wrong, but the track record of Clark, Jax and Nick is quite better than that of Rayvon. But ya never know.

The Top 4 got their Hometown visits this week, so I am sure we will be seeing some snippets from that, always emotional visit. This is the first time that the contestants will sing 3 songs each. One will be Judge's Choice, One will be mentor Scott Borchetta's choice, and One will be Contestant's Choice to tribute to their Hometown. All 4 contestant's will sing tonight, even though one is going home no matter what. So even if they are outstanding it won't matter a lick. But either way a lot to get to, so let's get started:

Top 4 Weekly Power Rankings
1. Jax (Up 1 From Last Week)
2. Nick Fradiani (Up 1 From Last Week)\
3. Clark Beckham (Down 2 From Last Week)
4. Rayvon Owen (Down 1 From Last Week)

Contestant's Perform-Round 1: Scott Borchetta's Choice

Rayvon Owen
(Want To Want Me-Jason DeRulo)
Scott wanted to pick a real current song for Rayvon, and this song is as current as you can get, it's currently on the charts, it came out only a few weeks ago. This song has a lot of opportunity for Rayvon to use his falsetto, actually he uses it for the majority of the song. I like seeing Rayvon sing a current song and one that is uptempo, he has had some nice moments, but other times he has been really over-dramatic, this was a nice song for him. Showed a different, fun side to him. 
Judge's Comments=Keith-Great song choice because of his falsetto. Jennifer-Great choice, perfect for his tone. Harry-Best he has done on an uptempo song, despite being a ballad singer primarily.
Our Grade=B+

Clark Beckham
(Beautiful Day-U2)
Scott wanted Clark to challenge himself with this song, and singing a U2 song is different for Clark. It starts off a little too low, this song pushes Clark right outside of his safe box of slower songs, with his guitar. It's much more front-man, and it's not Clark. I am glad it's different, but it didn't fit. He sang it well in spots, there were a lot of big notes and he really pumped himself up for them. I don't know, I felt a little disappointed at times.
Judge's Comments= Jennifer-Another great pick. Suited to his voice. Letting loose is gonna be key for him. Harry-Pretty good. The band was exceptional and made it really good, but he needs to be great throughout not just the chorus. Keith-Got a reckless abandonment by the 3/4 mark but there were other points that didn't rise to that point.
Our Grade=C+

Nick Fradiani
(Because The Night-Bruce Springsteen)
Scott wants to see an epic performance out of Nick. I really dug this song choice for Nick. Nick is the ultimate front man. I know a lot of people are comparing Nick to Chris Daughtry, Rob Thomas and even David Cook, but that's not bad company to have your name thrown around with. Nick was crazy into the song, he really jammed out and stepped it up.
Judge's Comments= Harry-There's an underlying serious to this competition, everyone is fighting. Sees more and more of him. It was strong. Keith-His tone makes him exciting. Looks forward to hearing him every week. Jennifer-Can't stress more the importance of connecting to the lyrics. Sang it great, did a great job.
Our Grade=B+

(My Generation-The Who)
Scott wants Jax to nail it with her strengths. This is very Jax, Scott did a great job on his song choices.She really rocked out, and her voice was on point. She went around the stage, interacted with the audience, rocked out with the band and the drummer. It's a song from 1965, but she made it sound current and hip. Obviously any sickness she had last week is gone because her voice rocked out really hard. Really outstanding.
Judge's Comments= Keith-That was friggin awesome. It exploded when the key change went up. Jennifer-It was a perfect song, the audience, everyone. Killed that. Harry-Absolutely made the most of her opportunity. Best performance she has ever done. 
Our Grade=A

Contestant's Perform-Round 2: Hometown Dedication

(Back Home-Andy Grammer)
Nick's Hometown is Guilford, Connecticut. Everyone's video package is gonna be filled with a ton of emotion and hometown pride. I really enjoyed this song choice by Nick. It was current, he sounded really amazing and looked really comfortable. It's not the most well known song out there, so it sounded like it could be his own, and that's what was great about it. It was fun and cool. Nicely done.
Judge's Comments= Jennifer-That was another song. Each week we have seen him getting better and better. Really great performance. Harry-Sometimes a critique isn't warranted and this was the case this time. Very strong again. Keith-Awesome to see him here and his family.
Our Grade=A-

(Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay-Otis Redding)
Nick's Hometown is White House, Tennessee. This is Clark's kind of song, more than the other one. It's him, sitting behind the piano, no band, just singing straight. He does his vocal tricks and growls and grunts that he is known for at this point. It's not gonna be on the top of the Pop Charts, but it was sung really well. His last note was really great, it was a cool run right at the end that showcased his talents off. The predictable song choice makes the grade go down a little, but it's still better than his first performance.
Judge's Comments= Harry-First time he got to know Clark, it was nice to see. Nice performance. Keith-Still missing some struggle, some humanity, it's so good there is no veneer on it. Jennifer-This song is who he is. Sounded beautiful, felt his heart on it.
Our Grade=B

(As-Stevie Wonder)
Rayvon's Hometown is Richmond, Virginia. I love this song so much. It's just a classic, though many/most of Stevie Wonder songs are. This song really gets Rayvon into a groove. He really is jamming tonight, this song featured very little falsetto, just a ton of really on point runs. He is really fighting for every note and lyric and trying to get to that finale next week.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Great song choice for him. Effortless. Jennifer-Silky vocals can't ever count him out. Harry-Been wanting to see him move. Looked great up there. To see him sing and marry that with the joy is beautiful thing. 
Our Grade=A-

(My Immortal-Evanescence)
Jax's Hometown is East Brunswick, New Jersey. This is a perfect song choice for Jax. Evanescence's lead singer Amy Lee has a killer voice but on this particular song she is more subtle yet powerful and I think that's what Jax was going for, but she was even more soft and delicate on it, and didn't go for the huge notes like the original.  I think her first performance was pretty perfect, so this didn't land quite as much, but it was very emotional and poignant at parts. It was just her on the piano, singing to her hometown, really sweet.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Loved that even though the song gets big, she did it really soft. There's a humility and confidence she has which is integral for a superstar. She could have gone big, but she went opposite and that's the humility she had. She's amazing. Harry-Jennifer was so eloquent, because everything she said was right on. Keith-Also defers to Jennifer's comments.
Our Grade=A-

Contestant's Perform-Round 3: Judge's Picks

(Earned It-Weeknd)
The judge's chose this song to make him do something modern. Clark hits some really beautiful and out of character falsettos on this song. It was sexy and cool right in his wheelhouse. Clark does do old-school soul really well, but this fit him and was current, so that's a perfect combination. Some of those big notes were so perfect. Really enjoyed this more than his other 2 performances combined.
Judges' Comments= Harry-One thing to make it better, to find what he did in the end of the song and bring it to beginning. Needs to make it intense all way through.  Keith-Felt so many different things this time. Jennifer-That was a great version. Towards the end it got electric, but sees that it would be great to bring that to the beginning as well.
Our Grade=A-

(You Are So Beautiful-Joe Cocker)
Rayvon's biggest strength is when he connects to the lyrics and is powerful, it doesn't necessarily have to be a ballad, but he is really good at them and this song didn't disappoint. There were a couple sleepy points, but when he reached for some of the lyrics and really pushed it was fantastic. Not his best of the night, but really sweet and pretty.
Judge's Comments= Keith-Beautiful arrangement. Jennifer-Wanted him to sing to his Mom. There aren't so many lyrics, and it needed a little more variation and that comes with more connection. Harry-Felt that he was singing it emotionally.Liked the arrangement and how he switched it up.
Our Grade=B+

(Misery Buisness-Paramore)
The judge's wanted to give Jax a challenge with this one. I liked thatn she could have went with the original arrangement but didn't. This one was still hard, at least her voice was, but the arrangement was really scaled back and made it more with guitar lead, rather than big and loud. I think that was a smart thing to do. She made it her own, yet kept the integrity of the song. It mixed together to sound different, and that hasn't always worked for Jax in the past, but I liked that she did her own thing. Not as great as her first two performances, but still solid.  
Judge's Comments=Keith-It was an unusual arrangement. She sang phenomenal. The arrangement didn't go together. Jennifer-Wanted her to go hard, and not pull it back too far, that's why they chose that song. Harry-This one wasn't as great as the others. Relied on the guitar player more than being a lead singer. Needs to command the song. 
Our Grade=B

(I'll Be-Edwin McCain)
Keith said he doesn't know if people will know this song, I feel like everyone knows this song, right? I don't know. This song didn't really challenge Nick, it was just laid up on a tee for him. It was sung really well, but it was his usual thing again. I thought they would have went a little off the beaten path, but they stayed right in Nick's lane and laid it up for him.Again, it was well done, just not overly different than anything else. Keith gives him a standing ovation.  
Judge's Comments=Harry-Aside from great vocal, sounded like he sang the underbelly of the lyrics. Keith-That song is perfect, it would be a hit for him. Jennifer-Sat in it perfectly. It was amazing. Like 5 weeks ago he realized he could win this, and he can. 
Our Grade=B+

Going Home?
Rayvon. This dude had one of, if not the best run someone can do when being in the Bottom consistently week after week. I admire that he saw that things weren't working and decided to change and do better, and be better. He was strong tonight and leaves on a positive note.

Best of the Night= Jax. I think 2 out of her 3 songs were phenomenal. Her last performance wasn't that great, but I think because her other 2 were incredibly strong she overtook the night. Nick was really solid on 2 out of his 3 as well, but Jax has the slight edge.

Going Home Predictions 
Clark. He had another sub-par night. His last performance was his best, and if people vote just based on that performance then he might be okay, but his first performance was really rough, and his second one was really predictable. Jax and Nick deserve a spot in the finale. 

Final Thoughts
*It's unbelievable that we are down to the Final 3. If we look at overall season performances and critiques the Top 3 people are here. If we were to look at the past few weeks only then Rayvon should be here and Clark should be gone. But that's not what people have been voting on, obviously.

*Next week the Top 2 will be revealed at the very top of the hour. So it will be a pure 2 person finale, with three songs each. There are 2 men(Nick and Clark) and 1 female (Jax) left, so let's take a quick look at what Idol history tells us:
-In 13 past finales there have been 8 finales with 1 man and 1 woman.
-There have been 3 finales with 2 guys
-2 finales with 2 females.
-In the 8 finales with a male and a female the male has won 5 times.
-The last time a female has been up against a male and won is Season 6 (Jordin Sparks over Blake Lewis).

*History is on the side of Jax and one of the guys making it to the finale and not 2 men making it. BUT, history is not so kind to her winning, the odds are on the side of whichever guy is next to her. There's your Idol history lesson for the day.

Next week the show will be on Tuesday, and the champion will be crowned on Wednesday. So come on back on Tuesday 5/12 right after the show. So until next time, see ya!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Top 4 Revealed & Perform: Soul Songs & Judge's Hometown Songs

Welcome back. 2 week from tonight the next American Idol champion will be crowned. I know that the ratings haven't been great this season, and I know that last season's champion, Caleb Johnson(do you remember him?) has done pretty much nothing since he was named champion, but winning the show is the ultimate goal, despite many non-winner's successes. Anyways, tonight the Top 5 will be performing 2 songs, one song will be "Judge's Hometown" songs based on the judges respective hometowns, New York(Jennifer), Nashville (Keith) or New Orleans (Harry) and the other song will be "Soul" songs, that supposedly define the singer’s “soul". 

We chose Rayvon and Tyanna as the Bottom 2 and have Rayvon going home, though Tyanna was probably worse than Ravyon last week and hasn't been good in awhile. If she goes it wouldn't be a shocker and probably more deserved.

There is no more Twitter-Save, so whoever has the lowest amount of votes will go home. So we will learn of the results pretty early into the show. There is no reason to drag out who goes home until the very end given that no matter what happens or how others perform they are going home anyways. Let's see how it all shakes out and let's get started:

Top 5 Weekly Rankings
1. Clark Beckham (Same As Last Week)
2. Jax (Same As Last Week)
3. Nick Fradiani (Up 1 From Last Week)
4. Rayvon Owen (Up 1 From Last Week) Officially Bottom 2 Last Week
5. Tyanna Jones (Down 2 From Last Week)

Performances & Results Round 1
The Top 5 got to go to Nashville, which is the location of mentor Scott Borchetta's company Big Machine Records. 

Clark Beckham
(Living For The City-Stevie Wonder)
The first notes of the song were a little strange, as if they were falsetto but also not. Clark seemed unsure of himself up there at times. He didn't complete some notes and seemingly went off key. I enjoyed when in the middle of the song he went off to play a little piano solo. When Clark is good, he is real good, but there is some nitpicky things that I didn't enjoy all the way.
Judge's Comment= Keith-The whole thing got in a good groove when he plays. Jennifer-Sounded really good. Is comfortable with instruments, but needs to practice without them. Harry-This is the big leagues. It was solid. Their is a certain pocket and groove that he needs to focus in on more, especially when he isn't playing.
Our Grade=B

(Empire State of Mind Part 2-Alicia Keys)
I think Jax playing Alicia Keys is so smart, it's someone that has a great voice and really can play the piano exceptionally and make things interesting, and I think Jax is getting really good at that. Tonight Jax played it pretty straight, her voice is obviously different than the original, but it was strong. When she goes for the big note at the end it comes off a little like she was pressing, but there were times that were real good. Not her best, but not even close to the worst.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Understands that she can win the competition. Not the best song, didn't feel it, but does think she has the potential to take the whole thing. Needs to be careful with song choice. Harry-Really dug it. Like a mini-showcase of what she can do, playing and singing. Really unique sound despite her sounding hoarse. Keith-Loved the song. Voice hit a beautiful register. Such strong artistic foundation even if she isn't 100% healthy.
Our Grade=B+

Nick Fradiani
(Bright Lights-Matchbox Twenty)
I know I said it a few weeks ago, that Nick's voice is very reminiscent of Rob Thomas, lead singer of Matchbox Twenty, so this pick seems very on the nose. It's a great song, so he has that going, but it's not a seemingly challenging song for Nick. So not a lot of points for creativiely song choice wise, but he did sing the song well. He is becoming a really nice performer and entertaining to watch. Plus he got the crowd going and was so into the song. He put it all out there.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Week to week he is looking most comfortable, by far most comfortable performance he has done. Sang the hell out of the song. Glad he sang a song comparable to Rob Thomas. Keith-Has a killer instinct, keeps going up and up he performers. Getting better and better. Jennifer-He is peaking at the right time. Such a good feeling. Him at his best.
Our Grade=A-

Guest Performance= Harry Connick Jr is singing "City Beneath the Sea". Given no contestant has actually sung a song from anyone's hometown other than Jennifer, they probably should have just called this week New York songs. But it's nice Harry got to represent his hometown New Orleans with this performance.

Going Home=Tyanna. When Top 16 began Tyanna was really killing it. She was fun, having a great time, picking the right songs and sounded great. Over the past many weeks she has faltered. She either tried to do too much, she got bad advice and/or her very young age of 16 and inexperience to her. It's just Jax as the lone girl left in this competition.

Almost immediately after Ryan showed Tyanna her going home "Goodbye Video Package" she was asked to perform her song, which was Beyonce's "Run The World". You know what's easy, being super emotional and having to sing a Beyonce' song. Not. Beyonce' is one of the toughest singers to sing, but  Tyanna did her thing. It was super duper pitchy and all over the place, but she was emotional, and she's going home, so no need to judge her. 

Performances Round 1 Continued 

Rayvon Owen
(Need You Now-Lady Antebellum)
Ravyon has survived yet another week. Dude has got some fans, that's for sure. Good for him for making to at least Top 4. Tonight's performance was a little strange. His voice was all over the place, it was pitchy, it went of the tune. It was overly dramatic and hard to listen to at points. I liked that he changed it up to suit him, but it was too much at points. Just kind of unnecessarily over-dramatic and ambitious.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Likes that he made it his own. Rather had less dramatic more heart. Needs more carefree. Jennifer-All about connection and making it connect to their life. If don't feel they are singing from heart it doesn't carry the weight. Harry-At times he over-dramatized a lyric. Needs restraint to a degree. 100% on point with lyric. Nothing substitutes for singing a beautiful ballad.
Our Grade=C

Guest Performance #2= Martina McBride does her take on "Over The Rainbow". She did a really lovely version of this song.

Round 2 Performances
Mentor Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts came into help out the contestants this week in Nashville. Martina McBride is also helping out. Steven Tyler surprises the Top 5 and gave them his best wishes. 

(Your Man-Scott Turner)
Jay and Scott listen to the song that Clark chooses that made Scotty McCreery a name on Season know "Baby Lock Them Doors" you remember. Jay wants to see the soul of the man delivering the song. Scott tells him it's not "American Musician" doesn't know what he can do to get him to change. Jay and Scott are not at all pleased at the choices that Clark made with this song. I can see what they are saying it was all over the place. Clark does a guitar solo in the middle of the song and doesn't sing for about 15-20 seconds, so now I see what the mentors were saying. This is a singing competition and it didn't do much for me. In fact, it was pretty boring.  
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Sang it well, sings well overall. Is this the song he should be singing on this competition. Can this thing win it for him? Doesn't know if this is his soul song. It didn't blow anyone away. Thinks he can win, but let it get away from him. Harry-Extremely hyper-specific song choice is necessary. Needs to think can he win on that song alone, will the audience respond even if I enjoyed it? Not so sure. There were much more exciting performances he has done. Keith-Needs hit singles, not album tracks.
Our Grade=C+

(Human-Christina Perri)
Martina McBride  and Scott meets with Jax. Martina thinks she has a combination of vulnerability and strength. She thought it was so honest and can't think of anything to say to her. Because Jax is a little hoarse it makes her voice even more raspy then it usually is and it comes out so pretty. This was a great song choice it has anger, and pain and just great lyrics, very powerful. Jax put a ton of emotion into every note, she ends up on the ground on both knees. The only part that actually was annoying was the backup singers were too loud and screechy. I think Jax just on her own was pretty great.
Judge's Comments=Harry-An example of technical versus emotion. There were pitch issues, but felt every word. She completely lets herself go and that trumps everything. Harry-Perfect song. Killed. Really really good. Jennifer-Loved it. Loves how she looks into people's eyes in the audience. Her tone is sometimes so beautifully pure. 
Our Grade=A-

(Believe-Justin Bieber)
Jay and Scott really take in every word that Rayvon sings. Jay sees how deeply Rayvon feels and even gets goose bumps. This is the first time in a long time that Rayvon didn't sing the last or second to last song of the night because he didn't need to be saved, he was fully safe tonight. Must be a great feeling. Ravyon knows how to deliver when he isn't overly dramatic and that's what he did this time. It was much more straight forward, great vocals and powerful. The fact that he did so well on this one makes his first performance even worse, because compared to this, that was nothing, this was everything.  
Judge's Comments= Keith-Sang phenomenally. Loved watching his mom cheer him on. Jennifer-There is a big difference between the 1st performance and that. Is crying how good it was. Needs that every single time. Harry-The writers of that song would be so happy to hear Rayvon sing that song.
Our Grade=A-

(What Hurts The Most-Rascal Flatts)
It's crazy that Nick picked a Rascal Flatts song before knowing that one of the mentors would be a member of that band. Jay suggests him to singing with just a microphone and stand out on his own and not just a guy in the band. I love this song for Nick. It sounds really good to the ear. Opposed to Rayvon, who tried a country song to not great results, Nick hits it right all the way through. When the band drops out and Nick hits a big note is just lands right on the money. Great way to end the show.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Star of the night. Really really great. Harry-Can really hear him singing that on his song. Sounded great. Killed it. Keith-Fans will love that song. It will make a lot of people happy.
Our Grade=A

Best of The Night
Nick. Both of his performances really were great. Although his first song was not creative in terms of song choice, he sang it very well. Nick's second performance was outstanding. His best performance and song choice to date. It just hit so incredibly well.

Going Home Predictions
Rayvon. I think his performance of "Believe" was great, but the other 3 contestants left have been much more consistent over the past number of months. Clark was off his game, but still not terrible, Jax is the only female left and deserves a spot in the Top 3 and Nick was the best of the night.  Though, I have said Rayvon is Going Home for a ton of weeks in a row and he is still here, we'll see what happens next time.

Final Thoughts

*For most of Top 12, and even before that Clark was in the driver's seat. He was either one of, if not the most praised and raved about contestant. But Clark is letting this competition get away from him. He is taking his foot off the pedal and allowing Jax and Nick and even Rayvon (if he picks the right songs) to stroll right on by him. Even if it doesn't happen and Clark ends up winning the whole thing, he is still potentially letting it happen. Good for the others to take advantage of every moment and really make it their own.

*There hasn't been many times, since the contestants started singing 2 songs, that they landed on both, but Nick did so tonight. Both songs were great. I think Jax's "Human" was far superior than "Empire State of Mind", Rayvon was unbelievably better on "Believe" than on "Need You Now" and Clark was just okay on both. Nick did a great job on both of his songs. He has really hit his stride and could be the next Idol winner. This is getting interesting.

*I am thrilled to see that they didn't wait until the last second to give the results. It equals out the performances a bit more so the last person (Rayvon) standing with the lowest vote getter gets to know they are safe before the end of the show and can just relax. I think that's far more fair than revealing it right at the end like they have been doing when the Twitter-Save was put in use.

That's It. Next week the Top 4 get to go visit their hometowns, so expect a lot of emotion out. After next week only 3 will remain. This season is really winding down. Can't wait to see how it all shakes out. Come on back here after the next new episode.  So until next time, see ya!