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!

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