Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Top 8 Revealed & Perform: Songs By Kelly Clarkson

Welcome Back! Last week was double elimination and both Adanna Duru and Maddie Walker were sent home, thus we are left with 9 contestants and another one is set to go tonight. Before we get too far we want to talk about a new feature American Idol is doing called the "Fan Twitter Save". This has most recently been introduced on The Voice. This is from FOX/American Idol's Press Release: Beginning this week, IDOL fans have the opportunity to save a finalist from elimination by a real-time vote using Twitter. Once host Ryan Seacrest announces the bottom two finalists and they perform, the IDOL Fan Save hashtag #Save(ContestantName) for each will appear on air, and fans across the country will have a short window (approximately five minutes) to Tweet their Save votes (one per Twitter account). Once the IDOL Fan Save window closes, no more votes will be accepted and the real-time, immediate results will be revealed by Ryan Seacrest.

So that's a crazy crazy twist. I don't think I like the fact that they are introducing it at this venture, as if those that went before, Adanna, Sarina-Joi and even Maddie don't deserve this opportunity, but on the other hand it does possibly prevent a favorite from leaving without a fight. The "Save-Me" songs that the audience will be performing will be broadcast on so everyone, including the West Coast, that doesn't watch it live, can take part in the voting. Though, then they would know the results before watching the actual show. I don't know, it's a little nuts but we will discuss it further when we get to that point in the show.

Getting back to the show at hand, this week's theme the contestants will have to tackle  Kelly Clarkson songs.  Kelly along with Scott Borchetta will mentor the contestants this week. It's pretty neat that there is a whole theme devoted to Idol's original winner, but given how much success she has had over the years it's almost surprising this kind of week hasn't been done before. In fact, just a couple weeks ago Kelly claimed her third Number 1 album. She has also had over 20 songs land on the Top 40, with many landing within the Top 5 and Number 1, and many other notable songs have performed well on the charts as well. So with all that there should be a lot of material for the contestants to choose from. Because she deserves the accolades I will try to include a little info on the song each contestant chooses and tell you where it landed on the charts.

We predicted Daniel Seavey as the contestant that  SHOULD Go Home but we picked Rayvon Owen as the contestant that WILL Go Home. So if there were a Bottom 2 it would be Rayvon and Daniel. With all these twists we don't really know what will happen. Let's see how it goes, let's get started:

Top 9 Weekly Rankings

1. Clark Beckham (Up 2 From Last Week)
2. Tyanna Jones (Same As Last Week)
3. Joey Cook (Down 2 From Last Week)
4. Nick Fradiani (Same As Last Week)
5. Jax (Up 1 From Last Week)
6. Quentin Alexander (Up 1 From Last Week)
7. Qaasim Middleton (Up 2 From Last Week)
8. Rayvon Owen (Same As Last Week)
9. Daniel Seavey (Same As Last Week) 

Top 8 Revealed & Perform

Nick Fradiani
(Catch My Breath-Kelly Clarkson)
This song was the lead single off of her Greatest Hits Album. It did pretty well. It landed in the Top 20 on Billboard's Top 100 chart but Number 1 on the Hot Dance Club Charts in 2012.  Nick loves this song and has done it before with his band. Kelly thinks this is a big song and stretches the limits of Nick's range and hopes he opens his eyes while performing.  Scott says that Nick needs to use his experience into his favor. Kelly was 100% correct in that this is a tough song, I mean she admitted that too and she wrote and sings it. It uses a lot of his voice, it gets low at points and then goes into a rock song. It goes out of tune at points but when he finds the right pocket of his voice it's really nice. But it does go off pitch at several moments, so it was good, but not flawless.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Glad he chose that song. Low range of his voice is real good. Just needs to keep loosening up. Jennifer-Good that he is aware of his not opening up. Needs to keep working with people that will help him groove a little and stop thinking about moving and just do it. Harry-Does sound like he caught his breath, and he is getting more comfortable as a performer even though it wasn't a perfect vocal.
Our Grade=B

(Beautiful Disaster-Kelly Clarkson)
This song never achieved a lot of success in America, but it landed on the UK charts in 2004. Kelly loves this song so much she said she put it on 2 albums. She thinks Jax is a great artist and doesn't have any notes for her, just wants her to keep doing what she is doing and if anyone says anything different say "Kelly Clarkson says you are wrong". Scott thinks she is a Pop-Rock Princess, this is her most vulnerable performance to date. Jax simply sits on the piano while it's being played by Michael Orland, and there is a cellist as well. It's very simple yet beautiful. No disaster here. Her voice trembles in the right spots and hits the high notes at other points. She is very in control of the song and her performance and puts out the exact right emotion. Really well done.
Judge's Comments= Jennifer-That was really pretty, heard a pure tone in her voice, wanted the arrangement to go somewhere a little more but sang it really beautifully. Harry-Thought that was fantastic and really loved it. Keith-She's an artist. Holds her to higher expectations than others. Found a little more inconsistency here and there. But there is so much artistry. 
Our Grade=A-

Top 9 Perform
They sing Kelly Clarkson's song "People Like Us". They had three little groups at one point with the 3 girls in the lead and the guys behind them, it sounded pretty, other than it was just okay. I never liked this non-judged performances in the middle of the show, but it's part of the show and they do the Idol tour, so guess they need to show it all off.

Tyanna Jones
(Mr. Know It All-Kelly Clarkson)
This song hit number one on Billboard in 2011 and as of 2014 it has sold over 1.7 million copies.Kelly loves the loudness of Tyanna's tone. Kelly tells her to get pissed off and angry and emotional and show the fire. Kelly wants her to bring the sass and boldness and just let go of everything and it will be incredible. Scott wants Tyanna to use the emotion that she felt when she was bullied and feeling upset into the song. This was definitely different than what Tyanna usually does, usually she is smiling and dancing, this time she was much more serious and standing right in the middle of the stage until she took the microphone off the stand and brought herself a little closer to the front of the stage. I definitely see the emotion she was trying to bring. It was different, but it was good different. I probably prefer her past stuff a little more, but this was a nice change.
Judge's Comments=Harry-There is a mystery surrounding Tyanna, it's a great gift to transcend the fact that she is singing to the fact of the lyrics. There was some pitch issues, but the voice came right from the heart. Keith-Sings great, but didn't feel it connected to what the song is about, but there is also sadness to it, missed that. Jennifer-Did remind people that she has amazing pipes. 
Our Grade=B

Joey Cook
(Miss Independent-Kelly Clarkson)
This was Kelly's first song that landed on the Billboard Top 100 charts in 2003. It was certified Gold and was nominated for a Grammy in 2004.Kelly says this is her favorite song to perform live. Kelly loves Joey's version and is so impressed how she changed it up. She tells Joey to just move on from last week's tough performance. Everyone has a bad day or performance. Joey wants to redeem herself. Scott thinks last week was good on paper but didn't deliver. Joey takes this song into a full Blues/Jazz version. I love how she changes things up like that. She has 3 saxophone dudes, a pianist and big bass. Her voice was a little over the place but it's supposed to be and this is much more in her style than last week's mess. I enjoyed it. Keith gives her a standing ovation. We learn that Joey got engaged over this past weekend. Good few days for Joey.  
Judge's Comments=Keith-She doesn't just change songs but builds a new song. Makes him appreciate the lyrics. Jennifer-One of the best performances of the night, so unique and individual, she's in her own land. Harry-Gets an A+ for bravery and going left of center. Wishes she didn't treat the Jazz elements into a novelty, because it makes it old and Jazz is as modern as anything. 
Our Grade=A-

Kelly Clarkson Performs= Kelly taped this performance earlier in the day or yesterday, you can always tell it's not live when the judges are positioned in the balcony. Anyway, Kelly sings her new hit "Heartbeat Song". I really dig this song and Kelly's voice is so damn good. American Idol couldn't have had a better original winner, she really set the bar for the show and level of great talent to come.

Quentin Alexander
(Dark Side-Kelly Clarkson)
This song landed on the Billboard Top 100 in 2012. With this song Clarkson bypassed Katy Perry and Cheryl Crowe for most Top 10 songs on the Adult Pop songs charts. Kelly thinks that Quentin is the coolest contestant on the show, he is chill and confident, which is rare to find in a new artist. Kelly thinks the chorus is huge and wants him to try to do something different and delicate, he doesn't have to hit it hard, there is a lot of beauty in being quiet. Scott thinks Quentin is the most intense contestant and this song is appropriate for him. This was an underrated song on her album Stronger. Quentin doesn't make this song as intense as he has other songs, he goes for big notes, but when he does it goes a little off the tune, but the first part of the song was great, the middle was decent, and the last part was amazing. Keith gives Quentin a standing ovation.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Liked it. It was perfect for him. Has a great talent at choosing the right songs for himself and what will attract the audience. Keith-Has a great poise. Really beauty in the quiet, but real beauty is in truth and he is truthful. Harry-Thinks he needs to do more with the creative as he does on the skill. Wants him to be great, some notes that need to be worked on. Needs to work on chords. Needs to work on the technical as much as the creative. 
Our Grade=B+

Qaasim Middleton
(Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)-Kelly Clarkson)
This song was also one of Clarkson's most successful songs. It was her third number 1 hit on the Billboard 100 Charts and topped 15 other charts. It also attained Top 10 position in 15 different countries. It went 4x Platimum in the US with over 4 million copies sold. Kelly won her third Grammy with this song's album. Kelly thinks it's important that Qaasim takes the song in a different way and a different direction. Qaasim wants to show a different side to him, being vulnerable. Scott says that Qaasim is elevating his game every week and proving the Judge's save was used wisely. Qaasim is sitting on the stool and plays acoustic guitar with very light accompaniment. There was a lot of mess in his vocals tonight. It cracked in spots, he lost his breath and it was distracting at points. When he uses his rich full voice it sounds good, but it was shaky in some spots.Judge's Comments=Harry=Seemed comfortable, loves runs but if he is gonna do it he has to do it right, has to sing the notes right. Okay, not his best. Keith=The transition to the chorus and bridge and back and forth was tough with the falsetto and low moments. It crashed into the wall at points. A lot was good but when it was off it was off.  Jennifer=Needs to be practiced so much because the performance stuff was good, but everything else was bad.
Our Grade=C-

Kelly Clarkson Performs= She sings live, so I am glad that she is actually there. She sings "At Last", which was Kelly's audition song back in Season 1 over 13 years ago. She is amazing. She's as goofy as ever when she speaks to Ryan. Her voice is so good.That's all. End of story. So darn good.

Clark Beckham
(Trouble With Love-Kelly Clarkson)
Internationally this song did far better than in America where it didn't land on any significant charts. It landed on Australia's top charts, going Gold. It also served as a song in the film Love Actually. Kelly loves his soulful voice, and thinks he has a natural, innate love for blues. If he opens his eyes and connects he would be unstoppable. Scott thinks Clark needs to stretch out of his comfort zone and if he nails it then it could be a real Idol moment. This was a perfect, right on the money song choice for Clark. It is bluesy and it allows him to hit notes with his natural swagger and grit. Clark does need to focus on the camera a little more than all over the place, because when he does it is amazing. I can't even tell you how good Clark did with this song. It did everything it was supposed to and so much more. Just really really well done. Jennifer gives him a standing ovation.
Judge's Comments= Keith-Bar is way up there. Wants to lead with the feeling, rather than just doing it. Jennifer-Goosies from head to toe. Just... Harry-Took a Kelly Clarkson and directly followed Kelly Clarkson and nailed it. 
Our Grade=A

Bottom 2
Both Daniel and Rayvon will perform their Kelly Clarkson song and the audience will decide who to keep with the Twitter save after for only 5 minutes.

Daniel Seavey
(Breakaway-Kelly Clarkson)
Originally this song was only on the Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack, but it's success led to it landing on Clarkson's second album, aptly named Breakway. It peaked at Number 6 on Billboard's Top 100, but was number 1 on the US Adult Contemporary Chart for 21 consecutive weeks, a record only held previously by Celine Dion.Kelly won her second Grammy for this song. Daniel has laryngitis this week. Kelly wants Daniel to calm down. He needs to know that artists aren't always perfect. He just needs to practice how to warm up with breathing techniques. I honestly can't tell if he still has laryngitis or he is singing badly. He looks scared and his voice is not good here. I know it's tough with his illness and the fact he could go home, but the moment seems too big for him. He didn't change the song up or do anything to put his stamp on it. He goes for a big note and it was good for about 90% of it but failed right at the last second. It was sort of a mess.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-Super hard song, did an okay job with everything going on. Harry-Needs to keep practicing. Harry-Loves that he is tackling the song, looks great on camera
Our Grade=D

Rayvon Owen
(Since U Been Gone-Kelly Clarkson)
This is easily one of Kelly's most popular/successful songs. It was actually ranked by Rolling Stone 482 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010. That's impressive. It peaked Number 2 on Billboard and landed at number 1 on the Pop 100 for six weeks and US Pop songs for seven weeks. It has sold nearly 3 million copies. Kelly won her first Grammy with this song. Kelly loves that he made it a ballad and made it sad. Kelly wants him to be natural and be who he is, not push to be something he isn't. This song is usually high-paced, rocking and almost angry at moments, Rayvon completely flips the song with violinists and a harpist. I love the tenderness, the vulnerability and he laid off the falsetto this week, and focused really on the lyrics and tone of his voice.It's good.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Has got incredible chops but wants to know what makes him different, but wants to hear even more out of him. Keith-That was one of the best song choices for his voice. Jennifer-Did a really beautiful job. Keep digging and pushing.
Our Grade=B

Twitter-Save Results/Who's Going Home?
Saved By Twitter=Rayvon Owen

Going Home=Daniel Seavey. The little guy just didn't have it this week. He didn't have it last week, and hasn't had it most of the season. But he ended up in 9th place, so given all that, that's pretty good.

Best of The Night=Clark. I think he picked the right song, connected more than he ever has and laid down a wonderful vocal. I don't think it was an Idol moment, but it was a really great performance. Clark has really stepped it up the past few weeks and as he gets more comfortable on stage and on camera he'll do even better. It's an exciting thing to witness his growth, because his voice is there, just everything else is starting to work as well. 

Bottom 2/Going Home Predictions

1. Qaasim-Should Go Home
2. Rayvon-Will Go Home

Final Thoughts
*The first thought has to be about the Twitter Save. I know they do this on The Voice, and I know they are doing this so they get Live audiences and hopefully more of an audience in general, but it's a new concept to Idol fans. On one hand it eliminates the possibility that someone had a bad night the previous week and can make up for it during the current week, but on the other hand shouldn't the last place person go home? Tonight it worked out that Daniel and Rayvon were Bottom 2, but shouldn't the previous week's performance count for something? I'll need a couple more weeks to see if this was a good addition to the show..

*Overall this was a great night for Idol. Other than Qaasim and the now departed Daniel, the vocals from everyone was on point. Kelly Clarkson gave out some solid advice and sang her butt off on the show. This is a very strong Top 8. Everyone left has something to offer, whether it be pure voice, intensity, entertainment value, creativity or a combination of some or all of those. It's a really diverse group and it'll be interesting to see how it continues to progress.

*I am happy to be wrong about Daniel sticking around too long. I really thought he was gonna stay because he is the cute and adorable one on the show. In past seasons, with less talent, Daniel probably would have stuck around longer, but with so many great contestants he just couldn't match them in almost any capacity.

That's it. This was a crazy night. Come on back next week where the Twitter Save will be back and anything can happen. So until then, see ya!

1 comment:

  1. Lots of comments...
    1) What happened to Scott the mentor? He has been invisible lately.
    2) I don't like 2 hour format for under 10 performers. Too much filler.
    3) Nick reminds me of Chris Daughtry.
    4) Jax seemed nervous with microphone shaking at times but did good. Her voice seemed different tonight.
    5) I still don't get the Joey phenomenon and probably never will. Also, the judges have a double-standard when they bash some singers for getting too far from original songs and then praise Joey for doing the same thing.
    6) I didn't quite get the judge's comments on Quentin but happy that Kelly wrote that funny note for him.
    7) I think Qaasim needs to stick with what he is good at - entertaining. His vocals not too good this time but I liked the attempt.
    8) Clark performed the best tonight. The moment of the show was Kelly's "I think I'm pregnant" comment after his singing at the piano. Priceless.
    9) The show got better with Daniel leaving. Sorry but the judges did him no favors in not making him wait a couple of years. There is too much better talent to watch him each week and knowing some of those that didn't make the top 24 that should have. I think the Twitter Save might be a good equalizer because the prior week's results give the bottom 2 but the Twitter Save allows them a second chance and limits 1 vote per twitter account in short amount of time to prevent multi-voting. We'll see how this fares over time.