American Idol 2022 Top 11: Jay Copeland’s Voice is Like Fine “Lilac” Wine
American Idol introduced a new twist for season 20 Monday night. (Read our Recap). Each of the Top 11 contestants received a song from each of the judges–Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. The singer picked one of the three songs to sing without knowing which judges chose it. The judge with the most songs picked won “The Judges Song Contest.”
Platinum Ticket recipient and Maryland native Jay Copeland finally had his “moment” with a song the judges chose for him. He could choose “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5, a group that he already covered earlier in the season, the poetic “Lilac Wine” in the style of Jeff Buckley, or a contemporary R&B song, “Caught Up” by Usher. Jay only knew “I’ll Be There,” but vocal coach Adriana McPhee and musical director Phredley Brown noted that he’s a quick learner. He decided to go vulnerable and push himself with “Lilac Wine.”
James Shelton wrote “Lilac Wine” which was first performed in a theatre production called Dance Me a Song by Hope Foye in 1950. Eartha Kitt did the first commercial cover of the song, and after listening to a few renditions, I can say it’s a very pretty song.
A standing ovation for Jay
Jay began the song with a very clear and open sound. His phrasing is incredibly beautiful, and he sang with a lot of emotion without doing too many vocal acrobatics. The production with the band was stunning. It was the perfect choice for a closer. He utilized his heavy vibrato, but it was appropriate here. He hit a few glory notes, and wisely didn’t aim to go even higher into his falsetto. It’s very pleasant when he stays in the pocket like this. You could hear a pin drop during this performance. I wasn’t sure if he still belonged in the competition after a few okay performances, but this “moment,” his best performance to date, exceeded my expectations.
The judges gave him a standing ovation before revealing that Katy Perry chose the song. Jay correctly guessed that Katy picked it. He knew that she wanted to see more vulnerability. Katy’s point gave her 4 songs, tying her with Luke Bryan for winner of the Judges Song Contest.
Jay’s best performance yet
Katy said, “That was your best performance yet.” Luke noted how quick Jay learned the song and compared him to Nat King Cole, calling it “Classy. Classic. Beautiful.” Lionel gushed, “That’s one of the best performances I’ve seen in my life.” The high praise and breakout moment allowed Jay to sail through to next week’s Disney week. Luke and Katy saved Lady K, as the “twist” involved the song contest winner rescuing a contestant from the bottom 2. Tristen Gresset went home on a high note with a fun performance of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”.
The best of the night turned in elite performances on a somewhat weak night, including Jay, Fritz Hager, and Leah Marlene. They chose the right songs and had moments with them. Each of them performed stellar arrangements. Disney week should be a good week for Jay, who showed some Broadway-esque chops on this performance. Tune in Sunday May 1 on ABC at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT to see how that goes.