American Idol Recap Top 5 2015 Season 14 Live Blog
Tonight, the American Idol 14 Top 5 tackle two songs based on two themes: I am What I am/Soul songs and Judges Hometowns. The finalists traveled to Nashville last week for a whirlwind tour of the town and Big Machine Label Group with CEO and mentor, Scott Borchetta. It was just a little taste of what the winner can expect! The boys were mentored by Rascal Flatts, Jay DeMarcus and the girls were guided by Martina McBride. Tonight, judge Harry Connick Jr. sings “City Under the Sea” while Martina performs the classic “Over the Rainbow.”
The twitter save is OVER! The finalist with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated. The remaining Top 4 will be whisked away to their respective hometowns for a heroes welcome.
Let the Live Blog begin!
The show opens with Scott Borchetta telling the Top 5 at the end of Wednesday’s show that they are heading to Nashville! There they are cruising in a private plane with Scott! Nick cracks a joke about wearing his seatbelt low, the way Keith Urban suggested. Scott reveals the artist wall at Big machine, pointing out the spot for the Idol winner. The kids run around town. They check out Bridgestone Arena. Clark mentions that he saw the Idols play there a few years ago. Clark will be part of the tour, but it ain’t going to Bridgestone.
Host, Ryan Seacrest introduces the judges after he makes his entrance. Jlo is cute in a leopard print ensemble: Tight pants and a crop top. HIGH PONY TAIL. Who will get the world famous confetti shower in two weeks? Ryan introduces the Top 5: Jax, Clark, Nick, Rayvon and Tyanna. They head over to the lounge, where they will await their chair to light up.
Songs from the Judges Hometowns is first! That would be Nashville for Keith, New York for Jlo and New Orleans for Harry.
OMG RUSSELL CROWE HANDS THE RESULTS ENVELOPE TO RYAN. I hope he doesn’t punch anyone. Just kidding. He rode his bike to the studio. His directorial debut, the “Water Diviner” is opening soon.
Clark Beckham – Living for the City by Stevie Wonder – New York – Clark meets Sandy Borchetta and her team. She’s in charge of creative. He’s never really thought of style. She presents ideas described as a “modern take on a classic.” Stylish but hip suits. He loves it. Clark feels the team has been paying attention to what he does. This week, Clark is tackling another Stevie song. Alrighty then. He plays no instrument. This song works at the very edge of his upper range. It’s iffy. There are some pitchy spots. At the bridge he runs over to a piano to noodle. It’s a little distracting. He adlibs the chorus. Not bad, but it was a little rough. “Great opening to the show,” says Keith. He wished he’d play more piano. He likes him behind an instrument. Jlo thought it sounded really good too. She also felt he should have stayed at the piano. Harry thought it was a solid performance. He felt he missed the pocket, though. “Sink in that groove,” he says. “Groove is a big deal!” I agree–the performance was unfocused in spots. He was trying to do too much.
Jax – Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys – New York – She meets the A&R person at Big Machine. Jax is a big fan of pop music. It’s not a curse word! The A&R person loves that she can go from rock to ballads. Jax performs at the piano, which is always a good place for her. She gets up during the second chorus to work the stage. There will be the obvious comparisons to Alicia. As a performance, it could have been more dynamic, but there were great moments too. There’s no mistaking that lovely tone and exquisite phrasing. The arrangement would have benefitted from a longer edit. Jlo feels like she means business now. She’s not convinced it was the best song for her. Harry really dug it. It was a “mini showcase” of what she does. He notices that her voice was hoarse. He admires that she sang through it. “You killed it.” Keith loved the song for her. “You’ve got such a strong artistic foundation,” he says that she can power through problems. Actually, I kinda dug the rasp. – iTunes
Nick Fradiani – Bright Lights by Matchbox 20 – He sat down with the PR department at BMG. Nick appreciates what a bulldog Scott is when promoting his artists. Yay. We’re Rob Thomas tonight! I feel like a broken record. A highly competent cover. He brings nothing new or unique to the proceedings. But as always, he sounds great. I have to say, he seems SO MUCH more comfortable on stage than he did early in the competition. The boy is on fire, and that will count for a lot. Harry thought it was the most comfortable he’s been so far and that he “sang the hell out of it.” He notes how similar he sounds to Rob Thomas. Keith mentions his growing “killer instinct.” Jlo says in a weird little soprano voice. “YOUR PEAKING!” and “So comfortable, so perfect.”
Ryan teases the elimination after the break. Will they get to perform or not? But of course, no results until Harry Connick Jr. takes the stage to sing “City Beneath the Sea.” He wrote the song 20 years ago. Doesn’t he have anything new to promote. He plays at an electric piano. HOW MODERN. He’s doing a Ray Charles thing. However, he’s no Ray Charles. Why is he clipping all of his phrases? The judges should critique him afterward, because that performance needs it. Actually they do, just joking around about his “Pocket” and “Pentatonics”
Ryan promises results next. Either Rayvon Owen or Tyanna Jones will be eliminated. Oh. A teaser has them both waiting for results on stage! Tyanna is so happy that she made it this far! Same exact thing for Rayvon. And RAYVON OWEN ADVANCES AGAIN! Tyanna Jones is eliminated.. Finally, an eliminated contestant gets a goodbye package. OK this sucks. The song Tyanna practiced all week “Run The World” by Beyonce is now her goodbye song. What horrible circumstances for her. Why couldn’t they allow everyone to sing and then announce who was eliminated at the close of the show? ME NO LIKEY. The judges give her some words of wisdom. Harry calls her a spectacular gift. Jlo promises that she has a long journey ahead of her. “We’re going to miss you.” As a parting gift, you can download Tyanna’s performance from iTunes. I can’t even begin to critique that. It was an emotional, shaky performance. Poor kid. She kept her composure pretty well, considering the circumstances.
Rayvon Owen – “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum – Visiting BMG reminds Rayvon of his music business classes at Belmont. Rayvon does his ballady thing with “Need You Now.” His voice breaks at the end. High falsettos and his typical runs. That was pretty, but basically Rayvon painting by numbers. Rayvon seems to specialize in the kind of Adult Contemporay music played in doctor’s offices. Forget your Mix stations. We’re talking strictly Wish. And Delilah. Keith gives him props for making it his own. He would have liked more heart and less drama. Jennifer says it’s about connection. It’s the difference between acting and feeling. She makes a good point. His performance was SUPER DRAMATIC punctuated by unnecessary embellishments. His ad libs are pretty, but empty. Harry thinks there something to be said for restraint. But Harry disagrees with Jlo and Keith. He thought Rayvon was 100% on delivery. “You sang the pants off of that.” Jlo calls him “the cat with 9 lives.” Ryan can’t remember any contestant surviving the bottom as many times.
Harry natters on about “gravy” or something, before we get a video package on the mentors, Martina McBride and Jay DeMarcus. Martina was a mentor during season 6. MELINDA DOOLITTLE HOLLA. The country singer takes the stage to sing the classic “Over the Rainbow” which we’ve heard on competition reality stages, what feels like, a million times. Her slightly countrified rendition is…nice. Very nice. She explains to Ryan that she’s from Kansas. She adds that when she saw Wizard of Oz when she was 5, she knew she wanted to sing.
Ryan is interviewing some science guy, Destin Sandler. He runs a popular YouTube channel, “Smarter Every Day.” He joins the Top 5 in this week’s Ford commercial. Science experiments are fun!
Clark Beckham – Your Man by Josh Turner – Clark thinks the song is the most “me” that he is. Jay thinks he can sing the “dog crap” out of the song, but wants to see the soul of the man delivering it. “You and I have argued about this,” Scott says rather testily, “If you lose this competition, it’s because you’re doing the wrong things.” Clark sticks to his guns, with some MAJOR sass. “If this loses me the competition. I don’t want to win it.” Woah. Not a good look for an Idol contender, dude. Jay urges him to listen to his advisers. Scott literally scolds, “This isn’t American Musician…you’re on a fast track to a Holiday Inn.” Wow. Clark is adamant about what he wants to do. Scott and Jay just shake their heads. “Live by the sword,” says Scott. Jay admires his resolve, but reiterates his foolishness. That was not pleasant. Unfortunately, Clark doesn’t deliver the goods. There are pitch problems galore. Jlo notes the controversy. “I thought you sang it well,” She wonders if the song is right for American Idol? She doesn’t know how it’s his “gravy” song. Harry, calling the performance “tepid,” thinks it comes down to specific song choice. He should chose songs based on whether he could win. You’ve got to knock everything out of the park, he says. Killer singles are what’s needed now, says Keith, not album cuts. Clark still doesn’t regret his song choice. Maybe he should have “articulated” it better, he muses. “I desperately want to win this show,” Clark stresses, attempting some damage control. Probably too late for that. He really believes people like the music he’s singing! “Don’t confuse people liking YOU with people liking your music,” says Keith. Ouch. How will America respond to Clark’s obstinance? As we know (hello Quentin) America HATES sass from contestants. Now I’m wondering if he can win this thing. That was some major grade a de-pimping going on there. On the other hand, in order to counter the negativity and to prove his point, Clark needed to knock that out of the park, but he didn’t. The performance was sloppy and unfocused, basically proving Scott’s point. – iTunes
Next, a video package of the Idols at the Bluebird cafe singing Taylor Swift…REALLY BADLY.
After commercial, Scott chats with Ryan. He spoke with Clark at the break. He stresses that he loves ALL of them and wants ALL of them to succeed. “I kick them in the butt because I want them to do great,” he says. Point taken Scott. But did Clark have to receive such a harsh villain edit? It’s clear Scott doesn’t want him to win.
Jax – Human by Christina Peri – Martina notes an interesting mix of vulnerability and strength. Like Kelly Clarkson, Martina had no notes. Scott is so enthusiastic and full of praise, the young singer is definitely his favorite. Jax is swinging for the fences, going for a second ballad. She must realize the ballads earn her praise and votes. It’s a great song choice. Jax tears into the arrangement. Her vocals are terrific. She’s leaving no emotional stone unturned, as she drops to her knees for the last verse. A little dramatic, sure, but this feels very honest and sinceres. She’s stripping it back to her most vulnerable self. Her fearlessness makes up for the wobbly spots. “This is a perfect example of the technical vs the emotional.” Harry didn’t even care about her pitch problems, he so believed what she was selling. Keith loved her fragility. “You killed it,” he said. Jlo mentions her beautiful, pure tone, and compliments her ability to connect to the audience.
Oh LOOK it’s Steven Tyler in the studio to greet the Idols. They’re thrilled! “Wait Jlo is that you?” he says. Steven talks up the country record he’s recording for Big Machine. Jax got to sing with Steven. OH. STEVEN IS GOING TO SING WITH JAX AT THE FINALE.
Rayvon Owen – Believe by Justin Bieber – He dedicates the song to his mom. Jay got goosebumps listening to his rendition. Another pretty ballad from Rayvon. But this time? He BRANGS it. You’d think he was singing for the save! He gets a little gospel choir behind him. Aw. Thinking about his momma, he’s so emotional. His voice cracks on the chorus. but it works! He’s a man overcome. I have to say, Rayvon sang the crap out of that. The difference in commitment and passion were like night and day between the first and second song. Did dedicating it to his mom make a difference? Because that performance was INSPIRED. The judges rave. Jlo says THAT’S what he has to do every time he takes the stage. Harry jokes that he looked it up. A committee of people wrote the song. He’s sure they’d all be proud. Keith loved mom rocking out in the audience. She runs on stage afterward to give her boy a hug. That should earn him a boatload of votes. iTunes
Nick Fradiani – Rascal Flatts – What Hurts The Most – Nick had NO idea that Jay was the mentor when he picked the song. They jam together a little bit. Jay tells him to sing with only a microphone stand. Hey. Matchbox 20 meets Rascal Flatts! It’s another solid, competent vocal from Nick. I don’t have much more to say about it. I don’t think he’s had a moment on this show, and never will. Yet, Jlo calls him the “star of the night.” Really? Harry says it could be on his CD “Killed it.” Keith thinks the recorded version will storm up the iTunes chart. We’ll see. Rayvon’s “Believe” should have had the pimp spot, but he’s not the golden boy. – iTunes