A really solid night of performances from the American Idol Top 4. Ditching the stupid light up chairs allowed the contestants to relax and step up their game. There they were, sitting calmly in their soothingly blue-colored chairs, likely knowing when they would be called, not waiting tensely to be called safe. They could breath and mentally prepare for their moment on the stage. For the most part, the performances were so much better without the overall air of fear and tension that has pervaded the live shows. If we can’t have a separate elimination show, tonight’s format is how the performance/results should go down each and every week.
Leave the gimmicks to the other shows. Make American Idol about the CONTESTANTS and the SINGING. Tonight’s broadcast was one of my favorites of the live shows. It also gave the eliminated contestant, Rayvon Owen, a minute at the end to say goodbye. He had an amazing run and deserved a proper sendoff. They all do. Are you paying attention Per? KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.
The show got off to a bit of a rocky start. There is no doubt whatsoever who Scott and the producers want in the finale. Scott giving Clark Beckham “Beautiful Day” was straight up sabotage. Sure, coax him out of his comfort zone. But handing him a song out of his range is not about that. Clark had to sing the verses in his lower register, where he isn’t strong, and then switch suddenly to top of his range. He looked clearly uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Scott gave the other singers songs in their wheelhouse. A fricking SPRINGSTEEN song for Nick Fradiani. He could have picked a better “punk” song for Jax, but at least it wasn’t foreign to her style. Jax’s personal hometown pick, “My Immortal” was simply stunning. It would have been horrible for her to be eliminated after that.
The judges did a better job of picking songs for the finalists. I would have liked something a little more adventurous than “I’ll Be” for Nick, but it fit his 90’s inspired vibe. “Earned It” for Clark was perfect. A contemporary song that challenged him, yet spoke to his strengths. The Paramore song was a good one for Jax, and if they could let go of what they expected from her, they’d realize it was a solid, creative effort. Rayvon could have done more with “You Are So Beautiful,” but the judges weren’t wrong to hand it to him.
Nick Fradiani’s personal choice, “Back Home,” was his best of the night, exemplifying the kind of recording artist he could be. I still don’t find him all that original as a singer or musician. I made a joke on twitter that got a few returns, “Chris Daughtry will finally win American Idol.” Nick is 2.0. However, he’s clearly gaining confidence and playing to win and I admire that. My favorites have left the competition, so I don’t really have a horse in this race. But, in a way, I hope either he or Jax wins. I really want the American Idol champ to succeed. And in order to succeed, they have to be able to work with Scott.
Also, did you notice that one round a piece was given to Jax, Rayvon and Nick? I’m sorry, but “Earned it” won Clark that last round. The de-pimping and undermining was ridiculous, as were the softballs the judges were throwing in some of those critiques. They even went too easy on Clark’s horrible “Beautiful Day.” Nick getting the pimp spot for that karaoke-like “I’ll Be” basically served to crown him the heir apparent. If we’re were being real here, Clark would have sung last in the judges round, to close the show.
Hometown visits! I love me some emotional hometown visits. Great to see Elliott Yamin greet Rayvon in Richmond. NINE years ago, the season 5 alum had his own visit in that very city. My favorite hometown video package of all time. The visits added an extra sugary coating to the proceedings tonight. Every week should feel that good. I’m sure one of the reasons why they let everyone sing had to do with not undermining the positive vibe of the packages. I hope the producers have learned something.
It’s time for YOU to sound off. Vote for your favs, and let us know who YOU think is going home.
American Idol 14 – Top 4 – Favorite Performance
American Idol 14 – Top 4 – Favorite Contestant Overall
American Idol 14 – Top 3 – Who SHOULD go Home next week?
American Idol 14 – Top 3 – Who WILL go Home next week?
American Idol 14 – Top 4 – Grade the Episode