Breaking It Down: American Idol Top 11 was a Party and Bullsh*t


(Maybe the best mash-up of all time; give a listen while you read)

Last week I learned I don’t want to party with many of the Idols.

If you’re picking party songs, you’re picking stuff that makes everyone hold their drink in the air and sing out loud. You’re picking classic rock, teeny-bopper pop hits, rap songs with incredible hooks or songs that make you dance and give zero shits.

Looking at the list, here’s who I would I would trust with the A/V cord at a party: Rayvon Owen, Joey Cook, Jax and Daniel Seavey. (It should be noted I would trust Clark Beckham, but then all my friends would say “why’d you let this guy play those stupid songs?” In McDonald I Trust).

The contestants were loose with the rules, but it was a glorious nights for performances. No one fell flat on their face which was awesome for entertainment but not awesome for someone who loves when people completely choke and then try to pretend they weren’t that bad.

We got what we expected – Tyanna Jones continued running train on everyone, Joey was amazing, Clark was awesome and Nick Fradiani continued to soak chicks and make dudes jealous.

We also got what we didn’t expect – Daniel Seavey bouncing back from the criticism and showing up to the competition, Jax having a slight misstep, and Qaasim actually trying to sing.

While some were surprised by the elimination of Sarina-Joi, this guy wasn’t. She didn’t sing well in the Top 12 and if you lead off the show with a poor performance, you’re already starting from behind and singing bad doesn’t help.

It sucked from the perspective of her voice is bananas and she doesn’t get the second chance others did – applause for the judges for not using the save – but American Idol is a competition and if you don’t compete well, you don’t deserve to be on.

So, one week late, here’s the performance recaps.

THE TOP 11

Rayvon Owen
“Burn,” Ellie Goulding

Mixed feelings about the performance. I My daughter loves high-pitched EDM/pop hits, so I listen to them often. The song gave Rayvon a chance to show off his falsetto – which I thought he did beautifully – but his regular voice didn’t have me fist-pumping or wanting to drop ecstasy, which was too bad because I love ecstasy.

Credit where credit’s due – Rayvon performed better than anyone out of the one hole. He didn’t look nervous going from seat to stage. He went with the black Heisenberg hat, which means he wanted to kill it, but didn’t quite get to “murdered the stage” levels.

If I’m Rayvon I’m nervous going into Thursday night. The performance wasn’t bad, but on a night with a couple very memorable performances, the leadoff spot plus a so-so showing might cost him (See Crowe, Sarina-Joi).
IN or BOTTOM 3: Bottom 3

Maddie Walker
“She’s Country,” Jason Aldean

You don’t think Maddie heard everyone across the country shitting on her for even making the Top 12? HA.

She’s cold blooded. Easily the best pure competitor in the field. She plays the nice girl role, but she’ll rip your heart out to get to the next round. This performance proved how big her balls are. When the pressure’s on, Maddie shows up (RIP Rachael Hallack).

I hate country, so it was what it was for me, but I see the draw for it. She sang it well and performed it just right – enough sass on stage, but not to a Qaasim level. She dressed the part, looked like the All-American girl and paved her way to safety.

(PS I can’t wait to have a 17-year old daughter who dresses like that so I can jump off a bridge)
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Joey Cook
“Fancy,” Iggy Azaela

Despite what the judges said, I think Joey got a little to fancy with the arrangement. Let’s just get that out of the way because the performance was insanity.

This is how you Idol. This is what it means to take a song and make it your own. If Joey would have rapped, we all would have said “hahahahaha awkward girl rapping.” Instead, she throws a swing beat on it, gets all dapper and dandy, and made me wish it was the 1920s (minus prohibition. That was some bullshit, no?).

Best part was instead of accepting credit for the version, she went out of her way to give credit to the random band – Post Modern Jukebox – no one has heard of as the performer of that version. David Cook didn’t do that when he was running to the title. Lord Lambert didn’t either. Goes a long way in my book, can’t wait to see what’s next.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Empire
“Some stupid rap song”
Stop singing actors. You’re drunk. You do not get a ticket to Hollywood.
But thanks for bringing us “awkward-stand-dancing-Daniel-Seavey.” Worth it.

Clark Beckham
“Taking It To the Streets,” The Lord and Savior Michael McDonald (I may have gotten the name wrong)

If you’ve read me, you know I LOVE LOVE LOVE to brag about how awesome I am and how much pull I have with the Idols. That said, I don’t think this is a coincidence at all:

Now if you’re not a fan of this song, fuck you. It’s pretty much perfect (Michael McDonald and The Doobies are horribly underrated). I was worried about Clark doing this song because a) it’s amazing b) McDonald’s voice is unmatched and c) Clark doesn’t have a silver beard.

He nailed it. Beckham’s voice is so good, he took a voice God gave to one man and one man only and managed to sing his song and not ruin it. Beckham made it sound modern, which blew me away and made me dance in my living room (not joking).

He’s the guy to beat. I know everyone has a boner for the Brothers Q, Quentin – rightfully so – and Qaasim – crazy talk – and the girls have put on quite a show, but I don’t see why Beckham can’t win the damn thing.

Plus, if he grows that beard a little more, sex everywhere.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Jax
“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift

So Jax had no shot of earning anything that resembled praise from me following Beckham’s performance, but on the re-watch I tried to be a little more fair.

This wasn’t her best. Not even close. Jax has set the bar so damn high I expect more than a complete cover of some pop hit. I love Jax being Jax, when she’s making things sound different and being the type of artist that she looks like. She doesn’t look like a Swift-type. She’s more dangerous than that, if that makes any sense. The most dangerous part of her performance was touching that dude when he sang, taking him on the first train to Bonerville.

I don’t know if it will matter. All great performers on this show have performances like this. Had anyone else done this, the critique wouldn’t be nearly as bad; because Jax had set the bar so high, she’s gotta get to that bar every time out.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Qaasim Middleton
“Jet,” Paul McCartney & Wings

To classify this as a party song is highly controversial unless you hang out with 50-year olds or stoners all day long.

I was fairly excited to hear Qaasim sing until he actually did. His voice is horrific. While everyone is throwing out the Seavy-to-Sanjaya comparison, how does Qaasim-to-Sanjaya sound? The only difference is Simon knew Sanjaya wasn’t good and these judges could give two shits Qaasim sings like your parents when they’re wasted at a summer concert.

Obviously, the excuse train made its way through the Twitterverse and every Qaasim supported started throwing out “oh he’s got strep.” Yeah, that sucks. I get it. Michael Jordan had the god damn flu and still hung 30 on the Jazz in the finals. You get over it.

Secret best part of the performance – Harry being a complete dick and asking Qaasim about suffragette. I have a sneaky feeling Harry is on the “Qaasim sucks” bandwagon and just doesn’t want to come out and say it.

Qaasim is untouchable, which is too bad because I’m still waiting for something that resembles a performance worthy of being in the Top 12, because the fact he’s in and Mark Andrew, Loren Lott and Adam Ezegelian were left out is not a great look.
IN or BOTTOM 3: Should be out, will be in

Adanna Duru
“Runaway Baby,” Bruno Mars

Here’s the thing: I can’t tell if this was sung well and it was a bad song or just straight out bad.

The song didn’t really show us what Adanna is good at. From my angle, it came off as screaming, not singing, and when Adanna gets on the stage I want to avoid her kicking my ass and here her hit big, powerful notes.

It wasn’t a surprise to see Urban and J-Lo sing her praises – short of banging Nicole Kidman or bringing up Diddy, you’re not gonna hear a lot of bad things from these two robots – but to hear Harry get on her a little for her control and say it was better than last time kinda confirms my original thought that it wasn’t that great.

If she was Bottom 3 before, she’ll be back. Since we have no idea, I’m just gonna gamble and say she might be in big trouble this week.
IN or BOTTOM 3: Bottom 3

Tyanna Jones
“Tightrope,” Janelle Monae

I don’t listen to Janelle Monae because I’m a stereotypical fratty white guy and only listen to music I can crush beers to or that comes on Pandora when my kid is running the show, but at this point it doesn’t matter what Tyanna sings. She’s stealing the show every week.

At this point, she performs so far past her age we need to ignore the fact she’s 16 or do some digging to see if she’s actually 16 because I’d throw a heavy wager on no fucking way.

All I’m wondering is what ordinary is going to sound like for her. That’s going to be when we find out what kind of performer she really is. If she has a bad week, will it sound bad or just ordinary. That might not even have been her best and it was still ridiculous.

If Beckham wasn’t stealing my heart, this girl would be my favorite to win the damn thing.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Daniel Seavey
“Happy,” Pharrell Williams

I don’t think it was a coincidence the Teen Blunder followed the Teen Wonder.
And it might sound crazy, what I’m about to say, but Seavey changed the game with his performance last week.

We were all expecting Seavey to continue crapping his pants on stage, but he pretty much flipped us the bird. He looked straight out of Miami Vice – and pulled it off nice – and then he did a song that isn’t really great for Idol and crushed it out (my guess is his Twitter buddy Savion Wright gave him some tips as to how to handle the song).

The performance changed my perception on Seavey for at least one week. I’ve said all along the kid has the goods, he’s just not ready. Last week, he looked ready. Can it continue? We’ll see.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Quentin Alexander
“Rolling In the Deep,” Adele

Quentin is a complete bullshit artist, because in my drunken stumbles around New Orleans, I didn’t hear Rolling In the Deep once, so to classify it as a party song is horseshit of the highest variety. Good thing Q is fucking awesome or I’d really get pissed about this blatant disregard of the rules.

(SIDE: How do you enforce the rule? Prove it. If you’re going to pick a weird song as a party song, you’d better provide video evidence of it being played or GTFO)

If it wasn’t for Joey, Quentin would be performer getting all the originality accolades, but for now these two weirdos – I say that nicely – are gonna have to split them. Just a terrific rendition. He could have done it dangerously weird, like when Hollywood Anderson covered Adele, but turned the pop song into an R&B song that could have been sung by Marvin or Otis.

Oh, and if Harry is going to keep up with the inconsistencies of critiquing artists’ interpretations of songs, I’m going to find a way to punch him through the TV. Fuck Harry. Sometimes.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Nick Fradiani
“Wake Me Up (Acoustic),” Aloe Blacc

It’s kinda bullshit they didn’t credit Avicii with the song, because that’s the true party version, but whatever.

So the old guy’s got some game, huh? Apparently someone forgot to tell Nick that 25-and-over aren’t stars on the Idol stage anymore.

He’s really an Adam Levine clone except, gasp, I think he’s better. To be fair, I fucking hate Adam Levine and the stupid Voice, but Fradiani is the kind of artist I want to listen to, mainly because I want to hang out with him jaw agape watching the types of chicks he attracts.

Great performance. He’s got a perfect voice for the show because it gets a little gravely at times and a little screechy, but it sounds so, so real. He’s going to accidentally run through this show and if the other contestants don’t pay attention, he might find himself in the final because my money is on Nick not having bad or mediocre performances. He’s going to bang out hits every week and the only way he struggles is if he picks the wrong song.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Tough week to judge. My bottom three would be Qaasim, Adanna and Rayvon with Qaasim going home but I have a better chance of meeting the Easter Bunny than that actually happening.

American’s voting Rayvon, Adanna and Jax in the bottom three (checking last week’s black-out drunk instant review … yup) with Adanna going home. Drunkenly I picked Rayvon, but I think he’ll stay. I hate second-guessing myself, but I think Adanna doesn’t have the fan base Rayvon does.

If Jax isn’t Bottom 3 it will be Seavey and if that’s the case, I’m gonna go ahead and (ducking) predict a Geena Gina Jena Irene-esque run for the Little Boy Who Could. If it’s Jax, same story. Big wake-up call for her if she’s there.

Sorry for the delay. It literally took me three days to recover from last Thursday, then I had to do some real-life shit, then the baby had her first birthday and then she got an ear infection. Good week at home right now.

See y’all tomorrow night.

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