Breaking It Down: 80s Night on American Idol goes as well as a Neon Shirt with a pair of Zubaz (PS That Means AWESOME)

I love that the two dudes representing the 80s are still dressing like it's the 80s.

Out of these people, the dude at the piano sang the worst.

So that was awesome, right?

The Season 14 class continues to impress and while only two of the Idols were born in the 80s, they performed the hell out of the songs from the most underrated decade ever.

Wednesday we got hair bands, cheesy pop and pretentious British music and that pretty much covers the entire decade, minus hip hop. Contestants actually dressed the part, although with revolving trends I couldn’t tell if they were dressing a part or just wearing what’s popular because I’m old and dress like a 70-year old man.

I don’t remember much from the 80s because I just cared about cartoons, ice cream, baseball and not getting cooties, but I thought the Idols did a hell of a job turning some of the era’s hits into solid, modern-day pop songs. Only thing that was missing from the night was a boatload of cocaine.

Speaking of someone who did a ton of the coco during the 80s, the worst performance of the night was turned in by the guy who was a star in the 80s singing his own damn song (NOTE: Harmonica Guy FTW) while the Idols awkwardly carried the performance so Boy George could collect his check.

The rest of the performances were better. OK, there were some bumps along the road, but has there ever been a perfect Idol show? The Class of Season 14 keeps delivering and I’m seeing a finish that could give us the best Final 5 or 6 in show history. I’m dreading the Final 3 and that’s six weeks (check my math please) away.

But enough with a boring intro and on to the recaps. Read at your own risk – because someone in the Top 9 has already blocked your boy for being too real. Ah well, can’t win them all. If you’re looking for a recap on Adanna Duru or Maddie Walker, who were eliminated last night, those can be found by clicking HERE.

(NOTE: I included the Instant Thumb Meter Reviews because why the hell not. Should note that those are instant reactions that aren’t necessarily well thought out. Recaps are written after I see the West Coast showing and re-watch the following morning, so you’ll see some opinions have changed from then)

THE TOP 9

Daniel Seavey
“You Make My Dreams Come True,” Hall & Oates

I was rooting for Seavey Wednesday. I really was.

For one, he was doing a Yacht Rock song, but more importantly this kid’s closer to being good than I think he gets credit for.

What did he do wrong last night? The song, for one. It’s not built for him. I love to bag on Harry Connick talking about “connecting with a song” as much as anyone, but there may be a point here with Danjaya (copyright Lyndsey Parker. I don’t steal jokes, y’all). If Seavey was on the radio, would he be singing these adult contemporary hits he’s been throwing at us? Doubtful. He’d be crushing out fun, pop songs. I love H&O, but that’s some grown-ass man stuff right there and probably not the best choice for a 15-year old. Unless he had a mustache. If Seavey grew an Oates-stache in a week, he can sing whatever the fuck he wants.

Seavey’s stage presence is just awkward (that leg kick tho), but that’s more being 15 than anything else. Being a 15-year old dude sucks. Trust me. You’re just trying to not make a fool out of yourself 24/7 until you figure out who you are. Then things get awesome. Like HJ awesome.

And when Harry asked “What do you love to do man, more than anything?” and Seavey smiles before responding “Make people happy” was straight Velveeta, but good god the balls it took to answer that. Maybe the kid is smarter than we’re giving him credit for, because that is how you play the game

So while I’ll give him all the credit in the world for a terrific 80s outfit, the vocal wasn’t good. He was all over the place, voice was cracking and right now I’ve gone from Seavey Hater to Seavey Sympathizer. I’m gonna root for the kid, but if he takes one of the Fab 5’s spots, those cheers are turning to jeers quick.
IN or BOTTOM 3: Bottom 3 (leadoff jinx)

Quentin Alexander
“In The Air Tonight,” Phil Collins

I love Quentin more than he loved dressing up that Glow Worm, but last night’s performance lost me a little bit.

On the re-watch, what Harry said pre-song changed my tune a bit – “Quentin is always taking risks on stage; let’s just hope he can match that with some great technique.”

I’m a bit hard-headed (big headed too; I look like a real-life bobblehead doll or one of the Wii characters that you use for bowling) with my “take a song and make it your own” approach, so when Quentin took Phil Collins and just did Quentin doing Phil Collins instead of doing Quentin, it was a bit off-putting.

But the vocal was terrific and he’s a total package. His hair (jealous, this guy), wearing a jacket that made him look like a vampire, those lifts and the pants added to his subtle on-stage demeanor added to his ability to sing his face off made last night a solid showing.

It wasn’t a Top 30 All-Time performance. It wasn’t a 10. It wasn’t the best of the night. But it didn’t have to be. Despite what Harry said, he doesn’t have to do something up-tempo because Quentin’s not trying to put a set list together – he’s trying to win American Idol.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Joey Cook
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper

Joey wasn’t Joey last night. Why?

I got a tip from a reader about why, but until I can confirm it myself or someone else does, I’m not getting into and don’t ask. I will say this – if true, it definitely confirms what Harry said about Joey being distracted.

Joey’s showing was the unusual case of the vocals being decent but the performance being a mess. The arrangement was a disaster. The bouncing from pop to reggae and back to pop sounded bad and it really caused you to lose focus of how she was singing.

She wore her 80s outfit so confidently she made the getup look like something she’d wear out on a party on a Friday night (The Power of Joey, if you will), but it couldn’t save what was quite the risk by American Idol’s most unique performer in years.

I’m happy Joey took the chance on being a bit poppy and avoided the 1920s cover version I posted yesterday – probably would have been awesome but met with some disdain from the judges – but my issue with her taking that sort of risk now is the lack of a safety net.

Personally, she should have enough chits that one bad performance isn’t dropping her to the bottom of the pack. She slides a few spots in my ledger, but not to Bottom 3. That’s OK because as a part of the Fab 5, you should be able to take a risk and if it doesn’t work, be safe.

I don’t know if she is. I’m really hopeful. Like, almost voted hopeful. Almost.

But I could see America not voting for her and if she gets booted next week, there’s going to be an absolute coup. People will burn Harry, J-Lo and Keith Urban at the stake like the Salem witches if she goes home.

Her saving grace might be the song choice, because like J-Lo and Urban said, you could see people singing and dancing along at home (swear I wasn’t one of them). Picking a song people love is usually beneficial and for Joey’s sake it needs to be.
IN or BOTTOM 3: Bottom 3

Tyanna Jones
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” Whitney Houston

Stupid Boy George stealing my sports analogies. He was dead right – taking on Whitney is like taking on Tyson (that’s Mike, for you young’uns, and he was the baddest man on the planet before he became the tattoo-faced guy on The Hangover).

I wanted Tyanna to pick this song because, based on what she’s showed, even a so-so performance was going to be good enough to get her through while a stellar one would vault her right back into the “she can win the damn thing” conversation.

In no way did I think she was going to be as good as she was last night.

I’m sick of talking about her stage presence. Every move is so subtle and so perfectly decided you don’t lose track of how damn good she’s singing.

The arrangement was terrific. Whitney had a song in 1999 called “Your Love Is My Love” that got remixed into a techno hit that was awesome to drink to in college. This arrangement was on the same level and it was perfect because it allowed Tyanna to sing Whitney without trying to be Whitney. She made a Whitney song her own and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen someone on Idol do that with Whitney.

What really struck me the most was in all the 80s gear – the varsity jacket was secretly kinda dope – was how it looked like we were watching a “Before They Were Stars” type show. Just some kid, singing her brains out, a decade before she became a megastar. It really felt like I was watching old footage of any pop star you’d pick performing at a local talent show, except this was American Idol and she’s not a super star. At least not yet.

Reality is, there’s a chance she’s not winning the season, but that says more about the level of competition than Tyanna. I’d say her chances winning are just as good as anyone else in the Top 3 – which after last night is Miss Jones, Clark Beckham and Jax – but you can’t not be excited about the possibilities with Tyanna going forward.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Jax
“You Give Love A Bad Name,” Bon Jovi

The choice had me a little concerned, but she Jaxed it up and it was perfect. She’s showing up and turning classics into Jax songs. Jaxics, if you will (I won’t use that again. Promise)

Did anyone see Jax turning a Jersey Rock Hair Band song into something that sounded straight out of one of those vampire flicks or the 50 Shades of Gray soundtrack? That’s what I enjoy about her performances – my sheer terror that she’s gonna fuck it up, then coming out and doing exactly the opposite.

We can’t ignore her Jaxcent either. She’s a Jersey girl and when Jersey girls talk, there’s a lot of whining and an accent that makes them sound like they’ve got a mouth full of Marlboro Reds, or whatever Jersey girls smoke (can’t remember from college). She speaks like a normal human being but that singing voice? It’s not a cockney accent, it’s not American. It’s just Jax. It’s her Jaxcent and it really helps her stand out (After the shout out from Parker on Yahoo, can’t wait for everyone to use Jaxcent and keep pretending they don’t know I exist).

So she’s got the look – I need to know how long it took to get the hair like that – got the musical talent and she’s got the Jaxcent; what can she do to really stand out? After her last two performances, I’m worried about a lull, but if she’s just starting to peak this is going to end up being one hell of a competition.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Nick Fradiani
“Man in the Mirror,” Michael Jackson

He’s a god damn dirty liar. There is no way a 29-year old doesn’t remember Skip It. My sister had one and she’s his age and we were poor people central, so I refuse to believe Nick just forgot, especially with this catchy ass commercial (my bad for getting this stuck in your head):

Wasn’t a fan of the song choice before he performed. Thought Fradiani was going down like Boy George in flames. It’s really tough to do Michael Jackson (I will not make the joke you think I’m going to make) because he’s Michael damn Jackson.

The performance surprised me because while he borrowed some from The King of Pop, he made it sound like all those other songs with guitar-playing, good looking dudes – Sheeran, Mayer, Levine – cover that I certainly don’t listen to or YouTube on occasion.

Fradiani was good Wednesday. He wasn’t Jax, Clark Beckham or Tyanna Jones good, but he was still good. The dude is a super hunk so we don’t need to pump his ego too much, but he’s damn close to getting into that elite realm. I thought tonight, with what he did, he leap-frogged Joey Cook in the overall ranks and he’s just sitting on the outside, waiting for someone in front of him to slip.

As long as he keeps picking good songs, not fucking up and remains super hot, he’s going to be on the show for a while, so the 10s can keep lining up outside his hotel. He’s done a terrific job – and this is definitely an age thing – of identifying who he is as an artist and he’s not straying from it.
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Clark Beckham
“Every Breath You Take,” The Police

FUCK YOU BECKHAM. I HAD A LITE BRITE. NOT FOR GIRLS, DUDE.

So now that we got that out of the way, I loved the swagger tonight. When contestants get advice from the celebrity helper and pretty much tell them “Here’s what I think of your advice: GFY” it either ends in glory or horror. Lambert did it a couple times and it was awesome, Phillip Phillips did it just about every week and was awesome and now Beckham is doing it so let’s hope this is a pattern of mancrushes who ignore the rules and murder songs.

From the opening line everyone melted, present company included. It was nice of Quentin Alexander to share the smoke machine budget, but honestly Clark (can’t tell what I’m gonna call him when we bro out; Clark? Beckham? Becks?) didn’t need it because he set the stage on fire. Boom, literary device in your grill.

(Mrs. Dudes Review Idol was on the couch and said “he looks like Tom Brady” which is a BOLD statement because you don’t just go around comparing people to Brady. Then I realized the wife thought he was cute so I told her to back the fuck up off my man)

Beckham needs to keep doing Beckham. He needs to keep ignoring the judges because they’re going to start leaning him toward doing something so they can push the contestants they want further in the show.

Was it the best of the night? I mean, you’re not losing if you’re picking Beckham’s, Jax’s, or Tyanna Jones’ because all three were out of this world. If they make the Final 3 I have no idea who I’m riding or dying with, because I’ve been huge fans of all since Day 1. It’d be like picking which kid is my favorite, except I can actually do that (the older one because she can talk).
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Qaasim Middleton
“Addicted to Love,” Robert Palmer

So Qaasim hates me and that’s fine. I’m not going to go over the top and destroy him because of it and I’m not going to pander to him just to get him back on my side. That’s not why people read me. I’m gonna call it like it is, so let’s do this thing.

(DEEP BREATH)

First thing I noticed was how dope is suit was and I instantly regretted not being able to look that awesome in a shirt and being terrified to wear dark colors (I’m a pastel guy).

The opening of performance was atrocious. There’s no other way to put it. If there were notes, he didn’t hit them. If there were pitch problems, he had them.

After the first chorus, it got better, but at that point it might have been too late. You can have a misstep on a line or two, but not an entire verse. Most people watching likely did what I did – went crazy that this kid was saved and, as we later found out, cost Adanna Duru a spot in the Top 9.

His vocal was decent, maybe even good by the end, and then he ruined it by doing a Qaasim and squealing on the mic. That was bad. Like cats in an alley bad.

Now was it the worst performance ever? No. Was it the worst of the night? No.

But was it as good as the judges made it out to be? Hell no.

And that’s the problem. It’s not Qaasim – OK, it’s a little Qaasim and his refusal to just sing and not showboat – as much as it is the judges’ treatment of Qaasim. As J-Lo said, if your movement is overshadowing your voice, you’re not doing Idol right. If someone was on So You Think You Can

Dance and stood up there and sang like Florence (minus the Machine, of course) you think they’d save them from elimination? Uh, no.

If he wants to show he’s got vocals, he’s got to prove it. Wednesday wasn’t it. If he sits down next week, crushes out a Clarkson with just his voice, I’ll take all the bad things I’ve said and stick them right up my ass.

Thing is, if he does it, he’ll be proving my point exactly. He’s safe next week – I don’t think America’s going to turn on him – and maybe the week after that, but I can’t see him beating the Top 3 and if he can’t beat them, what was the point of the save?
IN or BOTTOM 3: In

Rayvon Owen
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Tears for Fears

Initially I was a little harsh on Rayvon last night. It may have been Qaasim-hate carrying over or the fact I was pretty hammered. I’ll stand by this – on first listen, Rayvon was bad.

Then I listened again (really drunk this time). Hmm, that got better. Listened one more time (blackout drunk by this point) and realized he might have been better than I thought. Usually booze makes people sound better – see ‘Doing Karaoke, Me’ – so I knew I’d have to check again for the recaps.

The arrangement was horseshit. No getting around that. But the vocal? Better than you thought.

Rayvon is starting to remind me of Burnell Taylor. I thought Burnell was going to win Season 12 but Burnell had a huge problem – he was horrible at picking songs and worse at arrangements. His voice was awesome, but he just didn’t know how to play Idol and got his ass voted out.

This is Rayvon. I don’t know who’s advising him, but they’re doing a piss poor job. His voice needs to be released. He needs to pick songs that are, you know, fun and popular. And last night he needed to ditch the Heisenberg hat and steal one from Will Smith’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

His voice is going to waste and I’m getting aggravated. I’m glad he went last Wednesday because that usually gets a bump in votes, so hopefully he’ll be around for Clarkson Week.

And if doesn’t sing a slowed-down version of “Since You’ve Been Gone” then I’m done.
IN or BOTTOM 3: Bottom 3

Going to be an interesting Bottom 3. Rayvon is in there for sure. I can’t see Seavey not being there based on leading off the night and not having a great showing, but he’s so immensely popular among the youth he very well might be safe. Does Joey have enough built up to avoid the Bottom 3 or will Wednesday drop her? Will Qaasim avoid it with what he did?

If I’m picking, it’s Joey, Qaasim and Seavey and Seavey is going home. That’s me though.

With America, I think Rayvon, Joey and Seavey will be the Bottom 3 (although we’ll never really know the third). Seavey will be called earlier in the night, so there goes that drama, but Joey and Rayvon up there. Joey will be safe – giving her a much-needed voter boost in the pimp spot – and Rayvon’s gone.

Not my favorite prediction because I like Rayvon, or at least the idea of him, but I can play favorites and pick based on my heart.

Unless Becks is involved. Then it’s all heart.

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