American Idol Top 6: If a leather catsuit can’t stop La’Porsha, can anybody?
It’s getting to be that time of year. As we make our way from the Top 8, we should be seeing some performances that make you wonder why in the hell the person singing them needed Idol to get noticed. We got David Cook’s “Always Be My Baby” in the Top 7 and Adam Lambert hit “Mad World” in the Top 8. This is where legends are born.
Probably not this season though.
All we got Thursday night was more evidence that the Top 10 couldn’t have been more mismanaged because there were clearly two class of performers – La’Porsha Renae and everyone else.
Now let’s not put La’Porsha in the conversation of Idol’s all-time greats just yet. Her cover of “Come Together” gave her a chance to sing and show off some sass and bleached the memories of Qaasim Middleton’s abortion of a performance of the same song last season out of our brains. But let’s not treat it like it was an all-time great Idol performance. It was terrific in the same way my writing is when you compare it to a middle schooler’s.
That’s not taking away from some of the night’s other strong performers. Clean-cut Trent is apparently the best Trent Harmon and he delivered once again; MacKenzie Bourg had the unfortunate task of following La’Porsha – an impossible task, especially with how alive the crowd was to actually have heard something so great following the rather banal duets the show forced upon us – but he came through with a performance that had a lot of, as the kids say, the feels.
But comparing what they did to La’Porsha is unfair. When MacKenzie was trying to describe going up to perform, you could read what he wanted to say over the words he was stammering out – he wanted no part of that stage because he’s not an idiot and knows how good La’Porsha was.
La’Porsha is unparalleled right now and that’s not good for American Idol as it winds down the final season. Producers were rooting for a runaway they could sell (hence Dalton Rapattoni) and weren’t banking on La’Porsha murdering everyone on stage. They need a close contest for ratings and with La’Porsha smashing everyone’s face in every week, it’s really tough for the judges to make up reasons why someone sounded good when clearly they sounded like they shouldn’t be in the same city as the front-runner.
Idol needs La’Porsha to have a rival. Sparks had Blake Lewis. Cook had Archuleta. Lambert had Kris Allen. Hell, Caleb Johnson had Jene Irene. Who will La’Porsha’s be? MacKenzie? Talent is there, but his voice isn’t loud enough to really reach non-MacKenzie fans. Trent? Maybe, but he’s got to show something different than soft rock city. Dalton? Please. Tristan? She’s got potential, but she’s not even close to ready. Sonika? Fans aren’t voting for her so she won’t get the chance.
If there was a rival, we would know by now. They would have delivered an all-timer already. Instead, the La’Porsha train keeps rolling and it’s not gonna stop until finale night.
Onto the recap.
La’Porsha Renae & Trent Harmon
“See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
Who chose to sing Wiz’s lyrics? Hmm, was it the goofy southern white dude or the black chick with soul? Tough one.
Seriously though, great performance. Really unfair of Idol to pair them and make the rest of the field look a little foolish.
Avalon Young & Sonika Vaid
“Rise Up,” Andra Day
Sonika sounded like a singer, Avalon didn’t. She looked nervous. There were parts she missed that I blame 100 percent on her being worried about keeping up with Sonika. However, she won the best dressed award because her Karate Kid T was fire.
MacKenzie Bourg & Dalton Rapattoni
“I Want It That Way,” Backstreet Boys
If you asked me which one of the two would say the least self-aware thing in the history of Idol I’d put my money on Dalton and then whoops, MacKenzie said “I’m not really the boy band type. I mean, just look at me” while looking exactly like a member of O-Town or LFO or 98 Degrees.
Song was perfect for MacKenzie. Just fit his personality. Dalton sounded like drunk dudes on spring break singing the song. Didn’t get Harry throwing shade all over the Backstreet Boys. What a tough guy. Harry thinks people still care about lyrics. My daughter is 4 and loves rap music because of the way it sounds (should note we listen to the edited versions because I’m not an idiot. Don’t need a 4-year old dropping hard N’s in playgroup).
Tristan McIntosh & Lee Jean
High School Musical 6. Not gonna get into this too much, just don’t get how Harry can be such a hardo about lyrics with MacKenzie and Dalton and be perfectly fine with two 16 year olds who did the middle-school hug after the performance are singing a song about love. Like love love, not bullshit high school love that’s just hormones. God I hate Harry.
THE NIGHT’S SPECIAL GUEST
Boner time. Really excited for my kid to learn the words so I can use that as the excuse why I listen to it all summer.
THE TOP 5
“Come Together,” The Beatles
I don’t know if there’s ever been a performance that’s had so much be so right for it. If you’re hitting leadoff in the solo performances you’re losing votes so you have to do something people will remember. Gotta liven the night up. Couldn’t have been a better song for La’Porsha. Second, the last time we heard this song being performed on the Idol stage it wasn’t being sung as much as it was being yelled at us by Qaasim Middleton; with no legendary rendition in the Idol catalog, La’Porsha picks up another W. Then she comes out on stage with pure attitude. Just looking like she’s kicking ass and taking names and that’s what she did. Something about adding a pimp step as she entered the stage had everyone realizing La’Porsha wasn’t fucking around. Her hair was dope – as someone tweeted to me, we have a hair account for Tristan and Gianna Isabella, but none for La’Porsha? For shame internet. For shame – and it takes stones for a chick with La’Porsha’s build to rock leather. Like the tight look better than the other option, which leaned more toward mid-90s Missy Elliot than the bad-ass who took the stage.
SAFE or BOTTOM 3: I’ll repeat myself. American Idol is over. It’s over. Way over. Just sit back and enjoy the ride and let’s see how great La’Porsha can be.
“You Are So Beautiful,” Billy Preston
This wasn’t supposed to go well for MacKenzie. The song choice was fine, but coming on stage after La’Porsha burned the damn thing down was an impossible task. It’d have anyone shook. His performance only proved what I’ve been preaching for years – if you treat this as a competition, you can do just fine. I was told by a source MacKenzie’s wasn’t quite Nick Fradiani on the basketball court, but the kid had an ability to hit 3-pointers when his team needed them in big spots. That’s how you compete. You shake the nerves off and do what you need to do and that’s what MacKenzie did Thursday. Loved him going out there without the guitar. Loved him standing up singing and showing some damn emotion up on stage. MacKenzie’s biggest job was not being forgettable; if he delivers a mediocre performance everyone would forget him because of what La’Porsha did and who was coming up next. He didn’t try to do too much and he just did what he can do. It was perfect. Not the best of the night, but perfect for the spot he was in.
SAFE or BOTTOM 3: He’d better be safe. He’s in a heated battle with Dalton for the tween vote and while he was clearly the better of the two, he needs Dalton gone ASAP if he wants a shot at making the finale.
“Stand By Me,” Ben E. King
So La’Porsha is killing it, Dalton is a fan favorite and MacKenzie is the perfect-looking indie rock star. But don’t sleep on Trent because of the Idols left, he might be playing the game the best. You think ditching the homeless hat and silly scarf and ditching the scratchy beard to create clean-cut Trent 2.0 was an accident? Hell no. Dude is playing the game like Fradiani did last year. He’s the safe choice. He’s either No. 2 or 3 vocally – I go back and forth with Sonika – and he’s exactly what the majority of Idol voters are looking for. He’s a good looking dude with no ego. The reason WGWGs do so well isn’t because they’re WGWGs; it’s because they’re good-looking dudes who play safe songs for women 30-years old and up. They’re the ones voting. You play for them and they start voting in droves. At 25 Trent’s just the right age to be some of the Cougar Contingent’s perfect fantasy and because he actually has talent, they can defend him til they run out of Cabernet. Once the teeny-pop Idols get knocked out, those voters won’t be voting, just bitching on Twitter about how their contestant is gone. That’s when the cougs come through. If says he isn’t playing for them he’s either a) the most naïve person in the world or b) a filthy liar with an unmatched poker face.
SAFE or BOTTOM 2: After that performance, there are gonna be a lot of iPhones getting sold tomorrow because the old ones suffered water damage. He’s getting the votes and he should be just fine.
“A Broken Wing,” Martina McBride
Say what you want about Tristan, you can’t hate on the way she’s competed. Yes, she should have been kicked off after her Top 10 performance. She wasn’t and that’s on America. So what’d she do? Sang well last week and this week did a pretty solid job. Smart job on her part to take a country song covered on the show by Jordin Sparks; probably the one Idol people will compare her to because you can’t compare her to Lauren Alaina for the same reason you can’t compare Julian Edelman and Travis Benjamin (google it, nerds). She’s not in J-Sparks’ ballpark though and it showed. She hit some good notes and sang it pretty good, but it wasn’t what it needed to be. She’s still a kid trying to play a game with adults and she’s not there yet. She’s the one who’d be back in Season 20 and we’d be like “oh, I remember her” and then she’d win the damn thing.
SAFE OR BOTTOM 3: She’s in the bottom because she didn’t do better than the first three. Now’s where all the sensitive people scream “how can you be so mean!” It’s not mean when it’s true. She was good, but not as good as La’Porsha, MacKenzie or Trent. Stop crying.
“Eleanor Rigby,” The Beatles
This was America’s vote, but it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting if Sonika got put through and Dalton was in the sing-off with the other producer faves Lee and Avalon. We learned two things about Dalton tonight: 1) his sister is crazy hot, unless she’s under 18 and if that’s the case she’s going to be crazy hot (whew, covered my bases); and 2) He’s going to do everything possible to make sure no one has to judge him just on his vocals. I wasn’t a huge fan of the arrangement (to be fair, I’m not a Beatles fan either) and if Dalton was out there with vocals I would have wondered WTF Qaasim was back on the show. He had his moments where he turned from weirdo rock guy to rock star, but from start to finish it wasn’t as good as the judges were telling us it was. He’s been turning songs into these weird dark rock opera things and I’ll tell you what – there aren’t enough goths who watch the show to drum up extra votes. If he wants to survive next week, he 100 percent needs to sit down and prove he can sing. If he gets it, he’s back in the conversation as a contender; if not, he went down in a fight. Dude’s still a pretty MF, though.
SAFE OR BOTTOM 3: I think a lot of casual Dalton fans have jumped off the bandwagon and hopped off the train. Probably a good share of his tween fans are suddenly huge MacKenzie people (tweens are about as loyal as cats) and I don’t think he did enough this week to stop the bleeding. Good news for him is the producers picked him to make the finale so he’d likely survive a Bottom 2/3 sing off.
THE BOTTOM 3
“Pretty Young Thing,” Michael Jackson
Great performance, horrible song choice. The fact of the matter is, PYT isn’t that great of a song. It’s a party song and it doesn’t move a crowd because the beat is absolutely atrocious, which you would think would hurt a party song but it doesn’t because when you’re hammered PYT is amazing. Yeah, try that theory on for size. With so many songs to pick from, I don’t get PYT. You’re just going to do a straight cover of a song that’s never been done well on Idol by superior performers and that means you get compared to MJ himself and you don’t want that. Avalon has a voice; a damn good voice and I don’t know why she limited herself to singing songs by male pop stars. I get she has the tomboy demeanor and this whole cool skater vibe, but would it have absolutely hurt her to thrown on a ballgown and oh, I don’t know, take on “Always Be My Baby” in similar fashion to Cook? Or, I don’t know, just one song by one female artist? Avalon might have been the first female performer to go a whole season without singing a song by an actual female. With all that talent, I think Avalon was either thinking for herself (not a great idea if you want to win Idol) or getting advice from people who have no clue how to actually win the show because she was far too good to get eliminated at this point of the show.
“Let It Be,” The Beatles
When I hear the opening notes of this song, the first thing that hits my head is the Sesame Street version and the second thing is remembering David Archuleta singing this. Problem with that is Archuleta sang “Imagine” but the point remains – don’t sing anything that’s going to get you compared to Archuleta, who was a monster of a performer, when you can’t sing anywhere near as good. Lee fell victim to a similar thing Avalon did; he sang another soft rock song sung by a white dude. How did he not cover one black artist the whole season? How could he not have accidentally done one? He needed to be different and with this insane “Idol Songbook” theme, why not find a Motown song to rearrange and use to save yourself? His voice was fine, but he’s not ready. Just not ready. Too bad Idol is done because if it wasn’t canceled, they could have not put him through and we would have had a dope final for Season 20 with him and Tristan.
“I Have Nothing,” Whitney Houston
Sonika seems like a smart girl so I have to imagine she had a feeling she’d end up in a spot against the producers’ pets so she’d have to perform the hell out of something. She picked something that hasn’t really been done a lot for good reason – it takes absolute stones to take on Whitney because if you miss one note the whole performance is shot to hell. It’s fairly easy to perform at the start – just keep a good pace, don’t get ahead and let it build. The transition to the chorus is where you have to hit. I’m not gonna sit here and say Sonika hit it 450 feet, but she drove it off the wall and got extra bases. I don’t know if she didn’t go bigger because she was afraid she’d miss or if she can’t. She second go-round she hit – right about when they showed Avalon and Lee dancing in their own Idol graves – before finishing off a performance the producers were probably praying wasn’t going to happen. She hit all the bases and deserved to move on but there was a brief moment where I was certain the judges/producers were going to bone her over because they DGAF.
SAFE or BOTTOM 3: She’s still in trouble because she wasn’t as good as La’Porsha, Trent or MacKenzie. She should be able to sing her way out of it.
So what’s going to happen next week? If it’s a Bottom 3, I think it’s Dalton, Tristan and Sonika. My feeling is Dalton will have enough votes that they’ll pass him through, leaving Tristan and Sonika to sing off.
Gonna try to get something done with what contestants should sing, but that’ll mean I’ll have to find out the theme ASAP and get through my daughter’s Super Why themed birthday party Saturday.