Recap: ‘American Idol’ Season 14 – Arena Anthems and Top 5 Reveal

04.22.15 2 years ago

FOX

Wednesday (April 22) night's “American Idol” theme is Arena Anthems, which is relatively meaningless both because it's a relatively meaningless designation, but also because I'm not sure that “arenas” are in the future for this season's Top 6.

And that's not me being bitter that the patently unfair “Idol” Save sent Joey Cook packing last week, because as much as I appreciated Joey's distinctiveness, this wasn't going to be a great theme for her either.

But if Rayvon Owen is in the Bottom 2 again and he's saved by the “Idol” Save again, it'd be nice to get somebody from “Idol” to admit that they basically screwed up the entire season with this elimination twist.

Let's see what's in store!

8:00 p.m. So they start tonight's show by reminding us about the Quentin Alexander unpleasantness from last week. I'd forgotten that was a thing. Presumably it will impact Quentin's voting results. Or maybe it won't?

8:02 p.m. Jennifer Lopez Fashion Show! She's got layers and veils and silky things on. Nobody's noticing that, though.

8:03 p.m. Alex Morgan! Abby Wambach! I've said this over and over again, but I don't get why Alex Morgan isn't the biggest star in women's athletics. This season's “Idol” winner will record the official Women's World Cup Coverage anthem for Fox Sports? Jax seems very excited.

8:05 p.m. Thank God. Tonight's the last Fan Save of the season. And our first performer tonight is…

Singer: JAX
Song: “Are You Gonna Be My [Guy]”
My Take:Damnit, Jax. Why'd you have to go and make me sniffly with the story about your father? Rockin' a tambourine, Jax does a perfectly fine attempt to stretch this song into the Arena Anthems theme. Jax consistently brings the energy on performances like this and the gender reversal is probably what constitutes “making the song her own,” but I'll continue to say this: Jax is a better singer and musician than what she's been doing the past few weeks. Is she coasting? Is she playing it safe? Has her instrumental confidence wavered? Is “Idol” trying to steer her into something more commercial in case she's the winner?
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “That's how you open a show right there,” Keith Urban says. Keith is confused every week by how well people open shows. J-Lo thinks Jax is ready for Tour. Harry Connick Jr agrees that he has a good sense of what it would be like to see Jax on Tour. Jax remembers seeing Kat McPhee in her “Idol” Tour. Jax is a big Kat McPhee fan. And therefore, I'm a big Jax fan.
 

8:15 p.m. We've got a lot of time to kill tonight, so Harry's doing doing telestrator analysis of J-Lo's Fashion Show spin. J-Lo giggles and avoids falling out of her top. So much time to kill tonight. La la la… Next to safety?

Singer: NICK FRADIANI
Song: “Harder to Breathe”
My Take: As much as don't much get Nick Fradiani, he's probably the person most likely to take advantage of tonight's theme. It's interesting how generic and forgettable Maroon 5 songs get when you take away Adam Levine's voice. [Yes, I'll accept the argument that they're generic and forgettable even with Adam Levine's voice.] So Nick doesn't do an Adam Levine impression and this is totally acceptable and generic and, I guess, appropriately within the theme. Nick's just fine. And the crowd loves him. I mean they LOVE him. I'm not sure who can beat Nick and I don't really know what to make of that.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: J-Lo thinks Nick is getting more and more comfortable, though she'd have liked a bit more audience participation. Harry thinks that was scary for the other people in the competition, because Nick is getting better every week. Keith wants more “centering” from Nick, saying that his eyes darted during the performance.
 

Singer: CLARK BECKHAM
Song: “Yesterday”
My Take: Who? [I kid, but this isn't a surprise. I assume we're heading for a Quentin/Rayvon Bottom 2, with Rayvon destroying Quentin.] Clark doesn't quite get the theme, but he's dapper, so it hardly matters. Has Clark Beckham always had this resemblance to Chris Pine? Or am I only just noticing it tonight because Chris Pine is similarly forgettably solid? Yeah, this isn't on-theme at all, but it's a very strong vocal. The other two contestants tried to do more arena-rocking, but Clark tried to do more singing. This is buttoned-down and internalized, but it's good. Me? I think that an Arena Anthem is inherently externalized. It's about getting the audience hyped and bringing the crowd to its feet. By that standard, this is a failure. But it's a stupid “Idol” theme and that's not Clark's fault.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Harry likes that Clark didn't use any high notes gratuitously. Keith thought it was beautiful, comparing it to a potential Sam Smith cover of the song. Keith warns Clark not to be so contained, which is what I've been saying for weeks. J-Lo thought it was risky and Clark sang it well.
 

8:38 p.m. As expected, the last person to safety is…

Singer: TYANNA JONES
Song: “Party in the USA”
My Take: Oh well. I guess I'm gonna have this one stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Tyanna learns early on that Miley Cyrus has a really deep voice. So the opening voice is slow and too low. She's much more comfortable as the song moves into its chorus. There's a very brief moment at the end where I think I hear a bit of Tyanna and not just Tyanna doing karaoke Miley. But it's so darned brief. There's some of that Tyanna exuberance in evidence here, but it's not as boundless an enthusiasm as we've seen in some past performances.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Keith isn't sure they've seen that side of Tyanna, but he clearly didn't really like it. J-Lo thought Tyanna looked comfortable, because she's 16 and she looked like she was 16. Harry says it was a smart song choice.
 

8:43 p.m. So we have nearly 75 minutes of “Idol” left even though we know that Quentin is going home. Speaking of…

Singer: QUENTIN ALEXANDER
Song: “Light My Fire”
My Take: This is a Quentinized version of the Doors original, with just a bit more funk than the original might have. This also makes it less of an arena anthem, but… who cares? I say “Quentinized,” but it's not the ultra-intense Quentin. There are some smiles and a little dancing. It's not a great vocal, but Quentin's not a great vocalist. I like how at-ease he seems. This isn't vaguely angsty. And that's nice. I like Rayvon dancing alone in support of Quentin.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: J-Lo wanted more vocal pow. Harry thought Quentin sang it conservatively, but the band added cool in the arrangement. I think that's what I said. Or meant. Keith says Quentin isn't plankton.
 

Singer: RAYVON OWEN
Song: “I'm Not The Only One”
My Take: I want some sort of way to determine who moved less in their first anthem, Rayvon or Clark. I take it back. Rayvon is waving his hand a tiny bit, so he's definitely moving more than Clark did. Rayvon is very good. And very boring. But Rayvon's gotta be Rayvon.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: After selling products, FOX returns for judging. Harry thought it was a fantastic vocal performance, especially the breathing on the high notes. Keith thought it was a perfect song choice and it could have been a hit. J-Lo thinks it would be ironic if Rayvon made it to the end after being in the Bottom 2 every week. Nope. Not ironic. Skewed process.
 

Singer: NICK FRADIANI
Song: “Maggie May”
My Take: Well, this is corny and old-fashioned. But… again… Fine. Nobody on tonight's episode is committing musical sins. But no matter what the judges keep suggesting, nobody is actually taking any risks. Shrug. Nothing wrong with that.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “That's a good song for you, man,” Keith crows. J-Lo says it's about making moments going forward and she urges him to do different things to make moments. Harry asks if Nick can sustain a two or three hour show on the road. Oy. Nick says he knows he can.
 

Singer: TYANNA JONES
Song: “Heaven”
My Take: You know Tyanna is in heaven, because she's floating above a sea of billowing clouds. Yeah. Tyanna's a talented girl, but I'll repeat that this is why “Idol” lost out big-time with last week's elimination. I need somebody in this competition whose every move I can't predict. Jax used to be that artist, but she hasn't been for a while. This is predictable and nice. But it's not great. I don't have a clue why this was Tyanna's song choice? There isn't any emotional connection at all. It's meaningless.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: J-Lo thinks this was a good showcase for Tyanna's elegance. Harry asks Tyanna what type of music would be on her first album. She says she's more comfortable singing songs like this, but she also likes dancing and working the crowd. Keith thinks Tyanna's indecisiveness is a sign of a great artist. Oh and Tyanna also admits that she had no idea that this song existed before this week.
 

Singer: CLARK BECKHAM
Song: “Boyfriend”
My Take: Bless Clark. This couldn't have less to do with tonight's alleged theme, but it's musical and distinctive in a way that nothing else tonight has been. I'm just lowering my standards as we progress. That wasn't a great performance, but it was a very fun little jam.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Harry thinks Clark did himself a disservice, saying it wasn't the right song to do what he did with it. Keith says something about getting the song out of his head and doing something “raw and dangerous.” “Like Bieber is,” Keith adds. J-Lo doesn't get the song choice with the theme. Way to stick up for theme integrity, J-Lo!
 

Singer: JAX
Song: “White Flag”
My Take: On one hand… What the heck does this have to do with the alleged theme? On the other hand… I wanted Jax to get back at an instrument and to do something that reminded us that she can sing. And… Here! Those things I wanted, they're here. Jax can play the piano and she can sing! And Jax has also downplayed the hook from the Dido original, elongated the song in effective ways. Yeah. Performance of the night by a lot. Low threshold. But… Nice.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Jax held Keith. Or his attention. J-Lo wanted more gravitas from Jax and that was exactly what she needed. Harry makes a few jokes and calls it “phenomenal.”
 

Singer: QUENTIN ALEXANDER
Song: “Shake It Out”
My Take: Really? Everybody else got reversed in their second performances, changing up the order. And last week Joey went first the initial round and then Rayvon went first the second time. But tonight? Rayvon went second both times. Quentin's hair is miraculous. But geez he doesn't have the voice to sing Florence Welch tunes. “Idol” obviously wants Quentin gone and so I'm not sure there's any reason for me to dedicate time to this.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: J-Lo thinks Quentin is riveting and that this was better than his first performance. Harry wants to know if Quentin would let them auto-tune him on a CD. He says he would not. “If I make a mistake, I want people to hear that mistake,” Quentin says. Keith praises Quentin's instincts.
 

Singer: RAYVON OWEN
Song: “Go Your Own Way”
My Take: This is probably Rayvon's least considered in weeks. He can't sing the verses at all. The phrasing and low register leave him unable to get the words out. He gets a bit better on the choruses and definitely amps up his crowd interaction. But that wasn't good at all, especially not the pointless falsetto at the end. I'd say that was the night's worst performance, but Rayvon and the crowd are psyched.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: J-Lo thought that was a great way to finish the show.
 

9:51 p.m. Five minutes until Quentin goes home.

9:56 p.m. Rayvon was focused on his performances tonight. Quentin agrees. J-Lo thinks this was probably a tough decision for Twitter. Keith agrees. It's been a pleasure for Harry to watch these two grow this season. The final Save goes to… Rayvon Owen. Four weeks in a row.

9:58 p.m. Farewell to Quentin. You'll notice that Ryan didn't mention a Twitter margin this week.

Thoughts?

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