Recap: ‘American Idol’ Season 14 – Top 8 Girls Perform Motown

03.05.15 3 years ago


I put a picture of Trevor Douglas with my Wednesday night “American Idol” recap, because I figured that even with a bad performance last week, he was still likely to advance.

I was wrong.

American made some interesting choices when it came to the Boys but will voters have better or more predictable judgment when it comes to the Girls?

Click through, follow along, comment below and let's find out!

8:01 p.m. ET. Ryan Seacrest is REALLY keeping things casual for these Detroit shows, eh?

8:02 p.m. Same deal as last night: Eight girls will be called to perform. The other four? Eliminated. Up first?

Song: “Rockin' Robin”
My Take: Easy call, America. But at least you got it right. With her infectious smile, infectious voice and infectious blue tinted hair, Tyanna is… ummm… infectious. This performance is just about having fun and, as a result, it's probably the least interesting thing we've seen from Tyanna so far. I wish she'd used this as a chance to bust out some Aretha or Supremes, something that would have made it even more clear how far she is above the general pack this season. But that was entertaining and pleasant. I always feel happy watching Tyanna.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Keith felt it was the right way to start. J-Lo's getting a throwback vibe from Tyanna. “The biggest question I have on my mind is: What can't you sing?” Harry asks.

Song: “I Wanna Be Where You Are”
My Take: This will end up being a mistake, America. I'm already confident that somebody better than Loren will be sent home. Loren showed some range and a little bit of sincerity last week and I guess that helped her. This won't do much, at least not for me This is a jazzercise performance, full of monotonous verses and strained, shrieky high notes. I wonder how much better Loren would have done if she weren't so clearly over-amped with the excitement of the moment. Oh gracious. Calm down. Chillax.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “I really enjoyed that,” J-Lo says, calling it a “strong vocal, strong performance.” Agree to disagree, J-Lo. Harry says something about Loren raising the bar. Keith says that the Motown catalogue is good for the girls.

Song: “I'll Be There”
My Take: America did not punish Maddie Walker for not being Rachael Hallack or for being pageanty and plastic last week. Maddie is the first of tonight's girls to choose a song that showcases singing, rather than bubbly personality. The judges aren't really judging at this point, so I don't expect any of them to call Maddie on how often she doesn't quiet seem to know the notes she's aiming for. Sometimes she lands sharp on notes and has to wrestle them into pitch, which sometimes takes a while. I would, in fact, says she does this on nearly every big note. This is as basic and no frills a version of this song as one could arrange and Maddie is OK on it.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Harry says that there's no more doubt that Maddie belongs. He cautions her that sometimes she goes sharp on long notes. Exactly. He also tells her to work on dynamic range. By that he means that the show started in one place, continued in the same place for 90 seconds and ended in the same place without any variation. Keith praises her for taking the song and making it hers, by not doing runs. So she made it hers by making it easier? J-Lo felt like Maddie did a good job even with the nerves.

8:23 p.m. Aretha performed last night. She also did some mentoring. She told them to stay fit and to stay away from the wrong kind of people. I like “Respect” as much as the next guy, but turn down the volume on “Respect,” “Idol” editors. I wanna hear Aretha. And now it's time to hear…

Song: “Shop Around”
My Take: Whew. I didn't jinx Joey Cook by using her picture. Working with a stripped-down ensemble led by a standing bass player, Joey leaves the traditional “Shop Around” melody aside and eases into a fantastic cabaret arrangement of the song. Without any instrument, Joey's a bit too prone to distracting hand movements and over-exciting physical explosions of glee. Since Tyanna basically chose to punt tonight, Joey has gotten to stand out at the class of the first half of the show. Part of me wants to think that Tyanna is just that friendly and generous. The other “Idol” girls love listening to Joey and I wonder if that's because they love what she does or if it's because they love that what she does isn't anything like what any of them do. So you can feel free to be unabashedly supportive of Joey because she's not direct competition. She's in her own lane doing her own thing and voters are going to either love her or grow bored of her because of what she does and not because somebody else did the same thing only better. And for tonight, as with last week, I'm still loving what Joey's doing.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Keith says Joey makes “bespoke custom music that suits you.” “You're so unique,” J-Lo coos. Harry's concern about Joey is that she's perhaps too stylized and people may tire of her. “Let's find out,” Joey giggles aptly.

Song: “You've Really Got a Hold on Me”
My Take: Well, Tyanna may have phoned it in, but Sarina-Joi is doing no such thing. There's such immense technique to this slinky cover of “You've Really Got a Hold on Me.” It's a tiny bit kitchen-sink-y, in that she doesn't want to leave many of her tricks in the bag, but why should she? She's got range, nuance, articulation. She can growl. She can whisper. And she can do it alone, or at least with an understated guitar as accompaniment. That wasn't perfect, but it was crazy ambitious. I'm really getting more and more irked by Tyanna's song choice. I just don't want her to go home because she was buried at the top of the show and did an easy song.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: “You sing. You really, really sing,” J-Lo says, calling her “the best singer here.” Harry says she's terrific and she has a world-class smile. Harry tells her, though, that she was “consistently flat,” but it was discipline. Keith likes that she didn't get distracted by reactions from the audience.

Song: “Hello”
My Take: That is a dangerous top Adanna is wearing. She's doing a breathy and slow-building cover of “Hello,” She's a bit too self-conscious of the presence of the camera and the desire to follow it with her eyes. She's also not quite sure what to do with her hands. But vocally, this is really good, full of emotion that feels deserved, for the most part. I maybe want it to build just a tiny bit more, but Adanna wanted to massage the words and she does that well.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Harry gives her an A+ for working the lyrics, but he says the whole thing was out of tune. J-Lo liked it, but didn't love it.

Singer: JAX
Song: “Ain't No Mountain High Enough”
My Take: I know these are in no particular order, but they had to have Jax go next-to-last, because if she'd been waiting for last, there wouldn't have been any tension. Jax is great. She's distinctive in a way that seems instantly contemporary, rather than Joey's intentionally dated distinctiveness. I don't even love this arrangement. At all. It doesn't let Jax show off all that much range and every time you think she's about to ease into the melody, she veers away again. But she owns the stage and the careful building of the performance. And she's one of the few singers tonight who haven't seemed excessively pumped up by the drama of the moment. Oh and Jax is wearing THE DRESS. And it's blue and black.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: Keith loves Jax's artistry and originality. J-Lo warns Jax that she may have taken the song into too original a place, a place where it didn't necessarily work. Harry agrees with J-Lo, but praises her voice and charisma. “If you want to survive the zombie apocalypse, join the Jax pack,” she says.

8:54 p.m. Jax, Sarina-Joi, Joey and Tyanna were the only girls I cared about. They all advanced. So whoever's last? Whatevs.

Song: “I Can't Help Myself”
My Take: I'd have preferred Shannon Berthiaume, but Shannon was awful last week. I still think she could have been fantastic with proper maturation. Alexis really didn't pay any attention to past criticisms about her affected twang. It has absolutely no purpose here and it's plenty distracting. Why not just sing this song? Other than realizing that Alexis is an '80s Valley Girl Elisabeth Moss, I'm not sure what to do with this. There's no singing here at all. It's just flirting. That performance definitely makes me wish that we'd gotten somebody else through instead.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr Say: J-Lo thought it was out-of-key and it bothered her. Harry tells her that she has to settle down. Keith likes her bare feet and didn't like the song choice.

9:00 p.m. I guess we can pretend that Alexis was just tight from all of the waiting and that messed her up? Because Shannon was the only person from that remaining group that I had any investment in, I can't be too irked because the ultra-nervous Shannon probably wouldn't have been much looser in that moment.

TONIGHT'S BEST: Sarina-Joi Crowe and Joey Cook were my favorites, with Jax right behind. But if America forsakes Tyanna, I'm gonna be really mad, so let's hope that doesn't happen, even though she definitely wasn't in tonight's top tier.

TONIGHT'S WORST: Alexis Gomez was bad. Loren Lott was bad.  And Maddie Walker was absurdly boring.

Who'd you like? Who'd you hate?

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