Our writer and Idol expert, Andrew Rogers is back this season covering the popular FOX reality show, “American Idol“. The pressure is on and the stakes are high as the musical competition searches for a real superstar in its fourteenth year. With weekly recaps discussing the contestants’ performances and choices, Rogers looks ahead at what’s in-store each week in his exclusive Idol recap series.
Going into tonight, we weren’t entirely sure how this season was going to handle the eliminations, but we quickly found out. After a performance by the legend Aretha Franklin herself singing Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, Ryan Seacrest began to call up the guys one by one from the group of twelve sitting up front near the stage. The last four left uncalled did not receive enough votes last week and would not be moving on. So let’s see how things shook out:
First called: Daniel Seavey – “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” (Marvin Gaye) – Daniel advancing after his age-inappropriate song choice last week wasn’t all that surprising to me. It’s clear he has a big fan base and he is talented, if a little awkward on stage from lack of experience. This performance only seemed to heighten that awkwardness and while the vocal wasn’t terrible, Harry’s critique about needing more natural groove was spot on. Rating: C-
Second called: Mark Andrew – “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (The Temptations) – Mark, for me, was a pleasant surprise. I, like the judges, am I big fan of his voice and his experience makes his performances feel really natural and cool. This wasn’t the best of what he’s capable of, but I do think he had far more groove than Daniel and his voice put an interesting spin on this song, even if it wasn’t the best choice for him. Rating: C+
Third called: Rayvon Owen – “My Girl” (The Temptations) – Rayvon’s performance kind of proved that song choice really isn’t the be-all-end-all of this competition. He picked a fairly lackluster song and breathed life into with that immaculate falsetto of his. I definitely agree with the judges that I need a different side of him, preferably dark and brooding, but as long as he’s singing as well as he is, I can hardly complain. Rating: B+
Fourth called: Adam Ezegelian – “I Want You Back” (The Jackson 5) – Adam’s advance in the competition was a surprise for me, especially after he went early enough in last week’s show to get forgotten after a neither particularly good nor particular bad performance. This week was slightly better, as he gave the Jackson 5 track a different twist that fit his voice better than it otherwise would have, but his face-pulling has to go if he’s going to be taken seriously in the competition like Caleb was last season. I just can avoid that comparison. Rating: C+
Fifth called: Clark Beckham – “The Tracks of My Tears” (Smokey Robinson) – I get what the judges were saying about Clark being able to pull off a performance with just him and his guitar and needing a beginning, middle and end to his performances, especially with so little time devoted to him, but I almost don’t care when he delivers a vocal like this that was subdued compared to some of the stuff he’s done in weeks past and yet still soulful and spot on. Rating: B+
Sixth called: Nick Fradiani – “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Stevie Wonder) – I still don’t get the hype about Nick. Was this sung well? Sure. But was it memorable? Not at all. Nick, to me, is a straightforward karaoke singer. He doesn’t bring anything new to his performances and while, yes, he’s popular with the voters I just can’t see him dominating this competition without one or two innovative performances. Give me something more, Nick. Rating: B-
Seventh called: Qaasim Middleton – “I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) – I was so thrilled when Qaasim made it because I really wasn’t sure if he would. Even with a stellar performance of Uptown Funk in the last slot last week, I still thought he might be too polarizing for America, but he really is the kind of old-school performer that Idol’s been missing and his performance tonight proved it. While sitting with my family, they described him as a mix between James Brown, Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger and I think that about sums it up. The best part is that he does have the voice and I hope, like JLo said, he can proved that next week. Rating: B
Eighth and last called: Quentin Alexander – “Master Blaster (Jammin)” (Stevie Wonder) – And if I was thrilled when Qaasim made it, then I straight-up shot up off the couch to celebrate when Quentin made it. Quentin was by far the best of the night last week and to see him sitting amongst the other four contestants and worry whether he’d move on broke my heart. But once he did, Quentin delivered the coolest, grooviest performance of the night. He found the reggae vibe to the song fast and it suited him perfectly. Like Harry said, Quentin knows who he is and it shows every time he performs. Keep voting him through America! Rating: A-
Left behind: Trevor Douglas, Michael Simeon, Riley Bria and Savion Wright – I can’t say I’m particularly shocked by any of these eliminations but I am relieved by 3 of them. Trevor, Michael and Riley did not deliver last week. I personally really like Savion and it breaks my heart to see him go home so soon, but I also feel like he hasn’t been carving out a niche for himself and his performance last week only confused the voters more. As for who’s going home next week, I would personally like it to be Daniel and Adam, but I have a feeling Mark is in trouble after that performance and I’m bracing myself for a bit a shock since America always surprises me and rarely pleasantly.
Now I want to hear from you. Who gave your favorite performances tonight? Were there any advances that surprised you? Let me know in the poll and comments below. And check out my review of Kelly Clarkson’s new album “Piece By Piece”.