"It's A-Game or Plan B." That was the introductory message for tonight's (Feb. 12) episode. The group performances were over and contestants had to face Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban solo. This time, they were accompanied by a house band, making song choice all the more important. Some rose to the challenge. Others weren't so lucky.
Before we get too far into this episode, it should be noted that next week the singers will perform at the House of Blues. In front of a real audience. With no do-overs. That's going to be a true testament to these performers' skills and showmanship. Get ready for it.
Even the judges admitted at the beginning of the ep that the cuts are getting more difficult to make because the singers are improving. Most of the singers who just needed a little expert guidance are the ones who advanced tonight. After yesterday's group round, we lost Frank Sinatra enthusiast Sal Valentinetti and blind country crooner Garrett Miles. But they weren't the only recognizable names we lost this week. Here are a few notable cuts from the solo performances:
"Big Ron" Wilson, Adam Lasher, Alexis Granville, Katherine Skinner and Jessica Lamb.
Michael Simeon sang with a lot of heart, but he was somewhat forgettable. Nick Fradiani fell into that category as well with his Rob Thomas-like take on "Babylon." Both made it through though.
Quentin Alexander was awesome with his ballad reworking of Vance Joy's "Riptide." Urban made a point of noting how well the different rendition was since he could really hear the story. That's something the contestants need to pay attention to in this competition. It's generally the performers who rework a popular or classic song that stick out when it comes to voting. Props to Mark Andrew as well, whose voice was the only reason he moved on to the next round. The singer forgot some lyrics and looked insanely sleep deprived. Let's hope he picks it up in the coming weeks.
And with that, here are five of the better performances from Hollywood's solo round:
5. Shi Scott picked an excellent song ("All I Could Do Is Cry" by Etta James), but let the nerves get the best of her. If she can become more a performer, she could be a real contender because it seems like she's ditching that Amy Winehouse impersonation. Confidence is key for this young performer. She really didn't believe in her performance, which is easy to spot after seeing her perform so many times already.
4. Poor Daniel Seavey followed up one of the better performances of the night, but that didn't seem to faze him. His cover of "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran wasn't breath-taking, but it was entertaining. He sings with so much soul for his age. It was a cool performance, but he needs to start picking better tunes. Those vocal runs at the end might be cute, but they don't elevate his performance at all.
3. Jax powered through "Let It Be" by The Beatles, using her parents as inspiration. It was a nice scene, but this girl doesn't need any extra help. She has the voice and stage presence to keep it going. Her House of Blues show will be a definite highlight, mark it down.
2. Loren Lott chose Adele's "Skyfall" and it was a solid fit for her voice. She got off to a rocky start but was able to pull off a dazzling performance. Lott unleashed some serious vocals that even seemed to surprise her at the end. J. Lo was blown away the most, but all of the judges were into this one. Smart song choice.
1. Clark Beckham's take on "Try a Little Tenderness" was a highlight for everyone watching. It was energetic, soulful and all-around flawless. He also showed off his skills as a musician, trading in his guitar for a piano. It was awesome to see him move around on the stool. Even behind his keyboard, it was hard to contain the singer. He's well on his way to the Top 24. And thanks for choosing an Otis Redding cut.