'American Idol' Season 14 Recap & Review: Qaasim Middleton Goes for the Save & Slays, Keeping Top 11 Intact
Wow. So, was this the top 10 of American Idol season 14 or just, like, Hollywood Week? After a solid group of performances last week, this show, as a whole and with very few exceptions, was just weak. It was movie week, and there were way more cheesy '80s ballads than there should have been.
When compared to performances from guests Jennifer Lopez (obviously also a judge) and Kenny Loggins (because '80s), so many of these performers just felt SO AMATEUR...
But, the top 10 turned once again, into the top 10 when the judges used their first and only save on Qaasim Middleton after he closed the show with an ACTUAL MIC DROP...
But before we get into that mastery, let's muddle through the other performances by ranking them from worst (11) to best! (1).
11. Maddie Walker, "Let's Hear it for the Boy": Just like Nick Fradiana's "Danger Zone," this song was a very silly choice. The lyrics are goofy, it's upbeat but nonsensical... Maddie sang a song. She did the thing. After battling some sort of mystery illness (not appendicitis!), Maddie Walker showed up and gave this half twangy, half poppy performance. Like Harry Connick Jr. pointed out, it's hard to see who exactly she is through performances like this. Some could call it versatility - is she pop? is she country? - but Maddie Walker is no Taylor Swift, and it just makes for a muddled Idol personality.
10. Daniel Seavey, "Lost Stars": It still feels like a disservice to the talent that he has within him to have Daniel Seavy on American Idol at just 15 years old... He clealy has so much potential, but am I just the only one who thinks he still is unbearably unseasoned? For his movie night choice, Daniel took on Adam Levine's "Lost Stars" from whatever movie got him an Oscar nomination, and he pretty much butchered it. When even JLo will admit it wasn't your best, you know it wasn't great. He said he picked that song to show off his falsetto, but his high notes were so weak. Keith Urban commended Daniel's new melody to avoid Levine's highest notes, but why is that celebratory? He avoided singing the song in its original, impressive nature. Whatever. Daniel's cute, just like season 13's Sam Woolf, so he's probably fine for a while.
9. Tyanna Jones, "Circle of Life": Wooowee... what a song choice. Tyanna Jones has some of the most raw talent on this show and a powerful voice. So, sure, why not give this epic Lion King song a shot? Well, maybe because it is very, very difficult to pull off. With a smile on her face and a choker around her neck, Tyanna tried very hard to make this song work, and that was commendable. But that's what this performance sounded like... a lot of trying. She was shout-singing and going 100 percent the whole time. It was her least engaging performance she's done thus far, and reminded us all that she is still just a high school student...
8. Nick Fradiani, "Danger Zone": This song choice was hilarious, first off. As Harry Connick Jr. pointed out, this song didn't give Nick Fradiani much to work with and it was so '80s cheesy. WOW. For his top 10 performance, Nick dropped the guitar, which was a good choice. It allowed him to really break out of his shell, move around on stage and show a glimpse of personality other than that hotness that Jennifer Lopez couldn't shut up about. So, it was good to see he was having fun with it, but I feel like we've still yet to see who Nick is as an artist...
7. Rayvon Owen, "Stayin' Alive": It's hard not to love Rayvon Owen. Out of the final top 11, he may just have the best natural voice. So, he should be able to do everything. A slowed down, Prince-inspired version of the BeeGees' "Stayin' Alive?" WOO. What was he thinking?! His falsetto was maintained throughout this piece, and that power is impressive, but he had problems projecting it out. Sometimes, it was hard to distinguish Rayvon from the band and his backup singers. On a show like Idol, he should far and away be the stat. This song choice was not ace, straight up. So, in the end, this was really middle of the road. Which, for Rayvon, is not a place he should ever be.
6. Quentin Alexander, "You're the One That I Want": Leave it to Quentin Alexander to put a wholly original spin on a song that everyone knows. So, he totally rearranged the Grease classic "You're The One That I Want," turning it into a slow burning R&B track that was almost unrecognizable. It was filled with personality and performance, but very little actual vocal proficiency. His pitch was off, and it wasn't maybe as off-putting as it should be because he is so charismatic.
5. Adanna Duru, "I Love You I Do": Singing a song from Dreamgirls barely counts as singing a song from a movie, first of all. What a cop out song choice... Adanna Duru decided to go for the gold by taking on one of Idol's biggest alumni, and she did alright with it. Despite the blandness of the song choice, Adanna sold the performance, smiling and generally being comfortable on stage. That's a huge relief to see just a few weeks into the solo portion of the competition. That being said, Adanna had a bit of trouble staying 100 percent with the melody, as the notes got lower, she got more and more sharp. But, overall, it was OK.
4. Jax, "Grow Old With You": Well, as soon as this song choice came up, you kind of knew it would be adorable. With a sparkly dress on and a bow in her hair, Jax (who seems to be the fan favorite of season 14) took on Adam Sandler's adorable ode to Drew Barrymore from The Wedding Singer just after finding out she was the last one in the competition. It seems like some of that pressure affected her performance, she was a little outside the emotion and she definitely rushed the melody. But the song choice, unlike many of the night, fit her vocals perfectly. It was really very endearing.
3. Clark Beckham, "Sunday Morning": From the hit film Cheaper by the Dozen 2!!! Thus far, Clark Beckham has been so white toast, vanilla, and ultimately, the most forgettable American Idol season 14 contestant. This week, he seemed to barely be saved from elimination, and he brought out Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning." And, unlike so many other performances tonight, it worked! Clark pulled out some beautiful high notes, tons of soul and we finally got a glimpse of who he might be as a performer, a contestant on this show and an artist. I have personally not been a fan of this guy this week, but he's finally broken out.
2. Joey Cook, "Mad World": After seeing the soft-shoe performance of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," it was hard to tell what in the world Joey Cook could have followed up with... and the answer was something very, truly genuine. Joey's performance of the Donnie Darko soundtrack song was her most vulnerable take yet. It gave her vintage edge some more depth. It was really simple, straightforward and beautiful.
1. Qaasim Middleton, "Come Together": When you're singing for the save, you really have to GO FOR IT. And that's something Qaasim Middleton does on the regular, so this was no exception. Last week, his performance was 110 percent there, but the vocals were so secondary. This week, he gave 1100 percent to his performance and, like, 90 percent to his vocals. But, it was so engaging. Qaasim stormed around that stage like a man with nothing to lose, all while giving a snarling, bitter and powerful rock vocal. And, literally, he ENDED WITH A MIC DROP. This was far and away the most engaging performance of the night, and it was so refreshing to see real redemption onstage. It was also refreshing to see the save performance really, truly matter. YAAAS, Qaasim. Keep slain'.