'American Idol' Season 14 Recap & Review: Nick Fradiani Breaks Out & Tyanna Jones Goes Home
American Idol season 14 continues to trim itself down - this week the top five was slimmed down to four as the remaining contestants tackled songs from the judges' hometowns and "soul songs" (which were more like free choice ballads and midtempo jams).
The Twitter save was done this week, so it was fairly unclear how Idol would tackle sending someone home. The option? Just cut them out in the middle of the show.
This week, Rayvon Owen returned to the bottom two, and he was joined by 16-year-old Tyanna Jones. Rayvon made it by the skin of his teeth for an unprecedented fifth week in a row, and little Tyanna was sent home. It seems like her floppy performance of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" did her in; her vocal was off and the song choice did not show off her power or range.
For her goodbye, Idol finally brought back the goodbye montage, and with tears in her eyes she finally took on Beyoncé with "Run the World," and it almost moved me to tears because, well, she's too talented to go at this point.
But that's the way the cookie crumbles.
How did the remaining top four play out? Check out our song-by-song rundown review below:
Clark Beckham, "Living for the City": This was a cheesy song choice, I will say that. Clark Beckham has this sort of old-timey groove to him, so it works on that level. And he was so comfortable on stage, starting at the piano before kicking down the mic stand and taking on the crowd. Clark also pulled out an insane high note. We need moments like that on American Idol this year, and Clark gave us the first.
Jax, "Empire State of Mind": Is it New York or "New Yore?" I mean, Music Times is based in NYC, so I thought I knew the city ended in a "k," but if it were up to Jax, there's just no consonant on the end of the Big Apple. This was a poor song choice for Jax because of the range -- which she can't pull off. I guess she's a little sick right now, and she was definitely sounding hoarse. But, it just feels like it doesn't matter with her because her charisma is so off the charts, she can always make up for a weak vocal with a strong performance element, and Jax pulled that out here.
Nick Fradiani, "Bright Lights": How did Nick Fradiani go this long without singing a Matchbox 20 song? His voice is so similar to Rob Thomas's, and his musical stylings are so similar, that this was just the most logical song choice. Nick is a great Idol contestant because he has just shown immeasurable growth each and every week. And, this show loves that. It has been enjoyable to see him get continually better, and as Jennifer Lopez put it, he's peaking at just the right time. Nick could be a sure thing for the finale, if he keeps playing his cards right.
Rayvon Owen, "Need You Now": A song like Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is pretty much perfect as is, so there was no need for Rayvon Owen to put as much decorum on each and every note as he did. It really felt like he was making up for genuine emotion and connection to his material with random runs and high notes. Rayvon knows he's hanging onto a spot on American Idol by a thin thread, and after his FIFTH week in the bottom there's no Twitter save anymore. So, I guess he just decided to try and go for it. Also, in his talking heads we found out Rayvon has hair! Oh my god!
Clark Beckham, "Your Man": American Idol must really miss Quentin Alexander, because they really tried to make Clark's second song choice sound really dramatic. He was insistent on performing this Josh Turner single and jazzing it up, which advisor Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records did not agree with. Sure, this was a little dated and cheesy, but it's not THAT bad of a song choice. Clark actually worked with it well, showing off a falsetto range that he never really had displayed before. At this point in the show, too, it's important for artists to display who they really are, and Clark did that. He stood his ground against the ~man~ and that's commendable. Plus, he pulled it out. What did not work was his like two minute ramble about how he's an artist that's sellable to the American audience. Like, yeah, you probably have that potential. That's why we are here. Please be quiet. That awkward moment made me want to crawl under the couch and hide forever.
Jax, "Human": Like "Over the Rainbow" or Radiohead's "Creep," this song is waaaay overdone on singing competitions. It's good to show emotion and range, so like, I get it, but that doesn't mean it's not a boring choice. The big sell of this Christina Perri track is its emotion, and while the judges felt that she was really genuine, it felt contrived to me. Though she had some really flubbed notes that are inexcusable, Jax's tone worked nicely with this song. She has such a fanbase that she's probably safe regardless, but this was not a great moment overall.
Rayvon Owen, "Believe": Rayvon had some major issues connecting with the emotions of his first performance, so when he was taking on this Justin Bieber ballad it seemed like it could be a risk. Like pretty much always, Rayvon added too man runs and high notes to this track but it's not so much like he was over-singing. He just over-seasoned everything a bit. He's still in trouble and I don't foresee him in the finale. So, we'll see how this plays out.
Nick Fradiani, "What Hurts the Most": It's so nice to finally be able to be on the Nick Fradiani train. He was always a solid singer but it never felt like he was a frontrunner - until the last week or two. He was set to close out the top 4 episode with a take on Rascall Flatt's "What Hurt the Most," and this was pretty much a perfect performance. It's clear the kind of rocker that Nick will wind up being when he gets a record deal. He has this perfect AC tone, and it really works well with this music. And now that he's performed Matchbox 20, there's no coming back from those Rob Thomas comparisons.