alycewilson (alycewilson) wrote,

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American Idol Recap: Top 9 (Eighties Night)

It was '80s Night on "American Idol," as the Top 11 of Season 14 competed for the second time. One contestant received the judges' only save of the season least week, meaning two would be eliminated over the course of the evening.

• Appropriate for the theme, David Hasselhoff, star of the hit '80s show "Knight Rider," delivered the night's official results to host Ryan Seacrest. He then stripped off his blue blazer, opened up his shirt, donned a leather jacket, and sang a medley of '80s hits. It was as deliciously campy as you would hope, with the crowd swaying along as if they were having the time of their lives.
• The guest mentor for the week was Boy George, who made a mark in the early '80s with Culture Club. He wore a glittery captain's hat when he met with them. (He does love his hats.) Then the Top 11 performed "Karma Chameleon," the biggest hit of the Culture Club, with Boy George himself. Unlike The Hoff's performance, when only Harry Connick Jr. stood up for him, all three judges danced along at their table.
• The first person to make it through and get the chance to perform, Daniel Seavey (perhaps on track to become this season's Sanjaya Malakar). He wore a very '80s look, straight out of Madonna's "Open My Heart" video (look it up), with a flat hat on the back of his head, dark, loose-fitting jacket and a T-shirt. His voice sort of cracked in the middle of his performance of "You Make My Dreams Come True" by Hall and Oates. Keith Urban said he looks good on camera, but the experience isn't there yet. He liked that he got more into it at the end of the song. Jennifer Lopez said the audience must love him, and she liked the song for him.
• Next was Quentin Alexander, who got a tip from Boy George to work on his breath. He sang "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, seated on a little round ottoman, wearing a light gray angora jacket with a huge stiff collar. His delivery of the song was intense and atmospheric, with full attention paid to his phrasing and emphasis. Jennifer called it a home run, praising him for making it his own. Harry liked that he pays close attention to the lyrics. His only tip was that Quentin needs to finally do something up-tempo. Keith also enjoyed it, calling the song choice "killer."
• Joey Cook was next on board, wearing a pink shiny party dress with violet tights, a matching bow and bright pink boots. She'd chosen "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. Boy George told her to work on her dynamics. Not sure if she really took that advice, though. Her version of the song was obviously edited for time, perhaps not in the best possible way; it felt disjointed, with the familiar melody out of sync. Harry said she seemed distracted and noted that her eyes were closed and she was looking down. He felt that something had been holding her back. (I wonder if it was the fact that her dress had opened up in the back, which we saw at the end of the performance when she turned around briefly.) Keith felt there were just moments of inconsistency but said that his wife (Nicole Kidman) and daughters had probably been dancing to this at home. Jennifer agreed that her daughter would want the whole album. Still, she didn't think the song was as strong as last week. Boy George came out on stage and hugged Joey, to tell her she was doing great and he loved the outfit. He offered her a cup of British tea. I think he was also probably feeling protective about the wardrobe malfunction, which he could see better from offstage than the audience could. Perhaps he even wanted to provide a way to get her offstage modestly if needed. Not necessary: the director cut seamlessly to the audience as she walked down, showing her only from the front, and a tech dashed up to her when she reached her seat and started tugging at the zipper before the camera cut away.
• Tyanna Jones, wearing a letter jacket with a "T" on it, peg-leg cuffed jeans, and a bow in her hair, sang "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston, and she handled the song deftly, even the challenging key change. She seemed to have gotten her mojo back. Keith told her that she was really good but has to be careful about being in her own head. Jennifer agreed, singing her praises and telling her never to get down by negative criticism (like she'd had last week). Harry liked the updated arrangement and said he liked that she takes control during her performances. Still, he advised her not to get complacent.
• Jax took a singer-songwriter approach to "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi, complete with her hair swept to one side so severely it looked like a side Mohawk, and wearing a painted leather jacket which coordinated with the graffiti-embellished piano. In a dramatic moment at the apex of the song, she stood up and kicked the stool away before concluding, softly, while playing chords with one hand. Jennifer liked the "'80s punk attitude." She thought that she got a little lost in the middle but ended it strong. Harry said that her originality is what brought her here. He thought that the middle, where all the guitars kicked in, she was "swimming in a lot of sound." Keith said that if she ever felt like she was getting lost in a song's arrangement, she should change it.
• Nick Fradiani sang "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson, after getting mentoring advice from Boy George to strive for a connection with the audience. He interpreted Jennifer's comment that he should "own his hotness" as meaning that he should deliver more on his masculinity. This was no doubt the strongest performance by Nick, with terrific vocals and, for the first time, him making eye contact with people in the audience (though not with the camera). Harry thought it was a perfect song choice and a fantastic vocal. He said, "I think I figured you out." He thought maybe the key to Nick is humility, and when he sings "sweet, kind" songs, he does better. Keith agreed. Jennifer felt that where he was paying attention to the lyrics was where his performance was the best.
• For a little break, Salt-N-Pepa sang their biggest hit, "Push It," along with dancers in red track suits, who then helped them into their iconic yellow, white and red jackets. Lots of fun.
• Then it was Clark Beckham's turn to sing. He'd selected "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, accompanying himself on piano. Boy George advised him to take the song a little lower, but Nick later made his own decision to stick with the original key. He probably should have taken the advice, since the ending was a bit too high for him. Other than that, it was lovely, though. Keith found it was really good, showing much more heart. "You really took me on a journey." He liked the melancholy of it. Jennifer also loved it; it gave her the goosies. Harry said that he is so good that he doesn't have to do a lot of choreography and stagecraft to wow the crowd.
• Qaasim Middleton made it through, much to his delight. He'd chosen "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer. Boy George told him to bring the sound up from his belly more. Wearing a shiny gray suit with a black shirt with red polka dots, he stood at the mike and concentrated on the vocals but then strutted around a little. He had some interesting vocal quirks that might have come from listening to Michael Jackson when he was a kid, like an extra intake of air at the end of a phrase. He ought to be more mindful of that. Jennifer liked that it was more reserved, and he was a great storyteller. At the end of the day, she said, "You're a really good vocalist." Harry told him his greatest strength is his ability to perform, but he liked that he just stood still and was sexy. Keith said he thinks he has a really big, fragile heart and would like to see him be more vulnerable.
• The bottom three were Maddie Walker, Adanna Duru and Rayvon Owen. Ryan brought them up onstage to announce who would be moving on: Rayvon. It was curtain time for Maddie and Adanna. Boy George thought he was singing too pretty on his rendition of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears. He also advised him that he needed more excitement. It was pleasant but sort of boring. Harry told him it was a pretty solid performance, but he could do without him pulling out a falsetto for every song. Keith thought the song showed all his strengths. Jennifer told him not to be afraid to step outside of his comfort zone.
• By the way, down to the Top 9 and no mention of a tour. MJ over at MJ's Big Blog thinks it's probably because the tour has been canned this year, due to dwindling receipts in previous years. Bummer. But I haven't gone to one since Season 5, when the teeny-boppers about blew my eardrums the second Ace Young came onstage. Not my idea of a good time, y'know?
• Predictions: So far, I've been wrong about Daniel Seavey going home, so let's assume he's safe again. If he is, who does that put on the block? Based on the judges' comments and the response from fans during the show, I predict a bottom two of Joey Cook and Rayvon Owen, with Joey Cook being delighted to learn she'll have another chance to sing and Rayvon packing his bags for home.
Tags: american idol, music, television

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