American Idol 2016 Live Blog and Recap: Top 5 Revealed, Perform For Your Votes (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Top 5 Revealed and Perform”! Host Ryan Seacrest and judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. continue the search for the final American Idol!
Last week, we said goodbye to Lee Jean and Avalon Young, as Sonika Vaid survived the Bottom 3 after singing for her life with a rousing rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”! But will she be safe again this week? The song spoilers for the Top 5 are in, and it seems like we might see a bit of a mixed bag this week, as some of the contestants have better song choices than others. Of course, I actually think Sonika has one of the best song picks this week, believe it or not. All the Idols will be singing twice tonight for the Fans’ Choice theme, as the songs were chosen from suggestions the show has been soliciting from fans on Twitter all season. However, in a major twist, one contestant will be eliminated IMMEDIATELY AFTER ROUND ONE! So we will learn the Bottom 2 after all five singers perform their first song, then the judges will save one singer and send the other home. Then, the remaining five finalists will sing in round two. This is getting crazy! And that’s without even getting into all the other things we can expect tonight, such as a performance from former American Idol star Adam Lambert! (But why no guest judging though?!) Should be a solid show.
But what do Rickey.org readers think about the eliminations tonight??
According to our official prediction poll, our readers feel it’s time for Tristan McIntosh to finally take that long walk to elimination. The teen country singer is predicted to go home with 33.75% of the vote. However, it seems Sonika Vaid isn’t out of the woods just yet, as 31.57% of our readers are predicting this to be the end for her. It looks like it’s going to be a really close vote tonight, if the poll is any reflection of how America voted.
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos of the highlight performances as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We kick off the show with Adam Lambert performing “Mad World” LIVE! Man, what a great little blast from the past. And it somehow sounds even better now than it did back in Season 8. I absolutely loved this. We even get a nice blast from the past afterwards, as we open with the traditional Idol opening and graphics, and not the tacky-ass remix of the theme.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) March 18, 2016
-Ryan introduces the judges, but not before informing us that the Idols will be performing with Jussie Smollett and Yazz from Empire (do they always have to perform together? Can it ever just be one of them?), and that the Idols will be competing for the LAST SAVE OF THE SEASON! Finally! The judges are going to give up power next week! The Idols are out, and we’re getting our very first results of the night…
TRENT HARMON is safe!
-Each Idol is getting a video from their hometown. Trent receives well-wishes from Amory, MS, with superfans coming together to cheer his name, and even his local pizza parlor creating a pizza in his name. Man, I’m so hungry right now, and that pie looks DELICIOUS.
-Trent sings “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic. I actually think this is one of Trent’s weakest performances. It would have been better had the arrangement been changed in some way, because Trent struggles to keep up with the tempo while also delivering his style of vocal, which includes a lot of runs and high notes. I love Trent, but I just plain didn’t like this.
-Keith asks how that felt, and Trent admits he just tries to do his best, even when he has no idea what’s going on. Keith could sense that Trent was sort of lost, and feels it was the wrong song for him. Jennifer agrees somewhat, but feels he did everything he could with the song he was given by America. Harry felt the clapping part was like a “hoedown,” but gives him a pass on the song, since it’s one of those songs that doesn’t allow you to actually finish each lyric before racing to the next one. I’m inclined to agree, given what a no-win choice that song was. Still, he should have at least tried to mix up the arrangement somehow, unless he was somehow barred from doing so.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) March 18, 2016
-Back from break with our next result…
DALTON RAPATTONI is safe!
-We see videos from Dalton’s superfans and his hometown, including his family (such as his cousin and his adorable grandma, who wishes him well from her salon, where she’s getting a perm. Funnily enough, it sounds like she’s about to wish him luck on becoming America’s Next Top Model, before declaring she hopes he becomes America’s next Idol).
-Dalton sings “Numb” by Linkin Park, and it’s easily Dalton’s best vocal since the live shows began. Of course, part of it is bias from how much better this version is than the original. Seriously, I just like the arrangement, as Dalton plays his guitar to infuse a bit of an acoustic vibe to it. However, there’s an extremely awkward moment at the end where he decides not to sing the final “You” in the chorus, and the production doesn’t pick up on what he’s doing, leading to a weird pause.
-Jennifer thought Dalton took a bit of the “oomph” out of the song, comparing it to skating through the song. However, she did get the feeling of the song from Dalton. Harry disagrees with J-Lo, saying that the head-banging part came from the juxtaposition to the lyrics and the arrangement. He felt Dalton spent a lot of time connecting with the lyrics, although he warns Dalton about not getting ahead of the band with his guitar. Keith agrees with Harry but would have stripped it down even more to give us even more than the original version. After the performance, Ryan asks Dalton about the song choice, and he says the lyrics connected with him the most out of any of the song choices America requested. Ryan then throws a picture up on the big screen of Dalton at age six, asleep in one of the perm chairs at his grandma’s salon. That was random.
-And we keep the results coming…
LA’PORSHA RENAE is safe!
-La’Porsha gets some really enthusiastic praise from her hometown fans, with one of her fans saying she’s one of the best contestants in fifteen years, and that he doesn’t know what he’ll do if she doesn’t win the show. Well, that’s certainly commitment. Although I do worry about just how marketable she’ll be if she does win. Will Scott Borchetta really get behind her 100%? Or will we just have another Candice Glover situation, with an endlessly delayed album that doesn’t get promoted once it DOES get released? La’Porsha would be a worthy winner, but I don’t know if she’ll be the best winner if they’re trying to find a star on the other end of this. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong though.
-La’Porsha sings “Ready For Love” by India.Arie, and it’s her most emotional vocal, in my opinion. I still feel like she does way too many runs though. But I can’t deny the strength of this vocal, from its raw emotional power, to the purity of her tone.
-Harry felt the reading of that song was pleading, mournful, and everything those lyrics called for. He loves that La’Porsha can change her strengths to suit the needs of the song, and he calls it “phenomenal”. Keith realizes he’s not even judging anymore, he’s just watching a performance, completely captivated. Jennifer agrees, saying La’Porsha is giving them a complete performance, going as far as to call her vibe “Earth Mother,” which Harry jokes about after the performance.
-Back from break with a Ford Gusion commercial in which the Idols do yoga to prepare. Trent considers working some yoga poses into his act. This…was a segment, I guess. In the studio, Ryan asks the instructor, Laura Sykora, who the most flexible Idol is, like that isn’t a turbo-creepy question.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: La’Porsha Renae Is ‘Ready For Love’ On American Idol 2016 (VIDEO)
-Ryan announces we’re putting a halt to the results to debut a new single from two Empire stars…
JUSSIE SMOLLETT & YAZZ PERFORM “NEVER LET IT DIE”
-I really dig the song, and these two are really good live performers, particularly Yazz. It does sound like they’re singing to a prerecorded track during the chorus, but the verses are definitely live — and they’re definitely impressive too. However, the interpretive dancers in the background are kind of distracting, as interpretive dancers tend to be on songs like this. Also distracting? The Idols coming out to accompany Jussie & Yazz for literally just the final few seconds of the song. So weird. Still, I really enjoyed the song here, and I’m hyped about Empire coming back. So you’ll get no complaints from me about this segment.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) March 18, 2016
-Back from break with MacKenzie, Sonika and Tristan awaiting results. One person is safe, and the others are the Bottom 2. Ryan reveals the result…
SONIKA VAID and TRISTAN MCINTOSH are the Bottom 2!
MACKENZIE BOURG is safe!
-In an adorable video, we get a bunch of little girls arguing over who he was singing “You Are So Beautiful” to last week. We also get to meet MacKenzie’s basketball coach, who seems like a hilarious guy, from how he mugs for the camera.
-MacKenzie sings “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, and this is the best song choice of this round so far, even more so than “Ready For Love,” in my opinion. MacKenzie’s voice just sits so beautifully in the pocket, even while he’s moving onstage (for the second week in a row, he’s forgoing the guitar for his first solo of the night). This really reminded me of a Kris Allen style performance.
-Keith talks about looking at the TV monitor in the desk, because he likes seeing what America sees. But he tells MacKenzie that he’s like cake batter: even when it’s not cooked, it’s still really good. Dude, that absolutely NOTHING to do with the TV monitor comment. Jennifer loved every moment of that, as MacKenzie talks about debating coming to the desk while he was walking around the stage. Harry thought MacKenzie could record that song and have a hit with it, although he tells MacKenzie he needs to pay attention to what he’s doing when he’s not singing, since he has some awkward affectations. Lastly, while he really liked how MacKenzie sounded on the song, he felt he’d have been better served sticking with the melody and not trying any tricks. I agree with Harry, since MacKenzie went for a run towards the end and missed it. But overall, this is two weeks in a row where MacKenzie is in the running to be my favorite performance of the night.
-So we’re back from break, and the Bottom 2 are given the choice between whether they want to sing their first round song or their second round song. Thankfully for Tristan, she goes with the one that ISN’T an uptempo Bon Jovi song.
TRISTAN MCINTOSH is up first!
-Tristan gets well-wishes from superfans and her local pastor, and it’s kind of touching to see what a big role model Tristan already is to the young girls of her hometown, and the country at large. I’ve given her a bit of a hard time over the season, but I think Tristan has carried herself remarkably well throughout this competition.
-Tristan sings “Independence Day” by Martin McBride, and this is a REALLY smart arrangement. She slows it down considerably, playing at the piano and turning it into a more mellow tune that’s a better Save Me song than you’d think this track would be. This is my favorite Tristan performance, by orders of magnitude. Seriously, there wasn’t a false note here, from the vocal to the feeling. I also have to give it up for that seemingly effortless closing note. Really good stuff.
-Jennifer notes that Tristan is clearly among America’s favorites if she made the Top 6, but she gives Tristan the advice to try different things to avoid from having all her performances seem too similar. She feels that’s why America put her in the Bottom 2. Harry adds that Tristan needs to “grow and live and get a little bit older” with her performance style, since she is so young. Keith feels that if she’s going to do an empowerment song like that, Tristan needs to either strip it all the way down and make it really intimate, or go all the way and dig into the power of the song. They critiqued her harshly, but unless Sonika slays this beyond reproach, I don’t see how they don’t save Tristan, who’s Scott Borchetta’s chosen one.
-Ryan asks Sonika how she feels, and she’s obviously nervous. He then asks which song she’s going to sing, and she chooses the Demi Lovato version of “Let It Go,” because I think she secretly hates me a little bit.
SONIKA VAID is up next!
-Sonika receives some much-needed encouragement from her fans, including one guy who declares Sonika was his queen from the moment he first saw her. I suppose it’s fitting that she’s singing a Queen Elsa song then, although I personally would have gone with “Clarity,” if only because it was one of the songs I requested.
-Sonika sings “Let It Go” by Demi Lovato, and you know what? I’m over this song, particularly this version, but I think Sonika showed a lot of star quality here. Sure, the initial verses seemed pitch a bit too low, but the song comes alive at the halfway point. If I’m the judges, I think I give Sonika one last chance, since I’m not sure Tristan survives into next week anyway. But the same could be said for Sonika, I suppose.
-Harry thought it was a smart song choice, but warns her against getting lost in more rousing arrangements. However, he thought she did a good job of holding it together. Keith rhetorically asks what it is about the wind machine that makes everyone look so good, before praising her for that performance. Jennifer praises Sonika for her fierceness, feeling the performance declared “I don’t want to go home!” She feels Sonika is coming out of her shell more and more with each week.
-Ryan asks both contestants how they feel they’ve grown throughout the competition, and both girls basically state how performing in front of tons of people has helped them immeasurably, and that they’re blessed to be here. The judges announce their results…
SONIKA VAID is safe!
TRISTAN MCINTOSH is eliminated from AMERICAN IDOL 2016!
Well, I wasn’t expecting that. But I feel it was the right call. Tristan has talent, but I feel like she plateaued. Sonika still has more to give, I think.
-Now it’s time for Round 2!
DALTON RAPATTONI kicks off Round 2!
-They start by playing the EXACT SAME VIDEO as round one…until the video blacks out and we see the crew setting up the darkened stage. This goes on for an awkward couple of seconds while the production team cues up the proper video. Weird moment. In the video, Dalton’s mom talks about how difficult growing up was for him, since he had trouble fitting in. Dalton breaks down in tears when recalling the difficulty of his troubled youth, but recalls how music essentially saved him. I feel like Dalton needed a profile like this to help people on the fence connect with him more.
-Dalton sings “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, delivering a darkly gothic version with a bit more of a tempo to it. It’s a good vocal, although I’m a bit distracted by the Eye of Sauron on the video screen behind him. I also feel like Dalton gets a bit ahead of the music on the chorus. But overall? I thought this was a really strong performance. I was impressed by this. A lot, actually. He finishes the song by sitting down on the stage, and the dude just looks kind of miserable up there. But I think it’s part of the performance. This is clearly an emotional track for him.
-Keith loved the song choice and how Dalton emphasized the emotions and lyrics behind it. Jennifer asked if Dalton felt better about that song choice, and he states that he does. J-Lo then adds that it was a really powerful performance. Harry thought Dalton thrived on the beautifully poetic lyrics, and suggests that’s what he needs to keep doing, to keep digging deeper and deeper and refuse to allow anyone to tell him what to do. He then pleads with America to vote, because the Judges’ Save is gone. After the performance, Dalton asks how Dalton feels about being this close to the finale, and he states that it’s like seeing a picture that gets less and less blurry as time goes on. I’m still picking him for the finale against La’Porsha, although I’m torn on whether or not he’ll win.
-Back from break with an American Idol favorite debuting his new single…
ADAM LAMBERT PERFORMS “WELCOME TO THE SHOW”
-Adam is joined onstage Laleh, who features on the single. She has an ethereal quality to her voice, like Sia by way of Aurora. I thought this was a terrific performance, honestly, although the flames in the background are a bit much. Either way, this is a pretty fantastic song, and Adam sings the absolute hell out of it. I’m impressed with virtually every new single he releases. Dude is a total star.
Adam shouts out Laleh, and gushes about performing this song live for the first time. Adam then announces he’ll be working more with Queen this summer, so “things are good right now!” Adam looks like the happiest person on the planet right now, and I can’t say I blame him.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Adam Lambert Debuts ‘Welcome To The Show’ on American Idol 2016 (VIDEO)
-Back from break with Scott Borchetta talking about the process behind choosing the Fan Request songs, and it devolves into the same old “At the end of this, I have to SIGN this winner, so we need to make sure they’re doing their best!” interview that we get every week.
MACKENZIE BOURG is up next!
-In his VT, we learn that MacKenzie contracted a virus in his teen years that gave him congestive heart failure. They didn’t expect him to be able to survive, but he did. However, he had to give up his first love, sports. He used music to dig out of the funk he was in, as music became his therapy. “Coming so close to dying was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” he declares. This was another one of those video packages that was badly needed, as we get more of a window into MacKenzie’s story and who he is deep down. I’m glad he was able to overcome his adversity.
-MacKenzie sings “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, and while I was expecting the Chris Cornell version, he delivered something ENTIRELY different. Seriously, this is one of the best renditions of this song I’ve ever heard on a singing talent show. It’s dark, but also kind of chill and funky. The arrangement is brilliant and the vocal is even better than his round one performance. This is the first moment I’ve looked at MacKenzie and seen a potential winner.
-The crowd is MOLTEN HOT for MacKenzie, and so is J-Lo, who tells MacKenzie that he just showed everyone why he’s here. “I think that was the most special version we’ve ever seen,” Jennifer declares, adding that it was a clear, confident vocal, and it was amazing to watch. Harry could tell MacKenzie spent a lot of time throughout the day thinking about lyrics, saying it’s his wheelhouse. He feels that much like Ed Sheeran, MacKenzie is someone who proves a guy can be compelling just standing there with a guitar. Keith then makes a long reference to the movie Bolt, as a way of saying he’s a fan of MacKenzie. In a funny moment, Jennifer says it’s like sitting next to Steven Tyler. After the performance, MacKenzie is humbled to hear the comments from the judges, since he put a lot into the song.
TRENT HARMON is up next!
-In his video, Trent talks about his favorite guitar: a guitar he built with his best friend, Daniel. Unfortunately, Daniel never got to play it, as he passed away before he could. It was hard for Trent to play the guitar after that, until he realized Daniel would want the guitar to be played. Trent says it’s as though Daniel lives through the strings of the guitar, and adds that he thinks of Daniel every time he plays, even if just for a second. Wow, that was really emotional. These videos are hitting me right in the heart.
-Trent sings “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and this is more of the Trent I initially fell in love with in Hollywood. He’s got this funky, soulful vibe, but with a folksy sensibility. This is a pretty straightforward version of the song, but with slight gospel undertones. I really dug it, and thought it was one of Trent’s very best. I’m actually shocked at how great this round has been so far. Everyone is really stepping up.
-Harry would love to hear a duet between Trent and Adam Lambert. He then talks about Trent’s southern essence, and says it’s very appealing, noting that he can feel Trent’s experience in everything he sings. Keith loves the song choice, and notes how lyrically perfect it is for Trent. Jennifer fights back tears, saying this is why she’s going to miss Idol, because of moments like this (no pun intended), in which we see the perfect singer singing the perfect song. She thanks Trent for giving her that moment, and Trent ends up crying as well as he tells Ryan that the song is about doing what your mama tells you to do. “I miss my mom,” he says, as the audience swoons. This really felt like Trent’s coming out party, as this could be the performance that launches him into potential frontrunner status.
-Next week is a combined theme: Classic Rock and the Music of Sia! Great themes. And both Sia and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt will be on-hand to guest mentor the finalists. Should be a great show.
SONIKA VAID is up next!
-The sad stories stop with Sonika’s video, as she talks about her journey to the Idol stage, and how frequently she expects to go home. She talks about how good her “Bring Me To Life” performance felt, and then talks about how overcoming her shyness has been her biggest struggle. Man, the Top 10 really wasn’t that long ago, even though it sort of feels that way.
-Sonika sings “Clarity” by Foxes, which is one of the songs I suggested for her, although I doubt I was the only one. It’s pretty good, although I wish she’d slowed the tempo and stripped back the arrangement, because she’s once again getting a bit overwhelmed by the band. Still, this is one of her more fun performances, as she comes across as a young popstar who’s having fun up there. It’s not a blowaway performance, but I thought it was pretty good stuff overall.
-Keith thought it was a good song for Sonika, and advises her to keep letting go, and to be raw and real. Jennifer didn’t love the song for Sonika, but she applauds how Sonika tried to do things with the song. However, she states that Sonika needs to find a balance between doing the song justice and connecting with the audience. Harry liked the performance, but what he loved was her interview with Ryan after the results, since it gave insight into who she is as a person. He says he hasn’t met her since the audition day, so that interview gave him a sense of what a great person she is. That’s what I’ve been saying! Granted, I was saying it about these more intimate pre-performance videos, but I feel the point still stands.
LA’PORSHA RENAE closes the show!
-La’Porsha talks about wanting to be onstage since she was a little girl. However, she also wanted to find love. When she was eighteen, she met a guy she really liked. Unfortunately, he became extremely abusive. He hated her hair, he hated her voice, and before long, La’Porsha didn’t feel like a woman, much less a singer. But once La’Porsha’s daughter was born, she decided to leave her ex and live in a shelter to escape the abuse. While singing to her daughter, she rediscovered her passion for singing and remembered how badly she wanted to be on American Idol. She admits she’s now gone from feeling lower than dirt to feeling ten feet tall. Yeah, La’Porsha is winning this thing.
-La’Porsha sings “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige, and while she’s had better vocals, I don’t know that there’s been a more emotional performance all season than this. She just rips into the song, jumping onstage as if her emotions are just going to explode out of her. It’s absolutely amazing to watch, and just as outstanding to hear. Keith and J-Lo are rocking out to this, and they give her a standing ovation at the end. J-Lo and Keith are even fighting back tears, and so is La’Porsha. Ryan sums it up: “There’s not a lot to say after that.”
-Jennifer talks about how much it takes to overcome hardship like that, and says how beautiful it is to see her put it all into her music. Ryan feels we should just leave it at that, since there’s nothing more to say, but I think it’s more the case that it’s 9:59 PM ET right now, and they need to get the hell off the air before the late local news. Either way, he’s not wrong. La’Porsha may have just won the entire season with that.
-And that’s a wrap! What did you think of tonight’s show? Sound off in the comments!
Until next week, thanks for reading and hanging out!