American Idol XIV – Live Blog and Recap – Top 12 Boys Perform (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 14, “Top 12 Boys Perform”! Tonight, the Top 12 Boys compete for America’s vote!
The contestants performing tonight include…
For spoilers on what each of the boys will be singing, check out the Top 12 Boys Song Spoilers.
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating the post with live, running commentary and analysis, along with videos of tonight’s proceedings.
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We kick things off in front of a studio audience at the legendary Fillmore Detroit in Detroit, MI, and we even get a new opening credits sequence (although we still have the absolutely ghastly remix of the theme song). Still, at least the stage looks cool, sort of like a cross between the House of Blues and the Grand Ole Opry. No video screen or anything, but I don’t think we need one. Seacrest explains that the boys compete tonight, while the girls compete tomorrow. Then, next week, we narrow it down from 24 finalists to 16, and then from 16 to 24. Since this show is only an hour and we need to get through 12 performances, we kick things off…
ADAM EZEGELIAN opens the show!
-Adam’s pre-performance package is little more than a quick recap of his journey, and reaffirmation that he’s happy to be here. Seriously, it’s over almost before it starts, as he leaps right into his song, “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister.
-I’ll say this for Adam, he’s come a long way since his audition. His vocal here is absolutely impeccable, so good that he almost sounds like Dee Snider. Such a great rock performance, and he really has a great sense of showmanship. I worry that going so soon will prompt people to forget about him, but I’m holding out hope he might make it through, since this show is only an hour long anyway.
-J-Lo says Adam is an everyman, and he’s living his fantasy up there. Harry says he loves that Adam doesn’t take himself too seriously, and it’s an added bonus that he can really sing. Meanwhile, Keith jokes that he loves when Adam sings those sorts of heartfelt ballads. After the performance, Adam says Detroit is known for “ice, snow, and rock and roll.”
MICHAEL SIMEON is up next!
-We recap Michael’s journey, as he expresses his desire to spend the rest of his life pursuing music and making a career of it. He has a solid voice and a great — if somewhat generic — look. But I like him just the same.
-Michael sings “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” by Michael Bolton, which I think is an absolutely ghastly song choice. I like the song well enough, but Michael just doesn’t have the powerful voice necessary for this song. This performance isn’t bad, it’s just sort of bland and forgettable. I know he’s capable of better, which is why I was so disappointed.
-Harry cautions Michael to do the best he can to sing in tune. He thought it was a good job, but feels when you sing a ballad like that, pitch issues become super noticeable. J-Lo loved the performance though, and Keith thought Michael showed great control. “I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more from you,” Keith tells him, although honestly, I wouldn’t be so sure at this point.
SAVION WRIGHT is up next!
-We recap Savion’s elimination last year, and his path of redemption leading to his spot in the semifinals this year. I love Savion, so even though I didn’t like his song choice (from the spoilers), I trust he’ll still sound damn good singing it.
-So I’m still not crazy about “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train as a song choice for Savion, but I like the funky, smooth arrangement he delivers here. He makes it sound like something Adam Levine might sing, if Adam Levine were in Magic! or something. He’s got such great energy onstage. I ended up liking this in spite of the iffy song choice.
-Harry says the song started unfocused, but notes that it focused a lot more as it went on. J-Lo liked the vocal, and compliments him for having the most beautiful smile she’s ever seen, but she warns him against getting lost in the song, since he still has an audience to engage. Keith wasn’t crazy about the song choice, but he likes Savion a lot. Backstage, Savion says his heart is beating as fast as a jackrabbit, but he’s still happy with how he did.
MARK ANDREW is up next!
-Mark recalls his path in getting here, and says this could be the opportunity to change his life, since he’s always wanted to make something of his music. I like Mark a lot, but for some reason, I always feel nervous for him. I always get the feeling he’s only just hanging in there by a thread, at all times.
-Mark sings “The Weight” by The Band, and it’s another great little classic rock performance. I worry about whether his old school fashion will turn some people off, but then again, if Taylor Hicks can win American Idol, I see absolutely no reason Mark Andrew couldn’t. This was a terrific vocal.
-Keith loved the song choice, and even said he’d have loved it without the band. Harry thinks Mark sounded great, and notes he’s really in the zone. J-Lo tells Mark that, after a performance like that, he could really have a chance at this. Backstage, Mark calls it an amazing experience. He can hardly believe he played at the legendary Fillmore Detroit.
-This show is just SPEEDING by, and while that’s nice for me as a recapper, it’s also kind of disorienting, like nothing really matters. There’s no build, and no performance is really allowed to sink in before it ends and we’re onto the next one. It’s just such a strange way of doing things, even while I recognize that this was how it used to be in the first season, with super-short shows and shorter performances. I guess American Idol is coming full circle in its old age.
TREVOR DOUGLAS is up next!
-We get a recap of Trevor’s journey with almost no new comments that I can recall. Still, any time we can be reminded of Trevor’s desire to be the next Bill Nye, I’m all for it. He’s still my pick to win the thing, not necessarily because I think he’s the best, but mostly because he’s exactly the kind of contestant who would win this.
-Trevor sings “Best I Ever Had” by Gavin DeGraw, and it doesn’t really do a whole lot for his voice, even though his guitar strumming gives this a sort of wild energy. That manic, frenetic style is kind of what I love about Trevor. Even when his voice doesn’t come through — and the band and tempo is really overtaking him here — he still has that stylistic flair that makes him compelling to watch.
-Keith thinks the song wasn’t his best vocally, but thought he gave a great visual for the performance, with a lot of energy. J-Lo wishes America could have seen everything he could do, but she still enjoys Trevor, saying this was just an okay day for him rather than a great one. Harry agrees with the other two, saying that while it wasn’t vocally perfect, he still offered great energy. Backstage, Trevor promises to work on his vocals if America gives him a second chance. I think part of the risk was that he might have taken it as a given that he’d be getting through, which is a dangerous way to think of things. That said, if I were Trevor, I’d probably feel the same way.
CLARK BECKHAM is up next!
-In recapping his journey, Clark says he honed his singing abilities on the street from his time busking. He adds that this is exactly where he belongs, and I don’t disagree.
-Clark sings “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, and for the first half, I actually found this to be one of his weakest performances. His voice is just breaking all over the place, and he sounds really unsure of himself. But as it goes on, it becomes stronger and stronger, building to an incredibly long note that damn near brings down the house. By the end of it, I was really impressed with Clark, every bit as I had been before.
-J-Lo says she got “goosies all day” from this performance. Harry feels Clark is really talented, and he hopes to see him get into the nitty-gritty as the competition continues. Keith lets Clark know his performance was killer. Backstage, Clark says that performance was everything he wanted it to be, noting that the crowd was awesome, and hot damn, this is all going by so fast. I feel like I’m running a sprint and failing horribly.
RAYVON OWEN is up next!
-Rayvon wants to make his mother proud. He recalls his journey singing at corporate gigs, weddings, and anywhere he can get paid doing what he loves. He’s passionate about music, which has been fairly obvious all the way through.
-Rayvon sings “Jealous” by Nick Jonas, and I just don’t get why these people are picking these songs. I thought Michael Simeon and Trevor Douglas picked the wrong songs, and I feel no differently here with Rayvon, as the band sort of swallows his vocal alive. I know he could end up becoming too samey-samey by sticking with ballads, but I don’t know that now is the time to be taking risks. It’s a good vocal, but it seemed like the band was right on top of him.
-Harry feels Rayvon is the kind of artist who could have existed in Motown back in the day, and notes that he could be as much of an artist then as he could be now. J-Lo liked it, but she wishes there’d been more attitude. She warns him not to forget that he needs to impress America. Keith mostly agrees with the other judges, but praises Rayvon nonetheless. Backstage, Rayvon is absolutely stoked by the performance, really communicating how surreal this all is for him.
DANIEL SEAVEY is up next!
-Daniel’s journey has been a bit of a strange one, in that my memory is remembering it differently: for some reason, I always viewed Daniel as someone who only just barely made it through in each round. Yet this recap is kind of showing that he’s been at or near the front of the judges’ lists since the start, making him a strange sort of frontrunner/underdog combo.
-Daniel sings “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, and I’m surprised at how much I liked this. It was a perfect song choice for Daniel, although I would have liked to have seen more from the performance, since he doesn’t have a whole lot of showmanship to offer just yet. But he could develop that skill as the competition goes on (although you could argue that he probably shouldn’t go through if he doesn’t have it by now. But if that’s the case, I wonder how many eventual talent show winners would have gone home early if they’d been cut before they could develop into the performers they ended up being? Very few people on these sorts of shows come fully-formed, right out of the gate).
-Keith liked it, while J-Lo notes that Daniel is adorable. However, she warns that he needs to match that style with the showmanship. Harry feels bad for America, since there’s a lot of great talent here, and Daniel is one of those great talents. Backstage, Daniel is floored by the experience, particularly that so many girls were screaming his name. He says he actually got a bit nervous since his mom was in the audience, and — well, he’s so flustered he can barely even finish. I find that kind of endearing, actually.
RILEY BRIA is up next!
-In recapping his journey, we’re once again reminded that Riley once played onstage with Keith Urban. Although I feel this has been repeated ad nauseum, his performance ends up proving that he had the chops to stand side-by-side with Keith when it comes to the guitar playing.
-Riley sings “Homeboy” by Eric Church, and I actually found it kind of tuneless through the first half. But it gets really good in the second half, aided by an awesome guitar solo towards the end, and an a cappella finish. I dug this, for the most part, even though I found it a little unspectacular.
-J-Lo feels Riley has the perfect cross of sweetness and edge. Harry says Keith a legend and says Riley reminds him of a young Keith. So much so, in fact, that he’s going to have to start calling him Keith Suburban. Keith really liked that performance, and has big hopes for Riley. Backstage, Riley becomes the first contestant to actually straight-up ask America to vote for him. It’s clear he wants this.
QUENTIN ALEXANDER is up next!
-As we recall, Quentin is the guy with the swagger and braggadocio, but also the guy with the crazy fashion. And tonight’s performance really exemplifies that.
-Quentin sings “I Put a Spell On You” by Scrteamin’ Jay Hawkins, and it’s a really atmospheric, foreboding take on the song. I wasn’t particularly feeling it, honestly, even though I like Quentin a lot. His voice sounds good on this, and it’s actually kind of haunting too. But I just didn’t feel like it was the best song he could have gone with for an introduction to America.
-Keith loves Quentin’s artistry, noting that while he hasn’t even cut a record yet, he already delivered a Grammy level performance. J-Lo and Harry are equally jazzed about Quentin and his unique style, and I don’t blame them for getting excited, considering that we don’t get many contestants like him on this show. So while I didn’t love the performance, I can see where they’re coming from. Backstage, Quentin thanks the people of Detroit, and talks about what an amazing experience that performance was, adding that he felt that was his best performance yet.
NICK FRADIANI is up next!
-Nick recalls that he’s been playing in bars since he was 18, and feels that having an opportunity like this is awesome. I’m already rooting for Nick. I love his voice and his style, so I’d be a fan even if he weren’t a fellow Nick (although, let’s be real. We Nicks have to stick together!). He kind of reminds me of X Factor UK winner Ben Haenow.
-Speaking of Ben Haenow, Nick performs a song Ben also did. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran is a great choice for him because it’s contemporary, but also with a certain bit of leeway to fit in his more gritty, indie, slightly old-fashioned tone. I really enjoyed this, and I think Nick is a real dark horse to go far into this competition. I hope people aren’t underestimating him.
-Keith loved the song choice, and thought it was awesome that he accompanied himself on the guitar, as if we haven’t had virtually everyone else tonight playing guitar. J-Lo has no idea how America is going to make its choice, but what she knows is that she doesn’t want anyone to have to go home. Harry loved it, but jokes that he doesn’t get the lyrics. Is Ed going to ask for a divorce at age 70? Hmm…good question. Backstage, Nick thanks the city of Detroit.
QAASIM MIDDLETON closes the show!
-Qaasim is closing the show, so I guess the spoilers were right. Not that I mind, since he’s doing a song that’s a ready-made show-closer.
-Qaasim sings “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. It’s awesome from a showmanship standpoint, but I actually think this is Qaasim’s weakest vocal so far. A lot of that has to do with just how taxing all those movements are on his voice. But even if he were standing still, I’d feel like this was in the wrong key. Still, I thought this was a lot of fun, as the performance aspect more than makes up for the vocal shortcomings, in my opinion.
-Harry and J-Lo love Qaasim’s showmanship, and both expect him to stick around. Keith feels Qaasim has amazing charisma, and thought it was a great performance. Backstage, Qaasim is just as stoked about his performance, and I don’t blame him. While it didn’t feel like a star performance from a vocal standpoint, Qaasim is such a consummate showman that I can’t help loving everything he does.
-And that’s a wrap! If I had to pick, my favorites were Nick, Qaasim, Mark, Clark and Savion. As for which four guys I think are at risk? I’d say Michael, Quentin, Adam and Riley could be at risk. Then again, Riley IS a country artist, and Michael IS the kind of young heartthrob type America likes. And although I’m not sure America will get Quentin, he might still be able to hang on. What I’m saying is, I have absolutely no idea how this voting is going to play out. But I love that I don’t know. This competition is very much up in the air, so this could end up being one of the most exciting seasons yet.
But who were your favorites? And which four boys do you think will be eliminated? Sound off in the comments! And join us for tomorrow night for the Top 12 Girls. As a reminder, they are…
Who are you most looking forward to singing tomorrow night? And what did you think of tonight’s format? Let us know! Thanks for reading and for hanging out!