American Idol XIV Top 10 Revealed + Performance Recap (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol XIV, “Top 10 Perform”! Tonight, we learn which 10 singers have advanced based on America’s vote, and which unfortunate singer will be singing for the Save!
The theme for tonight is “Songs from the Movies,” and the finalists will be aided by guest mentor Niles Rodgers, a prolific musician and producer who was one of the co-founders of the band Chic. Jennifer Lopez will also perform tonight, debuting her new track from the Dreamworks movie Home.
But speaking of Home, who will be going home tonight?
For the second week in a row, Rickey.org readers predict that Daniel Seavey will be eliminated. Also for the second week in a row, he polled with 32.1% of the votes. Joining him in the Bottom 3 based on readers’ predictions are Qaasim Middleton (15.86%) and Maddie Walker (11.1%). But it’s early in the competition, so anything can happen! It’s not too late to vote in the poll, so follow the link and have at it!
Keep it locked right here as I’ll be updating with commentary, analysis, and videos of tonight’s performances!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with the Top 11 rehearsing with Nile Rodgers, and they all take part in singing “Get Lucky”. We then fade into the studio, where the Top 11 are singing it live with Rodgers. I love this song so very, very much. Seriously, I’ve yet to hear a bad version of this track.
-Ryan Seacrest introduces the judges to the 20th Century Fox fanfare, and J-Lo is really outdoing herself in the hot outfits department. That dress is so short, it’s practically just underwear, and the shirt is so low-cut it might as well be a nightie. Very few celebs could pull that off, but J-Lo makes the dress, not the other way around. (I’d like to think all us Puerto Ricans could rock outfits that well, but really, I have no fashion sense whatsoever).
Ryan then throws to a video package on Rodgers, whose four-decade old guitar “The Hitmaker,” since he not only formed Chic, he’s worked with Sam Smith and was even the guitarist on “Get Lucky”. We then get a sneak peek at his new song, “I’ll Be There”, featuring Chic. The worldwide video premiere comes out tomorrow, apparently. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon comes out to give the results envelope to Seacrest. He also invites all the Idols to the race this Sunday, and notes that they’ll be singing the National Anthem and serving as Grand Marshals of the ceremony. Gordon announces he’s wrapping up his career after this year, but all I can think is who’s going to show up to be the celebrity “results envelope” messenger next week? I doubt anyone is going to top my beloved Taraji P. Henson.
-Anyway, it’s now time for results. Apropos of everything, I’m simply glad no one is singing “Let It Go” tonight.
Result #1: ADANNA DURU IS SAFE!
-Each of the pre-performance packages feature the contestants talking about what kind of movies they’d make about themselves. Adanna describes a movie that basically sounds like She’s All That. You’d think this would lead to the reveal that she’s singing “Kiss Me,” but nah. It’s “Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls. Nile and Scott Borchetta note that the song sits right on the edge of her range, but she’s able to make it work in rehearsals. Here’s hoping she can do the same on the stage.
-For me, this is Adanna’s best performance by a country mile. She shows far more control this week than she has about any other week so far, but without losing any of the characteristic energy and emotion that makes Adanna who she is. I was impressed with this, particularly how she works the stage with her poses and everything. However, much like last week, the last note isn’t great. But the performance before it is good enough to forgive it.
-Keith note it was a bit hard to hear her at the beginning, since the song had to start in a low key. But she sounded great and made a great song choice. J-Lo says we usually worry about the high parts, but you have to worry about the low parts too. However, while Adanna sounded good, she didn’t feel the “You’re the perfect man for me” parts came through, since she just didn’t feel it emotionally. Harry thinks she looked and sounded great, but he warns against looking down the barrel of the camera for virtually the entire performance. He notes that while Adanna often goes to the audience to shake hands and sing, she’s not really singing to the audience. She needs to make them hear it in the room. A good point, honestly. After the performance, Ryan asks Adanna if she’s ever met J-Hud, and she says she hasn’t. “Have you?” she asks Ryan, somehow forgetting where J-Hud got her start. But I thought it was adorable how Adanna was starstruck by the news that Jennifer Hudson and Iggy Azalea would be here in a few weeks.
-Onto Result #2: DANIEL SEAVEY IS SAFE!
-Daniel says his movie would be about a henchman for an evil music producer. He frames himself as an action hero, which I find kind of adorable for its sheer silliness. He’ll be singing “Lost Stars” from Begin Again, and although he wants to play the piano for the performance, Nile thinks it’s a bad idea since Daniel is always looking down at the keys. So they switch to the guitar instead, and he honestly doesn’t sound bad at all in rehearsals. Then again, this is one of those songs I love no matter who’s singing it.
-Bless him, he tried. But I think this song was too far above his pay grade. The boy definitely can sing, but this was the wrong song choice for him. He has this unfortunate knack for picking songs that don’t fit into his underdeveloped range. This is what people mean when they say he needed a little more time before being put through to this level, since he’s not fully developed yet, and he doesn’t seem to know the limits of his own voice just yet. That said, I do still see potential in him, so it’s not like he can’t improve and become a force to be reckoned with. But right now, I don’t see it. However, I don’t expect him to be leaving any time soon, so he’ll likely have plenty of time to grow.
-J-Lo thought Daniel did an okay job. She felt a lot of emotion coming from him, but didn’t feel it was his best performance. Harry feels rehearsal is imperative, but not at the expense of spontaneity. It felt too rehearsed, and felt it wasn’t strong tonight. Keith, however, praises Daniel for his ad-lib, where he replaces the falsetto with a melody in a lower key. He thought it was a good performance, but says that Daniel needs to dig in a little more, since he knows Daniel’s got it in him. Right as the performance ends, a bunch of girls shout “WE LOVE YOU, DANIEL!” So Daniel goes over to shake their hands and damn near gets pulled in. Dude is scary popular.
-Back from break, as Adanna pleads with the “Duru Nation” to vote for her, while Daniel says that despite not being the judges’ favorite, he hopes he can still get through.
Ryan reads Result #3: RAYVON OWEN IS SAFE! (And going really early in the show again, for some reason)
-Rayvon says his movie would be an action film in which he saves the day by uniting the world into one big choir. Eh, I’d probably watch that. Anyway, he’ll be singing “Staying Alive” from Saturday Night Fever. We need another Bee Gees Night, man. They’re one of my favorite bands of all-time. But back to Rayvon, as Nile is somewhat leery of Rayvon’s decision to sing it in a Prince style. But both he and Scott seem to trust his talent, and so do I.
-Rayvon does a hell of a job, particularly on the falsetto. Apropos of nothing, I think I’m in love with the background singer at the front, the one closest to the camera at the start of the performance. Anyway, enough distractions. Rayvon gets downright funky with it alongside Rickey Minor, who is practically dancing with Rayvon while playing the bass. I really enjoyed this, although I’m still getting mixed vibes on Rayvon, since I’m not entirely sure what kind of artist he’s trying to be, between something funky like this, something ethereal like “Wide Awake,” and something like “Burn” last week.
-Harry thinks Rayvon is really talented, but worries there isn’t a lot of substance to what he does each week. He wants Rayvon to pick a song with lyrics he can really sink his teeth into in order to keep things interesting. Keith, meanwhile, thinks Rayvon needs to command the stage more if he’s going to interact with the crowd, since it seems like he’s looking for somewhere to go. J-Lo felt when Rayvon stepped forward towards them at the end of the performance, all eyes locked on him. I see what the judges are saying. Rayvon is super talented, but he seems to have a bit of a hard time making his showmanship reach his awesome vocals. After the performance, Rayvon expresses his appreciation for the judges’ comments, while Ryan expresses surprise at how flexible Rickey Minor is. Rickey: “I had to make it happen!”
-Back from break, and Rayvon says he’s honored to have been voted through. “Please continue to vote. Please continue to vote! PLEASE CONTINUE TO VOTE!!!”
Ryan reveals Result #4: NICK FRADIANI IS SAFE!
-Nick becomes the latest in a long line of contestants whose movie would be an action movie. He does do a pretty good Travis Bickle impression though. Nick is going to be singing “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins from the movie Top Gun. (Sterling Archer approves of this song choice) He’s decided to ditch the guitar for this one, since he feels it’s keeping him from interacting with the audience and working the stage. But Nile and Scott immediately notice that he’s unconsciously doing air guitar, since he’s so used to having it. Nick is embarrassed, but I actually think that’s kind of hilarious, in a cool way. I love Nick, and not just because we’re the same age and have the same name.
-Nick looks a little awkward on the stage, and I can see what Nile meant when he noted that Nick was singing it at them instead of singing it to them. But the vocal is just SO ridiculously good here. Seriously, I was impressed with the evenness of his tone and the broadness of his range. No vibrato, no hesitation. Just a confident. powerful tone here. The crowd absolutely loses its mind after the performance is over, and I find myself wondering if Nick might not be more popular than we’re giving him credit for. We could be looking at a David Cook style dark horse candidate. Beware the cougars’ choice!
-Keith thinks Nick is getting more comfortable onstage, but Keith is barely even audible right now because the crowd is so molten hot. Speaking of hot, J-Lo says, “You know you’re hot, right?” So yeah, I’m thinking he’s the cougars’ choice, which could make him a real threat in this competition. Harry agrees with Keith and J-Lo about how Nick has grown as a performer, but feels that Nick needs to pick more substantive songs, since “Danger Zone” has really silly lyrics (he does love Kenny Loggins though). So basically the same critique as Rayvon got, more or less. And I agree with it. After the performance, Ryan learns from Nick that he has an ice cream flavor named after him back at home. It’s at a place called Bishop’s Orchards and the flavor is Fradiani Frenzy, which is chocolate and peanut butter cups. And they have some of it here! Awww, I’m hungry now.
Ryan reveals Result #5: JOEY COOK IS SAFE!
-Joey’s movie is that she’s cryogenically frozen and wakes up in a world controlled by robots. But she saves the world by proving humans can make music too. However, the twist is that she’s an alien. Dude, I would watch the HELL out of that. Anyway, she’ll be doing the Gary Jules version of “Mad World” from Donnie Darko, which is pretty much a perfect song choice for her. Although Scott and Niles warn her about eye contact, since she has a habit of shutting her eyes and getting lost in the song. I see what they mean, actually, and I’d love to see her eyes more. But honestly, getting lost in the song is part of what I find so endearing about her.
-Joey became Sia so gradually I hardly even noticed. She’s got the haircut, and she even sounds a whole lot like her in the beginning of this song. Let me just say, I ADORE this arrangement, which is orchestral but also ethereal and otherworldly. I also love Joey’s style. God, she’s gorgeous. As gorgeous as this vocal. Just haunting and eerie, but not in an off-putting way. I couldn’t have been more impressed by this, particularly since this is a song with a habit of being overdone on shows like this. It was a bit of an obvious song choice, but she did a lot with it to make it her own.
-J-Lo really loved it, and even compares her to Sia. Great minds! Great, Puerto Rican minds! Harry states that THIS is what he was talking about when he mentioned finding a song with lyrics you can dig your teeth into. He felt Joey really connected with this, and it made the performance a thousand times better. Keith agrees, as we all get aboard the Joey Cook Express. I imagine the dining cart on the JC Express looks like the music video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
-Back from break, as Nick and Joey thank their fans. We then get a bit in which Harry reveals he’ll be auctioning off his shirt from last week for charity. Keith then says he went through Harry’s hamper last week and pulls out a pair of leopard briefs from the J-Lo Collection. This was more awkward than funny, honestly. Still, I can’t pretend I don’t love the chemistry on this panel.
Ryan reveals Result #6: TYANNA JONES IS SAFE!
-Tyanna wins my heart by feigning winning an Oscar, which would be adorable even if I weren’t a self-admitted Oscar lunatic. She’ll be singing “The Circle of Life” by Elton John from The Lion King, which is a song choice I actually kind of hate for her. But in rehearsals, she sounds pretty damn good, so I guess I’m cautiously optimistic about it. There’s no way we were getting through a Movie Night without some Disney, after all.
-Tyanna sings the hell out of this, but towards the end, she seems off-key. And that’s when she’s not being swallowed alive by the band. I think if she’d gone with a more subdued, low-key arrangement, she wouldn’t have had to fight the band so much on that one. I just wasn’t feeling this, and now I’m worried for her. Sarina-Joi Crowe’s elimination shows that it only takes one week to turn you from a possible frontrunner to an also-ran.
-Harry feels Tyanna struggled through that, essentially saying it was her weakest performance. And I agree. Keith notes that Tyanna had serious pitch issues with the track, but he still loves her tone and vibrato. He thinks America will vote her through, and if they do, he can’t wait to see what she does next week. J-Lo feels there’s no doubt Tyanna will still be around here next week. I wouldn’t say it’s certain, but Tyanna is seriously too good to lose this early, even after a below-par performance.
-Back from break as Tyanna thanks her fans. “I said I had a surprise for you all, and that was it!” She sounds so dejected there, poor thing. Ryan, Harry and Keith then introduce J-Lo…
-J-Lo sings her new song from the movie Home soundtrack, “Feel the Light”. You know, there’s a much better song with that title from an animated movie. That said, this is a perfectly pretty song, and J-Lo does a fine job singing it. She’s never been the most blowaway vocalist, but she CAN sing, and she proves it here. Of course, the real star of this performance is her long, flowing white fress, which the visual effects team uses to project a bunch of awesome scenery, from stars to lights to scenes from the movie. It’s a really, really cool trick, and makes this far more compelling to watch than it would otherwise have been. Seriously, think about that: the dress made it better.
-Back from break as Ryan reveals Result #7: QUENTIN ALEXANDER!
-My cable briefly blipped out while Quentin was describing his movie, but there were llamas. So…classic Quentin? He’ll be singing “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, and he’s doing a really smooth, slowed-down version that sounds damn cool coming out of him. But Niles and Scott warn against not being in the moment. Quentin, for his part, is worried about his nerves taking over. I’m nervous for him, but also excited to hear the full version of this.
-Performance of the night so far, neck-and-neck with Joey. This was a beautiful, haunting reinvention of the song, making it sound halfway between a Sam Smith dirge and a classic soul ballad. Towards the end, he does one long, unbroken note that changes keys midstream, and hot damn, this is his absolute best. I thought it was gorgeous.
-Keith reveals he’s heard that version in a commercial Baz Luhrmann shot, so I guess it wasn’t as original as I thought, although Quentin did do a hell of a job putting his stamp on it. Keith liked Quentin’s performance, but thinks he could open up more. J-Lo felt it was very “Quentin,” and she loved that about it, even though she was a bit leery about how different it was from the original. Harry warns Quentin about staying in pitch, since he connected with the emotion of the performance but not the technique. I couldn’t disagree more, but Harry has a trained ear whereas I don’t. But seriously, I didn’t hear anything bad in there.
-Back from break, Quentin says he had a great time performing for America, and hopes he could take America on that journey with him. Ryan then reveals that Boy George will be coaching the finalists on The 80s. That’s…a random mentor choice.
Ryan then reveals Result #8: MADDIE WALKER IS SAFE!
-Maddie says her movie would be a family film with mermaids, because of course it would be. Can we just talk about how supernaturally pretty Maddie is? I swear, she’s like a porcelain doll I’m worried is going to get knocked over. Anyway, she’ll be singing “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” from Footloose, which I somehow forgot about. Not the song, but that it was from a movie.
-I like Maddie but this performance does absolutely nothing for me. Not only is she a bit hard to hear for most of it, but the arrangement is trying to bridge the divide between pop song and country song, and it doesn’t work. I just didn’t get this. She could have picked so many other songs (you know, presuming they weren’t given a very short list. But even if it was a list, there had to have been better songs than this to choose from).
-J-Lo says that was her mother’s favorite song growing up, and says it was good and cute. She doesn’t know if it’s her best performance, but she loved the twang on it. Harry didn’t like it at all, because he doesn’t know who Maddie is. He feels she has an incredibly strong country twang on some songs, but not so much on others. He says it felt too much like a pageant to him. Keith blames song choice, saying there’s a lot of feeling in Maddie that could come out if only she’d pick something like a ballad. I agree completely. So many pretty movie songs, and she goes with a song that pretty much gives her nothing.
-We then have Harry talking about how the person who sings average tonight is going to have a huge advantage because most tonight have been subpar. Wait, what? I wouldn’t say MOST have been subpar. Just some. Anyway, the judges talk about their favorite movies. J-Lo loves The Bodyguard, while Harry loves When Harry Met Sally. Keith recently saw Birdman, but he’s partial to Moulin Rouge (can we just get Nicole on this show already, Keith? Just for a duet).
-And then, in the most random filler of the evening, Kenny Loggins is here to perform “Footloose”. Seriously, what? I mean, it’s good and all, but I’m kind of surprised they’re already struggling this hard to fill two hours. Just let the contestants sing a little longer than 90 seconds.
-Back from break, and Maddie thanks America for voting her through, but what I notice is her grandpa, whose beard is dyed red in solidarity with his granddaughter, which is absolutely precious.
Ryan then reveals Result #9: CLARK BECKHAM IS SAFE!
-Clark’s movie is a romantic comedy where he’s a janitor who meets a fancy woman who’s actually a waitress posing as a fancy person. So Pretty Woman by way of Maid In Manhattan? Clark will be singing “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5 from Cheaper By the Dozen 2, which is a MASSIVE stretch for this theme, although if it gets Clark singing something modern, I don’t care. Dude needed to get away from old fashioned tracks ASAP.
-One of the best performances of the night, full-stop, and probably Clark’s best performance since “Georgia On My Mind”. I not only loved his voice on this, but also his guitar playing. I thought this was just tremendous. Clark has been touted as a potential winner for weeks now, but this was the first performance where I actually felt like I was looking at a potential winner.
-Harry continues to be a bit pedantic, as he now explains what “arrangement” means. But it’s all in service of praising Clark for putting his own stamp on the song, rearranging it, and making it his own. Keith loved what Clark did with the song, but tells him to add more of a smile to it. He has the voice, but now he needs to add the showmanship. But J-Lo is far more positive on him, practically gushing over the performance. And I’m right there with her. Loved every moment of this.
-And so it comes down to Jax and Qaasim, and I get the feeling if Qaasim is safe, the Save is getting used. At least, it had damn well better. It’s WAY too early to be losing Jax. This competition still needs her.
-Back from break, and Clark says he loved getting to strip down the arrangement and perform it for America. He pleads with them to vote for him, and I doubt he’ll have any trouble making it through.
And now Jax and Qaasim, the romance from Hollywood Week, are brought onstage for the result…
JAX IS SAFE!
QAASIM WILL SING FOR THE SAVE!
-Jax is on the verge of tears the entire time while Qaasim is resigned to the result.
-Jax’s movie is a zom-com, with romance added in. She’s a zombie slayer with a heart of gold, because of course she is. She’ll be singing “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer, and I can’t even tell you how long I’ve wanted someone to do this song on Movie Night. I can’t wait to hear her take on this.
-Jax’s voice comes through beautifully here, no having to fight the band like she did last week. That’s because she just has a guitarist onstage with her. It’s a beautiful vocal, although I don’t like what she does the “miss you, kiss you” part, since it feels needlessly elongated. But still, she adds a quirky delivery to “Even let you hold the remote control” that I love. She even hits a cool run towards the end of the song that shows that there’s more to her voice than just that whispy quality. I liked this quite a bit.
-Keith loved that Jax did that song, since he’d only ever heard Adam Sandler sing it. He thought it was beautiful, hearing a girl sing it. J-Lo thought the song played right into the quirkiness of her voice, and felt it was one of the more interesting choices on a night full of interesting choices. Harry feels Jax is a high-risk/high-reward artist, and thought this paid off. However, he warns her against rushing and tells her to stay in time with the song when the guitar stops, but J-Lo sticks up for her by saying she has a lot of adrenaline right now because of the result. Harry has been super nitpicky tonight, but I do feel like it’s coming from a good place, since it’s clear he wants to help these kids. And I appreciate that far more than him blowing smoke up their asses. It takes bravery to tell people things they might not want to hear, especially when those people have a lot of fans backing them up. I love Jax, but I can see the sense in what Harry is saying.
-Back from break, and Jax is super excited, asking America and Adam Sandler to vote for her.
And now, it’s time for Qaasim to sing for the Save…
-Qaasim sings “Come Together” by The Beatles from Across the Universe, and seriously, of ALL the Beatles songs from that movie, you go with THAT? It’s not much of a vocal, but it’s a hell of a show, between the dancing, the props (he pulls out a Joker card), and his swagger. That said, the judges aren’t talking at the table, so Qaasim is pretty much done. I’m going to miss him like crazy, because nobody else on this season provides the sheer entertainment value and pure fun he does. He practically flips out towards the end and just lets his vocal go crazy as he approaches the table, and then just shouts as the band drops out of the song. He then drops the mike, and J-Lo has her head in her hands as if to say, “I CAN’T BELIEVE WE’RE LETTING THIS GUY GO!” J-Lo then turns to Harry and whispers something in his ear, like she’s desperate to convince him to change his mind. But I doubt Harry is going to budge.
-Harry: “Here’s what I think? I think arguably that was the best performance of the night.” However, he says they only get one save this season, and he feels it’s all performance for Qaasim and short on the vocals. But they’ve talked it over, and they feel Qaasim deserves the save. Wait, WHAT?!
QAASIM MIDDLETON EARNS THE ONE SAVE OF THE SEASON! DOUBLE ELIMINATION NEXT WEEK!
-Qaasim fights back tears as the judges give Qaasim a standing O. The contestants come onstage to celebrate with him, and Joey is in tears. In a cute moment, as everyone leaves the stage, Daniel randomly hugs Ryan Seacrest. Because why not?
-I’m a bit nervous about the judges saving Qaasim. I really feel like it should be used on someone who can actually win the show. Realistically, the vocals are never going to really improve. It’s going to be a show every week. And while I do feel this season badly needs a contestant who’s just pure fun, I worry that saving him will cost us someone like Joey or Jax or Tyanna. So I’m nervous about next week. That said, I’m more interested to hear what Michael and Melinda are going to say about this on Reality Check next week. This season has been crazy. AMERICAN IDOL IS BACK, YA’LL!
But what did you think of tonight’s show? Sound off in the comments! Until next week, thanks for reading and hanging out, everyone! It’s been a hell of a time!