American Idol XIV Top 5 Revealed + Performance Recap (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol XIV, “Top 5 Perform”! Tonight, the Idols tackle Arena Anthems!
The song spoilers reveal a mixed bag of choice tonight, but there are more than a few picks that could prove interesting.
But which singer will be going home tonight?
As of press time, Rickey.org readers predict it will be the end of the road for Quentin Alexander. General opinion suggests that this is due to his emotional outburst last week that led to an awkward, uneasy confrontation with Harry Connick Jr. after his performance. He topped the poll with an overwhelming 51.7% of the vote, eclipsing the next closest competitor, Rayvon Owen, who polled with 27.88% of the vote. The Twitter Fan Save is back, so the Bottom 2 showdown should be interesting, no matter which two contestants land there. But it’s not too late to vote in the poll, so head on over and add your prediction!
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 kick off the show with a recap of last week, and we sort of gloss over the Quentin vs. Harry clash in about five seconds, as we only see Quentin’s apology. Still, I’m kind of glad they aren’t lingering on all the drama, even if those moments are among the few things that add spark to this show.
We’re introduced to the judges, and Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach from the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team deliver the results envelope. Man alive, Alex Morgan is STUNNING. They present Ryan with a jersey with the number 14, as Ryan announces that the winner of American Idol this year will record the official anthem for the FOX Sports coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Ryan then reveals that tonight is the final Twitter fan save of the season. THANK GOD! The final five who go through tonight will go on the Idol summer tour, and the first person through is…JAX!
JAX opens the show!
-In her VT, Jax’s parents recall her birth, as two separate ultrasounds told them they were having a boy. They painted the rooms blue, and were totally prepared to have a son, but were surprised when she came out a girl. So they nicknamed her Jax. Jax then gets emotional recalling how much her father means to her, and how close her came to losing his life on September 11th. I really felt for her here, as her connection to her dad is one of the defining parts of her backstory. I just love their relationship.
-Jax is singing “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet, but changes the pronoun to “guy”. She plays the tamborine, and basically rocks out all over the stage, without her voice suffering for how much performing she was doing. She always manages to offer up a lively show, and this is exactly the sort of performance she needed to deliver to still be memorable by the end of the night. With Joey gone, Jax is my pick to join the finale with Clark.
-Keith tells Jax she has every right to feel good about her talent, and to feel liberated. He thought she did a great job. J-Lo feels Jax is ready for the tour, and said she delivered a great way to open the show, since she has a lot of energy and confidence. Harry loves that he’s getting an idea for what a Jax concert would be like. He feels he’d have a hell of a time at the show, and says, “That was strong.” After the performance, Jax reveals she actually went to the Season 5 concert when she was a little girl, and loved getting to see Katharine McPhee live. That’s kind of adorable, actually.
-Back from break with some cringe comedy, as Harry uses the telestrator to do a John Madden-esque analysis of J-Lo’s entrance at the top of the show, since having two athletes from the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team here has them all in the sporting mood. This goes on WAY too long.
-Ryan reads Result #2: NICK FRADIANI IS SAFE!
NICK FRADIANI is up next!
-Nick says no 29-year-old talks to his father as much as Nick talks to his. Nick’s dad is still gigging, and they offer advice to one another with each call. Nick’s dad never thought he’d be riding his son’s coattails, but a lot has changed since Nick has been on the show. However, their bond hasn’t been one of them. Much like with Jax, I absolutely love Nick’s connection with his dad. They both come across as really cool guys.
-Nick sings “Harder To Breathe” by Maroon 5, and I liked this for the most part. It wasn’t a perfect vocal, but I think Nick has a really underrated rock tone to his voice that lends a certain power and grit to songs like this. I’d have left the guitar at home, but I can see why he brought it this time. Dude just looks like a rock star, in that Adam Levine mode.
-J-Lo thought it was “pretty awesome,” but wishes there had been more audience participation, noting that at the end of the day, it’s a party for them. Harry thought that was really scary for everyone else in the competition, since he’s doing what they want the other contestants to be doing: he’s growing and getting better every single week. Keith feels Nick is finding his lane vocally, and now it’s just about getting the performance aspect to match. Nick says he got a bit thrown off at the beginning by a mix-up on his end, but Keith feels performance is still something Nick has to work on regardless. After the performance, Nick says it came down to the wire with that song choice, since they had trouble finding the right track for him. But hey, it all worked out in the end. I’m really beginning to think he could be the other half of that finale with Clark. He seems like the Paul McDonald type who’d typically go home in 9th place or so, but people seem really into what he’s doing, since no one else is really offering up his style among the Top 12 this season. Speaking of Paul McDonald, I can’t wait to see how his next song choice stacks up against Paul’s version of the same song.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Nick Fradiani channels Maroon 5 on American Idol (VIDEO)
-Back from break, and Ryan reveals Result #3: CLARK BECKHAM IS SAFE!
(The crowd goes bananas once his chair lights up green. It’s rare to see a reaction like that to someone being declared safe)
CLARK BECKHAM is up next!
-We get a lot of adorable baby pictures of Clark, as he and his parents explain that they used to visit Clark’s great grandmother in the nursing home and perform for her and the other patients. It was here that Clark realized his voice could change people. However, it wasn’t until after a live onstage performance in college, with a full band backing him, that Clark realized he wanted this to be his career. “How could I ever do anything else?”
-Clark sings “Yesterday” by The Beatles, and while the vocal is solid, I still feel like something is missing from the performance. He just looks so constipated and slightly annoyed to be up there. I don’t know how he can change it other than to look in the mirror and practice his facial expressions. Because the guy looks like he’s in pain, at times. I love Clark, and he’s still my pick to win, but this wasn’t the blow away moment I thought it would be.
-Harry loves that Clark didn’t use high notes gratuitously, noting they matched up perfectly with the lyrics. He felt the entire performance had structure and it made sense. “I thought it was terrific, man. Really nice job,” he says. Keith thought the song choice was interesting, but notes that the reaction in the room made it feel like Sam Smith had just done it, it felt that current. However, he wants Clark to release more, and to show more vulnerability. J-Lo thought the performance was a little risky because everyone knows the song so well, but she thought he sang it beautifully. After the performance, Ryan does something I don’t remember him ever doing: he hypes up Clark’s next performance by revealing that he’ll be singing “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber. Do they think people are going to change the channel if they don’t reveal that? I’m guessing most people know what he’s singing already.
-Ryan reveals the final result…TYANNA JONES IS SAFE! QUENTIN ALEXANDER AND RAYVON OWEN ARE THE BOTTOM 2!
TYANNA JONES is up next!
-We see an adorable video of a young Tyanna saying she wants to go to the Hannah Montana concert to get away from all her siblings, each of whom go by “T” names. She recalls the difficulty her family has faced in the past, from having their electricity shut off, to losing their home. But the family has persevered, and we even see a cool video of her family reacting to seeing her on TV.
-Tyanna sings “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, and so I guess that’s why we got that Hannah Montana video in her VT. I didn’t love the song choice, but I do love Tyanna’s new braids. The vocal was alright, I guess, but what works best about this is that she seems comfortable up there. She’s slapping hands with people in the audience, and making full use of the stage. Sure, it’s not her best vocal, but I like her energy up there.
-Keith liked it, although he wasn’t crazy about it. J-Lo, however, thinks this was Tyanna’s most comfortable performance so far, since she IS 16. This simply felt like the right thing for her to do at this point in the competition. Harry agrees, saying that this was a smart song choice. He praises her vocal prowess, saying that if she sang that in the studio, the sound engineers would probably have the day off, because she’d only need one take, two at most. I wonder if he knows that this IS her studio version this week? After the performance, Tyanna reveals that the braids were chosen by her fans on Facebook. Smart fans. It’s a cool look on her.
-As we go to break, Quentin and Clark are chilling out, and seem fairly amused to be the Bottom 2.
-Back from break, and Quentin is eager to perform, slapping his thighs anxiously while waiting for Ryan to announce whether he or Rayvon will perform first.
QUENTIN ALEXANDER is up next!
-Quentin really admires his mother, saying he wouldn’t be here without her. Quentin’s mother recalls working multiple 12 hour shifts to keep him clothed, fed and educated. She gets emotional reflecting on how far her “baby” has come, and it’s one of the most endearing video packages I’ve seen all season. His mother is just so cute. “I can’t thank her enough,” Quentin says. “She’s the reason, man.”
-Quentin sings “Light My Fire” by The Doors, and I’m really digging Quentin’s classic rocker vibe. He’s like Jimi Hendrix here, just oozing coolness. This isn’t my favorite vocal of his though, because he seems a bit off pitch. Still, he’s hitting all his notes with real power and clarity. I dig it.
-J-Lo loves Quentin’s overall style and manner up there, but she wishes there’d be more of a “POW!” in his vocal. He looks great and feels great, but she thinks the vocal needs to match up. Harry sticks up for Quentin by saying it’s a very rangy song. He felt the arrangement was where the “stank” came from, saying it just sounded cool on Quentin’s voice. Keith says plankton can’t swim against the current, and Quentin is anti-plankton, in that regard. Nice analogy, Keith. No, seriously.
RAYVON OWEN is up next!
-Rayvon’s mother first heard him sing at church as a little boy. Rayvon recalls how nasty the microphone was from all the people who sang before, but Rayvon’s mother mostly recalls how Rayvon stared at her the whole way through, a fact he doesn’t remember. However, she does recall the calendar Rayvon used to keep, which he says was to make sure he didn’t wear the same outfits too close together. He’s excited about this opportunity because he feels now could be his chance to finally give back to his mother. I like Rayvon a lot, even though I don’t always like his song choices.
-Rayvon sings “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith, and while it seems a bit like an expected song choice, it’s a perfect one for his voice. This allows Rayvon to show off all the colors of his voice. He does a good job of communicating the passion of the song, really digging into the lyrics. Hell, towards the end of the song, he almost sounds like he’s crying. I mean, he’s not, but it sounds like a heartbroken plea. I love it. In fact, this might be Rayvon’s best performance. And then we…go to break? Yes, Idol wants us to stay put through the commercial break so we don’t miss three people talking.
-We come back from break with the last 20 seconds of Rayvon’s performance, which arguably was the weakest part. But hey, it was still an awesome performance, even in the weaker moments. Harry thought it was a “fantastic vocal performance,” and loved that he had control over his breath while in the upper part of his register. Keith felt that if Rayvon had recorded it first, that would have been a hit record. Keith says if Rayvon keeps singing like that, he just might be the only one at the end. J-Lo feels the same way, thinking it’d make for a great story if Rayvon fought his way to the end after four consecutive weeks in the Bottom 2.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Rayvon Owen sings for record fourth save on American Idol (VIDEO)
-We then get a filler video in which Scott Borchetta takes each of the finalists to the Dolby Theater. Up first…
NICK FRADIANI is up next!
-Nick has felt since the beginning that he could make it to the Dolby Theater, and it’s becoming more and more real for him. Scott tells Nick that “could” needs to become “can,” that Nick CAN get to the end. Nick does him one better by saying he WILL get to the finale. You know, he hasn’t been at risk at all, so I’m beginning to think he really just might. Then again, Tyanna hasn’t been at risk either. Still, I’ll be interested to hear how he does this next song.
-Nick sings “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart, and it’s a very lively performance. What I liked about Nick is that he has a way of taking classic songs and infusing them with real energy. “Maggie May” isn’t the most dynamic song in the world, but I thought this was a lot of fun. Nick not only seemed really loose up there, he also sounded damn good.
-Keith loved everything about the performance, noting that Nick listened to his advice about dropping the guitar strap lower. He mimics the difference between this week and last by using a guitar and a ukulele that mysteriously appear at the judges’ table. Seriously, where did those come from?! It’s like when a cartoon character pulls a mallet out from behind his back. J-Lo liked the performance but warns against letting his performances get too similar, as the stakes are higher than ever this close to the end. Harry asks Nick if he could sustain a two to three hour show on the road. “I know I can,” Nick replies, and Harry agrees, saying he’s really getting a sense for what Nick’s live show would be like. After the performance, Nick talks about having performed that song with his dad out on the road.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Nick Fradiani channels Rod Stewart on American Idol (VIDEO)
-We keep the show moving with Tyanna, who doesn’t know if she should go up first, since her video hasn’t popped up yet. It’s kind of a cute flub…
TYANNA JONES is up next!
-Scott asks Tyanna to complete the sentence “I want to be the next American Idol because…,” and she says, “…I want to do this for the rest of my life.” Scott asks if she thinks she can win, and she feels she can. Tyanna states she has the potential to get to the end, and she can really imagine herself here in the Dolby Theater. Honestly, I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility. The only person I can’t see getting there are the guys in tonight’s Bottom 2.
-Tyanna sings “Heaven” by Bryan Adams, and I thought it was kind of a sleepy choice. She sang it well, at least better than her first song, but it seems like a departure from expectations for Tyanna, and not necessarily in a good way. It just seemed a bit bland. I fully expect her to land in the Bottom 2 next week. Again, she wasn’t bad, but this wasn’t exactly memorable or up to her usual vocal standards.
-J-Lo liked the song choice for Tyanna. She thought Tyanna sounded good — not perfect though. But she likes seeing Tyanna in this light, as she comes across as mature beyond her years. Harry never thought she’d sing the song in a million years, but thought she sang it really well. He asks her what kind of music she would put on her album, and Tyanna says this would be the kind of song she’d do, although she’s at her most comfortable when she’s dancing. So she’s a mix of a whole lot of different things. Keith praises her for being a true artist, and Ryan interviews Tyanna afterwards about the song choice. She says she didn’t actually know the song before, but it was easy to learn. Ryan congratulates her, saying he loves that song.
-Back from break with some Snapchat silliness with Shaun McBride, a “Snapchat artist,” with whom they create a Ford video. The video involves a “Snapchat Safari” and hot damn, I’m already over this filler nonsense.
CLARK BECKHAM is up next!
-Clark talks about how everyone in this competition has helped push him along, from the vocal coach to the stylists. They help him become a more complete artist, and he owes them a lot. Seeing Clark onstage at the Dolby Theater just looks right. And I think he knows it too. Dude looks like a kid in a candy store. He has to know this competition is his to lose.
-Clark sings “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber, and while I think the key is a bit high, particularly towards the end, this is one of his best performances overall. He doesn’t seem pained or annoyed to be up there, and he both connects to the camera while connecting with the lyrics. It’s a hell of a vocal. In a cute moment, there’s a woman with a sign that has a square cut in the middle pointing to her as “Clark’s Biggest Fan.” Yeah, this dude’s got this.
-Harry feels Clark did himself a disservice by setting the bar so high. He felt that wasn’t the right song for Clark to do what he’s been doing, saying he needed to stretch it out more and make it a bit sexy. Keith says Clark needs to feel it from a different place, otherwise he’ll get lost in the technicality of it. J-Lo didn’t think it was the best song choice for an Arena Anthems theme. She notes that he’s a great singer, but it wasn’t a great stadium moment. After the performance, Ryan asks Clark about his rationale behind the song choice, and he says he feels it’s accurate to the music he’d put out after the show. He wanted to put a bluesy vibe on the song, because he absolutely loves playing guitar. Then, before break, Harry tries to get the crowd to boo him more forcefully. Just rename it The Harry Connick Jr. Show and get it over with.
-Back from break with Harry doing more sports analysis of the show. I’m starting to think Harry is coming for Ryan’s job, because he’s pretty much hosting this show now.
JAX is up next!
-Jax has goosebumps upon opening her eyes and seeing the Dolby Theater from the stage. She shouts to hear the echo, then goes running through the aisles, adorably. Scott tells her this could be the most important performance of her life, and warns her about repeating past mistakes. Jax says she’ll never stop taking risks, and honestly, that’s what I’ve loved about her this year. I can’t imagine how boring this season would have been without her.
-Jax sings “White Flag” by Dido, one of my absolute favorite songs. That said, I hope J-Lo gets on her case about this not being an Arena Anthem, if she’s going to get on Clark’s case for the same thing. Actually, scratch that. This performance is so good that I don’t want Jax catching any kind of hell for it whatsoever. She looks amazing in her white, sparkly dress, and her hair up in a bun as she sits at the piano, looking like a total frickin’ star. Her voice is so clear and pure on this that I can’t help loving it.
-Keith thought it was a great song choice for Jax, and said she held his attention the whole way through, leaving him riveted. J-Lo felt that Jax just delivered a moment, saying this is exactly what she needed to do. She feels Jax is ready to take on the industry now. Harry makes a bunch of jokes, but says he’s joking around because he has no criticism for her. He simply tells her she was phenomenal, and Jax seems genuinely moved by that.
QUENTIN ALEXANDER is up next!
-Quentin breathes it in before opening his eyes and seeing what the Dolby Theater looks like from his spot on the stage. He feels he has to fight and throw everything he has into his performance in order to make it there. As he reflects, he notes that he’s so close to the end. He can feel it. I get the feeling Rayvon is surviving regardless, but this video made me really want Quentin to pull it out.
-Quentin sings “Shake It Off” by Florence + The Machine, and I feel it’s worth noting that this is the song that got Majesty Rose eliminated last season. So if it takes Quentin too, we’ll have enough of a sample size to suggest that people probably shouldn’t sing this song anymore. While the ending is a bit off pitch, this ended up being my favorite Quentin performance overall. It was a passionate vocal, and the song brought out the strength and purity of Quentin’s tone. I loved it.
-J-Lo just loves watching Quentin, and felt it was a much stronger vocal performance. Harry thought it was pretty good, but opts to ask him a question in lieu of a critique. He says he and Quentin have a lot in common, since they both sing out of tune. He asks if they would let producers and sound engineers autotune him if he’s out of tune on a CD. He says he would not let them, saying that even the mistakes are part of who he is. Harry applauds that, saying that’s also something they have in common. Keith loves how Quentin takes the reins, and encourages him to keep it up.
RAYVON OWEN is up next!
-Rayvon is bowled over by the feeling of being onstage at the Dolby Theater. Rayvon says he didn’t realize until he was in the Bottom 2 for the third time that he has to do more than just give a good vocal. He needs to show people his heart and more. Rayvon promises his performances are going to improve, you can count on that.
-Rayvon sings “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac, which might be the most utterly perplexing song choice of the entire season. It sounds like a total farewell performance, the kind of song you sing after you’ve already been eliminated, and they hand you the microphone to sing over the credits. Rayvon sounds good for the most part, at least when we can hear him. Dude is fighting against the band the whole way through. He’s getting gradually drowned out, and I feel like if he could do it over, he’d have saved “I’m Not the Only One” for last. That said, while his voice cracks a bit towards the end, he concludes with a killer falsetto note that has Quentin smiling and cheering fanatically in his seat. He shouts, “I give it up!” after seeing the crowd’s reaction. I love how much Quentin supports his fellow contestants.
-Seriously though, the crowd is MOLTEN for Rayvon. Harry asks what kind of guidance Rayvon would take when going into the studio, if he’d soak up the advice or if he has a clear idea of what he wants to do. Rayvon delivers an awesome answer, saying it’d be a collaborative effort. He has a vision of what he wants to do as an artist, but he would keep his mind open to learn from more experienced people. Keith: “My critique is ‘blah blah blah’. The audience’s critique…’AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!'” J-Lo says she respects Rayvon’s fighting spirit, and enjoyed the performance. While I didn’t love the performance, I really don’t think there’s any way Rayvon loses this. Then again, I thought the same thing about Joey last week, so I should probably stop predicting things.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Rayvon Owen sings for record fourth save on American Idol (VIDEO)
-The vote is closed, and Ryan chats with the finalists before the result. Rayvon says he was really just focused on the two songs he performed tonight, that it isn’t about the Save, it’s about the music. Quentin agrees with this completely, saying they’re both focused on delivering monster performances. J-Lo felt both guys gave great performances tonight, saying Rayvon’s first was one of his best, while Quentin’s second showed him in all his superstardom. Keith felt both guys knocked it out of the ballpark tonight, while Harry says it was a pleasure to watch both of these men grow this season.
-Ryan reveals the result of the final Twitter Fan Save while Quentin repeatedly whispers “congratulations” to Rayvon…
RAYVON OWEN IS SAFE!
QUENTIN ALEXANDER IS ELIMINATED FROM AMERICAN IDOL XIV!
-Much like Joey last week, Quentin seems totally cool with the result, and super happy for Rayvon. I guess that blow-up with Harry last week hurt him after all. I feel like Rayvon has some real underdog momentum here, although I’m not sure if he’ll survive next week without a sing-off to bail him out. He’ll need the votes if he’s going to last.
Still, while I’m happy for Rayvon, this final 5 doesn’t strike me as a group that’s going to sell a whole lot of tickets this summer. But it should still be a good show, at least.
-And that’s a wrap! What did you think of tonight’s show? Did the right singer go home? Was this the right Bottom 2? Was Quentin’s argument with Harry his downfall? Sound off in the comments! Until next week, thanks for reading and hanging out!