Welcome back, Idol lovers, to one of our weirdest episodes of the season. Up ahead: Harry pursues Keith while singing “Teenage Dream”; Qaasim brings back his dance moves (and “Hey Ya”); and Florida Georgia Line is unclear why they’re on this show. Onward!
Tonight we’ll find out who makes the top 7 (how did we get here?), and the #idolfansave is back in play. Do we have strong feelings about the fan save? I kind of like it, maybe. I like that we’re being rewarded for watching live. Brilliant marketing.
Tonight is Billboard Hits night. It’s one of Idol’s favorite tricks because it sounds like a theme, but it really just lets the contestants sing basically any song ever. Country duo (and my 5-year-old nephew’s favorite band) Florida Georgia Line are mentoring the contestants, along with Jason Derulo. Hot 100, indeed. Half the contestants go with Jason and the other half are with the bros of FGL. For the record, these gentlemen are NOT Kelly Clarkson.
First through is Jax, who really grew on me last week. She’s taking on Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Let me say this: The contestants seem so preoccupied with doing something “different” that none of them are singing their songs as we actually know them. This cover is so slow and theatrical. You know what I want from a performance of “Poker Face”? I want a dance beat, and I want a goofy costume, and I want it to leave the song stuck in my head for days. What I do NOT want from it is something that has been repurposed for the sequel to Moulin Rouge (though I would see that movie in seconds, who am I kidding). Jax sounds good vocally, but this was a snooze fest. J.Lo, in all her wisdom, reminds Jax not to go too far left, not to stretch a song so much that it’s unrecognizable.
Nick is the next to make it through. He’s singing “Teenage Dream,” which confuses Harry thoroughly. (You’d imagine that with three daughters at home he’d be familiar with the Warblers, am I right?) It’s not my favorite performance from Nick, but the audience is going absolutely nuts for it—he’s got actual energy on the stage, the lights are working for him, and he’s giving it everything he’s got. Vocals? Good enough. Energy? Better. Not perfect, but it might be the moment Nicky’s been waiting for.
And then the best AND worst thing I’ve ever seen happens: Harry is challenged to get up on stage and sing it himself. And he does. And it gets weird. I honestly can’t even put it into words, but can only say that Harry and Keith were chasing each other around the judges’ table whilst singing a Katy Perry song. If you could only Google one thing for the rest of your life, this would be it, I swear. GOOGLE IT.
Next to survive is Quentin, who is totally emerging as a frontrunner. He makes a smart choice with “Latch” by Disclosure and Sam Smith. Jason Derulo gives him some fantastic advice and really pushes him to challenge his vocals, particularly his falsetto. Quentin’s looking dapper tonight. (But oh my god, Quentin, cut your nails, please.) It’s nice to see him do something not kooky, and he’s trying his damnedest, and he sounds good! He’s really going for those oh-so-tricky falsetto parts, but they’re far from perfect, especially after hearing Jason Derulo sing them quite flawlessly during rehearsal. Kudos for taking the risk, Quentin, but—despite what the judges say—this was troubled, vocally.
NEXT: Tyanna returns!
Joey’s up next, and I’m digging her look. Kinda like a crazy prom queen, but I like it. “Wrecking Ball” is maybe a perfect song for her. I’m loving her tonight! We’re actually hearing her hit these big notes and she has a fantastic voice when she simply sings. The judges don’t love it, but I’m totally team Joey now.
Next is Clark, performing Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain” and looking fine. Here’s the thing that really makes Clark stand out for me, every week: When he steps on the stage, I’m captivated. I stop typing, stop tweeting, and just stare until he’s done, enjoying every note. The other contestants’ performances rarely stop me in my tracks. The judges have solid critiques for Clark, and in their delivery, it’s so clear that they’re incredibly invested in him. J.Lo threw the word “finale” at him. If he’s not in it, I quit this show.
Tyanna is through! I feel like we’ve lost her a bit the past few weeks. Really hoping she brings it in a big way tonight. I’m dreaming of a Clark/Tyanna finale. Tyanna’s performing “Stay” by Rihanna and is singing it in memory of her grandmother. She’s emotional about the performance, and there’s a gorgeous ache in her voice. Wow, she sounds fantastic—there’s some magic up there with her tonight. She brings tears to the eyes of two of the three people in my apartment. (My roommate has a cold, cold soul.) Best performance of the night, I’d argue. The poor sweet thing is crying, her mom is crying, and don’t we all love her so much?
And that leaves Rayvon and Qaasim as our bottom two. As much as it breaks my Qaasim-loving heart to say it, this is the bottom two as it should be. America, so far, you’re really getting it right this season! I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before.
Anyhow, Rayvon takes the stage with the hopes of winning our #idolfansave, and he sings “Set Fire to the Rain.” He takes a few risks and is singing for his damn life, for sure. But honestly, it’s super weird for me. It’s aggressive and loud, and I know it was intended as a display of personality, but ouch, I don’t like any of this. Says Keith: “You sang the heck out of it!” And that’s really all there is to say.
Once again we fall into a weird discussion about what Rayvon’s “gravy” might be. Harry doesn’t know. J.Lo doesn’t know. (But she knows what hers is: dancing! “I’m Jenny from the block!” she screams.) They ask Rayvon what his gravy is, and you know what? He doesn’t know, either.
Finally, Qaasim takes the stage. Qaasim possibly has nothing BUT gravy. So it comes down to a battle of technical skill versus gravy. What a show. Qaasim brilliantly selects Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” and obviously is dancing like a maniac on stage. And you know what? He’s got some good notes tonight! Harry’s critique: “The vocal is not dissimilar to Andre 18,000, or whatever his name is.” Look, I get it: Rayvon has a significantly better voice than Qaasim. But he has proven, week after week, that he can’t draw us in when he’s on stage. Qaasim has had his stumbles, for sure, but he’s proven himself to be an entertainer time and again. So, with that, I will try to #saveqaasim. But the tweets are in, and to my utter despair, you nuts saved Rayvon. Sigh.
I leave you with a heavy heart tonight, but with the hope that someday, when Qaasim returns to Brooklyn, I’ll bump into him on the street and he can teach me some of his dance moves. Hey ya!
Before you go, check out our interview with Florida Georgia Line and Jason Derulo about their time as mentors.