'American Idol' recap: Top 9 perform
Boy George mentors, Salt-n-Pepa pushes it, and David Hasselhoff wears sunglasses.
Last week was kind of rough, you guys. It was a boring episode until the last minute save of Qaasim, which I’m still a little shocked by. And remember, that means we’re losing two contestants tonight. (I’m so sorry, but please let it be Maddie and Danny.) But what cures all American Idol views? THE ’80s. Yes, that’s right. Harry’s boldly wearing a T-shirt that says “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME,” and that can only mean two things: It’s ’80s night on Idol, and Boy George is our guest mentor. I love everything about that sentence. EVERYTHING.
David Hasselhof delivers the results envelope to Ryan, and most of the crowd, including Harry, jumps to their feet. Hoff says he doesn’t remember much about the decade (mmmhmmm) and swaps his suit jacket for a leather bomber, throws on some aviators, and sings a medley of ’80s tunes that is honestly so uncomfortable that every single person in my apartment falls silent. It’s like that moment at your cousin’s wedding when your already-disgruntled uncle gets drunk and gives an inappropriate speech. It’s truly painful to watch, but I can’t look away. Harry’s still standing and applauding for this man. Harry, sit down, please.
So after that painful travesty, Boy George shares the stage with our contestants (who sound great) for “Karma Chameleon.” I’m digging the vibe of tonight’s show, you guys. Joey is doing her best to channel Andie Walsh and Clark is wearing a vest! American Idol knows me so well.
First through for the evening? Daniel Seavey. A person who was born in 1999. Nineteen-ninety-nine, you guys. America, you’re letting me down. Boy George thinks Daniel has the musical chops. Admittedly, compared to his performance last week, this take on “You Make My Dreams Come True” is roughly 1,000 times better. But he’s just not strong enough. Harry asks him what he enjoys more than anything, and Daniel says “to make people happy.” I want to cradle this precious baby in my arms for all of time, but I do not want him in my Top 9.
Quentin is next to take the stage in roughly 7” platform boots. He is so cool! He’s far too cool for Idol. I feel so blessed that he has graced this primetime Fox show with his infinite hip-ness. (Boy George loves Quentin’s turban so much he’s giddy over it.) Quentin, let’s be honest, has one of the best voices of this group. A spooky version of “In the Air Tonight” is a brilliant choice for Quentin. How spooky? Commentary from the couch: “I feel like he was in Twilight.” I loved this performance, and I think it was a big night for him. I like to use my baby boomer parents’ reactions to predict how the nation will vote, and before tonight, they didn’t quite get Quentin. But I think they got it today. (Sure enough, a text from my mother regarding Quentin: “Outstanding. Loved it, every part of it!”)
Joey’s next to move through. Joey, bless her heart, can hardly even believe she’s in the same room with Boy George. She’s doing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and he gives her some great advice: Make it more interesting, vary the depth, volume. I hope she listens. The song opens and she’s hopping all the hell over that stage. The vocal on this is kind of rough, you guys. I know, I know, I always complain about her vocal affectation, but stylistic choices aside, the girl has a great voice. But she faltered tonight. The vocal was all over the place, and she was totally unfocused. What’s up, Joey?
Tyanna is through, thank god. (Remember, she struggled with “Circle of Life” last week.) This brilliant girl is singing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” There’s a nice dance beat supporting this arrangement—Harry says she “housed it up,” which is definitely the coolest thing he’s ever said—and it makes the song feel super fresh and young. Our girl is back in full force this week, guys, and NAILS the big key change, which is the whole point of this song. Keith looks so so so proud of her.
NEXT: Jax tackles Bon Jovi, and Nick takes a look in the mirror.
Jax is the next to move on, and I’m super into her outfit tonight. I’m glad she’s sticking around. She’s doing a dramatic piano-driven version of “You Give Love a Bad Name,” and Boy George and his fab sparkly hat are into it. (As a sidenote, Boy George is proving to be a really wonderful, thoughtful, and entertaining mentor. He’s so much fun! Not that it was ever a question, but seriously, he’s so fun!) With this Bon Jovi track, Jax is also back to her comfort zone, and it’s a welcome return. She kills this song, and looks like a pro on stage. The ’80s + Bon Jovi + piano = Jax’s wheelhouse. The judges thought she disappeared vocally and was overshadowed by the band, but I have no idea what they heard in that theater—I loved this.
Nick makes it, and his challenge thus far has been confidence. His vocals have been underrated, in my opinion, and I hope that on “Man in the Mirror,” he finds his groove. What I like about him, and I think I’ve said this before, is that he is super aware of his weaknesses and is doing the work to improve. His pitch is a little iffy in the beginning, but once he steps off that stool, he settles into it. The vocal, per usual, is strong, but Nick pushes it tonight. We’re seeing some emotion, and we’re seeing some fight, and we’re seeing him let go (a touch). Nick, I am so rooting for you. I want him to believe in himself as much as I do!
Surprise performance from Salt-n-Pepa! This show is such a circus, I love it so much. I feel like most of the producers are probably children of the ’80s, so this episode got some extra love. (No complaints here.) I’ve never seen anything more wonderful and weird than Harry Connick Jr., reported Mensa member and music snob, dancing to “Push It.” Have I mentioned I LOVE THIS SHOW?
Back to the results. Clark is safe. Phew, I was getting nervous. I’m going to be honest: I was hoping Clark would step outside of the box and tackle a surprising song choice this week. But he’s doing “Every Breath You Take.” It’s a solid choice and one of the best (though most creepy) songs, but I’m worried that he’s becoming a bit too one-note. But Clarky proves me wrong, because he looks and sounds so perfect behind that piano surrounded by fog. This kid has such emotion and pain in his voice, and his vocal, again, is flawless tonight. The judges call it mesmerizing. He honestly brings me to tears. As in, I’m crying right now. #pathetic
Qaasim, who had our save last week, is through to the next round. (Ryan gives him SUCH a hard time about that probably very expensive mic-drop last week.) Qaasim’s presence here pleases me so much. I know the save was controversial and a lot of you guys considered it a waste, but I think this kid has talent, and not just in performance—his vocals, when he’s focused, are good. And yes, he needs to focus on his vocals all the time, but he knows that he’s gotta give us more. And I think he will. He takes on “Addicted to love,” and let’s be real: he’s not as powerful as some of the other contestants, but I appreciate that he is keeping it tight and focused tonight. Not sure that this is the best key for him, but he keeps control of the vocal and doesn’t overdo his stage shenanigans, if you will. It’s a different side of Qaasim tonight, and it works.
So the bottom three tonight are Maddie, Adanna, and Rayvon. Bummer because Adanna and Rayvon are two of our best vocalists, but they’ve just been boring, right? The two contestants to go home are Adanna and Maddie, which means we get more of Rayvon. Rayvon, man, you’ve got to be more interesting! He sings “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which already is boring to me. Rayvon gives a vocally flawless but emotionless performance. Sigh.
Idol fans, I think we had a fantastic night, didn’t we? Looking forward to next week, which has been dubbed Kelly Clarkson week. Kelly Clarkson songbook, Kelly Clarkson as guest mentor. Already loving it. See you then.
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.