American Idol recap: The top 2 battle it out
After an abrupt elimination, the final two sing for their lives.
It’s been a rough week here in Idol land, guys. As we all know, we’re only going to get to experience this crazy long ride of a competition show once more before Fox pulls the plug for good. But I’m not giving up hope! I’m convinced this season can still produce an actual radio star. And we’re about to get one step closer to finding out whom that might be.
We’re left with our top three finalists, Clark, Jax, and Nick, but unlike weeks past, we’re getting our elimination at the top of the night—just two will go on to perform for us. The vote came down to less than .4 percent, which is one of Idol’s favorite kind of stats. So who’s out? I honestly can’t believe that I’m typing this, but Jax is going home. I thought this girl was going to take it. I love me some Nick and Clark, but this is terrible news for this show. Stupid America! The audience at the Dolby is stunned. It’s silent! No one is saying a word, no one is clapping. (It later becomes clear that the producers instructed this for dramatic effect, but still, it was, in fact, effective!) Even Nick and Clark don’t know what to do. UGH this show. No wonder you got canceled!
So the finale performances can’t possibly be as interesting as they would have been with Jax. I mean, sure, I hope the boys kill it, but Jax had on such a kooky outfit! Clark is up first with “Georgia On My Mind.” And I quickly forget about Jax, for real. Clark BRINGS IT on this song. He found emotion; it was dynamic; it stopped you in your tracks. Mmmm Clarky, you’ve had a rough time recently, but that was damn near perfection.
Nick takes the stage, and his first number is “Bright Lights,” which was the moment a couple weeks back when Nick—and viewers—realized he could maybe win this thing. You know what Nick looks like tonight? He looks like a solo artist, not someone melting into the support of his band. He’s really figured it all out in the past few weeks! (And to the stylists who fixed his hair and actually started parting it to the side rather than slicking it straight back, a sincere thank you from America.) So we’re gonna miss Jax tonight, but we’re gonna get a fight, it seems.
Wow, round 1. Clark was good, but Nick was stellar. Onto the next! (J.Lo can’t pick, calls it a tie. She is obviously ridiculed for this.)
The songs for round 2 are Idol creator Simon Fuller’s picks. And for Clark, he’s selected “Ain’t No Sunshine,” a no-brainer. Subtle, sultry, fantastic vocal. But after Nick just brought the entire house down, I’m not sure it’s enough for Clark. I will absolutely buy and listen to this track forever and ever, but I am 100 years old and the bulk of the people voting for this show are not. I’m not sure Bill Withers is what they’re after. That said, Clarky gets so emotional that J.Lo asks “Who is she?! Who were you singing to right now?” The precious baby blushes and doesn’t say anything. Sigh.
For Nick, Fuller has selected Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” which runs the risk of being a total snooze fest. But Nick looks great behind the piano—something we haven’t seen before—and it’s nice to hear a softer song after the power of his earlier performance. His voice really is quite flawless. He’s not the most artistic contestant we’ve ever had, but he’s an easier sell to pop music. I’d buy his album. And so would my dad. And that’s success.
Round 2, Harry calls it a tie—but quickly goes on to say it’s a tie because Nick won the first round and Clark won the second, so it’s all just simple math. You know Harry, he’s a genius.
For the third round, Nick and Clark will perform the reliably horrible and lame original songs, which will serve as the first single for the winner. Clark’s tune, “Champion,” is predictably inspirational and has a driving beat. It’s fine, but it sounds nothing like what we’ve come to know about Clark. God, I hate these songs. EVERY YEAR. Vocally, it’s good. Will I buy this? No. (Sorry, Clark.)
Nick’s potential first single is a tune titled “Beautiful Life.” It’s also inspirational, it’s also filled with gratitude, and is equally cheesy. But, I hate it way less than I hated “Champion.” This is a song that would accidentally grow on me, and I would find myself listening to it and then be embarrassed but then keep listening to it. What is happening? Is Nick going to win this competition? I think he might. His vocal isn’t flawless, but the performance is way more engaging and charismatic. (Remember how dull he was at the beginning of the season? GROWTH.)
Man, this was not the way I thought the evening was going to go, and I have to say, I’m eager to see what happens tomorrow. Keith says he’s leaning into Nick’s camp by a narrow margin, and I’m with him. Team Nick, you guys.
Actually, team Ricky Martin, who will be performing on tomorrow’s finale. What a weird show! Until tomorrow.
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.