When America is left in charge of choosing the songs, some of the Idol Top 6 pay the price
It’s Top 6 night on American Idol. It doesn’t feel like Top 6 night, does it? That’s partly because we have been SLINGSHOT forward this season, nixing two to four contestants a week for the past month, but also because the race feels a little disjointed. From my perspective, we have a clear leading two, two who are beginning to fade, and two who are desperately trying to rise from the ashes. No matter how you look at it, it’s Top 6 night. It’s also St. Patrick’s Day, and in honor of it, let’s make an American Idol drinking game, shall we?
Arguably one of the most versatile Idols of all time has returned. That’s right — we kick tonight off with Adam Lambert performing “Mad World” because God and St. Patrick and Ryan Seacrest are good. Also Yazz and Jussie Smollet are here from Empire because cross-promotion is real and resourceful. But the actual contestants will be singing songs of our choosing.
Trent Harmon, “Counting Stars”
Round 1 Rank: Second
GOOD JOB, AMERICA. This is what happens when we give someone like Trent a song he would actually sing in the real world. One Republic gives him an opportunity to show off his vibrato and pop-rock side. But that’s not particularly how the judges felt. For the judges, they felt like it wasn’t Trent’s wheelhouse and that he should be singing other songs. Judges, you’re crazy. Regardless, this was a fun departure, but for round two, Trent needs to go back to basics.
Dalton Rapattoni, “Numb”
Round 1 Rank: Fifth
I bet you guys forgot that Linkin Park was even a thing, didn’t you? I know I did, but the selection feels a lot closer to Dalton’s genre than last week’s “Eleanor Rigby” did. But the issue is, if “Counting Stars” was too slow for Trent, then “Numb” was entirely too slow for Dalton. It kind of feels like Dalton has stopped really diving into a song because he knows he’s been a favorite from the beginning.
La’Porsha Renae, “Ready for Love”
Round 1 Rank: First
I’m pretty pumped to see that the string quartet/fog combo is going to be a permanent fixture this season — almost as happy as I am to see La’Porsha have an opportunity to get back to the music, the runs, and the lyrics after last week’s Beatles attitude-anthem. La’Porsha’s take on the song seems a bit sad and reflective, in a reserved way that the song isn’t usually sang in. It works fantastically with La’Porsha’s voice, continuing to elevate her above the rest.
NEXT: You can’t beat Frozen
Yazz and Jussie Smollet
Sometimes I forget how dramatic Empire is. Yazz and Jussie Smollet take on what is sure to be another hit for the show, but I get entirely too distracted watching Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. pretend that they know what’s going on. Actually, that’s not fair to say. Keith might have known what was going on. Harry, however, was definitely lost.
MacKenzie Bourg, “Wild World”
Round 1 Rank: Fourth
Because we’re blessed, we are given the strongest confirmed top 4 that we had available to us. MacKenzie locks in his spot in the final five, and in return, America gives him Cat Steven’s “Wild World.” It’s a mostly good song for MacKenzie, but it doesn’t give him much of an opportunity to show off his quirkiness, and at times it feels like he’s reaching too far to hit the needed notes. Unless Sonika or Tristan CRUSH IT tonight, he should be fine for a final four finish.
Also, sidenote: Do you really believe that America chose an India Arie or Cat Stevens song? Like, honestly.
Sonika Vaid, “Let It Go”
Round 1 Rank: Third
Lord. Sonika could’ve chosen “Clarity,” but instead opted for “Let It Go.” It makes me nervous for her, but she’s ready. Do you know why? Because she’s rocking some Carrie-Underwood-Alone hair. But even beyond her giant hair, Sonika’s vocal ability can handle Frozen. Even at moments when Sonika starts to fall off, her faults are eclipsed when the song speeds up and she power walks to the center of the stage. As the song ends, it’s clear who the winner is. Was every note perfect? No. But the thing is, Sonika proved exactly why she deserves that top five spot over Tristan.
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Tristan McIntosh, “Independence Day”
I literally screamed because my mother’s intuition told me she would choose this song this week. Vaguely political, mature content, embedded in the mid-’90s: CLASSIC TRISTAN. But she sits behind the piano and does it way more justice than I anticipated she would. With that being said, it is absolutely not Carrie or Martina. Tristan is going to be so good in six years because, I repeat with handclap emojis, Tristan. Is. Good. Just not ready for this competition. This should be her goodbye song.
So there it is. The end of Tristan McIntosh on American Idol. Production fought hard for our girl, but at the end, she couldn’t hold her own. With that being said, I think that leaves a pretty respectable top five, and fortunately, the night is hardly over. They all will sing again.
NEXT: Adam Lambert reminds us why he should’ve won
Dalton Rapattoni, “The Sound of Silence”
Round 2 Rank: Fourth
Dalton going criss-cross-applesauce for the beginning of Simon and Garfunkel makes so much sense to me for some reason, but even better than his seating choice is this performance as a whole — this is the Dalton that we voted for, like, four weeks ago. There’s something special in the delivery of the song, like he actually believes in the words he’s singing. He’s been missing, but this performance is just perfectly Dalton. If Dalton wants a chance to contend, he has to keep these kind of performances up.
Remember when Adam Lambert got second place on his season of American Idol, and the world screamed in disapproval because something in the voting world had gone terribly, terribly wrong? Well, that moment doesn’t matter anymore because his new song “Welcome to the Show,” featuring Laleh, is just wonderful. As my friend Alison said tonight, “I can already hear that song dance remixed and on in a cab while I’m drunk on a Saturday night.” Alison couldn’t be more right.
MacKenzie Bourg, “Billie Jean”
Round 2 Rank: Third
Let’s be honest. Round one worked out for pretty much La’Porsha and Sonika and then no one else. But round two is quite the turnaround for the finalists. TV Boyfriend MacKenzie Bourg’s super trendy singer/songwriter take on Michael Jackson’s show stopper is exactly what MacKenzie needed, and dare I say, it is his strongest performance of the season. I’ve wanted to be in love with MacKenzie’s vocals as much as I love his little tiny appearance, and this performance [finally] allows me to do that.
NEXT: Everyone cries over a simple man
Trent Harmon, “Simple Man”
Round 2 Rank: First (Tie)
I made a terrible noise when I saw Trent was going to sing “Simple Man” because it could go one direction or the other. Fortunately for Trent, the stripped down version with a mini choir (?!?) worked out really well for him. But while the arrangement is strong and the choir is fun and his jeans are ABSURDLY tight, the best parts of that performance are the select moments that Trent chooses to show off the strength of his voice. He even makes Jennifer Lopez cry, and for the first time this season, her goosies feel sincere.
Sonika Vaid, “Clarity”
Round 2 Rank: Fifth
If you’re asking, “Is that Sonika Vaid on my screen in a pleather jumper and gold headband?” then the answer is yes. I don’t know if I’ve been buying into her too much, but Sonika has chosen the exact right time to come alive in this competition. I’m not entirely sure that it’s alive enough to make it past next week, but it’s alive nonetheless. In one of the ruder moments of the night, Harry said it was nice to hear Sonika talk because he never really met her outside of audition day. Little harsh, bro.
La’Porsha Renae, “No More Drama”
Round 2 Rank: First (Tie)
Mary J. Blige’s shoes are gigantic shoes to fill, but if anyone left on Idol this season could fill them, it’s La’Porsha. Sporting a power blazer and a muted head scarf, she does a decent first half of Mary’s classic. But it’s the second half of the song that La’Porsha comes ALIVE. Jennifer is crying. La’Porsha is crying. I’m screaming at my neighbors that I don’t need no more drama in my life. It’s a lot across the board. La’Porsha walked a perfect line tonight, channeling an absurd amount of emotion into a showstopping performance.
And that’s the end. Tristan is gone. Sonika is in pleather. La’Porsha has moved on to shimmery, yet empowering, blazers. So tell me what you think. Who’s our top four next week, and who needs to go home? And is there anyone out there who thinks that it wasn’t Tristan’s time to go? Hit the comments or shoot me a tweet @justinkirkland4. In the meantime, we’ll wait patiently for next week’s Sia-week, which is sure to be magical.