The remaining contestants travel back in time to re-perform their audition songs.

By Keertana Sastry
March 20, 2015 at 06:41 PM EDT
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The big news is here! These are your top 12 folks! I’m taking the Idol recapping reins for the week from the always brilliant Stephanie Schomer, but her presence will be felt tonight because, well, I basically agree with all of her opinions. Also, let’s put this out in the open now. I’m still a tad bitter about losing Trevor Douglas last week. Good to go? Great, let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

Wednesday night’s latest installment was almost as much an advertisement for Empire as it was an American Idol. Have you guys figured it out by now that next week is Empire’s finale? No? Well let Ryan Seacrest and every single possible commercial enlighten you. But somehow in between Empire promos, we did get the names of our beloved Top 12 and no disrespect voters, but I’m a little iffy on a select few of these choices. 

The first slot filled belongs to the solid Sarina-Joi Crowe, one of the only women who could even call what they did on Motown night an impressive performance (because seriously, the girls really needed to step it up last week). Wednesday night’s theme was all about the contestants re-singing their auditions songs, so Sarina-Joi had the task of impressing voters and judges with the difficult One Republic song “Til the Love Runs Out,” and aside from some pitch issues sprinkled throughout the performance, she definitely showed off her vocal range and growth. The judges definitely agre,e and the first of the top 12 is born. 

Next up is the wonderful and supremely talented Rayvon Owen. Much like Stephanie, I am quite the Rayvon fan and damn does he impress tonight with his rendition of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.” The judges say he was “exponentially better” toward the end of the performance, which I guess implies that they thought he was pitchy throughout, but I do not agree. The nerves and/or excitement of having his name called to the Top 12 definitely showed in the first few seconds but then Rayvon soared like a damn eagle. If your regular recapper is right, and Clark Beckham is the frontrunner, Rayvon could inch his way up to that level with a little more practice. 

We take a short break to be re-introduced to Scott Borchetta, who could soon hold the American Idol winner’s future in his hands like a tiny bird. But at least he gets a cool recommendation from Idol-proclaimed “Rock God” himself Steven Tyler. 

The third slot goes to Daniel Seavey and seriously guys, I just don’t get it. I can’t understand why the 15-year-old is this far into the competition because he could easily have done with at least another year of finding his sound. He’s just not ready yet for the giant Idol stage, and it honestly seems unfair to put him up there now when he could have killed it if he just came back the following season. His rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” was straight up awkward. Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban try to coddle Daniel a bit by saying the right song choice would really make him shine, but shouldn’t the American Idol know how to shine with even a wrong song choice? Isn’t that kind of the point? To make any song your own? Harry Connick Jr. said it best: “You’re young and inexperienced… and your inexperience is really showing.” Truer words have never been spoken my friends. 

Maddie Walker nabs the fourth spot, the resident country girl on the list. Although I may not be a huge Maddie fan, I have to admit her vocals are impressive, if not a bit Miranda Lambert-y. The dip-dyed hair is really fun. Can’t get enough of that. She handles “Suitcase” by Gwen Sebastian quite well, but it’s a bit standard fare. I want to see Maddie really excel at a challenge. 

Tyanna Jones takes the next spot and performs Little Mix’s “Wings” with all the stage presence of pretty much most of the other contestants combined. The judges eat that up but forget to mention that she needs to tighten up her vocals some more at the beginning. Picking Tyanna for a top 12 spot is definitely a right choice, but she needs to bring a little more oomph to the music, not just the performance. I swear I say this all out of love. 

NEXT: Clark Beckham—stop being perfect.

Rounding out the first half of the list is Nick Fradini who selects a classic “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. Unlike J.Lo, I actually don’t hate the song choice, but he doesn’t completely do it justice. I don’t disagree that Nick is talented, but I’ve always felt that he’s one of those Idol contestants who sticks around because he fills a “cute guy with a guitar” quota. Let’s hope his wow moment happens very soon.

The seventh spot belongs to Jax, who performs a beautifully stripped down version of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” from behind a piano… And then almost ruins it by jumping up and taking the tempo up for the more typical rendition of the last half of the song. Again Harry’s right here: “I don’t think you needed the band at all.” She should have stayed behind that piano and let the ballad version of that song properly affect the audience and viewers—because she sounded way better back there than up in front with just a mic. 

Number 8, come down Qaasim! You’re the next top 12 contestant! Thank goodness for him. Because seriously things were getting a bit boring on that Idol stage until he hopped up and took on Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” complete with great choreography and vocals. The judges agreed that even though he was a tad pitchy at the beginning (sensing a theme here), no one really cared because he brought down the house with his charisma. 

Unsurprisingly Clark Beckham nabs a spot on the list and performs his audition song: James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Both during his audition and now I had the same reaction: GET IT. Wow. Just wow. J.Lo had it right on the money: This was the vocal of the night. And honestly, the performance wasn’t far behind. This kid could easily win it all. 

Slot number 10 goes to Joey Cook, and I’m genuinely pleased by this. I know some people have been feeling a bit annoyed by Joey the last few weeks, but I can’t help myself. I love her. I love her weirdness. I love her energy. And I love how much of her heart she puts in the songs. She is the most original contestant in the Top 12 and as it always happens with the most original contestants, sometimes she doesn’t rise to the occasion. But with her re-performance of “King of Spain” by Tallest Man On Earth, I was impressed once again. She deserves to stick around a little longer. 

The judges’ wildcard picks begin with Quentin Alexander who sang Lorde’s “Royals.” There’s really nothing I can add here that the judges didn’t already say themselves. J.Lo praised Quentin’s emotion and Harry stated that Quentin was clearly “deeply in touch with [his] artistry” and because of this, the pitch problems didn’t matter. Keith Urban basically said Quentin took him to church by bringing some spiritualism to the song. Yea. That about sums it up. 

And finally the judges send through Adanna Duru who sang “You and I” by Lady Gaga. Guys, I just can’t with this one. I don’t know if Adanna just couldn’t connect with this song (even though it was her audition song) or if she knew she couldn’t do it justice. Because other than playing up some sex appeal (which kind of creeped me out though this might be an unpopular opinion), she really faltered here. Harry Connick—the shining light of the judges’ table as we all know—once again brought his critiquing A-game by forcefully telling Adanna, “You have to find a way to channel that musical energy in a place for vocals because it was really out of tune.”

Sadly we said goodbye to Mark Andrew, Adam Ezegelian, Loren Lott, and Alexis Gomez. Time to shape up top 12, because any number of you (aside from Clark Beckham, natch) could go home tomorrow. Though “Straight Up,” I think we all know who it will be in the end. Oh, and don’t forget, Empire is all new. Like Idol would ever let you. 

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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