And Then There Were the Last Three

Last week we saw Scott Borchetta give the Idolists a taste of the real music world that one of them is going to join next week. With that in mind, my musings about the performances tonight were highly influenced by my own experience[1] as to who has what it will take to compete in that real world. And that means I need to talk about My Girl Jax right away.

You may have noticed she was not in the Ford commercial shoot tonight. The illness that she had on last week’s show got worse such that she was fighting severe vocal problems that necessitated complete voice rest after the hometown visits. With three big rock songs to sing, I honestly didn’t see how she was going to be able to prepare for the week and compete effectively.

To her credit, she did compete and without a word from her or the judges about her situation[2]. I know her final performance was compromised, as I can’t imagine that she would turn a big, punky Paramore rock song into something so subdued and lifeless. Likewise, I’m wondering if her restrained (and utterly brilliant) arrangement of her second song, Evanescence’s My Immortal, was due to having to dial back her vocals to get through three songs.

My point here isn’t to apologize for My Girl Jax but to point out this is the kind of professionalism it takes to make it in the real world where people buy tickets and expect to see you perform. I think it’s great she didn’t use her illness and lack of preparation as an excuse.

Before I get to the grades, I need to say how much I love the hometown visits each year.

OK, with my one-time-per-year expression of sentiment out of the way, here are tonight’s grades with a promise to follow-up with a second blog that looks ahead to The Finale.

Round 1: Scott Borchetta’s Picks

Rayvon Jason Derulo Want to Want Me – Good choice to try to make him sound current but this had none of Derulo’s fire or sexy energy. I’m tired of Rayvon’s gratuitous falsetto runs that exchange real emotion for false excitement. And I’m tired of his constant “heys” that sound so cruise-shippy. C+

Clark U2 Beautiful Day – Clark wanted to be challenged to go outside his comfort zone and he wasn’t up to this challenge. He’s so not an arena-rock singer. When K-Urbs said he can see Clark “counting steps” when he sings, that’s his version of my “paint-by-numbers” expression of Clark’s style. C+

Nick Springsteen Here Comes the Night – He didn’t really connect with the lyrics and I just didn’t see anything I’d pay to see. B-

My Girl Jax The Who My Generation – I LOVED this!!! It’s not really a song for evaluating vocals. It’s a song that sells a message or point of view. And it’s a song that’s meant to be seen and not heard. Great song choice and she really sold the performance which is the point of this song. A-

Round 2 Hometown Dedications

Nick Andy Grammar Back Home – Pleasant, solid, but nothing noteworthy. And I hate this song. B

Clark Otis Redding Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay – So last week he smiles his way through a song on racism. This week he smiles his way through a wistful lament on loneliness. For a guy who so wants to be a soul singer, he has no clue about the soul of the very songs he’s singing. DF

Rayvon Stevie Wonder As – Easily his best performance all year. Perfect song choice. I still can do without the constant “heys.” A-

My Girl Jax Evanescence[3] My Immortal – Wow. That was a moment. You have no idea how rare it is to bring an audience to that level of silence. J-Lo was spot on about how simultaneously confident and humble it was to keep that song – which gets BIG – small and quiet. This is what live performing is all about. A+

Round 3: Judges’ Picks

Clark The Weeknd Earned It – The intensity that finally came at the end couldn’t save the lack of intensity through the rest of the song. Once again, does he know what he’s singing about? It was as if he thought 50 Shades of Grey was about one of his paint-by-numbers kits. D

Rayvon Joe Cocker You Are So Beautiful – Like HCJ, I loved the re-harmonized arrangement right off the bat. And his voice is lovely. But this reminded me of a Johnny Mathis song from the 50s or 60s, which if my math is right is about 50 years from sounding current. B+

My Girl Jax Paramore[4] Misery Business – Sadly, this was an apt name for this performance. I already commented above on her vocal problems last week. This had the feel of a homework assignment slapped together at the last minute so you wouldn’t get an automatic failing grade. D

Nick Edwin McCain I’ll Be – Like last week, Nick gets the Glory Spot so somebody likes him a lot. Perfect song for him. I could totally hear that on the radio and see him singing that live. His best performance ever. A+

I’ll have more to say about next Tuesday’s Finale (which I won’t be seeing live but still plan to report on through the magic of DVR) in another blog[5]. I will say that I would have put Rayvon in The Finale instead of Clark. My Girl Jax is a no-brainer. And for me, Nick’s continual improvement earned him his place.

Until then, I hope you get to enjoy some good music. I know I will. And speaking of which, Adam Lambert’s exceptional video of his new single Ghost Town, hit a million views on YouTube. #MyBoy


[1] Said experience gained by spending the approximate GNP of a small country on music both recorded and live.

[2] The judges didn’t seem to know.

[3] Featuring My Girl Amy Lee whose charisma and voice melts me.

[4] Featuring My Girl Hayley Williams who is one of the most charismatic performers I’ve ever seen and who I’ll be seeing again (5th time? 6th?) on Monday night.

[5] I will see the Wednesday results show and hoopla live, however.

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