Posted tagged ‘Jax’

Jax Funny EP – My Musings

February 1, 2017

jaxTwo years ago, 18 year-old Jax was the most charismatic, captivating and capable Idolist in Idol’s penultimate season, and on her way to a third place finish – a result two places lower than it should have been.

And not long after that, she was an 19 year-old with 12 cancerous tumors on her thyroid.

Now, Jax is a 20 year-old with successful surgery to remove her thyroid behind her and more importantly, a very enjoyable six-song EP Funny that dropped on Friday.

Your friendly neighborhood Muser is here to report that the qualities that made Jax such a compelling Idolist are on full display in Funny with the added advantage of hearing those qualities through original work rather than Idol’s enhanced karaoke.[1] Funny has:

  • Beats: the tropical, EDM-ish Kickin’ & Screamin’
  • Bounce: Sleep Like a Baby which wittily begins with Brahms’ Lullaby
  • Ballads: the inspirational-overcome-your-adversity Stars and the dark L.S.D.
  • Brash: the big, angry kiss-off song Wrong Girl which gets an assist from the surgery which left her already distinctive voice with a slight, yet appealing rasp
  • [couldn’t find an appropriate B word] Funny which mischievously focuses on “f-u” as she spells f-u-n-n-y.

One of the things I always worry about when I hear the Idolists talk about their post-Idol projects – most of which don’t come to fruition in any meaningful way – is their desire to write their own music. While Funny doesn’t break any new ground musically, it does have a radio-friendly credibility. Beyond that, Jax does two things well at this point: she puts her distinctive voice and singing style front and center; and she’s a very clever – yes, funny – lyricist.

I was a Jax fan from her first moments on Idol. She has a style all her own – vocally, personality, fashion and looks. Her fans were able to get Funny to chart in the top ten on iTunes[2]. She should be proud of this debut release. It’s a solid foundation upon which hopefully she can build an increasingly successful career.

And I’m so hoping she’ll play a show somewhere in the D.C. area. If I’m in town, I’ll be there.

P.S. At the risk of taking anything away from Funny, I feel compelled to include this link to her featured vocals on a dance track by Askery that I ABSOLUTELY love:


[1] Which Jax took some clever shots at in her video ­La-La Land released in January 2016

[2] Must have been cool for her to see her name on the same screen as Beyonce and Bruno Mars.


Nick Fradiani and His Label Go Separate Ways

January 24, 2017

It’s the real reality of reality singing shows for Idol’s penultimate winner Nick Fradiani who has parted ways with his (and Idol’s) label Big Machine Records. Rather than the usual “mutual” parting – a music business alternative fact – both parties have described the break-up as amicable and necessary.

This is a very different situation than what happens to winners of The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing who frequently get dropped by the show’s label Republic Records before they even release an album. As opposed to Republic, Big Machine’s head Scott Borchetta was an active presence on Idol: mentoring, shaping, critiquing and generally preparing the Idolists for the real competition that happens after the show against people like Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Adele and Big Machine’s own Taylor Swift.

Furthermore, Nick did release an album Hurricane in August 2016. Unfortunately, Hurricane sold a mere 5,000 copies which clearly endangered his future prospects with Big Machine. Nick’s release suffered from two problems. First, he just wasn’t that good which I mused about quite frequently[1]. Rather than requote myself, here’s a review from Newsday:

The problem is what happens after the show is over. Like several winners from “Idol” and “The Voice,” Fradiani needs the infrastructure of a network TV show to help sell the songs from his debut album “Hurricane” (Big Machine) because his voice just isn’t distinctive enough generally to get it done on its own[2].

Second, Big Machine seems to have realized how difficult marketing pop acts is as they have dropped all of the pop artists from their roster except for Taylor Swift to focus on their country acts. A hyper-competitive market and a non-competitive product spells disaster in any industry. 5,000 copies sold by a major label is, frankly, embarrassing.

So now we – and by we, I mean me – wait to see how well Scott and his Big Machine do with the final Idolists Trent Harmon and The Peerless La’Porsha Renae. Trent remains associated with the label as they work on an album for the country market (good luck with that). And the final runner-up The Peerless La’Porsha stays on as part of a Big Machine/Motown joint label project.

AND . . . Jax (see footnote #1) has been spent her post-Idol time persistently building a loyal fan base and public relations, and has an EP coming out on Friday that’s been getting quite a bit of buzz in early reviews.

I’ll be looking to see if any of the three can redeem the promise that the reality shows once held. Stay tuned.


[1] Not only should Jax have been the winner over Nick and runner-up Clark Beckham, I remain committed to my belief that Scott wanted her to win.


Jax’s New Single Is a Revealing Look Back at Her “Real” Idol Experience

January 12, 2016

Attention Clay Aiken! If you want to throw ex-Idolist shade, you don’t have to go on a vitriolic internet rant. Just write a snarky song and shoot an equally snarky video like My Girl Jax.

Last Tuesday – on the same day as the Idol premiere, i.e. things that make you go hmmm – My Girl Jax from last season dropped her independently released single and accompanying video La La Land, a provocative look into her real feelings about her unreal Idol experience. The song itself is catchy, clever and quirky which were the qualities that made Jax my, and Idol’s record label mogul Scott Borchetta’s favorite last year.

But the song also throws some serious shade at the show with snarky lyrics such as:

“Pretend that you’re dating/ It’s good for the ratings”

“We need more energy / We need more ratings / Dance for the camera / America’s waiting” 

The video, which includes a number of her ex-Idolist friends, goes steps further, showing her micromanagement by The Evil Genius Producers; the ubiquitous swaybots in front of the stage; and being summarily dismissed at the opening of the Finale without even being given the opportunity to say goodbye to her fans, the judges and her Idol friends.

Jax says her intent was not to disrespect the show. She issued a statement that said in part:

“I don’t want people to think I’m not grateful for the experience. I love all of it and it was the platform of a lifetime and it opened up all these doors for me. It gave me the opportunity to be a household name in the country and that’s huge. I can’t walk anywhere now without being recognized. But at the same time it’s not as glamorous as it looks. People don’t know. There are things I’m sometimes bitter about, about the way things were handled . . . I was going through a lot and I needed to collect my thoughts and write it all out on paper.”

The song charted on iTunes for a brief period after its release. More importantly, she generated a flurry of publicity for herself in places like Billboard, Yahoo Music, and the major (and, ahem, minor) Idol blogs.

You can watch the video here. And Clay – give it look. It’s a much more creative way to voice your displeasure than being an angry internet troll.

Champion Chickens, Miss Alaska and One Killer Audition

January 7, 2016

Just when I was close to overdosing on the “Really, Anybody Can Be the Next American Idol and We Really Mean It” theme – even a girl who raises Grand Champion Chickens with big breasts (uh, I’m referring to the chickens) – the Evil Genius Producers wisely changed gears to show us – and by “us” I mean me – that the LWAI[1] might be somebody with real talent. I gave stars to six contestants tonight and one of them got three stars and is very, very serious My Girl potential.

L’Porsha Renae – Sang Creep while J-Lo held her baby. Killer tone, and straight butter vocal runs.

Trent Harmon – He’s a country boy who lives on a farm in Northern Mississippi that sang like he only gets one radio station – an R&B station from Memphis. Like J-Lo, I was dumbfounded by his sweet, gritsy, quiet storm R&B vocals.

Olivia Rox – I hated her sleepy arrangement of Bruno Mars When I Was Your Man but I liked her voice and sparkly personality.

Malie Delgado – Miss Alaska. She’s just plain cool. I want to be her friend. And if the singing thing doesn’t work out, she’ll be great at her radio DJ job.

Brandyn Burnette – The girls/ladies will like his Bruno Mars-ish eyes and smile. I liked him singing his original song. A lot.

Drum roll please . . . . . .


[pause. I need a few more hits of oxygen]

15 years old? Seriously??? AMAZING POISE. FABULOUS audition. STUNNING presence. GORGEOUS.

We’ll just call her my early favorite – subject to change as always.

Given the level of talent we saw tonight, I am eagerly anticipating who is going to be in the already decided Top 24 (or whatever the final cut number from Hollywood turns out to be). I’m especially curious if there will be a particular theme. In response to Ryan’s question last night, “What are we looking for this year?” to record mogul Scott Borchetta who will produce the LWAI’s album, Scott replied, “We don’t need cookie cutter anything. We need the new thing.”

I firmly believe that last year Scott wanted that new thing to be My Girl Jax but the voters didn’t cooperate. So I’m wondering if he and The Evil Genius Producers will conspire to provide the voters with a talented but non-traditional field. We have a long way to go to find out but I’m encouraged by what I saw tonight.

See you next week. In the meantime, listen to some good music. I know I will. Last night it was all three Adam Lambert albums (deluxe versions including the U.K. release with songs not on the U.S. deluxe version) from start to finish. 🙂


[1] Last Winner of American Idol

Anybody In America Can Win

January 6, 2016

In the premiere of The Final Season of American Idol (FSAI for short), the Evil Genius Producers went overboard reminding us that anybody – literally anybody – could be the next American Idol. To that end, we were inundated with, uh, Americans of every demographic. We had Indian-Americans, Police-Americans, Off-the-Grid-Americans, overweight[1]-Americans, over-sharing-yodeling-Americans, new-parent-Americans, hairdresser-Americans, arguing-husband-and-wife-Americans – and a very small demographic – world-famous-rapper-with-famous-gazillionaire-wife-Americans. Unfortunately no militia-Americans were available during the months of auditions. Can any of these Americans become The Last Winner of American Idol (LWAI for short)?

Well, I really liked that last guy, the rapper from Chicago. But America will never vote for him. I wish him well, though. Maybe something will work out for him.

I had two favorites tonight. Sonika was the cute Indian-American girl with a lovely soft voice. Not a lot of stage presence, though, or provocative personality. But who am I to argue with Carrie Underwood who tweeted that Sonika may be her favorite to win already[2]. I also liked Shelbie Z, the hairdresser with a cool name and sassy attitude. And I’ll give a little nod to Lindita the personal trainer who’s got a lot of soul in her voice but way too much Christina Aguilera-on-steroids with the vocal runs.

Having said that, none of them are of the OMG I think they can win variety. I recall too many knock-my-socks-off auditions like Chris Daughtry’s and Adam Lambert’s both of whom did eventually go on to win.

Uh, what? Really? They didn’t? Well, how the %$^# did that NOT happen?

OK, how about My Girl Jax’s audition last year? Or Should Have Been My Girl Brandy Neelly a few years ago[3]. These, likewise, were examples of this-person-can-win auditions more so than Sonika or Shelbie Z. But it’s early and I am quite willing to change my mind when they get to Hollywood.

As to Kanye’s appearance – yes, it was superfluous and gratuitous and unnecessary – and way out of context. Golden Tickets, acceptance and rejection, and tug at your heart backstories[4] are what Idol’s auditions have always been about. Sure, a little – and I do mean a little Harry! – hijinx with the judges is alright. But the reason for the show’s success in putting Idolists into successful music careers is that the focus was always on the contestants. Not the judges. And certainly not on celebrities who have zero connection to the show; or on Ryan’s friendship with Kim Kardashian. I’m fine with Kanye. I just would have preferred a killer audition to end the show – someone who would have left me with the feeling that this person can be the LWAI.

I’m so happy to be musing again. 🙂 See you tomorrow!

P.S. For some reason, Clay Aiken felt the need to go on a Twitter rant against Idol. I understand and am OK with people who want to hate Idol. But I don’t understand and am not OK with someone hating Idol when the show made you, dude. Seriously, what’s your deal?


[1] Not throwing shade. He called himself that.

[2] Carrie, please don’t do anything to, say, the headlights, seats or tires of my car.

[3] It’s the last season of Idol blogs. Prepare yourselves to hear the names of Adam and Brandy early and often.

[4] They did a great job tonight with flashbacks of some of the memorable backstories including Kellie Pickler’s.

A Future Deal for Jax?

May 25, 2015

In my last blog, I urged caution against predicting a recording deal for My Girl Jax given how infrequently that happens for 3rd place Idolists. However, events of the past two weeks seem to indicate that I may have been over-cautious with my caution.

With the kinds of typical things Idol winners have to do out of the gate – in-studio radio station and media interviews and the annual appearance at the National Memorial Day Concert – Nick hasn’t required much hands-on attention from his label boss Scott Borchetta, yet. This may explain why Scott has spent some time promoting somebody not even on his label – Jax.

The Promotion of Jax began with this tweet prior to the Idol Finale:

Hate that Jax

And it continued several days afterwards with this tweet:


But the pace really picked up over Memorial Day weekend at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway where My Girl sang the national anthem for a pre-Indy 500 race and hung around for all kinds of photo ops accompanied by Scott Borchetta.

Scott Reba Jax

Jax SchonThe picture on the left is My Girl with Scott and Reba who is on Scott’s label. The picture on the right is with Journey guitar player Neal Schon and Scott’s brother Mark who, uh, happens to run a big sports and entertainment marketing firm in LA. [1]

And finally, there was this tweet from Friday:

How much

These are just a sampling of Borchetta’s tweets and re-tweets of his goings-on with Jax, one of which included a comment from a national concert promoter inquiring if Borchetta has signed Jax because, if so, he’d like to do an event. The point of all this is why would the head of a label spend so much time with an artist who isn’t actually on his label? And before you say, “to keep her from signing somewhere else”, she can’t. Scott has the rights to sign any of the Idolists from this season.

Jax and SBJax, whenever asked by The Jax Pack if she’s going to get a contract, has been coyly vague with non-responses of the “who knows what the future holds” variety, or politically correct responses such as, “he’s busy promoting Nick”, i.e. the kinds of answers you give when you know something’s up that you have to keep on the down low.

As an aside, Borchetta has only mentioned runner-up Clark Beckham once since the Idol Finale in a reminder to download each of the three coronation singles.

I believe that Jax was Scott’s favorite Idolist and that he wanted her to win. And while I am doing a lot of reading into all of the Twitter traffic, it seems reasonable to believe that this activity is indicative of Borchetta having a strong interest in Jax – interest that could result in Big Machine Records signing Jax to a recording contract. What other outcome could there be if Scott Borchetta is spending so much personal time promoting her?

Here’s hoping it’s so.


[1] Along with Neal’s girlfriend Michaele Salahi who, along with her then husband Tareq, crashed a White House State Dinner and were involved in a number of legendary controversies in the D.C. area. She was also on The Real Housewives of D.C.

Whither a Deal for Jax?

May 15, 2015

jax-idol-inlineEven though I loved My Girl Jax as much as any Idol contestant not named Adam Lambert, history tells me to be guarded in terms of predicting any post-Idol career success. As wonderful as we think our favorites on any of the reality shows are, we have to bear in mind that we’re seeing a limited and unreal perspective.

Now that the show is over, Jax is no longer in a lineup that includes Daniel Seavy, My Boy Quentin or even Rayvon. How good would any of them look if they had to sing each week against Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jason Derulo, Ellie Goulding, et cetera? That’s the world our Idolists are in now.

I wrote about post-Idol sales back in 2011. The conclusions (updated through May 2015) that are still relevant from that (wonderful and insightful) piece are:

People buy who they vote for. Of the nearly 65 million albums sold by Idol alumni, winners have sold 41 million and runner-ups have sold 10 million. So, almost 80% of the albums sold by Idolists were sold by people who made the last show! You want a chance for a hit record? Get to the Idol Finale.

People don’t buy who they don’t vote for. This is a painful corollary of the above. Only one out of every five albums by Idolists was sold by those finishing 3rd or worse. And almost half of those belong to Daughtry (7 million). Basically, not finishing first or second makes life in the business – and by the business, I mean the industry – very, very difficult. Don’t make the Finale – don’t expect to sell much is the reality of Idol history.

Of course, everybody knows by now that winning doesn’t guarantee a hit record and some Idol “losers” have done spectacularly well.[1]

So what does this mean specifically for people who finish third? Glad you asked.

First, let’s bear in mind that the past two runners-up – Jena Irene and Kree Harrison – did not even get record deals[2]. Second, only seven of the previous thirteen 3rd place finishers got record deals[3] and only three of those on major labels[4] – Danny Gokey (S8), Casey James (S9) and Haley Reinhart (S10). Danny and Casey likely benefitted from being associated with the male country music boom.

In terms of sales, the history is rather bleak for third placers. They’ve only sold 1.3m albums and 700k of those were by Elliott Yamin (S5). Even with major label support, Casey and Haley only managed to sell 80k and 60K albums, respectively.

If I – and now you – know all of this – then you know that Scott Borchetta and every record label’s A&R department knows all of this, too. Which is why I say that history is not on the side of My Girl Jax. Her mission is not impossible. Obviously, Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson have managed nice little careers after being ousted before The Finale. Mandisa (S5, 9th place) has carved out a successful niche in Christian music and Danny Gokey is now trying to do the same.

I’m rooting for her to shake up Idol’s history the way she shook up the viewers each week. She was one of the show’s most compelling contestants ever. Let’s hope somebody with a recording contract thought so, too.[5]


[1] I’m not even going to mention Adam Lambert like you expect me to. Oh, I just did.

[2] Which may not bode well for Clark.

[3] Even the talented and striking Angie Miller (3rd place, S12) hasn’t scored a record deal.

[4] Kimberley Locke (S2), Jasmine Trias (S3), Elliott Yamin (S5), and Melinda Doolittle (S6) had releases on independent labels.

[5] This blog was inspired by Musings-follower Scott Thomas who recently put his Jax-love out on Facebook.

We Have a Winner (so to speak)

May 13, 2015

Despite having my heart ripped straight out of my chest by last night’s news that My Girl Jax would not be the next American Idol (but perhaps its next big star?), I was still able to maintain my annual tradition of enjoying The Finale. There are two reasons why this is so.

First, is the amazing level of live interaction I experience with my peeps everywhere. I pretty much have every tool of social media and every electronic device going at the same time, so much so that I miss half of the action on the TV screen (except for every moment that My Girl Jax is on). It’s like being at a party.

Second, The Finale is two hours of complete cheese ball corn[1] that I can totally enjoy in a hatewatch kind of way. The first 30 minutes or so was sponsored by the AARP and featured the decaying carcasses of The Jackson Whatever Number They Are Now about whom I got a text from somebody asking, “Is something was wrong with the sound? It sounds bad.” Nothing wrong with the sound beyond their inability to get any out of their vocal chords any longer.

We also went back to the disco era with Chic, relived the Vida Loca with Ricky Martin and I’m not really sure what to make of the (Not At All) New Kids on the Block.

Fortunately, the cheese ball corn was occasionally interrupted by moments of sheer brilliance such as Rayvon’s outfit and the sublime duet he sang with Jamie Foxx. Rayvon should have sung with that same level of restraint all year. There’s also the cognitive dissonance experienced with enjoying the hot song by the despicable Chris Brown.

And then there was My Girl Jax looking all rockstar glam and tearing up Piece of My Heart with Aero. The two of them ending the song on their backs on the judges’ desk was a pure rock ‘n roll moment, boys and girls.

By the way, was it just me or did anybody else think that Clark had learned to mimic every single one of Michael McDonald’s mannerisms? 

Of course, the show is ultimately all about crowning a winner. The proceedings opened rather awkwardly with Clark and Nick clumsily being merged into Fall Out Boy performing their massive anthem Centuries, which is ironic since it’s likely we’ll have forgotten about both of them this time next year. And I couldn’t help being distracted all night by hearing the voice of My Mom[2] screaming down from heaven, “Ray! (with a very long “a”) How is Jax not in this?” Yeah, My Mom, I’m going to have that Adam-didn’t-win outrage for a long time on this one.

But given the rather unfortunate choice between Nack and Clirk Nick and Clark (see, I can’t remember them already), the “right” one won. If we’re talking about a current artist, having Clark duet tonight with the way-past-his-prime Michael McDonald[3] while Nick got a duet with current hitmaker Andy Grammar said everything we needed to know. I think Scott Borchetta’s got his work cut out for him with Nick but it will be a lot easier to make some noise on the charts than with Clark.

Still, I am hopeful without being confident that My Girl Jax lands a record deal somewhere. As I have previously written, while there are the notable exceptions, the rule is that the road forward is hard for those who don’t win much less finish third. The overwhelming majority of non-winners aren’t heard from again. I continue to believe Jax was Scott’s favorite and I think she will be a huge crowd favorite on the tour much as Adam Lambert was the must-see Idolist on his season’s tour.

As always, expect me to keep track of who’s doing what from this season once they get out into the real world. And the last show is never the end of the blog until the next season. I always have so much music stuff to share with you and will continue to do so.

Before I wrap this season up, I may as well make it official: the regal title of The My Girl of My Girls has been passed on from My Girl Alexis Grace (Season 8) to My Girl Jax. With only one season left, it’s likely the she will own the title forever. I will always treasure the significant contributions that My Girl Alexis made to my life and will continue to stalk follow her on the Twitter.[4]

So that’s it for now. Excuse me while I pour a glass of wine and start re-watching Jax’s performances from this season on the YouTube.


[1] That’s actually not a thing, is it?

[2] As my Mom was known by in the blog.

[3] Who I still blame for ruining the Doobie Brothers, who were once a nice little rock band.

[4] She’s very funny by the way.

No Jax. No Glory. R.I.P. Idol

May 13, 2015

So here’s how these musings will go. I’m going to be angry. I may or may not edit said angry musings. If I don’t edit them, I may offend some of you, which is not my intent. Which really means (as we all know) here’s my opinion and if you decide to be offended, I’m fine with that.

Which also means I’m not likely to edit my musings.

That Jax is not in the Finale is why Idol is being canceled. Not literally, of course. But logically, definitely.

Don’t read this as I’m upset My Girl lost. I’m upset because My Show lost.

Fact: The Fox suits canceled Idol due to its demographic skewing older. An older demo means:

  • less ad revenue for the show because older people buy fewer products;
  • less revenue from the music business because older people buy less music.

My concern is the latter, as it is for Idol’s creator, 19 Entertainment, which is primarily in the music business.

Idol’s big idea was that the public could discover a new star in the music business. For the first six years, that idea worked when tens of millions of people of all ages watched the show and produced a set of winners that was DIVERSE in musical style, age, race and gender.

As the ratings began to decline, the demographics of the viewers became older and narrower and, in effect, became a special interest group that had the power to control the outcome over all the other interests. As David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee Dewyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips won Idol in consecutive years, the term “White Guy With Guitar” (WGWG) was invented on the internet to describe the typical Idol winner. I have no particular malice against any of these people[1][2] but I would ask you to look at the Top 40 over the last seven years and see how few “White Guys With Guitars” have been on the charts.

What has happened is a huge disconnect between the older Idol viewer and the younger music buyers. As a result, the show simply became less relevant to the real music business. Many of the changes that have been made to Idol over the past few years were attempts to make the show younger, hipper, edgier and more current.

This year, which was clearly the make or break year in terms of restoring its ratings and relevance in the music business, the show went all-in on trying to break the hold the WGWG voters had on the show. With quirky, non-traditional artists like Quassim, Joey, Quentin and Jax making deep runs on the show, the Evil Genius Producers and Big Machine Records’ Scott Borchetta had some success in influencing the viewers to consider artists more representative of what’s happening on hit radio and the music sales charts.

But in spite of those efforts, Idol’s penultimate finale will feature not one but two WGWGs! Rather than make a clear break from its recent past, it doubled-down on its recent history, instead.

Whether Jax had the talent to win is something that can be debated. That someone like Jax needed to win can’t be debated. That someone like Jax can’t win is exactly why the show was canceled. The disconnect between the show’s demographic and the reality of the music business simply could not be connected and Fox decided to stop trying.

As one tweeter cleverly wrote:

As my mom said when we had to put Kitty down in’ 97, “He’s not himself anymore. He’s sick, not cleaning himself. It’s for the best”


[1] OK, Off-Key Lee was awful. And Kris Allen hasn’t done as well by a long shot as that Lambert guy he “won” over. And the fact is that that only Phillip Phillips is still around in a meaningful way.

[2] I went to see David Cook in concert a few years ago. That I wound up sitting next to a stranger who is now a dear friend was totally awesome, I was stunned at how, uh, old, the audience was. When I’m NOT the oldest person at a show I go to, it’s pretty weird.

And Then There Were the Last Three

May 6, 2015

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.