'American Idol' Recap - Top 10 Perform

Movie Night is one of my favorite American Idol themes because it’s varied. Unlike ‘80s week or Motown, Movie Night songs can be anything from movie musicals to rock to country. While sometimes that freedom trips contestants up, I’m feeling good about tonight’s show.

As I always do, I’ll rate each song on a scale of 0-5 along with a short blurb and then pick my favorite and least favorite performances of the night.

Adanna Duru (“Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls) – * * * *
“Love You I Do” is one of the hidden gems on the Dreamgirls soundtrack (I mean, it’s a great song but can we all officially agree “And I’m Telling You” is boarding on “I Will Always Love You” level of overplayed-ness). But it’s a song made famous by Jennifer Hudson who has a legendarily powerful set of pipes. While Adanna couldn’t quite match her vocally, she delivered a very solid performance. Sure, it started a bit low but once she hit her stride it really took off.

Daniel Seavey (“Lost Stars” from Begin Again) – *
So, the good news (and, yes, I’ve mentally search long and hard for a silver lining) is that Daniel was the most emotionally connected he’s been in a long time. Yes, it felt like the emotional version of playing dress up with your dad’s suit, but I actually felt like Daniel connected to the song’s meaning. The bad news is that puberty isn’t easy. I’m a guy and a guy who sang a lot throughout my voice-change years. I just wasn’t on television. Here his is voice was unsure and creaky and so influx you could almost hear the hormones. Eek. Hopefully American finally lets him go next week.

Rayvon Owen (“Stayin’ Alive ” from Saturday Night Fever ) – * * *
Last week was rough for the talented but somewhat unremarkable Rayvon. His vocals this week was on pretty on point but I agree with Harry, it’s time to learn who Rayvon really is. Right now he’s a slightly bland soul singer who could be performing at any wedding across the country.

Nick Fradiani (“Danger Zone” from Top Gun) – * * * ½
I must admit (again) that I’m slightly swayed in Nick’s direction because we’re both from the same, very small Connecticut town. In fact, I live about five minutes away from Bishops Orchards (home of the Fradiani ice cream). Seriously, he’s the biggest celebrity to come out of Guilford since…well, since Ugly Betty and Weird Loners star Becki Newton. So I really want to get behind Nick. But I feel similarly to Rayvon in that I want to know what’s behind the well-manicured stubble. He needs to connect more with his song choices and dig a lot deeper.

Joey Cook (“Mad World” from Donnie Darko) – * * * * ½
Donnie Darko is a very weird movie and Joey is a very weird lady. But she’s one of absolute favorites this season and I’m so glad the Idol community has embraced her. In early seasons she would have been laughed out of the audition room. “Mad World” was the perfect song for her. In showed a different side to her – a more mature, sedated and melancholy side – that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Besides, this may be her best vocals to date. It almost made me forget about the Adam Lambert version. Almost.

Tyanna Jones (“Circle of Life” from The Lion King) – * ½
Tyanna’s had an amazing run these last few weeks (and Keith is right, she is one of the best singers we’re got), so I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But this performance was pretty dire. Yes, her tone and vibrato and absolutely gorgeous, but nearly the entire song was so forced and woefully pitchy it was painful to listen to. The sleepy piano bar arrangement of the Disney staple didn’t help either.

Quentin Alexander (“You’re The One That I Want” from Grease) – * * * *
Look, Quentin is not the first person to do a slowed down “You’re The One That I Want.” Alex & Sierra did one on X Factor and even they weren’t the first. But Quentin’s was different enough (taking it in a more brooding, R&B direction) that I still found it quite original. The judges seem confused by it, but I was pretty captivated by his intensity and artistry. Yes, there were pitch issues but it showed another side to Quentin, a side that’s pretty fascinating to watch. Also, who has never seen Grease?!?!

Maddie Walker (“Let’s Hear It For The Boy” from Footloose) – * * *
So, I actually know this song super well as I was in a musical revue in college where that song was sang directly about me. It’s a light, bouncy little ditty but a surprisingly hard one to sing, as it’s belty and quite high. Case in point, take a listen to this version from the ‘90s stage adaptation for Stacy Francis’ crazy range and powerhouse vocal (that ending whistle tone? Hot damn!) Back to Maddie who handled the vocals OK, but seemed stiff and self-conscious. I wish she had actually pushed the arrangement closer to country than a bass-driven pop version, which have seemed better suited to Maddie’s talents.

Clark Beckham (“Sunday Morning” from Cheaper By The Dozen 2) – * * * * ½
Wow, with this bottom three I didn’t expect Clark to make it through but I’m actually so glad he did. His arrangement was absolutely perfect – laidback and inventive without being sleepy – and his vocals showed real nuance and musicality. But, more than any of that, Clark did what Nick and Rayvon have been struggling with and showed real heart and personality.

Jax (“Grow Old With Me” from The Wedding Singer) – * * * *
Jax had a bad week last week but she definitely deserves to stick around. While an Adam Sandler song maybe an odd choice, this cutesy love ditty played right into Jax’s wheelhouse. It was quirky without being cloying and actually quite beautiful. I’d buy her album tomorrow.

Show VIP: Gotta give it to Clark once again (with Joey and Jax not far behind)

Who Should Go Home Next Week: D-D-D-Daniel! But at this point, I’d be ok with Maddie getting the boot)

Who Should Have Gone Home But Was Saved: Qaasim Middleton. OK, maybe that’s harsh. On one hand Qaasim is a firecracker performer and his “Come Together” was pretty darn fantastic but for my money he’s a bit too much of a wildcard and a bit too style of substance. I would have saved my save for someone like Jax or Tyanna (if that happens). But perhaps Qaasim can pull himself together and be the performer we all know he can be.

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