Live performance plays a big part in this season of “American Idol,” and February 25 found the dozen men of the Top 24 taking their turn with a live show in Detroit. From the first note to the last, the bar was set very high, and nobody brought less than their best, but it’s up to the voting viewers now to make the tough calls for which talents survive.
On the street or at work as a toymaker, Adam Ezegelian may not look like a heavy metal hitter, but give him a microphone and a spotlight, and see the instant transformation. He chose “I Wanna Rock” to open the performances, and took everyone rocking along. There is a mix of showman, David Lee Roth and AC/DC within his plump persona, and Jennifer Lopez called him “contagious” in his joyful exuberance, and Harry Connick, Jr. praised that “you make it work” because Adam is such a good singer. Keith Urban playfully teased that he loved “those ballads,” like tonight’s! In complete counterbalance, Michael Simeon came on with the love ballad to top all love ballads, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.” Jennifer Lopez called him “the antidote to Adam,” as Harry complimented that Michael had a tough act to follow and cautioned about singing in tune, especially in quiet ballads. He had plenty of raised hands in the air. Savion Wright celebrated a love-fest with the crowd, singing Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” slinging his acoustic guitar behind his back while he made contact. His breezy voice and easy manner certainly made the connection, but Jennifer Lopez admonished him to connect with the camera, too, because America is voting, and they need to see that smile. Harry Connick, Jr. said he wanted to see more focus in the future, and Keith Urban wondered about the song choice. The audience was definitely ready to sail with Savion. Mark Andrew made a definite impression on the panel, playing and singing to The Band’s classic, “The Weight,” and carrying the weight of the moment just fine. Keith Urban called the song “perfect,” so much so that he wanted to year Mark sing it without any band at all. Harry agreed about the song, and Jennifer Lopez commended that “you are so right now, you have a real chance” to take the competition. The brainiac and still brilliant Trevor Douglas came on with Gavin DeGraw’s “Best I Ever Had,” putting on a show with all his might, the black tape trademark on his guitar, and gathering loads of audience love. The panel each pointed out that vocally, Trevor missed the mark, but made up for it in performance panache. Keith said “the song got on top of you,” and Jennifer said the vocals were “OK.” The charm quotient will likely keep Trevor around quite a few more weeks.
Clark Beckham clearly marked his territory, proving he was a serious contender with his captivating version of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and taking total command of the stage and the band, as noted by Jennifer Lopez, along with giving her “goosies all day.” Clark got a standing ovation from Keith, too, and roars from the crowd. Rayvon Owen brought back memories of old Motown with “Still Get Jealous,” Harry Connick, Jr., noting his old school elegance, Keith loving the falsetto, and Jennifer reminding him to sing for America’s vote as much as to the crowd. Youngest contestant, Daniel Seavey, stayed in his comfort zone with Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours,” and he clearly has a following all his own. Jennifer Lopez still calls him “beyond adorable,” and Keith admired how he went for the high notes, and Harry commended that it was a night of great talent. Keith Urban liked that Riley Bria selected Eric Church’s “Homeboy,” too. Calling Keith Urban “a legend” before he labeled Riley so much like his fellow judge, Harry Connick, Jr. was full of compliments, and Jennifer loved that Riley is “so sweet, but with an edge.” Quentin Alexander offered a stylized, sultry “I Put a Spell on You,” prompting Jennifer Lopez to give him cheers, although she didn’t take his cloak this time. Keith Urban said this was “a Grammy performance,” never mind that Alexander hasn’t recorded yet, and Harry said he hopes that America will stick with Quentin, because he has a lot more to offer. The eldest contestant of the season, Nick Fadriani, made a big impression by taking on a big name, Ed Sheeran, with “Thinking Out Loud,” and had his best performance ever. Keith Urban again called the song perfect, and Harry teased aloud if the lyrics demanded asking for divorce after 70. Jennifer Lopez said that she didn’t want any of the guys’ going home after tonight, but of course, someone has to leave.
Call it saving the best for last, maybe, but Qaasim Middleton left a memorable performance, decked out in his black and white suit, strutting to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” and successfully taking the most uproarious applause of the night. Jennifer called Middleton “my kind of performer,” Harry said he had indeed left it all on the stage, and Keith said “you killed it.” Between the traditional and the Google voting, who will survive the tally?
Tune in tomorrow, when it will be ladies’ night in Detroit!