Friday, March 25, 2016

American Idol 15: Top 4 Perform

This season is going by quickly. Just two more weeks left and Idol will be over, forever.

On this episode we found out the Top 4 as chosen by the voters, no more judges' save.

There were two songs from each contestant, one a rock song mentored by Scott Borchetta and Steven Van Zandt, and the other a pop-ish song from the Sia songbook, mentored by Sia.

We also had performances from David Cook, Katharine McPhee, and Sia.

First up - the rock songs.

We were told the Top 4 will have hometown visits this week; #5 just goes home.

And the Top 4 are:

Mentoring - Scott didn't like the song choice for La'Porsha but Steven did. He thought it would be very unexpected and she could pull it off.
"Wanted Dead Or Alive" Bon Jovi
Her vocals are great, bit I agree with Scott, the song doesn't really fit her..
Keith - You brought out blues undertones in the song, as well as soul and swagger. It was really good.
Jennifer - Your voice is so undeniable. You could sing the phone book and it wouldn't matter.
Harry - Your ability as a singer transcends all genres. You changed your vibrato and made it in time to the music.

Mentoring - Steven thought the arrangement wasn't different enough for MacKenzie. Change more.
"I Want You To Want Me" Cheap Trick
I liked his voice in the beginning when the beat was slower, but when the band joined in and the tempo went up some, the song became bland.
Jennifer - I don't know if I love how you MacKenzied it.
Harry - I thought it was alright, but you needed the double-time version of the song. This half-time lacked energy.
Keith - I hated the arrangement. It was stuck in the middle with no energy.

*We see a new Ford video. This time the kids travel to see fashion icon (?) Chiara Ferragni. (I've never heard of her either.) She helps the Idols create their alter egos. DUMB!!!

**David Cook is back again and this time he performs "Heartbeat".  It is a nice rock ballad. I loved experiencing this song live when I saw Cook perform here in Austin last Nov. (You can find a link to my review of his show in the January 2016 section of this blog.)

Mentoring - Steven tells Trent to make the whole thing "swampy." I guess that means mix it up, make it unrecognizable.
"Sharp Dressed Man" ZZ Top - Disclaimer: I love ZZ and especially this song.
There is a nice laid-back vibe to the start with just the back-up singers and Trent shining through. The band picked up the speed, but it was still a great performance. It definitely wasn't ZZ's version, but it was really good.
Harry - That was so smart.
Keith - That was so freaking good. That was a 10 out of 10.
Jennifer - I've been waiting for you to have this performance.

And the Bottom 2 are Sonika and Dalton.
Dalton is safe and Sonika is going home, finally.

Mentoring - Dalton had a song set in his mind, but Scott and Steven didn't think it worked. Dalton was sticking to his guns that it would work with the band, so Steven told him to try "Seven Nation Army" but have a back up. Dalton ended up changing to the back up.
"God Only Knows" The Beach Boys
Dalton is serious. No eyeliner for this performance. This was a great stripped-down version with just a piano and Dalton. It really showed off the lyrics and Dalton's passion for them.
Keith - So good to chose that song. One thing that impressed me, you said you only get a minute-30 to impress America, you want to make sure you have the right words.
Jennifer - It sounded beautiful. It was a really good moment for you.
Harry - That arrangement really showed your vulnerabilities, which is dangerous. Fortunately that's what you wanted to do with those lyrics.

*The Top 5 sang "God Bless America" at Nascar last weekend.

**Katharine McPhee performed her signature song from Season 5, "Over The Rainbow."

Second group of songs - Sia's songbook with Sia mentoring.

"Elastic Heart"
Mentoring - La'Porsha made Sia cry.
Did I forget to mention La'Porsha's hair is now styled into dreads? They are major dreads too.
La'Porsha looked decent for the first song. This one looks like they have her outfitted in very large trash bags which are formed into a jumpsuit. Help her!!
The intro of the song is powerful with the Tom-toms beating, then the whole band joins in an it kind of covers her vocals too much. It was ok, but not great.
Jennifer - I had a flashback to the beginning when you were under the radar. Now I'm just watching.
Harry - I feel like I'm in the passenger seat of a Nascar driver when you sing.
Keith - It's beautiful to see someone with such raw talent come into their own.

Mentoring - Sia pushed him to try the falsetto he was afraid of.
I like the song stripped down. MacKenzie on his guitar with a string section is so much better than the first song. Not sure if it will be enough to save him after the rock disaster. I guess we will see how many fans he has out there.
Harry - I thought it was nice, but don't make it about hitting a single note, though.
Keith - I liked how you rode through that moment. I liked how you made it a singer-songwriter moment, all stripped -down.
Jennifer - I liked how Sia made you go for it. Everyone cheered because we are rooting for you.

*Sia performed "Cheap Thrills" in all her weirdness, wig and all. The dancers had their yin and yang hairdos and nude body suits. All of the non-music stuff made it had to think about the lyrics.

Mentoring - Sia advised him to keep in the falsetto notes.
Trent is clothed in some weird jacket thingy that looks more hip hop-ish to me. It was an interesting performance. He used to falsetto a lot. Not nearly as good as the previous rock performance.
Keith - That was beautiful, exquisite.
Jennifer - You are two different people from the guy who sang the first song. Now you're an alternative guy. You can sing anything.
Harry - Phenomenal! That was a very difficult vocal technique. I give it a 100 out of 100.

"Bird Set Free"
Mentoring - Dalton tells Sia he has always connected to her songs. She admits she is Bipolar also.
I had never heard this song before Dalton sang it, but it is absolutely perfect for him. So much passion from Dalton. He is sobbing at the end
Jennifer - Everybody is cheering about your bravery. That was really beautiful.
Harry - This song was the best match-up of a Sia song and the singer. this song was something you needed to do.
Keith - Some artists don't go near the edges of their abilities. You go right up to them and push through your limitations. I will always take an inspired attempt over soulless perfection any day of the week.

And there you have it. I agree with Keith 100%. Not all vocals need to be perfect, but they do need to be inspired and make us feel something. Sadly, MacKenzie's performance did not make me feel anything this time. La'Porsha has the best vocal chops, but I didn't feel her songs this time either. Trent is an amazing singer, but he didn't touch my heart this time around.  Dalton hit home with both songs. You could tell he believed what he was saying. Lyrics matter to him.  Hum, that reminds me of a certain past Idol contestant named David Archuleta. He has always made sure the lyrics were something he felt good about. He wanted to make people understand what the song meant. He has an amazing voice, but has always said perfection is not his goal; feeling is his goal. Dalton wants people to understand too.

I think MacKenzie will be out of the running this next week.

I hear that the kids will be singing 3 songs next week: Judge's pick, Scott Borchetta's pick, and the contestants pick as a tribute to their hometown. And Keith Urban will perform.  Hope we get to see some past Idols perform again this next week.

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