By Chaz Lipp

AI Top 11 Judges

American Idol cruises along at breakneck speed, with back-to-back eliminations this week. The two-hour show resulted in another cut, reducing the number of contestants to 11. The “theme” was “Get the Party Started,” which basically means there was no theme.

Rayvon Owen – “Burn”

2/5

I don’t know what it is about this guy that I can barely remember him immediately following his performance. Especially since he went first, I could easily see this being his final week. There’s nothing wrong with what he does, he just epitomizes the type of competently dull Idol contestant we see every season.

Maddie Walker – “She’s Country”

1/5

At the risk of sounding lazy, everything I said about Rayvon could easily be applied to Maddie. With the additional note that tonight she sounded out of tune. Host Ryan Seacrest tried to win her a bit of sympathy by pointing out that she has been under the weather. How does that explain how weak she’s been in previous weeks?

AI Joey Cook Top 11 Fancy

Joey Cook – “Fancy”

4/5

Along comes Joey to elevate the night with a version of “Fancy” based on Postmodern Jukebox’s roarin’ ‘20s arrangement. It’s a risk to try turning a rap into a singer’s showcase, but Joey pulled off another standout moment. The Idol live audience seemed to concur, showering her with some of the most boisterous applause of the night.

Did we really need more cross promotion for Fox’s Empire? The Top 11 is rather rudely interrupted by a brief performance/commercial of a song from that series.

Clark Beckham – “Takin’ It to the Streets”

3/5

Much like the previous night’s performance of “Straight Up” by Daniel Seavey, Idol has been around long enough that comparisons are inevitably drawn by longtime viewers when a signature moment by a previous contestant is revisited. In this case, Clark tackled a Doobie Brothers classic that was season five champ Taylor Hicks’ defining moment. Clark sang it well, but it was a little reserved; professional, but lacking passion.

Jax – “Blank Space”

2/5

While Joey embraced her stylized quirkiness, Jax dialed hers back – Harry Connick Jr. was right in pointing out that her take on the Taylor Swift megahit was a carbon copy. Jax seemed oddly uncomfortable with the song, though her interaction with a male audience member was admittedly a fun moment (especially when Ryan asked her if there was an announcement to be made – “He’s just a stranger,” Jax quickly stated).

AI Qaasim Middleton Top 11 Jet

Qaasim Middleton – “Jet”

3.5/5

This one divided the judges. Keith Urban loved it, while Harry was far less enthusiastic, going so far as to call Qaasim a “one-trick pony.” I thought it was an awesome take on a Paul McCartney classic. Harry couldn’t have been more wrong with the “one-trick pony” comment, because Qaasim totally stepped out of his comfort zone by focusing on a vocal rather than showmanship. His funky reggae-style breakdown late in the song put a refreshingly original twist on it.

Adanna Duru – “Runaway Baby”

3/5

Making the most of her “wildcard” status from the night before, Adanna commanded the stage with a convincing take on the Bruno Mars hit. She really belted this one out and sounded great.

Tyanna Jones – “Tightrope”

2/5

Jennifer Lopez and the other judges, particularly Harry (who said it was a perfect ten), were unanimous in their praise. To me it was not at all on-point, with a vocal that seemed shrill during the choruses and almost got swallowed up by the band during the verses. Not a strong vocal showcase for Tyanna, who is one of the better vocalists this year.

Daniel Seavey – “Happy”

2.5/5

Daniel stated upfront that he was striving to prove himself as more than the “cute kid.” I’m not sure he pulled it off, but he was enthusiastic at least. He still seems in over his head, but no more than a few of the other contestants, to be fair. This was okay.

Quentin Alexander – “Rolling in the Deep”

2/5

Another display of self-absorption from Idol’s resident wannabe fashion model. I have to say, I don’t get the appeal of Quentin. He exudes a certain amount of charisma and confidence, but his vocals are just nothing special. He appears to put more effort into his “look” each week than his performance.

Nick Fradiani – “Wake Me Up”

3/5

Perhaps sensing how lucky he is to still be here as more talented performers have dropped off, Nick really came alive with this acoustic-driven number. He showed a lot more emotion than usual and wound up with his best performance so far.

AI Top 11 Sarina-Joi

Sarina-Joi Crowe – “Neon Lights”

3/5

Poor Sarina-Joi was eliminated after receiving the lowest vote total. She “sang for her life” but was unfortunately not awarded the judges’ save. In retrospect, this Demi Lovato pop number was probably not the best outro song. Sarina-Joi really lost momentum after a rare bum performance the night before, which led off the night (the kiss of death for anyone without “favorite” status). I’m not a fan of the judges’ save and never have been, so I really hoped they would buck the trend of waiting until deeper into the competition and just save her. But they didn’t. And that sucks, because Sarina-Joi was a top contestant.

American Idol Season 14 Top 11 Images: Fox

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