American Idol 15, episode 19: From 6 to 5

They’re dropping like flies. Only 6 remain in the last season of American Idol. Trent Harmon, Dalton Rapattoni, La’Porsha Renae, Mackenzie Bourg, Sonika Vaid and Tristan McIntosh. Episode 19 is the last time judges Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban are able to use their ‘save’.

Mad Numb Stars
Starting off the show with a ballad – ‘Mad World’ -, brought to you by (past and present) Adam Lambert no less, is a risky move, but American Idol can permit itself anything in its final season. It’s a quiet, too quiet opening. To put the necessary action into the proceedings, Mono Boy, the Singing Madmartigan, Slick Cowboy, Ol’ Idol Falsetto, Elvis Blood; Trent Harmon is taking the stage. He’s doing the best he can with One Republic’s ‘Counting Stars’, but it’s a bad song choice. Not chosen by him, the ‘American public’ is to blame. They’ve also given Dalton Rapattoni ‘Numb’ by Linkin Park to sing. Arguably the least exciting song in their repertoire. It’s not bad, it’s just very monotone. It’s very important for Rapattoni to pick the right song, because it’s starting to show he doesn’t quite have his breathing down when he’s singing. He’s out of breath a little too many times.

Ready for the Wild World
Powerhouse La’Porsha Renae does a beautiful version of ‘Ready for Love’ by India Arie. Not exactly powerhouse in the sense of attitude and explosion (and diamonds and halos), but in a very subtle, emotional, earth-mothery way. The fourth one who’s safe, is Mackenzie ‘cake batter’ Bourg. He sings Cat Stevens’ (and Mr. Big’s) ‘Wild World’. Like many times, Idol puts the contestant’s voice way in front of the mix, with the rest of the music quietly playing in the background. That makes the performances much more karaoke than it has to be.

The Safe
This means that it’s on for country princess Tristan McIntosh and Cinderella’s stepsister Sonika Vaid. Only one of them will survive the night. McIntosh is first and sings ‘Independence Day’ by Martina McBride. A ballad from behind the piano; her strong suit. However, strong suits at this point in the competition might not be the way to go. They do tend to fall flat due to a lack of surprise. Vaid sings Demi Lovato’s ‘Let It Go’. Yes, another Lovato song with an inspiring melody. Despite that, the jury picks her to move on. So the evening’s over now? Not by a long shot.

The Clear Sound of Simple Billie
It’s time for round 2. Dalton Rapattoni daltonizes ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon & Garfunkel, in front of the eye of Sauron. It’s brooding, it’s intense; hey, that’s what the daltonization is all about. Mackenzie Bourg sings Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’, just on a little acoustic guitar. It’s wonderfully simple, and it should get him a lot of young girls’ votes. Trent Harmon takes on ‘Simple Man’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd. A great pick. He makes Jennifer cry, which makes Trent cry, which makes me at home tear up, too. Sonika Vaid sings ‘Clarity’ by Zedd featuring Foxes. Just when we’re all waiting for her to do another Evanescence song – or something like that – she’s giving us an obligatory dance track.

As Good As It Gets
The show’s put La’Porsha Renae at the end of the evening, and that’s a no-brainer. After a heartfelt montage of her explaining what happened to her – meeting the wrong guy – she comes on stage, singing Mary J. Blige’s ‘No More Drama’. Not a song with a big finish or buildup per se, but man, does Renae build it up, build it up and then destroys not just the stage but everything around it. She’s a destructive force of nature. The walls – literately as well figuratively – crumble when she performs. I mean, she can blow up the entire Idol light plan with her voice if she wanted to. La’Porsha Renae is as good as it gets. Amazing.

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