American Idol 15, episode 20: From 5 to 4

It’s only two weeks before the 15th Idol will be crowned, and guess what: all the good ones are still in play. Episode 20 of American Idol says goodbye to the last one before the Top 4 go to their home states, to… well, that’s always a bit of a mystery. Collect signs? Have a burger at that burger joint that they go to every week anyway?

E-Street Soprano
But before all that, it’s time for each contestant to sing two more songs. Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban have no more safes in their back pockets, so the one with the least amount of votes has to leave. For the first part of the show, the one and only E-Street Soprano, Stevie Van Zandt, joins the curly salesman I would never in a million years buy a used car from, record producer Scott Borchetta, to help the contestants sharpen their acts. It’s in line with this week’s theme, which is Classic Rock Songs.

Thunderdome Badass
La’Porsha Renae is a cowboy. On a steel horse she rides – even though she forgets the last part of those lyrics. It might seem like a strange choice, for her to try on Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, but it works. Especially with her hair in dreadlocks (I know it’s called something different, but I’m a complete layman when it comes to hair), she turns into a sort of Tina Turner Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Badass. That’s a tough act to follow. Poor Mackenzie Bourg. To make matter worse, he’s decided to take the urgency out of the original version of ‘I Want You to Want Me’ by Cheap Trick. It’s not very exciting.

It can’t all be just about the contestants, so to spice things up, the show’s invited the not-so-funny Angry Birds – to promote their movie -, David Cook to sing his new single (meh), and Katharine McPhee (another beautiful version of ‘Over the Rainbow’). In part 2 of the evening, Sia sings ‘Cheap Thrills’. She’s one of those new artists who try to fuse pop music with art. Her performance looks like a music video from the eighties, with three ballet dancers basically doing all the work. But kudos to her, for incorporating a somewhat elite art form such as ballet on Idol. Something its broad but mainstream audience would otherwise never been exposed to.

Moving on with part 1, Trent Harmon picked ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top. He made it ‘swampy’, and it’s very cool how he, with the little amount of time he gets (90 seconds), has divided the song into three different parts, and tops it off with a great finish. This means this week’s Bottom 2 are Sonika Vaid and Dalton Rapattoni. Vaid is a great singer, but a little too self-absorbed. I never connected with her, and apparently neither did the audience. Rapattoni wanted to sing ‘Seven Nation Army’, but during rehearsals it just didn’t work. He quickly switched to ‘God Only Knows’ by the Beach Boys (a ‘classic rock song’?) and keeps it simple. No daltonization in there, just a pure performance. I wonder if it’s enough for him to last two more weeks.

For Round 2, Sia’s the new mentor of the class of 2016. Was it a condition of hers to show up only if everybody sang one of her songs? La’Porsha Renae sings ‘Elastic Heart’, Mackenzie Bourg ‘Titanium’, and Dalton Rapattoni ‘Bird Set Free’. It seems Rapattoni’s voice is perfect when singing behind a microphone stand, but when he starts walking around, his vocals suffer. The best performer of the night is Trent Harmon. He’s on fire. He sings Sia’s hardest song, ‘Chandelier’, almost like an opera singer and it’s fantastic.

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