'American Idol' Recap: Top 11 Get the Party Started

Michael Becker / FOX
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr on the judges' panel as the "Top 8 girls Perform" on American Idol XIV on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Empire's Taraji P. Henson drops by American Idol to deliver the official results from the previous night's voting to host Ryan Seacrest. One by one, Seacrest reveals throughout the episode who advances to the top 11, the contestants' chairs turning from red to green if they're through. Tonight's theme is "let's get this party started," which is vague enough to give the remaining contestants a lot of flexibility with their song choices. Because the episode is two-hours long tonight, America gets to see a little more of the contestants, as they have the stage for more time. This makes their song choices for the night all the more important.

The first contestant through is Rayvon Owen, who sings "Burn" by Ellie Goulding. "Rayvon has a very positive, infectious energy," Harry Connick Jr. says before the performance. But Connick wants to see Owen show a different side tonight. The judges love his performance of "Burn," and Keith Urban even says it's his best to date. Clearly, his work with this season's mentor, Scott Borchetta, paid off.

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Maddie Walker also advances to the top 11. She chooses "She's Country" by Jason Aldean, hoping it'll show a harsher side of the country genre. Connick warns Walker about imitating the original recording of the song. He gets at the main problem with Walker right now: She still doesn't really know who she is as an artist, and that makes a lot of her performances unmemorable.

The next person through is Joey Cook. "I think she's discovered a new gear in her voice," Borchetta says, explaining how he has been pushing her in their mentor sessions. She sings a stellar original arrangement of "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea, accompanied by a stand-up bass. It's one of the most memorable performances of the season so far and the best of the night. She makes "Fancy" her own and proves that she can take a mainstream song and still give it an edge.

Continuing FOX's cross-promotional efforts, the show takes a break from American Idol singers to let Empire's Jussie Smollett and Yazz perform "No Apologies" from the official Empire soundtrack.

Smollett and Yazz give such a dynamic performance that Clark Beckham has a tough act to follow. He plays the piano and sings "Takin' It To The Streets" by The Doobie Brothers. Like Walker, Beckham hasn't done much to set himself apart in the competition. As Jennifer Lopez puts it, the rest of his skills -- his emotion, his stage presence, his artistry -- still need to catch up with his vocals.

Jax Cole advances next. "Jax is the epitome of everything that's great about the 80s, mashed up in 2015," Borchetta says. Cole sings Taylor Swift's hit "Blank Space," but unfortunately, it's not her best performance. As Lopez points out, her vocals get swallowed up by the band a bit. Usually Cole brings more of herself to whatever she's singing, but tonight, she sounds too much like the original. She picked the song in an attempt to do something a little more mainstream, but Jax should go back to being Jax.

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Also through to the top 11, Qaasim Middleton performs "Jet" by Paul McCartney. For the first time, he plays the guitar on stage, and it definitely shows a different side of the artist, who has become known for jumping around the stage. The guitar keeps him grounded in place, but it's still an energetic performance from who's undoubtedly the season's best performer. Connick thinks Middleton's over-the-top showmanship could be starting to hurt him. "I don't think the performance matched what the song is trying to say," Connick says. Urban and Lopez, however, love it.

Adanna Duru advances next. "Adanna is brooding, moody, dangerous," Borchetta says. In their mentor session, she tells him she wants to focus on getting her vocals up to the same level as her stage performance. Her work pays off, and her performance of "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars demonstrates more vocal control than we've previously seen from her. As Urban puts it, she totally justifies the judges' choice to save her with a wildcard last night.

One of the most consistently great singers in the competition, Tyanna Jones advances to the top 11, ambitiously taking on Janelle Monae's "Tightrope." The performance showcases all of her strengths, and she's once again a standout for the night, getting a standing ovation from Urban and Lopez. "You're so in control over everything," Lopez says. "It was so complete." Jones gets as close to perfect as is possible tonight, making a real case for her shot at becoming the next American Idol.

Daniel Seavey hopes to show that he's more than just a cute kid in his performance of "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. Connick says it's the most comfortable he has ever looked on stage. Seavey definitely proves he has the musicality to back up the adorable image.

Next, Quentin Alexander makes Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" his own, again demonstrating how strong his vocals and artistry are. Like Duru, he proves the judges made the right decision by making him a wildcard pick. "You bring a different flavor than everyone else," Lopez says. Connick feels like his interpretation of the lyrics is shallower than usual, but it's still a solid performance.

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The final contestant through to the top 11 is Nick Fradiani, who sings "Wake Me Up" by Aloe Blacc. It's an inconsistent performance, but he finishes strong.

Having been voted off, Sarina-Joi Crowe has to sing for the judges, so they can decide whether or not to use the one save they get for the season. She sings "Neon Lights" by Demi Lovato, but the judges decide not to use their save.

Idol returns on March 19, when the competition gets narrowed down to 10 singers. Do you think America made the right choices this week?

This article originally appeared in THR.com.


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