Tonight on American Idol, the top six sang hits deemed “American classics” by viewers, and fans got another chance to save one of the bottom two by showing their support on Twitter. Each contestant got the chance to sing twice tonight, providing voters with double the performances to consider when voting for the top five.
Tyanna Jones was the first contestant voted through. In their rehearsal session, season mentor Scott Borchetta encouraged Jones to look like she’s really feeling something when on stage so that viewers can connect with her. She sang a gorgeous rendition of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” but the judges wished she had brought something a bit edgier to the performance. The judges seem to be increasingly tougher on Jones, but it’s probably because she has been such a strong frontrunner since the beginning. They know she can do better, so they’re pushing her. In her second performance, she sang “Proud Mary.” Heeding the judges’ advice, she put a lot of movement into this second go, and Harry Connick Jr. called it a near-perfect performance.
The next artist through was Clark Beckham, who apparently keeps vibing with voters even though he still hasn’t surprised or stood out on any given night. He sang Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” tonight, and the judges — and crowd — were enamored with his performance, which included some scatting. It was a solid performance, but it made one wonder what a more natural performer like Qaasim Middleton, who was eliminated last week, could have done with the song. For his second song, Beckham slowed things down and sang Frank Sinatra’s “Moon River,” accompanying himself on the piano. The second performance highlighted more of his vocal abilities than the first.
Jax Cole advanced next, and in her session with Borchetta, she shared that her goal in her singing is always to just make people feel something, whether it’s love or hate. Cole has had a strong sense of who she is as an artist, and tonight she sang “Piece Of My Heart” by Janis Joplin and showcased all of her strengths in the performance. It was stylized and engaging, and she had the powerhouse vocals to match. Connick was particularly impressed with her rhythm. Cole kept her rocker side going with an edgy rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” that leaned more heavily into rock than pop. The judges enjoyed it but got a little sidetracked about hair products.
Coming off his personal best performance from last week, Nick Fradiani sang Tom Petty’s “American Girl” tonight. The judges all really loved it. In Jennifer Lopez’s words, he has a radio-ready voice. He certainly has shown the most improvement of all of the artists in the competition, but he still isn’t as self-possessed as Jones or Cole. He sang “Only the Good Die Young” in his second performance, and Keith Urban loved the slowed-down arrangement, which Fradiani and his vocal coach came up with.
Quentin Alexander decided to open up and go all out tonight after a few weeks of strong but mellow performances. He sang “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and it was one of his best to date. The arrangement was strong, and Alexander owned the stage. For his second song, Alexander did “The Sound Of Silence,” and it played to his strengths. Alexander always gives strong interpretations of lyrics and highly conceptual performances, and this was no exception.
After his first performance, Alexander was noticeably emotional, and when Ryan Seacrest asked what was up, he replied that he was upset about the bottom two: Joey Potter and Rayvon Owen. Connick misinterpreted Alexander’s words and said it was disrespectful to call Idol “wack,” but Owen clarified and said he was just sad to see his friend in the bottom two. Sure, it’s a competition, but there shouldn’t be anything wrong with wanting to support your fellow contestants.
If Alexander is upset about the results, he should be allowed to feel that way and express it. Connick’s words were harsh and unfair, but hopefully they won’t sway voters.
Singing for tonight’s fan save, Potter performed “My Funny Valentine,” which was one of the stronger song choices on the viewers’ part tonight, suiting her lower register and also matching well with her artistry. She also revealed just how close she and Alexander have become, saying that he will be conducting the wedding ceremony between her and her fiance.
Also singing for the save, Owen performed “Long Train Running,” which Connick didn’t think was a good song for him. But both Potter and Owen got a second chance to sing for the save later on in the competition. During their second go, Owen gave a soulful performance of “Always On My Mind,” while Potter brought her indie charm to “Somebody To Love.”
In what is becoming his signature move, Owen was saved. This was one of the biggest upsets of the season so far, with the very talented and original Potter packing her bags. What do you think: Is the Twitter save yielding bad results? How does Owen keep sliding by?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.