Last week on American Idol, the top five artists — who are the only contestants who will go on the Idol tour this summer — were determined when Quentin Alexander was voted off. The next day, Jax Cole, Tyanna Jones, Clark Beckham, Nick Fradiani and Rayvon Owen took a trip to season-14 mentor Scott Borchetta’s home in Nashville, where they got to meet the team that will help them produce their album and artistic brand should they become the next American Idol.
As the first artist to advance tonight, Beckham is one step closer to that dream. For his first song, he sang “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder. He sounded good, but Jennifer Lopez told him to practice his performing without an instrument because he still has a tendency to look uncomfortable on stage. His second performance of “Your Man” by Josh Turner was much stronger vocally, but the judges didn’t think the song choice really worked.
Also through to the top four, Jax sang next. She chose “Empire State of Mind (Part II)” as a tribute to her own home, as well as Jenny’s block. Lopez didn’t love the song choice, but Harry Connick Jr. liked that it showed little snippets of everything she does well. He also noticed that she was a little hoarse tonight but commended her for singing through it and still bringing a dynamic and powerful performance. Next, she sang “Human” by Christina Perri, which was another solid song choice. Every single decision that goes into Cole’s performances is so intentional and works toward creating the very complete and polished package that we see in the final take. “This is a perfect example of the technical versus the emotional,” Connick said. She had some pitch problems, but she made people feel, and that’s huge.
Fradiani also advanced, singing “Bright Lights” by Matchbox Twenty for his first song. Keith Urban commended his instincts in recent weeks, and it’s definitely true that Fradiani has built a whole lot of momentum at this stage of the competition. But does he really have what it takes to win? Lopez seems to think so, naming him the star of the night after his second performance of “What Hurts the Most.”
After four weeks of just narrowly being saved by the live Twitter vote, Rayvon Owen once again scraped by and advanced to the final four. He sang “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. He has a pretty voice, the technical skills are there and he even has gotten better at emoting while he performs, but he still has done nothing to surprise in this competition. For his second song, he did “Believe” by Justin Bieber, and it was a better performance overall than his first. The judges praised his voice and the emotional realness. Will it be enough to keep him in the competition?
Arguably the most talented singer of the season, Tyanna Jones, was sent home tonight, marking season 14’s biggest upset yet. Her farewell performance of “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce only reaffirmed just how wrong voters were about this. Despite singing through tears, she was as powerful and strong as ever. Getting eliminated from the show at this stage certainly isn’t a death sentence for her career (just ask Jennifer Hudson), and it’s worth remembering that she’s only 16-years-old and has so many opportunities ahead of her. She’s too talented to vanish completely, and even though she certainly has what it takes to have been the next American Idol — and has been consistently stronger than a lot of the singers left in the competition — the highlight reel of her journey also made it clear that she should still be proud of everything she has accomplished this year.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.