Top ten becomes a top eight

th (3)I didn’t notice last week, but the guy Ryan keeps asking about the singers is Scott Borchetta, the head of Machine Head records. Borchetta signed Taylor Swift, among others, and he was a judge for season two of “Can you Duet”- the show that Joey and Rory Feek were on (they finished third in season one). If you didn’t hear, Joey passed away Friday afternoon. Rest in peace, and thanks for the music.

If anyone can make the final Idol a chart success Scott can; the winners of season two (gotta look it up…. Steel Magnolia, that’s it) had a top ten hit before the male member of the band went off the rails and wound up in rehab. The female member, Meghan Linsey, finished second on The Voice in 2015.

I can’t keep track of the rules this year … I think they are making them up as they go along. Hell, even Jen didn’t know what they were doing and she’s the one making the changes. The upshot is that, instead of the great finish they had last week, this week’s finish is going to be a sustained, half-hour long firing squad between the three weakest performers from that show.

I have another guest judge tonight. Jaya Hall is going to weigh in with her two cents. Like I did with Kym last week, I’ll post her comments underneath the judging comments.

That’s enough preamble; let’s have it, kids. The singers, the songs:

Dalton Rapattoni “Radioactive” Imagine Dragon

I liked the song choice, but I’m not sure I liked what he did with it. Dalton likes to rearrange everything, so he’s going to misfire once in a while. He’s not going anywhere, so why not experiment a little?

Dalton has sort of a Rob Thomas vibe to him … His lack of high range bit him tonight, like Tristan’s did last week. In order to get the top notes where he could hit them he had to lower the key beneath his effective range at the bottom.

Judges: Actually gave him some constructive criticism, but I doubt anyone could have navigated that labyrinth of feedback without a translater. The translation: “sing better.”

Jaya: “Damn he’s good … don’t know the song but he made me like it.”

Lee Jean “Use Somebody” Kings of Leon

He was doing fine until he dropped the guitar and tried to do the crowd hand slapping thing. Some people can do that – Dalton can do it – but it looked weird when Lee did it.

Judges: Translation: “sing better.”

Jaya: “Hard to put him in a category – gonna have to step up with variety.”

Sonika Vaid “Since U Been Gone” Kelly Clarkson

She was over her head, trying this song, and she should have at least done the song in a lower key.

Judges: “Sing better.”

Jaya: “Not thrilled at all.”

MacKenzie Bourg “I wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” Whitney Houston

I was entertained, but not impressed. MacKenzie did a good job and I thought the song choice was fun, but at the same time there were just a raft of chances for him to do something cool with his voice and he never really did. He’s a good singer, but a limited one. Still, it was easily the best performance of the night so far. I enjoyed it.

Judges: They pointed out that he should have done more with the song. Harry thought a fully acoustic version would have worked. I agree with him, and with Jen: a good song is a good song, and “I Wann Dance with Somebody” is a good song.

Or, in short: “sing better.”

Jaya: “He needs a style makeover – already has the voice.”

La’Porsha Renae “Halo” Beyoncé

Another week, another moment. This is what Idol winners do. They command the stage, the song and the crowd. La’Porsha is in complete control of the competition, while the rest struggle to find their place.

Judges: Jen, with 1% of the vote in, is calling it for Chia Girl.

Jaya: “Didn’t like the song for her – she’ll stay.”

Jaya aside: “What’s with all the formals?”

Trent Harmon “When A Man Loves A Woman” Percy Sledge

He relaxed a lot of the facial contortions, and it didn’t hurt his intonation at all. This was another moment, perhaps a bigger moment than Chia girls. Trent might be staking his claim in what might turn out to be one hell of a fight for second place.

Judges: Jen just endorsed Trent and La’Porsha for the finals. Is she hacking my computer, or am I hacking hers?

Jaya:”He destroyed that song, the high note was good – but he has to go” (she hates the faces he makes)

Tristan McIntosh “Go Rest High on That Mountain” Vince Gill

Suddenly everyone is bringing it. I might be pimpin’ out the moments, but Tristan will never sounded better than she did tonight.

Judges: gushed (“you sang better!”)

Jaya: “She has a quality in her voice like Charlie Pride when she sings country.”

Avalon Young “Earned It” The Weeknd

Perfect song, sung damned near perfectly.

Judges: Jen sure hides her feelings, doesn’t she? I suppose we are all biased towards our own. I’m not sure Olivia or Gianna can beat this, even if they are perfect.

Jaya: “She knocked it out of the park.”

Olivia Rox “Trouble” Pink

She went for the quadruple axle about six times, and she might have hit it once or twice, but mostly she kept landing on her butt. In baseball terms she was trying to hit a five run homer with the bases empty and the rest of the team already in the showers. She knew she was going to need a miracle, so she tried to crap out the 3-5 years of experience she needs in a minute and a half. No such luck.

Judges: I didn’t listen, there was no point.

Jaya: “Pack it up, not a good song for her. She has a hard time picking songs.”

Gianna Isabella “If I Ain’t Got You” Alicia Keys

Dead girl walking, but surprisingly Gianna was dammed good! She still isn’t refined, especially in her upper range where she sometimes shouts – and her tone gets as threadbare as an old afghan – but I think the kid earned her stripes a little tonight. She honestly should have been done weeks ago, but to her credit she worked hard and got a lot better as the season went on. She has a cheerful, bright tone to her voice, so she has a chance to be something down the road.

Judges: I skipped ’em again.

Jaya: “Bye bye.”

Yep, Avalon is the one. The kid earned it, of course – she nailed a tough song under a ton of pressure – but I can’t say I’m thrilled about it, not yet anyway. Part of me will miss the two kids, but the remaining eight are all good, interesting performers. The show will go on, and – despite Idol’s own attempts to sabotage itself – the show will be entertaining.

Final Eight Power Rankings

8: Avalon. One great performance can’t compensate for the stink of landing in the bottom three. She’ll need to do it again.

7: Tristan. She might need to double down too, but she was voted into the top seven after a terrible performance. She might just be popular. And Avalon might just be screwed.

6: Lee. He’s running up against his 16 year old-ness, a one pitch pitcher who needs a second pitch in a hurry.

5: Trent. 2-5 are bunched together like a hand towel, but if they are 2, 2a, 2b, and 2c – then Trent is 2c for his facial tics and his relative lack of cuteness.

4: MacKenzie. He has more experience than Sonika, a better voice than Dalton, and he’s cuter than Trent, but he’s third out of four on most of those lists.

3: Sonika. At her audition I thought she was too sing-songy to compete, that she wouldn’t stand out. I was way wrong – her tone is special and she’s a knockout, so standing out ain’t a problem – but now that we are getting down to the nitty gritty her tendency to be sing-songy is becoming a thing again. Can she fix her phrasing in a month, when she will need to be perfect?

2: Dalton. A week ago he was the odds-on favorite, and next week he might be singing for his life on the show. Things can change in a hurry.

1: La’Porsha. I was wrong about her range based on her current performance, but I think at the time I was right. It was only what, three or four weeks ago that she sang “Proud Mary”  and couldn’t crap out one more step at the top? She has gained at least a third-octave since then, and with the added top range the notes just below have become powerful as hell.