Wantagh’s Adam Ezegelian advanced to the “American Idol” Top 16 Wednesday night and immediately made a strong bid to move further into the competition.
His slowed-down, soulful version of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” was one of the night’s best, as the remaining eight guys began to separate into two groups – the ones who were strong performers right now and those with potential.
“I love that you’re here,” judge Keith Urban told him. “I love that America voted for you.”
“Me too,” Ezegelian replied.
Time will tell if the 21-year-old toy design student becomes one of the Top 12 finalists. Voting continues until noon Thursday online. Judge Harry Connick Jr. said Ezegelian has impressed him with his powerful, accurate voice.
“There’s so many talented guys left that I’m just honored to be here,” said Ezegelian. “I hope I can stick around.”
Atlantic Beach native Jax will learn if she joins the Top 16 Thursday night, when the field of 12 female singers is cut to eight.
Here’s how the Top 8 guys stacked up in Motown Week:
1. QAASIM MIDDLETON, “I Wish”: This week was meant for the 19-year-old from Brooklyn. He felt the Stevie Wonder groove and left it all on the stage, showing how impressive an entertainer he really is, dreadlocks flying as he spun while still maintaining great control of his vocals. “Watching you in front of audience is what it’s all about,” Urban said. “You just explode.” Lopez said, “You so damn funky… You own that stage.” She cautioned that the dancing might take away from his vocals. “People ask all the time, ‘What are we looking for?’” Connick said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
2. QUENTIN ALEXANDER, “Master Blaster (Jammin’)”: Even though he learned that he was safe just minutes before, he delivered a confident, powerful performance, adding even more reggae into the Stevie Wonder hit. “That was so easy, that was so smooth,” Lopez said. Connick said it was good, but would have been better if he wasn’t so freaked out by the news of being saved from elimination. “It was a bullseye,” Urban said.
3. ADAM EZEGELIAN, “I Want You Back”: The Wantagh singer showed skill in slowing down the Jackson 5 classic and hit some great notes, though where he really shines is his ability to entertain. He had the judges laughing. “That was the perfect song for you,” Urban said. Connick called him dangerous, adding, “You nailed every note, so nice job.”
4. CLARK BECKHAM, “Tracks of My Tears”: His rocking version of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ classic showed his range, skillfully moving from falsetto to growls, even shifting into a soulful rave-up. Connick said the arrangement had no real ending, though he was praised by the other judges and mentor Scott Borchetta. “I think you could go all the way,” Lopez said.
5. NICK FRADIANI, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”: He seemed uncomfortable and a little behind the beat on the Stevie Wonder signature hit, though his voice was good on the difficult song. Connick said it was great, but encouraged him to smile more. Urban said he looked uncomfortable with the guitar.
6. RAYVON OWEN, “My Girl”: His sweet take on the Temptations classic featured some nice ad libs and runs, showing his comfort with the material. Connick said there was too much sweetness. However, Urban said, “You’re gonna be here, I guarantee it.”
7. DANIEL SEAVEY, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”: The adorable teen tackled the Marvin Gaye classic in a key that was too low for him. He also looked uncomfortable on camera, though he pulled off a nice finish. “It’s gotta groove harder,” Connick told him. However, judge Jennifer Lopez was hopeful he would continue, saying, “You’re gonna be a favorite around here.”
8. MARK ANDREW, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”: Connick called his rearrangement of the Temptations’ classic a “jam band” take, adding that he liked it, even though Lopez and Urban didn’t. They didn’t even address the fact that it was too fast and delivered too happily to suit the lyrics. “I’m just glad you’re here,” Urban said.
SHOULD BE CUT: Mark, Daniel
WILL BE CUT: Mark, Rayvon
ACTUALLY CUT: ???