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'American Idol' recap: Jax advances, Harry Connick Jr. and contestant Quentin Alexander butt heads

From left, judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and

From left, judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. on the Thursday, March 19, 2015, episode of "American Idol XIV." Credit: Fox / Michael Becker

Pretty much everything on “American Classics” week on “American Idol” seemed crazy.

Joey Cook was eliminated after delivering the best performance of the night, a countrified hoedown version of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Nevertheless, she lost the Twitter faceoff to Rayvon Owen, who for the third week running landed in the bottom two but survived thanks to Twitter votes.

But the craziest part came much earlier, when Quentin Alexander complained about his friends Joey and Rayvon ending up in the bottom two. It seemed pretty clear that he was complaining about how the vote turned out when he declared the whole situation “wack.”

However, judge Harry Connick Jr. took offense, even though most viewers realized that Quentin had no quarrel with the judges. “Quentin if it’s that wack, you can always go home,” Connick said. “‘Idol’ is paying a lot of money to give you this experience. I think that’s highly disrespectful.”

Always ready to gin-up controversy, producers sent Quentin back to stand next to Connick to explain himself. “It sucks to see two people who I’ve grown to love go home,” he said, standing next to Connick. “I’m not disrespecting this competition.”

Host Ryan Seacrest later joked, “I thought you were going to hit him.”

Without missing a beat, Quentin responded, “No, I was raised better than that.”

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It was an uncomfortable moment, made even more uncomfortable when Connick called Clark Beckham the only musician left in the competition, even though Atlantic Beach native Jax has often played piano on the show and Nick Fradiani often plays guitar. Never mind that singers are also musicians. Maybe Connick was just in a bad mood.

At least Jax had fun, especially during her raucous, rocking version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

Seacrest congratulated Jax for using the wind machine for the first time this season, during her performance of “Piece of My Heart.” “It made me feel really girlie,” Jax said.

Here’s how the Top 6 stacked up:

1. CLARK BECKHAM, “Superstition”: He improvised just enough on the Stevie Wonder classic to make it work, even doubling down on the guitar-playing, after the judges urged him to let it go last week. “You’re looking good,” judge Jennifer Lopez said. “It’s all coming together for you.” “I thought that was about as good as you could’ve done that song,” Connick said, “I have no critique.”

2. JAX, “Piece of My Heart”: She really sells the Janis Joplin classic, with the help of a wind machine and a whole lot of fringe. “I really liked it,” Connick said. “I thought that was strong.” Judge Keith Urban said she sings really well with the band. “This is kind of your element when you get to rock out a little bit,” Lopez said.

3. TYANNA JONES, “Proud Mary”: She was so much fun to watch on the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic via Tina Turner. Though she didn’t do the wild choreography “That was as close to perfect as you can get,” Connick said. Lopez said she picked a better song this time, allowing her to showcase her voice. “Find songs that do that every time,” she said.

4. CLARK BECKHAM, “Moon River”: You can almost hear the voice in his head say, “OPEN YOUR EYES. LOOK IN THE CAMERA!” He would be better off just being himself, especially when he does such a simple, elegant job on the song. “I felt like I was in a movie,” Lopez said, adding that it was “smooth and creamy.” Connick told him to learn more chords and then said he was the only musician left in the competition before taking it back. “It was warm and fuzzy like an epidural,” Urban said.

5. JAX, “Beat It”: Her version of the Michael Jackson classic was a blast, seemingly filtered through Fall Out Boy, with a bit of Paramore thrown in. “I loved that,” Connick said. “It was really, really fun.” Urban said her energy was contagious. “You made it look cool,” Lopez said.

6. TYANNA JONES, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”: She seems uncharacteristically nervous on the Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers classic, going in and out of key and seeming uncharacteristically stiff in her delivery. “I want a little more edge,” Urban said. “You’re beginning to get back into your groove,” Lopez said. Connick said he thought it was strong but he wanted to see more movement.

7. QUENTIN ALEXANDER, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”: The Lenny Kravitz hit was a gimme for Quentin, yet he still ran into some pitch problems. His strong performance more than made up for it, though. “The whole entire thing really worked,” Lopez said. “At the end of the day, you still give a great performance.” Connick said the band was more captivating than him. “There was nothing different in it,” he said. “You got to come out swinging.”

8. NICK FRADIANI, “American Girl”: The Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers classic kind of showed Nick’s weakness. He sounded OK by himself with the song slowed down and acoustic, but once the band kicked in he got run over by the volume and the tempo initially. He eventually got it back together, though. “You have a radio-ready voice,” Lopez said. “You sang that song really well.” Connick said, “This is precisely what you need to do.”

9. QUENTIN ALEXANDER, “The Sound of Silence”: His performance of the Simon and Garfunkel classic was strong, but his earlier run-in with Connick seemed to make him a bit shaky. “That was very sensitive and moody,” Lopez said. “That was a nice performance.” Connick said he needs to sing more in tune. Urban said, “I love what you’re going for.”

10. RAYVON OWEN, “Long Train Running”: He was too slick on the Doobie Brothers song and his falsetto was a bit much. “I want to feel something a little bit more,” Urban said. “There’s no soul in perfection.” Lopez said he’s getting better. Connick said it was fine, but the song choice was not exactly right.

11. RAYVON OWEN, “Always on My Mind”: His take on the Willie Nelson classic is once again too slick. His default position is a little too cheesy. Lopez said she had goosies everywhere. “I think you’re a ballad singer,” Connick said. “It really stacks you up there with everyone else.”

12. NICK FRADIANI, “Only the Good Die Young”: He recast the Billy Joel classic as a piano power ballad that almost worked, but when he added the power notes at the end it was clear he didn’t understand what the song was about. “That song is amazing done like that,” Urban said. “10 out of 10.” Lopez said it was great. Connick said Nick made it “a little bit self-involved.” “The arrangement threw me off,” he said.

BOTTOM TWO: Rayvon, Quentin




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