Atlantic Beach native Jax made her way into the “American Idol” Top 16 and then quickly showed why she stands out in the crowd.

First of all, she was wearing #TheDress. Host Ryan Seacrest even joked about showing how the blue-and-black number looked white-and-gold on his phone. Ever the diplomat, that Ryan.

Then, she tore apart “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” turning the verses into something that sounded like “Fever.” It didn’t exactly work, as all the judges trashed the arrangement, while encouraging her for trying it.

“That song didn’t work in that way,” judge Jennifer Lopez said. “Make sure it’s taking us somewhere.”

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Judge Harry Connick Jr. was even blunter, saying, “That arrangement was dull.”

However, Jax is anything but dull, even turning her final plea for votes into something different, saying, “If you want to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, join the Jax Pack.” At this point, she is pretty far from “The Walking Dead.”


Here’s how the rest of the Top 8 performances stacked up:

1. JOEY COOK, “Shop Around”: The good news for Joey fans is that even when she was clearly freaking out about advancing to the next round, she was able to hold it together enough to have the best performance of the night.

Her spare, jazzy take on The Miracles classic was sleek and flirty, even as she was clearly shaking with excitement toward the end. The bad news is that this may be the last round where she can get away with those kind of nerves. The judges still liked it. “You make bespoke custom music,” Keith Urban said. “You’re so unique,” Lopez added.

2. JAX, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: She would have been better off singing the Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell classic straight, but she still pulled it off. “You have such strong artistry,” Urban said. “It’s so original.”

Lopez said she didn’t like the arrangement, but added, “You’re one of the favorites.”

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3. TIANNA JONES, “Rockin’ Robin”: Her take on the Michael Jackson breakthrough hit was sweet and fun like the original. “What can’t you sing?” Connick asked.

4. SARINA-JOI CROWE, “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”: Her slowed-down version of The Miracles classic, stripped-down to a single guitar, had everything going for it except one thing. She was flat all the way through, which Connick, naturally jumped on.

Nevertheless, Lopez supported her. “You’re probably the best singer here,” Lopez said. “You’re super-special, super-gifted.”

5. ADANNA DURU, “Hello”: Her spare and simple take on the Lionel Richie hit was pretty in places, though she was in and out of tune throughout. Connick was even less charitable, saying, “The whole thing was out of tune.”

Lopez offered her encouragement. “You can do it,” she said. “You can do anything.”

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6. MADDIE WALKER, “I’ll Be There”: This was more Mariah Carey than The Jackson 5, which is a problem because young Maddie is no young Mariah. She holds her notes a little too long, showing that she can, even though it doesn’t really serve the song. Connick explains dynamics to her. “Think about dynamic range so that everything’s not loud all the time,” he said. “It got soft at the beginning and the end, but in the middle try to find ways to use that.”

7. LOREN LOTT, “I Wanna Be Where You Are”: She spends the song slightly off-key and her voice is occasionally a bit thin, but the joy of her performance of the Michael Jackson nugget nearly made up for it. “You’re going to do really well,” Lopez said. “It was really good, baby,” Urban added.

8. ALEXIS GOMEZ, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”: This was truly terrible, as Alexis seemed unable to handle the transition of being the last to learn she had advanced and then having to perform. “That was really out of key, it even bothered me,” Lopez said.

Connick said there were “a lot of things I didn’t like about that performance.”


SHOULD BE CUT Alexis, Loren

WILL BE CUT Alexis, Adanna