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'American Idol' recap: Jax bounces back, LI's Salt surprises

Jax has reached the Top 9 on "American

Jax has reached the Top 9 on "American Idol XIV." Credit: Fox / Michael Becker

“American Idol” turned into a bit of a Long Island party for ‘80s Week, as Melville’s Salt delivered a fierce version of “Push It” with her pal Pepa and Atlantic Beach native Jax rebounded to the top of the field.

Jax’s piano-driven version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” won her plenty of praise from the judges.

“You’ve got so much originality -- conceptually, visually, arrangement-wise,” Keith Urban said. “You’re gonna go a long way.”

Harry Connick Jr. told the 18-year-old that she would have been better by herself at the piano, but was still impressed. “Your originality is what brought you here,” Connick said. “Your intrigue is what kept you here.”

For her part, Jax looked so happy with her performance that she seemed set to burst.  “There’s so much inside of me that I want to let out, so it’s kind of hard to let it all out in front of America,” she said.

Speaking of America, it seems like it’s in a weird hate-hate relationship with “American Idol” at the moment.

Once again, it voted in 15-year-old Daniel Seavey, who continues to struggle, but seems charmingly OK with it. (Voters sent home the promising Adanna Duru and country teen Maddie Walker.)

However, the show seemed bent on retaliation, by kicking off ‘80s Week with David Hasselhoff. It was if producers were saying, “You like bad singing? We’ll give you bad singing!” The Hoff delivered a medley of songs from the decade, including a horrible version of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” His take on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” was even worse.

“We saw The Hoff sing 617 songs,” judge Harry Connick Jr., trying to seeming upbeat as he wore a “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” T-shirt. “And we saw Boy George!”

George was actually quite a good mentor and his version of “Karma Chameleon” showed that his voice has recovered from last year’s trouble that forced Culture Club’s American tour to be canceled. He told Ryan Seacrest the band would be returning to America in July.


Here’s how the Top 9 stacked up:

1. TYANNA JONES, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”: She updated the Whitney Houston classic with a touch of house music that could put it on the radio right now, especially considering how well she sang it. “That was a really cool arrangement,” Connick said. “I always feel like you are in the driver’s seat. That was strong.”

2. JAX, “You Give Love a Bad Name”: She seemed to take the judges’ criticism from last week to heart and turned the Bon Jovi classic into something very Jax-ish. She ripped it up and put it back together as a piano ballad with a bit of metal guitar that the judges didn’t like very much, but actually worked for the song’s energy. “You’re giving us all that ‘80s punk attitude tonight and I love it,” Lopez said. “I love everything about it…. This is the Jax that walked into the room and first saw you and fell in love with you.”

3. CLARK BECKHAM, “Every Breath You Take”: He really should have listened to Boy George. Dropping the key would have allowed him a little more power at the end to take the song to the next level. Nevertheless, his country-blues version of The Police classic was a lovely, simple change of pace. “It was beautiful,” Urban said. “You brought the melancholy and the pain.” Lopez said it showcased his voice and gave her “the goosies.”

4. QAASIM MIDDLETON, “Addicted to Love”: He reined in his wildness on the Robert Palmer classic and it worked for him, right up until his wild run at the end. That moment of recklessness didn’t erase the rest of the stylish version of the song, though. “I loved that,” Lopez said. “I loved seeing you a bit more reserved. You can’t help it. You’re just a great performer.” Urban said he thinks Qaasim doesn’t believe in his voice enough and compensates with the over-the-top performances. “I hope to hear something even more vulnerable,” he said.

5. NICK FRADIANI, “Man in the Mirror”: It was a smart choice for him to tackle the Michael Jackson classic. He stripped away enough so he could make it work for him, though he may have stripped away too much at the beginning because it felt a little ordinary. But the slow start helped him build to a strong finish. “I thought it was a fantastic vocal,” Connick said. “I think you are a sweet, kind soul and when you sing sweet, kind songs, that’s what I think your strong point is.” Urban said he needed to loosen up because at times Nick looks like he’s meeting his girlfriend’s dad.

6. JOEY COOK, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”: In some ways, she does seem like the second coming of Cyndi Lauper, but this song just didn’t work for her voice, which Lopez noted. Dressed as “Madonna in Space,” she was bouncing around, trying to generate energy, when the best part of the song was when she slowed it down and gave it a reggae feel. If she would have done that for the whole song, it would have been great. “You seem distracted to me tonight,” Connick said. “I thought it was good.” Urban said his wife and kids would be dancing around the house.

7. RAYVON OWEN, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”: His take on the Tears for Fears classic was a bit boring, though technically pretty good. His nerves shook him toward the end, but he did just get pulled from the brink of elimination. “I thought that was a pretty solid performance,” said Connick, adding that he doesn’t need to use his falsetto every time.

8. QUENTIN ALEXANDER, “In the Air Tonight”: Well, his supersized cardigan is awesome. The rest of his take on the Phil Collins classic? Not so much. His weird phrasing and odd vocal choices did play up the drama, but he was off-key most of the time. However, the judges liked it, perhaps because anything would look great following Young Daniel. Lopez called it a “home run.” Connick said he enjoyed it, but added that he needed to do something more up-tempo.

9. DANIEL SEAVEY, “You Make My Dreams”: Young Daniel is so cute and yet so very, very out of his league now. His take on the Hall and Oates song was like this week was the first time he had ever heard the song, which may be possible seeing as he was born in 1999, 18 years after the song came out. He flubbed lyrics. He sang out of tune and out of time. He tried to play to the crowd, but it just messed him up more. He’s sad to watch now. “Obviously, the audience at home loves you,” Lopez said. “You sang better than you did last week.” Connick told him to loosen up. “Everything was by the numbers,” Connick said. “Just have fun.”


BOTTOM TWO: Rayvon, Quentin (Actual Bottom Two: Rayvon, Daniel)


WILL BE CUT: Quentin


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