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'American Idol' recap: Jax wows Kelly Clarkson, reaches Top 8

Jax sings Bon Jovi's

Jax sings Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" on '80s theme night on "American Idol XIV," which aired Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Credit: Fox / Michael Becker

It was clear Atlantic Beach native Jax was going to do well on “American Idol's" Kelly Clarkson Week when she wowed the star herself in rehearsals.

“Oh my goodness, you’re an artist,” Clarkson told her after hearing Jax do her song “Beautiful Disaster.” “I have no notes for you.”

Jax sailed into the Top 8 after her powerful performance of the ballad, which wowed the judges. She even got some help from host Ryan Seacrest, who carried the train of her flowing black gown while she walked up the steps back to her greenlit chair.

On a more surprising note, 15-year-old Daniel Seavey was cut from the competition, after delivering a truly terrible version of “Breakaway” as he worked through a bout of laryngitis.

OK, America, I apologize. I thought for sure that when “Idol” producers introduced the “Fan Save,” with viewers voting on Twitter to save either Daniel or Rayvon Owen, that young Daniel was a shoo-in because his young fans were more likely to tweet their support. Could it be that most of them had to go to bed before the vote at 9:45 p.m.? In any case, let’s just appreciate this gift. Daniel seems like a sweet kid and he may have a future as a singer, but he’s just not ready yet. (He is an easy call for every casting agent working on a Disney or Nick show, though.)

Here’s how the rest of the night shook out:  

1. CLARK BECKHAM, “The Trouble With Love Is”: He hit the ballad out of the park with even bigger notes than Clarkson tried on the original -- quite the feat, especially as he tried so hard to connect with the camera that he looked confused at times. “Lead with the feeling,” Urban said. Lopez gave him a standing ovation and said she had goosies from head to toe. “You took a Kelly Clarkson song… and you nailed it,” Connick said. Fans clearly loved it, too, buying his version of the song on iTunes and pushing it into the Top 60, making it the only performance of the week to chart.

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2. JAX, “Beautiful Disaster”: Jax said she could relate to the song because it described her relationship. Barefoot and wearing a dramatic black gown, she clearly had a connection to the song, giving a performance that just kept getting stronger as she went along. Connick said it was fantastic. Urban said he holds her to a higher standard, but told her the artistry was clear. “That was really pretty,” Lopez said. “This was the pure version of Jax that was really beautiful.”

3. TYANNA JONES, “Mr. Know It All”: Young Tyanna said she picked the song because she had been bullied and she delivered it with just the right amount of defiance. “You sang that lyric as well as you could sing it,” Connick said. Urban said she didn’t quite get to the “dark center” of the song. Lopez said she reminded everyone she has “amazing pipes.”

4. QUENTIN ALEXANDER, “Dark Side”: There’s something magical about Quentin. Even though he may not hit all the right notes, he hits the right feelings, easily winning over Clarkson in rehearsals. “I thought it was perfect for you,” Lopez said. “You have such a great poise when you perform,” Urban said. Connick said he needs to work more on his technique.

5. JOEY COOK, “Miss Independent”: Joey, who got engaged over the weekend, stretched the song almost to the breaking point on the verse with its “Fever”-like reworking, but the chorus and bridge brought it back to a cool vibe. She landed a standing ovation from Urban. “You have so much artistic weight,” Urban said. “You do it so effortlessly.” Lopez said, “You’re in your own lane.” Connick gave her an A+ for bravery in the arrangement, then chastised her for treating jazz like a novelty. Of course, seeing as jazz is pretty much where she’s coming from, she obviously meant no disrespect.

6. NICK FRADIANI, “Catch My Breath”: Kelly Clarkson said this was the hardest song to sing on the show and Nick fell into a few of the traps, especially on the low end. But he really is coming along and his performance made it seem like he could be the next Rob Thomas. “There is a blossoming happening,” Lopez said. “I thought it was a really good vocal and a really good performance.”

7. QAASIM MIDDLETON, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”: Turning the big dance anthem into acoustic blues was a really smart move, but he couldn’t quite carry the tune all the way through, even messing up the end. Connick said he needs to sing his runs better. Urban said he struggled with moving from his falsetto to his regular voice. “You knew,” Lopez said. Qaasim agreed, saying it wasn’t his best.

8. RAYVON OWEN, “Since U Been Gone”: This was one of those times when the arrangement doesn’t fit the song. He drained all the attitude and cool from this and weighed it down with sap. It was sung pretty well, but it wasn’t enjoyable. “All chops and no gravy,” Connick said. “I just keep wanting to hear your gravy.” Lopez said he did a beautiful job. “Keep digging,” she said. “Keep pushing.”

BOTTOM TWO: Rayvon, Qaasim




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