American Idol XIV: 20 Best Performances (Wrap-Up)

On my list, there are 45 live performances this season that stood out for me. So pardon me if I really had a hard time narrowing down this list to the 20 Bests and 7 Honorable Mentions.

This season is a rollercoaster ride but I will always say that this is probably one of the strongest crop of Top 12 American Idol has ever had.

The list is comprise mostly of live performances from Top 24 up to the finale. I would love to put performances from House Of Blues but then that was pre-Top 24. Nonetheless, this list is completely subjective and as much as possible, I tried to keep it from being bias and give out a very compelling list.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

TIGHTROPE
Tyanna Jones
Top 11: Party Songs
Watch it here.

SHAKE IT OUT
Quentin Alexander
Top 5: Arena Anthems
Watch it here.

RUNAWAY BABY
Adanna Duru
Top 11: Party Songs
Watch it here.

WINGS
Tyanna Jones
Top 12: Audition Songs
Watch it here.

MY IMMORTAL
Jax
Top 3: Hometown Dedication
Watch it here.

ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG
Nick Fradiani
Top 6: American Classics
Watch it here.

WIDE AWAKE
Rayvon Owen
Top 12: Audition Songs
Watch it here.

– –

20. I WON’T GIVE UP
Nick Fradiani
Finale: Simon Fuller’s Choice

– It is a refreshing sight to see Nick behind the piano. For him to pull this trick at the right time is a genius move in my book. Not to mention, his vocals here were solid and spot on. There is a delicate quality in his lower register that we rarely hear and the verses sounded beautiful. Watch it here.

19. ALWAYS ON MY MIND
Rayvon Owen
Top 6: American Classics

– Rayvon’s voice has this quality that is both soothing and exciting. The way he caressed each and every verses of his performance is like butter melting. It’s such a beautiful performance and this just showed a vulnerability that we haven’t seen from him before. Watch it here.

18. IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD
Clark Beckham
Top 12: Audition Songs

– Clark continued his streak of solid to great performances and there is no stopping this guy. Sure, this is yet another old song choice for him that is inevitable because of the theme but then should we really complain if it is this good? I mean, his control with his voice is admirable. The vocal choices were beautiful as well. Watch it here.

17. BRIGHT LIGHTS
Nick Fradiani
Top 4: Judges’ Hometown

– Nick’s upward trajectory in the competition is real people. He has been having real solid performances for a couple of weeks now and if this continues, we might find him at the top. This is yet another solid performance from Nick. His voice sounded gorgeous. His stage presence is strong and the vocal choices were spectacular. Watch it here.

16. IN THE AIR TONIGHT
Quentin Alexander
Top 9: Songs From 1980s

– Quentin mastered the art of drama in his performance. Sure this is yet another dramatic, melancholic arrangement but it just worked perfectly as a whole performance. His voice sounded nice with the song. A couple of pitch issues but the performance is simply enticing. Watch it here.

15. MAKE IT RAIN
Clark Beckham
Top 7: Billboard Hot 100

– See, Clark is capable of doing something current and he nailed it beautifully. His vocal choices were spectacular. His voice sounded divine with the track and the way he navigated the verses of the song is effortless. This guy is serious and with his body of work, he just solidify his rally for this season’s American Idol crown. Watch it here.

14. BELIEVE
Rayvon Owen
Top 4: Soul Songs

– Who would believe that a Justin Bieber ditty would sound this beautiful? Yes, on paper, this looked like a mismatch but somehow the arrangement of the song worked well on the type of artist Rayvon wanted to be. His vocals were not perfect as he crack in the middle but then that actually made it even more beautiful. It was passionate, genuine and gorgeous. Watch it here.

13. BACK HOME
Nick Fradiani
Top 3: Hometown Dedication

– Yup, Nick is in a quest of getting in that finale. He is just peaking at the right time. His song choices were always spot on. This Andy Grammer hit is a perfect fit for him. His vocals sounded great. His phrasing is lovely. There is a quiet confidence in his delivery that is just oozing with so much charisma and star power. Nick is a serious threat and I won’t be surprise if he sneak in on that final 2 showdown. Really good job. Watch it here.

12. MISS INDEPENDENT
Joey Cook
Top 8: Kelly Clarkson’s Playbook

– This is like “Fancy” all over again. There is a genius body of work in here. The arrangement thought leaves a lasting impression and Joey is in her element. Her vocals sounded pretty awesome and her pitch is almost on point. After that disastrous performance last week? Joey manage to pull herself back in the running. Watch it here.

11. BANG BANG (MY BABY SHOT ME DOWN)
Jax
Top 24: Open Theme

– I admit, there are pitch issues here but I just didn’t mind after her performance. It was just a dramatic yet passionate performance from Jax. The way she navigated the verses of the song felt like she meant every single word of the song. It’s like she welcomed us in that bubble of drama and you loved drowning on it. This seems to be polarizing because Jax is, but there is a right balance of quirk and contemporary that perfectly worked. Watch it here.

10. WHAT HURTS THE MOST
Nick Fradiani
Top 4: Soul Songs

– Who knew? For weeks, Nick has been depicted as someone playing it safe, sounds like he is doing the same thing every week and even if he hasn’t really had any bad performance, he never really had that stand-out. But Nick surprise us when he dropped that guitar and sang the soul out of this Rascal Flatts hit. It was just vocally outstanding. I never knew he had that range. The quality in his tone surprisingly work in here and the whole thing was just riveting because of that dynamics play he did. Watch it here.

9. I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
Quentin Alexander
Top 24: Open Theme

– Quentin broke out of the pack when did an interesting but riveting performance of “I put a spell on you”. It was dramatic, intense and surprisingly engaging. The vocals weren’t perfect but he managed to pull off something exciting even if there are no bombast on the vocals and production. It was something magnifying at its best and dramatic in its own. Watch it here.

8. THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE IS
Clark Beckham
Top 8: Kelly Clarkson’s Playbook

– Clark, again, managed to pull some incredible vocal acrobats, sing that high notes effortlessly and put on a dynamic, compelling performance like he has been singing the song for years. It was just magical and the vocals here are ridiculously fantastic! He is making it hard for the others to catch him in a race that is clearly in his hands. Watch it here.

7. SINCE U BEEN GONE
Rayvon Owen
Top 8: Kelly Clarkson’s Playbook

– I thought Clark won the night with that performance but here comes Rayvon and he sang the hell out of this Kelly Clarkson hit. The slow downed arrangement works perfectly well with Rayvon’s voice. His vocals were gorgeous. The phrasing is lovely. This is like a ball of cotton and the vulnerability in his delivery is simply fantastic. Watch it here.

6. STAY
Tyanna Jones
Top 7: Billboard Hot 100

– Tyanna this week laid it all on the line. Her performance spoke so much emotions. Her delivery is such a beautiful and emotional moment. Her vocals were top notch. This is her best performance to date. Watch it here.

5. MAMMA KNOWS BEST
Sarina-Joi Crowe
Top 24: Open Theme

– Sarina tonight just came out with guns and blazing. Her bombast stage presence showed how much she wanted this and how the hell she missed the chance 4 times prior this. But I think those “No’s” that she had before made her stronger and now, she is an all out performer. Her vocals sounded great. Her phrasing was marbelous. This is a solid and strong start for the comeback kid. Watch it here.

4. WHITE FLAG
Jax
Top 5: Arena Anthems

– For an arena anthem theme, Jax pulled a sincere, honest, genuine water cooler performance that proved how powerful she can be as a performer when she’s behind the piano. There’s a sense of musicality from her here. No drama, no bizarre stage movements – just her and her voice. That quiet quality in her delivery is just beautiful. Really good job. Watch it here.

3. SUNDAY MORNING
Clark Beckham
Top 11 Redux: Movie Themes

– Who would’ve thought that this summer California vibe track from Maroon 5 would sound soulful and gritty? Yup. Clark just turned this song into another cover that is compelling and spectacular. It is current, vocally powerful and gorgeous. This is such a nice job from Clark. Another one great performance from Clark. Watch it here.

2. FANCY
Joey Cook
Top 11: Party Songs

– It took me awhile to decide if this is the best performance of the season or not. For me, it holds that ranking not until the #1 outshines Joey’s marvelous take on this Iggy Azalea hit. Yes, it was an original from Postmodern Jukebox and for me, Joey did justice with it. Her vocals were gorgeous, quirky and strong. Watch it here.

1. BEAUTIFUL LIFE
Nick Fradiani
Finale: Coronation Song

– Joey holds this spot not until this happened. Yup, Nick suddenly burst out of his comfort zone, delivered one of the best coronation song this show has ever had and his performance was just strong. Aside from the fact that the song sounded tailor-made for him, there is a new found confidence in him. His stage presence is just very charismatic and he is oozing with star quality that at this moment, we saw how much growth he had. He had the perfect story of an underdog who is just safe and uncomfortable when performing to the guy who managed to control the stage, to sing great and engage the audience like he is in his own concert. Such a shining moment from Nick and because of that I will reward him in my list – aside from him winning the American Idol crown in a come from behind fashion. Watch it here.

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