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‘American Idol’ top 8 recap: which two singers were cut? (VIDEO added)

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AMERICAN IDOL: Top 10: L-R: Top 10 contestants La'Porsha Renae, MacKenzie Bourg, Tristan McIntosh, Trent Harmon, Olivia Rox, Gianna Isabella, Sonika Vaid, (L-R Front Row) Dalton Rapattoni, Avalon Young and Lee Jean on AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/ FOX. This image is embargoed until Thursday, Feb. 25,10:00PM PT / 1:00AM ET

AMERICAN IDOL: Top 10: L-R: Top 10 contestants La’Porsha Renae, MacKenzie Bourg, Tristan McIntosh, Trent Harmon, Olivia Rox, Gianna Isabella, Sonika Vaid, (L-R Front Row) Dalton Rapattoni, Avalon Young and Lee Jean on AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/ FOX.
This image is embargoed until Thursday, Feb. 25,10:00PM PT / 1:00AM ET

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, March 3, 2016

I genuinely like nine of the top 10 so I knew I’d be disappointed by someone going home tonight.

Of course, Gianna Isabella, the singer who was clearly out of her element, was cut. That was a no brainer.

The other choice – between Olivia Rox and Avalon Young – was tougher. But the judges telegraphed by their critique that Olivia was out.

I placed Olivia as the possible winner last week and now she’s gone. So much for my predictive ability this season!

Olivia basically screwed up last week with a poor song choice and arrangement. This week, I thought she did a great job but Avalon did better.

So the result: Avalon took the eighth and final spot.

I predicted the bottom three to be Tristan McIntosh, Gianna and Lee Jean with Gianna and Lee going home. I only got Gianna right.

Dalton Rapattoni, Sonika Vaid and Lee disappointed big time this week.

I loved MacKenzie Bourg  again, followed by powerhouse performance by La’Porsha Renae and Trent Harmon, who could be the top two. Indeed, my Power 8 next week will show some significant changes from my Power 10.

Who will go home next week? It’s another double elimination. Lee seems like a gimme. Maybe Sonika or Tristan would be the second. I don’t think Dalton will be cut yet.

Right now, I can see La’Porsha, Trent or MacKenzie winning. Dalton has fallen out of favor. Avalon is a real dark horse. I don’t think Tristan, Lee or Sonika have a shot.

My ranking of the eight: 1. MacKenzie 2. Trent 3. La’Porsha 4. Avalon 5. Tristan 6. Sonika 7. Dalton 8. Lee

Dalton Rapattoni (“Radioactive” Imagine Dragons) – His voice lacks the edge of the original and the performance falls flat until the very end. He didn’t bring much new to the song. It was just okay. Keith likes how hungry and passionate he is but didn’t think the song fit him. HCJ said it lacked electricity. Grade: B-minus

Lee Jean (“Use Somebody” Kings of Leon) – He’s obsessed with Ed Sheeran. But he said he needs to blaze his own trail. I don’t think he really did this time. It felt like an okay cover version. It didn’t have any real emotional resonance. I was bored. JLo said there’s more voice in him than he knows. He needs to let go and stretch more. HCJ felt it was strong. Keith felt he needed to do something different with it. Grade: B-minus/C-plus

Sonika Vaid (‘Since U Been Gone” Kelly Clarkson) – Again, this was a passable cover version of Kelly’s song. I don’t know if she added anything new though. HCJ said she was digging her voice more than reading the lyrics. Keith wanted more angry girlfriend. JLo said she didn’t let go and get lost in the character. Grade: B

MacKenzie Bourg (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” Whitney Houston) – He said he needs people to keep guessing. Finally, somebody does something cool and unexpected. He brings an interesting longing to a straight pop song. Just lovely. Keith said his voice just breathes. I loved the Rivers Cuomo thing going on. JLo said some switch ups don’t work but that one worked. She asks him to stretch even more vocally. HCJ loved his song choice. “I would have gone with it full acoustic.” Grade: A/A-minus

La’Porsha Renae (“Halo” Beyonce) – She takes control of this song, goes big, goes soft, shows she’s a master of her own vocal domain. JLo loves seeing her come into her own: “You’re the one to beat.” HCJ loves how she arcs a song: “Incredible- as always.” Grade: A-minus

Trent Harmon (“When a Man Loves a Woman’ Michael Bolton version) – He is a vibratto/run guy which often annoys men. But Trent doesn’t generally annoy me. He really brings sincerity and heart and confidence in spades. It works, histrionics and all. HCJ loves his voice on high sustained notes. Keith said don’t let the facial expressions affect your emoting. JLo is in love. She can see a Trent/La’Porsha finale. Grade: A-minus

Tristan McIntosh (“Go Rest High On That Mountain ” Vince Gill) – She tried “Clarity” by Zedd. Scott Borchetta hated it and she left in tears. So she went a completely different direction to a song she was clearly familiar with. She sang with conviction and emotion, which matters for votes. Her grandfather broke her back so she dedicated it to him. That worked. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

The bottom three: Gianna Isabella, Avalon Young and semi-shocker Olivia Rox. Olivia is someone I thought could win it all but her performance last week was truly forgettable and she paid the price. Avalon is also a dark horse who picked a song she had no feeling for at all. Gianna? Never ready, never was. If they pick either Olivia or Avalon, I’ll be happy.

Each got to sing and the judges will pick one to save:

Avalon Young (“Earned It” The Weeknd) – She has been getting her hair, makeup and clothing done now that it’s live. Last week, she also picked a pop song that was out of her comfort zone and it didn’t work. This time, she goes for an R&B song that’s more in her wheelhouse. She is clearly comfortable. JLo said she needed to do that. HCJ agreed that it was fantastic and is fine with her minus makeup. Keith said she knows what is fluid and comfy for her. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Olivia Rox (“Trouble” Pink) – She got the flu and ended up in the hospital. But she has recovered. I really like her. She has a Taylor Swift-ian feel about her. She rocks through this with verve and confidence. HCJ said there was one problem: she competed with Avalon’s performance. “I didn’t see any vulnerability because it didn’t call for that. That’s where song choice is everything. Your talent is undeniable.” Keith said vocal range is insane. JLo said everything about that performance showed she wanted it but she didn’t feel like trouble. It lacked believability, she said. Uh oh. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Gianna Isabella (“If I Ain’t Got You” Alicia Keys) – She even talks like a little kid. She has to “act” because she is too young to really connect with these songs she likes to sing. So she powers through it because all she has is the voice. The emotion? Not there. Keith said her voice is gorgeous but wanted more feeling. JLo loves her voice but she looks resigned. HCJ said she’s adorable and has an incredible voice. The judges are being nice because they are about to cut her. Grade: B/B-minus

Next week: “Idol’s” most sung songs. Nooooo!!! Please nobody dare sing “Against All Odds” or “Hallelujah” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “I Have Nothing.” But I sense we’ll hear at least one of those.

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