So, this is it. The final American Idol performance round (for now, once again). On Wednesday night (April 6), the final three (La'Porsha Renae, Trent Harmon and Dalton Rapattoni) were narrowed down to the final two - and honestly, it's a battle to the finish.
Unsurprisingly, the final two contestants are Trent and La'Porsha. The latter has pretty much always been the one to beat, and while contestant after contestant just accepted that, Trent over the last few weeks has decided to fight back, and it's been really effective. He's grown leaps and bounds while La'Porsha has turned into an incredibly confident performer.
So, before the 15th Idol is announced tonight - we have to ask, how did the final performances stack up? Admittedly, the battle of La'Porsha v. Trent is like comparing something awesome to something amazing, so take the rankings with a grain of salt...
07. ** Dalton Rapattoni, "Strike a Match": Dalton Rapattoni cannot hold a candle to La'Porsha Renae or Trent Harmon when it comes to actual vocal power, and that was on full display for his potential winner's single. "Strike a Match" has the elements of a hit - more so than Trent's single. But, when the chorus kicks in and the synths get turned up, Dalton got full on SWALLOWED by the instrumentation. It seemed like he was really straining to hit each and every note, and that sort of tension never went away. Dalton is really, really young (and, even though his father may beg to differ, this is not his last shot at stardom) so he just needs time to become a better actual singer before he can be a solo star. (Note: Dalton was eliminated after the coronation single round.)
06. Trent Harmon, "If You Don't Know Me By Now": This was a great song choice by Simon Fuller for Trent Harmon, and I'm surprised it took him this long to tap into something this classic. Because "If You Don't Know Me By Now" is so simply composed, it gave Trent a lot of room to improvise and tap into the emotional lyric. He responded to this, mostly, by yelling. And something tells me all of those broad shots were made to make up for those wacky faces Trent will pull from time to time, and on a big screen TV, they really can be unappetizing. There were definitely some nice moments in here, but when it came to showing off the full range of Trent's abilities- I'm not sure if this was a winning performance.
05. Trent Harmon, "Falling": Trent Harmon's coronation single "Falling" had a lot of rises and falls in it, and that was a smart choice. Trent has an ease about him, which has developed throughout this competition, and despite the clear technical nuances and difficulties in this melody, he pulled off every single one effortlessly. Though Trent is clearly an amazing singer - I do have to wonder how this particular song falls into 2016's pop lexicon. It's not catchy enough to be pop, not powerful enough to be rock and it's not jazzy or edgy enough for alt. If Trent wins American Idol, this single will go to radio. But, where will it be played? What kind of album will he make? Can he be commercially viable? I'm... not so sure.
04. La'Porsha Renae, "Battles": Now *this* is an Idol coronation song. Mostly, La'Porsha's Renae's "Battles" falls in line with the show's long legacy of vaguely inspirational ballads, but that's something that is tried and true, and it falls nicely in line with La'Porsha's life story. It's interesting how reserved La'Porsha was on this song, she didn't reach for her crazy vibrato or her insane high notes. Instead, she was confident, proud and consistently strong, which is more than we can say for at least one of her competitors. Like Trent's coronation single, I worry about the commercial viability of "Battles," but this song could be a nice strong start to a soul career for this Idol standout.
03. La'Porsha Renae, "Diamonds": When La'Porsha Renae first sang "Diamonds," it was a real standout moment. I know this Rihanna track is a lot of people's favorite song of her's, but I have always found it to be a little boring and certainly very repetitive. But, in La'Porsha's hands, this song got a renewed life. La'Porsha held back for a lot of this episode, but she mixed together her velvet tone with that oh-so-crazy growl for her final Idol performance, and it was incredibly magnetizing. La'Porsha hit the runs and the vibrato and the range and the poise of this song flawlessly, and it was a strong moment for Idol to go out on.
02. La'Porsha Renae, "A House Is Not a Home": There is a real sweet, syrupy side to La'Porsha Renae's voice. It's something that, somehow, took me a long time to notice. But in her rendition of the classic soul hit "A House Is Not a Home," that sweetness was on full display. It was interesting that both of Simon Fuller's picks were such classics, and it felt like a callback to a time when Idol couldn't necessarily get more modern hits for its contestants. With that point aside, La'Porsha injected SO MUCH MEANING into every single lyric and it was so poised yet emotional and vulnerable at all the right times. And oh, was it satisfying.
01. Trent Harmon, "Chandelier": Wow. Admittedly, if you're a vocalist with a major range, Sia's "Chandelier" is always going to be a homerun for you. And that's something that Trent possesses. Unlike a lot of people, I wasn't such a fan of Trent's "Chandelier" the first time around. I thought it lacked a meaningfulness. But, with a new arrangement, I see why this was the song that he chose to revisit for his final showing as a contestant on American Idol. This performance was packed with his falsetto, which was notably absent from his first two picks. And it just hit the sweet spot of vulnerability, dignity and a stellar raw talent on full display. Trent has grown leaps and bounds throughout this competition. And while at times I still find him incredibly hokey, this was not one of those moments. And that massive standing ovation proved it.