photo courtesy Fox Broadcasting Co.
Rayvon Owen with the rest of the "American Idol" Top 5: Jax, Clark Beckham, Tyanna Jones and Nick Fradiani.
UPDATE: Rayvon Owen made it into the final four on American Idol, and he's scheduled to appear in Richmond on Friday, May 1, for a parade and concert at the James Center downtown from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
“I’m hanging in there,” Rayvon Owen says with a chuckle. Recently calling from Los Angeles between photo shoots, 23-year-old Owen, now in the Top 5 of American Idol finalists, takes a breather from the whirlwind of prepping for tonight’s show to look back on the past month. “I kind of do well under pressure I guess,” he says, a full laugh coming through this time.
For five straight weeks, the Richmond native has held his own in what has become a weekly struggle to defend his place among the top contenders on American Idol. In four of the last five shows, Owen has been one of two contestants to receive the lowest amount of votes during each week leading up to the Wednesday night performances.
Thanks to a new mechanism introduced to the show this year, the bottom two contestants each week have competed for the Idol Fan Save, wherein during the course of the show, viewers are able to vote via Twitter for which contestant of the two will remain on the show. The fan save began with the live show of the Top 8 contestants in the last week of March. Owen secured his spot with a poignant take on Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” winning the first of the fan save votes and sparking a month-long streak of similar saves.
“It’s unfortunate,” Owen says of his placement in the bottom week after week, “but it’s kind of a blessing in disguise at the same time because it’s brought some kind of fight out of me.”
That fight has perhaps not only been Owen’s saving grace but also, he says, the push his performances have needed. “I think some of my best performances have been out of the past few weeks when I’ve been in the bottom and had to fight for the Twitter save,” he says.
Viewers and judges alike have agreed, with Owen receiving both saving votes and critical praise of late. His performance last week of Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One,” drew acclaim from judge Keith Urban. “If you keep singing like that,” Urban told Owen, “you’re going to be the only one left, I promise you.”
“That was the first time that they actually acknowledged that,” Owen says, “which is something that they had never said this entire season. They never coined me as one of the front-runners.”
But with the praise mounting and a place among the show’s Top 5 secure, Owen now faces a new challenge. Having won every fan save vote of the season, Owen must now rely on votes received during the week, as the Twitter save will be discontinued for the remaining performances and the contestant with the fewest weekly votes will be eliminated.
The loss of the fan save has done little to rain on Owen’s parade. “I feel fine about it,” he says. “Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned so much and have gotten this new arsenal to pull from of how to become emotional, how to connect with people [and] I feel like people are really starting to connect with me […] I never really saw that as a safety net in the first place.”
Making the Top 5 has automatically earned Owen a spot on the American Idol summer tour, which kicks off in July. The tour won’t include a stop in Richmond or Washington, so the nearest shows will be in Durham, North Carolina, on July 19 and Baltimore on July 21. Prior to the tour, if he makes it to the Top 3, Owen has a Richmond return in store, as the final three finalists will be making hometown appearances.
Owen is back on stage tonight at 8 p.m., singing Justin Bieber's "Believe," and he'll find out whether or not he’s earned enough of the past week’s votes to remain among the Top 4. Regardless of tonight’s outcome, his outlook remains as bright as ever. “There’s only going to be one winner and we’re all aware of that. As long as we just focus on making the best of the performance that we get, because each performance could be your last.”
Here's Owen singing Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One."