'American Idol' Recap: The Top 10 Sing Top 10 Hits
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
season 13 started to hit its stride last week. After an extremely
underwhelming start, the Top 11 Week performances featured some
genuinely strong contenders and showed a move in the right direction.
Will that momentum keep up this week?
The show is taking the number 10 very literally as the Top 10 will sing Top 10 Billboard hits since 2010. Can Majesty and Sam bounce back after somewhat surprising (but not totally undeserved) appearances in the Bottom 3? Let's find out.
THIS...is American Idol!
The episode opens with everyone taking selfies. Much like twerking, I hope selfies are a fad that disappears soon. I think Ellen jumped the shark on selfies at the Oscars.
I love that Jennifer Lopez puts so much effort into her outfits every week, but Keith Urban just slaps on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Because we're down to 10 singers in two hours, there's a lot of filler at the start with talk about the earthquake and media training.
M.K. Nobilette: "Perfect" by Pink
She chose it to inspire people. She starts by looking in a mirror and it's strong and confident. This is a nice side of her, but then, towards the end, she loses the melody, drops a few lyrics and it all kind of implodes. I think she got too casual and laidback halfway through and, as J. Lo said, she retreated into her shell and kind of gave up. That's a shame, because I think it started strong and went downhill very quickly. The judges are very down on her, especially Harry.
Dexter Roberts: "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line
I feel like I write this every week, but WTF is this guy saying? Seriously, are their people out there who understand him when he speaks? At least TLC has the decency to give Honey Boo Boo and her family subtitles. It's another typical performance from Dexter's Country Karaoke Bar, where he picks a very popular, beloved song and does nothing interesting with it. J. Lo spends the whole time rambling about the necessity of hit songs. Harry Connick, Jr. lets Harsh Harry out of his cage and he rips Dexter apart for his totally dull rendition outside of a slow start. But starting off a little slow isn't enough of a change.
Jena Irene: "Clarity" by Zedd featuring Foxes
She's excited about doing electronic music on the show. Halfway through she orders the audience to whip out their glow sticks and it's like a rave. It's a weird mix and her voice has some nice bits. It's just something I haven't seen on this show before, but she seems to really enjoy it. Harry and Keith have a strong disagreement over whether or not this "tune" has a massive melody. The judges rave more than I would, and I can't help but laugh when Keith calls it the best of the night given how awful the first two were.
Alex Preston: "Story of My Life" by One Direction
Apparently this is the first time 1D has ever been performed in the competition on American Idol. That's almost hard to believe. He claims he's trying to switch things up, but he's still standing there with a guitar. I like it a lot, he's really starting to grow on me, but I can't help but feel that I'm seeing the same performance from him every week. He never does anything surprising (like putting down that damn guitar, which is basically his security blanket). Still, this was a perfect blend of song choice and his style and, for me, it was the best he's ever been.
Malaya Watson: "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars
In the past two weeks, the singer who performed fifth was eliminated. Malaya continues to confound me. She's really good at singing and hits the notes correctly, and she has the correct emotional connection to the song. Maybe it's the braces or her youth, but I'm not wild about the tone of her voice. She sounds a little weird to me, even though I respect her technical abilities that have definitely grown.
Caleb Johnson: "The Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga
He went from pure rock to Adele and Gaga and he makes jokes about putting peanuts in Alex's underwear. I love him more and more every week. He slays it and turns this into an old-school rock song. I like the arrangement because it suits his voice perfectly, though, like the judges, I wish it went somewhere. The judges are on the fence and Keith doesn't love the slowed-down tempo while J. Lo thinks it had no real emotion. I get the complaints, but vocally, it was amazing. However, the focus quickly moves from Caleb to Keith and Harry who switch seats and then impersonate each other. Keith wins by using the word "parallax." After the commercial, Caleb takes Ryan Seacrest's job and reads the prompter while Ryan acts like Caleb and screams a lot.
C.J. Harris: "Invisible" by Hunter Hayes
C.J. is a contradiction to me. He has so much soul, which comes through a bit in this performance, but he insists on clinging to the country genre. If you're going to be backed by a string quartet, you shouldn't also play the guitar. It's shaky and sleepy. Keith calls him out for being off-pitch, but he does it in the nicest way possible. Keith and J. Lo talk about how he was so much better in rehearsal, which is unfair. Harry lays down the law by saying he doesn't go to rehearsals because they don't matter. He then tries his hardest to give C.J. specific lessons on pitch, intonation and sharpness.
Jessica Meuse: "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People
She goes acoustic and I feel like she's finally getting into the groove of being on Idol and not a tiny bar. I really love every single part of it. This is definitely the best she's been yet. J. Lo liked it a lot too but Harsh Harry is a sourpuss and finds her too complacent and one-dimensional. He wants more emotion and doesn't think she sang the lyrics correctly (because it's a happy, uptempo song about mass murder). Meh, I agree with Harry almost always, but not here. I liked her sly smile.
Majesty Rose: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii
It's curious that the remaining singers from last week's Bottom 3 get the final two performance slots tonight. This is much, much better than last week's mess. It's smaller and much more in line with what she does well. She has a beautiful voice, but I'm still not sure who she is as an artist. There isn't really any connective tissue in her performances. Harry calls her complex and thinks audiences like to be challenged. He's giving us way too much credit. In a reversal of the night, Harry likes it but Keith doesn't because he found it a little too boring and one-note (which it kind of was).
Sam Woolf: "We Are Young" by Fun featuring Janelle Monae
It's time accept that Sam is never going to be the singer the producers wan him to be. He has a great look and he actually has a good voice, but he is a terrible performer. His eyes and face are completely blank. He's the opposite of "fun." I don't even know how to grade him anymore. It's just kind of lifeless and bland, but it's not bad. in the traditional sense.
Now we get to see how powerful the country voters really are. Based on tonight's performances, it is very obvious to me that M.K. Dexter and C.J. should be in the Bottom 3. But will Dexter or C.J. actually be there? Either way, I suspect it's finally M.K.'s time to go because why should people vote for her when she doesn't even seem to care.
(Image courtesy of FOX)