After weeks of auditions, the ‘American Idol‘ judges,Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban, have narrowed it down to 13 hopefuls looking to take home the title. This season’s crop of singers is good, but they need a lot of work. Chalk it up to nerves, excitement, sound issues or all 3, the Top 13 didn’t have their best showing and it was important for them to really “bring it” now that we’re in the live rounds and America is voting. The theme for this week was “This Is Me,” where the singers had to choose a song that best represented themselves.
Up first was 22 year old Dexter Roberts with “Aw Naw” by Chris Young. So Dexter has a good Country voice, but there wasn’t much about this performance that really spoke to me. Being the first to sing might have worked against him, as the judges urged him to show more of his personality and loosen up a bit. He needs to work on being more comfortable being on a big stage, but otherwise, he was okay.
Malaya Watson is a ball of energy, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell during her performance of Bruno Mars‘ “Runaway Baby.” This is a great song, and one that requires a lot of bounce, but I got none of that from her. She wasn’t so much singing, as she was just saying the words to the beat. The judges still think she’s a contender though despite how flat she was.
Kristen O’Connor sang Kelly Clarkson‘s “Beautiful Disaster.” The contestants must not have had enough time to relax before the show because this was the third performance in a row that felt off. Kristen has a big voice, big enough for this song, but she sounded way off key during the chorus. It’s also hard not to notice her diva-ish facial expressions. The judges noted how out of tune she was and that she seemed to be over thinking her performance. When JLo tells you to stop thinking, just do it, okay!
Ben Briley sang “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. Ben said that he always performs this during his gigs so he wasn’t challenging himself here, which was a good thing. Seeing as how he’s one of three Country dudes on the show this season, he has to set himself apart and I think he did so with this one. He just seemed more confident, but the judges thought it was a little too on the nose with the sped up tempo. As Keith told him, there’s a difference between owning a performance and it coming across as a bit kitsch.
CJ Harris performed “Radio” by Darius Rucker. CJ seems like a good old boy, but I wish he had performed something a little different. He couldn’t quite catch up to the higher parts of the song in the beginning, I have to agree with Harry. It was just an o.k. song choice, nothing special like he had performed during auditions.
MK Nobilette sang “Satisfaction” by Allen Stone. Okay, I really want to like MK but there is one thing keeping me from really rooting for her. She has a great voice, and this song helped to showcase it. It also helped that it wasn’t a weepy ballad. I just wish her delivery was better. She performs like she’s singing to herself in the bathroom and not an auditorium full of people. Maybe that helps with nerves, but I want her to project! I want her to stay in the competition for a while so we can continue to watch her grow.
Majesty Rose performed Janelle Monae‘s “Tightrope.” It was nice to see the North Carolina (woo hoo!) native choose something so upbeat. Her voice was crisp and on key and she was able to get more into it during the chorus. She got praises form the judges, and i’m pretty sure she will be sticking around for weeks to come if she keeps this up.
Jena Irene sang Coldplay‘s “The Scientist.” So this was the first song Jena learned how to play on the piano, at age 9, but why wasn’t she playing the piano now? She definitely could have worked the singer-songwriter angle here, but it was still a pretty decent performance. Harry keeps quizzing her about the meaning behind the songs she picks, and while that is important when it comes to conveying emotion, I think she just goes with whatever she’s comfortable with. And that is just fine.
Alex Preston sang Jason Mraz‘s “Beautiful Mess.” This last portion of she show featured contestants that I forgot about, or didn’t remember at all from the auditions. Even though Alex had a pretty great note towards the end of the song, ending it on a shaky one didn’t go over so well with the judges. Singing off key can be good, but not too much, said Harry. The almost acoustic performance was loved by JLo, though.
Jessica Meuse sang “Crow The Butterfly” by Shinedown. Jessica solidified her position as the Rocker Chick for this season with this performance, and her pink streaked hair. I’ve never heard this song before but something tells me the original isn’t as good as Jessica’s rendition. Jessica performed without her guitar, but I don’t think she needed it. She showcased her power vocals and became a favorite for me and the judges.
Emily Piriz sang Pink‘s “Glitter In The Air.” She didn’t perform this hanging above the audience, but it was a decent vocal showing from Emily. It’s hard to do a song like that just standing still, so it was a bold choice. The judges told her to find more of an edge. Does that mean swinging from the rafters? I don’t know, but we’ll have to see how she progresses.
Sam Woolf sang “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty. Thinking on it now, this is a really odd choice for something that is supposed to represent him. Sam sounded good though, but it was a little too static. The judges wanted him to loosen up as well. Harry said it was “too smooth.” Maybe he should have performed that other Rob Thomas song by that name.
Last singer of the night was Caleb Johnson singing “Pressure in Time” by Rival Sons. Caleb is at least 3 different chubby, white dudes from Idols past rolled into one. I can’t really say that i’m buying what Caleb is selling, but he knows what type of artist he wants to be and he can rock a stage. Like JLo said, he has been planning his rockstar life and he may not win the show but he might get a career out of this anyways.
There have been some crucial changes made to the show this season. Some great (hello new judges), some utterly confusing or unnecessary (the new voting rules). The Super Vote is still in play, all the contestants have their own phone number for the whole season. Instead of waiting until after the show to call or text in your votes, you can start at the beginning of the show, and can vote by simply searching for ‘American Idol‘ on Google. I’m not sure how all of that is going to work out, but remember when all you had to do was call one number for one little vote. My how times have changed. Randy Jackson is still around as the show’s mentor, Seacrest is still Seacrest, but it’s up to the contestants to bring the show back to it’s former glory and ratings.