This week on American Idol takes the Top 11 to the Top 10, and only those 10 will be part of the summer tour that puts them and their voices in front of American audiences up close and personal. Movie music is a favorite theme in the competition, and Season 13 talents took hold and ran with it, giving the most diverse and memorable performances thus far. They had fun doing screen tests for each other, too, and Jennifer Lopez took to the stage in truly shocking pink. She reminded them that she and her fellow judges had to see the “wanna win” from every performer this week, and Harry Connick, Jr. said he would still “do the job I was hired to do”-no gimmies granted. Finally, standing ovations were seen. H
Female fan darling, Sam Woolf, dared to step out of his mellow singer-songwriter vibe with the Beatles’ classic, “Come Together,” from Across the Universe. He left his hat at home for this one, and it was nice to see him off the stool, and moving to the crowd. He was clearly out of his security setting, but did his best in branching out. Keith Urban commended the “loosen up” effort, and though Harry called it only an “average” performance, he said Sam was “on your way.” Jennifer Lopez found the only thing lacking was “more personality” added to the song. Her fellow contestants had a fun time teasing Jessica Meuse and her pink-streaked hair and “seasoned” streak of years of performing. Her selection of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence,” which already was part of her set list, wasn’t so appreciated by Jennifer. Ms. Lopez asked, “Do you think you can win?” Jessica offered an assertive, “Yes,” in spite of the critique that she never found her “groove” in the song from The Graduate. Harry Connick, Jr. gave support, saying how he admired her courage keeping steady when the band went off-track. Keith gave advice on how to use more vocal subtlety on the big stage versus smoky bars. She still gave a performance a performance worthy of staying. CJ Harris really settled into a comfort zone on “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band from the Blow soundtrack. He brought a new guitar, his “baby” for the night, with his wife and family looking on, and love and that fresh sound worked like a charm, CJ sounding more in his pure element than ever. Jennifer Lopez danced through the whole performance from her seat, and Keith gave a standing ovation. Harry even raved, saying , CJ “picked and sang your way back to the forefront.” Keith praised that he “know(s) exactly who you are now.” Jennifer reminded the Alabama native that performances like that can have the power to change the world! Dexter Roberts stuck with the southern vibe, choosing the ultimate anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama” from Forrest Gump. Going capless and clean-cut, Dexter reveled in the rousing number, and everyone was eating out of his hand. Harry Connick, Jr. praised the performance as “smart” noting that a string of strong performances keeps him in contention, even though Harry would’ve liked a performance “bigger than the song.” Keith admired the “Dexterism” infused in the song, and Jennifer declared, “You could win” with performances like this. Ben Briley departed from his tradition, perhaps a tad too much in the judges’ estimation, choosing a stylish look in a velvet suit for his “Bennie and the Jets” selection from 27 Dresses. Jennifer Lopez was not too worried, saying he was trying to “figure out” who he was as an artist. Harry Connick, Jr. couldn’t find the passion or the “pounding piano” noted in the song, saying it made it like an imitation. Keith concurred, saying the authenticity of Ben’s audition was missing.
Harry provided a tinkling piano segue for Ryan Seacrest before Majesty Rose came blooming onto the stage with the uber-popular “Let It Go” from Frozen. It was the perfect song for her, even her dress had blooms as she spiritedly move from one end of the stage to the other. Harry Connick, Jr. called her rendition “strong,” and Jennifer Lopez reminded, “You can do anything,” once Majesty focuses her immense voice. Keith Urban reminded her to “ease into” big songs like that, saying his daughter, Sunday Rose, and wife, Nicole Kidman, were cheering from home! Caleb Johnson took the panel, and everyone else, by surprise, performing Adele’s “Skyfall” from the movie of the same name. The rocker pulled off the Bond theme brilliantly, his big voice punching power through to the very end, bringing it home! Keith Urban called it an “amazing choice” and a perfect example of “restrained power” in the vocal. Jennifer Lopez said it was “perfect,” and Harry Connick, Jr. was so pleased, he resoundingly stated “the competition started tonight” with Caleb’s triumph. MK Nobilette went subtle, elegant, and soft again with “To Make You Feel My Love,” Harry Connick, Jr.’s version of Bob Dylan’s song from Hope Floats. Buddy, Emmanuel Zidor was cheering from the audience, and MK moved right to the panel to sing. Jennifer Lopez offered a sweet “Hi, MK” noting that the singer was really trying to connect with the song and her listeners. Harry Connick, Jr. advised her to “cut the runs” and rely on “what you do,” which is to stand and deliver an elegant vocal. Keith commented that “you look like a star,” and said that now MK needs to focus on finding comfort as a performer, because her voice is there already. Alex Preston went with a white suit to perform “Falling Slowly” from Once. The song suited him fine, too, as Harry Connick, Jr. said, remarking that great performances don’t need “fireworks.” Keith said that Alex always held his attention, and that he loved “your artistry” to the young man. Jennifer Lopez simply said it was a “beautiful performance.” Can Alex rouse his fan army again? Standing ovations came again for Jena Irene, who returned to the special place of the piano for Paramore’s “Decode” from Twilight. Her voice has an undeniable power, and her unique touches stand out, so it’s no wonder that Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez were standing out of their seats applauding. Harry Connick, Jr. called it “very, very strong” as a performance. Keith Urban remarks rose above and beyond, noting the “ferocity” and “exhilarating” force of Jena’s voice. Jennifer Lopez pleaded, “America, get on board! She’s the real thing,” declaring how she didn’t deserve to ever be in the bottom three.
Dynamo, Malaya Watson, was the closer for the night, and came on stronger than ever, singing “I Am Changing” from Dreamgirls. Jennifer Lopez was out of her seat like a shot, and almost to joyful tears, raving, “good girl” to Malaya, calling her performance “killer.” Malaya matched her vocals as big as her smile, and it was contagious to the panel. Harry Connick, Jr. said she was on her way to “big, better, then bigger and bigger.” Keith said her future was going to “blossom and be magnificent,” and she only needed to rein in her energy for the right touch. Malaya without energy wouldn’t be Malaya. She even told Ryan that a tuba performance is in the works!
Even after an American Idol night like this, someone has to be voted home. The truth of the tally comes Thursday.
American Idol broadcast, March 12, 2014 FOX Networks.