Now that American Idol has just half an hour to reveal the tally of America’s votes, perhaps the agony is less, but the tension still rises high, even if those waiting for the verdict no longer rely on host Ryan Seacrest to deliver the news. The big screen offers that revelation this season, but there still remains the revelation of Jennifer Lopez’ couture choices. It seemed that she and fellow judge, Keith Urban, made a decided effort to reverse choices after Harry Connick, Jr.’s “good and evil” characterization about their white and black choices the night before, because Jennifer sported a lovely, basic white tank dress Thursday, while Keith dressed in black, including the leather jacket. Harry Connick, Jr. took great joy in the invitation for the Idol eight to perform “When the Saints Go Marching In,” at the Orpheum, beaming with pride, raving “that’s my song!” This week, the votes would come to a bottom two talents, and it didn’t take long to fill those stools.
Dexter Roberts, CJ Harris, Jessica Meuse, and Caleb Johnson were the first foursome to get their verdict. Caleb got the first good news, going to safety. That was no surprise after his tender turn on Journey’s “Faithfully” to close the performance night this week. Next came Jessica, whose strong voice came through for her on “Call Me,” even if she missed enough of the sexy attitude. Dexter was next to get good news, pulling through with his “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” from his barroom repertoire. That left CJ Harris had the first of the two in the bottom. CJ had his best night ever with his folk-infused version of “Free Fallin.” Randy Jackson praised the way he came to high notes with “that cry in his voice.”
Sam Woolf, Malaya Watson, Alex Preston, and Jena Irene or called up next for their news. Alex Preston got the first good news. Randy Jackson even wondered if his reworking of “Every Breath You Take” went too far. Jena Irene got the next saving revelation. Her take on Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” pushed some boundaries, but she still takes no prisoners in performance. Sam got more good news, because his “Time After Time” was good enough to buy him some more time on the stage. That left Malaya sitting beside friend, CJ on the stools. Ryan Seacrest gave the hard-to-hear news that Malaya would be saying farewell. She chose her Dreamgirls big note number, “I Am Changing,” singing with her whole heart and typical huge smile. The tears didn’t come until her seven singer friends gathered around her for the final few lyrics. As they flowed from behind her glasses, the little tuba player who proved she could sing to all the world never lost her smile. Jennifer Lopez shared her own fears from her panel seat. Malaya doesn’t need to lose any sleep over her departure from American Idol a little sooner than she wanted. She still has decades of bringing that bright smile and big voice to audiences everywhere.
American Idol broadcast, April 10, 2014 FOX Networks.