The Top 10 of “American Idol,” Season 13, took on the top of the charts, for an evening of hits from 2011 to today. It was a good way for them to prove they had potential to become the chart-topping hit maker the contest aims to produce.
- In a taped segment, host Ryan Seacrest gave them some media training on interviews. They also recorded intros for this week’s performances, which would be aired throughout the program.
- M.K. Nobilette kicked off the evening, picking Pink’s “Perfect,” which she selected because of its inspiring message. In homage to Pink, perhaps, she had some pink strands in her hair and wore an artsy T-shirt with a pink bottom showing half a face and a black top with flowers. She started the song by singing into a mirror, in an effort, it seems, for more creative staging. But rather than singing to herself, it seemed she was really singing to those in the audience who say she’s inspired them. Singing to the audience was when the passion in her voice became clear. That might have been why she missed a musical cue. Keith Urban noted the mistake but told her she needs to work on owning the stage. Jennifer Lopez told her she needs to be able to work past a mistake with such confidence that people will wonder if it was actually a mistake. Harry Connick Jr. didn’t think it was one of her strongest performances, though he thinks she has a really beautiful voice.
- Dexter Roberts went with “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line, ditching his guitar and standing center stage at the mic, wearing a simple blue long-sleeved shirt and jeans. The performance was sort of flat, although technically there was nothing wrong with it. Jennifer thought he could have done more to sell the song but felt it was a good performance. Harry thought if he was going to take a popular song, he ought to do more with it. He found Dexter’s version meandering. Keith liked the song choice but agreed he should have done more to change it up.
- Jena Irene chose “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes but didn’t play the piano this week. Still, she took a new approach to the song, changing up the vocals for this electronic piece. Harry thought she might have found her niche. Keith loved the tune, calling it the best performance of the night. Her praised her for making the song her own. Jennifer gave her some tips on the finer points of stagecraft, such as holding the middle when she’s working the stage.
- Alex Preston went with the One Direction song, “Story of My Life” and was intimidated about what their fans might think. Wearing a black leather blazer over a white T-shirt, he played his guitar and sang the song while doing a sort of march to the beat. There’s a sweetness to his voice at the end of phrases that converts a simple song into something much more. Based on the crowd response, he seemed to have pleased the Directioners. Keith liked that he’d made it his own. Jennifer found his vocal beautiful and said he’s owned the stage. He reminded her of Buddy Holly, she said. “You evoke greatness.” Harry said he’d “hit the bull’s eye on the artistry target” and said he might be leading the pack in that category.
- Malaya Watson sang the Bruno Mars song “When I Was Your Man,” wearing a dark gold glittery blazer and making a lot of large arm gestures which felt out of place. Her vocals were better than the previous week’s, but her high note was a bit harsh, making Jennifer purse her lips. There was some elegance lacking. Jennifer had originally been upset about the song choice, because it was a gender swap, but she said it gave her goosies. Harry felt she was completely present in every word. She suggested she talk to the musicians about different chords and how to sing notes in her runs that fit them. Keith thought it was good that she sang the song unchanged. He liked that there was more control in her voice.
- Caleb Johnson selected “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga, wearing a black leather jacket and acid-washed jeans. Despite the promising song selection, his performance lacked the punch of his earlier performances. Harry liked the song choice and said he does “loud” really good — not really a compliment — but knocked the performance. Keith said he delivers vocally every week but found the song lumbering and thought his voice was too big for it. Jennifer thought he sounded great and liked the half-time but felt it lacked authenticity, like he was just showing off vocally. At the close, Keith and Harry switched questions and imitated each other, with Harry doing Keith’s accent and Keith mocking Harry’s music-geek terminology.
- C.J. Harris went with “Invisible” by Hunter Hayes, and unfortunately, his first note was very rough. He had a lot of pitch problems, perhaps because he was having trouble playing and singing while listening to the violins behind him. Keith told him he has a special gift in his voice and that he’d nailed it at rehearsal but tonight it was really shaky with staying in tune. Jennifer called him a “quiet killer” and said that it had been perfect during rehearsal and hoped that America felt his heart. Harry said he himself doesn’t go to rehearsals, because what matters is what happens when the light is on. He said C.J. has a tendency to sing sharp, but if he works with the vocal coaches, he can fix it.
- Jessica Meuse sang Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” which she told Ryan has intense lyrics but an ironically bouncy melody. She sang it with country twang that worked, although she was smiling placidly, which was odd since she’d made a point of talking to Ryan about how she had paid attention to the lyrics. Still, it was her best so far by a country mile. Jennifer said that, compared to last week, it felt right in her wheelhouse and “it felt really good.” Harry disagreed, pointing out the complacent smile on her face and wasn’t sure how she was interpreting the lyrics. “I wonder where the cry is, I wonder where the laugh is.” He said she often gives a one-dimensional performance. Keith thought it was good because she’d made it her own. He thought it had a 1960s country feeling to it.
- Majesty Rose chose “Wake Me Up” by Avicci and played the guitar, wearing a soft white sweater with red stipes and jeans, with the band on-stage behind her. The performance was very down-to-earth, without the showboating she attempted last week. There were a few pitch issues, but overall, it was sweet and relatable. Harry called her smart and complex and said he liked the new interpretation of the song. Keith disagreed, saying that while he likes Majesty a lot, he didn’t think the arrangement works. He added, “But your voice always delivers.” Jennifer said she’d seen something in her she’d never seen, and that was fear. Majesty agreed that being in the bottom three last week was a big motivator.
- Sam Woolf sang “We Are Young” by fun. and Janelle Monae. His tone and phrasing were lovely, but Sam as always lacked an emotional impact as he sang the song, accompanying himself on guitar, wearing a simple short-sleeved white button-down shirt and a brown fedora. Maybe it’s because he wrenched the melody so hard at the beginning out of its socket that he lost all momentum. He ought to watch fun. perform it to get an idea of how to add passion to even the lightest melody. Keith felt sure he’d be last week (and given that he performed last, which is traditionally the strongest place to sing, that’s probably correct). Jennifer loved it, but Harry thought he still seemed timid.
- Kudos to Alex and Jessica and a nod to M.K. The most likely candidates for the bottom three this week are C.J., Dexter, and perhaps even Caleb. Could it be the first all-male bottom three of the season? Since M.K. sang first and has been in danger a couple times before, she could also wind up there. However, it’s most like to be C.J. packing his bags for home, but if M.K. finds herself in the bottom three, she might find that it’s three strikes and you’re out.
“American Idol” airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 p.m. Thursdays on FOX.