Caleb Johnson may have performed last on Wednesday night, but his typically boisterous performance caused Keith Urban to call him “a rock and roll Viking.” Singers this night were performing songs that they first sang at their initial auditions in a tribute to “the songs that began their journey.”
This concept turned out to be both good and bad. Performers like Jessica Meuse and Alex Preston chose to perform songs they had written. While the judges seemed to like that, viewers at home may not have warmed up as much to songs they have heard only once before. Jessica Meuse performed “Blue-Eyed Liar” and Alex Preston performed an original composition, “Fairy Tales,” as well, but was far better when he dueted with Jena Irene.
The duet of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” by Jessica and Caleb, originally performed by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty, was among the highlights of the evening. Another performer who came on strong this night was Malayah Watson with her heartfelt rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” Harry told her she was “doing everything right. Keep doing what you’re doing. That was great,” and Keith Urban gave her a standing “O.”
Sam Woolf sang “Lego House” by Ed Sheeren and was urged to connect more with his adoring fans by Harry Connick, Jr., while response to Jena Irene’s performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” was good from all (and the song is well known).
C.J. Harris was more in tune during his duet with Dexter Roberts than he was on his solo on “Soul Shine” but Jennifer Lopez pegged his appeal when she said, “There’s something that comes from you that touches my heart.” We learned that C.J.’s parents spent time in jail and his grandparents had to help raise him. Malayah Watson’s father came onstage to chat with the judges.
Dexter Roberts, who was selected out of Salt Lake City,” sang “One Mississippi” by Brett Eldridge and told a story about borrowing his cousin’s blue car to make it to the auditions.
Overall, Caleb and Malayah and Jena had strong nights, with Jessica doing well, also. The weakest performers, for me, were C.J. (as usual) and I was not a fan of Dexter’s song, nor of Alex’s, or Jessica’s solo number. There’s a reason that cover bands exist and that is because crowds like to hear songs they know. I predict that the individual cut on Thursday will have sung a little-known tune.