American Idol is wasting no time getting to the taker of the title for Season 13, and the process has been a pressure cooker for the hopeful talents who started out among 75,000. It was down to serious business straight out of the gate Thursday, as Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr., and Jennifer Lopez, sporting a superb little black dress, walked out to take their seats. Ryan Seacrest said someone “smells like a pretty flower,” as Harry tried to take credit, but that was one of the last moments of levity in the evening. The lights dimmed, and the names came rolling out for America’s picks to be Top 10.
Malaya Watson showed she was the little tuba player who could again. She raced out as the first singer to take a coveted stool, and had more spirit and joy than any high school cheerleader. Just her smile provided wattage for the theater Thursday!
Next came Ben Briley, who had better thank his wife for his future, her submission bringing him to the stage. America made a good choice, too, in their last male singer vote. He’s got the chops to stay.
Emily Piriz was called third, and she was literally shaking to take her stool. It’s hard to strap in tight enough for the roller coaster ride on Idol.
Alex Preston took a stool, too. His unique groove is getting to the judges and America at the perfect time.
The pink-streaked hair and showing her heart paid off for Jessica Meuse. She made the cut, too. She said at the start that she would either be “a successful musician or a broke one,” and whatever comes of her journey on the show, success is surely awaiting.
Real to the soul country boy, Dexter Roberts, took his stool, telling Ryan “I don’t know if my legs will move” in his chosen moment. He’s got more songs to sing.
Caleb Johnson showed his excitement at being chosen by power-lifting Ryan Seacrest several feet off the ground! Harry Connick, Jr. got such a kick out of the “live” TV moment, he said “it took a second for you to be Ryan Seacrest again.” Ryan probably should prepare himself for more bear hugging rises!
Majesty Rose was the eighth person picked for a stool, her smile and more subdued joy having a glow of its own. “I’m very happy,” she said of America’s decision, and she’s sure to be part of more future decisions in the competition.
MK Nobilette came out saluting the crowd and her very proud mom as her name was called. Her performance for America’s vote was one of the most subtly and skillfully crafted, and now, America will see much more of MK.
The final place in the Top 10 went to Sam Woolf, welcomed by squeals from the crowd and warm hugs by his fellow singers. The 17-year-old has displayed artistry and maturity far beyond teen turbulence, and that will serve them well in weeks to come.
Jennifer Lopez announced that of the 10 performers remaining, five would be chosen to “sing for your life.” It was clear that not only had they planned for the moment, but they had taken lessons in managing those digital “ears” that Jennifer’s ex-husband, Marc Anthony, had coached them on a few years back. CJ Harris was the first choice for the sudden death sing off, doing his Hollywood week selection, “Bring It on Home to Me,” under the loving eyes of his mom and wife. Harry was already in a sour mood, saying that both CJ and the band “screwed up.” Keith Urban said he was “drifting emotionally” (What does that mean?) with the song, yet Jennifer Lopez still heard the “specialness” in his voice. Jena Irene came to her piano again with her original song, and the panel praised everything in the performance, calling it “a good use of your moment.” “Not to make it dramatic or anything,” Jennifer reminded, extolling those remaining that they were singing for their lives, and Spencer Lloyd was called up next. He sang his “Ordinary Girl” composition, the one that had not impressed the panel before. His guitar and intonation did bring some heart power to the lyrics, but the panel said they had to “talk about it” before any decision– not a good sign. Bria Anai did her best not to let nerves takeover, reprising “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” but the pressure was palpable. Harry went hard again, saying she was very focused, but “overshot the mark.” Kristen O’Connor came next, sticking to her song, “Unconditionally.” She sounded much the same as in her previous performances, and Keith Urban told her she should have taken the song higher, saying “you have the voice.”
The panel was literally deliberating until the last second before the final three choices were made. Keith Urban called out Jena Irene, Harry said it was a K.O. for Kristen O’Connor, and Jennifer repeated “CJ, CJ, CJ” to close the night. There were tears than smiles and the closing shots, but the singers have shining moments to come!
American Idol returns to Wednesday and Thursday airing starting next week.
American Idol broadcast, February 20, 2014 FOX Networks.