American Idol tries to add levity to vote night proceedings, everyone completely aware of the pain to come from one talent’s parting. This week, the youthful ten took turns poking fun at themselves and at the judges over the supper table, trading accents and attitudes all in fun. Caleb Johnson made apologies to anyone offended by the tone of his explanation of a peanut prank on Alex Preston. It was clear even to them that Harry Connick, Jr. And Keith Urban were at odds, leaving Jennifer Lopez the unenviable seat in the middle as mediator. Even down to the final seconds, divisions of opinion seemed to cost another chance.
The first three called up to hear news of their fate were Malaya Watson, Dexter Roberts, and Jessica Meuse. Florida Georgia Line offered their approval for Dexter’s performance of “Cruise,” even though Randy Jackson said Dexter needed “a lot more work” on that one, and the panel pretty much concurred. The “Dawgfather” was very proud of Malaya’s “When I Was Your Man,” and called Jessica’s delivery of “Pumped Up Kicks” “Great,” no matter the discussions over expression matching the heavy lyrics. Jessica was first to the safety of the couch, followed by Malaya, leaving Dexter to get his first feel on those stools.
Ms. Lopez made the most of her stage time, sporting cutoff jean sparkles, and singing with past “Idol” favorites, Jessica Sanchez, Allison Iraheta, and Pia Toscano, swapping stories of their favorite guys from this season. She proved again why she is a powerhouse entertainer with her moves to “I Luh Ya Papi,” and playful teasing from her fellow judges. Just as impressive, she made a record change back into her leopard-look attire for her panel seat. Caleb Johnson, Majesty Rose, and Alex Preston stood under those dreaded dimmed lights next. Randy said that he realized that Caleb’s performance of a Gaga standard this week was “lackluster,” but he felt that Majesty’s “Wake Me Up” would “bring her back” to the top. He had simply the word “amazing” for Alex in his turn on One Direction’s “Story of My Life.” Loyalty counts for a lot, and Caleb was safe, thanks to his fans. Alex earned a safe spot, too, putting poor Majesty back on a bottom three stool.
Harry Connick, Jr. proudly introduced his protégé act, Louisiana band, Royal Teeth, performing “Wild.” The harmonizing singers brought something different, playing the male-female dynamic with flair, and ending with a drumming flourish. The last four summoned under the lights were Sam Woolf, Jena Irene, CJ Harris, and MK Nobilette. Randy deemed Sam’s performance “great,” said that Jena “showed artistry” in offering “Clarity,” and agreed that CJ was “sharp all the way” in this week’s song. Despite MK’s issues with a perfect song for her, Pink’s “Perfect,” Randy offered hope that she would rise above them. Hunter Hayes gave high praise and support to CJ for performing “invisible” before the very visible nerves set in for the last vote revelation. Jena went first to safety, followed by Sam and CJ. MK took the third stool.
When it was MK’s name that was called as the one leaving, petitioning and shuffling back and forth from their rolling chairs was apparent on the panel. It was heavy stuff, and MK struggled to get her arrangement set to perform “All of Me” for her save. Tears were clearly in the eyes of Jennifer Lopez through the song, and Keith, too, seemed moved. The discussion went on until the final minute, and Jennifer looked to Harry to give the news. Chants of “MK” rose from the audience. He announced again that “it was not unanimous, and it breaks our heart,” but it would still be goodbye for MK. Harry’s words to the singer he called “elegant” in past performances were that he didn’t “see a show” in her. One thing is certain, there are definitely more songs inside of MK, beyond American Idol, and years to make them perfect.
American Idol broadcast, March 20, 2014 FOX Networks.