'American Idol' Recap: Top 13 Perform; Majesty Rose, Ben Briley & Caleb Johnson Shine
American Idol presented the top 13 singers on Wednesday with the theme of “This is Me.” Although the performances in front of the live audience still proved a little rough, a few of the Idol hopefuls looked poised to make it into the Top 10.
First up on Wednesday was country crooner Dexter Roberts, who picked Chris Young’s “Aw Naw” to sing. Though Roberts gave a confident, solid performance, the judges wanted more from him. If he wants to last in the competition, he’s going to have to put his own spin on the songs he chooses and loosen up a bit on stage.
Energetic teen Malaya Watson followed Roberts with “Run Away Baby” by Bruno Mars. There’s no doubt that Watson is at ease in front of a crowd, but her vocal control needs some work. Basically, the judges want her to focus on her intonation as much as she does getting the audience on their feet.
Kristen O’Connor made the bold choice of picking “Beautiful Disaster” – by former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson – to sing for America’s votes. Unfortunately, O’Connor doesn’t have the power in her voice for Clarkson’s song, nor did she convey the song's emotion. J.Lo told the contestant, “What you've got to start thinking about is what you know more than what you're afraid might happen.”
Singing Johnny Cash classic “Folsom Prison Blues” was Ben Briley. Though the judges were mixed on whether or not his high-tempo version of the song worked, Briley’s performance was definitely his own. Harry Connick Jr. called the performance the best of the season so far, and applauded the singer for choosing an older song for the Idol stage.
CJ Harris chose to sing Darius Rucker’s "Radio" for the “This is Me” Idol show. It was a faster song than Harris has sung thus far in the competition. It was a good song choice for Harris, who’s often compared to the former Hootie and Blowfish frontman. He seemed more engaged with the audience than he’s been in the past, which could serve to help him crack into the Top 10.
MK Nobilette sang Allen Stone’s “Satisfaction,” stepping away from her slow ballad comfort zone for the up-tempo song. Though Nobilette’s range isn’t one of the best in the competition, her perfect tone was still intact. The only criticism she received form the judges was her comfort on stage. If she wants America’s votes, she needs to connect better and appear more confident.
In a gutsy move, Majesty Rose decided to sing Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope.” Rose proved up to the challenge, getting out the wordy lyrics and hitting all the notes perfectly. Climbing into the higher register appears effortless for the standout singer. The judges were in agreement that Rose’s performance was one of the night's best.
Opting not to sit at the piano, Jena Irene sang Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” While the teen might want to diversify and not always accompany herself on the keys, her pitch isn’t as strong when she performs standing. Keith Urban acknowledged her pitch problems earlier in the song, but felt she achieved more vocal control throughout the performance.
In front of a simplistic background, Alex Preston sang Jason Mraz’s “Beautiful Mess.” While playing his acoustic guitar, he started off slow, and showed his vocal power towards the end of the song. Though Connick wasn’t so sure about Preston’s ability to stay in tune throughout the number, Urban and J.Lo had nothing but positive things to say.
Jessica Meuse gave her best performance she’s given on Idol to date. Leaving her guitar behind as well her country roots, she sang Shinedown’s “The Crow and the Butterfly.” J.Lo, who said Meuse gave her favorite vocal performance of the night, admitted she got goosebumps during the song.
Emily Piriz took on “Glitter in the Air” by P!nk. The song choice fit her far better than the sex-themed anthems she seems prone to select. The focus on Wednesday was certainly more on Piriz’s voice. Connick, who’s been known to take issue with Piriz’s choice for an image, was pleasantly surprised by her latest performance.
Although he started off slow, Sam Woolf’s take on Matchbox Twenty hit “Unwell” picked up steam as it went along. Like a few other of the Idol hopefuls, Woolf’s biggest hurdle is finding a way to relax on the stage in front of the audience. His apparent nerves sometimes overshadow his vocals.
Caleb Johnson was the last contestant to hit the stage, singing “Pressure and Time” by Rival Sons. The classic rocker, who exudes an incredible amount of energy, carried his mic stand across the stage while delivering undeniably powerful vocals. Though the judges don’t deny he killed the song, they warn that he might want to put a modern spin on some of the classics to keep America’s interest.
American Idol will reveal who moves on and who will be leaving the competition on Thursday on Fox at 8/9c.
– Chelsea Regan
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