'American Idol' Recap: Caleb Johnson & Malaya Watson Bring It In 'Top 12' Show
American Idol's theme this week was "Home," encouraging all of the singers to pick a song that represents where they come from. Again, many of the singers struggled to break out of their nervousness and to find their unique voice in the competition. A few, however, managed to shine on the Idol stage and win praise from judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.
Jena Irene, a Michigan native, sang KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See.” Irene left her piano behind this week and appeared to want to show a more energetic side of herself. Connick, Urban and Lopez all enjoyed the tone of her voice, but had differing opinions on the quality of her overall performance.
Representing New Hampshire, Alex Preston sang “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw. Both Lopez and Urban were underwhelmed, citing a bad arrangement choice and instability, respectively. Connick, for the second week in a row, praised Preston for ending the number “on the nine.”
The Alabama born Jess Meuse sang Dido’s “White Flag.” It was a decidedly more mellow performance than last week for Meuse, who returned to accompanying herself on the guitar. Her guitar playing appeared to hold her back a bit, keeping her from fully focusing on her voice. Ultimately, the judges found the performance lacking.
Also from Alabama is Dexter Roberts, who took on Montgomery Gentry’s “Lucy Man.” The performance by the country singer was one of his best. He earned points from the judges when he effortlessly powered through a forgotten lyric. Urban especially loved the vulnerability of his cover.
Emily Piriz, who has Cuban heritage, took a risk by singing Lopez’s "Let’s Get Loud." While Piriz did an admirable job of taking on one of the judges’ biggest hits, it’s apparent she still hasn’t found her own identity in the music.
North Carolina’s Caleb Johnson chose Rush song “Working Man” and again proved himself to be one of the most natural overall performers on this season of American Idol. However, as in weeks past, the judges are eager for Johnson to make the Rock & Roll songs more his own.
San Francisco native MK Nobilette accompanied herself on guitar to Train’s "Drops of Jupiter." Although her vocals sounded a bit surer than last week, Nobilette is still struggling to appear confident onstage. A frustrated Connick questioned the singer's desire to be on the show anymore because of her lack of apparent joy performing.
The third singer from Alabama, C.J. Harris, sang John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” Finally, Harris delivered a performance reminiscent of his earlier numbers, which showed how powerful and sincere his voice could be. However, Harris still struggled to consistently stay in tune.
Florida boy Sam Woolf chose to sing “Just One” by the rather obscure band Blind Pilot. Sitting amidst the audience, Woolf appeared a bit less nervous than he’s appeared in past weeks. Though Connick still wanted to see more emotion out of the teen, Urban was satisfied with Woolf’s pure vocals.
Malaya Watson, representing Michigan, sang Gospel track “Take Me to the King.” Wisely, Watson chose to perform the song from the piano keys, which helped to ground her and restrain her energy that sometimes leads to shoddy vocals. Lopez admitted that Watson, who was nearly eliminated last week, gave her goose bumps.
Tennessee’s Ben Briley sang David Nail’s “Turning Home” and failed to impress Connick and Urban – though Lopez appreciated the emotion he gave to the song. The audience seemed to agree with Lopez, and Briley looks like a shoe-in to the next round as the front-running country singer.
Singing “Fix You” by Coldplay was North Carolina’s Majesty Rose. There’s no doubt that Rose is one of the best singers in the competition, but the judges weren’t wowed when she began belting out the lyrics towards the end of her performance.
American Idol's results show will air Thursday night on Fox at 8/7c.
– Chelsea Regan
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