American Idol’s theme of the week was “Auditions,” which meant that the remaining contestants had to repeat one of their past audition songs.

American Idol Recap

In addition to the eight singers’ solo performances, Wednesday night on Idol featured a number of well-known duets. Alex Preston and Jena Irene sang Pink and Nate Reuss’ “Just Give Me A Reason, while Caleb Johnson and Jess Meuse took on “Stop Dragging My Heart Around" by Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. Two of Idol’s younger singers, Sam Woolf and Malaya Watson, sang Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz’s “Lucky," and country singers Dexter Roberts and CJ Harris sang "Alright" by Darius Rucker.

First up for her solo was Jess Meuse, singing her original song “Blue Eyed Lie.” Singing her own song up on the Idol stage, Meuse was confident and strong vocally. Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. all praised the singer, and made comparisons to established stars. The one major criticism came from Urban, who urged Meuse to move about the stage more next time.

Country rocker C.J. Harris reprised The Allman Brothers “Soul Shine.” Harris, who has been one of the more inconsistent contestants so far, improved upon his performance from last week – and from the first time he sang the song on the show. However, Harris’ pitch problems persisted, causing Connick to warn him that producers will autotune him to mask the issue.

Singing Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House” once again was teen heartthrob Sam Woolf. Smartly, Woolf gave the song a slower arrangement. His pure vocals once again drew in both the audience and the judges’ panel. If he wants to keep getting the votes, the judges suggested that he connect more with his audience, but acknowledged that he’s grown in stage presence throughout the competition.

Malaya Watson boldly took on Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” The young singer, who’s achieved more control in her vocals and performances over the weeks, improved upon her audition rendition of the soulful number. While Lopez acknowledged Watson’s undeniable star power, Connick suggested she practice her vocal runs some more.

Showing a different side to his musicality, Dexter Roberts offered a new take on “One Mississippi” by Brett Eldredge. By steering away from a well-known country track and giving a heartfelt performance from a stool, Roberts finally received some unbridled praise form the judges. The only suggestion offered was from resident country judge Urban, who advised him to better communicate the lyrics.

Rearranging her audition song “Rolling the Deep,” Jena Irene gave the Adele hit an entirely different sound, showcasing her unique vocals. The slow start of the song only made her powerful runs at the end more affecting. “I loved every second of it,” said Urban.

Caleb Johnson took Aretha Franklin’s bluesy “Chain of Fools” and transformed it into a rock anthem. Johnson had no trouble with the blues scale – or getting the audience wrapped up in his performance. Connick, however, is eager for Johnson to give them a performance with “softer” vocals.

Alex Preston reprised his original song “Fairyales” for American Idol Wednesday. The performance was more gritty and soulful than many of his past performances. The judges liked hearing Preston’s vibrato – and that Preston’s fellow contestants knew the words to his original number.

American Idol will narrow down the field to seven Thursday on Fox at 9/8c.

– Chelsea Regan

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