The American Idol XIII Top 10 perform Top 10 songs from the Billboard charts between 2010 and now! We’re live blogging the performances right here. Performance Videos posted later!
It’s upside down world! That’s the place where Jlo makes TOTAL sense as a judge! Tonight we were on the same page in many instances. She’s been particularly good at giving performance advice to these contestants. There is a lot of struggle on the Idol stage in season 13. Jennifer is not a great singer, but as she’ll demonstrate when she performs tomorrow, she knows how to WORK IT.
My favorite performances were Malaya Watson, who finally learning to tone it down. Typically, she’s either REALLY LOUD. Or not. But tonight, she was able to stay calm and perform with some beautiful phrasing.
I was also a big fan of the way Jessica Meuse interpreted “Pumped Up Kicks.” Harry was not. He’s a believer in strict interpretation of the lyrics, ahead of melodic considerations. But I can’t agree. If he’s going to criticize Jessica for giving the song a sardonic twist, maybe he should get a hold of Mark Foster to criticize him for making that melody so damn cheery. Jennifer TOTALLY schooled Harry when she pointed out that the melody added another layer to the meaning of the lyrics.
Overall, the judges are so much better than every other panel this competition has had. Consider that back in its hey day, There was Paula Abdul who was mostly drunk, Randy Jackson and his 3 catch phrases and Simon Cowell, who was reflexively positive or negative without much thought behind it.
The greatest judges panel in the world, however, isn’t going to make up for a cast of singers who aren’t capturing the imagination of America. Idol lives and dies by its singers. Having a great judges panel means nothing, otherwise.
The Top 10 iTunes performances are here. I’ll listen to them in the next few days and let you know what I think!
LET ME TAKE A SELFIE. Is there a song out there that’s more annoying? Really.
What’s Jennifer wearing today? A lovely white dress with tan accents on the shoulders. Ryan mentions this week’s LA earthquake. Harry was rocking the Nay Nay at the time. No, he was not talking about sex. Here come the Top 10, center stage, to take their places IN THE LOUNGE.
It’s time for MEDIA TRAINING. It’s NOT TMZ. They visit Ryan at the radio station.The pre-performance packages will feature Ryan interviewing each of the Idols and introducing the songs from the studio.
MK Nobilette – “Perfect” by Pink – MK chose the song because of the letters she got from the people she’s helped. This song isn’t about her! The pink streaks in her hair look fab! She begins the performance singing to herself in the mirror. She’s staying on pitch. Nice phrasing and intonation, but it still could use a little more energy and she still seems stiff. As soon as she turns away from the mirror to work the audience, her timing goes off. Moving around the stage and singing at the same time appears to be a problem for her. Oy. She could be in trouble this week. I love MK. I’d go see her in a club. But she’s not making it work on the Idol stage. – Keith loves her styling. He asks if she feels ok. He notes her wobble in the middle, but thought she recovered well. More reminders of loosening up and owning the stage. Jennifer felt the best part was when she sang to herself in the mirror. Jlo doesn’t think she really recovered at her wobble. Harry did not think it was one of her stronger performances. He loves her voice, thinks she’ll make an incredible record, but wonders what kind of a show she’ll put together. Wow. MK feels it was one of her better performances…until she messed up. – 1 855 4 IDOL 06(1 855 443 6506) or Text 6 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Dexter Roberts – “Cruise” by Florida- Georgia Line – Dexter is the guy who picks good songs! He intends to keep doing that. In other words, don’t expect the unexpected from Dexter. Zzzz. He’s put the guitar away this week. Who cares. This song is so boring. Yes, he’s got a nice voice, great tone. He sings on pitch. Blah blah blah…. Wake me up when it’s over? But what to do I know! Dexter is giving the people what they want. He’s not going anywhere. Working the stage, it’s obvious he’s got a thing or two he could learn about stage presence. I don’t see a ton of star power here. But he’ll record nicely. Jennifer thought it was good. But she felt he wasted an opportunity to REALLY get the crowd going. JLO IS CORRECT. Harry didn’t like it, because he didn’t make it his own. “Bereft of joy…meandering,” he says. MK could have taken his place! Harry. BURN. Keith thinks it’s a good song choice. He liked the little change up in the beginning. Harry wonders why he didn’t stay there? Dexter needs to work on his artistry, says Keith. The judges agree that to sing a cover, the singer has to make it memorable.- Call 1 855 4 IDOL 01(1 855 443 6501) or Text 1 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Jena Irene – “Clarity” by Zedd feat Foxes – Jena mentions in her video package that electronic music has never been done on the show before. I think Blake Lewis might have something to say about that! Sadly, Jena is not sitting behind the piano. Her voice is strongest when she’s playing an instrument. Having said that, she’s doing a credible job here–changing up the vocals. She’s got a signature sound which means she never comes across karaoke. I’m rooting for her. I hope she really finds her groove in the competition. I don’t think she’s quite there yet, but she’s on her way. Harry thinks her wheelhouse may be electronic music. He’s getting a clear idea of who she is. Keith LOVES that tune! Calls it the best performance of the night. Felt she looked comfortable, made the song her own. JLo tells her to hold the middle when she’s working the stage. This is great advice. She didn’t seem entirely comfortable on stage. Jena calls electronic music “up and coming” Oh, youth. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 08(1 855 443 6508) or Text 8 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Alex Preston – “Story of My Life” by One Direction – He’s scared of annoying the Directioners. Yes, Alex…be very afraid! He calls the whole season of American Idol a concert. Nice work from Alex. His intonation and phrasing are absolutely gorgeous. But I’m still waiting to be surprised by him. This week, the performance is energetic and he seems more comfortable on stage than ever. “Well done,” says Keith. He calls him an artist. “You always sound like Alex.” Jlo loved it. She was so in the song with him. She felt he owned the stage (He sat on a stool with a guitar) He reminds her a little of Buddy Holly. Harry says Alex hit the Bullseye on the artistry target. Yes, he’s consistent. But he’s yet to really wow me with a performance. Aw. The One Direction boys are tweeting him supportive messages! Such nice lads. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 09(1 855 443 6509) or Text 9 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Harry says the first two performances lacked the hunger of a thoroughbred wanting to run a race. MK does NOT look pleased.
Malaya Watson – “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars – The song describes the situation of one of her family members. She’s singing it for them. She’s sitting on a stool. She sounds beautiful when she’s not screaming at me. Malaya actually has a gorgeous voice. This is her best performance, easily. She’s working the dynamics this week in a way she has not previously. She brings it up, not TOO shouty, then finishes with a lovely quiet note. She also interpreted the lyrics nicely, without changing the pronouns (Candice didn’t change the pronouns when she sang it last year, either) Jlo loves that she left in the pronoun. It gave her goosies. Harry loved her sincerity. He felt she was completely present. He senses that she’s so hungry to learn. He advises her to find music instructors to play chords and teach her to sing runs over them. That’s good advice! She’s so young and raw now. Keith notes the control in her voice. He liked that she pulled it back. Aw. Ryan brings her flowers (In the interview, she mentioned, that at 16, she’s never received flowers). – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 02(1 855 443 6502) or Text 2 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Caleb Johnson – “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga – Caleb gets the red room treatment. He says practical jokes relieve pressure. He also called his fellow Idols his “cohort.” He notes the retro rock feel of “Edge of Glory” He would be right. Another solid, consistent vocal from Caleb. But I kept waiting for something to happen in that performance–for him to take me somewhere emotionally. Where was my Bruce Springsteen realness? It didn’t happen. Harry likes the song choice, but he’s had better performances –an A for originality. Harry says he does loud really good (That’s not really a compliment). Keith says he delivers every week vocally. But this week, the song was lumbering, like his voice was too big for it. I agree. Jennifer says he sounded great, but was lacking the feeling. Jlo would be absolutely correct. LOL at Keith mocking Harry’s music speak. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 13(1 855 443 6513) or Text 13 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
CJ Harris – “Invisible” by Hunter Hays – For the first time, I’m noticing his sharp notes. This does NOT sound right. The emotion and heart are there, but the bad pitch is so distracting. Also, CJ, please sing get back to singing country blues. Save the country pop songs for Dexter. Keith is rooting for CJ. His voice is a special gift. Keith says he nailed it in rehearsal, but so out of tune tonight. He’s got to stay in control of his pitch. Jlo calls him “our little quiet killer.” She hopes the tone and heart reaches through the screen to America. Harry does not go to rehearsals! Harry explains how CJ is singing sharp. He needs to work with the AI peeps to fix it. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 05(1 855 443 6505) or Text 5 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Jessica Meuse – “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People – She loves the happy melody juxtaposed with the dark, dark lyrics. She’s keeping the arrangement stripped down. HOORAY! Jess is back! She’s totally in the zone this week. She’s nailing it vocally and bringing her own twist to the performance. That was awesome. Jlo says it felt good, right in her wheelhouse. Harry didn’t like her complacent smile. He wasn’t sure how she was interpreting the lyrics. He feels she’s sometimes one dimensional. He didn’t like that she was smiling through very provocative lyrics. He wants more weirdness. Keith thought it was good. He liked it. She made it her own–like a trippy 60s country thing. Harry is insistent that the lyrics come first! Jlo makes a very salient point–how it’s valid to present the lyrics in counterpoint to the bright melody, as Jessica did with her sardonic interpretation. There are more layers than just a strict interpretation of the lyrics. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 10(1 855 443 651o) or Text 10 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Majesty Rose – “Wake Me Up” by Avicii – Being in the bottom 3 was scary and sad for Majesty. She’s on guitar this week. She realizes she has to pull herself out of the bottom. Wow. It’s like Majesty has completely lost her mojo. This is so boring. Her vocal is breathy, and she’s not bringing much variation to her phrasing. She kicks it it toward the end, but there’s an overall lack of energy here. She had so much gumption at the beginning of the competition. Harry likes what she did with the tune. She’s smart and complex. Hm. That sounded kind of messy to me. Oh. Keith disagrees. He likes Majesty a lot. It’s missing the driving danceability of the original. He didn’t like the arrangement. I agree. Jlo noted the fear in her performance. YES! Keith and Jlo are right on. She felt the second half of the performance was better than the first. Maybe Harry SHOULD attend rehearsals. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 07(1 855 443 6507) or Text 7 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Sam Woolf – “We Are Young” by Fun feat Janelle Monae – This is not the train wreck it could have been. I don’t LOVE the performance. But, as always, his tone and phrasing are gorgeous. There’s energy behind the vocal, and Sam is changing the song up to make it his own. BUT, he’s still tentative on the Idol stage. Like I’ve said already, the problems he has really owning the stage will probably not get fixed during this competition. Still, he did what he needed to do to get back in the game. Keith is sure he’ll be back next week. Jlo loved it. Harry says he feels like he’s still timid. “You can do this man.” In this instance, I agree with Harry. He’s still too reserved on stage. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 12(1 855 443 6512) or Text 12 to 83676 – Download from iTunes