I’ll be live blogging the American Idol XIII Top 13 performances right here!
I really hoped that Randy Jackson would be a better fit in the role of Idol mentor. But nope. He’s still tossing off the same tired bromides. Is this the kind of dumb advice he’s giving the contestants behind the scenes? If so I feel really sorry for them. Although the word “pitchy” seems to have been banned from the set, there are still plenty of Randyisms. Enough to get pretty drunk during a drinking game. Toss a shot every time the dawg suggests a contestant enunciate or sell the emotion of a song.
Many of the kids are still figuring out how to perform on the big stage, in front of cameras, with a huge band. The best tonight were MK Nobilette, Majesty Rose, Jessica Meuse, and Alex Preston. All of them brought artistry and individuality to the stage.
Not feeling at all: Kristen O’Connor is in over her head. On top of her typical issues connecting to the song she’s singing, she had pitch problems tonight. She’d be my pick for elimination. Dexter Roberts is proving to be cookie cutter, straight out of the bro country playbook. Of the three country singers, Ben Briley is the more interesting than Dexter. But CJ Harris is the best. Unfortunately his song choice was too safe. His lane is country blues and he should stay there–even if it is the road less traveled. Let a singer like Dexter hang himself with mediocrity.
I’ll probably get hate tweets for this, but I am NOT feeling Sam Woolf! He’s been pegged the front runner, but it’s just early hype. He’s proving to be a generic singer, albeit a cute one with a nice voice. Which is why he’ll last. But I don’t think he’ll win.
The big stage: The poor contestants are expected to sit off to the side, with smiles plastered on their faces, as their competition performs. This could get interesting. Also, that gauntlet of fans the singers are expected to run through to get on and off stage looks really distracting. I don’t see the point of making the set bigger and bigger. It just makes it harder for the contestants to feel comfortable and perform well.
It’s cool to see Allison Iraheta singing backups with Rickey Minor and the band. In the audience tonight: Season 5 winner, Taylor Hicks, Season 7’s Carly Smithson. X Factor winners, Alex and Sierra.
At the top of the show, another recap of the season. Because we really need that again! And then Ryan introduces the episode. THIS….IS AMERICAN IDOL! AHHHHHHH! Ryan calls the Top 13 to the stage, one by one by name. They run a gauntlet through the audience, high fiving fans. Next, the judges take the stage. Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.
“This is Me” is the theme. The contestants were asked to choose songs that represent themselves as artists. Jlo thinks America hasn’t gotten to know the Top 13 as they might have in past seasons. Hm. That’s an interesting observation.
Next, an adorable video featuring the Top 13, describing ALL THE NEW WAYS TO VOTE!!! Each of the contestants will have THEIR VERY OWN NUMBERS. And YOU CAN START VOTING NOW. Plus GOOGLE VOTING PEOPLE! You have until TOMORROW to vote for your fav.
Dexter Roberts – Aw Naw by Chris Young – Video package features 5 things YOU didn’t know about each of the contestants. Randy introduces him, but there’s no mentoring to see. OK. I kind of hate this. It’s a terrible song. If Dexter is going to be our “country bro” contestant, I have zero interest in him. This is a pretty dull performance. The band is drowning him out, and he’s got some timing issues. Before you know it, he’ll be dragging out a rapper. Bleh. Keith calls him a likeable guy. He thought it was an excellent cover, but karaoke. Jlo agrees, of course. Harry suggests he ditch the ear monitor. He thinks it might be contributing to some pitch problems. He wants to see more personality. Jlo added that the song was too low for him. Hm. I think he’s in trouble this week. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 01(1 855 443 6501) or Text 1 to 83676
Malaya Watson – Runaway Baby by Bruno Mars – She’s afraid of dogs. But she loves everybody. But maybe not dogs. What does SHE want America to know about her, asks Ryan. Guess this will be the question of the night. Randy notes that she has to ENUNCIATE every word. An astute commenter noted that her braces may be the culprit. This gal has so much swag. She’s fun as hell. But she’s still having those enunciation problems and timing and pitch issues. Jlo loves her energy! She gives her performance A+. Didn’t think it was her best vocal performance. Still thinks she’s a contender. She reminds Harry of some of the art students he knew in New Orleans. He noticed her nerves. Keith says her energy is contagious, but she’s got to get on top of the song. She’s an energetic performer, but I agree–she’s got to be more vocally disciplined. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 02(1 855 443 6502) or Text 2 to 83676
Kristen O’Connor – Beautiful Disaster by Kelly Clarkson – Kristen says the song is about herself. She feels she has a lot to prove. Randy says she has an amazing voice, but has to sell the emotion. There are pitch issues on the chorus. Eh. This is pretty boring. I have no idea why Kristen is in the Top 13. She’s so pageanty while awkward at the same time. Not feeling this! Harry thinks she’s a strong pop singer, but didn’t feel like she understood the song. She explains that she reinterpreted the song. He likes that she thought about it. Harry thinks there’s something going on with the in ears. Keith thought it was a great song choice. Jlo advises her to stop thinking–and it’s advice for all the contestants. Kelly can bring you to tears singing this song. Watching paint dry would be more interesting than this performance. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 03(1 855 443 6503) or Text 3 to 83676
Ben Briley – Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash – Gets the Red Room treatment! How does he plan on using social media? He misses Polaroid cameras. He takes a selfie with Ryan. He opens all of his gigs with this song. It’s fitting, he says. Randy suggests that he slow it down. Yep. The clip is pretty quick here. Ben’s playing the guitar tonight, with some fiddles in background relief. This is the first in-tune vocal. I’m not convinced it’s a great competition performance. The kids have to put thought into what will work on stage. He brings his own thang to the song, though. He’s got a little Elvis in him too, which is not a bad thing at all. Keith loves that he did a Cash song. He felt it was a little brisk. He makes a joke that Johnny would have sung it fast, but with the help of stimulants. Keith’s advice–Ben needs to be careful not to sacrifice artistry for his performance. He thought it was a little kitsch. Jlo liked that he made the song his own. Harry didn’t think it was kitch. Liked that it was uptempo. It’s his favorite performance so far. He admires the nod to legacy. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 04 (1 855 443 6504) or Text 4 to 83676
The contestants have to walk through the audience to get back to the contestant pit. Yes, the contestants watch each other perform.
CJ Harris – Radio by Darius Rucker – When he heard this song on the radio, he instantly identified with it. Randy brought the song up a half step. It’s right in his sweet spot, now, he says. I do not love this song choice, although it’s probably smart of him to choose contemporary country songs to sing. If he ends up on the radio, it will be singing songs like this. Unfortunately, it’s boring. I would rather CJ sing songs with substance, that’s where he shines. He’s also having trouble with timing. What is going on tonight with these kids? Jlo says it was a lot of fun. She felt his energy. She’s giving him a pass on the rest. Harry likes the cry in his voice. He wished he could have heard something that employed the cry. Just an OK song choice (PREACH). Keith doesnt’ agree. He thought his mixed soul, R&B and country very well. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 05(1 855 443 6505) or Text 5 to 83676
MK Nobilette – “Satisfaction” by Allen Stone – She had a tough time picking the right song, but she’s confident. Randy says she’s got to go out with confidence. Could his advice be anymore generic? So, it’s not the Stones, like people assumed with the spoilers. AND I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER. Damn, this is cool. And she’s right on point. She’s grooving with the band perfectly and moving in and around the notes without going off pitch. OK PEOPLE MK IS NOT A FLUKE I REPEAT NOT A FLUKE. She’s sensational, and now, officially, one of my favorites. Harry likes her new look. He’s enjoying watching her grow. He says she needs to loosen up a little, but that should come with time. Keith is also digging her growth. Her voice never fails her. Jlo loved the way she delivered the song. It’s working for her. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 06(1 855 443 6506) or Text 6 to 83676
Randy is on stage with Ryan. He talks about sound and the difficulty of using in-ear monitors. He’s trying to help them. Hm.
Majesty Rose – Tightrope by Janelle Monae – Ha. I KNEW this song was her spoiler! She chose it because she’s always trying to find the balance between humility and confidence. She’s super cool in every single way possible. It’s another upbeat, spirited and charismatic performance from Majesty. I can’t take my eyes off of her when she performs. She’s marching to her own adorable drummer. Keith calls it a killer song choice. Janelle really taps into her spirit and song range. She just needs more confidence. Jlo loves that she has her own style and individuality. Jlo notes her natural rhythm. She’s blessed. Harry likes the mystery and how it unravels. He thought it was terrific, but hints that he’s like more variety in her song picks. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 07(1 855 443 6507) or Text 7 to 83676
Ryan says votes are pouring in from across the country. I thought we were going to get some stats during the course of the show? Otherwise, I don’t understand why voting would begin at the Top of the show.
Jena Irene – The Scientist by Coldplay – It was the very first song she learned on piano. At 9. Randy helped her slow the song down a bit. She’s not playing piano tonight. I’m a little disappointed. I’ll admit this is not one of my favorite performances. I prefer her original songs. But having said that, she’s got the kind of voice you’d never mistake for anyone else, and her phrasing and intonation are always interesting. Jlo loves her unique, nuanced voice. On top of it, she’s a powerhouse. She’s a little jealous! She pulled it out. Harry felt this time, she really understood and felt what she was singing (Unlike “Paint it Black”) He likes that she makes interesting choices, on a pre-existing melody. Keith felt it was pitchy at the beginning, but eventually owned the song by “leaning” in to it. Harry takes that as a cue for a bro hug. OMG. Ryan looks up the lyric’s meaning on GOOGLE. Oh, such perfect product placement. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 08(1 855 443 6508) or Text 8 to 83676
Alex Preston – A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz – He’s the pride of New Hampshire! Randy says the danger is a sleepy performance. He needs to keep his eyes open. He performs the song acoustic, with guitar. The band kicks in slow and sweet on the chorus. This is nice. Very nice. Alex is creating his own little world on stage, inviting the audience in. I’m stepping through the door. A strong vocal, he hits a big note I wasn’t expecting. He’s still one of my favorites. OH LOOK. ALEX AND SIERRA IN THE HOUSE. And is that his girlfriend, Jillian Jensen? Yep. Harry thought it was a good tune for him. But he has to watch his pitch. Plus, the energy was too introspective. Oh. I disagree. And so does Keith. His little world pulled him in. Jlo agrees with Keith. She was caught up in the mood he created. She loved it. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 09(1 855 443 6509) or Text 9 to 83676
Jessica Meuse – The Crow And The Butterfly by Shinedown – Randy says she really needs to commit to the meaning of the song. Whatever that means. His comments have been pretty useless so far. In any case. Jessica sounds awesome. Her raspy raw vocals convey the message of the song perfectly. I just love her gritty style. A great song choice for her. Keith calls it a bold, but cool song choice. He loves the edge, dark quality in her voice. Jlo got goosies! Favorite vocal performance of the night. She needs to relax her body a little “But other than that? Dope.” Harry thought it was strong. We heard a different sound to her voice. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 10(1 855 443 651o) or Text 10 to 83676
Emily Piriz – Glitter in the Air by Pink – Randy says all Emily has to do is put her own spin on the song. CUE THE SWAYBOTS. This is a huge improvement over that last mess of a performance. Her pitch is flawless and she’s got some beautiful phrasing going here. Her tone is gorgeous. Her rendition is gentle, telling a simple, but moving story. That should hold her for another week. Jlo thought she sang a tough song beautifully. Harry digs that song, and likes the leap of faith she took. He thought she conveyed the emotion and sang the melody well. The vocal performance was one of Keith’s favorites of the night. He advises that she not forget the “yang,” in other words, add some edge to the performance. Actually, I liked the softness she lent it. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 11(1 855 443 6511) or Text 11 to 83676
Sam Woolf – Unwell by Matchbox 20 – Randy, in a unique bit of advice (NOT) says Sam has to sell the emotion of the song! Everyone predicts Sam will win. He’s freshed faced and adorable. His pitch is perfect, and his voice clear as a bell. But he bores me to tears. He takes on the personality of whatever song he sings. I’m not feeling an individual style from Sam, although, he always sings beautifully. He needs to pick up the pace with this song. Very sleepy. He finishes and the girls scream. Sigh. Harry didn’t feel his vocal mirrored the confusion of the song. He hits the nail on the head! Keith thought the tempo was slow. YEP. Jlo compares him to a quiet storm. He needs to come alive on the stage. “Get loose,” she says. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 12(1 855 443 6512) or Text 12 to 83676
Caleb Johnson – Pressure and Time by Rival Sons – His favorite band is Rush. Let that sink in. Randy’s “sage” advice? Stay on the melody. Zzzz. Caleb chose this song because it’s a modern rock song. To be honest, it doesn’t sound modern. Caleb knows how to deliver a retro tinged rock vocal. Rock of Ages may be interested, ya’all. I could actually imagine Caleb doing stage work with those huge vocals. Modern pop music, not so much. Keith notes his serious pipes. Keith knows and loves the band. Keith says he has to figure out how to put a twist on it. Maybe too retro. Jlo thinks he’s totally ready for the rock star life. Harry thinks it’s great to hear rock on Idol. Harry says if Rival Sons ever needs a lead singer, he’s it. I’m not sure that’s a compliment. He basically called him competent, but karaoke. And he would be right. Call 1 855 4 IDOL 13(1 855 443 6513) or Text 13 to 83676
Oh. The numbers montage includes a split screen of performances, and the contestant holding up their number. Which will work every week, because it will never change.