The American Idol 13 Top 5 will perform TWO songs chosen from a list put together from YOUR twitter requests! We’ll be live blogging a big night of performances right here. Stick around!
America, other than the hideous Asteroid song, you did good! You picked great songs for the Top 5. Overall, it was a solid night of performances from the contestants. Jason Mraz was a knowledgeable and articulate mentor. He had some great advice about stuff the contestants had obviously never thought about before. Who knew that changing the way a singer holds his guitar, or adjusting a mic stand could make such a big difference in how a they can open up physically and emotionally to the audience.. Jason also illustrates that a performer who sings with a guitar does not have to be boring.
A couple of things: Sam Woolf should never try funk again. I had a feeling he’d struggle with Ed Sheeran’s “Sing.” Sam doesn’t have Ed’s ability to traverse different song styles, and still looks so serious and sad on stage. Alex Preston had a really great night of performances! I thought his take on “Sweater Weather” was sufficiently energetic (unlike the judges) and his rendition of “Say Something, divine.
The judges really really hate when a singer goes out of her lane. Jena Irene is an alternative artist, but I loved watching her master a jazzier version of “Valerie.” It was not what I expected, but ultimately, I applaud her for revealing a different side. Her other song, “My Body” was the perfect song for her, and proved her marketability.
When Caleb Johnson has to strip down a performance, it gets him in trouble. His ballady version of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” revealed the flaws in his vocals. His attempt to sing strong, but restrained led to some pitchy moments. His rendition lost the theatricality of the original, which is strange–on rockier numbers he’s total theater. His discomfort shows when he needs to be vulnerable. If he’s going to be a well-rounded performer, he has to work on that.
Jessica Meuse had a solid night tonight. Her performance of “Human” wasn’t perfect. She could have dug into the lyric a little more, but she had some beautiful moments where she really hit her stride. Her husky alto was perfect for “Summertime Sadness.” The staging was admittedly hokey, but it didn’t take away from her haunting performance.
I voted for Jess tons tonight, because I feel she deserves to stay longer than Sam Woolf. I’ve got to sleep on it before I make any predictions.
The idols are looking for PERFECT SONG CHOICES. Can their fans provide? Tonight it’s America’s Choice! Ooh. The Idols are revealing their crushes! Alex likes Zooey Deschanel of New Girl. AND WOULDN’T YOU KNOW SHE SHOWS UP TO SAY HIGH. Jena’s crush is Harry Styles. Heh.
Jason Mraz mentored the Idols this week.
First. A discussion on fragrance. And how Randy wears too much. Zzzz.
Next, a video package featuring Jason Mraz. He says he called in and voted for Kelly Clarkson way back one. “I’m Yours” is a very popular audition song. WE KNOW.
Alex Preston – Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhoods – Alex is a stylish troubador, says Jason. Oh. Alex is afraid to change up songs now, due to criticism he received. Jason tells him to not be skeered. Jason gives him tips on where to place his mic. It might help with his stage presence. Alex seems to be taking Jason’s advice. He is looking up an into the camera. Sort of. No matter. This is a great cover! Full of energy, with impeccable vocals. Alex brings the awesome phrasing that he always does. He’s managing the tricky word play without a hitch. I’m liking this a lot. A shot of the the swaybots clapping off beat. Oh joy. Keith asks if there were some things he learned from Jason. Well. YEAH. He would have liked more range. But good job, says Keith. Jlo thinks he pulled it off nicely, but agrees he should have pushed harder. Eh. I thought it was fine. Harry gives him an A for remembering the words. He compares him to the band’s lead singer. He can hear him on the radio. A strong show opener, says Harry. Alex had only heard the song 2 times before performing it. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 09(1 855 443 6509) or Text 9 to 83676
Why did Ryan just jump into Harry’s arms. WTF.
Austin Mahone is hanging backstage to pimp his next record. Then he participates in some Idol Selfie thingie.
Caleb Johnson – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith – Jason calls Caleb the underdog rocker who manages to have his own sound, says Jason. He describes Caleb as the only guy in school who still liked rock music. Kind of sad! He wants Caleb to open up even more, to invite the audience into his performance. I HATE THIS SONG HATE HATE HATE. Feelings I will TRY to put aside as I critique. He’s got strings and candles. Hm. The flaws in his vocal come into relief during this ballad. The verse is wonky, but he comes into his own during the chorus. He hits the requisite high notes, albiet a little stridently. When Steven Tyler sings this, it’s a total emotional cheesefest. This is lacking the operatic drama the song needs. Caleb is not that comfortable singing ballads. He needs to learn to be vulnerable. Jlo noticed that it was a challenging song for him. She liked that he made it ballady. She got goosies. Harry is a fan of playing to the room. Looking steadily into the camera huts the connection to the lyrics. That’s an interesting take. Keith says he has to figure out how to get to the next level. The feelings must drive his skill. Caleb says he wouldn’t have picked that song for himself. WHO WOULD? Bad fan that suggested this overplayed song. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 13(1 855 443 6513) or Text 13 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Jena Irene, Alex Preston and Sam Woolf – Best Day of My Life by American Authors – Poor Sam forced to walk out into the audience and interact with the fan girls. Jena started things off well, but it loses energy when Alex and Sam join her. Nice harmonies! Sam is NOT performing as if it were the best day of his life, as he walks around the stage stiffly. These group numbers are always an afterthought. No judges critiques. That’s probably a good thing.
Jessica Meuse – Human by Christina Perri – Jason calls Jessica country cool. She relates to the lyrics. She’s been built up and torn down. He gives her guitar holding tips. He’s big on how to hold the body to open it up. She’s got strings too. The candles are gone. The dynamics are nice on this. She opens the song slowly, like a flower. She really goes wide on the chorus. She hits a strong note as she enters the second chorus. She’s has a few pitch problems here, though. She’s flat. I think she could have opened up even more, especially towards the end. Harry loves that she’s obviously listening and taking advice. He liked that she was focused on the lyrics. He’s being VERY careful not to dis her, beyond that it wasn’t his favorite performance. Keith thought it was a very good song for her. Keith liked when her voice broke, because it revealed her fragility. Jlo says it’s all about tapping into the emotion. When she got lost in the song, it was a great moment. Jessica wouldn’t have chosen the songs herself, but ultimately it was a happy surprise. Jess says she really felt the song. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 10 (1 855 443 6510) or Text 10 to 83676
Sam Woolf – Sing by Ed Sheeran – Sam misses home and his little doggie! Ryan takes the opportunity to pimp his brand new puppy. SURPRISE VISIT FROM ARIANA GRANDE. She was his celebrity crush. He looks pretty surprised when she walks on stage and hands him the mic. Sam gets a hug.
Jason calls Sam America’s little brother. Sam is happy with the song choice. If you haven’t noticed, he loves Ed Sheeran. Jason teaches him how to invite the audience into his joy. Don’t focus on the guitar so much, he says. Sam needs to let go and GET FUNKY. I was holding my breath for a trainwreck but this isn’t bad. But unfortunately, he loses the groove in the chorus. LIKE REALLY LOSES IT. Oy. The verse was fine. Our Sam just is not a funky dude. But he brings some energy to his performance. Smile more Sam! He looks so serious. Keith thought he did as good a job as he could on THAT song. It was a tough one. Jlo says it was the most comfortable he’s been performing on stage. She thought it was good. Hm. Harry appreciates that he did something different. Harry notes his problems staying in the pocket. He couldn’t ride the groove, he says. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 12(1 855 443 6512) or Text 12 to 83676
Jena Irene – My Body by Young the Giant – Jason compares her to a toothpaste commercial. She SPARKLES. Jena is worried about compromising her vocal with a lot of movement. They compliment each others eyes. He suggests a marching movement when she takes the stage. This is the best I’ve seen her when she’s not playing an instrument. She’s really taken Jason’s advice to heart. She still gulps her words, but her intonation is good and her energy engaging. She hits a couple of nice notes at the end. A great song choice for her. Jlo thought she sounded really good. She’s developing a signature style, she says. Harry notes that she moves more than the rest of the competitors. He likes the way she works the stage. The little quirks she’s developing will help her connect to the audience. Keith likes how she leans into a performance. Killer, he says. – Call 1 855 4 IDOL 08 (1 855 443 6508) or Text 08 to 83676 – Download from iTunes
Caleb Johnson and Jessica Meuse – Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones – I love duets from these two! Their voices blend well. Lots of chemistry too. Jessica ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE SHE’S HAVING FUN! She’s feeding off of Caleb’s energy. Keith thought they killed it. The lyrics are freaking Ryan out for some reason. “Beast of Burden” is a metaphor Ryan. A METAPHOR.
Ryan asks him if he’s been playing Ariana’s new song “Problems.” He says, “Are you kidding? I’ve been pounding it.” UGH SHUT UP RANDY.
The second performances are prefaced by fan video requests for the songs performed.
Alex Preston – Say Something by A Great Big World – Sitting with his guitar, in front of the string section, Alex delivers a gentle, tender performance, full of vulnerability. It brims with emotion, as if he were on the verge of breaking. A back up singer performs the Christina part and it’s very pretty. The song showcases Alex’s beautiful intonation and phrasing. I believe every word of this. Seriously. Harry admires that he wasn’t completely overwhelmed by emotions as he sang. It was restrained and beautiful. The performance of the night, he says. Keith calls it the perfect marriage of song and artist. Jlo congratulates him for a beautiful performance. – Download from iTunes
Jena Irene – Valerie by Amy Winehouse – This arrangement is jazzy, unlike the beat-driven original. She’s got a band behind her and the backup singers off to the side. There’s a nightclub vibe going here. I was not expecting smooth jazz from Jena. I’m not sure how I feel about this. The arrangement is a bold move for her. OK. She’s totally pulling this off. She hits some awesome big notes in the middle. Critiques after the break! Keith loves the song, but he likes the version with tempo better. Still, he liked it. It suited her. Jlo didn’t like the tempo or arrangement. It’s not where she belongs. Harry thought it was in the middle, not her best or worst. She plans to go by her first name only eventually. Odd. He asks her questions about her name, and barely critiques her. The judges will ask a contestant to change things up, but they REALLY hate when they veer outside of their “lane.”
Sam Woolf – How to Save a Life by The Fray – A huge improvement over the first song. This is in his wheelhouse. He begins tentatively, but around half way through the performance, he finds his confidence. He gets lost in the music and that’s when he opens up. He finishes strong. Jlo says when he hit the sweet spot in his voice, something beautiful happened. Harry notes pitch issues and feels he still needs to work on his dynamics. He wishes the beginning was more like the end. Keith felt that he hit a new place at a point in the song. By the end, Sam had him.- Download from iTunes
Jessica Meuse – Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey – Jess has her red dress on tonight. SHE LOOKS BEAUTIFUL. Vocally, this song is PERFECT for her. She’s killing it up there. Emotionally, she’s got her hooks in the song. When she gets out of her own head, she’s fabulous. The bridge is a little out of her range. But the rest? She sings it better than Lana. Harry thought the song was perfect. “You have an incredible voice. It was a perfect marriage of voice and song.” Keith loves the song. He notes the David Lynch mysticism. He wanted her to lean even more into the vocals. Jlo also wanted her to dig in more. It left her cold. Eh. Has she heard the original? The performance was laconic, but it added to the mysterious flavor of the song. – Download from iTunes
Caleb Johnson – Still of the Night by Whitesnake – Yeah. This is right in Caleb’s wheelhouse. Keith and Jlo are on their feet, headbanging. Harry looks a little confused. WHOA. Caleb is killing that vocal dead. He could front a legacy 80s band, or perform in an 80s revue. He plays off the band like a champ. His rock wail is STUPENDOUS. Poor kid was born in the wrong decade. It’s hard to imagine him as a contemporary artist. Keith calls it KILLER. That’s what we call bringing down the house, says Jlo. She loves the band when they perform with him. So much energy. Harry might have been expecting a different song. Heh. He calls it fantastic.