Posted: 5:31 pm Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

‘American Idol’ top 13 live performance show recap 

By Rodney Ho

AMERICAN IDOL XIII:  MK Nobilette (not Justin Bieber) peforms on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, Feb. 26 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: MK Nobilette (not Justin Bieber) peforms on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Wednesday, Feb. 26 (8:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

Did I rev up Sam Woolf too much this past week? Of course I did. There was no way he’d be able to meet the lofty expectations I created.

And worse yet, he picked a Matchbox Twenty tune. Serious snoozer of a song pick.

Otherwise, it was a hit or miss show, as first nights are wont to be.

Who rose to the occasion? Favorites Jessica Meuse, Majesty Rose and Caleb Johnson all met or exceeded my expectations. Alex Preston, another one folks seem to like, did just fine.  Jena Irene was all over the place but I liked it.

In the middle were MK Nobilette, C.J. Harris and the two country guys, Dexter Roberts and Ben Briley. Emily Piriz was pleasant but forgettable. Ditto with Sam.

Malaya Watson was a disaster. Kristen O’Connor was only marginally better. I predicted before tonight’s show that Kristen could go home. I hold to that. She will go home. If someone else is in the bottom three, I’d say Dexter might end up in the bottom for not being terribly memorable.

I rank them 1. Majesty 2. Jessica 3. Caleb 4. Alex 5. Jena 6. Emily 7. Sam 8. Ben 9. MK 10. CJ 11. Dexter 12. Kristen 13. Malaya

The “Idol” producers used Randy Jackson to throw in mostly meaningless patter moments before the start of each song. The “tell us in 20 seconds five things about yourself” bit has been done before but it’s not a bad way to give the singers a chance to show personality in a very short period of time. .

The theme tonight is a song that represents them.

First up: Dexter Roberts (Chris Young “Aw Naw”) He’s a good bar band singer, not much more. It’s a pretty decent arrangement. He had okay energy. Nothing special. Keith: “You’re such a likable guy. That was an excellent cover version of that song.” J. Lo didn’t feel it was distinctive enough. HCJ felt it was out of tune and may be the ear monitor. “Use that personality more.” Grade: B

Second: Malaya Watson (“Runaway Baby” Bruno Mars) Wow. This song doesn’t match up to her voice at all. She sounds rushed and her vocals feel amateurish. I could have sworn I saw HCJ wince at one point. J. Lo likes her stage performance but critiqued her vocals. HCJ said she seemed nervous. Keith likes her energy but has to be in the song, not “floating around it.” Grade: C-minus

Third: Kristen O’Connor (“Beautiful Disaster” Kelly Clarkson) – She missed a lot of notes, especially in the middle. It felt very pageant like. She hits some stronger notes near the end but it was not terribly good. HCJ felt she was way out of tune and it may have been an issue with the ear bud and the stage. Keith said she showed her range. Grade: C-plus

Fourth: Ben Briley (“Folsom Prison Blues” Johnny Cash) – He did an aggressive, passable version of that song and showed a wee bit personality. Keith said it was “particularly brisk” and said don’t sacrifice artistry vs. having fun. J. Lo liked the tempo as a dancer. HCJ liked the uptempo and was the best performance of the night. Grade: B/B-plus

Fifth up: C.J. Harris (“Radio” Darius Rucker) – He has a fine personality and showed confidence. The vocals were just so so. As someone on my blog noted, it was a very safe song choice. HCJ said he has a cry in his voice and that song did not showcase that. (I agree.) Grade: B

Sixth up: MK Nobilette (“Satisfaction” Allen Stone) – She ups the energy and vocally, she isn’t half bad. Again, she has zero stage presence and moves around like a second-rate Justin Bieber. (Ditch the backwards ball cap) HCJ suggests she move around a bit more. Keith said there were patches of “deer in the headlight.” Grade: B/B-minus

Seventh up: Majesty Rose (“Tightrope” Janelle Monae) – She sounded solid and moved around well. She had the first really good performance tonight. HCJ likes the mystery and how her mystery will unravel. Grade: A-minus

Eighth up: Jena Irene Ascuitto (“The Scientist” Coldplay) – It sounded nothing like Coldplay but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed her performance. She has a really interesting pop voice. HCJ said she makes “interesting” choices and her “melodic choices drive the performance.” Keith noted the pitchiness but once she leaned into the song, she had it. Grade: B/B-plus

Ninth up: Alex Preston (“Beautiful Mess” Jason Mraz) – I enjoyed this. Very coffee house but very effective. HCJ thought it was too “inward” but I felt it. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Tenth up :Jessica Meuse (“The Crow and the Buttefly” Shinedown) – The bluesy rock thing works for her. She has a dirty voice, one with lots of texture. And she herself is someone clearly with demons inside her. So this dark tune works. J. Lo gets her first “goosies’ but suggests she relax physically. Grade: A-minus/A

Eleventh up: Emily Piriz (“Glitter in the Air’ Pink) – She did a lovely, pleasant version but I won’t remember it the next day. Fine, but forgettable. HCJ felt she sang the melody well and did exactly what she was supposed to do. Keith said it was one his favorite vocals of the night. Grade: B/B-plus

Twelfth up: Sam Woolf (“Unwell” Matchbox Twenty) – He does a clean version, too clean. It’s a cover and not much more. It’s a basic, boring mid-tempo song to boot. HCJ wants it edgier. J. Lo said he needs more confidence and loosen up. Grade: B

Pimp spot: Caleb Johnson (“Pressure and Time” Rival Sons) – He amps up the energy 50 times after Sam and he has no problem blowing the house out. Keith said he needs to put a twist on it. J. Lo said he is ready for the rock lifestyle. HCJ said it’s great to hear rock and roll on “Idol” and he could replace the Rival Sons lead singer. Grade: A-minus

And we have a big change: folks can vote right after each performance and get credit via Google. MJ has a nice explanation here on how it will work:

Vote on Google Search: If you have a valid Google account, you can vote via Google Search starting on Wednesday, February 26th, when the final contestants (“Finalists”) first perform. Simply go to Google, search “American Idol” or “Idol.” This search will prompt the Google Voting Module to appear with the images of the Finalists. Before being able to vote, you must first log in to the module with a valid Google account. If you do not already have a Google account, you will need to create one before being able to vote using Google Search. Once successfully logged in, you may select the Finalist(s) you wish to vote for and submit no more than 50 votes per Finalist per Google account ID per Voting Show.

Google is trying to get folks to use Google +. Haha. Good luck with that.

A new angle: once a contestant gets a phone number or text number assigned to them, it stays the same throughout the competition. That way, you can save it and use it over and over again down the road. Smart move.

581 comments
JTesla
JTesla

Clay Aiken has officially filed to run for Congress N.C.

MercedesS
MercedesS

Btw, did I hear Ryan say that last year's winner is on tonight's show? 

MercedesS
MercedesS

Thanks for listing your favorites, Rodney.  I listened without looking. Love Alex and Majesty, Caleb without  swagger and audience flirtation, not so much. His voice is not unique.

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

"Idol" ratings last night with no Olympics excuse were disappointing: 10.6 million viewers (up from 9.9 milion) and the 18-49 numbers didn't budge: a mere 2.6. The show is shrinking and skewing older than ever.

FrogLegs
FrogLegs

The best performer last night was Majesty.....her vocals were fluid, she seemed alive on the stage,  and she commanded the song.  I also enjoyed the young dark haired teenager with the guitar....very nice voice.  Hated all the song choices though, and look forward to the show choosing the genres for them.  I almost fell asleep with the song choices.  I do wish at least one R&B male singer was included in the group for a better balance....I like pop and soft rock, but country music is not my thing.  Even though there are 3??? country singers, don't think one will win in this sort of competition.  BTW, does anyone else think being able to vote before the contestants even sing is whack?   50 votes.......wow........it should be one vote per app, website, etc.  I don't care that "so many million people voted".....as Idol likes to announce.  It makes the voting too lop-sided, and a lot of competent but not as popular singers get sent home because of it.  Also BTW, this is season 13 for Idol.  I think this will be the last season.  

JTesla
JTesla

Posted my predictions on the Top 13 prediction thread, don't forget to get yours in. No claiming at the end of the season that you "KNEW Malaya would win" if you don't post it here first.

For discussion here is my sad list:

My predictions, I'm not as confident with the middle group as I have been in the past. Perhaps a sign that Idol is getting old.

13. Kristen O’Conner: in order for attractive women to make it in Idol they need to be able to sing. Maybe she can, but she hasn’t shown that yet. Coupled with her wildcard status as an indicator that she will be one of the first to go.

12. Malaya Watson She can’t go soon enough. If she cracks the top 10, she’ll be Idol’s most annoying contestant ever.

11. C.J. Harris Of the country singers he appears to be the least confident.

10. Jena Irene

9. Alex Preston quirky doesn’t work in Idol, see Casey Abrams.

8. Emily Priz

7. Ben Brilley

6. MK Nobilette

5. Dexter Roberts

4. Jessica Meuse. Fourth, the rocker spot.

3. Sam Woolf, blech. Not a fan, I’ll be surprised that he finishes this high if doesn’t start showing more talent. Welcome to forgetable 3rd.

2. Majesty Rose she’s got what it takes to make solid performances.

1.Caleb Johnson all he needs to do is make something his “own”.

DanJohn
DanJohn

The momentum you get from the first live show is huge and those that did well last night (Caleb, Alex, Sam, Majesty & Jessica) should be able to carry that for weeks to come. First impressions are big! I agree with Deirdre comment about Majesty sparkling. She does have an angelic aura. Jessica was my biggest surprise. I knew she had a good voice but live she sounded much better than I thought she would. Hearing them live I thought vocally Caleb, Majesty & Jessica were the best.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Of all the singers last night, I have to say that Majesty Rose is the only one who "sparkles".  I don't know how else to put it.  Back in my stage days, I remember a director telling an auditioner that very few people can light up a stage just with an expression.  Doesn't mean that person is a good actor, just means that your eye goes to him/her.  Majesty has that quality.

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

I added the videos of my four favorite performances. One good thing nobody noted: not a single performer sang a song that had been "overplayed" on "Idol." No dusty Whitney Houston or Stevie Wonder nugget. No "Against All Odds" or "Hallelujah." The only song that had been sung before that I know of was "Folsom Prison Blues" and that was just a single time. So the producers promised more current songs (e.g. Shinedown, Janelle Monae) and less repetition and broader themes. All good.

Highlander1
Highlander1

Thought Caleb stole the show (of course he did have the advantage of going last) and most of the others were just so-so. BUT, I attribute a lot of that to the short time given for each song!! Once again, it's ridiculous to have a 2-hour show with only 13 singers and limit them to a 90 second performance. I would rather they skipped the time used on the 5 questions bits and given the contestants that time for their performances. Personally, I don't care about learning 5 things about some of them who won't be there in a few weeks anyway. Their singing will determine how I feel about them so give them more time to sell themselves through their song.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

RE those 30 minute results shows.  According the The Idol Pad, they won't begin until Mar. 27 when the contestant tally is whittle down a bit.  Tonight's results will be a full hour.

KellyandCarrieFan
KellyandCarrieFan

My Top 13 prediction yesterday was: 13. Kristen, 12. Dexter, 11. Malaya 10.Emily  9. CJ 8. Ben 7. Mk  6. Alex 5. Jessica 4. Caleb 3. Jena 2. Majesty 1. Sam. 


After last night, any of these four can go tonight:  Malaya, Dexter, Kristen, and CJ. 


I like Malaya's personality, but she needs to reel it in a bit. That performance was all over the place and the vocals were just "messy."

I was not impressed with Dexter. He went with the genre he wants to pursue, but the song choice was awful. Is he trying to tell people he just wants to get drunk and party? I mean, sure, but it's not a memorable impression. I get that he's doing the trendy "bro" country, but he is definitely no Luke Bryan. I've heard better singers just walking down Broadway in Nashville in the middle of the day. 

Kristen: Oy. Listen, we all know, I'm biased when it comes to anyone singing Kelly's songs, but it was just so pageant contestant does karaoke for me. Kelly's done at least 3 different arrangements to that song. If she wanted to go to the emotional path, she could have tried the piano only one. However, I would have chosen something else. 

CJ: I was honestly just bored with it.   

Emily: She has a good voice, and I did like her performance. But she seriously needs something to make her stand out, because at this point...she just blends into the background. 


The ones I enjoyed the most last night were: Alex, Jessica, Jena, Majesty, MK (tho she needs to relax!), Sam, and Ben. 

JTesla
JTesla

Since I didn't vote I didn't pay that close of attention, but was the way they did the recap at the end confusing to anyone else? They didn't show full phone numbes, just the contestant holding numbers and vamping for the camera. New isn't always better.

blkshepherd58
blkshepherd58

The dude with the cap turned backwards is a strange little sort, dont quite know what to make of him. Justin Biber watch out someone is after your crown. (snickering) 

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

I liked MK last week, but not at all this week. Hated the song, and I though her first 20 or 30 seconds sounded wobbly like she was crying or gargling.  And I personally didn't like the Justin B look with the clothes; if she'd ditched the cap, would have been much better; but she really did look pretty with the little bit of makeup.

JTesla
JTesla

Overall I thought it was an entertaining night. I enjoyed the rockers and hope they both go far. I imagine the country singers will go far too, but they need to differentiate themselves. I hope that MK did enough to make it another week, but there is certainly fodder that can be eliminated first. Sorry Kristen, beauty doesn't get girls far on Idol.

DanJohn
DanJohn

Tonight it will be interesting if Randy Jackson gets the same kind of air time Jimmy Iovine got last year. I say that because last night watching from his body language and the tone of his voice he seemed like he didn't want to be there. Maybe I'm reading more into it then what's there but I felt he had a dour attitude. Maybe he feels it's a demotion, maybe jealous of the judges regardless I felt a negative vibe!!! Idol's lone mistake was letting Jimmy go and moving Randy into that position.


As a producer Randy has credentials so he should be a natural fit but what I felt was a man who didn't want to be there. Maybe it's because Jimmy was more hands-on. Last night I never saw Randy break down and critique the contestants during rehearsals. Just snippets! Maybe time caused the producers to not show behind the scenes, maybe there was little to show. If so then it falls on them. Personally I want to see exactly what Randy is doing behind the scene. Last night was disappointing in some regards because I expected more from certain contestants. For the moment I place that blame on Randy. If I'm wrong I will admit it but I think something is awry IMO.  

DanJohn
DanJohn

@MercedesS If Candice Glover isn't on tonight she needs to be. I heard that her album only had nineteen thousand sales the first week out. I think that's the lowest for any Idol winner.

JTesla
JTesla

Who was that again? All I remember from last years shows were big bottoms and bigger egos. Or maybe the egos weren't bigger.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@FrogLegs  I think Fox has already committed to Idol 14.  That could possibly be the last.  Time will tell.

MercedesS
MercedesS

@FrogLegs "I think this will be the last season"... hear that every year!

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@FrogLegs I think Fox will commit to one more season, even if this one is a ratings bomb. This will give them a chance to blow it out the last time out and do a big shebang of serious nostalgia. Fox needs time to fill its spring slate, too, to replace "Idol." I don't think they're ready just yet.

JTesla
JTesla

@FroLegs I don't mind the 50 votes, some can do far more than that if it was not limited. I do agree with you regarding votingbefore the contestants even sing. That is whack.

RoseUp
RoseUp

@RodneyHo  So the producers promised more current songs... and the ratings get lower. Current music blows, by and large. The Stevie Wonder nights and Beatle nights and Elton John and Motown nights work because those songs are timeless.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@RodneyHo  This also begs the question why couldn't the producers clear these songs for earlier seasons.....or did they even try?

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@RodneyHo  The song choices did not always show the singer to his/her advantage but they were all pretty new to Idol which bodes well for the show moving into the 21st century.

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@Highlander1 They get about one minute and 50 seconds. Last night was pretty standard for "Idol."

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@JTesla  They showed the full phone number while the contestant was singing.  A reminder at the end certainly wouldn't hurt.

KellyandCarrieFan
KellyandCarrieFan

@Sam-A1  I understand where you're coming from with MK. I think the hat adds to the Bieber look. Hopefully, she will realize that there are many other options if she'd like to wear one. As for her fashion, well, at least they got her out of the cammo pants. I was surprised they got her to wear pink, to be honest. Baby steps. But in all honesty, I'm sure her style will be disliked by most. 

JTesla
JTesla

@Sam-A1 I think it was in the early montage with people keeping their numbers that she had her hat off. Looked a lot better. Lose the hat MK.

RoseUp
RoseUp

@JTesla  Kristen looks great if you like a ginormous mouth! But I agree, when her mouth is closed, she is stunning.

G_
G_

@JTesla

I agree about the country singers.  It sounds like Ben has a smidgin' of blue grass in him.  idk

KellyandCarrieFan
KellyandCarrieFan

@JTesla  IMO, Jessica and Emily have her beat on that as well. Kristen just seems like a nice girl, and she does have a good voice.... but something is lost in the execution. 

KellyandCarrieFan
KellyandCarrieFan

@DanJohn  you're on point, imo. I don't get why Randy is even involved as a mentor. Honestly, in 12 seasons of Idol did he ever give insightful feedback to the contestants? "For me for you for me, dawg." I did not see it, maybe it was backstage.  But if that were the case, you'd think they would use some of that footage during the show... Guess we will see, but honestly, I don't miss him sitting at the judges' table. 

I'm guessing Jimmy is gone because he has plenty of other things going on now with producing, Beats Music, etc. Plus, I think that last season, he just came off pretty harsh and unlikeable at times. 

MercedesS
MercedesS

@DanJohn Don't agree, DJ. Thought Randy looked relaxed and admonished well.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@DanJohn  I think the negative vibe might just have been Randy trying to look serious, dedicated and erudite.

G_
G_

@DanJohn @MercedesS

Yeah, I heard the album and it doesn't sound like her. Her team needs to be fired.  No promotion = No sales.  It doesn't just look bad for an Idol Alumn, but the Idol brand.

JTesla
JTesla

Of course I still believe that the most fitting song was "Beautiful Disaster". Kristin was both.

Highlander1
Highlander1

@RodneyHo @Highlander1It didn't seem that long. That's also why song selection is important. Many songs (Glitter In The Air, for instance) don't come off as well in that short, cut-up version.

MercedesS
MercedesS

@RodneyHo @DeirdreC Actually, with that many contestants they need an hour. or however many minutes remain after the commercials.

RoseUp
RoseUp

@RodneyHo @JTesla  Kat McPhee was the most gorgeous contestant ever, with apologies to the beautiful Carrie Underwood. I was kind of partial to little Hollie Cavanaugh, too...

RoseUp
RoseUp

@DeirdreC @DanJohn  Why won't Randy go away! I thought he was supposed to be gone this year. He keeps hanging on like a bad cold.