Posted: 6:45 pm Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

‘American Idol’ top 11 performance recap 

By Rodney Ho

Top 11

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Top 11: L-R Back Row: Jessica Meuse, Dexter Roberts, Ben Briley, Alex Preston, L-R Middle Row: Malaya Watson, Sam Woolf, Caleb Johnson, MK Nobillette, C.J. Harris, L-R Front Row: Majesty Rose and Jena Irene on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Thursday, March 6 (8:00-9:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

Our beloved Deirdre linked to TV Line’s “Reality Check” with Melinda Doolittle (season 6) and the incomparable Michael Slezak where they discuss what we are seeing: great judging, bad mentoring.

Maybe “Idol” should have made Harry Connick Jr. the full-time mentor and just find someone else as the judge. (No Randy Jackson, please!).

However charming he is on the dais, these kids really need help on stage. They seem to be having trouble with song choice, arrangements, keys, you name it. Yet I still feel like there’s enough talent there to salvage the season.  They noted how Connick said he wishes in some ways he COULD mentor the contestants behind the scenes, rather than just have a few seconds to critique them in front of the world. He clearly cares enough that he would and could spend plenty of time with them maximizing their performances and as Slezak said, he was in effect throwing shade at Jackson for his mentoring (or lack thereof.). That seems to be a reasonable conjecture given how little mentoring we’ve actually seen from said Jackson.

Anyway, the top 11 did generally do better tonight picking songs from films, giving us some hope this group isn’t hopeless. And the judges (especially Keith this week for Jessica) provided some good advice.

The three best performances: Caleb Johnson pulled back on his cliche rock thing and did an intense Adele song intensely. Jena Irene took a tough song and brought it home. C.J. Harris has been underwhelming for weeks but finally found his comfort zone with Marshall Tucker. Was someone (gasp!) mentoring him properly?

There was only a single disastrous performance: Ben Briley’s perplexing rendition of a lounge singer. It may even place him in the bottom three.  But will he go home for it? Tough call. He should go home, I fathom.

None of the ladies did anything so awful to deserve missing the tour though several were just so so. Majesty Rose has been a favorite for weeks so a subpar performance shouldn’t drop her to the bottom. MK Nobillette is just waiting for her elimination at some point. Often times, when someone like that does a passable job, that virtually guarantees their trip home because their few fans will get complacent. Jessica Meuse disappointed yet again. When she should have hit a home run on a fat fastball, she merely rapped a single.

I don’t know if Malaya Watson being placed in the pimp spot will prevent her from being in the bottom three. Sam Woolf still hasn’t really found his footing on the live stage but he is getting better and progress is better than regression. Dexter Roberts was merely adequate with a crowd pleaser which Harry Connick Jr. noted is probably good enough for him. Alex Preston did his quirky  singer-songwriter thing again and did it well.

So my bottom three are Malaya, MK and Ben. I predict MK will go home.

My rank of the 11: 1. C.J. 2. Caleb 3. Jena 4. Alex 5. Sam 6. MK 7. Majesty 8. Malaya 9. Dexter 10. Jessica 11. Ben

Random trivia: season 8 winner Kris Allen sang three of tonight’s songs on “Idol”: “Come Together,” “Make You Feel My Love” and “Falling Slowly.”

Here are quick takes on the performances, in order:

Sam Woolf (“Come Together” Beatles from “Across the Universe”) – He has been very stiff so he goes for a more upbeat song and he sounds great. He is still stiff, with some improvement. Both Keith and J. Lo note the improvement. She wishes he had put more bite into it. HCJ said it was an average performance that was “pretty good.” Grade: B/B-plus

Jessica Meuse (“Sounds of Silence” Simon & Garfunkel from “The Graduate”) – She has sung this song a million times so she should be able to rock it. I think she is trying to be solemn but looks oddly disconnected. It’s a passable vocal but not a bracing performance like it could be. Something is missing, unfortunately. J. Lo said it should be the perfect song for her moodwise but felt something wasn’t right. HCJ blamed the band as “off.” Keith says in small joints you have to sing close to the mic but here she has to use the dynamics of the room better. “You’re in a different environment,” he says. Grade: B/B-minus

C.J. Harris (“Can’t You See” Marshall Tucker Band from “Blow”) – He finally found a song that really highlights his voice. It’s bluesy and soulful and he finally looks comfortable on the big stage. He got Keith Urban to give him a proper standing ovation. HCJ said he placed himself back to the “forefront” of this competition. Keith said “it was killer… I know exactly who you are.” Grade: A

Dexter Roberts (“Sweet Home Alabama” Lynyrd Skynyrd) – He sings it with a pleasant demeanor and even threw in “roll Tide roll.” Again, he is an awesome bar band singer. As for “Idol”? Unmemorable.  Yet again, Keith said he needs to make it sound more distinctive. HCJ said his objective is to win the competition and he said it was good but “you have to be bigger than that song.” He was not bigger than that song. Grade: B

Ben Briley (“Bennie and the Jets” Elton John from “27 Dresses”) – I never particularly liked this song. He is singing this like a lounge singer. What is up with that? Bizarro! J. Lo contorted herself not to be too insulting but you could tell she wasn’t buying it. HCJ said you have to pound the piano but it felt like a lackadaisical walk through the song and had no purpose. “Pointless,” he said. Grade: C

Majesty Rose (“Let It Go” Idina Mendez “Frozen”) – I know this is a huge song from “Frozen” but having not seen “Frozen” and not having young kids, I’m not terribly familiar. It seems to have standard Disney tropes. I hated her dress but her performance seemed very respectful.  She seems to be swallowed up by the song for some reason. HCJ said she is spreading herself stylistically thin. But tonight, she did a good job. Keith said it’s a tough song that was written for her but felt she attacked it too much. Grade: B/B-plus

Caleb Johnson (“Skyfall” Adele from “Skyfall”) – He picked a song I thought Majesty would have sung. But it was smart. It took him away from rock but he brought strength and confidence and resonance to the song that was not an imitation of Adele. Keith said it wasn’t predictable but dependable. “An amazing choice and great restrained performance. Great power.” HCJ said he is proof he thinks this is the best top 13 ever. (I don’t but alas…) Grade: A/A-minus

MK Nobillette (“Make You Feel My Love” Bob Dylan/Billy Joel/Garth Brooks) – That was the best we’ve heard in awhile. I tried not to watch her because honestly, seeing her blank face kind of ruins the effect. J. Lo compared her to k.d. Lang. HCJ says she has star quality when she focuses it and owns it. He wishes she had cut the runs by 50-75 percent. Keith says she looks like a star. Grade: B-plus

Alex Preston (“Falling Slowly” Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova from “Once”) – He is like the next lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls. Very emotive but doesn’t over do it. HCJ says he likes that Preston did it simply and elegantly. Keith: It held his attention. “Raw fragility” in the most complimentary way. “Authenticity” and “artistry” bonus points. J. Lo said it was perfect. Grade: B-plus

Jena Irene Asciutto (“Decode” Paramore from “Twilight”) – I am not familiar with this song, proving how out of that teen demo I’m not in anymore since I’ve never seen “Twilight.” But honestly, I liked it. It felt like she was in her element. She brought a lot of “ferocity” to it, as Keith said. HCJ said it was different and just as good as the original. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Malaya Watson in the pimp spot! (“I Am Changing” Beyonce from “Dreamgirls”) – She has the tone and the volume but lacks the depth in her voice.. I think she simply isn’t ready for primetime. I would love to hear her in five years. This song proves that she is on the right path but she’s not there yet. Keith said she knows songs that play to her strengths. He feels she can rein it in at times and gets caught up. Grade: B/B-plus

630 comments
BenWright
BenWright

so who does everyone think is goin home


DanJohn
DanJohn

Just throwing this out for debate concerning possible Idol changes.

WHAT IF:

The AI judges were also mentors like on The Voice but would watch the auditions.

The contestants are pre-screened and only the best are available.

Each judge/mentor gets 12 contestants on a team and the contestants belong to the judge who hits their bell first.

Each week 4 from each group sing total of 12 contestants.

America votes and the top two from each group moves forward. IE each judge keeps 2 of their 4

When the final 12 are chosen it's one out a week with no saves!



Jenny11
Jenny11

Deirdre!!!  I was JUST copying your post about this from last night, to quote you and comment on this!  I was literally about to hit "paste" when your comment popped up.  

THIS is what I've been wondering.  WHY exactly is "current music" so important to the show-runners this year?  I seriously doubt it's what the baby boomers want to hear.... 

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

I'm going to bring this up again.  I read an article recently that claimed that the ratings system for tv is actually failing the tv audience.  The much coveted 18-49 age group is NOT the group spending the most money.  It is STILL the baby boomer generation calling the shots.  It suggested that shows with older audiences should be getting more revenue from their ads because their audience is spending the most based on the ads.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Dang.  I simply must start watching live and chatting with y'all at night.  I just saw this gem from Highlander and MoFaux:

Highlander: Alex may be better than most of the others musically (with instruments) but this is a singing competition. If he were to win, he'd sell about as many cd's as Off-Key Lee.

MoFaux: If it's a singing competition, then please explain how Phillip Phillips won.  Thanks.

LOLOLOL, and AMEN, MoFaux!!

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC- quote from your earlier comment - "Maybe it was the music.  Most of the songs were recognizable to Idol's core audience.  Most of them had melodies." 

Amen.  

And this is why I'm so discouraged that they're going current AGAIN next week.  Do y'all really think it's a coincidence that on the night most of them choose more classic songs, the quality goes way up?

Jenny11
Jenny11

Question for y'all on the new blog format.  Is there a way to make it notify me when someone replies to one of my posts, or one I've commented on?  Like Facebook does?

It VERY occasionally gives me a notification... but not every time.  Sometimes I will be scrolling through and notice that there's a whole conversation on one of my posts, and I never saw it. 

Anyway, I ask because I'm reading and catching up, and I'd like to reply to older posts, but don't know if the post's author will ever see it. 

Jenny11
Jenny11

OMG, reading comments now and laughing at the thread between @DanJohn and @DeirdreCabout "Roll Tide Roll".  Not only did he gain half/annoy half of AL, but as Deirdre noted, he annoyed at least half of GA (well, probably more like 95%.)  Plus, ALL of Arkansas, most of South Carolina, and many other states too numerous to mention.  ;-)

JTesla
JTesla

The good part of Jennifer Lopez performing on Idol: at least we get to enjoy seeing one of the most callipygous women on the planet.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Sam, yes.... exactly what I was thinking!  I wonder if they'll go home and watch it back, and realize the opposite - that some of them didn't deserve such high praise as they got. 

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Jenny: don't you remember all the times Simon would mention "going home and watching the show, and hearing something totally different than what I heard last night"?? He even apologized to a couple of people that he'd ripped apart - saying that they were much better than he'd thought during the live performance.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Is she?  Hopefully on the results show and not the performance show, right?  

I don't record the results shows any more... too much fluff.  I only care about the last 5 minutes, and I can read that here.  :-)

Sam-A1
Sam-A1

Don't know if this is the show, Comcast, or just my TV, but the chatter on Idol is much louder than when the singing starts. Like it goes down about 25% as soon as someone starts singing.

And did anyone else catch that JLo is going to be performing next week?  BOOOOOO! And so her personal promotion train begins for the season. We really do NOT need to see her bimbo-it-up on the Idol stage.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Oh, two more thoughts I forgot:

I wish Malaya had picked "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)". 

And does anyone else think the judges were hearing things very differently in the studio, than we were at home last night?  Harry referenced at one point that he didn't know if it sounded as good at home.  It didn't.  The way they praised Majesty and MK made me think it must have sounded REALLY different to them....

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DanJohn - then you'd have the love child of the Voice and the X Factor. 

I'd keep "The contestants are pre-screened and only the best are available" and "When the final 12 are chosen it's one out a week with no saves!". 

And I'd have the judges mentor too - each week, each judge gets assigned several contestants to work with, and it rotates, so the contestants get to work with each judge. 

AND I'd limit the voting even more than they have.  Do it like DWTS.  X number of votes per phone number or FB account - in the week with 10 contestants, you get 10 votes per method.  9 contestants, 9 votes.  Etc. 

JTesla
JTesla

@DanJohn I think they tried that, they called it The X-Factor.

Jenny11
Jenny11

I mean, I know tweens think current music is great, but as I've wondered out loud more than once... aren't adults the core audience?  And the ones who spend the money?  Why would the show cater to getting more tweens that don't have money?  Why not make your core viewers happy instead?

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreCDo you think it's a little weird that they lump 18 to 49 all together?  The income of someone at 18, 25, maybe even 30 is probably going to be vastly lower than someone in their late 30s, or 40s.  

I wonder why they don't say "18-24" (covering the college and post-grad years), "25-35" (career building years), and "35-49". 

DanJohn
DanJohn

@DeirdreC I don't doubt that at all. Most of us BOOMERS have already raised kids, financially secure (well as much as you can be in this economy) and have more disposable income! Those 18-49 group have a lot more bills and just starting to make purchases such as homes. So I do agree that we older folks get overlooked.

Jenny11
Jenny11

And before anyone fusses at me, I'm trying to be funny!  :-) :-)  I just thought that thread was hilarious.  I know perfectly well that PP had charisma coming out his ears.  I said many times that I could see why people loved him... I just personally didn't think he should have come in FIRST.  I feel strongly that the winner should have a great voice.   

Jenny11
Jenny11

And if we, adults of (what age? 35 and older?) are Idol's core audience... WHY do they keep trying to drag current hits into the show?  Sure, there are a few good ones out there, but so much of today's "music" is nothing but auto-tuned and mechanized.  :-(

JTesla
JTesla

@Jenny11 Oddly on other sites that use this software you can receive an e-mail with every @Jenny11 use or every reply to a comment you made. Must be something AJC didn't want to turn on.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11  Short answer is no...in truth, no is also the long answer.

Jenny11
Jenny11

JT, you are cracking me up.  Exactly how and where did you learn that word?

For the uninitiated, "callipygous" means "beautifully proportioned buttocks".  (Let's see if that gets past the blog censors.)

The blog is funny today.  :-)

Jenny11
Jenny11

@JTesla - OK, let me be the first to admit I looked that up.  LOL!   Word of the day.  ;-)

She certainly does fit that description.  Even as a girl I can see that! 

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11  The results start at 9pm EDT tonight instead of 8.  And it is only a couple of more weeks before the result show switches to 30 minutes instead of an hour.  They probably need to get the judges onstage before that happens.

JTesla
JTesla

@Sam-A1 Uggg we don't need that. As long as she doesn't get a solo spot in the finale. That is the worst, instead of showcasing the contestants we got forced to watch her fondle a boy-toy.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Sam-A1  Seems only fair, if Harry is performing tonight that JLo also get a shot.  I may want to hear Harry and Keith a lot more than JLo but you can't tell her no if the other guys get to perform

DanJohn
DanJohn

@Jenny11 Jenny my ears are thankful Malaya didn't pick And I'm Telling You. Not only is her voice not capable of singing it, the song itself is over used by every singing competition show. Only a few singers can sing the song well and Malaya IMO isn't one of them.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@Jenny11 @DanJohn Well Simon already has a love child so hopefully he's been snipped by now.

The problem with all the shows is that the viewers don't get an early vested interested. The way I look at it is after THE DRAFT/AUDITION the voting begins. You don't have battle rounds, Hollywood rounds. you go to directly to live shows with America voting.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@JTesla Not quite. XF made a big deal about who got what group. You had groups, over 25 under etc. Not a mixed bag of contestants. The mentors also narrowed down the cuts until the end. The voters didn't get involved until the live shows.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11  Because it was believed that tweens and teens spend more money...but that probably is no longer true...however, because the ad revenue for a show is determined by the ratings(especially the ratings of the 18-49 group)and the ratings system hasn't actually joined the 21st century yet, most shows still feel that they need to cater to that age group.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11  Did you see him perform on Idol's result show last week?  His new song is really good.

Jenny11
Jenny11

@JTesla See now, that'd be useful!  Or at least a notifications list that you get upon login (like FB.)  I wonder why AJC would opt out of that (if they did?)


Jenny11
Jenny11

Thanks @DeirdreC .  Dang.  It would be so handy when scrolling through a day and night's worth of posts!  Oh well.  I guess I'll collect all my thoughts and post them at the top, like we used to do, instead of replying (unless it's a really current post.)  

JTesla
JTesla

@Jenny11 Saw it while surfing other sites. I thought it would be good to raise the level of my vocabulary a tad.

JTesla
JTesla

@MercedesS KimK is dead to me... so I'm going with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Yes - I may start recording again once it goes to 30 minutes.  But 9 p.m. is even more problematic for me, because my poor old DVR gets really ticky about recording Grey's Anatomy.  (No other shows... just Grey's.  It's very weird, and seems to happen only when I have another show lined up to record alongside Grey's.  It records two shows just fine at all other times.... and I've checked EVERY setting there is... very mysterious.)

Anyway, I would much rather skip Idol than miss Grey's.  It takes them forever to get it into the On Demand queue... so not taking any chances... 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DanJohn - well, yes, this is true.  Even though she didn't screech her song, she might well have screeched that one.  I actually thought of that after I wrote it.

But as far as it being over used - that doesn't bother me, because I always like hearing it.  :-)

DanJohn
DanJohn

@Jenny11 Look at it like this: 2-4 Draft rounds, 3 Cut=down rounds with viewers voting, then top 12

DanJohn
DanJohn

@JTesla No you only have judges/mentors talk about their OWN contestants or you could get GUEST judges changing on a weekly basis? Hummmm

JTesla
JTesla

@DanJohn But you'd still have the judges back certain contestants type setup. I like my judges to judge and mentors to mentor. It's too hard for some to mix the two... like L.A. Reid.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11 @DeirdreC  Not today so much but 20 years ago, those teens and tweens were the children of the boomers..they had money to spend as did their parents who were in the same age group (18-49)  Times have changed however.  Boomers have and are retiring with some money,  Their kids are still working and having their own kids and the economy isn't what it used to be.  So it is still the boomers with the spending power instead of their kids and grandkids.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Where are all the marketing research people? 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC - Wow.  That seems so far fetched!!  Where exactly would tweens and teens GET all this money??  Most parents (I would hope) are in charge of how much the younger kids have to spend.  And even if the teens work, they don't earn that much...

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC - I didn't.  And I didn't record, either.... :-(  But I will look it up and give him a chance!  I will say, he's had great songwriters.  The song "Home" was very catchy.  I may never grow to love his voice, but I always did like his personality.  

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11 @JTesla  AJC can barely keep this site above water as it is.  They don't need to complicate it any more.

Jenny11
Jenny11

@JTesla - Very nice.  Though the definition makes me laugh (and think of Forrest Gump - "in the butTOCKS."

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC @Jenny11@DanJohn- I guess the week before set the Malaya screeching standard.  I had to fast forward because she was even bothering my cat.  In comparison, this was mild....

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11 @DanJohn  I thought she screeched her way through the entire second half of her song last night.