Posted: 7:01 pm Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

‘American Idol’ top 10 performance recap 

By Rodney Ho

AMERICAN IDOL XIII:  Top 10: Clockwise from Left: Dexter Roberts, Alex Preston, Jessica Meuse, Caleb Johnson, C.J. Harris, MK Nobilette, Majesty Rose, Jena Irene, and Malaya Watson on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Thursday, March. 13 (9:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

AMERICAN IDOL XIII: Top 10: Clockwise from Left: Dexter Roberts, Alex Preston, Jessica Meuse, Caleb Johnson, C.J. Harris, MK Nobilette, Majesty Rose, Jena Irene, and Malaya Watson on AMERICAN IDOL XIII airing Thursday, March. 13 (9:00-10:00 PM ET / PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 / FOX Broadcasting.

With the theme tonight current songs, some singers brought their points of view to fore. Others felt flat. Really flat.

Malaya Watson surprised me with my favorite performance of the night after two less-than-enthralling performances. She finally connected with a song and didn’t go loco on us. Close behind, I enjoyed Alex Preston, Sam Woolf, Majesty Rose and Jena Irene to various degrees. Sam needed a decent showing and pulled it off. Majesty came back from a couple of shaky weeks. Jena is solidifying herself as a contender. Alex knows who he is and highlights his nerdy persona week in and week out.

Unfortunately, the other five ranged from mundane to plain bad.

MK was barely passable. Dexter started strong, then slipped into a stupor. Caleb was forgettable at best for once. CJ was literally invisible after showing some life last week. Jessica looked more comfortable but it felt more glib than invigorating. I’m losing patience waiting for Jessica’s breakout performance. Will it ever come?

My bottom three? MK, Dexter and CJ. Who will go home? It’s about time, MK. It’s about time.

My rankings: 1. Malaya 2. Alex 3. Sam 4. Jena 5. Majesty 6. Caleb 7. Jessica 8. Dexter 9. MK 10. CJ

My thoughts on each performance in order:

MK Nobilette (“Perfect” Pink) – Pink is very hard to do for the reason that Pink puts real pain into her vocals. MK can’t possibly approach that. She has pitch issues, then in her effort to improve her stage presence by shaking hands with audience members, she lost track of the song and never quite back on track. Grade: B-minus

Dexter Roberts (“Cruise” Florida-Georgia Line) –  He opens promising with a slower start than the actual song. I expected he’d speed it up, maybe even throw in a rap interlude. Instead, he made it a bit faster but not enough to lift it beyond lethargic. He took a crowd pleaser and made it feel stale. Grade: C-plus

Jena Irene (“Clarity” Zedd) – She seems to have found her voice, as HCJ said. She can do pop pretty well and in this case, she pulls of the electronic-pop sound and gives the song enough heft and individuality to work. Keith said it was the best performance of the night, though that’s not saying much. HCJ was impressed. She’s definitely a riser. Grade: B-plus

Alex Preston (“Story of My Life” OneDirection) – This is a really good pop song and Alex gives it enough of his own quirks to it to make it engaging. Solid song pic. He won’t be going anywhere. Keith said it sounded like American Authors merged with OneD. JLo said it felt comfortable and he owned the stage. Grade: A-minus

Caleb Johnson (“Edge of Glory” Lady Gaga) – I was expecting him to take this down a notch and really give it that David Cook/Kris Allen twist. But instead, it was just a mid-tempo okay version. I thought it felt a bit flat. HCJ liked it but thought he has seen him better.  JLo felt he wasn’t feeling it. Grade: B/B-minus

Malaya Watson (“When I was Your Man” Bruno Mars) – Surprise! After some shaky live performances, she rose to the occasion, hitting the right tenor, the right emotional feelings, the right everything. She certainly saved herself this week by picking a song she connected with. And not moving around helped her. Keith liked how she was able to put some control in her performance, for once. Grade: A-minus/A

CJ Harris (“Invisible” Hunter Hayes) – This felt heavy, tired and out of tune. Keith felt he nailed it in rehearsal but didn’t do it well live.  HCJ said he felt the lyrics but he was off pitch, too sharp again. Grade: C

Jessica Meuse (“Pumped Up Kicks” Jessica Meuse) – She decided to go really chipper on a song with very dark lyrics. I give her points for owning this song with a smile but it felt off to me. HCJ wasn’t sure how she was interpreting this lyrics. “I wonder where the cry is. I wonder where the joy is.” He felt it was one dimensional. “I want to see more intricacies and weirdness.” Keith liked it. Grade: C-plus/B-minus

Majesty Rose (“Wake Me Up” Avicii) – I really enjoyed her take on this. She brought some interesting sadness to this take on Avicii. I was on board, like HCJ. Keith disagreed with Harry. It was too folksy to him. JLo said she felt fear, which is not good. Grade: B-plus

Sam Woolf (“We are Young” .fun) – I thought Sam is still not busting out just yet, but his voice worked with this song. I felt he brought a solid performance, certainly good enough to survive. HCJ felt it was too timid. Grade: B-plus

506 comments
Garbuster
Garbuster

The judges, except for Harry, are not and have not done their job.  J LO is a mom first, a mentor second, and way down the list a judge.  Urbin is right behind her.  Have the guts, aka Simon Cowell, to tell someone they sucked.  This is the worst bunch of talent I've seen ever.  Move over to the VOice for real singing.  I also blame the judging for the pathetic top 13.

Rickster_
Rickster_

Have a good evening, everyone.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Is the problem us?  Do we expect to get blown away by talent EVERY season?  

Most people would say yes BUT...has that really happened?  What about season 3, for example.  Some of us loved Fantasia, some loved Diana, some had other choices.  But were we AS A GROUP blown away that season?  I wasn't.

What about season 6?  Admittedly, the Sparks girl has done well for herself...one of the more successful winners but...the only voice that blew me away that season was Melinda Doolittle's.  Jordin's was good but I was kinda meh about her.

And OMG what about the year Lee DeWise won?  Yes, Crystal was better(imo, of course) but were we blown away by her?

The last time we all went kinda crazy over a season was the year Adam Lambert was on.  THAT was pretty spectacular and exciting and divisive.

What I am trying to say is that Idol has never been consistent with talent level from season to season.  But we've stuck with it.

Maybe it's us.  Maybe we're just done with it.  

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

If we just talk voices, there are a number of contestants who have really good voices.  Jena, Caleb, Alex, Malaya, Jessica, Sam.  MK's and Majesty's voices are good but weak.  Neither can belt out a song.  Cj has a good deal of trouble staying on pitch and he isn't really a powerhouse either.  Dexter's voice is ok, nothing special.

So what's the problem?  By my count we have 6 really good voices and 4 who can sing sometimes.  Is it song choice?  So far, only Caleb and Alex have been pretty good with their song choices.  Sam has dug himself a couple of holes with his choices.  Malaya is only just now coming into her own.  Jena got our attention last week and tried to lose our attention this week.

Is it performance skills?  Only Caleb shines as a performer.  Jessica, CJ and Alex hide behind their guitars.  Jena and Malaya are much better when they sit down.  Sam is downright awkward.  MK proved last night that she can't move and sing at the same time.  Dexter is...well, boring.  Majesty lost her glow along with her confidence. 

Is it personality? Only Caleb and Malaya actually seem to have one.

Rickster_
Rickster_

Jenny, I've not watched since the Hollywood or home show.

Rickster_
Rickster_

P_Squat is performing tonight?

Jenny11
Jenny11

I'm reading comments now.  Woodpappy, Parbogey, and especially Lori-Lori have put it very well below.  They each touched on pieces of how I'm feeling about the show.  I don't want to lose interest, but I can feel it happening.  :-(

I think Caleb's really good... I think a few others have potential (including Alex, even though I don't personally like him)... but where's the excitement gone?  I miss the days where you just HAD to see what Adam or David Cook or Carrie or Chris Daughtry was going to do this time. 

Jubie
Jubie

Honestly none of the contestants are improving. Randy needs to go. They need mentoring. Now. The judges have to be embarrassed.

Jenny11
Jenny11

Without reading anything yet (even Rodney's take), here are my impressions:

I was originally debating whether I'd watch last night, because of the theme.  But then I decided it might be nice to hear the singers as a clean slate... I only knew Perfect and Edge of Glory, so I wouldn't be as swayed by whether I liked the song.  And who knows, maybe I'd discover some new favorite music.  

But my overall impression was that the show's gone from good last week, back down to mediocre and forgettable.  And that's thanks to the difference between the more classic music from earlier decades,  and today's music.  Although there are some great current artists out there, like Lady Gaga and Adele... there's also some pretty bad stuff.  

I really think if they want to revive the show, this probably needs to be the last week they try to use current music.  

Surprisingly, I thought Malaya was best of the night!  Now, the song she chose was very good!  And she was the best I've heard her.  She really does have a nice voice under all that screeching!  

My thoughts on each (in no particular order):

MK - I like Perfect, and liked her version pretty well.  I don't think she's one of the leaders this season, but I do enjoy her voice.

Gena - she sounded nice, and the glow sticks were fun, but what the heck was that song?  When she said she was singing electronica, I was excited, because I usually love that type music. But that song... ???  Do the judges really think that is good music?? 

Alex - Another terrible song.  WTH?  I could tell his voice sounded good, but that song... aaack.  I FF'd after about 30 seconds of it.

Malaya - best of the night - very nice!!

Twangy country guy - I actually kind of liked him this week.  And I REALLY liked that song!  

Caleb - I love the song, and thought he was going to be great for the first 30 seconds or so... but he fell off from that.  I only liked it, didn't love it. 

CJ - pretty song and he sounded nice. 

Jess - good god she's nasal. 

Majesty - much, much better than last week!

Sam - semi-cute song, and he sounded good.  Nothing spectacular, though.  

(None of them have really been spectacular yet.  Caleb's come the closest, but not a WOW moment in the house so far this season.)  

Last but not least - I ADORE Harry.  :-)

Woodpappy
Woodpappy

If it was named "I Luh ya Pappy", then I would be all smiles.....!

Rickster_
Rickster_

Sounds like I didn't miss much last night.

parbogey
parbogey

After last week's show, I thought there was hope.  Except for a few, hope was lost last night.  Just not the caliber and consistency we've come to expect.  

MercedesS
MercedesS

Looked up Michael Slezak's review.

Of JLo's performance tonight: "(she) will perform her new single 'I Luh Ya Papi' (not a typo) and it will almost certainly be a debacle of sparkly fabric, preternaturally glowing skin, gyrating nether regions and Auto-Tune."


About Alex: "there is no denying his delicate version of 'Story of My Life' is the best rendition of the song I've ever heard."


About Caleb: "(he) wound up attaching a big old chunky hay wagon to the back of his Maserati. Musically speaking, of course." 

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

Idol alums Jessica Sanchez, Pia Toscano and Allison Iraheta will perform with JLo tonight.

Jubie
Jubie

Well, I'd be happy just not being put to sleep this season. Forget about being blown away. It isn't us.

JTesla
JTesla

@DeirdreC Kind of what my opinion is, it's us. As I stated earlier: "The show is old now, people tire of it. Even I don't want to have the same watercooler discussion that I've had for the past 12 years".

When Idol changes we dislike it, when Idol stays the same we dislike it.

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC The only time I was blown away in Season 3 was when LaToya London sang "All By Myself".  

In Season 6, I was blown away the very first live week by LaKisha Jones' "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)".  (Weren't we all?  Even Simon.  It was such a shame she fell off from that.)  

I was VERY meh about Jordin... it bothered me a lot that she won.  It felt like it was all manipulated because they wanted a young "pop star" image. 

So no... they've never been consistent with talent level.  I don't think it's possible to find a Carrie or Kelly or Adam every season.  The seasons where they do find one are very special.  It's been so long since Adam.  Maybe it is us.  :-( 

Rickster_
Rickster_

@DeirdreC Not sure if "blown away" is correct.. but impressed would help. None of them impressed me during the auditions. None of them made me think "They could win this thing."

No star power either.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@DeirdreC We live in a WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY world and we do expect more especially when it comes to devoting our time to a program. If we become bored we move on. Idol has thousands to chose from so I know there's talent. I think it comes down to choosing and harnessing the talent. These contestants have UNDER performed. I thought it was a talented group and I think Harry feels/felt the same way. Hence his digs at Randy. I really think it's Randy who is at fault. My God Jimmy had Crap for male contestants last year but at least he brought out the best in the girls. If there's another season of Idol Randy has to go!

MercedesS
MercedesS

@DeirdreC I still think it has something to do with age and stage experience..  Looked back at Adam's audition - he was 26 years old then and said he'd been in musicals since he was 10. That's a lot of experience.


Jessica looks like she's been around, but she's only 23. Malaya and Sam, both 16? The others?

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC - I'd agree with most of this too. (Will the sky be falling soon??!! :-) )  

Those are the same ones I think have potential (except maybe Jessica... I'll repeat myself; good god, she's nasal.)  

And as I've said, MK and Majesty are both perfectly pleasant to listen to, but you're correct, they don't belt.  I guess I'm judging CJ mostly by last week, because I'd put him in with those two, potential-wise.  

Twangy country guy can go home any time and I won't care.  Though I did like his song last night (the song more so than him, but at least this time I didn't hate him.) 

DanJohn
DanJohn

@DeirdreC You hit on a lot of things. I think the judges picked artists instead of performers. Honestly I don't see any girl getting anywhere near a record deal unless Majesty or Malaya get a gospel offer. Sam may get a deal based on modest talent and looks. Alex might get a independent offer but only Caleb has any star power.


If you gave Jessica, Dexter or CJ an ounce of personality that's exactly what they'd have one ounce!


If you gave MK an ounce of personality they'd still be a deficit!


All in all I watch to see the interaction between the judges and Caleb. 

parbogey
parbogey

@DeirdreC -- I tend to agree with you on this post.  Good observations.....

Jenny11
Jenny11

And @DeirdreC- really, after Malaya, no one stood out.  It's kind of sad, this season.  I do like Caleb a lot, but... overall, it's not one of the stronger groups they've had.  

I think Harry is a little biased because he helped pick them.  Love him, but I think he's wrong about it being the strongest group since season 1.  I'd say it's one of the weakest...

Jenny11
Jenny11

True, MK did mess up a line... but I still thought she was pleasant and not bad.  I've enjoyed her voice every week so far.  She's definitely not a leader, but she's not bad.

With twangy country guy, truth be told, it was probably more the song I liked than him.  :-)  I was just so happy to hear him singing something halfway pretty.  I hate fast twangy country, so to me, this was a nice change. 

I didn't think CJ was awful at all.  And the song itself was kind of pretty... (again, that may have helped.)  Plus, I really liked him last week!

As I said, Alex's voice sounded very good, but it's just that the song itself was dreadful.  Maybe I should've given it longer than the 30 seconds or minute I gave it.


DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11  I want the sound on your tv cuz on mine, MK totally messed up her song, CJ was beyond awful and"twangy country boy" aka Dexter was almost as bad!

Malaya, however, surprised us all with a very good version of the Bruno Mars song.

JTesla
JTesla

 'I Luh Ya Papi' one of the dumbest named songs in the modern era.

JTesla
JTesla

It will be nice to see Allison, catching glances from a distance of her isn't good enough.

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@JTesla  So true!  We live in a world of "never satisfied"  How sad.

Jenny11
Jenny11

@Rickster_ - EXACTLY.  (Though I gave up on auditions after the first couple of weeks... so my lack of being impressed is just from the semifinals on.)

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@DanJohn @DeirdreC  What I mean is, are our expectations unrealistic?  Is the fact that we've been doing this for 13 seasons beginning to color our opinion of the talent.  Yes, we've had some great talent coming out of Idol but how many really talented people show up in one season?  We have 12 seasons behind us and probably less that 20 really special singers from those 12 seasons.  That's less than 2 a season. So why are we expecting something extra special this season?

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11  CJ was really good last week.  This week he was off-key almost the whole song.  It was just sad.  And the song being pretty didn't help much.  After all, we are supposed to be looking for the best singer, right?  Not the singer who sings the songs we like best.  ;-)


DanJohn
DanJohn

@DeirdreC @Jenny11 I have a Bose surround sound and only Alex, Caleb, Malaya sounded good. Sam, Jessica and Majesty were so-so. The rest were horrible. I'm speaking from a listening standpoint not visual.

Jenny11
Jenny11

@MercedesS - yep, she blew everyone away that first week with "I Will Always Love You."  It was right after Whitney Houston had died, and they did a Whitney tribute week. 

Plus, if I remember correctly, Pitchy had us all excited to see Jessica, because according to her child Jessica was the latest, greatest YouTube sensation (kind of like the way the Call Me Maybe girl got popular.)  So we knew she was going in with quite the following, and boy, did she live up to it!   

Hollie also was great with Whitney.  She'd been pretty much hidden up until then, and it was like "Where did that girl come from?"  She was leading the pack up until Jessica went.   

chankagirl
chankagirl

@MercedesS @DeirdreC Jessica was a tiny singer with a powerful voice. Sang a duet with Jennifer Holliday, the song "And I am telling you".

DeirdreC
DeirdreC

@Jenny11 @DeirdreC @DanJohn  Kelly didn't come across as a 'star" that first season.  She was just a hometown girl with a great voice.  And Carrie's voice was spectacular but she was shy with very little performance skills.  

We see them now and are proud of our choices but who knew for sure that they were going to be huge....and in truth, they are the ONLY superstars.  So what is it we expect?  To find another Carrie or Kelly.

We've seen the really great singers on the Voice and none of them have gone anywhere.  

Adam is NOT a superstar, btw.  He's a really good singer with a nice career but not superstar status by any stretch. 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC @DanJohn - Think about it, there was Kelly, then the Clay-Reuben season, then two seasons later there was Carrie.  So we got spoiled by almost all the first 4 seasons being great, and two big stars being found. 

Season 5 gave us a lot of great talent too, like Daughtry, Katharine, Elliott.  So our expectations were set really high, really early. 

In its early days, wasn't it called "American Idol: The Search For A Superstar"?  I think that's what's happened.  It's been so long since the last one with truly superstar potential (Adam).  There have been good singers... even great singers... but no STAR for us to be wowed by... not for a long time.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@DeirdreC @DanJohn I'm sure the expectations were unrealistic especially since most of us had high hopes with the changes made backstage. I think based on the auditions along with the cut-downs that followed we all thought the talent was great. It did seem the magic was back. But when the lives show lights went on, When Randy became grand poo-bah it seemed the talent went into hiding.

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DeirdreC - Hmmm.  I didn't know the song at all, so maybe I missed that.  And I am often swayed by a pretty song.  

Plus, I was getting a little bored by the time he went.  Full disclosure...  I was playing Candy Crush as I listened... :-O  ;-) 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DanJohn @DeirdreC - And honestly... except maybe for Caleb, I don't feel strongly enough about any of them to make an argument for them.  They're mostly just pleasant at best. 

Jenny11
Jenny11

@DanJohn @DeirdreC - OK, OK, I'm wrong!  ;-)  As I told Deirdre below, I sometimes tend to react to the song itself, just as much as the singer.  Those were just my brief impressions.  

Truth be told, I don't think we've found another Carrie or Kelly this season, not even close.... I sort of feel like I'm rating "the best of what there is".