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MAR
19
4 MOS

'American Idol' Recap: The Top 10 Sing Billboard Hits

The hopefuls took on songs by Florida Georgia Line, Zedd, Lady Gaga, Avicii and more on Wednesday night's performance show.

American Idol season 13 top 10 L
Michael Becker / Fox

From the beginning of the season, Harry Connick Jr. has been the judge to watch.

But during last night's Billboard Hits-themed episode of American IdolJennifer Lopez took center stage as she seriously stepped up her judging game, dispensing invaluable show business advice to the hopefuls.

Her comment that careers need hits and that creating them is what "an American Idol has to do to be an American Idol" was brutally honest, one of the many prescient, sharp and on-the-money critiques she offered Wednesday night. It was, as Steven Tyler used to say, beautiful.

We also learned that Connick doesn't attend rehearsals because he cares more about what happens when "the red light is on."

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Other notable moments from last night's episode included silly Ryan Seacrest selfies, flying gummy bears, Keith Urban and Connick swapping chairs — and personas — at the table, and hits by Lady Gaga, Foster the People, and Avicii.

Here's how it all played out:

MK Nobilette kicked things off with Pink's "Perfect," a song she chose due to fans on social media citing the singer as a positive force. Nobilette began the song singing into a mirror, but she lost her place in the middle and seemed to lose control of the song toward the end. Lopez felt she didn't rebound after her slip-up, and advised her how to correct that in the future. Connick said it was not her "best performance," and questioned what kind of show she was going to offer in the future.

Dexter Roberts stayed in his proverbial country lane with a cover of "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line. Roberts started the song as a soft ballad, but picked it up in the middle while utilizing the stage. Lopez felt he sang well, but didn't do a good job rallying the crowd and getting them to sing along and take "the ride" with the Alabama farm boy. Connick didn't love it and called it "generic" and "meandering." Urban enjoyed the way Roberts changed it up in the beginning.

Jena Irene chose "Clarity" by Zedd because she said electronic music has not been covered too much on the show. Irene, styled like a cross between Katy Perry and Lea Michele, took control of the song with melody changes, glow sticks and a flashy outfit. Connick said he was excited that he is getting to learn who Irene is as an artist, while Urban called it the best performance of the night. Lopez once again gave great advice, telling the teen to perform in the middle of the stage and visually draw in the audience. The judges also clashed over whether or not the song has a "melody."

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Alex Preston is so talented. Where do we begin? His guitar playing? The way he tinkers with the melodies of songs? His clear vocals? Seriously, he took One Direction's "Story of My Life" and reimagined it as an Everly Brothers song. "You just hit the artistry bullsye on the target," raved Connick, who said Preston was "so consistent with your artistic choices." Lopez compared him to Buddy Holly.

Malaya Watson made a risky move, choosing "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars and sticking to the correct pronouns in the lyrics. Seated in front of the piano, Watson reached for the glory notes and hit them, delivering her strongest case for the title so far. Connick loved her sincere performance, and dispensed advice to the teen on learning how to sing over chords. Urban praised Watson's choice to pull things back, and Lopez, who was prepared to hate on the teen, got her famed "goosies."

Caleb Johnson made a nice artistic call, interpreting Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" like the Springsteenian anthem it is (late E Street band saxophonist Clarence Clemons played on that track, after all). However, the judges seemed disappointed that Johnson pulled things back. "I've seen you do better performances, but I give you an A for originality," said Connick. Urban said Johnson has "a killer tone" but felt the "half-time feel" left the song "lumbering." Lopez said it lacked feeling as well.

CJ Harris had an off-night with the country hit, "Invisible" by Hunter Hayes. The song's key was just too high for him, and he had some serious pitch problems, which Connick zeroed in on immediately. "You must get the pitch in check," warned Connick, who has called out Harris on his sharp singing before. Lopez called him a "quiet little killer" while Urban called it "shaky."

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Jessica Meuse's decision to transform Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" into what Urban described as a "'60s country pop" ditty lead to much division among the judges. Connick called out Meuse for her decision to smile through the song and wondered "where the cry is." Lopez wouldn't let that one go, and nailed him with her argument that the song is more complex than it seems and is supposed to challenge the listener.

Majesty Rose took on a simpler song than last week's choice, "Let It Go," and strapped on a guitar for a stripped-down version of "Wake Me Up" by Avicii. She seemed nervous in the beginning, but warmed up as the band kicked in for the chorus. Lopez immediately saw the "fear" in Rose, and instructed her to shake it off. Connick enjoyed that she took a new "direction" with the song while Urban praised the sound of her voice.

Sam Woolf had a good night with "We Are Young" by fun. Armed with his trusty guitar, the Florida teen hit all the right notes, and his tone was perfect. The judges had to rush their comments, however, with Connick urging Woolf to come out of his shell even more.

So who is going home? Who is in the bottom 3? Hit us up in the comments!