'American Idol' Recap: Top 13 Tackle 'This Is Me'
The "Idol" hopefuls introduce themselves to America during the show's first performance theme night.
At the beginning of American Idol’s first performance theme night of “This is Me,” Jennifer Lopez made an interesting observation that America hadn’t “gotten a chance to know this top 13.”
After last night’s performance, the Idol voting audience--who had the opportunity to vote for their favorites from the very beginning of the show until 10 a.m. PST--had a clear idea of each aspiring artist, as this cast did a good job choosing songs that showed off their chosen musical direction and personalities. During the show, each Idol was asked to share five fun facts about themselves while mentor Randy Jackson dispensed advice in pre-taped segments and from the audience sidelines.
Also spotted in attendance: Season Five winner Taylor Hicks, as was Season Seven's Carly Smithson, booted contestant Jillian Jensen and X Factor winners Alex and Sierra.
Dexter Roberts kicked things off by strapping on an electric guitar for his cover of “Aw Naw” by Chris Young. While it was a credible performance, Roberts is still not differentiating himself from other “bro-country” artists, and Keith Urban felt he needed to make the song “your own.” Lopez felt the song was “a little bit low,” while Harry Connick Jr. wondered if Roberts' use of in-ear monitors was at fault for him singing "out of tune."
Malaya Watson attempted to show America her “Sly-once” moves with “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars, She’s adorable, but this song, which was such a watershed moment for Joshua Ledet, didn’t work for her. Lopez gave her an “A+” for performance, but felt it went off the rails at the end.
Kristen O’Connor tried to channel her inner Kelly Clarkson with her version of “Beautiful Disaster,” a song about a pained relationship which she tried to make about herself. While the song started strong, O’Connor struggled staying on pitch while going for the big notes. Connick called her “a really strong pop singer” but felt she sang “out of tune” and Lopez advised her to stop “thinking” too much while performing.
Ben Briley made a savvy move performing Johnny Cash’s “Fulsom Prison Blues” on Cash’s birthday. Decked all in black, Briley rushed through the song, unnerving Urbran who advised Briley not to be too kitschy with future performances, while the dancer in Lopez loved the quick pace.
CJ Harris chose “Radio” by Darius Rucker, which suited his raspy vocals. The song probably said a lot more about Ryan Seacrest’s chosen career, but for Harris it was a nice change of pace from the Ray Lamontagne songs he favored so far this season. Lopez said the song was a “lot of fun,” but Connick missed the “cry” in Harris’ voice.
MK Nobilette went outside her box of ballads with a cover of a difficult song, Allen Stone’s jazzy “Satisfaction.” Nobilette is evolving nicely as a performer, with a voice that Urban said "never fails." Connick suggested she stop thinking about the next lines in the song so much, and Lopez felt it was smart for her to do a “song like that.”
Majesty Rose chose “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae to show that she is looking for balance. Much like her performance of “Happy” last week, Rose is proving herself to be a performer of a different era, with a peppy R&B style that will rock if she makes it far enough to appear on the summer tour. “I love your individuality,” said Lopez. Connick’s favorite thing about Rose in general is her “mystery.”
Jena Irene chose to show her alternative soul with “The Scientist” by Coldplay. The song had a shaky start, but built into a commanding performance that showed off what Lopez called her “powerhouse” voice. Connick praised her “interesting choices” in the melody. Urban felt it was pitchy at the beginning, but wound up owning the song after she leaned into it.
Alex Preston chose “A Beautiful Mess” by Jason Mraz, and Preston chose to sing it in a single red spotlight with a laid back, yet musically jazzy, arrangement. Connick called the choice “brave” but cautioned him not to sing out of tune and not be so introspective. Urban felt the song “pulled me into you.” Lopez said she was “caught up in the mood.”
Jess Meuse chose “The Crow and the Butterfly” by Shinedown. Ditching the guitar, Meuse perfectly showcased her gritty rock vocals, owning the song and her moment on stage with a dramatic presentation and no sign last week’s nerves. Urban called it a bold but cool song choice, Lopez said it was “dope” and got “goosies,” and Connick loved that he heard a “different side” of Meuse’s voice.
Emily Piriz picked “Glitter in the Air” by Pink to showcase how she likes to take risks. Piriz had the clearest vocal of the evening, with perfect intonation, poise, and pitch, which Lopez said her pitch was “beautiful.” Connick gave her the highest praise, and said felt she sang the medley well while Urban advised her to find an edge between the “yin and the yang.”
Sam Woolf chose “Unwell” by Matchbox 20 to show a different side of him. For some reason, Woolf sang the song slower than the record, and his shyness may have worked against him, as Connick didn’t feel his vocal married the lyrics of the tune and Lopez felt he looked like a “deer in the headlights.” Urban didn’t’ love the slow tempo.
Caleb Johnson chose “Pressure and Time” by Rival Sons. This was a risky decision as some in the viewing audience probably never heard of the song. However, Johnson absolutely rocked it, turning it up to 11 while draped in smoke. Urban felt that the song showed exactly who Johnson is, but needed to find a “twist.” Lopez said he is ready for the rock star life, and Connick said he would be a great replacement singer for Rival Sons.
So who is going home? Hit us up in the comments!
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