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'American Idol' Recap: Top 12 Show There's No Place Like Home

The hopefuls took on the theme of "home" on Wednesday night's results show.

Jessica Meuse
Michael Becker/FOX
Jessica Meuse

With this week’s American Idol theme of “Home” the Idols chose songs representing their home towns.

While the contestants made some unique song choices, would it have killed any of them to try “Sweet Home Alabama” or even Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long”--which pays homage to both Michigan and Alabama? Or even “Home” by Idol champ, Phillip Phillips

Wednesday night’s performance show crackled with drama, as Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. got into an endless debate about contestants singing “sharp” but with “feeling.” Jennifer Lopez and Urban also slipped into mentor roles, singing back to contestants and demonstrating how to properly whip your hair back and forth, and Connick didn’t seem to really love anyone, waiting for a “knockout performance” and -- in his eyes -- not getting one.  

Also on hand: Idols James Durbin, Casey Abrams, and the show’s “spiritual advisors” (we still don’t know what their role is).

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Side note: What is up with the audio this year? Ryan Seacrest’s microphone sounded like it was in a tin can.

Jena Irene honored Michigan with “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall. Irene once more abandoned her piano and delivered a breathy, upbeat performance,  but Urban was not “mad” about the song choice. Lopez praised the”uniqueness and tone” of her voice, while Connick wanted Irene to act more her age and bust out on stage.

New Hampshire homeboy Alex Preston celebrated his small town with “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw. Decked out in a blue suit, Preston had the look of Jon Cryer in his Ducky phase, but something about the song had a disconnect. Lopez felt the arrangement didn’t suit the song and “overtook” his vocals while Connick loved how he ended on the “nine.” Urban felt he was losing pitch and breath  due to nervous, and the song suffered from “instability.”

Slapout Alabama homegirl Jess Meuse dedicated “White Flag” by Dido to her town.  Meuse, who curled out her hair for the occasion, broke out her guitar again, and gave a sincere attempt at the ballad, but struggled with the high note, which Connick noted got no applause while calling her “blasé.”

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Alabama boy Dexter Roberts chose Montgomery Gentry’s “Lucky Man” to give America a glimpse of the mellow Dexter, as opposed to last week’s fun Dexter.  At the end, he forgot a lyric, and rebounded in a moment that got the attention Urban, who loved  that he showed  his vulnerable side that Roberts took liberties with the phrasing.

Florida’s Emily Piriz got a surprise before she sang--a video message from her boyfriend, who is in the Marines. Piriz took a major chance, performing Lopez’s biggest songs, “Let’s Get Loud,” to celebrate her Cuban heritage. The song, a favorite at weddings, was exactly the high energy performance Piriz needed, but she needed more “intensity,” Connick said. “I loved it. I’m buying it!” said Lopez.

North Carolina’s Caleb Johnson rocked out once again by whipping out his favorite band-Rush. He chose “Working Man,” and gave it the “Rock of Ages” treatment complete with wailing to the band at the end.  Connick, who called him the most consistent performer, warned Johnson not to be too “predictable” and bring something new to Rock and Roll. Urban said he has an “amazing gift,” and Lopez said “you are what I’ve been waiting for all night.”

MK Nobilette made a savvy choice performing “Drops of Jupiter” by the San Francisco band Train. This time out, Nobilette utilized an acoustic guitar, which may not have been the best decision because she stopped playing all together, and went off key several times. Urban felt a lack of connection and demonstrated the proper way to fling a guitar to your back side.  Connick felt no joy in her performance, and questioned if she wanted to even be on the show.

C.J. Harris represented Alabama with “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer. This was Harris’ strongest vocal so far, but at times he started whispering the lyrics and running out of breath. He is also dangerously close to sounding like a karaoke performer with a guitar.  Connick gave Harris a backhanded compliment, calling him an example of someone who sang “consistently sharp” but felt something.

Florida’s Sam Woolf chose a “lesser known band," Blind Pilot, to connect himself to the audience. Woolf definitely seemed more comfortable, but Connick felt there were no “emotional dynamics” in the vocal. Urban said the teen’s tone is like “buttah.”

Michigan’s Malaya Watson, who skirted elimination last week, tried to avoid the stools of doom once more with the Gospel song “Take Me to the King.” Watson returned to her sweet spot, the piano, and worked out the kinks in her vocals as well as her hair. Lopez got “goosies”, while Urban loved that she hit either an “F#” or a “high C.”

Tennessee’s Ben Briley   chose “Turning Home” by David Nail to show America who he is-a “simple guy”. Briley is an emotional singer, but Connick didn’t connect with the song at all, and felt it was “shouted.”   While Briley didn’t get the love from the judges, he did get his beloved deviled eggs from Seacrest.

North Carolina’ s Majesty Rose selected “Fix You” by Coldplay, and looked wonderful with a teased out Afro and denim jacket. Rose also did something Nobilette didn’t-when she stopped playing the guitar, she whipped it to her side. While the quieter part of the performance worked, she lost favor with the judges going for the big notes.

The SuperVote rankings were revealed by Seacrest in each hour: Dexter Roberts, Jessica Meuse and Caleb Johnson owned the first hour, while C.J. Harris, Sam Woolf and Ben Briley were strong in the second.

So on a week where the contestants are lovingly talking about home- who is actually heading there tomorrow night? Hit us up in the comments.

@MicheleAmabile, @Idol_Worship